XPL: We had already finished 3 songs for the mix/master when the idea came to us. I don’t exactly remember who came up with this idea but we all definitely liked it. A collaboration with Memms (USA) was already in the project so featuring someone from Romania also seemed like the right thing to do for us. DOC was the perfect/ideal “candidate” considering that he is one of the few MCs who sound good in English and he had already made himself known with the song “No love”.
AZTEXT: We worked with SkilltesterStabbone (SS) back in 2008, on a song produced by Jupiter called, ‘No Love’. The song turned out great. We were amazed that SS was better in his second language, than most MCs are in their first! Soon after ‘No Love’ was released, XPL hit us with a few beats, and we loved his production… Early in the planning stages on Volume 3, I asked XPL if he’d mind if we reached out to SS for a collab, and we was real excited about it too. We reached out to SS, and the rest is history…
Claudia (UZR): DOC, we know that you have chosen a pseudonym for your English songs in order for you to not be confused with the other DOCs in the States. But why the ironic reference to Sylvester Stalone?
DOC: At a certain point in time, back when I had a lot of free time for aberrations, Deliric took for himself the alias Dope Lungreen. Then I started to verbally caricature Sylvester Stalone and the name Skilltester came up.
Claudia (UZR): How did you choose the theme of the song?
DOC: I had received several beats from XPL. He told me to chose one because Aztext wanted us to make a song. I chose the beat and I listened to it. The instrumental told me what to write. Actually, that’s the way I make songs. I write what the drums and the sample tell me.
AZTEXT: Actually, that was all SS… XPL sent him a few beats to choose from, and he picked the beat and wrote and recorded his verse and chorus. When we first heard his parts, we couldn’t wait to write ours! I (Pro) wrote and recorded my verse that same day, even though I was sick as hell! (Which is why I start with the line ‘I woke up with a fever of 102’. I really had a fever of 102).
Claudia (UZR): The project includes 5 tracks. Why did you choose “Break it down” for a music video?
XPL: If I remember well, Leo aka Chill Will was the first to suggest making a video for this song. I remember I sent him an incipient mix of the song and he really liked it. He played it for a couple of days and then he came up with the ideea. I personally thought it was a great choice, considering that it is an international collaboration I was expecting the video to be well received. It was also the perfect chance to mark the global map of hip hop with the Romanian watermark.
DOC: I think the collaboration was more special, also the song is very mellow, it sounds a bit different from what Aztext usually does.
AZTEXT: We thought it would be cool to produce an international video, that really showcases how global hip hop music has become. What’s cool about it, is when you look at the video, Vermont and Romania don’t look all that different. When it comes to hip hop, it’s never been about where you’re from… it’s where you’re at!
Claudia (UZR): Considering that the music video was made in different countries, how did you handle the shooting of the video? How long did it take, what were the locations and not lastly, who was behind the camera?
AZTEXT: Skilltester shot his parts first, and our plan was to mimic what he created. When we saw his footage, we were pumped because it was exactly what we were hoping for, a true ‘hip hop video’. It’s cool to have videos with story lines and concepts, but this song didn’t need that type of video, it needed that raw, early 90’s hip hop video feel, which we feel we accomplished. Our video parts were shot in locations in the neighborhood we live in, in Burlington Vermont, and believe it or not, Learic and I shot our own parts! I filmed Learic and he filmed me. We have both been involved as actors in a lot of movie productions, so we were real comfortable behind the camera.
XPL: Like PRO said, DOC shot his parts first… right after Easter, the second day after Easter I think. In Constanta, the shooting took place at the basin, on Badea Cartan street and it lasted two days or so. For the first day we shot the drawing. We started at noon and we finished after midnight. We actually turned the place into a party after… a lot of people had gathered and it was inevitably. The second day, after we sobered up a bit, we went and shot a few more scenes at the basin and the port. Romeo Bosna (www.blowmeup.ro) and Gabriela Badea were in charged with the shooting.
DOC: As for me, I filmed everything in 3 hours. Behind our 5D was Adi Iurchevici, a regular of CTC’s music videos. We filmed around the Old Center and I also brought in my homie Carbon so I don’t seem lonely and blue.
Claudia (UZR): Who made the scenario for the music video?
XPL: It would have been hard to put together a universal scenario for the video, this damn distance would have prevented us to do so. Therefore, everyone had a free hand. I had a bunch of ideas for this music video… I didn’t want to just limit myself to the idea of “mimic” because it doesn’t represent me. Unfortunately, I never had all prepared and I left everything to the last minute. On the 8th of July we were supposed to show the video at Deliric’s concert in Constanta, while in the same week I hadn’t filmed anything. Neither had Aztext. Just a few days before the concert we mobilized and came up with the idea of the Graffiti which we put into force.
DOC: We gave the lead to the shooting, we sent the material in the States and the Aztext guys matched to what we had filmed.
AZTEXT: SS shot his parts first, and we just followed his lead. XPL came up with the idea of having his homie Clas do a graffiti piece and include our name and the Hippoe logo, and we thought that was brilliant.
Claudia (UZR): Whoisrikk (Ursu Andrei) was in charge with the final montage of the video. Why a Romanian and not someone from the U.S?
XPL: As I said, everything was done hastily. Once I also finished filming, I contacted PRO and told him that all that was left was for them to shot their parts and hand the parts over to montage. But it happened that 4th July was near. Then I thought about Whoisrikk whom I knew was responsible for the music videos of Kraftu and it was the best solution. The man did a very good job, more so when he had to work on the run, under pressure and with material shot on different cameras. Peace to him!
AZTEXT: Originally, we were going to have Brent Harrewyn edit the video for ‘Break It Down’. We worked with Brent on the video for ‘I Make Records’, and really like his work. When it came time to edit and shoot the video, XPL hit us on July 2nd and told us it needed to be finished by July 8th! Unfortunately, July 4th is a national holiday in the States, so we couldn’t find anyone who had free time that weekend to help us out! XPL let us know his homie Whoisrikk was available to help out, so it worked out great! We worked with Whoisrikk when we released the album snippet for Volume 3, so we knew how talented he was… The timing of July 4th weekend is also why Learic and I ended up filming our own parts!
Claudia (UZR): XPL, the video features images of a graffiti drawn on the walls of Constanta. From where came the idea and who is the artist?
XPL: Why graffiti? I wanted to bring the phenomenon a bit closer to hip hop again because it kind of scattered. I’m not sure to what extent I managed to do so, but at least locally there have been some notable changes. Originally, Clas and Erps (Much love to both!) were supposed to draw, however, that weekend, we couldn’t find cans anywhere, they were out of stock even in Bucharest, so we had to postpone it. In the end, only Clas drew and he did an amazing job. You should check out the pictures from the Writers Bench column… the final version of the drawing does not appear in the video.
Claudia (UZR): Is this the first song produced by you for which a music video has been made?
XPL: It’s the second one. The first one was a song from CreTzu’s solo album, namely “Ultimele Resurse” (“The last resources”). It is, however, the first music video on a beat of mine which makes it on TV.
Claudia (UZR): We all know it is hard for a music video to make it on TV, especially one from the hip hop area. How did you manage to get it on TV, without showing almost naked women and luxury cars with lambo doors (which are so catchy for most of romanians)?
XPL: I had nothing to do with this matter. DOC knows better.
DOC: With the help of some people who sympathize with us and admire our struggle to put hiphop on the canopy of heaven, we managed to broadcast the music video on 1Music Channel, at HipHop Hour.
Claudia (UZR): Is the video being broadcasted only in Romania or is it also broadcasted in Vermont (SUA)?
AZTEXT: In addition to Romania, the video is also being broadcast in South Florida (Miami area) on a Television station called Jannus Live. There really aren’t any music channels in the States anymore. It’s really sad, but MTV and VH1 play reality TV shows at this point, so there isn’t many outlets to have your video broadcast on TV over here. We’re doing our best to push it through Canada on Much Music.
Claudia (UZR): How is the situation of hip hop music videos over there? Is it easier to have them broadcasted on TV?
AZTEXT: It’s real hard to have music videos played on TV in the States. Television channels that used to play music videos (MTV, VH1), have stopped playing videos all together. They have some spin off channels that play videos, like MTV Jamz, but those channel plays Billboard top 50 hip hop songs, exclusively. For underground Artists, like The Aztext, the best way to have your music video played is through websites, blogs or television channels in Europe and Canada.
Claudia (UZR): Do you have plans for other future collaborations? DOC, perhaps other projects under the alias of SkilltesterStabbone?
XPL: With Aztext I’ll be working again for sure! With SS I really don’t know but with DOC it’s more probable.
DOC: Yes, I’m waiting the master of a really hot track, a collabo with one of our old homies. You’ll see with your own ear drums.
AZTEXT: We don’t have any collaborations in the works right now with SS, but we’re hoping to connect again in the future! We’ve put him in touch with our homie Dub Sonata (producer from NYC who’s worked with Rhymefest, Queen Latifah, Vast Aire, Nature, C Rayz, Kool G Rap, Sadat X and many other hip hop artists), so we’re hoping to hear a Dub Sonata and DOC song sometime soon.