Hip-Hop culture is definitely something Serch knows well. The Jewish MC released four albums in his career and executive produced Nas first album, the critically acclaimed Illmatic. But theres more to Serch than just his past, theres his future. Next month, he will release a new project, Many Young Lives Ago: The 1994 Sessions, which features never released tracks that he found in his basement.
AllHipHop.com sat down with the legend to learn which contestants most resembled a young Serch, why he has no interest in working with Nas, and why an album recorded in the 90s still has relevance and resonance today.
AllHipHop.com: You are coming out with a new album yourself. Can you tell me about your project, Many Young Lives Ago: The 1994 Sessions?
MC Serch: I found these masters literally in a box in my basement last year. And I took them out and started remastering them really for my own head, to hear them. These werent necessarily songs that were per se going to be on my album as much as they were songs that I was recording for that album. I always recorded a bunch of songs and then cherry picked which songs I was going to do. After listening to them and mixing them down, and taking like eight or nine months to sit with them and chill with them, I felt like they were a pretty good representation of who I was back in 94 as a 25 year-old MC who was really about to go on a whole different level. You know I was executive producing Nas [Illmatic] album, working on O.C.s Word...Life album, I was about to be dad for the first time, I was where I wanted to be in a lot of ways. It was interesting to listen to that guy, that MC from 94 and relate to who he is now.
AllHipHop.com: If its just the MC you were in 94, is it still relevant now?
MC Serch: I think the only reason its relevant is if you miss 94. If youre one of those guys that really love early East Coast Hip-Hop, then I think it has extreme relevance. I think if youre a person that holds the flame a little bit for 3rd Bass or are a bass head that stays on thirdbass.net, then I think its important for you. But is it important for a Yung Joc kid? No. Is it important for a fan who likes Jeezy? No. I dont really expect them to get it or want to get it nor do I care if they get it. This is really an introspective record, something that Hip-Hop doesnt do.
AllHipHop.com: Most of the album was recorded in 94, the same year as Illmatic and Word...Life, two classic projects you were heavily involved in. Can you put your album in the context of these two?
MC Serch: Not even in comparison. Illmatic was just brilliant. It was an MC who didnt even know what his full potential was. O.C.s album was just a guy who was trying to find himself and focus. I was in a different place. I didnt feel like I had a lot to prove. I was in the lab because I loved being in the lab. I made the majority of my album in my studio in Long Beach, Long Island with my partners and friends. We would just bounce records and baselines and just flow and not really think about the implications of it. Nas and O.C. had a determination and drive to make an album.
AllHipHop.com: What are your thoughts on Hip Hop Is Dead? Will you and Nas ever work again amidst the Where Are They Now hype?
MC Serch: I love Hip Hop is Dead. And no, I dont really see us working together anytime in the near future. He has a different agenda than mine. I have a different agenda. I dont really see us collabing anytime soon. And I don't really have an interest to be honest with you...and its not a negative thing. But its not about making music for me anymore. If I feel the urge like I did a mixtape in Detroit, I did another with Raw Collection. Every now and then Ill pop my head up and do a 16 hear or a 16 there, but its not really about making records anymore. Its about being raising my children, being a good father, a good husband. I have other priorities. Its just not about making music but battling is a different story. Ill take a dudes head off to this day.
AllHipHop.com: When you look at the success of MF Doom, Non Phixion and others, what role do you think you personally played in laying the foundation for New Yorks underground movement?
MC Serch: I think in terms of Non Phixion, I helped get them a studio, an opportunity for them to build their sound give them a place where they could go every day to make music. I built the studio that they used up until five years ago with my bare hands. I structured their first deal so that they would have freedom to be their own artist because I knew early on that their path was going to paved by themselves. Nobody was going to come out of the box and say, This is what Hip-Hop should be and this is the the next wave is. They built their fan base. To me, theyre the Ramones of Hip-Hop. I dont know if I had much to do with Doom. We havent talked in like 12 years. I dont think I can take any possible role...thats really him and his love for rhyming and making music and being an MC and just pushing the envelope. The only thing I can say is that I got him his first deal in 1989 and gave him the opportunity to be heard.
AllHipHop.com: In 2000, 3rd Bass briefly united, is that still in effect?
MC Serch: Yes, those songs are also on this album.
AllHipHop.com: What was that like after eight years of diss records and hiatus and all of that stuff?
MC Serch: It was good. It was a lot of fun. I didnt really diss [Pete Nice] on my album, P had a couple of things to say about me on Rat Bastard, but I didnt really care. I had already proven myself. Anything he said, I deflected. I deflected with my moves, whether doing marketing and promotion with Echo, and building that brand, the Serchlight brand and building Nas and O.C. and Non Phixion. So at that point I was like, Come on man, lets just get in the studio and make music. Lets just have some fun and make some records. And it wounded up really good. We had fun in the studio being at D&D [Studios] and recording. But unfortunately we were at a point in our careers and our lives where we couldnt commit the time to making an album anymore. But it was definitely special for that month, month and a half that we were in the studio. But it just made us realize that unfortunately we were in a different place, we just could not make that record.
AllHipHop.com: Million dollar Question: Was Back to the Grill Again inspired by Main Sources Live at the BBQ?
MC Serch: I honestly believe that any posse cut that came after Live at the BBQ was just trying to be Live at the BBQ. Live at the BBQ, with the exception of maybe [A Tribe Called Quests] Scenario and maybe one other record is probably the greatest posse cut in Hip-Hop history, period.