Some people have said that you shouldn’t mix business with family. In fact, I’m pretty sure it’s one of Biggie’s “Ten Crack Commandments.” For Gnormen Insanate Baites (pictured right) and DJ Mighty Joe (pictured left), however, it’s working out beautifully. Long lost cousins, the two found each other after Insante released his solo album, 9401, back in 2005. The two had a natural connection and started making music together. Not satisfied with what they were hearing from the majority of emcees and producers, they dubbed themselves The Other Guys, vowing to not do what everyone else does.

The Other Guys released their first album, The Geeks Shall Inherit The Earth, late in 2010. There was a twist with how they released it, though. They decided not to charge anything for it. Downloads of the album have been happening at a fast and furious pace (No Vin Diesel) and this week RapReviews caught up with both Insanate and Mighty Joe to find out more about the project, how the long lost cousins found each other, and why Insanate took such a long break from NYC’s underground hip-hop scene.
Adam Bernard: First and foremost, what brought about the want to come together and create The Other Guys?

Insanate: Joe and I are cousins, and we constantly talked about music and were sharing music with one another. I got disenfranchised by the music industry, and making music, after 9401 and Joe just kept making heat. We were a production team and we were sending stuff out to people and getting no love. It was one of those things, I was like “nobody appreciates this music as much as me, and nobody appreciates my rhymes as much as you do,” so he was just like “yo, we need to do a project and from now on just work together.”

AB: A name like The Other Guys outright says you’re going to be different. What makes you “other” and not just “another?”

I: It seems like nowadays everybody goes out of their way to see what everybody else is doing and work around there. I kind of took it from the perspective of that’s what they’re doing, so let’s not do that. Let’s do the other thing.

Mighty Joe: We basically do what we like to do. That’s what we find works for us. To piggyback on the whole production thing, before (the album) we actually had a couple of placements as The Other Guys as a production company. We’ve worked with Fresh Daily, Brokn.English and Donwill of Tanya Morgan. I started working with my cousin after 9401. We’re kind of distant cousins and one of the ways I found out more about his music was actually a review that you did and I read this back in ’05. I started making beats in ’05-’06.

AB: That’s crazy!

I: I completely forgot about that.

MJ: So you actually brought us together, in a way. I always knew I had a cousin who rapped, but we’re kind of distant because my parents are separated and he’s on my dad’s side and I’m not too familiar with my dad’s side, so that actually helped out a lot.

AB: Wow, that’s awesome. Damn, you made me feel good today. Now, you say that you were distant, but you weren’t distant in terms of distance, right? You were both from the same area.

MJ: If you want to tell em the Christmas story…

I: I’ll tell em the Christmas story! He was in the Navy at the time and he was stationed out in Virginia and my brother was actually in the Navy stationed out in Virginia, as well, but they didn’t really spend time together. My whole family went down on Christmas to spend it at my brother’s house and my mom was like “you know your cousin’s here, you should call him up because he’s supposed to be stationed down here.” If I hadn’t listened to my mom and got him a lot of stuff wouldn’t have happened.

MJ: That was the Christmas 9401 dropped, as well.

I: Yeah, 9401 came out that Halloween and we’re playing it in the car, because my brother loves my stuff, and (Joe) was like “who’s that?” I’m like “that’s my stuff.” After that we started talking once every month, then once every week, then once every day.

AB: Your first effort as a duo is The Geeks Shall Inherit The Earth. Tell me about this album. What do you hope listeners will get out of it?

I: For me, I just want to make music that people can relate to. I just want people to be like “yo, I can feel this completely and I love this and this is just good music to me.” I don’t want necessarily people to say “yo, that new rap stuff is hot.” I want people to be like “yo, this new music as a whole is really good, I’m really feeling it.”

MJ: And one of the things we’re trying to focus on is what we’re not hearing. If we’re not hearing something that we like, or we’re not hearing enough of what we like, we try to make it, we try to embody that.

I: With a couple of the songs, it’s funny, I actually write songs about NOT getting the girl, and in hip-hop nobody does that, it’s about getting the girl! I want it to be honest. That’s how I feel.

AB: Why geeks? What makes geeks so special?

I: It was Joe’s idea to name it that, actually. When 9401 had come out I had done a sampler called The Geeks Shall Inherit the Earth.

MJ: I always liked the way it sounded, and I’m pretty religious, I grew up in the church, and of course the old scripture says “the meek shall inherit the earth,” so I just loved the way it sounded, and we’re both “geeks” in a sense.

AB: In what sense are you geeks?

I: Ope always calls me cool nerd. It’s the idea that we can pick a computer up and do almost anything with it.

MJ: I’m pretty much a music geek. I’m really passionate about certain things, such as music and art, and movies and film, as well. I think the title is a good representation of us both.

AB: The album is free. Isn’t that the least geeky business plan ever?

I: {*laughs*} I don’t know man. Geeky-wise I think having an album that’s free is probably the most intelligent thing we could have done.

MJ: Yeah. The thing about it is no one knew who we were prior to this. With the way the economy is, it’s hard for me to buy artists that I like right now. Artists I’m literally a fan of right now, I have to check out a couple tracks before I decide to buy their album, so to say I’m gonna buy The Other Guys’ album when I’ve never heard of these guys… it would have been a far stretch, totally. One of the things that is really good with the whole free album thing, Twitter has pretty much been our A&R, been our marketing, and everything, and we’ve been able to get a pretty substantial amount of downloads that I feel like we wouldn’t have gotten had we put a price mark on it. If we were going to the Nuyorican handing out CDs, trying to get people buy our stuff, we would just have people listening to our stuff in the New York area, or where I am here in DC, but we have people in Japan saying they’re bumpin our stuff, people from the UK and a couple of people from Canada, as well as west coast and east coast (of America). I don’t think that would have ever happened had we put a price tag of even two dollars on the album.

AB: Do you have a future mapped out for The Other Guys? Will you be doing more production for other artists now?

I: We had started out to do that originally, now it’s just one of those things where it’s probably best to just focus on our work. It’s already hard, with life in general, to get stuff done, so when we realized that we needed to focus on our stuff it made us insanely busy.

MJ: Yeah. Before then it was hard, almost impossible, to give away a beat, and I knew our production game was nice. It’s crazy how once we dropped the album people started asking us for production almost on a daily basis. We’ve done a couple of things for a couple of people outside of the group, but we’re really focused on marketing ourselves right now.

AB: Joe, you know you have a voice of God thing going on. Can we get you on the mic doing a voice over or something?

Both: {*laugh*}

MJ: That’s funny. I actually have a couple of ad-libs on there and on the first track you hear me talkin.

I: He does ad-libs on almost all the songs. We found a way to get him on.

AB: Finally, Insanate, you were heavy in NYC’s underground hip-hop scene a handful of years ago, but took some time off for a bit. What inspired the break and what did you do during it?

I: What inspired the break was, I would say, the scene seems to be a revolving door that doesn’t change. That’s how I saw it. It was like there’s a level that you can grow within the scene, but so many people are still there that haven’t been able to break out of it, it got to the point where it was like OK, I think I make good music, how come in the scheme of things it just hasn’t reached anybody. For a while I was just writing rhymes. I started film school. I’ve almost finished that now. I’ve been working on the craft of filmmaking and figuring out how to incorporate it into the music stuff.

MJ: And you were grooming me, because prior to hearing to 9401 I had never made a beat. He pretty much taught me how to make beats. I would send him stuff on a daily basis and he would tell me what was wrong with it and I adjusted it. This was taking place from ’05-’06. You pretty much groomed me as a producer during that time.

I: It was one of those things at the time where it was like we’re gonna do production because I have no desire to rhyme. {*laughs*} I have no desire to go to open mics, to get home at 3am and wake up at 8am to be at work by 9am. The game itself really left a sour taste in my mouth. Once we figured out that we need to do it differently than the way it was done before, a la making stuff free and putting it out and going viral with the way technology is, it just seemed like a better option and a better avenue for us.

MJ: And it’s helped us a whole lot having it free. Actually, there’s a part in your book where you were saying something about the internet and getting people on your mailing list and how you can’t just take something from somebody and not give it first, so I took that in the sense of, you didn’t say give your stuff out for free, but that’s how I took it and that was pretty much confirmation, we had already planned on doing it, but after we had read that we decided to take that approach for how we were going to do things.