Lord Finesse has been widely regarded as one of the greatest emcees of all time ever since the release of his debut album “Funky Technician” with DJ Mike Smooth. Aside from his promising career as a solo artists, Lord Finesse has a successful career as a producer and as a member of the Diggin’ in the Crates Crew (D.I.T.C.). In an exclusive interview with the Hip-Hop Terrordome, the Bronx, N.Y., emcee discussed, among other things, new projects, discovering Harlem, N.Y., emcee Big L, and the importance of preserving Hip-Hop Culture.
You can read the full interview below:
Ghost Effect: Lord Finesse, thank you for taking the time to this interview. Can you talk about your new projects in the works?
Lord Finesse: “No problem. Yeah I have a new album that will be coming out around November of this year. It’s called the ‘Underboss Project.’ I’ll be doing some of the production myself along with some special guest and my production team. As far as features go, I have a few people lined up but I don’t want to let the cat out of the bag just yet. People are going to enjoy it.”
Ghost Effect: So when it comes to music do you prefer rapping or do you like being behind-the-scenes?
Lord Finesse: “I’m a behind-the-scenes type of dude. I don’t need to be in the spotlight to get my validation. I make music because I love music. People think just because you’re not in front of the camera that you’re not putting any work in. That’s not true. I went behind-the-scenes because it gives you quiet time. You can step away from the industry. I stepped away on purpose.”
Ghost Effect: A couple of years ago you were involved in a lawsuit with Mac Miller over his use of your production. What was the outcome of that lawsuit?
Lord Finesse: “I can’t really talk about that. I’m just glad to move on. A lot of people reached out to me for interviews when that was going on but I turned them down because I didn’t want to discuss it with anyone. I did talk to Mac Miller through text some time after it was over. We wished each other the best and that’s it.”
Ghost Effect: As far as newer artists go, who do you like?
Lord Finesse: “That’s a weird question to me. I like Kendrick Lamar and Joey Bada$$. I know that’s a cliché answer but I what they’re doing. They’re being themselves and not trying to be anybody they’re not. J. Cole is another artist I like. But the majority of artists these days are not reaching the bar I’m accustomed to. There’s not a lot of risk takers. A lot of newer artists sound the same because that style was successful for someone else. We need more originality.”
Ghost Effect: You come from an era where you had to be different in order to stand out. Do you thank any of today’s artists could have hung with you back in that era?
Lord Finesse: “That depends on what you mean by ‘hang.’ I come from the so-called ‘Golden Era’ of Hip-Hop. That was the ‘high bar era.’ Back then it wasn’t cool to sound like anybody else. There were many prolific artists where I come from. Now days everything is based on finances and popularity. At the end of the day it should be about the culture. Artists need to know their roots and craft.”
Ghost Effect: Recently Lord Jamar from Brand Nubian has been making a lot of controversial videos expressing his opinions about Hip-Hop’s current situation. What do you think about what he has to say?
Lord Finesse: “He’s very opinionated. I don’t agree with everything he has to say but those are his opinions. He isn’t entirely right but he isn’t entirely wrong either. I do agree on what he says about artists sounding like other artists. I like Action Bronson but I would love him if there never wasn’t a Ghostface Killah. That’s no disrespect to Action Bronson but we all know that he sounds like Ghostface. All I’m saying is in the era where I’m from it was taken as a dis respect to sound like someone else but it’s accepted now days.”
Ghost Effect: There seems to be a disconnect between the “old school” and “new school” Hip-Hop generations. Why do you think that is?
Lord Finesse: “I believe in a few things. I believe in good music and being different. Most of all I believe you must know your culture. The disconnect comes from the new generation’s lack of knowledge about their culture. They get on interviews and call older artists ‘irreverent’ but they wouldn’t be able to do that in Jazz, Rock n’ Roll and R&B. You can’t go to the R&B scene and start calling Sam Cooke, Marvin Gaye and Stevie Wonder irreverent because they’re old. They wouldn’t have that. Newer generations need to realize a lot of people like Afrika Bambaataa and DJ Kool Herc and a ton of other artists laid a lot of groundwork for you to be where you are. I don’t care what anyone rhymes about. It could be about pink rhinos, purple spaceships or what ever. All that matters is that you know and love your craft and culture.”
Ghost Effect: What are some solutions to this problem?
Lord Finesse: “The new generations need to have a plan before entering the music business. Some artists want an audience and some want a fan-base. We need to let them know the difference. A car crash can get an audience but once the scene is picked up the audience goes away. A fan-base grows with you. They’re there through thick and thin. I started making music because I wanted to contribute and make an impression. I have been blessed to have a good fan base. In order to get a solid fan-base you must have love for the culture. You come in with the pure intentions to become an artist but when radio and making club records come into play your intentions become watered down. When you do that you end up selling yourself out just to fit in. You must understand your culture, be a risk taker and become business savvy.”
Ghost Effect: You had a very close relationship with Big L. Can you talk about that?
Lord Finesse: “The galaxy was his. We talked a few days before he was killed. We had a deep conversation where he told me the plan he had to tackle the game. It takes an artists a while before they find their nitch but he found his. He was going to make music independently. I love Big L. I seen him come full circle. I discovered him. His brilliance was there, it’s a shame we didn’t get to see him fulfill his legacy. “
Ghost Effect: How do you think Hip-Hop would be different if Big L was still alive today?
Lord Finesse: “Not sure how things would be different. There was a lot of competition when he was doing his thing. Jay-Z was just getting started. Jay had love for Big L and L had a lot of love for Jay. Not sure how thing would have panned out but it’s fun to dream.”
Ghost Effect: What was Big L like as a person?
Lord Finesse: “He was a comedian. That’s why his rhymes were so witty. He was funny even when he was being serious. He was a ‘funny’ instigator. He would say stuff to get you roused up and laugh at you when your emotions got in it. I really miss him. A part of me died when he did.”
Ghost Effect: If you and Big L could talk today, what would you say to him?
Lord Finesse: “I don’t even know. There is so much I would say. A lot of things have changed since his passing. There’s just so much.”
Ghost Effect: You were also very close to Fat Joe. Did you guys talk before or after he went to prison?
Lord Finesse: “I haven’t talked to Joe in over two years. We spoke a few years ago and that was it. We went two different routes. He went his way and I went mine.”
Ghost Effect: You’ve been talking about preserving Hip-Hop culture. What do you want your story be when people talk about Lord Finesse?
Lord Finesse: “It’s hard to say because my story is still being put together. It’s not over. I want to be remembered as someone who’s accomplishments came from a grind. Someone who knows how to hustle and most of all someone who loves Hip-Hop culture.”
Ghost Effect: With all that you’ve done for Hip-Hop, do you feel you get the credit you deserve?
Lord Finesse: “As an artists I’m always going to feel overlooked. But I’m not worried about that. I don’t need the spotlight for validation. I’m blessed. Once I’m gone my story will live on. Hopefully people will find it a great read and inspirational.”
Ghost Effect: Scarface once said in an interview that Hip-Hop is being intentionally dumbed down. Do you agree with him?
Lord Finesse: “Yeah I read that article too and I agree with him 100%. People don’t appreciate success because they don’t understand struggle. When you don’t have struggle you can appreciate and learn from the path you’ve traveled. Now days you’re told that you don’t need to be lyrical anymore. Some people even criticize artist for being too lyrical. Let me ask you a question. When was the last time you heard an artist who was real profound? When was the last artists you could really quote lyrically? It’s been a while since I’ve heard an artists who amazed me lyrically. When was the last time you heard a profound artists that you could quote lyrically word for word? Scarface is one of the greatest rappers ever and he is on point.”
Ghost Effect: Is there anything else you feel readers should know?
Lord Finesse: “Preserve Hip-Hop culture. Things are too commercial now days. Trends become irrelevant but culture is always relevant. It’s important to know your history. Be willing to get roll up your sleeves and take risks. Also go check my project when it comes out in November.”
Ghost Effect: Lord Finesse, thank you for taking the time to do this interview. I really appreciate it.