Saturday, November 24, 2007

Dice (6000 Goonz) Interview

In 2006, Nas claimed that Hip-Hop was dead. However, in recent months, we've seen a resurfacing in quality rap albums to hit the market, not only in the states, but also locally. It seemed, at least for awhile, in the P.I., rap was back on the incline. And although there are always a plethora of hidden rap "diamonds in the rough," albums and mixtapes put out by underground and unsigned artists, there have not been many albums to reach mainstream audiences since the golden age of Filipino Hip-Hop. But lately, with such hits as "Itsumo," "Lando" and the rap remix of "Itaktak Mo," the 'Masa' has once more been getting a taste of rap... and liking it.

6000 Goonz is a crew/label that was spearheaded by DiCE that originated in Cebu City in the late 90s. Albums such as Gloc-9's "Diploma," Mobbstarr's "The Journey" and Stick Figgas "Critical Condition" have all come out under the 6k Goonz roster... and that's all been in the last few months! We kick it with DiCE to see his take on the local scene, the "Mainstream," Japan, new music for '08, that Beatmonx album, the Hip-Hop Awards Voting Controversy, and... a clothing line?

SOL: We're here with DiCE of the 6000 Goonz, kicking it about all that is good in the scene right now. In the last year, we've seen the 6k Goonz crew grow from an underground cult movement in Cebu to nationwide hit-makers. There hasn't been such a large expansion in terms of artists and released CDs since Dongalo Wreckords' First-Batch in the '90s. Why is it do you think that you guys are thriving while others aren't?

DiCE: The 6g motto: Hang out with the right people.

SOL: Okay, so how'd you come up with the name? Is 6000 a lucky number?

DiCE: 6000 is Cebu City 's area code. 6g was founded in Cebu back in the days of the "Gangsta Era". The word 6000 Goonz just seemed to stick to people so we kept that name.

SOL: I think the first ripple in the 6k Goonz success were massive hits such as "Itsumo" and "Shake." The Dice & K9/Mobbstarr albums were such a massive departure from the raw, underground style of Anthill Mobb. What drove you guys to go in such a different direction?

DiCE: We never really changed styles from Anthill Mobb to Mobbstarr. Nothing like that, Mobbstarr is a different project and Anthill Mobb is just on a hiatus. Anthill Mobb is and will always be underground and the current projects that Mobbstarr does are totally on a different direction cause we're past the days of "Fuck the Mainstream". We realized, why not do both? We don't have anything to prove to other people but ourselves. We make the music we love and we share it to everyone.

SOL: The catchy chorus in those party tracks that shot you guys mainstream were mainly sung by the gorgeous Hi-C. How was she discovered? Are there plans for a solo album in the future?

DiCE: I met Hi-C back in 1997. She was also into music and loved singing and the original plan was a solo album for her but after me and K9 finished a bunch of songs with her on them. We realized that we had that chemistry and decided to have her as a member of Dice & K9. Right now, her solo album's finished entitled "Fountain Of Youth". It will be released next year and most tracks in the album is produced by the Beatmonx.

SOL: I heard you guys are big in Japan . That's pretty major. Is that true? Like, do you guys break bread with Nigo, Verbal or Big O?

DiCE: Well, we have a lot of friends in Japan . I actually have an autographed Teriyaki Boyz CD given to me by a Japanese Yakuza/Event Producer who has close ties with Nigo. We know some people in high places from there ever since our last Japan tour. The Japanese people really love to pamper you and they love to eat, smoke and drink a lot.

SOL: Ah, cool cool. By the way, who's the Japanese rapper who flows on Hi-C's "Get Down" track?

DiCE: That was DJ Mack, an old school Japanese B-boy we met when we first went to Japan .

SOL: What's going on with the Beatmonx project? We've heard about it since last year and the production is phenomenal in Gloc-9's "Limangkantalang" EP & Nimbusnine's "So Deep." We're all really wondering if the project is still gonna be released, and if so, when and to what extent? (Underground or Nationwide?)

DiCE: The Beatmonx Album is definitely gonna be released next year and we will be aiming for a nationwide release and promotion. The blueprints have been laid out and we're very much psyched to release it.

SOL: How much money is there really to be made in the music business in the Philippines ? Is a career as a Hip-Hop artist really "profitable?" Is piracy really that rampant? What tips or advice would you guys give to not only rap artists, but future entrepeneurs who might be wanting to go into music?

DiCE: There is money. You just need to know how to market your stuff and realize what your worth is in the music industry. Know how to make money by doing what you love doing. You don't have always to be defiant of the mainstream. Know how to compromise if you really want to make it. Unless you already have a truckload of money to spend on radio and video payolas.

SOL: Why do you think that Hip-Hop is such a massive force in the States but so miniscule in the Philippines ? What is it missing and do you guys think 6k Goonz has the ability to get P.I. rap to the U.S. 's level of popularity?

DiCE: Just to state the obvious, of course hip-hop was born in the States.

SOL: Yeah, but there was a Hip-Hop scene here at the time when Hip-Hop was still young in the States, right? We're not far behind in terms of history.

True, but the mentality is different there. They have embraced the culture through time and just like the industry's status quo in the P.I., I'm sure they have gone through the same stages the scene is experiencing right now. Hip-Hop in the Philippines is still young and only time can tell if the mainstream crowd can fully accept Hip-Hop as a serious business rather than just fillers for comedy movies or noontime shows. On the other hand, we as artists must try not to be too uptight about our being "Hip-Hop" as it alienates most of the mainstream market who haven't completely understood the ways of the culture yet. Some purists even argue that English rap is not Pinoy rap. While it's true that we have only borrowed this culture, then what about PBA? Rock music? Technology? These were not originally from us either. Basketball is the pambansang laro nowadays, Rock music is the only genre we ever see on TV and radio and we are the texting capital of the world. So to put it concisely, what the artists need to do is be less serious so they can be taken seriously. Support is the key word as the talent is already overflowing. While sad but true, we might even have more rappers than fans. 6000 Goonz vision is to blur the lines that divide hip-hop from other genres in the Philippines and hopefully the rest of the world will follow.

SOL: You guys have such a diverse pool of artists. I mean, you guys have the lyrical cats like Loonie & Xplizit, then you have gangsta rappers like The Untouchables and party tracks with Mobbstarr. Do you guys go out and scout or can people send demos your way? Do you guys offer to other artists or do they come to you? For example, how did Gloc-9 end up in the 6k Goonz roster?

DiCE: We do not really scout for artists to sign since that is a very tedious and pointless way of discovering talent. 6000 Goonz is more of like a fellowship who learned, unlearned and relearned the hip-hop game and each proved to be formidable in their own fields. For example, Gloc 9 is already signed to SONY-BMG. He was Gloc 9 even before he learned about 6g. Stick Figgas also earned their rep from the underground before they jumped in the 6g bandwagon. So it's more of like a group of established artists or you can compare it to Team USA in the FIBAs. We don't recruit the best, this is the place where they meet and make music.

SOL: What about Apokalipsis? The rumor-mill is abuzz that they're in your camp now. Does that mean that they're no longer affiliated with Real Deal? When can we expect "The Storya?"

DiCE: Apokalipsis is already a member of 6000 Goonz but that doesn't necessarily mean they are not affiliated anymore with Real Deal. Stick Figgas is 6000 Goonz but at the same time they're under FrancisM's Red Egg Management.

SOL: Oh, alright alright. So the crew's more like a crew of the illest artists out from other labels? So it's not like, you have to be exclusive to 6k Goonz?

DiCE: Nah well... Think of it like... Lebron James is on Team USA yet he's still a Cavalier. "The Storya" album will definitely be out next year but the details are still sketchy as of press time.

SOL: Cool, cool. Alright, time to get to the controversial stuff. Let's talk about the Hip-Hop awards. You guys made a clean sweep last year. Congrats.

DiCE: Thanks man, we so expected it!!!

SOL: Now many naysayers are talking about people in your camp themselves buying the voting cards and voting for the artists. What do you have to say to all of those people? If there was ever the chance to clarify anything, now's that chance.

DiCE: Just like my previous answer and my "remark" last hip-hop awards, it's still clear that most Pinoys still can't tell sarcasm from truth. What do you expect from a flawed system and an overcrowded hip-hop scene? They were showing the vote results in real-time and 70% of the results come from text votes. Now who in their right state of mind wouldn't hold a text brigade especially if they can afford it. Do the rules show that the artists can't buy vote cards? Do you honestly believe that fans will spend money to vote for their favorite rapper and not get anything in return? We have a fanbase that stretches out to Mindanao so obviously we had more people to convince to vote for us and we have managers in the background who handle that. All we do is make music and reap the rewards.

SOL: With 6000 Goonz, we've seen album after album after album in only a few months time frame. Konigs, Mobbstarr, Gloc & Stick Figgas have all released albums this/last year. How are you guys able to stay so consistent with material?

DiCE: Because that's all we do. Everbody had resigned from his and her day job and concentrated on music. We really pour out our minds, hearts, and souls to our music and we make sure that we're always a step ahead of everybody. We literally live the hip-hop life, the food we eat come from hip-hop so we have no choice but to be consistent.

SOL: Even before The Beatmonx, Dice had the rep of being the "Midi King." Listening to beats on Mobbstarr's albums alone, it's quite evident how far filipino producers have gone from the days of repetative, looped breakbeats. Along with cats like B-Roc and Lowkey, you guys are bringing filipino production to the next level. Any advice to newbie producers?

DiCE: No advice for you guys, sorry. It's all worth it in the end after you've taken the long way.

SOL: Ok, that's cool. One thing I always wondered was whatever happened to K9? He just vanished. Is he still affiliated with the group?

DiCE: Yes he still is. He has a band based in Cebu called Pointblank. He still produces tracks for 6000 Goonz and he will be back soon.

SOL: What happened to the Untouchables album?

DiCE: It's gonna come out next year along with the other releases. Probably the second quarter of 2008.

SOL: Before Dice & K9 came out, cats in the P.I. rocked jerseys, 3XL shirts and pants and drooping long chains. Hey, most still do. Why'd you guys decide to go so left and rock stuff like BBC & Bape? It paid off, but it must've been weird being the only ones at the time to wear, you know, anything that actually fit. I think you guys set a trend without knowing it.

DiCE: Back in Cebu , nobody rocked jerseys and oversized shirts since all of our friends from the music scene were all bands. It wasn't really a conscious effort to set a trend, it just happened.

SOL: Is it true you guys are starting a clothing line? What can we expect from that?

DiCE: 6G Swagger for men and 6G Tramp for women. I don't wanna go into details yet but it's definitely gonna be hot.

SOL: When's the line coming out? How much are we talking and will this be mass produced or are you gonna do the exclusive/limited streetwear thing ala Nigo or Pharrell?

DiCE: You're just gonna have to wait for the ads. We've been working on it for quite a while now and it's gonna be limited. That's all I can say for now.

SOL: Is Dice & K9/Mobbstarr ever gonna release a new album?

DiCE: Yessir. Next year, we will be unveiling our fourth album entitled Time, Space, Rhythm, Starrs.

SOL: There are two veteran artists that not many people know are in your camp but everyone's been waiting to hear from. When can we expect something new from Syke or Jayflava?

DiCE: Syke's album is currently in pre-production and Jayflava has finished his EP which will be out this December entitled Obsolete The Ep.

SOL: The long-running debate in the scene is that if it even exists. Do you guys personally believe that there is Hip-Hop in the Philippines ?

DiCE: We don't care for the most part. Why make it an issue when nobody from the non-hip-hop world really cares. It's a waste of time debating about pointless issues. It's like an atheist arguing that there is no God. What makes him different from a conservative Catholic who argues there is God? And if there is or there isn't, will everything change for the better? I'm guessing your answer is not so there you go.

SOL: Deep, pare. Last but not least, anything up your sleeve for 2008? What can we expect from the 6000 Goonz camp?

DiCE: Album after album after album of pure unadulterated hip-hop muzack!
Dice N K9 /Mobbstarr – “Time, Space, Rhythm, Starrs”
The Beatmonx Album
Loonie – “I Am Normal ”
Hi-C – “Fountain Of Youth”
Apokalipsis – “Da Istorya”
The still unnamed 6G compilation
and of course
The Untouchables debut album.

SOL: Thanks for your time and more power to you guys.

DiCE: No problem. There, now you guys can breathe.

SOL: Haha. [deep breath]