Xxxchange conducted by Todd E. Jones  

XXXChange Says, 'YoYoYo!' to Spank Rock

July 2006

Hip-hop music is fucking beautiful when it blows your mind. Don't you love it when you hear an artist or a song and you say to yourself, "Damn! That's dope!". Hip-hop is magnificently stimulating when an artist and/or a producer give listeners something completely fresh. The influences may be prevalent, but the final product is innovative and unique. The music of Spank Rock possessesXxxchange interview this power. The emcee, Spank Rock (Naeem) and his producer, XXXChange have solidified a musical bond. They have the chemistry of legendary duos like Guru & Premier or Eric B. & Rakim. As Spank Rock rhymes his brash lyrics, XXXChange produces inimitably vigorous beats. Together, they have created some of the most exciting, coolest, and fun hip-hop music in a very long time. Spank's odd flow is accentuated by a feminine vocal tone. Regardless of his cadence, Spank uses a fervent confidence to deliver his sexually hardcore lyrics. The perfect fuel for Spank's rhymes, XXXChange's production work consists of thick electronic melodies and rhythms. The typical hip-hop heard on the radio sounds boring compared to Spank Rock.

Hailing from Baltimore (Maryland), Spank Rock and XXXChange signed to the European label, Big Dada (subsidiary of Ninja Tune Records). Big Dada is also home to other underground hip-hop artists like King Geedorah (MF Doom), Ty, Roots Manuva, Cloudheaded, Busdriver, Infesticons, Majesticons, and New Flesh. Spank Rock's first single on Big Dada sparked some attention due to the title, "Put That Pussy On Me". A listener without knowledge of their past may assume that they are European. The sound, flows, lyrics, styles, and production is unlike typical American hip-hop music. Their single, "Rick Rubin" pays homage to the old-school hip-hop innovator. The b-side, "Rick Rubin-President Evil Remix" features Pase Rock (of Five Deez) contributing a mind-blowing performance with an old-school energy. Their next single, "Sweet Talk" is a magnificent track with a hardcore sexual energy. The chanting of the white girls, during the song's finale, is a perfect example of their fun and creativity.

Released on Big Dada Records, Spank Rock's debut album, "YoYoYoYoYoYo" is destined to be a modern classic. Not only does the album include "Rick Rubin" and "Sweet Talk", the tight LP also includes magnificent songs like "Coke & Wet", "Bump", "What It Look Like", and "Backyard Betty". Without any performance footage of Spank or XXXChange, the "Backyard Betty" video only consists of a shaking booty. "YoYoYoYoYoYo" never gives the listener the urge to skip a track. Instead, the listener will be replaying the album until the CD or vinyl is worn out. From start to finish, "YoYoYoYoYoYo" is innovative, fun, aggressive, odd, psychedelic, rude, sexy, and brash. Spank Rock and XXXChange have created an LP that reignites that refreshing feeling when you first heard hip-hop. Hip-hop has always been dope, but Spank Rock and XXXChange had to remind us.

MVRemix: What goes on?

Xxxchange: Yo.

MVRemix: The new Spank Rock album, 'YoYoYoYoYo' was just released on Big Dada Records. Tell us about the album.

Xxxchange: We started making 'YoYoYoYoYo' a couple of years ago, with no real idea that it was ever going to be released or get half the attention that it is now receiving. We really just did it for fun and for the love of the music. I think that if we knew that the record would make it this far into the public eye, we probably would have edited a lot of stuff out. It's kind of like being caught with your pants down. Still, there's some really good spontaneous stuff on there.

MVRemix: Is there some deeper meaning behind the title, 'Yo Yo Yo' ?

Xxxchange: Not really. It's actually 'YoYoYoYoYo'. It sounds funny when journalists have to say it in interviews.

MVRemix: Favorite song on the 'YoYoYoYoYo'?

Xxxchange: Probably 'Sweet Talk' or 'Rick Rubin'. I like 'Backyard Betty' too, but I think we fucked up the structure of it.

MVRemix: Which song took the longest to create from conception to completion? Why?

Xxxchange: Naeem originally did 'Rick Rubin' four or five years ago with a guy from Philly named Steve Mcready. I did some engineering for them and ended up with the multi-track parts to it. Two years ago, after we finished 'Backyard Betty', I thought that I could make the vocal from 'Rick Rubin' fit in with some of the stuff we had been working on. So, I put it over a new beat and changed the arrangement a little. I remixed a lot of the songs on the record, so that they would fit better with each other as I learned how to produce, make beats, et cetera. The sound of the record is really just me learning and trying to update stuff, so that it didn't sound crappy next to the newer stuff.

MVRemix: What inspired the song, 'Coke & Wet'? Tell us about that track.

Xxxchange: [No answer]

MVRemix: Do you do many overdubs while recording?

Xxxchange: Vocal overdubs? Not really. We try and get a whole verse in one shot. Sometimes, we'll do a punch in. On the faster stuff, 'Girls And Boys', we did some more standard punching in type stuff. Naeem did the verses on 'Competition' in one take each. I like to keep the feel kind of loose. Sometimes, he will be writing as we go along. We just try to get it down so he can live with it for a while. Then, he'll come back and do it in one take.

MVRemix: The cover for 'YoYoYoYoYo' is very original and timeless. I love it. Was this your idea? Tell us about making the cover?

Xxxchange: Brent Rollins did it.

MVRemix: When creating a track, do you have a set theme or idea, or do you create the music first?

Xxxchange: We'll usually start with a beat. Sometimes, we'll record Naeem's lyrics. Then, I'll go back and totally change the beat to fit the lyrics better.

MVRemix: What was the recording process like for the 'YoYoYoYoYo' LP? How was it different from other times?

Xxxchange: It's just been the two of us dicking around in my bedroom studio. We watched a lot of cartoons.

MVRemix: Musically, what else have you been working on?

Xxxchange: Lots of remixes, stuff for Amanda Blank, Kid Sister, and lots of remixes and beats.

MVRemix: What are some of your favorite drum machines / samplers?

Xxxchange: I did the whole record on a $500 Pro-Tools system. I think I had one synthesizer that I used on one track. Pretty much every sound on the record comes from sample CDs and recordings that I did at home. I did a lot of sound design and signal processing to get the result that I wanted from this simple set-up. Using Pro-Tools, instead of an MPC, allowed me to really be creative with the vocal editing and arrangements, as opposed to making the beat and passing it off to somebody else.

>>> continued...

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