WHEN THERE'S GRASS ON THE FIELD, YOU GOTTA PLAY BALL
In 1997 I took a road trip from the Bay Area to Seattle, Washington. I was packed tight in a Dodge Colt with two guys and a girl. My close friend had a mix tape that we were listening to on the way up there. Being it a long drive, that tape got a lot of play. There was a song that stuck out in my mind still to this day. It was a song from the classic album Beneath The Surface called "Farmers Market of The Beast", by Xololanxinco. Jizzm, Radioinactive, AWOL One, and Circus, all up and coming underground rappers from the L.A. area. This song was so funny and original; I still think about it from time to time. Now almost six years later I'm sitting down with one of the rappers on the song, AWOL One. Kicking it with AWOL on February 1, 2003 went a little something like this...
Bron Theron: I think this recorder will pick up.
Awol One: Do you want to test it out?
Yeah, I already did. (We listen to the tape and Awol says, "Do you want to test it out?" Then I stop the tape and we laugh.) Brief description of who you are, where you live, name, such and such.
Shape Shifters and the um, Southern Cali based crews. Massmen.
What's your occupation?
I'm an MC.
How long have you been doing this?
Since, um, well I've been rapping since I was 16.
How old are you now?
Damn you're an old man fool.
You make your entire living off of being an MC?
The past few years.
So name drop some of the famous artists you have worked with or your favorite MCs and producers you have worked with.
Um, Evidence from Dilated, um Kool Keith, 2Mex, Aceyalone, Abstract Rude, lot of different producers, Daddy Kev, I don't know Busdriver, a lot of homies.
Who makes your beats?
Mike Nardone, he makes beats, Fat Jack, Daddy KevÉ
Here's a good question, do you consider yourself an alcoholic?
How often do you drink a week?
Three to four days a week, I'm still young.
The next question is kind of void because we talked earlier, but are you single? Do you date your fans?
No, I'm not single and I only date the Robot Chicks.
Do you have robot parties?
Are you involved with the graffiti scene?
Yeah, a lot of the Shape Shifters are graffiti cats. I originally hooked up with them through writing. I still paint once in a while, but I'm not heavy in the scene anymore due to graffiti politics. At this time I don't have time to do it as much as I used to. It's definitely an influence. I know a lot of graffiti heads that aren't even into hip-hop, you know what I'm saying. That's just how it goes.
Do you think a lot of MCs have large egos?
I think to a point you have to have a little bit of an ego, just because you don't want to be pushed around. Or you have a thing, but there's definitely cool cats that are down to earth, there's cool MCs and then there's people that think their shit is way tighter than it really is, ya know.
Does that come out in like battles? Do you battle a lot?
Yeah do you do freestyle battles?
Yeah, I freestyle a lot but I don't battle as much as I used to have to. I used to have to battle a lot because of the style I have. A lot of people tried to step on me. That's how I gained my rep, I had to take fools out.
Now that you mention "your style", I was going to ask youÉdescribe your style a little. It sounds kind of like talking. Do you think it's more important to tell a story or go with the beat?
A lot of that style happens because my songs are made on the spot. Not really on the spot, but they happen quick. I don't really plan them out. Everything always comes out different, everything is constantly changing. Sometimes I think it sounds like everybody else man.
I don't know, it definitely doesn't sound like anyone else. What's up with the Shape Shifters? Are you guys working on anything?
Oh yeah, we just released a DVD. It's 3-D optional, so do drugs and sit in your living room and watch it.
So the Farmer's Market of The Beast song, who's idea was that?
Originally it started as Circus and Radioinactive. Them two started the idea, and we all sat around and just had fun.
Does it take a lot of takes for you or...
Um... me... I try to drop my shit in like one or two takes. I take a pass from the beginning to the end. Then I'll overdub it.
Do people ever give you tapes to listen to, friends, fans, stalkers?
(Laughing) Yeah, I get tapes and CDs on tour all the time man.
And what do they think you're going to do with them?
Yeah, like I'm going to call 'em up and beg them to do a track and sign them, give 'em a record deal.
So you're going to call 'em up and beg them to do a track and sign them and kick it?
Well I'll listen to it. I'm not Slim Shady signing record deals to kids.
Well do you think you're going to blow up on MTV? Do you think that's coming?
Uh, I don't know, for some reason, it looks like it's coming, but I don't really think I want something like that. I can't tell you till it happens.
(All of a sudden our food comes with a loud oriental lady yelling at us "ketchup, hot sauce, more coffee?" So we take a break from the recorder and concentrate on getting fat! After getting fat on two chili cheese omelets, hash browns and toast we begin again.)
Awol: Guts all full dude!
Now that we're fat, have you ever been arrested?
Yes I have been arrested.
Name the best time.
There is no best time.
It's all about Norwalk Jail. That's where they took me.
How long did you spend?
I just did uh... they took me in for the graffiti thing. Kept me a day then let me go. I had to do 80 hours of community service, made me wash cop cars in the rain and had me buff graffiti in the courthouse. So it was 80 hours of pure enjoyment.
What's the youngest girl you ever dated?
I dated a zygote.
A zygote is the stage right before a fetus. So it's like uh, kind of like when you break an egg and you get the yoke before the chicken.
Oh, so it's a yoke that I don't get? Sorry. When did you lose your virginity?
What are some of your other hobbies?
I fart a lot, and capture them, and save them. I DJ, make beats, artwork, smoke a lot of weed.
Every time I see you on stage you say you're sick.
Always. (AWOL orders another Coke)
Name a few regrets.
I don't know, if I did anything different, it might have been for the worse. I don't think I regret anything.
Are you sure?
Well I wish I didn't pee on myself yesterday.
Did you pee on yourself yesterday?
Yeah I peed all over myself just cause I was really cold.
Were you in a wetsuit?
After a while I was in wet pants.
Name some of the places you have toured?
I have toured all over the US, all over Canada. Got some European tour later this year. I've been to Mars a couple of times.
How was it there?
Kind of like Long Beach.
Here's a good question that might get you in trouble, who's the best MC and the worst MC in your crew?
Me! I'm the best and the worst.
(Pretty safe answer) So did Eminem ruin it for you and other white rappers?
Uh yeah, not only am I compared to the Beastie Boys, but now Eminem, but I'd rather be compared to Pete Nice or MC Search, but instead it'sÉthey compare me to the Beastie Boys.
Which Beastie Boy?
The Chinese one with the broken arm. Oh wait that's 2 Live Krew.
So you're compared to both?
(So by this time I was bloated and coffeed up and ready to go and I could tell Awol was too. So I asked him some quick easy questions so we could bounce!) Would you rather be loved or hated?
Um, I thrive off both. When people dislike it, it makes you try harder, but at this point I don't really care if they don't like it. I like to be farted on, I love it when my girl farts on me for Valentines Day.
West Coast or East Coast?
I don't know man, there's good parts on each side, I'm definitely down for my hometown but I got respect for the roots of the culture. I don't know, I'm down for my hometown.
Just say West Coast!
Fresh Coast! Definitely LA invented a lot of styles, I'll put my money on that but East Coast originated hip-hop trends and the way things were done, but LA innovated a lot of shit man.
Blondes or Brunettes?
Brunettes. My girl's a brunette.
Country or opera?
Copra! Cop Rock.
Quantity or quality?
Boxers or briefs?
I never wear underwear.
Name a few other jobs you had before you became a full time MC.
Okay. I worked at a hardware store, a gang of pizza places, a lot of stuff. A lot of food and hardware.
Where do you plan on retiring?
Southern Cali. I just bought a place so I'll stay where I'm at for a minute. Oh and I wanted to clear up the other question I didn't answer, the youngest girl I ever dated was 43! A little young but she was a fan! When there's grass on the field you gotta play ball.
Do you have a lot of groupies, people following you?
Yeah we get a lot of emails, ma and Circus get like 15 emails a day.
So you and Circus are the pimps of the crew?
Yeah, we are the Hugh Heffners of the bunch.
What do they email you about?
They say, "How can we become famous underground rap stars like you guys," (we laugh), "can you give me a pointer, right now I'm making a four track album and I want to be on every track".
So you didn't do that?
Um no. Sometimes we respond and we meet cool cats, sometimes but you can't rap with just anyone. They're just trying to use what we're doing to further their career. But most of them are cool kids. They want to be the new guy and make more money than us.
So are you on a label right now?
Currently I have a record coming out through Mush. I did the vocals, Daddy Kev did the production. D-Styles did all the cuts. He's from Scratch Picklz. That album is called Slanguage. Then we're going out with Busdriver and Radioinactive; do a little tour for the album.
Oh yeah, those guys are tight.
Yeah, CVE is good.
So you want to go paint some trains?
Yeah I'm down with you man.
I think we got enough. I'm sure I can add a few insults and make you sound like a dick if we need more. (We laugh, turn off the old 1980's tape recorder I have and bounce out of the cutty breakfast spot. By the way, I paid.) Any shouts to anyone?
To everyone and Clout Magazine.
Your girl might get mad if you don't mention her.