Late last week, emcee/producer/Psycho+Logical Records CEO Necro released his sixth album, Die!. The RBC/Fontana nationally-distributed project is entirely self-produced, and finds the Brooklyn veteran experimenting with both a bigger studio sound, as well the lyricist’s continuously elevated rhyme schemes.
Speaking with HipHopDX Wednesday evening, the man who’s previously produced for Cage, Missin Linx and brother, Ill Bill‘s Non Phixion group, explained how Wu-Tang Clan’s chef broke a self-imposed embargo on producing for artists beyond Necro’s label and family circle.
With Die! toying with both lyrical and musical experimentation within Necro’s “brutal” Rap sub-genre, the multi-talented veteran explained how this work fits within his cult-acclaimed catalog of albums dating back to 2000’s I Need Drugs. “To me, there will never be an end, ’cause I happen to really love makin’ Hip Hop,” said Necro candidly. “Makin’ Hip Hop [is my love] more than the performance or the persona.” If Necro explains his adolescence and industry tenure, that “persona” seems to dust the line of his actual lived experience. However, he ellaborated, “I gotta be a persona, ’cause if I’m not a persona, then there’s nothing to back up the shit. If I’m gonna rap brutal, I have to be somebody that’s willing to punch somebody in the face, or else it holds no weight.” Having netted over a million dollars in Rap sales in the last decade – from his self-sufficient operation, Necro also said that persona affects paper. “I gotta go out there and I gotta talk shit and I gotta generate interest. And I gotta back up all that Necro shit that [I’m] saying.”
Speaking more specifically about Die!, Necro also said that while he’s known for a certain, very precise style, that does not mean he’s not challenging himself lyrically. “Slayer makes Thrash, Metalica makes Heavy Metal, Necro raps brutal,” he declared, drawing a comparitive analogy from two bands he deeply admires. “That doesn’t mean everything I make is going to be the same kind of brutal.” Necro’s researched verses often touch on war, women, boxing and Horror films. “People tend to avoid that I’m flippin’ all the subjects. I might make a brutal war track, but [it’s a track about war]. It is a different subject. I am rapping with concept. I do experiment.”
“It just so happens I’ve got my own sound attached to the name Necro,” said the Brooklynite producer, who wanted to also explain musical growth. “The Necro sound is what-the-fuck I choose. I happen to be very obscure, and at the same time, do original shit that people haven’t really fucked with yet. For example, on my title track, ‘Die’ , it wasn’t the easiest to flow on that. It’s a pretty fast, up-tempo track. It’s a little obscure, but if you listen to the original [sample], it’s a break – and it’s never been used. I never heard anybody freak it.”
The man who says he makes 30 beats in one sitting stopped to admire his production craftsmanship. “I freaked it! Honestly, shit’s a lil’ unorthodox. The way I hooked up the drums [Necro copies the percussion], there’s snare kicks on every downbeat. Why? It’s beautiful. It gave me the chance to do some next shit.” Like Large Professor, Diamond D or even newcomer J. Cole, Necro then has to provided lyrics for the tracks he makes. “Plus the flow – when I started rhymin’ to it, shit wasn’t that easy. It wasn’t like I sat down to it with your regular, average flow with a beat that’s boom-boom-bap, boom-bap. That wasn’t your typical 90 beats-per-measure shit, this shit was like 107. It required some angle to approach. It’s even deeper than saying you’re just going to rap on shit. You gotta come off! I don’t give a fuck what you’re trying to experimentally, if you don’t come off, and cats hear it and go, ‘that’s lyrical,’ you fuckin’ failed! For me, I wouldn’t have released that track if I didn’t think I fuckin’ came off. So I sat down, took me some time, and finally got in the mode, was able to kill it.”
Necro analyzed his opening bars, “You never went to jail, you shook from the look of it / I invented Hell when I took the shit,” that’s not even as technical as other rhymes of mine because you can’t put that many words in those phrases to fit that kind of bar-measure. So you kinda just gotta say some really hot shit. You’re not really relying on rhyming eight words in one line.”
While speaking with HipHopDX, Necro was also asked about producing “Gihad” for Raekwon and Ghostface Killah for last year’s Only Built 4 Cuban Linx…Pt. II. The 2009 DX Year End Award-winning song (and album) served as a milestone for the respected producer who has slimmed down on credits and placements in the last decade. “I got disgusted,” explained Necro on his hiatus. “I’m not givin’ people beats no more. I don’t want to be that dude that puts the power in the hands of a rapper. [If] I make a banger, I’m gonna rap on the banger. Fuck that.” Necro said that he makes exceptions for his Psycho+Logical Records roster of artists, which includes Mr. Hyde and former Arsonists member Q-Unique. Additionally, Necro will always produce for Ill Bill, which he last did on 2008’s fan-favorite Hour of Reprisal.
As far as breaking the rules to work with Raekwon, the placemement was hardly by design. “What happened was, I wasn’t even lookin’ to get beats on [rappers’ projects],” repeated Necro. “[Ill] Bill had old beat CDs [of mine], and he started fuckin’ with Raekwon on some shit,” CD. “Bill called and said, ‘Yo Necro, can I give Raekwon a copy of this old beat CD you gave me? He’s working on Cuban 2, and he’s not looking to pay $50,000 a beat – that don’t work for [his budget]. He wants gutter, grime shit, and he heard some of your shit and he likes it.’ I said, ‘Yeah, why not? What do I got to lose?’ And you know what, it wasn’t even a new beat CD.”
Strangely, the instrumental to “Gihad” was made less than two years after the first Only Built 4 Cuban Linx… “Actually, the beat that Raekwon picked was 13 years old. I made that beat in ’97,” revealed Necro with a chuckle. “It was two years before Rae called me and picked it. Rae had the beat CD for two years. I got a call two years later, Bill says, ‘Rae wants to talk to you; he wants to use a beat.’ I’m thinking in my head – kind of excited, this is a pretty good look. At the same time, I’m not really one of these dudes that’s trying to get beat [placements]. I’m not like Alchemist, no disrespect to Alchemist. He conquered his lane of being that producer that first producer to have something on everybody’s shit. I actually tried – I wanted to do that.”
Early in Necro’s career, the producer shopped beats to several New York Rap icons and even a multi-platinum superstar (which DX will chronicle later this week), but few were receptive. “I would’ve stayed up all night by the [Ensoniq] ASR-10 if I could actually get the music to people. I couldn’t get it done. I wasn’t doing it for major money – I would’ve taken [$1,000]. I would’ve done shit for the name.” With Necro CDs floating around the industry since the late ’90s, Cage and Missin’ Linx remained the most receptive clients (besides Non Phixion) prior to last year.
With that history in Hip Hop, Necro said that Bill’s passing the old beat CD of his brother’s was the only way this relationship could have happened. “I wouldn’t have gone into the studio and done a new beat CD – no disrespect to Rae. For nobody would I have gone into the studio and made a new beat CD at that point. That just wasn’t what I was doing. The fact that Bill said he had an old beat CD, it was easy for me [to agree]. Go ahead.”
When Raekwon and Necro finally spoke on the subject of placing “Gihad,” Necro respected his fellow veteran in a truly rare style. “‘Tell him he can have the beat for free,'” Necro asked brother Ill Bill to tell Raekwon after inquiries were made to buying the track. “I don’t even want the fuckin’ money; I’m giving Raekwon the beat for free on spec, ’cause it’s [Only Built 4 Cuban Linx…Pt. II] and I know what a big record it is. If he’s really ’bout it, and he’s really ’bout usin’ my beat, then I’m not lookin’ to make money off of it, ’cause that’s good enough of a payment.” A die-hard fan of Hip Hop, Necro felt honored to be included on the highly-touted project, pairing him with producers such as Dr. Dre, RZA, Erick Sermon, J Dilla and Marley Marl. He’s complimenting me enough by saying, ‘This record is dope, and this [album] has been anticipated for 14 years.'” All Necro wanted was proper credit in the EMI Records release’s inserts, which happened to be prominently featured on the back of the six-figure selling release. “Hey, it happened! He dropped it. Much props to Raekwon for [letting me be a part of] a classic album, something Hip Hop really appreciated. I want to thank Bill for that.”
The victory however, was bittersweet for Necro. With a 13 year-old beat, the artist would loved proper recognition sooner. “It would have meant so much more to me if when I was trying to get beats out there, mothafuckas showed me love. That’s how it works in the game: when you don’t care anymore, then [your dream finally happens].”
Stay tuned for more from HipHopDX’s 90-minute conversation with Necro. His album Die! is in stores now on Psycho+Logical Records.