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August 01, 2005

Rox One: Interview

Chronikill

The Internets' own ROX ONE aka Zerox One from the group Chronikill, pictured above, sat down recently for a little Q&A with yours truly. Um, no Big Tigger Juelz Santana on said contents therein.

Ready to rock and roll?
Yeah.. let's go.

Alright, let's start out with the most important issues. I notice you refer to a lot of artists as "artfags." What exactly is an artfag?
To me, an artfag is someone who has a lot of opinions and thinks that those opinions matter and make them special. As far as artists are concerned, it's artists that attract these sorts of fans.. the Willamsburg crowd. Its not a compliment.

Oh, OK. So Williamsburg is where the artfags congregate in NY? I know you said Slug was out there. (Ed Note: I'm not sure where this came from.)
I'm not sure I said that, but yeah, Willamsburg is where there are a lot of those tourist hipster, "I wish I was down" types are. I group them all together, keeping the generalizations sweeping.

Yeah, no use in sorting them all out.
Let's let God do that.

Businesswise though, an independent artist can only hope to reach that Atmosphere level of success. They sell more than everybody and tour a lot, too.
Oh yeah, I'm not hating on anyone doing their thing at all. And mad people feel their shit.. it's a little emo for me. But that level of success without really changing your stee is enviable.

Yeah, they tapped into that little girls audience. That's where all the money is.
And the touching.

Right now, would you say the NY scene is kinda dead, especially the underground?
It's not dead, but it's oversatureted with a lot of mediocre cats that wouldn't have been doing their thing 7-10 years ago. There are more rappers, but the quality is way down.. everyone has a label, DJs, raps, etc. People arent getting singles deals like they used to.

I noticed that a little bit when I was out there, and that's starting to become more of the case here, too. It seems like out here though, there might be more of an infrastructure for independent artists to get their music out - small record stores and such.
Yeah, I mean when we were in New Orleans, people were interested in the music because there weren't any other viable options in terms of underground rap, and the cats that brought it got respect. In New York, you can see cats that are famous for 10$, and im trying to give you a flier to come to my show for the same price... its not easy. Im talking more in terms of doing shows as oppossed to "selling" records

Yeah, it seems like a lot of these cats throughout the South are pulling down a lot of money just selling their shit independently. A lot of these cats signed to major labels never make any real money.
Well a lot of music made in the South gets incredible local support and mad cats can eat very well selling 20,00 CD's for 10$ each. In NYC, its more the mixtape game that works like that. But the South still has a grass roots level of support thats lacking in the the North.

Is there anybody getting money like that in NY or is it just the major label cats like Fat Joe and Jada and so on and so forth?
I mean, I guess you could look at Purple City and what they did with the mixtapes.. A lot of DJ's come up and get $$$ like that moreso than rappers. If you're hot in NYC in the streets like that, you'll get signed. Its like being good at baseball in the Dominican Republic - they gots scouts there now. If you're dope in like Australia, you may have to be dope locally for a minute until you get your buzz big enough, because cats aren't looking there for baseball players, yet. So the cats in the DR will get signed first..

Yeah, I heard they were giving contracts to little 12-year-old kids and shit down there.
Yeah man, there was an article in the NY Times Magazine today about the "Latin Movement".. which is why I made such a random analogy, I guess.

Maybe I'll check that out later. I read something about that shit somewhere else recently, too.
Reading. That's what's up.

So what's your overall goal with this rap shit? To sign with a major label? To keep it indie? How important is money?
I don't harbour any delusions about going triple platinum, but I feel like there is an audience out there for our type of music. I think a lot of it has to do with our songs being more "live" songs as opposed to "studio" songs, meaning we place a lot of emphasis on doing them at shows. I'd like to be touring, like we did a couple shows in England a few years back, that was hot. I'd like to release some wax. Other than that, I don't need to eat off rap to cake it up, it would just be nice if it worked out that way. As long as I can look back at my old shit and kinda roll my eyes a little bit, and still have it be hotter than most shit out there - because my newer shit is just straight retarded - I know Im doing something right.

Would you like to be one of these groups that tour extensively - like 200+ days out the year?
I would love to do that for a couple of years. Permenant vacation-style. We'll fuck your citys' women and fuck up your hotel rooms. I could live like tha tfor sure. I'm a monster OT.

I hard that shit's pretty hard on your body though, especially if you're out there getting fucked up every night of the week. The only dudes you see lasting that long as touring acts are squares like Public Enemy.
"Fuck breakfast I wake up and get very high/ I'm very fly - overdosed but i ain't never died." If i could take New Orleans for 4 years, I'll be just fine touring. ROX ONE is hard to kill.

Hip-hop in general doesn't have very many great live acts. I think there's definitely an opening there for someone to come in and dominate, not unlike Rhymesayers is doing on an underground level.
I think that's true. Because once you reach a certain level of success the emphasis is no longer on doing live shows.. its on making studio albums, which is not really the focus of underground acts. There is no pressure to rock the crowd when the crowd is a bunch of 15-year-old white girls from suburbia who wouldnt know a real MC if he dick slapped them.

Just out of curiosity, how much does it cost these days to record an album like yours?
Are we counting alcohol and weed as costs, and are you talking about "The Years Most Serious Songs?"

Just the songs themselves. I wonder, more specifically, what the cost is like compared to your average Fat Joe album.
The whole process of recording, mixing and mastering cost about $200.00. All we got is a shoestring budget and our unlaced kicks.

That's kind of what I figured. Think about how much money went into that last Fat Joe album, just to get people like Nelly and Just Blaze and what have you.
Lots of money, but Fat Joe wouldn't sound right if he was recording in the storage space of a basement in Brooklyn.

I don't know man, his last shit was pretty wack.
I wish we could get the same grainy sound Wu has on 36 Chambers. I havent really liked Fat Joe since Jealous Ones Envy. And I meant that when you are going for a "commercial sound," you better make sure your shit sounds crisp on the radio. Most commercial rappers probably dont drink heavily before recording, either.

Yeah, but it's still pretty hard to justify spending that much, from a business perspective, when a pretty good album can be put together for less than $500.
Is that a sly compliment?

Yes, a sort of sly compliment. No homo.
Thanks. I do agree, but there is a limit to how much an album like "TYMSS" could make, suicide notwithstanding..

That was about what Nirvana spent to make Bleach, right?
I'm not sure, but I'm sure they made it all back 1000000fold. And when you start trying to reach a broader audience, you need airplay and you need clean versions and you need to have it perfect and you need to pay the DJ. It opens up a whole new set of problems..

Yeah, I imagine the Internets would help in that respect, but only to a certain degree. Speaking of which, I never really get to talk blogging in interviews, but I know you spend a lot of time reading them.
Yes I do.. I stumbled on the site looking for a "Purple Haze" album review and have been reading your shit since then.

Do you read any other blogs?
Not on a regular basis. However, I have a blog.. and I should shout my boy cadillac out. Im not too interested in what most people's opinions are. There are a lot of crybabies out there whining for anyone who will listen, it's not a good look. Oh, my bad, and badmintonstamps.com, my boys music blog.

Yeah, I try not to read anybody other than myself, either.
I could understand that. You've been doing a lot more posts recently... lots of nutjobs on the site.

This is a pretty shitty business to be in once you get to a certain level. I spend a lot of time these days doing everything but writing. Even though I'm generating more posts, it's because I'm spending like 8+ hours a day dealing with various issues.
Most people with jobs spend 8+ hours a day dealing with issues. You just get to do it in the crib, drinking I hope.. its an enviable lifestyle.

Yeah, fuck living in the real world.
But that blond chick could catch it..

Most blond chicks could catch it. Except for, you know, the really fat ones.
And even then, if no ones watching.....

So anyway, you went to school down in New Orleans, right?
Yessir.. me and Charlie Cypher, (the other kid in the 'Kill) both went to college in the 504.. shit was nuts. You ever been?

Only for vacation once as a child. I've passed through a couple times as an adult. Was that like a culture shock thing then? I mean, I know a lot of Jews like to send their kids down to like Tulane and shit, but the main image I get of New Orleans is something out of a Cash Money video.
Yeah, I went to Tulane with many of those Jews. Less than a week after we got down there, me and Cyph stole a golf cart, drove it through the hood and got robbed for it at gunpoint by some 15-year-old looking kid. Like, I thought NYC was gully, but it was nothing like New Orleans.. guns and crack, all day long..

Oh, alright. I'm glad anytime my cultural stereotypes turn out to be 100% correct.
I call sterotypes "tru-isms."

Ha ha. But seriously, they wouldn't be stereotypes if they weren't mostly true. The few cases where they aren't are irrelevant.
But the South as a whole is a pretty ass backwards place, there was a level of hatred there passed down through centruries that I was naive enough to think didnt really exist anymore.

Did you like school down there? What do you miss most about it?
Waking up and starting to drink right away, drinking in the street, lovely ladies with loose morals, my peoples, 24hour bars, rib shack.. I miss a lot of shit, but I couldn't take myself seriously down there. I'll be going to Mardi gras every year until my untimely demise, though.

Starting to wrap things up, I get the idea in general that people in NY aren't getting as fucked up as people in other parts of the country. Would you say there's any truth to that?
As far as drinking is concerned, I could see that. There is a level of civility and law enforcement in NYC that I have found to be generally at odds with how I would like to behave in public. In New Orleans, you could walk down the street wearing a cape and drinking 190 proof and no one would bat an eye, let alone call the cops. But NYC still has a lot of drugs and shit like that. I hardly know anyone that doesn't smoke trees constantly. And smoke other things on occassion, nh.

They cleaned up NY quite a bit in the '90s, right? No peep shows and shit. NYPD got people shook with all that wild shooting at people.
Fuck Gulliani. I hated that fuck from the day he took office. He turned NYC into a fucking bland strip mall... I wish awful things upon him.

What about this guy you got now, Bloomberg or whatever?

The entire city of NYC gets raped so much on a federal level, I feel it's not of a terrible amount of importance who is mayor.. but Bloomberg has done okay in the post years. But he did ban smoking, and I do hate him for that. He'll win another term, I'd bet on it. How the fuck I can't smoke in bar??

That is some pretty wild shit.

If you care that much about your health, dont work in a fucking bar.

I'm sure that will be the case in most places though. Everybody else is just a little bit behind the times.
Sometimes behind the times is the place to be.

Any final comments?
Yeah.. thanks for the interview, I appreciate it.. keep up the site. Thanks to everyone that has supported Chronikill in the past. Check out the fucking website, "updated" "recently" www.chronikill.com ... Shouts to Charlie Cypher, Jeff Sphinx.. all my NST convicts and criminals.. New Orleans Fam.. Pneumatic and Headcount Records.. afternoon 40's and the gravity bong.

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