New Interview: Sean T
INTERVIEW BY: Doxx
PHOTO COURTESY OF: Get Gone Records
You've been around since the early '90s. How does it feel in almost 2006 to still be a factor after all those years?
It feels real good man because I done seen a lot of different things as far as musically, as far as the way people rap now, the way that the independent game works. Everything is way different from what it was when I first started. For me to evolve and adapt to what's going on is always a plus, man.
What do you see different about the independent game?
The only difference that I see is that it's not as easy as it was before because there's a lot more artists now and the market is a lot more flooded. Back in the day I used to be able to just make a CD and just take into the stores and sell units. I could press up two thousand and sell out in a couple of weeks, press up another thousand and keep sellin' like that. Now artists is strugglin' to sell six thousand units.
What do you think happened that caused that?
A lot of people bein' careless in the game. Everybody thinks that they're a rapper, everybody thinks that they're a producer and they don't wanna get their tracks produced by a real producer and sit down in the studio and take they time. They wanna go buy their own equipment and try to just put out anything. That's really what it is.
The Bay had that part of the '90s where we were sellin' a lot of units, major label deals, radio, video, the whole thing and then it really just died. A lot of it was based on what you said just now about a lot of people gettin' in who really weren't built for it.
Doxx, to tell you the truth, I could tell you where the downfall is. As soon as 2Pac was gone it was like a big change and the industry didn't know what to do, especially in this market. Everybody was ridin' with Pac, all the music was good, it was quality. Pac set that example so everybody was like, "I gotta make my stuff sound better than Pac or as good as Pac." As soon as that was over it was like, "Oh, we can do anything now."
The way things are going now there's a lot of people gettin' in who really shouldn't be there, but there's a lot of really good quality stuff comin' out too from new people and the older people who've been in it for a long time. Do you see the Bay Area having a repeat of those big years we had?
It all comes back around, man. Whatever was here ten years ago is all comin' back around now. And all the people that's not really all that good is gonna be shifted out. Everybody knows who's tight and who's not. If you're good then you're gonna move shit. If you're not then you just gotta play the background until it's your chance or until you get up to par.
That one quote you had on "Rowdy" on the new album about puttin' the whole Bay on your back. I really liked that quote, I liked what you said right there...
Really, what I meant by that is there's a lot of people that's just comin' okay. They not puttin' they all into it, just doin' stuff to do it or play the songs for they potnas and ride around town and all that. I'm tryin' to set an example productionwise and lyrically to let people know that OG cats is still doin' it and I'm steppin' my game up so y'all look at me and follow in my footsteps. The whole thing is in the Bay is that we need unity here, man. If everybody quit hatin' on each other and get together like how they do in the Midwest and the South and stick together and eat together, then it'll be big here. Real talk.
Have you experienced that a little bit? People maybe bein' shady on you and not really supporting you like they say they do when they see you?
Yeah, I know there's a lot of cats like that. I gotta keep on movin', I gotta keep on pushin'. And I know a lot of dudes that's out here is respectin' me and what I've done in the past. But a lot don't know what I've done in the past. They think I'm new! You just gotta roll with the punches. I'm gonna do the best at whatever I do. I make sure I put time and work into it. I'm not gonna give nobody no half-ass shit when I put out a album or when I do production. But that's all we need man, more unity and less hate. That's the bottom line.
A lot of people might not know how long you've been doin' this and some of your past work. They might think you're new 'cause they were young when you startin' out.
A lot of people think my first release was Pimp Lyrics & Dollar Signs.
Give a quick background on the releases you did back with Murder One (Records) all the up to the new stuff.
Actually, even before Murder One I started off with a group called Parts Unknown. That was like 1989, 1990. And I was in a group called MOG. And another thing that people didn't know... East Palo Alto, we the first ones in the Bay to put out a comp, the EPA City compilation. After that comps just went crazy, there was comps everywhere. Where we got it from was a click from LA and they was called Chuck Small and Tweedy Bird Loc. That's where we got the idea from. From there, I'd say '91, was a artist named Chunk that I did production for. Then after that I signed to Murder One Records and I did my first solo, Straight From The Streets. Actually before that we did MOG, Exposed To The Game. Then from there on is Pimps Lyrics & Dollar Signs and the rest of the albums.
Who was in Parts Unknown with you?
There was Kilo G, Studio B and then another rapper named Low Key and then Top Dog.
What's the history on Murder One?
Murder One Records was started by my boy Pedro... He goes by Front Page. He was just like a baller in the hood lookin' for artists and stuff. He heard that I was a producer/artist and I signed with him and the rest is history after that.
What was your involvement with the label? I know you rapped and did the production. Were you also behind the scenes making decisions?
No, at that time I was just a artist and producer because I didn't know too much about the business back then. That's why my career didn't go where it needed to go and where it could have went. You learn as you go along and I learned the business and how everything works.
The label had you, Kaos...
Papoose and Mobboss. Actually that was Roots From The Underground. Papoose is still one of my artists right now. He's changin' his name now though. His name is J. Streets.
With that big roster of talent a lot of good albums came out of that era when you were with them and at that time a lot of deals were happening with the majors. Did Murder One ever have any major offers?
We had a lot of major offers, but we didn't ever take 'em. We had Priority, we had Relativity, Capitol. There was a lot of record labels lookin' at us. What Front Page was tryin' to do was get the whole label signed. They just wanted to sign either me or Chunk and not sign everybody else and we didn't go with it. I think it was a mistake because we should of went with it and once one of us got in the door we could of brought everyone along.
When I interviewed Mac Dre a long time ago he told me that once things started really movin' for him he didn't really look at himself as being a celebrity so he was just out there bein' normal, but he realized that it was a problem because there's a lot of jealous people. Comin' up and bein' a rising star in somewhere like EPA, did you encounter a lot of jealousy and things like that?
Well, if it was it wasn't brought to my attention because East Palo Alto is real small. Everybody knows everybody. It's like two square miles across the whole city. Everybody from East Palo Alto was lookin' at it as like, "If he shinin', we all shinin'." It's a small town. We called it the "Small Town Cemetary."
I remember it was the murder capital back in what, '93?
Comin' from somewhere like that, how did that shape the music you were makin'?
That was my influence back then 'cause that's all I knew, violence in the streets and hustlin' and prejudice and police brutality, so that's what I talked about.
Productionwise, you were the one who made that EPA/Menlo Park sound. You put the stamp on that and that sound comin' out of there is basically you.
I was like the only producer that was doin' hardcore production from East Palo Alto. There was another producer by the name of C-Funk. He was doin' his thing. He was more on a mainstream level. He was an influence on me too to make me wanna do it.
What would you say your production style was? At the time the mob shit was real big with Studio Ton and K-Lou and you had somethin' similar, but it was on a whole different page.
My production style was kinda like a mixture of East and West really. A lot of people back then was doin' live music, playin' live basslines, live guitars and all of that. My influence was Dr. Dre and then the Juice Crew like Big Daddy Kane and Kool G Rap and all of them. It was like a mixture of Marley Marl and Dr. Dre together and heavy 808, deep basses and stuff like that. And samples, I was a heavy sampler.
You used to work a lot with G-Man Stan doin' the guitar. What's up with him, are you still workin' with him at all?
Yeah, I work with him from time to time. Not as much anymore, but he does his thing. Me and Stan did a lot of work together back then, comin' up.
Let's get into the new album. It's called Ain't Playin' and it's on your own label, Get Gone. Tell me about some of the stuff on the album and what the feel is.
I really just balanced the album out to give everybody a little bit of somethin'. I tried to give you a little bit of lyrical, somethin' for the ladies, gangsta stuff, even some radio stuff. I'm really tryin' to let cats know that just because I was rappin' back in the day don't mean that I still rap that same way. A lot of people judge you by how you used to rap or they feel you can't adapt to what's happenin' now, but that's not me. I'm a chameleon man, I switch up.
What are some of your favorite songs you did on the new album?
"Punchlines." I like that song because I'm showin' the lyrical skills. The song is all punchlines. I'm just sayin' that it's my time to blow and I'm lettin' cats know that I don't just do the gangsta rap. I can do lyrical stuff too. I like "Ain't Playin'," "Transformin," "Long Time Comin'." That's like one of the real heartfelt ones. That was real spit on that song right there.
What kind of words of wisdom do you have for some of these new kids that are just tryin' to get into it? They might have the talent, some of 'em don't. What kind of advice do you have?
I just wanna tell 'em to stay humble. I mean it's good to be cocky to a certain extent, but you can't get cocky to where you're downplayin' or disrespecting the OG's or anybody that's been in the game longer than you or know more than you. Just be humble. If it's workin' out for you and it's startin' to blow for you, stay humble. Don't ever get big headed. Like for instance, Mistah FAB is a good example. He hasn't got big headed or nothin' and he's doin' his thing man. All these other youngsters need to look at him as an example of how he does it, his work ethic and everything.
What are some of the next steps for the label? I know you got 18 comin' up.
Got 18 comin', got Sand (formerly Mr. Sandman) and his album is called The Subpoena, J. Streets (formerly Papoose) and then Alabama Slim. And the name of 18's album is Access Granted. J. Streets' album is called No U-Turns and Alabama Slim's is Guilty By Association.
What about some of the other people you used to be with on Murder One? Like where's Kaos, where's...
You know what? A couple of months ago I talked to all of 'em. I talked to Kaos and Top Dog, but they doin' other things now. They still do they rap thing, but they not real serious about it how they was, like the drive how they had back then. I still keep in contact with 'em, everything is good.
What's up with Chunk? I heard him on the new mixtape you just did (see below interview).
Yeah, me and Chunk been talkin' about doin' a album too. He wants me to put a album out on him so we just been talkin' about that. They need to know about Chunk 'cause Chunk was a firespitter... Still is a firespitter. The mixtape is called Get Gone and Lawless Radio-Volume 2 and y'all need to check that out. There's some nice stuff on there. We tryin' to showcase that we got skills out here. Palo Alto shouldn't be forgotten, you know?
RELATED: If you see it, make sure you get your hands on the new mixtape that Sean mentioned in our interview. Real solid all the way through with great tracks from Hoodstarz, Sean T, Chunk, 18 and more. Here's the cover...