Mervin Malone
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Tuesday, April 11, 2006
Ivan's 13 Questions with Hip-House King, Doug Lazy!

Aria is pleased to welcome the leader of the oft-forgotten genre of Hip-House, Mr. Doug Lazy.

 

It's been quite a few years since we heard the name "Doug Lazy," so…

 

1) Let's take some time to hear what you're up to and what you've been doing since the glory days of Hip-House.

 

Well – what I have done since the Hip-House days are radio and commercial production. I was also in a hip-hop group called "3 Steps From Nowhere", which released one album back in the mid '90s; our single — called "Pass It On" — got a lot of video play on Rap City. I've done remixes like Aaliyah's "Rock The Boat," and voiceover work heard nationwide on radio and television. I've even produced hip hop joints for known artists but you wouldn't know because I didn't use the "Doug Lazy" name. It wasn't a smart move at the time to try to produce hip-hop with a known house music name. Perception is reality and unfortunately, people's perception was – a house producer could not produce authentic hip-hop – at least that's what I ran into. So, in a nutshell, I'm still doing everything I've been doing for years, and as far as the hip-hop name, (laughs), it will come out soon enough.

 

Just to go back a little to the history of Hip-House…

2) Where did Hip-House originate, and how did you get started in the genre?

I have to say it originated in Chi-town. I will tell you it didn't start with me. The first joint I heard was Tyree Cooper's "Turn Up The Bass." I was like, "what the f@*k??????" Then I heard Fast Eddie's joints. I credit both of these cats with making me want to do Hip-House. I even told Eddie this on his MySpace page. I think he pretty much was my favorite in the Hip-House game.

As far as how I got started, I was a DJ at the time I first heard Hip-House. I was mixing on radio in Washington, D.C., and had dabbled a bit in making beats. The story on how I created "Let It Roll" was funny. I had a Friday night mixshow and mixed every week from 7 p.m. to midnight. I mixed while the on-air DJ did his thing on the mic. One particular week I played a beat for him to talk over — that beat was called "King of the Beats" by Mantronik. This beat had the incredible "Bell Loop" first used by me, then used by Snap and Chill Rob G for the two versions of "The Power." What made me use it was the on-air DJ came in the room and said, "what was that beat you were playing while I was talking on the air?" – I told him what it was and then he told me he had gotten three callers who called in asking what it was. I was like, "hmmmmm." I went into the station's production studio after I was off the air and hooked the bell loop up to a house beat. It was as simple as that. The other DJ who mixed at the station was Sir Charles Dixon (now of Music Choice). He heard it and — being the smart dude he is — hooked me up with Vaughan Mason of "Bounce, Rock, Skate, Roll" fame, who also lived in DC at the time. That hook-up changed my life. I have to give Sir Charles credit for that. We re-recorded it on Vaughan's studio equipment and I dropped the lyrics that same day. Vaughan released it on his label Grove Street Records and that's when the fuse was lit.

There were very few Hip-House artists and several that come to mind are K-Yze, Freedom Williams from C+C Music Factory and Queen Latifah with "Come Into My House" …

 

3) What do you think of the other Hip-House artists and songs that were released around the same time that your hits were out?

I never considered Queen Latifah a Hip-House artist, although she was at one of my shows and called me "Mr. Lazy" (laughs).

Freedom Williams was my boy. He will forever have my respect. One regret I have was that Freedom always asked me to produce for his album but I was always too busy. He used to go on before me sometimes at shows and perform. Imagine how much I kicked myself in the ass when C+C snatched him up. After that there was no need for me to produce him. What I respect about him is that after he opened for me in those early days before C+C, he showed me love when I performed on the same show with C+C — and it was me opening up for him/them. He was like, "We got Doug Lazy in the building!" and, he showed me love on stage while they were performing. He is a true entertainer.

K-Yze.... (laughs) Okay, let me say this. I performed with him several times and although he may not admit it, there was a rivalry between us as far as performing. I think he was a competitive dude and that made me want to beat him when we performed on the same show. When his song "Stomp" came out, he became the man (for a minute). His show was hot and I would be lying if I said I wasn't watching with a bit of hate (yeah I sipped from the haterade cup also). But it made me perform that much harder, so we got the best of them a few nights also. His song "Stomp" soon started to fade, but I kept coming with the hits, so... um... NEXT!

 

The reign of Hip-House was extremely short…

4) Why do you think Hip-House was such a fleeting genre?

I wish I knew. It was like a one-night stand. Hit it and quit it. If I had to guess, I think it was that both the hip-hop crowd and the house crowd turned their backs on it. Maybe to both sides it was cool and something new, but then it got boring. All I know is it was fun while it was big.

5) What is your take on how house music merged with hip-hop to create its own genre?


It was only a matter of time. Rap is always evolving, and it will inject itself into any form of music. It just happened to inject itself into a house beat one day. That's the only way I can describe it. Me being hip-hop from day one, I know there's always someone that will be creative and take it somewhere it hasn't gone.

 

You had the opportunity to work with such heavy-hitters as Marc Anthony, "Little" Louie Vega and India…

6) What was it like working with them on "Ride On The Rhythm"?

It was quick. I wrote the lyrics on the train up to NYC, walked into the studio, said what's up to Louie and Marc, went in the booth and dropped the heat. I came out, said goodbye to Louie and Marc and went back and got on the train. I think I was there maybe 30 minutes or less. They were cool. The MAW (Masters at Work) sound is on the next level. When I heard the final product I was like, "Ahhhhhhh!!!"

Let's talk about your album, Doug Lazy Gettin' Crazy. You had three hit songs with "Let It Roll," "Let The Rhythm Pump," and "H.O.U.S.E…"

 

7) When you released your first single, were you surprised by its success?


Surprised is an understatement. I was shocked! It didn't even sink in until months after Atlantic signed me. One day I just said "Damn, I'm doing it big with this Hip-House music." It was such a good time during the making of the album. I had never seen money like I was seeing, and I was so relaxed while producing it. No pressure. That's why I think I hit it with three number ones. It was so cool checking the Billboard dance chart every week. "Let It Roll" was my first, and my most favorite song that I have ever done. A song I did in a few hours changed my life forever. To this day they are STILL coming out with "Let It Roll" remixes (off the same acapella). Every year it's another one. Just hit up Google and you will see.

You were definitely the king of hip-house.

 

8) How did you get discovered/signed to Atlantic?

I appreciate the "King" comment. After Vaughan Mason released "Let It Roll" on his label, it got some club play in the Dallas area. Now this is what I have been told as far as how it went down. Basically, some guys heard it in Texas in the clubs and saw the reaction of the crowd. These dudes were the ears of one of the Atlantic reps in NYC. So, in a nutshell, they called him and let him know about the record -- and then Atlantic called me. I got signed very fast. What's crazy is that it was so fast it was like a blur to me. "Let It Roll" was a song that was unstoppable. That's the only way I can describe it. Once it got out into the world it was like a storm. "Let It Roll" was an instant-reaction record. It was raw as hell. If you listen to it you can hear the bell loop going offbeat several times during the song. Even my lyrics were not perfect, just RAW sounds, and I think that came across on the record that gave it that edge.

9) Why wasn't there a follow-up to Doug Lazy Gettin' Crazy?


Two words: HAMMER PANTS!  I knew I was doomed when – at the start of doing my second album – the dude at Atlantic asked if I could dance like Hammer, and if I had any pants like he wears. After realizing this dude was serious and was not smoking crack, I proceeded to leave and go back to D.C. radio. I couldn't do it (be Hammer). We were so close with the first album. See that's the problem. When you get an artist that gets close on the first release, EVERYONE wants to be the one to take him to the next level on the second album. I got caught up in that and the politics. Needless to say I walked away from my second album. I always had radio to fall back on because I started in radio before doing records. And I was very good on air. So to walk away was not as hard as someone who is only living to record a CD. Hip-House faded out anyway, so it really didn't matter.

10) If there were one thing you could change about your career, what would it be?


Not one thing. Period. I was part of a movement and even though the style didn't last long, I was a major player in it.


11) What are your thoughts on the state of house music and/or hip-hop today?


I'm loving both. I never get into the "music ain't the same" bull, or that "back in the day" thing. As I stated, I consider myself hip-hop more than house. I love both but that's what I have always been. Everything changes in music. New things come up to make it fresh. Being able to accept change is what separates a lot of people. Myself, I always welcome new things. This is one reason I have been able to rock a house beat that would get the club bouncing, then produce a hip-hop track that the hardest "gangsta" would appreciate.

12) Do you think the new LL Cool J/Jennifer Lopez track, "Control Myself," somewhat fits into the Hip-House category? Will it ever make a comeback?


I think that track is an uptempo, poppish rap song. That's it. Personally I think it's the farthest thing from a Hip-House song. My wife digs that song. It's a nice formula to that joint. As far as Hip-House making a comeback, no, not the way it was. Maybe it will come around again with a different twist on it.

And finally…

 

13) Can we expect to hear from Doug Lazy again?

Yeah, no doubt. In more ways than one. I am attacking the hip-hop and house production. My plate is full, which is a good thing. I decided about two months ago that I was going to do a follow up to Doug Lazy Gettin' Crazy. I made this decision because of the crazy sampling of songs I did over 15 years ago. Even Fatboy Slim sampled my voice from "Let The Rhythm Pump" for the Charlie's Angels movie (2000). I always wanted to know what would have happened if I had released a second album, and it's time to find out. But, I want to make it filled with the musical growth I have had over the years. I will take my time with it and hopefully it will get the party jumping.

 

You can visit Doug Lazy online at www.myspace.com/douglazy.  


Posted at 07:59 am by Mervin Malone
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Thursday, April 06, 2006
Mervin's 13 Questions with seminal house and soul music siren, Joi Cardwell!

Mervin's 13 Questions with seminal house and soul siren, Joi Cardwell!
 
Well, a little about you Ms. Cardwell…
 
You started singing at a very young age. Indeed, you had the esteemed pleasure of singing at Carnegie Hall when you were but 5 years old.
 
1. Do you come from a musical family?

My family wasn't particularly musically talented, but they were greatly appreciative of music and exposed me to everything from classical to jazz to Ray Charles to Carly Simon and of course – Soul, Funk and Disco.

2. Did you know from a young age that the arts — specifically music — were your professional calling?

I had a clue that I wanted to create and was encouraged to explore my creative side. By the time I was 6, I had my own tape recorder, stereo and organ (that was the thing in the '70s).

3. Who were some of your favorite singers/musicians as a child?

My favorite singers were: Barbra Streisand, Donna Summer, Marvin Gaye, Dinah Washington, Billie Holiday...

You've shown — for lack of a better word — a stratospheric vocal range; on songs like "Found Love" and "Run To You", you demonstrate a very effortless upper register…
 
4. What is your vocal range in octaves?

My vocal range at one time was like five octaves, but as you get older it kind of shrinks so now I'm not really sure.


5. Are you classically or operatically trained?

 

I am trained – not classical or opera – more like Broadway actually.


I'd like to switch gears and talk about your other half – Joi Cardwell, the songwriter! Your songwriting is masterful – complex, yet accessible – all of your songs seem very personal….
 
6.  Where do you most often find inspiration when composing songs?

 

My inspiration for my songs comes from life itself – my life – the life of my friends  – situations I see…


7. Whose songwriting has really had an effect on your music?

 

Marvin Gaye and Curtis Mayfield spoke to me as social writers with great sensitivity — I also was influenced by Irving Berlin and the Gershwin Brothers. A great song is always something that is timeless and I strive for that — songs that people can listen to no matter what beat is behind it.
 
Here at Aria, we are often critical of the mainstream musical press – check out any one of the past Q & As. The media — Stateside — is terribly biased and unschooled on dance music. They typically define dance as a strictly singles-driven genre, with albums a second consideration. You have largely refuted this with your innovative album work.
 
8. Which of your three albums — The World is Full of Trouble – Joi Cardwell – Deliverance — are you most proud of?

Well I am proud of them all for different reasons.  First and foremost, I'm happy to have been able to record albums at all; it was a determining factor of my signing with Eight ball. Second, I'm proud of the World Is Full Of trouble because it was my first effort and was recorded totally live in 24 hours.  Joi Cardwell kind of established me in the club scene, and Deliverance was the first real look into my other soulful side – so they are all very important to me.

Your early-to-mid '90s' collaborations – the housy "Club Lonely", the deep-house track "I Won't Waste Your Time" and the acid-jazzy "Luv Connection" (done with Lil' Louis, Frederick Jorio and Towa Tei respectively) – fully cemented your status as one of dance music's most adaptable performers.
 
9. Are there any upcoming collaborations in the works?

I am always willing to work with anyone whose music moves me — on my new record The Plain Jane Project, I work with Soul C. – Quentin Harris – Brian McDermott – Philip Woo (keyboardist from Frankie Beverly) – Mike Cruz... 
 
You've also worked with many of dance music's elite -- Frankie Knuckles – Hani – Peter "Ski" Schwartz – Brinsley Evans…
 
10. Who would you like to work with in the future?

 

I would love to work with David Morales — we have been trying for years to get it together, and ideally Lenny kravitz for a different twist. I just wrote a song for Gerideau with Lem Springsteen of Mood II Swing as well – so I keep it moving


Your 1999 album, Deliverance was different from its predecessors. The vibe was  decidedly more R&B – jazzier, even….
 
11. Do you plan to experiment with this sound anymore in the future?

I am and always will be a soul singer — some people forget that because the music is more progressive at times. But at that time in my life, my Mom was ill and dying — I needed to write a record that reflected my moods and needs — the dance thing wasn't doing it for me. I included some of those elements again in The Plain Jane Project with the songs "Change Your Mind" and "I Got U". Oh, and the ballad "What Kind of Fool" is a straight-up nod to classic Aretha Franklin; it's co-writer – Phillip Woo – and I wrote it on the road with Toshi Kubota, my Japanese homeboy.
 
Continuing on that note, your work with Toshi Kuboto is immaculate!
 
12. Do you have any plans to record a neo-classical soul album?

I would love to record a neo-soul album and may do so in the near future, but for now I gotta please my dance heads and make that music as well — so next project will have a little bit of both, or maybe not. I can tell you that what I feel – I do – and I have to thank God for the opportunity to be able to create that way.
 
Finally…
 
13. What's next for Joi Cardwell?

Finally – I am off to law school in the fall so I will be able to help my fellow artists in their dreams of a musical career with the knowledge that the choices made in business are knowledgeable ones that they can live with. "I may not be able to change the world, but I know I can change my life, it's time for a revolution and its gonna start tonight".

You can visit Ms. Cardwell at joicardwell.com.


Posted at 05:52 pm by Mervin Malone
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