Art will create a portrait of a life and the artist wills the life to be re-created as profound as the Art. The working of Art’s skill develops the muscles of integrity and the extraction of talent, purging the pus of commercialization’s dilution and oppression’s degradation, will strengthen the immune system of principles. Principles, the cards in the deck that math the inspections and weigh the worth of these uncontrolled substances. Substances at levels of volatility that fluctuate when hell is high and wealth is low, when the fake outflanks and the mettle of the realness waver. As the belly of works intensify, the MC still hungry. Starving blatantly when the jokers are thrown out the deck. Starvin building to the perfected pieces that penetrate upon play. Starvin B, a Master of Ceremony cementing sanity song by song…
STARVIN B: I changed things up. When we spoke last that was that was when Something in the Water days and I was a mess. I was constantly drinking. And I’ve toned it down quite a bit. I still have some on show nights when everyone gathers around. It still gets messy then but it’s toned down a lot and I’m really trying to focus and be more serious. I’m a much more serious person now.
SUNEZ: I see the balance get more profound with you jumping from battle rap with more and more significant segments of insights thrown out there.
STARVIN B: As a kid, it started with the wack MC. You just want to eradicate everything that’s wack about music. Now, it’s not necessarily aimed at MCs but just things in life that don’t make sense like the way that people treat each other isn’t right. Or the interaction between human beings isn’t right not necessarily MCs. I might be dissing the guy in the Halal truck. I might not like the way he treated me.
SUNEZ: [laughs] Since we last built, I’d have to define the time as a prime for you. Now, where you were recording, Goblin Studios, is now being known as a powerhouse. So many great LPs are made there from Sean Price’s Mic Tyson to Cormega’s Mega Philosophy but few know this. You were one of the few to make it known, champion that on record and in interviews and salute it as the great Goblin Studios that is becoming the place to make great Hip Hop music.
STARVIN B: I feel like a lot of the artists that recorded there you would have to ask them that question for them to do that. I felt like Gobllin needed someone to represent them and hold it down for them. There was no one else that was able to facilitate for me with the speed at which I record. They’re the only place to keep up and money wise too. They looked out for me in certain situations when I didn’t have the money to record. Goblin is really a collective and it doesn’t happen with just one of them. It’s due to those guys and not the studio itself. Spent (D’Nero) and Goblin. They deserve the credit and we’re all trying to make money in this music thing. It’s crazy. Someone was telling me I should join the Freelancer’s Union. But there’s no pamphlet on how to make this your business and your life. It’s really up to you. Being a party guy and a street person you gotta be careful. You can’t just wing it. I’ve learned that the hard way. I’ve done a lot of great things and it’s a beautiful feeling to make the money that I’ve made off this music but to make a living off this is crazy. A lot of these people talking about they’re making a living off this music is malarkey.
STARVIN B: What’s funny is I hear so many records about people getting all this money and they’re asking me for a drink, or help them get a ride home. I’m Starvin B. I don’t have your ride home or your limo fare.
STARVIN B: Now I make sure I make money from my records before they come out. Blood From A Stone is probably the last record I will ever do to just put my thoughts down. I’m an able bodied person. I’m not afraid to work or do whatever I have to do to make money. My life has put me in a lane that my most attainable pay day is through music. Whether it’s helping producers get their LP right or giving verses to MCs halfway across the world whether or not they will ever be heard is up to them. I’m kind of putting my music in the hands of other people. You could call it selling out or whatever you want to call it but to me it’s not selling out. I make a living off of my thoughts and ideas and that’s a beautiful feeling to me. I’m not lying or compromising so I don’t feel any way about it. If the beat isn’t right and if it’s a character that’s trying to strip the culture for the cheapest price possible then I make my rhyme to you about that. And you’ll pay me for a rhyme about that. You really gotta find your own in this day and age in any hustle that you’re in. I really just try to make my family happy and be proud. That’s my main goal. To keep sanity. I’m the closest to being sane in my life and I’ve done better. I’ve held a household together for eleven years on my own. I’ve done better than this but I feel I’m more sane. I’m not doing anything that’s against my character. I’m trying to build this and move it forward.
Starvicide piles lyrics written from the bottom of a new kind of paper, with spaces for the verses to be stenciled in sixteen bar staves. Compiled as musical scores, the words converge melodically and effortlessly like a score over-noted to the flowing glory of a symphony of chaos. Analog Burners offer blaring backers and Starvin’s orchestra waves, swerves and sways effortlessly.
STARVIN B: That means a lot because I know what type of ear you have to Hip Hop. How close you listen. And that means a lot. You know the acclaim I get is not insurmountable from so many places but where it does come from are from people with a keen ear to Hip Hop and people that I grew up listening to. That tells me that I’m doing something right to the foundation of it. I just have to get the business right and do more. I probably have to do more.
SUNEZ: You know I relate as a writer whose work does not sell to the magazines. I’ve actually tried all the commercial routes/forums. I see it as frustrating from taking time away from writing something else because you have to show people what you just did already was good and worth investing in. It is tiring, becomes very self-involved and stagnating in many ways.
STARVIN B: I hear what you’re saying. Well, another way I’ve been looking at it is it’s another art form within itself. You have to take that on and I think that’s where you gotta character like Jay-Z that’s so special because maybe that’s where he is the amazing artist in packaging it, promoting it and knowing which lanes to put it in. That, in itself, is an art form to know where to release your music, your videos and your artwork should speak volumes by your music. You gotta have your stuff together and be able to put on different hats.
SUNEZ: I see that. With Blood From the Stone, this is a collection of you and One-Take over the years but some of those collaborations ended up on other albums.
STARVIN B: Blood really was a homage to One-Take and all the work he’s put in. He doesn’t just produce records. He’s done everything to help me from mix records, shoot videos –everything to help. When you’re that much involved it’s the same as Spent helping me. I’m not just Spent’s friend to make records. I’ll help him out with whatever he wants if I’m able to do it. When you’re around in someone’s life like that it’s easy to say, ‘let’s do a song right now.’ There are still songs left over with me and One-Take that we’ll probably take and build something later on and throw something out in the future. We just have things in the way like making a living that are getting in the way of that. The projects that are coming out, I’ve basically found a way –you ‘ve constantly got to be in the public eye. So recently I’ve done these projects where I’ve done projects where people contract me to stay in the public eye, with a feature or this and that, sporadically time the release of those and have my stuff on the back burner. When my stuff is ready financially and creatively like mixing-wise and feature-wise then I’ll put my own stuff out. I’m gonna be taking a lot more time with my projects that are my own ideas.
SUNEZ: Did One-Take say, ‘Let’s put some of these aside.’ For a collection of some sort.
STARVIN B: That was his idea. The name of the album, the cover was my idea based on how I wrote the rhymes. The first song we did that pushed us to decide to make an album together was the first song, “Buddah Bless.” He just had a baby and he was making a video with his son on his lap. I had just come back from a night of just ruckus and chaos. I hope your baby don’t turn out like us. I mixed some of the stories when I was growing up like stealing chocolate milk and finding roach clips on the Segas. Those were things that were developmentally leading to a bad path. That’s how that started. I followed the theme of that. Living in New York City, no matter what upbringing you had, it can turn you into something else little by little. That’s what that whole album is about.
SUNEZ: Tell me why “Blue Note” and “Lobster” were the video choices.
STARVIN B: I felt “Blue Note” had a message that could reach everyone. It has a content that I value a lot. You can’t listen to it and say it’s not good. Anyone can hear that’s someone that had a lot of broken relationships that they tried their best at. You still gotta be positive at the end of the day or else you’ll be a depression case and want to slit your wrists. That’s not really the case with me. I go through a lot of situations but seem to smile about it at the end. So let’s just make it real New York and simple and where it matters are as far as the music, where things turned out with other things in the past. It seemed simple enough. It was also was because I saw them as very accessible. The other one is like, ‘we’ll cook a lobster and kick the rhyme.’ It’ll be cool enough because the song is cool enough. I edited that one too trying my hand at that. I’m definitely pleased with the result.
STARVIN B: Definitely. Be Like Water is the closest thing I have to a freestyle album. A lot of the bars on Be Like Water I’d go in the booth to do sixteen and only have ten. Or I’d hear it and say, ‘let me try that again.’ Then do a different beginning. There’s a joint on there, “Death to the Infidels,” the whole third verse is mad fast. I didn’t know what I was doing with it. I had the whole first couple of bars but I didn’t know where I was going. There’s a lot of freestyling there. The “Clear Benches” joint, that night we were all wrecked and was like, ‘just go in there and you go in and you go in.’ That chorus is a freestyle. I’m listening to the song and going over and over it in my head and creating it there. A lot of MCs build their rhymes like that. You just keep repeating it in your head to make the next line. That whole album is pretty close to a freestyle.
“You rocking for the money or are you rocking for respect?” – “Starvicide”
Within the wit, there are always statements of integrity and ultimatums demanded of it in Starvin B’s themes. On Starvicide, he explores it outright (“It goes poltics, sex, dirty undies. These are the reasons why your future aint funny/looking at your life like a game of gin rummy/you wanna make a difference or you want to make money?” – “Who’s Side Are You On?”). Starvin B is the brother under the night lights studying the immensity of the moon and the temporary immensity of the moment. “To profound for the mainstream or the underground,” (“I’m Starvin”) there is a hypocrisy Starvin exposes that is masked to most listeners as battle wordplay. However, it’s dense, delivered with no capes of grandeur but a humor that self-deprecates but also ruggedly defecates enemies. His flow is often without spaces and where most couldn’t inject inflection, there is often no bar uttered with higher pitches to the punchline or verbal smirks at his own cleverness. The verses flow in phrase segments (“Bad Guy Story”), sinister inflection (“Degenerate Graveyard”) or hyped continuity with little spaces of silence (“Brown Bottle”). An EP of just justice to his skill sets and another work that definitively defines an MC who is working his choices within the world of Art-Sold-To-Live of commitment, compromise and virtuous character seriously ill.
SUNEZ: Now Blood From A Stone is extremely cohesive.
STARVIN B: That I’d give to One-Take. He’s more organized. He’s more the organized, creative type and has a method to his ways of making beats. He knew that one beat sounded like this so let’s do something like this next and something like that next. If I just kicks rhymes to his beats he’ll be like, ‘that was ill’ but won’t really pay attention. It’s gotta be some kind of theme that comes across. It’s also due to the people that collaborated on it. It wasn’t easy to just get. Foul Monday, for example, has a lot of projects he’s working on to get out. That’s one of my best friends but it’s hard to just get him on a record. For it to be right, it’s got to stick and it’s gotta have some edge or story to it as far as that project. It was One-Take being picky and making me write themes and stories to different beats.
SUNEZ: Foul Monday is on a lot of records and is mysterious.
STARVIN B: He is a mystery MC. He has his own career on his own working in the world and put music on the back burner. He’s seen the industry through a lot of people. He traveled with Ron Artest, he used to rock with Killa Kidz. He’s basically Queensbridge so he’s seen everybody. He used to work with Killa Sha. We were supposed to do a project with Killa Sha. We had a group back in the days called Mud Brothers. I’ve always loved what he writes. He has his own unique sense of humor that comes across like a serial killer would have. He has his own niche. Me putting him on songs is just trying to keep him in there and get him out.
STARVIN B: I know and you need to print that and send the message.
STARVIN B: He’s been forced to be a jack of all trades but hasn’t been forced to rhyme. It’s something that comes natural to him. I feel he doesn’t want to claim himself as an MC because of his own standard he holds MCs to. For all that music that he has to work on not all of it is good. That’s changed his whole relationship with music and I’ve told him that. Even when it is good his body doesn’t want to be there recording it.
SUNEZ: He’s saturated with so much music.
STARVIN B: Right. And that’s probably why he’s such a great rapper. But to him it’s not so great. It’s a tricky thing with this Hip Hop. It should bring you joy and happiness but when it becomes your life and your livelihood, how you pay your bills and how you make your relationships that all changes. If you don’t step away it could leave a real bad taste in your mouth.
SUNEZ: Now that sentiment is often something that people assume comes from those artists immersed in the bigger commercial industry. For Starvin B, how could that be a problem if you do the music you want?
STARVIN B: It’s a problem even though you want to do it and it’s a labor of love. When you want to give something away, put on a good show for free, there are certain attitudes and money issues from people that will stop you from doing it. That’s frustrating in itself. You want to do your family proud and help people. Everyone around me has someone they have to help and it’s hard to do that when you’re not making fifty thousand dollars a year in New York. How are you going to help anybody?! You can barely help yourself. The mainstream and its supporters will just say, ‘they’re just bitter because they didn’t make it.’ The people that are in the mainstream have problems way bigger than we can imagine if you really examine it. Look at Robin Williams. Someone that made it beyond making it. Is it just bitter or is there something to it when you demand so much from one person. When you under a microscope… the same thing with your family. Your family knows your flaws inside and out. You can never make them completely happy. When you’re as famous as Robin Williams the whole world is your family. We all know your shit, B. It’s a tricky thing and the main thing is to be happy.
SUNEZ: You’re a personal MC and you relate your sincerity to see other viewpoints out of the hells you go through. I love you for that on those records. It’s humility on wax. Does it happen that people think they know you from hearing them?
STARVIN B: I’ll tell you. Most of my immediate friends are people of the night, street people. When you kick rhymes like that they start playing the smallest violin and say, ‘the hell with all of that. We want to get high and beat you up.’
STARVIN B: It’s cool that you respect that and shows where your mind is coming from. It shows where I come from that I make records like that. I definitely want to bring Hip Hop up and how people view it. Certain venues won’t have Hip Hop because there’s a certain stigma about the way Hip Hop people act. If everyone was making records like that and reacted the way you do it may not be like the case. We might have a stance in politics and social issues. But we don’t have a stance because we have people spinning around in circles and dropping their drawers. That’s what gets the attention as opposed to a dead prez record or Talib Kweli’s hot for just two months. What are we paying attention to? I really don’t think people want change. We’re sitting here in Zucotti Park. During that Something in the Water time this would have been crowded. That showed the people had a voice if you were down to stick to your guns. Obviously things have changed and I wonder what those people are doing. They might be working on Wall Street. Just to survive. What are you gonna do?! It’s a tough battle to take on. You want to battle the whole world?! You can but you’re not gonna eat and you won’t be able to take your kid around from here to Action Park if you don’t get some money. If you don’t follow what’s structured for us by society or the cops and robbers way.
Musically, Analog Burners production work on Starvicide differs from the One-Take work on Blood From The Stone in the subtleties of execution style. Whereas One-Take produces tracks with an immense booming bottom, a wonderful next generation of the Large Professor school, Analog works a scratchy, crackling surround much more trebled but nicely chaotic in its addiction. Demon choirs loop serenade deeply behind a crunched straight banged rum on “Who’s Side Are You On?” letting the 1, 2 count easy riding for Starvin’s versing. “Rockwiddit” is an ill set of noise with the vocal loops working as a horn, conga rolls underlying a standard sharp, high hat’d classic break. With the title track, the congas thicken the bassline thump and the cymbal crashes augment the snares while the rehashed 90’s bleeps on “At the Office” have the livest stuttered drum pattern with cut cymbal snares working strong. This is music that drives the near up tempo Starvin keeps throughout and another example of Starvin’s strong production choices.
SUNEZ: Now if I am the totally idealistic kid, you are the hardcore MC. Now you are talking about the contradictions forced upon us. We may appreciate a Tupac, who showed all these sides, after he is gone but we generally don’t want to see all those repercussions.
STARVIN B: It’s an escape thing. I don’t know how to make music that’s not about real life. I do but my twist on it is still real life. People want music as an escape. Like The Beatles, take a nice little ride in your car, forget about your day. Forget about things with music. With music, I’ll still be told you gotta be hook heavy. Where are your hooks? I don’t do hooks like other people do. My hooks are just a little bit of a rhyme. But that’s what I do and I gotta stay an individual. That’s my defense for that because it just don’t feel good trying to do what you want me to do. That’s the whole point of me doing this.
SUNEZ: Are there techniques that you are working on now that you didn’t really then?
STARVIN B: Yeah, lately I’ve been wanting to do more adlibs. I don’t do a lot of adlibs on my records. I didn’t before because I felt it’s very studio and technological. But there’s definitely a comedic value that I can use and it’s just another tool to use for people to get you to know better. I’ve been thinking about that and sound effects. Just reaching out and using technology a little more. I’ve been thinking of implementing that.
As far as rhymes I want to slow it down a little. When you feel that’s working you get even faster. I’ve been doing a lot of shows and seeing the timing of them. You want to be able to start off with a good pace, then kind of bring them to where you can catch a breath but still got them. Then you hit them with your most high energy. And I want to do stuff like that. It has nothing to do with how hard you’re rapping but how much space you have to breathe during the rhyme. So I want to leave some space for all this.
SUNEZ: It’s an honor to be the one to really document your work but also frustrating that after all these great albums people still front. There is more, much more, you have earned in accolades and coverage you deserve. Hip Hop music media is literally incomplete and incorrect without your work.
STARVIN B: I don’t feel like I have accomplished anything amazing. I haven’t made a Ready To Die or an Illmatic. I am more like a journalist than the packaged rapper. I don’t know what story of glamour and glitz you have to sell people for them to say you’re a rap star. If you mess with it I’m grateful and appreciate it. If not, I’m still going to be carrying it on and doing it regardless. I haven’t accomplished anything so grand. I’m just being who I am and this is so far what the world has paid attention to. But I’d be doing this even if they were paying attention or not. There’s definitely some accomplishments I want. I want to make you proud. Is it bougie to say you’re one of the first to notice? Not really cause I haven’t done much. There’s a lot to accomplish and world to travel and gospel to be spread. I got work to do. And I’m starting to feel now a days a that I wasn’t serious enough. Maybe there was too much laughing and drinking going on. Let’s focus on doing this and until that’s done, no playtime.
The Starvicide of Starvin B’s career is ultimately his wonderful forgetfulness of the ill path he’s created far too many have not listened to. As Starvicide sees Starvin branch out to outside producers and projects, he gives life to his versatility with more proof. Humility and bravado unify the hungry rhyme and continue to feed a legacy of a cultural music’s cards of principles.
KNOWLEDGE THE REVIEW OF BLOOD FROM THE STONE HERE
KNOWLEDGE THE REVIEW OF BE LIKE WATER HERE
KNOWLEDGE OUR FIRST INTERVIEW FEATURE WITH STARVIN B IN 2012 HERE
TWITTER HANDLE: @STARVIN_B
THE STARVIN B MC ARTWORK HERE