Rick Ross
If you know your hip-hop, you know the influence that Delicious Vinyl had on the industry. From legends like Tone Loc, Young MC’s, to Masta Ace and the Pharcyde, Delicious Vinyl was there setting the trends. Check out this exclusive interview with co-owner Rick Ross!
By William Hernandez

WHO?MAG: How did the Remixology project come about?
RICK ROSS: I wanted to kind of reach out all the DJs from the last 20 years and all the modern DJs and we had to come with a fresh record and to introduce to some of the new school cats some of the classic jams. We hooked up with different producers and DJs like Peaches from Berlin, Diplo, and Aaron Lecrate who were all big fans of the label. Of course they wanted to do remixes. It was just a natural opportunity to work with some cool and new jack artists and freshen up the catalog.

WHO?MAG: How did Eminem get involved to do the “Slaugther House” remix of Masta Ace?
RICK ROSS: Eminem is big fan not only of Masta Ace, but the Pharcyde. Many times he’s talked about that record “Slaughtahouse” a being influential album for him when he was a younger kid driving around Detroit. When we were thinking about people to do remixes for Masta Ace, we just felt that we should reach out to him. I talked to his manager and his A&R guys at Shady [records]. They were all old friends of ours and he was down to do “Slaughtahouse”. That was one of his favorite tracks and he blessed it with some dope new production.

WHO?MAG: How did the producers and DJs go about choosing the songs they wanted to remix?
RICK ROSS: That was kind of the fun part where I would reach out to somebody and say “What track do you really want to mess with?” It’s something that has already been done and we move on to another track. It’s kind of great Diplo was down to do “Bust a Move”. This new guy from France Breakbot was down to do “What up Fatlip?”, Aaron Lecrate had a great idea for “Know How” which is a big club record of Young MC. He wanted to mix it up with Debonaire classic Baltimore horns riff track. I kind of let people decide which track they wanted to rock with and a lot of them already had good ideas and wanted to get on specific tracks?

WHO?MAG: I noticed when I heard the album that it’s has a lot of electronica/house feel to it. Why?
RICK ROSS: I wanted to break the genre a little bit because hip hop is in this weird rut and I think a lot of the hip hop heads are starting to move more towards an electro feel, not so much house music, but some of the sounds that the electronic jocks have been using. You see it in Lupe Fiasco, Kanye West, and N.E.R.D. These kind of modern keyboard playing sounds that are coming from France and the U.K. that are really starting to dominate the club. It’s not a house record at all, it’s more of a progressive electro record with what I call “glitch hop” which if you listen to the “Running” remix it’s got this kind of Brazilian thing but updating the drums, the kicks, and adding some keys to give it a fresh 2008 sound.

WHO?MAG: Do you think the album will appeal to older hip-hop heads or new school cats?
RICK ROSS: I call this record the hip-hop daddies for my generation and maybe your generation guys that are 35 and older that grew up on hip-hop. I love the original Pharcyde record, Masta Ace record, those classic Tone Loc jams we all grew up on that stuff. I don’t think it hurts to hear a freshened up version of something. I’m thinking it’s hard to move on from those songs that you heard while you were high school and what they meant to them at that point in time in their lives. I made this record for the younger generation for people that are 15 to 25 who are more born and breed on this electro/dance tip a little bit but still want to know about the classic hip hop records like Bizarre Ride to the Pharcyde, Slaughtahouse, or Young MC’s Stone “Cold Rhyming”.

WHO?MAG: How did Delicious Vinyl get its start?
RICK ROSS: The label started by my brother Michael Ross and his partner Matt Dike. They were DJs in a record pool called Impact Record Pool in LA in the early 1980’s. They were the only white guys in an all urban record pool on Crenshaw. They meet when they were picking up their records on a Friday and they became friends. Then they started doing clubs in LA. One was called the Rhythm Lounge and the other Powertools. Powertools is where Rick Rubin brought Run DMC and the Beastie Boys in to play “Raising Hell” and “Licensed to Ill” right when those records were made in the mid 80’s. Those two guys are the founders of the label and the produced all the records. The Tone Loc “Loc-ed after Dark” album, the Young MC’s “Stone Cold Rhyming” record, Def Jef, and some other artists on the label. They are the ones who started the label. It was their concept. The first tracks they produced were “Wild Thing”, “Funky Cold Medina”, and “Bust a Move”. It was a different sounding crossover West Coast label back in 1988.

WHO?MAG: How did the Delicious Vinyl logo come about with the guy taking a bite out of the record?
RICK ROSS: It came from this crazy 1950’s generic book about sandwich shops and coffee shops; something that said delicious sandwiches. It was a guy eating a subway sandwich and somebody had the idea. I think it was Matt to put a piece of vinyl in the guy’s hand and call it Delicious Vinyl. It was an amazing natural fit. We were all vinyl junkies back then and it just good to know that vinyl is going to outlive the CD.

WHO?MAG: How did Masta Ace get signed to the label?
RICK ROSS: Orlando Aguilles was doing all our promotion and A&R work dealing with everything back in the days when we started the label. He put together The Brand New Heavies “Heavy Rhyme Experience” album. When he put that together, that was our dream team of emcees: Masta Ace, Pharcyde, Gangstarr, Grand Puba, Large Professor all the cats that blessed that record. Masta Ace became a friend of ours at that point. He was out of his deal with Cold Chillin’ [records] and we told him why don’t you do a couple of records with us? He was down to do it. It was like having Kobe Bryant as a free agent. To have one of the most gifted East Coast emcees that we had respect for. The two records that he made with us are two of our best records. A monumental achievement bridging the West Coast sound with a really strong old school East Coast emcee. Masta Ace is still a very close friend and part of the family.

WHO?MAG: What do you remember about J Dilla (RIP)?
RICK ROSS: I didn’t work with J Dilla. My brother Mike Ross worked with J Dilla a lot. Mike and [J] Dilla had a great relationship. Those were one of the first records he ever worked on. Back then he was known as Jay Dee and he produced “Runnin”, and “Drop” and a couple of other tracks on Labcabincalifornia. My brother only has positive memories of that whole time. Down the road, he had a great relationship with Delicious Vinyl. He produced a bunch of remixes for The Brand New Heavies and The Pharcyde. My brother is actually making a record with Dilla’s younger brother Illa J right now. They are working on something very special. I think it includes some of Dilla’s beats and they’re recording at Illa J’s home where some of his gear is. It’s going to be special project of Delicious Vinyl at the end of this year.

WHO?MAG: What does the future hold for Delicious Vinyl?
RICK ROSS: We’re trying to look for stuff that really moves us. Later this year, we’re going to put out the Illa J record. We’d like to put out record for friends in the Dancehall community too like Mr. Vegas and Michelle Montano who is a big Soca artist. We’re looking for things that are fresh that we’re into. The Remixology project has been a great way to find some new talent and some of these cats who produced tracks on the Remixology record are going to be producing new tracks for Masta Ace, and maybe the Pharcyde because you know the Pharcyde are back together now. They’re touring with “Rock the Bells” this summer. Who knows? Maybe they’ll go back in the studio and we can put together some kind of single of the Pharcyde. We’re always looking to put out some of the stuff that’s been out of print for a while. We’re about to release the Pharcyde’s “Runnin'” remix from that album. That’s the A side and the B side is DJ Numark’s remix of “For Better or for Worse”. We’re looking to put a big anthology together with every 12″ we’ve released about a 120 tracks on DVD/MP3 for all the DJs. That’ll be beautiful deluxe package later this year over a 100 different 12″ singles that we’ve released in the past 20 years in one collection.