MVRemix: What concrete events, just in your opinion, set that movement in motion and how has being a part of that movement shaped your outlook today?
Defari: Well it was probably just the artists at the time that was coming out, man, like KRS-One. Artists nowadays, knowledge of self is at an all time low...
MVRemix: Why do you think that is?
Defari: It's mainly because of that box that people watch, you know, its just Channel Zero up there. They not really getting no culture and plus everybody's about material, material goals versus learning about themselves and where they come from. But you know the Earth revolves and I keep spinning with it so it is what it is.
MVRemix: You were a high school teacher. You taught history and geography...
Defari: Yeah, I used to teach at Inglewood, yeah...
MVRemix: And although having to follow the state curriculum did you ever find time to inject what you had learned from being a part of that movement?
Defari: The fact that I had taught black and brown students, and I was teaching history, I was able to incorporate lessons on my own within the state curriculum, lessons that showed them we had long been connected before the white man. I found that to be a plus and they really needed that and today they need it even worse.
MVRemix: I had asked you in the last interview if you thought there was kind of a tendency among underground or independent artists to be conservative. While you acknowledged this tendency you also said there was a tendency in the opposite direction, I think "way left" was how you described it, towards more of a nerdy or avant-garde rap. On that scale where do you situate yourself, if at all?
Defari: I got this crazy lane, man. I think my lane, is a hip-hop lane, but it also translates to the rap world. The only thing that really keeps me from being coined "rap" is that I'm more intelligent than just rhyming about drugs and guns. I guess what makes me "hip-hop", [laughs] that I flip the lyrics up, but if my whole album was about nursery school rhymes or being the biggest dope man and the biggest killer then I would be a rap artist.
MVRemix: Do you think those themes, to a certain extent, have been dominant throughout [hip-hop's] history?
Defari: Definitely, definitely.
MVRemix: Do you think political themes will make a return or do you think that there is political themes in popular hip-hop right now?
Defari: Yeah, definitely, Kanye, Common, you hear a lot of politics going on, especially with Common -- the dude is killer with the lyricals. Even somebody as dope as The Game. He has his moments where he reflects and gets political and what not, amidst all the other stuff.
MVRemix: You started as a DJ first. When you recorded "Juggle Me" it was kind of a diss to the CD DJs and according to our last talk you're now using Serato. [Defari laughs] What facilitated this change and how does the form your opinion today of digital DJs?
Defari: You can't fight technology, man. Technology wins over all. Even though I made my little rebuttal, it was a timely rebuttal at that time, but it has no relevance in today's context.
MVRemix: Well that's cool that you can acknowledge that because I think that that would be a part of that conservative tendency when folks are like, "Vinyl, period. That's it."
Defari: Yeah, I mean, its like why would you wanna hold on to an old car if it's not classic, it's a new car. The only old car you wanna hold on to is a classic.
MVRemix: How are your skills as a DJ?
Defari: Ah man, I'll serve most of these DJs.
MVRemix: What do you spin?
Defari: I can spin the rap, the hip-hop, spin the soul, you know, old soul records. I can do all kinds of sets, but mainly just the R&B and the hop, you know?
MVRemix: Do you ever do any cuts on your own projects?
Defari: Nah, cause I know too many real skilled professionals, like Babu and Revolution and these dudes where I think they would really look at me sideways. They'd be like, "Man, come on, you know I'm right around the way." [laughs]
MVRemix: You told me that you also did some co-production here and there, can you recount those for me?
Defari: I co-produced "405 Fridays". On the Likwit Junkies I co-produced the "Six in the Morning" and the "Dream Girl", those two joints.
MVRemix: Do you think you'll be doing production in the future?
Defari: You know, it's a trip because if I woulda been doing it, I woulda been doing it by now. So I doubt it. I'm not knocking it at all.
MVRemix: What new music or artist do you see right now with a lot of potential? Is there someone that you see who may represent the new wave of hip-hop?
Defari: Man, that's a trip, man, because I don't see nobody really brand new that's knocking me off the seat. I mean if you talking about un-established, I don't really see nobody really blowing me away. Everybody whose really moving me in the car are established artists.
MVRemix: What are the qualities in an MC that makes them an MC to you?
Defari: Well the best MC can convey complex thoughts with simple words. That's the mark of a good MC to me. So that everybody know what he talking about. You could listen to it in the middle of the song, the end of the song, or from the very beginning. You gonna catch something, he not just gonna lose you.
MVRemix: Right now is the time for this immigration movement that's surfaced. It's seen a lot of advances in the past year with more and more immigrants both legal and illegal, Latino, African, etc. participating and bringing forth a democratic, direct action politics. Now you being a resident of LA where immigrants have had a huge impact, where do you fall on this issue?
Defari: I mean that's like crying over spilt milk, man. Why they gonna cry about it now after hundreds of years of letting it go down. And if even if they didn't let it go they can't stop it. So, I think it's hypocritical of them to pass those types of laws, but even they don't have knowledge of they selves so it's a bunch of hypocrites, you know just hypocrisy, man.
MVRemix: This was also addressed in the last conversation, I was hoping you might...
Defari: Excuse me, dog. I wanna real shiny bus, please. Yeah, real shiny. Where I can see my face almost. That shiny. Yeah I know what it is. Is it extra, it cost extra? Nah, I'm cool. I don't want it. That's real shiny bus, yeah.
MVRemix: Are you about to go on tour?
Defari: I'm spot dating right now. We are trying to tour in September, which is next month. I'm a be going to Europe, I know for sure in September.
Lâ€™Orange and Stik Figa â€“ The City Under The City album review
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MVRemix Urban | Online Hip Hop Magazine | US and Canadian Underground Hip Hop - exclusive interviews, reviews, articles