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Hip-Hop Legend Daddy-O is Creating a Soundtrack for the ‘People on the Ground’ | EUR Exclusive

Daddy-O of Stetsasonic
MILWAUKEE – DECEMBER 1988: Rappers Chuck D. and Flavor Flav of Public Enemy, MC Delite and Daddy-O of Stetsasonic, Parrish Smith of EPMD (right), and BDC and Frukwan of Stetsasonic (front) pose for photos backstage at the Mecca Arena in Milwaukee, Wisconsin in December 1988. (Photo By Raymond Boyd/Getty Images)

*Rapper and record producer Daddy-O, founder of the hip-hop group Stetsasonic spoke recently to EURweb.com about the nationally recognized 50th Anniversary of Hip Hop. He also shared why he reunited with Chuck D to re-up the Self Destruction movement with Stop Self Destruction. 

Per a news release: “The Stop Self Destruction Movement is a collective of artists, producers, and music industry veterans with the shared goal of bringing unity and peace to hip-hop and communities,” per the news release. “We’re taking the original 1989 movement into our hands and building it independently. As founder Daddy-O often says, “If not us, then who?” Using music as the driving force, Stop Self Destruction works directly with charities such as Real Hip Hop Cares, amongst others, to bring communities together.”

As Daddy-O explained in previously released statement, “‘The original “Self Destruction” project was the catalyst of a murder. At that time, we thought that if we didn’t address the ills of our community, the end of the world as we knew it would be near, now things have gotten even worse; it’s unimaginable what the new generation goes through from fentanyl drug overdoses to suicide to over-the-top police brutality, people need help more than ever,” 

Watch the original “Self Destruction” video below and get into our Q&A with Daddy-O about this new movement as well as his own evolution in hip-hop. Plus, he shared what he thinks about rappers that freestyle.

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Why did you and Chuck D decide to reunite to rebrand the Self Destruction Movement?

Daddy-O: My team heard me talking one day… I was saying, we (rappers) were saying “Self Destruction, you’re headed for Self Destruction, Tupac died. Self Destruction, you’re headed for Self Destruction, Biggie died. Self Destruction, headed for Self Destruction. Mac Miller commits suicide.” Not to say that we caused that to happen, but the one thing that we wanted to do is be careful with our words this time. That’s the first reason that we’re calling it Stop Self Destruction. As far as the project is concerned, me and Chuck have been talking about this for maybe going on six years now. Just kind of throwing it around, figuring out what we wanted to do, how we wanted to do it, and what kind of media properties we wanted to have associated with it.

We finally came to some conclusions in terms of how we want to make it. Chuck came up with the great idea of doing a series of songs instead of just one song. A lot of that came out of… he has the SpitSlam label and I’m signed to SpitSlam as a solo artist. I put out a bunch of records and he’s like, “Daddy-O, at the rate that you put out records, when we do the stop Self Destruction, we just need to do at least 12.” He is like, “At least one a month, at least 12.” But my hope as I’ve been thinking about it is that it could be continuous and we could just continue to put these records out.

How does this new movement allow fans to get involved? Is it interactive? Are there hashtags related to individual songs that fans should know about?

Yeah, I think #StopSelfDestruction will be our first hashtag, but we are going to be getting the community involved. One of the things that we want to do this time around is the original Self Destruction was all based on violence. It doesn’t mean that violence is not one of our mainstays because we’re still talking about a bunch of killings that go on weekly with kids and so on. The violence in our community doesn’t seem to have stopped. But we also see that there’s some other ills that we need to address. There’s an opioid crisis. We never thought we would be saying suicide and hip hop in the same sentence.

What we have vowed to do is connect with local organizations in every region that address some of those issues. The way I tell it is, as a hypothetical, you take a guy like Moneybagg Yo out of Memphis and you have him make a record called Where Did My Money Go? Lock him into an organization that’s doing something with financial literacy. What we are going to do is be the soundtrack for the people on the ground that’s doing the real work, the people that’s feeding the soup kitchens, the people that’s dealing with this opioid crisis, the people that’s dealing with some of our elderly and helping them out. We want to give a voice to that with this new movement.

 

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Let’s go back to the height of Self Destruction, the original song, and shooting the video. What are some of your fondest memories of that time and coming together with your peers?

I like to always hit everybody with fun facts. The fun fact for me is if you look at the Self Destruction video and you look at me sitting on the steps when we were doing it at Mount Morris Park, and you look at me sitting on the steps, if you look who’s sitting next to me, he’s the only guy present in both the Self Destruction video and All in the Same Gang video. Tone Loc is sitting next to me in the original Self Destruction, it always came to my mind that, “Whoa, did he go back to the West Coast and tell them ‘We need to do something.'” That’s one of my fun facts. One of the other things that I love to talk about as far as Self Destruction is concerned, the original, is the involvement of Nelson George and Ann Carly of Jive, because I think it’s important that people understand teamology, if I can use that as a word.

A lot of times people look at rappers, producers, and entertainers because we are the ones that make the records. We are the ones that make the media. We are in the videos, but Ann Carly at Jive and Nelson George, the author, I worked with him on CB4, were instrumental in helping us bring together not only this iconic video but in bringing all of these rappers together in one place. Then, I don’t want to say finally, but definitely factually doing this particular song, some of the rappers who were on this song were not typical for that message. You wasn’t really expecting a Kool Mo Dee, a Heavy D, some of these guys to say what they said on record because they weren’t known for that. At the time it was made, our first video was Africa. Public Enemy was already doing Bring The Noise.

KRS-One was already doing the Stop the Violence Movement. For us, and groups like those three groups, Boogie Down production, Stetsasonic, Public Enemy — that was kind of normal. But to see a Heavy-D, to see the fact that there was this little beef going on between Red Alert and Marley Marl and to see Red Alert and Marley Marl actually shaking hands in the video next to Dougie Fresh. I thought all of that was incredible. To see  Just-Ice who even said it in his lyrics, “I’m known as the gangster.” Because we know Just-Ice from knocking people out at clubs and to see Just-Ice take a stand and say, “Hey man, even though I’m known for this kind of thing, man, we need to stop this.” I think that the unity is the most iconic part for me, and loosely based on We Are the World. I’ve always thought of that. I’ve always looked at Self Destruction as the rapper’s version of We Are the World.

 

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A post shared by Daddy-O (@professordaddyo)

So that brings us to the present day and we’re celebrating hip-hop’s 50th anniversary. When you first started out in this industry, did you ever imagine the global impact that hip-hop music and culture would have today?

I say yes and no. We called it hip hop because they called it hip hop. Who do I mean by mean? The guys in the Bronx that created it. When Delite and I set out to put Stetsasonic together, we just looked at ourselves as an extension of the Black music that was before us. We looked at it like, “Stephanie Mills sings, Chaka Khan sings. Luther Vandross sings, Marvin Gaye sings. We rap.” We never looked at ourselves outside of the Black music that came before us. As a matter of fact, I don’t even think most of us even separated ourselves from R&B in the very beginning.

I don’t think we thought we were any different than R&B. Because we knew we weren’t rock and roll. We knew it wasn’t reggae, but we also knew that R&B was right there. Those were the records most of the time that we were using. Probably the biggest rap record to this day, Rappers Delight is on Bernard Edward and Neil Roger’s Chic Good Times, so rapping on top of Good Times. We always thought that we were just an extension of that music before us. Yes, there was a wish that we would have that kind of global impact. Could I see what was going to happen and go down? I could not. I think that probably the biggest impact for me is what ended up happening on a local scale. What I mean by that is that, remember, hip hop came from New York, so we understood New York, we understood the New York jargon. But to see LA have their thing, to see Houston have their thing, to see Atlanta have their thing, that was the most powerful thing for us.

Who are some of the artists and producers or lyricists that you credit for making hip-hop what it is today?

Of course, I’m going to say Stetsasonic, Boogie Down Productions, and Public Enemy. Of course I’m going to say that. But presently, we have cats like Toby Nwigwe, Big K.R.I.T. is on one of our records, Westside Boogie from Eminem’s crew. I think midway throughout the time of course you had people like Tupac, I think Shock G of Digital Underground. Then I also look at some of the people that just made iconic records that pushed the envelope, like what It Takes Two from Rob Base did. Even a group like 95 South making Hoop There It Is to be able to push the envelope of hip hop.

Because hip-hop is a little bit… It’s probably a combination of a whole bunch of things, but we are also responsible for a whole lot of rhythms because rhythm was a big thing. There was once upon a time, if a beat came on (in the) late eighties, early to mid-nineties, if a beat came on, somebody would say, “Hey, that’s a hip hop beat. That’s a rap beat.” You got to give DJ Premier, Marley Marl, Dr. Dre, my DJ, Prince Paul, a lot of credit for bringing in certain rhythms that later on would become the neo-soul and some of the dance music and all of this stuff that we have right now.

 

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A post shared by Daddy-O (@professordaddyo)

Lastly, who is the best MC you’ve ever worked with, and what was it like collaborating with Freestyle Fellowship?

I remember introducing Myka 9 to Bambaataa as the best MC I ever heard. Working with Freestyle Fellowship was otherworldly. These guys, I always say, people always talk about the top 10 and all of that. They got a little crew in LA called Project Blowed. I always say to people, there’s everybody’s Top 10 and then there’s Project Blowed. You almost can’t compare them if you’re going to just kind of talk about regular rap because they just do some things that are phenomenal. But I will say that my first time working with Biggie really blew my mind. Because the first time I worked with Big, we are in my studio. He’s just sitting down talking to somebody on the telephone and then (someone in the studio) looks over at me and says, “D, he’s ready.” I’m saying, “He’s ready for what?”

He said, “He’s ready to rap.” I said, “Where’s his pad? Where’s his pen?” He said, “D, he doesn’t write.” I could not get my head wrapped around it. I’ve been involved in this culture for a long time, and I had never seen anyone that didn’t write. He just went right in the booth and just killed it, not writing. I just thought that was phenomenal.

Later on, I would work with Jay-Z and I would watch Jay-Z do the same thing. I literally work with Jay-Z and Jay-Z is like… I’m asking him, I work with him on a remix for a Shai record. I just asked him for another verse. He gave it to me and I said, “You know what? We still within three minutes, you think you can give me one more?” He gives me three verses. I can’t say they from the top of his head. I don’t know how those guys who don’t write-write, because it doesn’t sound like it’s just freestyle, like off the top… It’s some kind of way they’re crafting it, but it’s like they’re writing it in their brain. I just think that that’s a phenomenal talent to me. I’m an old-school rapper with a yellow pad still, so it’s just phenomenal to me to be able to work with anybody that just doesn’t write and just goes straight in the booth.

For more information on Stop Self Destruction and how to get involved, visit weareopposition.com.

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