Celph Titled - conducted by Hugo Lunny  

Celph Titled Interview


These are the transcripts of an interview with Celph Titled. The interview was conducted by Hugo Lunny on October 7th, 1999.

MVRemix: How and when did you start out producing?

Celph Titled: I started producing in 1992. The only reason I wanted to make beats was because ain't no one around me could make them, and I was an MC - had my own little click or whatever back then. We needed our own shit to rhyme over. So, that's what inspired me. I started on this old PC home computer my dad brought home that had fallen off of a freight truck - he used to work for a freight company.

MVRemix: Did you always want to be involved in Hip Hop?

Celph Titled: Well, when I was real little all my older cousins were heavily into Hip Hop. They were mainly into Breaking and Graffiti. My family is Cuban and have lived in Florida since my grandfather and his family came from the island. So, all my cousins used to have a lot of Puerto Rican friends from New York that brought all that shit down here to Tampa. So, I was five or six years old thinking I could break and do stupid shit like that. They used to make me tapes of them rapping over their boys beatboxing on an old Fisher Price tape recorder joint. So I had been around all this influence, so I kind of grew up in it in a weird Floridian way. It was just always something to do. Nowadays you have a lot of young kids who have been fans of Hip Hop for a few years and have decided to contribute - which is cool, but there's a lot of people out there on the independent scene that should've just stayed fans.

MVRemix: Who are your inspirations?

Celph Titled: Production-wise I'd have to say Marley Marl was a huge influence from the start. Mr. Mixxx from the original 2 Live Crew, don't front on me now - if you grew up in Florida you would know this man is a wizard behind the boards. Then onto Buckwild, Pete Rock, Beatnuts, Premier, of course there is a lot I can't think of right now. Lyrically, I am inspired largely by Big Daddy Kane - can't you tell I'm a big Juice Crew fan? Kool G. Rap, Rakim. In recent years; Ras Kass, Pharaoh Monche, the list goes on... I really try not to grasp onto one certain style or sound like anyone. If anything, I learn from those who inspire me and their energy really fuses me to pick up a mic or create a beat.

MVRemix: How did you and Dutchmaster (now known as DutchMassive) hook up?

Celph Titled: Heh, it was kind of ill how that happened. When I was a senior in high school I was really just making my own music in my spare time, doing solo shit. I wasn't really looking to form a group. I rhymed with a lot of people but for whatever reason I wasn't into the group thing. But, I used to keep in touch with Sole and Moodswing9 back when they were the Live Poets. Moodswing actually linked Dutch to me in 1996 cause Dutch used to holler at him too. Moodswing knew that we were both in Tampa, so he gave Dutch my info and he hit me up. At the time, Dutch was part of a duo called Equinox with another MC named Majik Most. They came up to my job and rhymed for me. It's been on ever since then. We seemed to have vibed off the same things as far as what we wanted to create. They were quite younger than me at the time, but they showed through and we formed Equilibrium. A lot of things have changed since then, we had some disagreements with Majik Most and he is no longer part of the group, but he was on two songs on the 12" - he was the 2nd MC on 'Fahrenheit 813' and also he had the 2nd verse on 'Windows 98.' But, that single took us two years to finally release. So, now it's just me and Dutch - two totally different individuals and styles. He's working on some solo shit right now but we're still a team.

MVRemix: Now, you produced quite a few cuts on Braille's recently released LP, 'LifeFirst,' Braille comes off as being pretty religious, are you the same or what?

Celph Titled: I don't consider myself very religious. I study all religions and build off of all of them. I guess you could say I do follow Christian ethics, but most Christians would turn their nose up at me. My family was raised in a Catholic setting, being Latin that is a normal thing. I also study a little bit of the Muslim beliefs as well. I don't really like to pin myself to one belief. Strong religious people would call that a weakness, but all religions to me are conceived by one human being's perception. I do believe in a god and that is all that is important to me. As far as the work I did with Braille, that had nothing to do with his religious beliefs - that was just done for the sake of creating good music.

MVRemix: What's in your Stereo/Walkman or sitting by your turntables?

Celph Titled: Lately I've been listening to the new Terror Squad shit, Beatnuts, Arsonists, Mobb Deep, Screwball. The new Eddie Ill & DL mixtape. Go cop that shit, I'm on it and so are my peoples Mr. Rictor, Apathy The Alien Tongue, C-Rayz Walz and many more. [pause] That's it for now. I listen to all types of crazy shit but that's what's honestly sitting by my stereo. I'm not impressed with a lot of independent Hip Hop and with the market being so saturated it's difficult to find something worthwhile. So, everyone can go ahead and call me a sell-out or a 'dun' - which is my favourite diss word from the herb-hop kids. Haha, nah, I'm trippin'. I'm real open minded. I listen to anything that sounds good. I'm a beat-head, so a lot of times if I'm feeling the beat, I'm on it. I just can't stand kids that let politics get in the way of what they enjoy musically. It's like if a nigga come out on a major label and got a video these kids is dissing them even when they didn't even change up their music. But 'MC I'm dope and abstract' who been rhyming for a year puts out a 12" with a loan from Mommy and Daddy and the shit could be weak as fuck, but since it's "underground" these herbs be all up on the dick. I could go on but I'm afraid I've already upset enough people.

MVRemix: If you want to go on with it, I'm open to listen...

Celph Titled: Well, you know, I'm not dissing the independent movement because I am a part of it. I am all for it. But it's just a lot of people that ruin it for everyone with their politics and it's mostly the young kids out there from 15-19. they not really listening to the music. They wasn't down with this shit in their heart. Hip Hop is like collecting baseball cards to them - once they get something exclusive, underground, little known and rare they cherish it. But then when that same shit becomes available to the rest of the world, like MTV teeny boppers in Times Square, they get mad and frustrated that what they have isn't rare no more. It's like "Fuck you nigga! Just enjoy the fuckin' music and cut this shit out." Then you got a lot of kids who just like to hate on people in general, whether they're independent or mainstream - either out of jealousy or just 'cause you don't like the shit they do. I'm saying, if you don't like it, don't listen to it and don't go out of your way to diss it. There's enough music out there for everyone. If you feel compelled to make a record and a contribution, you just better make sure it's up to fuckin' par cause I'm sick of half-assed un-inspired records from these children out here who started listening when Dr. Octagon came out or some stupid shit. I'm no Hip Hop god, hell, you could accuse me of being in the same category if you like. I don't give a fuck about you, but if this shit is not cut out for you - don't do it! Just be happy and stop feeding Hip Hop with so much negativity!

MVRemix: I really couldn't agree with you more, I mean, take Eminem for example people loved him when he was underground but now a load of heads are hating on him because he's blown up regardless of the fact that he's the same as he used to be.

Celph Titled: Yeah. Eminem is a great example. It's just ridiculous what these kids are doing and thinking. Hip Hop is not your baseball card collection or, shit, some of you probably so young you into collecting Pogs or Pokemon or some shit. It's not any of that shit, and if you can't get it out of that realm of thought, then get it out of your mind and move onto something else that's fit for you..

MVRemix: Anyway, lets carry on - what exactly went on with 'Windows '98,' I heard Microsoft were trying to/had put a stop to the production of it, but I never had anything confirmed, so, can you please explain it...

Celph Titled: Aight, for the record - there's not too much I can go into detail about that, but in a few months I will be able to. But, let me just say this - the situation is nothing like what the rumours have made it out to be. I am not getting sued or any crazy bullshit like that and I will still continue to sample whatever the fuck I want on an independent level. But technically speaking, the truth about the actual vinyl is that, yes, it will not be repressed so whatever is left in stores or in distributors' warehouses is all that remains. We do want the single to move out quickly because there are certain repercussions in effect, so this is by no means an advertisement or a sell-out plea, but there are stores out there that still have copies and can still order them through Buds distribution (212) 378-8848 and online. We just do not want the record to go unheard due to speculation and misunderstandings. All I'm saying, is that if you felt the 12", get the record while you still can and support us.

MVRemix: Were you worried about Microsoft getting involved when you made the track?

Celph Titled: Nah, not at all. In fact, I was thinking that if anything came about, it would be George Lucas getting at me about the Star Wars samples for the Walkmen single. But the truth is, and a lot of cats don't know this, that on an independent level it is very hard, first of all, for the owner of the music you sampled to even find out about it, and secondly, it is most likely not worth their time to pursue your issue legally since there's really no money in indie records to begin with and on top of that, less than 10,000 units were even pressed. Anything after 10,000 units poses a threat to those who feel they need to be compensated for their sample being used since the profit margin is much greater. That's why the situation with us and Microsoft isn't that big of a deal. The Equilibrium 12"s first initial pressing was only 3,000. So, if you're underground, don't let the rumours about us scare you from sampling. Sample up a storm - you won't run into any problems. And as far as both the Equilibrium and Walkmen singles seeming like 'gimmick' records - that is really off-base since we didn't even originally intend to release the Walkmen single and Storm Trupa (of Walkmen) always wanted to flip that imperial march music. That was just some shit we did fuckin' around in the studio and that's why I think 'Fortruss' could've been 100 times better lyrically - Walkmen are way better than that. Those verses were actually half freestyle and half writtens from the late night before.

MVRemix: Damn, I didn't know that. So, what are you working on right now?

Celph Titled: Right now, my music is kind of on hold since I'm in the process of moving, but I have completed a lot of production work recently. I just recently produced a joint for Louis logic from Superegular (Jedi Mind Tricks' label), which will be the A-side for his 3rd single (his 2nd is being pressed right now). I did a beat for Storm the Unpredictable for a song called 'Pause For A Minute' which should be on his next release. I produced the A-side for this up and coming cat called C-Rayz Walz from Breez Evahflowin's crew (Stronghold) and yo, watch out for C-Rayz, this kid is so blaze! You can catch him on Breez Evahflowin's last single and on this new single 'The Specialist' which features him, Apani B-Fly Emcee and Rahsheed. I got a chance to rhyme on my main man Mr. Rictor's track alongside Kimani (of the Masterminds), L-Fudge, and Mr. Complex. That joint is produced by Merlin and I produced the remix for it, which is coming out on the Divine Mind 12" and that is being pressed right now. I did a remix for the Masterminds' next single which will be the song 'Joints,' which features Mr. Man (aka Khaliyl) of the Bush Babees. I also produced the 12" version, not the one on Eddie Ill & DL, of Apathy The Alien Tongue's 'The Big Hurt' which features Punchline, Wordsworth, A.L. Skills, Wiseguy and Gaston. Hmmmmm...I did some more joints for Braille and his group, Mentors Of The Aurora. I'm working on new Equilibrium and Walkmen singles and Dutchmassive is working on his own solo album in which I produced like 8 songs and rhymed on a handful as well. Believe it or not and this is very exciting for me since I'm a Juice Crew fanatic, MC shan is dropping a new 12" which I'll have production on and to bounce that onto some ill old-school rival shit. I'll be doing some production work for KRS-one's next LP, which he will begin working on next year. He scrapped the original "Maximum Strength" he scheduled to release this year.

MVRemix: You're gonna be working with KRS?

Celph Titled: Yes. Nothing has materialized yet, but Kris did a show here in Tampa and I was able to connect with him. We hit it off well, built for a minute. I left him my beat tape then like 3 days later he called me on his cell phone while he was on the New Jersey Turnpike going to his next show, then his wife, who runs his management got in touch with me and it's been on since then. But, Kris has been busy with his tours, his position at Reprise and also organizing this Temple of Hip Hop album that he has put his album on hold for a minute and he told me he would get at me when he is ready to begin work on the new LP. So, for the record, before more rumours start - no Celph titled-produced KRS-one songs have been recorded yet, but everything has been confirmed. The industry is unpredictable as well, so I wouldn't be surprised if things didn't work out all that smoothly, but Kris is a man of his words. I normally don't like to speak on things before they have been completed, but this is something that I have always been looking forward to doing.

MVRemix: Sounds great man, I'm looking forward to hearing it. Now, I loved the Equilibrium 12" with "Windows '98," when will we be hearing an Equilibrium LP/EP?

Celph Titled: It's going to be difficult since I'll be in NYC and Dutch will stay in Tampa, but the next thing we are doing is a new 3 song single with completely new material. We do have an albums worth of material, but it is very old and we might release that as a limited CD type of deal. it might be awhile before there's an Equilibrium album, but like I said, Dutchmassive is working on his own album and at this point, to me, it's going to be a classic. At least in my own world. I'll be working on the Walkmen full length and that will drop before an Equilibrium full length. But stay tuned for new singles coming at the end of the year or early next. I know it's been a minute, but a lot has been going on down here.

MVRemix: Have you done any of the tracks for the single or are they future plans?

Celph Titled: We have the beats picked out and we have the choruses written, but the final instrumentals are not done and not all of the verses are written yet. There's also going to be some surprise guest appearances on both the new Equilibrium and Walkmen singles, but I won't say until both records are done.

MVRemix: That's cool man...

Celph Titled: You'd also be surprised how many big name artists peep out those sites too.

MVRemix: MP3's are becoming big. What's your take on them? Are they beneficial to the artists or do they just encourage bootlegging at better quality?

Celph Titled: Well, my stance on mp3's is this - most of the kids bootlegging shit on the Internet are mainly the same kids who used to just dub shit from their friends anyway. I don't think it's hurting the retail of hip hop too bad yet, but I can see it causing some damage in the future. The problem is when labels send out a pre-release of an album and it gets leaked out, then that severely hurts the sales when the album finally does drop cause mad heads already have copies and a lot of people may not be feeling the album after downloading it. But would've bought the album on impact before listening to it, so, labels lost that sale right there too. It's just an unpredictable thing right now. I'm all for it though in the legal sense, I think it's a great way for artists to put out an exclusive track and get it circulated inexpensively without having to press up promo cassettes, wax, or CD's. You also have great spots like cductive.com who offer digital mp3 downloads that you can pay for cheaply with your credit card - plug: our entire catalog is available at cductive! And back to the bootleggers, they try to come back at people looking at them negatively like they are doing a favour for the artists by spreading their shit all around and that real fans will support, but that's not true. I'm up on things and I'm familiar with quite a few bootleg MP3 sites. I'm not saying any names, but if I catch any of my material up on your site, you better prepare to be dealt with. You can't disrespect me like that and steal my shit. You know?? that means you're stealing from me and no one steals from me without some sort of punishment, legally or physically. You ain't doing nothing but taking money out of my pocket which I use to put food on my table. What, you gonna take a nigga's food of his plate? Fuck that! Also, with the other aspect of MP3 revolution, you got a lot of wack shit circulating. A lot of homemade, basement groups with shitty 4-tracks or or computer microphones just spamming their shit all over the Internet like "Hey check out my group!! It's the illest you've ever heard!! blah blah at mp3.com". It's like there isn't any fans anymore - everyone who listens to hip hop creates it too, just about. So, with any new development, there are good and bad things about mp3's. I'm all for it as long as people are kept in line and laws are enforced. But I'm going to always want to go the record spot and actually pickup a professionally label manufactured piece of wax or CD - I don't want it to get to the point where they release straight to the Internet for you to download and print up the cover yourself and shit - that's ridiculous and of course you can never erase the production of vinyl from hip hop... or maybe I'm just bitter...hah

MVRemix: Haha...Very well said, man. Okay, so, let's see, who would you most like to work with?

Celph Titled: Hmmmmmm. That's a tough question. I'm really not interested in going after anyone to work with, just opportunities that come I will take them. There's a million cats I'd like to get down with, obviously, but I guess you could say the one MC who is still making records today that I would like to work with would be Rakim. That would be legendary to me, just since I always thought about that as a shorty.

MVRemix: Cool. I have another tough question for ya, if you had to pick your top 5 LP's of the 90's, artists of the 90's and producers of the 90's, who would they be and why?

Celph Titled: Wow. Gimme a minute on this aight Hugo ?

MVRemix: Will do

---A little while later---

Top 5 Albums:
1. Main Source - 'Breaking Atoms'
2. A Tribe Called Quest - 'Low End Theory'
3. Wu-Tang Clan - 'Enter The 36 Chambers'
4. Common Sense - 'Resurrection'
5. Nas - 'Illmatic'
Honorable mentions :
Brand nubian - 'One For All'
Gang Starr - 'Daily Operation'
Das EFX - 'Dead Serious'
Artifacts - 'Between a rock & a hard place",
Showbiz & AG - 'Runaway Slave'..to name a few......

Top 5 Producers :
1. Diamond D
2. Pete Rock
3. DJ Premier
4. Large Professor
5. Buckwild
Honorable mentions:
Lord Finesse
Red Hot Lover Tone
Ski, and many others hmmmmm...

And artists of the 90's pretty much ties into the albums of the 90's. It would take days for me to explain why those were the choices I made for top 5.

MVRemix: Nice line-up, and yeah, I understand. So, which LP's (that are set to drop before 2000) are you most anticipating?

Celph Titled: D.I.T.C., Cormega, Chino XL, De La Soul, Jeru, J-Live, Jedi Mind Tricks. 1999 ain't got too much more to go anyway. Oh, I'm anticipating the Dilated Peoples album. Put that in there too.

MVRemix: Same here, they should all be dope. Are we likely to hear any solo material from you in the near future?

Celph Titled: Yes, as a matter of fact I have a couple songs written and the tracks picked out. I might drop a 12" or something near the year's end or early next year.

Do people really want to hear a Celph Titled record?

MVRemix: Of course they do. They love your beats

Celph Titled: We'll see...

MVRemix: And thought your verse on the Walkmen single was nice. Any last words for your fans?

Celph Titled: Word? Thanks. I appreciate that. Well, then I'm bringing way more heat than what was spit on that joint...

MVRemix: Dope

Celph Titled: Hmmmm... Last words... Everyone says some sappy shit for their last words, like some corny "Keep your head up" shit. So I say, to all those listening out there "Find yourself a woman and stick it to her nicely - it feels good." Thanks to Hugo for giving me this opportunity. Peace to all and if you're feeling my shit thanks for the support - it's very much appreciated. Celph Titled, The Rubix Cuban. Out.

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