Army Of The Pharoahs really managed to hold it down for Philly in 2011. We saw albums by Outerspace, Jedi Mind Tricks, Reef, Doap Nixon, and of course, King Syze. Anyone who says AOTP isn't the most consistant crew in Philly hip hop might want to do their homework. Contributing a large part of that consistancy this year would definetly be King Syze's Collective Bargaining album. Produced entirely by Skammadix & filled with top notch guest appearances, this is a stand out record amognst stand out records. Those familiar with the AOTP legacy already know. Those who aren't, take this opportunity to find out what you've been missing.
215hiphop: Let's start right off by talking about the new record. It's your third full length and this time you worked exclusively with one producer. Tell us about that.
King Syze: It's taking me three years to drop a new record and that wasn't because of laziness or lack of focus. In the time from The Labor Union until now we moved our kids into a better neighborhood and had our third baby. Around that time I started my third record which
was supposed to be called Overtime. During the recording of that I ran into multiple problems with young producers and engineers. Because of the frustration of producers not sending files, engineers losing vocals, etc. I scratched the whole project. After not recording anything for a minute I thought for my next record I just wanted to work with one producer. Skammadix’s always been at the top of my list of best producers I've dealt with. I hit him up and he was down right away. I was skeptical at first wondering if I did the right thing by committing to one producer for an entire record. Skam sent me the first zip file of six beats and I loved all six and that's when I knew this was the right decision. The album was only suppose to be ten songs but we both got in a groove and kept going. There’s 17 songs on the album and I recorded 17 so nothing went to
waste. It was definitely a fun album and Skam did a great job on the production definitely made it easy to write.
215: Since you had Skammadix produce the whole album; how was the process of making Collective Bargaining different from your previous albums?
King Syze: To be completely honest Collective Bargaining was so much easier in some ways and much harder in others. Skam made it much easier from a technical stand point. He sent every track in a professional manner, nothing was lost and everything was sent on time and on correct format that I want to salute to him. He's definitely a professional. As you can see I had a lot of features on the record. Sometimes getting everyone to send their stuff is what made it harder but at the end of the day they're all my team, for most part, and they all came through for me in the clutch. Shout to Paz and Bill on that note I know how busy they are and they came through for me like they always have. Salute!
215: For those that don't know, what does Collective Bargaining mean?
King Syze: Collective Bargaining is the process of negotiating a contract; usually between a Union and a Company. The reason I named the album Collective Bargaining was because I wanted a lot of features in a collective effort to make a good underground hip hop album. Kind of
like we all came together to negotiate a deal to make the album great.
215: Besides the actual music, what impressed me the most about this record is that you went the true indie route and did it all yourself. What was that experience like compared to being on Brick Records or Babygrande?
King Syze: Deciding to do this completely by myself was difficult. When you’re with a label you don't have to worry about pressing CDs and what companies to use for what. Also, with a label there's usually an advance to help pay for the cost of the album. Every dollar that was
thrown into CB was out of my pocket so at times it was difficult. From a technical stand point Skammadix handled getting the CDs pressed. From what he told me that was no easy thing, it took hours of trying to figure things out. It was a learning process for both of us.
215: Usually when I see an album with a lot of features I tend to be skeptical, but on Collective Bargaining it really seems to work. None of the features sound forced and it stays cohesive. How did you decide who to feature and how many features you were going to have?
King Syze: Most of the artist on Collective Bargaining are from our team AOTP so naturally when I was thinking about doing the project it was originally going to be Collective Bargaining featuring Army of the Pharaohs but it obviously didn't turn out that way. Skam had some artist he wanted on the record like M-Dot and Diabolic. Since I already knew Diabolic that was no big deal and plus he's one of my favorite artist. M-Dot was someone who I was introduced to via Internet by Skammadix. I did my research on his music and he fit right in with the record. He has become a friend over the process. When I do music Paz is obviously going to rock with me but “Golden Casket” was originally going to be just me and him but because of his recent collaboration with IllBill he thought it would have been better to do a joint with Bill on the same track. So after contacting Bill he was obviously down to rock with me and Paz on the record. I’ve known Bill
for a few years now and hes he's def a close friend not just an associate. Live from the “Beef and Beer” was an idea I had to bring an old school touch to the record and gave me a chance to work with artists that I wanted to work with in Philly such as Side Effect, Burke and Baby Blak. Nixon and Turner are my fam so they'll always be around to rock with me. The only other artist that's not apart of the team was Chris Webby. He's someone I never officially met but stumbled across his mixtape The Best In The Burbs at Dave Humes studio saw he was from CT so I called my brother Apathy and asked about him and he knew him; the rest was history. All the features in the album weren't planned but for this record everything just seemed to fall in place.
215: So, the album has been out for a few weeks now, how's the fan reaction been?
King Syze: The reaction from the fans is great. I haven't heard or read one thing bad about the record. Usually when you drop a record there's usually a few heads really hating. The only reason I call it hating is because the ‘net has given fans a place to express their opinion. I'm from a time were if you didn't like a record you just put it in the case and back on the shelf and on to the next. Overall the response has been great and I appreciate all the fans that I have.
215: Being familiar with your work, I noticed on this album it seems like you really went in lyrically on every track. You still managed to dominate the album even with so many features. Were you purposely making sure you weren't outshined on your own album?
King Syze: I wouldn't say I was I trying harder for this record; I just seemed to be in a zone. Plus when you're surrounded by that much talent on your own album it keeps you inspired to do your best. You can't go into a song with this caliber of artist and not bring your A game. I've been doing this for a long time and rocked with the best so I feel like I can hold my own with anybody.
215: Skammadix and you really seem to compliment each other. Will you be continuing to work together on future projects?
King Syze: Actually we’re in the process of doing Collective Bargaining 2 with a whole new cast of artists and some re-appearances from the first. So as of right now we’re working on that and I’m getting ready to record a full length with my brother Crypt The Warchild. Next year is gonna be another good one for the Army.
215: If it was you vs Skammadix in a game of Scrabble, who would win?
King Syze: Definitely Skam. Although I put words together well I can't spell to save my life
215: In a game of Connect Four?
King Syze: I got him on that one, one false move game over.
215: How about dominos?
King Syze: Probably Skam because I'll use the game as an excuse to get really like Drunk. Whiskey on you?
215: Last words?
King Syze: I want to send a message to all the underground fans across the world. Buy your favorite artist records and support the artist. I read hate on the net from our fans for Lil Wayne but the reason Lil Wayne is on top is because his millions of fans BUY all his music. In America corporations are not the ones in power, we the consumer do. If millions of people buy Lil Wayne then that's what your gonna get all over the place. If everyone one of our fans bought our record instead of illegally downloading the music then it would be us you hear all the time. Thanks for all the support and let's keep the hiphop alive.