Tuesday, July 7, 2015

DETROIT'S SON: Guilty Simpson Talks "Lost" J Dilla Album, Oh No, Radiohead, OJ Simpson 2, Random Axe (The Witzard Interview)

"For a while now, Guilty Simpson has been working on a new album with Katalyst of Quakers, the 30+ member rap supergroup who came out on Stones Throw a couple years ago. Expect an album soon. Until then, here's one fresh from the lab – "Vanguard Organization,"' reads Stones Throw's latest press release uploaded earlier today; a mere uncanny, perfectly-timed coincidence, Stones Throw have unleashed Guilty Simpson's "Vanguard Organization," which he self-describes as "a throw-away cut [that] isn't on the album," as I've concurrently been piecing together an all-inclusive 15-question interview for this very site. The Detroit native whose actively preparing his second full-length for Stones Throw, DETROIT'S SON, candidly covers everything from his "lost" 2005 album recorded with J Dilla, being mentioned in the same sentence as Radiohead, the current status of OJ Simpson 2 and Random Axe 2, working with elusive emcee Jay Electronica, his upcoming Quakers-produced album, and much, much more concerning his 24-year and counting Hip-Hop career.

(1) What would you say are some of your favorite memories of working with J Dilla having recorded "Take Notice," "Serious as Your Life," Jaylib's "Strapped," etc. together? I was also wondering: what ever happened to your rumored 2005 Dilla-produced Stones Throw album?

Smoking & cracking jokes regular stuff. Talking about plans to take the rap game by storm. It was broken up (the album) and what was completed, many heard: "Man's World," "Take Notice," "Stress," "Clap Your Hands" all were going to be on The Verdict... or a part of The Verdict in some form. "Stress" & "Man's World" samples were impossible to get cleared, so maybe not those.

* Editor's Note: "Stress" and "Man's World" likely would not have appeared on The Verdict because of the hefty price tags attached to their sample sources; Wendy Carlos' 1975 Modern Classical cover of The Beatles' "Eleanor Rigby" and Track #28 from Dilla's "Beat CD '05 #2" (formally untitled), which in turn sampled James Brown's "It's a Man's Man's Man's World," respectively.

(2) Your upcoming album DETROIT'S SON was entirely produced by Quakers aka Geoff Barrow of Portishead fame, correct? How did this interesting collaboration initially come to fruition?

It's Katalyst [Ashley Anderson] and Geoff Barrow that produced my album. I met Katalyst in Australia and we had dope studio chemistry. Me & Phat Kat did features for the Quakers album & later, I found out they were on Stones Throw. When I met with Stones Throw, their name came up & it made sense because I really like their production. Now, here we are.

(3) I'm just curious... did you guys ever get any kind of reaction or any form of contact from Radiohead after Geoff Barrow expertly sampled their track "Fitter Happier" on your similarly-titled "Fitta Happier?"

Nope, I didn't. They're dope [though] I'm just glad people loved the track. Always good to rock with M.E.D. that's my dog right there.

(4) So, I know you previously mentioned in a couple Tweets that your new album, DETROIT'S SON is completely recorded, but when can we expect to see it released? Will there be any sorts of singles, music videos, mixtapes, or anything like that released leading up until then? And are you able to reveal any of its featured artists?

I'm thinking August will actually be when it's released. I won't put out a mixtape, but there will be unreleased songs coming out that aren't on the album. My album features Steve Spacek, Cysion, Elzhi, Phat Kat, and Fat Ray. I will definitely have visuals for quite a few songs on the album.

(5) What exactly was your involvement with recording Jay Electronica's "Get 'Em" alongside Mr. Porter? Have you and Jay Elect recorded any additional tracks together and what do you know about the status of his fabled "Act II: Patents of Nobility?"

I was there in the studio with Mr. Porter when he made it, he's a good friend. Actually, that was a Runyon Ave. song, not Jay Elect's song. Not sure what's up with his album, but I know he's very talented & Hip-Hop needs to hear him. We were actually supposed to do an album together years ago, but at the time, my schedule was crazy and we kept missing the opportunities. Hate [that] it never happened.

(6) I'm a huge fan of your Oh No-produced Ghettodes remix album compiled of samples mined from Now-Again Records' back catalog and I actually managed to track down a CD promo copy recently ha. How did your working relationship with Oh No initially come about? Do you two happen to have any additional material currently in-the-works?

Well, I met Oh No through Dilla, so we go back some years now. But he would always kill the remixes of my projects like Ghettodes and OJ Simpson. We always talked about working [together] and I even did music with Gangrene, so that's like family. I respect what he does. We plan on working [together] real soon.

(7) And what about your long-teased OJ Simpson remix album recorded with Madlib's little brother, Oh No? I remember Stones Throw quietly "leaked" a lone "Ultimate Athletes" (Ultimate Heights Remix) a few years back.

Yeah, fam, that's old now! I've been bumping those remixes for the last 3 years! Not sure if they'll ever release it, but they should. Oh No is incredible.

(8) Now, I've heard rumors about its existence for a few years now, but can you either confirm or deny that you've in fact recorded "OJ Simpson 2" with Madlib? If so, when might that ultimately see a proper release?

I haven't recorded yet, but we've made contact and have been talking about it. I'm hoping to start on that when I'm [done] with Random [Axe].

(9) Do you have any plans to re-enter the studio with Sean Price and rapper-producer Black Milk for another Random Axe album? In my opinion, your self-titled 2011 album is one of the strongest in your collective discographies!

That's in-the-works right now. Black Milk even sent the first batch of beats. I'm already writing, it is on the way!!

(10) What would you say are a few of your personal favorite temporarily shelved or as-yet-unreleased albums, projects, tracks, features, etc. that you're most eager to share with your trusty fan-base?

I have a song over a Pete Rock track that I'd love the world to hear. Not sure if it'll ever see light, but it should. I wrote that track from the heart.

(11) I know the year's only about half-way through at this point, but what would you say have been a few of your personal favorite Hip-Hop albums of 2015 (so far) and why? How about non-Hip-Hop albums, as well?

Right now, all I'm listening to is beats. DETROIT'S SON is my favorite album. And I'm in a time capsule, bro – I'm still listening to The Commodores ha! I'm really into my own wave right now. I mostly listen to Jazz, when I'm not into my own stuff. Mainly Bob James. Anything Bob James will make me listen.

(12) I was recently over in Europe... well, Poland, to be exact for two weeks and I know you were overseas a little while ago, too; if I remember correctly, you were looking for some new beats or producers. Did you end up discovering any up-and-coming European producers you could see yourself working with?

I'm always finding producers everywhere I go. It's a lot of talent over there that are making music the right way. I respect that.

(13) Guilty, I know you’ve been actively rapping in and around Detroit for nearly 24 years now, but you waited until 2008 to finally put out your first proper album, Ode to The Ghetto. I would be very intrigued to learn what made you wait so long and what finally prompted you to release your critically-acclaimed "debut?"

Well, this was before "The Internet Boom," I was rapping to stay out of trouble. Many times, my fans believed more than I did. I was busy learning the craft. It's hard to imagine that these days because so many [rappers] literally blow up overnight. Didn't help that I don't do radio music.

(14) While many people (or even avid fans) may not know it, your birth name’s actually Byron Simpson, correct? How did you initially end up getting the nickname "Guilty" and what does it really mean or signify to you?

It fit because I was bad. We were running around trying to be tough so the name worked. But really it means the way I'm viewed by people that don't know me. And how I can take your negative title and make it a positive. Like N**__R. "Like yeah, that guy you called "shady" is doing better than you."

(15) I interviewed my buddy and Lions mastermind Dan Ubick aka Connie Price a couple months back and he graciously mailed me a promo copy of The Keystones' pre-album Lucas High EP. What can you tell me about the creation of your track recorded with Connie Price & The Keystones along with veteran emcee Percee P, "Four Pound?" Could you see yourself ever recording a full-length LP with Mr. Ubick?

Dope pimp track!! I like that track a lot. He just reached me through email, but that track stands out. Some features stay with you and that's one. Always good to work with Percee. I'm always down to work... tell him to get at me!

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