The scope of a journalist’s interview base is wide. One can go from interviewing a person who creates the most ratchet music straight to the dark cellar of a 90s vinyl collector who still has a hard time giving up the 4-track stored in the musty corner of his or her basement. While they may not use anything older than a late 90s MPC, it’s safe to assume producing duo Stu Bangas and Vanderslice fit the latter description better. Fresh off their 2011 collaboration with Blaq Poet (not to mention a repeat partnership soon to be finished), the Diggaz with Attitude talk about their latest joint effort Diggaz with Attitude and explain a phenomenon that is becoming less and less common each and every day.
“I think it’s just a lost art man,” Vanderslice says speaking on record digging. “I think it really shows and I think the music really suffers because of it. I’ve put years into this and the Internet is a very useful tool but it doesn’t replace going out and finding records.”
HipHopDX recently talked with Stu Bangas and Vanderslice about their new album and while they aren’t set out to be crusaders of how it once was, they’re damn sure that’s how they’ll keep it. The duo also talks about their collaboration with Stepbrothers (Alchemist and Evidence) and also how their taste for the same records is originally how they were brought together.
HipHopDX:Diggaz with Attitude, you guys linked for the Blaq Poet album last year. First, tell us how you came together again to do this project.
Vanderslice: I first met Stu [Bangas], I bought records from him on eBay and we have similar taste in records and we pretty much have the same vision, we just teamed up like “Fuck it. Let’s just team up and kill more birds with more stones.”
Stu Bangas: Basically on specific records, we started working with Copywrite a little bit, his last record so then Ryan [Lynch, CEO of Man Bites Dog Records] then he saw what we did on [Blaq Poet Society by Blaq Poet]. So he approached us. First he approached me to do a record with Jakki [Da Motamouth], this other dude that’s in MHz and that kind of fell through so he was like, “Okay, we’ll still produce a record with you and [Vanderslice].” And so we just kind of teamed up with him on this one.
DX: On this project though what did you hope to accomplish when putting this together? Were there any goals for this one?
Vanderslice: I know, me personally, I was trying to branch out and work with people that I’d never worked with before that way I could do something different cause Stu and I have both been noted for heavy guitars and really hardcore street records. We work with Vinnie Paz, Outerspace, you know really tough guy-music and we have a lot more to offer than that kind of sound so I was trying to branch out and so something different all the while maintaining who we are as artists and people. We also have friends of ours wondering ah Paz is on there, Outerspace is on there, Blaq Poet, you know what I mean? So we had to keep a core of what we already built and try to branch out and expand to do more with less essentially. We tried to do as much we could with what we had.
Stu Bangas: I’d agree, we don’t wanna get pigeon-holed as just doing like gloomy, hardcore shit. That’s my favorite shit to do but we try to do other shit. We try to bring an array of sounds and kind of make it consistent. As long as everything’s cohesive but not always doing hardcore shit, ya know what I mean?
DX: Sound-wise, at least in this project I think it’s comparable to Violence Begets Violence and it’s only fitting that you have Vinnie Paz on this. I hate doing comparisons but when you are putting that record together, any record, what are you looking for and when you’re going over that final cut, how do you know that song is one that makes the project?
Vanderslice: Me personally, as long as it evokes some sort of emotion that’s really what I go for. Whether it’s something like the Paz record is really really rough and rugged and then “The Gusto” is a tad smoother but it’s still hard at the same time. I don’t know. Whenever I hear something, I just know. When it evokes some sort of emotion in me, I’m like, “That’s the one.” My favorite record on the album is the Slaine and Ill Bill joint and it’s probably the oldest record on the album but it’s just so gangster and I love that song. It’s just the hook’s killer, the beat’s killer. It just evokes some sort of emotion like I just wanna go run to my car and run somebody over. [Laughs] But it’s abrasive and it’s done right, it’s not overdone. It’s not zombie-feeding hardcore bullshit, it’s just funny to me I don’t know. You just hear it and it evokes some sort of old school Mike Tyson Punch Out.
Stu Bangas: Some things that didn’t make the cut, it’s like you hear some shit and you’re like, “eh.” It’s hard to put in words but there’s definitely a reason for why it didn’t make the cut.
DX: You just dropped the video for “Casino Royale.” Interesting to say the least. Tell us how that all came together…
Stu Bangas: The video was actually Ryan Lynch’s idea, from Man Bites Dog. We did the song and he had the idea from the movie Eyes Wide Shut and then he reached out to [Apathy] for the video and he was obviously down. And with Apathy in Connecticut he got connections to Mohican Sun [Casino] and they agreed to film it so we decided it would look pretty cool to do that.
DX:Diggaz With Attitude, “digging” obviously relating to digging for records. I kind of feel digging for records and finding that perfect sample is sadly an art that is being lost in Hip Hop but it’s one that’s hard to replace quality-wise. Do you feel it’s becoming a less frequent activity in Hip Hop music?
Vanderslice: Absolutely, and I think it really shows and I think the music really suffers because of it. I’ve put years into this and the Internet is a very useful tool but it doesn’t replace going out and finding records. It just doesn’t man. Also the thing that I really love about records and digging in general is there’s a much greater chance that if I find a record, like if I can’t Google it or find it on the Internet, that’s much less of a chance that somebody else is going to have it where as a lot of stuff that just leaks on the Internet like if I have it, Stu has it, MGK has it, anybody who’s anybody can have it but it takes away the lure so I think that shows in the music. If everybody uses the same samples, I think it’s just a lost art man.
Stu Bangas: Everything’s changed now, we’re in our early thirties but the generation behind us, they hear our beat and they’ll be like, “Oh, give me the name of the sample.” I don’t know, man, things have changed.
DX: That’s interesting that you mention the uniqueness and the rarity that’s missing. Usually it’s the quality that’s lost and it’s hard to replace that aspect of it. How important is it to find that correct sample for a record and how do you go about that process?
Vanderslice: It’s everything. To me, it’s everything. I like records more than I like beats. I put a lot of time into records. I don’t know to me it’s everything. I can’t even say it in any other way. And even if you look over the past couple years and everyone’s trying to get away from sampling, almost every big rap single over the past five years has been a sample, every one of them. So it’s not going anywhere. People just need to dig a little deeper I think. So I think it’s everything. If you’ve got wack samples, you’ve got wack beats. [Laughs] I can’t even say it any more polite than that. If you don’t know what you’re doing, it ruins everything. It’s like bad drums make bad beats, bad samples make bad beats it’s all the same and it takes time. It happens over a span of time. We’ve been digging for years. Do you know how many Chinese records I’ve bought that there’s not even English writing on it so I couldn’t tell who’s on it but I like the cover there’s like a guy standing. I can’t really tell much about the album but then I take it home and it’s amazing like there’s always new records. It just takes you going out and digging for some crazy shit and you can find records that go for thousands of dollars for a dollar and you can’t really do that with many other things. So any time I travel, no matter where I’m at, I always try and go find some hole in the wall record store and just spend a couple hours digging for whatever, it doesn’t even matter. It’s amazing.
DX: You’ve got some classic record diggers on this record and a lot of underground guys that all fit very well together in Alchemist, Vinnie Paz, Celph Titled. A lot of them you’ve worked with before. How did you go about getting features and why do you have these guys on here?
Stu Bangas: I’d say 90% of the dudes we’ve worked with already, have built some rapport with to be able to say, “Hey I need a verse,” and they’ll be like, “Okay, give me a beat,” we’re straight with them. Other than that, the people that weren’t, we would do our best, you mentioned Alchemist, he’s one of them and we had the opportunity to get in touch with him through a couple other people that we know so we were like let’s go ahead and do it. He is one of me and ‘Slice’s biggest influences.
Vanderslice: Yeah, big time.
Stu Bangas: So we showed him the utmost respect so like him and Evidence and then Roc Marciano, those are dudes that we don’t necessarily work with that often so we wanted to go ahead and we were really feeling it and we were able to get in touch with them so we went out and got those. The rest of the guys, if you look at our history, we’ve worked with these people and they’re our favorite people.
Vanderslice: The key was to keep it all organic. Like if we’re going to get something from Evidence, he’s in the group with Alchemist, Stepbrothers and pull that off. They both work with Roc Marciano. I’ve worked with Roc a few years ago so I’ve stayed in contact with him just in case I ever did something so we hooked that up. We just try to keep everything organic. We don’t just try and reach out just for the sake of reaching out. Like A$AP Rocky’s not on D.W.A. because he’s blown up, that’s not really our style. Like I’d rather work with people that I like to listen to and keep things as organic as possible than just try and slap a bunch of names on a CD so the sticker has more appeal. I’ve never been into that.
DX: Yeah when I listened, I mean Alchemist is a big name but he definitely fits in with what you’re doing. Often times, like you said you get the one, you get the three, Ev and Roc Marci. I thought it meshed really well.
Vanderslice: Well see that’s good. That’s exactly what I was going for. To hear someone that wasn’t involved in making it say that, that’s definitely what we were going for. I’m glad that’s how it comes off.
DX: How did each of you get into producing?
Vanderslice: I used to loop up old Gang Starr instrumentals for my cousin and I to rap over. That’s how I learned how to chop. If it wasn’t for DJ Premier I wouldn’t be making beats. We got tired of rapping over instrumentals that were out so I would chop up the intro and then I would chop up bits and pieces from either dead spots or the outros of records and I would try to loop them up and we would try to rhyme them and that’s how I started making music.
Stu Bangas: Yeah, man, same thing for me. [I am influenced by] Primo, after I saw the “Mass Appeal” video. I used to get those VHS tapes with like 10 videos a month in high school and shit and then I saw that video and I’m like, “Man, fuck this, I’m gonna get tables.” At one point I went to college and basically I never went to class, just scratched and played records and then sophomore year I wanted to start making beats. I got an MPC and one of my buddies chops and we started working on the MPC and he kind of showed me the ropes and then. He kind of showed me how to dig first and then finding Vanderslice kind of enhanced what I was doing.
DX: Yeah, I think Primo was the beginning of a lot of artist’s careers as far as inspiration goes especially for producers. What’s next for you guys after you get this release out?
Stu Bangas: I’ve got this joint on Vinnie Paz’s next record with Mobb Deep that I’m pretty hyped about and that’s pretty crazy and that was kind of a bucket list item for me to work with them. I’ve got a joint on Mic Tyson that Sean Price fed to me and I’m really pumped about that and then I’ve got a joint on Ill Bill’s upcoming record and then I’m doing a whole record with Esoteric for 2013.
Vanderslice: We’re also doing another record with Poet.
Stu Bangas: Yeah, another record with Poet. And it’s almost done.
Vanderslice: My boy AWAR, we’re doing a whole record together called The Winning Team. His [Laws Of Nature] record is out doing well, I’m working with him pretty much and the Blaq Poet joint and I don’t even know what else, man.