JayQuan : Peace , its an honor . What year
did you start Emceeing and who influenced you ?
Shan : I started in '85 and just the
culture of Hip Hop inspired me - seein the block parties....I used to sneak to the jams to
see Flash ; I was too young to really go. I would go to Reese center . That
was my whole thing...this is how it started where IM from , around MY way.
JQ : Was Marley Scratch the first thing
that you put out commercially ?
Shan : Yeah that was the end of ' 85 . That
started as a tape . I was opening up for Shante' creating a fan base for 6 months without
a record out.
JQ : Did you know that 20 years later it
would be a classic ? (I saw it sell on Ebay for 100.00 last year)?
Shan : Nah , not at all . I was just being
myself and displaying my lyrical skill . The way that record came about was Shante'
and Marley was doin' they thing and I was like "please im waaaay better
than Shante' ", so I just went home and wrote how I write , explaining my thoughts
clearly and not babbling about this and that.
JQ : Have you heard the X- Ecutioners
"Built From Scratch" Lp ?...They killed Marley Scratch..they juggled the beats
and cut up several phrases from it.
Shan : Nah I haven't....the Djs keep it
goin' though , they have all the old joints.
JQ : Why was that song released on NIA
Shan : Marley did work with the Aleems who
owned the label and he remixed joints for their artists. Marley inspired me to want to be
a producer ; although I wasn't into producing I was always in the studio asking Marley
what certain buttons did.
JQ : The very next single was "
Beat Biter / The Bridge " right ?
Shan : Yeah I was on tour with L.L. , and
he played a tape for me - it was " Rock The Bells " , but I didn't pay
attention that it was my beat . You know back then you didn't use someones beat or say
words that sounded like somebody elses. When I figured that it was my beat it was on
! He had the nerve to play it for me too , so I just went at him .
JQ : That single originally came out on
Bridge Records - was that you & Marleys label ?
Shan : That was me , Marley and Fly Tys
label with distribution through Pop Art.
JQ : Did the Cold Chillin' deal come about
on the strength of that record ?
Shan : Yeah , we did "Down By
Law" and Cold Chillin' was independent ; and it did so well , for that time the
numbers I was doin' made them say lets get him a distribution deal. I was supposed to be
the first one comin ' out under that deal , but they convinced me to let Kane come out
first. We had a buddy system - if you not hot I carry you and vice versa . I got in
through Shante' , Biz came through me , TJ Swann got in through Biz and so did Kane . When
I did my show people came to see me , but Kane and them got paid too - but when he blew up
he flipped and started bad mouthin' me. A lot of them niggas bad mouth me but they rap
cause they saw me do it , and they say that all the time.
JQ : How did you meet Marley and Fly Ty and
all them...I read that you broke in Fly Tys car.
Shan : I did and by coincidence Ty was
working with Marley ; they had the radio show. Marley lived right there in the projects
doin all this right under everybodys nose.
JQ : How deep did the L.L. beef go - was
there any incidents after Beatbiter came out ?
Shan : We had words at the Red Parrot .
There was only one show where we battled - Flash , Mele Mel & all them was on the
ticket that night up in Syracuse . I had Marley spinnin' back and forth between
"Rock The Bells" & " Marley Scratch". I went over to the
turntables and snatched his record off and broke it. The crowd went crazy that night , but
thats one they try to sweep under the rug. I remember Flash and them had the smoke machine
and spinning lights and everything. He stepped to me in the Red Parrot and Andre Harell
was right there - he witnessed the whole thing. He told me that I better not show up in
Syracuse the next night...I just turned my back on him.
JQ : I noticed on the "
Breakthrough" he said "can't get a decent contract , beats ain't workin ' dogged
out Pumas plus your managers jerkin" - and that was a shot at you.
Shan : Yeah he did little subliminal
shit...but I called names - "its directed to my man L.L. Cool J, yo brand new jam
sure does sound sweet - you rocked the bells ; but ya stole my beat !!". That was my
persona - at one time I was the hardest thing in rap , until it went to gangsta . I was
the first one talkin about smokin' blunts and shit in songs. You couldn't say nothin about
the Juice Crew 'cus we was known to just bring it . But I never changed with the trends -
you could see it in my albums. I got tired of Marley with all that sampling , stop that
and make me a beat. Thats where the " Play It Again " lp came from . The only
people who really appreciated that was the L.A. niggas 'cus they ryhmed and sang over
music , that funk shit. Snoop was on the radio in New York praisin' that lp.
I did the Apollo tv show in 1988 with a live band. I had a white drummer that I met in
Boston ; I called him Funky Drummer Todd. He toured with me also . In ' 88 people said you
can't do a Hip Hop show with a live band. Now look everybody uses a band. See how
cats got these costly elaborate videos - I did " Dont Mean A Thing " with real
movie producers and a big budget.
JQ : You did " Feed The World "
on MCA records after Marleys Scratch , how did you hook up with MCA ?
Shan : Yeah May James at WBLS hooked that
deal up. I didn't have the freedom to do what I wanted at MCA.
JQ : I noticed on "Eric B Is President
/ My Melody" by Rakim it says mixed by M.C. Shan & Marley Marl...how was your
experience in the studio with Rakim ?
Shan : Me & Ra have a joke till this
day . 'Cus me & Marley was laughin' at this nigga - we didn't know that this style he
was comin' wit was some new shit !!! It was funny when Ra would finish a verse I
would go on the other side and be snikering with Marley. I recorded mixed and played
keyboard on that. People dont even know that I was involved with that record. Even with
metaphors and stuff - Nas had that song where he is comparin himself to a gun , and its
all metaphor...I did that a long time ago when I did "Cocaine" , and used the
metaphor of a girl. Then I had "She's Gone" where I painted a vivid picture from
begginning to end before people were even tellin' stories like that.
JQ : What do you think of the notion that
after people leave Marley Marl (you , Kool G Rap , Kane, Heavy D & Biz) that they fall
off production wise ?
Shan : Niggas don't know ; im not tryin to
take nothin' from Marley but a lot of times we came in with our beats
already....Marley just engineered and mixed it . Biz came in with his shit ready. Back
then it was just looping shit , you didn't add a kick here or there we just jacked shit.
That was a problem for me thats why that album was called "Play it again Shan".
I was using familiar beats & basslines , but instead of sampling I was replaying them.
Thats why I stepped off on my own to hone my craft. And when I did look what happened - I
took a white kid from Canada and made him a superstar in 7 countries & #1 on Billboard
for 7 weeks so what the fuck could niggas say ? While they were doin' that I was
doin some other shit.
JQ : How did the whole Snow thing come
about ? And what was you role in it.
Shan : I wrote and produced it , we
recorded it in my basement. Actually I own 66% of the publishing rights on that
"12 Inches Of Snow" album. Thats what I been doin' all these years - just that
album made it possible for me to sit on my ass and rethink my whole life. I met Snow when
I was goin to the Jamaicans to get weed , and they told me about this white kid who could
chat. The next day he was in the country doin "Informer". Snow was in jail
watchin his own video . We recorded his album - we were up till like 4 in the morning ;
and the next day he had to get on a plane to go to jail.
JQ : When did the relationship between you
& Marley begin to deteriorate ?
Shan : It was more like a son growing up .
Shan was growing up and didn't have to be under the wing of Marley anymore . Im not
a follower - I was there when Marley created the art of sampling . People gotta give
Marley props. Although they had samplers before no one knew what to do with them . I
knew how to work the machines , so I said why can't I do that.
JQ : Did you ever say in any song ,
interview or anywhere that Hip Hop started in Queens ?
Shan : I only said HOW it started in Q
UEENSBRIDGE, not over the world. The new Source magazine says I still stand on the fact
that Hip Hop started in Queens - writers get it twisted. The song the Bridge starts off
saying M.c. Shan & Marley Marl in the house tonight - they wanna tell you a story
about where THEY come from. Mr. Magic dissed BDP and said some stuff about their record on
the radio , and he (KRS) made me the target. I wasn't gonna keep ridin' that Kris /Shan
thing...people kept sayin.." why arent you answering back " ? im like why?...I
gave him a career already .
JQ : The first time I heard the words
Queensbridge was from you , before Nas , Mobb Deep or anyone, do you remember Nas from
back in the days ?
Shan : Yeah !! Nas is a Nasty Mother fucker
!!! , But I wouldn't wanna be in his shoes right now !!! I have a underground tape
of him right now & everybody is hatin' on him . You know how he says in " One
Love " - "he didn't listen he be riffin while im tellin him
stuff" ...thats him back in the days .I used to tell him how it was gonna
be , he would be in my truck and im tellin him how his friends would change and all that.
JQ : Its funny to listen to the current QB
rappers and go back & listen to your older material - your stuff was amazingly postive
is it just that we live in such a different time ?
Shan : Yes , and also the people at the
record companies didn't allow certain things . My first album doesn't have one curse !!!
On the video for "Left Me Lonely" I had a gun but they took that out . By the
way im about to remake " Project Ho ".
JQ : Was the song " Cocaine" a
true story ?
Shan : Yeah! Hell Yeah!...I was the biggest
coke sniffer on the planet !!
JQ : What was it like to be a part of a
crew that had you , Kool G & Kane and then Marley on the beats?
Shan : We was arrogant . We started the
whole posse shit. It was just fun to us , we were just doin' us. We really didn't even
think about it at the time.
JQ : Why weren't you on the Symphony ?
Shan : 'Cus I know Marley Marl ! At first
it was like "yeah we all here lets do it" , but I told them niggas that shit is
gonna be a record and y'all are gonna be featured and won't get a dime!!! Marleys my man
but you didn't hear me on none of them Symphonies 'cus I know better. It's not that I
couldn't hang with the rest of them...I just know. Them my niggas though . Its a love hate
relationship with them cus they like my brothers. G Rap is a motherfucker ; the first to
spit that gangsta shit...took it to another level. There was this spot called Smittys ;
they used to close up and we would be in there ryhmin' before either of us had a record
out . I knew G Rap from Corona , so when we formed a crew and he was down I was happy. He
used to just blaze niggas.
JQ : Were you ever a 5 percenter , some of
your lyrics hinted at it?
Shan : Yes before I got into music . My
name was True Shandu God Allah.
JQ : It was cool to see you in the Sprite
commercial with KRS.
Shan : Yeah and the only people who thought
that he took me out are diehard , dickridin ' Kris fans. Its bugged seein' me and him
together because we are like old friends. We fuck with each other , and he knows that im
gonna say some shit about him on my next record , but it ain't gonna mean shit.
JQ : What did you think about Cool C
mocking your voice and style , and dissing the Juice Crew ?
Shan : See I wrote a lot of Steady Bs stuff
in the beggining and when they got too big for their britches its like we got somebody
that sounds like Shan. That was Lawrence Goodman and them at Pop Art. But I didn't pay the
diss no attention.
JQ : Im gonna name some Emcees , rate them
from 1 -10. 10 being the highest.
Biggie - 10
T La Rock - 10
Moe Dee - 10
KRS - 10
Kane - 7.5
Kool G Rap - 10
Mele Mel - 10
Caz - 10
L.L. Cool J - 10
Tupac - 10
Jay Z - 10
Eminem - 10
Run - 10
DMC - 5
Masta Ace - 10
DLB - 6
Craig G - 10
Rakim - 10
JQ : Thanks for your time , keep us
informed about the new album.......Peace.
Shan : No doubt...Peace.
As told to JayQuan on 9/03/02
© 2002 Jayquan dot com/5 Mic Media
No part may be copied or reproduced without authors permission.