| Exclusive Interview With King Tech
Westcoast2k caught up with the legendary King Tech, arguably one
of the most important people in Hip Hop history. Tech, famous for showcasing and
discovering untapped talent on the world-famous Wake Up Show for over 15 years,
talks about their (Sway & Tech's) new project "Back 2 Basics" and
explains the concept behind it. The Bay Area native also speaks his mind on different
West Coast artists and todays Hip Hop as a whole.
to King Tech's drop for Westcoast2k ]
Westcoast2k.Net - Most people know you
from the Wake Up Show, but can we get a little background on you as a person,
where you're from and where you fit into this Hip Hop thing?
- Aight, this King Tech talking. I can't say I'm first generation in Hip Hop,
cause that was like in the 70's, but I'm definitely from the 80's. It was one
of those things in the 80's where Hip Hop was starting to go nationwide, not worldwide
yet, but in the early 80's it was starting to go nationwide in the US. I'm from
San Francisco, Bay Area, and on our side poppin' was huge. Lockin' was kinda dying
down a little bit, but poppin' and struttin' was huge. And I was trying to be
one of the best that ever did it. So I started poppin' full time from '80 till
like '85. Then I got into breakdancing full time, cause breakdancing became this
world wide thing and everybody was trying to do it. And right around 1986/87 the
breakdancing and poppin' scene started dying down. It was still happening but
it wasn't as big. I just decided to start DJing and making beats here and there.
Then I run into Sway around '87, '88. And we were in high school back then and
we decided to get together and put a rap group together. Pretty much everybody
else from 11 years old & up was just listening to Punk Rock & New Wave,
and we were listening to Criminal Minded, LL Cool J, Run DMC, and the Cold Crush
Brothers. It wasn't the biggest music at the time, but we didn't care. Back then
you didn't have a lot of magazines and things covering Hip Hop. It was word of
mouth, if somebody told you it was hot you had to listen to it to think 'Oh shit,
that is dope!'. So that's pretty much the beginning of the story right
Westcoast2k.Net - I remember you having MC Eiht on the Wake
Up Show no too long ago, and he said he comes from the days of when you could
have guns on your album cover. In your opinion, how has Hip Hop changed from those
days to now?
King Tech - I don't know man, I think it has its ups &
downs. The upside of it is it's a worldwide phenomenon. Now every culture has
a rapper now, and that's good. The bad side of it I think is... I remember the
early days of it it wasn't influenced by McDonalds, KFC, and Burger King. If you
were in Hip Hop you had such sort of rules, like you couldn't bite nobody's style.
Now you have to imitate somebody's style or the labels won't sign you. That has
changed, and once the music industry became so big into it, obviously you had
people who don't really love the culture, coming in trying to make money off of
it, and they had to figure out what they could do because you couldn't duplicate
a breakdancer, you couldn't duplicate a graffiti artist. Only thing you could
duplicate was the music. So people started to take advantage and it moved quick.
But MC Eiht was trying to say that in the early days of Hip Hop, the music
industry and the public didn't take it that serious, so you could do whatever
the hell you wanted to do on your album cover and nobody cared. But when the United
States started to realize that the youth is listening to rap music, and not the
Heavy Metal or what they were used to, they were like 'Hey hey hey, wait a minute.
We gotta do some censorship on this'. And that's when all the censorship crap
came about. And with N.W.A. coming out and putting guns everywhere on their videos,
blowing up cars, cops, whatever, it was a matter of time before somebody stepped
in and was like 'This is going a little too far'. Plus they were scared cause
the mecca of music is different. You know, you watch a violent movie and see all
those killings and have your fantasy, but for some reason when you put your walkman
and airphones on the lyrics go directly through your brain, so I do think that
music sometimes is more influential than a movie. So I think that's what scared
America, that's really what the bottom line is. When they seen Pac, Ice-T, and
everybody was talkin' about killin cops and all that stuff.
And if you
went gold or platinum back in those days you were the man. Now, if Nelly goes
gold or platinun it's considered a failure. Cause Hip Hop is so big, Eminem sold
4 million and people were like 'Aww, it's not as good as the last record!' (laughs).
Back in the days when Kane went gold we was all happy.
- Right... it's much more of a business now.
King Tech - It's more
of a business now, it hurts the artists that are really dope because if they don't
have a connection into that business they will never come out. I'm sure you know
people that are famous for never coming out. Like man, this or that dude used
to be dope, but he's probably working at McDonalds now! And that's not a good
thing. In any other artform, if you're an incredible gymnist you make it to the
Olympics and everybody gets to see you. But if you're an incredible rapper and
you ain't got hook ups, if you ain't down with a crew, you ain't got the ice,
you ain't got the cars, you just ain't in.
Westcoast2k.Net - Why
do you think that the whole thing kind of shifted?
King Tech - Once
Warner Brothers, MCA, and Universal got involved....they're in the business of
making money, they're not in the business of trying to keep something pure. What
rappers don't realize man, when they get that advance for the album, that's a
loan. It's not like they putting money in your pocket, that's a loan. And the
bigger rap music was getting in the 90's, it came to a point in like '95 where
America realized this ain't going away. And then every label started signing artists,
everybody. It just became a normal thing. So it was a matter of time before you
had artists that were just gonna make commercial records, so called "pop
records". Like Nelly, he's not really considered a lyrical dude in the rap
game, but he sells 6 or 7 million copies when he comes out. You can't be mad at
him, because he still moves his units, but he's kinda on the road of the commercial
crowd. He's not trying to sell to the crowd looking for Kool G Rap or Mos Def.
So it just divided into different branches. It's still dope MC's out there, but
they just don't get the same shine as the guys that are doing the big commercial
records, which is why we putting out our album "Back 2 Basics". We gonna
take you back to the days when it meant something. And that's what the whole album
Westcoast2k.Net - Are you stuck in the old days as far
as going back and bumpin' old classic records all the time?
- Oh yeah man. I mean that's what music is, everybody has their favorite era.
My favorite era is like the late 80's. Which was Chuck D, Kane, Kool G Rap, Juice
Crew, the early days of N.W.A.. That's my favorite era, but then a lot of other
cats like the early 90's with Nas, Wu-Tang and stuff like that. So it's always
gonna be like that because the game changes so much. Rock & Roll was like
that, Jazz was like that. When something gets big you can't stop it from connecting
and expanding. Sometimes you wish it could, like 'Man I wish it would just stay
the way it is'. Your parents wish that you stay a kid but you just gotta grow
up. Thing's change, I don't sit around and cry about it. I just figure out that
I'm still gonna put out the type of music I think is hot.
- As for the Wake Up Show, did y'all always keep doing what you believe in, or
try to adapt to todays Hip Hop and what's being heard?
King Tech -
Yeah, we did a little bit of both. We try to bring what we believe is dope, but
at the same time I realize it's a new game and a 15 year old kid didn't grow up
with Melle Mel and Grandmaster Flash, so he has no idea. To him his favorite artist
is 50 Cent. So sometimes we have to play 50 Cent to get his attention, and then
play "Illmatic" from Nas. In the early days everybody knew "Illmatic"
is hot. It's a little trickier now, cause you almost have to make it like an educational
show. Like you have to play stuff to grab peoples attention and then drop the
real joints on them and then have them really listen to it. It's difficult, because
commercial radio only want the hits hits hits. And a lot of underground records
are not hits, they're just dope. So we try to squeeze everything in for everybody.
We would have an interview with 50 Cent and then we would put Planet Asia on the
same show. So the people that listen for 50 Cent know who Planet Asia is. That's
our goal right now.
Westcoast2k.Net - Whatever happened to the
Wake Up Show on MTV?
King Tech - We only did 3 shows, that was it.
They asked us to go really commercial with the show for the season. I talked to
Sway about it and we both felt like maybe that's not the right move to go that
commercial with the show, because our whole legacy is built on representing for
Hip Hop for 15 years. And to go more commercial it would have kinda messed up
our legacy a little bit. So we left that alone and were looking for another network
that wanted us the raw form.
Westcoast2k.Net - If you had to name
an artist that's definitely doing it big right now as far as spittin', who would
King Tech - Right now I would say Chino XL. L.A. wise I would
definitely say Crooked I, that's like my favorite dude, besides Sly Boogy. But
everybody really... Dilated Peoples too. That's what's cool about Cali, you have
so many different styles. In New York to me, when one style comes up you start
to hear a lot of imitations. But in Cali you still have people that have their
own different style. Some dudes are gangsters, some dudes are straight Hip Hop,
some dudes are lyrical, some dudes are just underground. There's a lot of styles,
so I think our time hasn't even started yet.
As far as the Bay goes, let
me tell you I'm from the Bay, so I know the Bay has always been like that they
don't wait around for nothing, they just do it. So that's the same scenario everytime,
they don't wait around at all. I know there's like a thousand labels up in the
Bay, and they all selling too. That's the thing, they're not waiting for radio
to play their songs. They on the streets grindin' and getting their names out
in the Bay. L.A. is a little bit different because it's so wide spread out. You
got a hundred miles radius, so it's a big circle of people you gotta take care
of when you come out with a record.
But the West has a lot of new talent
coming out, especially with Game coming out. He put a nice little shine on the
West Coast, and people starting listen to it again. But we never lost MC's, Crooked
I been here, Sly Boogy been here, Rasco been here, Planet Asia been here. We been
had dope MC's, but sometimes people wanna hear the South, sometimes the East and
sometimes the West. We're not going away, the West Coast is gonna be in the rap
game forever. I'm feeling good about it myself.
- But why is it that those kind of artists go by so unnoticed?
Tech - It's too big now. You got a big machine putting out a whole bunch of products.
When somebody creates a new style somewhere in Alaska, me and you ain't gonna
hear about it till a year later. That's the key difference. Now, if you're really
good out there you gonna have to work harder because there's more people doing
it also. You gotta remember, in the early 90's you had maybe 20 or 30 rap records
come out a year. Now you got 20 or 30 rap records come out a day! Now everybody's
trying to hand me a demo wherever I go, everybody. And really, there's no guideline
anymore, who's dope, who's not, who's fresh, who's not. How do you tell some kid
if it's good when Nelly just sold 8 million records? How do you tell him that
he can do better? He's comparing himself to what's out, and what's out is selling.
So it's gonna be some confusing times. I think it's impossible to fix the worlds
problems with rap. All rap can do is just stay true to how it started which was
partying and passing that information about different places in the world.
tell young artists that if you're at the Wake Up show, that's the realest spot.
You get up there and get burnt man. You don't wanna step to us because we ain't
got time to bullshit man. We keep it real as you can keep it. So if it's wack
and you got no skillz you should not come on the Wake Up show at all cause that's
not what we do. If they looking for commercial advice, I can't really help them
cause that's not where my heart is at.
Right now we're trying to ressurrect
Chino XL's career. The things we got out now is doing really well for him. And
same thing with him, he didn't really understand the game but he was always a
dope MC. And now that he understands how the game has changed and what he has
to do he's moving forward like the speed of life! He's everywhere in L.A., he's
like the man right now.
Westcoast2k.Net - Now talk about this "Back
2 Basics" album and explain the concept behind the title...
Tech - Well what it was, I sat down with Sway almost 2 years ago and we were having
a conversation about how a lot of these brothers that come to the Wake Up show
are not getting the same shine. Should we get a mixtape out on the street? Stuff
like that, we just been talking, talking, talking. And we felt it doesn't really
make sense to do a mixtape and go get Jay-Z, Mos Def, and all the heavy hitters
again, because everybody knows them. I feel like we're in a position of power
where we can put the shine on somebody else. If Jay-Z already has the light on
him, how does the rap game benefit with more Jay-Z's? So we made it a mission
to go get some of the MC's we always thought were dope and give them the shine
that Jay or somebody else was getting. Not to disrespect Jay-Z but that's just
how I felt, people needed to hear other dudes that are hot. That's what the concept
and idea came from to go back to basics. Get the lyrical dudes and hook 'em up
with producers and make a record that was gonna be big.
knew Chino XL was dope, but they were like 'Where is he?'. So we had to go find
him. Everybody knows Crooked is dope, where is he? Let's find Crooked. Everybody
says Juice is dope, where is Juice? Royce the 5'9? These are dudes that we all
know are dope, but where the hell are they? So that became our mission.
- So is there anything on the album that you gonna bring back that's missing in
Hip Hop right now?
King Tech - The rawness of it, that's what I miss.
I think that when it got commercial it got a little too polished. The music started
to sounding like you're in Las Vegas or something for a while. And that was the
era that kinda confused me the most. On our album "Back 2 Basics" it's
just raw. RZA says something on the beginning of the album and then it goes into
Sly Boogy over a raw drum break. He's just killing it! So that's where our head
is at with this record. We're giving the lyricists a chance to shine, but we're
giving something to the cats that don't even listen to English. If you hear the
beats, you gonna bug out! Cause it's just raw Hip Hop, we taking it back to basics.
You gonna have flashbacks of a little bit of old school, but you gonna hear how
we changed it up and put a new twist on it.
Westcoast2k.Net - How
deep is DJ Revolution involved in the project?
King Tech - Revolution
was more involved in the last album than he is on this album. This album he got
1 song that we highlighted him, and on the sampler we highlighted him. But he's
not really involved that much on this project. We left a lot more to the artists
themselves to control, as opposed to tell artists 'You have to rhyme over my track
or Rev's track'. We said 'Who is a cat in Chicago that you're feeling? Let's get
him, do a song with him and then put it on the record.' We gave the artists freedom
to kinda bring their own songs to the table. So we didn't really do a lot of tracks,
I only did 2 joints on the record, Rev did 1. The rest of it we kinda oversee
what's coming to the table and say 'OK, that's a great record, we'll take that
record, let's add it to this record'. We kinda put the pie together for everybody.
So when it comes out everybody gets a good shot and a good shine.
ain't that much benefit for Sway & Tech besides getting our name out there
again. But beyond that I wanna see Juice, Crooked, Chino, Sly, Kallihan, Verb
and Rock, Kam, and all them shine and get their proper due respect that's been
owed to them. So that's the only purpose man.
Why did it take you over 5 years to drop another album? You put out the "Wake
Up Show Freestyles" inbetween, but as far as major release.
Tech - Well because Sway moved to New York in like 2000, and our head wasn't even
in that frame of thought no more. It was like, OK we put out the "Wake Up
Show Freestyles" so people that are not in the US can hear the freestyles
that's coming out of our show. But it wasn't till 2 years ago we thought the last
album was good but it didn't really highlight a lot of new artists. We weren't
trying to be like everybody else that's just trying to put a hot album together.
This album is a little different, you probably don't know a lot of cats on this
record. We're using our juice to put shine on these other guys too. The other
way of doing is you go get Eminem and KRS-One and people buy the record for those
names. This time around we don't have Eminem or KRS-One but the record is just
Plus, it's a 2 hour DVD of everybody busting on it that comes
with the album.
Westcoast2k.Net - It seemed like you guys put a
lot of work into the album sampler. Did you get any feedback from that?
Tech - Yeah that's been a very positive response. 50% of the people I talked to
would have bought that shit from me if I would have had it for sale. They said
they really dug it and it didn't feel like an album sampler. It felt more like
you got a piece of Hip Hop culture in your deck or something. That's what the
goal was, give a little message on who we are and what we do to get our respect,
but at the same time I want listeners to kick back and enjoy it. You know I just
put that little funny skit in there with MC Phoozs Balls, that dude that can't
rap but he thinks he's hot.
Westcoast2k.Net - Is there a tour planned
for the album?
King Tech - May 28th & 29th we're doing a California
tour. And we been talking to this station in France about bringing us out to Europe,
a "Back 2 Basics" tour cause we're trying to bring all the artists out
to Europe. That's all in the works, we haven't really got to hit it hard yet,
but we been working on it.
Westcoast2k.Net - What other projects
can we expect from you in the future?
King Tech - After "Back
2 Basics" just Sly Boogy and Chino XL. That's the new focus to help these
brothers out. Right now we gonna try to help all these brothers, but after the
project that's kinda where we're headed. Sly Boogy is 1 or 2 songs away and the
latest stuff he's done J Records was thinking is cool but they wanted to hear
a couple more joints. We're not really in a rush because the whole world doesn't
know about Sly yet, he's more like a West Coast superstar. We'll try to break
him nationally and then drop the album. There's no sense of droppin' the album
when the nation doesn't know about him yet. It's gonna be a minute, but after
the summer definitely. Right now it's called "Mistaken Identity" but
I don't know if he's gonna change that or not, that's the one he has been kicking
around for a while.
Westcoast2k.Net - How do you feel about his
status, how he was grown so far, and how he has evolved during the years?
Tech - Well Sly always had a unique style. First time I met him he came to the
Wake Up Show, he didn't really bust. His cousin Dirty Birdy brought him by the
house and we were doing a new Wake Up show anthem with Sly bustin'. And I told
everybody right there 'Yo this dude got it. He's got the voice and the delivery.
It's different, I ain't never heard it like that!'. But nobody really believed
us at first, but me and Sway just kept pushing. We put out singles and demo tapes
out there and just kept the grind on till we had a few people that believed. We
just kept going till everybody was a believer that there's something special there.
And now it's just a matter of time when the whole world gets to hear him. Cause
he's really done all he could do out here, he's like as big as 50 Cent on the
West Coast right now.
But he's not doing even half of what he's capable
of. He's just trying to get in the door, and once he gets in the door he's gonna
change the game. But for example, "Fatal Mistake" was one of his best
lyrical stuff that he's done but it didn't do well out here till he put out the
new record which is "It's Nuthin". On that one he's rhyming simpler,
but more people can get into it because he's not rhyming as complicated. So that's
what I'm saying, the game has changed. If it was up to us, we all want the best
of the best, but that's not how it really is with the public no more. You gotta
adapt in any game. If the rules change in basketball you can't get on the court
and start bitching about the game. You gotta just change with the rules and play.
Worldwide I don't know how much has changed, but in the US it definitely changed.
Westcoast2k.Net - Any shout outs before we wrap this up?
Tech - Much props to the Wake Up Show crew. Carmelita, Sway, DJ Revolution, Big
Paul, Rob G, Joey. We just coming, we try to keep our name out there. If you don't
know what we do swayandkingtech.net
We got a stream going on at wakeupshow.com,
you can see about 10 hours of footage on the Wake Up Show, so it's definitely
worth checking out!
to King Tech's drop for Westcoast2k ]
"Back 2 Basics" is in stores now. Sway & Tech show
that their ear for talent is sharp as ever. Respected veteran acts such as Common,
Royce Da 59, Kam and Canibus are featured, as are up-and-comers
Chino XL, Sly Boogy, Crooked I, Kallihan, Self Scientific, Dirty Birdy and Verb
& Rock. By featuring such supremely talented rappers over blistering beats
by some of hip-hops best beatsmiths, Sway & King Tech have provided
a platform for talented lyricists to shine. Click
here to order "Back 2 Basics".