Interview: Joe Flizzow

Sometimes it’s more than having a great career start, but it’s about timing as well. Joe Flizzow and Malique came out at the perfect timing when they released their debut Whuttadilly? back in 1999. It was fresh, and underground hip hop was huge then, so there were plenty of cred for the Too Phat duo. Whatever took place along the way, there’s one thing that is for sure – the boys are Malaysian legends. The entrepreneur of Kartel Records, Joe Flizzow recently released his debut solo album called President. It was a long wait but JUICE is mad happy for him. We even flew to Jakarta with the man as reported last month, and now we’ve arranged this chat for you. Here’s our ditty with Joe Flizzy about Blackberry, Harith Iskander, sotong bakar and Yeezy.

Hello Joe. How has your week been?
Whattup JUICE, it’s been good. Been working hard and partying hard. No complaints though. (smiles)

That’s cool. Congrats on the album release. So, do you smell AIM wins for President this year?
Thank you! We’re very happy to be having 7 nominations in 5 categories so from a label’s point of view, it’s a great start to the year! It’s crazy that both Malique and I dominated the Best Hip Hop song category. I hope they’ll make it open to all languages next year. As for winning on the big day, whatever happens, happens. A lot of talented acts will be up in the mix so I guess we’ll see how it goes.

Definitely. Your label Kartel is doing so well now, especially with the Kartel Hitmen hitting up clubs in town. What else can we expect from you? Joe Flizzow shoes?
It’s great to see the family grow stronger, with more DJs and more of our regular nights getting recognition. As for diversifying our business, I think it’s only natural that we have a foot in other areas and fields. Joe Flizzow kicks? We’ll have to wait and see.

We just witnessed the release of Jin Hackman and MicWrecka’s album release. What do you think of the new generation of hip hop artists?
Jin Hackman, Kraft, Dose Two, Caprice, SonaOne. These are some young cats that definitely have the talent and fire, plus an understanding of the whole culture too. It will be interesting to see which one of them will push the envelope and come correct with a really balanced album and polished act. At the end of the day, when you’re an artist, success is measured by sales. Who is gonna be the next big thing? Kartel Records will have the answer to that question soon. No doubt.

Nice. Do you think the good ol’ days of hip hop gigs will ever be relived again?
I sure hope so, but it won’t be the same. Back then, the peeps that went to the hip hop gigs were probably the only ones that were down with hip hop. It was so alien to the masses back then that we found solidarity and a sense of family-hood at a hip hop gig, regardless of which part of town you’re from. The beef … well let’s just say it came hand in hand ‘cos hip hop is like that. Regardless of whether you’re an MC or graff writer, you’d always wanna get out on one another. That’s the beauty about it. Unlike back then, when you couldn’t get enough of hip hop. Nowadays, everything is hip hop and everybody is suddenly an authority when it comes down to the subject matter.

We feel you. What’s this about Harith Iskander being one of the pioneers in the KL hip hop scene?
Word! Let it be known that I schooled ya’ll on that one. (Yes, Joe was telling JUICE about Harith during dinner in Jakarta) Nah, actually when it comes to hip hop, of course you can’t forget groups like Krash Kozz and Naughtius Maximus, as they laid the foundations in the early 90s. A lot of people don’t know that breakdancing was already around in the mid 80s with crews such as KL City Breakers already pop locking and tearing up the lino mat. Harith Iskander was one of the pioneer b-boys! Respect!

Dope stuff there. OK, we can’t help but notice the old school Blackberry you’re using.
(Laughs) T-Bone and I got our Blackberry pretty early so we still got the side scroll one and it’s a real chunky-analog looking Crackberry. I love it, though recently I got the new Javelin. I wouldn’t say I’m tech savvy, but I do get the standard must haves – iPod, PS3, LCD TV, GPS for the ride and Apple MacBook. No robots or Sony Aibos for me yet though.

We’re sure you will one day. If you have to choose 1 thing to eat for the rest of the year, what would it be?
Sotong bakar at the poolside of Lake Club. Straight fire!

Oooh take us! But before that, what’s one album you would have with you anytime of the day?
Reasonable Doubt by Jay-Z. Might be a bit cliché, but at least I copped it when it came out in ’96 at Virgo, 1Utama.

You’ve been quite a jet-setter. Where are you heading next?
It’s been a busy, but pretty happening couple of weeks. Just came back from Jakarta for 2 shows and was recently in London for another. After that, we had Sunburst and Amsterdam for the New Skool Rules conference. Then I think I’ll try and get away to Pulau Rawa for a few days before the grind starts again.

You da man la Joe! What would you do if you were the real president?
I’d sit down with Obama and we’ll have a long conversation before we swap Blackberry pin numbers.

Terence C couldn’t spit a rhyme for JUICE, could you do one for us?
I could talk more about your kind, but I hate to elaborate
I’d rather concentrate on running a conglomerate
Study KLSE and foreign exchange rates
KL emcees say I’m the rapper they love to hate
KL city is where I was born so I represent
So KL backs me when Flizzy run for President
Kartel for government, this game we govern it
I will release the incarcerated with a Kings pardon man
Oh sorry please pardon me. I cannot stop stuntin’ man
That’s impossible like getting girls to leave my apartment
They love me like department stores and compliments
Meet me after shows and we will probably get intimate
Yes I know they into it I guess I am intuitive
This is real talk no bull all legitimate
Haters still rocking cheap wool I’m in cashmere
Catch me if you can muthafu*&^ I’m Frank Abagnale
(Verse 3 ‘Running’)

Peace!

Joe Flizzow’s album President is available at all major music stores around the country. He recently released his album at Ghetto Heaven @ Zouk on 31 March 2009. Hit up joeflizzow.blogspot.com now!

Image YZ International

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