Wordplay aficionado, and leader of the post-2000 incarnation of Connecticut-originated collective the Demigodz, Apathy spoke last week to HipHopDX regarding his soon-to-be-released sophomore album, Wanna Snuggle? The former Atlantic Records artist also addressed during his discussion with DX recent complaints by some artists of their business dealings with Babygrande Records, the label that distributed Ap’s official album debut, 2006’s Eastern Philosophy.
"Everybody takes themselves way overly serious nowadays. I was just tired of that, man. It’s cliché,” Apathy told HipHopDX of his decision to title his new solo effort Wanna Snuggle? “And so, we got that idea for the [album cover] image with the snake wrapped around the rat… For a snake to pose that question to a rat, ‘Wanna snuggle?,’ it’s just like [a] funny thing. People are gonna hear that title and say, ‘Oh my God that sounds incredibly soft.’ And then they see the image. There’s a line on my album [on 'Hell’s Angel'] that said, ‘Rats, I know a couple / I’ll catch you in the jungle / 'Cause I’m a boa constrictor muthafucka, wanna snuggle?’ So, that’s what it is. [The title] was based a lot around the artwork, and about really not wanting to take things too seriously and really having a title that attracts attention.
For nearly 15 years Ap hasn’t needed eye-grabbing artwork or eyebrow-raising titles to attract attention to his remarkable talent. Joining the Demigodz in late 1994 and making his official debut to the masses via Jedi Mind Tricks’ first full-length, The Psycho-Social LP, in 1997, it was with turn-of-the-century 12” solo singles, and subsequent albums masquerading as mixtapes like 2003’s It’s The Bootleg Muthafuckas! and ’04 follow-up Where’s Your Album?!, that brought Apathy’s brand of awe-inspiring lyricism to the world’s attention.
And now Ap is set to once again make the world take notice with the release of Wanna Snuggle?, a 21-track collection of classic ’90s-flavored boom-bap tracks with mostly Soul sample flourishes. Neck-snapping beats and rewind-worthy rhymes like the jaw-dropping lyrical beatdown “I’m A Demigod” are heard throughout Ap’s latest long-player.
Officially only his sophomore album, Apathy feels the release of Wanna will already mark his second classic full-length offering, as he explained to DX, “If Eastern Philosophy was more like Cuban Linx and Illmatic, which I was really inspired off of – and Enta Da Stage – then Wanna Snuggle? is more like Midnight Marauders or The Main Ingredient, along those lines. I do have some really eerie, hard, grimy joints on there, but a majority of the album is really smooth, chill, [and] heavy on the concepts and the stories.
Phonte joins Ap on one of the album’s more chill moments, the soul-sampling smoothie “True Love” [click to listen]. New Ap affiliate B-Real and fellow Demigod Celph Titled bring a far less chill vibe as they lick off lyrical shots on the classic Cypress-sounding “Shoot First” [click to listen]. Additional notable appearances on Wanna Snuggle? come courtesy of J-Live on the horn-heavy head-nodder “This Is The Formula” and Demigod Emilio Lopez on the smooth ode to America’s smallest state “Rhode Island.”
But maybe the most noteworthy guest on Ap’s latest LP is Chip-Fu of early ‘90s sensations the Fu-Schnickens, who surprisingly lends his crooning talents to the chorus of the arguable album apex, “Mind Ya Business.”
People don’t understand, Chip-Fu was always nasty back in the day,” said Ap. “Chip-Fu and I, we’re cool, we’re friends. I brought Chip over to Da Beatminerz crib one time [and] Chip played this album that he’s working on – Chip is like Pharoahe Monch in his prime mixed with himself on crack times somebody else. His new material is unbelievable, and he’s holding it back. He doesn’t let anybody hear it. And he’s like the illest rapper I’ve ever heard in my entire life, based on the shit he played me. Now, [with] that said, Chip is also amazing at doing the Reggae and the Dancehall shit, so I had Chip sing on [“Mind Ya Business”]. He doesn’t even rap on it, he sings, ‘cause it was a real, old like Dub, Dancehall type feel of a song.
Besides “Shoot First,” which was produced by Mike Shinoda of Linkin Park (“Mike is a super Hip Hop guy,” Ap noted of his super famous friend. “Mike has old freestyles to Smoothe Da Hustler, ‘Broken Language.’ Mike’s one of us, man!”), the majority of the production on Wanna Snuggle? was handled by Ap himself, the product of a newfound focus on his beatmaking, which has led to a rapidly growing list of clients including Tiye Phoenix, Edo G., and Cypress Hill.
I produced a beat for the new Cypress Hill album that’s coming out,” Ap revealed. “So B-Real and I established a relationship, and then I started producing for this side group, him and Xzibit and Young De have called The Serial Killers. So I been with B all summer. I been working in Cypress’ studios and chillin’ with them.
Ap has also been putting in work of late with his Vinnie Paz fronted side-crew Army of the Pharaohs, producing and appearing on a large portion of the supergroup’s forthcoming The Unholy Terror. A distribution scenario for the album appears unclear at the moment with Paz’s recent exodus from longtime label home Babygrande Records amidst claims that the label has stiffed him for hundreds of thousands of dollars in proceeds from the sales of his Jedi Mind Tricks group releases and other side projects.
A lot of people think I was signed to Babygrande; I was never signed to Babygrande,” said Apathy when asked about his dealings with the label. “They licensed Eastern Philosophy from me. At the time I had the most powerful lawyer in the game, who has been my friend since he was in law school, Theo Sedlmayr, who’s Eminem and 50’s lawyer. When I did everything with Theo – It took a long time, it took over a year-and-a-half to do all the Babygrande stuff, to iron [the distribution deal] out. When I was doing that, Babygrande - I can’t really complain ‘cause they paid me. They paid me a lot for that album, like it’s shit that you just don’t get anymore. And the reason I never got fucked over by them is because Theo was in my corner. Are Babygrande annoying to deal with? Hell fuckin’ yeah, they’re extremely annoying to deal with. Have they ever fucked me over? No, because they didn’t really have a chance to. I was never contractually obligated to them. I’ve never had any significant problems, so I can’t really say that [they fucked me over]. But I know they’ve done things to my friends. I know they’ve had shady dealings with my friends. But at the end of the day it’s like the Wild Pitch and Nervous Records mentality [from the ‘90s], it’s like a small label who’s gonna try to make a profit [and] they’re gonna be extra aggressive and fuck over artists if they’re able to.
Now completely free from all label fuckery – releasing Wanna Snuggle? through his own Demigodz Enterprises – Ap can also now look back on his time prior to dealing with Babygrande, when he was a major-label recording artist, with the type of clear hindsight of someone who weathered the storm of putting in years with a label only to never see an actual album release. Before Little Brother, before Saigon, Atlantic Records first real foray into music for the heads in the new millennium was alongside Apathy, who was signed to the label from 2002 to 2006, and who bluntly sums up his stint on the label on “Hard Times On Planet Earth” from Wanna Snuggle? when he spits, “I split when Atlantic tried to make me their bitch.
I thought about this a lot, and I really raked them over the coals for a long time, but when it comes down to it major labels really don’t have the power to develop artists like they used to,” said Ap of Atlantic. “And when I got signed it was really bad timing. The one thing I can say is that being signed to Atlantic was a positive thing because first of all it was just a dream of mine to be signed to a label at all back in the day. And the fact that I accomplished that when there’s so many other dudes who’ve never gotten signed and never done anything like that, that’s a really big deal for me. So I’m just glad that I got signed in the first place. And, maybe something would’ve came out, but man, I think that if my shit came out at that time with the music I was doing to try to appease the A&R’s and shit it would’ve been horrible. It would have been a corny thing. And I’m not the one to compromise myself.”
Maybe I could’ve blown up if I sold the fuck out and did something different,” he continued, “but I’m too stubborn, I wanna do what I wanna do. If I hear an ill beat and I’m like, ‘Aww man, that sounds like some classic Pete Rock shit,’ I’d rather [record to] that than when I was getting beats from literally Lil Jon and Timbaland… Those are the beats from Atlantic I was getting. That’s cool, but at the end of the day I gotta live with who I am. We’re doing the Get Busy Committee, which is gonna be definitely more accessible, but we’re still having fun with it and doing what we want. It’s not gonna be the typical underground shit people hear from Ap, but it’s me doing what the fuck I wanna do, it’s fun. It’s funny as fuck. The album’s funny as hell.
Ap couldn’t put into words what the fans should expect to hear from his new side-group, the Get Busy Committee, but promised the direction of the trio will be understood upon first look and listen. As producer/member of this new collective, Ap will be joined by Demigodz and Styles of Beyond spitter Ryu and budding beatmaker/rapper (and son of Latino Rap legend Kid Frost) Scoop DeVille - with as Ap noted, a big helping hand from Mike Shinoda for the project.
Get Busy Committee might be a real big deal ‘cause of some of the moves we’ve made,” said Ap. “Like, my album is underground. Demigodz is super underground. But Get Busy Committee is gonna be something really fuckin’ crazy. We have Topspin Media behind us. We have Shinoda behind us. We got the dudes at Myspace Music heavily behind us. So Get Busy Committee is gonna be something else.
[And] if you don’t like it, I don’t know what to tell you,” added Ap. “I don’t really give a fuck. I do what I like to do. And bottom line, whether it’s Wanna Snuggle? and you don’t like the title and you don’t get it, I really don’t give a fuck. I’m still gonna do what I wanna do no matter what anybody says. Get Busy Committee, you don’t like that shit, listen to old Ap all day long, buy my old albums. And then the next [Apathy] album that’s coming out, after Wanna Snuggle?, which is gonna be harder, ‘cause I went real chill with Wanna Snuggle? - But [for] the return of the hardness and shit, the next album’s called Honkey Kong.
Wanna Snuggle? is due in stores and online October 6th from Demigodz Enterprises.
UPDATE: The tracklisting for Wanna Snuggle has been posted.
1.) Hell's Angel
2.) Money Orientated f/Emilio Lopez
3.) Gov't Cheese
4.) On and Off The Mic f/Blacastan
5.) Back In L.A. f/Ryu and Veze Skante
6.) Shoot First f/B-Real of Cypress Hill and Celph Titled
7.) I'm A Demigod
8.) True Love f/Phonte of Little Brother
9.) Mind Ya Business f/Chip-Fu)
11.) This Is The Formula f/J-Live
12.) Guys & Girls f/Blue Raspberry
13.) Anyday f/King Magnetic
14.) Candy f/Dose
15.) Run, Run Away
16.) No Sad Tomorrow f/Holly Brook and Mike Mass
17.) Rhode Island f/Emilio Lopez
18.) What Goes Up
19.) Hard Times On Planet Earth
20.) Slave f/Motive
21.) Victim f/Holly Brook