Bishop Lamont: For All Seasons

posted November 17, 2008 12:00:00 AM CST | 63 comments

Bishop Lamont can turn an interview into a mixtape. The animated Aftermath Records emcee shouts-out everybody from Ras Kass to David Beckham to the rap department at Interscope in between his lengthy, but always honest, complete answers to questions. He cites street classics, while hinting towards album material. At interludes, he routinely sniffs into the phone comically, mocking cocaine users and abusers, joking, I just did a paragraph, not a line. This is an entertainer, who whether he has an audience of one journalist or millions from his expected role on Dr. Dre's forthcoming Detox, commands a crowd.

Joined by Los Angeles radio icon and producer Damizza, the mood is light. A HipHopDX exclusive interview ignited by controversial statements made about a west coast peer last week yield more to the positives. Bishop has a highly-anticipated album, also Detox, the seeming archetype for such albums to touch upon. The former boasts Dr. Dre-produced tracks both compare to "Murder Was The Case" meets "Stan," as well as a grocery list of Hip Hop greatness including Lord Finesse, Grand Puba, J. Dilla and Talib Kweli. With a team of family, friends and superstars around him, creative discussion seems far more fitting than pull-quotes and static. Still, there's that too, embedded in the sermon. For now though, open your Hymnals and see a potential star of tomorrow take his alter.

HipHopDX: When Nas first appeared with Main Source or Jay-Z with Jaz-O, those premier records have gone on to mean so much in careers, and in discographies. From your early appearances with Warren G to Caltroit to your recent feature on Jake Ones album, how do you think your legacy will shape these records that youve been on at this point in your career?
Bishop Lamont:
Thats a great question. I dont even know where to tackle that from because theres so much that were doing right now. Its back to concentration camp, coming up with some more phenomenal Detox records. I got up with Lord Finesse on some whole nother stuff, as far as more records for my album. Im getting Grand Puba involved. Its a lot of dope stuff. At the end of the day, for me, I think the stuff Ive been working on, working on with Damizza, were stepping our A-game up to a whole new letter that comes before A. So I think it transcends everything weve done before. So I dont even think Ive established my legacy yet, but I think Ive been putting up some good numbers and establishing my groundwork; Ive got a great foundation. Its still in this architecture stage that Im still drawing up the schematics on. Its gonna supercede everything else though, cause theres just so much going on right now.

Im just growing, and just focused, and Im going to Europe all them fly places over there gave me so much new breath. Long ass answer [aside], I have no idea. I know its gonna be greater than its ever been before because Im in such a great mindstate and spirit and focus, understanding what I have to do for me and what I have to.

DX: You mentioned Lord Finesse. When I interviewed you in early 2007, you were talking to me a lot about your love of Cella Dwellas, Keith Murray, Evil Dee, Buckwild, etc. It really inspired the 90s Hip Hop head in many of us. However, a lot of what weve heard on Pope Mobile for instance, hasnt followed that direction. Do you still intend to go there?
Bishop Lamont:
[My music is based on] if the beats or environment impresses that kind of approach on me. If I hear a hear a track and its a reminiscent of a dope Cella Dwellas record or a Lords of The Underground or Camp Lo Luchini, you just get stupid on some stupid shit. Its not like Im repressing, its just what approaches. Like when you look at N*gger Noize, N*gger Noize was what N*gger Noize was; Caltroit [click to listen] was what Caltroit was; Pope Mobile [click to listen] was more spiritual, more sexual theres a lot of things that come with religion, things that are more taboo, restrictive and just talkin crazy. With whats going on now, getting the album ready and getting Detox, Im letting it all out. Its just when I get on those kind of records like havin Buckwild on deck now, and I gotta call up Clark Kent, Bink, all these fly cats that are gonna bring that out Im still looking for Erick Sermon [click to read]. Youre gonna get those different avenues, but its not so much about me going, I dont want to do that right now. I want to street records. I want to do club records. I want to do sexy records. Its not a conscious thing, its just wherever I am, what Im feelin, if Im watching too much South Park, then its gonna be stupid shit. At the end of the day, its gonna be what its gonna be. I dont consciously try to repress or held back; I try to give as much of myself as Im willing to give.

DX: You mentioned doing this for fans. In the Internet era, people can comment and rate everything youre doing. With so many directions possible, do the fans reaction drive you to explore more or less of your artistic avenues, or is strictly a take-it-or-leave-it Bishop show?
Bishop Lamont:
Its always gonna be the Bishop show, cause if I listened to what people said on the Internet or said in the interviews, unless they know me personally, my shit would be all fucked. I might be like, Right now, the hot thing is the auto-tune, this is what the fans is listening to, so they probably want to see do that. Then youd be fucked up.

I listen to Damizza. I listen to my mama. I listen to my brother. I listen to a few other people. I listen to Dre. He calls me hard-headed; shouts out to Dr. Dre back in Detroit making hits. He calls me hard-headed, but he knows hes got the same hard-headed shit. At the end of the day, for me, if I let that dictate what I do, then the fans wouldnt love me like they do with me being me and me being honest and me guiding them on a path as much as they try to guide me on a path with their input. So really, its always my show. If it wasnt, I wouldnt be me right now.

I pick the beats I want to rock to. I always said, If thats whats in, then its already out. Im not gonna do what people are doing. We always gotta keep pushing the line and keep sacrificing and keep goin against the grain in trying to set up the new movement. I do that.

DX: Damizza, tell me about your role in this project.
I just try to be a good friend, and somebody that supports Bishop in everything that he does. The next couple of years is gonna crazy. Doing Midnight Club for Rockstar Games, and just trying to help him, its just being a good friend, and anything he needs, backing him up.
Bishop Lamont: Dude has always been a visionary. Phenomenal work he did at Power; [theres] so many people he gave positions to who are now staples in this industry, so many careers, so many albums that never would have been without his involvement, without his truth, without his opinion, so I hold all that dearly.
Damizza: Im currently mourning the death of Power 106, by the way. But go ahead.
Bishop Lamont: Wow. I had nothing to do with that! [Laughs] Thats what I love. Hes an honest dude, and hes passionate about what he does. When youre in this position, and youve got Dr. Dre here, youve got 50 Cent [click to read], youve got Eminem, youve got all these kind of people, you can become jaded, because people can be nice to you because they want these same kind of positions. He keeps my clarity 100%, he keeps me where I need to be. He always lets me know what it is, regardless if I want to hear it if I dont like it. I appreciate that most. Thats why I keep my mama around me, thats the mom-ager; I keep my brother around me, thats road manager. I keep nothing but real dudes around me who arent susceptible to the power of the pressures.

DX: Hip Hop has shifted from albums to singles. The way you describe your debut and the personnel on it, it sounds like an album that listeners may need to hear Track 3 and Track 5 to properly appreciate Track 4. With 50 Cent, Dr. Dre and Eminem restoring Hip Hops faith in album-making, what are you learning?
Bishop Lamont:
Patience. Sacrifice, because theres times when you know youve got a crazy record, but somebody else might need that record for their album. You have to be in the mindstate of, I can make another one. It kinda makes you moreit raises your endurance level, it raises your self-esteem level in the sense of, I did it, I can do it again. You become more into a comfort zone of your craft. Thirdly, you want to put your life into the records. You dont want to be one of those cats thats going, Whats hot right now? You can be observant of what people are listening to. If I go to a club, I go to examine what people are reacting to. I look at Soundscan. But as far as mimicking what other people do, I refuse to ever do that. Ive never been a conformist. Your best record is not your best record. Just cause it feels like its the hottest record, theres always a new level to reach, thats what Ive learned from Dre.

With 50, its an amazing thing just to be able to sit down with dude. Cause dude has the business shit on smash; his approach to records is on some whole other shit. Dre is more of a logical person and a scientist. Fif is more on some, Timing is everything, and setting shit up. Hes more on the power side, and really seeing the angles. Thats him. Hes a superior hustler like that. Hes gonna put the fire into the shit, the streets into the shit. Thats what he infuses to it. Dres gonna correct the sonics; hes gonna look at the frequencies, the structure of the record. When I look at [50 Cent] and I look at Dre, you get the best of both worlds. I cant say too much, cause thatll let the cat out of the bag, but theres some fly shit with these mega-juggernauts around.

DX: With that proverbial three-headed monster in the lab, youve been there three or four years, how are the mood and attitudes at Interscope right now, with all this coming up?
Thats what they call it?
Bishop Lamont: I didnt know that one. Thats hot. Interscope is still Interscope. See, theyre used to that. Like, with the exception of the cats in the rap department, them niggas is excited, and them niggas do their job. But since its their job, it kinda becomes burnout, because they feel we need more numbers out there, we need more new cats out there, whats the hold-up? But they do their job. But people can lose that excitement, because when you deal with that corporate monster, its a lot of disappointment that happens, because other shits gotta be dealt with. But in reflection of seeing of seeing whats going on with Fif having his video out, Em got his freestyles out, Detox is finally getting done, Im almost done, its shifting. People are getting eager, and people want to prove that shit is real. Its not Big Foot, its not a unicorn, Detox is real; Eminems album is the truth, 50s shit is gonna be what the fans have been waiting for. And of course, yours truly not just for this west coast movement, but for this Hip Hop shit.

DX: Its Hip Hop, its not just like west, like you said. As I hear about it in word of mouth how crazy things are in Carson, California right now, how much are you about putting on for your city, and making it up there with Compton, Long Beach, Inglewood and Watts?
Bishop Lamont:
You see, one of the first Dre records you ever heard from me was No Stoppin Carson, so its gonna be at the epicenter of what Im doing. Thats like Nelly [click to read] not pushing St. Louis. But at the same, he was doing his record based on what he was supposed to do. Thats why I tell cats, dont just center it around just being a west coast album, because that alienates people. As far as Carson goes, theres so many fly cats comin out of here. Roccett [click to read] been putting his thing, not to mention that Boo-Ya T.R.I.B.E. came before, Diverse is lovely on the beats. Its a lot of fly cats, a lot of young upstarts. Its dope that we starting to get more light. Shouts out to David Beckham, we gotta drink and ball. [Carson is] starting to be a name thats recognizable.

DX: When we last spoke almost two years ago, it was too premature to start talking about joints. Youre sacrificing album joints to mixtapes and other artists, but tell me about one track thats definitely sitting tight for the album.
Tell em about the Halloween record, son!
Bishop Lamont: Oh! I was about to say that, Damizza! I can give that one away. For me, its exciting with this album, man, because Ive had so much more time to work on it than I expected. So its become so fuckin super-alpha-mega-ultra type shit right now that its stupid. Ill give away one. Its a record called Rain that Dre produced, featuring The New Royales. Its based on my birthday, and its like a ghost story.
Damizza: Its one of those imagery records, you know how Dre makes records where you walk through a scene? Its like one of those. Its a story-rhyme. Its a beat like Dre hasnt done in years. It just paints a picture in your mind of a dude walking through his birthday. Hes going crazy, this guy!
Bishop Lamont: My birthdays on Halloween, so I always wanted to do a record for my birthday. Since its supernatural, I wanted to do something ill. Its just dope. Focus and Oscar helped me together as well. [DJ] Khalil came in. Dre came in at times to hear it and said, Man, you made me like that beat. It be shit he didnt even like. It just became amazing stuff, from the cinematic level of the Rain. The best way to simplify it is, its like my Murder Was The Case [click to read] a Stan [click to read].
Damizza: Really.
Bishop Lamont: Im proud of it.

DX: Bishop, youre a positive person, but have recently gotten into headlines with butting heads with some other rappers in the industry. Is this you, or is the media, in yur eyes, trying to create the controversy or the crabs in the bucket mentality for the west? Is what happened last week, is this being blown out of proportion?
Bishop Lamont:
You know what? The main example of industry manipulation is Miss Info. I always bring this conversation up because that bitch pissed me off to the point where Im not gonna be satisfied till I see this bitch in person. With the Joell Ortiz [click to read] situation, when I was speaking on dude, defending dude positively, they tried to make it sound [negative]. My statement was misconstrued. Even he knew in the interview, what it really was, but he gonna feel how he felt. That was a situation where motherfuckers tried to put one good dude against another good dude on they team. I didnt even know Joell all that well, but when he came down here to work with Focus, I was right there in the studio; it was my off-days and I came in to fuck with dude, so its always gonna be love with me and him. I have to go on the record and say it again for people who dont get to hear the interviews or the other shit people need to hear.

With the situation with me and Jayceon [The Game] [click to read], its been that way for years. But I never tripped off the shit, because at the beginning, Dre had always informed me, Dont say nothin, gag order. So shit kinda came to a boil with the situation in Houston, when dude fronted on me in the club. I said, If theres an issue, we can go right into the fuckin parking lot or whatever. Nigga seen my face and saw what it was. But instead, you call us on stage, you call Glasses Malone [click to read]; theres a million witnesses, and its all peace. You got other little girls on the stage, that need not be mentioned, that are gypsy rappers and do what they do, and he knows what it is. But its love on stage, right? Then, when you leave, you jump on the radio the next day and diss the fuck out of me and Glasses. That was kinda like the last straw for me. Im not holding my tongue no more. Im not trying to extend myself. Because in some interviews, I was trying to put shit together. Im actually trying to get dude on Detox. Im actually doing shit you wouldnt expect me to do, but I see it for the greater cause of the situation. But at the same time, kick me once shame on you; kick me twice shame on me. Im not gonna let it get to that point. I got kicked like two, three, four fuckin times just respecting Dres wishes. At that point, thats what it is. I said my peace.

When you put the truth to it, motherfuckers are gonna get offended, and make it some kind of a wrestling match. This shit is comedy to me. What Im never gonna do is lie about situations and scenarios. The truth is the worst thing you could hit people with, and thats where Ill leave it.

I dont hate that nigga, I got love for that nigga. But dude is disrespectful and does a lot of back-stabbing, corny shit, and dude says a lot of slanderous shit. For whatever reasons he does that, I dont know. But I couldnt have hate for a dude when his brother is one of my best friends. Love his mom, love his sister, it is what it is, regardless. Thats the bottom line, but people want to make it Hip Hop excitement, and thats got the fans excited, thats great for them, but this is real life for me.

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