a treasure when a group birthed in the early 90s can still come together
to create classic music for 2008. Such is the case with Tha Alkaholiks
who, despite recording their final album and embarking on a drawn
out Farewell Tour, are still recording
to DJ E-Swift, its clear that not much has changed besides their
location. J-Ros been living in Sweden, Tash is still in Cali, and
Eric Brooks is now out in Las Vegas, where he purchased a home and
took a little hiatus to watch his son follow in his musical footsteps.
despite the distance between them, E-Swift is still in the lab going hard on the
boards, building his cache of beats to shop, as well as putting together
his long awaited solo album. A recent chat with AllHipHop.com finds
him taking a stroll down memory lane, as well as dispelling all myths
that Tha Liks reign on the West is over.
AllHipHop.com: Youve come
a long way from the days when you were rocking house parties in L.A.
How does it feel in hindsight, realizing you career is going on 20 years?
E-Swift: You know what? I think
about that every morning when I wake up, like Wow It was just
something that I did for the love of it, cause I loved music. Now twenty
years later Im making a living off of it, and man its a blessing.
Thats just Gods work. I didnt have aspirations of being a performer,
producer, DJ, and all that when I was little. It was just something that
happened, and Im glad it did.
AllHipHop.com: To briefly go
back for those that arent up on Tha Liks history, you guys were always
kind of a novelty for the West, but early on cut your teeth on some
definitive tours with A Tribe Called Quest, Ice Cube, and damn near
everybody throughout the 90s.
E-Swift: Yeah man, we were
really known for our stage performance. When I came out, I was deejaying
for King T, who was on Capitol Records at the time. That was big, and
I got to travel the world with him and get seasoned for Tha Alkaholiks,
and it seemed like it never stopped. Once I hit the road, I just stayed
on the road. It was cool though, I worked with a lot of the greats coming
up, been around a lot of people and learned a lot.
AllHipHop.com: What was one
of the things you really learned from back then?
E-Swift: Back then coming up,
I learned you really have to handle your business, and no ones gonna
look out for your best interest more than you are. As far as being a
producer, I definitely learned how to be more productive and not just
sit around the studio like its a playground. Im going to work
when Im officially in the studio. A lot of people back in the day,
before they had the ProTools and the home studios, they used to go to
the studio and pay all this money every hour. Hourly in the studio not
making any songs, thats money out your pocket. So I learned early,
get your own studio with your own equipment and be self-sufficient.
I rely on being really self-sufficient and I dont rely on anybody
to make a move.
AllHipHop.com: What are some
of your fondest memories from those years, looking back on those tours?
E-Swift: You can get a group
like King T and Ice Cube and sell out a 10,000 seat arena in a heartbeat.
And the music back then to me was more genuine. Of course rappers were
starting to make money and all that good stuff, but a lot of rappers
out at that time was doing it because they had it in their veins. Thats
what they wanted to do, they were rappers. They really cared about the
art form, and they represented Hip-Hop to the fullest. Nowadays a lot
of cats are looking at it like Ima come with this joint, its
gonna be real catchy, Im gonna sell a lot of ringtones, and I might
tour for a month or two until my single dies. A group like Tha Alkaholiks,
we can tour year-round without even having an album out cause our fan base
has been built over the years.
So my fondest memory of back
then is probably just seeing Hip-Hop grow as a culture and hit the road
full time. Wed be doing shows with Biggie, we toured with Tribe Called
Quest and De La Soul was like our first major tour as Tha Alkaholiks.
They invited us on that tour, and I remember paying a lot of dues man.
They were all in the nice fancy tour buses, and we were taking turns
driving a rented Cadillac with all our luggage in it. But wed be
beating them to the venues, get on stage and kill it. They respected
us for that. After grinding like that, finally at the end of the tour
we got a tour bus. But we paid a lot of dues driving all over the country
to concerts. We were real humble, and we had no shame. Sharing a room
and all that good stuff man. Those was the good ol days. (Laughs)
You havent paid any dues unless youve driven across the country
in a Cadillac touring with Tribe Called Quest and De La Soul, rockin
the house in front of thousands and thousands of people. Thats Hip-Hop.
AllHipHop.com: You guys obviously
got a lot of love on those tours, and props from all kinds of artists,
but was there ever any conflict with another artist or group in all
E-Swift: You know, weve
never had any kind of run-ins with anybody or made any kind of enemies
coming up in the game. Thats just pretty much cause thats our
personalities, were not here for all that. Weve always been here
to make music and have a good time. Thats why when you hear our songs
and you think about Tha Alkaholiks, listen to our CDs or whatnot, were
all about having a good time. We carry that with us in our regular,
everyday lives. Thats pretty much why we get along with everybody.
All the cats from New York always thought we were from the East Coast,
cause we didnt sound like a typical West Coast group. So they treated
us like brothers and still do.
AllHipHop.com: Speaking of
New York, what was it like when you first collaborated outside the family
with Heltah Skeltah for what would be the final track on Nocturnal?
E-Swift: That was a blessing
man, I was just grateful that they looked up to my work like that. They
invited me to New York to record the song at the legendary D&D studios,
and for me to be in there with legends like Premier, linking up with
Easy Mo Bee, Diamond D, cats that I look up to and to have them look
at me the same way I look at them it was a trip. I got to really hang
out and work with some of my favorite artists, it was wonderful man,
I cant even describe it. Im still a fan of Hip-Hop! If KRS-1 comes
to town, Im in the front row. Im a fan of Hip-Hop period, and
Im a real humble dude. I go to these joints with all these backpack
rappers and underground cats and they look at me like a legend. And
I look at them like, Im down here with yall trying to have
a good time and hear some good rap music. So going to New York, where
rap music started, it was like paying homage. It just felt good to be
a part of that whole culture, and that movement.
AllHipHop.com: Now Tha Liks
are officially split, but that in itself took a while to really happen.
E-Swift: Heres the thing.
Were just taking a little hiatus from Tha Alkaholiks because we all
had separate projects. Were still together touring as a group, and
were even in the studio together recording material. But for over
a decade straight, thats all we did was tour and make records. We
never really got a chance, aside from Tashs solo album [Rap Life],
we never had the chance to do a lot of stuff individually. So we all
just agreed to chill for a couple years and work with each other on
different projects. But were still strong, were still Tha Alkaholiks
together forever, we will have another new album coming out. It wasnt
a gimmick like This is our last album, go buy it cause this is your
last chance. We didnt want it to be looked at like that. It was
just a little hiatus, letting a lot of the bullshit music pass through,
and then were gonna come back strong. Watch out for us man, we dont
AllHipHop.com: I saw you guys
on your Farewell Tour, and then it was more than a year for Firewater
to even drop.
E-Swift: Yeah, it was like
the never-ending Farewell Tour man. Weve been saying Farewell
for like 20 years. People like I thought yall said goodbye?
Nope, were still saying goodbye. Its a long-ass farewell. And
when we drop another album were gonna have another Farewell Tour,
cause nobody wants us to come back. (Laughs) But as long as the love
is there, and the people continue to support us, were gonna be around
for a long time.
AllHipHop.com: So even though
you guys amicably went separate ways for a minute, youre saying theres
a possibility that Tha Liks might get back for another album. Is that
something thats been discussed? E-Swift: J-Ro moved to Sweden
like two years ago, which made our last release very difficult cause
the formula wasnt all the way there. It took a lot more work than
usual. So when were together we work, and when were apart we work
on separate things. So when J-Ro gets back out here, and everybody gets
their individual projects done, were definitely coming with a collaborative
effort. Matter of fact, a lot of people dont know this, but the whole
Likwit Crew is getting together to put out our long overdue album. Everybody
from Tha Alkaholiks, Xzibit, Defari, Madlib, Lootpack, everybody. Were
like the legendary Likwit Crew from the West Coast and we havent
really put out an album yet, collectively that one major album. Were
focusing right now on doing shows together, touring, having fun, and
getting back to the basics of being together as a crew. Everybodys
had their careers and a lot of success individually, but collectively
I dont think we can be stopped. So were getting ready to take
over the West Coast music scene with all these groups together to show
people how Hip-Hop music is supposed to be done.
AllHipHop.com: Now that everyone
is up to speed, what else is good with E-Swift in 07?
E-Swift: Right now Im in
the lab working on my solo album that Ill have complete early next
year, which is basically me bringing in a lot of new artists over my
production, as well as my whole crew and getting everybody involved.
Besides that, definitely making a lot of beats for upcoming records.
Outside of my own camp, Ive never really put a focus on outside production
cause you always want to keep the best stuff for your crew. So it wasnt
in our interest for me to be doing a lot of outside projects, but now
Im taking advantage of that cause I get a lot of requests for production.
As well, Im developing my own artists and my label Street Soul Music.
Ive got a 22-month-old little boy, so Im being a father raising
him and giving him a good start in life. Hes getting ready to be
the next big producer to come out, I already got his little studio in
his room. Hes got a little keyboard, drum machine and all that stuff,
so hes just practicing right now. Hes be two in January and hes
already playing keyboard. Hes about to be a monster!