Miami hip-hop unite!
Crazy Hood's DJ EFN has a new album, Another Time, that matches the best underground talent in America with some of the godfathers of the genre to make an indelible classic on wax, tape, CD, and digital.
With two decades of mixtape mastery, artist management, marketing, promotions, and now tv and moviemaking under his belt, DJ EFN has cemented his place in hip hop history.
The album features the likes of Trick Daddy, Dead Prez, Sizzla, Denzel Curry, Gunplay, Talib Kweli, and 66 rappers in total on all original hand picked beats by 9 producers sharper than a stepping razor. Here's what DJ EFN had to say about rap music, why he did this, and what drives him to keep creating.
See also: Miami's Top Ten Hip-Hop DJs of All Time
Crossfade: What inspired you to make an album and why now?
DJ EFN: I had always wanted to put together an all original music album but had never got around to it. It just seems like the natural progression for mixtape djs even more so than other DJ's who just did radio or clubs. I had wanted to do this going back to when I was very active in the mixtape scene going back to the mid to late 90's but I was focusing my energies on my artists and getting their projects done and released. I was going to give it a go around a few years back but I was devoting a lot of my energy into the development and promotion of ¡Mayday! which I co-manage. So, finally last year some things came into place and it felt like if I didn't attempt to do it now it would never happen.
Is there a theme with your album and the title "Another Time"?
DJ EFN: Yes there is. I am paying homage to my mixtape past and mixtape culture in general. I am paying homage to the era of hip hop I grew up in and that inspired me to pursue a career in music. And I am paying homage to the Miami hip hop scene I come from. The artwork also depicts this by showing our mascot "Norm" in his
room, after escaping the insane asylum realizing he has been in the asylum for over two
decades. Shout out to Skam2? for the cover art and the artist behind our mascot. Skam2? is also well known as the artist behind the art on Eminem's "Slim Shady" album and Tribe Called Quests "Beats, Rhymes and life" to name a few. Not to mention Skam2? is a fellow Miami-ian from Carol City.
What's the difference between your project and a mixtape?
Yea I want to clear that up for folks. This is an all original album. People seem to put
out mixtapes and call them albums or put out compilations of other peoples works and call it an album. No disrespect to them but I think when you call something an album there's a clear definition of what that should be. My project is all original music; meaning verses and beats made for my project. In other words I don't have artist rhyming on Bobby Shmurdas beat or took a track off someone else's project. I carefully and painstakingly hand picked every artist and beat to fit a track and theme just for this project.
Is the album being released on a label?
The album was put together by me with the help of my good friend Nomadic Trackz
and is completely independent through Crazy Hood Productions. We have partnered up with another indie label by the name Redef Records who are handling all of the physical items we will be releasing. We are doing a limited run of CD's, vinyl, and cassette tapes. Yes I said cassette tapes! I am really taking this paying homage thing serious. We are also doing some 45 records of some remixes off the album. We also partnered up with the clothing company LRG as a brand/media sponsor. The album drops March 3rd and is currently available for pre-order on iTunes.
Do you feel like you're competing with the likes of DJ Khaled or Drama, or other DJ's putting out albums?
No not at all. I feel very comfortable in my lane and in my history. People use this term
way too often but this project is a 'passion project'. First and foremost I did this for me. There's no intention to sell all kinds of records or get on the radio with this project. So just on that premise this a completely different project then the projects other guys are putting out. I have a lot of respect for what those guys have been able to do and how they have grown as DJ's in the industry. Who knows maybe this project inspires me to do more stuff in the future and take it somewhere else but for now I am doing this for me and for anyone out there that could appreciate it for what it is.
Do you have any favorites or any highlights from the project?
Being that the entire project is a labor of love, every song is a favorite. But some highlights for me are having a DJ Premier produced track. Just as a hip hop head that I am that is huge for me. And on that track I asked DJ Premier to cut up vocals that Guru had did for me in the past so that was extra special. For those that don't know what that means, Guru and DJ Premier were the legendary group Gangstarr and Guru passed away some years ago. So needless to say that was very special for me. Another special track was getting Trick Daddy on the same track with Dead Prez and Juvenile. I have always felt that Trick Daddy deserves more recognition for his lyrics and contribution to hip hop. Most of us in Miami have nothing but respect for Trick and what he stands for in Miami. Lastly I was able to find and get Mother Superia. Most people reading probably don't know who she is but she was once the leader of Miami's hip hop scene and was called the female Nas.
Killer Mike, Alchemist, DJ EFN, NORE, and DJ Vlad
Do you feel your album is specifically appealing to an older generation that grew up in the 90's or likes that era of hip hop?
Yes and no. I know that folks that grew up on hip hop from the late 80's and 90's will appreciate it but in the spirit of being a mixtape DJ my job is to introduce people to new talent. So I have a lot of new artist on this project. I carefully got artists that made sense for each track and in doing so you might hear a track that features an artist from the 90's with a new artist from now and it won't sound forced or odd. I have new artist like Fashawn, Gunplay, Jon Connor, Blu, Murda Mook, Guilty Simpson, Black Milk, Cory Gunz, Your Old Droog, Troy Ave, Stalley, Jarren Benton etc.. as well as local talent like Webbz, Denzel Curry, Prez P, Amber Monique and my own Crazy Hood and ¡Mayday! crew. I am all about balance and I balance those with legendary artist like Scarface, King Tee, MC Eight, Redman and Inspectah Deck of Wu-Tang to name a few.
You mentioned Gunplay and Denzel Curry. Talk about that song.
The song is called "Lane 2 Lane" and is produced by my homie Hazardis Soundz. Me
and Gunplay aka Don Logan go back and I knew I wanted him on the project and in true
mixtape fashion I wanted to put someone on the track with Gun that I felt is a rising star from Miami and I found that in Denzel Curry who also happens to be from Carol City like Gunplay. I think both Gunplay and Denzel have their own lanes and fans and I wanted to bring those two fan bases on my version of a very Miami track. I just released the video for "Lane 2 Lane" which we shot downstairs from our office downtown.
What other tracks do you plan on releasing prior to the release March 3rd?
I started my campaign a few weeks ago in which I started with a track called "If You Run" which features Killer Mike, Webbz and Crooked I aka KXNG Crooked. I also released a
track called "Revolutionary Ride Music" that features Royce Da 5'9. Reks, O.C. and a new up and coming artist by the name of Your Old Droog. That track is produced by Buckwild whom is a member of the legendary DITC crew and has produced tracks for the likes of Biggie, Jay Z, Big L and many more. I plan on releasing the DJ Premier produced track which features Troy Ave, Scarface and MMG's Stalley. And the week before release I plan on releasing one of my favorite tracks off the project called "Paradise" which features Talib Kweli, Wrekonize (of ¡Mayday!), and Redman. If people pre-order the album they get every track as I release them and all the tracks I have released.
What other influences did you draw from in creating the album?
I couldn't do an album and not have some kind of caribbean influences reflected in it.
Here in Miami we grow up surrounded around people from all the islands and reggae is a part of the soundtrack of Miami. So I have a track featuring the legendary Sizzla and another track with Spragga Benz.
Talk about the producers you tapped for the album.
Most of the production was handled by producers in my crew like Nomadic Trackz, Big
Drain and BeatsNdaHood or local producers that I'm cool with and have a history together like Hazardis Soundz, Miami Beat Wave, Matt Harris, Davincci and The Guild. We have some very talented artist and producers here in Miami and I wanted to showcase some of these folks. People should follow these guys because they are all doing a lot of quality stuff.
What do you want people to take away from your project?
At the least I want people who can appreciate dope beats and rhymes to enjoy the project and feel I delivered a quality hip hop album. On a grander scale I want people to get a
sense that Miami has a lot to offer in regards to hip hop and that we are not limited to the
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stereotype of what people think we should look and sound like. There is more to Miami's scene than you might hear on the radio or in the club. Lastly I want to accomplish what I always tried to accomplish with my mixtape series which is discovering new artists or a younger generation discovering older artist they didn't know about and just mixing up various elements you might not of thought of before and creating something special. In the end I just want to pay homage to everything that is musically important to me.
What is the best way for people to follow what you're doing?