Being in the position I'm in, I get to build with some talented individuals. While I've only spoken to 6th Sense a few times, I've followed his path for the last year or so, from his "Ignite The People Like Obama" to his slew of projects with Mick Boogie, his Notherground compadres and other, outside production/feature work. Dude is a talented artist, whether its on the mic or on the boards, and I'm privileged to bring you guys a peek into his head, how he got into the Hip-Hop scene and some forthcoming news to pique your interest...
khal: Let’s start from the beginning: how did you first get into Hip-Hop? What was that first track/tracks that had you open?
6th Sense: I got into Hip-Hop around the age of 9 or 10. My uncle's ex wife used to work at Elektra Records and she would send me promos all the time. There was a Beavis & Butthead compilation that had a horrible Run-DMC song on it called "Bounce", but I thought it was the most amazing shit ever. My first rhyme I ever wrote was a straight jack from DMC's verse on there. I grew up in Throggs Neck in the Bronx, and I used to play basketball in Castle Hill. I remember one day I didn't have a ride to the game, so my teammates from Soundview came all the way to Throggs Neck to pick me up. I remember being in the back seat hearing "cash rules everything around me/CREAM get the money, dolla dolla bill ya'll", and just being completely blown away. I think I had a double double that game.
Around that age, I then started going to a school called Manhattan Country School. It was a really small school, in fact Kelis went there. But the founders of the school were close with Dr. King's movement and all of the doctrines of the school were based on King's philosophies, including the multicultural makeup of the student body. I got exposed to Hip-Hop completely while going to school there. We would always listen to Biggie, Outkast, Nas and Jay-Z.
I also went to day camp in the summer at Bronx House, and we used to always be on the bus taking trips places and I had a boombox and would always be making mixtapes. Bad Boy was huge at the time, the whole New York scene was incredible. We would just play Hip-Hop all the time. I was always buying mixtapes from various spots.
khal: Everyone who first discovers Hip-Hop seems to try and get their hands dirty in many of the facets of the scene. Were you always rapping and producing, or did you dabble in graf/DJing/breaking as well?
6th Sense: Well, I did actually DJ for a while. I had traded in my video games at FuncoLand and saved up money and bought some direct-drive Gemini's. I would DJ some parties - this was back in like middle school, early high school, before I started really rapping. I used to buy records all the time, buying 12"s was the shit. Fat Beats, Rock N Soul; there was this one spot near Metropolitan Circle in the Bronx that was incredible. I know I got some of those records still lying around, I think I've given a lot away to the DJs that spun for me over the years.
khal: I imagine you are trained in more than the art of sampling and beat machines – did you have any formal musical instrument training? If so, is that something that you take into your productions today?
6th Sense: I don't rely too heavily on sampling. If I do sample, I'm sampling in a different fashion then most producers. My uncle is a drummer, so growing up I always had a toy drum set to bang out on, and I would always go to my uncle's house to jam with him. My pops was a keys player and a songwriter in the 70s, and my mom grew up playing classical piano, so growing up, I had some piano lessons here and there. But in the last two-three years since I really started getting serious into producing again, I've been able to combine all my musical training and studying into my music.
khal: When did you realize that you were doing more than just playing around with sounds, and actually making tracks that would have more of a mass appeal?
6th Sense: Ya know, I don't really think about it too much. I can remember maybe a year and a half ago we did a show, it was me, Wildabeast and Jelani, that's all the fam right there. There wasn't too many people really, maybe there were 30 people, if that. And when the show got to the end, it hit me that every beat we rocked that night was mine, and it sounded good. I told Will and Jelani that after the show and they smiled.
khal: How did Notherground get started? How large is that collective?
6th Sense: Notherground got started because it described the sound, the lane. Wildabeast said we're not underground, we're on another ground. And I agreed with him. At the same token, Notherground is JUST getting started. The Notherground collective is very large, and it's only going to get larger.
khal: It’d be an understatement to say that your name has gotten large over the last few years; you’ve been affiliated with some big projects, for companies like Nike and VH1, as well as having your name drop on the cream of the crop of the ‘Net’s Hip-Hop community, as well as offline. What would you say is the reason for this: your grind or the quality of the music?
6th Sense: I'll say both. Don't get it twisted though, things don't happen just ‘cause I grind. The quality of music is there, and because I grind, it all happens. I try to not to put a lot of weight into it though, I'm always pleased, never satisfied. When you say Nike & VH1, I say Mick Boogie.
khal: What would you say have been some of your favorite projects from the last year or so?
6th Sense: I hear from a lot of people that the first mixtape I did with Mick Boogie, Go For It, is a classic. I like that mixtape, the overall "put-togetherness" of it is ill. I even got Peter Rosenberg "interviewing" me throughout it. Jelani's free album he dropped (Wait, You Can Rap?!?!) is one of my favorites. I put a lot of blood, sweat, and tears into that album; that album is dope. All the work I did on Mick Boogie's The Honor Roll, I enjoyed. I got about 7 more projects lined up for 2009 so far. It's going to be a crazy year.
khal: Speaking of these projects – how do you work on them? Is it a situation where you have beats that fit into the DJ/organizer’s vision, or do you custom-make music for these projects?
6th Sense: Depends, I'd be inclined to say it's moreso the latter. Mick Boogie comes with the vision, although we do bounce tons of ideas back and forth. I think that's why we work well together.
khal: Recently, your It’s A 6th Sense Beat Yo! mixtape dropped, featuring a slew of your instrumental tracks. Why did you choose to put out an instrumental project as opposed to getting MCs to rap on your tracks?
6th Sense: Well, all of these instrumentals already did have MCs rapping on them, including myself. I just wanted to drop it so people can see I've been putting in work on the boards and that they can expect a whole lot more in the present and future. Not knocking any producers out there that get MCs to rap on their tracks and then put out a project, because I think that's dope as hell.
khal: Do you have any plans to get a major deal?
6th Sense: Next question.
khal: What’s in store for you in the next couple of months?
6th Sense: 6th Sense & Wildabeast are... Both Nice the album. Beats, beats, beats. Outasight's "From Here To Eternity." The Kid Daytona's "Come Fly With Me", "Daytona 500," "The Flor De Cana Sessions." I'm mixing Jet Audio's "Stand Alone Complex." More music with Mick Boogie. Talib said he was workin’ on some Idle Warship stuff to my beats. Working with a LOT of dope artists, I can't wait. Production for pop UK artists. A handful of guest verse collabos. The SXSW festival. I got some big things ‘bout to happen for real, can't let the cat out the bag yet though.
khal: Are there any artists out there who you would like to get in the studio with?
6th Sense: Yeah a ton. But there's also a lot of producers I want to get in the studio with. That statement'll make more sense soon enough.
khal: I personally know you’re into sports; do you think your Celtics will grab that championship ring again this year?
6th Sense: I have no idea. I'll say two things. One, it's going to be hard for anyone else to get the ring this year if a man named Kevin Garnett is playing on the court. Two, I am so happy that I have the presence of mind on a weekday night to go, "oh the Knicks are playing, lemme turn the game on". D'Antoni got NY excited again, and while they're not exceptionally winning, they're at least very exciting to watch. They're gel-ing, and soon enough they'll hopefully be a contender in the East.
khal: Do you have any live performances lined up?
6th Sense: I'll be controlling the music for Outasight's performance at the Blender Theater on Feb 16th. I believe Fresh Daily and Oddisee are also performing. I just got word that we're trying to set up a "It's A 6th Sense Beat Yo!!" party out in LA for the end of the month. I'll also be at SXSW DJing for Outasight, and performing with Mike Maven. I also have some summer tour plans, but I can't say anything as of yet.
khal: Do you have any shout outs or final thoughts before we wrap this up?
6th Sense: I'm not trying to be somebody. I'm trying to do something. It's a 6th Sense beat yo!! Peace out!! Goodnight!!
I'd like to thank 6th Sense for taking the time out to rap with me. Make sure you check him out on MySpace, and keep it locked to the Notherground blog.
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