Northstar - conducted by Bill "Low Key" Heinzelman
Along with his partner in crime Christ Bearer, the two Long Beach natives dropped their debut self titled album "Northstar" on January 20th, 2004. The album is executively produced by Rza and features guest appearances from Kinetic, Freemurder, Ninth Prince, Doc Doom & Solomon Childs, among others. In the following interview Meko discuses the hardships coming up in the rap game as well as his thoughts on the industry as a whole. While from California, Northstar definitely does not portray the usual West Coast mold, which probably played a big role in their signing with RZA.
MVRemix: You have the self titled debut album already out, so what do you guys want to accomplish with this album and what do you want fans to take out of it?
What we want to accomplish out of it is the most that we can, as far as the work and the effort we put into it and the years it took to come to this point right here. As far as the fans, we want them to get the truth out of the album. The universal truth that we bring to the table.
MVRemix: And what do you think that universal truth is?
To bring that hardcore Hip Hop back to the streets, cause a lot of this music they got on the airwaves right now is watered down. It's more shake ya ass music and different things like that.
MVRemix: You got a lot of different producers on the album, but the one that stands out the most is Armand Van Helden, who in my opinion, produced the two best tracks on the album (Luv Allah & Nuttin). Van Helden is not known for his endeavors in Hip Hop, so how did yall hook up with him?
Northstar: We was out there in New York dealing with Choco, one of our engineers out there when we was recording the album. He was a good friend with Van Helden and he came through and we was listening to a couple of tracks he said he had. So we listened to a couple of tracks and picked 'em out and he just said spell his name right basically. And that's basically it, we moved on from there. We liked that sound he was brining to the table.
MVRemix: Yeah, he has that soulful sound.
Northstar: Yeah, that real soulful sound.
MVRemix: Were ya'll surprised that has was able to produce such a good Hip Hop track?
Northstar: Na, not really cause I ain't really know of him as far as his other works that he did. I just knew that he was a DJ over seas in different places, as I was speaking to him. I didn't really know he did techno or what not until after.
MVRemix: What role did RZA play in making the whole album?
Northstar: He basically brought the music to the table, all the beats that he wanted us to have or which ones we chose. He dealt with the labels, as far as getting the deal for us. Basically as far as this album goes, he brought the beats to the table to get us going and start us off.
MVRemix: Did he try and mold you into making a sound or try and tell you what to do? Or did he basically let you do what you want?
Northstar: He let us do as we felt and we picked and choose what beats that we liked. It was more of a, "make this sound sharper" or telling us to "come stronger on this". Or when he mixed everything down he would make things happen. But he let us do what we wanted.
MVRemix: Aight, how would you describe the differences or main difference between you and your partner Christ Bearer on the mic?
Northstar: The difference to me is his voice is a more high, high toned pitch, and mine is the opposite of that, it is a real deep tone. We come with that one two punch like that. That's how we have been doing it for years, even when we went to little freestyle spots where we used to freestyle at, open mics. He came off with the little high sound, that's how his voice is. And then I would come with the other sound, that real deep sound. That 's how we grew our style.
MVRemix: How about lyrically, is there any difference or are you both on the same level?
Northstar: He is more of a…I can’t even explain it. To me he is one of the best rappers out there, as far as lyrically and his words. My style is more direct, more raw, speaking to the people.
MVRemix: How did y'all originally hook up with Rza and the Wu?
Northstar: Me and Christ Bearer used to be on missions, like getting out there, just staying out there getting around at clubs, open mics, etc. We was moving through the L.A. underground and we went up to a lot of record companies, we went up to Load and saw Rza up there. We shouted out at him, he was coming off the elevator. He asked us what the name of our group was, and we was like Northstar. Rza was like "that's a powerful name right there". Then I went to a Killarmy concert, he was hosting it and they put me on stage and let me rap. I did my little freestyle and the crowd picked the winner, so I won the little situation right there. Then afterwards, he walked us out and gave us his contact numbers. Then Rza came back for the Super Bowl they had out there in San Diego, so he was on the radio station. So we was like, "man, we should just go up there". So we went up there and when he came out of the radio station he had Cappadonna and Baretta 9 of Killarmy with him. So we were trying to give him a CD and telling him what's going on because we had already talked to him before. He was like I don't even wanna hear any music right now, I got some beats in the truck, come over here I wanna hear some verses. We just started spitting verses going back and forth, we ended up battling. It was him, Cappadonna, Baretta 9 and me, Christ Bearer and some of the Black Knights. So we was just exchanging verses and at the end he was like "yall ready to become Killer Bees". We was with it and we moved on from there. We moved out to New York and lived out there on Staten Island for a minute. And we just kept moving from that day on.
MVRemix: How long did y'all live in New York for?
Northstar: For about a year, maybe a year and a half.
MVRemix: And y'all being from Cali, how did you like New York? What would you say the main difference is?
Northstar: The difference is, there is more family out there (New York), it's more family orientated. In the neighborhood out here in California it's more friends and different things going on. You got family but it's more like friends, out there in New York you got cousins right near you, everybody knows each other. Out there they also starting to gang bang and stuff. Its terrible to me because we already been through that out here in the West Coast. And to see all that going on right now out there, it’s like they are confused like they used to say we were in the West Coast. They didn't understand when we were doing it back in the day , that's what we grew up in, we didn't try and make it that way. But out there they are making it happen that way right now, it's real sad.
MVRemix: Now you guys are from Long Beach, but your sound isn't really West Coast, do you agree with that? Because I know a lot of people were surprised to know you guys were from the West when they first heard the album.
Northstar: Yeah, we get that a lot. It's like we are universal with it, I wouldn't say we are East or West , it just a universal speaking.
MVRemix: Right now not a lot of attention or credit is going to the West, do you think that is true, and if so why?
Northstar: Like as far as what?
MVRemix: Just as far as mainstream appeal. I am from Jersey , I'm from the East, and there is East Coast bias, I'll even admit that. I just think the West don't get the love it should. So why do you think that is?
Northstar: It's just a difference in what people choose to listen to. The rappers on the West right now are coming with all the know, coming with the truth from the streets and what they have dealt with in their life. Certain people really can't get with that or be apart of that because they don't really feel it like that.
MVRemix: What do you think y'all have to do as a coast to maybe change that?
Northstar: What do you mean?
MVRemix: I mean just come together as a coast collectively and get the West back to where it was during its prime.
Northstar: We just gotta keep moving this music. People gotta hook up with each other and make connections. Get this music back to what its about basically, the truth. That real, real truth, the streets, for the kids and for the people period. Instead of all this little gangster stuff going on. There is truth in that, but at the same time we need to move on with it.
MVRemix: But do you deep down feel there is that New York biased, where it comes down to if your name isn't Dre or Snoop you ain't getting any air play, especially out here in the East.
Northstar: I can't really say so….it is in a way…..na, I can't really say that. It's just more of what you are bringing to the table. That's how it is in this music nowadays to me. It's like yeah they cater to their people out there as far as on the East Coast and we cater to our people out here on the West as far as the music being played. But that’s just the music that people want in that area and the music they are recommending. It just depends, but I feel what you are saying as far if your name ain't Snoop or Dre you ain't getting no air time out there in New York. But it's just the people out there that decide what is going to get played. I don't look at it like biased like that.
MVRemix: Does being a Wu affiliate help your career or put a lot of pressure on you to live up to the name?
Northstar: It definitely helps our career guaranteed, because there is really no pressure involved in it. It really helps us because Wu is really out there, it’s a strong family based named. It really helped us a lot as far as understanding who we are and moving the way we move right now. There really wasn't any pressure because we expected to do what the older gods did.
MVRemix: Did Rza put any pressure on you guys while making the album?
Northstar: It was more open, there really wasn't any pressure because we already knew what had and what we were dealing with. There was really more company pressure if anything.
MVRemix: So the industry is definitely shady?
Northstar: Yeah, the industry is definitely cold. It's a cold piece of work, as I'm learning. It's not a game.
MVRemix: So what's the coldest thing you guys have experienced?
Northstar: It's just like going through all of this really. You gotta be strong because one day you got this the next day you got that. You got different things, interviews, getting your album pushed back, all kind of things that go on. We just stayed strong and kept our head up and moved through.
MVRemix: What is the main misconception, if any, about Northstar?
Northstar: That we are from the East Coast. A lot of people think that, especially when we heard our little songs on "The Storm" and "The Sting".
MVRemix: Is there anything y'all regret doing in your career so far, or would want to take back?
Northstar: No, just keep it moving. Everything is a stepping stool, it’s a learning process.
MVRemix: Aight, now I'm just gonna ask you some random questions. Who is the best emcee ever in your opinion?
Northstar: Best emcee ever? Man, I really don't have one, I have a few names. I would probably go with Rakim personally. I like Rakim, Krs One, a lot of old school dudes.
MVRemix: What was the best album you heard in 2003?
Northstar: I would have to say….man there really hasn't been too much out there, it's been too watered down. So I would say "Birth Of A Prince", as far as I heard.
MVRemix: Best emcee in the Wu?
Northstar: All of them are the best.
MVRemix: If you had to choose one, I know its tough, but just one.
Northstar: All of the guys are the best, I'll just say Northstar baby.
MVRemix: Worst emcee or artist in the game right now?
Northstar: I give everybody they credit because they wouldn't be in the game if they didn’t push. They didn't just wake up and make it happen, so I couldn’t really say because there is no worst to me. Because everybody is striving and struggling.
MVRemix: But there are a lot of candy ass emcees though, know what I'm saying.
Northstar: Yeah, you know that. At the same time though they pushing, they just not sitting on their asses.
MVRemix: Aight, how do you feel about the whole Eminem situation? Do you think he is racist or what is your whole opinion on that?
Northstar: Eminem is a cool kid, but I don't know about him being racist and all that. He is who he is, he can't stop of being who he is. So I don't have a comment on that basically, he can do what ever the fuck he wants to do. But we did run into him, Christ Bearer ran into him at a little battle before he got signed with Dre back in the day.
MVRemix: For real, what happened with that?
Northstar: Christ Bearer served him, real bad! He had his little girls over there, some little females over there standing with RZA right where we got signed in. And he was telling us he was gonna sign with Dre, and Christ Bearer was like "yeah right, you just a white boy". He (Christ Bearer) told him to come up stairs because we was all in these little housing things were little kids stay at and where we stayed at to do studio work and people who do commercials and shit like that. So everybody stayed in this one big old place, so they ran into him and had a battle and stuff. It was a fresh little battle and stuff, it was nothing.
MVRemix: He (Christ Bearer) tore him up?
Northstar: Yeah, he ripped him. Had his little girls, one damn near wanted to leave with him.
MVRemix: Aight, what is Northstar's long term goal in this game?
Northstar: Just to stay fresh and keep that truth moving all over the globe. Just to let everybody know about Northstar.
MVRemix: Are you working on your next album? When should we expect that?
Northstar: We are moving on it right now. We got a couple of hits that we are moving right now.
MVRemix: And is that going to be on Koch Records?
Northstar: I can't say, I really don't know.
MVRemix: Besides the album, what's in store for Northstar in the immediate future
Northstar: Basically just the album, not too much, this is the game right here. We'll stay moving, traveling, doing shows.
MVRemix: Are you going to be touring a lot?
Northstar: The last tour we just did was with Rza & Das Efx. Rza had got hurt out there in L.A., so we had to end that tour. We are scheduled to go back on at the end of this month (January). I am not for sure with who, but for certain with Rza, maybe Method Man.
MVRemix: Any last words?
Northstar: Northstar for life baby, and pick up the album!