E-Swift Interview (by A to the L)

Tha Liks

As one third of the world famous Alkaholiks, E-Swift often seems content to play the background while emcees Tash and J.Ro take centre stage. But as an in-demand producer, and the provider of the ill beats that his two compadres rock over, E-Swift is just as important to the success of tha Liks. I was fortunate to hook up with Swift, as he worked on promoting the “High Times Compilation” which features a couple of tracks from members of the crew. This is what happened…

Swift, how did you get involved with the High Times project?

E-Swift: Actually, I met Devin (from High Times) in New York. He did an interview with us for the magazine… and we just maintained a cool relationship, and he asked me did I have any artists that I could do some songs for, to be on the High Times album, and instantly I was like “for sure”, cos I been a fan of the magazine for ages… So I just came home, put the songs together… sent them to him… and that was it, a done deal.

Yeah, I listened to the album for the first time recently… the J.Ro joint, and the cut by Defari are both off the hook.

E-Swift: Definitely. Thanks a lot, bro. They both turned out real nice.

I read that tha Liks recently performed at a Roger Troutman tribute concert – how did that go down?

E-Swift: That was really incredible, man. J.Ro has a label called Wolf Pack Records and they’re putting out a Roger Troutman tribute album, and they had the release party for it the other night. It was really good, man – a good turn out.

What other acts was up there?

E-Swift: We had Defari there, Battlecat was there with his band… he has an eleven piece band… Chico Debarge was there… just a lotta people there, man… a real star-studded event.

Cool. I peeped that Liks DVD recently…

E-Swift: Oh yeah… you see it? What’d you think?

I reviewed it… it was dope man – you got a good rating. What was it like to make that?

E-Swift: It was fun, man… that’s just like everyday regular life for us, man. There was no acting involved… just pretty much us doing our thing you know. And we looking forward to doing part two… in fact we already started it.

I see you have some talents behind the camera too, with Tash producing videos and shit…

E-Swift: Yeah definitely… we got movies… we got everything…

Tha Liks

Yeah but you need to have MORE naked women up in them joints!

E-Swift: More naked women? Damn… then we got you on the next one! X-Rated!

What I noticed throughout this flick though, was that you were all really still down-to-earth and humble… it was surprising how “normal” you all were when you stepped away from the mic… does it get hard to keep your feet on the ground sometimes?

E-Swift: Awww… not for us man –

But you’re one of the best groups out right now… west coast legends…

E-Swift: Well… yeah… you know what though? We realise all that… but at the same time, at the end of the day we wanna be liked. We don’t wanna be known as just this big famous rap group or whatever… we like normal stuff and we act like normal people and I think that comes over in our music…

So how do you feel Tha Liks have progressed since you first came out with “21 And Over”?

E-Swift: I feel that basically we’ve become more professional, you know what I’m saying? We take everything a little more seriously now… when you’ve just started you really ain’t knowing what to expect.. but now we know that we got high expectations of how our album is supposed to do, how its supposed to sound, and how our stage show is supposed to look. So… we work hard at everything… we want people to know that. It ain’t easy to maintain longevity… you gotta work hard at everything… and we’re trying to represent with a total package where you won’t be disappointed with the record or with the stage show… we work 24 hours at it. And then, with me being the producer, I have other projects that I like to work on and that I’m putting together… and thats like an extra 24 hour a day job!

Just touching on the production side of things… I think the “XO Experience” album was the first one where you really started bringing in a few outside producers, right?

E-Swift: Yeah that one was the one where we had the most guest producers, but only because we were working so hard at it, and we had these other producers who wanted to get involved… we recorded so many songs for that album, and just the best ones, the ones we liked the most made it on there. Who knows? Maybe in the future… naw wait – let me tell you this – our NEXT album… we ain’t gonna have any guest producers or guest appearances – its all just gonna be Likwit family.

And what about ‘Best U Can’? Were you worried what some fans might think when they heard tha Liks were hooking up with the Neptunes?

E-Swift: Oh yeah… definitely. But at the end of the day, the song was tight, and they didn’t really get a chance to talk about it… even though it was the Neptunes, it was still banging. We know that despite that, there’s always gonna be some people who are gonna preach about it… but… it did us well, you know? It didn’t hurt us at all… in fact we followed that up with even hotter shit.

Do you get the feeling sometimes that the press focus more on your drinking abilities and less on your skills?

E-Swift: Sometimes they do… but I think that Tash and J.Ro really shine on record anyway, so its hard not to comment on their skills. As far as trying to come out with a hit record… there’s nothing wrong with that… as long as you know where your roots are, and you don’t make nothing thats so corny that people are like “damn, these cats sold out”. We’re really open minded with music – we experiment a lot, man. And this is just the beginning for us – we’re probably gonna have another 10 or 15 more albums, so… we ain’t going nowhere.

Tha Liks

What’s the deal with your label situation? Loud have folded, right?

E-Swift: Yeah… Loud is a done deal. In the meantime I think we gonna put out an independent record before the end of the year, so that our fans ain’t gonna be waiting while we doing all the legal stuff with the labels and shit.

And Loud haven’t fucked you around at all? I’ve heard they’re dicking the Beatnuts by keeping the rights to the group’s name…

E-Swift: Well the thing with us is… we’re an established group on Loud – we been with Loud for 10 years. Our relationship with the label is like family. So even though people like to argue over how they promoted certain records or whatever… that’s a label thing. But as far as this loyalty thing? They’ve pretty much made it clear that we can do whatever we want, you know? They wanted us to stay and weather the storm with them… but it just wasn’t to be. At the minute, we’re not happy with the idea of being at Sony, and seeing that they’re trying to pick up the Loud label… we trying to jump off. Its still all love though – Steve Rifkind, my man Rich, and the whole staff that was at Loud Records – they’re the best at what they do. I don’t know about the “new” Loud Records, but the old Loud Records was the one.

And how will this label business affect tha Liks releases – because there was talk of Tash doing an album with Kurupt, and J.Ro doing a joint called “The Vapors” – are these still gonna happen?

E-Swift: Yeah… Tash is actually almost finished that record… its called “DNA – Dogg Pound N Alkaholiks”…

And you haven’t been dragged into the Dogg Pound versus Death Row drama that’s happening because Kurupt went back to Tha Row?

E-Swift: Well that didn’t really have any impact on that record at all. Death Row and us are still cool… who knows? It might come OUT on Death Row – that’s an option…

Last question – what’s in the pipeline for Tha Alkaholiks over the next few years.

E-Swift: Well, we’re planning on releasing two albums within the next year – the independent one I mentioned earlier, and hopefully a major label album. We got movies and stuff that we’re writing right now, that we’re gonna be putting out straight to DVD. We got OUR new DVD that we’re working. Tash has a solo album coming, and J.Ro is doing the “Vapors” album…

And what about King Tee? My man is seriously missing in action…

E-Swift: King Tee’s album – we’re almost finished with that. We got 2 more songs to record for that, that we’re on… that’s now coming out on Ruthless Records. We also got Xzibit’s new album – and X is still done with us man, regardless of all the rumours. So we’re on Xzibit’s new album… we’re finishing that up right now with Dr Dre. Me personally, I’m doing a lotta production work – I got stuff on Snoop’s new album… just busy man – the way I like it.

Thanks again to E-Swift for taking part, and for Chuck at Aggressive Media for setting this up.

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