Cincinnati sucks! I should know because I live there. An almost non-existent music scene, coupled with racist, homicidal cops, an inordinate amount of illegal business (see: Traffic, In Too Deep), and post-riot economic and racial distress all add up to one f*ckin cesspool of a city. But in this gloomy environment there are a few flickers of light that have managed to shine through, namely a handful of talented hip-hop artists who have consistently blessed the locals with some much needed quality entertainment.
One such ray of light consists of Fat Jon (MC/Producer), Pase Rock (MC/DJ), Kyle David (MC), and Sonic (Producer), the foursome known to every true hip-hop head as Five Deez.
The Deez made their full-length debut in the fall of 2001 with the release of Koolmotor, an homage to their wide range of musical influences. In addition to their work as a unit, the group has also released a string of successful solo (Fat Jon, Pase) and side projects (3582) in the past few years that have elevated the Deez standing in the independent rap game.
Now with the recent release of their sophomore full-length, Kinkynasti, the Nati quartet is seeking to expand beyond the parameters of their past work by encompassing a less multifarious, but no less dope sound. Hopefully with this album Five Deez will finally be able to shine a light on a city currently immersed in social ill and hip-hop obscurity.
Allhiphop.com: Lets give our readers who may not be too familiar with Five Deez some background on the group. First, where did the name Five Deez come from?
Fat Jon: Five Deez came from Fifth Dimension; that was the original name of the group. But theres already a group called Fifth Dimension, so we flipped it hip-hop style and made it Five Deez.
Allhiphop: When did the group come together?
Fat Jon: 93, officially. We were all doing sh*t in other groups before, and hanging out and rhyming and everything, but we decided to officially become a crew in 93.
Allhiphop: What and when was the first official Five Deez release?
Fat Jon: The first official Five Deez release was The WVDZ Sessions in 1998.
Allhiphop: How would you describe the Five Deez sound to those unfamiliar with your music?
Pase Rock: Its classic hip-hop at its core, but a little bit on the progressive side as far as the beats and the lyrics are concerned. I would say we try to just keep it real soulful and groovy. You can definitely hear the groove in every song, like each song definitely has a groove to it, a little bounce to it, a nice swing in the music.
Fat Jon: Progressive sh*t you can feel.
Allhiphop: Are there any groups out there you would feel comfortable comparing your sound to?
Fat Jon &
Pase Rock: Nope.
Allhiphop: No rappers wanna do that.
Fat Jon &
Pase Rock: (laughs)
Allhiphop: Five Deez hail from my hometown, the home of jazz fest and blown spots/bearcats and bengals, no culture, no hip-hop. So sum up for our readers your impression of the Cincinnati hip-hop scene, past and/or present?
Pase Rock: I think its a two-sided coin, like good and bad. Its bad in the sense that a lot of the groups dont get exposure, I think a majority of the scene has an inferiority complex, its like because of the geography they feel that they cant really get stuff jumping off on a larger scale. They get satisfied with local props. I think thats the bad side of the coin. The good side of the coin is its a loosely unified scene; everybody is down with each other. Theyre pretty supportive for the most part.
Allhiphop: So how do you think that changed? Back in the 70s and 80s we were a musical Mecca.
Fat Jon: Not for hip-hop; there was never a foundation until recently for that. There were a few people actually doing it, hand-to-hand selling tapes and CDs, but nobody really got down for each other until 92, 93, 94. And that started bumbling into whats there today. But I know for (hip-hop) in the mid-80s, late 80s, it was horrible man.
Allhiphop: Five Deez came on the scene around the same time as Mood and Hi-Tek, but you guys never signed to a major-label like they did, how come?
Pase Rock: We werent really ready at that time. We were just off on our own, focusing on making the music and not as much on the business side, we were just honing our skills in the studio.
Fat Jon: Just developing a sound. Because we got together and we had a lot of fun and sh*t
Pase Rock: And thats pretty much what our focus was having fun, making music. It wasnt, yo, lets make a career out of this, where as Mood and Hi-Tek were more interested in the commerce side of things.
Fat Jon: They were bout it before we were. And they introduced those (business) elements to us, they were like, its like this fellas.
Pase Rock: Them and a few other people were like, yo, yall got what it takes, yall need to be doing this.
Allhiphop: So did you guys ever actually shop to a major?
Pase Rock: We did a couple of things, but not too hard, we werent pursuing it.
Fat Jon: We always knew that was just a way to get stroked. We never knew anybody that had a good story to tell, its all f*cked up stories.
Pase Rock: We were young and just happy-go-lucky, we didnt have any responsibilities and priorities at the time, and so it wasnt really an issue to get signed.
Allhiphop: You guys have a huge following in the Nati, but I noticed you guys are bigger in Tokyo than you are in Clifton (University Of Cincinnati campus). How did that happen?
Pase Rock: They just latched on to it for whatever reason. I cant really call it. And then we went over there and probably made it worse.
Allhiphop: Why the overseas focus, and not, lets try and get in The Ritz (local club) every Saturday?
Fat Jon: Honestly man, I can only speak for me, my personal opinion is that I would rather have a dedicated fan than a fickle fan. Id rather have somebody whos down for Five Deez forever than somebody who just likes two of our songs. And most of the people who have more of an appreciation for music are not in the U.S.
Pase Rock: Its the type of music we make. Were not gonna make a song about our car rims.
Allhiphop: Why not call it that, but make it about something else, do some subliminally metaphorical sh*t?
Fat Jon: People dont want to hear metaphors. Theyd be like, man, thats a metaphor, they should have just came out and talked about the rims.
Pase Rock: Thats not our approach. Were not gonna do something trendy, just cause its hot right now, it dont last. Thats never been our approach. That particular audience is the prevalent market in Cincinnati. They just want whats hot at the moment. Cincinnati doesnt have an identity, its got an identity crisis and an inferiority complex.
Fat Jon: But we always knew that our music isnt the most accessible, popular sh*t anyway. Either you get it, or you dont get it, or it just grown on you.
Allhiphop: Sometimes I dont get it either. I gotta be honest, I wasnt really feeling yall first full-length, Koolmotor, but Im loving Kinkynasti. So explain to our readers the difference between the two.
Fat Jon: Koolmotor is like an explosion. That album goes in so many different directions genre wise. Kinkynasti is focused, like a laser-beam. And we did it like that on purpose. When we were making Koolmotor we knew we wanted to make a record that went everywhere, so that we could go anywhere after that record. We didnt want to just come out like, yo, we sound like this. We wanted to come out and show that we can sound like anything. So then when we did Kinkynasti, we decided, ok, lets make a record that sounds like this.
Allhiphop: Now, Jon youre also a member of 3582, along with J. Rawls from Lone Catalysts, so howd that partnership come about?
Fat Jon: Man, the first day I met J we were making music. We just had this chemistry, and we both have the same mentality when it comes to production. And people dont know this but J can f*ckin rap, he just doesnt. So we would f*ck around and talk sh*t like, yo man, we should be a group. And then one day we just decided, you know what, lets just f*ckin do it. We decided to do 3582 for fun and sh*t, because being in The Deez is pressure, being in Lone Catalysts is pressure; youre in a group, you compromise, and you have ideas that dont always fit into the concept of the group. So you have this other outlet where you can just do this sh*t. We just decided thats our side-project, fun sh*t, lets just be stupid and have a ball.
Allhiphop: So what can your fans expect to hear from 3582 on the groups new album, Situational Ethics?
Fat Jon: They can expect to hear a bunch of crazy, different situations. Its a storybook record about what you think you are. Are you a pimp? Are you a cool m*th*f*cka? Do you get *ss? They can expect a buncha of that sh*t, just different situations and what would you do in those situations.
Allhiphop: Pase, you also have a project outside of the group. Tell the people out there about your solo album, Bullsh*t As Usual.
Pase Rock: Its just this record I did in Japan. Its kinda cool just having something exclusive to just one country. But I might release it in the states eventually. Its cool having these side projects that aint as accessible as everything else.
Allhiphop: So whats the future hold for Five Deez? You guys gonna be doing this twenty years from now?
Fat Jon: Well definitely be doing music in some form or fashion.