O.C. & A.G.: The Last Ones Left
Thankfully, with a handful of classic albums between them (Runaway Slave, WordLife, Goodfellas, Jewelz, and Starchild are must owns for any true Hip Hop head), D.I.T.C. faithful are still getting a pretty impressive Diggin duo. After pushing their own individual aspirations aside (O.C. confirmed to HipHopDX that his long-delayed next solo album, My Soul To Keep, is being put on indefinite hold to allow continued recording with A.G.), O and A have banded together to hopefully unveil a new classic full-length.
Following last years underwhelming D.I.T.C.-sponsored The Movement compilation, an Oasis of dope Diggin material is on the horizon (having already been completed and just awaiting a formal release date - the Nature Sounds sponsored projects first single, Think About It, is due to drop shortly though). And if last years two buzz cuts for Oasis, the funky head nodder 2 For The Money and horn-blessed two-stepper Put It In The Box, are any indication of what to expect from Oasis, D.I.T.C. loyalists are in for a true treat.
Recently, HipHopDX conducted a Q&A with O and A to discuss Oasis, the future of their seemingly disjointed Diggin crew (and if that future will include Fat Joe), and most importantly what the legacy of the legendary fallen member of Diggin, Big L, is 10 years after his tragic murder.
HipHopDX: Lets just jump things off by having yall breakdown, for those that dont already know, when and why O.C. and A.G. decided to start rockin together as a tag team?
A.G.: [Both O.C. and A.G. mischievously laugh] I guess it was always there, just never happened Weve always been around each other; weve always been making the music together, but just not as a separate project. And we always had strong ideas [like], Yo, we should do a song like this next time we do a song. And the [first] song we did like that was Weed & Drinks [from O.C.s Bon Appetit [click to read] album in 2001], which we felt came out real dope. A lot of feedback from that was dope. And it showed the contrast of our styles [and] how if we meshed it together it could make a good sound. So we just went ahead and did a album. At first it started out as we just wanna do it for fun, we just wanna make it sound dope. But as it get better and more people add their production to it, the idea becomes bigger.
O.C.: Basically what he said.
A.G.: [Laughs] You gon get a lot of that cause we know how to speak for each other.
O.C.: I mean [working together] was just something that was bound to happen because A is always on the road, Im always on the road. We like probably the main emcees in [D.I.T.C. still out there] as far as like Big L not bein [here], [Lord Finesse] is more concentrated into the production side, [as is] Show, and Diamond [click to read] is out of town so Hes not in New York anymore. So everybody is really on their own thing. But me and A is more or less in contact constantly. So, it was bound to happen.
DX: [Are] the tracks on Oasis comparable to the duo tracks you guys had on The Movement compilation like the more subdued sounding Time Travel or moodier vibe of Energy?
O.C.: Opposite. Straight opposite. Its me and As attitude, style. Its justus, as opposed to him and me doing solo projects. Its like, we took the solo mindstates and brought em together. It was organic. We just did songs to what beats we felt. It wasnt something like, Well, lets sit down and think, and overthink it. We just did what we felt. And its totally opposite [from] what The Movement [click to read] was. The Movement was really like a compilation.
DX: If its opposite, is this more uptempo, or how would you describe the actual sound?
A.G.: Musically, its by the same producers so its gonna have [the] same type of feel. But its different because on the joints I think our message also sets the tone. Like, we are that last instrument. [And] we tried to do that intentionally on the project. Its a lot of melodies on the project. Its a lot of things like We brought the best out of each other I think. Like, O brought the best out of me. Ive learned at this stage of my game, Oh, this is how you attack something like that when you wanna attack it with some melody Cause I definitely know O specializes in that. So, I think we gained a lot from each other and learned when we go on and do our next project, Oh, I could add this to my shit. This is somethin I learned from my cohort, my partna. So thats dope. And a lot of that is reflected in the music, how we feed off of each other. And I think thats what you might hear separate from The Movement because this is a concentrated effort of O.C. and A.G.more so than another project because you hear us here and there. This is constantly us. There is no features on there. Its just us.
DX: I read that yall had a song with Bun B and yall together spittin over a J. Dilla beat?
A.G.: Nah [Make It Fast] was supposed to be for Dillas [Jay Stay Paid] [click to read] albumbut it didnt make the cut on that joint Because when we actually had the track to start doing it the project was already turned in. So you might hear it [on a future Dilla project]. But anything we can definitely do to ever assist in the career of J. Dilla, we all for that.
DX: Damn I gotta hear that. Yall and Bun B together, thats gotta be ill right there.
A.G.: Thats whats up. Thats what it is. At this stage of the game, man, we just trying to make music with people that we really respect and know that theyre here for the long haul.
O.C.: Plus Bun B [click to read] is an emcee, man.
A.G.: Yeah, for sure. [He] know what time it is, for sure.
DX: Now did all of the D.I.T.C. producers Finesse, Show, Buck, Diamond contribute tracks for Oasis?
A.G.: When me and O was in the studio it was actually me, O and Show. And [when] we said we wanted to do this project, it was really supposed to be a two week project, [Show] just gonna play some beats, we gonna rip the mic and we gon put this out cause me and O wanna be heard together. So it wasnt any really, really hard reaching out [to other producers]. We speak to Finesse on the regular as well, so Finesse definitely contributed tracks. But as far as [anybody] else, we just got it done really in-house. Show did some tracks [and] Statik Selektah [click to read] came through the studio while we was doing some shit [and so then] he contributed something. But it was nothing really like on that scale, it just turned into [a slightly bigger project] after awhile. So everybody [from Diggin' In The Crates] is not on that project, but its not for no particular reason. Its just we wanted to get this done in the time frame we was doing it.
DX: Yall each wanna pick a favorite track from the album for me. Like, tell me your personal favorites on the album.
O.C.: My joints is Gods Gift thats one of As solo joints. Another one is my solo joint, Contagious. Think About It I mean, I like the whole album overall but the standouts to me is probably them threeoh, and Young With Style.
DX: Young With Style, yall just saying that you got that forever, or you talking bout the youngns in the game?
A.G.: You gotta listen to the song, cant give everything away. [Laughs] They need that bit of curiosity like, How could these dudes make a song about young with style, So, we gotta leave that door open a little bit. I guarantee you wont be disappointed. If you love Hip Hop you gonna love this project. Because you gonna hear that it came from our soul. Once anything is done in that fashion, that comes from the heart, you really cant go wrong. Nothing anyone can tell you about the project can really alter what you trying to feel about it, or what you ultimately feel about it. If they love it, you like, Thats dope. If they hate it, you like, Thats cool too. Its at a point where Im content with what we came out with.
O.C.: Yep. And like you said, its one of the two, you either gonna love it or you gonna hate it.
DX: I wanna switch gears and while I got you both here I wanna get a state of the Diggin In The Crates crew update for 2009. Like yall kinda alluded to, everybody seems to be doing their own thing, but are we ever gonna get another full-length album from D.I.T.C. together like the crew album back in 2000?
O.C.: No comment. [Laughs]
A.G.: I dont know. Its no real proper way to answer that. Its definitely possible. Aint nobody on a hate relationship. But at the same time, you got planets sometimes that need to keep they own space to exist in the same galaxy. So its kinda like that sometimes.
O.C.: Its like brothers, man, when you comin up.
A.G.: Its like night and day though, the switch could turn on tomorrow and we could say, Lets do it. So I cant answer that this way or that way, but its no bad blood. So that always leaves the door open for whatever.
DX: So if yall cant answer [that] you cant answer my Fat Joe question then, right [Laughs]?
A.G.: Ask it. We dont duck nothin. Ask it, I wanna hear it. I wanna know what you thinkin bout.
DX: Its just you know, why hasnt Joe Crack come through and got on a Diggin crewmembers project in years?
A.G.: You gotta ask Fat Joe [click to read].
O.C.: Hes been actually reachin outthrough a record. I mean, I think he kinda inquired about it in a record on That White [from Elephant In The Room], just lettin people know and shoutin us out on it in the beginning of the record But, I don't know, man. Like, Joe is a businessman, B. You gotta look at what Joe is doin and what hes done, and where hes at now. Like A said, man, sometimes planets cant occupy the same space at the moment, but its still love.
A.G.: Yeah, for sure. But at the same time keep it a hundred, so it doesnt sound like either one of us is avoiding your question every interview I do, everywhere we go, that question comes up.
O.C.: Yeah, always.
A.G.: So at this point its like, you really have to ask him. We didnt go nowhere. We still here. Thats something that he has to answer. Thats not something that I need to answer.
DX: Yeah I can respect that. But you can always if you need to get Joell Ortiz to take his spot
A.G.: [Laughs] Nah, he cant hold his spot. And thats no disrespect to Joell Ortiz [click to read] but Fat Joe is likehes iconic in what he does, man. Like, lets not get nothin twisted. This whole Latino/Reggaeton movement, all that, anything you wanna describe on that level really came in on his back. Like, I was there seeing him do the promotion for Big Pun. And everybody knew Big Puns name before they even saw or heard this dude. And thats really from Joe bein a graffiti artist and knowin, I gotta get his name in places that people are gon go, How the fuck that got there? He did that. So, when you got Big Pun, the first Latin dude of this era to go platinum, and then the Reggaeton movement to come in on the back of that and N.O.R.E. [click to read] and Pun doin joints and the whole Latino spirit is brought back [to Hip Hop], thats all dedicated to Joe. So, Joell Ortiz got [big] shoes to fill. But no disrespect to him, because hes also nice, and I like how he brings...like hes cut from the same cloth [as] we are, with that old school flavor and he can get lyrical. So, its no shots to nobody. But at the same time, Joe has put a lot of work in. Hes one artist that I can say in this era that I actually like every album hes made. Hes very consistent. So give him a little bit more credit than what you givin him.
DX: Well the only reason I brought up Joell is cause he was on that Air Yall track from The Movement. I was just trying to see if maybe he was
A.G.: [Interrupts] Yeah, hes like extended family, so its all love. But I dont wanna sit here like Im Thats not real to me. I recognize what Fat Joe has done to this game. And I cant overlook that regardless of what. And, we have no gripes. To answer these questions is like making a gripe exist. But at the same time, every time they ask [about Joe] I know its a question people wanna hear. And I wouldnt do the interview if I couldnt answer you and tell the people what they wanted to hear. [But] I think he could tell people more so than us.
DX: Wanna switch gears hereAs yall know, February 09 marked the 10 year anniversary of Big Ls passing. But even though its been a few months since then, I still wanted to get your guys thoughts on Ls legacy why younger fans who werent into the music yet when L was rippin shit in the 90s should view Big L as one of the greatest emcees in Hip Hop history?
O.C.: They not doin the knowledge to a lot of cats, whether dead or alive But, to talk about Big L, bein around him, this dude was a I can honestly say from my perspective, him and Fat Joe were stars off-the-rip. I seen Big L surpass him with what he was doin with the whole freestylin and battlin. These dudes had somethin extra. Not to say we didnt, but they had somethin extra. And, [to] me, I think a lot of people probably [know] more about Big L now, a lot of the kids, then they did when he was alive. And thats just my perspective on things. When I look at blogs and stuff, his name always comes up in the top five, top 10. He did somethin right for people to still be talkin about him, in this day and age. Its another generation.
A.G.: I think if you could bottle up his energy and sell it you could get rich, because thats just what he [brought] to the table. He was gonna bring [energy], and he [was] a very, very creative person. Not just a rapper, but a creative mind in itself. And sometimes those type of I think comin from Harlem also added a lot to his nature because win, lose or draw his head was always high. And he always knew like, Yo, Im nice. Even when it was times like What I wanted to add on too not even to change the subject was like, as far as Diggin, I think we all were stars at one point or another. Its just, the industry itself Like, me, O.C., Diamond D, we all were on like basically new labels when we came out with our music. And a lot of these companies didnt know how to market us, but we knew how to market ourselves. And this was a time where a lot of us were very independent. And if you look back on it, maybe we shoulda stayed independent, because we knew how to attract our audience better than the labels. So when you go like that, and the success that weve all reached, I believe that if that was in a correct situation a little bit more mature on the artist part, but a lot more knowledge on the record labels part I think wed be telling a whole different story right now. As far as production, we are trendsetters. We created a whole sound that real producers to this day marvel at and be like, I wonder how he looped that, or, I wonder how he chopped that. It wasnt just take a loop and rhyme on it. So we brought a whole different thing to the game. We didnt just make chorus-friendly songs. We were actually rhymin lyrically on songs - forget [about] 8-bars. We broke the mold, so to say, to make it even more acceptable [to rhyme like that]. But we were all on brand new labels. Payday, [Show & A.G.] were the first artists on Payday Records. I mean, Jay-Z was on Payday Records [for the single, In My Lifetime in 95] when we were [already] big dogs. So it was a different time Finesse was on Wild Pitch, and they never figured out what they was doin, so Imagine these artists on a Def Jam, or on a Loud Records when they were established at their high point, the impact we made now if you compare it to that. And Im not just trying to talk about what was, or what we coulda been, Im just tryin to put things into real perspective.