Interview w/Firm Taqtics
By: Justin Rizzio
edited by Tom Williams
215HipHop: For those who don't know, tell us who you are.
Rick Rock: Firm Taqtics is a Philadelphia based hip hop group which consists of frontmen/MC's Rock Philth (RickRock) & Tommy C. Both were born and raised in the Tacony section of the city. We were those cats from the same hood, who knew and respected each for years. Anytime we'd cross paths or hang out, we'd freestyle or just talk about hip hop in general. We both shared that common bond.
So in 2006, after recording a track together, we were like "fuck it, let's start a group and see where it goes.” Now, here we are with 3 projects under our belt (Sharp & Precise, Term-Oil, Time To Invest) still carrying the passion to grow as artists, striving to make quality music. Shout out to the FT band for holding us down at every live show: Dom Cole (guitar), Tim Taylor (Keys), Jeff "The Bawl on the Beats" Peterman (Drums), Marc Castanzo (Bass) & DJ Cru Cut on the 1's & 2's.
215: Philly has been the home of many talented artists, so what does Firm Taqtics bring to the table?
Tommy C: I think we have a lot to offer when it comes to our music; especially with our live show. When we started doing shows with a live band behind us about two years ago, we knew that it would open more doors for us and even bring the live aspect to a whole other level. There are a lot of rappers in Philly trying to do their thing and we felt that it was in our best interest to step outside the box and not sound like everyone else. We've always tried to stay creative with our music and try different things whether people like it or not.
215: Tell us about the new album.
Rick Rock: The new album is actually a nine track EP titled Time to Invest. The title basically came from the idea of taking this music that we've been doing for years now and bringing it to the level it deserves to be at. Right now, we may not be as established as some other artists out there, but feel that if the right time and energy is put in to what we're doing, sky's the limit. The talents here, staying focused is the real grind. We made a lot of music this year but when it came down to releasing a project these 9 songs molded well together. As far as features go we kept it very limited; we got the homie Vasili and R&B singer Mister King on there.
215: I've seen you perform with a live band before, what's the production gonna be for this album?
Tommy C: We kind of keep a small circle when it comes to working with producers, not because we don't want to venture out but it seems to work out better when you’re dealing with people in your circle. We got three joints on there that a producer out in Pittsburgh by the name of Premise (Straight-N-Narrow records) did that all sound fuckin sick. My man Vibe Introduced us to him one day and we been doing some work wit’ him ever since. He's good people. Speaking of Vibe, he also has three joints on there as well. That's my dude. I love working wit him, he's got all different types of sounds that fit any needs in order to make a track that you want to make. My man John E Cab also has one joint on there that came out real dope. Doc Strange also has a joint on there and the band that plays behind us also did a track for us as well. There's a little bit of everything on there for everyone.
215: Between the two of you, who is the better rapper?
Rick Rock: If I gotta answer this question as a "rapper" I'm gonna say ME of course! But for real, our styles are so different that you can pull things that you like from either one. I get him on some songs and he comes back on murks me on another. Its always been a friendly competition. That’s what pushes us to grow as artists.
Tommy C: I've never really compared to see who was better, but if i had to say, I would say me. Nah, fuck that, I would shit on this dude! Haha!
215: Who would win at slapboxing?
Tommy C: I don't know. He's a little taller and probably has more reach, but I would say it would be a draw. Haha
Rick Rock: We go bar-for-bar all the time but I never got a chance to go hand-to-hand with ‘em. We should set that up sometime. Make it a charity event ... I'll do my best to whoop his ass up.
215: How important is it to you that you're from Philadelphia?
Rick Rock: I think it's very important that we're from Philadelphia. That's who we are; that’s what we live and breath. Even though this place has been a haven for negatively lately, there's a high level of pride that lies within both of us about this town. I'll take the bad with the good, the good with the bad. There's no other place like it in the world.
215: Pretend you don't know me and convince me to buy your CD.
Tommy C: This is the third project we've put out together as a group and we definitely have grown a lot since the first one we dropped in '08. Not only as artists, but as people as well. The EP is dope from the beginning to end. I'm not saying its Illmatic but there are nine really dope tracks on there.
215: Last words?
Tommy C: Yea! Come out to the TLA on Saturday December 17th and help us celebrate the release of our new EP Time To Invest and thank you to all those that have been supporting us for the past five years.