Defari conducted by Todd E. Jones  

Junkie Of Likwit Hip Hop

June 2005

MVRemix: I heard you are working on your third album.

Defari: My third album will be coming out. It's called 'Street Music'.

MVRemix: Who is handling production for the 'Street Music' LP?

Defari: I've got tracks from Mike City, Fred Wreck, Evidence, Babu, E-Swift, Superstar Formula, and DJ Revolution. Once again, I recorded too many songs, like I did with Likwit Junkies. Some songs have to get cut, but hey, that's what happens.

MVRemix: Who are the guests on 'Street Music'?

Defari: Right now, I have Noelle singing on a couple of joints. I have Channel Live on the album. I have a local cat, Boo Capone. I have a song with The Liks and another one with Dilated. The rest of the album, I take it to the face, for the most part.

MVRemix: What are some problems you encounter when you release albums?

Defari: You have to set it up for the people. You can't just drop it and expect them to know about it. Because we are indie, we like to feed the people with good singles. That is the formula. I'm on a 3 single formula. I'm not like what you see on BET, where you hear 1 single and then, the album's out. That is the major label philosophy and that is why they lose more money than they make. We take it to the old school. Likwit Junkies dropped 3 singles before the LP came out. That's what it is about, the music. This whole industry side of the game lost sight of that.

MVRemix: In the song 'Interview', you state that you are addicted to music. Can you expand on your addiction?

Defari: I can't live without music. It's funny, because I'm a big fan of what I do. I'm glad to be apart of the stuff that I'm a fan of.

MVRemix: Which producers would you like to work with?

Defari: I would like to work with Alchemist again. I would like to hook back up with Al.

MVRemix: I was surprised you were not on his album.

Defari: You were just as surprised as me.

MVRemix: Who are some other producers you would like to work with in the future?

Defari: I think Kanye is dope. I wouldn't mind working with Kanye West. I would like to work with DJ Quik too. That dude is a genius.

MVRemix: What have you been listening to lately?

Defari: Mix CDs. Today, I was bumping The Game album. I was bumping 'The L.J.'s'. I've been bumping a lot of stuff that is not even out yet, like my stuff, some Strong Arm Steady stuff, and Dilated.

MVRemix: For the people who do not know, can you enlighten them on the meaning behind the name, Defari?

Defari: Yeah, it means 'The Kingly One'. It is also a savage way of saying, 'Def are I', which is 'I'm def.' It's a b-boy proclamation.

MVRemix: Do you still freestyle?

Defari: Yeah, when I got the feeling. Primarily, I focus on elevating my songwriting ability.

MVRemix: Compared to the older days, do you have a different songwriting approach?

Defari: I said it in 'Bionic'. I said, 'I rhyme over 10 million beats, 50 million topics.' I feel limitless in terms of topics and my ability to create a story or a picture that people can get into. For 'The L.J.'s', I really wanted people to see a different side of my songwriting abilities, as well as showcase Babu's production talents. I think that is what we've done. This is why you get songs like 'Change', 'Good Green', or 'Brother'. Yeah, man! You get 'Salute'. You get all these types of stuff because it is a sort of left-turn from the typical Defari stuff, which is more street or rap oriented. With 'The L.J.'s', you get me and Babs trying to give the people a breath of fresh air, that is brand new and cutting edge. You can tell it has the old influences but it is not stale. It's not soaked with guns and other things. But, hey, that has a place as well. I like that stuff. The music is supposed to be entertaining. My point is, with Defari, there is always a conscious undertone to it, without being blatant. There is a consciousness riptide to all my stuff. Even with songs like 'Slump', that has a conscious in there. You may say, 'How is that song conscious?' Well, 'Slump' is me at the club, and me going home and getting hassled. It is a song for people who have been through that. 'Leave me alone, I'm enjoying myself'. That is the moral to that song. With 'The L.J.'s', I really beat my brain to give the people a breath of fresh air and a new challenge to my songwriting abilities. For 'One Day', I'm going 150 on that. A lot people can't go 150. The term 150 is what we call double-time, here on the West Coast. I have a new song called 'He's A Gangsta' where I go 150. I kill them! For me, that style is easy. That's like remedial for me. I'm having fun with it and that what 'The L.J.'s' is all about. That is what my new album 'Street Music' is all about. You'll see the beats are knocking. They are over the top. It truly is street music and the beats are supposed to knock and be over the top.

MVRemix: Which artists would you like to work with in the future?

Defari: I would like to work with Slick Rick, Ice-T, and Rakim all on the same song.

MVRemix: Would that collaboration have a theme?

Defari: I don't care. (Laughs) It would just be dope. It would be just living a dream.

MVRemix: Many collaborations are recorded in separate studios. Some artists do not even meet. For 'The L.J.'s' LP, how were the collaborations recorded?

Defari: That was not the case with Likwit Junkies. Everybody was family on the record. Even though some of the vocals were recorded at different spots, we are still family. I took them to Pro-Tools sessions. Me and Rakka did 'Dark Angel' in the same place. Noelle came through and I coached her how to sing that song. She's just on the job. She's on my new album too. The Steady recorded their stuff at their studio and Asia recorded at his. Pro-Tools is a beautiful thing. Babu mixed it all. That's another thing readers should know. Not only did Babu produce the entire album, but he also mixed the album. Besides the fact that he is a world-class DJ with so many belts that they had to ban The Beat Junkies from competitions, his technical talents are worthy of mentioning.

MVRemix: Do you have plans to do another Likwit Junkies album?

Defari: Oh yeah! Definitely. This is not a one-off. This is not a brand of tennis shoe. This is the real deal. We are a Defari Herut interviewreal group and this is our first album, our debut album. I invite everybody to check it out. It's in stores everywhere now. It is also on I-tunes and stuff. We are here!

MVRemix: What was the last incident of racism you experienced?

Defari: The last one? Just the other day, a lady clutched her purse when I walked by. She was an old, white lady. It has happened all my life, so I don't even trip. She actually switched her purse to her other hand. It was the good old clutch. It is probably something so deeply embedded in her, she didn't even realize it.

MVRemix: Where were you on the September 11th terrorist attack? How did you handle the day?

Defari: Man! I was in L.A. The wife was like, 'Man, check the TV out! A plane crashed into the Twin Towers!' I was like, 'What!?' That was when I got out of bed and checked it out. Then, I saw the 2nd plane hit. That was just surreal.

MVRemix: Word association time. I'm going to say a name of a group or person, and you say the first word that pops in your head. So, if I say 'Chuck D', you may say 'Revolution'. If I said 'Flava Flav', you may say 'Clock', 'Crack' or 'The Surreal Life'. Okay?

Defari: (laughing) Yeah.

MVRemix: Wu-Tang Clan.

Defari: One of the best collection of brothers, ever.

MVRemix: Eminem.

Defari: Incredible emcee.

MVRemix: Declaime.

Defari: That's my dude.

MVRemix: MF Doom.

Defari: Scooby Doo.

MVRemix: Del The Funky Homosapian.

Defari: Oaktown! That's my dude from back in the day!"

MVRemix: Pigeon John.

Defari: I'm not too familiar with Pigeon John. I know of him, but we never met. I would say the word, 'respect'.

MVRemix: Jay-Z.

Defari: One of the greatest.

MVRemix: Gil-Scott Heron.

Defari: One of the greatest dope heads.

MVRemix: Curtis Mayfield.

Defari: One of my top three.

MVRemix: Smokey Robinson.

Defari: My favorite singer of all time.

MVRemix: If you could remake any hip-hop song, what would it be?

Defari: Probably, remake 'Peter Piper'.

MVRemix: What was the biggest mistake you have made in your career?

Defari: The biggest mistake I have made in my career was probably being misunderstood and misquoted. Actually, the biggest mistake I have made was f*cking with High Times Records.

MVRemix: The 'Odds And Evens' LP was released on High Times Records, but 'The L.J.'s' was not. What happened?

Defari: Exactly, but High Times Records was a fictitious label. It was not a label. Thank God for Devin Horowitz, man. If it weren't for Devin, his goodwill, and good nature, people would not have been able to get such great albums. There were a limited amount of people who actually did get it.

MVRemix: You collaborated with Scritti Politti on 'Mystic Handyman (remix)'. How did that happen? What was that collaboration like?

Defari: Now, that was a highlight of my career. Tash called me and asked, 'Do you know Scritti Politti?' I was like 'What!? Hell yeah, I know Scritti Politti!' Tash said, 'Come down to the studio. They want you to get on this remix. They love your stuff.' I went there and I had a blast. My man, Green! If you are reading this, Green, you're a class act. Those guys are a class act.

MVRemix: Weed has been a recurring theme in your music. What is your favorite way to smoke? Bongs, joints, blunts, or something else?

Defari: I take the answer D, all of the above. To be honest with you, a good old zag. I'm Cali to the bone.

MVRemix: Since you have some songs that are basically about or devoted to weed, do people come up to you and expect you to smoke all the time?

Defari: Actually, no, because I don't give that off. If I gave it off more, they would. I don't. If it is 4-Dub, forget about it. Everybody is coming up!

MVRemix: What does hip-hop music need these days?

Defari: I think music needs variety. That is why when you hear Common and Kanye together, it is really stuff that we were doing years ago, but today, it seems brand new and fresh. You feel me? That is because the Lil Jon stuff, the 50 Cent stuff, and the other stuff are flooding the airwaves. It all kind of sounds the same. I also think that radio stations should go back to breaking artists, instead of playing the same song 30 times per day. That's weak and that is why satellite radio is taking over. People want to hear music. When I was coming up, we used to make 'pause mixes' on a tape recorder. If I heard a song that I wanted to record, I had to get it then, or I would never hear it again. That is what made that song special. I think the public is getting cheated. It closes the doors for the artists who are trying to make it, especially new artists.

MVRemix: How are East Coast audiences different from West Coast audiences?

Defari: For me, it depends where I'm at. If I'm in New York, the audience is pretty much the same as L.A. In big cities, people are spoiled by live performances. If I'm in Vermont, or San Diego, or Ottawa, Canada, people go bananas. They go crazy. If I'm in S.O.B.'s in New York, they nod their head lookey-loo style. They give respect and say, 'We feel you. Do your thing'. If they are not booing you, but nodding their head because they are into it, that is a sign of respect. It is the New York way. In Philly, they will boo you in a heartbeat. I've been through Philly, on South Street, a few times. Remember when they booed Kobe in the all-star game? One time, we got there during that week. I had on a 3XT, but underneath was a Lakers jersey. We were so hype because they booed Kobe. My DJ and my guy setting up, both had Lakers shirts on. The crowd was booing them. They stopped the music and I said, 'We're in the city of brotherly love. We love y'all!' They were like 'Yea!'. I said, 'We love Dr. J! We love Bobby Jones! We love Lotus Malone! We even love Billy Cunningham!' They were like, 'Yeah!'. Then, I said, 'Don't ever let me hear you boo another Laker!'. That's when I peeled my shirt off. They were like 'Boo!'. They were giving it to me! It was fun, though. Then, we dropped 'Say It Twice', and the crowd went off! They went crazy! They loved it.

MVRemix: During a live performance, how do you control the crowd?

Defari: You have to feel at home on that stage. I'm at home, especially in places like L.A., New York, or Philadelphia. Any urban metropolis will eat you alive if you don't know what you are doing. I don't go up there with a hype-man. I take it solo like DMX.

MVRemix: Did you ever have a hype-man? How was performing without a hype-man different?

Defari: Yeah, I used to. The energy is different. Me and my DJ have enough energy. I travel with Barbershop Kiz. He's been all over the world.

MVRemix: What are the 3 best things about living in Los Angeles?

Defari: Sunshine, women, and kush.

MVRemix: What are the 3 worst things about living in Los Angeles?

Defari: Police, jackers, and guns.

MVRemix: What is next for Defari?

Defari: Likwit Junkies. We're putting together a tour, coming this summer. Look for us in your local neighborhood. I have a song coming out called, 'The Bizness' and another song, called 'Powder Coat'. It's a double A-side. We'll have it for you. The public and DJs choose. The Likwit Junkies are releasing a new single for 'Ghetto' with 'Brother' on the b-side. A lot of DJs want that. Man, I'm working on getting 'Street Music' out there for people by the end of this year.

MVRemix: Any final words for the people who will be reading this?

Defari: I want to thank anybody who supported Defari and Likwit Junkies. Go to or go to Go to your store around the corner, if you have to. Go to Itunes. Buy the album. 'The L.J.'s' is the name. Liquid Junkies is the group. DJ Babu and Defari. I want to say thank you to everybody! Thank you, Todd. Thank you, out to all you guys!

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