Ask any real Hip Hop head, and they'll fondly recall the reign of Natural Elements. In the late 90’s, L-Swift, A Butta and Mr. VooDoo brought the underground to life as the Indie-Era was coming to an end. By the year 2000, Natural Elements had killed their short-lived career with Tommy Boy Records and the group parted ways. After a thankfully failed attempt at suicide, L-Swift underwent a transition as a human being and MC. Today, the artist now known as Swigga is ready to pick up Hip Hop right where he left it. Armed with a label, Agatha Music, he's ready to take on the industry. His "Cross Country" mixtape has 21 tracks of Swigga, Eddie Brock, Scram Jones and the return of Natural Elements on the last track. Swigga took some time for AllHipHop to talk about life, death, rebirth, and the reunion of Natural Elements.
AllHipHop.com: What brought on the change from L-Swift to Swigga?
Swigga: L-Swift died on May 23, 2000. He passed away, but Swigga came to life right then and there. It changed because I went through a real stressful period where I wanted to end my life. I did try, but it just ended a part of my life, which was the L-Swift. I was young. I got that name in seventh grade, so the stuff that I wanted to do as an adult was different so I had to rename.
AllHipHop.com: How has the Swigga of 2000 changed to become the Swigga of today?
Swigga: I'm trying to break it down in four words: He is super focused.
AllHipHop.om: Is Swigga's style different from L-Swift of Natural Elements?
Swigga: Yeah, it kinda takes stuff from L-Swift every now and then. Swigga like borrows certain flows from L-Swift occasionally.
AllHipHop.com: With regard to Natural Elements, you guys did big things from like '96 to the turn of the century. What brought on the creative separation between yourself and Natural Elements?
Swigga: Well after the Tommy Boy thing went down, we had a choice right there. Our lawyer wanted us to try and get a deal somewhere else. We had to reevaluate ourselves. When we signed in '98, we just wanted to be heard on a larger scale. At that point we didn't fully understand the kind of leverage you had to have in order to execute the project, the way it's supposed to be. So what we did was we signed and felt like we needed an immediate buzz when really we should have taken our time and negotiated. But we didn't. After that, me, A, and Voo had to reevaluate where we wanted to go individually. We're still madd cool, but we have to get our own identities so we could do it how we want to.
AllHipHop.com: So there are plans for a Natural Elements reunion?
Swigga: Of course. That was never out of the question. It's all about us being able to do what we want to. Right now I'm trying to solidify Swigga and the Northeast Wildcats. That's where my mind is at right now, so I have to follow that.
AllHipHop.com: Can you elaborate on the Northeast Wildcats project?
Swigga: I'm from the Northeast Bronx and Flex is from out of there and so is Slick Rick. It's like nobody really solidified that the Northeast part of the Bronx is on fire. When I moved to New York from the islands, I moved to the Northeast Bronx, so the crew started from there. The Northeast Wildcats project is me and my man Eddie Brock, we've got real good chemistry right there. There's a couple of other cats on the mixtape that are trying to get heard. But mostly, it's us two on the mixtape. It's a project to express myself on a wild level, which I wouldn't necessarily do on my solo project.
AllHipHop.com: You're hitting the mixtape circuit pretty hard with the Cross Country Mixtape as well. Do you feel that putting out the mixtapes as opposed to putting out a full length first will benefit you more?
Swigga: Yeah. See, the thing about it is that it goes straight to the people. Before when I was in Natural Elements and doing my solo stuff before there wasn't that outlet. There was Kid Capri and people like that but no artists who put it out themselves. I think that's the way to get straight to the people without the red tape. If the audience only knew what goes on between us doing the song and them hearing it, they'd be like "Wow." It's real difficult, and I'm talking about it on a big level.
AllHipHop.com: When is the full length album coming out?
Swigga: I'm really right now putting out singles and mixtapes. If it will lead to that, I mean I'm not going to wait until 2006 to put out an album, but I'm getting my buzz faster than I thought. Right now, I just want to put out two more solo mixtapes, Northeast Wildcats and another single. All I'm doing right now is getting my buzz to a point where I will have leverage when I go to a label. I want the only thing to be missing when I set it up is the paper.
AllHipHop.com: What direction do you want your sound to go into? Nowadays you have Hip Hop going everywhere. Do you want it to reach on a mainstream level, or the angle Natural Elements reached - performing with the Roots and the Fugees?
Swigga: To tell you the truth, people put us in that category [with the Roots and Fugees]. We started putting out records in '93 and were getting play on college radio. I only after several years they were like, "Oh, y'all are underground." We were placed there. Some groups and artists, that's their aim. I don't battle, I haven't battled since eighth grade. I'm into arranging songs. I hardly listen to Hip Hop as much. As far as where I want to take it- the name of my company is Agatha Music. My mom's passed, so I named it after her. I feel like since I've gone through what I went through I feel like I can articulate my spirit really well. People haven't really seen that part of me, but I'm getting to that. At the end of the day, I want to be known on that level. There's jewels, but not preaching. I have alot of songs like that and are just not out yet.
AllHipHop.com: Which of the songs is your favorite?
Swigga: So many. I'm not even joking when I tell you. On the level I was just talking about, I have a song called "Recycle." I'm doing it it kind of like how Pun did it. Pun brought you into the album with the singles, but when you heard it he was talking about all kinds of other s**t. You bring them to the seats in the theater, think they're gonna see something and then you put them onto something else they didn't think they were gonna get. The audience will appreciate that more.
AllHipHop.com: How do you feel the ability to write and arrange a whole song weigh when determining talent?
Swigga: I think it has alot to do with talent. I wouldn't just sign someone who can spit sixteen bars. I'd give him a beat, and see what he does with the hook. The rhymes are fillers when you think about it.
AllHipHop.com: How would you describe Hip Hop right now?
Swigga: Growing, on the business end. If Special Ed had "I Got it Made" now, he'd be a multi-millionaire right away. These guys now have better opportunities, and I respect Rap in that realm. Other genres can now look at us as a credible form of music. All it takes is to have money behind the idea. Many people have hot ideas sitting in the crib that could make millions, but if you put no money into it, then it's not going to go anywhere. The creative part will always go back to the way it was.