The Nation



Stop & catch your breath

The rhymes will be rolling when three hip-hop heavyweights are let loose on Bangkok's Royal City Avenue tomorrow night

Hip-hop artists are a mouthy bunch. Put three together and you're in for a crunch.

Presumably hip-hop heavyweights Ali Shaheed Muhammad, Shortkut and Maseo will come up with far better rhymes than that at their massive Bangkok show tomorrow, which also features local celebrity DJs and other hoppers.

The super trio is rolling across the planet on the Breathed and Stop Tour, and it's pulling into LED for a long, long night.

Ali Shaheed Muhammad is American rapper and producer who enjoyed fame and success alongside Q-Tip and Phife Dawg in the influential group A Tribe Called Quest. They released five studio albums through the 1990s, creating hits such as "Bonita Applebum", "Check the Rhime" and "1nce Again".

DJ, producer and equipment designer Shortkut helped build DJ culture into a multimillion-dollar industry as a member of the Invisibl Skratch Piklz, Beat Junkies and Triple Threat DJs.

And Maseo's contribution to De La Soul in 1987 helped launch the jazz rap and alternative hip-hop sub-genres.

De La Soul's debut album "3 Feet High and Rising" is considered a hip-hop masterpiece, packed with playful wordplay, innovative sampling and witty skits. England's New Musical Express called it the album of the year and the De La Soul influence hit Camp Lo, the Black Eyed Peas and Digable Planets, among many others.

Go ahead and influence us some more, we told Maseo in an e-mail exchange.

Got more in the bag?

I'm working on the new De La Soul album, "You're Welcome", as well my own solo effort called "DJ Conductor", alongside Ali Shaheed and some new artists we feel deserve a shot in the mainstream music fabric.

We need to know more about "You're Welcome", right now.

It's pretty much a traditional De La Soul album, based on creativity, lyrical wordplay, rhyme styles and mainly the right production.

The title actually stems from our fans appreciating us for not deviating from who we are and what we created, from recordings to live performances. The kind gesture from the fans is "Thank you, Dela, for being hip-hop" and recognising that 24 years later. To still be relevant among an audience that I feel is maturing and learning about us as they grow is a blessing.

You worked with Gorillaz. Is that going to happen again?

I would love to work with Damon Albarn again. I'm not sure if he's going to be on the Dela album, based on the direction it's going, but I hope to work with him on my "DJ Conductor" project.

What keeps your rocket flying?

The main thing that keeps me inspired is knowing that our work isn't in vain and that we're still a major request in the field of performing and recording.

Another inspiration is working with new artists that aren't tainted by the music business. All they have is their talent and dreams, with no real regard to industry rules, which allows them to be completely creative.

The overall drive and hunger that every new artist has is an innocence I will never have, because I know too much, but truly I enjoy adding my experience to that innocence. It helps give the new artists a much brighter chance at success.

So you're got a pretty positive view of the scene today.

The scene is going through another transition period. You have a lot of artists and labels, old and new, trying different things based on the paradigm shifting. You have the people who really have passion for the art and the business, trying figure out new things. The people who are just in it for the money are fading away or at least moving away from hip-hop.

It says at the top of this article that you're coming to Bangkok.

I'm going to be DJing alongside Shortkut and Ali Shaheed, who I rarely get to work with, but when we do it's always an incredible experience.

My gut feeling is that this is going to be a historic moment for us all. I hope it opens the door more for me to at least come back with my group and tour all of Asia.

I'd like to come with a touring package that includes De La Soul, A Tribe Called Quest, Jungle Brothers, Brand Nubian and Shortkut - but that's wishful thinking!


The Breathe and Stop show is at LED on RCA tomorrow, starting at 8pm.

Advance tickets are Bt700. Get them at Adidas Original Stores at CentralWorld, Central Plaza Rama 9 and Mega Bangna. At the door, the cover is Bt800.

Find out more on Facebook by searching for "BreatheAndStop".

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