Talking to RC mentor Jim Martignetti and Inspectah Deck of Wu-Tang Clan!
Recording Connection mentor Jim Martignetti of Off the Wall Studio in Tyngsborough, Massachusetts, recorded and mixed a hip-hop track entitled “Kings of Kings” by D.One which features none other than the legendary Inspectah Deck of Wu-Tang Clan, one of the preeminent hip-hop groups of all time.
RRF had the rare opportunity to talk with Inspectah Deck about hip-hop, dreams, celebrity and making it in today’s social-media crazy world.
The Inspectah also had some choice advice for today’s up-and-comers. Here’s a few excepts from out exclusive with Inspectah Deck and Jim Martignetti. Hit the link to the video for more 411.
RRF: Inspectah, as a school, we like to teach an old-school apprenticeship with a mentor method. We wanted to hear your thoughts on if you worked with any kind of mentor starting out, and how that experience was for you.
Inspectah Deck: Honestly, no. Me coming up in this game, I didn’t have a mentor, especially as far as rap or guiding me with a career. Truthfully, I learned out there on the street. My father died at a young age, so I had to raise myself, and you know I had an older brother that was already out there in the life, you know, and he really never showed me the ropes. So a lot of my training or teaching came from hands-on experience, being in the fire. You know, man, I’d have loved to have a mentor or someone like that to steer me in the right direction, but it’s something that I came to the conclusion for myself, like, look at what you’ve been through, where your life is going and where you’re trying to go, so you can figure out some type of plan. That’s how it happened for me. But you know, if you really want to say—I can look at RZA as a mentor, someone early in the game who saw something in me that I didn’t even see. So I can definitely look at RZA as a mentor.
RRF: So what was it like working with D.One? Did you guys work together?
Inspectah Deck: We didn’t work together. He (D.One) sent me the track through the email. For the most part, the brother’s real professional. He emailed back on time, he said what he was gonna do and he did it … So respect gets respect, you know?
RRF: Would you say things have really changed in the business between how things are now and how they were then?
Inspectah Deck: I look at things a couple of ways. Outside of hip-hop, I look at how the world’s changed from then till now … You know, everybody is so politically-correct, you can’t even say what you want to say without someone losing sleep over it, you know, celebrities with their public apologies, it’s like, say what you mean and mean what you say. Everybody is b**chy, everybody is upset, but on the flipside, you have the right to destroy and ridicule and do whatever you want to a person over the social network, you know? Back in the day, you had to see that person, like the person that said something about you—eventually you bumped into them, whether it was somebody at a label, working the industry, because the circuit was so tight … Nowadays, people have the luxury of hiding behind a computer. It tampers with everything, because now your best friend won’t even call you. He’ll text you or hit you through Instagram or something like that. It messes up the communication … people used to go outside and interact and mingle, you know. As a kid, I was outside every day, I had that mother that told you, “Get out of the house, go enjoy the day.” I couldn’t play a lot of video games … Nowadays, kids 12 years old, they got a PS4, iPhone, iPad, they’re texting mom from the next room [laughter]. I think the advancement of society and technology and everything kind of set humanity back.
RRF: Do you think that’s changed the way hip-hop is done nowadays, as opposed to back then?
Inspectah Deck: It’s not nearly as good now, because when I first got in the studio with RZA, we had to sit there in front of a big 48-track SSL board, we had to lug our keyboards and everything we wanted to bring into the studio, manually connect things with these wires and all that. But now, there’s a lot of software, there’s a lot of programs that you can recreate a lot of the sounds we had to search for, you know…It’s so easy, you can walk into Wal-Mart and buy some type of Casio machine and you can plug that into the studio and amp it up, and it sounds like you have this big expensive studio. You can plug your iPhone in with apps on the iPhone and do drums and piano and bass—you can make a beat with you phone nowadays.
Jim Martignetti: I think sometimes that’s a problem, that some people have such easy access to all these industry tools, and the market gets flooded with all this garbage, and it drives me nuts.
Inspectah Deck: That’s exactly what’s going on, man, and it drives me nuts, too, because now–right now, I can make a beat, write a rhyme, record myself, mix it down, master it, all on the same laptop without even moving, upload it to hundreds of sites, blog it, iTunes, and it’s out there tomorrow with a video. And all that’s just in one day. I’m from the era where we took 2, 3, 4, 5 days to film a video, and it took another two weeks to edit it, another week to service it and get it around to all the proper markets … You had to give yourself at least 2 months, 3 months of promotion and marketing time—you know, dudes can drop an album tomorrow and start advertising today. It’s like you said, these kids—I call them young kids, but it’s not just the young ones—they have access to these amateur tools, and they get on them and act professional. You know, your beats got two sounds, three sounds in ‘em, they’re not full, they’re not composed, they’re not musical.
RRF: You’ve been in this industry a long time, you’ve got all these connections, you’ve worked with so many studios, you’ve gone on tour, you’ve had the whole experience—what would you say for a beginner, the most important thing about having these connections and building a network for yourself?
Inspectah Deck: You know, what I’m gonna say to the beginners—-Be careful what you wish for. That’s my biggest jewel to them now, because there was a time when I sat there with the same dream … And you dream and you picture yourself there, and you say, you know, if I get on, I’m gonna do this, I’m gonna do that, and then one day, you wake up and you’re there. All these people, all these connections, all this press, all this money’s coming your way. And when you get to that level and you see all the fakeness coming out, people trying to use you and exploit you for their own agendas, and you realize that the money is the cause of a lot of this confusion … I know sometimes I’ve sat there and I’ve said, Man, despite being able to take care of my family, the money, the fame and all that, I think my life was easier—I won’t say better—but I definitely feel like I felt better, I felt good when I was that super-hungry guy, and it seemed like this was out of arm’s reach. You know, it’s like I had more fun with it, and it meant more. Now, to me, this is a job, you know, I feed my children with it. You have to be a businessman, it’s not just about rap, especially in 2014. You have to understand the business, understand the paperwork and the language … Understand what you want and what you’re getting into it for … You get yourself in a bad deal, and they’ll put you out there, they’ll have you on TV and your songs on the radio, but you’re not getting publishing, you’re not getting the correct mechanicals because you sold yourself to somebody … [and] they got their hands in your pockets all the way around.
Just really know what you want.
TRACK: King of Kings
Lyrics Written by D.One / Inspectah Deck / Capone
Recorded and Mixed by Jim Martignetti of Off the Wall Studio
Mastered by Pat Keane (@ PKM)
Hear the full Interview: on YouTube