They tell you to never judge a book by it’s cover and that may be entirely true. Sometimes though, it’s the cover that will grab your interest. Same goes with records, cds, tapes and other forms of musical media. That was exactly the case when I first saw the cover for LoveJones & Phys Ed’s Sunday Drive album, that was released for free earlier this year. It’s not the gangster overtones, or the incredible artwork that grabbed my attention. To be honest, not sure what it was. Maybe that it was so “not hip-hop” that caused me to do a double take as I scrolled through the Hip Hop Bootleggers. Of course it also helped that someone co-signed for the album in the c-box comments.
What I heard after I played it through my iPod at work a day or two later was what would soon become one of my favorite albums of the ’09 season. I’m a beat person first and foremost and the beats found on Sunday Drive are some straight up chillin’, kick back while smoking a J type of shit. It’s mood music and it lives up to it’s name. It’s music that you would play with the top down on the convertible while rolling around town, or just chill on the patio while songs like “Sittin’ On The Moon”, “Down Time”, or “Had A Dream” roll through the smooth and mellow vibes. Of course, LoveJones aka Mike Schpitz aka Mike Jones proves on tracks like “They Gon Hate” and “The Get Up” that he can get up and bring the energy as well.
I’ve been meaning to catch up with Mike for most of this summer, but my crazy personal schedule this summer hindered me until just recently. We caught up with LoveJones and discussed the free album, his crew, and of course hip hop in general…..
For the first of two Sunday Drive Remixes, I enlisted two emcees from The League of Ordinary Gentlemen, Add-2 and Adullessence to rework The Get Up. The League of Ordinary Gentlemen is a crew I pulled with some of my favorite emcees that I have had the chance to work with. The League consists of Adullessence from Topeka, Kansas, Dre Day from Texas, Add-2 from Chicago and Tona from Toronto, Canada. The Get Up Remix is the first taste of The League of OG’s, who represents one of hip hop’s newest and most dynamic crews. - LoveJones
The Get Up Remix featuring Add-2 and Adullessence
LoveJones and Phys Edison’s debut album, Sunday Drive.
Sunday Drive Download Link
Official Track list
1. Sunday Morning(Still Thinking About Saturday Night)
2. Sunday Drive
3. New World
5. Phys Edison’s Brunch
6. Sit on the Moon
7. The One(My SV Shit)
8. Sunday Drive Midnight Mix
9. Had a Dream
10. B.I.G. Dreams
11. The Get Up
12. They Gon Hate
13. Sucka MCs
14. Roll Call(Top City)
LJ: I’m Mike Schpitz aka LoveJones. My real name is Mike Jones. I’m from Topeka, Kansas but living in Chicago. I’m a Jayhawk for life and were taking it all this year.
W: Coming from the not so hotbed for hip hop of Topeka Kansas, how does a kid from KS get into hip hop.
LJ: I guess the same way everyone does. I just heard this music and saw this culture that I loved and the longer that I have listened and immersed myself the more I have fallen in love(and hate). As far as creating music goes, it was pretty random. My brother started making beats right around when Fruityloops started getting popular and we started writing songs. I always wrote poetry and creative writing so the change was pretty seem less. Not saying that I was ALWAYS dope but it was probably like Phonte says “Our first joints were wack but (people) could hear potential in em.” Since I moved to Chicago, I have met a lot of talented cats and the progression has just been natural for me.
W: Reading up on your career, you were first in the group Full House. I know Lawrence, KS (KU) actually has a good scene, how were those years in KU as far doing the group thing?
LJ: Man starting out in Lawrence was amazing for us because between 4 of us, we knew A LOT of people so people would come out to the shows on some friend shit. We literally did one open mike on a Monday night at the bottleneck and packed it out and started headlining pretty much any date and venue we wanted. We just had that many friends and people that would come out to the shows. A lot of cats on “the scene” didn’t like that because they had been out “grinding” for a long time and we just kinda came in and took shit over. It was dope though because we didn’t really have to go through anyone.
W: What made you move to Chicago after graduating? How is the local scene in the windy city as far as getting yourself known and getting to know other artists?
The scene here is interesting. There are some really incredible artists on all levels. From Kanye to Mikkey Halsted to Add-2. Like a lot of the most talented cats aren’t on but make music that is just as good, in my opinion as the big names. However, it seems like it is difficult to really be embraced by the city and build a good buzz without kind of blowing up first or getting a cosign from someone who already has a solid fanbase. I have seen a lot of the people that you would think would pack shows perform for less than a hundred people. In a city of 3 million people, I would think that cats could pull bigger crowds. Hip hop is weird that way though. It’s like people don’t like you because your dope, they like you because other people tell them it’s okay to like you. Kanye could come out and tell you that bologna was the best meat in the world and people would start bringing bologna sandwiches to the club. Chicago has been good to me though as far as people that I have had the opportunity to work with. I work with some incredible people.
W: You dropped one of, if not the best free album of the year in “Sunday Drive”, describe some of the concepts behind the album and how it came to be…
LJ: First off, I’m glad you enjoy the album. People seem to really enjoy it. I know both me and Phys Ed love it. Honestly it really wasn’t a concept album. I know it kinda flows like that and seems like that is how it is but we really just made songs, put the ones together that sounded the best in an order they sounded dope and it fit well. I did short of structure as a day in the life feel though especially with the intro, Phys Eds brunch and B.I.G. Dreams. That was just a way to tighten all the music and make it flow. It’s kinda crazy how well it turned out.
W: Phys Ed produced the whole album, which is kinda rare these days. Is that something you were shooting for, or was it a collab album from the get go? What does Phys Ed bring to the table besides the incredible dope production found on the album?
LJ: It is definitely rare and a shame in my opinion. Now you got people making album with so many different producers that they don’t even necessarily know on a personal level. I think it’s hard to make a solid project when someone doesn’t know you and your style. I linked with Phys Ed and originally we were just gonna make a few joints for whatever but he gave me so many beats, I just kept writing and then the album just came together. Once we had the title, it was easy to put together.
Phys Ed is just a good ass dude like. He makes music because he loves too. I think that gave us the freedom to do whatever we felt like doing. There was never a discussion of “we need to make this type of record or attempt to stay current.” We just made records we liked and I said what I wanted to say. Phys Ed is passionate about the music and respects me as an emcee so the confidence he has in me is super important. I know some producers who make a beat and want a rapper to rap like this, or write about this or use this hook which is cool but I think it is important to believe in the people that you work with.
W: Why did you choose to go the free route with it?
LJ: The main reason we chose to release Sunday Drive free is because no one knows who we are, for the most part. I just wanted to get the music to as many people as possible before I charge people for something they know nothing about. It would be like buying a car from a company with no reputation without being able to test drive it. I would rather people listen to the music for free rather than be discouraged by a price tag. I know how I am with new artists so I just did what I would want some one else to do. I am putting Sunday Drive on Itunes with 2 remixes because I have had a lot of people that said they wanted to support and buy the album, so that will be their chance. Time to for people to put their money where their mouth is.
W: Obviously, things have changed with the advance of the internet and blogs? What is your take on downloading and the internet in general? Do you think it has helped or hindered your career?
LJ: That is the million dollar question. I personally think there is only one way any can feel about it. Downloading has been going on for a long time and before that burning and bootlegging albums but it has become easier and easier. I think that there is nothing to say because nothing will change it. Offering linear notes and lyric sheets with digital albums will NOT change things because people will be able to download all that stuff for free too. I think record labels are suffering because they failed to deal with the problem when it first arose. When Napster, Audiog
alaxy and Kazaa first came out, record labels should have dropped the prices of albums to like 5 bucks an album to curb downloading before it got to this point.
Can you imagine how many albums Blueprint 3 would have sold back in the day with all this hype especially if it was 5 bucks in the store? BOY!!!!!!!!!!!! Instead labels are scrambling. I was reading up on some older hip hop albums and it seems like a good amount of people were going platinum. Now NO ONE goes platinum. It is what it is. People fail to act in a timely manner then wonder why things are the way they are. I could talk about this all day, so I’ll stop there. hahaha. The interest has definitely helped me get my music to people I would NEVER be able to reach. However, I think nowadays because of the ease of being able to make and promote music, the value of music is nothing. It’s unfortunate for cats like me because I get grouped as an internet rapper or a blog rapper or whatever just because that is the one of the only ways to reach people with the music. Shit I think my grandma just dropped an album a couple weeks ago and she had more downloads than me. WTF.
W: You are quite active on the social networking sites and aren’t afraid to let your feelings be known on social events, celebrities and hip hop itself. Is that just a natural thing for you? Is it something that has ever given you the “proverbial bite in the ass” since it seems like everybody and anybody can read anything anybody has ever written….
LJ: Number one is I like to talk shit and have discussion for the sake of having discussion. I could give you several reasons why Blueprint 3 is amazing and give you several why it is sub-par. I like to just say stuff so people can talk about it. I like . I listen to his music. He is one of the greatest of all time period but I think I don’t like certain things about his music or whatever so I just say it to see what other people think. It probably comes off to most people as a “holier than thou” opinion or like my opinion is hip hop law but I think we all know that isn’t true or Sunday Drive would have went platinum. I am sure someone will read some shit that I say and come check me about it but I’m just saying how I feel as a fan of hip hop.
Common said the most honest shit a while back “if I don’t like it, I don’t like it that don’t mean that I’m hatin.” Man everyone is so sensitive about their music and whatever but can’t have a real conversation or discussion about it. It turns into “your a hater” or “muthafucker I get paid.” I just feel like if people make subpar shit they should know it and they should do better next time. Jay is untouchable as far as his influence and status in hip hop, HOWEVER he makes some subpar shit for Jay-Z’s standards. Lebron doesn’t cry if he scores 8 points and loses a game and people criticize a game. I look at albums or projects seasons. If someone had a subpar season, they need to know about it. Just because they sold out the arena doesn’t mean that they played their best ball that season. I’m waiting to get a call from Jay or Kanye or someone being like “you’re wack, you’re a hater and you will never make it in the music business CLICK.”
W: Explain the League of Ordinary Gentleman and who they are and whats the goal in the future?
LJ: The League is just a crew of cats that I not only respect as emcees and producers but cats that I personally know and work with. I can hit these cats up and just chat if I want to. I think it’s rare that you actually see a group of cats who all hold their own on the solo thing but respect each other and can make music. Wu Tang is an unbelievable group because they had 9 talented ass cats. Can you imagine trying to coordinate 9 people together and make dope music together? It’s hard enough to find ONE person to do that. I just want people to know that these are the people that I fuck with and it’s more than just music.
W: What does Mike Jones have going on the future? More music with Phys Ed, solo or collabs with others?
LJ: I know sometimes it seems like I’m not working or doing any music or shows because I’m not in people’s face all the time with a freestyle over a beat that just came out but I stay busy. I’m in the studio damn near every week. I have a mixtape that I’m gonna drop in November called Love Potion Number 9th. All the beats are borrowed from . That is all done and has been for a while, I am just taking my time planning everything as far as videos, singles, etc. I want the music to reach it’s maximum potential with the resources that I have at this time. Sunday Drive was done in December of 08 but I didn’t drop it until May. If I wouldn’t have taken my time, it wouldn’t have had over 82,000 downloads.
I’m almost done with my second full length album called Have You Seen My Stapler? That project is produced by SLOT-A and The Gift. I am taking my time with that as well because that music is just amazing. All original, no samples(aside from some vocal sampled hooks). I want to get the right sponsors and looks for the album. We are talking to some people about a situation for it so we will see what happens. I’m also halfway done with an EP that will come out before …Stapler which is produced by Rob Bates and me and Phys Ed actually have 16-18 records written for our next album, Paid Time Off. I feel worthless if I’m not making new music so I try to stay busy.
W: Any last words for the masses?
LJ: Sunday Drive will be on Itunes October 7th with 2 remixes. I am also releasing the video for Sucka MCs that day as well. If you don’t trust me enough to buy my music without hearing it first, check me out on myspace and various blogs and sites or hit me up and I’ll send you the album free WITH the 2 remixes featuring The League of Ordinary Gentlemen. Check out my website daily for a dose of honest hate. www.mikeschpitz.com and please don’t be shy to share your thoughts or comments on my site, facebook, twitter, myspace, match.com, eharmony, etc. Shout out to my grandma. Go cop her album Panty Hose and Shower Caps.
LoveJones & Phys Edison – Roll Call
LoveJones & Phys Edison – New World
LoveJones & Phys Edison – Sit On The Moon