Bishop Lamont: Lucky Number Seven on “The Layover” of a Lifetime


Bishop Lamont is set to release his seventh street album, The Layover, on October 4. It is the last one that the Carson, California native will put out for free online before dropping his highly-anticipated, proper debut, The Reformation. With three singles and two videos off of the
street album available 24/7 online, excitement for its arrival is greater than ever.

While taking a break from mixing records in the studio, Bishop kindly allowed to  speak with him about his new project. We discussed what is missing in Hip-Hop today, why he  won’t discuss specifics, and what The Layover means to him. Sometimes the journey is just as significant as the destination, and this is a perfect example of that: Are you pleased with the reception of the three singles from The Layover so far?

Bishop Lamont: Yeah, man, because it’s not even about me. It’s about the fans enjoying pure Hip-Hop music again. Switching up from the usual [stuff] that people are hearing. So that’s
a reward in itself. Judging from your reference to Walkmans on “Phat Gold Dookie Rope ” and Sneakas’ references to Kriss Kross and Big Punisher on “That’s What She Said”, as well as the latter’s lunchtime version, there’s definitely a nostalgic feel to some of these tracks. Was that intentional?

Bishop Lamont: It’s definitely intentional because people, for some reason, have forgotten how Hip-Hop used to sound when it had its own identity and a pureness to it. I’m going to sound like me. I’m going to sound like what I want to sound like. I don’t want to do what this other producer did for five other artists that have the same kind of beat. I’m going to do what I do because that’s what’s convincing.  [I want to] have a unique sound, an identity, [my] own voice. If I’m not mistaken, “Don’t Stop,” The Layover’s first single, is your third collaboration with Mopreme Shakur. How did you two first connect?

Bishop Lamont: Me and Mopreme, man, I don’t know how many years ago, [we met] through a mutual friend. And it’s been on ever since. It’s just been a blessing. He’s been such a great mentor for me. From his experience coming into the business and going through the journey with his younger [step]brother Tupac. He’s such a great source of guidance, information, and inspiration, because he was there through it all. How did you approach this project, as a whole, differently than your other street albums?

Bishop Lamont: The Layover, really, symbolically, is just me being on the runway and going through delays. But we’re finally at takeoff and that’s what its about. So it’s really just something for the fans most of all. It’s not only a layover for me, but a layover for them. [I’m] going to get you through this. While you wait for [The Reformation], here’s some music. Here’s some energy to get you through the last wait before you get what I’ve been working my whole life to give you. That was the whole approach, because before, I wasn’t going to do any more mixtapes at all. But the fans kept demanding it. Production-wise, who is involved?

Bishop Lamont: I can’t say, because I’m going back to the days of when you didn’t know who was on it until you got the album. I’m so anti-put up a tracklist. To me, putting up a tracklisting is like giving out the entire script of a movie. It’s already kind of letting you know the changes in the story, the cliffhangers and stuff.  I want people to get it and I want  them to go through the experience of being surprised at each turn.

It’s a roller coaster ride, and I don’t want you to see it coming.  I want you to get thrown this way and thrown that way, with your hands up through the whole thing. Then I want you turn around and get right back on that motherf*cker and do it all over again. So I don’t want to say who’s on it, but it’s so many dope people.  I’m just excited about it.  I’m not putting a tracklisting out for it. You’re going to  experience it, and then you’ll know who’s on it when you hear them on it. Can you talk about the beat selection process? Were there certain types of beats that you were looking for?

Bishop Lamont and J Dilla’s Ma Dukes

Bishop Lamont: I was definitely looking for a certain kind of sound, a sound that has been rare. That’s why “Don’t Stop” is what “Don’t Stop” sounds like. I felt like the West Coast, for the most part, had lost its identity in the sense that they didn’t make beats like that anymore. They forget that they could make bangers like that and sound like themselves, instead of trying to sound like what they perceive the sound to be, or what they think the East Coast is, or what they think Pop should sound like.

The West used to have an incredible voice starting from Eazy-E, N.W.A to Above the Law – shout out to Big Hutch – and just incredible music like that. You had so many dope people, and they had a unique original sound. It was important that I took [listeners] back to the essence, and that I showed them pure Hip-Hop because they forget that we did and still do have it. That was a major goal from “Don’t Stop” to “That’s What She Said” to “Phat Gold Dookie Rope”. It’s like, remember? Remember the dope stuff that we used to do?

Yeah, the first time I heard the flutes on “Don’t Stop” it reminded me of the beat to Snoop Dogg’s “Tha Shiznit” from Doggystyle. Exactly. The Dogg Pound era. That was a great era; they call it the G-funk era. Whatever. It was just a dope time, and we just all but abandoned that. [For the lunchtime version of “That’s What She Said”], I went back to my old high school, and we were beating on the same tables we used to beat on and freestyle at. Shouts out to Carson High. We want to keep the art of ciphering and the experience of Hip-Hop alive and well. You’ve recently been making music with people such as King Tee, Rampage, and Fredro Starr among others. Are any of those records going to go on The Layover?

Bishop Lamont: I want people to be surprised when they get it. I don’t want to give anything away. All I can say is every one of the records we did will be coming out on something. If it’s not on The Layover, it will [still] be on something. It’s dope having a record with classic cats. Do you have a favorite track on this upcoming release?

Bishop Lamont: They are all like your kids, so they’re all my babies. I love all my babies. You’ve got your first born, and the first born on The Layover was “Don’t Stop”, and so you keep going from there. There are a lot of beautiful babies, so I can’t really say, man. On Saturday, September 22, on your Facebook page, you said, “Putting down the  finishing touches on The Layover mixtape!!!! This sh#t is ridiculous!!! My mixtapes are better than all u b#tch n%ggas albums!!!” Could you please elaborate on that statement
for those who might question the validity of it?

Bishop Lamont: When you hear it, you’ll understand why. And I’ve been proving it from N*gger Noize up to The Shawshank Redemption. It’s just that real, because it’s something that we give people and the way we put everything together: concepts, production, rhymes, the guest stars. We don’t f*ck around. We don’t fall short. We don’t play games with it. Is there anything you want to add or comment on that we haven’t already discussed?

Bishop Lamont: Just basically, a lot of people are asking, “Why is it called The Layover? Oh, didn’t Evidence have a record called The Layover?” That’s the last thing I’d want to do (bite someone else’s title in order to copy them). I’m calling it The Layover for two, maybe three reasons. We’re finally on the runway right before take off, and it’s a little wait. Really, what The Layover represents is journey music. Music you can take on a plane. Music you can take on a bus. Music in your ride. It’s also reflective of my journey, and what I’m about to do finally, musically after all this time, and give the world my life’s work which is The Reformation and everything that Diocese as label has to offer.

Bishop Lamont’s The Layover is set for release on October 4. Follow him on Twitter (@BishopLamont).