Five Deez are one of the most innovative, unique and creative forces in hip-hop today. There's nothing simple, basic or typical about a Five Deez song. They are bringing the actual "music" back to hip-hop. Consisting of Fat Jon, Pase Rock, Kyle David, and Sonic, Five Deez were born in Cincinnati, Ohio and were crucial to the Cincinnati hip-hop scene.
Their debut album "Koolmotor" (released on Counterflow / Grooveattack / Dimid Records) sounded like a cool, powerful engine that chugged along with an intelligence and grace. It has straightforward hip-hop songs like "Latitude" and more unique songs like "Sexual For Elizabeth" that featured a Japanese-rapping emcee Shing02. The LP also featured instrumental tracks. There was singing and poetic hip-hop influenced songs that did not have typical rapping or emcee-ing on them. Fat Jon, Five Deez' main producer, has been creating amazing, original, and emotional beats that break barriers of genre and style. He has released a couple of instrumental albums.
Recently, he released a Japan-only instrumental album "Lightweight Heavy" on Dimid Records. He is a member of the producer super-group 3582 with J. Rawls (of Lone Catalysts). Their album "The Living Soul" was an intense, astute album with intellectual philosophies, lush, boom-bap rhythms, and insightful and poignant emotions. Fat Jon has become one of the most respected independent and underground producers in hip-hop. On the other hand, Pase Rock (emcee from Five Deez) released his debut solo album "Bullsh*t As Usual" in Japan.
Like many other artists (Lone Catalysts, Grand Agent), Five Deez are an independent and underground hip-hop group who are very well respected and well known in Japan. Fast forward to the summer of 2003. K7! Records is about to release the brand-new Five Deez album "Kinkynasti", their most cohesive and straightforward hip-hop album. The hooks are tight. The lush beats are thick with a serious groove for dancing and getting loose. Songs like "B-Girl", "I Like It" and "Funky" are straight hip-hop songs that can get any party started.
Still, fans of the experimental side of Five Deez will not be disappointed. "Ocean" is a beautiful instrumental while "Sextraterrestrial" is an weird story-telling track about erotic escapades with aliens. The future looks bright for Five Deez. "Kinkynasti" will not only be well received by critics and fans alike but it will bring them new fans. They are all working on solo albums and Fat Jon teamed up with J. Rawls again to release the next 3582 album "Situational Ethics".
Five Deez are an extremely unique hip-hop group that never releases the same thing twice. They are never scared to take chances and release the good music they want to release. From Cincinnati and Berlin to New Jersey, I had an in-depth conversation with Fat Jon, Kyle David, and Pase Rock of Five Deez. We discussed hip-hop, music, Japan, politics, record labels, Cincinnati, and much more. The music of Five Deez explores the idea of a 5th dimension. Open your mind. If you don't, their music will open it for you. It's time to get kinky and nasty.
MVRemix: The new Five Deez album is called 'Kinkynasti'. Tell us about it? Fat Jon: The new album is an electronic hip hop dance record. We had a lot of fun making it. It's a pretty focused effort. It doesn't go in too many different directions.
Pase: It's hot. We decided to take this opportunity to do a traditional hip-hop record, because we knew we would never do it again once we did. It's a bit of a departure from the last LP, 'Koolmotor', since the last was a little more everywhere musically. It covered a lot of ground. This time, we decided to go straight up the middle but still keep it fresh and exciting. Upbeat and sexy.
MVRemix: The new album 'Kinkynasti' is much different from 'Koolmotor'. Why? Fat Jon: We pretty much figured that people would be expecting a 'Koolmotor' Part 2 so we didn't do it. We want each record we do to have its own identity.
MVRemix: Since the album 'Kinkynasti' is very different than 'Koolmotor'. Will the next Five Deez LP be totally different too? Fat Jon: Exactly!
MVRemix: What is the meaning behind the title 'Kinkynasti'? Kyle: It's another name for Cincinnati.
MVRemix: What is the meaning behind the name Five Deez? Fat Jon: Five Deez means five dimensions. We were originally going to be called The Fifth Dimension but there is already a group with that name. When you experience music, it is in five dimensions. You have the 1st three that we all know and then, there is another dimension of time and space, a dimension of spirituality.
MVRemix: Pase, how did you get your name, Pase Rock? Pase: Graffiti. It was my tag.
MVRemix: What are some of your major influences? Pase: Prince, Fat Jon, my father, Futura 2000, Steely Dan, Spike Lee, Sammy Davis Jr., Michael Jackson, Andy Warhol, and the Neptunes.
MVRemix: What does 'Koolmotor' mean? Kyle: It just sounded good for that type of music. The word sounded like it fit.
Pase: The title 'Koolmotor' doesn't mean anything. It just sounds good. It's like a cool engine, how our music is. It is cool but powerful.
Fat Jon: Cool energy.
MVRemix: How did you guys meet? How did Five Deez come together? Fat Jon: We have known each other since junior high school. Me, Sonic and Kyle used to play in band together. We would sit around and talk about hip-hop. Then, Pase came to our school.
Pase: Yeah, we all met in high school. Walnut Hills High School. Jon and Sonic were in band class together. We're different ages, but at one point, we all went to the same school.
MVRemix: Do you have a favorite song on 'Kinkynasti'? Fat Jon: I don't have any favorites yet.
Pase: I like them all pretty much. Standouts include the title track 'Kinkynasti', 'Funky', the song 'Tonight', the instrumental track 'The Ocean', 'B Girl', 'Kissy Face', 'Sextraterrestrial', 'The Boostin Jam'. Yeah, pretty much the whole thing.
Kyle: I like the songs 'B Girl' and 'I Like It'. I like 'B Girl' because it puts me in the mood or vibe of a club and there's all of these sexy women dancing around.
MVRemix: What song took you the longest to do? Pase: The song 'I Like It' took us almost 2 months. We changed the hook twice and Kyle decided to write this loooooong verse.
MVRemix: Why did you choose K7! Records? You are not on Counterflow anymore? Pase: No, we're not still with Counterflow. We signed with K7 because they were able to meet our expectations of what we want out of a label. They're good people, and they handle their business.
MVRemix: The song 'The Boostin Jam' is about stealing clothes and shoplifting. Were you really into that? Did you ever get caught? How and when did you grow out of it? Kyle: That was something we did when we were young and dumb. Mostly, Jon and them. It was just a story.
Pase: Yeah, it was a story about high school. Me, personally? No. That's Jon and Kyle's song and yes, Jon got caught and that made him quit because it was embarrassing for his family.
Fat Jon: Unfortunately yeah, I was into it hardcore. I got caught a couple of times. I grew out of it in time.
MVRemix: What is the most left-field song you guys ever did that was never released? Pase: Probably this song called 'Hydrogen & Helium'. Other than that, I'd say 'Sexual For Elizabeth' that features Shing02.
Kyle: Yeah, I was going to say 'Hydrogen and Helium'. It is on some space-age, kiddy, futuristic, sexual vibe.
Fat Jon: I don't think that's the strangest one but it is dope. It's a freestyle track with a beat that constantly changes.
MVRemix: Fat Jon, what beat are you most proud of? Fat Jon: I don't know. Probably some old sh*t my peoples fronted on back in the day."
MVRemix: 3582 is an incredible side project with Fat Jon and J. Rawls of Lone Catalysts. 35 is Fat Jon and 82 is J. Rawls. 'The Living Soul' is the first album released by 3582 (on Humdrums). How did that come together? Fat Jon: Me and J. Rawls had instant group potential when we met each other. The 1st day we met, we made a song together. We knew then that we would be in a group one day.
MVRemix: What does the 35 stand for? Fat Jon: 35 is my pager code and 82 is J's pager code.
MVRemix: How is the new 3582 album 'Situational Ethics' different from 'The Living Soul' album? Fat Jon: It has a completely different concept. The concept is "What would you do in all these different situations?' It's about relationships.
MVRemix: J. Rawls did not rhyme that much on 'The Living Soul' album. On 'Situational Ethics', does J. Rawls rhyme more than he did on 'The Living Soul' album? Fat Jon: Nope. He's on 'Vanessa From Venezuela'.
MVRemix: Will 'Situational Ethics' by 3582 be released in the US? When? What label? Fat Jon: It should come out in October on Humdrums.
MVRemix: What is Humdrums? Is it your label? Fat Jon: Humdrums is a label from Cologne, Germany.
MVRemix: Fat Jon, when did you first begin making beats? Fat Jon: I started back in 1987.
MVRemix: Jon, Tell us about your instrumental solo album 'Lightweight Heavy'. Fat Jon: I wanted to make an album in Japan. I wanted it to be a dedication record. We have a lot of love out there. 'Lightweight Heavy' is a thank you record for Japan.
MVRemix: Can you explain the title 'Lightweight Heavy'? Fat Jon: Where I'm from, the word 'lightweight' means actual or not actual. For example, if you ask 'Are you thirsty?' and someone would say 'Lightweight.' In that sentence, it means 'No' or it could mean 'Yes'. The album is interpretive. It's either deep or it's not. It depends on the listener's decision.
MVRemix: Fat Jon, you began making instrumental albums. How did this begin? What do you like about making instrumental albums? Fat Jon: As a producer, I would shop beats around to emcees and most of them would say 'No'. They told me my stuff was too musical and they couldn't rap on it. So I decided to not shop beats around any more.
MVRemix: Pase Rock, your solo album is called 'Bullsh*t As Usual'. Tell us about it. Pase: It's an album that I've been working on for the past two or three years. I did the whole thing in Japan with my man Nujabes. He's a producer from Tokyo. It was just a good chance for me to take a break from my reality, soak up a different culture, and reflect on all the bullshit life hands you.
MVRemix: Pase, what is the meaning behind the title of your solo album 'Bullshit As Usual'? Pase: Just like you know, what it says. You know the saying 'Business As Usual'. It's a play on that.
MVRemix: Do you have a favorite song on the 'Bullsh*t As Usual' LP? Pase: Yeah, 'Pase Burger' and 'Post World'. In 'Pase Burger', I purposefully bit or paid tribute to Kool Keith because I was reading where he says every rapper bit him, and shit, I didn't want to be left out.
MVRemix: On 'Bullshit As Usual' LP, what is the song 'Grey Matter' about? Pase: The song 'Grey Matter' is about things not being black and white. The world is about a lot of things and the gray area is vast. It's also about a whole lot of other bullshit.
MVRemix: On 'Bullshit As Usual' LP, what is the meaning behind the song 'Post World'? Pase: The song 'Post World' is about how things have gone awry for civilization, how things are coming full circle, and how we're running out of space and time and air and life. Everything is more robotic and tech-ed out. It was inspired by Tokyo's property situation. In order to build something, you must destroy something that already exists. The song is about how that's a metaphor for a lot of life situations. So, that's what post world is about.
MVRemix: Can you explain the song 'The Old Light'?
Pase: "'The Old Light' is a song about the sun.
MVRemix: Pase Rock's solo album 'Bullsh*t As Usual' and Fat Jon's instrumental LP 'Lightweight Heavy' were Japan-only releases on Dimid Records. Artists like Lone Catalysts, Grand Agent, and others have released albums in Japan while some of these albums have yet to be released in the U.S. Why do you think this is happening? Fat Jon: There is a greater demand for what we do in Japan.
Pase: The Japanese hip-hop market is stable, the labels don't bullsh*t. Bullsh*t isn't really a part of their culture. I think bullsh*t is a western construct. Anyway, they have straight up business practices. Therefore, they get special treatment from us, because we feel they give our music a fair shot. It's just a good situation.
Kyle: Yeah, they know how much they will sell and they say, 'We think you will sell this much' and they are right. They also give us enough money.
MVRemix: Will those albums be released in the US? Pase: Yes. Those albums will eventually be released in the US.
MVRemix: In one phrase or sentence, describe what it was like growing up in Cincinnati. Pase: Boring.
MVRemix: On 'Kinkynasti', Venus Malone sings on 4 songs. How did this happen? What was it like to work with her? Kyle: She was great to work with it. She was very quick too. Sometimes, she wrote stuff. Other times, we wrote stuff for her to sing. She's real talented.
Fat Jon: Venus is dope. We wanted her to help bring these concepts alive.
MVRemix: Does Venus Malone still have braces? Pase: Did she? I didn't notice.
Kyle: That's a popular question. Yeah, I think she did.
MVRemix: Do you go into the studio with pre-written rhymes, lyrics and themes or do you hear the beat first and write then and there? Pase: Both.
Fat Jon: We mix it up. A lot of things change along the way. Lyrics, beats and songs.
MVRemix: What emcee/group would you like to collaborate with in the future? Pase: Nobakazu Takemura
Fat Jon: I like working with the Deez. It took us a long time to even be able to put our 1st record out. I'm focused on our stuff.
MVRemix: What producer would you like to collaborate with in the future? Pase: DJ Krush
Kyle: Hi-Tek. Do something for Cincinnati
MVRemix: What was the last incident of racism you experienced? Fat Jon: Hmm… Let me think. I always get stopped at every airport like I have a weapon built into my glasses or something. Those security checks are far from random."
Kyle: I work in a restaurant so I hear it all the time. I am like the token Black man."
Pase: Yesterday, some white guy said the N-word in my presence.
MVRemix: Kyle, you work. Does touring, promotion and recording get in the way? Kyle: Yeah, it does but right now, I take flexible jobs. I tell them that I will have to go away for 3 weeks. Sometimes, I don't come back. Sometimes, I quit. Right now, it's just something to make some money.
MVRemix: Abortion - pro-choice or pro-life? Pase: Pro-choice, but I ain't down with abortions.
Fat Jon: It's the woman's choice. A man can never really understand what all that means.
MVRemix: Death Penalty - For or against? Pase: Against.
Fat Jon: Eye for an eye.
MVRemix: Where were you on Sept. 11th, 2002? How did you deal with it? How do you think it has affected or will affect hip-hop? Pase: I was sleep. Kyle woke me up and told me to turn on the news. I don't think it really affected hip hop at all except for these Bill O' Reilly types that want to try to save the world from anything non-Caucasian.
Kyle: It was crazy. I remember that some people wanted to kill or beat up everyone with a rag on their head.
Fat Jon: I was in the studio having a nightmare. I woke up to the news. It was crazy. I had expected something like that at some point.
MVRemix: What is your favorite part of your live show? Fat Jon: I like our boogie section where we heat it up a little bit. I also like our intro.
Kyle: The fast stuff.
Pase: Yeah. When we do the fast stuff and I get to dance.
MVRemix: What are you doing differently in the live shows now that you weren't doing in the past? Kyle: The instrumental stuff. We used to never do the instrumental songs. Now, we will.
Pase: Yea, we have fender Rhodes, 3 turntables, two mixers, MPC, laptop, synth, and a whole bunch of bikini clad women. (Laughs).
Fat Jon: It varies. It really depends on how well the venues are set up. There are a lot of things we want to do.
MVRemix: How does the venue make a difference? Do you mean how big the crowd is? Fat Jon: No, the technical capabilities. I don't want to spoil it but it will be cool.
MVRemix: What do you think hip-hop or music (in general) needs these days? Kyle: Diversity.
Pase: Yea, diversity.
Fat Jon: Hip-hop needs more artists to think about music. Hip-hop used to have really cool music now most of it sucks.
MVRemix: Word association time. I'm going to say a name of a group/emcee and you say the first word that pops in your head. So, if I say 'Chuck D', you may say 'Revolution'. Okay? Fat Jon: Okay.
MVRemix: George Bush Fat Jon: George Bush 1.
MVRemix: The song 'Sextraterrestrial' is about having sex with aliens. Who came up with this idea? How did this idea come into fruition? Kyle: That was Fat Jon, who thought up that one. He's into that space stuff. He likes science fiction. He also likes Japan anime.
Fat Jon: I'm a sick dude. My fantasy has no limits.
MVRemix: Fat Jon, you are into science fiction. What is it about sci-fi that you like so much? Fat Jon: I like the fact that we are actually living in the times they depict.
MVRemix: Who are some of your favorite science fiction writers or creators? Fat Jon: I don't know. I'm not really into it to where I know people's names and stuff. I have to think about the movies though. You know, the movie 'Alien' was sick, the 1st one. Also, 'Star Wars' 4 and 5. 'Star Trek' homes! One, Captain Kirk had the ladies. He would bone aliens.
MVRemix: What collaboration are you most proud of? Fat Jon: I'm not sure. I don't feel strongly about that things like that.
Kyle: I think I have to say 'Sexual For Elizabeth' with Shing02. His part is in Japanese and only someone who knows how to speak Japanese can understand it. He rhymed about the morning after.
MVRemix: How did you hook up with Shing02 for 'Sexual For Elizabeth'? Pase: I was thinking that I wanted to have him do this part and told Jon about it, then a week later, he had a layover in Cincinnati on his way home from NY. His flight got cancelled and he called to see if he could crash at our house, so he did. We played him the song and told him the concept. He wrote and nailed it in about an hour and a half. I appreciate him as a person and artist. He added some flavor to the track.
MVRemix: The intro track to the 'Kinkynasti' album is titled 'A Wonderful Place' and it features Dudley Perkins (aka Declaime) singing. How did you hook up with him and what was that collaboration like? Kyle: We've known him from touring with him. We were in the lobby of a hotel and we recorded it there with a piano. It was taped from video. It's a short intro for the album. That's the whole thing too.
MVRemix: Pase, you and Sonic both do production but Fat Jon seems to always dominate the album's production credits. Does this ever get in the way or become a problem? Pase: No. We choose for it to be that way. It's always been that way. If it ain't broke, don't fix it.
MVRemix: What has been in your turntable or CD player recently? Kyle: The 'Bitches Brew' album by Myles Davis. Of course, 'Kinkynasti'. Also, I have 'A Lil Light' by Dudley Perkins on my turntable right now. I like the song 'Solitude' and 'Momma'.
Pase: Justin Timberlake and our album, 'Kinkynasti'. Also, Towa Tei's 'Sweet Robots Against The Machine' album.
Fat Jon: Dudley Perkins.
MVRemix: If you could remake any classic hip-hop song, what would it be? Pase: Slick Rick's 'Hey Young World', and we did it on 'Kinkynasti.' Also, 'Think About The Future' man, we're in it.
Fat Jon: Maybe 'The Vapors' by Biz Markie.
MVRemix: How do you think you guys have matured or changed as lyricists? As producers? Pase: I've definitely matured as a lyricist as of this year. I'm just really getting into my groove, and I've been rapping for 13 years. I don't know, man. It's an ongoing process.
Fat Jon: These days, we focus more on musical composition. We used to be wild out artists and not think of any that shit. We used to have 11 minute raps songs and crazy shit like that.
MVRemix: Do you have a favorite sampler or drum machine? Fat Jon: I like the Akai samplers. They are all pretty good. No favorite.
Pase: I prefer the MPC.
MVRemix: What is the biggest mistake that you made in your career? Pase: No comment.
Kyle: We haven't made any.
Fat Jon: Believing that I could trust people. This is a business where trust is a weakness. It has nothing to do with anything. It has nothing to do with sales, marketing, promotion, or anything else. It's better to remove it. This is a business based on delivery and proper execution of all aspects. No room to trust anyone. Just make sure everyone does their job. There's a difference.
MVRemix: What are some major misconceptions that people have of Five Deez, as a group and as solo artists? Kyle: That we are some neo-soul hip-hop group when we are really just people who love to make music.
Pase: That we're anything other than people, human beings, that make music. Yes, we're black. Yes, we make hip-hop but it's not 'leftfield' or 'neo-soul' or any of that crap. It's just music that we made, and it doesn't define us, we define it.
Fat Jon: People think that I don't rap. People think I'm Kyle David or that he is me.
MVRemix: What advice would you give to a young emcee or producer who wants to have a music career? Fat Jon: Try to do something else. The business is over-saturated. Too much sh*t is bad for everybody. That means that even good stuff won't get heard because there is so much garbage. Either give up or fight until the end.
MVRemix: What is next in the future for Fat Jon, Pase Rock, Kyle David, and Five Deez? Kyle: Shows.
Pase: More shows, more Five Deez albums. We have solo albums too. Jon has an album out with electronic artist Pole. I'm featured on Prefuse 73 new EP coming out soon. Jon has a new album out with J. Rawls of Lone Catalysts. The 3582 album is called 'Situational Ethics' and a whole heap of other crap.
Fat Jon: This is still only the beginning for us. We have a lot more for the world. This is what we've been working toward our whole lives.
MVRemix: What are some of the future projects or collaborations you are or will be working on? Fat Jon: 3582, of course. I'm doing a record with a guy named Styrofoam. He's an electronic artist from Belgium. I'm in another group called Rebel Clique. Rebel Clique is me and Amleset Solomon. This one will be interesting! I'm focusing on that stuff right now. I'm on the new Pole album too.
MVRemix: You work with many non-American artist from all different parts of the globe. How is working with them different from working with US artists? Fat Jon: Everyone I work with loves music very much. That is the commonality between them all.
MVRemix: What about the labels? How are the US labels different from the Non-US labels? Fat Jon: US labels are allergic to paying people. Word up.
MVRemix: Was there ever a point where you were going to give up? What made you keep going? Fat Jon: That point never came for me. You can't make dreams reality if you have doubts.
MVRemix: What is the worst hip-hop fad? Fat Jon: The dew rag.
MVRemix: What do you do when you are incredibly stressed out? Fat Jon: I actually think about musical possibilities. It relaxes and makes me fall asleep.
MVRemix: What do you want on your epitaph (your gravestone)? Fat Jon: I don't care.
Pase: I want my epitaph to say 'Holla!'
Kyle: Just because I'm here doesn't mean that I will stay.
MVRemix: Any final words for the people who are reading this? Pase: Holla! Buy the album 'Kinkynasti'!
Fat Jon: Think about the future. One love!
Kyle: Kinky na-na-na-na-nastiii