By Jaz for Cold Rock Da Spot
Ridge Jaggers and Leary
Po' Cus aka Young Prety
CRDS: Please tell readers about your past group history, I remember a great track from Hazardous Dukes years back, who was in that group and did you do an album or a lot of tracks together?
The dukes was ridge, po cus, sativa, chop suey, me and asian. we made quite a few tracks, some of them you can get on our website on the album by The Hazardous Dukes - Old Gold. Most of that shit was done around 2001-2003, its pretty damn old!
CRDS: You all hail from Dunedin in the South Island, could you please break down what the Hip Hop scene is like down there, what groups inspired you?
Leary: Dunedin is an out of it place. Theres' some good fellas like IMC and SAID doing their thing down there still these days. Shan (DJ) has always been a dope c--t. I gota say haha that MC Hambone and the Funky Feelings were pretty inspirational back in the day :P
Ridge: When we started Young Pretty had a Hip Hop band 'MC Hambone and the Funky Fellings' that started round 97 i think , I saw it quite a few gigs as I worked as security at the venue 'Fuel' that He usually played at , then he moved over the road from Me and i got to know him thru a reggae singer Blair that i was recording . Then met Leary from DJing I think him and his crew wanted to borrow my Battle records , then we ended up having a big DJ battle between our 2 crews 'The Eastablelists and Deckcowrecktors , it was huge. Leary was MCing with MC Sativa and Me, Young Prety aka Po Cus and MC Curio aka Chop-Sui started making tracks together.
CRDS: What would say are the main differences between South and North Island scenes?
Leary: I dunno if there's much of a difference, there's just more emcees up here I reckon. More DJs too just grinding hard for gigs. Wellington is dope.
Ridge: More people at gigs up north , bars are less hiphop orientated down here , but in saying that its a lot easier to get gigs in the south compared to up north, however it harder to get a crowed down here .. does that make sense ???
CRDS: Leary, what prompted your move to Wellington and how have you found the Welli scene?
Hmm I moved up here to finish uni, and been working here government styles since. I'm about to gap to japan for a year, and I'm pretty keen to check the scene out there.. it might be ambitious but id like to be able to free a bit in Japanese by the time i come back. there's some real good c--ts around here in Wellington, and I'll be a bit sad to leave. big ups to Loaded Welli and the GAG gang (I'm late for work as I write this)
CRDS: What happens with Ridge Jaggers beats, when you first started did you all sit down in a room together and choose which beats you wanted, or would you go home with a beats CD and practice
your verses that way?
Leary: Back in the day, we'd just go to Jags stood, chill, drink, smoke, decide which one of his latest beats we're feelin if we're all on somethin and then just do it. Other times Id just sit there with my book trying rhymes over everything till something really stuck. Jags makes some pretty different beats tho, a lot of the beats he makes I mite not feel for something I wana do, but Cus would be all over it. Jags knows what we want these days and just comes to us with f----n lovely beats. Ridge Jaggers is the f----n man. Believe it.
Ridge: usually beats where made or worked on during a day long drinking/party session and mc's would get together and write to the continuous loop of the chosen instrumental , but sometimes it would work the other way a MC would come with a writen track and we would find a beat that we felt worked with the lyrics. usually the best tracks happened fast , the longer they took the more they sucked.
CRDS: Ridge, what is your modus operandi for making beats? where do you find your samples, how did you learn how to produce and where did you learn to produce through a course or were you just self-taught?
Leary: don't give em' the secrets Jag
Ridge: when I was 14 my Dad got me a cracked version of acid pro , which was a sample based music software program and id record the radio into it and muck around with samples etc , after a while I got into scratching due to buying the Shiggar Fragger Show CD's(a dj turntablist show) and got a huge bank loan to buy a DJ set up , then got into digging hard at the local record stores , lurking round the 50c record bins looking 4 the most bizar records ect. then found out about the MPC and grabbed one , love that thing as it takes the visual aspect out of making music which is hard to get away from when using computers to compose on.
So usually I'll make a beat on the MPC and record it straight out of it into the computer , I'm not much of a audio engineer so the tracks are usually quite raw and un-mastered.
CRDS: Now that you all live away from each other and with you Leary re-locating to Japan for a bit, do you think Dues Paid will still continue?
Leary: Yeah, we're already all over the show, its nothing new really. Dues Paid is more like a label than our actual crew. It's our collective from Dunedin to Welly to Motueka to Christchurch Mens, and now to Yamagata, Japan. We're each artists in our own right, and I doubt we're stopping making music anytime soon...I'm taking my mics to japan, I can tell you that much (Leary is now based in Japan).
Ridge: Yes due to the large technological leaps in the last 10 years, its quite easy to send beats and verses to one and other also good recording gear is getting cheap as , Young Pretty could be up in a space station and email me a verse or hook.
CRDS: Leary and Po-Cus, how do you prepare for writing your verses or do you often just write lines down when in the studio?
I haven't written anything in ages to be honest. I recorded a track the other day about the 9-5 grind, but its stuff i wrote about a year ago. Mainly Ive just been free styling, and I've been loving it. Nothing like a sweet cipher, it's like that with instruments too, jamming is always the most fun. F--k a rehearsal.
CRDS: It's the age old question, but I always feel that it is an important one, who are you influences, who do you listen to mostly and who are your favourite kiwi artists?
Leary: this is just what I listen to, the guys'll listen to other ish
brother ali <- dude is so dope
de la soul
I could go on forever...
venemous mic technicians
*home brew are f----n dope, their s--t is great just on a 'Hip-Hop' level, forget the 'New Zealand Hip Hop' level, if you know what I mean?. I think everyone would agree that cats are raising the bar. Toms a top bloke, always got something nice to say about my s--t too. Those fellas are good c---s and I hope they go large. Chea
CRDS: What don't you enjoy about Hip Hop today?
Leary: Just wack egos that are rarely justified.
Ridge: It just keeps getting madder and madder
CRDS: Can you please break down the history of the Dues Paid-A Few Reciepts From The Shoebox album and is there any unreleased material out there?
We've got heaps of stuff aye, so many Jags beats. and yea we've got crazy amounts of 'unreleased' material. The history of Dues Paid is pretty much the history of the Hazardous Dukes, same people, pretty much same crew, but we're all over the show now. Jag might have a good rundown of events. I don't think we've had a full Dues Paid gig with all of us since the Dukes, just like me and jags, or cus and jags, or me and Asian. I think there might have been some misinterpretation around the Dues Paid name. Prety came up with the concept, of the stamps like a PAID stamp. We just sat around and laughed about it and loved it, so we ran with it, dues paid baby unngh! dreams come true when you paid your dues haha
CRDS: Anything you would like to add?
Look out for Black Dave, and our man Sativa is back with us in a couple of months we hope, cats been rhyming heaps so who knows what he's got in store. I'll be trying to hook up with some cats in Japan too so who knows wot kinda collabs are gonna happen.
Downloads: Dues Paid-A few receipts from the shoebox
Hazardous Dukes-Old Gold
Ridge Jaggers and Leary-70 Bars Freestyle
I hope you enjoyed this interview, Cold Rock Da Spot has upcoming interviews with Lord Monsta (X-Clan's DJ), DJ Soul-Clap and Sidney Reynolds and more...stay tuned.