How are you doing, Ravage? What’s your current situation in New York?
I’m doing well. Can’t complain. NYC is cold for so many different reasons, but still very exciting. Everyone’s just gotta PHOKUSS …
You’re not well known here in Germany – So for those who don’t know you, could you please introduce yourself?
I am RAVAGE aka MechaGodZilla (with M.I.C). I am a producer, graphic artist, emcee and revolutionary in training. I rep a Hip Hop union called The Grassroots Artists MovEment as well. I’m definitely determined to do what I can to make hip hop interesting again so I make beats that I am told are bananas… I’ve studied under Mr. Kanamura (55 Flatbush Avenue in BK), Rodan, Judy Almer (a Hannah Barbera artist), my pops (a live wire), and some other Great Entities like my mother (I swear she is the best manifestation of God in human form… I love her very much).
How did you get involved into the whole Hip Hop culture and what were your early influences?
At the age of 4, I started b-boying. That was right when Planet Rock was getting heavy rotation on the radio. I was mad young, drawing the graphics on our cardboard pieces and getting my weight up that way with the art skills … haha … I remember crying because I wasn’t strong enough to do handspins so I mastered this move call the spider because of that one move I won a few contests in school … that move is ILL!!!! Also my pops cleans NYC trains, he worked the night shift, slept during the day. Our way of staying connected was he’d leave comic books for me in the morning just about every other week. I valued that a lot. I started drawing from that which led me to doing graf and b-boy characters at such a young age in addition to making my own comic books. Lastly, I remember for years, on weekends, mom and pops would play 45s and 33s all weekend long. I remember listening to Ashford and Simpson, Temptations, Michael Jackson, Rebbie Jackson, Vanity … haha … mad different stuff. The 4 Tops, The Moments, Al Green, Smokie and Stevie were really big in our house, too. That era for me was when the movie the LAST DRAGON popped off, a really ill time for Hip Hop and breaking. I wish people could’ve experienced that. So if you’re born after 1989 you really missed out. The early 80’s are probably the best time to be alive as far as creativity in music and culture is concerned … breakdancing in addition to MICHAEL JORDAN, Tony Dorsett & Mike Tyson … who had a Billy Jean jacket? As far as the artists themselves … Afrika Bambaata and Whodini, the Beastie Boys, Run DMC (perfection!!!), Kool Moe Dee and Big Daddy Kane, Biz Markie, Rakim, really held me down, early on Public Enemy, because they represented where I am from in Long Island, Red Alert and Marley Marl had it POPPIN back then. Big shout out for him spinning the realness back then.
What are you listening to nowadays and what are your favourite artists in the game right now?
Currently I listen to a lot of Wu-Tang classics, in addition to mad instrumentals and New M.I.C stuff. The radio situation in NYC is horrible so I don’t listen to the crap on the radio unless it’s news, house or latin music. Uhmmm … I listen to “One Day It’ll All Make Sense” by Common all the time, I like M.I.C a lot so I’m usually spinning the “Digital Tears”, “Theophany” or “Penny For You Thoughts” albums … In the game … haha….. the G.A.ME would be very boring if I didn’t listen to … haha … Phokuss from Shaolin. That’s what’s up!!! Hmmmm … Red Clay, Dead Prez, Erykah, mmmm … Björk, Gwen Stefani, Hasaan Salaam, Coldplay, Outkast … mmm, hmmm … Kwote Scriptures, Immortal Technique, Jean Grae, Pumpkinhead, Stereolab, Ghostface!!!!! The Roots … so many to name … the Foo Fighters!!! And both Alicia and Beyonce do it for me too.
What’s the origin behind your name Ravage and why did you choose Mechagodzilla as your Monsta Island alias?
The origin for RAVAGE came about when I just came home from college in 1998. I just got into production. I used to wear this dog chain (Treach from naughty by nature … nah mean). My former schoolmates in Boston were like I reminded them of DMX so I just transformed that energy to one of my favorite transformers, RAVAGE, the mech warrior dog from Soundwave’s tape deck. Just wanted to bring that energy to Hip Hop cuz RAVAGE is what I parallel. Basically RAVAGE captures sound, and a warrior with the ability to destroy, never really lost to any opposition and has the ability to transform and doesn’t really say much. I don’t bark just bite when it’s time … nah mean. As far as MechaGodzilla, here’s the history lesson, haha … January 2003, RAVAGE was physically dying in the hospital. For about 11 days I was struggling, flatlining and in my mind like I just wanna get outta the hospital and just elevate … nah mean. A few months before the hospital me and Rodan started running together making mad moves. Once day I ate a mortiferous meal with toxins that were just chillin the fuck out under a shroud of tasty food. Lets just say I found myself a week later in the hospital not being able to walk, speak, eat, or breathe. I needed to hear the M.I.C music to really help me hang on to my life … on some realness. Music has a mysterious way of healing you. For my energy I really needed M.I.C, Lauryn Hill and some Raekwon (“Cuban Linx”). Those 3 artists are what helped the pain and help me get by. I noticed that there is no MechaGodzilla with M.I.C. I finally get home and started producing again my first week home. I bangs out a ridiculous level of production, Rodan loved what he heard. I discussed becoming G Mecca for M.I.C and from there Rodan gave the nod for me to have that name and truly be family, musically …
What’s your favourite Godzilla movie?
Favorite Godzilla movie is hmmmm … they are all the pretty good … haha. The ones with Ghidorah in it are ill. I think it’s “Godzilla vs. Monster Zero”. Rodan helps kick Ghidorah’s butt!! Haha … I like “Godzilla’s Revenge”, too. The concept is about getting bullied and learning how to fight back. Basically a lack of fear, when it comes to confrontation is the only way to survive. The new Mothra movies are ill too graphically. Kinda corny … hahaha … but still entertaining. The new “Godzilla vs. MechaGodzilla” was good. Rodan had the fire going on in that one. The new, “Mothra vs. Godzilla vs. MechaGodzilla” is what I’m looking forward to. I can’t wait ’til that comes out … haha … I’m indecisive. My favorite is “Godzilla vs. Megalon”. I’d watch that above all others.
How did you get in contact with the Monsta Island Czars?
I e-mailed the www.mindbenda.com/ website about G.A.ME artists’ only meeting we were having October 2002 and M.I.C showed up. Rodan, Kong and Kamackeris came through and I blessed Rodan with a 30 track beat cd that I was fermenting. He was my favorite emcee (still is) at the time, just listed my contact information on the CD jacket to get at me and just left it like that. A week and a half later he called me and was basically like it’s on!!!!!
Do you try to balance your responsibilities as an emcee and as a producer? Which do you enjoy more?
I am happy that people respect my skills as both an emcee and a producer. I get writers block a lot. Production is easier for me because it’s like me hitting a heavy bag, hit it any way I want without thinking. Just black out on it, you know. But I go through dry spells with production too. I write mad stuff … haiku style … and write a lot about beats I am to make in the future in a notebook like the framework for beats. So I guess both emceeing and making beats are equal. Any form of expression is the best; making music, sketching, writing poetry, a good fist fight or two (a fair one or two if you can handle it) … they are all good … nah mean. Because it’s a challenge, you know, to see if you’re on top of your game.
What’s your formula for producing a song? Do you have a set idea how you will create an instrumental or do just go in and experiment until you found the right concept for the beat – something that fits perfectly to the MC’s and the lyrics behind the song, you know?
I produce off emotion. It’s retarded sometimes but I do. I got through binges like a bulemic.
Girls sometimes piss me off a lot and my so called boys that I grew up with get on my nerves doing dumb stuff, too. Life situations, both good and bad help amp me up, thus Mr. Impetus I be. So when I get hyped, like how Ghostface’s “Run” gets you hyped, I’ll usually go to my stash of samples, skim through them, grab whatever sounds explosive or eerie and run with that. I get amped off of situations and need to channel the E properly so I try to get sounds that parallel that and make beats, I often start like 4 bars of something. I might pitch a sample different and get a new idea and run into something new. So in like an hour: I may get 5 or 6 good ideas, save them all, then go back. And try to master the beat as best I can or make one really ridiculous beat and perfect it for that hour. I love uptempo stuff so I try to stick with explosive sounds that make you wanna wild out and have fun. My style is like Bruce Lee, I have no style, just relay what’s on the inside to y’all and adapt beats to the situation I’m in. The formula is to try an bring something new to Hip Hop. I try not to make a Pete Rock, Premier, Jay Dee or Neptunes jump off. I try to think about what can really rock and sound different. It is fun however to use a Premier or Pete Rock formula and try to create something like the legends. I just make Hip Hop music, bouncy, fast, mach speed, slow … whatever. Emcees like the variety and pick what they like, you know. I’m learning how to create for artist directly. I like what Black Panther’s doing right now. 4th pyramid, Gooch too!!! And DJ Dummy… and so many other’s like that that have their own flavor and don’t necessarily copy to try and sound ill like Pete Rock, the Neptunes, Kanye West, Just Blaze … etc. They add their only lil twist to distinguish their skill/style.
GM Grimm already gave me the green light for an instrumental. I have hundreds of beats just gotta take my time going through them to see what would make a great instrumental album. So much for y’all to hear … it’s ridiculous …
What equipment do you use for producing?
La computadora solamente. Soon I’ll get that MPC 1000 and mix it up a lil bit …
How do you write your rhymes? Do you write the lyrics first and then make the track, or do you make a beat and fit the lyrics to its atmosphere afterwards?
Beats for me help dictate the concept. My beats create the atmosphere the words eventually manifest, it helps when your music is like you’re walking into different rooms at a club. You have your house, hip hop, reggae … I do ride back and forth to Manhattan NYC from Strong Island on the train a lot so I write a lot of poems and stuff. In addition when driving throughout Long Island. I usually write while I’m driving different things that come to mind. Rodan gave me a lot of jewels about emceeing and Megalon broke down for me some amazing secrets that helps you do your damn thing penning out rhymes.
As far as I know, you contributed 3 beats to Rodan’s solo debut “Theopany : The Book Of Elevations”. How will you be involved into the future projects of the Monsta Island Czars?
I made 15 more joints for Rodan’s next album. He really likes most of them so maybe 10 or 11 joints on his next one. I do a lot of artwork. I love marvel characters, been drawing forever. I trained with a Hannah Barbera artist from age 10 to 13. All that ability in me has helped me do some pretty nice stuff for M.I.C which is to come. Future projects are gonna be amazing. Rodan and myself along with other Czars like Grimm and Xray help cut down the 6 degrees of separation thing to about 2 degrees. We’re interconnected with soooooo much. It’s fun to think about. I can’t wait ’till people get to see what I’m chattering about …
Are you planning to release a solo album within the next year? If yes, could you please give us some details?
I’m thinking instrumental first. Then a solo as RAVAGE and another as MechaGodZilla. Maybe both will be done by fall 2004, pretty sure they will be. I wish I could give more details. I have mad material done but not trying to let the cat outta the bag … nah mean …
Will we hear something from you outside Monsta Island one day? Any collaborations in the works?
Yep because of the Hip Hop union, I mess around with (G.A.ME at www.kickgame.com), I’m interconnected with many of the artists you hear on the radio and most of the underground emcees u can think of. A lot of preliminary connects have been made. Nothing I can say in detail right now but I know Immortal Technique’s first on my list and I have still not yet truly crossed paths with Jean Grae. And that’s something that’s been on my mind …
Are there any MC’s or producers out there that you would like to work with in the future and if so, why?
Ideally I’d love to work with Gooch from Shaolin. Some soulful artists like Amel Larrieux, Floetry … Masta Killa, RZA, Dead Prez … big up to M-1, Stic and Tahir (RECOIL!!) and so many others like Mos Def (that’d be ill) but still in the stages of small steps, you know. Jay Dee from Slum Village would be ill, too, 88 keys, Björk, Gwen Stefani, Creed, mad different ideas, you know. Luscious Jackson … so many to name. Andre 3000 as well … haha … wow!!! Pete Rock … I wanna know what that guy eats for breakfast because he seems to always have heat. Premier is another one. I already work with X-Ray … still gotta get more secrets outta him, too … haha … I’d love to work … NO I.D. and of course Alicia Keys.
Please name your 5 all-time favourite albums/producers
top 5 albums (syntax erro@r… top 6 albums)
1. Liquid Swords – The Gza
2. Black On Both Sides – the mighty Mos Def!!!
3. Cuban Linx … Ironman … Wu-Tang Forever … Tical … Digital Bullet
4. Björk’s Homogenic
5. Lyricist Lounge Volume 1 – Problemz … Common, Talib … Natural Elements … De La hosting … Kool Keith hosting … Wordsworth … very ill album
6. Busta Rhymes’ Anarchy … his best album in my opinion … yeah, I said it. His best!!!! #10 called “Show Me What You Got” stays on repeat for days
Top 5 producers (top six dammit):
01. The Rza
02. Pete Rock/DJ Premier
03. Jay Dee
04. The GOOCH
05. M.F. Doom
06. NO I.D
Thank you very much for taking the time to do this interview! Any shout-outs or final words of wisdom for the people out there?
Peace to my mother and father, my sister and her son Christopher. Peace to my M.I.C family … Rodan took me under the wing and taught me a great deal about LIFE (Living In Fantasies Eternal). Lawrence James known as L. Rebel from the Grassroots Artists MovEment for really relaying to me what hip hop really means (www.kickgame.com). Gooch for just not only kicking Arnold Jackson’s ass perpetually but for administering the same kinda tenatiousness to the hip hop G.A.ME as well. He’s showing me the way, u know. The Island Delegates, Royal Family and my other Strong Island peeps. M-1 of Dead Prez for really being open to building with me when he really has no time at all. Baron and Red Clay … Baron parallels Gooch in many ways and I’ma link y’all two soon. Baron is 10 on the Mohs scale on the low. I hope everyone is ready … Sab from Rocksteady for always being open to me when I call him outta the blue. And Callie Ban from Future Flavas online showed nothing but love. So many more. Look for the album. For the dedications… haha.