We return with our newest installment of The Whole 9, and this time we chop it up with East Orange, NJ-bred, Greensboro, NC-based rap group Da Foundation. The group formed in 2009, and consists of brothers Mustaiin and Malcolm Lawrence, aka Mu Smoova and Mile Casso. They most recently dropped a single titled Chu Knoo (You Know), produced by Hellz Yea. Check out the interview below, and for more info on this duo, check them out their website.
the9elements: You are two talented brothers with a big vision for your hiphop career. How do you manage to keep up with the pressure in the industry while remaining true to your identity?
Mu Smoova: The pressure of the industry can affect those who let it. With constant shifts in momentum & different sounds that come out on a day bases. You can find yourself trying to keep up and one may lose themselves and what he/she brings. The key is to stay true to yourself and what you bring, not being concern about what everyone else is doing or how they sound. We’re confident. You do to have to be confident. We find ourselves keeping substance alive. Grounded in what works for us, we don’t shy away different sounds as long as it doesn’t jeopardize who Da Foundation is.
T9E: Where do you think you excel: in the studio or onstage? And why?
Mile Casso: We really don’t try to limit ourselves in where we excel. We put our best foot forward both in the studio and on stage due to the preparation we exhibit. So when we book studio time we come with verses ready hooks ready because time is money. That 3 or 4-hour studio block our time is spend on delivery rather than writing in the studio. We’re able to get more done that way.
On stage as far as being ready for shows. Rehearsal is key. We pride ourselves on being live and so by rehearing our show we make sure every key aspect of the stage performance is on point. As far as movement and delivery. This has less room what error because some time you get the one chance for a good impression. We love making ours a big one. Far from us just getting check
T9E: What would it take for you to sign a record deal?
Mile Casso: In the right situation a record deal would be ideal. A deal that does not limit us, that’s us be how we are. A deal that would bring us out of our current conditions we face nowadays. A record that we can communicate with the signer or a team of people that assigned to us from the label to insure our success. Communication is key in all business dwellings.
Trust also is a key fact in a game where we are told you can’t trust anyone. We follow the money as it comes in as it goes out. Far from us just being cut a check. The expensive are just as important as the profits. We all know the differences in what net and what we gross. The label track record is also key. we wouldn’t like to put ourselves in a situation where the margin for failure is greater than success.
T9E: How did you guys decide to link up with Hellz Yea and was the experience of working with him on Chu Knoo?
Mu Smoova: Working with Hellz Yea has been a blessing. He’s a expert in what he does as a producer and engineer. He’s that extra ear that most of the time heard things in the music that we can’t and won’t acknowledge. As far as “Chu Knoo” the track is produced by Andre Porter also known as Dreez of Global Sound Corp and engineered by Hellz Yea. But the mixture of these two ingredients lay the foundation for a polished product before it goes out. That we take pride in because it’s what we do, it’s our life, it’s how we want to make a living moving forward.
T9E: How do you think the New Jersey state of mind differs from the NYC state of mind?
Mu Smoova: We can’t really speak on the New York state of mind given the fact that we are not from there and have spent that much time in New York growing in New Jersey. But we think the common denominator is that if you can make it here, you can make it anywhere. The New Jersey state of mind, by any means, does not take no for an answer given the circumstances. There’s also the emphasis on family and sticking together.
We question/questioned those outsiders coming in because you can never be too careful in the regard. We hustle to get where we are because no one else is going to do it for you nor just give it to you. There’s no fear in our risk taking… only strategic placement in positioning one for the far best outcome. So much wave and a lots of the trends come out of New Jersey even though our brothers and sisters are right across the river and we see you but we do it a little differently out here. Pride to call this place home, East Orange, New Jersey Essex County South Maple Ave. Home of the Braves.