Author: Erik Holman

Erik: First of all, this is your third LP with Dang., second as Effect & Dang., and you really have a connection with him when it comes to making albums. What was the process like making this album?

Effect: This one was actually a lot different than the other two. On “Simply Dope” – which I also at this point, I have it on my iTunes as “Effect & Dang.” because it was an Effect & Dang. record when you work that close with someone and you’re doing an entire record with them, whether they’re rapping or not on it. Either that or they have their own group name like Gang Starr and Pete Rock & CL Smooth and whatnot.

Erik: Or Run the Jewels?

Effect: Yeah, exactly. So with that record, it was a lot different. Because right after “Simply Dope” was recorded, Dang. had a daughter. So it took us a little while to work on [the next album] “You Don’t Love Me & I Don’t Care.” As soon as that record was done, they moved to New York. I’m talking like… the week before the album was even coming out so… I remember being like, “Ahh!!!” because prior to that, we worked with each other in the same 9-to-5. We sat next to each other 40 hours a week so it’s really easy to bounce ideas off of each other when you’re sitting next to each other for 40 hours a week. So now he’s in New York and I’m in Massachusetts. I immediately was like, “I’m glad you and your family are moving to New York and that’s great.” And he’s like, “Yeah, we’re still gonna make music!” I remember saying, “Hell yeah, man!” Êand thinking “No f–king way this is going to work!” Because a lot of albums get recorded through e-mail at this point, so it was kind of weird because we started working on the next record right away and it wasn’t working out.

We were going to do a whole different record called “Beats, Rhymes and Life Night.” Had a cover for it, recorded three songs for it and we were going on a completely different direction. Dang. was making… it’s really hard to describe it. It was more like electronic type production and we had a few songs like that and it just kind of all of the sudden, we did [the boom-bap single] “NoDoz.” It’s like some force is pulling us back to the boom-bap s–t, so it’s like, “F–k it, let’s just go with it.” Then we did [another hip-hop track] “Pictures (On My Wall)” and we basically kept recording. It was a much slower process, though. It took a lot longer for that record to get done and even longer for my lazy ass to put it out. So…

Erik: Yeah, speaking of your single “NoDoz,” which features 7L & Esoteric. I feel like that song pays homage to Ice Cube’s “AmeriKKKa’s Most Wanted” album. Even in your flow, like “Effect, he can get literal/You deaf, I spit the syllables” reminds me of how Ice Cube spit on the album’s closer “The Bomb.”

Effect: Yeah, yeah. That was pretty much the idea of it. I had “AmeriKKKa’s Most Wanted” and all those West Coast records, from N.W.A’s “Straight Outta Compton” to Cube’s “Death Certificate,” Dre’s “Chronic,” Snoop’s “Doggystyle” – all that s–t was what I grew up to. “Illmatic” didn’t come until a little bit later. I was a little kid when I first heard Cube rap, “Don’t wanna sleep, so I keep poppin NoDoz!” And the first time I heard that, as a little kid, I was like {-in high-pitched kid voice-} “That would be dope to scratch!” And it had taken like forever, then one day, all of the sudden, I saw a bottle of NoDoz and I was like, “Oh yeah Ð ‘NoDoz’! F–k! I never did do that, did I? That would be a dope cut.” I had wanted to do a track with 7L & Esoteric and I’m like, “Let’s do f–kin’ ‘NoDoz’!” Cause when I first thought out [the ‘NoDoz’ idea], I was like ten or eleven. By no means, should I had been listening to “AmeriKKKa’s Most Wanted” when I decided that I wanted to scratch it! {-laughs-}

Erik: You had Esoteric in your track; you’ve also had him on your last album single “Rap Terminators” and even in your posse cut “Headphones Lie” from your last album, as well.

Effect: Yeah, he’s an awesome dude who’s real easy to work with. Originally I wanted the third verse on “NoDoz” for us to go back and forth. I wanted to go every other bar, but it seems like everytime I’m working with someone, they’re about to tour. He was about to go on tour for the Czarface album, I think. He didn’t have to do the back and forth so I said, “That’s fine. I got cuts from 7L and a verse from you, so don’t worry.” So I just said for the third verse, “F–k it, I’ll just write a bunch of s–t that ends with O.” And then I just killed it. {-laughs-}


Erik: Yeah, those are ill facts on “NoDoz” and working with Esoteric. He’s one of two of the rapping guests of your album. What was it like working with Red Pill on the song “I’m F–ked Up?”

Effect: That was interesting. I actually had hit him up because I heard [Red Pill’s 2015 album] “Look What This World Did to Us” and I had released [“Hotel Room, Cambridge, Saturday Night”] a few years prior and it reminded me of his. Not so much that they were exactly alike but just the somberness, the sadness of it. I had written the lyrics to “I’m F–ked Up” alreadyÊand I wanted to work with him. If I want to work with someone, I like giving them instructions. Like when I worked with Reks [on the song “Never Too Late”], I told him, “This song is about Boston and then you come in…” I wasn’t like, “Oh, just spit some dope sh-t!” That way, I get good verses from people I don’t even know sometimes. With Red Pill, I just hit him up on Facebook with, “Yo, your record is f–king amazing. I have a track that I wanna work with you” And he was actually touring for “Look What This World Did To Us” when I had first reached out to him. He said, “I’m nowhere near a studio, but when I get back, hit me up.” So he got back, I hit him up and it was real easy working with him, too. But I had my verses recorded and originally I had verse one and verse three and he was right in the middle. And then when he sent me the verse, I was like, “{-deep sigh-} This is the saddest s–t I have ever heard in my life. He’s talking about his uncle trying to overdose on pills, like holy f–k!” I’m listening to it and I told the engineer, Bob, who recorded all my s–t since I was eighteen. I told him, “Move his verse to the end.” So I had Bob move it to third verse where the beat broke down at the end and when Pill rapped, “Wake up later in a hospital bed/all disappointed cause he rather be dead,” everything drops except one hit. And I was like, “That’s where it’s f–king staying!”

Erik: Nice, I think it worked out better that way myself than if you were to sandwich Red Pill’s verse as originally planned. But one of your hardcore tracks “Penicillin On Wax” Ð dope homage to the late Tim Dog, by the way Ð you rapped about rappers having to meet quotas: a song a day, an EP a week, a mixtape or two. And you dropped your ten-track album four years after your last release, while everyone else is doing like 38-track albums every three months. So what makes you go at your own pace, as opposed to keeping up with the rap tempo joneses?

Effect: What I really meant by that is that everything moves at a fast pace, and obviously not to compare myself these artists, but you look at the amount of years it took between for Nas to make “Illmatic” and “It Was Written.” You get two completely different records. Then you have a rapper like Jay-Z who put one out every year until he faked-retired, came back again, and now he puts his albums out whenever he wants to, too. At this point, even a year is too long for the top rappers to not release album. In the beginning, you gotta hit people over the head and repeatedly strike while the iron is hot. I’m never going to be in a position where I’d have to worry about that. I have the freedom to write whatever I want, record whenever I want, and not release whenever I want. So being who I am as an artist, I have the luxury of moving at my own speed and not release anything that’s garbage just to release it. That’s why I’m generally not a fan of mixtapes because a lot of them sounds thrown together Ð cause they are! But every now and then you’ll get a really good mixtape and it gets to a point where some are moving so f–king fast that they work that well under pressure and they are putting out good s–t. It’s just that’s not the speed that I move at. Like, I can’t move at that speed. But then eventually an artist gets so good that that they can take their time, like Kendrick Lamar. Y’know, he had to drop a million mixtapes and then get signed to Dre, dropped from Dre, resigned until he put out “good kid, m.A.A.d city,” which I think is one of the greatest hip-hop records of all time.

Erik: I loved how you gave props to that album on your song “Ones and Fives,” too.

Effect: Yeah, that’s right I did! I forgot about that. We actually recorded a version of “Ones and Fives,” we had a version of that song from the ‘electronic’ album that we were working on prior…

Erik: Yeah, that’s right that “Beats, Rhymes and Life Night.”

Effect: Yeah, it was called that because we used to have “Beats, Rhymes and Life Night” in the studio, we had a night where we were gonna hang out, watch the Tribe Called Quest documentary and then it turned into a thing where we were calling it that because we would watch a movie, but prior to that we would go through samples and I would read lyrics and take notes.

Erik: What the process like working with Dang.? His beats fits your flow like a glove. Do you write to the beat or does he build a beat that relates to your lyrics?

Effect: Each record was different. On “Simply Dope,” we were learning each other since that was the first record I did with him. I would write a song and he’d make a beat. In fact, [the title track] was the first beat he had made and if you take the instrumental to “Simply Dope” and put the acapella of Jay-Z’s “Hello Brooklyn” over it, it matches up exactly. And the whole thing started because he mixed that song up for fun. He showed it to me and I went, “I want this beat!” Then after the first album, Dang. had a child and was busy {-laughs-}, so I wrote like a million f–king songs for “You Don’t Love Me and I Don’t Care” and Dang. was like, “Oh s–t, I have to catch up!” But what made that album different from “Simply Dope” was he saw the tone of what I was writing and he decided on a theme and stuck with that throughout the record. And “Songs to Play Mortal Kombat To,” it was kind of back to the way that we did on “Simply Dope.” But the thing was we were apart so there were times where a few months would go by and I would forget I rapped and he forget he make beats {-laughs-}. So we were like, “S–t! We gotta refocus! Focus!” So we come back together and that had a lot to do with the length of time between the records coming out, too.

Erik: On “Farewell to the Flesh,” it sounded like Dang. took that one break beat we know and love and threw it in the washing machine.

Effect: Yeah, it’s my favorite song on the album.

Erik: Yeah, I honestly thought that would be the first single because of how intense it is.

Effect: Yeah, we did “NoDoz” as a single, but I didn’t follow it up, I just put the record out. “Farewell to the Flesh” is my favorite because it’s like a brutal, lyrical slaughter. I was like, “I’m gonna beat the s–t out of this f–kin’ beat! This is only three minutes, let’s see what I can do in under three minutes.” And I just lost my mind on it, it’s so fun to rap, too.

Erik: I also notice the tag “B-B-Beat by Dang” on the record.

Effect: Yeah. {-laughs-} That was a joke! And when Dang. heard it, he was like, “Yo, thanks for the shout out!” I’m like, “It’s a joke!! I have a line making fun of that in the song!” You know how every song have the producers name like, “G-G-G-G Money!” That wasn’t a shout-out, it was a joke! I get it, there’s no production notes, no more covers and s–t for you to read.

Erik: Yeah, no more liner notes. Like imagine if Public Enemy had, “B-B-Bomb Squad!” tags {-laughs-}

Effect: “D-D-D-D-Dr. Dre!” He didn’t have to do that. You know why? Cause he was f–kin’ Dr. Dre!

Erik: Yep, he never had to use it in “The Chronic” either. He was set. I know that is your favorite record, too.

Effiect: It’s funny, because I was talking to my wife about this the other day. She has to hear the same G-d damn hip-hop s–t out of my mouth all the time. I will say it’s my favorite album because it inspired me a lot. I don’t think it’s the greatest hip-hop album ever made, but I will say it’s my favorite.

Erik: Yeah, funny thing is, I’d give it a “10” but it’s not perfect…

Effect: No, it’s not perfect! If I were to say a favorite, perfect hip-hop record, the one that always comes to mind for me is [Wu-Tang Clan’s] “36 Chambers.” Simply because there’s so many f–kin’ people on it, it’s so raw, so different. It completely shifted everything, there was no other record that sounded like that. You had Ol’ Dirty Bastard, which didn’t make any sense for him to be good and sometimes, I don’t even know if he was good!

Erik: Yeah, he didn’t care though. He was so “Dirty” with it, it worked!

Effect: His lack of care was made up by the fact that he was the one who said he had chlamydia twice.

Erik: Or a rapper rapping about keeping s–t stains in his drawers so he can get “fizza-funky for you!” Imagine that coming out of GZA’s mouth.

Effect: Yeah, definitely not.

Erik: Yeah, don’t wanna keep you too long. But I wanna talk about “Side With the Sun,” which, to me, sounded like Dang. playing ping-pong with an alien in space while listening to Chick Corea. On the other hand, it was such a happy song contrast to “I’m F–ked Up,” which was directly next.

Effect: I love that song, too. It makes me happy. Well, it’s funny because originally, we were always going to do “Songs to Play Mortal Kombat To,” but also do “Beats, Rhymes and Life Night.” We were going to do two ten-track albums. And they were going to come out separately. One would be more for Dang., because he was going to a different direction, production-wise and “Beats, Rhymes and Life Night” would fill his need. And “Mortal Kombat” was me going back to beat the s–t outta beats again. If we had more time, “Mortal Kombat” would be an entirely brutal record. But since that idea fizzled out, the album kind of splits halfway through after “Farewell to the Flesh,” where it goes to a different direction.

Erik: Yeah, like two sides. As if it were a tape, like when Ice Cube did “Death” side and “Life” side.

Effect: Yeah, because I obsess about albums from the moment I start working on them to the moment they come out. I obsess about the tracklisting and the cover art, all that s–t changes 900 times. The only thing that doesn’t change a lot is the actual songs. I’m pretty well-rehearsed, so I go in and peel out whatever I’m working on and it’s done.

Erik: Who’s your favorite fighter on Mortal Kombat?

Effect: Sub-Zero. Always been Sub-Zero. Because you can freeze people. Liu Kang was horrible and Johnny Cage was just annoying. Scorpion, Sub-Zero and Raiden were my guys. I never liked Kano, he was a s–thead. This fake Terminator mother–ker! You know, the original Mortal Kombat, Genesis, blood coat, all that s–t… That was where it started. But I can’t play that s–t now because it’s boring as f–k. Mortal Kombat II was better than the first one. Then Mortal Kombat III sucked for Genesis because you only had three button on the Genesis Ð A, B, C! Up, down, left, right, and a Start button. I don’t think it even had a Select button, did it?

Erik: Naw, I think it’s only thesStart button that’s way to the right! Here’s a big question: If you as Effect, had a “Fatality” what would it be?

Effect: Uhh… If it were ’92 Mortal Kombat, I would throw the mic across the screen, wrap it around the neck and rip the head off. If it were today’s standards, I would shove the mic up their ass and they would somehow explode. {-laughs-}