DJ HOUSE SHOES INTERVIEW

Having worked with J Dilla, Big Proof, Elzhi, Guilty Simpson, Black Milk, Phat Kat and a host of others House Shoes has been an integral part of the long burgeoning Motown resurgence. We caught up with House Shoes just before he embarked on his second tour of Australia.

How did you get into Hip Hop music?
When I was in the 5th grade, shit was still pretty lily white around the way… This kid moved in from nyc, Ron Garrison. His uncle was Father MC, and he has ALLLLL the tapes. Fat Boys, RUN DMC, Whodini, Ice-T, everything…. Soon as I heard that shit, everything else I had heard in my life was in the rear view. This was my shit.

Why are you called House Shoes?
Hahaha… I went to Eastern Michigan for a few months in 1993… Right before I left for school, my moms got me a fresh ass pair of house shoes. Clean. Black leather w red plaid on the inside. Mad comfortable. I wore em everywhere. Class, the cafeteria, hoopin, everywhere. Cats started calling me House Shoes.

You were a resident DJ at St Andrews Hall in Detroit between 1994-2004 you must have experienced a lot of great performances what ones stood out?
The most memorable to me was when Em had just got back from the first tour run for The Slim Shady LP. I just happened to be goin in on joints off the album when he came in the spot. He ran to the stage and picked me up and was carrying me back and forth on stage. It was great to see him geeked, especially w the struggle he had to be accepted in the city, and the work he put in to be recognized nationally by taking all his product out of Detroit stores and taking that shit on the road.

What makes Detroit Hip Hop music different from the rest?
Because we don’t give a fuck. We don’t try to make hits. We make classics. Its a heavy city, so when cats that do this shit for real get in the lab to put in work, they do themselves to the fullest. Its our way to escape.

Before Detroit was put on the global map by the likes of Eminem, Slum Village etc who were the artists regarded as starting off the Detroit Hip Hop scene?
Detroit’s Most Wanted, K-Stone, B Def, Kaos and Mystro, Awesome Dre, Merciless Amir, Esham…. We had a gang of dope cats. I know i’m forgetting some.

How did you get the title “Detroit’s Hip Hop Ambassador”?
I’m always gonna rep the hometown. Especially since we have the best shit to offer in hip-hop. So if you are at a spot and I’m playing, its my job to teach y’all why I talk so much shit about how fresh the cats from home are.

You have your own label House Shoes Recordings which has released classics from J Dilla and Phat Kat. Do you have any more releases planned?
Yes. I’m working on a situation right now to hopefully be locked before the end of the summer. Much more to come.

Your mix CD “The King James Version Vol.1” features samples used by Dilla how hard was it putting together did you know all of them or did you have to go digging through the crates?
I knew a lot of joints, and definitely had more than enough to complete it, but i wanted the mix to be all vinyl, because anyone can download some mp3s and make a mix of Dilla samples. But, to dig up all the records is a whole other monster. I had a list of some more recent finds that i hadn’t yet found on vinyl, and dug em up. I had to have some new shit on their just for my own listening pleasure.

Recently you were asked by UK label Strut to do a mix for Detroit Funk legend Dennis Coffey. How did it feel to be asked and how do you approach a project like this?
It was definitely an honor. They could have hollered at a lot of other cats with larger profiles. They told me that they were very impressed with the King James Version, and wanted something along the same lines. I wasn’t completely aware of the quantity of HEAT that Coffey was involved with. I knew the standards. The solo album material. But I never did the math on all the joints from the funk brothers, to his productions, to the session work. Shit was crazy. They sent me a discography, and I dug em up and pieced it together at the homie Rhettmatic’s crib.

Your podcast (www.theshoeshousepodcast.podomatic.com) has over 60,000 subscribers where people can check out your recent mixes how important is to have something like this?
Big shouts to Max and TyG from the HVW8 gallery in LA… They had me thru four years ago to do a podcast for them. The joint came out real nice, and they hit me after they posted it to tell me my episode had gotten more listens than all of their previous episodes. My episode was 17. Bugged me out that cats was really checkin for the kid like that. I started my own podcast a few weeks later. And cats are definitely checkin for the kid. Its a dope way to introduce the public to new music from myself and my fam.

You have worked with a diverse range of artists from Detroit who have you most enjoyed working with?
I like working with Moe Dirdee. He listens and absorbs my input. We have a project in the works that will hopefully be done by the end of the year.

How did you meet J Dilla and when you first heard his music could you see the influence he would have on music?
I met J when I was working at a record shop in 1994/95. He came in the store and we chopped it up. I gave him some records, and went outside to check out some joints he wanted to play me. It was a wrap after that. This was the NEXT guy. Knew from the first time I heard him.

What’s something you can tell us about Dilla that not many people know?
Fuck The Police came from an incident where the cops ran up in his crib when he was living out in the eastern suburbs of the D. He was heated. A neighbor said they “smelled drugs” and called the boys. They found nothing.

Name your favourite Dilla tune and why?
Impossible question to answer. Changes from day to day.

What is Hip Hop lacking since Dilla has passed away?
Originality.

What do you think of the current crop of artists coming out of Detroit such as Black Milk, Mayer Hawthorne and 14KT?
They are the new extension of the old guard. Black has definitely looked out for many up and comers from the city over the last five years. He has finally broken into getting some high profile placements while still maintaining his sound…
Mayer Hawthorne has proven that you can blow up off of keeping true to what you love. I love the fact that he has received the recognition he has off of something that he truly enjoyed doing on the side. Much respect to Wolf for giving him the platform. KT is definitely one of my favorite producers, period. And he is also one of my favorite people. i know few people who love music as much as he does. He continues to push the limits, and expand his sound…

Any other new Detroit artists we should keep an ear out for?
Quelle is nutso. I linked him up with Roc Marciano and they are working on a project as we speak. I released an EP thru Fat Beats last year consisting of tracks from his solo EP “Blue Mondays” and tracks from Crown Nation’s “Slut Bag Edition” with Denmark Vessey. Fire. Check em out at www.crown-nation.com…Moe Dirdee has some CRAZY joints. He rides the fence, having dope underground joints, and also joints that can reach a much wider base out side of the underground. His project “M.O.E.” produced entirely by Chanes, a VERY dope producer from the D, is available on I- tunes. KetchPhraze has recently become one of my favorites back home… He is a monster on the mic. Straight hardcore shit. His group Street Justus has an album online. Keep an eye out for his solo material… SelfSays is another extremely talented cat. You can find his EP, Something Out Of Nothing online for free download. Peep that and you will understand what I’m saying.

It seems a lot of Detroit artists move to LA why is that?
The glass ceiling in Detroit is very low in regards to the hip hop scene. Once you get to a certain level, there is not that much more that you can do… It becomes tiring to perform for the same cats at the same venues over and over again. I can definitely say that my visibility has increased ten-fold since I moved. I never travelled when I lived in the D. You get taught up in the struggle to gain the respect of a city that for the most part has no interest in the artists that are recognized world wide for their efforts. The world is much larger than your hometown, and eventually cats tire of fighting for the respect of the city.

Name one track that sums up Detroit to you and why?
“My Detroit” by KetchPhraze, featuring Elzhi and Trick Trick. Its a homage to the city we come from, with three distinctly different artists giving their perspectives on our city and why its “My Detroit”. Black Milk on the beat. Google that.

What’s your definition of Grindin’?
Grindin’ is putting in work. Putting forth the best effort. Hitting the streets, the club, the ‘net… Doin everything possible that you know in order to succeed and be heard.

TOUR DATES
Thu 5th May – The Espy, Melbourne
Fri 6th May – The Manor, Perth
Sat 7th May – Tonic Lounge, Sydney

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