Now part of the well-respected Hall of Justus, Vandalyzm has worked with everyone from Royce Da 5í9", to DXnext alum Flying Lotus, creating a catalogue of songs that arenít always easy to peg down and place neatly in a box. He draws from all genres of music, stating Burt Bacharach amongst his list of dream collaborations. But donít mistake itóheís still very much Hip Hop.
Vandalyzmís ability to draw from other genres, bring natural humor, and still spit crazy bars made him an easy choice for this weeksí DXnext. We sat down with the STL emcee/producer to talk about everything from being discovered by Phonte, to that pesky lilí industry rule #4080:
The Early Years: "Iíve been on the stage the majority of my life singing, acting; I even had a dance group with my cousins that would do shows all over the city back in the day. We called ourselves The Midwest Connection. [Laughs] Hella lame, but man we were that deal! I wrote my first rhyme when I was seven. The wild thing is that I actually still remember it: 'was in my bed/ looking at the ceiling/ thinking about the things that I been feeling...' straight introspective for a seven year old! [Laughs]ÖI then went on to brag about how I picked up my homies in my new Jeep and we went cruising for girlsÖtalk about staying on topic." [Laughs]
My uncle Hakim was a huge influence in my production and me rhyming. Homie was a deejay, rapper, and producer and for some reason we took an instant liking to each other. He showed me how to deejay, and would set up the mic in the basement and let me and my cousins rhyme. He gave me the ropes on production as well. He really cultivated it all for me. I can till this day still get on those tables and rock, yo. But I owe him a lot.
On Laptop Producers: "I didnít have much money at all when I started; I was a pre-teen. But I had his deejay set, I had a pen, and I had a PlayStation at the time. [Laughs] I donít know if folks remember that program MTV Music Generator, but ya boy was making some amazing shit on that thing. [Laughs] So thatís why I honestly shun a lot of people who clown folks for maybe not using a MP, or anything of the sort. Right now some of the biggest producers in the game are still using [Fruity Loops]. I use FL Studio and Adobe Audition. Different midi controllers. Then I just get to chopping and playing ish. I can go original or sampled; I like to just try and make halfway decent sounding ish, and folks not cringe when they hear it."
On Nelly Introducing STL To The Masses: "Iím not knocking the guy; he did what he's doing and kudos to him on that. But when he got on, folks took that as 'that is St. Louis' and everyone that got on at that time sounded just like him. Everyone was on that country shit when, truth be told, we ain't the south. I love the south. I love their movement, their music, all of that. But now thereís a huge problem with a lot of my crew getting on. Labels be like, 'Man this shit is hot, but like we wanna hear you talking like this.' Dude I been here all my life, I ain't gonna switch up my style of being just for a dollar."
The Chance Meeting With Little Brother That Changed His Life: "About three years ago my homie Charise was in college at DePaul in Chicago. Little Brother [click to read] came up there to speak on a panel about some cause, I really donít know exactly what the panel was for, but thank the Lord for it. [Laughs] So homie Phonte, being the cat that he is, just told the crowd, 'Yo, you can come up, rap with us, we regular people. Shit you can hand us demos and whatever, we'll rock it, we donít care.' So Charise hit me on the horn like
'Yo, LB is here, they asking folks for demos, you want me to give him your shit?'
I was like 'Yo, real up, I donít want you to go through all of that going back to your crib just to burn a CD.' She said, 'I'm right across the street from the crib' ...'Oh well in that case, put this song and this song and...' [Laughs] So she burned the joint, went back to the panel, and handed the CD to Tay. I really aint expect shit from it, but I gave it a week. Then I just hit LB up on MySpace, thanking them for even taking the demo, even if they aint listen, it still meant a lot to me. Tay hit me back up in an hour, just giving me praise for having one of the dopest demos he's ever heard. Just basically giving me him and Pooh's contact info and telling me that Pooh will be in touch with me soon about some work already. I still got the note. [Laughs] My one song, that I will eventually release the original of 'Where I'm From' they were in love with to the point, that we made a HOJ Remix of the joint for the Hall of Justus- Soldiers of Fortune album [click to read]."
Encountering Industry Rule # 4080: "Before I linked up with LB, I was in the process of a deal with Def Jam that fell through real hard. I was going to be on that "Emcee" label, Spit Records, with their then new artist Joe Budden [click to read]Ödonít know if you ever heard of him. [Laughs] I was so geeked 'bout that. Submitted remixes for his 'Focus' joint and everything. But then it went from the label contacting me all day everyday, to I canít get nobody on the phone. Like nobody told me anything. And this is back when mixtapes from clue and shit was poppin' real hard. I had to hear from a freestyle Budden did where he was like 'Everyone from Spit got dropped.' Man, I was hurtÖcause nobody would tell me. I was fresh out of high school, the city was on my side, and my manager at the time was one of the biggest radio personalities in the city so he put it out there to the masses already I was signed to them. so that made me look like a dumb ass."
On Collaborating With His Personal Legend: "To have Royce [Da 5'9"] come up to me and dap me up on my rhymes was just crazy. You donít understand, I did a song with a nigga I looked up to majorly coming up rhyming. I told cats in high school 'Man watch, me and Royce gonna get in on a track one day.' cats was like 'Whatever.' Then years later Big Dho (Little Brother's manager) hit me on the phone like, '9th's finishing up his album. Its gonna be you, Naledge and Royce.' I said 'Royce who? Some new nigga?' He said, 'Naw, nigga, 5'9", so get ya bars up." [Laughs] So Dho, being the asshole that he is [laughs], sends me the 9th [Wonder] [click to read] beat with Royceís verse already on it! And this nigga was blackin' the fuck out over this joint. So I said to myself, 'Dog, you here for a reason, this wasnít brought to you just to be mediocre.' I laid hands to that song if I so say so myself."
Music Industry Wish For 2009: "Niggas need to stop getting signed 'cause they are 'real.' Honestly, I donít give a fuck about you selling drugs Ďfor real.í Go do it. But can you rhyme? Are your songs actually songs? Are they good songs? Niggas told you to rap 'cause you sell drugs good and the hood can cosign that "Yeah man he got the good cheap dope."
Every one of them niggas need to get in the biggest limo they can find, filled with bubbly and women. Then as they are going around a mountain road I hope the driver has a stroke and they all fall off the cliff and die. [Laughs]
But seriously, thatís cool if thatís your background, but homie do you have talent? No? Fall back then."
Upcoming Projects: "I'm finishing up my mixtape Bitch Cause I Felt Like It hosted by Little Brother and mixed by Trackstar the DJ. I rhyme over shit like Chicago, Death Cab for Cutie, Rage Against The Machine, and The Flaming Lips. folks will listen and be like 'Damn this is hot, but why you rhyme over that?' and I say... 'Bitch, 'cause I felt like it.'
I did the Megatron Majorz jawn early this year for the folks, but I got a few album projects in the works. One with DJ Rhettmatic that is built like a mixtape, but with all original music, itís a concept mixtape/album whatever you wanna call it youíll see that soon. An EP with Flying Lotus [click to read]. An EP with Khrysis [click to read], another brother from anotherÖand some A-1 classified music with the boy 9th Wonder. Just in the process of making this new year big for the kid. I plan on just working and putting out fly ass music, and being on ya TVís and radios soon, soon, soon."