August 2001 : Hip-Hop Section gets the opportunity to interview Tes, one of NY's underground best artists nowadays. Unfortunately, every one among us who is a fan of Tes is on summer holidays at this time. I'm finally obliged to do a new exercise that I don't like very much : interviewing an artist without knowing any of his tracks. So don't be surprised if the questions below are not really relevant, and please just take care to Tes' answers... By the way, I finally got hold of Take Home Tes. And it is really great.
Take Home Tes is one of the top best hip hop EP's or albums (according to me, 8 tracks are an album) released in 2000. Had you expected such a good reaction from the hip hop underground?
When I recorded Take Home Tes, I didn't have any expectations. My main concern was to make music that I loved. All i could do was hope that hip hop heads worldwide would feel it.
You're both an emcee and a producer. What were you originally? Are you an emcee who decided he'd better do his own beats or the opposite?
I was originally a beatboxer at the age of 11. Later on, after finishing high school, I became serious about rhyming. While working with several beat makers, I struggled to create the sound I was listening for. Ultimately, I decided to start producing my own. Luckily, I stumbled upon a hardly used, $700, Akai MPC 2000.
You have shared stage with people such as Can Ox and the Atoms Fam, Anti-Pop Consortium, Stronghold, Sonic Sum. Are you related to these people?
I go back a few years with Can Ox and Atoms Fam. They're all mad cool people. Hangar 18, of the Atoms Family, performed at the Take Home Tes release party and killed it. I always see Stronghold and Rob Sonic at rap events. Shouts to all of them!
I read some reviews speaking about industrial hip hop, because your beats are dark. How do you place yourself in nowadays hip hop scene?
I consider my music to be straight up hip-hop. Although I occassionally use industrial sounds, I don't feel even remotely connected to the idea of Industrial Hip-Hop.
Some would classify such sounds as experimental. And there was a debate the last years about the way people experiment in hip hop, especially with a label such as Anticon. Some say this is the future, some others that they are going too far, and the rest that they do not really belong to hip hop. What is your reaction to that from your New York perspective?
To each his own! If it's hip-hop that they feel most connected to then so be it. I'm not going to point fingers and say what hip hop is and is not. Personally, I'm going to continue making music that I Love. Classifications are way objective and shouldn't hold such high regard.
What are your forthcoming projects? Any featuring or collaboration?
I'm working on a full length Solo LP as we speak. Dropping before that will be the, 'Sound Investments' maxi-single with three Sound Investment mixes. The B-side will include two songs you've never heard before. Lots of treats plus theinstrumentals. Also, look out for 'Big Shots' on the upcoming Lex Records compilation. For more info check my website at www.vfprods.com. Also check out www.lexrecords.com.
It's now time for my standard questions : what is on your playlist right now ? Hip hop or non hip hop?
Mostly stuff to sample from! I got this excellent cheap dig spot up the block. All records for 2 beans! I've been listening to the Neptunes, Timbaland, Aphex Twin, Jay-Z, Ludacris, Le tigre, Ghostface, Stereolab, Cannibal Ox, Height, and a lot of new Tes material which I'm still fine tuning.
What do you know of French hip-hop?
Not as much as I would like. Maybe you can put me on to some artists that I should check!
Would you enjoy playing in France? Do you think this would be possible in a short or middle term?
I would love to play in France! I hope all the French promoters are reading this! I would hope to make it there sooner than later. Later will be fine too!
Most of French people do not understand English lyrics. Does it bother you as an emcee?
Not really! I think even English speakers have problems understanding rap lyrics. Especially the faster lyrics that make you press rewind to decode each line. Seriously though, the first thing that catches my ear is the flow of the rapper. I can fathom horrible lyrics as long as the flow is tight, so I guess as long as people are digging the flow, the words are not really so important. Besides, in the end words are of human invention and don't really mean anything.
I have an extra question about France. I know that you are participating to the very promising Projet Chaos compilation? Can you please tell us more about that?
From what I gather Projet Chaos has been picking up an ill buzz around the world. I had not heard of Projet Chaos until they asked me to contribute a song for their next compilation. I'm really excited to be on the compilation and can't wait to hear it.
Any final statement or message to end this interview?
Peace to everyone who copped Take Home Tes. Thanks for the support!