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DJ Green Lantern: Honoring Hip-Hop

James

D’Agostino, better known as, DJ Green Lantern, has been personally

honoring Hip-Hop since ‘89. Creeping towards perfection, the self-proclaimed The Evil Genius can

transform a computer into a musical instrument, “People are surprised

when they find out I’m a professional producer. I’ve been producing

since 1991; I never stopped.” Adding to his diverse musical repertoire

The Evil One has become an accomplished DJ, an entertaining on-air personality

and a prominent mixtape guru. These collective efforts are a way in

which he continues to infuse his unique creativity into Hip-Hop.

      Having

worked many of Hip-Hop’s elite, The Evil Genius still welcomes working

with the inventive new faces like Johnny Polygon, the compelling voice

that singing the hook on Nas’ “Black President.” JP is the first

artist signed to Green’s Invasion Music. “He actually has a project…

look out for it. It’s pretty dope—it’s left of what you’d expect.”

Johnny Polygon’s debut effort, Wolf

In Cheap Clothing is due later this year.

      In

an exclusive interview with AllHipHop.com, DJ Green Lantern discusses

everything from his favorite creative aspect of Hip-Hop to payola to

beef.

AllHipHop.com:

You can be considered a musical Renaissance man you’re a DJ, you’re

a producer and you’re an on-air personality. Within Hip-Hop what’s

your favorite creative medium?

Green: With producing

I can do what I want to do. I can take a sound-bite from a movie, I

can take a little phrase that somebody says from a record and use it

a’capella and little phrase that someone says from a record. I can

get a beat from somewhere else and mix ‘em all up and do what I want

with it; and make it all artistic and creative. People will be able

to sit with it and rewind it and really catch the creativity. Sometimes

being on the radio those elements like fly over people’s heads. You

just listen to it in real time you don’t get to rewind it like that.

So you do different things on radio you have moments with [the] artists.

Then in the club those kind of moments kind fly by them. When you put

a set together you do it more simple [and] more to the point. You try

to get that response in the club. I would say creatively, just strictly

creatively speaking, I would say the mixtapes. But I enjoy being a club

DJ, a DJ and an on-air personality and writer of songs and what not. 

AllHipHop.com: Can you

remember what motivated James D’Agostino to make Hip-Hop his career?

Green:

To make it my career was [doing] the mixtapes. The rush that you get

from the love from putting out a project. People are ohhhing and ahhhhing

over it because it was so creative. It was next level with the production

and what not on it. It wasn’t what people were used to. I was getting

responses like, ‘Yo, that shit was crazy. That shit is hot.’ It

was a different type of response. I was like I can work with this thing.

It wasn’t let me make a living off of this; it was let me just keep

getting that response. The by-product of that was all of a sudden some

money came through. I was able to quit a job and really realize my love

and just do this. 

Before I was a DJ I was making

beats and calling myself a producer. This was back in 1991. Some beats

I had was on the back burner then the DJ thing came around. Then the

mixtape thing and it brought my name to the world; people kinda paid

attention when I produced a song. I was able to walk into a studio with

a big name artist and turn in my beats because they knew me as a DJ.

That’s how I got able to produce Ludacris “Number One Spot” and

Busta Rhymes and Rick James “In The Ghetto,” you know stuff like

that, Nas’ “Dear President.”

AllHipHop.com: Have

you ever recycled a beat?

Green:

Man, I think I just did that. That’s a thorough-ass question; I just

did that, probably a few times. Like, I might have made something and

I really didn’t do nothing with it or nobody took the beat. I guarantee

you I just did that for this dead prez song. I had an original beat

that I had made. Damn, I don’t want to give this away—okay, I’ll

say it like this. There is this huge project that is coming out that

I can’t say the name of. I had shopped the beat to this artist. He

ended up not getting back to me saying that he wanted the beat until

after I had recorded the beat with dead prez. 

That’s just kinda the standard

in the music game; you shop beats to a whole bunch of different people,

whoever wants to get on it will get back to you. If business is right

that’s who gets it. Sometimes people will have beats. Just because

they have six million beats in their computer doesn’t mean that they’re

theirs. You have to pay for them… Bottom line, there was this song

I shopped to this huge artist. This artist has been working on this

big ass project that everyone has been waiting on for a bunch of years.

And that says enough. 

AllHipHop.com: What’s

your overall feeling about the time that you spent with Shady Records?

Green:

Ah, man, blessings, I learned a whole lot. I toured the world. I was

kind touring the world before that. I had been to Europe and Australia

on a deejay level where you’re doing clubs and things like that. But

that was a whole ‘nother level that I saw with [Shady Records] which

was like 50,000 people in an arena, and outside and shit like that.

It was definitely a great time in my life; big up to everybody over

there. 

AllHipHop.com: Armageddon,

what’s its status, will it be forever banished to the land of lyrical

purgatory? 

Green:

[laughs] You have a crazy vocabulary on you. Did you say purgatory?

Wow. Dang, can I use that? Armageddon was almost finished and

it was kinda left alone when I left that situation. You know, some of

that music was attached and owned by the labels, so you have label issues

going on. I make so much music— so if that’s going to be a stipulation,

then aight, cool. 

AllHipHop.com: How do

you incorporate an artist that you normally wouldn’t listen to? When

there’s a popular record that people love; but, you as a man may think

it is garbage; when you’re deejaying, how do you remain unbiased? 

Green:

Interesting, that kinda doesn’t collide with me, I’m really lucky

to be in that situation. In my current radio show on Sirius Radio they

say play what the hell you want to play, you know. But at the club,

I would say that that may apply because I play for the people; I play

for the crowd that’s in front of me. If I don’t like a particular

record—Like, I wasn’t big on Miami Bass. Honestly when it first

came out I wasn’t big on it but I knew that for at least for that

10 or 15 minutes a night you had to play at least four records at the

club. If I gotta play “Me So Horny” in the club, if that’s going

to make the crowd go crazy, how could I deny that? It’s only like

that in the club and I’m not mad at that because I can look at these

1000 people going crazy to this record…

AllHipHop.com: As a

man with a voice you’ve been forthcoming with some of your political

opinions you were part of the “Bin Laden” track and you teamed up

with Russell Simmons for the Yes We Can

Mixtape. Do you think that Hip-Hop is an effective form to catalyze

political change? 

Green:

Most definitely… To put it in simple terms, if you have the people

and you have the politicians, if the politicians see that the people

are feeling a certain way and that they’re organizing and gathering

a certain way and they’re gathering around, let’s say music. Then

you have people with political ideas like Immortal Technique or a Dead

Prez and it’s galvanizing x amount of people and these people are

protesting and their voices are starting to get heard. Then x amount

of politicians or political entities will take that into consideration

when they formulate policy.

That’s how I look at things.

If you stay quiet and keep your mouth shut, to them everything is cool

there’s no problems, nothing needs to be changed. On a basic level

people are stirred up or inspired by music. Say a song like “Bin Laden” 

or whatever else, you know, Nas’ “Black Presidents” or Jeezy’s

“My President Is Black” — the people that are making decisions

just on a small level will consider [that] if I want to stay in power

[and] if this is the general consensus of the people that will be electing

me two years from now, I’ll need to put some policies in play that

will reflect their concerns and their interests. 

AllHipHop.com: Let’s

bring this back to Hip-Hop, as a DJ you have a lot of power in regards

to what songs will get played. Have you ever participated in any payola?

Green:

Hell no! Something was brought up, there was a disgruntled artist [who]

put a accusation out there that I told him I needed some money from

him to play his shit, and hell no! First of all, let me be clear, I

work one day a week on satellite radio for two hours. That don’t garner

no damn payola. First and foremost, if they’re paying somebody they’re

paying the guy’s that on every day. But strictly speaking, they don’t

even offer the one-day-a-week guys no brown paper bag or no type of

money, period. Because, we don’t affect the BDS’s (Broadcast Data Systems) like the every day

guys do. So, when you hear about people being accused of payola, it’s

mostly the guys that’s on every day. That’s not to shine the light

over there; I’m just saying you shouldn’t look over here. A once-a-week

guy is not enough to sway your BDSs. If I give you one spin a week,

you know, the math doesn’t add up.  

AllHipHop.com: Within

the last five years which two Hip-Hop tracks do you think have had the

best production?

Green:

Great question, damn. I would say one of which is the Jay-Z and Nas

“Black Republicans” and I believe that L.E.S. did. That was on the

Nas album it was the song where they crushed the beef and all that.

That beat to me is just retarded; definitely a favorite. I loved the

Jeezy beat from the last album, it was a song called “Who Dat,”

Shawty Redd made the beat. The “Who Dat” beat is crazy. I appreciate

the Southern just as much as I just named the “Black Republicans”

beat [because] it’s a straight sample and horns and a super New York

sounding beat. I still appreciate it for what it is a straight super

Southern joint in my eyes. It is done well. To me that beat right there

is straight aggression, the way the drums come in, and it switches up

and goes up in the register.  It’s crazy to me. I love the Busta

Rhymes [“Respect My Conglomerate”] beat. I love that beat. I’m

just a fan of beats. I could go on and on. 

AllHipHop.com: Let’s

get on producers; within the last year has any emerging producer caught

your attention?

Green:

Probably Exile. He’s crazy… If you Google him or YouTube him, Exile

does these live MPC things where he’s going crazy on the MPC live.

His beats are real ill. He’s kinda in the school of J Dilla where

it’s like super chopped up samples and dope shit like that. I would

say Exile and on the Queen side of things, there’s a up-and-coming

producer, Nicco.  The reason I say him is because there’s another

spectrum across from Exile. He has a really dope futuristic-sounding

music where it’s not sampled based. I can appreciate the whole spectrum. 

AllHipHop.com: Last

question, beef; is it necessary within Hip-Hop? 

Green:

I f**king hate beef; I’m a vegetarian. I think that beef has gotten

extremely out of control. It’s not genuine anymore; the issues that

people have I don’t believe anything anymore. I feel like the whole

thing is just a marketing ploy. It’s been pimped and ho’d like many

other aspects of Hip-Hop. At one point it was interesting because of

the human nature point of it all. You know, back when LL Cool J versus

Kool Moe Dee that was interesting. Back then we never thought that shit

was a fake or WWE; but, later on you did because it got pimped and ho’d….  

With KRS-One versus MC Shan,

that thought never crossed your mind, that that s*** was fake. That

s*** was real. The money wasn’t there; they weren’t using it as

a marketing clause for album sales or visibility on blogs or to help

generate interest on a album; none of that s***. It’s become retarded

it’s crazy. I hate the word and it’s disgusting.

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