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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 records ?


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 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.