Heading back to Vietnam, here's the second part of my of my extensive interview with the truly great MC/DJ duo of MF Grimm and Drasar Monumental. If you're slacking on your reading, be sure to check out Part 1 first, if not let's go!!
c7: A question for DRASAR is how and when did you start out producing?
I've been making beats and DJ:ing since I was a kid, my father was in a
mobile DJ unit so I grew up around heavy crates, you know, they used to
set up for all the B-Boys back in the day and just set their turntables
and play all the breaks and all kind of street jam joints and shit like
that. So I started out like mimicking what they were doing, and I
started making paus-tapes, you know just finding a break.. I started
doing tape loops and then just cutting over it and then eventually my
dad got me a little sampler, and records and stuff like that, turntable,
and I was like seven or eight years old. So, I've been doing this since
I was a kid, ever since I was a kid, and I never stopped. A lot of
people that I grew up with, they were really into it too but for some
reason they stopped doing it.. I kept doing it, and I just kept buying
records through the years and staying really focused on hip-hop, not
just DJ:ing or making beats, but like graffitti and B-boying, and other
aspects, you know. I was pretty much submerged in it from a kid, and I
still am to this day.
c7: Drasar, do you have a favorite GRIMM album prior to you two started working together?
DRASAR: Yeah, yeah I do. "Scars & Memories" and "Downfall of Ibliyss"... Or "Special Herbs & Spices", all three of those, you know what I mean. And not just that though, there's other singles that were out like the "What A Nigga Know" remix (KMD), he sounded like he was possessed on that. I heard that when it first came out like God Damn!!! Just like everybody else I was caught off guard because he had a lot of metaphors and things like that, but the way he went about rhyming and his patterns were just crazy. And the thing is, he has the battle rap foundation, but he still has it he just applies it to different concepts now. You can't rhyme the way he rhyme if you don't have a battle history - you can't rhyme like that, you ain't gonna hit those pockets.
Let me ask you that same question if you don't mind?
c7: My favorite Grimm abum? I would have to say "Downfall of Ibilyss" as my number #1 up to the "Good Morning Vietnam" albums, and especially "The Golden Triangle" that would be my absolute favorite, but at the same time I think every single one of Grimm's albums are real dope.
c7: Where you instrumental in creating any parts of the artwork for the "Good Morning Vietnam" albums?
Nah, nah. I'm in a graffiti crew called GFC, and basically the person
that's responsible for all the artwork is a brother named Kufue One. He
does everything, because he's incredible, you know, like we all dibble
and dabble in different elements but that's his main chamber, his main
area right there so... I let him take care of all that, cause he's a
master at it, you know. Look him up, Kufue One, big salute to everybody
out there in GFC, no question... And if you look at the artwork you can
tell that it's not just something that we submitted, this is someone
that's our brother, we deal with him on a regular basis so he's more in
tune with our music than a lot of other people. So the covers reflect
the vibration that we have as a unit. He's part of the group, really!
c7: So I guess it's safe to say that he's definitely be doing the artwork for Part 3 as well?
Definitely! Without question! It's only right, and actually we're gonna
make posters of everything, everything that you see we're gonna have
ill limited edition posters for it, and some of those paintings for the
artwork has been in galleries, displayed all over the place. Definitely!
And that's another aspect that I think is really important with these
records in that you really have the whole package, with the way the
music flows and are sequenced, the skits, your chemistry, and so on, and
the artwork plays a major part in that too. It really connects with the
music on the discs.
Definitely, that's all by design. There's no question, and if you look
at the album covers, there's so much detail put into it and that's the
way we do our music. That's synonymous with the way we do our music, we
don't just... like you said earlier, I'm glad you pointed that out, we
don't put a bunch of singles together and throw it out there. It's more
like a body of music, we don't even look at it like EP:s, LP:s or
nothing like that. We just look at it like a body of music and a
concept, you know what I'm saying. And that's the same way the artwork
is too. You can tell that there's a concept behind it, it's not just a
couple of people standing around with a weird look on their face, it's
There's also a real unity between the two records, since you released
Pt. 2: Golden Triangle, I don't think I have listened once to only one
of the records; I always listen to them as a pair or a unit because to
me it feels like a whole. I always let them flow together.
That's great! And that's something that we definitely was hoping we
would make people do, so obviously it's on point because that's what we
were hoping. We were hoping that it would be figured out to play it in
that matter, that's why we can't wait for Part 3.
We both have appreciation for a lot of the arts, and hopefully it reflects! We wanna bring visuals to audio, so...
Yeah, I think it's very cinematic music, definitely, because the
whole thing combines the vocals, the beats, the skits, it's so well tied
together and it's very detailed so it becomes very cinematic. And as a
big film fantatic myself I love that when it's almost like you have a
movie playing in your head when you're listening to good music. And you
definitely have accomplished that for me!
Thank you! We don't look past people, so when we create, we create
first and foremost for ourselves because we know what we would like to
hear and then after that, if one person like our music, you know, it's a
blessing! And for every person after that who appreciate it, that's
just, we're counting more blessings. So we're thankful, we're thankful
for your feedback and how you took your time out to even interview us to
discuss this because... And the review, you know!
think that's another part of hip-hop that's kinda changed in my opinion
because it wasn't just about the MC, wasn't just about the DJ, or the
producer, it was a whole... It was a community! Like we discussed about
the graff writers, and the B-boys, the journalist, there's B-boy
journalists, it was like, this feels natural.. There's a lot of things
now that's put to hip-hop that wasn't there before, and it changed the
feel of everything so.. If you're receiving that from us, then you know,
that's a blessing to us. Period. So thank you!
c7: I really appreciate that, and you taking the time to do the interview as well so it definitely goes both ways.
was wondering about the final track on "Good Morning Vietnam" ("Mater Matuta"), which is
stated to be a bonus track originally recorded for something called
"The Illiad" for Yale University, so I was curious about the story
behind that track?
Um, it's hard to explain because it's for "Good Morning Vietnam" but
it's attached to something else as well, so it becomes all the same.
That's interesting! I'm trying to think of the best way to explain it.
It's part of a project, we're also doing another project and that was
one of the pieces for that project as well. So simultaneously that was
going into two different directions that one specific song itself.. Did
you like it?
Yeah, yeah, I loved it. I thought it was probably one of the strongest
track on the first installment. I mean it was a very personal and
GRIMM: When we're at liberty to speak more about that project you'll be the first one we'll come to, I give you my word.
c7: That's mad appreciated, thank you!
also had a short track called "Time" which you released as the B-side
to "Be Noble". Was that originally a track that you intendended to put
out on "Good Morning Vietnam"? Or was it something else that you had
done for something else?
Yeah, see that was it is, you see me and Drasar we got several albums
that we're working on, so we're just focused on "Good Morning Vietnam"
at this particular time. But yeah, we have a lot of.. We have songs that
are for other albums that we have never played for anyone, you know, or
their in his vault because they are for different projects. So ["Time"]
was something that wasn't actually for "Good Morning Vietnam" itself,
but we record so much that simultaneously we're doing different albums.
Everything that's on "Good Morning Vietnam" was recorded specifically
for that particular body of music, but while we recorded that we just
made other songs that didn't fit the motif of that particular record,
you know. We have unreleased tracks that nobody's heard, you know what
I'm saying, like from years ago, and we might release it, and... it all
depends. It all depends, but right now we're focused on the Vietnam
series, and Part 3 is crazy, you know, because it haven't been done! I
can't think of anybody that has taken this type of route with the first
three projects that they did together, you know what I'm saying.. Like
right from the gate, we came out with a trilogy, I don't know if anybody
has done that.. and part three is the last piece of the puzzle and it's
I really can't wait to hear it man! Do you have a title for it yet? I
understand that it's gonna be "GMV" but will there be a subtitle for it
like Part II had "Golden Triangle"?
Yeah, we haven't really decided on that part yet, you know, but you'll
definitely know sooner than later. It should be out soon actually!
GRIMM: Yeah we came to a conclusion on one but we are still undecided but as soon as we figure it out we'll let you know.
I have a question for you. I listen to a lot of punk rock music, and
not like Green Day and Operation Ivy, but talking about like some wild
shit. And it just so happens that the punk rock that I listen to comes
from the region of the world that you're in, from Sweden. And there's a
type of hardcore punk rock called D-Beat, and there's two band that came
from Sweden that's called Discharge and Mob 47. Are you familiar with
c7: I recognize the name but I can't say that I'm familiar with their sound.
I want you to check them out because they are really influential, with
grimey ass punk rock shit and it came from right where you at, right
there in Sweden. We don't listen to just hip-hop, even though we're
B-Boys to the heart, to the core, and I'm quite sure the music reflects
that, but I get a lot of energy from reagge, and from punk rock music,
bossa nova, classical, like we listen to some wild shit, we don't sit
around and just listen to dudes rap all day, even though I love that..
But there's so much good music out there from all, I mean we can go all
the way back to the 19th century, we can keep going back to the 1800's,
whatever. There's a lot of beautiful music that is out, and we get
inspired by that too..
definitely get inspired by hip hop, that's a given, but there's a lot
of other genres of music that we like and that's why I brought up those
groups because they were really influential and they came from your part
of the world. I listen to a lot of that stuff before I record and while
we're recording and things of that nature, and if you listen to the
samples that I picked, I try to rock certain samples that a lot of dudes
don't really mess with. A lot of dudes mess with jazz records and funk
records, and that's valid, I do that too, but I listen to so much other
music - that stuff needs to be manipulated as well and reintroduced into
the hip-hop format, you know, because that's what hip-hop is about,
it's about flipping things for your own convenience, you know what I
mean, you have to be creative with different sounds and make it hip-hop,
make it grimey, make it B-Boy. Find those breaks from other genres that
people aren't really messing with.
That's another thing that was really cool about "GMV" in that I
don't think I've heard any of the samples that you used on any other
hip-hop album before.
Cool, thank you. And I don't claim to be the ultimate record guy, I'm
not like a record nerd, I'm a B-Boy still, but I just try to be original
with the production. Like you said a lot of producers they are not
really concerned with that, they'll take songs that were popular a
couple of years ago and try to do it themeselves. You have to be more
creative, you have to be more of an archeologist with the production.
It's 2014, people have to, you know, go the extra mile with certain
things with beats in my opinion.
Agreed... And something that your music on the "GMV" series reminded me
of in spirit is the original free jazz movement, by being chaotic and
wild and free while still keeping a well balanced structure. It gives me
the same feeling as when I listen to someone like Ornette Coleman.
Exactly, that's all by design, it's to try to make the samples move. I
don't claim to be an originator of any kind of styles, or a pioneer,
nothing like that, I just try to bring a certain uniqueness and let
there be a free flowing thing like you were talking about, you know, but
also have a foundation in there, and the foundation would be breaks.
The foundation would be dope drum programming, you know what I'm saying,
heavy percussion! So even within that free form there's still something
deeply rooted, there's still a nucleus to it... And I think that's
what's missing a lot these days with production these days is that
people try to be too experimental without a center, like there has to be
some kind of foundation, and... Yeah, that's basically how I feel and
you're gonna hear more of that on "Good Morning Vietnam Part 3" -
unpredictability! You're talking about Ornette Coleman and how they
would improvise and things like that and I want the beats to be like
that too, cus' you can't tell what's Grimm gonna say after every line,
after every bar, you can't predict it. And I want the beats to be like
that too. There's gotta be a synchronizity or marriage with that type of
belief system right there, you shouldn't know exactly how I'm gonna
change things around, you shouldn't know how things are gonna fall on a
regular basis, you know what I mean.
But I also have to say that I'm still a student, you know,
even though I've been making beats and been involved with deejaying for
the majority of my my life, i'm still learning every single day. You
know I'm far from a master, you know I'm just a hip-hop student, I don't
want any other titles anymore, there's no need for any titles but if
there was gonna be one, that title would be dedicated hip-hop
student! You know, that's my whole perspective, you never stop learning,
you have to keep your ears and your mind open for different
possibilites in hip-hop.
c7: As far as the label Vendetta Vinyl goes, will that be a venue for other artists as well?
There's other artists already involved with it, they just don't have
anything out commercially yet. But Vendetta Vinyl is pretty much just
like Grimm said like an army of people, there's a bunch of people.. Some
people are affiliated with it that people don't even know are
affiliated with it, you know, but I willl say that the majority of
people with it they fall under the banner that I just said - dedicated
hip-hop students. That's the main thing with anyone affiliated with it,
and they have a lot of creative ideas. You'll see! 2014 a lot of things
are gonna unveil, that's for sure!
else I wanted to ask you about was about the hip-hop scene of the year
. Was there anyone outside of your immediate musical family that
you felt put out some inspiring or real dope material?
Yeah, I might've missed out on that [laughter], honestly I've been kind
of focused on what we're doing to the point where I put myself in like
isolation chamber, so I don't think I can speak freely and say something
that I think is... Yeah, I'm just focused on us, I'm being so honest
with you, so outside of our camp.. That's why it hard to say because
we're really so into our own right now, in that sense. No disrespect to
anyboody who's doing great out there, keep doing it, it's just we're so
focused on what we're doing. I appologise that I can't give some names..
I'll answer that question a little bit differently than Grimm on that
one cus we both have different situations as far as that, somewhat...
because I'm definitely focused on our shit, you know, 90% of the time
I'm focused on what we're doing, but since I'm a DJ too I listen to
other shit out there. You know, I do have a blog (Hip Hop Battlefield
) that I've ran for 7
years where I promote a lot of other hip-hop that doesn't really pertain
to me or are connected to me.. but what I think is amazing right now is
that contrary to popular belief there is a golden era frequency
operating within hip-hop right now. There's a lot of independent labels
that have popped up within the last 6-7 years that put out, not only new
stuff but stuff that's old and doing a lot of good for DJ:s that still
support vinyl. I'm not gonna name names, people who are in tune with
that already gonna now the names, but there's a lot of them that pop up
and it's a beautiful time for hip-hop really if you're listening. You
have a blog too so you already know what it is, there's a lot of dope
shit that's coming out, not just new but also old stuff.. But to be a
100% with you, I'm focused with Grimm as well real heavy..
What I should've said, appropriately, I spend my time listening to
Drasar beats [laughter from Drasar]...
And that's understandable 'cause he's writing. I'm making the beats so
it's a little different dynamic that I'm dealing with, he has to focus
on his own flows, he has to focus on his own shit, he doesn't want to
get contaminated with a lot of BS that a lot of emcees are spitting out
there. But me right now I'm focused more on production and deejaying so
it's a different dynamic altogether. But like I said there's a lot of
interesting shit coming out right now, there's a lot of independent
labels that's carrying the torch and making sure that people get
supplied with vinyl. Because at a certain point it seemed like everybody
was obsessed with getting Serato and MP3s and stuff but now it's coming
c7: And you're also being a part of keeping vinyl alive by putting out your music on vinyl, something that is much appreciated.
Word, well it's Vendetta Vinyl that's putting it out, I'm just a piece
of the puzzle. It's like an army of people, like Grimm said earlier,
it's like a think tank of people, it's not just me, you know what I'm
c7: I think that's about what I had but I want to give a big thank you for the music you've been releasing!
GRIMM: Thank you as well, we appreciate it!
c7: Do you want to give any final shout outs?
GRIMM: Shout out to Zulu nation, straight up!
I want to send a shout out to Zulu Nation, no doubt, North Star Zulus.
GBK crew, GFC crew, and everybody that went out there and picked up
"Good Morning Vietnam", we definitely appreciate it, we got more heat in
store, you know. 2014 is gonna be a monstrous year for us, and thank
you goes out to you of course for supporting and taking the time out to
do that, and do the interview with us, we definitely appreciate it!
GRIMM: Long live hip-hop!
Long live hip-hop, no question. "Good Morning Vietnam Part 3"
coming up soon!
So there you have it! Keep watching for "Good Morning Vietnam Pt. 3" as you'll definitely be informed about all future news concerning MF Grimm & Drasar Monumental here at The Lost Tapes. I hope all you readers have enjoyed both parts of this interview as much as I did. Don't forget to support the movement @ VendettaVinylVietnam.com. If you want to download the music pay your respects @ iTunes. Also don't forget to check out Drasar's own blog Hip Hop Battlefield for a lot of ill MC and DJ shit both from Drasar as far as the latter goes, though it's mostly real ill shit that he digs.