OuterSpace: Back to the Real
November 16, 2010
Outer Space is a rarity among Hip Hop acts: for well over a decade both Planetary and Crypt the Warchild have found the elusive formula known as consistency. They have steadily released joints ripe with solid, rugged beats and rhymes that are as murderous as the Philadelphia streets which inspired them. Outer Space make albums. Not MySpace singles, not YouTube videos, but full-on albums. It is a testament to their long-standing devotion to the art and the fact that they will not give up. Ever.
SL: What’s up with Brother’s Keeper?
Planet: The album’s basically done. Psycho Les gave us two beats that we were waiting on, 7L gave us a beat and we’re doing that with Sick Jacken. Less features this time, though. We’re looking to have it out by March of 2011. It’s gonna be some heartfelt shit. There’s a lot of topics on this record; we did some storytelling, some fictional stuff, which we never do. It’s pretty dope: Crypt’s hating on me, tries to kill me and shit… it’s dope. The one thing we’re really happy about is that we got a little bit of the Blood and Ashes formula because we got a new 7L beat and a new SAT-ONE beat, and that’s stuff nobody’s heard us rock on since Blood and Ashes. We’re really excited about that. A guy like 7L… he’s a genius. When we were kind of building a sound, our own sound, he was a big part of it. SAT-ONE was a big part of it. Those are people we haven’t worked with in a while that kind of came back and they were really hype about it. Esoteric had sent us a bunch of beats and we picked one and it turned out to be a 7L beat, the only 7L beat in the bunch. Sick Jakken picked it out of all the ones we sent him. You should hear it, it’s fucking stupid. Wait ‘til you hear this motherfucker. We got a little bit of the original formula, which I’m happy about. As far as guest appearances vocally, you know we like to just stay with the crew. Having other people on it ain’t really doing nothing for you sales-wise, so we’re like; ‘why force ourselves to try to get at people when it really doesn’t matter,’ we kick the best shit with our homies, anyway.
SL: What’s the state of Outer Space now? It’s been a minute since we had a full-length from you, how are you and Crypt working it out these days?
Planet: It comes to the point where we don’t do it like we used to: we used to have the time on our hands to sit and write together. Now it’s too the point where we have to pay for studio time just to write together. We can’t just go to each other’s cribs to write because our lives are just too hectic. We don’t have time for it. That’s really the only difference in the way we work now, and I think that actually helps us because when we write in the studio with the beats coming through some studio monitors it’s definitely different than when you’re writing in the crib and you gotta’ keep it down because your mom’s upstairs or the kids are trying to sleep or any of those types of distractions. You gotta’ just put it down, rock out. We haven’t done that for this whole album, but we’ve done it a lot. Sound-wise we’re doing a lot more topics, we find ourselves talking about a lot more personal stuff because, I guess with real life, that’s what you end up writing about. You go through a bunch of shit. Over the last few years we’ve been touring a lot, so it makes you hungrier for what it could be. But this game is so fucked up, it kind of teases you. We’re definitely writing with more aggression.
SL: Plus, life changes. You and Crypt are both a little older and you’re family men now. That has to play into the whole concept of writing and how you look at life. The word “struggle,” for you, has to have a whole different meaning than it did, say, 10 years ago.
Planet: Big time, man. Big time. When I say we are writing with more aggression it is because we’ve got more to take care of now. We’re not making music just to be heard now. Now we’re making music to support our kids.
SL: It seems a lot of rappers get stuck in a kind of same, narrow world view when it comes to writing. I would guess that as your life changes so does the subject matter you address.
Planet: Definitely. Though it’s hard to please these fucking kids, too. It’s hard to try and do something out of the box. They get pissed at you and it’s fucking irritating. It’s like they don’t want you to ‘sell out,’ but they want you to compromise what you’re feeling. They don’t want you to change. You can’t make the same album every fucking time.
SL: The game’s changed a lot since you guys first came along.
Planet: Yeah. Now you make music basically just to tour. You used to tour to sell your music, now you make music just to tour. What’s fucked up is now the tour game is even fucked up because everybody has to tour. Now, there’s too much. These kids can’t afford to go to every show. So they pick and choose what they’re going to see. If they saw you last time they’re not going to come see you this time because they want to go see somebody else.
SL: It used to be that a group would make an album, tour and then go back to recording. You’d get an album once a year, maybe once every two years. Now, in the digital age, people are dropping songs, albums, videos, tours, etc. every couple of weeks. You can catch someone’s live show four times a year and it kind of waters it down.
Planet: Exactly. We used to tell some of the young bucks coming up in our squad not to play live so much. You play a show every couple of days and then start ranting about how no one’s coming to see you… you have to give them some time.
SL: Why is it that Europe is the place for Hip Hop groups to tour? It seems like every rapper is touring Europe.
Planet: The thing is with Europe, at least for Outer Space: we don’t get booked in the States, which is fucking strange. We don’t get booked on our own tours. If we’re not with Vinnie Paz or doing an Army of the Pharaohs thing (and AOTP has never done a full American tour, either) they aren’t booking us. In Europe they are paying, that’s the bottom line. In the U.S. promoters are not going to pay for six or seven artists to travel. They’re just not going to do it. They are willing to book you overseas and pay you. There’s no money here, that’s why you gotta go over there. And even that; it ain’t like it should be.
SL: What’s the culture like when you go overseas?
Planet: The way it is over there is the way it was here in ’96. Kids are fucking bonkers for Hip Hop over there. It’s like Hip Hop heaven because it’s what we wish it was in the States. They still have vinyl. They still have mom & pop shops. Dog, we went to a store in Sweden. They got paper in Sweden. We were in a very, very rich part of Sweden. We go for a walk in the streets and there’s a candle shop selling $600 candles, and next to it a Hip Hop shop. We signed skateboards for an hour. There’s no way we do that in Philadelphia at all. Now Fat Beats is closed. That was the Last of the Mohicans.
SL: Do you think it’s solely a money thing? Or is it our short attention span American culture?
Planet: I think it’s a little of both. I mean, the reason we tour there is a money thing: they’re willing to pay and the demand is out there. But Hip Hop in general… there are kids who are 15 who are going to KRS shows over there to hear “Criminal Minded.” It’s different. They’re so passionate about everything. They’ll backcheck 20 years and get hip to that shit now. There are legends that are touring; how the fuck are they touring? They haven’t had albums in like 20 years. But the kids are there, they support that shit. That’s how passionate they are. Americans: your album’s hot for about a week until the next guy’s album comes out and then that’s it.
SL: Plus, it’s so hard to sell records now. People just download your stuff for free. I think the worst result of that is artists who over compensate, like putting out albums as fast as they can, even if it’s just recycled shit.
Planet: Yeah, and I can’t fuck with that. I’m always about quality over quantity every time. Look at Paz: he takes his time, keeps you waiting and when the shit finally comes out he’s releasing classic material. I think that’s so much better than dudes who put out a mixtape and then another mixtape and then another mixtape and then leak 5 songs, then they put their album out. It’s like, come on. I don’t need 90 songs. If it’s got 10 good joints then I’m straight and I’m gonna buy it.
SL: And that goes back to the idea of watering down the culture. You’re killing your art form by putting out weak shit. You see well-respected, contemporary MCs hitting up social networking sites practically begging other artists to buy verses from them. Everybody and their mother is a producer now and they running these K-Mart specials, like; “buy 2 beats from me, get the third half off” or some shit like that. It’s kind of embarrassing.
Planet: I’m like; dog… STOP. Are you fucking serious, man? This ain’t a fucking flea market. It’s like you have no respect for yourself. If you really need $150 go get a gig. Stop trying to live of Hip Hop: you’re not gonna do it. I get paid for verses. A LOT. I’m gonna be honest with you. And nobody knows it, I don’t promote it. I don’t say; ‘yo, I do verses for X amount of dollars.’ I just live, every day. If somebody hits me up and they got enough money that it satisfies me then I’ll do it. And I know I’ll make more that way then if I put myself on blast, you know?
SL: It kind of kills the culture, too.
Planet: You’re overdoing it and you’re gonna kill it even quicker by doing it this way. It’s like if you need money, like say you need a quick 5G you start hitting people saying ‘I’m gonna do 50 verses for $100 a pop.’ After you did that it’s like; you just did 50 verses… you done used up all your shit. You’re not gonna get no more for like three years now. You become boring.
SL: And let’s face it: nobody’s that good that they’re gonna put out 20 verses in a month and have each one be a gem.
Planet: Most of them are going to be throwaways that you wrote in 5 minutes, shit like that. You ain’t taking your time and it makes you look bad because if you do a bad song and your verse sucks, people remember that shit.
SL: And you gotta live with that for the rest of your life.
Planet: And for what? That $100, $200 you made? Come on…
SL: What about the notion of “Hip Hop is dead,” how do you feel about that?
Planet: I must not, because I’m still doing it. It’s definitely getting worse. Every day I see it. And then you see shit like Fat Beats closing… It’s definitely getting worse. Kids are destroying the music that they supposedly love because they’re fucking stealing it. The second you walk out of the studio they want it, and they’ll take it from you.
SL: It’s that instant gratification syndrome. I remember when I was a kid buying records, one of the elements that made some albums great, even beyond the music, was the anticipation. You didn’t get force-fed all this information before the record was released: you had to wait to see cover art, to read liner notes, and to actually hear the music. That was a big part of getting records.
Planet: Right. You spent all this time waiting for it to drop and nowadays it’s like; ‘oh, I didn’t even know that was out.’ Or: ‘oh, he’s got an album out? I didn’t know that…’ Even the big cats, Eminem puts a record out, you don’t even know it’s out.
SL: As an artist, how do you combat that?
Planet: We just keep doing what we do.