Thursday, October 7, 2010
Da Mad Face Evolution: A Phone Conversation With Sticky Fingaz
By Scott Tre
The early 1990's birthed a number of rap groups centered around a single, colorful personality. Even a casual observer could pick out that one group member that seemed destined for greatness. Some people just radiate a certain energy that demands its own showcase. Though Sticky Fingaz never achieved solo success a la Busta Rhymes, one would be hard pressed to say that he squandered his chance at stardom. Via numerous acting roles in film and television (including a stint as the small screen incarnation of Blade), Sticky has built quite the resume. He has not left his recording career behind, however. The Onyx brand is alive and well and Sticky plans to maintain that energy and channel it down as many unexpected avenues as possible.
A recent chat with Sticky revealed him to be quite unlike the amped up, sociopathic stick-up kid he portrays in his music. He has no illusions about the legacy of Onyx or the nature of Hip-Hop. Unlike many of his peers, Kirk Jones seems to have both feet planted firmly in the real world, organically moving from one endeavor to the next. Having added the hats of screenwriter and director to his resume, Sticky is now ready to invade the world of cinema with his own brand of rap musicals. Brace yourselves. This is the next phase of the mad face invasion.
Scott Tre: Though the world already knows who you are, give them a bit of background on you.
Sticky Fingaz: Sticky Fingaz from the rap group Onyx, mad face invasion, countless movies, TV shows. Just grinding in the game, you know?
Scott Tre: Back in 1993 when Bacdafucup came out, Onyx was unlike any other group coming out of New York at the time. Onyx did hardcore music, which was mostly associated with the west coast during that period. Why doesn't Onyx get props for being trendsetters in that sense?
Sticky Fingaz: Man, if I knew the answer to that question I'd be a billionaire. Maybe it's the consistency, you know? We've always stayed consistent in the game whether it's music or movies. I can't answer that question. I don't know the answer to it.
Scott Tre: Shortly after Bacdafucup came out, Wu-Tang and then B.I.G took the east coast by storm. That kicked off a whole new era in the music. Would you say that had something to do with it (Onyx's lack of recognition)?
Sticky Fingaz: Nah, not at all. Every artist, every era, has their place in Hip-Hop. If that's the case, the west coast was still getting their acclaim for that situation after Biggie and Wu-Tang and whoever came out. Biggie was still doing his thing after Jay-Z came out even though Biggie is no longer with us physically.
Scott Tre: Tell me a bit about Onyx's style with the screaming and everything. How did that develop? How did you guys come up with that?
Sticky Fingaz: I think it was a combination of us and Jam Master Jay. We used to get so amped in the studio we'd start screaming and shit, and he was like "Yeah I like that! Do that! Do that right there! Give me ten of those!" We just went into that zone, and a lot of things was going on in our life at the moment that made us want to scream...as far as getting kicked out the house and having to fend for yourself. Our main producer B-Wiz went to Maryland and got murdered. A whole bunch of things going on in that era, you know what I'm saying?
Scott Tre: Speaking of your relationship with Jam Master Jay, is it fair to say that Bacdafucup wouldn't have come out the way that it did without his influence?
Sticky Fingaz: Absolutely. Abso-fucking-lutely. Jam Master Jay was like a part of the group in a sense. Even though he wasn't rhyming he was like a part of the group.
Scott Tre: You also worked with a producer by the name of Chyskillz. Have you worked with him since then (Bacdafucup)?
Sticky Fingaz: Fredro has, I haven't. I spoke to him like a month ago. He's chillin, doing his thing. We gonna fuck with him in the future.
Scott Tre: So we can look forward to future Onyx /Sticky Fingaz collaborations with Chyskillz?
Sticky Fingaz: Yeah, he'll definitely be a part of it. Actually he's supposed to come to L.A. Actually I gotta call him. You just reminded me.
Scott Tre: Okay. Glad I could remind you of that (laughs). Tell me a little bit more about your relationship with Jam Master Jay. How deep was that? What did he really bring to the table?
Sticky Fingaz: Jam Master Jay was my brother, my mentor. He was my gateway into the music industry. He was a lot. He was my friend. It's indescribable. He put a lot into us as a group, individually, the whole shit. Outside of the person that he is to the world, so that's like two different sides to the same coin.
Scott Tre: Let's get into A Day in the Life. It's a feature length film where all of the dialogue is rapped instead of spoken. Was it difficult to maintain that for 90 minutes? Was it difficult to write all of the dialogue in that way?
Sticky Fingaz: Not at all. The most difficult part was pulling everything together. This actor has that schedule. You gotta get him in the studio before hand. You gotta get the budget, the sets. You gotta make sure you got the right DP's. The whole craziness. Writing it was like a simple process.
Scott Tre: You also had a lot of actors in there who aren't rappers. Was it hard for them to get into the groove of things? Was it hard for them to get the flow, delivery, and cadence down?
Sticky Fingaz: What I wanted was it to be mostly like you said, , mostly like actors that don't rap. Because they'll bring the acting element to it, number one. And number two, you expect rappers to do it. The whole thing about it is that it's people who don't rap but they sound great rapping. Nah, it wasn't hard, because I'm a good teacher. I would like lay down the blueprint, and they would go over my blueprint until they felt it was right. Then we would take my blueprint away, and we are left with their voice. Any adjustments, you have to shift vocals around a little bit to get the timing perfect. We would do that and I would give them a CD and they would learn the way the vocals has been shifted around so that its all on beat and they would learn it like that. Like it was their favorite song and they wanted to sing along to it type shit.
But Some of those actors were great rappers and they rapped already like Omar Epps, Mekhi Phifer.
Scott Tre: That's right, Omar Epps did have a record out back in the day:
Sticky Fingaz: Michael Rapaport got an inner Jay-Z inside him (laughs). He kicked a rhyme when we was in the studio and he was like "Yo, I wrote this rhyme a couple of years ago and I want to spit it". I was like "aiight, spit it" and we got it on DVD. It's called "How To Rob an Actor" or something like that. It was hot too!
Scott Tre: Tell me a bit about Smarty Pantz, your kids show. Onyx isn't known for making music that is suitable for kids. Was that transition difficult for you? Was it something that you always wanted to do?
Sticky Fingaz: I don't have any children of my own but for some reason all of my friends think that I'll be a great godfather, so I got like four god kids. All this, A Day in the Life, the second movie that's coming out through Lionsgate it's called Caught On Tape. It's the same thing. It's rap but with a different story. Different actors. We have Cedric The Entertainer, Vivica Fox, Malik Yoba, Angie Stone, Joe Torry, just to name a few. It all started from Black Trash, my first solo album. It was a movie but it was a regular album with regular songs. Then I'm like: "Yo, I wanna take it to the next level and make like musical movies...like a lot of them, so I can just brand myself in that area. Anybody wanna do a musical movie, you gotta go see Stick first" type shit.
Smarty Pantz stemmed because my moms is like, "Your movie is genius. It's brilliant, but it's so violent. Can't you make something that me and your little sister could watch?" She would beat that in my head for years and years, even through the Onyx era. "Can't you make some cleaner, better music?" I finally listened to her. I'm like aiight, I'm a do a kids TV show where it's all in rap. It's gonna be funny, it's gonna be edgy. The little kids, they got this internet company called H.E.L.P and it stands for Here Educating Little People. Little kids call in and they try to help them with their problems. So one of the problems is that this bully stole some money from one of the little kids. So they try to get the money back, but in doing so they end up kidnapping the bully's dog. It's all fun and it's all light, but it's dope and it's for kids. Adults will love it too. Just like I watch Boondocks.
Scott Tre: So this is a natural transition for you then.
Sticky Fingaz: I would say that.
Scott Tre: You just mentioned your first solo album, which had a cinematic feel to it. Did you always want to do movies?
Sticky Fingaz: Nah not really. Even with rap, it wasn't like I sat down and said: "Yeah I wanna be a rapper." Even when I was rapping back in the days, I never sat down and said: "I want to be in movies and television." The opportunities just present themselves and I just jumped on it. Matter of fact when I was inducted into Onyx, because Onyx existed before me, I was just in high school cutting hair in a barbershop. I was cutting school to go back to the barbershop to make more money. I was content to make a G to $1500 a week and just chilling . Living in my own apartment and shit, wilding out, young. I was like 15, 16.
Scott Tre: You mentioned Caught On Tape. Tell us a bit about that. How will it be different from A Day In The Life?
CAUGHT ON TAPE - Trailer from KB on Vimeo.
Sticky Fingaz: It's a totally different storyline. It's five dudes that plan a bank robbery. Everything is caught on tape from the planning to the robbery itself to the aftermath. They end up having like a Mexican stand off at the end. It's almost like Reservoir Dogs in a sense. It's all in rap. It has a different humor to it as well. There's a lot of funny moments in there. It's not Strictly hardcore shit.
Scott Tre: Will you ever do a movie where the dialogue is not in rap?
Sticky Fingaz: Definitely.
Scott Tre: What's up next for Onyx as far as new music is concerned?
Sticky Fingaz: We about to drop this album. We keep saying we gonna drop it and drop it and it's not dropped yet. The Black Rock album. We perfecting it. We putting out videos here and there. The next video we're gonna drop in like the next week or so. It's called "Mad Energy". The video is crazy. The concept is crazy. We are releasing a lot of products in accordance with the album. We got an energy drink we're working on. We already have the Onyx Skateboard out. We working with this company called Onyx Wheels. We about to craft our own Onyx rims. I have one on my car right now. We gonna get our own brand with the red X.
Scott Tre: Will the new music be any different then what Onyx is already known for, or will it be in the same vein?
Sticky Fingaz: Definitely in the same vein. We're trying new things too. We always stick to our roots though. You can never uproot the tree, but you can always trim the leaves and stuff.
You can find out more about any of Sticky's upcoming projects and/or products at his website www.stickyfingaz.com or at his company's website www.majorindependents.com.