Tonedeff, Substantial, PackFM, Session. You may have heard them individually, or read about them, but together they’re Extended F@mm. As a group, their music is undeniably catchy and their individual styles are truly unique. Their joint project Happy F*ck You Songs, brought the return of the battle MC mixed with a sense of humor and innovative beats. Their independent label, QN5 Music, is reviving the underground, much like the MC’s on the label. In this enlightening interview, eF@mm discusses the industry, post album success, solo releases, and kicking fans?
AllHipHop: How did you all meet up to create Extended F@mm?
PackFM: It all started way back in the day, late 90’s when I met this guy right here, Substantial. We went around terrorizing people in NYC as PakiStan. We were part of a little group, and occasionally we would even rap laughs mostly just beating people up. So then after a while we started concentrating on more solo stuff, but I met Tonedeff at a battle and I met Session at Rocksteady and we had just all known each other or whatever. One day Session was in town because he lived in Connecticut and he asked if we would get down to do a track, so we went to Tone’s crib, recorded it and it was really dope! And we just came up with the name and everything, and we weren’t like actually trying to form a group, it was like a little something we came up with. Then like about a year or two later, we just were like “yo this is something we shouldn’t let go of” and just decided to make a group out of it, do an album, and from there it just took off.
AllHipHop: Right now, is Extended F@mm going to continue on, or was this just a stepping stone to further your solo careers?
Tonedeff: It’s kind of both. Actually we already started planning our next album, which is going to be a proper full-length album. The funny thing is that “Happy F*ck You Songs” was intended to be an EP and then it turned into an exercise in posse cuts, like how you can push posse cuts, but we really didn’t take the idea where we could have taken it. It was sort of done on a whim, but now we’re concentrating on this next record. I mean, if you liked “HFYS” and if you thought it was inventive, the next one pretty much takes everything right over the edge and goes to hell with it. It comes back and regenerates like a phoenix, all that wild Chinese philosophy type of stuff.
AllHipHop: The Jean Grey of CD’s?
Tonedeff: Very Jean Grey, very good! So essentially it’s kind of both. We’re all in the Plague, which is a bigger crew. The idea was essentially to have Extended Famm as a joint project but now we realize it’s something a little bit bigger than us, so we should just kind of, like, see where it goes, but we’re all working on solo albums right now. Chances are, our solo albums will all be about before the Extended Famm record, but the next Extended Famm record is coming. We don’t have a title for it, but it may be titled “The Second Coming: pause.” laughs
AllHipHop: Happy F*ck You Songs definitely created a big time buzz in the industry, how has the feedback been?
Substantial: It’s been great, man. I know, as far as Tone and Pack, they’ve been more established in the underground more so than me and Session, so you know it gave their fans something to listen to, and for me and Session, it introduced us to a lot of people who weren’t really checkin’ for us before. It got us a lot of respect and got a lot of people interested in what we’re doing now. So the feedback’s been amazing. The main reason why we’re brainstorming now for this second album is based off the buzz we got from the first one. When we did it, we weren’t even thinking about a second album, but the more and more feedback we got, the next thing you know we’re in a couple of magazines and websites and all of this other stuff, we realized it was definitely something we needed to push more. So the buzz has been great and the fans have been even better.
AllHipHop: As far as your live shows, you guys have amazing chemistry on stage. What would you say is the livest city, where you’ve received the most crowd participation?
Tonedeff: I mean me personally I feel our coolest, most responsive show we did was in South Carolina.
Substantial: Hell yeah.
PackFM: Yeah that was crazy.
Session: Nah I think New Paltz (NY).
eF@mm: Yeah New Paltz!!
Tonedeff: See the thing is, all of the shows we do, they’re always pretty decent. I mean, there’re always a couple of bad apples in the bunch, but the one we did in New Paltz was hot.
Session: Yeah Pack stagedived.
Substantial: Stagedived .successfully.
Tonedeff: See the thing with Pack, every time, every show, we hurt a girl. There is always a girl in the front row and the Timbs just catch her head.
Substantial: Bam! And like the crazy thing was that he kicked the chick in the head and she still bought a CD!
Substantial: So you know that was a damn good show.
Tonedeff: When you kick somebody in the face and they still buy your album.
PackFM: You guys are smacks great!
Tonedeff: Even at Rocksteady, Mecca took out some chick’s eye with a CD.
Substantial: I say the difference between New Paltz and South Carolina is that South Carolina had a very small crowd but the energy was incredible. When we walked in we were worried how the show was gonna be but when we got there the crowd was so appreciative and we’re forever grateful for that.
AllHipHop: As far as your writing, Method Man plays Miles Davis, Fiona Apple plays Method Man, what do you play when you’re in the lab?
PackFM: I don’t play anything; I play “NBA Live.”
Session: I play anything; I play like CNN, Jadakiss, Fifty Cent. I’m like really opposite from the rest of the group; I play other stuff. Anything like that; I don’t like half of the stuff they play on the radio either. I like the grimier stuff that you find on the album. Like CNN’s “Bang Bang.” I was playin’ that today. I like bangers. And it just gets me amped. That’s me right there.
Tonedeff: And he’s also chemically dependent. He can’t write when he’s not high.
Session: laughs Oh yeah that too.
PackFM: I play the beat! laughs
Tonedeff: Honestly, I can’t write with the beat. I mean I can, but I prefer silence. I can hear the beat once to get an idea of the timing, and that’s it. I can’t concentrate with music in the background. It’s weird.
Substantial: With me, it’s like I try not to usually listen to Hip Hop unless it’s the instrumental. Most times I’m listening to soul music, jazz, different things like that because a lot of times certain beats I hear or I like the rhythm that the beat has and that’ll inspire me to write. Different stuff like that and a lot of times I like the feeling behind the music, it helps me put more passion in my music when I write. Like all of us, the stuff we do as a group and the stuff we do as individuals is very different and I think when you hear us rhyme and you hear our solo projects you can kind of tell “ok that person listens to this”. I get it all the time like “Oh Stan’s old smoothed out jazz listenin’ to ass.” So that’s me basically.
Session: If you hear the Extended Famm album you won’t know. I don’t want people to think that we sound like that solo. He’s (Substantial) smoothed out on some solo tip, I’ve got bangers, I’m a little more ghetto with it.
Substantial: Don’t get it twisted, Stan’s got bangers too!!!
Session: Tone is more
Tonedeff: I’m just technical.
Session: Yeah and Pack’s more punchlines and battle tracks.
Tonedeff: If you notice for a minute they all paused like “Tone is like ” and nobody knew what to say and I’m like, “Uh, technical.” My style is all over the place.
Session: Yeah I don’t know; Tone is weird.
Tonedeff: That’s my problem in my career, no one knows what to classify me as, so it’s whatever. I’m just gonna make my album and let them be the judge for themselves. But yeah what Session was saying is the truth. The reason why we have such great chemistry is because we’re all so different from each other. If you listen to most groups, it’s four people doing the same verse over and over again, like “yo that’s my crew that’s my style.” And it’s like no you’re unoriginal and you bit your man. There’s always that one good dude and everybody just ripping him off. So it’s important to us that everybody does do their thing and we all are very different so I think that’s what helped the record sound so different because we’re all different.
PackFM: It’s everybody taking whatever. It’s like the reason why we did such a conceptual record is because we’re like “Alright fine, how we each person come across on this joint.” We did “F*ck You I Rhyme Better”,it’s more like a battle track, but the way everybody approached it was different. On “Celly,” it’s probably the only one where we’re all actually saying something very similar. On “Obligatory Posse Cut” everybody stand a little bit more humble. Tone is the frustrated one, Session didn’t even like it so he wasn’t on it, me I’m the cocky one like “F*ck all y’all.” So that’s how we come together, everybody has their own different take on it.
AllHipHop: Tonedeff, as a producer, what’s your opinion on having the same beat on five different songs on a radio station, playing in heavy rotation?
Tonedeff: You know what? It really disgusts me, man. To me the radio is, I don’t even want to talk about MTV or whatever, MTV’s gonna play whatever makes them money and sells to white kids in the suburbs. Radio in an urban area is very responsible for the mass degradation of music. In order to get on radio when you have five songs playing that all sound the same, that’s nobody’s fault but the radio stations. The people only know what you show them because people aren’t active; most drive in the morning and they’ll listen to whatever you play them. As artists and as a community, we have a responsibility not to turn in nonsense that they play like that. For example, Pack said it himself “You complain about the music but never really do sh*t/ You’re part of the problem if you have no solution.” And that’s the truth. When it all comes down to it, if we don’t turn in nonsense, they won’t have any to play.
Substantial: That’s for the artist and the producer, because yeah you’ve got these producers that make beats that sound the same but at the same time you’ve got artists who hear a hot track that the producer did for another artist and they want a beat that sounds just like it. And that’s what they get; they get exactly that.
Tonedeff: I’ve had conversations with dudes that are like “Yo I need like a Neptunes track, I need a Dre beat, I need a Timbaland track; I need a Primo beat.” Then go to Primo and stop asking me! You’re gonna get a Tonedeff track from Tonedeff, and it’s simple as that.
AllHipHop: This is a question for you all as a group,
Will.I.Am of Black Eyed Peas was quoted as having said the following:
“Right when we came out, we got a whole lot of love from MTV. The first
hip-hop band to be on a rock tour. That’s pretty big. First hip-hop band to
do a lot of things from LA. We kind of set-up a whole way of doing it. The
Beastie Boys did it before we did but I’m talking about hip-hop groups from
LA that have some black people in it. You could do it like this and sell
400,000 copies, 800,000 copies, which to a group like us is a lot, when you
don’t have an Erykah Badu on a record. Then The Roots blew through the
f*cking roof with that Erykah Badu sh*t. The Roots came out with that sh*t
with Erykah Badu you know? I’m a competitive cat, man. I went from battling people on open mics to now I’m battling motherf*ckers on the charts. F*ck that – I want a Grammy too!” – Will.I.Am, Black Eyed Peas.
PackFM: I’d like a Grammy!
Tonedeff: I’d like a Grammy as well.
Substantial: Ok, it’s like I hear what he’s saying and I can see why he’s frustrated but, yo to take anything away from the Roots is pure blasphemy. Straight up and down, because they’ve paved the way for a lot of us. Black Thought, yeah as far as earning his stripes and battling cats just like someone from Black Eyed Peas. Their paths aren’t that much different. As far as putting Erykah Badu on a track, they were working with her before that. For instance, they’ve been working with D’Angelo and a lot of dope people musically. Hell, their name holds so much weight in the jazz community, they’ve been working with cats like Roy Ayers and a lot of great musicians period. Erykah Badu, yes she’s a commercial artist but a dope artist nonetheless. To take anything away from them is pure blasphemy. Hell just to get their song “Break You Off,” that song cost them over $200,000 to make and they had over 4 different artists just on vocalists before they even got to music. They go through a lot just to get some respect. They still don’t even get the respect of someone like a Jay-Z and a Fifty Cent or any of them like on a commercial level. And they represent for us! I mean, I’ve got love for Black Eyed Peas, I like some of the music they do. But, like to me, yeah they’ve done a lot of different things but to take credit away from one of the few groups who still represent real Hip Hop and real music, real GOOD music at that. And to me the Roots hold it down for people like us, and all types of people in music who are trying to push the envelope. So to me, that’s stupid for him to even come around, it’s obvious he’s taking shots at them, and I’ve got no problem saying that. I mean if I were there when he said it, I’d speak my mind just like I’m speaking it now. For the record I’ve got no problem rockin’ with Black Eyed Peas, I just think that comment was more out of frustration than someone actually really thinking about it.
Tonedeff: The truth is this, it’s like any style of music there’s always the forerunners, the people that everybody identifies as a style of music. If you come out with something that sounds even similar to their style of music, they’re automatically gonna lump you in with the rest of them, the people that they know.
Session: I’m just gonna say one simple thing. Do you; that’s it. I do me, you do you, forget everybody else.
Substantial: I mean damn when the Roots dropped they weren’t even trying to call them Hip Hop they were trying their best to try and call them “Alternative Hip Hop” and everything BUT just to keep Hip Hop limited. That’s all it was. As soon as someone comes out with something different they try to limit it, give it a whole new title and limit the art form.
Do you have any final comments?
Session: Session! “Spicasso” coming soon!
Substantial: “Substantial Evidence” will be in stores hopefully before the summer’s out. It’s gonna be a hot little mix CD. Get some history on a cat most people don’t know about.
Tonedeff: Pack is working on “whutduzFMstand4”? I have “Underscore”, comes out June 20th, Session is on it on a song called “Safety First”. It’s essentially the setup record for “Archetype” which drops in September. “Archetype” is my full length album.
PackFM: I just want to say for all you New Yorkers if you see a guy in a train station standing not too far from the turnstyle and you know how they have the military guys with machine guns now and he’s about 2 feet away from them and he’s a white guy wearing a big fat gold chain out in the open, he’s a cop.
Substantial: I somehow feel that we’re all a little dumber thanks to you.
Tonedeff: We’re very appreciative of the support we’ve gotten thus far. We have a new record coming for y’all. Stay tuned, peep http://www.QN5.com for more info and details for http://www.Efamm.com for the personal group website.
Substantial: Peace and Blessings.