Monday, July 15, 2013

Return Of the One Liner, Omniscence Interview

It's a great time to be an Omniscence fan. His rarest material is getting remastered and pressed on vinyl, making it obtainable to many of us for the first time. His famously shelved Elektra material is making its debut after a nearly 20 year wait. And he's mounting a comeback, recording and releasing all new music. Now's the perfect time to finally catch up with him and get his full story. I mean, how many artists didn't just get favorable reviews but even a Rhyme of the Month in The Source, and then still not come out? So many heads have been on the hook since then, waiting for answers.

Definitely, definitely. It's been crazy, man, it's been a crazy journey;. I've kinda been able to experience both sides of the game, as far as being an independent artist -  which that's pretty much been most of the gist of it. But those couple years on Elektra, I did get to see what it was like to be an artist on a major. So I'm one of a few cats who I guess can say I've seen both sides of it, you know?

And what's crazy, is a lot of people don't connect... Well, they do now, thanks to brothers like yourself. But before now, a lot of people didn't connect the two different eras, due of course to the infamous "i" in Omniscience, and then the "i" that is not in Omniscence. Ha ha!

I was going to ask you about that! What is the story with the two different spellings? Was that just a mistake on 6th Boro's part?

No, no! Every MC has been at this point and time in his career in the early stages when he's trying to find a name. And, you know, I'm lookin' in the dictionary, I'm looking in magazines... And I came across the word "omniscence" actually spelled the way that it's spelled now. In the dictionary. And it had two definitions; one was "all knowing." But that was actually not really the definition I wanted to try to represent. But it was the second one, "having infinite knowledge," which means to me that there's no limit. Like "omni" means all, and then of course science or "scence" would me the knowledge of it. So Omniscence meaning there's no limit to what I can learn, there's no limitations on me. So that's why you have that raw side of me that's kinda ignorant: I'm smashin', I'm whylin'. But then there's a certain consciousness to me, too. And there's always been a battle between the two.

When Fanatic and I did The Funky One Liner EP, I wanted to insert that "i" because I went back and did my research. And that is also a word as well. And they both pretty much have the same meaning. But I wanted to insert the "i" because I felt at that time, I had been around some of the Five Percenters, and I'd been getting some of the knowledge of self. So I decided to insert the "i" because I felt I had more of a science to what I was doing.

Then eventually, when I got to Elektra, I was told there was some artist, or maybe an album that had that name already. [I think it might've been this one - werns] So i reverted it back to my original spelling of the name. So it was all a conscious effort on my part; but if I had been thinking ahead of time, I would've just kept it the original way. Because that did throw some cats off, I do believe. But you know, it's a new day, and thankfully everything is being thrown out there for people to understand now.

Yeah, with Dope Folks putting out your back catalog now, almost all together, that's gotta make it clear to pretty much everyone that it's all the same guy.

Right, right. The only record of mine that sounds the least, or separates itself from all the other records, would be the Back To the Lab joint, "Lost In the Music." Because I was so young, and I hadn't learned out to put some "umph" in it. And I was a really young guy so my voice hadn't started to come into its own. "Lost In the Music" was the very first song I ever recorded, and only the second or third rhyme I ever wrote. If you listen to the record, there's no ad-libs, no doubles...

Because what happened was, we ended up going to record the whole album - that means everybody that's on the album - was all recorded in one day! It was a long time ago, but I just remember about twenty of us being in a guy named Starchild's house somewhere way south, a very southern part of North Carolina I';d never been to. He had like an in-home studio. And you really had to know your rhymes because time was limited. I just went in and done it in maybe two takes and it was over.

But it was a great time, because I had come from a more rural part of North Carolina, and I had never ever been in a studio. And I'm around these guys, some of whom had made records, like my man Dizzy and KSB. And when you listen to that record, you can hear especially with my man KSB Fresh, he was really seasoned. That record "I'm Groovin'" to me... You know, I got a lot of the props for the record, which I fell slightly deserved, but his flow and his cadence on that record, man. To this day, I'm amazed by it.

Yeah, there was a lot of surprisingly impressive stuff on that album.

Yeah, it was! You know, these guys... Kevin K, of course Dizzy who had been in B.A.D. Rep. I'd already heard the B.A.D. Rep record and of course the Bizzie Boyz. Living in the rural part of North Carolina, we didn't get to get out a whole lot. So there was a college radio station, 90.1, and I could barely pick it up on my stereo in my mom's house. So Friday nights, I'm like 14, 15 years old, I wasn't doing a whole lot but I had a love for this music. So you had the legends of the game, you know the Big Daddy Kanes, EPMD, Public Enemy... all those records were playing on the station. but then they would bring in these Payroll Records, and they wouldn't miss a beat. The quality and the officialness of the record... I just thought they were some cats from New York, just bein' honest. And then one night, the DJ, god bless him, Texas Pete, he said, "I want you all to know, these records that I'm playing from these guys are your very own. They're from North Carolina." And then one night he even had them come up to the studio and do a big interview. So I was a fan of these guys like a year or more before I even met them.

Being out in that rural part, it was almost impossible that I would meet these guys doing their thing out in Greensboro, which is definitely not a metropolis, but compared to where I was from it was. But I had a cousin who was going to this college the radio station was airing for. And she ended up moving from where I was from to Greensboro to stay with her aunt. And one night, she calls me like, "guess who I live right up the street from!" I'm like who? And she's like, "you know, those guys, the Bizzie Boyz?" She didn't even know who it was, she was just like, "he's one of the members of the group the Bizzie Boyz; I met him last night." It ended up being Ski. I don't know what they had, some little fling, but it wasn't serious. Some little teenage fun. But anyway, she arranged for me to meet him.

So I met him, and I was just mad nervous. He put on some beats, and Will Ski was like a lyrical assassin back then. I look to him as being the illest lyricist to ever come out of North Carolina, but people don't even know it.

Yeah, now people just know him as Ski Beats.

Right, because of he went on to establish himself in a great way. Have you ever just met a guy who can do everything? He could do graffiti, he could break dance, he could rap, he could do anything, you know. He was like a superman. It's in his blood.

Anyway, long story short, he put some beats on, said some incredible lyrics, and I was kinda scared because I had never really written anything. So I attempt to freestyle, and I'm fuckin' up big time, man. Ha ha!  I'm bumblin' and he's like, yo money, look man. Just take these beats home, take your time and write what you wanna say. So I went home, of course I wrote a couple verses, and worked on 'em. I recited them every day until I had 'em in the head. And I kept buggin' my cousin like yo, I gotta get back up there to see Will Ski again! So, when I saw him, I dropped the verses on him, and he was just like: you got it, man, you got it. So, from there he introduced me to Eli Davis who is now the manager for R&B singer Anthony Hamilton. And the second cat I met was Fanatic.

But what ended up happening at the time, as you well know, is Payroll split up. So the guys who were in the Bizzie Boyz had to make a choice. Pretty much Fanatic and the owner of the label, Roland, were at odds. Because Fanatic at the time was producing pretty much all of it. Mixmaster D had done a couple tracks, and Fanatic was in the process of teaching Ski how to make beats, so he wasn't really a bona fide producer at that time. So Fanatic felt like, he being the man behind those records, he wanted to see Payroll go a certain direction with their deal structure. Because they had a big deal on the table with Atlantic Records; and for some reason that deal fell through. And the end result was Fanatic was kind of bitter that deal fell through, and I think he blamed Roland for that.

So there was a split, and Roland, Ski and Nyborn went to New York to get where it was happening at. And Fanatic and DJ Def who later becomes Mark Sparks and was also one half of B.A.D. Rep... they decided to stay back and form their own production, which was Def Rhythm Productions. They wen out and recruited a few more cats. And Ski was actually the cat who originally brought me into the circle, but I'll never forget him calling me. I was only sixteen years old, so it's nto like I can just take off and go live in NEw York. My mom wasn't havin' it! So he was like, you're in good hands with my man Fanatic.

And so, from then on, I started working with Fanatic. And also Mark Spark, he also produced what were my demos.

Wait, I gotta interrupt now. Those demos... do you have them? Will they be coming out?

Ha ha ha! You know what, it's really crazy, man. I'll be honest, I don't have them. But a few years back, I wanna say this was '98... I actually had a CD that had a few of those joints, about four of them. They were rough, man, I don't know if they could even be mixed or mastered to sound up to quality. But I had a CD with those joints, and I don't know what happened to that shit. I really think somebody got their hands on it, and I should've valued it more... That's how I feel about a lot of things now. I was a young kid, but even at that time I should've kept my hands on that. But I'll tell you something good, Werner.

Right after Back To the Lab, there was maybe about ten MCs involved... Well, it got shortened down to three of us. Cats weren't feelin' it, or... I'm not gonna say no names, but let's just say it got narrowed down! Ha ha So three of us: me, Dizzy Dee, and D-Mack. And this is real important because, after that happened, we formed a group called SoHo, which was short for Southern Hospitality. And we ended up signing a deal with Kenny Smith, a basketball player from North Carolina who played for the Houston Rockets. Well, back then he was a Queens cat, so you know he had music in his blood, and he wanted to sign a hip-hop act. So we recorded four songs, and I do have those.

So, getting back to the story... After Ski left, Fanatic was just like my mentor. At this time, I had an actual flow, but he was still putting together concepts for songs. My input was always welcome, but he was still the man. Fanatic was a real producer; he ain't the type of cat that just wants to slide you a beat and then say he produced it. He will do that, but he really played a big part in our early records. Mark and Dizzy had that tie from B.A.D. Rep, and D-Mack was their man, Mark brought him in. So those three had a certain bond, and me and Fanatic had a certain clique. We were all together, but we ended up splitting up because Fanatic really believed in me and he felt that this deal with Kenny Smith wasn't going to pan out. Really, he felt bad for all three of us, but he knew he could not get all three of us out of that contract. So he was just like, yo, you just need to go tell Dizzy and D-Mack that you wanna go solo. Man, it was one of the hardest things that I ever had to do, because they were like my big brothers. They really showed me a lot in the Back To the Lab and of course the Southern Hospitality days. It was a very hard decision for me, but I did it. And their was some animosity behind it, too; but it did wind up being the right move, I feel, because God makes no mistakes. If I hadn't done that, we probably never would've had a Funky One Liner EP.

But SoHo ended up putting out a 12", it's called "Shortie." It's actually a dope record, produced by Mark Sparks and Laquan, who is actually MC Romeo, from Back To the Lab. And I gotta say something about him, too, before we move on. He is very instrumental in the records Mark produced, even though Mark got a lot of the credit, but he goes by the name of Laquan now, and him and Mark kinda came into their own sound at the same time. Mark got a lot of the credit - which he deserved! - but Laquan also deserves a lot of the credit for coming through with that sound as well.

That's not the same Laquan from "Now Is the B-Turn?"

No!  Ha ha ha! I'm very glad you brought him up; you made me remember him. But actually no, this is another Laquan who was MC Romeo. I don't know if you're familiar with the sound that Mark Sparks kind of graduated to after the early Back To the Lab beats, which was more the classic samples, James Brown, etc. Then of course when he want on to do the Grand Puba stuff, and some stuff with Guru. He did a few things... his sound got more jazzy.

And smoother.

Smoother, exactly. And Laquan, I wanna say, aka MC Romeo - he was very instrumental and played a big part in that as well. And this record, "Shortie, Who's Your Friend" embodies that sound. It's really dope. And Dizzy and D-Mack, they body that joint. And MC Romeo, in fact, he's actually rhyming on that, too! It's featuring him, so he's actually rhyming at the end, and he and Mark Sparks produced the record.

So moving on, I'm solo again and it's just now me and Fanatic. And he was like, yo, we've got come through with some shit! And at the time, a lot of the records had a certain sound, and Tribe and them had started to come through with that sound, and I feel Fanatic was very influenced by that sound The Funky One Liner EP. If you notice, it has a lot of those horns; and of course Pete Rock was a very big influence.

So you hear the horns, the jazz samples and the hard snares. And I just zoned out to those joints. I probably wrote the Funky One Liner EP in the matter of one week. He hit me with all these beats on a beat tape, and I was of course heavy into the leaf. Ha ha! Nothing came as natural as those records came as natural as when we recorded those songs out of Ultimix Studios in Greensboro. It was just a vibe that we had, and I just can't explain it. Everything came together, and it was one of those records that was more about just a vibe. It was the era where everybody had the Timb's strapped up and the hoodies just like "rah!" But in reality, I was still this country boy from the rural part of North Carolina, you know, my mom's trailer. And it just had an energy I don't think I could ever truly duplicate. A lot of people say, "take it back, take it back!" But the sound of those records, the vibe that I was in... that was a zone indeed.

Now, that was on 6th Boro Records, but who was that? Who ran that label?

Hey, that was Fanatic! The deal was this. There was a studio called Ultimix, a serious high quality sixty-four track mixing board, fully equipped facility. It was top of the line, owned by a guy named Bradley Hinkle. Fanatic met Bradley, let him know who he was and probably turned him on to the Payroll records, and Bradley probably saw that there was something about this guy as opposed to a lot of other cats... he was serious about his music. So they formed a partnership and a friendship. I'm nto sure how Fanatic was able to pull off a lot of that studio time, but he pulled it off. It owuld be late nights, and we'd have to get in there and do our thing.

And of course, Ultimix had previously pressed up a lot of records themselves. They did a lot of club remixes of popular songs. I guess that's why it was called Ultimix to a degree. They'd do mixes on certain 12"s...

Yeah, I remember those kind of records.

Right, and so I think Brad had the connection to a nearby pressing plant; I think his name was Les. But at any rate, Fanatic was more or less able to be the owner of 6th Boro Records. That was thew title he came up with for his production company, and he was able to put that on records through his connection with Les and Bradley. I'm not sure if there was a kick-back to them for that, but 6th Boro is Fanatic.

Right, because Funky One Liner wasn't the only record on 6th Boro.

Of course. You had The Funke Leftovers. Fanatic had always wanted to be an artist. He didn't just want to be, he is an artist. You see, most producers aren't like that where they'd shape the ideas and push the artist and sculpt the record like that. Now lyrically... he needed my help, I'll just say that. I was the ghostwriter on pretty much all of the Funke Leftovers stuff. The plan was to come with the Funke Leftovers who were appealing to more of the ladies... they were wearing the leather vests with no shirts on.

Yeah, I remember that video!

Ha ha! Exactly, the Jodeci look back in the day, with the leather and the boots and no shirt on. And you know me, I was strictly hip-hop. And he knew that, so he was like, we're gonna throw this out there and see what it does, and we're gonna work on your joint at the same time. So Funke Leftovers came out before myself... Brick Flava dropped a record, I think that was before me, "The Bossman." It was a guy named Rock from Newark, New Jersey, and I think Fanatic was working with him and myself almost simultaneously. Rock was really a one-man show, but they were billing him like a group because he had some guys around him that I guess were his hypemen or whatever. And then of course after, you had the Lord VI and the "Cheeze" record that was just ridiculous I feel. That was actually recorded around 1996, a little bit after my deal with Elektra. So Fanatic has continued to uphold the 6th Boro name, even of course with his production credits for various people including of course Lil Kim, Michael Jackson, "Speechless" for Beyonce. He's done some really big records, so the 6th Boro name lives on. But Funke Leftovers was the one at the time.

I've thought about picking up the Funke Leftovers record, but then I figure Dope Folks is probably going to put that out any minute.

Oh yeah, Dope Folks haven't already put out the Leftovers?

Not yet, but I bet it's coming.

Oh, it's coming, it's definitely coming! Big ups to John Kuester over there. I just recently got acquainted with him, because I had no part in that Funky One Liner record [the reissue]. Because they were dealing with Fanatic, I guess, and he had the masters, and Fanatic and I weren't in contact then. I kinda let that slide, because that project was Fanatic's baby and it was on his label. But big ups to John because when you get to the Raw Factors, that's now something that involved Elektra, 3 Boyz From Newark, myself and Fanatic, too. And that's not something he wanted to move forward without myself being involved in. So we got together and talked about a lot, and I got a lot of respect for those guys at Dope Folks.

I'm gonna be honest, Werner. People were hitting me up since the beginning of the internet! We'll just call it the myspace era, because that was really the first time people could truly reach out to me. And from that time, people were hitting me like, "you name your price!" And I'll be honest, I was really avoiding people and not responding, you know, even saying I'm gonna put this record out myself. But the reality was: I didn't have the record. I didn't have the masters. Fanatic did. And him and I would speak about it, and he would always say: I gotta do some digging... I gotta go through my stuff and find it... I think I got a cassette...

I think what happened was Fanatic did not have it himself either. But he was over somebody's house, and I'm not gonna name who it was - that person will remain anonymous - but he told me what happened. He saw it, and he took it. Hew was like I gotta have this. It was on a CD, and it was crispy. So he was able to get some of the records from that. And from digging, he had found some of the masters that he had stored from some of our Hit Factory sessions as well. Because we recorded some of it in the Hit Factory, and we recorded some of it in a studio out there in Montclair New Jersey. It was all mixed by Ben Garrison, who was an in-house engineer for Vincent Herbert, who we signed with. But the album was mastered by Chris Garrison from Sterling Sound, a lot of people don't know that.

But you talked about you releasing the album online, and I remember you announcing that back on myspace... And you wound up putting out some mixes, like mixtape versions of Raw Factor. Like not really the album, but stuff from it?

Right! Let me get into that, man. It's the myspace era, a little bit before, I'm just getting acquainted with the internet. And of course the first thing I wanna do is google my name and see who knows what. And I'm putting in "Raw Factor" and I'm coming across this one particular collection of songs called The Raw Factor. And I'm looking at the titles like, this ain't The Raw Factor! But what happened was - and I'ma be honest Werner, I didn't put that out. That's what a lot of people thought, and that's why they were hitting me for the records like "I'll pay whatever!" But what that particular Raw Factor is, first: "Lost In the Music," which is totally way before The Raw Factor. Then it's The Funky One Liner EP.

Well, now, gotta say this. Of course, you do know that "I'm On Mine" and "Maintain" were on the official Raw Factor that was gonna come out. That was a deal me and Fanatic made with Vince. They were like, "we will sign you, but we want those records on the album." Because we thought the album was gonna stay in that same lane as The Funky One Liner. But when you begin to hear the record, you'll see that it was during that time that Biggie had came, and he really had messed the game - well, not messed it up in a bad way. But he made it really hard for other rappers to come out, because the labels wanted that formula of back when Puff started sampling the old 80s records. And Biggie made it so MCs had to switch it up a little bit. And I can't front, he impacted myself.

I always felt that, as an MC, I should be able to rock over any type beat. If my name is Omniscence, going back to that, there should not be a certain style that I'm stuck in. So some of those records you'll here, like the one where we sample Al B. Sure... I'm not gonna say it's totally away, but sonically I mean. Lyrically, I felt I continued to try to keep it a certain way, but sonically, musically, you would've never heard Al B Sure sampled on The Funky One Liner EP. That was the effects of being signed to a major.

But there's more out there than just the older stuff and the singles...

Well, after the Elektra situation, Fanatic was like, "let's make a 6th Boro compilation." He had now connected with Lord VI and he had an R&B group that he was dealing with. This was recorded in Ultimix, and I wish I could get my hands on that as well. But on this compilation is where you get the songs "Stage Domination," "Causin' Terror." It was a few joints, and if you listen to those, now we're moving further up in time, I've been scorned by the industry, things didn't go right for me with The Raw Factor. It was a harder edge on those records, because of course I came back home and I was dealin' in some street life and different experiences of just being back into general population. Because of course I didn't wanna go get a job. So I was out there kinda whylin' a little bit, out of my element. But you know, I do love those records. Those are some of the dopest records that have never been heard. And I truly believe Fanatic has those records and is going to be bringing those forth. There are about five from me.

So that Raw Factor consisted of all that. And then, this is the most heinous thing about that Raw Factor which pissed me off the worst. They put the fucking snippet tape from me and Big Kap on it.

That's what it was! With that stuff of you talking to Kap, I thought you had to be involved with the mix, like you two made a mix-tape out of the album.

I was like, really man? So can you how imagine how I was feeling? Up 'till not too long ago! I was really sour about this Raw Factor. But you know, the crazy thing, people were like, "yo, that Raw Factor was dope!" Ha ha! And I was just like, nah, that ain't really The Raw Factor, man. It's just a blessing that Dope Folks and Fanatic was able to make it happen, and that I was cut into the deal as well. It's just a blessing, because those records that you're going to be hearing from Dope Folks are official Raw Factor records. And, I don't know how to explain it... They sound really good to me now, years later. Back then, I was like, I don't know, man... I think people wanna hear that Funky One Liner stuff. But now, listening to those records, especially the title cut, "Raw Factor." That song is a representation of what I want the whole album to sound like. That is one of my favorite recordings to this day; I'm just glad people got to hear that particular record.

"If You Got Beef." Of course you remember that Black Sheep record where Dres is going buck wild and then he wakes up, "I dreamt I was hard." That was just me and Fanatic being like let's just record some hard, grimy, ill shit. Because I think that was the backlash of Vincent. Because god bless Vincent Herbert; he's a visionary, responsible for Lady Gaga coming out. He was a great business man, but I think his influence on us kinda took us from that Funky One Liner sound, so "If You Got Beef" was maybe me going a little too hard going hold up, we're still those dudes and we will still bring it like this. But if you go back to The Funky One Liner, it was a hard record, but it wasn't that hard. It was more natural to me. But now I go back and listen to "If You Got Beef" and it's like, yo, that was just dope.

Well, I know you've got one song that's even harder than that, which people haven't heard yet. I blogged about it before, called "When I Make Parole."

Oh my god, oh my god! Another backlash though, Werner. At that time, of course, Boot Camp was hittin' hard, Smif & Wessun had The Shinin' album. And then my man Rock from Brick Flava... he's actually in the "Touch Y'all" video. Fanatic is lip-syncing his voice sayin', "yeah, no question!" That's Rock; and he was just charged. Me and him were feedin' off each other and he's actually the guest appearance on that record. We were just releasing some anger I guess you'd say on that record. Because if you look at Vincent Herbert, his work to this day has been mostly R&B affiliated. There's nothing wrong with that at all, but The Raw Factor is the result of a raw MC coming together with more of an R&B based executive producer. And musically, the only time that has really worked to me has been Biggie and Puffy. I think Vince thought in some way he could pull off what Puffy was pulling off, and... we'll never know, really, what the record would've done. Looking back on it, I think this is dope, but back then I was really concerned about The Funky One Liner people who supported me from that era. I'm proud of it all, though, I wouldn't change a thing. And I'm very glad this music is getting to be heard.

Well, of course, it wasn't just your album that wound up getting shelved. Those guys had a whole roster of strong MCs... Juggaknots, Lin Que, SuperNat, Pete Rock's guy from INI...


Right. And 8-Off, all those guys all got swallowed up. It was crazy.

I think what it was is that Elektra had two MCs they were focused on who had already established themselves: ODB and Busta Rhymes, obviously legends.

I'm just gonna speak on my situation. We were a label within a label. 3 Boyz From Newark was a sublabel distributed by Elektra. So we didn't ask for a lot of help or guidance, so I know that may've caused a little rift in that situation. And the word is that the budget for the album was being misused. And Vince had a deadline to get this album in to Elektra, and this deadline, due to a lot of sample clearances - 'cause now we're sampling really heavy - you can't just throw that stuff out there. And so there was a deadline that wasn't being met, so they pretty much shut the album down and were like, we're gonna have to talk about it. And I think Vince's plan was like, "Look, man, I've milked this thing for what it is..." His thing with me was like, "look, we're gonna go to another label." And I was so frustrated, like the sound had kinda got changed and now it's not coming out.

So what I did was, I'll never forget it. It was a conference call with myself, Fanatic, Vincent Herbert and Barry Henderson - who I don't know if you're familiar, is the long-time manager of R. Kelly and the uncle of Aaliyah - he was actually managing Vince at the time. So I told all of 'em, I need time, I gotta go back home. I gotta get my head together man, because I am the kid from the country, the woods, where you see cows and farms. I'm from that. And I had gotten way, way away from that living in New York City, and things were moving very fast for me. I'm trying to hold on, but when you start messing with my music, that's like taking my soul away from me, man. It became to be a little too much, so I was like yo I want out and I went back home.

So that's why The Raw Factor never came out. Your original question was about me and my label mates, who were some dope cats. I remember my man Daddy D.

He was associated with Latifah or something, right?

Right, yeah I think he was. All I can say, I don't know each individual situation, but I think the guys A&Ring the projects were not very knowledgeable, and the guys promoting the projects. Even up to Sylvia Rhone whose name rings bells. Everybody knows who she is but I don';t know if they were in touch with how to market these hip-hop records. Whereas with Ol Dirty, the Wu was in full effect so it was gonna sell itself.

And I think they had the Das EFX comeback then.

Right, right! They had Das EFX who were already established. But I don't feel that particular album received the marketing it deserved. That was a dope album. And then of course Busta, they had to push that. But I got to speak with all of these guys during that time, they recorded a live performance, which I'm pretty sure you're aware of, the Illstyle Live. That was just a great night where everybody showcased what we were bringing to the table and I gotta say, we were like a family. Everybody respected each other's work. I just don't think Elektra knew what they had.

And what was the connection with Big Kap? Because he was on Illstyle, plus your mix which turned out to be your snippet tape. 

That was my man, one hundred grand. I was introduced to him by a guy named Sincere Thompson, who also hooked up that record I did with Sadat X, the remix. Sincere's just an all around business man and he actually linked me up with Kap. Me and Kap were serious blunt smokers. We hit it off; he actually came out to stay at my crib in Jersey when we were recording The Raw Factor. And I would come out to Brooklyn and hang out with him. We bonded a little bit and that was a natural thing. And of course you know at the time - and probably to this day; I haven't talked to him in a while - he was rolling with Flex and the whole Flip Squad. So there was great potential to parlay that album; we had a lot of things going in our favor. But I still believe, as an MC... You know, some people were meant to put on that shiny suit or jump out and be that. And some artists are meant to keep it true to the core of who they are. But anyway, Kap is my man, and we actually performed five or six more times together, and each time was really good.

One thing that's kinda surprising, especially with your style and the times you were coming out - I guess it's because, coming from NC, you weren't so plugged into the scene - is that you never really did any guest verses on anybody else's projects.

Hey, that's right! You know, recently, I told my man K-Hill thanks for giving me my first guest appearance! You know, that's a North Carolina thing. But to be honest, Werner, I have always been to myself. I have never been that guy - and I regret that in a lot of ways - but I've never really been that guy, like, if we're at a party and X rapper is over there, I'm not gonna go over like yo I"m Omniscence and I wanna do a joint with you! I've always been to myself and I've always been hard to contact up until recently. I've really been to myself. I haven't really been traveling or moving around or anything. I've really been kinda around the way with my peoples and haven't made myself accessible to a lot of people. But I'm here, if anybody should ever wanna collaberate or do a joint, you never know what the future may hold.

Yeah, and certainly before I end this I have to get into the fact that you're back making records now.

Definitely, definitely! I feel like we saved the best part for last, Werner! Ha ha ha! I don't know, that remains to be seen. But let me just say as we're coming to the end... I have never met face to face John Kuesler from Dope Folks, who I hold in high regard. I've never met yourself, who I hold in serious high regard. And I have never met Debonair P face to face. But let me just say Debonair P is one of the truest cats, just how he and I have conducted business. And he is truly someone who I will go to bat for in any situation. This guy is the one guy... Everybody has always wanted to focus on the older records, which I love. I appreciate that love because any love is better than no love. So I get it and I appreciate that. But Debonair is one of the first cats to approach me and say, "I'm a fan from back in the day, but would you be interested in doing some new music? Like, do you still do this?" Ha ha!

Because, see,, the whole time, I never stopped keeping my ear to the music. I never stopped writing and I never stopped believing that I could do it. If this was football or a sport, I could see where as I age, that's gonna have a deterioration on my body and I can't do it... But this is hip-hop! What did Krs say? Even in that time, I'll say a rhyme! When I'm eighty, runnin' around like I'm wild and crazy. So Debonair is one of the first cats and was very instrumental inn me wanting to do this again, along with my man K-Hill, too.

So he shot me some music and I was really digging what he shot me. So with the "Raw Factor 2.0," what I wanted to do was... When you've been gone from the game as long as I have, you don't want to come back on some totally new, like, "is this Omniscence?" So what I tried to do with that record was recapture some of the flair and the rawness of the older records: The "Amazin'"s and the "I'm On Mine"s, "Maintain," alla that. Really "Amazin'" was the record I wanted "Raw Factor 2.0" to be similar to. The samples that Debonair chose was a little smoother, but I still felt that if I put the raw edge on it, we could capture that. And the response has been great!

Which lead to us doing this EP, which just came out.
Yeah, you say it just came out, it JUST came out, like yesterday [order it here]. My copy's still in the mail, I ordered the cassette.

Oh yeah man, I just got my copies the other day. And let me just say, other than the warmth that you'll get from vinyl that was done off a two-inch tape, there's nothing like hearing the warmth off a tape. Other than the vinyl; but it's different. It's really a different sound than the digital recordings..So for the fifty people that are gonna get that cassetre, man, y'all are really gonna get a treatr, man. It's really a good listen.

 And Sharp Objects is a different record. I really want to state that for the record, on this interview, I really want this to be known. It's me speaking on a few topics... Not to say these topics have never been touched on, but these are my perspectives, and my point of view on some of these things are actually sharp. They could actually pierce or cut the average person that's listenin'. As opposed to me just doing some freestyle or party records. That's why I call it Sharp Objects.

Because on "Raw Factor 2.0," people were like okay, he's still in that vein. And I still am. But you gotta realize that I'm forty years old. And when I did those records I was nineteen, twenty, twenty-one... I got a kid now, I got a girl, I'm living at home. But I'm still going out doing some things as well. Because I can't ever shake what's inside of me. So the record Sharp Objects is a perfect blend of me now, mixed with where I was back then. Because some things are never going to change; you can probably tell from this interview I'm still very hyped up about a lot of things. I just hope that the listeners who hear this record allow me to grow and mature, because that's simply what has happened. Because if you throw on the first Redman record, and then you throw on whatever his last joint was, you know, you're going to hear that's till Redman. But you're going to hear the differences in the cadence, the maturity of the voice. And I'm a lot calmer now. I'm still wild and rough, but I like to call it a controlled rage. Ha ha!

And one thing I do think also is difference about Sharp Objects is it's a concept record, man. More than anything, I'm speaking on concepts. Each song has a meaning to it besides just jumping on a mic, which I've been known to do. But if everybody listens to this record and sticks in there with me, I also wanna say that Debonair and I are also planning to do a full-length album, which will include some of the songs from Sharp Objects. And on that album, I'm going to try to touch more angles that I can touch and there will be more of those punchlines and those metaphors. I gotta tell you this, too, before I gotta go. I really appreciate how you were able to point out that in the "Raw Factor 2," I was delivering the punchlines, but they were different. They weren't delivered in the way that let's say I would've done it back in the early nineties, because that would sound kinda corny now, certain things. So I gotta give it to you, your ear is immaculate, because you really peeked that out. So what I'm gonna do on the full-length record I'm gonna do, there's a record I'll preview for everybody right now... It's gonna be called "Return Of the One Liner." And we're gonna go for broke on those punchlines. And I"m gonna try to make them as witty as ever, but not corny. We're gonna see can I pull that off, Werner!


  1. "amazin" !!! incredibly interview, Werner!
    and Omni, that studio you speak of in Montclair NJ (Above the diner), was up the block from my house.. I remember going there with my hs buddies to try n "get signed" (HA!!!) and the guy there telling us about an artist named Omniscense who I already knew about from Battle of the Beats ("Touch ya'll") & the source..

    And I still got my Ill Style Live double LP with the dope freestyle to the Total beat!
    Glad to see you're finally getting your just due..