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10 Questions For Freestyle of the Arsonists

Posted in Archives, Interviews, Music, NY/NJ, Print, Uncategorized with tags , , on February 5, 2017 by Lupa

(I have a lot of material at other blogs and sites.  Some of it is gone forever, some I just need to move over.  This is one of them.  I’m guessing this is from circa 2009.)

10 Questions for Freestyle of the Arsonists

“I love the smell of danger, hearin the word Arsonist ain’t hard to figure yet / Gotta stop smokin MCs, somebody pass me the Nicorette”

If what passes for hip hop nowadays is store bought milk, then the Arsonists are that straight out of the udder, unpasteurized, unhomogenized thick milk i.e. the real shit. It’s not made for strip clubs and it’s not made for the ladies, point blank it’s made for people in the struggle to color their lives.

The Arsonists formed in 1993 in Bushwick, Brooklyn, which then was a prime example of urban blight; the streets were awash with drugs and gunplay was common. It is those conditions in which hip hop itself was born. No other type of environment could have breathed life into such a radical art form.

By the mid 90’s the Arsonists had gained local prominence with their single, “The Session.” This paved the way for their debut album, “As The World Burns” (Matador). It’s one of those albums that bumps all the way through in my opinion, just put the disc in and press play, one of those I have to clean the house discs and can’t be bothered to flip through tracks. Bottom line, if you want to listen to real hip hop, the essence type shit, the Arsonists’ music is as good as any place to start. Could they really call themselves the Arsonists if their shit wasn’t fire? Nuff said.

Recently I had the opportunity to ask Freestyle, a founding member of the Arsonists, some questions. Free has rocked the mic with the Arsonists and as a solo performer all over the globe with the likes of many hip hop heavyweights. He also is dedicated and appreciative of his fans, personally responding to every piece of fan mail he receives. He has a solo album due to drop this year.

Lupa: Can you compare and contrast hip hop from when you first started listening to it, to when the Arsonists were first putting out records, to today? What has changed and what has remained constant from your perspective?

Free: OK, that’s a 30 yr span broken into 3. It started out as an all about fun thing, in the streets and at parties, etc. Then when the Arsonists got to it, it was starting to expand worldwide and independent minded people got into it. Now there’s a big divide between commercial and underground, with underground not getting much light & respect at all. At the same time, it’s a lot easier for people to release stuff on their own, but its made things a bit over saturated. Now that anybody can release music, it doeskin take much skill or intelligence to put something out.

To me, probably the only thing that has remained consistent is the fact that hiphop will never die. Everything else has changed and is constantly changing.

Lupa: Do you think there will be a day that Bushwick will become gentrified to the extent other neighborhoods in Brooklyn have, like Williamsburg or Fort Greene?

Free: Of course, no question about that, its just a matter of time. Bushwick wasn’t always what it is now. It changed into what it is now and it’s changing again.

Lupa: What track would you choose to play for someone who has never heard the Arsonists music?

Free: It would be hard for me to play one track being that our songs all came from different angles. You can’t play one song from us that would completely show what we’re about, so I’d play the whole first album, AS THE WORLD BURNS. That would pretty much sum it up.

Lupa: What was it like when you guys signed with Matador? (Matador was and is known for its indie rock, but the Arsonists were the first hip hop group signed to the label.) Was there any apprehension or disagreement amongst the group for that decision instead of going with an established hip hop label?

Free: It was great being signed to Matador, I wish we still were. It was a perfect fit if you ask me. Matador is looked at as obscure and so were we. There were no disagreements or anything. It was all about who could put the music in the fans’ ears and hands.

Lupa: In my experience, music heads almost always have another creative outlet or art form they enjoy as much, if not more, than music. Is that the case for you?

Free: Yep. COMPUTERS! I’ve been into computers since I was a kid and that will never change. I love em both, but music comes first.

Lupa: What are some of your musical influences? What is the shit you bump today? In your opinion, who is the greatest MC and producer of all time?

Free: Soul singers, movies, and my mom. What I bump today? R&B, soul, alternative, and some reggae and Spanish music as well. Alicia Keys is one of my faves at the moment. Greatest MC of all time = Rakim. Producer = DJ Premier.

Lupa: What would someone who is very familiar with your music might be surprised to learn about you?

Free: That I’m so into computers and computer gaming. I do maintenance and fix computers. I’m big on the great outdoors & travel as well.

Lupa: Kennedy, Crown, what’s the difference or neither?

Free: haha! No difference!

Lupa: What’s the last movie you saw in the theaters and what did you think about it?

Free: Avatar, in 2D and 3D, English and French (although I had NO IDEA what they were saying). OFF THE HOOK!

Lupa: When does the new album drop and what are your thoughts on it?

Free: Not sure when, but it will be this year for sure. So far so good, I’m lovin it. I just hope the fans do too.

Many thanks to Freestyle for the interview and you can check out his music at the links below:

(*I updated the links which were non functional at the artist’s request)





My Small Tribute To Ray Charles….

Posted in Archives, Print on June 11, 2004 by Lupa


The music world suffered a loss nothing short of devasting with the news of Ray Charles’ death. They just don’t make them like him anymore; that mold has long deteoriated. Listen to R. Kelly or Musiq sing a song, and even to the most elementary ears it is missing that certain something that is clearly evident when a man like Ray Charles sings a song. Listen to his renditions of of “Eleneaor Rigby” or “Your Cheatin Heart” and they easily equal, if not surpass the originals. He shares a bond of with two other musicians I greatly admire, Stevie Wonder and Jose Feliciano, of being blind. However, anyone who is not deaf knows that didn’t stop Ray from producing beautiful music. Ray, like many great artists, had a long problem with drugs. Heroin to be exact. I always wondered how he managed to get the needle in his arm! All jokes aside however, he overcame this terrible affliction and led a life that was full and rewarding afterwards. Ray was also incredibly personable, and a person I could easily see hanging out with. It is incredibly rare for me to have that opinion of a successfull musician. He will truly be missed…

My Space Offenders

Posted in Archives on May 23, 2004 by Lupa


. Hi! I’m Ditsy McBlonde, my website is… Hear (sic) are my modeling pics! I’m really looking for down to earth people… my interests include money and cars… Why don’t you come and join the other 6,982 guys on my friend’s list and be a pathetic loser like they are…. My tits were a present from my ex boyfriend… What a chump! hee hee 🙂 I gave him ass once and he gave me a platinum credit line… Like duh, how was I not supposed to go for him… 2. Hey I’m Shirt Less JuiceBag… I’m real cut and obviously work out a lot… But I make sure and crop my face out of all my pics… See all these girls on my friend’s list, yeah all 11,938 of them… I banged all of them, every last one of them… Even the ones that are just guys who stole the pics from somewhere else… Yep, I’m real slick, I’ll tell ya… Here’s a pic of me with me and some girl that I don’t know that was too drunk to realize her picture was being taken with me… Maybe the roffies I pooped in her drink had somethin to do with it…I’m the man!

The Movie “Parenthood”

Posted in Archives, Print on May 15, 2004 by Lupa
I couldn’t sleep last night so I was flippin through the TV, and low and behold one of my favorite movies from the 80’s was on, “Parenthood” I remember really connecting with that movie as a kid, because it came out like a year after my parents divorced, and it showed me that no one’s family life is perfect. When I see it now, it still holds up. It is equal parts hillarious, heartwarming and melancholy. Any movie that can achieve that is okay in my book… even though i don’t have a book about movies…

Water Music Recorders…

Posted in Archives, Print on May 13, 2004 by Lupa


For all you Indie rock bands out there, DO NOT record at Water Music in Hoboken, NJ. I interned there for like two months and the owner Rob Grenoble is a dickless peice of shit. This was a couple years ago, but I’m sure he still is a dickless piece of shit. However on the recording end, they have a vintage Neve board that sounds incredible and the recording area is huge, and has great accoustics. Yeah, they’ve recorded a lot of the Indie heavyweights over the years, but resist if you can. Or, if you do record there, and I wouldn’t blame you, make sure you give Rob a really hard time because he literally treated me like a slave, and not in the “payng dues way.”

Mother’s Day

Posted in Archives, Print on May 9, 2004 by Lupa


I love my Mother, even though she is a bit of a nutcase. I am fortunate to have a good relationship with my Mother, and that she is alive and in good health. She raised us by herself, and I suppose I took for granted growing up how hard it must have been to try and raise two boys filled with testosterone. However, even if my relationship with her was terrible, I’d still pay tribute to her on Mother’s Day, solely for the fact she rented her womb to me for nine months free of charge…

“Green Card No Shield Under Law”

Posted in Archives, Print on May 8, 2004 by Lupa


I copied portions of this from an article in “The Rocky Mountain News” This affects me, LEGAL permanent residents, who are not citizens of the US. BAsically everyone with a green card… This is the climate in which we live in: The U.S. government is systematically trying to deport all legal permanent residents who’ve been convicted of a crime, officials say. For immigrants with even minor or decades-old convictions, the policy means applying for citizenship can trigger a nightmare: arrest at the immigration office, immediate incarceration and a deportation hearing. The deportation laws cover most crimes, from murder to a $50 theft or vandalism, said Corina Almeida, chief counsel for the Denver office of Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Only very minor crimes, such as some harassment cases, drunken driving and the most minor assaults, are not deportable crimes, she said. Every drug conviction is included, except for possession of 30 grams of marijuana – about a 1-ounce baggie. The laws are not new, but they gradually have become more stringent, with appellate decisions limiting judges’ ability to make exceptions, said private immigration attorney Lance Wiessenberger. The system “is becoming extraordinarily uncaring,” he said. “The hallmark of American immigration is supposed to be family unity. But now, it doesn’t matter if you’re going to separate a mother from her two minor children,” the law insists upon it for a mother who’s been convicted, he said. Legal immigrants with convictions now have a choice: Let their legal status expire or apply for renewal, risking detention and deportation. Congress passed the strictest parts of these rules in 1996, in response to the first World Trade Center bombing and the perception that the United States was soft on immigration. After the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, the new Department of Homeland Security took over immigration and put a greater emphasis on finding and deporting aliens with criminal records. The number of “criminal alien” deportations of both legal and illegal visitors has increased 13 percent in the past two years, to about 6,500 a month nationally. Fighting such criminal alien convictions is difficult, Wiessenberger said. Judges often are barred from showing mercy even for parents of minor children and those with decades of clean records. There are exceptions, but they are complicated. For example, the parent of a seriously ill U.S. citizen child may win a reprieve from a judge, but only for certain crimes. In many of these cases, no bail is allowed. As a result, immigrants sit in jail for months or potentially years while trying to fight their cases. Aside from the obvious suggestion of not committing crimes, criminal defense attorney Lisa Wayne recommends legal aliens plead guilty only to crimes that are not deportable offenses. “We try to come up with creative sentences to try to protect them,” she said. Boyle recommends trying for diversion programs, where the judge defers a decision for a year, then drops the charge if the defendant has stayed out of trouble. U.S. Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., has denounced parts of the criminal alien law for violating “family integrity, individual liberty, fairness and due process.” “Families are being torn apart,” Kennedy said in introducing reform legislation. “Persons who are no danger to the community have languished in INS detention. Individuals who made small mistakes and atoned for their crimes long ago are being summarily deported from the United States to countries they no longer remember.” Kennedy joined fellow Democratic Sen. John Kerry and five other senators to sponsor changes in 2000. The bill would have restored judges’ authority to grant mercy and bail. The bill died after 9-11, though, and hasn’t been revived. By the numbers: 77,276 criminal aliens were deported last year. That number includes: • 807 murderers • 2,219 rapists • 30,607 drug offenders
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