Mastermind Interview - Thursday, November 16, 2000 at Upper Deck in Fredericton, NB
From Mastermind & Choclairís Coast To Coast tour.
Interviewer:† Troy Neilson
Interviewee:† MastermindCheck out Mastermind's Webpage!
Troy: Were you feeling the crowd tonight?
Mastermind: Oh yeah man, shit was hot!† Iíve never been out here before and it was a good time.† When you go on tour to places youíve never been itís kinda hard to feel up the crowd, especially being a DJ, youíre never sure what tracks you should bring to play because you donít know what people are going to be into.† They (the crowd) got down to everything we did.† It was hot man!
Troy:† Yeah, the response to the next single (ďBump!Ē by Choclair & Mr. Roam) wasÖ
Mastermind:† Oh yeah, hey dude (to Lee Roy Brown, DJ for Choclair), we played ďBump!Ē and the song, they were singing it.
Lee Roy Brown (Choclairís DJ):† They were singing it!?
Pete (the photographer):† Hey Choclair, you gonna do ďSuaveĒ tonight?†
Troy: You mean ďSuave Dirt Dogs.Ē (Choclairís unreleased track with Ol Dirty Bastard)
Choclair: †(chuckles), nah Ol Dirty Bastard couldnít make it tonight.
Lee Roy Brown:† Yeah, he missed his flight. (sarcastically)
Solitair:† Iím his replacement.
Troy:† (to Choclair) What was the bonus track at the end of the Beenie Man album that you were featured on?† There was no title given for it.
Choclair:† Original Tune (remix) with me & Beenie on his album.
Troy:† So this is your first time down to New BrunswickÖ
Mastermind:† Yeah, this is my first time.
Troy:† What do you think so far?
Mastermind:† We came in when it was dark, so I didnít really get to see.† But it looks kinda quiet and quaint.† It just looks like a small city that would be a couple hours outside of Toronto.† I have seen any of it, so I donít know what to say.
Troy:† Youíve been quite a few places across Canada with this tour.† Where did you get the best response?
Mastermind: This was definitely one of them.† From a vibe perspective, Vancouver was hot. London (Ontario) was hot.† To be honest with you, every spot of the tour that Iíve been on from Banff to Whistler, in Calgary, itís been hot.† And this is no exception, we came out here not knowing what to expect and you guys have kept it right up there.
Troy:† Yeah, thereís a grand desire for rap down here.†
Mastermind:† Itís hot.
Troy:† We hadnít had a rap artist here since Maestro in 1987 or 1988.
Mastermind:† Wow! (awestruck)
Troy:† In this your first large scale tour?
Mastermind:† Yeah, its my first large-scale, in support of my album (ĎVolume 50: Street Legalí).† Weíre out here promoting.
Troy:† How did you get hooked up with Choclair?
Mastermind:† Well, weíre on the same label (Virgin records) and Chocs had to headline a tour because every one heís been on, he hasnít been the headliner.† And this one, they wanted him to headline.† Itís a good way for his audience, him being a gold plus artist (over 500, 000 albums sold), for me to be introduced to them.† Because not everybody in Canadaís gonna know me.† Iíve got wide-scale release and heís (Choclair) on my lead single, so it just tied in.† Itís a family thing.† Iíve been doing radio for years in Toronto and Choclairís been one of the artistís Iíve supported through the years.†
Troy:† Yeah, itís a good way to get known, because no one had really heard of Mastermind and most people were coming out to see Choclair.† So itís great exposure for you.
Mastermind:† Thatís what itís about, totally.
Troy:† I listened to your album and I must say that it was pretty tight.† When I first picked it up, I suspected that it might be like Mack 10ís ĎHoo Bangin: The Mix Tape Vol 1.í† I didnít like that album much cause the scratching was ill-placed and it felt like he cut up the songs.† But with your album, the cuts and scratches didnít hurt the songs.
Mastermind:† See Iíve always had a philosophy that you can do some cutting and scratching, but you want to keep it to a minimum because people still want to hear the song.† Thatís what I tried to do:† A few tricks here and there, a couple back & forths, but I want people to hear the song and thatís what itís about.† Itís ultimately about the song by adding a bit of flavor to it.
Troy:† Are you doing a video for any tracks?
Mastermind:† ďBump!Ē Itís the lead single featuring Choclair & Mr. Roam.
Troy:† Do you know when itís going to be released?
Mastermind:† Probably in about 3 weeks.† Weíre filming it next week and a couple weeks after that itíll be on much music.
Troy:† Any ideas on the concept?
Mastermind:† Itís a party vibe because the song is a real bumping club track, radio track so weíre gonna keep it on that vibe.† I donít really want to let to much out the bag cause we havenít filmed it yet, so I donít know.† Shit can change.
Troy:† I checked out Mastermind50.com and youíve got a top ten ďFreshĒ list.† How do you pick those tracks?
Mastermind: Itís kinda like what Iím vibing with, what I think is hot.† I havenít changed that for about 3 weeks because of the tour.† Itís a way to expose new music, especially if I get exclusive tracks that no one else has.† Itís a way for me to showcase that.† Itís what Iím feeling, whatever I think is hot.
Troy: Itís probably also a good place to give Canadian underground artists exposure too.
Mastermind:† I give underground artists exposure on my show thatís the best place for it.† The showís broadcast over the Internet to people outside of Toronto.† The show itself is broadcast in 6 markets in southern Ontario over 3 different frequencies.† Itís got the biggest amount of reach as far as listeners.
Troy:† Do you know if it reaches Ottawa?† Cause thatís where Iím headed in January.
Mastermind:† Nah, but you can get over the Internet at www.energyradio.ca.† Thatís where I expose, cause Iím a big supporter of good Canadian hip hop.†
Troy:† Yeah, especially with your mix-CD (in reference to ĎVolume 50: Street Legalí).
Mastermind: Oh yeah.† We went into this with the concept of upping the anti as far as Canadian hip hop was concerned to showcase the talent and mixing it in with the American stuff so that people wouldnít complain about all the American stuff being at the beginning of the cd and all the Canadian stuff is at the end.† I donít do my stuff like that.† I started the album with a Canadian track:† Saukrates & Brassmunk.† They ripped it right from the beginning of the cd.
Troy:† Yeah, Brassmunk had a track on Rap Essentials 2000 and I liked his style.
Mastermind:† Itís a band actually.† Thereís four guys in the group.† Theyíre hot.
Troy:† With your underground tracks, like with K-Os and such.† As long as you can get the exposure and sales, itíll be good exposure for those artists.
Mastermind:† The cd is a mixed cd.† People gotta know it, they gotta feel it, theyíre gonna know whatís on the album.† Originally when I was doing mixtapes, they were all about breaking records.† They werenít about taking the hottest joints and putting them all on one tape.† And thatís what weíre doing on this and thatís why on this tour.† We play a lot of tracks on this album.† When people are dancing, if they like a song, theyíre gonna go out and get the album.
Troy: For your mixtape, I thought youíre two weakest tracks were NWAís ďChin CheckĒ and Ice Cubeís ďHelloĒ just because they didnít seem to fit in.
Mastermind: Wow.† NWAís ďChin CheckĒ is such a hot track.† ďHelloĒ, yeah.† But NWA is amazing.
Troy:† I donít know, I just wasnít feeling the beat.† The lyrics are tightÖ
Mastermind:† That song is amazing to me.
Troy:† Thatís just me.†
Troy:† Would you consider yourself one of the prominent DJís in Canada?
Mastermind:† Thatís not really for me to determine.† Iím just out there doing my thing.† If people like what I do and they appreciate it and theyíre down with it, then thatís cool.
Troy:† Iím sure youíre just being nonchalant.† Youíre certainly getting exposure, so you must be doing something right.
Mastermind:† Itís cool.† Iím not mad.
Troy:† have there been any other Canadian hip hop mixtapes released commercially?
Mastermind:† I did one previous to thisÖ
Troy:† Volume 49?
Mastermind:† No, no, no.† It was independent.† The obscene underground series called Ďassí.† Itís all underground hip hop.† The biggest name on it was Canibus.† That came out in February of this year.† I liked it.† The same kind of Mastermind mixtape.† In terms of other hip hop albums, I donít know.† There are R&B mix albums, but not real hip hop.
Troy:† Nah, thereís nothing similar to yours.
Mastermind:† Yeah, not the way I did it.† So, no.
Troy:† That makes the album even more impressive.† I understand volume 49 was distributed for free.† How could someone get their hands on that?
Mastermind:† Where did we put 49 out dude (to Kevin ďIceĒ White, Virgin Records Promotions and National Street Team Co-Ordinator)?
Kevin ďIceĒ White:† We put it out this summer.
Mastermind:† Yeah, in June.
Troy:† Was it just released in Toronto area?
Mastermind:† No, we released it across the country.† To wherever the street teams and Virgin reps were.† There was an online giveaway on Mastermind50.com.† I gave them away on my radio show.† Weíve been giving away some while on tour.
Troy:† Do you have any copies here?
Kevin ďIceĒ White:† Nah, I gave them all away tonight.† Sorry.
Troy:† Thatís alright.† No worries.
Mastermind:† We released Volume 49 to promote the forthcoming release, plus give some Canadian MCís some shine because it went across the countries in large quantities.† Thereís a lot of cats who donít get the across the board recognition and exposure and thatís what we wanted to do as well.† We took the cream of the crop and the small guys as well.
Troy:† When you were putting together the mixtape, did you have any trouble getting record labels to give you permission for certain artistsí material to be put on the mixtape?
Mastermind:† Yeah.† There were some tracks that didnít get to happen.† We were supposed to do more collaborations. †Xzibit was supposed to be on the album.† Pharoahe Monch was supposed to be on the album.
Troy:† Wasnít he on ďThe Light?Ē
Mastermind:† Yeah, but we were supposed to do an original track with him.† M.O.P was supposed to be on the album.
Troy:† Have you heard M.O.P.ís new album?
Troy:† What did you think?
Mastermind:† Amazing.† Itís their best album.
Mastermind:† But, thereís all kinds of red tape you have to deal with.† Either a manager doesnít get back to you on time or a record label wonít give you the clearance or their legal department takes a lot of time.† So a lot of shit didnít get to happen the way we wanted it to happen.
Troy:† So did the albumís release get pushed back any?
Mastermind:† Oh yeah, the album got pushed back 3 times.† That was because we were waiting on people.† When we couldnít wait any longer, we had to say, ďjust fuck it, weíll do it for the next one.Ē
Troy:† Do you expect a collaboration between you and Choclair on his next album?
Mastermind:† After this tour, heís going to go back into the studio.† I donít know if thereíll be a collaboration.† Weíll see how ďBump!Ē (Choclair & Mastermindís track) does in terms of its success.†
Troy:† It seems like itís going to do quite well.
Mastermind:† Yeah, Iím quite confident.† Weíll see what happens.
Troy:† Listening to your album, ďBump!Ē was the hottest track as far as club appeal is concerned.
Mastermind:† As far as club appeal, yeah.† You know, itís weird everybody has their own opinion.† A lot of people like the Kardinal & Rah Digga track (ďLights OutĒ).† People like the Brassmunk and Saukrates track.† Some people like the Nefarius & Phife Dawg song.† And then thereís the freestyles which everybody likes.† Everybodyís different.
Troy:† Whoís concept was it for the skits?
Mastermind:† Me and Russell came up with those.
Troy:† Because Iím not a big fan of skits, because most are boring.† But yours were entertaining.†
Mastermind:† Oh really.† Ok.† Cool.† We actually had 2 more.† Each freestyle was supposed to have one, but we ran out of time on the album.† We had to take Ďem out.† I was kinda pissed about that.
Troy:† Some of the better skits Iíve heard since Redman (ĎMuddy Watersí album) or Cypress Hill (ĎIVí album).
Mastermind:† Yeah, Redman had some funny-ass skits.† Funny shit.
Troy:† If you could work with any artist at all, who would it be?
Mastermind:† Anybody man, Iíve had a good time over my career with all the artists Iíve been in contact with.† Iíll work with anybody.
Troy:† So thereís no one person that you have so much respect for, that youíd just love to work with them?
Mastermind:† You know what.† Itís just that everybody Iíve met has been cool.† I mean thereís people that you respect because of the individual they are.† People you respect because of the music they do.† People you respect because of their career.† A guy like LL Cool J.† Iíve met him a lot of times.† Heís a real down to earth dude.† Heís always friendly with me.† Iíd work with him.† Heís not the most underground MC, but when he wants to, he can put out a fucking hot ass record.† Heíd be a great guy to work with.
Troy:† What are your plans after this tour?
Mastermind:† I work fulltime at the radio station back in Toronto so Iíll be on the air a lot.†
Troy:† What do you do with the show while youíre out on tour?
Mastermind:† Iím on leave from the station.† So, Iíll go back to that aspect.† Still promote and do gigs and such in Toronto. But basically promote this album and then start working on the next one.† Iíve gotta put out two albums a year.† Weíll work on the next one and weíll just keep this thing going.
Troy:† I guess thatís about it.
Mastermind:† Alright man.† Thank you.
Troy:† Thanks!† I appreciate.