A staple of the Minnesota hip-hop scene, Long Doe Records are celebrating ten years as a crew, a label, and a movement this Saturday at the Cabooze. The street rap pioneers have been remarkably prolific in that time, with a staggering list of releases and collaborations under their belt, and have had their hand in a number of the last decades major rap shows. Gimme Noise sat with Tony Bones, Big WiZ, Mike the Martyr, and Aquafresh to talk about the history of their crew.
Gimme Noise: Long Doe has been on the scene for some time. What marks the official beginning?
Tony Bones: Basically, we had this dream, and it started in 2002. Me and Wiz ended up dropping an album. That was one of the biggest days of our life, the iconic release we had at the Mainroom.
Big WiZ: This was before we had our own studio, when only a few people even had good hip-hop studios. So we're over there paying 30, 40 bucks an hour with this passion to do it. It's a constant learning process that we've been going through, and I think we're really grasping it right now, finally, after ten years deep. [Initially] I never wrote, I never really grasped the point of writing, I just rapped for fun at parties and shit, blunted, drinkin 40s and rappin'. [Anchormen rapper] T LaShawn was really the first cat that embraced me as an artist. "Yo, you gotta couple of lines, bro, you gotta write that down, that's hot dude. You can't be giving those away for free,". That kinda gave me an opportunity. T's been down with us, me and Bones, since the beginning.
Mike the Martyr: [Before I joined Long Doe] I used to meet them at shows back in the day; they were like the biggest show promoters in the year 2000. They would be throwing Do or Die shows, Saigon, all these dope shows. It was a cool time to see that, all those different artists coming into little clubs, As just a hip-hop fan, I didn't really know them personally, but I was going to all their shows because I loved hip-hop. I would see Tony Bones out there stressin', cuz it was his show.
Aquafresh: [Before I joined] I was kinda doing my own thing. I was in this Spanish reggae group [Lirica Secreta], it was fun. I met up with these guys at a show, it was after like two, three years of these guys showing up to the club. After many years of showing me love every single day, like real genuine people that show genuine love, after some months we're like, let's just vibe together, let's just do this. That's really what it was.
Big WiZ: I didn't even know he rapped for like the first ten times I hung out with him.
Gimme Noise: How many records would you say are under the Long Doe umbrella?
Big WiZ: All of Long Doe? Wow... We probably got 30. You can get some of 'em online for free, a lot of 'em in the streets, Fetus, Cheapo... We're constantly releasing music. Mike the Martyr projects, Aquafresh projects, Tony Bones projects, Big Wiz projects, Mommy Game, Cleva, two Long Doe compilation albums, me and Bone done an album together, me and Martyr got an album coming out... We got a legendary project Martyr produced, I executive produced, called Berri TV with the Bronx legend AG, he started hip-hop, that's one that we're proud of we'll be putting out, it's timeless music. Me and Tony Bones have an album coming out after seven years of not releasing a project together. We've established ourselves as solo artists since then, but we're coming back with a crazy, epic, monstrous, historic album. It's gonna be self-titled, Bones and Wiz. Probably spring or summer 2013. We got some heavy hitters on there. Mike the Martyr produced it.
Tony Bones: On that album, we'll have Twista, Talib Kweli, Alchemist, Bizzy Bone, Evidence, Johnny P, Terminology, Tash of Alkoholiks, C-Bo, Do Or Die, Phil Da Agony...
Aquafresh: We're not just making music. We're constantly building. We've been here for ten years, it's been ten years of building. You always gotta keep it moving, especially with how things are changing. Everything's moving, you gotta move with it
Tony Bones: Ten years ago, the scene wasn't like it is now. It was very segregated. We're a strong part of why the scene is what it is now, because we were some of the people who took the risk. We wanted to show that Minnesota's not just Minnesota, Minnesota's international. We're part of this hip-hop thing too. I think our city has the potential to be a big entertainment city. The next coast.
Aquafresh: We are! Everybody's watching us. We're already on top of the game. Minnesota's been there. Prince has already conquered. Prince is one of the first rappers out of Minnesota. Prince spit his raps, yo. We on the map, we've been on the map, we're just following suit.
Big WiZ: It's this more organic area now where there's all these shows going and there's so many different genres. We worked with some of the OGs in the game, like Sadat X, and AG, Triple Seis, cats from the East Coast, and these dudes literally want to live here and move here because it's more poppin' here than it is where they're at. There's a show every night in Minnesota if you really wanna find something. That's good and bad. There's a ton of artists here that are really, truly artists. There's a bright future here. you just gotta stay on your grind, stick to it, and do your own thing.
Gimme Noise: What are some of the highlights of Long Doe Records in the past decade?
Big WiZ: One of my biggest moments to this day was this summer, being able to be involved in the Soundset festival. They showed us love by putting us on Soundset this year. We're outside of what they do musically, we're a little more street. Me and Bones have gone up to [Siddiq], separately and together, over the last four years, like, "We're ready to get on Soundset, throw us on"... Finally we just had to step our game up and really get viral with him, and they offered it to us this year without even asking. That's love from them that they put us on this year, that was real fresh.
Aquafresh: They couldn't deny us.
Tony Bones: We've gone to Mexico for like 6 years, performing in front of giant crowds. Just to be in another country, in the sun, performing live on a beach, thousands of kids jumping all around, and we're just out there rocking, and it's amazing, signing boobies and... it's amazing.
Mike the Martyr: One of my favorite Long Doe moments was at a studio session where they brought Evidence, Alchemist, and Termanology. First of all, we got to hang out with those dudes backstage at their show, and then they brought them to the studio; we got to hang out for like 5 or 6 hours, drinking and partying with them. We were all fairly young and not knowing how everyone would act, it was dope. It was a good experience, hands-on, working with dudes like that.
Big WiZ: There's that video with Alchemist where he's like, "Man, Long Doe smokes more than I do,". [laughs]
Aquafresh: Seriously, anybody who comes and fucks with us, they're like, you guys are the most motherfucking sick kids... [laughs]
Big WiZ: The Dave Wilson [cypher] video [with Atmosphere, Prof, Carnage, Meta and Mr. Snuff], that's when we started making these movies. The thing about ours, it wasn't staged.
Nothing was staged up, everything got done on the spot. It was just straight improv, cypher shit, and it set trends. No one's doing it like that since. It was one take. A lot of us were told that we weren't rapping, we were just gonna be part of the crowd, but Bones gives you a slap and makes you rap on the spot [laughs] That's what happened, it was dope. That's why it's really organic. No one was really knowing what was gonna happen, and it turned out phenomenal. We thought we'd end the summer with a jam for everybody, for ourselves to celebrate ten years of this shit.
The Long Doe 10 Year Anniversary goes down at the Cabooze Saturday, Sept 1, featuring the vinyl release of Tony Bones' WOLO: