I had a chance to speak with Grand Daddy I.U. on the strength of some of the posts I made about his records here and on Youtube, and I had a lot of questions I was dying to ask him. He was really cool, open, and we got right into it, so let's do the same:
Ok, I guess we’ll start with some of your earlier material… On the production of your first LP, of course there’s production credits, but I’ve read interviews where you talk about how you came in with some of the tracks already essentially done and all… so I was just wondering if you could say, between yourself, DJ Kay Cee, Cool V, etc; just who produced what?
Well, basically, me and my brother did everything besides “Soul Touch.” Biz did that. And that’s about it, really.
And did Kay Cee do much production work, then, or just the scratching?
Yeah… me and him formulated all the tracks before we went to the studio. So, when we went in, we knew what we wanted to sample, what drums we wanted to put in, you know? And Doc was the engineer; he just made it happen. And Cool V was there; he was like the overseer. Biz was like never even there in the studio, really.
And is Kay Cee still down with you now?
Is he still working with you on the new stuff?
Nah, nah, nah. He ain’t been working on the new stuff, but he’s still around.
So, at that time, you had the single “Something New,” and that beat was kinda going around a little bit… Like Hi-C used it on “I’m Not Your Puppet…”
Hi-C, a west coast rapper... was down with DJ Quik.
Oh, I don’t know about him. I know Nice & Smooth had used it…
Right; they chopped it a little differently, though…
They chopped it in half. They didn’t use the whole shit. That’s why I was like, “You played yourself. Why the fuck? That shit’s hot to death! Why didn’t you use the whole shit?” So, they didn’t use thewhole thing, so I was like, “fuck that shit.” But then I heard that Marley Marl had did it for somebody…
Yeah, Tragedy and Craig G.
Yeah, yeah, yeah. But, that shit ain’t hit! My shit was better than that shit, obviously.
Yeah, yours was a successful single. But when you were doing it, then, you didn’t know that anybody else was using it?
No. I knew that Nice & Smooth had used it, but they ain’t used the whole thing. I was like, “fuck it. I’ma just go ahead and use the whole shit.” And I know that nigga Marley Marl was on the radio and he said something slick, some slick little comment…
Yeah, he even says it on the song. He says, “Now you know this is the first place you heard this beat right here… let’s see how many jump on the dick.”
Some shit, I don’t know. Whatever.
I wasn’t sure if he was talking about you, or Hi-C, or anyone specific…
I don’t know who he was talkin’ about, but I don’t give a fuck! What’s he gonna do, nigga? Can’t do nothing to me, so I don’t give a fuck. I did it, and I came off with it. Whoever don’t like it, I don’t give a fuck. If you’re mad, you’re mad. Swallow it.
Ok; and then, more recently, you put out an EP…. Smooth Assassin – the Classics. And there was a track on there that was never released, with Biz Markie. What was that recorded for; when was it recorded?
Yeah… That was like… ’92?
So that was originally gonna be for the second album?
Yeah, but the sample. They couldn’t clear the sample. Like, mad shit was supposed to be on that album, but they couldn’t clear the samples.
Oh ok, yeah. ‘Cause when I heard it, I thought that was a really good song; I was surprised it never got released.
Yeah, they couldn’t clear the sample because Biz fucked that all up because he didn’t clear that umm, what’s the name? I forgot.
On the third album, for “Alone Again?”
“Alone Again,” yeah. He didn’t clear that shit. Then, after that, they was getting on everybody. They were crackin’ down on sampled shit. And then they had NWA and Ice-T and all them motherfuckers talking all that shit – that gangster rap shit – “Fuck the Police,” “Kill the Cops” and all that shit, and Warner Bros started crackin’ down on all the lyrics. Then a lot of old school artists that you would get the samples from, like Bobby Womack and James Brown and these motherfuckers didn’t wanna clear no samples if you were saying certain shit in your lyrics. And back then, you know, I was saying all kinds of wild shit.
So, does that mean there are other tracks like that that didn’t make the album?
Yeah, a whole damn bunch! A whole bunch of shit…
So does that mean there’s a chance we’ll get a release of some of that, like on The Classics EP?
Nah, fuck that shit. Leave that old shit where it’s at.
Yeah, but that one track was really good and your first two albums were like classics, so…
I’m on some new shit now.
Right. So let me ask you now, coming up to the second album… with “Represent,” the single had some different lyrics than what wound up on the album ["Word to father, hot just like lava. Blow up the spot like the Japs did Pearl Harbor" became "Word to father, hot just like lava. Step to the U? Yo, kid, don't even bother!" And "refuse to pay dues; I use the uz and kill off whole crews like Hitler did Jews" became "refuse to pay dues; I use the uz, kill off whole crew, and lay back and sip brews."].
So, was that a label decision?
Yeah, ‘cause obviously I can see on the one hand how it’s potentially offensive…
But I don’t know if it’s really any more offensive than a lot of what was coming out on that label at the time, with like Kool G Rap and all. Or even other tracks you did.
Well, the thing is… It wasn’t even supposed to be offensive; I was just… That was just a fact, something that happened, you know what I’m saying? So I don’t see why it could’ve been offensive. If some guy gets run over with a car, and I say in my rhyme, “I’ll run you over like he just got run over,” that’s not offensive – he just got run over by a car!
So, was it that they’d gotten complaints when the single came out, or…?
No, they got no complaints! Just… as soon as they heard it… The main boss up there was Lenny Fitzberg[sp? sic?]. Soon as he heard it, he was like, “nah. Can’t say that.”
So, ok, then in ’94 you came out on an Atlanta-based label, Z Records?
Yeah, that was my man, Tony P. He used to be the engineer at Libra Digital; it was Tony A. and Tony P. When the studio shut down, he moved to Atlanta. He got with some African cat, who owned some oil fields, who gave him some dough to start a little label and shit. He ain’t know how to run no label! Know what I’m saying? He just had the opportunity because the cat gave him some fucking bread. So we just went ahead and did whatever. I just got my bread from that shit and bounced.
So, was it just the one 12”?
Yeah, that was just a one-shot deal; we knew that shit wasn’t goin’ nowhere! But the African cat had dough, so we were like, “fuck it…”
And who was that the MC on the B-Side? X-Filez?
Yeah, that was some Atlanta cat that Tony P. was working with. I ain’t know that nigga from nowhere.
Yeah, when I first found that 12”, I wasn’t even sure it was you… But then I saw “Steady Flow” in the credits, so I picked it up…
Yeah, that was some ol’… Strictly for the bread.