V Exclusive! The Conglomerate Talk 'Catastrophic,' The State Of Hip-Hop, & Dominating 2013
Busta Rhymes & The Conglomerate—consisting of dope MCs Reek Da Villain & J-Doe—are ready to give the game something it's been missing with their new mixtape, Catastrophic.
Considering this project a "catastrophe" for the competition, all three dudes are bringing their A game to get us prepped for what they really have in store for the upcoming year. VIBE had the opportunity to join the crew in studio just a couple of hours before the mixtape dropped at midnight. During our sit-down, we spoke about their opinions on the state of current hip-hop, where they fit into that mix, and why you need to know the Conglomerate in 2013—that is, if the world doesn't end.
VIBE: The album title is the first thing people pay attention to. What does Catastrophic mean? Where did ya’ll come up with that?
Busta Ryhmes: "Catastrophic" was a name that was given to the mixtape by Shaheem Reid. He just felt like it falls in line with whatever it has been that I’ve represented. It feels good after you hear The Conglomerate, Catastrophic, so whatever the Conglomerate does we want it to be catastrophic and eventful. In addition to that, according to the Mayan calendar December 21, 2012 is the alleged end of the world day. If that were to happen on a literal sense that would be catastrophic. Even more so what would be catastrophic would be the way we going to beat the streets up before the end of the world, so it makes sense—it felt right. It feels like the name of the music that we’re going to be sharing as a landscape for all the people to enjoy over the holidays, Christmas and New Year’s that would be appropriate. That’s pretty much it in a nutshell. It feels good to name something or describe your project something that you know that you’re actually going to deliver on that level, so that’s pretty much it.
You guys [Reek Da Villain & J-Doe] have been fuckin’ with Busta for years now. With being on the sideline for so long, what have you guys soaked in from Busta—and the industry as a whole—in preparation of this premiere project?
Reek Da Villain: Well, I mean you know we haven’t really been on the sidelines. We’ve just been masterminding. Actually, our real first premiere, premiere was "King Tut." That was our first major look for me and Doe on a record getting played across the country like at every radio station. As far as working with Buss, we get to soak up his experience. We get to see the science happen like the way he records, how hard he work. Even though he’s a legend, he still do this like it’s his first day, he really love it. I just see that you got to love what you do and that’s my greatest personal gift from him as a learning experience. Just really love this music thing and just embrace it and do it like you love it and don’t take nothing for granted.
J-Doe: Absolutely. Another big thing that we learned is really patience—not just "patience wait your turn." More-so when you’re being patient. I’m not even going to front, eight months ago I thought I was ready to drop. The record I was going to drop 8 months ago ain’t even going to be on my mixtape now [Laughs]! Now that we’re here, you really got to take your time and focus and really come up with your best shit and make sure you’re giving the right shit. You always say once it’s out there, you can’t take it back and your impression is forever, so we want to make sure we leave the right impression on these people forever.
Reek: Showmanship [as well]. I was definitely one of those niggas that grabbed my shit and walk across the stage, but just from watching what him and Spliff [Star] do I learned how to control a crowd a little better. That’s definitely something I learned.
Now I know you guys are really trying to take 2013 by storm. Why did you guys decide to drop it at the end of the year as oppose to straight off the bat in 2013—maybe like in March. Was it exclusively to coincide with the Dec 21st shit?
J-Doe: Partially, but we also have a full roster of stuff we already got planned. Our first half of 2013 is already planned out. We got a very great plan that we put together with the team between Buss, Shaheem, and Reek. We know what we’re doing as far as when we want to drop shit and how we want to impress and put our stamp on this year. So, to start that off before the year even comes, we wanted to end the year right with a big move to give the people something to see. It’s really coming next year. You can gear up to what’s about to happen with The Conglomerate.
What do you guys feel about the state of hip-hop right now?
Reek: It’s shifting. I see a little shift in it, but for me it’s like there’s two sides of the shift. You have dudes like Kendrick Lamar that’s taking it back to that essence of that golden era where his music has theme to it; it’s conceptual. He’s been successful with that. Then you have dudes like Chief Keef and the Lil Reeses who got this new wave that like a little choppy, south type of bounce. It’s really sticking, but I love it. At the end of the day, it’s all Hip-Hop. You just have to be just like Buss say, "swift & changeable to always be remainable."
J-Doe: I definitely feel like the game is interesting. It’s so many parts to the musical shift of this industry that people don’t really acknowledge that’s more than somebody rapping or putting a verse down. Music should really be called “business music” rather than “music business” because it’s really ran by the business of what they think they can make quick dollars on and what’s going to substantially bring money back to the label. That’s where it comes from. The trend of what’s selling is what you're going to continue to hear until something like Kendrick Lamar breaks through and really show the labels that you can sell real music and make money. That’s big for the whole hip-hop community, music and all over; it’s bigger than just L.A. and what people break it off to. I love it. I love what Kendrick is doing as much as I love what French [Montana] doing as much as I love what fuckin’ G.O.O.D. Music is doing. I just love the contrast between everybody coexisting. Making money is beautiful, so Hip-Hop is at a great state for me.
Where do you think the Conglomerate fits into that aspect?
Reek: We got it! It’s nothing that nobody is doing that we can’t do. But what we’re doing—these dudes can’t do what we doing. That’s the one thing that I can say. We’re not the type of dudes you take off the street and say, 'Yo he’s on the corner doing this.' We really love this. It’s like our children when we create these projects. It’s not like, 'Yo you can rap? Put him in the booth.' What we do is really science. It’s something that they would never understand. I know because the majority of these artists are put in the studio and hopping on these beats and rapping. Ours is really like marriage. These records that we’re making are marriages between what we saying and the beat.
J-Doe: I would like to add on to that and state a little bit of the difference from what we bring that hasn’t been brought [before] by these other groups. I mean, I ain’t going to front. I can’t remember what record I heard this from: "Nothing is new under the sun."—Ludacris said something like that. It’s just how you do it and what you bring and where you come from with that. I don’t really feel like you're going to hear [anything] new, like I’m about to rap in tongues or some shit. It’s definitely stuff you’ve heard niggas rap before and be dope, but how we’re presenting music and what we’re coming with hasn’t been done. It’s fresh shit [that] niggas ain’t on. Niggas ain’t doing it, and that’s what makes us different. No disrespect to the niggas that do just rap; it works for them. That’s not how we do it. We focus on this shit, we make sure that we put a masterpiece together with this Catastrophic. Everything has been planned and thought out to the tenth level, so we focused. That’s what it is.
How did you guys go about picking beats for this new tape? Did ou guys just go with what’s poppin’ on the radio?
Reek: I was in the studio working on [my mixtape] Reek What You Sow, and I got a call from the big homie like, "Yo we got a mixtape coming out and we going to finish it in two days!" [Laughs]. He sent me nine tracks and said, "I need ya’ll verses by tomorrow." I got like six of them done and came back the next day early and got the next three done.
Busta: Same way with this nigga [J-Doe]. He sent six too and the next day all the rest of his shits came through. I was the nigga on some "four sword" shit. The first day, I did 4 and then next day I did the rest of my joints. But at the end of the day just as long as the mission is accomplished that’s all it’s about. It got accomplished. We’re putting out a phenomenal body of work in less than two hours.
This project is being considered a mixtape. Do you guys feel the pressure to make an official compilation LP or is this one considered the official project?
Busta: Nah, this ain’t an official compilation LP. We rhymng on other niggas beats. An official album is all original music, so you going to get all of that. On top of [next] year is when we’re going to go in on that. This was just a gift to the people for the holidays—something that J-Doe felt that we should’ve did on some last minute shit. Shaheem Reid came through and helped us conceptualize the project. Reek Da Villain gave his chess pieces and I gave mine and everything came together beautifully. That was pretty much it. This is just a hors d ’oeuvre; full course meal comes top of the year. Several full course meals come at the top of the year, word.
I know you two have learned so much from Busta over the years. But for you [Busta], on a personal level, what have you learned from these two?
Busta: Just new ways to approach doing music. Everybody got their own creative approach, so I’m always inspired to feed and fuel from everybody’s way of going about doing things. That’s what it’s been primarily for me. I’m fan of watching the way creative process is happening, more than anything, because that’s the science behind whatever is going to come as a result. Whether it’s bread, whether it’s the accolade of the awards and the acknowledgements, or just the fuckin’ love and support and the embrace that you get from the consumer. It all comes from your way of approaching this shit creatively. There is no one way. When you watch the many different ways and you try to sponge those different creative approaches, you end up applying your own shit from what you’ve learned and what’ve you seen that works for you. That way you don’t lose yourself trying to be somebody else but apply and add to who you already are. That’s when the beauty of it really comes into play, so that’s what it’s been for me so far working with the bros. I’ve been able to apply shit in a new way that haven’t been able to prior. The way they do shit, I haven’t experienced watching new artists do it the way they do it. They do it their way and their honest to the way they do what they do. That’s what makes it even more pleasurable.
Dope. One last question for each of you: what the biggest thing you want the fans to get from this tape?
Busta: Primarily, just know that the team is just a force to be reckon with, man. What we’re doing here on this project is all in fun. Not that it's not what it is for every project, but this was something that we slapped together for the people to enjoy for the holidays. When you take this music with you, what you should be walking away with from hearing this and experiencing from this body of work is the ultimate feel-good energy, and that’s it. With that being said, still acknowledging the little key components that you need to acknowledge. Everybody is incredibly stupid and dangerous with the bars and that pen game. Number 2: [nobody] can fuck with my clique, nigga. Last but not least, you got a whole lotta shit to look forward to. With all that being said, enjoy the motherfuckin’ mixtape. Happy Holidays.
Reek: Absolutely, I dig that. Anything you can throw on, any beat you could come up with we will whip your ass.
Busta: Whip your motherfucking ass! [Laughs]
J-Doe: That’s what the gist of that is. Any beats that you can come up with—ass will be whipped.