Some snares are supreme. They don’t just bring a fluidity to the listener’s neck bop but allow for the rhyme thought to keep flowing upward. It’s a scientific pedagogical device in Hip Hop. It loosens the stiff necked rebellious youth to let the build get into that pineal gland. Lord Jessiah is a master of this science injecting the medulla oblongata with his unified germs of Black beats and Wisdom verses.
Producing his debut, G.O.D. (Grounds of Detroit), he services himself as a root of one of the strongest crews in Hip Hop, Sun Tzu Cadre. An obsessive tactician who makes every single part of a track a treasure for the Hip Hop enthused. With countless MCs to choose from within his Sun Tzu Cadre and family outside from The Wisemen to Desert Eez, his arrangements constantly highlight their flows and character. Ultimately, G.O.D. is one of the most difficult albums to produce yet it is now hard to tell when the snares are supreme.
SUNEZ: Tell us about the journey and intentions of this album.
LORD JESSIAH: I put a lot of work into this album… The album was real collaborative so playing around with different elements it really came organic. A lot of it was on the spot. If brothers want to add on they add on. That’s how it came together. It’s a real organic experience creating an album.
I wanted this album out a long time ago. I had so many setbacks. Someone ended up stealing my laptop and I didn’t know what I was going to do at the time. I recouped everything and kept pushing. Sometimes things don’t come out the way you want it to but at the end of the day, when it’s all said and done that’s exactly how I wanted it
SUNEZ: How much of LP was done when the laptop was stolen?
LORD JESSIAH: At that time I was about 4 songs into the album. I had an idea of who it is but I really didn’t have time for it.
SUNEZ: Like that Bronze track, “Reggie.”
LORD JESSIAH: Word. Me and Bronze actually talked about it. Exactly what you said.
SUNEZ: Tell me about Sun Tzu Cadre.
LORD JESSIAH: I had that discussion with someone earlier today. They said, ‘with Sun Tzu Cadre, there’s so many of y’all. It’s hard to take y’all on one angle.’ With Sun Tzu Cadre, we’re a group but we operate more as a terrorist cell to a degree. Sometimes I’ll have something going on that the rest of the cell doesn’t know about. But it’s all moving toward the common goal of what we have established. I formed a nice little bond with Bronze Nazareth and the Wisemen. That’s kind of a chamber of what we’re dealing with. You got my brother Knowledge. He’s dealing with the poetry hustle and the MCing too. But there are so many different factions you can’t really peg us. We’re all generals and we can all separate from the group and be successful but we come together for one common cause to strengthen that force that we’re moving in.
SUNEZ: A unified group rarely has the diversified tones and pitches that Sun Tzu MCs have. On G.O.D. , you were easy to discern as most of the songs you are rhyming at the end. Is that the intention or how it plays out? It’s one of the most difficult places to be in a posse track.
LORD JESSIAH: When I put my music together it’s like a gauntlet. A lot of times, verses had to get cut. I had to be the executive in that aspect. Sometimes I had to go by how many songs MCs are on. I had to distribute it fairly among the Tzu. But a lot of times it came down to who sounded the best and complimented each other the best. Just having an ear and being able to establish it. It’s like even arranging the beats. When I go through my process of making my beats I’m meticulous with it. I get my sample and sometimes I might loop it. Then I’ll go back and play with it and chop it. Then after I get my chop together a lot of people add their drums next. Me? I put my bassline next. A lot of my beats are bass driven. I go back and add the drums to complement what my bass is doing with the tempo. So, it’s kind of similar with who I’m selecting the MCs for a track. Who’s blending in the best?
LORD JESSIAH: For the most part they were. One of them I changed at the end was “Cold Case Files.” That one the bassline was totally different. When we was going to the mixing and mastering place, I was just sitting down one day in the basement like ‘Hold up. It’s dope but I could flip that a little better.’ So I ended up going back and tweaking that. What you hear now is the result. If you heard the old version you’d say it doesn’t even sound the same. The sample is the same but the way I flipped the bassline.
SUNEZ: There’s drums poppin in and out on that track and the MCs rhymed off all that? It was other aspects you changed?
LORD JESSIAH: No doubt [laughs].
SUNEZ: A lot of MCs could get thrown off by a track like that.
LORD JESSIAH: When I get into an album I have to listen to it completely from the start all the way through. It’s kind of like painting a picture or like a buildup—the album. If I start from the middle it’s almost like something’s missing.
“Supreme Mathematics changed my mind but in between time in the meantime, respect my rhyme/Drugs tha Emcee, greatest of all time..” – Drugs tha Emcee – “Cold Case Files”
SUNEZ: Looking at some of the STC individually, Drugs tha Emcee? What tracks are you looking for him?
LORD JESSIAH: I wanted him to really stand out. On our next release that I’m releasing it’s me and Drugs together. Predominantly all the beats and contributing lyrics. I was kind of prepping him to be ready for a solo. I was on him when he was in the booth. With everybody I tell them, if you don’t go up in there right, you’re going back in there again! [laughs] Until everything is in the pocket. It didn’t matter how long it took as long as it came out right. Now with my brother I’m prepping him because I see a lot of potential in him. Before we started doing the music together, he was already doing things in the local circuits. He’ll tell you himself that he wasn’t ready. He wasn’t polished. He’s really a freestyler. A lot of his verses he freestyled. That being the case his delivery on a lot of occasions was choppy. Now you’ll hear him pronounce his verses the way it did because I was on him.
“My flow like water because too much of it will leave you breathless/I’m beyond that next shit/coming to wreck shit/moving so fast the naked eye can hardly detect it…” – Scrooge McJus – “Buck 50s”
SUNEZ: Scrooge McJus?
LORD JESSIAH: [laughs] My brother! Scrooge is like water. He’s a water sign for one. He’s gonna take the situation and adapt to it better than try to be the aggressor. When it comes to the music he comes with the same type of delivery musically. It’s an element you need. It’s not gonna take away from the form of it.
“It’s simple arithmetics when I kick your lip/it’s gon split/styles bangin’, No Bloods, no Crips/tsunami’s off the coast of japan after the launch of the Mothership/Occupy Wall Street…” – All Wise – “Karate”
SUNEZ: All Wise.
LORD JESSIAH: All Wise, he’s like the character. Every group has a quote/unquote character. He’s the personality of the group. You see him, he’s gonna stand out in a lineup. You’ll never forget him when you see him, build with him. You’ll be like, ‘yeah, that’s him!’
SUNEZ: [laughs] I gotta agree with that. Especially after seeing video of the show y’all had with Masta Killa.
“Eleven twenty feet per sec./better respect/or get wreck’d/ and checked/ with war vet/ intellect/I’m throwin’ Universal Flags at ya neck/stabbing you with pyramids from ancient Kemit..” – Dial G – “Val Kyrie”
SUNEZ: How about Dial G? I was real impressed with him on “Val Kyrie.”
LORD JESSIAH: That was another of the pitfalls that happened while making the album. He got locked up. He’s gonna be away from us for a minute. Otherwise, you would have heard him on more joints. There were so many tribulations when this album was being made. But Dial G is polished. He’s got material I’m trying to get out to the people in the next few months so it can generate a little cream for him while he’s locked away.
“The hands been rewind/watch the hands of crime/watch the dandelions/weed killer uplift the roots/to steal the juice/recycle the vital/life cycle spiral…” – Most High – “Apartheid”
SUNEZ: Most High.
LORD JESSIAH: His delivery is kind of intricate and you gotta keep up with him. He’s on that city life, fast pace.
“..Ricochet the bare stricken run every which way/ we’re war vets/so honor us on display/we’re snatching off medals/four devils heads lay for my virgin prey/I sharp shoot targets from a distance without a scope…” – Lord Jessiah – “Sharp Shootaz”
SUNEZ: Sun Tzu Cadre MCs always sound seasoned on the mic from the B.I.G. [Sun Tzu Cadre’s debut LP] to the G.O.D. albums.
LORD JESSIAH: We’re polished. We’ve been doing it for a long time. I wrote my first rhyme when I was nine years old. Then I started to learn beats by making pause and play tapes. You know how we used to do back in the day. You take the last part of the beat and loop it with the tapes. I started doing that when I was eleven then I bought my first drum machine when I was fifteen. I’m 33 now so that’s 24 years. If you ain’t polished by then you need to be hangin’ that shit up. The same with my brothers. Sun Tzu Cadre started in 1994. When people see us today they remember seeing us at the Hip Hop Shop. We tell them we’re the same Sun Tzu Cadre though it’s not all the same ones you saw back then.
SUNEZ: What’s the benefit of being polished? What mistakes don’t get made? We assume so much to natural talent but what’s the add-on with polish?
LORD JESSIAH: An individual that’s polished is not gonna put out a project that’s rushed. You can tell the difference with a well-planned out album. The quality is gonna stand out. A little history is my uncle was one of the original Funk Brothers of Motown. He cut tracks from Marvin Gaye to the Four Tops. I didn’t find out a lot of that until he passed away. In those times, he took me up to the studio sometimes and I was up there building with one of the engineers—I can’t recall his name but he worked with George Clinton and helped engineer the Atomic Dog album. We were building and he said when you put something out make sure it got that high gloss on it. If it don’t have that high gloss on it don’t put it out. Because once you put it out that’s it, it’s gonna stick to you and they’re gonna know you by that. You can’t take it back. That, to me, separates me from a lot of other artists. The mixtape era, the digital era got everybody with the get-it-now, immediate gratification. When you have the knowledge and wisdom to see how shit move and know that it doesn’t happen overnight. It’s laboring to make it with some substance. You know it’s not gonna happen overnight so you’re not gonna rush it. When the people hear it they’re gonna appreciate it. This is that concentrated shit. I don’t like to flood the market with a lot of low caliber shit. I like to keep my quality level raised up. I like to press and challenge myself to surpass my last topic and last beat.
SUNEZ: Tell me about working with Phillie particularly “Olympians.” You and him have two of the best albums this year. And Phillie is in nothing short of a prime where everything he says on the mic sounds incredible.
LORD JESSIAH: Man, you ain’t fucking lying. Word is Bond! I’m a fan of Phillies, man. Phillie, Bronze, all of them [Wisemen] will tell you that whenever I had the opportunity to see them perform I was there. I’m a fan of them. As time progressed, I had an introduction to Bronze because we both were on Dezert Eez’ album Ghettoboxx. We started to build and that relationship started to evolve and then Phillie basically came to me. He said I’m working on album so send me some beats. I send him some stuff and started to craft the foundation for them. And “Olympians” is actually one of the tracks that’s supposed to be on his album [Welcome to the Detroit Zoo], the deluxe version that’s supposed to be coming out soon. It’s actually a double exposure with that song. That song actually evolved as I was playing some beats. I put that one on and he was like, ‘Yo, I’m feeling that right there.’ When I make my beats I could hear people on them. I make others and say, ‘That’s me. I know you might like that but that’s not really for you. Trust me. I got you.’ But when I had that one, I knew he was gonna love it. He said down and wrote his verse and told me he needed a hook. He started to write it and got stuck so I helped him finish it. He wrote the first three bars and I wrote the last. He needed a closing verse and I wrote it. That was one of the first features that was supposed to be on another release other than mine. I ended up making it on that “Lion King” anyway and when that deluxe Welcome to the Detroit Zoo come out I got about three joints on there that I produced.
SUNEZ: As an MC your voice is very distinctive. Is it on purpose that you often follow the last verse?
LORD JESSIAH: It’s funny because Phillie was saying almost the same thing you was saying. Our voice stands out. I don’t know what it is. ‘You have a distinct voice and it’s piercing.’ Bronze said the same thing. When I came over to lay down that “Lion King” it was organic. They were putting the finishing touches on the album. It took me fifteen to twenty minutes. Bronze said it sounded incredible. I don’t know. It’s just who I am on the mic. Before a show I’m real reserved, sometimes I’m real edgy. But when I hit the stage it’s like a whole other element.
SUNEZ: Did you hear the whole Phillie album before you wrote the “Lion King” verse?
LORD JESSIAH: Only some of the songs prior.
SUNEZ: Amazing. I felt your chorus sums up the entire album’s theme.
LORD JESSIAH: that’s crazy. Phillie said it was the finishing touch on the album and he decided that was the last song on the album. When I write I take my time. Sometimes it comes right on the spot. Other times I’ll sit on my verses for a minute and go bar by bar building it up. My flow is intricate, it’s not a traditional type flow. I think those are things that help me stand out a little bit.
There’s a difference between the original bassline and and a grafted bland bass. A difference so slight, about one and a half ounces if you tried to weigh it. Where the Artist gets the idea to distill his life as he truly drew up versus those that merely were swift and changeable to the popular currents. Jessiah, as the Hip Hop rule of understanding is written, gets to regulate with bias because he’s learnt the way of drum and the way of life. Songs we get only come from Detroit but they cover a universal ground where oppressed men merge horrible reoccurring stories with ever enlightening builds only they could find.
SUNEZ: You brothers keepin me in Detroit!
LORD JESSIAH: [laughs]
SUNEZ: I wrote that Detroit vs. New York piece [Sunset Style: Detroit vs. New York] and they ask me who won. I just tell them you better go start writing some shit.
LORD JESSIAH: You know what it is. What I feel like is you put out a dope project and a lot of MCs think that’s it. Man, as hard as you work to put that together you gotta work twice as hard to push it.
LORD JESSIAH: That’s where I think Detroit artists separate ourselves from a lot of artists. We’re blue collar people. We’re hardworking people and that extends itself to the music. You had Guilty Simpson, even Danny Brown though I ain’t really a fan but he’s out here grinding. Then you got Bronze and K [Kevlaar 7]. Like I said, we’re a blue collar city.
SUNEZ: Was it eminem overshadowing the rest of Detroit or that Detroit wasn’t developed yet?
LORD JESSIAH: One, Detroit wasn’t developed and two, a lot of times when individuals get in certain positions they don’t come back and open doors for others and do what they’re supposed to. The ones they formed bonds with. The talent never left. The Almighty Dreadnaughtz been around longer than eminem before he was even on the scene. It’s about paying homage not because you have to but because it’s right.
SUNEZ: As an STC member and one of the few brothers representing a top caliber group that isn’t just sharing, influenced by it well, but really with a knowledge of self via the Nation of God and Earth? What’s that difference manifest?
LORD JESSIAH: when you have the knowledge of self people are gonna know by their day to day living. For someone that’s screaming it—Yo, I’m God—don’t get me wrong. He’s supposed to take it but if he’s trying to take what we are for the benefits of it then..The time for fronting is over. The Gods ain’t playing anymore. We never was and we ain’t now. Some folks are successful so they think they’re above examination. But we’re taught there’s no one above each other in this and you gotta show and prove. Bottom line. With Sun Tzu Cadre, the roots of the knowledge of self is strong.
SUNEZ: How’d you get knowledge of self?
LORD JESSIAH: I got knowledge down in Virginia. I got caught up in some shit. I had about 3 felonies. I was about to get tried as an adult and was a real pivotal time in my life. In fact, this is about the anniversary of me having the knowledge for Knowledge God [seventeen] years. On the tenth [of April], that was the first day I heard that the Black man is God. April 10th, 1996. I was going through all those tribulations and started questioning life. And you know what they say, ‘you take one step toward God, he take two steps toward you.’ Once I actively sought answers they started to come. Okay, there’s a mystery God in the sky then why is there so much suffering and turmoil in the world? I was then able to find individuals that had the tools that I needed. Actually, Knowledge the Pirate [now featured on Roc Marciano’s Reloaded album] He used to be out there with Teddy Riley. He’s the one who dropped it on me. He didn’t walk me through my lessons but he’s the one who got me on my right path.
SUNEZ: There are very few that are actually dealing with a knowledge of self that rhyme and make music today. There are definitely brothers that are sincerely inspired by it and respectful to it. But few come in the name of Allah. Now I don’t go up to artists and ask them if they God because they mention something or make a statement. However, if he talks a lot of shit then I will ask them. As just a journalist who is covering the music, the meaning of the lyric is crucial and vastly misunderstood without an insight to the Nation of God and Earth. However, I have gotten into it with certain rapper(s) because they feel no one, journalists included, do not have a right to criticize their music or their thoughts shared.
LORD JESSIAH: If you’re the true and living God you’re supposed to be examined. Regardless if you’re working a 9 to 5 punching the clock or whatever you’re doing. You have to be on your square and knowledge [memorize and recite] your lessons. And not just knowledging the lessons because someone can knowledge 120 Lessons and not know how to apply it and reap the full benefit out of it. How to make it walk and talk. If you’re not doing that you’re subject to examination and subject to penalty.
SUNEZ: Also, I’ve found a lot of underground artists make money now and don’t want anyone to critique their work. If you do you are messing with their money and thus their family.
LORD JESSIAH: The whole purpose of Art, anytime you’re doing any type of art form, you subject yourself to criticism. If you can’t take that shit then hang that shit up! Period. Stop being on that weak ass, fickle, emotional bullshit. It’s period. Point blank. When you put your music out there for the people that’s one of the purposes of doing it. How do you like it? Everybody ain’t gonna be feeling your shit. I can’t expect everybody to be feeling my album. To each his own. But there are some people that are. I don’t care if I have a million fans, just some true fans, not some people that’s telling me it’s hot and it’s not. And that’s criticism on any type of level.
SUNEZ: I see the underground—that Hip Hop or rap music that isn’t massively commercialized or commercial sounding—has used that justification to find a successful formula of “realness” and repeat the selling of that sound.
LORD JESSIAH: it’s too much cookie cutter rap. Everybody sounding the same. Nobody is standing out. Every time I listen I think, ‘haven’t I heard this before?’ The quality of this music, the low frequency shit, poppin’ mollys…Man, the path they’re directing toward these youth is self destruction. And the path they do it is more deliberate than it was when I was coming up. That shit is being force fed. Look at the content of music 20 years ago, even 10. The kinds of stuff kids listen to on the way to school?! How can you focus if you’re on that low frequency shit on a consistent basis. Even here in Michigan, they took the smooth Jazz station and put some of that old pop mainstream, poppin molly shit on.
After a while people need to see “that the enemy of my enemy is my man.” So let’s get together, start rocking and get behind a common cause to take back what is ours. Get on that guerilla shit and come together. That’s what we’re starting to do out here in Detroit. We’re having meetings to map out an itinerary to have a unified community and start pushing each other’s stuff. Everybody is tired and ready for a change.
Lord Jessiah debuted with supreme snares and original basslines. G.O.D. is a work that will propel Sun Tzu Cadre, the Detroit Hip Hop scene and the culture itself. It also shows and proves that it is possible to find the Most High high-hat.