On his solo album, Can Ox emcee is still razor sharp
Vast Aire : Interview Part Two
[Part 2 of 2]
Here is the second part of the interview with Vast Aire ...
Prefix Magazine: How does living in New York City influence you?
Vast Aire : It's a Mecca. It's the birthplace. You've got to respect New York in that aspect, and I grew up here, seeing it constantly change and evolve. At three in the afternoon, I was listening to NWA. At seven in the evening, I was listening to A Tribe Called Quest. Hip-hop was still raw and new and everything was considered new. You just got to find something you're connected to, and if it makes sense, it makes sense. I love Audio Two, Milk and Gizmo, MC Lyte's brother. I love them to death with that powerful simplicity and straightforwardness. I love Rakim. It's a different love. I love "Rapper's Delight." I think it's an incredible song. If you can't put your drink down and shake your hips to that, you're an asshole. That's the ultimate club song, created by the Sugarhill Gang. It's a beautiful song and it don't have anything to do with government or killing your man on the block. None of that. It's about having some fun today, damn it. And if I have something to say about government, that's truth. And if I do have something to say about a relationship or a sucka emcee, I'm only gonna do what I think is real. That doesn't make me Luther Campbell. It doesn't make me Public Enemy. That's just me.
PM: How important is word-play, how do you come up with new words, uses, language? Where does your vocabulary come from?
Vast Aire : I don't really use many big words. I think the greatest part to poetry is word play, so that's a part I focus on a lot. You could have sworn I said nothing, but in three days, you're going to know what I said. It sounds all plain. You're frowning and shit, you're like, "Huh?" But while you're brushing your teeth two weeks from now, it's just going to hit you, and you'll be like, "He's an asshole." I try to do that. I try to throw little sneaky things in, and you're only going to get it if you're a martial artist. You're only going to get it if you're a hip-hopper; you're only going to get it if you wrote graf in '88. I do little things like that. I'm not into rhyming deoxyribonucleic acid and all that. I was when I was younger, but who wasn't? You were amped if you could say DNA, the real word, in a verse. As you get older, though, I learned that I can make "potato chips" sound hot. That's a real master. Remember in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon when she tried to hem him in the forest? And he grabbed a twig. He ain't even have a sword. He was hemming her with a twig, showing her that if this was a sword she'd have already been dead. I like to do that with my rhymes. I like to grab a twig. I'll grab a piece of wheat and you got a blade and we'll go at it. I just like to vent off. It's a comic-book world; it's a video game. I'm just trying to have fun. That doesn't always require a big word. Sometimes to get a complicated thought off you just need a bunch of little words. I left that a long time ago. I left that on Vein. I'm not really big on huge words. If I can say "big" instead of "enormous," I'm gonna say "big." You best believe that. PM: Going back to the production. You used a lot of different guys: Madlib, RJD2, Beatminerz, Cryptic, Ayatollah. Why did you decide to go with a bunch of different guys instead of one or two?
Vast Aire : I already did an album with one dude, so I wanted to do the polar opposite. Over time, the list ended up accumulating. I was vibing with it; it was just natural. A lot of those guys wanted to work with me for years, and now we had the opportunity to work together. PM: Do you feel pressure to step out of the shadow of El-P and Can Ox on your solo debut?
Vast Aire : Not really. Any project I do, I just vent off and do me. Cold Vein could have flopped but it didn't. We busted our asses on that album and we toured and toured. Eventually we got an incredible response. I love that album; it's incredible. But I still don't think people understand it. But that's that. Look Mom is a new realm; it's a new time, so there's no pressure. I'm a perfectionist. As long as I'm vibing with you, I really don't second-guess anything. I'm not waking up at night thinking, "This has to beat Cold Vein." PM: A lot has been said of your wide range of music influences outside of hip-hop.
Vast Aire : Jimi Hendrix, Miles Davis, Nirvana, Pearl Jam. PM: What do you like about music outside of hip-hop?
Vast Aire : I learned the secret to life, which is everything is connected. Everything is relative. So, I can see things and get the hidden meanings and the tones out. It doesn't have to be hip-hop, but they're still coming with a hip-hop vibe. They're still coming with real life. You call god Jah, you could call god Budda, Allah. No matter what name you give it, it still means the power of all. I practice Aikido. In class before we practice, my sansei clashes the wood to protect us, asking the divine to watch over everyone in the class. Basically that's the secret to life: It's all relative. So Pearl Jam is saying the something that Chuck D is saying. If it gets to you, it gets to you. You might like the message, but might not love the song. That's why I listened to everything growing up. If I like it, if it moves me, I wanted it. I didn't care if it was hip-hop, rock or whatever. PM: At most underground hip-hop shows, the crowd is predominantly white males. Do you ever wonder why?
Vast Aire : Off the bat? There are more white people in the country. I don't look in awe when most of my crowd is white. 'Cause when I'm on MTV, most of my crowd is white. It's all these illusions that people are making. You're in America. There are more white people. White people came here and dominated the country, and anyone else that's here is a minority. So if I'm a minority, what should I expect? Half my crowd should be white. And I don't mind. I have white friends and I love people. PM: You lived with El-P for a while, right? What was that like? Any annoying habits?
Vast Aire : Back in the day, a couple of years ago. The dishes man: the dishes were out of control. The dishes are like to the ceiling, just piled. I would constantly get on him about that. Like, "Yo man, clean these dishes." PM: Is he the type of dude that will eat out or buy new dishes instead of clean the ones he has?