Brian Eno and David Byrne. Killer Mike and El-P. Marty Jennetty and Shawn Michaels. Yeah, there have been quite a few of badass duos over the years, but none quite like the new collaboration from T-Razor and Filthy Rich, a veteran emcee and brilliant producer that have joined forces to create one of the fuckin’ dopest albums of the year. Their collaborative effort, aptly titled Championships is set to be released tomorrow, December 3rd, and I’m here to tell you that this record is more than worth your valuable time. It’s so damned good that there should be a warning label on it with Samuel L. Jackson’s classic line from Jurassic Park that reads “Hold on to your butts.”
Need some evidence? Get a load of the music video for “All I Know Is Smoke” below (visuals by synth god/VHS wizard Denis Stein):
To get you hyped on Championships, I reached out to T-Razor and Filthy Rich to request an interview. Thankfully, they were kind enough to supply a few answers to questions about their EP, Louisville hip hop, and more…
Never Nervous: How did this whole Championships collaboration endeavor come to be? Why are you two hooking up, and why now?
T-Razor: Perfect timing.
Filthy Rich: We really never talked or worked together until Goodbar linked us up on Good N Filthy and we realized we had a lot in common, our styles matched and we decided that we needed to make some music.
NN: What does the title of the record mean? Is Championships alluding to an underlying message? And is there a theme that you intended to resonate throughout the album as a whole?
TR: It really just means go for the gold and never take no for an answer. Being a champion to me is defining your own success and it also means I think I’m the best.
“It (Championships) really just means go for the gold and never take no for an answer. Being a champion to me is defining your own success”
NN: Filthy, talk about your beat-making process as an artist. How does each track come to fruition? Is there a formula that you’ve come to follow, or is every song have its own unique journey?
FR: I have a few different formulas that I follow. Sometimes I start with a sample that has some weird sounds that make me feel some kind of way, sometimes i come up with a bass groove or a guitar riff. I usually have some kind of backbone to begin with and then build with the drums and keep on until it sounds right. More beats hit the trash can than get used though, even though I am not a professional the thought of letting a weak beat out there makes me cringe.
NN: Are there any producers that you consider to be major influences nowadays that you didn’t initially when you first started making beats?
FR: EL-P for sure. I wasn’t aware of Company Flow or Def Jux until I heard some remixes he did for Nine Inch Nails. I’ve seen Run The Jewels three times now and I’m looking forward to hearing the project he’s doing with Zach De La Rocha even though my hopes aren’t too high.
NN: In your opinion, what makes for a good beat? I know that question is very general, but what immediately comes to mind when you think of a good hip hop composition?
FR: That IS a tough question but the very first thing that comes to mind is a well chopped sample, heavy drums and a bass line. I’ve made beats with my telecaster and jazz bass with no samples that people seem to like but, for me personally I love the sound of a chopped up sample over big drums. The Bomb Squad, DJ Premier, Alchemist, DJ Muggs, DJ Paul. Those are some of the guys I look up to as far as beat making goes.
NN: What is the most obscure, unique sample that you’d say you’ve ever armed one of your beats with, and what song can we find it on?
FR: Not sure, I do a lot of what I call E-digging where I google search something like “70’s Hungarian Prog Rock” find a few names and go down a Youtube rabbit hole. I do like sampling live performances over album tracks because the crowd noise usually adds to the overall vibe.
NN: T-Razor, do you model your lyrical style and flow after any other emcees? Do you have any major influences that we should know about?
NN: How much of your lyrical content is “real”, and how much of it is metaphor?
TR: I’d say it’s 50/50. I try to let people in so they can get to know the real me but you also can’t let people get too close. Hip hop is about telling stories and that’s what I do.
“I like the old school recipe of the artist and one producer going into the studio and making a cohesive album.”
NN: How do the two of you identify within the larger Louisville hip-hop scene?
TR: I identify as an artist. I have support in the west end, up east, south side, Newburg, and the east end. So I can do shows anywhere in the city because they know me.
FR: The Louisville hip hop scene is much bigger than anything I’m doing. I’ve been fortunate enough to work with some of my favorite emcees and hopefully left some good recordings. I enjoy my roll as a producer that likes to make complete projects with an artist. I like the old school recipe of the artist and one producer going into the studio and making a cohesive album.
NN: What sort of impression would you say that Louisville hip hop has made on surrounding cities? Is “Louisville Hip Hop” a thing that out-of-towners are starting to recognize as a particular style, or more as a unique community of artists?
TR: That’s a hard question I don’t know how much influence we have had up to this point but now it’s starting to change. I can see a handful of Louisville artists making it nationally in the next few years.
FR: I’ve got a few out of town friends who see the Louisville hip hop I post and they seemed pretty impressed by what they are hearing as opposed to the options on the radio or whatever. I don’t think there is a particular Louisville style, though.
NN: What can people expect to see at your album release show this Saturday? Anything special planned?
TR: We have Dr. Dundiff spinning all night and then we have performances from Bird Zoo , Johnny Spanish and Murff & P Rick of Farmhouse. We also have Rotten collective coming through with art and Fully Baked clothing will be there.
NN: Have you ever danced with the devil in the pale moonlight?
FR: Not today but, the sun hasn’t gone down yet.
NN: Lastly, each of you tell us about one record from 2016 that has you absolutely fucking stoked, and why we should check it out.
TR: All the new Dave East is fire.
FR: Honestly, the album I’ve enjoyed the most isn’t even hip hop. I’ve really been digging sludgy psychedelic French band called Mars Red Sky who released an album this year called Apex III (Praise For The Burning Soul).