Cunninlynguists - conducted by Phayde  

Going down south with the CunninLynguists

February 2004

These are the transcripts of an interview with Cunninlynguists alongside Tonedeff and Mecca. The interview was conducted by Phayde on February 8th, 2004.

MVRemix: So how do you like Vancouver?

Mecca: The spotís not too bad; we havenít seen a lot of it so far, but Iíve been approached about religion and cigarettes and weed, so Iím alright. So far so good. Itís like being at home.

MVRemix: Have you been here before?

Tonedeff: This is the first time I have been to Vancouver.

Deacon: Iíve been to Windsor. Lost $25 in five minutes.

MVRemix: You guys have an ďinterestingĒ name. What other group names were you considering before you settled on ďCunninLynguists?Ē

Kno: Super Lyrical, Lyrical Gangsters, but that shit was already taken, so we moved on. [Laughs]

SOS: Formerly known as the Icy Hot Stuntaz! [Laughs]

Deacon: Delicious Pimps! I donít remember any other names.

Kno: Nah we didnít have no other names. We just came up with that and it was a wrap.

Mecca: Every woman loves a good CunninLynguist.

MVRemix: I concur. What makes you guys different from every other group out there?

Mecca: This interview sucks!

MVRemix: You fucking suck!

Mecca: What are you, kidding? Have you heard every other group out there?

MVRemix: Yes. Yes I have.

Kno: Sheís heard them.

Mecca: Well alright then. Have you heard our material? Wait a minute, Iím not in CunninLynguists, this interview ainít even about me! Iíll be silent now.

Deacon: We do boom-bap shit but we ainít from New York.

Kno: Hereís what makes us different: we approach our music in a way that we are not trying to do anything but make quality music, rather than try to put together an album that has a club joint, and then a song for the girls, and this that and the other. I think people are too caught up in trying to make specific songs for specific niches. We go into the recording process and whatever sounds good is what we keep. Weíre not really concerned with who weíre aiming it at. Thatís why all our fans are Hungarian lesbians. Weíre not targeting anybody, and thatís what it ends up being.

MVRemix: I love me a Hungarian lesbian.

Kno: Me too.

Tonedeff: What I feel sets them apart is that Iíve noticed nowadays, everybody is caught up in making the ďbanger,Ē and every song has to have this ridiculously hard beat, and everybody is just making the same song over and over. What CunninLynguists do is that they make albums, and thatís an art I donít think a lot of people know how to do, especially in a singles-driven market.

MVRemix: What is some of worst criticism that youíve received?

Kno: Actually, I was made aware last week that Iím so wack that all my fans should die and my family should be raped.

Deacon: That isnít criticism; thatís more like a threat.

Kno: Somebody said my beats were ďwhite.Ē

Deacon: Yeah your beats are white. You make white beats. [Laughs]

Kno: I never knew beats had colours. I need to quit sampling Engelbert Humperdink; that shitís fucking me up.

MVRemix: What do you have to say to the reviewer who said your family should be raped?

Kno: Iíd like to say that itís okay because it doesnít make me angry. I donít really have a reaction to that. I mean, those are fighting words, but Iím not going to fight anybody over something like that, because honestlyÖ I donít know man. In like two years, weíll see whatís happening. If in two years [heís] writing for Rolling Stone and actually has some type of influence over my career, then I will cry about it, maybe. Probably not, still.

MVRemix: Cry yourself a river?

Kno: Yes. I will cry myself a river.

Mecca: TimberrrÖlake! [Singing] Donít be so quick to.. walk away!

Deacon: I donít think heíd be saying the same shit in person. You can write stuff all day, but words on the internet donít mean nothing to me at all. Iím just curious; you know what Iím saying? Those are some foul words. Completely unnecessary.

Mecca: When you say some shit like that, you donít know if they got kids, a wife, etc. He could be talking about your kids! Thatís some shit to really want to fuck [him] up over!

SOS: This guy must be a loser though, because I donít know who youíre talking about, and Iíve never read this. Who the fuck is that guy?

Kno: I found out that MC Hammer put out a hit on Third Base because Third Base said something about MC Hammerís mom. Iíll leave you with that. Thatís all Iím saying. [Everyone laughs]

MVRemix: What have some of your biggest obstacles been?

Deacon: One person being from Florida, one person being from Kentucky, and one from Georgia, and then having shows in damn Los Angeles somewhere and we all got to get there together. Thatís always the problem. Somebodyís plane ticket is always wrong. Lord, I donít even want to talk about it.

SOS: I feel my biggest obstacle is fitting in, because everything is about cliques and crews, and you have to be down with the right people in order to get fame, and itís all bullshit. Iíd say our biggest obstacle is fitting in.

MVRemix: Why you trying to fit in?

Kno: Weíre not trying to fit in. What heís saying is that the fact that we donít fit in is an obstacle. My biggest obstacle is teaching these muthafuckas how to rap, because when I met them, Deacon was on some, I donít even know, Barry White, I-donít-know-whatís-going-onÖ
[Everyone laughs]

Deacon: My biggest obstacle was hiding the fact, from all my niggas back in Kentucky, that a white boy was making all these beats, because they was like, ĎThat shit ainít street!í
[Everyone laughs]

MVRemix: What are the worst jobs youíve ever had?

SOS: Oh God, you want to know about that?

Kno: Please donít talk about the shit.

SOS: Iím not going to talk about the shit.

Kno: Donít talk about the shit. Heís going to talk about the shit.

SOS: You want me to talk about the shit?

MVRemix: Girls love shit.

Kno: Not this kind of shit. Iím talking about real shit. Iím talking about lavatory, water-from-the-plane shit.

MVRemix: Yeah girls donít love that kind of shit. No dice.

Deacon: All I know is that I would not be stuck in Kentucky stripping tobacco. Some other interviewer thought I said that, but I didnít say that.

Kno: My worst job ever: I worked at a Briggs & Stratton plant in South Georgia while I was in college, and I used to get chemicals in my boots that made my feet swell up and I couldnít walk. I went to the doctor and got a note that said I could be moved off the assembly line and Briggs & Stratton was like, ĎFuck you,í so I quit, and now Iím famous. What, bitches!

Deacon: You ainít famous.

Mecca: I ainít in CunninLynguists, but the worst job I ever had was at a place called Banana Republic, where I was surrounded by so many homosexuals, they made you feel bad to be straight.
[Everybody laughs]

Mecca: I got punished one time because a woman, who wasnít afraid of being a woman, and who kind of liked being a woman, actually hit on me and gave me her number. The manager Ė who was a woman but dressed like a dude and had one of those names that was a female name but she made you call her the male version, like if it was Michelle you had to call her Mitch, and if her name was Rachel you had to call her Ray Ė she got mad at me and wrote me up for being heterosexual. I was surrounded by that many homosexuals.

MVRemix: What are your thoughts on nerd rap?

Deacon: What is nerd rap?

SOS: Havenít you heard? Thatís what we make.
[Everyone laughs]

Kno: Didnít you get the memo, Deacon? Thatís what we make.

Deacon: I donít have email.
[Everyone laughs]

MVRemix: Who are some new artists that youíre feeling right now?

Kno: [Sarcastically] Yo I got to shout out my team, Ďcause we holding it down, my whole team. Iím going to take this somewhere else: honestly, careers can really be helped by established artists just saying that they feel someone. Iím not saying they listen to us; Iím just saying Iím sure they listen to something outside of their immediate clique sometimes, and they actually like it. Every artist that actually has a name is reluctant to mention that they listen to anything else besides their homie or their brother. Like Kanye West, Iíve read interviews with him and he seems straight up about that. Heíll mention other artists or whatever, and thatís what I appreciate. I mean, Iím not saying anybodyís got to shout us out, because I doubt anybodyís heard of our asses, but Iím saying for me to sit here and say ĎI like these guys, I like these guys,Ē well Iím not ďsupposedĒ to do that. Iím supposed to sit here and say I like Cashmere the PROfessional, I like Tonedeff, Iím really feeling that new Mecca joint, and Pack FMís got a new album coming out.

SOS: I remember the Source asked us who we like and we told them a bunch of different people and they didnít even use it, did they?

Kno: They didnít even use that! They talked about the internet!

Tonedeff: That was their angle, the whole fucking time. I got issue with writers that obviously donít have any kind of idea what the fuck theyíre talking about, but I also have a chip on my shoulder about writers that think theyíre way too in-the-know and have to use all these fancy analogies and try to compare you to everybody, just so they can get their intellectual rocks off about how much hip-hop they know. Like, ďThat verse is derivative of so-and-so, something that J-Live would do, etc.Ē Itís like, muthafucker I ainít even heard that shit.

MVRemix: Besides hip-hop, what else do you listen to?

Deacon: I listen to a lot of Stevie Wonder. Heís always in my rotation. Good R&B is hard to find.

Tonedeff: I listen to everything under the sun. I have a predilection for very melancholy material Ė weird gothic shit. I listen to way too much Bjork, Radiohead, Tori Amos.

SOS: I like reggae, jazz. Oh, my girl put me on to that Ben Harper shit. That shit is hot. I like Bob Marley. I like Sergio Mendez and Brazil 66.

MVRemix: Are you satisfied with the progress that youíre making?

Kno: Oh I thought you said what we thought about Jamaicans! I was like, ĎI have no problem with them.í [Laughs]

Deacon: Iím happy with the progress. It took a long time to figure out that the slow process is sometimes good. As youíre going through the slow process and furthering your career, itís all training. You learn how to handle the progress thatís happening.

SOS: In my opinion, no matter what you do, the best thing to do is starting small and working your way up, because you will never have a strong foundation unless you work your way up and take every step. Itís all going forward; we havenít taken any steps back yet, so everything is going well.

Kno: I think that working slowly and progressing slowly is the key to longevity.

SOS: Oh, and I wanted to say something that I didnít get to say earlier: when we were talking about writers, yeah the media is fucked up. Writers are fucked up. Not all of them. Keep in mind when weíre talking about magazines, itís not the whole magazine, because there are always certain people who are doing their thing, but then there are the other people that are fucking shit up.

Mecca: I went on an MTV interview. I auditioned. There were 200 emcees all together and I battled and made a team of five. By the time it was all said and done, all they were concerned about was what I did with my day. When I told them I spent it working, coming home [and] working on my album, they were like, ĎNo, you need something else. What else do you do?í I was like, ĎWell sometimes I play chess with the old folks,í and they were like, ĎOh, word! Can we see that?í and everybody was all interested. Nobody cared whether I was any good, if the songs were going to be alright, did I have rhythm. Nobody gave a fuck. Remember that VH1 show we did? We got called specifically by this guy who saw us tear ass at a show. He called us down for this show on VH1. Soon as we get there, weíre sitting in front of these lily-fed college grads who donít know shit, and the first thing she asked me was, ĎDo you have any baby mama drama?í I said, ĎNo, I donít have any kids. Iím not even married.í She said, ĎWell you donít need to be married to have baby mama drama.í I was like, ĎDo you have any baby father drama?í She said, ĎNo!í and I was like, ĎWell alright then.í She [also] asked me if I had ever made any money illegally, have I ever sold drugs, do I get along with my mother and father, do I know my father, have I ever been locked upÖ I didnít answer most of these questions, but the point was that she was asking me. By the time the show came out, it was full of the worst, worst rappers you have ever seen, but they had the most tragic stories. Hereís another one! The same person was talking to Tone, and Tone brings her bios on each one of us, video tape of what we do and CD samples of our music. He has prepared all of this shit, which took him like eight hours to do. In the middle of his interview, this other chick comes running in with a napkin with a scrawled out phone number on it and she says, ĎListen, listen! I just talked to this guy on the train whoís fresh out of prison and heís getting his music career started!í And the woman who was interviewing Tone puts the breaks on everything and was like, ĎOh yeah, we got to call him.í Are you serious?

Mecca: I bullshit you not! And by the time the story was over and we saw the show, one guy was a pimp and his mother lived in a shelter and she had aids, and he was taking her to buy cigarettes. Another guy was stabbed by his own sister.

SOS: Mainstream America is addicted to bullshit. Thatís why the news is always on some bullshit. Thatís why after 8 Mile came out they tried to commercialize that and now battles are like ďthe big thing.Ē But now when they do battles on TV, they donít even do them right, and the person who wins isnít the person with the most punch lines, but sounds more marketable or would sound better on a Swizz Beat. You know what pisses me off the most? Nobody heard about the guy from Sporty Thievez who saved a little childís life by jumping in front of a van. He died when pushing the kid away, but nobody heard about that. The news didnít talk about that because it was positive.

Kno: But they loved Sporty Thievez when they had a TLC diss track.

MVRemix: Kno, tell me about The White Albulum.

Kno: There really isnít too much to say about it. The bottom line is that Jay-Z and Rocafella obviously put out acapellas because they wanted this done. Jay-Z has been quoted as saying the same thing. I just obliged that request. Anybody complaining about it, any one of those mad rappers who are complaining about wasting beats, that beat could have been yours if you bought it. I mainly did it for exposure. Thatís really all it is. People will listen to that; Itís Jay-Z. I like the album. Itís not so much I listened to the album and thought it was wack and wanted to remix it; thatís not it at all. It was just an opportunity to showcase my talent.

MVRemix: What is your ultimate goal?

SOS: As CunninLynguists, weíre just trying to keep eating.
[Everyone laughs]

Deacon: I wish we could organize every rapper on the planet to simultaneously save hip-hop. I wish we could all come together at the exact same time and make everyone listen to good music for one day, because thatís all it would take. Like Kno was saying about Kanye West, when people hear good music, and hear good samples, they recognize it. They just donít get the opportunity to hear it because it donít get played. They only know what they hear, and they hear garbage.

MVRemix: Tell me something nobody knows about the Cunninlynguists.

SOS: SOS needs to pee really bad.

Kno: Thereís three of them, and theyíre all different ethnicities! Our CD cover looks like a Neapolitan ice cream box.

MVRemix: If hip-hop was a woman, what would she look like?

Deacon: Like Patty LaBelle in her prime.

SOS: Alicia Keys, because sheís a blend. She could be anything. But thatís only in my dreams. In real life, the female manifestation of hip-hop would look like Lady of Rage or something, because sheís gangsta.

Kno: Hip-hop would just have a fat ass and big titties. And a nipple ring thatís shaped like the sun.

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"What CunninLynguists do is they make albums, and thatís an art I donít think a lot of people know how to do, especially in a singles-driven market."