When Nas asked where are they now to some of raps pioneers, Ill and Al Skratch heard their names shouted out once again by the QB veteran. A longtime fan of the duo from Uptown and Brooklyn, Nas wanted people to ask Ill and Al Skratch Where My Homiez? the title of their 1994 hit from their debut album.
Although theyre no longer as active in the rap game as they once were, the duo has a genuine love for Hip-Hop and promises to make a return to the spotlight once they can make it pop-off exactly the way they want it towith no BS getting in the way of creating good music close to the essence of the culture they played an important role in bringing to the forefront it is today. Although they have a few regrets as far as the business end of the game, the two have nothing but warm praise for Nas, music and, of course, each other. They wouldnt be homies if they couldnt recognize how they each make themselves better rappers through a little healthy competetion. Nas asked where they were. We found them. Read on for an exclusive featuring two heavyweights of the 1994 era.
AllHipHop.com: I want to know what the two have you been up to since the 94 era you debuted in. What have you been up to since then?
Al Skratch: Were in the studio right now. Were just listening to a lot of different tracks by up and coming producers. Were working with a cat out of Queens called Landlord [and] Coptic. We got some other people were working with but we dont want to let the cat out the bag, you know what Im saying. Im producing a couple of joints too.
Ill: As far as the music is concerned, we buy a lot of music. We love Hip-Hop. We love rap music. Were always checking whos coming out on the mixtapes. Weve been doing that for years. A lot of people have complained that Hip-Hop has changed and its become commercialized. But its good for the game. It opened up a lot of doors for more entertainers, which, to me, is a great thing.
AllHipHop.com: Its interesting you say that, because a lot of people would think the opposite. But one rapper whos been around since then till now is Nas, and Nas has always shown the two of you love in his songs. Most recently, he gave the two of you a shout out on Hip-Hop is Dead. What was your reaction when you first heard it?
Al Skratch: Real recognize real. That 90s era is a certain part of Hip-Hop that will probably never be captured again because the street was directly connected to the radio. Thats a part of a change that takes place now because a lot of the things that are out now may not be, you know, just street. The music may be the same, but the rawness of rap may not be the same. But as far as Nas, we have nothing but respect for Nas.
Ill: A lot of people might recognize [it] now, but Nas has always been real with everything that he did. I always respected Nas. I always had a lot of love for Nas. I understand where hes coming from as far as, like, the game being changed. From the aspect of the [new] artists coming out, theyre just destroying it. You know, going against each other and stuff like that. But a lot of times, [beef] was done in more of a fun way. Now, its more commercialized. People look at it differently. But [at the same time] the game is what it is. Its always been that way. Look at LL and Kool Moe Dee. All the dudes from back in the day used to diss each other. Thats good for Hip-Hop to me.
AllHipHop.com: Do you guys ever feel healthy competition with each other?
Al Skratch: Its always been like that with me and Ill. Thats how we first met, actually. I got on a record that Ill was doing. He was like, Yo, I love your energy man. Bring that energy that you did for you, and bring that on my remix joint. That is a part of the chemistry that a lot of people saw that we had with each other. Its like, he elevated me in that way, you know what Im saying?
AllHipHop.com: How long were you guys rapping before you got the deal back then?
Ill: I was rapping for a while. I wasnt really trying to get a deal. I just loved rhyming, music and kicking something that people liked. I just happened to hook up with a couple different people that was producing in the studio. They were putting it down and working on some songs. Thats when I got down with Al. He already had a deal structured and the people he was working with liked the way we sounded together, so they kind of just put me in there with Al. We just took it from there. I think we sound good together.
AllHipHop.com: Would you agree with that Al?
Al Skratch: I would completely agree with that. I think thats what Ill Al Skratch is about. Not even to mention that fact that Ill is from Brooklyn and Im from Uptown, that could be like, a Black and White thing. But just to put it together, and it sounds good. I got the melodic flow, what have you, that Uptown flow. Hes got that Brooklyn swag you know, mad confident with it. To bring it together and make it sound good [is an accomplishment]. We came together and we gave people a taste of Ill by himself and Al by himself.
AllHipHop.com: Speaking of the album, Creep Wit Me, it was a good album. If you could do something differently, what would it be? I would say the quality was there, but maybe the business end with the label was not. What do you think?
Al Skratch: Do you wanna build on that a little?
AllHipHop.com: I would say that maybe the promotion was off, or maybe Polygram didnt market you enough. Do you agree?
Ill: No. I would think that we definitely had a little buzz going. I think that they put our music out there. But I dont know about the availability of the product. The distribution, I dont know if it was actually in the right areas, or at the right time and stuff like that. They kind of had us all over the road, bouncing all over the place, instead of focusing on like one market. At the same time, the label had a bunch of different projects going on. We kinda had to do it ourselves.
Al Skratch: Aint no love lost though. I got love for everybody we worked with in the past, you know what Im saying?
AllHipHop.com Would you maybe, knowing what you know now, have done things a little differently?
Ill: I probably would have brought a couple extra people in just so they could stay on top of the label. We was out there trying to work the music, meet the fans and deal with the people. A lot of times we didnt have nobody there making sure that everything was popping off the way that it was supposed to be popping off. I think what we should have did is probably have a couple more people more involved in the project from a managerial point of view to stay on top of the label.
AllHipHop.com: What advice would you give someone whos just starting out in the industry, as far as that business end goes?
Ill: As far as the business end? Make sure that they get the right people working with them. Get an attorney, get a lawyer and make sure they fully understand everything that theyre getting into. Make sure that whoever they get down with has love for the project.
Al Skratch: Make sure they believe in their project. Dont half-ass it. Go in. If youre gonna go in, go in for real, man. Cause back then, a lot of people even though a lot of labels believed only half-assed into a project, the artists believed in it. Or the manager of the artist believed in it so much that he knew he could do it. Thats how Hip-Hop got here. Somebody was like, I know what this is. I know what this is gonna do. They kept pushing and pushing and pushing. Now were running labels. Thats all a part of the vision.
Ill: I would also add that you gotta love what you do. You gotta get rid of that artificial love!
AllHipHop.com: Exactly. So, Im taking it that you guys have been rapping ever since?
Ill: I mean, you know. Everybody got a little rhyme book. Lets not front, Chris. You probably got a little rhyme book stashed somewhere, you know what Im saying [Laughs]. You might write notes, you do poems and all that. But as far as getting up there and grabbing the mic, and commanding the show and all that? Its been a minute since 94, 93, 92.
AllHipHop.com: Did yall take a hiatus?
Ill: As far as the music, I havent really been out there trying to promote anything like that because we really didnt have the material or stuff like that together. Just recently, we decided that were gonna go ahead and try to mash out something. But from that aspect, we really havent been out there touring or doing any kind of shows or anything like that.
Al Skratch: We gotta a lot of offers, I mean, not a lot, but we got a couple of offers thats on the table that we can take advantage of. But we gotta come out there and come correct. Its like what Ill was saying before. Its not like were like Yo, we gotta get this money. If were gonna do it, its gonna be done the right way. We already walked dogs when everything wasnt properly in line. We gotta do it in a way where were loving to do it.
AllHipHop.com: I want to shift gears just a little bit. I remember that video you had with Brian McKnight back in the day, I think it was called Ill Take Her. And I remember the video, it was like, you had this groupie and you were taking her backstage, you know what Im saying. So I want to just ask you, do you have any crazy stories from being out on tour? Like, from all your memories, what sticks out the most?
Al Skratch: The memory that sticks out the most? Being on tour could be wild and crazy, you know what Im saying? But I have a couple of memories when we was out with Big and Puff. But I think the most memorable one was me, [Ill] and Nas and we just at the back of the hotel. We was in the pool.
Ill: Oh yeah.
Al Skratch: Nas had the Henny and he was like, Yo, come up, man. Thats like, to me, even though we was on tour, it was like, we was back on the block. You know what Im saying? It was like, Yo, lets get this Henny. Lets just find that peace moment. That was beautiful to me.
AllHipHop.com: Is there anything you want to say?
Ill: [Rhyming] Ive been down since your vision was Coleco/What up to Stretch and Bobbito/Will Smith, Charlie Mac back in 86/Thats about the same time I met Mark Pitts/What up Alex/I knew some n***as from the West as well/They kept it jingling baby, big ol butt for L/Back when Busta was in the other studio with Mickey D/Come on n***a, that was me/OK, when KRS did The Bridge is Over/I was standing right there/Chris Lighty worked in Union Square/I never met the teacher but he dope though/ My n***a Tron came up with Puffs Logo/ I did a joint with D without the Run/I did a joint with Shaquille ONeal and Michael Jack-son/Homie so hot, I can make the same hit/Or I can hit you with a thousand bars, on some Game s**t.