II Face In this exclusive interview, artist II Face talks about his new album “2 Sides 2 Every Story”. He talks about how hip hop was his savior and the strategy he applied to making it was so successful and working with legends Rampage and DJ Kool.
By William Hernandez
WHO?MAG: Talk about your album “2 Faces 2 Every Story”? II FACE: The album got a lot in there. It got some street, some club songs, and a couple of thought process songs. It’s my freshman album. I produced the whole thing. I had a couple of features on there. I got Rampage from the Flipmode Squad. I got the legendary DJ Kool. I was fortunate enough to be blessed with a situation to work with those cats. I produced the whole album. It’s a hot album.
WHO?MAG: Why did you choose that title for the album and why the name II Face? II FACE: Because there is two faces to every story, not to mention my name is II Face, but there always are two faces to every story. A lot of times you got to read in between the lines to know what the other story is. I don’t really spill it out in plain English. There’s a lot of reasons behind it. One of the main reasons I choose II Face is because I don’t sell rap. I sell the business of rap. Rap is always a surprise. I used to hustle my CDs and I sold about 100K out of the trunk on the mixtape scene before the deal by me doing that I always a part of the movement. I always said I had this artist and this artist. You know how it is in the game. Nobody wants to talk to the artist initially, especially when you conducting business. They want to deal with managers and label reps. I pulled the fake off and acted like I never was rapper. I always sold the business. When they were ready to meet the artist I busted out that I was the artist.
WHO?MAG: How did you hook up with Rampage and DJ Kool? II FACE: I’ve been on the streets grinding. I’m definitely not one of them artists that believe it should fall on your lap. I went out there and hit the pavement. I made it happen, got turned down, and got a lot popping through the years of shaking hands with the right people and keeping it real. I’m the type of dude that will show you first and then speak. Through connections, man, I met Rampage. He offered. I didn’t even have to ask him. He was definitely feeling the production because I was a producer first. I had met Busta, Flipstar, and all of them and it really just came back around. I met Rampage and said let’s do it. DJ Kool the same way. I met him through a mutual connection. He was like I’m going to come down and break bread with you. We’re going to do it the right way. We’re going to sit in the lab and create it. We did it how it’s supposed to be. We ain’t send 16 bars here and email it like niggas ain’t really want to f*ck with each other. It was on some real musician sh*t. DJ Kool, he’s bananas. I can imagine when he was just as hot in his prime. Amazingly he let me have full control over the whole thing though. I was a little nervous because that’s a legend. He’s quick with it he’ll go in there and do his thing. He’s real animated. He doesn’t need alcohol or nothing. He’s wild in the booth. That was an experience.
WHO?MAG: How is your writing process as an emcee? II FACE: My writing process depends. I think I write better when I have a story to tell. I wake up in the morning and if I got to be on the job like that, I go in the lab and make track, record it, and mastered. I’m out the door same day. It just depends. I really don’t get writers block too much. I’m sure it can come up. I enjoy the writing process. I love it.
WHO?MAG: How did you get into production and what equipment do you use? II FACE: I got into production a long time ago. I grew up in NJ. I’m a South Jersey/North Philly breed. Back then, battle rapping in PA was real big. That’s all that was going on. A couple of the older family members, they were making tracks with cheap keyboards and all that back in the day. By the time I moved to VA, I hooked up with some more cats coincidently from Philly that got a lawsuit and got a major settlement. They had a major set up in their house. Their whole apartment was a studio. Them niggas had one bed and enough space for a refrigerator but the whole place was a lab. They put me on to working on it around 12 years ago. Just watching them, the student became the teacher. It was wrap. I knew I was always interested in it. I hit the streets. I hustled and grinded legally and illegally and did what I had to do and built me a studio myself. The rest was gone. I got into it through production because the beats are nasty. I’m confident, but the streets tell me that. I use the Phantom Triton, I live and die by the MPC. I use the Moteef. Protools and a couple of sound modules. I was up under Timbaland and all of them in VA. I’m a big fan of creating your own sound. I take a pot, pan, a baby crying, I take the mic and put it outside for 5 hours and get all the outside noise. I believe in getting dirty with it, being a musician creating something that nobody even thought of. As far as equipment, I basically have what everybody else has. I got the MPC2000XL.
WHO?MAG: I read on your myspace page that you had a rough upbringing in Camden, NJ. Can you talk about that? II FACE: Yeah, we can kick it. Typical hood story grew up in the house. My house was the bootlegger house. In Camden, if anybody remember that time, my house was the house that everybody went there for liquor. My mother’s boyfriend owned a liquor store. I experienced a lot of niggas shooting up in the kitchen. When I was 5 or 6 years old, my mother got strung out on that sh*t for a while just being a product of that whole environment. You’re talking about murder. You’re talking about some of the baddest drug dealers that ever hit the streets. I don’t know if you know about Camden, that was the murder capitol of the United States for a long time. Fortunately I never feel a victim to circumstance. I always used music as my outlet to be something and used it as reason to get the f*ck up out of there and be something.
WHO?MAG: Who are some of your influences as an emcee? II FACE: I definitely like the old school: KRS ONE, Big Daddy Kane, LL Cool J. To the top emcees, I’m a big fan of 2pac. I’m a huge fan of Biggie. Jay Z is like my dude simply because all them boys be saying something. I’m real big on word play. On my first album, I didn’t really get a chance to snap like wanted to, taking the time because I tried to make an industry commercial album. On the second one, I’m going to do me. On the mixtape scene, I always do me, which is why I’m so successful. A lot of them dudes are influences because they really be saying something. A lot of times you got to play the songs 3 or 4 times to really get what level they’re on. That’s my motivation. I like that.