The Lost & Found interview series is where we rediscover the ill cats that were holding it down (and continue to) but for whatever reason are now out of the spotlight. It’s much more than a ‘˜where are they now’ as we not only discuss their time on top but also the lessons they’ve learned that can be imparted to up and coming hip hop artists and fans.
The third installment of our Lost & Found series highlights Long Island standout Grand Daddy I.U. In ’89 Biz Markie brought I.U. into the fold at the Juice Crew label, Cold Chillin Records.
During his time at the label I.U released his debut ‘Smooth Assassin,’ including notable tracks like ‘Something New’ and ‘Sugar Free’ and penned tracks for both Roxanne Shante’ and Biz before dropping his second solo ‘Lead Pipe’ in 1994. Behind the boards he’s been responsible for tracks from Heltah Skeltah, KRS, ICE-T, and Das Efx. However, since the mid 90s I.U. has been conspicuously absent from the scene finally returning this year with a new LP. We caught up with the Smooth Assassin to talk about his time with Cold Chillin’, his beef with Treach, and his expectations of the new project.
Grand Daddy I.U.
Halftimeonline: So what’s been going on I.U.? It’s been a hot minute since you’ve been in the limelight. A lot of cats may not know about the production side but you definitely made noise in the game both rhyming and producing. Which attracted you first and what inspired you to start writing and producing?
Grand Daddy I.U.: Damn, that shit go back to the Cold Crush, Treacherous Three and all that. I just started writing way back then but I never took that shit seriously until my brother was like man you gotta go to the studio. I was in the street and he was working. He took his job money and sponsored the studio time like yo I paid for some time get your ass up in there. So we did it and my man had the tape when he happened to see Biz Markie. Biz was looking for another artist because he had a five artist production deal and he needed one last dude. He was like yo this shit is hot go get em. That was it.
Halftimeonline: At that time were you kinda suspect or were you all for it?
Grand Daddy I.U.: Nah, actually the nigga called my crib. I lived around the corner from Blimpie’s. He was like yo where do you live and that was the landmark right there. So he’s like meet me there and I’m like this ain’t no motherfucking Biz Markie on my phone man. Me and my brother went down to Blimpie’s with baseball bats and everything like we gonna fuck somebody’s ass up for playing this trick on me. But that nigga Biz pulled up driving a 740 way back then. I was like ok this nigga is serious.
Halftimeonline: So where did it go from there? He just gave you his whole pitch and you were like I’m with it?
Grand Daddy I.U.: Nah, that nigga didn’t even have to give me no pitch. That was in 1989, me being on the street I’m thinking if I get into this shit I’m gonna be rich like a motherfucker. I was like whatever get me the contract and a pen. Let’s go. I thought it was gonna be like that but it was totally some other shit.
Halftimeonline: So Biz brought you in and you did your thing along with some ghost writing and production. Now his name was on all the tracks from your debut yet they were nowhere to be found on the second joint. He didn’t even get a shout out and in interviews it’s like you’re not really feeling him. What happened between him signing you and the ‘Lead Pipe’ album where it was like ya’ll weren’t even cool anymore?
Grand Daddy I.U.: I seen the cat a couple months ago. Whenever I see him I’m like what up and that’s basically it. What happened was he only produced one joint on my shit and that was ‘˜Soul Touch.’ Other than that the nigga was nowhere to be found. We were doing what we were doing. Then when I went to LA to Warner Brothers they shot me to Warren Chappel to get my publishing check. He was like boom this is a $100,000 and $50,000 gs straight to Biz and you get $50,000. I’m looking at this nigga like what the fuck are you talking about? Why is he getting $50,000? He was like because he’s the producer and I’m like that nigga didn’t produce damn near no shit what are you talking about? So I was like wow this is how this shit works? He produced one track and that was my least favorite track on the whole joint.
Halftimeonline: Haha. Did you ever get at him like how you get your name all over my publishing?
Grand Daddy I.U.: Yea, he was like yo this is the business nigga, that’s why I brought you in this is how it works. I’m like word why didn’t you tell me that shit a long time ago? He was like I thought you knew. I’m like how the fuck would I know that if I don’t know shit about the music business.
Halftimeonline: So did you still ghostwrite and work with him on some tracks after that?
Grand Daddy I.U.: Yea, yea.
Halftimeonline: So how did that work? Did he come at you like since I screwed you over on this end here’s some cash to do this?
Grand Daddy I.U.: Nah, he just was like I need some shit and I was like yea well I need some money. It was a match made in heaven. We were cool for a little while after that but I saw the way he was really moving and I was like nah.
Halftimeonline: We wanted to talk a little bit more about the Cold Chillin days. Back then they was pushing you a little something and ‘˜Something New’ blew up back then. What happened?
Grand Daddy I.U.: Them niggas was doing a lot of shit they wasn’t supposed to be doing. They got to a point where they just didn’t give a fuck anymore because Cold Chillin was on the decline. They were like whatever. First of all they were supposed to put ‘˜Sugar Free’ out as a single but they didn’t do it. They was like we not gonna do it like that we are gonna make motherfuckers go buy the whole album. That shit didn’t really work to my benefit and after that they were just getting high and it was a whole lot of bullshit. After that Kane broke out and then he started singing. Everything was fucked up. They were losing money and they didn’t have any money. Then the white boy broke out and it was all downhill.
Halftimeonline: What were you doing at the time to maintain or at least separate yourself from the situation?
Grand Daddy I.U.: At that time I didn’t really give a fuck. I was just in the streets. I didn’t have my head screwed on straight. I was real wild. All of that shit was nothing to me, if it crash and burn then whatever. Now I wish I wasn’t that way. I wish I was on top of my business game but you can’t take that shit back now.
Halftimeonline: I read one interview where you said GZA was coming at you on ‘˜Protect Your Neck’ with that whole ‘˜suit and tie rap that’s cleaner than a bar of soap.’ I didn’t even think about that until I read it and then it clicked.
Grand Daddy I.U.: Yea, cuz I was wearing the suit and tie shit back then on some old time gangster shit. He had that other shit like, ‘˜Girl come do me.’ I guess they wasn’t feeling that shit so they chose to push me harder than they pushed him. That ain’t my fault what the fuck are you mad at me for? So you know how that shit is. He ain’t gonna come to my face and say nothing so later on he put that shit in his little rhyme or whatever throwing a subliminal jab. That shit is neither here nor there.
Halftimeonline: What were your thoughts when you first heard it?
Grand Daddy I.U.: I ain’t even catch onto that shit until my man put me up on it. He was like yo this nigga is talking about you yo! I listened to it and was like oh shit this motherfucker but by the time I saw him after that it ain’t make no sense to be beefing over that. But when I seen the nigga for the first time after that he looked at me like I don’t know what this nigga might try to do right now like is it safe or is it beef. I just looked at the nigga and was like what up but I let him know I saw that shit he tried to pull. It wasn’t really nothing though. If he would have been like ‘˜yo this punk ass nigga’¦’ or something like that then I would have had to be like off with his head.
Halftimeonline: Even though a lot of cats today may not know you and you’re under the radar you’ve seen and done a lot in the industry. What are some of the more interesting things to happen in your career? I heard one time you had beef with Treach and all kinds of random shit.
Grand Daddy I.U.: Yea, I had beef with that nigga over that Shante shit I wrote [where she dissed Latifah]. Niggas ain’t realize that Fly Ty was the dude who called me up like yo I want you to write a dis record and gave me a list of names like do what you do. I got paid for that. So me and my brother whipped up a track, went to the studio, wrote the shit down and the rest was history. Then niggas want to get mad at me cuz I wrote it. They didn’t pay me not to write it. So then Treach started going on shows popping shit onstage. I used to live around the corner from Run and he called me up like yo I don’t know what the hell you did to Treach but I just did a show with him in Jersey and he was on stage saying when he catch you he gonna break ya jaw. I’m like what? Then it was a long time before I seen him. We were going to this club and everybody was out and I seen him walk right past me around the corner. So I was like yo wasn’t that the nigga talking shit and my man was like yea. So this nigga comes back around the corner in his car, stopped in the middle of the street and started calling his boys like yo let’s get this nigga. So it’s me, two dudes and a girl. So I’m like ok whatever. I’m coming in the middle of the street taking off my jewelry like me and this nigga is about to do it. But he called all these other motherfuckers. So I was like ok whatever these dudes is gonna jump me I’ve been jumped before. Then he was like pop the trunk and he gs in the trunk like he was gonna get a biscuit. Then Shakim was like nah don’t jump him ya’ll go head up. He don’t want to do that.
Grand Daddy I.U.: He didn’t want to do that. He wanted to go and gather all these motherfuckers and all this other shit. Then here 2 Pac come popping all this bullshit. I’m screaming on them like ya’ll ain’t doing nothing to me. Then some off duty cop they had rolling with them pulled out so I smacked him with a bottle cuz I used to always drink 40s back then. I threw the bottle at him and just jetted. I had to get out of there. [That wasn’t the end of it though] Pepa used to run a pool hall called Sharky’s back then so we knew where he was gonna be at. So the following week we go down there. I got my man posted by the door like yo when you see him coming up the stairs give me the signal and I’m coming across the street to let that nigga have it. I was gonna shoot him cuz back then I wasn’t about no bullshit back and forth. Pepa peeped how the situation was going down and called him and said don’t come through the front door. Afrika Islam came to me outside like yo you’re looking for Treach right? I said yea. He was like he just went out the back door, I heard him call his man saying bring the car around back. So we get in the car and we chasing they’re car through the fucking Lincoln Tunnel.
Grand Daddy I.U.: That shit was crazy but them niggas got away. Then I saw him again at Q Gardens. When I came up in the spot this girl was like there’s mad rappers in here. So and so is here, Treach is here.. and she don’t know what’s going on so she’s just running her mouth. I’m like word Treach is here where’s he at? She was like he’s downstairs. I was like word how many people he got with him? She was like 5 or 6 but it was just me and my man. So I turned to my man Big Snow like yo you ever been jumped before? He was like nah. I was like are you scared? He was like nah so I said fuck it let’s go. We went downstairs and I said first I’m gonna try and get this nigga off to the side so it’s just me and him and if they jump me I’m gonna get a couple blows in. But them niggas started surrounding me and my man started blending in the crowd haha. Not for nothing but that nigga left me. But Treach didn’t want to fight. If he would have swung all of his boys would have just piled on top of me but he was just like whatever. Then security came and took us to another room to try and make us squash it but we didn’t. I didn’t see him for years after that shit and then I saw him and he came up on me like what up soldier? I’m like word? And the niggas had the drop on me to. Me and my man was at Wendy Williams party and I went to the bathroom and it’s like Treach and ten Jersey dudes smoking weed. I was like oh shit these niggas is gonna whup my ass in this bathroom tonight. I was like fuck it take your lumps and see if you can get this nigga later but when he said what up soldier and gave me a hug I was like what up. Now when I see him it’s all love. That shit is washed up now.
Halftimeonline: I gotta give you respect for that one cuz of the reputation Treach had back then. For you to go and find him. If I was him I’d be like this dude is crazy I’m Treach! Cats were intimidated by him. Even now they don’t mess with him.
Grand Daddy I.U.: Yea, he was doing a lot of shit back then bullying niggas but he’s cool. But for anyone it don’t matter who you are if you talking about you’re gonna break my jaw on stage nah man.
Halftimeonline: I heard Treach fought Kay Gee.
Grand Daddy I.U.: Yea, I heard something like that on the radio. I heard Kay Gee got in his ass though.
Halftimeonline: For real?
Grand Daddy I.U.: That’s what I heard.
Halftimeonline: Damn, I’m sure you got mad war stories but seeing all that and seeing how hip hop has changed what makes you want to be back in the scene?
Grand Daddy I.U.: Because that’s all I do man. I love music. Ever since I was young I was a music motherfucker. I’d ask my aunts and uncles to buy me records. I can’t get up and work nowhere. Hell no, that ain’t even in my nature.
Halftimeonline: So what artists do you like in the game right now?
Grand Daddy I.U.: I don’t know. I don’t listen to none of that shit man. I haven’t listened to the radio in like a year now. I used to like Jadakiss but I haven’t heard anything lately. I used to like Jay till he retired but the last few verses I heard form him were like what the fuck? What happened? That shit he did with Beyonce was terrible. This was the nigga I was saying was the illest.
Halftimeonline: What impact do you think you’ll have or expect to have when putting out another project? What would you consider a success?
Grand Daddy I.U.: Independently for me if I sell 100,000 I’m good. I don’t even want to fuck with major labels. With them if you don’t go platinum you might as well hang it up. For an independent artist if you sell 100,000 you got bread. I’m not even looking for fame. I just want to get money doing my music. These cats be having all the fame but when you see them in the streets they only got $5 in their pocket. Like Babs from Making of the Band. I used to produce joints for her before she got on the show. I did mad joints for her. She was talking about how she was walking down the street in Brooklyn and everyone’s running up to her not realizing she is broke as shit. She was like that shit don’t feel good. But there are some independent niggas you never heard of getting that money and they can walk down the street and be in peace.
Halftimeonline: If you had a chance to go on national television and voice your opinion on hip hop what would you say?
Grand Daddy I.U.: I’d tell these New York DJs to stop that bullshit and start playing some New York fucking music. All that dirty south shit is cool but how can you be from NY and not play NY music. That’s bullshit to me.
Halftimeonline: So you would just bring it to the DJs? What about the fans? They are culprits as well.
Grand Daddy I.U.: Yea, the fans are stupid they don’t know anything.
Grand Daddy I.U.: They don’t know shit. Whatever the radio play and keep playing that’s what they are gonna say is hot. So you can’t really be mad at them because they don’t know any better. That’s why they call that shit programming. They are programming motherfucker’s brains to like that shit.
Halftimeonline: So since you’ve left the game do you think the industry has gotten better or worse?
Grand Daddy I.U.: Definitely worse. The music got worse but there are mad opportunities for the few that can get in. Cats are doing movies, commercials, clothing lines and mad endorsements off of one hit. Mike Jones got his own sneaker. Lupe Fiasco had his own sneaker before his album even came out. On that note it got better but the music ain’t even music no more it’s hot trash.
Halftimeonline: What about the beats since technology and techniques have advanced over the years?
Grand Daddy I.U.: Nah, the beats got worse because back then we had shit that was still classic. You could play some of that shit from back then right now at any club like ‘˜Make the Music with Your Mouth.’ None of this shit right now is gonna be around ten years from now. No one is gonna want to hear that shit because there ain’t no soul in it. It’s just bullshit. The beats now are just bubble gum.
Halftimeonline: Are you still producing?
Grand Daddy I.U.: The shit I did for Ice-T was the last shit I did for a known person but I always do shit for cats around the way trying to do something. They don’t be having a big budget but they can throw me a couple coins so I don’t have to work. I do my own production but if I had a big budget I’d get a couple dudes like Primo.
Halftimeonline: I know you had a joint with Extra P not too long ago.
Grand Daddy I.U.: Yea, yea haha that nigga is funny. He’s a funny ass dude.
Halftimeonline: You gotta expound on that man what are you saying?
Grand Daddy I.U.: He called me one time like yo I need you to get on this project with me for some shit in Japan. I was like aiight no doubt. He was like listen man I got the dude with me right now. We are gonna come to your crib and I need you to sign this paper that says you are definitely gonna be apart of the project. If you sign it then they’ll release the check and I can give you a little something. So I’m like no doubt bring the nigga over here. They came over and I signed the papers for him. Man I ain’t seen that motherfucker since. Matter of fact I saw him when I did a show and I was like Paulie Goggles where’s my money at? He was like nah chill, chill. Since then I haven’t seen him. He called one day like yo I’m gonna bring that money before the week is out. Haven’t heard from him.
Halftimeonline: We’re supposed to be doing an interview with him real soon.
Grand Daddy I.U.: Word when you see him tell him to give me my motherfucking money.
Grand Daddy I.U.: Say it just like that. Funny ass nigga.
Halftimeonline: What’s been the biggest lesson you learned in the hip hop game?
Grand Daddy I.U.: The biggest lesson I learned was don’t trust any of these industry motherfuckers. All of them are snakes. The artists, the execs and especially the A&Rs. That and save your money. All the chains and all that is fine but it don’t pay the bills once the records stop selling.
Halftimeonline: What did you think about Cam’ron using the ‘˜Something New’ beat?
Grand Daddy I.U.: I wasn’t mad at that. The only thing I was mad at was the nigga Boola that did the track. He called me up like yo we gonna try and get you on a ‘Something New’ (remix) with Cam’ron. I was like cool. He was like what’s the name of that sample? So I told him and next thing I know niggas called me like yo you heard the new Cam’ron shit? I was like this nigga. He was calling me like yo you know the name of this sample and that sample. I was giving him records and all that. He did that shit and after that his numbers were changed. He was calling me everyday asking me questions cuz he was producing for Dame Dash and them but he didn’t know a lot of records and then he snaked me on that.
Halftimeonline: Damn, you can’t get a break.
Grand Daddy I.U.: That’s alright cuz I’m gonna prevail. Right now niggas not even knowing I got some lawsuits going on with cats taking my beats. Between BET, MTV and MTV2 they used about 25 of my beats. Ten of my joints are on that On that All Eyez on Nas and Jay-Z shit. Then they had something called Sucker Free Power Players and it was like eight on there. I had like seven beats on the BET interview with Dave Chappelle and none of them paid me or gave me publishing credit. I got some joints on this DVD called Buckwild Bus tour. I don’t know how they got them shits. So they gotta pay me.