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By: Todd Davis
Hailing from the "Cannabis Capital" of the U.S., rap duo, Potluck, comprised of UnderRated and 1 Ton, are making major moves thanks to their just released, studio LP, Pipe Dreams.
Rap Industry Dot Com recently caught up with the two self proclaimed "Dank Heads," while they were busy out promoting this impressive new collection of Potluck, a.k.a. James and Josh, material
Please introduce the members of Potluck
UnderRated: I Rap, Produce, Scratch, Engineer, (and am) Assistant Mixer.
1 Ton: I Rap, and Roll Blunts!
Let's just jump right into this brand new album -- You titled the record, Pipe Dreams, how come?
UR: Pipe Dreams is a fantasy or dream that is close to impossible. For us to start making music in a small town and have it come this far, it's almost a miracle already for us have come this far. And, the double meaning of a pipe and getting high, and dreaming about anything or getting high. It just was a perfect name for the CD. We actually started out with the idea of calling it Humboldt Life, but Brad X, of Kottonmouth Kings, (was) in a meeting with us when we were talking about this release, and (he) came with Pipe Dreams in about 15 seconds -- He is a genius!
How do you all feel that Pipe Dreams measures up to that of your 2006 "official" debut, Straight Outta Humboldt?
UR: It is just the natural progression of Potluck. We always, always, always, are trying to perfect our craft. So, the beats, the mixes, the lyrics, and the mastering is better. The concepts are more thought out, and everything is just more on point. Straight Outta Humboldt is good. Pipe Dreams is amazing!
Would you all like to point out some of the highlights on the new record?
UR: The CD features Kottonmouth Kings, Twiztid, and Big Krizz Kaliko. There are all kinds of tracks on the album. There are songs talking about bud, like the single called "Stoner Bitch," which features KMK. It's all about ladies who loves to smoke weed. But, the album isn't all about weed. We got real songs all over the CD, like "No Disrespect," "I Can Do Anything," and "My Dad." Then the final song, called "2 Minute Drill," has me rapping over 2 minutes straight in just one take and one track. The album is very diverse, and keeps the attention throughout.
Marijuana is an obvious huge influence from a lyrical standpoint
UR: We find inspiration by living life. A lot of it comes from touring, and a lot of it comes from smoking the best weed in the world in Humboldt. Seeing our group get bigger and bigger helps inspire the flows as well. We love making songs -- There is nothing more fun!
How did you all first come together to form the group?
UR: I was born in Humboldt County, and my parents were hippies. So naturally, I was exposed to a lot of reggae music in my early years. But, then around the age of 13 I fell in love with rap music. It started with Ice T, Paris, Public Enemy, B.D.P., N.W.A., Too Short, and 2 Live Crew to name a few. A couple years later, I became a deejay. I made mix-tapes, and played a lot of local house parties. At that time, I loved Dr. Dre, Snoop, Tupac, Tha Dogg Pound etcetera. Then, I started checking out the underground Bay Area music, like Mac Dre, Mac Mall, Spice 1, San Quinn etcetera. I respected this style of rap, because they were doing it all independent, making their own beats, engineering, mixing, and putting out their own CDs -- Making a name for themselves. This is when I got into making beats, and met 1 Ton. We met at a deejay tryout, where we both got a deejay job and deejayed the Hip-Hop night together. Then, we started making beats together, too. We would make beats for local rappers, but they didn't seem to be into it as much as we were so we started rapping, too. Now here we are.
What prompted you all to call yourselves Potluck?
UR: It's hard to define our style of music, as far as Hip-Hop goes, because we respect and listen to all types of Hip-Hop. You might catch me listening to Atmosphere and Talib one day, but I'll bump some Ludacris and Lil' Wayne the next. So since we like all types of Hip-Hop, our style is a little from everything. (So,) when we first started rapping, we had a lot of different races in our group. We had black, white, Puerto Rican, Mexican, and Indian etcetera; people all together rapping. We were good friends. A potluck is when friends all bring different food to a gathering and everyone eats big. Since our group had so many different people in it, the name Potluck made sense. Plus, we live in Humboldt, so the double meaning of the Pot from the Potluck worked as well.
When did you all start taking your craft more seriously?
UR: It took a long time until we realized it could actually be a career. We starting making songs for fun, and made about 200 songs before we did our first show or worked on releasing a CD. We got 1,000 CDs, and we're hoping to sell at least 100 of them to friends and family. It did so good we blew through the 1000 and ordered more. It was on since then.
You all are currently signed to Suburban Noize Records
UR: We put out two Potluck CDs, Humboldt County High, and Harvest Time. We also did a compilation called Tha Lost Koast Kollective. We were doing shows with different bigger artists that would come through Humboldt. Kottonmouth Kings came up and did a big festival with us in Humboldt and heard about us. From that, they kept an eye on us as we started touring with Tech N9ne. We got good feedback from the fans on those tours, so we finally inked a deal with Sub Noize.
What do you all feel it is that sets Potluck apart from both your peers and friends in this business of music?
1 Ton: Not too many groups with a 400 pound black-man, and a 150 pound Jewish guy in a group together. Plus, we do all of the album ourselves, from beginning to end, as well as being inspired by the best weed in the world.
What are some of your other future goals and aspirations in life?
UR: Once I found music, I never really wanted to do anything else in my life. Nothing compared to it. But now that I'm getting older, I realized I want to have a family, too. Just don't know exactly how to make it all work together yet.
1 Ton: I want to own the San Diego Chargers. But, if I don't win the lotto and make a platinum record to afford that, then I want to own a sports bar/BBQ joint.
What then is the ultimate plan in order to succeed?
UR: I think we will be doing this for a long time because we always are working hard to get better and make each CD better than the next. We also are just different than other groups out there, that'll always help us. People like different, I think?
Growing up in Humboldt, CA, who were you all fans of?
1 Ton: Actually, I grew up in San Diego, so my first musical influences were Run-D.M.C., LL Cool J, EPMD, then a little later on N.W.A., Too Short -- Then, obviously, Tupac, Snoop and DRE. But, being a big man, I always had love for Biggie and E-40. My homey actually bought one of E-40's first tapes from him, when he was selling them out of his trunk. But now that we make music ourselves, I am into way more underground and indie acts, like Tech N9ne, Atmosphere, Zion I, San Quinn. I am a Hip-Hop junkie! I really love all types of Hip-Hop music, as long as they are good at what they do.
How then does the music from way back compare to nowadays?
UR: I think there is just a lot (of) Hip-Hop music out there right now. Some is good. You just have to search for it. The mainstream has some good music, but a lot of it sucks. Back in the day, the mainstream rap was the good rap, too. You just gotta look around for the good music nowadays.
What about record sales with all of the illegal downloading that has been running rampant lately?
UR: The downloading is killing the CD sales, and there's no doubting that. Music is in a state of emergency, and music stores are shutting down everywhere. Luckily for us we make a living from touring, and fans seem to wanna support the underground movement more than the industry. Something will be done about the downloading sometime, we just don't know when.
That's good to know! So, do you all feel like you've really "made" it now?
UR: Getting respect as a rapper and producer at a national level (definitely feels good). Having made like 10 beats on albums that were on the Billboard chart (also helps). (Plus,) playing in New York, and getting cheered so loud we had to stop the show. Sharing the stage with top name acts in the rap game, and doing songs with people like E-40, Tech N9ne, The Luniz, Kottonmouth Kings, Twiztid, and Chali 2na from Jurassic 5 and others (has really been great for us).
Looking ahead, what direction do you all see Potluck going in?
UR: I think we will be still making music and rocking shows. I think we will be on a way bigger level, and more people will know about us. We'll be touring as the headliner, more than we will be opening shows. I also think we will be getting into putting other artists out, and producing beats even more. Maybe even have our own label one day.
Good luck with all that!
UR: Thank you! Just go out and get the new CD, Pipe Dreams. We got Kottonmouth Kings, Twiztid, and Krizz Kaliko on there. It's the best work we've ever done.
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