Detroit, Michigan, has a rich musical musical history. In addition to Motown, Hip-Hop has played an integral part in the city’s musical score. And one of the greatest ambassadors for the city’s up-and-coming Hip-Hop talent is DJ Butter.
He is a twenty year veteran of the scene, born and raised in The D, who, to date, has released over 250 mixtapes. And recently, he dropped A Piece of the Action, a collaboration album Slum Village’s DJ Dez. The 14-track set not only features production from two stellar DJs, but rapping from some of the city’s top-notch emcees.
In an interview with AllHipHop.com, Butter talks, among other things, making beats, J. Dilla and Proof, utilizing social media for A Piece of the Action, and gives us an exclusive new video clip for one of its songs ("Dominating").
Respect the architect. He has kept Hip-Hop in the Motor City running on all cylinders longer than most.
AllHipHop: We should of course, start with your new album, A Piece of the Action. Have you been pleased with the album's reception so far?
DJ Butter: Yeah, yeah. Actually I been taking it around to other states and you know, just seeing some actual people I grew up listening to and you know, just the feedback to see those people seeing the packaging and then going to listening to the album, and then call me back. People like Masta Ace were able to get a copy of the album.
AllHipHop: Oh wow.
DJ Butter: You know, people I grew up listening to. You know that's been my goal to inspire people that inspired me. You know, to work with Kool G. Rap and, you know, to get those guys.
AllHipHop: I had to ask, that “Chess not Checkers” song on your album (which features G. Rap), Kool G. Rap is one of my all time favorites. When I saw that on the album, I listened to the whole thing, but I started with that song.
DJ Butter: Oh word. Ok, wow. Yeah that's one of my favorites as well.
AllHipHop: I know that you did forty plus collaborations on A Piece of the Action, and when I researched it, you guys said that you reached out to everyone who wanted to be on the album just through social media, is that correct?
DJ Butter: Yeah. I'm glad of that. As a kid I wanted to call LL Cool J and say, "What's up? You inspired me," or call MCA. To be able to call those guys now, its a humbling experience, but to be able to talk and see how their businesses ran and see how they're maintaining today, you just gotta soak it up. You never know when its gonna be taken away from you. That's what it took for Kool G. Rap and all those guys to pretty much investigate me as well. You know, the benefits of that to make it happen, you don't wanna waste this guy's time, you know what I'm saying? It was where he would say, "Ok, you called me by my government name. Come down to New York and do a video with me." For him to tell me he liked Guilty Simpson and things like that, that keeps me going.
AllHipHop: You were talking about DJ Dez's record collection and how he just has endless stuff that he's produced over the years. Now, when you put together this album, was it like, did you come across some of those records? Was it like "ok, we have to do this?" or was it just kind of like a gradual process?
DJ Butter: He pretty much just started from scratch. I would throw an idea at him and he'd say "Ok." Dez, you know he's a musician, he can make a beat in fifteen or twenty minutes. I’ve seen him inspire Dilla with that. It’s just so natural for him. He got a way of motivating me, you know what I'm saying? Just to come in his house and see him scratching, we would go in his space and smoke a blunt or two and he'd be practicing like we were fifteen years old again.
AllHipHop: You were talking about traveling around the country. One of the things you said in your Metro Times article that I thought was really interesting, you said, quote, "They love us outside the city but sometimes were too hard on each other," could you elaborate on that?
DJ Butter: I think it's just like that even if we to go past Hitsville, there’s not a lot of energy there, with the natives, the people that live here, you know, things like that. So, its kinda the same way with Hip-Hop. We live it so much, you know what I'm saying, to where, we don't realize that we're in it, and that people around the world hear the soul from us, and we just live in it. Look at it, we're real Motown babies here.
AllHipHop: What was it like A&R-ing for (J. Dilla’s) Rebirth of Detroit album?
DJ Butter: It was therapeutic for me. You know, after Proof and those guys died, and Dilla died, just to see my friends smiling again was more enlightening than the money, you know what I'm saying? Dilla is from here, but he's buried in L.A. Sometimes people overlook the city. It seems like people take his likeness and forget about, "That's our brother," and they get the chance to promote his likeness more than we do. You know, and I knew Dilla personally, I knew he wouldn't have liked that. It’s like overkill with a lot of people, and when they get home it gets overlooked. Dilla is the reason why I do what I do right now.
AllHipHop: Switching gears slightly, I really like hiphopelevation.com, I think its a great cause, can you kind of talk about that and how did you and Dez put it all together?
DJ Butter: Dez and I, when we worked on Piece of the Action, Dez and his partner, Cre, they were talking about doing something for the community, and how as we got older and wanted to set an example. We didn't want a generation behind us not knowing who we are, because we walk through life with a closed fist. We were able to give back coats. We were able to do a canned food drive last week.
AllHipHop: I saw some pictures of that, that was great.
DJ Butter: A lot of my family members have died over the last couple of years, so I was able to grab a lot of their coats and stuff like that, and give them away, real nice coats. I want to do that more with the city, just to kind of set a trend with that.
AllHipHop: When its all said and done, what do you want your legacy as DJ Butter to be?
DJ Butter: Just unity, man. I just love people. I'm a brotherhood person, and sometimes its my downfall. I just want people to see what I'm a part of, and what Proof tried to build. I wish he was able to see his funeral, because he would have felt appreciated more.
AllHipHop: What was that experience like?
DJ Butter: You had everyone from 50 Cent to Nat Morris there. It seemed like he touched everybody in his life. He really was thorough with everybody, and on the verge of building. But sometimes, you don't feel appreciated here. I feel him. And I feel it everyday. Esham and I talked about that - the lack of support. I was thankful he took me on tour… But for him (Proof) to see his funeral, he would have lived a lot longer, for him to feel what was there. Sometimes the people in our life, if they had appreciated us more. It wasn't a talent show; it was a unity thing. A brotherhood thing. That's what I'm about.
AllHipHop: Thank you very much for your time. It's been a real pleasure.
Be sure to go to iTunes and get "A Piece of the Action" now!