12 to 6 Movement on How they Got Raekwon and Others on Their New Record and Why They Called it Titties Out

Categories: Interviews

Not much for metaphor, this group.
It took a while, but local hip-hop trio 12 to 6 Movement finally unleashed their new collaboration-heavy album, Titties Out. Since our last interview with the group, they added songs with Joe Budden, Opio and A-Plus from Souls of Mischief/Hieroglyphics and Psycho Les from The Beatnuts to a tracklist that already featured appearances from Sadat X, Raekwon, Bubba Sparxxx, Planet Asia, and Keith Murray, as well as a lot of local talent. 12 to 6 Movement admits that the extravagant guestlist, the cleavage-boasting cover and title are partially ploys for attention, but underneath the brazen marketing is a fun album. Titties Out mostly focuses on braggadocio and good times over beats that range from dusty soul/funk samples to modern synth-driven club fare to guitar-driven rock. Although the album is not without its tacky moments, every member of 12 to 6 Movement brings their A-game and the guests prove worth their fees. RFT Music caught up with the trio and Matthew Sawicki, who mixed and mastered the album, to discuss how they assembled the album, reaching across genre lines for guests, and why they went with that title cover.

Questions and answers edited for length and clarity.

Bob McMahon: We touched on this topic last time, but what was your motivation for get everybody you got on this album? I remember, Spark1duh? that you said, "Talent is not enough."

Spark1duh?: Because in the entertainment industry right now, people care a lot about image and shit. And this wasn't so much of an image move as it is an attention getter. Like to say "Hey, all these other people we've worked with, our friends or people that we've done business with, playing shows and stuff like that, we are on the same level as these people. You just need to fuckin' think about it that way." So many people think locally in this town, they don't even think to the next state. They're trying to take over this city. They're not thinking big picture or shit like that. In this industry, there's so many ways to market yourself. And the ways I see a lot of these more like "hood rappers," or whatever you want to call it - we're not backpackers, I don't know what people call us. Everyone has a label for something these days - they got big money behind them. Whether it's from drugs or loans or however they're doing it, you know what I mean? And they're paying to get radio play and shit like that. We figured why not sidestep all the money that we could spend to get played on the radio and for marketing, and hopefully people would just pay attention based on the strength of the songs alone that we did with these bigger rappers.

How did you balance having so many guests and still making Titties Out feel like your album instead of something you are just featured on a lot?

Spark1duh?: Having more verses than they do (laughs).

Ser Lesson: The three of us work good together. Especially, the songs are based off our style, so we brought other artists in and put them on our tracks, not the other way around.

Spark1duh?: We didn't try to cater to them too much.

Jus Time: Yeah, we made them cater to us. Like that Killah Priest track, you've never heard him rap double-time. None that I've ever really heard. And then he had to totally come out of his normal box and do something.

Spark1duh?: Maybe that song "Heavy Mental" he did, but that's about it.

JT: But that beat was just a straight didgeridoo, like it's a real crazy drum track. And he just kept goin' and goin', but like that (song), he kind of flipped it. The track with Opio and A-Plus...

Spark1duh?: They don't usually rap that smoothed out.

JT: Yeah, they double-timed theirs and they did their thing. With Raekwon, we did a super slow song.

Yeah, that surprised me.

JT: And it surprised us! Cause we sent him (the beat to) "Can't Be Done," we sent him a couple other ones. I thought "Can't Be Done" was it.

Ser Lesson: And I thought maybe "All Black" even too cause that had that same kind of Wu-Tang kind of feel.

JT: But he was like "Naw, son. I'ma do this one."

Spark1duh?: It still kind of has that Wu-Tang feel, it's just different.

Ser Lesson: He murdered the track, and it was nice cause it was the slow track so it seemed like we got to hear a lot of him. And he gave us 24 bars instead of 16.

Spark1duh?: The only one that really caters to the rapper's style is the Joe Budden track. That one's already kind of what his songs sound like.

That's another thing I wanted to ask about: how you actually made the songs. So as far as constructing them, you would send out beats and see which ones the rappers liked?

Spark1duh?: Only on some occasions. Some of them they were in town with us, like Sadat X. He's kind of... we're not like tight buddies, but we're friends. When he comes to town, we're one of the first people he calls. And this is the third track we've done with him, collectively. That's just like doing a track with a friend. He comes to the studio and hangs out. Who else...

Ser Lesson: Hieroglyphics was the same way.

Spark1duh?: (talking about Ser Lesson) He's friends with A-Plus, they just kicked it.

JT: A-Plus slept on my couch.

Spark1duh?: The next night they went to Carbondale and hung out with them for another show.

Ser Lesson: Yeah we went out and did an Adult Swim party with them.

Spark1duh?: When we went to (South by) Southwest, Souls of Mischief just walked us into the green room like we were part of the band. Some of them we're actually homies with. We're not just some fucking dudes paying people to "Hey, be our friend!" (laughs)

Ser Lesson: "Do songs! Do songs!" But we did do that too. (laughs)

Spark1duh?: The (Bubba Sparxxx) one was a hook-up through (producer) Koko, cause he had worked with him before. So we didn't actually meet him, he sent that back.

Ser Lesson: Joe Budden came to the studio and did it with us. At Jay E's house. Keith Murray, I promoted (his) show, brought him into town. I was basically his babysitter for a day. That dude is the craziest dude I've ever met. But it was a good time and he came to the studio and laced it for us. One of the illest Keith Murray verses I've ever heard! I fuckin' love that shit!

How do you develop these relationships?

Spark1duh?: Just being real, man.

Ser Lesson: I think smoking weed has a lot to do with it. "Let's smoke some good weed." The reality is, we promote a lot of shows, and so we bring a lot of artists in town. And then you just gotta build a business relationship, and then sometimes you click with people and that turns into a personal relationship, and sometimes you don't give a fuck about the person and it stays a business relationship. A lot of the dudes are really cool cats.

Spark1duh?: Well, we're pretty charming son of a bitches. (laughs)

Ser Lesson: We are that too, we are that too. Most cats really are down to earth. If you're a down to earth person, you link up. It works.

Matthew Sawicki: You guys aren't afraid to approach them. I think that's helped.

Ser Lesson: Yeah, we're definitely not scared. If we see something and we want to do it, we'll go out there and we'll do it. We're not scared to do what we want to do.

JT: I think that what we got done, if we had a label behind us, it would have cost maybe a hundred grand. But just off our foot-solider, come in your face, personally say "hello" at your show-

Spark1duh?: Well we came to them with business instead of "sign an autograph." We're like, "Hey, let's do a track, dude."

JT: We got it done for a tenth of the price as what a label could have.

Spark1duh?: "Do you want to go back to the hotel and drink and not make any money, or do you want to make some extra cash and hang out in the studio and smoke some good-ass weed?"

JT: And it works. More of St. Louis needs to know that. I've really made an effort to tell a lot of people that. This isn't rocket science. We didn't go out here and throw a roofie in Planet Asia's drink and make him do a song with us. We just said, "What up? How you doin'? You're gonna be in town, let's do this." And so many people could be doing that. It's not just us. We're good, we're special, but we aren't the only ones who can do these things. Everyone should be doing this. Every major artist who comes to St. Louis for a show should be doing a feature with a local artist before they leave.

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