Kid Tested, Mother Approved, and 100% Sucka Free

Junclassic Interview on

| Monday, March 9, 2009

Hey Junclassic, what's up, how are you?

What's Good Knowbody? I'm good fam! Actually tired as a mug, yo... been working hard fam. Got bout 7 hours of sleep in the last two days. Recorded with a new producer on Sunday (Jan 25) named Shawneci. Very talented producer with a warm sound and an extensive catalogue.

So thanks for finding the time to do this interview although you are very busy and tired. Let's start with the first question concerning your nickname. Why do you call yourself "Junclassic", where did you get the name from?

Thank you for asking me about my name! I been wondering when someone would. Jun is short for Junior. I grew up being called Jun, jun jun, jun-bug, J, you know. And I always admired the Erick Sermons, Keith Murrays and other heads who incorporated their real names. So, being that my music is real and being that it's me, I wanted my name to express that. Plus I wanted to make timeless music. But JunTimeless doesn't sound that cool. I found a better word for Timeless. Junclassic. By the way, its one word for anybody wondering.

You are in this game for quite some time now, do you remember when you started rapping?

I kicked my first rhyme in 89. Trying to impress this girl named Candice Campbell. I didn't kick it to her tho. I wrote it in a notebook and passed it to her. She passed it back and said it was hype. I was inspired by Kid N Play.

Haha, a rhyme to impress a girl, I guess this still works, I should try that as well. You remember your first 16 bars?

Couldn't give you the whole 16 but I remember how I ended it: "rhyme for rhyme line for line chime for chime / nickel and a dime I'm getting mine / cause Im a legend in my own time!" *laughs*... I beatboxed a beat for it, too. Beatboxed the beat and recorded it to tape thru the tiny mic hole in the top right corner of my lil boom box. Then I played the beat tape from another radio right next to the mic hole while I rapped over my beatbox. I still remember how the baseline went... wow....

You still got that somewehere? I would like to hear that...

Shiiit I wish!! Maan, I've lost soooo many tapes, rhyme books, important CDs. Shit is a shame man. Wish I had my early recordings.

So after these first moves you released an album together with Ntrospekt as the group "Dynamix". What can you tell us about those times?

Shout to Monsta X! Dynamix was formed in 2000. We started doing shows together as two soloists and had to learn how to get on stage and on paper. X is one of the illest performers you will ever see. And he taught me how to be comfortable on stage. But he be ODin tho. Jumpin on speakers and swinging off shit. My big ass swings off something and we gon have a problem. We did mad shows for a few years and in 2003 we put out a 10 track EP called “Shock N Awe Vol. 1”. In 2004 we put out Vol. 2 as a mixtape. We got some good reviews. Met MF Grimm and passed him the “Shock N Awe” series. Off the strength of the music he asked us to get down wit MIC. We happily accepted. From there we focused on MIC for the next couple of years and put Dynamix on the backburner.

But I heard you are working on a new Dynamix project?

Yes Sir, me and X have been building about a Dynamix album. The “Shock N Awes” have garnered over 15,000 downloads so the demand is there. Before we give ‘em Dynamix, the world needs to get to know the other half of the group first. And I'm happy to say that X is working on his solo project. Definitely keep an eye out for that first. Dynamix will more than likely be dropping during the 4th quarter in 2009.

Oh, that should be another release everybody should have a look for. Let's get back to your solo career. In 2007 you released your debut solo album "2 Much ain't enuff". The critics were not satisfied with the beats you picked. What did you do wrong?

You know what Knowbody? I didn't do anything wrong on “2 Much Aint Enuff”. I took a chance and did all my production thinking it would be seen as visionary and different and dope. I've often read about how Dizzie Rascal self produced his legendary debut "Boy In The Corner" and he took over with that! The El-P's, J-Zone's, Melodious Monk's, Diamond D's and Pete Rock's and Rza's were all inspiration. If anything could be considered wrong, it’s that I didn't sample at all. Every single sound on that album came from my Fantom X6 keyboard. Some of those baselines should have been stronger. I'll give you that. But at the same time, that album was seen as one of the Best of 2007 by quite a few blogsites. Okay very few! That taught me that while many may not get it, there are always a few that will. And I am very appreciative of that. They kept me going when I wanted to say "eff, this game man".

A year later you released the follow-up, "Overqualified". This album was a big improvement in all parts and the response was great with very good reviews worldwide. Where you satisfied with the album?

I was satisfied with “Overqualified”. With that album, me and l8sho (waddup fam!) truly sought to do something unconventional. The thing is, while many reviews called it bizarre and strange, not too many actually spoke on the conceptual themes of the album. "Boss Lady" was about me getting fired from a job over some bullshit. I was utterly disgusted with the woman that fired me and I tried to convey how powerless I felt. "Pretty Toni" was about accepting a lesbian relationship in my family. I think people got so caught up in how different the production was from everything else that they didn't dig deeper into it and get the lyrical content. Please believe I was trying to write about instances that were as unique as the beats on the album. But I'm happy that people dug it overall. After the lukewarm reception I got for “2 Much Aint Enuff”, anything positive was a go! And I really like how it was ubiquitously labelled as "weird". To me weird is different. And I am definitely different!

But you still followed the same concept with only one producer on this one (I8sho). Why?

I followed the one producer concept because I like that concept. I'm continuing that concept for the next few projects. It could be said that I broke that for "Late Nites and Early Mournings" being that the EP was produced by J Slikk and Cynergy Soundz from Backpackers Anonymous. But I'm working on 3 other EPs with 3 producers. I like cohesion. Monsta X will tell you. Plus some of the greatest albums in Hip Hop, “Death Certificate”, “Enter The Wu Tang”, “3 Feet High And Rising”, “The Chronic”, “Livin Proof” by Group Home, “The Cold Vein” by Can Ox all had one producer. And I like the idea of having a small number working on a project. Perhaps that's why I never have too many features.

Okay, now I understand your idea behind that. But you got a talented producer that's holding your back, R.A.V.A.G.E. . Why didn't he produce for your projects up to now?

Big up to RAVAGE The Meccagodzilla! Me and RAVAGE have worked on projects. He just released a spectacular instrumental album called "Erroars". Go get it if you ain’t got it! I have the lone song on there, called “Gabarah”, produced by RAVAGE The Meccagodzilla. And the song is deep because the 3rd verse details how I got inducted into MIC. Then I proceed to name all the members. Rest In Power To MF Bash, SubRoc, and Yves St. LaRock. But yeah, RAVAGE and I did a few joints that were never released. We're actually thinking about letting some of this stuff get to the public. Besides that, RAVAGE is working on some next level music man. He's got some incredible shit sitting on his hard drive. I'm waiting on his shit like I'm waiting on “Detox” from Dr. Dre yo. Big up to my man WhoMixedThis from myspace. He said me and RAVAGE should do an album and call it America's Next Top Monsta. *laughs*

Ha, that would really be on some next level shit. Coming back to your last album, I was always wondering about the cover art of "Overqualified" and the relationship to the album. What was the idea behind that?

l8sho (late show not eighteen show) conceived of and executed the artwork for “Overqualified” in addition to the production. l8sho is one of the most creatively talented dudes I've had the pleasure of knowing. The cover is a visual representation for the term “Overqualified”. The plunger represents the occupation of a janitor and the suit represents the uniform of someone who should be getting more than a janitor's salary. Someone overqualified to do what he is doing. Yet he continues to do it anyway. And he wants respect for what he does. Because they will probably never appreciate how well he does it.

Besides the subjects you already mentioned, what are you talking about on your albums? I noticed a big variety of subjects...

What am I talking about on my albums? That's a very complicated question, Knowbody. Wow. Well, first off, I quote Hell Razah's incredible title and say my music is audiobiographical. And it relaxes me to write. I have a few lines that describe its purpose: "I write for therapy it put me in a better zone, so pardon if I keep y’all in the loop like a metronome." Another old line of mine is, "I'm like a sinister minister wit a baked brain, trying to take pain and flip it into cake stains." I talk about life. Mostly my life from the first person. But songs like "Patrick Dorismond" are dope to me because, as horrifying as the events of Mr. Dorismond's demise are (Rest In Power), the thought of a victim of police brutality recounting the last evening of their life from their perspective just seemed like an innovative song concept to me. I wrote that right before the Sean Bell incident occurred in Nov 2006 (God Bless). I made the beat to sound club-like on purpose, to represent the vibe Patrick Dorismond was on that night. He wasn't going out to get killed by an undercover cop. He was going out to have a good time. So yea bro, I talk about the pain in life and our constant pursuit to overcome our shortcomings. And there are a lot of different things that hold us back. I wanna address as many of them as possible. I also wanna talk about things that make life fun and interesting like and "Cruisin Thru The Southside". Ultimately tho, we beautify the pain or horrid things in life thru art.

On the album track "The Promo" (of „Overqualified") you are paying hommage to the pioneers of rap with a heavy bass driven old school beat. Do you think actual rap has lost its connection to the history of rap and Hip Hop?

I would say rap hasn't lost its connection to history but its appreciation for it only appears when it’s convenient or profitable. I love the Hip Hop Honors that VH1 does. I remember seeing the second one when they paid homage to Big Daddy Kane then he went up there and smashed it! Did the fast flow on "Warm It Up, Kane" and was tossing the mic to each hand then he did the dance wit Scoob and did the split! Next day I wrote a blog about how Kane can go platinum in 2006 if he had the best producers and dope video and promo. I believe that there is an audience for hip hoppers 40 and over. Obama listens to Nas! I listen to Nas! I'm 32. So me and Obama can vibe about Nas. I don't think the youngins appreciate Nas these days like I do. The 18-21 crowd. 25 plus might appreciate Nasir. So, to answer your question, I think Hip Hop History will always play a part in HipHop. But I think the generation gap and how Game said, "you 37 and you still rappin ughh!" is selling ourselves short. Shit, if a 75 year old dude got some sick ass jewels to drop about the 40s and 50s, I wanna hear that shit.

I definitely agree with you on that. Talking about your newest project, you changed the "One Producer" concept on your new EP that got released a few weeks ago. Who did the beats this time?

The beats for The Late Nites and Early Mournings EP were supplied by J Slikk and Cynergy Soundz of Backpackers Anonymous! Shout to BPA. Go download my man Cy Yung"s "Cyrano Republic EP" at the BPAblogspot. They did all the production for Cy Yung's EP as well. Their sounds are distinctive yet powerful and marinated in that soulful Boom Bap shit that New York is known and loved for. But J is from the Chi and Cyn is from T Dot. Real talented dudes man. They putting out a lot of great music for free! Go download Zenith Sounds from Cynergy and J Slikk's New Year's Gift. got all that.

What was the idea behind the "Late Nighty And Early Mournings" EP?

The idea behind Late Nites and Early Mournings was to capture and convey the emotions one goes thru during the night hours. From the fast paced "don't fuck wit me" flow and attitude of "The Ohh Ahh" featuring Cy Yung to the ever present self-doubt a lot of artists have but don't express in "The Basics". That song is a mantra for underground heads on the come up. Peep the last four bars:

„Labels aint good for ya health/
let cha go wood cause ya stood on the shelf/
My Brothers need to join the revolution with me/
and go to work for yourself like you work for Diddy!"

I'm just telling the truth Family. Another song like "Forever" speaks about my longing for a past love. So "Late Nites" is really emotional fam. "Lil Bit" featuring my man Ceez is about loyalty and betrayal. Real shit we can all relate to. And "Premeditated" was written the night after I saw the Oscar Grant video (Rest In Power) and another video where a young white cop maced and punched a 15 year old Black girl that must've weighed 80 lbs soaking wet. So I wrote out a "dirty harry fantasy". And most importantly with the EP, I wanted to show that I'm nice yo. I can write songs. Hooks. Punchlines that keep in-line with the concept. Got different flows and I can tell a story like we sitting by a campfire. I came up rhyming in the street. On the J train wit raggedy ass Brooklyn kids at 2 am. And getting love! Since the high school cafeteria in the mid 90s. So I had to put that shit on an EP wit some hard hitting production that heads can't deny. Sought to do that and so far the feedback has been outstanding!

You give the EP away for free (free download at ). Do you think it got harder to sell rap music nowadays so you gotta give the consumer something for free or what was the reason for doing so?

You got it Knowbody. It’s harder to sell fam. If I had dropped “Overqualified” 5 years ago, I'd probably be on tour or something just off sales. But everybody is going thru it. So yeah fam, you gotta give ‘em something for free. Especially in an oversaturated market. Shit, I'm finding that it’s hard to give away music! Can't tell you how many heads tell me the links don't work or they download but ain’t listening. That's why I had my man Alan Coogan-Prieto do an oil painting on canvas for the cover. Because I figured that ill art would add to the intrigue. He did a spectacular job with the artwork fam. And he's doing the cover for my next EP, “Imaginary Enemies”. That EP is not for free tho. It’s a limited edition collector's item release. The CDs will be numbered. So I gave ‘em a freebie with an essay explaining that I'm here to prove myself so that y’all cop my “Imaginary Enemies EP” produced entirely by my man DJ Husky. Husky is also working on a crazy ass EP with Monsta X. Wait until you hear that!

Releasing 3 projects in one and a half years, I guess you are one of the hardest working in this business. So what's next on the schedule besides the projects you already mentioned?

Thank you for the big up on the work ethic Knowbody! I told J Zone, who is one of the coolest cats you'll ever meet, plus a mafuckin genius producer, "Ima flood em in 2009 J! Like Master P in 1998 when he had them 5 page ads in The Source wit nutting but albums albums and more albums! *laughs* Fo reel tho! Lil Wayne's work ethic changed the game. Shit, Sha Stimuli put out 12 mixtapes last year! That shit blew my mind. My lil ole plan is to drop an EP every quarter. 1st one was the free bee “Late Nites And Early Mournings”. Next Up is “Imaginary Enemies” produced entirely by DJ Husky coming spring 2009. April, maybe May. The summertime joint is a conceptual project I am really hyped about. It’s called "Harvard For Hitmen" and its gonna be entirely produced by my man Melodious Monk. Big up to Monk yo! Another really good dude and an innovative producer. He did production on Vast Aire's last solo album "Deuces Wild" and got tremendous praise for his work. Also did production on Vast and Karniege's "Mighty Joseph" album. He's also a crazy ill lyricist and a ill singer!! Melodious Monk is the future. That should be on a sticker. Look out for Monk's EP "Hymns" he's dropping on Febuary 19th on his myspace page ( ). For the 4th quarter 2009, I'm thinking of dropping an EP called “Iron Soul” produced by my man Iron Curtain but I'm also thinking about working on a mixtape called "Southside's Savior". Been doing nothing but albums and now EPs. Maybe I should do a mixtape and make the cypher complete. I'm also executive producing my man E.P.I.C.'s album "The Delivery" to drop on Classified in late 2009. Monsta X is finishing an EP with DJ Husky. Planning to drop that on Classified by spring possibly summer 09. And me and X will dropping a Dynamix album sometime in late 2009... 2010 is gonna be some whole other shit. - my 3rd album "The Hope Business". That will be my greatest creation ever! Ohhh... I just hit Tommy Gunn with a beat CD. Big up to Tommy Gunn and Ray Long aka Tha Heartz Ov Darkness. Go get they album "The Nickel Bag" if you ain’t got it!! You can find it on All production done by X Ray, original producer of the first and only Monsta Island Czars album "Escape From Monsta Island". Tommy Gunn and RayLong maaan... They like Styles and Jadakiss TIMES Rae and Ghost! Im telling you! Ray Long got these crazy ill flows and deeper than deep punchlines and Tommy? Man, Tommy in a whole 'nother world my dude. He's what I call "SuperLyrical" aka a fucking problem! Like a Big Pun type of dude. When he rhymes the cypher is over! *laughs* And Tommy been had his style since the mid 90s if I’m not mistaken. But chea, I told Tommy, "The world dont really like my beats Tommy." Gunn was like "Fuck that! I Know what’s hot!" I Felt my G on that shit, so hopefully he like something on there. Can't front, I gave him a few I was saving for myself so I hope he really dig something. Guess we shall see...

You just named some members of the M.I.C., so of course the listeners want to know what's up with the Monsta Island Czars (M.I.C.). It seems like the collective lacks unity and almost every member does his own thing. Why is it so difficult to keep all members under the radar?

It’s hard to keep the Monsta Island Czars under one roof because we one big ass family. A dysfunctional ass family of cannibals, man. Everybody hungry, ready to tear an arm off of somebody to prove they ain’t playing. Believe me, it was christened "Monsta" by MF Grimm for a reason. But believe me, everybody truly had they own style on some Wu Tang shit. I never seen no shit like it. And the creativity in a room full of smoke and shouting wit mad Czars making they presence known is pure chaotic beauty my friend. Man, if you coulda seen us at Don Hills in Lower Manhattan wit Monsta X jumping on speakers and Kong growling on the mic wit that AK 47 flow man then Grimm grabbing the mic in the crowd spitting that intelligent gangsta shit yo, it was a moment in time fam.

But I guess MF Doom is not a part of the M.I.C. anymore?

Is MF Doom a part of M.I.C.? That's a great question! But I think we both know only MF Doom can answer that question. Or is it King Ghidra?

And what's up with MF Grimm? Haven't heard of him for quite some time right now...

I really couldn't tell you what's going on with MF Grimm. Last I heard his comic book “Sentences” won a prestigious award. Did you read it? I copped it the day it came out. It was dope. I believe American Hunger is HipHop's greatest album ever. The Trilogy is 60 tracks. Breakfast, lunch and dinner. I have listened to this trilogy and skipped two tracks. And the rewind factor is crazy. In terms of concepts, variety in flows, and even slick well thought out punchlines that take some time to get, MF Grimm is quite possibly the best that ever did it. And he taught me a lot.

So is there a realistic chance for a new M.I.C. album in the near future?

A M.I.C. album in the near future? How near we talking? *laughs* I dunno how near or far it may be Knowbody, but I think a Monsta Island Czars album would be the fucking Detox of the underground. Ok I'm wilding. But you know, it'll be the Cuban Linx 2 of this shit....

Haha, that's a pretty good description for this often talked about second M.I.C. Album. I guess only time will let us know if that ever happens. But let's leave this subject and come back to your personal musical career. You are not only working as a rapper but you started the label Classified Records that released your albums. Why did you decide to do so?

I started Classified Recordings because I had an epiphany. November 2006... It was right around the time when MIMS dropped his hit record. Damn I can't even remember the name. Crazy how they beat you in the head wit the record and now it’s not even an afterthought. But, I was thinking, all he needed was one bomb record. Lemme go start a company and drop one bomb record. But I couldn't do a MIMS type record. No disrespect, but fuck that. I'm a lyricist my G. I don't play with that pen and I work hard on my verses. Plus I'm from that era where dudes spit acapella and needed that "ohhhhh line" otherwise you was just aight. So I'm all about being lyrical with it. But I needed something to put the records out on, so I bossed up and got my LLC thing thing. Big up to RAVAVGE The Meccagodzilla for coming up with the Classified Logo. I really feel like I starting bossing up when I dropped Kong's debut album "Shackles Off". To put out another artist and see the project get recognition is a good look for both the artist and the label. Plus being a rapper ain’t as cool as it once was. Being a label owner takes more drive and initiative. So I respect that and I'm bout hard work. Hard work ain’t nothing new.

So how does the work as a label owner differ from the life of a rapper? I guess that are two complete different lifes and you always need to have a look at things from two totally different perspectives...

Being a label owner looks cool in the magazines and the movies but its frigging whack man! Lotta calling people, emailing people, yelling at people, being mad because nobody cares about what you care about as much as you do. And artists expect the world. This is Superman 1 baby, you better be happy wit Australia Lex Luther. Shit in this economic climate, I can't even promise you Long Island fam. I’ma keep it 100 with you Knowbody. 100 percent truth. I'm having a difficult time fully adapting to the CEO role because at the moment, I'm in heavy artist mode. Writing a lot, hunting for beats, more writing. That's less time spent on building strong business relationships and looking for economic opportunities. So I need to focus more on that transition to CEO.

Yeah, I expected it to be like that, it's not only about drinking crystal and getting the best girls...

*laughs* Crystal? Shit I never even seen a bottle of Crystal in real life let alone tasted it. But I got a pretty dope girl tho, supportive wit the music shit.

Since you also released Kong's last album "Shackles Off" with Classified records - are their plans for releasing other M.I.C. projects on your label?

Other MIC releases on Classified would be Monsta X's EP wit DJ Husky first and foremost. Me and RAVAGE talked about an album. It’s hard to tell right now about any other Czar albums on Classified. At least in 2009. I heard some rumbling about Czars recording in Brooklyn with a well respected underground producer. But you know, nothing confirmed at the moment besides Monsta X's EP in terms of other Monsta Island Czars releases on Classified Recordings LLC.

Okay, thanks for that statement. Let's talk about some more private things. Besides your life as a rapper and label owner, what kind of a person is the private man Junclassic?

Wooooowww, on some Flava Flav shit. Who is Junclassic the private man? Junclassic is a man who lives with mom and pops in Southside Queens, trying to come up in hard economic times. Just lost my brother almost a year ago and it devastated the family. So we still recovering. Originally, “Late Nites and Early Mornings” did not have the U in Mournings. I had the Late Nites title in my head since 98. I added the U because I lost someone I wasn't ready to lose. And I'm hurting over it man. But Junclassic is also a leader bro. I made nothing into something. I did it all on my own. I went to Catholic school. Went to college. Did a lot of dirt in college and got away with it. Got my degrees man, including a master's degree. Because it says NYU on it I’ma be broke forever unless Obama bails me out. And jun is a humble, good hearted dude. A true fan of HipHop. And realer than most.

My condolences for the loss of your brother, I know how hard it is to lose very close family members, I made the same experiences some years ago.

God bless You and your family for your losses Knowbody. And thank you for the condolences. Much appreciated my dude.

So which personal goals you have for the near future?

Personal goals for the near future are to get some fucking money! I think we can all say "Amen" to that! Besides that, get on tour, get some sort of distribution deal for Classified, look into investing in other businesses, and to get in shape. I been really lazy with the push ups and shadow boxing for mad months now. Gotta get focused again.

Okay, we are almost at the end of our interview, so I have one last question: The inauguration of President Barack Obama a week ago was a big TV happening here in Germany as well. What do you expect from the new president?

I expect President Obama to do the best he can and keep it real wit the american people. I would hope he does what's best for the middle class and the poor. The folks that need it should get it first. But more than anything, keep it 100 wit the people. And don't forget where you come from Mr. President. Believe me, them KKK's and Neo Nazis ain’t gonna let you forget anyway so go ahead and put that basketball court in the White House! I feel that! KRS One got a video on and he said "The New World Order just put on a black face". Something to think about.

You also did a Obama track, didn't you?

Yes, Sir. Shout out to! Eskay threw up the track "Yes" produced by my man Krohme (K.R. What's good my G??) off his EP “The Onset Of Change” during that first week of Obama's inauguration. The EP features Breez Evaflowin, L.I.F.E. Long and a bunch of underground luminaries. Check for that at Best part of the EP is that 100% of sales go to a charity for the homeless in Washington, D.C. Big up to Krohme for his incredible production and sincere philanthropy.

We are at the end of the interview, thanks for hooking up with us. Any last words to your fans?

I wanna thank Knowbody and for this interview and for covering my music since my first album “2 Much Aint Enuff”. I got a bad rating and here I am being interviewed after coming back with something the people couldn't deny. That's real life and I can appreciate that. Please stay tuned for “Imaginary Enemies” coming spring 2009. Monsta X EP will be dropping sometime around then as well. Please support my man Cy Yung and download his dope EP "Cyrano Republic" and check my man Melodious' Monk's EP “Hymns” dropping Feb. 19 on his myspace page. Keep an eye out for E.P.I.C.'s "The Delivery" coming late 2009 on Classified Recordings and the untitled Dynamix album coming late 2009. Big up my babygirl Dub P, Monsta X, E.P.I.C., Pyro Gambles Da Gangsta, RAVAGE The Meccagodzilla, Kong and Spiega, Tommy Gunn and Ray Long, Kadeezlay, my Brother LP, my Brother Alix Jackson aka Mr Grim, my Brother Infinit Evol, Melodious Monk, DJ Husky, Krohme, BPA, Ceez, Nut Nillz, and my man Khal, HipHopDx, Jake Paine and Joel Zela, Brian Kayser and (gave me my first big interview! Good looks B!), J Zone, Evil Dee and everybody who is trying to get somewhere without doing anybody dirty. If you want something, go and get it. Frigg you waiting for, Christmas?