Today we premiere the latest single from the upcoming album by producer BP and Queensbridge icon Tragedy Khadafi, Immortal Titans. Mastermind also features guest raps from Apathy, and cuts by DJ Stitches. Listen below, then read on for exclusive interviews with BP, Tragedy and Apathy.
Tragedy; Tell us about Immortal Titans. How did you and BP connect, and decide to do a full album?
[Tragedy] I chose to work with BP after we did Upper Echelon. After that one joint I felt a real connection. It was instant chemistry. Sometimes the type of chemistry we have can take weeks, months, or even years, but with us it was off top. Automatic and organic. What started as a single, went on to be an EP and ultimately an album…an album I’m extremely excited about. I feel like a Young Trag spawned from the Juice Crew.
A lot of the featured artists on the album are from the new wave of gangster rap, clearly inspired by Roc Marciano, Ghost and Raekwon, but also vets like yourself, Kool G Rap and more. Do they look up to you as a mentor, and someone who can help them navigate the industry?
I can mentor the new wave by being an example. They can look at my career and see the ups and downs and understand the game they working with. They can take the best parts, and utilize ‘em to their advantage. The mistakes, the trials and tribulations…learn from those as well, but don’t repeat them.
As an older head who has been listening to your music for a long, long time, I was always curious about the transition from Intelligent Hoodlum to Tragedy Khadafi. Do you look at them at two different personas, or just representative of where your life was each time?
The question is the answer. They’re both me at different stages of my life for who I was and going through at the time. There wouldn’t be one without the other.
Tragedy: Saga of a Hoodlum turned 25 years old in June, and Intelligent Hoodlum was 28 years ago. That’s serious longevity in this game. How do you feel about your place in rap history?
I don’t feel, I know my place is solidified. It’s carved and etched in stone. Whether it be mainstream acknowledgment, or the right kind of acknowledgment in terms of the true heads who uphold and understand this culture. I have stood the test, and have continued to push my craft forward…especially with a producer beside me like BP.
Do you think your passion for making music will ever fade? And does it ever feel like a grind rather than a creative process?
Sometimes it fells like both, and anyone who says otherwise is lying. But the combination gives me a lot of balance to my life. It’s worked for me thus far, I don’t feel I’ve lost my energy over the years, especially considering all the years that I’ve put in this. I look at some of my peers, and watched them fade into obscurity. I think knowing it’s a grind as well as a creative process and being able to balance the two, gives me that edge.
BP; Immortal Titans has an impressive list of features, including rhyme vets like Nature and Apathy, plus emcees making big noise on the indy circuit right now (Hus Kingpin, SmooVth). When its a collaborative album like this, who gets to select the features?
[BP] Features are always tricky. My philosophy has always been to let it happen organically. Nature and Ali Vegas are artists I work with consistently and have close relationships with. So those came together without thinking. I have listened to Apathy for awhile and he is someone who has a great deal of respect for Tragedy, so Menza from DCM knew Apathy and hooked it up. The Winners (SmooVth, Rozewood & Hus Kingpin) are all originally from Long Island. I met Hus down in Atlanta at AC3. SmooVth is someone who I’ve spoken with for over a year, and Rozewood is from Amityville like me. Again, Menza connected the dots here. My man DJ Stitches did all the scratches. Everything felt natural and every artist added their own flavor to the album.
There’s a lot of legacy that comes with producing for an artist like Tragedy. Considering he’s worked with Large Professor, Marley Marl and Prince Paul amongst others, did you feel any pressure?
The only pressure I ever feel is giving the emcee I’m working with the inspiration to make a great record. Music and art is subjective. What one person loves, another may hate. I just strive for making the artist feel the vibe. I’m influenced by those who came before me. Paul is from my hood. We from the same environment. Large Pro, Premier, RZA are all a part of my style. That is what we do on this journey of life, you pick up techniques, ideas, and new tastes from the people we come in contact with. All those producers are represented on here because they are a part of me. So I am never competing with anyone in music. I can only be the best I can be.
Did you go back and revisit his catalog, and was it hard not to be influenced too much by it?
There are producers that make beats totally different than me, whose style I love. That doesn’t mean that I’m going to make music with their vibe. I’m a huge Tragedy fan so I knew exactly what to bring to the table, and what I wanted to hear him on. The finished product in my opinion includes all the elements of what a perfect Tragedy record would sound like. It feels good to say Immortal Titans is exactly what I hoped for.
We always like to get an insight from producers on the gear they use. Can you describe your basic set-up and studio essentials?
The equipment is just the instrument I use to create my vision. Everything from my catalog has come form an MPC2000 or MPC2500 and Pro-Tools. I have never felt limited in any way with those two pieces. It’s never really been about the equipment to me, it’s the mind behind it. There’s some producers from my hood who every month would tell me about some other console, or equipment or plug-in they just got, and all the money they’ve spent, and I ain’t still hear a single beat from ‘em, not a one [laughs].
What can we expect next from you after Immortal Titans?
More of the same. I have an EP coming out the beginning of next year. It has nothing but legends on it. It’s the first in a series, but I’m not ready to reveal the name and concept. I guarantee my fans will dig it tho. I have an instrumental album beginning of 2019. There’s another secret project with Menza from DCM that I’m extremely excited about that will be announced soon. I know everything is vague but when the time is right the fans will know everything. Trust there is more BP music on the way. Stay tuned…
Apathy; what are some of your early memories coming up as a fan of Hip-Hop and listening to Tragedy Khadafi/Intelligent Hoodlum? Like which song (or songs) really stood out, and why?
[Apathy] My oldest memory was first seeing/hearing Black And Proud on Yo! MTV Raps. The beat was amazing, and it was important for me as a young white kid, to see such a dope, positive message. It was one of the songs that set the precedent for my respect and love for black culture. But in retrospect, my best memory is far more personal. In ‘93 I was living with my father, and Grand Groove came out. I had the video taped on a VHS Tape, and played it CONSTANTLY. My dad passed away in 2012… but when I hear that song, it pretty much brings me to tears, reminiscing about living at his house and being so attached to that song.
Being that you’re a longtime fan of Trag, how do you feel about finally having the chance to collaborate with him on today’s premiere for, Mastermind?
It’s surreal. This dude is such a dope, powerful lyricist. And when he hit me up to be on HIS shit… I was BEYOND gassed.