Interview with Pulling Strings Productions CEO.
Leigh: How often do you perform
Strings:On a regular work month, when we are not considering ourselves on tour, we do about 10, 12, shows. When we are on tour, we are dling somewhere between 20 and 30 shows in a month.
Leigh: How important is it to you to be performing like that?
Strings: ThatÕs how we eat.
How the rent gets p;aid. Very
little of our income is from record sales.
I mean we are not a multi-platinum group. And since we record quality albums with decent music we expend
our budgets on recordings. Some of
those Hollywood type groups do a weak album and then stuff their pockets. As far as I am concerned IÕm cool with
500,000 people every time out buying our stuff - thatÕs love. It is enough to keep my able to do shows -
that is where my money comes from. I
mean, you your royalties and money from whatever gets played on the radio; you
get your little quarterly checks but you canÕt live off them. So our being out on the road makes a
way for not only the Strings but for everyone thatÕs under our umbrella.
Leigh: DoesnÕt it grind into you - perfomring the same songs night after night?
Strings: No. We do songs off the album with completely different music, completely different tempos, so it stays fresh. Also, I do different things with my lyrics. Sometimes I will start every line and I will just finish it with scats - some types of mumbles and groans - but itÕll develop a rhytm where the rest of the band knows thatÕs what IÕm on and then weÕll all be doing it together.
Leigh: Do you consider yourself an undergournd act or an undergournd MC? What is underground to you?
Strings: IÕm definitely underground. As a lyricist, IÕm underground and underrated, but itÕs all good. IÕm content with taht Ôcause everybody that I know who becomes a mainstream lyricist, who used to be underground or underrated, they fall off.
Leigh: Any names come to mind on that crew?
Strings: Nah, not necessarily.
Leigh: What do you think is the differenc
e between being mainstream or being an underground lyricist?
Strings: I wanna say record sales, but I donÕt even know that itÕs necessarily that. But if I say record sales, it would be related to what it is theyÕre saying. If you go with that formulaic approach to recording your shit then you just trying to do the same joint that you did last time. I feel like anybody thatÕs coming with something fresh, new, different, original in this business is kinda frowned upon. And thatÕs when you get stuck in the underground.
Leigh: What about Zee-boyz-fastz and JMkie?
Strings: I mean they are mainstream to me.
Leigh: You think they are mainstream.
Strings: of course
Leigh: you think Zee changed on this last album? When did Zee go from being underground to being mainstream?
Strings: I donÕt know.
I never even really used to listen when Zee used to rhyme on the
Ōjinggle jangle niggaĶ with Fuz but I recognized that as his shit. I ainÕt really following his shit back in
teh day until it got larger-than-
˙life, up in my face. He definitely mainstream, though. That is who is setting the standards right now - people that just come out of the box with any type of formula, any type of doing some shit, they are mainstream.
Leigh: Then whatÕs the formula? WhatÕs the catch?
Strings: Simplicity, Simplicity in the beats...I mean, the formula is just sameness. You canÕt really stray away from, like, the last thing you or the next man did if you really wanna sell.
Leigh: So if hyou come in with something original and then everyone else copies it, does that make you mainstream or does it make everyone else mainstream?
Strings: I donÕt know. But people who come with original shit and people run with it, a lot of times they scramble to try and come up with the next shit as opposed to just mastering what it is that they do.
Leigh: So is it in what you do or is it peopleÕs perception of what you do that changes you from being one thing or the other?
Strings: itÕs what you do.
Leigh: But you werre saying before
that simplicity makes someone mainstream. With so many underground artists that use big-ass words, do you think itÕs possbile to be simple and stil be underground?
Strings: ItÕs definitely possible. i guess when I speak about simplicity, I mean understandablity. I wouldnÕt say ÔshallowĶ because thatÕll probably offent someone. But if you get too deep it wil lturn people off. The people thatÕs buying the mainstream shit, they want some simple shit. They want something that they know - this is what you are rapping about; it ainÕt no beneath the surface. It doesnÕt matter, whether you write your rhymes in small words or yhou use the biggest words, as long as the people understand that thatÕs what you dealing with, then thatÕs when the mainstream are going to gravitate towards you.
Leigh: What about N.W.A. when they first came out, would you consider them to be mainstream?
Strings: Nah. Hell no.
Leigh: But they were dealing with a lot of subject matter that people could easily gravitate to.
: But that hadnÕt been done before, not in that manner. I mean you had people back in the day, like Scholly D, who was on some gansta shit before N.W.A. but...IÕve never really even heard nobody curse that much before they came out. It was somethinÕ new; it had a lot of shock value to it. It was underground for a minute, but by time time N.W.A was no more, of course that shit was mainstream.
Leigh: Do yuou pruposely stay away from success? It sometimes seems as if the Strings is scared of success. Like if you see success coming you are gonna do something and be like, ŌNah, nah, nah, chill/Ķ Do you sit there and conscioulsy make those decisions to keep yourselves from going but so far?
Strings: Not consciously as much as subconscioulsy. After your shit is largerthan life, where else you gonna go? So we want longevity. I donÕt wanna get too large - fuck around and my 15 mi ×nutes of fame be out. I am trying to drag this out.
Leigh: I donÕt think anyoneÕs more underrated as an MC than you. At this point, what do you want in terms of acceptance or acknowlegment? Do you want a grammy? Do you want a big plague on the wall saying...
Strings: No. I donÕt want none of that. I want people to be rhyming and saying Ōyo, such and such just like that StringsĶ ThatÕs dap for me, thatÕs the utmost respect. All that shit is just politics