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Channel Live
WBAI, January '97

So, going into the studio for the second album do you come into it with a different mindset now that you've been through the game once already?

Yeah, I mean life is about learning, and if you're not learning than you're not really living life. You make mistakes, you learn from your mistakes and then you proceed. Success is about achieving goals, and we have achieved goals but there's still more to do. Still hungry.

What do you see in the future of Hip Hop in '97?

Hip Hop is such a viable tool to the world, and I just don't think that people are really using it to its fullest potential. It's about getting messages out to people, and we need to be really careful about the messages we're sending. People like to say "Yo, I'm not a role model, it's up to mothers and fathers", but I'm like "Yo, responsibility is we know things are not right in the world, and you gotta be responsible for what you say to people".

You guys and I have something in common because you also have a background in education. Do you take anything from your teaching experience and apply it to Hip Hop?

Yeah, actually, I didn't think that side of education would be as strong as it was in my life, but it ended up one of the brothers we work with on the rhyme side of things was one of my students back when I was teaching 8th grade. And a lot of the things I had to deal with on a day to day basis in school ended up in my rhymes - it's just the way you see life. Like Tuffy and I have vowed not to say "nigger" on records, and we don't say "bitch", and that's because I worked with kids and I know what the effect is. People's self esteem gets affected by those 2 words, and we have to rise above that.

Speaking of education and self-esteem, what's your view on the Ebonics controversy?

(laughs) Uh, we haven't really built on that yet. I think it's a double-edged sword. It's like, if you want to work within the system, you have to equip the youth with that ability. I think a lot of times the way we communicate as Black people is looked at negatively, like it's something lesser, but the primary goal of language is to communicate. If you're not communicating, it's not working, so we have a natural way of communicating with eachother that shouldn't be looked at in a negative light.

However, brother Vinnie was saying that once you take it and you put it in the system, you automatically co-opt the value of what you're trying to do. I'm for it in terms of getting people ready for the system, but now let's look at the system we live in, the government could come in and tell you the rules and regulations, what words to say, what not to say...

So you think when they start to legislate Black english it really isn't Black english anymore

Yeah, White folks legislating our english when they really don't know nothing about it.

But I think it's important that when the kids come into the the school, instead of saying "the way you speak with your family and with your community is garbage, and you should just abandon it, you should let them know you respect that, and it's valid for you to speak that way in your community. But if you want to go out there and get a job, and deal with mainstream America you have to learn this other language so you can be equipped

When you look back at history and find out how the English language was transformed into what we know it as today, if you look at the "king's English", people here don't speak the "king's English". So enough people spoke a certain way and somebody stood up and said "this is how we're gonna do it. There is no right way to speak".

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