Here is the second part of the interview with Encore...
Prefix Magazine: To go back to Layover, my favorite tracks on the album are "Chocolat Popcorn" and "Layover Overture."
Encore: Part Two: That's dope that you like "Chocolat Popcorn." That's one of my favorites. It's funny -- people don't appreciate that song, and I love that song. PM: It's ridiculous. Where did the title and the concept come from "Chocolat Popcorn"?
Encore: Part Two: I guess you have to feel it. Because people listen to it and either they hate it and they're like, "What the fuck is 'Chocolat Popcorn,' " or they're like "This is hot." I was feeling the beat, and I was like, "I know this really don't make no sense." You know how James Brown, even though it's not really a James Brown-type sound, has all types of old songs about popcorn? I just felt like it had that type of vibe to it. James Brown had a whole bunch of songs where the titles didn't really make any sense; they just had that feeling. You remember Diamond D right? He had that song, "Yo, that's that shit." That's how I felt about that song: It's that shit. PM: I think it might be "Step Iit Up Or Wrap It Up" where you talk about how Mary J. Blige got away with saying "holleration." Does that sum up how you felt about that?
Encore: Part Two: If you listen to the lyrics, I'm really talking about trying to say something deep but actually flipping shit and just riding the beat. A lot of people get over because they're over a hot beat and they're really talking a bunch of bullshit. But you can't front on how they riding the beat, and you can't actually front on the beat. Let me ride the beat right and still say something kind of deep. That was my whole thing about, "Y'all let Mary get away with 'holleration.' Let me do me." PM: It seems like you're talking about the industry in particular and some of the constraints or problems in it. Is there anybody in particular you're addressing?
Encore: Part Two: My beef is with the listener for the most part. It's not really even and animosity or hate. I feel like there really is a double standard. The same person who will say Encore's wack 'cause he got somebody singing on his record will turn around and say OutKast's album is a classic. I'm not dissing OutKast at all. I love Outkast. But the whole reason people say I'm wack or somebody else on an independent label is wack is the exact opposite from why they say Jay-Z is dope. I like the idea that the listener has grown up and can say, "Okay, I can listen to some independent-level stuff and still listen to some commercial stuff." There was a period of time where we got to the point where we said, "I'm not listening to that 'cause that's commercial." I like the idea that there is a balanced ear. But sometimes there's a double standard. If it's underground stuff that sounds like it should be on a commercial label, then you still get that "Oh, they're selling out" response. PM: The album has an East Coast feel. Who are your influences?
Encore: Part Two: My influences are Large Professor, Rakim, Ice Cube, Big Daddy Kane, Richie Rich, NWA, Gangstarr, A Tribe Called Quest. I'm kind of all over. In high school I gravitated more toward East Coast hip-hop. I think a lot of it had to do with Yo! MTV Raps. I listen to a lot of stuff from out here. I'm a big Too Short fan. I love E-40. And I'm not just saying that 'cause I'm doing an interview and I'm on the West Coast. I love E-40. Living in the Bay, you get a good balance of all of that. PM: How did you get your start rapping?
Encore: Part Two: I got really serious with my rapping after I graduated from high school. I joined the military. I was in the Army reserves for a minute, just for school purposes. I got medically discharged. And then I came out and I linked up with my boy Architect. He did ninety-nine percent of my first album and three cuts on Layover. He was still producing with his partner, Grand Inquisitor. We started working on music together, doing a lot of recording. Homeless Derelicts put out a demo; I was on that. I ended up linking up with Peanut Butter Wolf, who started Stones Throw. But before his Stones Throw label, I was on a compilation with him. Then he started his label, and he wanted me to do the first single with Rasco. We ended up putting it down. The rest is history. PM: I noticed references to Islam on the album. Did you grow up Muslim or did you convert later?
Encore: Part Two: I converted. I took my Shahada (Profession of Faith) in '96. PM: How does your spirituality fit in with your music?
Encore: Part Two: Even if I don't talk about it, it plays a prevalent role. There are a lot of things I struggle with even today. Living in America is not completely conducive to an Islamic lifestyle. At the same time I'm still struggling trying not to use that as an excuse. Not that I'm really out there and being flagrant as far as being completely out of the Deen. I struggle. There are certain things that are hard for me to conform to. It has more to with my lack of discipline and letting myself be exposed to external things. I'm still human. We're all human. I'm trying to be the best person I can be, regardless of what religion I am or whoever anybody else is. When people ask me if I consider myself a conscious rapper, I say yeah, but not in the sense of the classic label. I'm conscious of everything around me and am trying to be conscious of what I'm trying to be better at; I'm not conscious of how I'm gonna tell somebody else how to live. I'm still trying to get where I need to get. That's what I mean when I say I'm conscious. PM: What's next for you? Any tour dates? Are you recording for a next album?
Encore: Part Two: I'm working on the next album right now. I'm doing some spot dates. I got a baby on the way, so I'm really looking forward to that. That's going to be something special. PM: What are you listening to right now in terms of hip-hop?
Encore: Part Two: I'm listening to the Madvillain, the Ghostface. I have been listening to a lot of old stuff, honestly. I've been listening to Van Hunt; I know it's not hip-hop, but I've been listening to Van Hunt. It's a good record. I listen to all kinds of music. I've been listening to Sam Cooke. I'm in the car right now looking at what I got. I broke out my Eric B. Paid in Full record and Bobby Bird, James Brown's running mate back in the day.