MC Shan As one of the most prominent names in hip-hop in the late 80’s/early 90’s, MC Shan has put the Bridge on the map. From his controversial “The Bridge” to his production of Snow’s “Informer”, Shan has always been a powerful force in the hip-hop world. Now Shan is ready to bring back a NEW Juice Crew and drop the 411 on The Symphony, Rakim, and much more on an interview you must read!
Interview by Will Hernandez
WHO?MAG: Talk to me about the new Juice Crew project you’re working on? MC SHAN: The new Juice Crew thing I’m working on is just because I’m tired of everybody talking about shine shine and floss floss. I’m trying to get some artists that’ll bring the rap game, not exactly how it was, but originality. Somebody having something different to say other than “I got shine. I got 20’s on my car.” And all of that stuff. I want to find a whole new group that’ll fall into the place where the Juice Crew was and build it again from there.
WHO?MAG: No offense, but why not just get the original members instead of trying to create a new Juice Crew? MC SHAN: Because you got to pass the crown. You can’t hold the crown and try and hoard it. You got to pass the crown and let the next generation get theirs on. We had our shine. Our shine is our shine. Now to use the Juice Crew as a catalyst to bring some new artists; don’t you think that’s great? Regardless, my name stands for itself. [Roxanne] Shante, [Big Daddy] Kane, and Biz [Markie], those are already established. I got a new album coming out, but I’m not trying to fall under the Juice Crew umbrella. The Juice Crew is basically for new members period! It’s not like we’re going to have Kane and us in the Juice Crew. We are a part of it, but it’s not a thing of us trying to be that right now. It’s for new people, new artists. You got to pass the crown like I said.
WHO?MAG: What have you been up to? I know you worked with the Canadian rock group Sum 41. MC SHAN: I was definitely working with them. I was working with Snow and I was just sitting back and putting my album together. Learning my craft over these years; it was a point in time where I couldn’t deal being on a Cold Chillin label. With all the stuff going; that’s why people haven’t heard an album from me in so long. On top of me producing Snow, that got me enough money so I can just sit back and relax and not have to deal with all the extra stuff. I stepped back from that and just went to producing and learned a whole different craft.
WHO?MAG: I’m glad you mentioned Snow. How did you discover him? MC SHAN: Well actually I’m tell you this straight out. I discovered Snow going to the weed spot one day. (laughs) It’s the honest to God truth. I’m going to the weed spot and his boy Prince came to me “Yo! I got a reggae artist, a white boy.” I figure “alright, bring him.” When he brought him that was it. From the first minute I met Snow, we went into my studio and did that was it. A number one hit in seven countries and on several different charts. That was the exciting of MC Shan doing rap actually being an artist. To entering MC Shan the producer; I still see royalties off that album. I own 66 and 2/3rd’s of that album because I wrote and produced.
WHO?MAG: I’ve always wanted to know why you were never on The Symphony? MC SHAN: Because I knew Marley’s [Marl] tricks. All those Symphony songs used to be tricks. Marley would say “Lets go to house and make a tape!” Next thing you know it’s a record and you’re featured and you don’t get no doe off of that. I was not down with none of that. I knew the trick already. The day that they recorded The Symphony was the day that they did the Marley Marl In Control record cover. We left from the picture shoot and everybody talking about “We going to Marley’s to make this song.” and I was like “yeah! I’ll see ya’ll later.” Because I know what the deal is with that. You ain’t getting nothing on it except for props. (laughs) It might have been beneficial as far as visual effects on the video, but as far as residual wise, it wasn’t going to work for me.
WHO?MAG: How did you get into production? MC SHAN: Actually I learned from Marley. All the time when Marley was producing all of these records I was in the studio right next to him. My thing was I used to hit buttons and what not. I learned hands on. He would be “Don’t touch that!” and just learned from that. From there I just built my own studio and went and produced a record. I didn’t know what I was doing and from me not knowing what I was doing. It came off kinda lovely.
WHO?MAG: I read you mixed down “Eric B is President” by Eric B & Rakim. How did that come about and what equipment do you use? MC SHAN: I actually recorded his vocals. Rakim’s style was so new and so funny to us that we laughed at him. Rakim knows it because it’s a joke that I got with Ra[kim] every time I see him. Me and Marley was sitting on the side laughing at him. It was real funny. Because it come out being the hit that it is. I recorded the vocals and Marley let me do the mix down. If you look at the original record you can see my name, “Mixed by MC Shan”. That’s the mix that has the echoes that fly all over the place. At that point I didn’t know what I was doing. I use Digital Performer and I use New Windows depending on which computer I’m on. If I’m on a Macintosh, I’m using Digital Performer and if I’m on Windows, I use New Windows by Steinberg. I like their plug-ins. I got an MPC 2000. I use a few modules. I got the 1080 keyboard module, planet fats, all of that.
WHO?MAG: How did you get on “The Bridge 2001” with Nas? MC SHAN: They had to drag me into the studio to do it. I don’t get down with them like that. They’re my peoples, but all that. I wasn’t down with that project. I wasn’t feeling it from the first the beginning. I’m not going to be on something just because. That’s not going to happen. They sent my man Bodyguard to my house one day and like “Yo! You got to get on this record.” If it wasn’t for Cormega and them like “Shan you got to get up on this.” Cormega was the one who put my lyrics together for that. Because I had my own verse showing my own style of me showing what I do at that point in 2001. They were like “no Shan we want you to do that old stuff.” Cormega actually sat back and wrote my piece using my old lyrics and all that stuff. This is what I want you to say Shan. So I sat back and I did what Cormega wanted me to do. That was the end of that. There was money involved and they didn’t want to give me what the hell I was deserving. I was like “yeah whatever” if everybody else getting paid I want to get paid too.
WHO?MAG: You were one of the first hip hop artists to use house music on a track. On the song “Ain’t it Good to You” on the Play it Again album. Talk how did that come about? MC SHAN: When I was doing those records right there, “Ain’t it Good to You”, it’s not a hip hop record. It’s house. Rap was going through a phase where a lot of big heads in the business were like “Rap is not an art form. It’s a phase. It’s not real music. It’s going to die out.” I did “Ain’t it Good to You” with singers on it. Just in defense of the hip hop game period. That whole Play it Again Shan album was kinda like that. I was tired of having samples on my record. Instead of me sampling, I wanted to play all my music over. That’s something they’re doing now. I was 20 years ahead of my time.
WHO?MAG: What was the moment you knew you wanted to leave Cold Chillin? MC SHAN: When it came time for people to take me on tour like I took them on tour. They talking about “Nah we ain’t taking Shan.” I was like “please!” Warner Brothers was going to drop me because I wasn’t their criteria. Because I was always the nigga that wanted to smoke weed, drink, and be merry. They wanted someone who they could control. They couldn’t control me. They were more into Kane and Biz who they could control. I was off the hook back then calling the heads of Warner Brothers faggots and all kinda shit. That’s how crazy I was. I would call up the radio stations. Let a nigga saw something about me on the radio like the radio jock. I would call up the station and tell the nigga “I’m fuck you up!” I’ll be there in 20 minutes. They couldn’t control Shan. I wasn’t Warner Brothers cup of tea.
WHO?MAG: Do you regret the attitude you had back the days? MC SHAN: No. Why should I? I made more money fucking with Snow than I did fucking with the whole rap game period! Why would I be bitter about that? I still was doing my thing even though I wasn’t up front. I was still in the music business doing what I like to do.
WHO?MAG: Any last words? MC SHAN: Yeah! Check out www.mcshanlive.com. Any of those Floridians that want to do something with the Juice Crew just check out how you can do that because I’m taking from all places.