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WYDU Interviews: J-Ro of the Alkaholiks

by Travis on November 20, 2007

We still alive and kicking. I’m working on three other posts right now,including an interview, so shit be on and poppin’ in the not so distant future.Today, we have another interview, conducted with another of my favorite MC’s from one of my favorite groups of all-time, J-Ro from Tha Alkaholiks. As you may or may not know, J-Ro has a solo album that is already out over in Europe and plans on a 2008 release for his “Rare Earth B-Boy Funk Vol. 2″ LP here in the states. Thanks goes out to Claes at JuJu Records for arranging the interview and supporting WYDU through out the year.

Straight from the bar and dropping lyrical concoctions, one of the Likwit MC’s, J-Ro! It’s the Liks baby, its the Liks!

WYDU: Thanks for the taking the time to answer these questions…..

J-Ro: Just buy me a rum & coke next time we meet up and it’s all good!

W: You go way back in the history of the west coast hip hop scene, from pairing up with DJ Pooh, to rocking a group with King Tee, how did you get into hip hop?

J-Ro: Well, my mentor Scottie D, who I owe it all to, introduced me to hip hop in his clothing store back in the days, and that’s where I met all the old school cats from back then, who taught me the game.

W: Who were your influences as an MC coming up in the game?

J-Ro: MC Shan, LL Cool J, Ice-T.. and Melle Mel. Hahaha!

W: Did you do any solo material in between Total Control (A group consisting ofJ-Ro, DJ Pooh, King Tee and others)and Everyday Street Poets (b/k/a Tha Alkaholiks)?

J-Ro: I’ve had a continuous stream of solo material from before that time and since then. Be sure to check out my upcoming Spilt Drink mix-CD with unreleased material!

W: How did you, Tash, and Swift hook up to form a group then?

J-Ro: My friend Michael Hernes introduced me to E-Swift who already knew Tash and we just started doing demos. E-Swift made beats for me as well as for Tash, then we just started doing demos as a group instead.

W: How many tracks were originally done for the Everyday Street Poets promo project?

J-Ro: Ouff.. I would say 9 or so in the beginning. “Make Room” and “Got It Bad Ya’ll” was actually my solo songs at first anyway, we got a demo recording deal with A&M Records and did a whole album, 17 songs, which we recorded in four days.

W: I remember you guys getting some heat when you came with the group name, “Tha Alkaholiks”, at first? Any thoughts or regrets with the name?

J-Ro: No, we don’t regret it. It wasn’t a bad name in our ears, and although it was for some I guess, we didn’t really care.

W: The first CD seemed to pop on the scene rather quickly and you had one of the newer power houses of hip hop labels in “Loud” behind you. How did that all come together?

J-Ro: We were doing demos and stuff, and a friend of ours, Broadway, introduced us to Fade who worked with Steve Rifkind who told us about his new label. We liked their ideas and what they wanted to so we decided we wanted to roll with them.

W: As a group, you were one of the few to get love on both coasts, especially in a time when the whole east/west thing was starting to pop off. I remember buying a Red Alert or Kid Capri tape and hearing “Make Room” on it and it was one of only two west coast joints getting love on it? Why do you think you had appeal on both coasts the way you did?

J-Ro: I think because when we came up, we were in a way, rebelling against the popular radio hip-hop, and we didn’t want to sound like a typical hip hop group. I think both coasts like our music, because of the originality of it. We were into being original and I think to this day
that it both helped and hurt us. You can’t really put Tha Alkaholiks into a category or genre, we’re hip-hop, but not gangsta rap, not conscious rap, not political, we were doing our thing.

W: That is so true. How did you guys record as a group for so long and it seemed like the group got along and had great chemistry together? Any keys to the longevity as a group?

J-Ro: There’s always a formula, and every group is different, obviously I can’t speak for other groups, but we had a lot of fun, which kept us together. There wasn’t really no drama around us.

W: A Liks concert was always something wild and crazy. What kind of memories do you have performing. Did you guys enjoy touring and putting on shows as much as it was portrayed as such?

J-Ro: Yeah, doing shows is our main thing. Before we had a deal we did shows. A lot of shows. And it’s hard to do a show when nobody knows your songs, so we had to rock the place no matter what. We got our experience from that, so when we had albums out and did shows, people knew us, and since then it’s been a piece of cake performing. We love entertaining.

W: Did you have a favorite spot on tour? Any place that gets particularly crazy?

J-Ro: Many, many different places for different reasons. But Christiania in Copenhagen is a place I need to put on the map! Everybody who has been there know what I’m talking about!

W: How was the Colorado scene for touring?

J-Ro: It sucks! Hahaha! No, it was one of the best places man, no matter how many times we sold out there, Colorado always delivered! Denver, Boulder and Fort Collins always gave us love.

W: I remember picking up a solo tape from you on one of The Liks tours back in 98, I think it was called the Wolfpack (damn I got to see if I can find that) what ever happened with that whole project?

J-Ro: We did our thing but time goes and I ended moving out of the country and went on to different things.

W: Do you have a personal favorite album from the group? Song?

J-Ro: I gotta say the first album, “21 & Over” was definitely the project of mine that was the favorite because we were so excited to do an album, and we we’re real happy.. And we were so happy we drank all of the 40oz of Los Angeles until they ran out.. hahaha! My favorite song? Damn! I don’t know.. But I guess “Dammmn!”, there it is.

W: How do you feel about the disbanding of tha Liks? Any chance of a reunion album in the future?

J-Ro: Well, just to set the record straight, we never broke up. We still tour. We‘re doing a European tour now in December and US tour next year. We’re still a group, just not recording together, we want to do different things in music, and we all support each other.

W: What are the differences between being in a group and being a solo artist as far as making an album?

J-Ro: Well, being in the group was 3 people and solo is just me, that’s the difference. Hahaha. No, but now it’s all just on me when I’am solo, and when recorded as a group we had to put our ideas together. Each way has its pluses and minuses. I like both ways.

W: Describe making your new album, “Rare Earth B-Boy Funk”, in a foreign country? How was it working with foreign producers and the such?

J-Ro: I mean, I wasn’t able to drink 40oz, that was the main difference. Other than that, we all grew up listening to the same music and albums so it wasn’t that much difference when it came to making the music.

W: What do you hope to accomplish with the new album?

J-Ro: World domination.

W: Any hopes of releasing the project in the states? Any tours going to happen back in the homeland?

J-Ro: Yeah, I plan to release the album in the US in 2008, a Special Edition album for the States. And we have our Liks tour in March next year.

W: You have a lot of guest appearances on the new album, how did you choose who to work with? Any future guests you hope to work with?

J-Ro: On this album I didn’t plan on having any guests at first, but when artists come out here, we contact each other and end up doing work together, even more than in the States. As for Snoop, he handed me the beat while on tour in Stockholm, Sweden. Keith Murray and I
recorded in Copenhagen, Denmark. As far as new collaborations, I want to have a lot of Likwit Crew members on my next album. I’m already 7 songs in on it and I got to have the homies on it!

W: Not many MC’s pack up and leave the states, what influenced you to make that kind of move and sign with a foreign label?

J-Ro: I like reading biographies about musicians, and I was reading Quincy Jones autobiography, right when he’s telling about his trips and stay in Sweden in the 60′s and right at that moment, this label from Sweden calls me up asking about doing some music together. It was weird but felt right on the spot, like a calling or something. So I hooked up with them and the rest is history. I went out here and just stayed. I just feel hip-hop is kind of like in the same state as jazz was in the 60′s when it was becoming very commercial and played out in the States, the musicians went over to Europe to do their thing, as it was more appreciated out here.

W: We’ve all heard it before, but is there truth to the “rumors” that overseas audiences are much more into the hip hop
scene as opposed
to the states?

J-Ro: In a way, I mean the States love hip-hop, but more like here today gone tomorrow. In Europe people never forget who was tight in the 90′s. It don’t matter who’s out here, they always get love. In the U.S. it’s all about who’s hot at the moment. Here you can still tour if you were hot in 1992, they still respect the game out here.

W: You always have a ton of sports references in your rhymes and also recall reading
somewhere that you did a sports radio show as well. Who do you root for?

J-Ro: Yeah, I had a show called Likwit Sports on The Beat in L.A. some time ago.. my teams are L.A. Lakers, Go Dodger Blue and the Dallas Cowboys. And I want it to be understood that I’m the best all round athlete in hip-hop, anybody who wants to challenge med, let me know,
we can some money up!

W: Haha…letting the money do the talking. How is it keeping up with the American
sports scene over in Europe? You down with Soccer now? haha

J-Ro: I’ve been into the whole world soccer thing for a while, Champions League and what not. I first started watching in 1998, and now I know the names of all the players and stuff. For US sports, I read USA Today everyday, stay on the internet reading scores and watch NFL
games every Sunday, we got the whole cable package jumping off here too.

W: Nice. At least you can catch the NFL over there. Any chance of a Likwit Crew
album coming to the light of reality? How about that rumored Beatnuts/Liks album?

J-Ro: We’ve been talking about a Likwit album since forever, it will come out of nowhere one day! As for the Beatnuts we still wanna do the Liknuts album, that would be the business!

W: I thought I read somewhere that you had a son that you were trying to get started in the game (makes me feel old now), how is that working out?

J-Ro: My son Louis got beats, but he’s playing football right now, tailback for the L.A. City Section, but he’s into it. My other son James is gonna be a DJ one day because he’s always playing the latest jams, but he’s focusing on his skateboarding right now, little man is almost a pro skater!

W: What is in J-Ro’s future?

J-Ro: After I finish scratching this lottery ticket I have in my hand I’ll tell you. Hahaha!

W: Alright then, thanks for taking the time to talk with us, good luck with
that ticket!

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