featured interview

Quite Nyce & Radar Ellis Against the world Champs Vs The League. Us vs Them. Quite Nyce and Raydar Ellis, both college graduates and hip-hop activists, have teamed up against negativism, fear, bad vibes and industry hassles with their first self-titled collaboration due out on Brick Records, March 24. A most enjoyable piece of music, with breaks, loops, booms and baps, fresh and versatile lyricism, and guest spots from Akil of Jurassic 5 and Soulstice…

So who came up with the album title and what's the exact idea behind it?

Raydar Ellis: It was a collective effort. The exact idea behind the name is us being at a certain level of achievement but still having to overcome a lot of BS not only in the industry...but in this world. The name of the group has this ‘us against the world’-connotation to it.

Quite Nyce: We were on AIM tossing around ideas for the LP and ‘Champs Vs The League’ was said, Ray said that was a perfect name for the group. I agreed it is very dope and it has a lot of meaning.

The hook-up with Brick Records came through you, Raydar, we suppose?

R: Yeah, it came through me. My relationship with Brick is pretty easy going. I never submit them stuff with a goal of putting it out. The label and I are all fans of hip-hop first so when I approach them with something I'm working on, it's always as a friend on some ‘hey, this is what I've been working on’. Fortunately they dig what I bring them, so it's been pretty painless in getting them to put something out. The same thing went for this record. I dropped it off, they liked it, and now they are putting it out.

Quite, how does it feel that your album is released by Boston's finest label?

Q: It feels really good. Brick doesn’t just take anything and has a solid reputation within the industry. I feel like I have stepped up a lot on this release and this is just a prelude of things to come.

There are three guest featurings on the album, could it’ve been some more or did you want to restrict featurings to a minimum and emphasize your collaboration?

R: We could've broken out our wallets adding people. But there's no reason to ever add somebody if it's unnatural. Our guest appearances came about very ‘matter-of-factly’. So I feel it worked out perfectly...not too much, not too little.

Q: I think the features we have are very special and fit the flow of the LP. We wanted to showcase us more so than making a compilation album or a who’s who in the industry LP.

Project Move is an obvious guest as Raydar is affiliated with them, but how and why did you link up with Soulstice and Akil?

R: That came through Quite Nyce. He hooked all that up.

Q: I have known Soulstice and Akil for some time now. When I asked them to get on the LP they said yes. I feel like they respect us as emcees and Raydar’s production to the fullest. They laid meaningful verses that hopefully will inspire listeners and people who need inspiration.

How did you meet? Did you both know each other or each other’s music before since you’re both from the Boston area?

R: We knew each other enough to see each other at shows and be like ‘waddup?’ First time I saw Radix perform...I think it was at the Paradise Lounge. Then I would see them periodically, whether it was at a show or in a magazine or on TV. They had a video on On Demand that was cool. Boston is an interesting scene because after you play a few shows you start getting to know all the acts in the area. It's a major city, but it has a regular cast of characters in it's local scene....Letia Larok, J the S, 7L & Esoteric, Slaine, Illin P, Edan, Project Move, etc. etc. So it's really no surprise that we ended up getting to know each other.

Q: I officially met Raydar at a show in Boston at a venue called Modern. I was actually with SEEK, who had to leave. I stayed to watch Raydar and his band. I was really impressed with what he did and went up to him after the show and let him know. A lot of emcees in Boston are afraid to be fans. I love this hip-hop to the fullest and I will always be a fan of good music.

So how did you decide to make an album with Raydar Ellis…?

Q: It was a natural progression. I really think we both are like-minded individuals who work hard at what we do. It made sense to make an LP together and put both of our individual hustles into a collective hustle. ‘Champs Vs The League’ is a great LP. I knew we would make a great LP together. I saw the outcome before we even started and I am more than excited that we started something and finished it.

How different was this experience compared to working with Seek?

Q: It is different in the sense SEEK and I don’t produce. We rarely get a chance to actually be in the studio with the producer of the track. Working with Raydar, he was able to do things I normally wouldn’t hear in a track because he produced it. That is the reason everything was easy for me. He was able to capture the moods of the songs and get the best verses out of myself.

Raydar, how would you compare working with Quite as opposed to working with Short Bus Alumni for instance?

R: Quite Nyce is one guy versus the Bus which is 5 other guys. So obviously there is some sense of ease in the fact that you only have to clear something with one person. The interesting thing is that we really got to know each other during the course of creating the album. We knew each other as artists, but that album made us friends. With the Bus, we were friends for about 7 years before we made that record. I was going through some frustrating things with the Bus at the time which I feel in turn helped lead to a more serious tone with this record with QN. My frustrating time with the Bus wasn't anything earth shattering...just the usual you get when you're working with 5 guys.

How did you guys work together, you sat together and experimented, or Raydar you first made the beats and Quite wrote to it or vice versa?

R: Early on I had a batch of beats that I made. I just played them for QN and we both navigated toward which ones we wanted to write to first. We wrote this album together though...just 2 dudes in his basement with notebooks, pens, and headphones. towards the end, I started making beats that I felt could be specifically for us (i.e.- ‘Buck Short’, ‘Trophy Room’, ‘Move’)

Q: I wrote all my verses on the spot. I write pretty quick. It makes it that much easier when you have production like Raydar was providing. I write from the heart and just go in. When a beat touches my heart then the lyrics just pour out.

In how much time was the album completed?

R: The majority of the album was completed in about 3 different weekends. Then a few months later, we added the aforementioned songs...plus a couple more. So in total...about 15 days spread out in the course of 10 months. This was due to the fact that QN and I live in different cities, so we had to make room in our schedules for this record because we were both so busy. Raheem Jamal's ‘Boombox’ album took a similar process. We did that album in about 5 days spread across 6 months.

So will there be a follow-up to your collaboration?

R: Yeah, Lord willing you'll see The Champs again. I'm already breaking ground on some instrumentals for the next album.

Q: Mos def. Without a question. I plan on moving to New York to make it that much easier for both of us. We are def onto something with Champs Vs The League.

Who's your fav rap duo?

R: Hhhhmmm....Showbiz & AG. Hands down. Of course I also dig Gangstarr, EPMD, Eric B & Rakim, 7L & Esoteric (wink wink).

Q: I don’t have a favorite, I love them all.

You both went to college, what influence did that have on your music and career?

R: I went to NC A&T and Berklee College of Music. Both those colleges changed my life forever on a social and academic level. Part of it was the classes...but most of it was the climate. A&T was a great incubator for discovering my adult self. Berklee was a great incubator for discovering my artistic self. I think the combination of the two basically made the Raydar you hear now.

Q: I went to Fitchburg State College. That is where SEEK and I met. That is when my career in hip-hop officially started. I majored in Sociology so that influenced a lot of my conscious lyrics.

Did both of you have some experiences of people looking down at you because you went to college and you’re not from 'the streets'?

R: I did for a loooong time. I used to always get the ‘you talk white’ comments from black folk in the hood. After a long frustrating bout, I overcame it because no matter what…I was still black in America. I live in Harlem right now, and when I talk to people in the neighbourhood it's never been on some ‘you talk rich, or you talk white’. I think over time I evolved into understanding that the streets respect a realness and honesty. Like Will Smith isn't hood...but he's himself and that’s what really resonates with black people across different economic classes. It's in his honesty. Not to say when I was ’talking white’ I wasn't honest…but I was 17 then. I didn't even know who I was yet. I was honest as I could be at that time without knowing how or why. Now I know how and why.

Q: Raydar said it best. A lot of time hood cats would hear my rhymes and wouldn’t respect my P.O.V. I would be called this and that for the way I talked and dressed. Those same cats are now wearing SKINNY JEANS and losing kids everyday. It’s funny to me. I am who I am. I never tried to be something I wasn’t. I like to dress nice. I like my clothes to fit. I like my lyrics to open minds. I think if you rap about the life you live that’s real. It is a shame that some emcees think they need a Jim Jones starter kit to get respect. I tour all over the world doing what I love because everything I write about I live.

Both of you are doing more than just hip-hop. Quite Nyce, can we still expect some spoken word/poetry of yours being published sometime? With or without Saul Williams?

Q: I would love to work with Saul Williams. I am def going to do a spoken word LP. I just wrapped 2 new solo LP’s. I also have some new RADIx material coming April 14th called ‘Monstaplex’. I just started another solo LP as well. I would say after the next RADIx LP I will do a spoken word LP. We will be recording the next RADIx LP in Czech Republic with my man Trusty and doing a tour. Expect that LP to come out at the top of 2010.

Raydar, in the press release’s key notes I’ve read you contributed Michelle Williams’ (Destiny’s Child) upcoming album?

R: I still have to wait and see if the work made the final cut...but long story short...my homie/drummer/producer extraordinaire Chris ‘Daddy’ Dave had been performing together for awhile. We met up through Revive Da Live which is a company dedicated towards bridging the gap between hip-hop and jazz and promoting live music in general. Chris hit me off with some beats to write to and we developed a good chemistry. After awhile, he started working with Michelle which naturally transitioned to him having me drop some verses for a few of her songs.

What does living in Massachusetts mean to you both?

R: It means everything to me. I entered as a student who wasn't too sure about his future and exited as an artist with some direction, a degree, and a career to stand on. MA. and Boston specifically changed EVERYTHING.

Q: I love living in Worcester, MA. The 508. I am moving to NYC to expand but the 508 always has my love.

Quite Nyce, you had Cadence who supported you at the beginning of your career, so Raydar, did you have a person who took you under his wings and launched your career?

R: I taught myself how to write, produce, and mix records...back in high school. I didn't hang out much at all because I wanted to master my art and my equipment. My parents used to be happy when they actually saw me leave the house. In a career sense though, there are probably 2 people who opened my eyes exponentially in terms of self polish and focus. 1) Terrence J (yeah, the one from BET). We met at A&T and worked at the college radio station together. I was under his wing for a year watching how he handled interviews and dealt with being part of the media. He was only 18, but had a great sense of professionalism. 2) 7L & Esoteric....they showed me a level of professionalism as well. They also showed me how to build a more personal relationship with fans, which is probably why they have such a dedicated base. They were ultimately my crash course in how to be a career artist.

How’s America in the post-historical-elections-era, can you ‘see’ any change yet?

R: I see more change in peoples perception than I do actually happening...but it's only been a few months. For what Barack really wants to do, it's gonna take another year and longer to do so. I don't trust politicians in general so I'm sceptical about much really changing. But my friends and family are happy so I can dig that.

Q: I see the change in people. People seem to be nicer. I hope this levels the playing field in the game of life, stay tuned.

How has both of you or your surroundings been affected by the biggest economical crisis since the Great Depression?

R: It's funny, cuz since this recession I've made more money than I ever did before. Berklee brought me on to develop the hip hop program more, Revive Da Live is doing well, touring with QN. I have friends that lost jobs left and right, but the angels must be looking out for me because I've been doing alright for myself. It's been a lot of low morale between a bunch of my homies because of the jobs being lost, but they are all optimistic and focused people who know this is just a lull and nothing to overly stress.

Q: I just try to not worry about that. I just want to help people through my music and give them 1 hour away from their problems through this Champs Vs The League CD. I give back to my community, I love my community.

Name three main reasons why you fell in love with hip-hop?

Raydar: I couldn't help it. It was too good to stay away from....and I tried to stay away from not just hip-hop, but music in general. Somehow, I'd end up in a situation where making music would be the only answer (aside from God). I think my situation is based more on fate. I'm supposed to be here doing this.

Q: Again, I agree with Raydar. I am spiritual when it comes to my involvement in hip-hop. I am supposed to be here doing this. My brother is looking down smiling.

What’s your first rap album?

R: The first rap album I got was Craig Mack ‘Project Funk Da World’. The first one I actually bought was Digable Planets ‘Reachin a New Refutation of Time & Space’.

Q: The Rob Base LP. My mom bought me the tape. Yo, I have the coolest Ma dukes in the world man. Shout out to the Coe Family.

What’s the last album you’ve uploaded unto your iPod?

R: Rotary Connection ‘Aladdin’.

Q: I don’t even have an iPod.

What’s next for both of you?

R: Next record I did work on that's coming out is a song I worked on for Esperanza Spalding. It's a song she wrote for her Banana Republic campaign. I played as supporting cast on synthesizer, drum programming, and background vocals. Other than that...more Revive Da Live shows, more Champs songs, and my sophomore record.

Q: I have a solo LP coming out in Japan called ‘Through My Eyes’. RADIx has a new LP called ‘Monstaplex’ all produced by Cadence coming April 14th. I will be touring with Champs as much as possible. I will also be doing a RADIx tour to support Monstaplex in the USA and in Europe. Lastly, RADIx will be living in Czech Republic for about a month this year to record a new RADIx LP and tour throughout the Czech Republic. Then I will start the long awaiting spoken word LP.

Shout-outs?

R: My parents and family, Revive Da Live, Brick Records, Short Bus Alumni, Berklee College of Music, My woman Nicole Adell, Sharon Kwon, Latisha Newton, Paydar Strellis, Esperanza Spalding, The Godbody, Ben Williams....um....and everyone else on planet earth!!

Q: First and foremost GOD. His plan is always bigger than anything we can imagine. My family for supporting and loving this crazy kid. SEEK of course, that’s my brother. LMZ,Murph, all the fans, My mom, my sister. Big shout out to Abstrak Recordings, ProTalent, Brick, Akil, Soulstice , and everyone else who contributed to the Champs Vs The League LP. Lastly, myself for pushing through all the no’s an trendy hip-hop because I wanted to do it my way. I am a strong dude. PEACE, thanks hitting us up.

You’re welcome.

 

POSTED 03|20|2009
conducted by cpf

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