Clinton Sparks: Get Familiar

posted March 08, 2006 12:00:00 AM CST | 2 comments

The elements of Hip-Hop -- kids, you should know them by now. The MC, breakin, graffiti, and the DJ. Back in the day, the DJ was more important than the MC. The DJ was the master of ceremonies, the mover of the crowds. From DJ Kool Herc to Grandmaster Flash to Kid Capri to DJ Jazzy Jeff the DJ put the groove to the mood that flooded your airwaves.

With that said get familiar with DJ Clinton Sparks. Already named one of the top ten mixtape artists by Rolling Stone magazine, Sparks has been setting the mixtape world ablaze with his various mixtape series and is commanding fans to Touch the Sky. This mixtape pairs DJ Clinton Sparks with the three-time Grammy award winning MC, Kany West. Mr. West gets to rest on this one as all the production duties are handled by the prolific Clinton Sparks.

The album contains guest appearances from Pharell, D-Block, Busta Rhymes, Ludacris, Slim Thug, Dipset, Freeway, Nas and plenty of others.

Sparks, ever the vigilant perfectionist, strives to continue his trend of hard work by preparing the release of his first full-length album, Get Familiar, Vol. 1 for later release. gets a chance to speak with the 2005 Justos Annual Mixtape Award winner as he discusses the mixtape, Justos passing, and why he wont do a Kany West-inspired Rolling Stone cover for his next mixtape.

First things first how did you and Kanye come together to do this mixtape?

CS: Basically, I have a good relationship with the G.O.O.D. music camp. I was coming out with the mixtape and they enjoyed the idea. They were basically game to be involved in the project from the jump. I produced the entire album. After that, I flew up to Toronto. There Kany and I got together and we banged out the breaks, the skits and whatnot.

In your opinion, what do you think was the highlight of the mixtape?

CS: In my opinion the highlight for me would have to be umm Id have to say it was the D-Block record because theyre going to use it to be the lead single for their new album that comes out in March on Koch Records.

What do you think about 50 Cents impact within the mixtape game?

CS: Honestly, I think that 50 put a chokehold on the mixtape game when it came to promoting himself. He built his own brand through G-Unit. I dont think people are like, Word, mixtapes from 50! Moreso theyre knowledgeable about who and what is out there. Especially in New York, where there is that culture of the mixtape awards and all that comes with it.

For those who may or may not be true Hip-Hop heads or whatever, describe how much the lost of DJ Justo Faison has affected the game?

CS: Its definitely a lot of people that had benefited from his hard work. The effort that he had put into those mixtape awards was genuine. Its like the Grammys for the DJ. Its the standard of where you want to be in your career. It legitimizes you to the Hip-Hop community. The lost or should I say the hardest thing to deal with is that hes no longer physically here with us. But those who have been touched by his spirit know that hell never be lost amongst us in Hip-Hop. As long as the Justo Mixtape Awards continue, hell still be a force within our hearts. No one can ever replace what hes done.

In another interview, you went into detail about your nervousness of today and tomorrow. No offense to anyone, but did Justos passing add more fuel to the fire so that you can accomplish your goals?

CS: No not really. On a business level, Justos passing didnt affect me in anyway. I was more concerned about his family and his son. I was more so worried about Justo the man, not the DJ. I knew him on a personal level. I know his son and his girl. I know that hes in a better place. I just feel that we should honor the man that did so much for so many people.

I can dig that. One of your goals thats soon to be accomplished is Get Familiar Vol. 1. Why dont you tell the people what they should be expecting?

CS: Of course, Im working on that now. That album has got a crazy record on there with Ghostface and Raekwon. Were going to redo one of the biggest records in Hip-Hop. Featured on the album will be Busta Rhymes, Slim Thug, Talib Kweli, Juelz Santana, and a few others. As with the Touch the Sky mixtape, Im working on producing the whole thing. Even right now, Im talking to a few labels as to where this album can come out on and be distributed. Oh also, Im dropping a New Crack City mixtape with Busta Rhymes in a few months. There is a whole bunch of things that were working on. I just signed my syndication deal with Super Radio. Although, Im already on 12 stations, theyre going to take it across the nation. Its going to be crazy.

I am also involved with the Scarface video game. Im one of the stars in the game. In it, I play an undercover cop. I am also in the Saints Row video. One of the stations that you can listen to in the game is, of course, Smash Time Radio.

I dont know if too many people would know this, but you produced the joint with B.I.G. and Bob Marley for Biggie: Duets. How did that come about?

CS: Conrad Demanche hes the A&R at Bad Boy He wanted to know what I could do for the record. When I went in there, I didnt want to just take old vocals and slap it on a beat. I wanted it to be eventful. I was thinking about it from Ms. Wallaces point of view, and that I should put him on there with another legend. After that, I pitched it to Bad Boy -- then I worked on it for 10 hours. I let them hear the final product and they loved it. That was the way that it came about. When I thought about that Bob Marley sample, it tied in because of their Jamaican heritage. I just wanted the people to think about it before even hearing it. Like, Yo, you heard that B.I.G. joint with Marley?! that was raw. I did other tracks with B.I.G., grouping him up with artists who had passed on Aaliyah, Rick James, and others. Bad Boy was really feeling the Bob Marley joint because the rest they didnt want.

That song was really, really touching for those who listened to and respected both artists.

I definitely got to shout out Bad Boy. All I do is come up with things. The industry is so narrow-minded. All they want is the duplicate of whats already out. This is the first time really that someone came out and put faith on the joint. Every interview that Voletta [Wallace] did, she said that that was her favorite joint off of the album.

What have been the ups, the downs, and the perks of your DJing career?

CS: The perks are that I get to travel the world. In two weeks, Ill be in Paris, Switzerland, all over. I get to express myself however I want with this job. Its not even a job. I am Hip-Hop and it is me. Its not even work to me, really. I never work a day in my life. I get to meet new people, check out new cities, and I get to experience their life. I dont really see any down side to the gig. The upside is that I get to work with people that Ive admired and that Ive always looked up to. I did Kany Wests Grammy party. I did a Versace party with Jermaine Dupri. The whole place was packed with stars and when do you get to do things like that on the regular? I did it with 15 platinum artists. It was an awesome opportunity. Sometimes its too good to be true. I am very grateful for everything that I have received. I know that it can go as easily as it came. I never get comfortable. I just keep working.

On your website you also list your page. Do you really check out your page? Is it a viable resource, if so how?

CS: Yeah, Im not super fluent with the Myspace situation. I did it because everyone was asking me about being on it. I try to respond to everyone on there.

Do you think your fear has been a key to your success? Or would you attribute it to something else?

CS: I think that its the main driving key to my success. I am always working hard. If I stop working hard then I feel like Im a loser [laugh]. I am super hard on myself. I am a workaholic. Its almost to a fault. I almost gave myself an ulcer.

Do you ever think that there is such a thing called a limit?

CS: Nah nah My family thinks that Ill still be on the grind. Its that typical clich. Once you came from nothing, youll do everything in your power to make sure that you have something. And that youll have it for the rest of your life and will be able to pass it down along the line to those who come after you.

With Kany helming the mixtape and his boss being dragged into a situation with CamRon do you have a particular stance on the beef?

CS: Nah. Not at all. Just as long as it stays on wax then its all good.

What else is next in the works for Clinton Sparks? Will the next mixtape cover be your interpretation of the Passions of the Christ too?

CS: Nah [laughs]. Theres the touring. Be on the lookout for Bustas -- New Crack City. Also, theres my other website -- Im trying to get Smash Time Radio everywhere. Nah, doing a re-make of that Rolling Stones cover with Kany wasnt in the plan. Nice question though [laughs].

If there is one thing that you cannot stand what would it be?

CS: Ignorance.

Lastly, if there is anything that you want to say to your fans, Myspace peeps, and our readers here at what do you want to say?

CS: Hell yeah man, thank you for anyone thats ever supported me and my career. Thank you to anyone who has been bumping my CDs. Even the people that even cared enough to read this part of the interview. I dont take anything for granted. I respect the opinion of everyone around me. Those who like it and even those that dont like it, I still respect. I am proud of for continuing this Hip-Hop movement.

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