In a World where Hip Hop is usually looked down upon because of Rap musics image & misinterpretations shown in the media outlets of our society, it’s hard for groups with a genuine love of music & hip hop culture to strive & win over listeners when representing the Rap element. For the musical people out there who deny Hip Hop because of the lack of instruments, or simply thinking it’s easy to create and invoke no sense of real emotion; Jazz Addixx is one of the groups representing Hip Hop that you should, at least, give a chance. Releasing a cult favorite entitled ‘Oxygen’ in 2005, Jazz Addixx set a name for themselves as a keeper of the true school artform of Hip Hop Culture.
Ten years later, Back2DaSource Records owner Bee Lapointe, thought it was a good idea to get in contact with the group and see if it was possible to manifest the project on vinyl for the first time in our reality. Thanks to this initiative, here we are at this very moment providing you with exclusive knowledge, straight from the source!
Peace & thanks for accepting to partake in this interview with us! Congratz on the first official vinyl release of ‘Oxygen’!
Ragz: First off it is a huge honor that you wanted us to release this project 10 years after the initial release. It was funny, when Back2DaSource hit us up, I didn’t think it was a legit inquiry. I had to ask Dr Becket if it was reality. Once he confirmed, the excitement begun. Back2DaSource was an absolute pleasure to deal with throughout the process and we are extremely thankful. The final product is a success in our eyes.
How did the group manifest and what influences from Jazz helped set the name ‘Jazz Addixx’ in stone?
Ragz: The original concept was when we were in a bigger group and they were leaning more toward the commercial sound. Mudd would always be making Jazzy Hip Hop beats and it was a style that we both loved. There is actually a song that we did together on a EOS compilation CD and it was the beginnings of our style. We started really kickin it as much as possible and the name just kind of made sense. We were imagining a old man who had all these Jazz records in an attic and re discovering them so the Addixx part is somewhat of a double meaning. An addict for music and an attic filled with music.
Mudd: Well early on I was with a crew called EOS (Eye of the Storm). There were literally like 8 or 9 of us emcees and 2 producers – but no DJ. Once Ragz was introduced – I bugged out! He dug the jazz vibe of Tribe and Pete Rock as much as I did. We recorded a song together for the group’s compilation album. The rest is history. We were both “jazz addicts” that dug in basements and “attics” for jazz records. It just made sense.
When it came to creating tracks together, what type of environment & zone were you guys in? What were the equipment used?
Ragz: It’s so crazy, all of the songs were made over a few years. That release was made purely for selfish reasons. That CD came out in 2005 but that was a culmination of songs made over a span of years. I would say the first recorded song was 2002. Mudd would come over with his ASR10 and he would play beats, and I would come up with concepts. Everything was built around what we both liked that came from Mudd that were both undeniable to us. We didn’t always agree on things, but we both trusted each other. So If he was dead set on something and his view was stronger than mine, I would run with it and vice versa.
Mudd: As far as recording and coming up with concepts – we just vibed out man. I used ( and still do ) the Asr-10 and sometimes the Microkorg for bass and filler sounds. I would bring my equipment to Ragz’s house and we would talk and laugh and chill – with beats in the background. A lot of the first record came together that way. The main thing is we both felt strongly about what sounded right – what we should stand for. No gimmicks. It was medicine for us both and it was necessary.
In 2005, vinyl was seen (by most) as a lost art and platform to promote, was this why the album was never pressed on wax before? What were procedures you had to take to promote your music?
Ragz: We pressed up a CD to give to friends. We really didn’t think anything of the album being paid for. I mean, we loved it, but at that time, the stage of hip hop was in bad shape. Commercial was running everything. I called AOL radio who was huge at the time and they said that they never have approved a cd to go on streaming radio that wasn’t from a label … About two months later, it was on the air. Shortly after that Dutchmassive who was signed to Domination Recordings reached out to us out of a love for music and he kinda helped us. We really didn’t know the steps and order that things happen. Shortly after that We got a deal to do a release in Japan with Goon Trax. We didnt really do a great deal of promotion. I think in the end, word of mouth was our best thing we had going for us. Typing this out right now, hahhaah it was such a cool time for me and Mudd.
Mudd: With websites like UGHH and Sandbox Automatic – vinyl was becoming the “thing” again. We initially just recorded the album and pressed it up for us to give to people and try to get shows. Once it landed in the hands of Dutchmassive ( don’t ask me how – lol ) it started to progress quickly. He was with Domination and knew the label head personally. They reached out – we agreed and that was that. They handled promo – we handled the music. Goon Trax out of Japan dug it so much that they released several songs on vinyl. That was great.
With an album title like ‘Oxygen’, one could view it as a breath of fresh air in form of music. Would you care to share the vision & reasoning behind naming it such?
Ragz: That was exactly it! That song really was a MUDD concept and I had the “Tour De France” breathing sounds by Kraftwerk in the back with some other breathing sounds. Its like we are breathin’ in all this ugliness and breathing out Fresh air.
Mudd: The title is self explanatory I think. Turn on the radio – it was murder murder murder – money money money. Some of it was cool but it was getting out of hand. We wanted to provide people with an alternative. Oxygen as a title made sense.
Are there any experiences or stories you’d like to share with us about past shows / tours during the release of the album?
Ragz: Its funny, people either buy into it 100% or its just this thing they really don’t get. I was going through some bad times in life when we recorded “Its a Shame” and “Mindstate” and I remember driving home on two different occasions crying in the car with goosebumps. I couldn’t believe we were capable of that. Me and MUDD were learning as we were recording and I think during those two songs, we really started to believe. I think for me the thing I love the most is when I see someone talking about us online and they love it and they are relating to it and the music has become part of there life. I dont think you can really put a price on that. My brother who I look up went to Tower Records in Tokyo Japan and he saw all the Jazz Addixx signs in the stores and I have a pic of him standing by our release. That was a huge deal for me.
Mudd: One funny thing about us is that we ALWAYS just did things our way. I would be on stage during a show and just decide to start freestyling and involving the crowd during one of our songs. Ragz would just look at me – crack a smile and give me that – ” do your thing” look that kept it fun. We had a blast performing. It was the “unscripted” script that we stuck to.
(DJ Ragz on the 1’s & 2’s)
We’ve heard that DJ Ragz gives back to his community by blessing Deejayin’ Instructions for the youth, please tell us more about this!
Ragz: Well, its a paid gig for me, but I teach all ages beginner to advanced levels of Mixing and Scratching and Ableton at beatrefinery.com. Its a very rewarding job. We want to show people the right way and teach them where to focus and the proper order of learning. I have been there 3 years now and I have met some really cool kids and adults doing this.
Mudd: Ragz is a beast – nuff said.
Reflecting on Mudd’s meaningful & conscious passages on the album, we find it great to see that you don’t only talk the talk, but also walk the walk. What were your first type of encounters with positive messages & what made you decide to carry the torch?
Mudd: Growing up I grew up in church heavy, but also heard a lot of instrumental jazz and a lot of Marvin Gaye and Stevie Wonder. Once I got into hip hop – I feel I naturally gravitated towards people that had something to say to the state of the world and our responsibilities. Jungle Brothers, Big Daddy Kane, Intelligent Hoodlum, Tribe – they all had their songs that were current to everyday life struggles. I said – I’m gonna say something…. and still have fun doing it.
Do you still go diggin’ for records regularly & practice the elements of our Culture? Any cool stories or anecdotes worth mentioning?
Ragz: Yes! Yes and Yes! Diggin is a great part of the process. I love it. I love finding the cheap stuff. I would say I am strongest in Jazz and 90’s hip hop. MUDD has some crazy stuff. When you go through his collection, you will see a bunch of stuff you have never seen.
Mudd: Do we still go diggin??!!!?? How dare you! – hahaha. Nah , of course man. There’s nothing like spending hours in a couple record stores – getting your hands dirty and finding that ” What the heck is this?!?!?!” record. That’s part of it all for me – it’s relaxing. I’ve got some joints that I found years ago that I haven’t touched yet….kinda crazy. But I promise in 2015……oh boy!
DJ Ragz, you made it to the ‘DMC World Online Championships Finals’ back in 2013 finishing in 10th place! How was the online battling experience? Do you do live battles against DJ’s as well?
Ragz: Ive been batling since 1994. I started Djn in 1989. I love the live battle more so than the online battle. Placing Top 10 in 2013 was a huge honor. It had been a long time since I had battled and that year I entered 4 battles. I made the finals of all 4 battles which was crazy. I kind of just battle when I have the urge. It takes alot of work to be battle ready. Those djs who do it every year get so much respect from me!
In this era of technology; digital distribution and crowdfunding are being used more than ever. We see that your first experience with Indiegogo for ‘Tomorrows Yesterday’ went great! What are some plans you have in store for your listeners and supporters out there?
Ragz: That indegogo thing was awesome. It really worked well. We exceeded our bottom line and our friends and family were a huge help!
Mudd: Indiegogo is awesome man. So many people that care about the music and you in general just come out of the woodworks to support you. It’s cool. I haven’t been the best at connecting as much as I should but that is my MAIN focus here of late. Connecting with the people.
As we thank you one last time for partaking in this interview and answering all our questions, are there any final words you’d like to share to all the readers who took their time to learn some more about you guys?
Ragz: I cannot express enough how grateful for the interview and people believing in us. Thank everyone for any story about how they relate to our songs. I have said it before but I really mean it when I say, that Album was made just for the two of us. Im so glad that other people loved it. There were alot of nights of sleeping on that hard studio floor to get songs done. We had a ton of fun making Oxygen and Its so great to see that there is still people discovering us.
Mudd: First off I want to say thank you. Thank you to you sir for believing in what we do enough to invest your time and efforts in promoting our music and keeping it alive. Shout out to all the heads out there – young and old – that feel music the way we do. It’s cliche to say but we truly do it for the love of expression. That album is special to me in so many ways and to see it still “breathing”( yep that just happened ) today is amazing. Keep your ears and eyes open… We’re going back to our original recipe. God bless. Peace.
Now that you know where these good folks are coming from when it comes to their musical philosophy & views on life, check out the snippets for the project and support by copping a copy at the Back2DaSource Records Bigcartel website or through their other vinyl distributor Vinylism.de. Combined shipping with the Docta Bec project is also available! (Doc Bec x TheTika.com interview link here)
Thanks for reading, we appreciate your time!
Peace from Back2DaSource Records & TheTika.com