(Via Green Llama)
This is the third and final installment of 303s and 404s with Mr. Dibia$e. Make sure to check out Pt. 1 and Pt. 2 if you haven't already.
DJ Sorce-1: Besides the SP-303, 404, and MPC 2000, what other equipment stands out to you?
Mr. Dibia$e: One homie just got an SP-1200 as a gift. I need to make a beat on that in my lifetime. I have the SP-12, but the 1200? Never. The homie had one and I thought I was gonna make a beat on it. I turned it on and tried to sample with it, and it wasn’t sampling. His shit was broke. He just had it sitting. I should have bought it from him regardless and had it repaired.
(Via A Peculiar Sprezzatura)
DJ Sorce-1: That’s expensive though. A working SP-1200 goes for a lot of money on EBay.
Mr. Dibia$e: How I got The SP-12 is a funny story. I had a friend who lived in Lancaster. He was like, “Yeah, I got a homie with an SP-12. It’s just sitting in his garage, collecting dust.” I was like, “Damn, see if he wants to sell that shit.” This dude with the SP was on that gangster shit. He wasn’t tripping on SP-1200s and didn’t know the history. So he was trying to sell his SP-12 for $150 because it was broken. This was in 2001, and I was ready to spend $500. I was like, “Man, I’ll have the money tomorrow.”
When I went over there the next day to buy it, he was still talking $150. His cousin walked in and saw the SP-12 out. His cousin wasn’t a numbskull; he was a hip hop head. He said, “Oh shit, you got an SP-12? De La Soul made 3 Feet High off of this drum machine”, and started dropping all kind of knowledge. I was like, “Shut the fuck up man.” (Laughs) So they went in to the corner to talk some shit over and re-consult some shit. He came back like, “Yo man, I gotta sell if for $250 dog.” In my head I was like, “That’s it? OK.” But I was like, “Oh man, how you gonna bump the price up like that.” The price was still low. I was ready to spend $500, maybe even $700 if I had to. But it was broke; it was missing a fuse on the back of it. I was like, “Fuck it” and gave him the bread.
I drove back to LA, took it to this spot, and they fixed it for $100. So I basically spent like $350 on the SP-12. I just run drums through it. But years down the line it fucked up on me again. So it was sitting for like three years. I thought it was a simple fix, but it was way more serious than that. It was like $600 to fix. But yeah man, it’s crazy; I’m addicted to the equipment.
(Via Red Bull)
DJ Sorce-1: As much as you like equipment, you seem to be able to make do with anything. You were able to rock an 8 second sampler, tape deck, and Walkman. Do you have any other interesting sampling methods that you’ve used over the years?
Mr. Dibia$e: In ‘95 I was sampling from the radio station. My homie had the little receiver with the antenna on the back and I’d sample from the Jazz station or whatever. Sometimes the reception was bad, so I’d hold the antenna with one hand and use the other hand to press the button to start and stop the sample. You might hear a little buzz in it. But fuck it, it gives it character. Sometimes I’d just put a tape on and record the station all through the night. I’d wake up the next morning, listen to the tape, and sample from the tape.
(Via Green Llama)
DJ Sorce-1: Do you have any of tapes from those sessions?
Mr. Dibia$e: Oh man, that was before I had the 4-track. A lot of those tapes, nah, I don’t have them. I still have some tapes at my mom’s in the garage. Every time I go, I be going through, finding tapes, and bringing ‘em back. Some are 4-track tapes, some are regular tapes. Some of the tapes from ‘90-something are all warped.
(Limited Edition Dibia$e Tape Release Via Green Llama)
DJ Sorce-1: Earlier in the interview you mentioned being self-trained when it comes to drum machines and samplers. How much of technical understanding did you have for music when you started?
Mr. Dibia$e: I don’t play cords or nothin’. I don’t read music like that. I just go off of the feeling man, pretty much. I said something online once about how my whole sound is imperfections. Something could be technically off, but I don’t know, that’s what I was feeling at the moment. I don’t know how to play drums or nothing, but I kind of understand the pocket and velocity. Like with hi-hats, sometimes certain hi-hats shouldn’t all be at the same volume, it should have a certain velocity like a real drummer. A real drummer, when he’s hitting the drums, he’s not hitting it at the same volume every time. So I just try to have that approach. It’s a certain pocket man, I can’t even explain it. I know cats that actually play the drums, and they can explain it. They know all of the time signatures and all of that. I don’t know. I just hear it and...(Laughs)
DJ Sorce-1: I feel like that’s inspiring for people who want to make music but don’t have classical training.
Mr. Dibia$e: I do want to learn though, definitely. I want to learn the drums and piano, to understand the theory of it. Once you know the rules, you can break the rules. You know what you can get away with. I’m not a purist, not at all. I remember when I was rhyming; I wouldn’t even structure my beats. I wasn’t tripping off of hooks or nothing. Then I started structuring beats for the 16 bar and 8 bar hooks.
When I started getting in beat battles, I started sequencing my beats a certain way to have different transitions. I was trying to cram all of it into a minute. In beat battles, you have a minute to play your beat, so I wasn’t trying to play a loop or nothin’. I was trying to make certain transitions and have crazy change ups, like some surprise shit; some unconventional shit. I don’t know. It’s just experimenting, pretty much.
(Via Andre Elliott)
DJ Sorce-1: How do you think being from Watts/L.A. has influenced your music?
Mr. Dibia$e: When I was young, in elementary school, I was kind of the music dude. One of my best friends, he had a brother who was way older than us, so he would dub all of the music for us. I would have NWA, 2 Live Crew, and all of that controversial stuff on cassette in elementary school. When the homies were dubbing all of those tapes for me I’d be sitting in the car with my moms listening to the tapes. I’d have all of the tapes memorized and when the cuss word would come up, I would turn the volume down real quick, like a mute out. It was like my signature mute out that I do now on the beat, but I was in 6th grade doing it on the car stereo. (Laughs) At a certain point she wasn’t even tripping on the cuss words. By junior high or high school it wasn’t no issue. I remember when I went to YMCA summer camp in 6th grade. Our councilors were in high school and they were coming to me and having me dub all the new music for them. It was funny. I was that dude back then. A lot of that stuff was Geto Boys, X Clan, Ice Cube’s first solo album.
There are a lot of influences man. My pops had a restaurant with a juke box. Any time I would chill at the restaurant, I would be listening to the juke box. A lot of times rappers would eat at that restaurant. People like Ice Cube and Easy E would give him 45s to put in the juke box. They would autograph them and all that.
(Via CD and LP.com)
DJ Sorce-1: Was he friends with those guys?
Mr. Dibia$e: Yeah. He knew a lot of them. He had a restaurant by Freemont High in the 80s called McGary’s. Basically every weekend, I’d either play arcade games at the Laundromat across the street or be inside the cafe listening to music on the jukebox. I’d just be picking random stuff like Ray Parker’s "Ghostbusters", and of course I’d listen to the hip hop stuff that was in there all day. There were also all kind of oldies, and as I got older and was familiar with that kind of music, I’d flip all of that stuff.
DJ Sorce-1: You’re in Sacramento now. It’s amazing how much the Internet has taught me about regional rap scene. I check the website Rap Music Guide a lot and listen to the tapes put out by R8R & L-wood. They had one tape that was all Sacramento rap. I didn’t even realize people like Brotha Lynch Hung were from there.
Mr. Dibia$e: Yeah, that’s all I know about Sacramento rap pretty much, is Brotha Lynch Hung. Back in the day I knew he was on that grimy stuff. Odd Future before there was Odd Future. Horrorcore. I’m just super low key out here in Sactown. I barely do anything out here besides making beats in the lab or going to work. Most of the shows be out of town. I don’t know what’s up with the beat scene out here, but they got some cats that rhyme. Chuuwee is pretty sick. I’m still adjusting to living out here and figuring out who’s who.
DJ Sorce-1: Sometimes it’s good to move out of your comfort zone.
Mr. Dibia$e: Yeah. It’s a mission though, sometimes. I’m so used to LA. Sacramento is cool; it’s slower paced out here. I’m real laid back anyway, so I don’t like stuff to be too fast paced. When LA got too fast paced, I’d just go in the lab. There was a lot of inspiration in LA. It’s tough to find inspiration out here, but we definitely try. San Francisco is only 45 minutes away and it definitely be cracking there. A lot of the homies that make beats live in San Fran and Oakland.
DJ Sorce-1: Earlier in the interview we talked about having to give up doing music as a full time job. Do you think you’ll be able to do it for a living again with all of the responsibilities you have and your new location?
Mr. Dibia$e: I was doing it full time until about eight months ago; from like 2008 until 2013. That was a good run and I could live off of it for a time. But the thing is; most of your money comes from touring. I can’t be gone on tour for months at a time. I have a lot of homies who just be gone for months in Europe and crazy shit like that. The most I could do is tour for two, maybe three weeks. When I went to Australia, we went for two weeks. It was cool man.
If I was younger...when the beat scene started for me, I had already been doing it since ‘95. The beat scene started cracking ‘07 and ‘08, when cats was traveling off of this stuff and making beat albums, like the original back in the day beat albums, like DJ Shadow. For a while cats wasn’t making instrumental concept albums like they doing now. Cats is touring all over the world off of that shit. When I decided I was rhyming, I was doing a lot of shows with my old crew. We were opening for cats like Doom, GZA, and J-Zone. I did like 400 shows rhyming from like ‘97 to 2005.
Once I started doing the beats I had to start from ground zero. A lot of cats is young so they can still tour. I can’t really afford to tour for months. If there was a beat scene back in the '90s, I definitely would have tried to be on the road a lot more. But it’s cool. I’m just happy to make beats and put some stuff online. Get out a little bit. Travel a little bit. It doesn’t have to be aggressive.
Many thanks to Mr. Dibia$e for helping me to kick off 303s and 404s. His epic live performances have made me re-think the possibilities of both Roland machines. He is a one of a kind talent.
I am a big fan of several Dibia$e albums, including Swingology 101 and Collectin' Dust. As with all artists I interview, I strongly encourage you to support his projects.
I also recommend checking out his crew, Green Llama.