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The Longshots - conducted by Bill "Low Key" Heinzelman  

The Longshots - Against All Odds

June 2005

Consisting of Crayon and Rock Shabazz, The Longshots are a Queens based duo brining back the true essence of New York City Hip Hop. With a boom bap feel and a take no shit approach, Rock and Crayon are looking to stake a name for themselves with their debut album Hunger Music. MVRemix got the chance to speak with The Longshots about their album, as well as their history in this game.

MVRemix: Crayon and Rock, where were each of you born and raised, and what was it like growing up there for you?

Crayon: I was born and raised in South Jamaica Queens. Growing up there was good. Like a lot of the kids, I was infatuated with the streets, but things like sports and theater kept me out of serious trouble.

Rock-S: I was born in Canada. I moved to Hollis Queens in my teens. I was raised in a blatantly racist environment in my formative years in Canada, which made me fearless and aware. Canada is a close second to the American South in racism. Moving to New York exposed me to the self-hate my people got for each other so I felt the contrast of both worlds and experienced two different shades of hatred and sides of poverty.

MVRemix: What is your first memory of Hip Hop?

Crayon: My first memory was like in 4th grade. We had Show-and-Tell and this kid brought in a Tribe Called Quest tape. The teacher let him put it on and everybody had known the words to "The Scenario" and rapped along. I was amazed at this and hated when people knew about something I didn't so I went out and researched about Hip-Hop and fell in love with it.

Rock-S: I remember Run-DMC performed for like 2 seconds at some award show, I think the Grammy's. We had taped the whole show and I kept rewinding their part. They came on right after Lou Reed and they just blew him out the frame. They were so loud and aggressive, dressed all in black and Hip-Hop was still new so they really shocked the crowd. That and dubbing the "Bigger and Deffer" tape when I was like 6.

MVRemix: What was the one album each of you listened to over and over growing up?

Rock-S: Illmatic. That album wasn't flashy musically or lyrically, and by that I mean that Nas wasn't barking, he was very subdued and mellow but razor-sharp. The beats were jazzy and not too aggressive like some beats of that era so it was something that didn't tire your ears after a while. Plus it was short and cohesive so you could play it constantly. That album is scary considering he was like 19-20 years old.

Crayon: Mobb Deep's The Infamous. I never had one album I stayed with but Infamous had to be the soundtrack of my younger years.

MVRemix: How did you guys get into rhyming?

Crayon: I started out freestyling for fun and then I used to get so bored in school I started to write raps down and spit them at lunch time.

Rock: I don't remember too much but knowing me it had to be some type of get-rich-quick scheme. I know it happened on the low. I didn't do it for girls or props. I just wanted all the stuff wack rappers got so I can get out of poverty.

MVRemix: Why the name Crayon and Rock Shabazz?

Crayon: Crayon is a nickname given to me by my family. See my moms has an accent and when she yells my government name it sounds like she calling me "crayon".

Rock Shabazz: Rock is a nickname. I don't remember where it comes from, I just know they started calling me that out in Flatbush. Shabazz is Islamic. The knowledge is that the So-called Negro in America is from the Lost-and Found Tribe of Shabazz, the original man of the planet Earth, and since a tribe is synonymous with family, then Shabazz is the last name.

MVRemix: How did you guys meet up and form The Longshots?

Crayon: Working in a department store I met Rock. We started talking about Hip-Hop and clicked from there.

Rock: Yeah. Plus we pretty much had the same goals and were taking the same approach of harassing established rappers in the streets and running around chasing fake CEO's to get on so we joined forces.

MVRemix: For those that haven't heard your music, how would you describe your style or sound?

Crayon: Straight reality music

Rock-S: It's the evolution of Hip-Hop from the point where it left off and got prostituted. We ain't old school at all but we take from there, the spirit of authenticity that Tribe had, that Wu had, and we build from there. We want to restore that feeling that only the most qualified individuals can be emcees. True street poets with a gritty, yet soulful sound.

MVRemix: What are your strong points as a group, or individually?

Crayon: I would say my delivery and flow and as a group our ability to create structured songs

Rock-S: I say what I want. I can't be censored and I really don't respect critics with no credentials or fickle fans of sensation. I'm going down shooting from the hip and I live by my word. As a group, we complement each other well but we get busy solo as well. The strong point is our dedication to longevity by producing quality music and not just flooding the market with filler just to keep our name out there. Our rep is at stake. Instead of wearing you out into loving us with jabs, we try to knock you out with every hit.

MVRemix: Tell us about your debut album Hunger Music. What can fans expect out of it?

Crayon: Fans can expect real Hip-Hop that they know and love, that East coast boom-bap sound that hasn't been around in years along with some dope lyricism.

Rock-S: The LP "Hunger Music" is what Hip-Hop sounds like when you take time to make the best product you can. When it's a labor of love and not a patent made with mass production in mind. I heard somewhere that Rakim would take months to come up with his rhymes for his LP's and to a degree we approached the album with the goal of making it timeless, from the songs to the artwork, so that you can play it 10 years from now and the LP is still dope. We tried to create a realistic time capsule for the world and for ourselves.

MVRemix: What types of concepts, issues, and topics are you dealing with on the album?

Crayon: Well, when we started out we thought the best music would come from talking about our lives, our struggle, our experience as Black men in America but what we came to find out was that our struggle wasn't exclusive to us, our race or demographic. Things like death, love, hate, ambition and depression are things that everyone can relate to.

>> continued...

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"My first memory was like in 4th grade. We had Show-and-Tell and this kid brought in a Tribe Called Quest tape. The teacher let him put it on and everybody had known the words to "The Scenario" and rapped along."