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This how it sound when them boys is transmitted: Redman in conversation with Fab Five Freddy


FAB FIVE FREDDY — OK, it’s Friday July 27th, 2018. I’m in the building, up in the hills of Los Angeles. And my man right here, the legendary Redman is on the stove right now. You got about three burners working — what are you cooking Redman?


REDMAN — I’m cooking some shrimp, I’m cooking me some halibut burgers, some mahimahi burgers, some garlic and broccoli, and some fried rice.


FFF — Wow. You’re handling these pans like you really know what you’re doing.


R — Uh huh. When you learn to cook by yourself, for yourself, you gotta learn your way around the kitchen. Or you won’t eat!


FFF — You already know. [laughs] R — What’s good, man?


FFF — Good to see you man, good to see you out here.

R — Always a pleasure, brother.


FFF — I’m gonna get right into the interview. One of the things that I always loved about you, and still do, as an artist, as a character, as a hip-hop icon, is the fact that you’ve been able to blend your strong personality, your sense of humor, your amazing lyrical skills, real, raw flavor — that’s a real interesting blend and that’s just you.


R — That’s right.


FFF — So talk about in the beginning, connecting with Erick Sermon, how did it all come together? What was the lightning that struck, that started you on your way?


R — I think it was when I first heard EPMD’s first joint. That Strictly Business album, with “Get off the Bandwagon” and everything, and “You Gots to Chill”. I was a DJ, and I always was spinning records, but I did a little writing on the side. When I first heard that shit I told my sister, I was like “Yo sis, do you hear this shit? On the radio?” I told her straight up, I said “Yo, you either gonna rap, and I’ll be your DJ, or I’m gonna just rap and do it by myself.” But I told her I’ma do it. That album sparked a lightbulb over the head. Because I was tuned into the scene earlier, with Rakim, and Big Daddy Kane, and everybody, Biz Markie. You know.


FFF — Right. The Juice Crew, and all that.


R — Yeah, and when I heard Biz, with his earlier records, I was like alright, some funk is leaking through here.


FFF — Yes indeedy.


R — And Biz kind of started it too, with that “Hello everybody...” That’s funky when you doing that, so when he leaked it, and then when EPMD came through straight with it, heavy, like don’t-give-a-fuck funk, I knew it was time. I knew it was time.


FFF — So now, you were heavily inspired by their sound, early on, that made you say I wanna try to do this. How did you connect with them?


R — Shit, it was just through blessings man. I was going to a club with my boys, we were supposed to go see MC Lyte.


FFF — Out in Long Island?


R — No, in New Jersey, at Club Sensations.


FFF — God, Sensations!


R — That’s right, you know what was the clubs, see?


FFF — Yes, Sensations.


R — Zanzibar...


FFF — Zanzibar! I remember them ads on the radio. [laughs]


R — That’s right, that’s right. So we was supposed to see MC Lyte that night — MC Lyte was on fire.


FFF — She was, yeah, “Lyte as a Rock”, she had hits then.


R — She was on fire. And she canceled, and I’m thinking I’m going to see MC Lyte and EPMD is down there. So I guess my boy Do It All from the group Lords Of The Underground and my boy Fudge had a little connection to go seem them in the back, so we were supposed to go see them back there and talk about this other dude we was fuckin’ with, but I seen E, and P, and K-Solo, they was backstage, and my boys that I came with was spittin’.


FFF — You mean, just like a little cypher?


R — Yeah, Do It All, Fudge from my hood, he was there, he was spittin’. And E, he asked me did I know how to rock, and I said “Nah, I only got a couple of rhymes, I only DJ.” Then he just kept pushing, kept pushing, so when I started spittin’ I went right on stage with him that night.


FFF — Wait a minute, so what you started spittin’, at that moment, was these writtens? Or were these off-the-top freestyles?


R — No, no, these was writtens. But I told him that I was a DJ, and that I only had a couple of rhymes to my name.


FFF — Literally.


R — But I started spitting these rhymes and shit, and he put me right on stage that night.


FFF — Erick Sermon?


R — Yeah him and Parrish, both of ‘em.


FFF — EPMD — Erick and Parrish Making Dollars.


R — That’s right. They was giving me the number at the end, but since I came up there with my boy — cause I’m a loyal n*gga, you know, if I came up there with you, I’ma let you handle the business — but E was passing my boy the number, cause you know we had to write our numbers down.


FFF — That’s right, no cell phones. Barely had a beeper back then. [laughs]


R — When he was handing me the number, I had like a split of a second to re-memorize it. Cause you know I was like, I trust my n*gga, but I gotta be on point.

FFF — Yes indeed.


R —So as he was passin’ the number to my boy E, I memorized that. BANG!


FFF — Amazing. Amazing. In a split second you memorized seven digits.


R — God is good. God is good. Seven digits and I knew it was Long Island, so I was like I’m not even gonna confuse myself with the area code. I’ma remember the last seven. I didn’t press up and call, I said “Yo, I’ma let my boy do it.” First week I said, “Yo, did you call?” He said “No I’ma give him a little room to breathe.” Understand. A month go by, “Did you call?” “Yeah I called, no answer. ”Two months go by, three months, long story short, four, five months went past, he said he lost the number at the end of the day, and I said “Fuck that, I’m gonna call.”


FFF — There you go.


R — And I pulled that number out the stash, found that area code, called it. They said “Ericka in’ there, ”I was like “YES!” [Redman’s dogs start barking] Alright stop it, stop it.


FFF — Amazing. Even the dogs is excited to hear that you did what you had to do!


R — And then after that, when I finally got in touch with E, it was just like magic man. I ain’t had nowhere to go, my parents had kicked me out. He told me to come to Long Island to live and I went to go stay with him in a one-bedroom apartment with Bernard Alexander.


FFF — And from there, how soon after were your first records coming out?


R — Well I was on the road puttin’ in work for a while. I was living with him for like two years or something before my album came out.


FFF — Okay.


R — I was just puttin’ in work on the road, puttin’ in work in the studio, developing who I am and then you know Das EFX got down, so you know we was the Hit Squad now, and we movin’, and I came out in ’92 and that was history after that.


FFF — That’s beautiful, man. Man, so it’s fascinating now, I can remember having you on YO! MTV Raps a couple times in the early ‘90s — there was that concert, it was like a pay-per-view event, a rap pay-per-view event.


R — Yes, called Fat Jam.


FFF — And it was an interesting incident. I was the host of that event. There was a situation where the sound man was really...[laughs]...messin’ things up.


R — The sound man was a little bit out of order, yeah. You wanna talk about that moment, Unc?


FFF — [laughs] I mean, you know. It’s up to you.


R — Nah, we can talk about it. The thing was, we was performing, and I guess our time was short, and I think someone had longer time than we did and we wasn’t agreeing on it. They tried to cut our time and be disrespectful and send a white guy on my set to unplug the speakers.


FFF — Ohhhh...


R — So that’s why we did what we did.


FFF — ...I never heard the whole story, I was hostin’ in another part of the venue at that point. All I know, I could see it turned into a brawl on stage in the middle of your set!


R — Nah, c’mon. They sent the guy right in front of my stage show, right in front of me, and pulling the plugs out. And we wasn’t havin’ it.


FFF — They was being disrespectful. Most likely an example of many people that just hated the idea of rap music, what we were doing, what we were bringing to the table. That’s really what it was.


R — Probably.


FFF — And you stepped to him and lumped him up. [laughs]


R — Well, you know what, no — I sent my boys in, because I ain’t wanna get sued.


FFF — Okay.


R — So I sent my boys in. I probably got a couple hits in on somebody when someone wasn’t looking. But I wasn’t fuckin around and getting sued. The troops rushed in to handle that. But, at the end of the day, we apologized to Russell. I was young, and lesson being learned and shit.


FFF — Handle it like a gentleman.


R — Yeah, exactly. Don’t fuck with a n*gga speakers while I’m on stage. That’s it.


FFF — How does it feel—I get this a lot, and I’m sure you do too. I don’t mind things, like how the culture changes, how it evolves, different styles, different things coming along. A lot of the things I was involved in and what the flavor was going back to my film Wild Style, just people seeing all this on TV for the first time. There was a lot of resistance. But regardless we did what we had to do for the culture. Then things change as they always do, styles evolve. How do you feel about some of the things going on now in terms of what the younger artists are doing?


R — Well, you know what, at the end of the day, I can never shit on this thing we have called hip-hop, cause it allowed a lot of our peers, and a lot of people reppin’ our culture to come out and be somebody. Be a boss. Make earnings for their families and whatever.


FFF — Yes, yes.


R — Now, how the music part of it evolved? The thing is, as our cultures grew from the ‘70s to now, like, we had respect for the past. You couldn’t be in our era and not know who Grandmaster Flash was, or you couldn’t not know who Salt- N-Pepa was, or whatever.


FFF — Right, or The Cold Crush or Treacherous Three.


R — Right, you couldn’t be around in our era and like—N*gga, you a fake ass n*gga!—and you get checked. I think we lost that communication with the new era of them knowing the respect, and the people who got them there. And I blame that on the whole entire system, because the system is really lost when it comes to these kids, far as the government etc, et cetera. But I don’t get too political. I know as far as the music—


[Fab and Redman receive a video call]


TONY — Somebody wants to say hi to y’all.


R — Hey, Diddy!


DIDDY — Yo, what the fuck is goin’ on!?


FFF — Ayo Puff, I forgot to hit you today to tell you I had a great time watching The Four with you and the crew, and the food was amazing at your house last night. Wow! [laughs]


D — Thanks, baby. I just wanted to tell y’all guys I love you. Redman, I ain’t seen you in a minute, what’s up man?


R — Ayo, how you gonna have a dinner and not invite me, P? [laughs]


D — Ayo, I ain’t know you was in town. Man, I’ma make sure Tony gets my information. I’ma make sure that we link up as soon as possible, I miss you brother.


R — I miss you too, brother.


FFF — Aight Puff, lata. What a small world. Puff and I got a project we’re workin’ on together dealing with Africa.


R — Good shit, man.


FFF — But go back, you were talking about how some people are not acknowledging the new culture. Enough of the younger cats don’t seem to be acknowledging their recent history.


R — Exactly, which kinda loses the communication on you know, us and them and what they need to know to further they career. Cause you see, nowadays their career is like what, three years, if that? Three, four years? So my thing is with the new culture I have no problem with them at all. And it’s not us that’s making the decision on if they’re wack or not. Like, you have some of the new artists think, “Yeah some of these older artists are bitter.” We’re great because we have our brand, we are living. It’s the fans that’s telling y’all, y’all wack. Y’all are not making the fans believe y’all era is dope by the masses. Kendrick Lamar, J. Cole, Joey Badass, a couple of other guys, they can’t carry the whole culture on its own. Y’all need to be as a unit, like we was, to say this era is dope. Drake can’t do it on his own. All these other n*ggas can’t. Y’all doing it separately. We did it as a unit, that’s why our era I think is the most pivotal.


FFF — Well it clearly was. It’s foundational and it was a great opportunity. I was blessed to have been in the position to host the show,YO! MTV Raps and showcase people at a time even before rap music was on the radio, from city to city. It’s incredible. Tell me briefly the story about the amazing connection between you and Method Man, coming together as a new kind of dynamic duo. Independent artists, but Redman and Method Man was like something made in hip-hop heaven.


R — Right. I think Def Jam put that together. Like me and Meth was just doin’ our own thing on Def Jam. He was a new artist, I was a sophomore on my second album and we met and I guess Def Jam just thought it was the idea that since we had similar styles, similar kind of taste, that they would put us on a tour together.


FFF — Very complimentary to each other, brilliant.


R — Which was the Month of the Man promotional tour. One of the most known promotional tours at that point, and we went out and killed shit, and that’s when the entity of Redman and Method Man started. Just like, “Hey, why don’t y’all start an album together?” Fuck it, pass the blunt, let’s do the beats! “Why don’t y’all do a movie together?” Fuck it!


FFF — Doing a TV show together...


R — Yeah, exactly. The thing that made us evolve was that respect we had for each other. Everything starts with respect for each other. Business, money, all that shit is bullshit if you don’t have respect for each other and goals, to respect each other’s goals. And one thing that me and Meth can say is that it never tampered with our solo careers. 

FFF — So true.


R — What we did together was just a plus. So that’s why we was just like, “ Why in the fuck wouldn’t we do this?” If it’s not fucking with our solo careers, and we only getting a plus being together. No egos involved, we just got in there and did it.


FFF — I love that. And sometimes I see artists from the golden era, especially cats like you, Method, many other cats, that have figured out how to continue to polish their brand, work that circuit, for that loyal audience that still loves every bar that you guys spit. It seems like you guys have become, to me, like jazz musicians. The way you worked then, the way you can interwork with each other, it’s like you both would be independent solo artists, then also form a group, play off of each other, intertwine with each other in a real improvisational, organic way.


R — That’s right.


FFF — And still managing to do that now, in different ways, in different areas. Is there a chance that you guys are gonna do a part two to the film How High?


R — Well, the thing with How High part two is, the business part of it was—we just found this out like maybe three, four weeks ago, a month ago—that they’re shooting a How High part two and we’re not involved, and the business aspect end of it something was done foul, and just, out the way on some bullshit that I don’t, you know, play with. So the How High 2 Red and Meth sequel, we’re not doing it. We’re moving on to something else. 


FFF — There we go, there we go. Cause people wanna see you guys come together and do it like it’s supposed to be done. Them Hollywood cornballs have the gall to do this without you guys, ah man, we already know that that’s not gonna rock. It can’t rock!


R — Nah, it’s not gonna rock. You already know!


FFF — No, not with you two still here, better than ever. So, tell me a little bit about the courageous decision you guys made to be out front about the plant, something which is becoming legal in many states. I look at you, brothers like you, going back to Louis Armstrong and Bob Marley, to so many artists that were out there as the true pioneers about this cannabis plant, as it’s now becoming legal, and the medical benefits are helping millions and hundreds of millions more soon to come.


R — Yeah, hundreds of millions.


FFF — As it gets fully legal, New York and New Jersey, our home states, are about to get legal, or recreational, or more advanced medical—how do you feel about things happening involving cannabis?


R — I think it’s amazing. I think when me, Meth, Snoop and B-Real—we was like the forefathers of this shit—I think that when we was doing it, we never knew the level that it would go. Cause I never thought it would be legalized. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I did have a feeling. My thing is, doing the studies—cause I did a lot of research on it, I even went to school for this, I went to Oaksterdam University in San Francisco, took a crash course, learned, got my degree to be a patient consultant, so I can work in and maybe own a dispensary, I’m licensed to work in a dispensary.


FFF — Wow.


R — What was interesting to me to learn was how this plant helped a lot of people. Like how this plant helped babies and young kids from having seizures. How it helped people with AIDS, how it helped people with HIV, blood disorders, stomach disorders, sleeping disorders. I mean, I’ma leave it on this note, the marijuana plant has over 400 components.


FFF — That’s right.


R — THC is only one. CBD is only one. There is over 398 more components—we have to research and find out what this plant does. So, back to the question is, I feel good to be a forefather of something that I know can help people. Did I know back in the day, in ’92 when I dropped the album, that this plant was just gonna be world known as being free and helping people the way it does? No. I just knew I liked to smoke weed, like you do, and listen to music.


FFF — [laughs] There we go, that’s dope.


R — Yes sir.


FFF — Yo, I think that’s a good point to wrap it up, don’t you think?


R — Absolutely.


FFF — That’s a nice interview, we even had Puffy call in. It was a FaceTime. My man P Diddy, who I dined with last night at his pad in Beverly Hills. Now I’m here with your man in his elegant home.


R — That’s right. DeNiro.


FFF — DeNiro. Put me back in touch with my brother Puff. So, it’s only right. Small world. Love you Redman, and yes, I’m gonna connect with you and Method Man about my doc, The Grass is Greener, I gotta interview you both for that in Staten Island in a couple of weeks. And I’ma end this right here!


R — Okay, cool. 

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