Monday, April 25, 2005
Q&A (and PODCAST) with TrueNoke Music
'Just MCs doing MC stuff'
When Marge Simpson recently opined on "The Simpsons" that rap music was garbage "because it encourages punching, boastfulness and rudeness to hos," she wasn't talking about TrueNoke Music.
The Roanoke-based hip-hop collective began taking shape in 1997 when Byron Mack (Poseidon MC) - an aspiring lyricist, rapper and producer from a musical family in Salem - teamed with Case Jones, a DJ and MC who moved here from the Bronx in 1993. Growing up in hip-hop's ground zero and once living a few blocks from Africa Bambaataa gives Jones the group's trump card, and he laughs that he's "the only one with any real street-cred."
Jones swiftly pulled in co-worker Duane Whorley (Mr. Dynamite), who left his original group, the Pack, because of creative differences: "Case basically put me in a headlock until I gave in and joined them!"
Henry Brickey (BriX) - who practically became family by dating the sister of Mack's wife - became a member four years ago.
Rounding them out is resident DJ Sam Joseph (DJ Samson), who was absent from the interview.
Q: How's the state of modern hip-hop?
Duane: It's geared toward teenagers and little kids. I'm a bit older  so I can't really get into it. I've been into hip-hop since its introduction. I was intrigued because it was music for my generation: Run DMC, Whodini, Mantronix ... TrueNoke. (Laughs) We're the new measuring stick.
Henry: They'll play anything with controversy, with a beef. Then they'll play it over and over. And over.
Q: How about locally, with the recent riot at the skating rink notwithstanding?
Byron: On a mainstream level - until now - it has really been almost invisible. Bigger cities have radio that will give time to local artists, but we couldn't get it even if we tried, which we have. We couldn't even get a mention about our last show [at La Finca] without paying for it.
Q: Is there a common goal you're trying to achieve?
Byron: We want people to check us out and feel safe and have a good time. You shouldn't confuse "safe" with soft, but we want to keep the negative light off of what we do.
Case: I'm not going out and shooting people and driving Lamborghinis, so I'm not going to write about it. I'll rap about smacking the crap out of somebody, though, because I'd do that. (Grins)
Duane: Some rappers can get shot and sell a million records, but if we're going to be in the paper we don't want it to be in the obituary section. (Laughs)
Byron: We just take our personal experiences and hope people will relate while keeping the true hip-hop elements in the mix: creative metaphors and battling on the block. We're just MCs doing MC stuff.
Host: Tad Dickens
Producer: Seth M. Gitner