Edo. G Talks Guru, DJ Premier, "A Face In The Crowd," & Boston Hip Hop History
Exclusive: The Boston O.G. discusses his impressive new solo effort, his sonic reunion with DJ Premier, and his memories of "when Gang Starr first started."
If you were not aware of his duo disc with Masta Ace, 2009’s Arts & Entertainment, or unfortunately don’t recall his last solo offering from seven years ago: the Pete Rock-helmed My Own Worst Enemy, the name Edo. G surely still sounds familiar, but you probably can’t place a face to that name.
So amongst the bombardment of new faces flashing at all of us daily via blogs and websites hyping up amateurs with no accomplishments, one of the first prominent emcees to emerge from Boston is looking to reintroduce himself with his aptly-titled new album, A Face in the Crowd (due May 17th from Traffic Entertainment).
The most thorough album of Edo’s career is dropping exactly 20 years after his first full-length, Life Of a Kid in the Ghetto, which spawned the socially conscious, saxophone-sampling smashes “I Got To Have It” and “Be A Father To Your Child.”
Two decades after his face was first seen by the masses, the Roxbury rhymer chopped it up with HipHopDX about both his past and present, what it’s like to actually have songs that have stood the test of time, how DJ Premier worked for him in record time, and what it was like that time he spent two weeks with Guru three thousand miles away from their native New England.
HipHopDX: We’ve arrived at the 20th anniversary of your classic debut single, “I Got To Have It,” and so I wanted to mark the occasion by asking if you might do a 2011 recreation of that clip for your new joint, “Righteous Way”? See if Will Smith shows up again for this one. [Laughs]
Edo. G: [Laughs] I actually just did a remix of “I Got To Have It” with this cat named Sean Hines, who’s a local cat who’s doing a lot of big things right now. We just did a remix, so the radio [stations] out here is all playing it. It’s all over the air. We ‘bout to shoot a little video to it and recreate some of the scenes from the first one.
DX: At the 56 second mark of that [original] video we see Preemo and Guru. And on your new album, on the neck-snappin’ “I Was There,” you note that you were there “when Gang Starr first started.” What are some of your memories of those early days of Guru and Premier?
Edo. G: Well, the early days of Gang Starr was actually without [DJ] Premier. It was wit’ the first deejay, Mike D [a.k.a. DJ Wanna Be Down], who actually lived right down the street from me. So his house was kinda like the sanctuary for all of the cats in the late ‘80s that was coming up and doing things [in Boston]. We used to all be at his house gettin’ it in, with Guru. We was all there at the same time grindin’. I remember when they got the first deal with Wild Pitch [Records], and Stu Fine came to Boston. We all met him. … After the success, I think one of my best times I had with Guru was [when] me and him went to [California]. He actually brought me to Cali, ‘cause he had wanted me to sign wit’ Ill Kid Records, when he was doing that in the late ‘90s. And, [he] brought me out to Cali, and we hung out for a couple of weeks out there. It was just … it was great, man. We had a blast for like two weeks. I can’t tell you everything we did, [Laughs], but it was a real good time.
DX: I don’t wanna bring it back on a down note, but I was just listening to “Work For It” from The Truth Hurts, and Guru’s line, “I know heaven has got a spot for me” -
Edo. G: Yeah, that’s wild, right? We just went on a little tour in Europe; we did a little “Boston Beatdown Tour”: me, Akrobatik and Mr. Lif [as The Perceptionists], and I was actually performing that song on the tour a couple of nights and letting his verse play. And it’s just wild the stuff that people say.
DX: Now, I wanna go back to “I Was There” …
Edo. G: For me, that song is really personal, and I think a lot of people who were around at that time, the stuff that I’m talking about is specifically for them. … just everyone that touched me and everything that I was apart of in the ‘90s.
DX: “I Was There,” was that the joint Statik Selektah did?
DX: What took you so long to link up with Statik?
Edo. G: Yo, Statik is a very busy dude, man. He’s like extremely busy bangin’ out thousands of beats. I can really say that; he’s doin’ it. So, it just took a little while and the right combination of music and time and everything. For me, it’s just a matter of everything kinda lining up. And it was the perfect time to – He sent me that beat, and I loved it, and I wanted to get somebody on it, and it just worked.
DX: I happened across a tweet of Statik’s where he was biggin’ up your timeless dedication to fallen friends, “Love Comes & Goes” [from Roxbury 02119], writing, “It hit me from the day it dropped.” I’m sure you still to this day get some powerful feedback about that joint, and “Be a Father to Your Child.”
Edo. G: I actually was just in Ohio, in Columbus - this past Halloween I was out there for that weekend [doing] a thing with the Urban League. My guy out there in Columbus has a father’s program that they honored me for. He started this whole father’s program based around the record. The actual [song is] what inspired him.
DX: That’s crazy that you’re still getting recognized for “Be a Father to Your Child” like 20 years later.
Edo. G: Yeah, I know, man. And it’s really funny that Special Ed is the one who actually hooked me up with this. So, it was just wild, like, I get a call from him and he’s telling me about it, and kinda one thing led to another …. The program is really great. They’re doing a ton of things to help fathers out. I think a lot of fathers around the country need that kind of support, with child support and different kinds of things.
DX: It’s a shame you can’t get a song on the radio like that now. It’ll never happen again.
Edo. G: Oh, nah, not in a million years, man. Who wants to hear something about being responsible? Does that even sound cool?
DX: I just wanna note here, Joe Mansfield, he used to give you them jazzy heatrocks. That sax lick in “Less Than Zero” [from Roxbury 02119] still sends shivers up my spine.
Edo. G: [Laughs] Yeah. The label that I’m on, Traffic, he’s the majority owner. He was one of the owners of Landspeed Records. So, he’s just been behind the scenes … reissuing a lot of stuff, keeping a lot of great Hip Hop alive.
DX: Speaking of your former beatmakers … you finally reunited with DJ Premier for “Fastlane.” I like it, it’s got that head-noddin’ bounce, but, man, it’s hard to top “Sayin’ Somethin’” [from The Truth Hurts].
Edo. G: Yeah. I mean, that’s like trying to top “I Got To Have It” or something that’s just – For me, it’s just trying to make good music, man, and be consistent with the music that I do make. Keep that same high-quality level of music that people expect [from me].
DX: Were you trying to get up with Premo this whole time?
Edo. G: We actually did a little tour together: me, him, [Masta] Ace and The Beatnuts in Australia this past summer. I talked to him about doing the record, and a bunch of different things, and we ended up coming to an agreement and getting the record done. And it was one of the fastest Premier beats that I’ve ever got. I think he gave me this beat in record time.
DX: What’s record time for Premo, like six months? [Laughs]
Edo. G: I got it in one month. That was like record time. “Sayin’ Somethin’” took like eight months.
DX: Before I get to my last question, I wanna slide this one in real quick: A Face in the Crowd, where’s that picture on the cover taken at?
Edo. G: That picture was taken at this radio station out here called WMBR. It’s actually at [Massachusetts Institute of Technology] It was one of the first stations that played local Hip Hop. They had a countdown every Saturday. It was crazy. That was one of the launching boards for Hip Hop in Boston. [And] the white guy on there, his name is Magnus, and he was like one of the radio founders of Hip Hop in Boston. And that picture, it was like 1987.
DX: He was the guy who first put you on the radio?
Edo. G: Yeah, he was the guy who put everybody on the radio: [The Almighty] RSO/Made Men, anybody you could think of from Boston that was out in the ‘90s, that was the station they went through.
DX: Well, my last question for you is one I’ve been waiting to ask for the longest: Edo G or Ed O.G?
Edo. G: It’s Edo period G.
DX: Okay. ‘Cause different albums – it’s went the whole spectrum of spellings.
Edo. G: Yeah, man, different people: major labels, indie labels, [they all printed it incorrectly]. But right now it is where it is; it’s Edo. G. So that’s what it is.
DX: And is it still "Every Day Other Girls"? [Laughs]
Edo. G: Nah, I’m married, man. That is so far like – [Laughs] Nah, no more.