Justus League in da house, homies! We encourage you to read an interview with one member of this crew, Edgar Allan Floe. He’s just dropped „The Streetwise LP„, which is his long awaited album. Don’t sleep, we are going to interview with other members of Justus League.
What’s good Edgar? You are first member of Justus League who agree for interview with U Call That Love. Could you tell me what are doing other artist of Justus League now? Who is yours the closest friend?
Thanks for the opportunity to do the interview. The other members of The Justus League are keeping things moving. Cesar Comanche is finishing up his new album, called „Die In Your Lap”, which will be out early next year. Median and I will work on a collaborative project called „Wiseguys”. For the most part, the League continues to progress with their individual careers. I’m not sure who I would say is my closest friend in the League. I have a different type of bond with each member. If anybody in the League needed me for anything, in the end, I’m there for every single of them.
I remember that my first thought about you bounded with your name. Edgar Allan Poe was well-known and talented writer and storyteller. Why are incorporated his name in your life? You must highly apreciate and admiere him.
Well, my partner in rhyme, Mal Demolish of my crew The Undefined, gave me the name Edgar Allen Floe. It was kind of a play on words, and at first he thought of it as a joke. But I incorporated Edgar Allan Poe’s unique writing style into what I do lyrically, but without any similar themes of Poe’s writings. It’s more of a general type of similarity and influence. Just the fact of Poe being a well known and world famous story teller and novelist…that’s generally what I want to be recognized as, but from the hip hop point of view.
You started rhyming at age 14. Do you always want to become an Emcee or you long for be producer or DJ?
I’ve always been a part of the hip hop culture since the beginning. I used to break dance at annual festivals in the city, and eventually starting rapping in elementary school. But as I got older, I really wanted to start DJing. I’ve always had a love for music, and I love DJing. But since buying turntables wasn’t an option for me back in the day, because they were expensive, I tried my hand at writing lyrics and becoming an emcee. I would write rhymes at school almost every day, and eventually would freestyle at events in my hometown. Any time I was at a party that had a DJ and a microphone, I would try to freestyle. It’s crazy, because most people that know me think I’m a shy person…which I am to an extent. But when it came to the music, I always had to be a part of it. The music is what gave me an outlet to express myself, and I loved it.
Yours first hip hop group was a.b. The Undefinied, which you set up with Mal Demolish, who is your close friend. When did you meet him? Are you still record with him?
I met Mal Demolish back in 1994. He was the main guy around school who was rapping for a few years…doing shows in the area. He was rapping with another kat named Sequel II, and they were a group called Undefined Cypha. In 1996, they asked me to come to the studio with them and record a song with them. At the time, this was my first time recording in a real studio, so I was excited about it. The first track I ever recorded was a song called „Mad Mystic”, which Mal Demolish produced and I co-produced. Once I experienced a real studio, I knew this is something I wanted to do for the long run. I started recording more songs with them, and things didn’t work out with Mal Demolish and Sequel. So they parted ways, and me and Mal became The Undefined. We’ve been a crew since 1996, and plan to drop an official album in 2009. Mal Demolish is always on any of my solo projects, so fans have heard him before if they’ve picked up any of my projects.
Justus League is strong collective. What was basic steps of your crew and when you become a 9th Wonder’s friend? How about other members? When they linked with JL?
The Justus League was officially formed in 1999. I met 9th Wonder in 1997 at North Carolina State University. We met at the NC State basketball gym. We started to talk on occasion, and eventually realized we had similar tastes in music. It got to the point if I came into the gym and saw 9th, I would say to him „What Up Primo!”…and he would say to me „What up RZA!” RZA was my favorite producer, and DJ Premier was his favorite at the time. I met Cesar Comanche around the same time…more like around 1999. Comanche and I are from the same city of Jacksonville, North Carolina, so we knew some of the same people. I eventually met Phonte, Median, and Pooh, and other members of the League in 1999 or 2000. We all started recording music with each other and that’s when we thought we could form a collective and build a buzz. It took years to build that buzz, but after several shows in the area, a lot of people knew about the Justus League. It’s hard to believe it’ll be 10 years next year since we first got together.
Justus League gained much respect with the release „NC State of Mind Mixtape”. How are you feeling now with this success?
That mixtape was something kind of thrown together to help further build our buzz. A popular website, hiphopsite.com, endorsed the mixtape and released it exclusively. The mixtape because a quick success, and everyone started to recognize The Justus League. I am glad we released it, and I think it definitely helped us. But I never even had a copy of the mixtape for my own to listen to. All of the League members were supposed to each get about 20 or so copies to sell themselves…I didn’t get a single copy. So all I know is, the mixtape was a success, but monetarily, I didn’t see one red cent from it. It’s all good though…unless it sold 50,000 copies or something (laughs).
You have been featured in many magazines and online sites before yours debut EP, „True Links” in 2005. Are you satisfied with this release and interest with media?
2005 was The Justus League’s strongest year to date, in my opinion. You had my „True Links” EP, L.E.G.A.C.Y.’s „Project Mayhem”, The Away Team’s „National Anthem”, and Little Brother’s „Minstrel Show”…among other releases. We had a lot of projects drop and our buzz was was the biggest. With „True Links”, I think the overall response was pretty good in the media. I learned a lot about some people who do the reviews, and I realize they are some people who don’t review albums to give an honest opinion…Some do the review just to add to their resume, without even giving the project an honest listen. I used to really get frustrated when I see a bad review…but it really wasn’t the fact that the review was bad, because I know everybody won’t love what I do. It’s just with some reviews, that person didn’t give any support behind why they hated the project. If you at least tell people WHY you love or hate a project, that’s what I thought how a review was supposed to be done. But, some people have different intentions with reviewing music, so now that I’ve learned that, I don’t sweat it anymore. I just focus on those that respect what I do, and I cater to those people. But again, overall I was satisfied with the media attention. I was recognized in the XXL Magazine for „True LInks”, which was my first major publication, so I was happy about that.
Could you tell me about part of your carrer, which was linked up with
dependent label, Shaman Work Recordings. You only dropped one release for this label, „Floe Almighty (mixtape)” in 2006. Why did you rapidly leave Shaman Work?
After „True Links” dropped, I wanted to builld off the buzz I created on my own, and link up with a label that would help me further contribute to my movement. I talked to quite a few labels, and Shaman Work was one of the few who seemed interested. I had talked with the President of the label initially, and he seemed like he was pretty genuine. So, I decided to work with them. My plan with Shaman Work was to initially drop my official album „The Streetwise LP” with them. But, they thought we could brainstorm and find ways to keep the buzz going to help create more demand before the album dropped. So, I thought about putting together a project that was more like a mixtape styled released. This is how „Floe Almighty” came about. I didn’t expect people to really think this was an album, because it was a collection of songs that I put together fairly quickly. The response overall was pretty good, and I was happy with it. We had first dropped „Floe Almighty” as a slim line CD…but then Shaman Work wanted to get the release in stores and distributed by their distributor at the time, Koch. I thought it would be a good move to get it in stores, so I agreed. After „Floe Almighty” hit stores, in March 2006, I thought then I could have them release „The Streetwise LP” later that year. But in the end, there were a lot of things at Shaman Work that just didn’t add up. So after tons of talk but little action from the label on a variety of things, I decided to leave. I have a pretty good knowledge of the business side of the game, so I thought it would be better for me to start my own label and release my music on my own. That way, I would not have to wait on anybody and I would be in full control over my career. Shaman Work was a learning experience for me, and I really don’t have any hard feelings towards them, because they were one of the few labels that wanted to at least give me an opportunity. But at the same time, they will hear from me really soon about some unfinished business. I’m just waiting for the right time.
You are now one of artists of MCEO. Recently, you released the long awaited album, „The Streetwize”. Why we had to expect this LP so long?
MCEO Records is my own label, which I established in 2007, after leaving Shaman Work. I had to regroup after my short stay at Shaman Work, so again I wanted to keep the buzz going before I dropped „The Streetwise LP”. So, the first release under my label was „Floe Almighty: The Remixture”, which included exclusive remixes of my original „Floe Almighty” CD. I wanted to revamp that project, for a wide range of reasons, but primarily to show people what I’m capable of when I’m in complete control of my music. The songs, the mixing, the engineering, even the mastering, was all done by me. „Floe Almighty: The Remixture” put a nice spin on some well received tracks, like „The Torch”, „Skyward”, and „Cruise”, so I’m glad I released the remix project. This, plus the mixtape I dropped a few months ago called „The Road To Streetwise” really gave people a lot of good music to listen to, before „The Streetwise LP”. All I can do now is hope people will recognize my talent all over the world, and support what I do.
Could you compare North Carolina hip hop stage with other cities in US?
North Carolina’s hip hop scene is pretty diverse. I think if a lot of the NC Artists would join forces and build with each other, we would be even more recognized all over the world. We have something for everybody in NC, so it’s only right to expose that diversity. But just like any other city, you have some crews that don’t want to be outshined by someone they consider „competition”. I think that’s so sad, because a group is going to still have their same fans, whether they collab with another crew or not. But if they do collab, the potential is there to gain new fans. So it really can hurt you if you stay close minded and don’t want to help each other. Some crews get overpowered by envy and greed, and that will eventually be their downfall.
You appear also under the alias – SliceMysta. Please, tell me about this alias. I am not sure but I think that it is your name as producer. Do you aim to recognize yours all names?
Slicemysta is the first rap name I had, before Edgar Allen Floe. Once I started calling myself Edgar Allen Floe, I didn’t want to scrap the name Slicemysta. So I decided to make Slicemysta the ‚producer/engineer” side of me, and Edgar Allen Floe the „emcee”. Like I said before, I wear a lot of hats when it comes to music, so having just one name wouldn’t really give people the understanding of my diversity. So when you pick up an Edgar Allen Floe album, and you see the name Slicemysta all in the liner notes, you can think to yourself that I really put in a ton of work to release that project. So both names are to help people understand my dedication and work ethic with this music.
What are yours next plans? Are you going to drop some new album or you focusing in something other projects?
„The Streetwise LP” just dropped in November, so I’ll be promoting that project pretty much throughout 2009. It’s currently available online on iTunes (www.itunes.com/edgarallenfloe), and other digital retailers. You should also be able to pick it up or order it from any nearby music store. For 2009, I have quite a few projects in the works. I have a couple of collaborative side projects, with up and coming producers. Be on the lookout for „Floetry In Motion”, which is myself and a producer named J Wheels from Norfolk, Virginia. Also, I’m working on „Blunt Sessions”, with producer Blunt from Vancouver, Canada. And a project that is more Justus League related…I’ll be working on „Wiseguys” with fellow League member, Median. I’m also looking to drop The Undefined project next year, with Mal Demolish. So, it’s going to be a busy 2009 for me.
Today, we have particular state in rapgame. Artists are discontent with majors, so we have now many underground and ambitious labels. What are you thinking about this situation?
I like the fact that more artists are taking control over their career, and realizing that you don’t need a major label to release your music. BUT, I also feel like the underground scene is so oversaturated, that it’s hard for the average listener to find good music. It’s so easy nowadays to record a song on your computer, convert it to mp3, and make it available online all in the same night. That’s good in a sense, but again EVERYBODY can do it, so it’s devalued the music a little in my opinion. I think if you are really smart with your business, you can definitely be succesful with a major label. But, you can also be successful on a major. You just have to learn how to dissect those industry contracts and not sacrifice too much of your career as an artist, just to say you’re signed to a major. The reality is that a lot of underground labels want to BE a major label…they follow the same overall format as the majors….with how they run their label, how they prepare contracts, etc. So no matter which route you choose as an artist, you still have to be careful. Some underground labels try to say they give their artist creative freedom, but it could be at the same cost as a major label. Learn the game and understand it before you take any major steps, and you’ll be ok.
How about your life without Hip Hop? Is it possibly to live without this culture? What Hip Hop means to you?
I could not even imagine my life without Hip Hop. I think about it a lot though, because one of the big things that I am thankful for in Hip Hop is the reality factor. If it wasn’t for KRS-ONE, Rakim, Guru, Wu-Tang, and countles
s others, I wouldn’t even think there was an alternate way of thinking when it came to things like religion. I think that’s so powerful, because so many people live their life according to „tradiiton”, whether right or wrong, and never are told that there are alternatives. I think a lock on someone’s brain is a terrible thing, and Hip Hop helped unlock people’s brains all over the world. I was always the kid in school who wasn’t afraid to ask „why” when it came to all sorts of things. Hip Hop basically gave me that confirmation to say that how I was thinking wasn’t wrong, just because it’s different from the norm. People walk around deaf, dumb, and blind every day, and have no idea that they are walking around this way. That’s a scary thing.
Have you ever visited Europe? People from Old Country appreciate good underground Hip Hop and they have a good musical taste.
No, I haven’t had a chance to visit Europe yet, but I’ve always known that Europeans love authentic Hip Hop music. I feel like once I get the opportunity to tour throughout Europe, I will love it. I have people from all over Europe who tell me they love what I do, and that makes me feel good…to know someone that you’ve never met, on the other side of the world, respects your thoughts. So I can’t wait to make that trip to Europe and build with like minds.
Thanks for the interview, Edgar. Do you want to say something in ending?
Witalij, I want to thank you again for the opportunity to do the interview. I truly appreciate it. Thanks to everyone who have read this interview. If you have never heard of Edgar Allen Floe before this interview, I hope you will be influenced to check out my material. Check me out at www.myspace.com/eafloe, as well as my entire catalog on iTunes at www.itunes.com/edgarallenfloe. Thanks to all of my fans all over the world for the continued support. Peace and Respect!