These are the transcripts of an interview conducted with Sketch, March 2004, by DJ L.K. (Low-Key). Sketch is one of Virginia's best up and coming emcees, who has made a name for himself through the underground battle circuit. He is part of the Bring It Back Entertainment family and is primed to release his new album "Molotov Cocktails". In the interview below Sketch gives us a glimpse inside his world by discussing his experiences in this Hip Hop game as well as his goals for the future.
MVRemix: OK, first off, why don't you introduce yourself for those that are not familiar?
Yeah, Yeah, Yeah. I go by the name of Sketch, but some of you might know me as Sketch McGuiney, SK-Dot, Wild Irish Rose, and/or Pablo Picasso. I’m reppin from Herndon, Virginia. VA Right Here…
MVRemix: When did you start rapping and who are some of your favorite emcees?
I began spittin when I was 15 years old (1995). I enjoy many Hip- Hop artists and some of my favorite emcees are Tupac, Jay-Z, Nas, Biggie, Redman, Guru, Eminem, Andre, Big Boi, Ghostface, Talib Kweli, Jadakiss, Ruck, Rock, Ludacris, Big Pun, Big L and Eazy E.
MVRemix: How did you come up with the name Sketch?
Heres the story behind that. A close friend and fellow emcee named G Biggs (Revolution) was brainstorming on some names to use back in 95’. I looked over the list that he had made and immediately wanted to use the name Sketch. This was because I was into graff way before I was into flowin. So I became Sketch after that. The meaning behind my name is that Sketch stands for the beginning and every masterpiece begins with a Sketch.
MVRemix: How did you hook up with the Frazitta brothers and the Bring It Back Entertainment family?
I have known the Frazitta brothers for a long time because they were family friends, we lived close to each other, and we grew up playing sports together. We were not that close until we started working on music together though. I started out working on music with a crew named TDS (Time Da Shine) Productions. TDS consisted of two producers/engineers named Big Chun and Spank. Our group on TDS was called Unknownz and it consisted of J-Dub, Nafarious, War (now Revolution), and myself. TDS and I ended up going our separate ways and that is when I started working with a group named The Thundercats and a producer/engineer named Overok. Once again, The Thundercats, Overok and I went our separate ways with music. I began working with Nitram Entertainment, a label that I still work with now. At the same time, I really started working on music with a producer/engineer named David Burton (Kevlar). I began working with Kevlar solo until I met an emcee named Jimmy Everett (J.Bond). J.Bond and I formed the group Verbal Assassins (VA) for some time, but we ended up breaking up. So I was back to working on music as a solo artist. Kevlar and I were grindin hard on the music tip. This is when I started seeing more of Bobby Frazitta (BeeOhBee). He was telling me that he was doing his thing Djing, and he seemed very interested in everything we were doing. So one day I brought BeeOhBee over to Kevlar’s crib for a recording session. Kevlar and BeeOhBee got along from the jump and they started making beats together. Then I dropped my first LP titled Game Over and it featured many beats from the both of them and Overok. Kevlar and BeeOhBee became a production crew by the name of Creative Control. The next thing we were focusing on was my second album titled Wild Irish Rose. This is about the time that Danny Frazitta (Digger aka KnoxVegas) became really into the music that we were working on. So he started learning the Korg Triton and MPC right away. This dude picked up on the equiptment faster than I could believe. So we dropped Wild Irish Rose in August 2001 and it featured beats from Kevlar, BeeohBee, Digger and Overok. Also, around this time is when I started working with an incredible DJ named AJ DeCenzo (DJ Soundtrax). Next, BeeOhBee started up Bring It Back Entertainment and that is how I hooked up with them.
MVRemix: What is it about Bring It Back Entertainment that attracts you to them?
The first thing that attracts me to Bring It Back Entertainment is that it is all fam. I have known all of these cats from way back so I know just about everything to know about every individual. I can say this because I have seen the goods sides of everyone involved and the bad sides of everyone involved. At the same time, everyone has seen the good and bad sides of Sketch. We have had ups and downs, but we have learned from our mistakes and kept it moving by maintaining good relationships on the personal and business sides of things. The second thing that attracts me to Bring It Back Entertainment is that sound. Them fuckin beats baby. The production from Bring It Back is the hottest I have heard from any unsigned producers anywhere. You got Kevlar with that dirty, gritty, dark type of sound. You got BeeOhBee with that authentic, classic, mid-90s’ type of sound. You got Digger with that bangin, catchy, anthem type of sound. And you got Soundtrax, but I’m not sure what his sound is yet. This is because I just started working with him on the production tip. I can tell you that this guy is going to be sick with it too though.
MVRemix: Being from Virginia is it harder for you to get your foot in the industry?
I think it is more of a challenge for me to get into the industry than for someone that is located in a major city such as New York, Los Angeles, Atlanta, etc… This is because most of the major resources for hip hop music are located in major cities in the US. On the other hand, VA is on the come up as far as hip hop music is concerned. Skillz was the first emcee who really put the state of Virginia on the map. The Neptunes and Clipse have brought heavy attention to VA too. Also, there are other big named producers and artists coming from VA such as Nottz and Fam-Lay. I think Virginia is really beginning to gain more credibility in the hip hop world. If it is harder to get into the industry because I’m from Virginia then I’m just going to use that as motivation to work harder. I’m going to keep doing me and reppin’ VA.
MVRemix: Compare the Virginia Hip Hop scene to places else where you have been.
The Virginia hip hop scene is much smaller and slower than places such as NYC, LA, ATL, etc…All the major cities have much more going on as far as hip hop music is concerned. I learned this from working on music in VA, MD, DC, TX, GA, and NY.
MVRemix: You have made a name for yourself through the underground battle circuit, but would you label yourself as a battle artist?
Yes, but I would label myself a song writing artist before I would label myself a battle artist. I feel that I’m a song writing artist that knows how to battle.
MVRemix: What are some of the battles that you appeared in, or won?
I have been in numerous battles, and the following list shows the battles that I have won 1st or second place in.
1. Appeared on BET’s 106 & Park Freestyle Friday - lost
2. WPGC 95.5 Friday Night Mic Fight, August 2003 - won
3. WPGC 95.5 Friday Night Mic Fight, September 2003 - won
4. WPGC 95.5 Friday Night Mic Fight, September 2003 - won
5. 4 Elements of Hip-Hop Exhibition MC Battle at Virginia Tech University February 2003- Won First Place
6. Shark Club, Centreville, VA, March 2003- Won $500 First Place Cash Prize
7. Shark Club, Centreville, VA, July 2003 – Won $300 First Place Cash Prize
8. Shark Club, Centreville, VA, August 2003 – Won $300 First Place Cash Prize
9. Datalus Nightclub, Washington, DC, August 2003 – Won First Place Prize
10. Longhorn’s, Marietta, GA, February 2003 – Won First Place
11. Waterstreet Gallery, Virginia Tech University, September 2003 – Won First Place
12. Erico’s Nightclub, Washington, DC, Hosted by EPMD- Second Place
13. Bailey’s, Blacksburg, VA, April 2002- Second Place
MVRemix: You were on BET's Freestyle Friday, so what happened with that? Who was the cat you faced and how would you rate him?
I went to Harlem in May of 2003 for the BET 106 & Park Freestyle Friday audition. I went straight from Northern Virginia to the BET studio. I waited from about 6:00AM till about 1:00PM because the line was so long. I would estimate that there were about 500 people there for the audition. Also, they didn’t open up the audition until about noon or so that day. The atmosphere in the crowd was real hype with numerous ciphers going down and people videotaping the scene. They took people that were there for the audition in 10 at a time and gave each emcee a number to wear. Next, they lined everyone up in front of a video camera and a set of bleachers filled with judges. Then they called two people at a time up to battle right there. The cat that I battled was pretty dope, but I zoned out and went to work on him. The staff told all of us that they would be contacting the emcees that were selected within 8 weeks. I wasn’t contacted within 8 weeks so I figured that I didn’t get picked to appear on the show. In October 2002, I finally received a letter from BET explaining that I had been selected to appear on 106 & Park Freestyle Friday on November 1st, 2002. I knew how these battles were going down just from watching them on TV. They were won on who carried the hottest punch lines and 90% or more of the emcees were spitting written because you only got 1 round of 30 seconds. So I planned on going into this battle with a few memorized punch lines and going off the top for the rest of the time. So I got a couple real hot punch lines together beforehand, but really didn’t get them memorized well before the actual battle. The night before the battle I was up late figuring out how I wanted to use those lines. I waited till the last minute and it became a mistake because I only got about 4 hours of sleep the night before the show. I tried to get some sleep on the way down to NYC, but it didn’t happen because I was focusing on the show at that time. Another thing that didn’t help me was that they made me sit all squeezed up with the audience for an hour before the battle went down. I would have rather been able to move around in order to get loose before game time. Also, I gained some unwanted tension right before everything went down because I had never been in front of the cameras on national television. In the battle, I got 2 of my lines off and freestyled the rest. I left out about 2 lines that I wanted to use though. Overall, I did well in my round, but lost the battle. The loss was due to being unprepared, being exhausted and losing my calm. I believe that there is a positive side in everything and this was a learning experience. It taught me many things and I use that battle as motivation for the future. My opponent was a guy from Connecticut named Money-Ray. He was dope and I would rate him 7 out of 10. I have defeated many opponents better than him though.
MVRemix: You have also opened up for a lot of artist's such as Raekwon, Clipse, Skillz & Jin among others. How were those experiences and what did you learn from those events?
I have opened up for many big name artists in the rap game and I have enjoyed all of the shows. The Raekwon show was really one of my favorites because he is a legend to me and I have been a long time fan of all of Wu. Also, everything was butters with the sound. I can’t stand doing shows when there are sound problems because that kills the whole vibe. The Clipse show was also another stand out show because I enjoy their music and how hard they rep VA. In addition, the partying was right because it was NBA All-Star weekend while we were in ATL. The only thing that I wasn’t feeling at this show was that there were a few minor sound problems that took some time to fix. I would have loved to open up for Skillz because I pump his music hard, but he didn’t make it to the show. The show with Jin went well, and he was a really cool person. I learned many things from all of these shows and I try to treat every show that I do the same no matter what. I focus on performing with the same energy and intensity at every show.
MVRemix: For those that have never heard your material, tell everybody what separates yourself from other artists?
Originality and variety. I have my own sound. I spit with many different flows, deliveries, voices and volumes. I don’t sound the same as any other artist and I never will. I can spit with the best battle cats and storytellers.
MVRemix: You have released two albums previously, so why don't you tell us about them.
The first album that I put out is titled “Game Over”. I released this album in December 2000. It was a really low budget album because we were just starting to understand the equipment that we were working with. Also, we were only working with an 8 track board, a Korg Triton keyboard, a cheap mic and an Aiwa stereo. I burned copies myself and distributed them out the trunk to the local public. The production on this joint was done by Kevlar, BeeohBee, and Overok. This album had guest appearances from J.Bond and Slimcee. This album has a really raw and gutter sound and feel. Overall, this album was the first real big thing to show people that my crew and I were working with some talent. The next album that I put out was titled “Wild Irish Rose”. It dropped in August 2001. We really stepped up the quality of our sound on this album. This was because the emceeing, production and engineering became much better. I started to get my own sound as an artist, my producers began to get their own sound as beat makers, the engineering improved a great deal and more equipment was purchased. We really spent quality time in order to get quality sound for this album. We only pressed up 100 copies, burnt others on our own and got rid of them out of the trunk once again. The public gave incredible feedback towards the album. The production on the album was done by Kevlar, BeeOhBee, Digger, and Overok. The guest appearances on the album were J.Bond, Slimcee, Reek Havoc, and Complx. Wild Irish Rose has a very soulful sound and feel. Overall, this album really put my click and I on the map as some of the top notch unsigned people working with Hip – Hop music out of Virginia.
MVRemix: Have you seen yourself grow or progress as an artist since those two albums? If so, how?
Yes, I have definitely seen myself grow as an artist since those 2 albums. I have seen myself grow from the release of Game Over to the release of Wild Irish Rose to now. This is because I have become stronger in many different areas as an artist. I have improved and progressed with my flow, delivery, voice, and volume from one album to the next. I have grown in terms of experience due to performing and battling from one album to the next. And I have progressed with my knowledge of the Hip-Hop music industry too.
MVRemix: Tell us about your up and coming album you are working on now? Is it going to be solely produced by the Frazitta brothers and Kevlar? Any guest appearances?
Molotov Cocktails is going to be my best album to date. It is going to include a lot of variety in terms of emceeing and production. There are a few party tracks, many lyrical bangers, many life tracks, a few topic tracks and a couple girl joints. The album is going to be produced by Kevlar, Digger, BeeOhBee, and Soundtrax. There are guest appearances by Akshan, Thad Reid, Revolution, and Complx.
MVRemix: After listening to your material on the "Throwbacks Mixtape" and your demo, you prove you can provide a lot of variety in your song making. Is that going to be a key issue you are going to address with your new album?
Yes, there is a lot of variety on the new album. Variety is always a big issue with my music. This is because I’m very open -minded and I want to be able to relate to many different types of people.
MVRemix: So when can we expect your album to drop?
The album is titled “Molotov Cocktails”. It will begin setting towns on fire on June 1st, 2004. Count it.
MVRemix: What is it you want to accomplish with this album and what do you want fans to take out of it?
I want to get a deal for myself and all of the people that I work on music with. I want to make some power moves with this album. I have been working on Hip-Hop music for almost 10 years and I’m more than ready to take it to the next level. I just want my fans to understand where I’m coming from in my music.
MVRemix: What is your long term goal in this Hip Hop game? What do you want to accomplish more than anything?
I would say my long term goal in the game is to live comfortably and be satisfied off of my music. I want to put out an album that goes platinum.
MVRemix: As far as the immediate future what is going on with Sketch? Any shows, mixtape appearances, etc?
I’m doing a couple local shows back in NOVA in the next few months. I’m on the Nitram Entertainment Compilation : A Family Affair and the DJ Bones Mixtape : Anni-verse-ry Volume 3. I have been taking it easy as far as performing goes in order to finish everything for the album though. I will start grindin real tough with shows again once the album drops.
MVRemix: Anything else you want to cover that we haven't already? Or is there something you want the fans to know that hasn't been discussed?
My website will be up and running soon. www.sketch-music.com. Always check www.bringitbackmusic.com and www.lastclassic.com too. Be on the look out for a Nitram Entertainment website coming soon too. We still got copies of “Throwbacks the Mixtape” by Bring It Back Entertainment and it features numerous people including myself, Skillz, Phonte of Little Brother, Storm the Unpredictable, Priest, Mic Stylz, Saj Supreme, Revolution, J.Bond, Complx, Doujah Raze, Thad Reid, Akshan, Soulstice, Born Unique, Nick Fury, and Blitz. The intro is done by DJ Soundtrax and the beats are done by Digger, Kevlar, and BeeOhBee. They are going for 1 for $7 or 2 for $10. Also, we still have copies of the DJ Soundtrax: The Trax Album. This is an incredible remix album of Jay-Z’s Black Album and they are going for $5. The Nitram Entertainment Compilation : A Family Affair will be dropping soon too. This compilation features many artists including yours truly, Revolution, Socket, DaKey, Koshka and many more. Another hot mixtape that is out is DJ Abeats Poor Man’s Paradise hosted by Dynas. This joint features Dynas, Kaimbr, Jax of Binkis Records, Saj Supreme, Doujah Raze, Wrekonize, WYZ, Swigga, Eddie Brock, Deja, Oddisee, Shinobi, Tragedy Khadafi, Ice Shuler, Nails, Old World Disorder, Soulstice, Critically Acclaimed, Phonte of Little Brother, Black Moon, Redman, The Clipse and many more. Holla at DJ Abeats at www.djabeats.com for your copy. Also, another blazin mixtape out right now is the DJ Bones Anni-verse-ry Volume 3 which features Myself, Thad Reid, Krayola, Trickstar, Nails, Seez Mics, Doujah Raze, Stress the Mystery, Born Unique, Soulstice, Virginia Slim, Zacharias Wise, The SD, K Chromosone, Akshan and The Dub Fire Band, Non, Vein and many more. Hit us up at the Bring It Back Entertainment site to get yours. Lastly, I would just like to say big ups to all my fans all over.
MVRemix: Ok, your time to plug or shout out whoever you want to.
I would like to say BIG-UPS to all of VA. Herndon Stand up, Fox Mill Stand Up, and Radford Stand up. And BIG-UPS to my Bring It Back Entertainment peeps (BeeOhBee, Digger, Kevlar, and DJ Soundtrax)...OK, LETS GO / 2004 is ours, my Nitram Entertainment folks ( Unc, Jabo, KP, Revolution, Socket, DaKey, and Koshka)…The streets are talking Uncster / Lets get em, my S.U.P.A.N.O.V.A camp…J.Bond, Reek Havoc, Complx, and Socket…SUPANOVA!!!, Hybrid Sounds, Last Classic (Turnout, DJ Ph1ipz, osocloudy, and Mike Krowe), DJ ABeats, DJ Baby Boy, DJ Bones, DJ Pdog, Overok, Slimcee, K-Beta, Feathaweight, Thad Reid, Akshan, Dub Fire Band, Soulstice, Vein, Team Demolition, Storm the Unpredictable, Doujah Raze, Double J and Trilogy Records, Born Unique, Rerok and OK Kid Entertainment, and DJ Low-Key for making this happen. Lets keep this Hip-Hop moving. VA Baby and I’m gone.