Tame-One first attacked the hip-hop scene as ½ of the Newark NJ group The Artifacts. The song 'Wrong Side Of The Tracks' gave respect to graffiti artists, the art form, and the hip-hop culture. That song was a small part of the classic hip-hop debut "Between A Rock And A Hard Place". After a luke-warm response to the follow-up album ("That's Them") and internal conflicts, Artifacts (Tame-One and El Da Sensai) went their separate ways. Years went by and both emcees were M.I.A. for a long time.
Tame-One (with his crew, Boom Skwad) released some independent singles and contributed an astute verse to "A Tree Never Grown" from the "Hip-Hop For Respect" EP (an album about police brutality and Amadou Diallo.) Eventually, El Da Sensai released his solo on 7 Heads Records. Still, fans of Artifacts were yearning for Tame's solo album. They had to settle for the very cool (but extremely short) "Crazee" EP.
Fast forward to 2003… Tame-One signed with Eastern Conference Records (home of The High & Mighty, Cage, and Copywrite). Now, Tame-One, The Notty-Headed Terror is back from the dead with a brand new solo debut titled "When Rappers Attack" that is short and sweet (clocking in under 45 minutes with only 12 tracks). There is only one guest appearance and not one skit on the entire LP. Tame-One's goal was to bring his hip-hop album back to the standards of old-school quality. With only Eastern Conference and Boom Skwad producers, Tame-One released a true solo album filled with pounding hardcore beats, incredible scratching, and a myriad of styles. On a cool Wednesday evening in New Jerusalem (NJ), Tame-One and I had a deep conversation about his new album, New Jersey love, graffiti, hip-hop, drugs, and The Artifacts. Tame-One, the Notty-Headed Terror, is back and he is about to attack!
MVRemix: Your new debut solo album is called 'When Rappers Attack'. What is the meaning behind the title?
Tame One: It was a parody on those TV shows 'Animals Gone Wild' and 'Girls Gone Wild' or 'Animals Attack Part 3!'. It was just something personal that made me laugh. When I first thought about it, I was going to do the whole shtick. The entire album was going to be like a show called 'When Rappers Attack!' I was going to have skits and all types of sh*t that said, 'This rapper walks into a club and blah blah blah blah blah happens.' I didn't have time to it and I didn't want it to come out all f*cked up and cheesy and have people mad at me. They would think 'Awww! Tame's trying to make some old commercial sh*t! Awwww!' It would have probably been taken the wrong way so I just left it alone.
MVRemix: Who do you have doing the production on the album?
Tame One: I got Mighty Mi on there. I have Camu Tao. RJD2 gave me a banger. Johnny Dangerous is on there. My homeboy from Boom Skwad, DJ Porno is on there. I cannot forget J-Zone. He hit me with 'Heat'!
MVRemix: I noticed that you did not use any of the producers that you worked with before on the Artifacts LPs. Why?
Tame One: Everybody wants those Star-Trak budgets or I should I say Star Wars budgets.
MVRemix: What took you so long to get your solo album out?
Tame One: Industry. I didn't want to play the industry game. After the group broke up, I chilled for like a year. Then when I came back to NY to politic, shake hands, and kiss babies. Everybody wanted his or her ass kissed and I wasn't with that. Some other venues tried to put out a single so I put out the 'Crazee EP' independently just to find out what was going on with the ins and outs. 'Trife Type Times' came out also. Fat Beats helped me put out things on an independent level. For the most part, some people were like 'Artifacts were cool but you guys didn't sell like 17 Million so we're not checking for you right now.'
MVRemix: Do you have a favorite song on 'When Rappers Attack'?
Tame One: I'd have to say 'Concerto' because the style I was using was very different for me. I like the J-Zone joints a lot too ('Tame Az It Ever Wuz' & 'Slick Talkin' & 'Heat').
MVRemix: You only have one guest on your new album. Was this done intentionally?
Tame One: Yeah. I didn't want to make a compilation album. Everybody's albums have so many guest appearances on it that it becomes one big compilation album. I just took it back to the basics. When I was doing the album, I wasn't considering doing it like a CD for today's standards. I was thinking more along the lines of back in the day's cassette type albums. 6 joints on one side and 6 joints on the other side.
MVRemix: Your album is also somewhat short compared to the typical 20 track or 70 minute-long hip-hop album. Was this done on purpose too?
Tame One: To me, I wanted it that way. Not to diss anyone else's albums but I get board listening to people's albums. It's like 'Damn! That sh*t is still on! Damn!'
MVRemix: How did you hook up with Eastern Conference to release the LP?
Tame One: I've known Mighty-Mi since the Artifacts days. At the time, Eastern Conference had an office up in Game Recordings. I was up there trying to get at Stretch Armstrong. I wanted to get on one of his projects or mix tapes or whatever. Mighty Mi was like 'That's what you're up to? You're trying to get on through this? Come over to this! Check this out!' I have always been a long time fan of Cage so I was like 'Word!'. He extended the offer and I jumped on it.
MVRemix: As an emcee, who were some of your major influences?
Tame One: The guy who made me want to rap, the original notty-headed terror, DJ Run of Run-Dmc. Redman, Kool G Rap, Boot Camp Clik.
MVRemix: What collaboration are you most proud of?
Tame One: The Artifacts with Busta Rhymes was dope. The 'C'Mon Wit Da Git Down' remix.
MVRemix: As an emcee, you are actually rowdy and energetic. You are not 'Tame' at all. How did you get your name Tame-One?
Tame One: That's just performance wise. As a general person, I'm the quiet type. I sit back in the cut. In my younger days, I was a regular terror but I've mellowed out. For the name, I just carried it over from my graffiti days. That was the name I was writing on walls. So, when I started rhyming, I didn't want people to be, 'Who are you?' Everyone was coming out with these astounding names like MC Killer Rapper and all that other nonsense. I had to be me. I had to be myself. I wanted people who knew me on the street, to know me on a record. So they could say, 'Oh, that's the Tame-One dude? That's the dude who has his name everywhere!'
MVRemix: I cannot have an interview with Tame-One and not ask about Artifacts.
Tame One: Sure you can!…. (laughs) but I like you, so I'll allow it."
MVRemix: You started out in The Artifacts. How did you meet up with El Da Sensai?
Tame One: It was a crew that we started called The Boss Mob. We had a lot of different emcees and DJ's from the Newark, NJ area. Jay Burnz Jaya went to school with El. He was a mutual friend. Anyway, Jay Burnz brought El by the studio one day. Being the new emcee in the house, we wanted to do joints with people. So, we did a joint and the chemistry was just so off-the-wall. We just ran with it. I think it was like 86 or 87.
MVRemix: How did Artifacts get their deal?
Tame One: I had won an over-the-phone freestyle battle on Stretch Armstrong & Bobbito's show. First prize was to come up to the radio station and spit it live. I was down with El at the time so I brought him up there. We ran up there and spit for like 20 minutes straight. At the time, Stretch Armstrong was the A&R at Big Beat Records. The next day, he took the tape from the station and played it for his other A&R partner, Reef, at Big Beat Atlantic. Then, they made the offer.
MVRemix: Which LP do you like more? 'Between A Rock And A Hard Place' or 'That's Them'?
Tame One: I like the first one just for sentimental reasons. To me, I just knew it was a classic.
MVRemix: What happened to The Artifacts? Why did you break up?
Tame One: Internal conflict, man. I think we just got tired of each other.
MVRemix: On your website, you said Artifacts will probably never get back together. IS that true?
Tame One: Yeah. I doubt it.
MVRemix: Did you hear El Da Sensai's solo album? What did you think of it?
Tame One: I heard a couple of joints but not the album as a whole.
MVRemix: Angel Dust, PCP, Phencyclidine… is the main theme on 'Leak Music'. Did you ever smoke 'Crazy Eddie'?
Tame One: Crazy Eddie! Yeah, back in the days.
MVRemix: Do you think Angel Dust is something that is getting more popular in hip-hop culture or was it just always there and not many people talked about it?
Tame One: To tell the truth, I think it has always been there. The effects are just so mind-blowing that nobody wants to talk about it (laughs). I've had my little history on it and I found out that I'm not going to put everyone else on blast. But, it's always been there. It's just not that popular. It's not a popular topic to be talking about it on the level.
MVRemix: In a previous interview, you stated that during the recording of the 'Hip Hop For Respect' EP, that it was a good cause but there were many inflated egos in the room. Can you explain that further?
Tame One: There was a bunch of whispering going on. In a whole room filled with emcees, certain groups went off to the side and you can tell that they were talking about people. It was not that 'We Are The World' friendly vibe that it could have been.
MVRemix: I talked to Breezly Brewin from The Juggaknots and he said that the Rawkus brass (not Talib Kweli or Mos Def) were acting a little strange.
Tame One: I'm glad to know that I wasn't the only one who felt that way.
MVRemix: The song 'Wrong Side Of The Tracks' helped bring Graf into the spotlight more. Do you think Graf became a little trendy there for a while?
Tame One: No, just because of the fact that those who can, do. In a way, it could of happened. I remember that there were a lot of people who really couldn't do graffiti, who just jumped into it out of nowhere. They started bombing and what not, but it fizzled out. They really couldn't rock. They gave it the college try but…
MVRemix: Where do you see the future of graffiti?
Tame One: Yeah, as an art-form, it has no choice but to grow. In the case of the Newark, New Jersey graffiti artists, there is a communication gap and a generation gap. There's nobody passing down the torch. When I was younger and coming up, I had many influences. I could have found somebody and went to them and said, 'Teach me this! Teach me that!' Nowadays, people are like 'Nah! You're not worthy!'
MVRemix: Graffiti is a world-wide art-form. What country or city had the best pieces?
Tame One: The Europeans were getting busy. Out in Sweden, they were getting busy. That's because they let it thrive and flourish. They give people places to paint.
MVRemix: In the U.S. (and NJ especially), are the cops cracking down on graffiti more and more?
Tame One: Oh yeah! Oh yeah! They're giving you time like you killed somebody out here. Where it used to be a slap on the wrist, they are giving you hard time right now. Especially at my age, they say things like 'You're old enough to know better.' They'll give you time.
MVRemix: What emcees would you like to collaborate with in the future?
Tame One: I still want to be in a rip-roaring recording session with Redman, where brothers are actually just spitting! Ghostface too. I'm open for anything right now. I don't want to be picky. Whatever vibe is right.
MVRemix: What producers would you like to collaborate with in the future?
Tame One: Pete Rock, Premo too. You know who I want joints from? I want to go through Easy Moe Bee's shoebox, yo! I know he has some joints that he's not letting anybody hear! He's just sitting on them! After Biggie's first LP, it's like he disappeared after that.
MVRemix: Do you go into the studio with your rhymes pre-written or do you write then and there when you hear the beat?
Tame One: Both. There have been times when I go into the studio with written-rhymes and at the spur of the moment, the vibe changed and I had to write something fresh.
MVRemix: Do you do one more than the other?
Tame One: It depends with who I'm working with. Some producers, it's a must. They are like 'Before we even go in, you have to have it written.' Some other producers are like 'Whatever you feel.' So, it varies.
MVRemix: What was the last incident of racism you experienced?
Tame One: Aw, coming through Penn Station. It wasn't that major but it was an incident nonetheless. I was coming through Penn Station, New York and just casually bumped into somebody by accident and got called the N-word. I let it slide.
MVRemix: Abortion: Pro-life or pro-choice?
Tame One: Pro-choice.
MVRemix: Death penalty- for or against?
Tame One: Against.
MVRemix: Where were you on Sept. 11th? How did you deal with it and how do you think it will affect hip-hop?
Tame One: I was home writing raps and I was shook because my moms works in New York. When the newsflash came on, I was shook. I was like 'Oh Sh*t! What's the deal? New York is about to explode and my moms is over there!' It was crazy.
MVRemix: What is the worst hip-hop fad?
Tame One: These R&B collaborations.
MVRemix: One thing Artifacts never did was have a cheesy R&B hook.
Tame One: Yeah, we did. The B-side for The Bricks City Kids joint. They called it 'The What What'. While we were recording it, we knew it was wack. When we heard it while we were playing it back, at the end of the session, we were all like 'Nah! No way! Nah! No one is ever going to hear this.' Then, a couple of years later, I'm surfing the Internet and I see Brick City Kids 'The What What'. I was pissed.
MVRemix: What has been in your cd player or on your turntable these days?
Tame One: I'm still listening to Cage's 'Movies For The Blind'. Notorious B.I.G.'s 'Ready To Die', and Raekwon's 'Only Built 4 Cuban Linx' mostly. Nas's new joint too. That's in the CD player right now.
MVRemix: That first joint on Nas's new 'God's Son' album called 'Get Down' is dope.
Tame One: Hell yeah! That and that song 'Last Real N*gga Alive', I hit repeat at least 50 times.
MVRemix: In one phrase or sentence, how would you describe growing up in Newark, NJ?
Tame One: Stress, ses, and interest.
MVRemix: Was the slang term 'New Jerusalem' for 'New Jersey' created from you and Artifacts or did you just help bring it into the spotlight?
Tame One: It was like ghetto slang. At the time, we were hanging with Brand Nubians. The God's & The Earth's would be casually like 'Y'all from New Jerusalem!'. But, like I said on the album, 'Who did you think made it cool to say New Jerusalem?'
MVRemix: What do you think hip-hop is lacking these days?
Tame One: A reality check. That's all. The purity of it is gone. You used to be able to look into somebody's eyes who was doing something hip-hop related and see the love and fascination and admiration of creating something. Nowadays, it's just show me the check! Show me the check! It's like people are taking it for granted. People may think it's gonna thrive and do what it does without making an active contribution or consciously thinking 'Yo! This is for the preservation of the culture'. Let me get down off of my soapbox.
MVRemix: Redman is a strong part of Newark's hip-hop culture. Is that you on 'Rated R' from Redman's 'Whut! The Album'?
Tame One: Yup! That was me when Reggie yells 'What's the flavor Tame?', I yell 'F*ck what cha heard!'
MVRemix: Have you always known Redman? Was Redman somewhat instrumental in getting you started in the industry?
Tame One: Nah. As a matter of fact, when I first hooked up with Redman, it was through MC El. El Da Sensai met him first. When he met Redman, El said, 'Yo! He's just like you! He smokes a lot of weed, blah, blah blah. The mannerisms and the way y'all act, you gotta meet this kid! You gotta meet him!' So, when I finally hooked up with Redman, it was like meeting a long lost brother.
MVRemix: You were credited as being on Redman's 'Doc's Da Name' album on a song called 'Close Ya Doorz'. Were you really on that song?
Tame One: No! That's the biggest misconception in the industry about me now. They even have it on my bio. There are 2 versions of that song. One had me and Rah Digga on it. But, when it came out, I wasn't on it. Rah Digga wasn't on it either. But, they still had my name on the credits. They keep giving me dap for that kid Double-O's verse. 'What if I put you in a headlock and fall with you?' That ain't me. Big ups to my man Double-O.
MVRemix: What was it like recording Redman's 'Whut! The Album'?
Tame One: Ah, man! It was the greatest rush on the planet. At the time, he was the dopest n*gga… period! To be there and watch him do his sh*t!? There was nothing like it! It's like a Michael Jackson fan being at the recording studio when he was making 'Thriller'. The sh*t was real! I hate to sum it up like that but the sh*t was real.
MVRemix: What was the first song you ever recorded?
Tame One: On my first demo tape, I was the first motherf*cker to have that Misdemeanor loop that Shyne used for 'Dat's Gangsta'. We used to kill that. The first release was 'Do You Want To Hear It?' with Nubian Crackers.
MVRemix: Word association time. I'm going to say a name of an emcee or group and you say the first word that pops in your head. So, if I said 'Flavor Flav', you may 'Crack' or 'Clock'. Okay?
Tame One: Yeah!
Tame One: Dope!
Tame One: Aiight.
MVRemix: Diezzel Don
Tame One: Master P.
Tame One: The Don.
MVRemix: Del The Funky Homosapian
Tame One: Ah, that's my dog! Ah, man! Now, I'm about to start crying. That's a slept on genius there.
MVRemix: Deltron 3030 is a modern hip-hop classic.
Tame One: Yeah, but it goes over too many people's heads. You have to be in a certain mind state to listen to that. What!? 'Mistadobalina'!
MVRemix: El Da Sensai
Tame One: No.
MVRemix: Ja Rule
Tame One: Nah.
Tame One: Aiight.
Tame One: No.
MVRemix: What about 50 Cent?
Tame One: What about him? He's a millionaire. What about him? Nothing I say could possibly matter to him since he's a millionaire.
MVRemix: Method Man.
Tame One: I miss him. Will his new album be super glam glossy Hollywood or will it be grimey Method Man?
MVRemix: Kool Keith.
Tame One: Aw sh*t! Left Field! Oh yeah! The originator!
MVRemix: What advice would you give to an up and coming artist trying to make it in the music business?
Tame One: Stay true to yourself. Don't let the hype in the industry f*ck with you. Just stay true to yourself. Just keep doing what made you want to do this in the first place. It's easy to get blind-sided once you start to rub elbows with these motherf*ckers! Your whole agenda can change."
MVRemix: Your new album took a while to come out but did it take a long time to actually record and put the songs together?
Tame One: Once I got going, it was the snowball effect. I was selfish with it. At first, I wanted to do the entire album in Jersey. I didn't want to go into New York for sh*t. Then, I realized that it wasn't going to happen that way. So, I had to buckle down and get my ass on that train. Once the ball got rolling, there weren't any problems with it.
MVRemix: Jay Burnz did an amazing verse on 'Attack Of New Jerusalem' from the debut Artifacts LP. Will we hear from him again?
Tame One: He has the most incredible verses! You'll hear him on the 2nd album. No doubt! I would've thrown him on this album but I wanted to keep it this way. I had a distinct frame of mind with this album. This was going to be my album to test the waters to find out if I'm still accepted. If doors open up, boom! Let's go!
MVRemix: How are people receiving it?
Tame One: To tell the truth, in Jersey, it's hard as f*ck to find! Please print that! Distribution is bananas, man! People I play it for love it but do not know where to get it from. Go to my website www.tame-one.com
MVRemix: I read many positive reviews for 'When Rappers Attack'.
Tame One: I caught a couple of dark reviews. For the most part, they have been favorable but I caught a few darts. People be like (talking in funny voice) 'It's short as f*ck! He's not saying sh*t that no one else hasn't said!'. I caught a few darts but in order for me to take the good criticism, I'm going to have to take the bad.
MVRemix: Do you have a favorite movie?
Tame One: I have a couple of them. 'Dumb & Dumber' and 'Empire Strikes Back'. Also, 'Goodfellas'. I can watch those endlessly. 'Empire Strikes Back' is the epitome of space movies.
MVRemix: Drug of choice?
Tame One: Marijuana.
MVRemix: Do you still smoke a lot or have you mellowed out a bit?
Tame One: Yeah. I'm guilty as charged. I'm a f*cking weed head. I'm a pothead. I'm a stoner.
MVRemix: Blunts? Joints? Bongs? What's your preferred method?
Tame One: I do it all. Papers, bong hits. My preference is Dutch Masters Corona Deluxe. I like the slow burn. It's the greatest.
MVRemix: The song 'The Moment I Feared' was a remake of a Slick Rick track. What other classic hip-hop song would you like to remake?
Tame One: There's a couple of joints but I don't know if I would do them real justice so I'm hesitant to spit the titles out. There's a couple of Biggie joints that I would like to try. I told Cage that I would like to do a remake of 'Agent Orange' over. Just for the fans out there… if Artifacts ever got back together, I would try to do 'Sucker MC's' by Run-Dmc over.
MVRemix: What are some major misconceptions do you think people have of you?
Tame One: That all I do is write graffiti. Some people think that I'm not an emcee. I'm just a graffiti writer who tries to rap. Hey man, for the first couple of years in the Artifacts, it was like that B. I used to run up on emcees and tell them how much I liked them and I could see it in their face they were thinking 'Yeah, yeah, kid. Go write on something'.
MVRemix: What do you want on your epitaph (your gravestone)?
Tame One: Not the date. I'm still alive! Damn! That's some deep sh*t. I think I would like it to say 'He was real with his.'
MVRemix: What is next for Tame-One in the future?
Tame One: Definitely count on another album on Eastern Conference. I'm trying to put Boom Skwad out so you can hear more of Jay Burnz Jaya, my man Mellow Max, Gruff Rhino, DJ Porno and my little click. I'm just grinding, man. I'm just trying to put this music out there. There's a demand for it, I'm trying to supply it.
MVRemix: I thought that b-side on the 'Crazee' EP called 'Boom Skwad On Attack' had some dope performances.
Tame One: Man, that's just the tip of the iceberg. They've got styles upon styles upon styles.
MVRemix: Any last words for the people who will read this?
Tame One: I know it's hard to find right now, but please pick up that album 'When Rappers Attack'! I need these sales to prove to motherf*ckers that I can still do it. Don't let me just be fresh in my room. It was a cool interview, man. I thought it was going to be another one of those 'blah blah blah' type interviews but it was cool, man! We need that New Jersey love! We got to band together! Also, make sure you tell people to check out my site, www.tame-one.com