Buckshot: Release, Relax, Relate
As co-CEO of Duck Down Records, in just the last couple of years Buckshot has proven that he can transform the label into more than just the home for his Boot Camp Clik, but a diverse array of artists, making The BDI Thug arguably the most powerful figure in todays independent Hip Hop scene.
HipHopDX recently spoke with the budding business man about Duck Downs next offering, his most recent collaboration with producer 9th Wonder entitled The Formula dropping April 29th [click here to listen to Hold It Down...]. We also discussed the onslaught of recent artist signings to Duck Down, which have helped to make his company more of a Koch, the type of label that just puts records out, as he explained to us.
And just so we didnt bore everyone with business talk, we also spoke about Buckshots recent attempts to quit smoking weed, his slight disdain for Lil Waynes desire to cover a Black Moon classic, why Tupac was smart enough to not fight every fool who tested him, and for the first time on record Buckshot reveals his thoughts on his Boot Camp Click brethren Rock and his recent arrest for attempted murder.
HipHopDX: Lets start off by discussing the next Duck Down release on the schedule, your sophomore collabo album with 9th Wonder, The Formula. So be straight with the HipHopDX readers, is this second go-round better or about equal to yalls first, Chemistry?
Buckshot: I would say that its another level. Better is a question of preference. Its always better to me. Our goal is to get better. But to be practical, this album is another level because its basically adult contemporary Hip Hop at its beginning stages. When you listen to the Chemistry album [theres] a lot of content on there. Im talking about a lot of topics on there, but Im also just going for broke, spittin fire in a lot of songs, just keeping the essence of what the art of rap is. So when you hear the new Formula album, everything on that album is basically [speaking on] topics, talking about everything. A lot of songs on there is more addressing [women]. I wouldnt say [the songs are aimed at] females because of a sexual aspect of it, but I would say people are gonna feel that because theyre gonna hear a lot more hooks.
DX: 9th has called this a grown up album, and you just called it adult contemporary Hip Hop, so is Buckshot throwing in the towel on trying to reach the youth?
B: Let me ask you a question, does reach the youth mean to say, "Yo, fuck you, I bust my gun?" Does reaching the youth mean to be as lost as the youth? See, [the] teacher is 30-years-old and the student may be 12. The teacher has to teach the kid about what went on when he was coming up. Hes gonna teach the kid about [his] past in order for the kid to know about the kids present and future.
DX: Is this the final Buckshot and 9th Wonder album were gonna get, or do you guys have another tag team effort planned?
B: Im not gonna say that its not, but Im definitely not gonna say that it is. Our chemistry is so ill together. Its natural. It feels good. It works for me and 9th. Me and 9th is really cool with each other. Whether we made a record tomorrow for the public or not, we are cool with each other.
DX: I dont know if you guys need to release another album any time soon anyway, youre gonna have enough out there in 08 for fans to chew on. I understand youre releasing three videos for this album [click here to watch video for Go All Out...]?
B: Im trying to bring people into where the future of Hip Hop and the future of music and everything is going. So we got three videos, and thats not even enough. Thats nothing. And Im saying that because everything is going to the dot [com]. And being that its [going to] the dot, they wanna see [your video] and then they wanna see something else. Its not like television where you can only see something when youre given [it]. Like [with] television you can only watch a Buckshot video at five oclock everyday because thats when it [is] given to you. When you have a laptop you can go to DuckDown.com and watch [that video] all day. The only problem is you gonna get tired of watching that one video so you gonna wanna see more. And thats fine with me because I do this.
DX: I understand one of the videos is gonna be like a 3D animated joint?
B: Yep, really its a bio 3D animated video. If you go to DuckDown.com our website opens up with the Duck Down man coming to life, and I took that to another level. Me and the Duck Down man is tag teaming in this video. People never got a chance to feel him or know him. But this is the year that people [are] gonna understand the Duck Down man, the artist. Hes a character, but he represents Duck Down Records.
DX: Switching gears here, besides The Formula, at my last count Duck Down is putting out something like 78 albums this year. Whats up with all the recent additions to a label that used to just be BCC fam?
B: [Laughs]. What it was is that from the beginning, Buckshot and Dru Ha never intended for Duck Down to just be [Boot Camp Clik]. What it was [is that] we had to really go in the lab and make sure that we had our stuff down pat to the point where it was air tight. If you look at it, we was gonna sign Eminem. That was real. We didnt sign him because of political reasons on our behalf. Like, we didnt feel that everything was right. And we was happy that him and [his manager] Paul [Rosenberg] went over to [Interscope]. We had another group by the name of Flow that was signed to Duck Down. We was actually working with Anthony Hamilton back then. But the record never came out. So we had a few other [acts] that we was working with and the intentions was to make Duck Down a full label, but its just that we always had to keep our bread and butter on the table. We always had to keep the generals, the people that rule Duck Down, working. But now throughout all [these] years weve gotten our stuff down pat by giving help to other labels and companies [so] that we got in [this] position. Like, Dru Ha is a V.P. at Cornerstone right now because of the knowledge that he gained from [working] with all of [these companies].
DX: I spoke to one of your recent additions, KRS-ONE, a few months back [click here to read...], and he said that his alliance with Duck Down originated with you and him planning to do an album together?
B: Yeah, thats pretty much what it is. People get the image that KRS-ONE is signed to Duck Down, that he signed on the dotted line and said, "Here, Im giving my life to Buckshot." Its not that. What it is is that I have the power to sign artists and put them out through a major system that is so complicated it would take you years to really decipher it. With that power I know veterans, people that I love, arent getting the opportunity to get out [there]. So I have the ability to say, "You know what, lets get a KRS-ONE album out."
DX: When would you guesstimate KRS Duck Down debut will drop [click here to watch KRS and Buck work on the album...]?
B: I dont know, but I know its gonna drop sometime this year. The album is a collaboration of me and Kris together. I didnt say, "Kris, heres a beat, go in and rhyme." Its pretty much me and Kris, as two generals in Hip Hop, coming together and saying lets unite a Buckshot fan with a KRS-ONE fan and create a new fan.
DX: When I spoke to KRS I asked him if Duck Down off BDPs Sex And Violence album was the inspiration for your labels name. He seemed to think it was but wasnt sure, so I thought Id ask you if it was?
B: It was. During that era [that we were starting the label] he had a song called Duck Down, and I used to listen to that song all the time. And one day me and Dru were coming up with the idea [to start a label] and I said, When people hear our label I want them to feel [our] presence. I want them to duck down. When you hear that record Duck Down, thats what you feel. So I said, I want people to feel like duck down, these guys are coming thru. And [Dru] said, Well, why dont we name [the label] Duck Down. So [KRS] definitely influenced the label [name].
DX: KRS told me he plans to reunite with former collaborator Diamond D for his Duck Down debut. How did you score a beatmaking legend like Diamond for the label roster?
B: Just natural blessings from the most high. Diamond happened to work with us before To be honest with you, I dont even know how the topic of [doing this album came up]. Duck Down is [just] a place that puts out records. Were not a label that signs [artists]. Diamonds just gonna put out his own album. Diamond is just bringing an album to us. And of course, whatever beats we need, Diamond is fam. As far as us needing beats from Diamond though, thats secondary to the fact that Diamond is gonna get a chance to present himself as an artist and his own entity and say, "Hey, Im Diamond D and I did kinda make a big imprint in Hip Hop."
DX: You got any info on his album yet, like title, when its gonna drop?
B: I dont got any info yet [on his album]. But he is gonna be working with all the greats, obviously D.I.T.C. I know he got Fat Joe [on the album].
For me though, to be the label thats putting Diamond and all these artists out, I dont want glorification as a label having them signed to Duck Down. Its not about that. Im more of a Koch, the type of label that just puts records out.
DX: You gonna run out of money though if you sign all your rap heroes. [Laughs].
B: [Laughs]. But thats where smart business tactics come in. You get in what you put out. But at the end of the day, the most beautiful part for me is these artists being able to put these records out. For me, Buckshot the rapper, when I look back [at this] I go, Wow. These are artists I grew up on and that paved the way for me.
DX: I understand that you also did deals with some other producers. Marco Polo, Khrysis, Black Milk, are they all now officially Duck Down?
B: Yep. Black Milk and Guilty Simpson, that albums gonna be fire. Everything that Im getting from [them] so far is just out of control. Sean Price went bananas on one of the songs. But theyre all gonna put out albums, but these are also producers that provide us with beats. Theyre always working. Like, if Khrysis aint working with his own projects hes working on a beat for KRS-ONE or a beat for Buckshot or Sean Price. And Marco Polo, same thing. So all of them, Marco, Khrysis, Oh No, theyre all working heavy to get KRS-ONE what he need as far as production.
DX: I cant believe it, but we still got even more signings to talk about. [Laughs]. This signing was so dope when I heard about it, Kidz In The Hall. You hit a lick with that one. Naledge is up there with Phonte as like one of my favorite emcees right now.
B: Word! I thank you for recognizing his skills too, cause I recognized it and felt like people gotta recognize it. Hes a good artist.
DX: So when you gonna jump on some of those hard-ass Double O beats?
B: Im on they album. I did a joint. You can always look forward to me doing collaborations with every artist thats on Duck Down. And that kinda separates me from most of the cats who rap and they CEOs. You will not see them on tracks with they artists. You wont see them biggin up they artists at every opportunity they get. They pretty much just try to maintain they own career. Like for some its about me and then my label, wheras with Buckshot its about the label and then me.
DX: Now the final addition to the Duck Down roster I gotta ask you about is Ladybug Mecca. How did the former female lead of Digable Planets get down with the label?
B: Her husband introduced us to Ladybug. He owns a studio that a lot of us did work in. And I said to myself, "You know what, I need a female emcee. She has a dope flow and a dope voice." Bottom line, I wanted to work with her and I want people to hear her. So I asked her, Can I put out a project? And she said, Yeah. And I said, Yo, lets do it.
DX: [Laughs]. Why do I get the feeling Dru wants to kill you when you come back to the office after doing something like that? [Laughs].
B: Right, hes like, Buck, we are working overtime already! I have No Ha, Dru Ha, Shucky Ducky, Matt [Conaway], I got so many people working overtime wondering, What the hell are we doing now, Buck?
DX: In the new issue of The Source, I read about you not smoking weed no more?
B: Oh, wow! You know what [Laughs]. No comment. Nah, what I did was I slowed down a lot. I definitely didnt expect that question.
DX: Now you know an emcee who gets red-eyed but still manages to keep his rhymes tight is Lil Wayne. Was that 2008 remix of Who Got Da Props? for Mick Boogies mixtape yours or Waynes idea?
B: That was theirs. I had nothing to do I was shocked. I was like, First of all, why do you wanna [remake] Who Got Da Props of all songs? Homage, respect due cause that was my first record. So for me it was kinda weird. I was like, "You want 'Who Got Da Props.' You dont want the other Buckshot, you want Buckshot Shorty. Buckshot Shorty is Who Got Da Props. Buckshot is I Got Cha Opin. So when they came to me and said, Yo, Mick said Wayne said he wanted to do this, and this is the song that he picked, I said, Okay, Ill do it. But after that I heard [Wayne] got arrested, and a whole bunch of other drama had went down with him.
DX: I heard your recorded verse for the song, but youre saying he didnt finish the track off?
B: Nope. They called and said a whole bunch of shit had went down. I was supposed to make a trip also. We was supposed to meet up. Bottom line, I was just like, its always cool when anybody pays homage. I felt like Rakim I wanted to [remake I Aint No Joke]. By Rakim taking [No Joke] as a love thing instead of some What?! type shit, I was happy. So I felt the same way with Lil Wayne.
DX: So even though he couldnt finish that track, you still wanna try and work with him at some point?
B: I mean, Wayne is one of my favorite emcees. Im a fan of Hip Hop first and foremost.
DX: I gotta switch gears again, to a difficult topic, and thats ya man Rock staring down attempted murder charges. When I spoke to his lawyer [click here to read...], what he told me sounded like some shit out of a movie. Without commenting on the charges directly, I just wanna ask you if Rock is really still out in the streets like that?
B: You know, Hip Hop is unfortunately a [mirror] of what people live. Its hard to answer that [question]. Youre not trying to glorify the violence, the shit that goes on in the street, but you know that its a reality. You know that its something that happens. So, hes not out in the street like that, its just Again, its hard to comment knowing that you really dont have to be in the street to just be the type of dude that people feel is on some Im not the one [type shit]. Certain people you could play with it, certain people you cant. I remember when Tupac told me one day somebody had jumped in his face, and he didnt even know the dude. Out of nowhere dude just jumped in his face and said, Ayo Pac, I wanna fight you. And Pac didnt fight him. Pac was like, Fuck that nigga, I walked right past him. He was basically like, I didnt fight him because his wanting to get famous off of fighting me outweighed the fact that I wasnt threatened by this nigga.
So Rock right now is out on attempted murder charges. Hes free on bail. Hes working on the new Heltah Skeltah album. But as far as the charges or whatever, I have full faith in knowing that justice is going to get served. I have full faith in knowing that hes good. Hes not the type of dude to go out there and do no crazy shit like that. At the end of the day justice is going to be served and everythings gonna be alright.
DX: I hope everything works out for him. And I certainly hope the Heltah Skeltah project still manifests itself.
B: That is coming out bananas. This new shit is where [they] need to be at. Everyday in the studio I tell em, Yo son, dont change nothing. Where you at right now, stay there.
DX: Besides Rock and Ruck reuniting for another album, I understand theres gonna be another reunion album coming out on Duck Down soon, a new Black Moon record, correct?
B: Yep, we definitely working on that right now. The good shit about Black Moon is the zone that we need to be in is there. People recognized us at some point in time for bringing that zone to the table. But with the new Black Moon album I think even more people is gonna go, "Wow, now I see what they brought to the table of this Hip Hop thing."