MVRemix: How did the passing of Sugar Shaft affect the group as a whole; on a musical as well as an emotional and morale level?
Brother J: Well, when Shaft passed we had already started to put together the Dark Sun Riders. Doing that production project, you know, as always, me and Shaft feed off each other from day one, you know what I'm saying, he's been my DJ since high school days. So not having that element with me, that puts a stamp on anything that I create and vice versa. It was hard because, you know, for a person, to work with other producers they're not going to have that kind of flow that someone that's been with you half your life has had, you know what I'm saying, so on that level it hurt me.
But also for what we're doing, you know, a movement level, man, when you're on a battlefield and you watch a solider drop right next to you, man, it kinda, you know, it kinda fucks with your morale a little bit, you know what I'm saying, and you gotta dig down deep to the inner spirit and ask the ancestors to guide you, man, to keep moving, and, you know, it was a blow for me, man, but you know I know good and well that he wanted me to demonstrate this gift as he demonstrated his when he was living, you know what I'm saying. I continue to give this gift to the mission, man, to keep it moving, and I celebrate him every time I go to stage, man.
MVRemix: What precipitated your transition in the Dark Sun Riders project both spiritually and politically because there was an obvious shift. I'm really curious to know what things influenced that shift. Can you talk about that a little bit?
Brother J: Yes, when I did the Dark Sun Riders I started to experiment with different levels of production. Usually when people listen to X-Clan they're used to having samples and the Dark Sun is probably the first time they've ever heard me outside of sampled breaks. So that was the first shift to plant those seeds. If you look closely the project was named Seeds of Evolution. I had to start to wean X-Clan fans or, more so, X-Clan supporters into the new sound that we're trying to introduce.
It also let me tie some loose ends up with X-Clan as well, you know, because it's a valuable tool, but it has to be presented on another level if its gonna have longevity and I just didn't want, you know, people to think that I just left X-Clan and started something fresh. Dark Sun Riders still exists. We're working on a new project right now to start to introduce the lyricist side of the Dark Sun. On that project I introduced some of the producers and now that production team is now, probably about ten times more than what I represented with M.A.T.E. and Ultraman. So, now we have, you know, Fat Jack in the house and we have DJ Orator and Pro Mic and Bean One; there's so many different cats, man, you know, that are coming to contribute their energy that have wanted to contribute to conscious music and have never had the opportunity to do it on a real mantle. You know, usually cats are giving good tracks and cats are hollering; just preaching information and not really focusing on the groove that sells hip-hop music. You know what I'm saying? So, you know, Dark Sun the project and the transition from that introduced them to the new level of music, and now, since our production team has grown, our production class has grown, and now finding Suburban Noise, we get to really expand to the market what the standard of conscious music will probably be. You know what I'm saying, we wanna make it as quality as cats when they go into the club and expect something quality from, you know, whatever thug cat is number one; if it be a 50 Cent, you know, if it be Slim Thug, whatever it is we wanna present that same quality. Those cats got some banging ass tracks.
MVRemix: No doubt, man, that's cool that you can acknowledge that, you know?
Brother J: Yeah, man, its great production, man, I don't dis on the production at all. It's just, I just think the music is out of place, you know, where it's being programmed. I think the programmers are really creating the civil war between conscious music and, you know, what they call thug music, you know. To me, its not total street knowledge because they're only telling half the tale. You're telling of half of the tale of the hustler who's serving on the street, but not the hustler that's building the street. You know what I'm saying, you have two different kinds of people that exist in this day and time and they just tell the story of one side. I'm telling the story of the other side of what it requires to be a complete street soldier. You know, when you say street knowledge and you preach about that, you're talking about things that can help us in the community and not take us backwards.
So, back to your question about Dark Sun, all of those elements are relevant to me when I go to do X-Clan music, you know what I'm saying. So, if I wasn't ready to present that next style of music that X-Clan is known for, then I just have to take a break and give the audience something to hang on to until I made that decision clear, as for now at the time for Return From Mecca to drop in this 2006 time.
MVRemix: Now that was the music side. What about politically? What kind of changes, if any, did you go through as you transitioned from doing X-Clan. Were the influences were cultural nationalism and pan-Africanism and things like that; it seems like there was some kind of political shift. Did that exist in the Dark Sun Riders project?
Brother J: Well the Dark Sun was more focusing on the energies that root the X-Clan. When you dealing with spiritual elements, or dealing with mental conditioning, those are things I focused more in Dark Sun. That project was created at a time where I was conditioning. And in my hiatus from X-Clan there was a conditioning period. So, I wanted to share what I was going through, you know what I'm saying, I wanted to share that I stopped burning bud for a while, you know what I'm saying?
MVRemix: Right. I'm remember the interlude (in Seeds of Evolution) about that.
Brother J: Exactly, you know, I just wanted to show different symbols of the sacrifices I was going through to understand more of the Man. So, you know, you tell people things, not to say like, ‘I'm righteous," you know, to be a self righteous person, if you just wanna share like, "I'm taking a cleanse. Come cleanse with me." If the world is so fucked up then lets take a cleanse to make things around us good, you what I'm saying. There's enough of us, we can make our own communities and our own networks through connecting conscious people, so I just want to contribute some energy at the time. X-Clan has never been a political group. We talk about issues that affect communities, but when you get into politics, you know, you're dealing with shifting around in the American game. I'm more into empowering the people first to understand the law and what they go through. If that's a political thing then, probably, X-Clan would be political because we telling people stand for your rights and know who you are, but we're not telling them to try to compete in this political game, you know, if we don't organize in the streets first, we have no power; we have no voice, you know what I'm saying. If you listen to the lyrics I say ‘one man is not a nation' and ‘raise the flag', its serious business. We're too far in the game to think separatist on any level, you know, on a racism level or any level, you know what I'm saying?