Wie die Snowgoons und Sicknature gehört White Shadow zu einer neuen Generation von europäischen Beatmachern, die in den USA fest Fuß fassen konnte. Schon auf seinem Debüt “Renegades” versammelte der Norweger viele bekannte Namen von jenseits des Atlantiks. Und der Trend geht steil nach oben: auf seinem Ende 2010 veröffentlichten vierten Studioalbum “Destiny” reichen sich Größen wie Kool G Rap, KRS-One, C-Rayz Walz, Chief Kamachi, Planet Asia und Block McCloud das Mic durch. Wie das zustande kam und alles was es über den skandinavischen Aufsteiger sonst zu sagen gibt – in unserem Interview.[hr]
Last year you dropped a new album called “Destiny”. Introduce us to this release, what’s its main importance for you…
“Destiny” is my new album with 25 songs on it featuring 50 emcee’s from the US, UK, Canada, Holland, and Sweden. It dropped on Halloween 2010. I did all the beats and cuts as usual. It was the last in line of my producer album quadrilogy so far, “Renegades”, “Untouchable”, “Victory” and “Destiny”. The main things about it was to make this album last longer as far as the sound of it. “Victory” was much more in your face, and on the warpath so to speak, while “Destiny” is more accomplished as far as the overall sound of it. It has some bangers, and some tracks that might take more time to get into as I was goin’ for longevity. I always try to outdo myself also, and make a better album than the one before it, and with the help of my friends from across the map, I’m positive I managed to make Destiny a much better album than my previous joints.
One of the heaviest joint on it is “Undergound” Featuring KRS-One, Ras Kass, Joell Ortiz, and Kool G Rap. How did the situation come together to work with all these legends and what are your experiences?
Like most joints nowadays we weren’t actually in the studio together recording the song. That’s rare now as everything’s done online. It took help from several good friends in the music biz to get the verses for this one, predominantly a label (Uni-Fi Records), a producer (Domingo), two emcee’s (Mark Deez and Awkword) and some cash, to make it happen, so when I had all the verses I could either decide to spread them troughout the album, or put em all on one song to make a lot of noise, so I decided to do the last. Dealin’ with a lot of artists on my albums I’m no stranger to takin’ several verses not related, and makin’ them into complete songs as in sounding as they were recorded at the same session on the same beat so that’s what I did on “Underground” as well. The Kool G Rap hook is a chopped drop, and I put it there that way to make it an anti-hook, to show that in a Hiphop song a hook’s not really needed. I’ve also done cuts on a joint featuring full verses by Kool G Rap, and Canibus, by Mark Deez, called “Boot Rap”.
The album came out through your own label Uncut Productions. When did you start the label?
I started it in the mid 90’s, first releasing a bunch of mixtapes, and a couple of CD singles, shut it down for a few years, then reopened it, and I moved on to CD, vinyl, then digital. I started it again in 2003 to have an outlet for my own music because I got tired of waiting for other labels to spend months and years deciding if they were gonna release my music or not and while living in New York I got to see the inside of the major record labels and mainstream record biz and decided it was not a biz I wanted to be a part of other than the occasional feature. But instead I wanted to build my own independently where I have total freedom, and where I make all the decisions myself.
How hard is it to get the business side together in a prosperous way? Do you have some mentors or role models to learn from?
Nowadays, it’s always hard cause there’s much less income as most people just downloads music for free. But when promoted a lot, music still sells both digital and physical units, and I wanna thank everyone who actually still buys music to support their favorite artists in spite of the ability to get the music for free. Running a label, distribution, marketing, and promotion alone, as well as making all the music is twice a regular 9-5 job, but as long as I enjoy it, it’s a lot more fun than work, and Hiphop is my life, and has been since I was a kid, so makin’ this music is what I do in life, and I enjoy being able to do it, and be in charge of everything I do. Through Hiphop I’ve found legit ways to stand outside a society and system that I never wanted to support or be a part of anyway. Lots of role models over the years. From the artists who started Hiphop, and the producers from the 90’s, to people on the business side of things in New York, like without namedroppin’, but plenty of people in the biz from label managers to A&R’s to laywers, I know the biz well, but am first of all an artist, so makin’ music, and getting people to hear it, then hopefully buy it if they like it, are my main priorities as an artist, and label. I wanna spread Hiphop in it’s real form as much as possible as well cause the bling-culture got it all twisted what Hiphop is about, so it’s about time we leave that alone, and respect the old school enough to keep buildin’ on it, and to get Hiphop back in a position where the good stuff is noticed again, and where we the artists control it, as it’s been controlled by big business, and that needs to stop cause they’ll only milk Hiphop til there is no more like they did to all other types of music before it. A lot of people don’t see the potential in Hiphop like this culture can and has actually changed the world to a better place to live, and have saved a lot of lives, so that’s what we need to continue doin’. The Rap-artists who makes the most money should think about that the expensive cars, gear, jewelry, etc. that they spend their cash on is not gonna mean a damn thing in the long run, so they’d be better off spending that money to make a better world for future generations. I mean, some of these artists together have money enough to buy an island, and make that a Hiphop country, or to put their money where it benefits people of the world at large, so only ego keeps them from doin’ that. With all that money we could also have a Hiphop-owned big business, and wouldn’t have to answer to the big corporations etc.
You are from Norway. How the hiphop scene is like out there? Are you satisfied with the own identity in it or not so?
Yeah. It’s huge like everywhere else now. The whole world got a big Hiphop scene now, and thousands of dope artists, and crews in every country, and Norway is no exception. I feel more a part of the US underground scene as I have been for decades. I come from a Norway a long time ago when only the outcasts were into Hiphop, so I always looked to the states as that’s where Hiphop originated, and I’ve always been a fan of the east coast styles of Hiphop, so my music’s influenced by that, and I think the best emcee’s are mostly still from the US, so I focused on makin’ it there. But have been involved in the Norwegian Hiphop scene over the years as well tho it actually took the new generation to stop sleepin’ on me out here as there have been people here who always tried to push me back as they saw me as too much competition, but, becoming good at this takes total sacrifice, and workin’ on your skills all the time so most people are not willing to do that. But I did, and that’s why I’m good at what I do, but all in all, I get a lot of respect, and props out here. Most people know who I am, and what I’ve done in and for Hiphop, and I know I’ve left a serious mark for Norwegian Hiphop worldwide, and have helped put my hometown and country on the map in places no one else has. Some here call me a living legend which sounds pretty funny to me but I appreciate the props, and there’s a Hiphop room in the Rock museum out here which has some of my artifacts on display like old gear, and turntables I’ve used etc. which makes me feel kinda jurassic *laughs* but feels good to be recognized that way, and be in a muesum when still alive! *laughs*
How would you see the scene out there, what are the points in which it needs to change?
Everyone has their own missions so I’m not in a position to tell people what to do, neither do I want to. But what’s needed for the world as a whole is needed out here too, and that’s a total change of how the world’s being run, cause Hiphop reflects what really goes on in the world so if the world is materialistic and ignorant, so is Hiphop. I mean, as we keep repeating the same mistakes, there’s still war, starvation, drugs, homeless, etc. The current systems that runs the world aren’t doing it the right way, so we need a new system to even out the resources in the world so there’s more balance so that no one starves, and no one’s filthy rich either, and I’m not talkin’ bout a revolution or any kind of ism or religion cause they divide people, while all beings of the world are a part of the same really. So what’s important is to focus on the bigger picture to bring about real solutions to the main problems in the world cause I mean as long as there’s wars, and people don’t have enough to eat then personal luxuary becomes less important, and change on the Hiphop scenes are less important then as well. It all starts with solving the main world problems, then everything else will fall into place. That’s why I support equalmoney.org which is a new plan to change the money system so that riches is divided equally throughout the world, and people needs to start caring more for the next man cause since we’re all one, then if what you do only benefits you but takes from another man, you’re actually hurting yourself and all the major problems in the world are related to money so how money’s divided is where the solution is. Don’t get me wrong cause I’m not perfect and not tryin’ to be a saint either, but it only takes common sense to see that some major change in the world is needed, like if you sit down, and really look at the world in general then you start seeing what’s fucked, and how to change it and how people have created this robotic system of school, work, marriage, kids, death, where the main focus for most is always money, but we have the power to change all that, and that starts with myself, and yourself.
You lived in NYC for some years. How did all that come together and how did it effect your view on the world, your life and music?
That really started in the late 80’s when I won the Norwegian DMC battles, then went to the world DMC’s in London for several years and built with people there. I met a woman from New York who was heavy into the Hiphop scene, as well as a manager, and lawyer, built with her and several artists in New York over the phone for a couple of years and by sending tapes forth & back as it was before CD-R’s and the Internet. And so we decided I should move to NY to persue a career in DJ’ing there. My manager, and my skills put me on the map there after a few months and I started DJ’ing all the clubs there, opened up for a lot of artists or DJ’d in clubs when they grabbed the mic to free like Jay-Z, Busta, Guru, Masta Ace, Q-Tip … all those guys were out there on open mics and stuff back then even if they had records out. So you could hook up with them in the clubs and I got to meet and hang out with a lot of my favorite Hiphop artists. I became a member of the BDP crew for a while, would DJ with the Supermen who was Clark Kent, DJ Scratch and all them, and would record with a bunch of different artists like Tricky Tee, Warriors Of Shaolin, Critical Masz, and Jamalski from BDP which resulted in the track “Hangin’ Tree” that ended up on his album, “Roughneck Reality”, and in the “Last Action Hero” movie too. I also DJ’d with Funkmaster Flex quite a lot, and almost got signed to both, Profile and Tuff City back then, but that’s a different story. Of course I got 8 million stories to tell from my years in New York, but I’ll save them for my bio. But I also went there because I had to experience first hand where and why Hiphop started and got to see the old spots where Kool Herc used to rock, got to meet Bambaataa and most of my fav old school Hiphop artists. And livin’ in New York I got a better understanding for why and how Hiphop started there that you really gotta live there to experience as it’s kinda hard to really explain it. Also that was the early 90’s so the beginning of what’s called the golden era. So I got to be a part of that and of shapin’ it as well which is great. I mean, I couldn’t have gone to New York at a better time than that from a Hiphop point of view and I’m reluctant to go back because of that, too, actually, cause friends tell me it’s changed a lot since then and I really don’t wanna fuck with the memories. But to sum it up in general and as far as Hiphop goes, is that if you have the skills, and the heart, and you hustle hard you will get respect in New York. If you fake it people there will see right through it, then you outta there! *laughs*. Living in NY has definitely stayed with me after and it changed how I hear Hiphop, how I feel it, and life in general as far as survival goes. It also changed my view on the music biz. I was young back then in my early 20’s, and wanted to blow up really *laughs* – like becoming a big star and stuff like that, but when I left New York, that was less important, and now it’s not important at all. Basically, doin’ what I like to do, and being able to do something good for myself, and other people as in makin’ music that makes our lives a little easier to cope with is what really matters to me now.
What are the main reactions to your latest album?
All in all great! Mostly mad props, some haters as always, and some who don’t like it, too, but most of the underground Hiphop scene loves it, as do I, and so the mission was accomplished.
You, Snowgoons and Sicknature are some of the producers from Europe that go really hard in this years. Are you in contact with them? How you see the rise of the European hiphop?
Thanks. I’m happy you mention me in the same line as those great producers. Probably the best in Europe right now, so that’s props, fam! Snowgoons and I been comin’ up on the producer scene at about the same time from the early 2000’s til now, we’ve worked with a lot of the same emcee’s from the US. And the goons are fam to me, we worked together on the “Iron Fist” as well as Mark Deez’ “The Oracle” albums. They’re the hardest hitting European producers I know of nowadays, and European producers, we have already proven that we have the skills of our US fam, if not more, and so Euro producers have already made our mark. But once again, we’re all citizens of the same world, my man, so don’t matter where we’re from, but Europe right now has a rep in the US for being more like the US was back in the days, like you can go to a show and see B-Boys, maybe someone doin’ Graff outside etc. The commercial bling-rap has also hit Europe – but no matter where in the world you are, there’s gonna be a real Hiphop scene if you dig for it. What’s great also about the EU scene for American artists is that someone that only the underground knows about stateside is known by more people here, like say Jedi Mind Tricks…even if they aren’t on the Pop charts top 20 here, their music might still be heard at McDonalds, you know what I mean. And a lot of kids are into that underground sound out here, so then it’s possible for US underground artists to tour here and actually get a taste of what it might feel like being a role model to the kids or a star, or you know, a taste of that success that you can only get in the US if you make really commercial rap music. Like when the underground artists from the US come out here they get shows, make money, paid features, get treated like stars, free food, drinks, weed and also groupies if lucky *laughs* But at the same time I know for a fact that’s been used by european artists or producers to get a hot feature on a record, like some I know of have actually hooked up with girls they knew to go to the artists hotel rooms to have sex with them plus they keep the free booze and weed flowing just to get that hot feature. So it hasn’t all been done outta kindness and I think that shit’s gotta stop, but it’s cool if US and EU artists help each other out of course. European Hiphop, if you go back to the early 80’s, started inspired by the records and culture in the US and added a bit of EU flavor to it all. That goes for both the music, and the culture. Then, some of us traveled or moved to the US and connected with the scene there and brought it back here layin’ the foundations of it in the EU. And I think that’s why it reminds more of back in the days out here and also because it never got as big biz here as it did in the US so the gap between underground and mainstream isn’t as big here.
What are your next future plans?
Back in the lab now makin’ beats for a while, droppin’ “Instrumentals 2″ in February. Llot of other music I produced droppin’, like a track on the Snowgoons’ “Iron Fist” album, a couple more joints feat. Joell Ortiz, another featuring Killah Priest and lots more. Also workin’ on my bio and writing in general, so I might just branch out to do more writing in the future as I don’t see myself makin’ beats, and layin’ cuts at the age of 70, but…who knows. Y’all can cop all my albums here: