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[courtesy] M-TRI & DJ Leecy T Interview
Author: Adam Bernard

M-TRI and DJ Leecy T are one of New York City's underground hip-hop power couples. Both have been well respected in the scene individually for years, M-TRI as an emcee, producer, and DJ, and Leecy T as one of the city's top females behind the wheels of steel. Until recently, however, they hadn't worked together on anything musically. With the release of their single "M-Triumph," M-TRI and Leecy T are announcing that their coupledom extends to the music world, and they're making that announcement with a soulful hip-hop vibe.

RapReviews caught up with the dynamic duo this past week to find out more about the project, and what took them so long to finally start working together. M-TRI and Leecy T also opened about the genre of music they completely disagree on, the insanity of dealing with drunk people while DJing, and what they love about being hip-hop artists in NYC.

Adam Bernard: "M-Triumph" is your first official single as a duo, correct?

M-TRI: Yes. "Suicidal Hype Shit" and "The Grease" were off my last project (Max Talkin' Real Ism) and Leecy jumped on board at the end.

Leecy T: The project was already done. Pretty much for live stuff, and the last two videos, I was on board.

MT: So this is the first official single together.

AB: You've been married for a while. What took you so long to work together on something musically?

MT: We actually worked on a few things before, but this is the first official thing. We did the theme for the Rapathon 2010, programs for the kids, we've worked on music for that, but not like an official release type of thing.

AB: Is there a reason that now is the right time?

MT: We've been working on this "M-Triumph" song for a minute. I would say for at least a year we've been working on the song, from the beginning of the writing, to the recording, to the mixing and all that.

LT: It seemed like sometimes other songs that are on the album came up as we were working on "M-Triumph."

MT: So we've been working together, we just haven't put it out.

LT: We've been very quiet, and it seems like very dormant because we've been taking our time making sure that everything's right, making sure that this album is tight.

AB: So tell me about the project.

LT: We kinda wanted to take a different direction. Max Talkin Real Ism was very boom bap. This album is also very boom bap, but we have more collaborations with people, I'm doing all of the scratches on the album, I help with the production a little bit, and the sounds have taken more of a soulful turn, as well.

AB: Is that soul what you bring out of each other musically?

MT: Oh definitely. To add on to what Leecy was saying, the last project was that boom bap, that hip-hop deal, but it was also a little gritty. It was like a different time when I was working on that project. There was different subject matter, from "Silly Rappers" to the joint about police brutality. This album is not focusing so much on, I don't want to say problems, but it's more focused on feeling good, and that direction.

LT: It's very optimistic. An optimistic, but realistic, album.

AB: In what ways, if any, do you two differ in style, or taste?

L: Musically, I guess we kind of introduce each other to different albums. For instance, I'm a huge Q-Tip fan, so Q-Tip's first album, I was like yo, you gotta check this out, this album is dope. He introduced me to more Pete Rock and CL Smooth, and EPMD.

AB: Is there anything in your significant other's album collection that you absolutely can't stand?

Both: {*laughs*}

MT: Freestyle music.

LT: Oh, the worst! {in a high pitched voice} Show me, show me.

MT: I'm a fan of freestyle music. That freestyle club, electro, 80s kinda stuff. I grew up on it. To me it's really dope. It's electro. It has some really nice melodies, good messages about love. I always dug it. She just doesn't like it.

LT: I'm not a huge fan of it at all. I'm from Virginia Beach, so the huge freestyle songs, like the four most popular ones, maybe I heard them when I was growing up, but apparently up here it was a huge thing.

AB: Leecy, is there anything in your collection that M-TRI doesn't like?

LT: I actually don't think so.

MT: No.

LT: Sometimes we'll be hanging out, have a few hors d'oeuvres, and listen to vinyls, or the radio, or he'll be spinning, or vice versa, and he's like "I got something for ya," and he puts the freestyle in.

MT: Now the interview is going to turn into me interviewing Leecy. What about freestyle don't you like? Musically it's electro, and I know you like "Planet Rock," I know you like "Play At Your Own Risk," and all those old jams, and that's basically the father of freestyle. Is it the singing?

LT: I think it's the singing is kind of annoying.


LT: If I'm at a club I won't be like "I'm leaving." I guess I'll just be having another drink.

AB: You both DJ out in NYC A LOT, so I'm guessing you've seen some things, especially in the wee hours of the morning. Tell me about some of the especially wild, crazy, or cringeworthy, things you've witnessed while spinning.

MT: Oh yeah, every night we spin something crazy happens. Let's start with the dude who, a couple weeks ago, just fell off his chair right near the DJ booth, just SMACK right on the floor. People also come up making crazy requests.

LT: I was in the middle of a Top 40 dance set, the room was rockin out, at NYU, and a girl comes up and she's like "this room would go crazy right now if you played 'Africa' by Toto."

MT: People like to dictate what they want to hear, and then they come up to the DJ and ask the DJ for it with no filter on the brain, like maybe I should let the DJ do their job. You also have a lotta crazy people out there with no self control.

LT: Remember when the guy was dancing and he just fell on the floor?

MT: Yeah, dude busted his ass, and I've seen people drop drinks all the time.

LT: Sometimes we have to put the Serato on internal mode, because people are jumping up and down and it's making the needle jump up and down on the turntables.

MT: Some people do these crazy dances. I don't know if they're really dancing like that, or if they're making fun of a kind of a dance. It's very unusual.

LT: People will come up with their iPhones and they have all their requests on the phone, or have their drink hanging over the equipment.

MT: There's no "hey, how are you? You're doin your thing." A lot of people think you're a jukebox. A lot of people bark at you, too. I've been in situations in venues where people come up like "nobody wants to hear this shit! Put on something else!" I'm like, who are you talking to? This is Leecy's favorite, when you have both hands on the equipment, you're mixing, you're riding a blend, and someone's trying to get your attention. Obviously you're not gonna look at them, and they tap you on the arm.

AB: So that's a lot of the bad, but let's turn our focus to the good. What are your favorite things about being a hip-hop artist in New York City?

MT: Rockin shows.

LT: Connecting with people that normally, for whatever reason, I wouldn't connect with. Also seeing other artists. Our scene is a whole other world, it's very diverse. I always think about Virginia. I would never know about any of us over here because there's Z104, which is a pop station, there's 103 JAMZ, which is kind of the equivalent of Hot 97, so I would really have to dig and look for it. Just being in New York, too.

MT: We have a great hip-hop community in New York. We have so much going on, so many people doing different things. It's a whole universe, really, in New York.

LT: And we can also connect with people abroad.

AB: What has been the greatest hurdle you've had to overcome?

MT: Just making time. Organizing and managing time, and getting things done. We're both multi-dimensional artists. For me, being an emcee, DJ, and a producer, some days I want to do everything, and I can't. Some days I have to focus on making on beats, DJing, or emceeing, and sometimes it gets hectic and you lose track of what you're trying to accomplish. You get distracted, and can get pulled in different directions. That's something we're still overcoming. I know myself, I'm always trying to work on that.

AB: Finally, with that hurdle in mind, when do you hope to have the album completed and available?

MT: About another ten years.

LT: It's gonna be PERFECT!

MT: We're looking at late summer, early fall. I would really like to get this off for the end of the summer, but October would be at the very latest.

LT: We're going to release three singles, three videos, and we got some treats on there. We have collabs with Jake Lef, Homeboy Sandman, Sleepwalkas, AtLas, we might even trade places, so to speak!

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Originally posted: March 19th, 2013

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