Blackalicious (Chief Xcel & Gift of Gab)


Part 1: On Record Collecting
Whether listening to a record in your collection or to a beat you’ve made, what’s the most important aspect you listen for?
The feel is everything. I’ve seen people with dope record collections but can’t make a beat to save their life. You have to have a feel and an ear, because if it don’t feel right, it isn’t right. You can find the best break in the world, but if you can’t hear and visualize how it can be used, then it’s all for nothing.

Who has produced some of your favorite records?
Wow, there are so many. David Axelrod, Leon Ware, the Bomb Squad, Ant Banks, Dre, Pete Rock, Larry Smith, Lincoln Olivetti. In particular, Olivetti is a real important producer, because I think he’s amazing. He did a lot of Brazilian funk and samba in the ’70s. His whole approach to the rhythm was just really dope and just inspires me.

Part 2: On Important Records
De La Soul 3 Feet High and Rising (Tommy Boy) 1989
I was in the tenth grade when this record came out. This record really showed me what the world of sampling could be. Prince Paul showed me that there are no limits to producing. I mean, I was lucky to have inherited quite a few records from my dad’s collection, but I never really used them. This album made me realize that even my dad’s records were fair game. So from that, I was introduced to the Turtles, Steely Dan, and other records that I might have never looked at as prospective samples.

Public Enemy It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back (Def Jam) 1988
Wow. My initial reaction to this record was just that — “wow.” The Shocklee Brothers, Eric Sadler, and Chuck D just threw everything in the pot and made this wall of confusion that was organized at the same time. It was so intense. 3 Feet High and Rising showed me the possibility of sampling and Public Enemy was a realization of that possibility. They really just stretched my head out.