eswift22

E-Swift: The Return of Tha Liks

It’s

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

together.

Talking

to DJ E-Swift, it’s clear that not much has changed besides their

location. J-Ro’s 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.

But

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: You’ve 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 I’m making a living off of it, and man it’s a blessing.

That’s just God’s work. I didn’t have aspirations of being a performer,

producer, DJ, and all that when I was little.  It was just something that

happened, and I’m glad it did. 

AllHipHop.com: To briefly go

back for those that aren’t 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 one’s 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 it’s a playground. I’m going to work

when I’m 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, that’s 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 don’t 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. That’s

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 “I’ma come with this joint, it’s

gonna be real catchy, I’m 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. We’d 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 we’d 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 haven’t paid any dues unless you’ve 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. That’s 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

those years? 

E-Swift: You know, we’ve

never had any kind of run-ins with anybody or made any kind of enemies

coming up in the game. That’s just pretty much cause that’s our

personalities, we’re not here for all that. We’ve always been here

to make music and have a good time. That’s why when you hear our songs

and you think about Tha Alkaholiks, listen to our CDs or whatnot, we’re

all about having a good time. We carry that with us in our regular,

everyday lives. That’s pretty much why we get along with everybody.

All the cats from New York always thought we were from the East Coast,

cause we didn’t 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 can’t even describe it. I’m still a fan of Hip-Hop! If KRS-1 comes

to town, I’m in the front row. I’m a fan of Hip-Hop period, and

I’m 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, “I’m down here with y’all 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: Here’s the thing.

We’re just taking a little hiatus from Tha Alkaholiks because we all

had separate projects. We’re still together touring as a group, and

we’re even in the studio together recording material. But for over

a decade straight, that’s all we did was tour and make records. We

never really got a chance, aside from Tash’s 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 we’re still strong, we’re still Tha Alkaholiks

together forever, we will have another new album coming out. It wasn’t

a gimmick like “This is our last album, go buy it cause this is your

last chance.” We didn’t 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 we’re gonna come back strong. Watch out for us man, we don’t

stop. (Laughs) 

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. We’ve been saying “Farewell”

for like 20 years. People like “I thought y’all said goodbye?”

Nope, we’re still saying goodbye. It’s a long-ass farewell. And

when we drop another album we’re 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, we’re gonna be around

for a long time.  

AllHipHop.com: So even though

you guys amicably went separate ways for a minute, you’re saying there’s

a possibility that Tha Liks might get back for another album. Is that

something that’s been discussed? E-Swift: J-Ro moved to Sweden

like two years ago, which made our last release very difficult cause

the formula wasn’t all the way there. It took a lot more work than

usual. So when we’re together we work, and when we’re apart we work

on separate things. So when J-Ro gets back out here, and everybody gets

their individual projects done, we’re definitely coming with a collaborative

effort. Matter of fact, a lot of people don’t 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. We’re

like the legendary Likwit Crew from the West Coast and we haven’t

really put out an album yet, collectively that one major album. We’re

focusing right now on doing shows together, touring, having fun, and

getting back to the basics of being together as a crew. Everybody’s

had their careers and a lot of success individually, but collectively

I don’t think we can be stopped. So we’re 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 I’m in

the lab working on my solo album that I’ll 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, I’ve never really put a focus on outside production

cause you always want to keep the best stuff for your crew. So it wasn’t

in our interest for me to be doing a lot of outside projects, but now

I’m taking advantage of that cause I get a lot of requests for production.

As well, I’m developing my own artists and my label Street Soul Music.

I’ve got a 22-month-old little boy, so I’m being a father raising

him and giving him a good start in life. He’s getting ready to be

the next big producer to come out, I already got his little studio in

his room. He’s got a little keyboard, drum machine and all that stuff,

so he’s just practicing right now. He’s be two in January and he’s

already playing keyboard. He’s about to be a monster!

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