Underground Report: (Reks & Krumb Snatcha)
Krumb Snatcha is one of those burdens of proof. After a jarring appearance on 1998's Gang Starr album Moment of Truth, the spiritual street rapper has released an assortment of independent projects, each themed and backed by producers like DJ Premier, Easy Mo Bee, Marley Marl and more. His April release Hidden Scriptures finds the emcee talking God, the east coast, and nostalgia with help from Pete Rock, Da Beatminerz and Large Professor. As HipHopDX's Underground Report takes a New England "Award Tour," meet one of the forces of the movement in Boston.
HipHopDX: How was your grind as a Massachusetts emcee? I know that many often sleep on the state as a whole. How do you feel about that?
Krumb Snatcha: I feel like Massachusetts is on its rise right now. Its been a lot of work. It started off with Jaysaun of The Kreators, Pioneer, Scientifik and Edo G. legends like that. Now we have upcoming cats like Termanology [click to read], Reks, Frankie Wainwright, Dre Robinson and Mdot. Its a lot of kids that are coming up in the game. I think in 2009, Massachusetts, actually, New England in general should have its time.
As for being a Massachusetts emceeMassachusetts has different scenery. We have a lot of colleges out here. That makes it so the content has to be very different from New York. You have more people you need to impress on more of an intellectual capacity, as far as lyrical content. All the major labels are in New York. We have to make our own noise and recognition here in New England and than catch the attention of other states. I believe were doing that now. Were supporting each other as artists. Once you begin to do that, you get attention from other areas.
DX: Many people say during the '90s Hip Hop was more pure and real. The east coast was really doing big things during this time. Do you make it an effort to try and keep that whole style alive today? Do you feel like its a smart move to act as though the '90s never died?
Krumb Snatcha: Its a cycle. The '90s was what it was. We have the south doing their thing and now were coming back to the east coast thing. The good thing about Boston or New England in general is that there arent too many people beefing with each other right now. Beef isnt taking the attention of the fans. We just have good music. A lot of artists are collaborating with each other. Thank God were not involved in the bickering, arguing etc. like some other states. We have a fresh start to let everyone see what we have to offer, as far as the music industry is concerned. I dont believe that we have been ignoredbut weve been fans of other artists that are fans of each other. Now I believe artists are supporting each other. Were all fans of each other. We got something to offer the industry.
DX: So its safe to say that there is unity in Massachusetts between all the artists such as yourself and other Massachusetts talent like Statik Selektah.
Krumb Snatcha: Yes, absolutely. I knew Statik [click to read] and Termanology when they were younger and just coming into the game. They were hungry doing their thing. Now you see even more artists coming up under their camps and my camps and its just going to be continued. Termanology is doing great things right now. We got Dre Robinson doing big things in the local area. We got Frankie Wainwrightjust people doing their thing right now. I believe it is just our time now and its a great thing.
DX: The album Hidden Scriptures is definitely '90s-influenced, as said before. On Mind Power you said its time to take em back to shell toes and fat laces. Why not be conscious in what you say but try and have a more current sound?
Krumb Snatcha: The current style is not what I grew up to. Everything comes in cycles. Everybody has been able to have their run, the north, south, midwest or what have you. Were over in Massachusetts; were right next to New York. In a way their style rubs off over into Massachusetts, but we have our own style within that style. In Mind Power [click to listen] I was just saying take it back to the beginning. Take it back to when cats had content and things to say within the music. Its one thing to say I clapped a cat, but what happened after that? There are always two sides to the coin. I just want an artist to have more integrity. Theres a ying and yang to the whole situation. Some talk about one side and then others talk about the other side.
DX: I think Feeling does a good job of joining something current and the nostalgic 90s sound. Working with Da Beatminerz on itwhy did you select the producers you did?
Krumb Snatcha: I definitely go for the sound they produce. Ive worked with them before. This album, I wanted to try something different considering all of the other music Ive done before. I chose producers who came to the table with something to offer. As a result everything came out as planned.
DX: You have a track called the East is Back. With Statik Selektah gaining more and more recognition within the industry, would you say hes helping the east coast movement?
Krumb Snatcha: It's just like paying homage to what I grew up on. I tried to touch upon the same note that Illmatic [by Nas] or Reasonable Doubt [by Jay-Z] had at those times. It was something in Hip Hop history and even the west coast, I believe, was familiar with those records. I was just paying homage. Like I said, everything comes full circle...every coast had it's time. I believe the east coast is about to come back. Not just New York, New England, New Jersey...you know the whole east coast vibe is about to come back. Everybody has something to offer.
DX: Speak on simply working with the legendary Gang Starr duo. How do you feel about the whole Gang Starr situation? With Guru being someone whom youve worked with, how did the breakup affect you? Your career? Boston?
Krumb Snatcha: Personally, I don't really want to comment too much on the whole situation because it goes a little bit deeper than what is shown or said to the outsiders. It was something between them. Everything works for a reason. Everything turns out how it does for a reason. You never know they might get back together. I support anything that happens ya know. I support Guru [click to read]. I support [DJ] Premier for helping me get to where I'm at. They gave me insight into the game. Other than that, I don't want to comment on either side. As for affecting Boston as a whole, the only ones who were truly affected were the fans. The true Gang Starr fans they got that sound that's really missing. That real classic Brooklyn-made New York feel mixed with Guru. That whole sound is missing right now. If they could get back together that would actually be excellent.
DX: Speak to me about Hidden Scriptures.
Krumb Snatcha: Basically, it's something that is just trying to touch upon issues that are going on currently. I go into spiritual issues where it talks about a person and their connection to their spirit. I'm not trying to talk like I'm holier than thou but, I'm just trying to create something that you can play back and say you got something from it. It's not just an album that you can play in the club and bounce to it's something you can listen to and vibe out to. Listen to it, rewind it and reflect on things, go and cross reference what's being said. It's something for the fans really. It shows both sides as far as being an artist.
DX: On the track L.O.V.E. you say corporations richer while the underground hurts. Would you want there to be a way where underground artists get more money for what they do? Do you think that would help the genre?
Krumb Snatcha: I just feel that the underground deserves and equal ear as well as those commercial songs. All we're hearing on the radio is those commercial songs that have the same content. We need something else to contrast that. We need something that's on the other side of the coin. I don't believe that if underground artists get on the radio that they'll change their content. If they are staying within their field and message and it gets on the radio that's fine. Kanye West started in that direction. At the end of the day, it is whatever you are comfortable being. If you're comfortable being that thug cat, okay fine, so be it, that's you. If you're comfortable being yourself as a college kid talking about college days that's cool 'cause that's you. It's not a sell out if you talking about real things that pertain to yourself.
DX: Which track on the album would you say has the potential to be a hit like your song Hip Hop?
Krumb Snatcha: I like "Still Be Me" because I got some artists on it and we're all just talking about how no matter what the game does to you to you need to stay real to yourself. It's not to say that the industry is evil. It's just to say that even with material success you should always be yourself. There is no need to change what you're about. I like "Garden of Eden." If you really listen to it, I reference things from The Bible. There are things in it that the general public just doesn't know about. There's also the track "Heaven on Earth" for the ladies. A lot of people don't really treat their woman like that. It doesn't always have to be about bitches and hoes, pardon my French; we can pay tribute to the women. If you have that right woman or girl in your life it can make any situation heaven on earth.
DX: Being underground is something some artists want to bewhere do you stand on being underground or mainstream?
Krumb Snatcha: I just want to make records. I'll be happy doing that, everything else doesn't really matter. I just enjoy recording records. This is my fifth album. I don't have a platinum album, but I do have fans who appreciate the work. I have fans in the states and overseas and you can't ask for much more than that. Being an artist, when you're an artist and you put down your own work that's compensation within itself. A finished product is the greatest compensation that one could ask for.
DX: Where do you think Hip Hop is going?
Krumb Snatcha: To be blunt...for it to get better it has to get worse. So maybe we might have a few more weeks, months or years of the not so great hip hop to get to the better stuff. It can only go up once you get to the bottom.
After years and years on smaller projects and feature roles, Reks has truly turned it up in the last year. With a tremendous boost from the skyrocketing profile of Statik Selektah, Reks is taking it back to the era when thugs were smart, and the rhymes reflected the intellect. Quick to throw a two-piece, the writer behind last year's underground hit "Say Goodnight" has a lot of wisdom behind all those Grey Hairs.
HipHopDX: Whats your experience as a New England rapper and your perception of the talent from that area?
Reks: There are definitely a slew of cats from New England that do their thing and I respect them for it. I respect the music that comes out of New England. I feel like up north, specifically where Im from in Massachusetts, a lot of artists get comfortable in their surroundings and dont try to go out of their own neighborhoods. They get caught up with a lackadaisical attitude and dont leave their city. When I left, I noticed that things started to come together. I would say to leave home and go out of your surroundings to find new things. At least get out there and leave home and see what is going on elsewhere. Definitely go out and see the world and take part in what is going on outside of what you know. Yet there are a slew of artists from Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New Hampshire and other spots up north that I respect. They do their thing.
DX: So what was the' 90s for you?
Reks: I think it was definitely the golden era of Hip Hop. The '90s for me were where I think I found my true voice as far as actually trying to pursue it as a serious career. Hearing artists who had messages in their music definitely sparked my interest in the craft. They kept things established and put out quality work. That molded me into the person that I am. I just wanted to put out music that meant something. It didn't have to be something that was only geared to what the public wanted, record execs wanted or all the things that have influenced us from the 2000s. It was about the music.
DX: On Grey Hairs you had the song Say Goodnight. On More Grey Hairs you have Cloud 9. Working with DJ Premier do you feel like its a guaranteed hitor at least a great combination?
Reks: I definitely think its a great combination. Premier historically has been tried and tested, and he meets the goal. With his music you know youre going to get 100%. He makes classic timeless material. I am still relatively new when it comes to the landscape of Hip Hop music. I just hope that when I do get on a record with DJ Premier or any artist who has a tested name in Hip Hop that I dont disappoint. I just want to bring my full game when I get in the arena. Im not going to say its a guaranteed hit because nothing is promised. I do think we make a great combination.
DX: Do you feel its important to work with others from New England such as Statik?
Reks: I feel its necessary to come homealways. I feel like working with cats like Statik and Term, you work with people from home. You have some of the same experiences, mindstate, ideals and ideas. Its definitely good to work with artists who come from what you come from. Its important because Statik is also a friend outside of the whole music thing. Not only is he someone whom I respect a lot we share that hometown connection as well.
DX: So is it safe to say there is a unity between everyone?
Reks: I wouldnt say across the board unfortunately. I would say that there are a slew of artists from the New England area, from Massachusetts in general who identify with each other and have a tendency to work together. The thing is, like any other city across the map, you have personal rivalries and competitions between individuals. I just hope that everyone understands that in the end, everyone is just trying to succeed and make good music. There shouldnt be anyone concerned with what the next man is doing or trying to compete. There should only be concern on making good music. Making good music is the end all be all.
DX: Year of the Showoff is a great track that you worked with Statik on. Lets talk about this joint and some other favorites on your album.
Reks: Year of the Showoff is definitely something to identify us as a nucleus. Return to what we love. Statik and I have a strong chemistry. Other tracks as well such as Goodnight And Good Luck deals with the climate that were living in right now. It deals with the economic crisis and what we dealt with during the George W. Bush Presidency. Our new president is brought up as well. I felt like it was a necessary track to add. It speaks on what is going on right now and I feel like is needed. I Ain't Shit kind of dealt with my personal issues and struggles in life. It touches on me being a family man versus doing the whole music thing and being in this industry and life on a day to day basis. I just want to make music that speaks to everyday life.
DX: Dear Winter is one of my favorite songs. In the first line you say I feel its lonely at the top, but Im reaching for the top because I hate it at the bottom. Would you say thats an analogy of being underground and trying to garner more popularity in the mainstream?
Reks: As an underground artist, we are trying to gravitate to the top, but not necessarily in the scheme of things that some people would consider making it to the top. I just want to make timeless music. I want to be able to put out timeless music, and 10 years from now I want people to note that I put my all into making classic and good music. I dont want to make one record and then be gone soon after. I dont want someone to say you know, Reks was doing his thing for that small span of time. I want to be able to put out timeless music. Ten years form now whether you have 12 fans, 1,200 fans or 12,000 fans, you want them to listen to the music and identify with what youre saying. On these records, I want it to be noted that I put my all into it. If Im doing that my son can look back and say, "Daddy, I listened to this record and I can identify with it." I feel like I will deservingly be on top and I did what I needed to do to be on top. I dont need a bunch of rings or rims on my car, Im a family man. I am not living the typical rapper lifestyle right now and dont need to consider myself accomplished.
DX: Do you ever hope that Hip Hop will go back to how it used to be where most songs contained funky beats and conscious lyrics?
Reks: I definitely think that conscience rap should be a mainstay in Hip Hop; I dont think it should be the only platform. We cant be on the pulpit all day. We have to party and have fun times as well. I dont thinks a conscience platform is the only thing that should be there, but we should return to the golden area and push it forward. We should continue to push it forward. We need to start a new revolution of music. It should transcend what is going on around us today and try and focus on bettering peoples lives. We should make more music that actually speaks about the matters, as opposed to every song being a party and living this big lavish lifestyle. It should be a mix of everything. There are people who cant relate to it Theyre going to gravitate towards the music and if they cant get it the way youre getting it, they will go by a different means to do so. We should focus on uplifting the community and uplifting the youth. I think that is a major part of Hip Hop that goes overlooked.
DX: So what was the Gang Starr breakup to you?
Reks: At the end of the day, I would have loved for them to have stayed together forever, but I understand that not all things are built for forever. I respect them for being men and going their separate ways. They did what they needed to do and chose different paths. Personally, I grew up on Gang Starr music and with that foundation. It definitely affected me in the sense that there is less quality material put out based on their breaking up. It didnt change my wanting a career in Hip Hop per se. If anything it just made me realize that we are all susceptible to a certain mindstate. Its a difficult game to get into. You can never understand a person's situation or reasoning for making the decision that they do. All you can do is respect it. I would have definitely liked to have seen a million more Gang Starr albums come out.
DX: Who in the game right now do you think has the potential to continue in the path that you and others like you created?
Reks: I could name a million but off the top of my head there is Termanology. I love what hes doing with his music and where hes taking it. Cats like John Hope, Sean Jackson, Elzhi [click to read] and Saigon [click to read]. The list just goes on and on. Saigon is a step ahead of some of us. I feel like Saigon is someone who when they drop their album, people will look at him as a rapper not stuck on one subject matter. He will definitely put out material thats quality and positive in regards to the struggle. There are just a billion artists I could think of.