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Subject: monsta island czars (interview)

eddie monsta
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Date Posted: 05:12:21 03/15/03 Sat

Monster Island Czars by Brolin Winning

For those that don't know, the Monsta Island Czars used to be pieces of Darc Mind Inc. and some were also featured on MF Doom's "Operation: Doomsday" and other DOOM/Grimm projects. X-Ray is a veteran producer and a real cool cat that I've unfortunately lost touch with over the last year. This is a thoro piece by the budding Bay Area rap journalist Brolin Winning. Read up, buy their album when it drops too, it's so dope.

- Monster Island Czars (part 1) - When Monsters Attack
A furiously skilled NYC super-crew, the Monster Island Czars are best known for their blistering appearance on "Who You Think I Am" from MF Doom's classic record Operation: Doomsday. Although that track served as their official introduction to most of the hip-hop world, the Czars are hardly new-jacks. They've been making moves for many years now, under various names and incarnations. Currently, they're featured on several tracks off X-Ray's Monster Mixes Vol. 1 compilation, and are about to bum rush the rap game with their highly-anticipated, stunningly dope debut LP Escape From Monster Island. Last summer, I was lucky enough to be granted access to the M.I.C.'s secret island fortress, and spoke with X-Ray and Kamackeris (K.D.) about the group's storied history and imminent plans for universal domination.

Brolin: Tell me about the origins of the Monster Island Czars
Kamackeris: The shit is real. We all livin on the island right here, we all doin what we gotta do. You know, we bringin it back to what it's supposed to be, thatís no fantasy world out here man, itís the island. You know how Monster Island is, we gonna drop joints for niggas, we gonna let em know what we coming with. We got producers, we been doin this shit for years, the portfolio is ridiculous. It's mad books, folders, files, all of that shit, it's all fuckin right there, for everybody to know. It's gonna come in, one by one, and they all gonna know. Thatís what it is right now.
X-Ray: We just brothers that knew each other for a long time, just came together to do what we do, cuz we all got talent, we all knew it. Like a lot of people deal with the same producer and thatís basically what Monster Island was like. A lot of cats was dealing with me on a solo level too, and I was cool with Doom. We was around each other all the time, so thatís how it happened. It just evolved naturally from us being around each other.

Brolin: When did you guys first start recording?
Kamackeris: The golden ages man, the golden ages. When I met him, he was recording, when he met me, I was recording.
X-Ray:K was in a group before, Dirt Nation. And they had a single out called "Khadijah."

Brolin: What label was that on?
Kamackeris: On Zoo, Zoo Entertainment, you know what I mean, some ol' BMG shit, whatever. We just put it out, got it on the Sugar Hill soundtrack. But thatís some way back in the day, lemme talk about right now. Before I even did that, it was already Monster Island, I already met X-Ray, we just had to keep doin it. And this is the final project right here, and we gonna let em know. What else can we do?!
X-Ray: We was all from Long Beach [Long Island] at one time, most of the people from Monster Island. I was a DJ at the time, and I was DJing for a cat named Sugarbear, and I ended up producing a song for him on Next Plateau records, which was "Ready To Penetrate."

Brolin: What year is this?
X-Ray: This is '89, man, thatís when I first started DJing.
Kamackeris: Golden times! Thatís what it is.
X-Ray: When I came off the tour, I was working with K.M.D., and Doom was runnin around with Serch at the time, so, you know, I was doing something else, he was doing something else, and we never clicked when it came to doing the K.M.D. thing, but we was always still friends. So you know, when the second album came around, the Black Bastards thing, me and Doom started clicking again cuz I was back around, he was back around, and thatís when, I was producing all these other guys, and thatís how we all got together with the Monster Island thing. And then Ro came back, Ro had left but he came back, so we formed the Monster IsleÖthe Monster Island thing was like, a long time in the making, before we even recorded. It was just all of us meeting each other, and still working with each other, and then coming up with the concept until it finally happened you know. But the whole concept of the Monster Island, of putting that type of group together, comes from Grimm, I gotta give him that. Grimm was the one who came up with the concept, as far as, watching the monster movies or whatever, and he brought the idea to Doom, and then Doom passed it off to us, and thatís how it worked in. And in the beginning, some of the Monster Island people that are in here now werenít in there, and there was other members, other members that didnít quite make it. We all sit around and talk about that sometimes, it seems like, when we finally got together and did it, when we started recording, these were the ones that clicked the most. Like Before K was in it, there was another member named Mechagodzilla, he used to dance for Serch and them, his name is Ahmed. He was one of the dancers on the "Gasface" video and all that shit. Yeah, he was one of the Monster Island guys at one time. I wasnít even in Monster Island, when it first started, I was just producing and helping out, I wasnít even involved with that shit. And then I came in to the picture, and my guys that I was working with started coming into the picture, and thatís how it worked out.

Brolin: So what's up with the solo albums?
Kamackeris: I mean basically, we just gonna let em know. Hit, by hit, by hit. You know what I'm sayin? We gonna keep beatin em down, til this whole fuckin planet recognize what's going on with the real. It's happening, shit is going on right now, while we speak. This is how I feel about the whole shit, you know, and this is all I can speak from. But, at the same time, this is what the music came down to. Look what it is now. Is this how its supposed to be?! I donít hear noÖ where's the originality?! Where is that? Where's people just doing joints, whatever? Why everybody gotta be catering? Singing on tracks? Lemme talk about my man Rodan. My man Rodan got joints, Megalon got joints, Gigan got joints, Kamackeris got joints, Kong got joints, X-ray got joints, Spiga got joints, you understand what I'm saying. Doom got joints too. He's just trying to let y'all niggas know. Thatís how I feel about it, on the real. He's trying to let everybody know what's up. As far as he's concerned, he put it there, just like my man Grimm, he put it there. It's time! What else is it?! I mean, I might sound crazy hyped up but for real. We let em know. We got the tracks, we can come in and rip with the best of em, thatís how I feel. Any night, any time. And there's joints to be rocked, we can go on all night. We can go on for 2 or 3, 4 or 5 days, ok, for real. Think about it! It's an island over here! It ain't like this is just a group, this shit is crazyÖ
X-Ray: We got a community, we got a community of monsters.

Brolin: So what's the official line-up? Break down the M.I.C. roster.
X-Ray:Alright, Monster Island Czars: Rodan, Kamackeris, Gigan, Jet Jaguar, King Ghidra, Megalon, Spiga, Kong, X-Ray, King Ceasar, Gappa, and my man Smog. Smog is the artist that does the artwork. He did the artwork on Doom's album Doomsday.
Kamackeris: Plus the other cats that just wanna do it! You know, they swimming, they're just about to reach the island. They're swimming!
X-Ray: There's so much fuckin talent in Long Beach thatís slept on its ridiculous. There's mad motherfuckers in Long Beach that are just fuckin ill! But they just, most of em are just out there, just selling drugs and doing dumb shit. They need somebody to pull their coat. When I was out there thatís what I was doing, you know, I was helping out all the brothers in Long Beach. Cuz I started as a DJ out there, just used to do a lot of parties and everything, and then it progressed to the production and getting involved with that shit you know. I was with Serch when he was on Warlock records and shit, I was one of the groups that was signed with the same producer he was with, Tony D. So we all knew each other for a long time before everything got together.
Kamackeris: I feel like, atleast, we can last for 25 years. I call that a little quarter. We gonna catch a quarter, you know, and we gonna try to maintain what we can do. Show the seeds, let them know, that shit donít change, and it's just gonna be Monster Island. Thatís how I feel about it. Just keep promoting it, keep moving it, and eventually, everybody gonna know.

- Monster Island Czars (part 2) - Rodan's Revenge
A core member of the Czars, and original co-founder of K.M.D., Rodan is best known for his intricate rhyme schemes and complex lyricism. He's featured on the forthcoming Escape From Monster Island LP, and also appears alongside Megalon on the track "Century 21" from Day By Day's new compilation On Top Of The World. Here, he takes us on a trip through time, from his early days breaking and writing graf, to his debut solo album, which will hit the streets sometime next year.

Brolin: Back in the day, you were an original member of K.M.D.
Rodan: True indeed.

Brolin: How did that come about?
Rodan: Myself, Doom, and Subroc, we all basically grew up together. We was just in the same area and shit like that. Those guys were always on some original b-boy type shit, with the graffiti and the breakdancing and all that type stuff. I was breaking and popping and shit, I mean we was like mad young, but we originally started out just breakdancing. But over the course of time, a few years or whatever, it just evolved, it evolved into a graffiti crew, a writing crew, and then we just started doing the music. Just a natural progression, you know what I mean? We was still young, we was breaking when we was like 11. Ended up getting some equipment, and we started making tapes, entering a few shows around the way, out in Long Island, and that was basically the birth of K.M.D. We came up with the concept, because even the writing group was called Kausin Much Damage, but as we started getting into the music end of the spectrum, we started incorporating different themes, becoming aware of our environment, aware of our own consciousness. You know, we was influenced by cats like BDP "Criminal Minded," Public Enemy "Yo Bum Rush The Show" you know, that whole golden era age. We was heavily influenced by the consciousness that they was bringing, thatís how we came up with the concept of A Positive Kause in a Much Damaged society. So that was the birth of that right there.

Brolin: Are there any tracks around from when you were in the group? Somewhere in the vaults?
Rodan: Yeah exactly, somewhere in some secluded vault like three miles beneath the surface and shit. But um, I haven't heard em. I'm pretty sure somebody has them in existence, floating around somewhere, but I wouldnít hold my breath for them to resurface.

Brolin: What were you doing during the time, post-K.M.D. but before the Czars? Were you still rhyming on the solo tip or just took some time off?
Rodan: Basically, at that time, yeah I had took some time off. I was still in high school, I started to focus on, I'm gonna finish school, that type shit. I actually went away to school upstate, (laughs) I had got kicked out of school in Long Island. And also, you gotta think, once again going back to the shit that was heavily influencing me, as I'm coming up, and forming my own sense of self, a lot of that started to phase out in the music at that time.

Brolin: Stuff got a lot more gangster, less consciousÖ
Rodan: Exactly. The music had definitely taken a shift. I mean, I donít shun, you know, everybody do their thing, you an artist, you express yourself, it's all good. But it just wasnít the shit that I was feeling, I was feeling the whole advanced, lyricalÖthat wasnít saturating the market at the time. Even my desire for the music had also waned. So I was just focusing on, basically just being a kid, you know what I'm sayin? Right around the time when K.M.D. really hit, like after "Gasface" and stuff like that. They was going on and doing their thing, they dropped Mr. Hood and all that, I was basically just being a kid, going to school, fucking up. Regular trials of life and shit, you know?

Brolin: Even though there's a lot of heads in the Czars, everybody seems to have their own individual style within the team. What's your angle within the crew?
Rodan: Thatís definitely a real key strength, the diversity. We talk about that often. I would have to say that I bring a spark ofÖ I guess you could say intellect. I would say that. Even more than that, the one, the definer, you know what I mean? I'm the one who defines things. Things might be said, or incorporated, and you might not get the total gist of what's being spoken on, but me I'll give it to you in its compound, so uh, whatever you wanna call thatÖthe compounder.

Brolin: Within the Czars, all the members are super-lyrical, but your rhymes in particular are on some pretty advanced shit - are you constantly writing stuff or does it come in waves?
Rodan: It's erratic. By nature, I'm a person that writes, I have a relationship with languages, and I use that to my advantage, especially in the hip-hop idium. I could write you a letter right now, and there'll be a rhythm to it. The rhythm is natural, and you just coincide it with the words, and there you have it basically. There's definitely some of it that takes, I won't say practice, but it's like predetermined or premeditated. It's like Jordan, he has all the physical gifts in the world, but if he didnít exercise em and go out and work on it every day, he still wouldnít be the greatest icon of the game that he is. It's like 50/50, you're born with the talent but you also gotta exercise it.

Brolin: I know you guys are all working on solo joints as well, what's the status of your record? Does it have a working title yet?
Rodan: No doubt. It's done, it's like 99% percent done. We're just using the excess time, waiting for the M.I.C. to drop, we're just using it as luxury time, just to tweak it here, or add this and that. We're still gonna have the gritty sound though. But it's essentially completed, the title is Theophany. It's gonna be a theme running throughout the album. What theophany means is, the union of man and god, or, the union of the human and the divine, better put. So it's gonna be patterned after that theme, where you have to read between the cracks, but, if you're so inclinedÖhopefully you'll enjoy it.

Brolin: What does Monster Island mean to you?
Rodan: MF Grimm is the originator of the concept. It came at a time where we was all basically living Monster Island (laughs). What he was sayingÖwe was all basically within Manhattan and the peripherals, all around NYC, and, for whatever reason there was a lot of relocating or whatever. For whatever reason, shit was just mad fucking hot, shit was mad hot, and it was like radioactive out here. There's all these, so-called, enforcers, of the quote unquote law, but it's really like, who's the bad guy and who's the good guy? Did you see the second installment of the Star Wars trilogy by any chance?

Brolin: No, I missed it
Rodan: Ok, well, in that movie, the stormtroopers, who we've grown to know as the bad guys in the original trilogy, they are actually the good guys. They're like the saviors of the day in Attack of the Clones. So it's like, it all depends on what side you're on, the rebellion is the bad side in Attack of the Clones, so its like, you know, who's good and who's bad?

Brolin: It's all relativeÖ
Precisely, it's all fucking relative from where your standpoint is. So were looking at these motherfuckers like, yo these is the fucking beasts right here. And Grimm was looking at it likeÖ you remember in the old Godzilla movies, it was always Godzilla versus somebody. He was supposedly the good guy but he was always versus somebody. And it also adds a whole nostalgic element to it, the old Godzilla movies and shit like that. So he was like, "yo, this shit is Monster Island, and those motherfuckers is Godzilla, and we like the monsters trying to get the fuck outta here!" you know what I'm saying? So, basically, thatís what Monster Island means to me, it still holds true to the original concept. Monster Island actually is an acronymÖ Many Other Nations Striving Towards Awareness, In Self Liberation, And New Developments. So thatís basically Monster Island. Cats doing innovative shit, and working towards, basically, freedom, justice and equality. Outside the establishment, some let me live.
Any words for the fans?
Rodan: To the fans, I appreciate, WE appreciate all the support, we appreciate everybody sticking in there. Get the album, and hopefully y'all will enjoy it for years to come.

- Selected M.I.C. Discography

Monster Island Czars Escape From Monster Island (Rhymesayers) OUT SOON
MF Doom's Operation: Doomsday (Metalface/Fondle 'Em/Subverse)
MF Grimm's The Downfall Of Ibliys (Day By Day)
X-Ray Monster Mixes Vol. 1 (Mindbenda Recordings)
Various Artists On Top Of The World (Day By Day)
Monster Island Czars "Run The Sphere" (12-inch single, B9000)
Megalon "One In A Million" b/w "Peace To The Homeless" (12-inch, Fondle 'Em)
Darc Mind "Outside Lookin In" (promo 12-inch, Loud)
Various Artists On The Ropes Soundtrack (Milan/BMG)

[NOTE: some of these titles, and many others, are available straight from the Mindbenda himself.
For more information, hit up xray59@hotmail.com]


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