Monday, September 3, 2018

Ice-T & MR.X On "Mashing Electronic Music & O.G. Rap," Ice & Afrika Islam's EBE NATION & THE BRUTAL EP (The Witzard Interview)

"EBE Records was created by DJ/producer Afrika Islam and rapper/actor Ice-T. This creative team came together to combine all their musical tastes into one label, looking to the future by pulling from their past. Ice-T, Zulu Beats, Body Count, Rhyme Syndicate, MR.X, Charlie Funk, Bubbleheads, and Analog Brothers [Ice Oscillator, Keith Korg, Mark Moog, Silver Synth, Rex Roland JX3P & Keith Kurzweil]—to name a few of the musical exploits they have already conquered. Not to mention, TV and film, studio and tour, raves and super-raves, clubs and concerts, radio and documentaries. Afrika Islam & Ice-T bring to the label a different level of musical and visual understanding. The label's collaboration-based music project from act to DJ, from legend to new-comers, Hip-Hop to EDM, from House to Techno, from Dub to Glitch to Funk to Electro-Funk. WE CALL IT "HYBRID MUSIC!'"

- Ice-T & Afrika Islam (EBE NATION)

I. How did Ice-T & Afrika Islam initially meet and what exactly inspired them to start their own EDM/Hip-Hop label, Electronic Beat Empire (EBE NATION) together?

Ice-T: I met Afrika at The Radio Club in LA. This club would bring REAL Hip-Hop artists from NY to perform. I wanted into the game and somehow, Afrika and I just hit it off and became friends... Islam has been spinning EDM in Europe for over 15 years. He wanted to come back to The States and start a label. He helped me start my career, so it was only right to return the favor. Plus, he's the best DJ I've ever seen. He needs to be spinning in The US!

MR.X: Peace. I met Ice-T in Cali, when I was on tour. I think, Ice-T and I first met, either, when I was on tour with The Rock Steady Crew doing pick-up parts for the Flashdance movie or when I was booked as a DJ for The Radio Club, the same club which Ice-T was the MC and host.

EBE/ELECTRONIC BEAT EMPIRE is an Electronic music label. The creation of it was a joint decision. MR.X had been playing Techno/Electro music at all the major events in Europe & Asia for the past 18 years and I told Ice-T, I have learned enough and I'm ready to return back to [The] USA. While in Germany, I tried to open a label after my time with Mr.X & Mr.Y, but Germany has too many business obstacles and didn't have the creative pool of out-of-the-box elements I needed for the EBE NATION concept.

II. Whose idea was it for MR.X to remix "Colors" from the soundtrack to Dennis Hopper's critically-acclaimed 1988 film of the same name? Correct me, if I'm wrong, but it almost sounds like an entirely new version with newly-recorded vocals from Ice-T, rather than your typical remix!

Ice-T: That was Afrika's idea... We made the original together. I re-did the vocals for the EDM version.

MR.X: The idea for remixing "Colors" was both MR.X and Afrika Islam's. Our quest was a real hybrid record mashing Electronic music and O.G. RAP... but it had to be made, written, and produced by masters of both music formats. And yes, it's new vocals and new music.

III. How did working together to create MR.X's The Brutal EP differ from the creative processes behind your past collaborative works? Ice-T served as Executive Producer on this EP, right?

Ice-T: MR.X did all the music in Germany... I just listened and gave my opinion. It's just the first of many projects to come.

MR.X: MR.X's THE BRUTAL was recorded in Berlin, Germany and we shot the videos in NYC and Hamburg, Germany, but every step of the way, Ice-T was involved; from the concept to the finished product. In the past, all our productions were in the same studio at the same time. The production was based on both of us being in the same city.

IV. What were your greatest sources of inspiration and influence while creating your most recent collaborative EP, The Brutal?

Ice-T: I think, MR.X's experience playing live lets him know first-hand what will move the crowd... Just [making] records you wanna play live is the focus.

MR.X: Inspiration: good question! My main inspiration was to make a true new hybrid form of music... My main source of influence in creating THE BRUTAL was my 18 years of hitting the European Underground Techno clubs and major Electronic festivals; both, as headlining DJ and as fan of DJ culture. 18 years of heavy Electronic Dance culture leaves an impression, which became THE BRUTAL Soundtrack/EP. I simply, call this another piece of my "musication" (music education.) One new word... musication. Oh sh*t, call Webster's!

V. What were your typical writing, recording, production, etc. processes like while creating The Brutal EP?

MR.X: SP-1200, MPC60, Abelton, and 10K gigs of samples... a dark underground WWII bunker in Berlin, and a fan going to war every nite, every day, anti-social, anti-commercial.

VI. Now that your imprint has been properly launched, what's next for EBE NATION?

Ice-T: We're just trying to add to the landscape... We come from another place than most EDM DJ's, so it should be interesting.

MR.X: The next MR.X EP is called HIP HOP DJS DONT PLAY TECHNO, followed by IT CAME FROM SPACE EP. A press day, Oct. 15 IN NYC, where we let the world know: we are here, we are ready to hit clubs and festivals. We are looking for booking agents, remixers, and producers... and it's war!

VII. When does the rest of EBE NATION's label roster (Charlie Funk, Wasabi Bytes & MR.X, etc.) plan to let lose their first proper releases for the label?

MR.X: Nov. the MR.X Remix EP will drop. It's called DIRTY ALIEN RICE, which will feature Charlie Funk... and Wasabi Bytes and any other new [collaborators] that EBE has signed.

VIII. What do you, personally, plan to release next, Ice-T & MR.X, either on EBE NATION or in addition to your more EDM-leaning material?

Ice-T: I'm more of the business side of this label, but I'm sure you'll hear my voice, along with others from the Hip-Hop world, on different tracks.

MR.X: Good question... Ice-T and I have talked about it for years; the first record was on [the] TECHNO HOP LABEL. I guess, that's the omen that let us both know we were always ELECTRONIC/HIP-HOP from the start. I'm looking forward to an Ice-T/MR.X/Body Count "There Goes The Neighborhood" Dub/Rock/Hip-Hop/Beat Hybrid Remix. I hope, one day soon... [most] likely, not too public-friendly.

IX. Do EBE NATION/Records Founders Ice-T & Afrika Islam have any immediate plans to collaborate again? To the best of my knowledge, they last worked together on Ice's 1991 album, O.G. Original Gangster...

Ice-T: Absolutely... but it's gotta be dope and different.

MR.X: 1,000% in-the-works already... I heard it already. [It's] some new Black James Bond vs. White Panther take-a-pain-killer-because-of-the-bass-level music sh*t!

X. Who might each of you readily list amongst your "dream" EDM collaborators? How close might any of these collaborations be to actually coming to fruition?

MR.X: Well, to me, "collaboration" only means live on stage. 6 CD players or turntables. I would line up Carl Cox, DJ Rush, Jeff Mills, Bad Boy Bill, Mix Master Mike, DJ QBert, Jazzy Jay, and Egyptian Lover. I prefer true school Techno/Electro DJ's. These are my favs. to play with on 4-6 CD players on stage live... no laptops allowed... that's my idea of a collaboration.

XI. Are there currently any plans to bring MR.X's charismatic live show with "Just FOUR CD players, ONE [mic], and ONE mixer" on the road... particularly, for a proper US Tour?

Ice-T: Yes, that's the plan... We're trying to find the best people to hook up with right now.

MR.X: Right now, yes, we are just looking for the best booking agent that understands what we, at EBE, are doing. MR.X sets are pretty uptempo EDM & Techno, maybe, 40-50 tunes an hour, 4 CD players, no shorts, no gimmicks, no sync buttons. So, all booking agents, HOLLA AT YOUR BOYS, ICE-T & MR.X and "Let's get it popping, Jack!"

XII. From a recent REVOLVER feature: "I think the time has come to reveal where I actually got the guitar lick before the breakdown in "Enter Sandman," Kirk Hammett told Guitar World. "It's from "Magic Man" by Heart, but I didn't get it from Heart's version. I got it from a cut off Ice-T's Power album, where he sampled it. I heard that and thought, "I have to snake this!'" Would you care to comment on the link between Metallica's "Enter Sandman" and Power/Heart's "Magic Man?"

MR.X: I will [let] Ice-T answer this one... I'm glad somebody finally said it. PEACE!

Ice-T: I think it's very cool... It just shows that all musicians are influenced by OTHER artists. You may hear some Metallica in our EDM.

1 comment:

  1. what upper ice you influenced and inspired me my og you changed my life your music means a lot to me made me love hip hop and be proud to claim the west coast you dropped jewels and kicking knowledge you were a mc i could look up to i went to school and built my brain holla at me homie stay up would love to hear from you money would love to flow for a legend ive never seen you live would be cool to chop it up backstage