Hip-hop stalwarts Slimkid3 of The Pharcyce and DJ Nu-Mark of Jurassic 5 are currently touring Europe in support of their recently released and self-titled LP. I spoke to them and K-Natural before their Bristol show.


How's the tour gone so far?

Nu-Mark: It was a really good show in Manchester and it's been a cool tour. It's really tough to perform new songs for people but people have been receiving it really well and it actually feels really good. When Tre's playing with Bizarre Ride and I'm playing with Jurassic 5 you're playing a bunch of known tracks that were made years ago. It's kind of like pressing a reset button, starting fresh and seeing how songs sound that were just made a few months ago. It feels good.

Slimkid3: I'm so surprised at the response were getting to the record, so being on the road, to hear it on stage in a big club and performing it as well, it's like 'Wow, this is really good stuff'. When that happens it just makes me energetically support it even more. A lot of times it's like being parents, you don't want anybody calling your kid ugly! Our kids are looking kind of good right now.

Have you noticed the return to an older, jazzier hip-hop sound. A lot of the '90s acts are coming back, J5, Black Star, Souls of Mischief etc.

NM: I've noticed that on tour.

K-Natural: I could go back and reference cats like Joey Bada$$, Dylan Cooper. They receive it, they go look it up. Online is like their virtual encyclopedia and they're looking for that shit, I don't even like to say 'that real shit' because if you're just true to yourself it's real whatever you do but they're looking for that sound. You've got to remember back in those days there was all types of shit going on, like Black Moon was Black Moon, NWA was NWA, but shit was all hip-hop. Now there's so many sub-categories, the tree just grew. But this is always going to be here.

Nu-Mark: It'd be nice if it came back but with a slightly different form. For me as a producer there's a little bit of melody missing (today) because everything's so 808 based, like two keys. I play some of that stuff too, don't get me wrong, as a DJ that's my job but there's this nutritional value that I'm missing from music because of the lack of the dark, moody, nasty bass lines and the ill texturised samples, but it'd be nice if it took a new shape.

Slimkid3: Y'know, when you had (A Tribe Call Quest's debut album) People's Instinctive Travels, your imagination kind of opened up and that's important, to be a creative person, yknow? Sometimes when you listen to what's happening now it's like, you want to dance, or get crunk or whatever you want to do, but it doesn't show you colours the way the music of the '90s used to show you colours with the jazz licks and things like that. I'm thinking about the '90s when, Tribe again, with Low End Theory or Diamond D for instance. Those are different forms but it made you feel hella into it. It was a different type of hip-hop back then.

Nu-Mark: Something about the two bar loop had a beginning and an end to it, like it reeled you in, like a question and an answer to the loop that gave it a mood, that was like 'oh man', it's hypnotic.

Slimkid3: But now it's really at a different area. It's very kind of machine-ish. As wild as I can get by listening to some of the booty shake, twerk shit there's still a disconnect. It's like GMO, hip-hop GMO, I need the organicness.

Nu-Mark: Theres a humanization factor that's been taken out along with the very synthetic sounding drums and synthesisers and plastic coating.

Slimkid3: It hurts because I feel like it's not real. There's a certain hypnosis that puts you down a robotic chain. The more we go into that direction the less soul happens.

Nu-Mark: It's funny because I've learned so much listening to the new music, and on this tour especially, me and the other DJ on this tour, Cee Brown, we're playing new stuff and there's certain things I'm hearing programme-wise that I know nobody in my peer group would attempt. And I like that. That's the part that I like about this new music, is that it's fresh. And thats the most important word in hip-hop if you ask me, 'fresh'. It's so important to do something innovative, something next level. It's been very, very daring production wise, as far as all the glitch stuff and when dubstep was at its height all the wobble bass, they're taking chances.

Right now I think the lyrics they're not feeding me mentally, but that's because I'm spoilt growing up from Big Daddy Kane, Rakim and Kool G Rap, but they're catching up though.

Slimkid3: The lyrics are fucking dope but they're just saying fucked up shit. I try to look at things as a writer perspective. They might be saying a lot of fucked up shit but the way they piece it all together is brilliant. You insert consciousness into that same MC and what do you get? It'd probably be amazing. I was thinking about music that really cuts through, like 'Woo Had, We Got You All In Check', when you hear that there's just certain colours about it, a certain feel about it that's like man, this is fun, this is awesome and it's kinda organic and that shit is dope. And something danceable, like Missy Elliot, I just miss that type of programming.

K-Natural: What you ve got to understand too is that there's a lot of new drugs too, and that spills over into the music. All this pill shit and, pure MSG shit 0 in hip-hop days it was like 'yo, we're smoking this blunt, we're about to get lifted'. And now they're taking pills, and they're taking stuff that makes you fast and slow so that shit is translating into music. They can't help it to be honest, that's how they're feeling, and the hip-hop heads, we're listening to that shit, we're not on the pills they're on so we're like 'what the fuck'?!

Slimkid3: (laughing) Not MSG, MDMA!

How do you guys work?

Nu-Mark: Tre and I have just always let the music lead the way, we never stuck our ego in the way of anything, it's just like hey, if the beat is calling for something it's calling for something, if the lyrics are calling for something it's just 'ok, I'm going to add a little bridge there'. I'd say the only pre-thought into this was 'Man, I'd really like to start a supergroup' once we started recording it was like hey, the music's already telling us that it's good to go now, we don't really need to call different members from different crews, we should just finish what we've started. Again, we just let the music lead the way, I don't like to get in the way of the music. If I sample that snare then that snare asks for a kick and bass line and so on and so on, it just keeps cascading out of me. I just say go ahead, show me how to write this music. I've never made a beat, it just tells me 'hey, you'd better do this, you'd better pay attention to me'.

Slimkid3: I always tell people that we're the paintbrush and as the universe dips us in different colours it makes the tapestry. I remember sometimes making beats, I'd have a dope ass beat and the the power goes off and i didn't save it so that was just the universe saying 'I want to do something different at this point'. So instead of getting mad I just stay open to see what other colours the universe wants to dip me in.


Slimkid3 and DJ Nu-Mark are touring the UK and Europe now and their album Slimkid3 & DJ Nu-Mark is available now on Delicious Vinyl.