Defari Interview (by A to the L)
Defari, one of the most laidback members of the Likwit crew, is ready to take the next step forward. After some stunning guest appearances on albums by Dre, Dilated, and of course Tha Liks, he returns with a cut (‘Bomb Tree’) on the new “High Times” compilation. I caught up with him recently and chatted on several topics, including his love of all things Dutch! Throughout the interview, this amiable Cali resident gave off that zany, bugged out, find-humour-in-anything type of manner that the Likwit crew have become famous for, while exhibiting some sharp-as-tacks business sense and ambition…
What’s up D?
Defari: Nothing… nothing… what’s going on brother?
I’m cool. OK. For those who may be unaware, why don’t you shed a little light on who Defari REALLY is?
Defari: Well, Defari is a handsome young man from the world famous Alkalholik crew. I dropped an album in ’98 called “Focused Daily” on Tommy Boy… and since then I’ve put in a gang of guest appearances on a lot of stuff, ranging from Dr Dre’s “Chronic 2001”, to Xzibit’s albums, to Tha Alkaholiks’ albums, Dilated Peoples… I also dropped a slew of independent singles that people ranted and raved about… and I’m about to drop a new album called “Odds And Evens”… due to come out in late 2002.
So this High Times project… how did you become involved with all of that?
Defari: Well what happened was that Swift had an ill beat… I went over there and laced it… we did a pretty tight weed song, and High Times loved it, I loved it, Swift loved it, and so the next thing you know we had a single.
How did you wind up getting down with Tha Liks? Was it just through E-Swift’s work on your debut (‘Big Up’), did you already know them, or what?
Defari: Yeah, you pretty much answered the question yourself… in the beginning in fact, I was a fan – I had seen them perform with Ultramagnetic when I was in college. So I was a real big fan of the Alkaholiks, and what happened was that in 1995, my man Beni B hooked me up with E-Swift to do a track for a compilation on Immortal records, and ‘Big Up’ was the result. It’s been pretty much history since then, I’ve been rolling with the whole Likwit crew for seven and a half, going on eight years now.
So lets talk a little on this ‘Bomb Tree’ cut. On it you do a little rundown on your favourite weedspots around the world, but where’s the VERY BEST weedspot in your opinion?
Defari: Awwww man! I mean come on… Amsterdam’s on top, of course! And then I’d also have to say Hawaii…
For real? Not a place you hear getting shout outs on wax for that type thing…
Defari: Awww yeah buddy! You better believe it!
And how about that “Thai weed in London that looked like doodoo?”
Defari: (laughing his ass off) Yeah! It was crazy because I’d stumbled upon some Thai when we was over in the UK… and it was wrapped up. And the thing was… I hadn’t seen no real Thai weed in YEARS! And everyone on the tour with me, including Xzibit, wouldn’t fuck with it, cos it wasn’t the bomb… but I was real hype, I was like, “This is REAL Thai!” y’know? I was like cherishing it! (cracks up with laughter)
OK let’s talk movies now. I peeped that Liks DVD that came out recently on Fortress, and what impressed me a lot was how relaxed you guys ALWAYS seem to appear. There never seems to be any stressing at all – what’s the secret?
Defari: Apart from the weed? I think really we feel blessed man… I don’t think WE think we’re stars, we don’t think we’re better than anybody… we just feel happy to be doing something for our professions that we love to do, you know? And we don’t take none of this for granted… because if it wasn’t for the fans there wouldn’t be any US. I guess we just thrive off that energy… there’s no kinda glitzy, “Hollywood” vibe around us… its just real niggas doing real things.
And though those tours look like a gang of fun, it must be kinda hard too being on the road so much.
Defari: Yeah… hell yeah. Especially when you’re away from your family and stuff – that’s about the toughest part of it.
So what’s the longest you’ve been away on tour then?
Defari: Just recently the XO Straight No Chaser tour was about 2 months… so that was about the longest straight time. But in terms of broken up time, I’ve been on the road even longer. Like all of last summer… we were doing the Summer Jams, and Eminem and Outkast trips in Europe… you know that was a hella long time when its all put together.
And what’s the best place you’ve visited when you’ve been out on tour?
Defari: The best place I ever visited… it gots to rank up there again man… Amsterdam! (starts laughing) The ‘Dam for obvious reasons… and I’d also say Toronto. Toronto and Vancouver… I love going to those spots. T-Dot is very nice… very cool people, good food… and just… good vibes.
What’s the latest on your situation with Tommy Boy? Since they’ve decided to turn their backs on Hiphop, do you have a new deal?
Defari: Well, what happened was that I had entered into a deal with Open Bar, Xzibit’s label, but that wasn’t really the right marriage for me either. So now I’m looking into doing a co-venture deal with High Times, which I’m really excited about right now. I’ve been talking to High Times and we’re trying to get it together man.
So you’ve made some pretty high profile appearances lately as you’ve already mentioned – Tha Liks album, Dre and Dilated and now High Times. Now you got the new album coming up…
Defari: Yeah… “Odds And Evens” will drop late this year. We’re gonna get a visual presence… get it out this summer… (becomes hyper). I got a CRAZY single man… awww man… M&S did the production on it… it’s called ‘Spell My Name’ … its crazy, and we’re trying to shoot a crazy video. And then on the independent tip, I’m releasing a new single this month too, produced by DJ Revolution, called ‘Smack Ya Face’. I try to stay busy man… I try…
Final thing – I ask it to most artists I interview. Why should everyone check for Defari?
Defari: Why should they? Cos I’m the illest cat they ever heard outta the City of Los Angeles! That’s why! (laughs) Now run out and buy everything with my name on it!
Thanks again to Defari for taking part, and for Chuck at Aggressive Media for setting this up.