Interview: Tab-One

Who’s Tab-One? He’s from two of the most respected hip hop groups Inflowential and Kooley High from North Carolina, USA. Last year, he released one of JUICE‘s favourite albums of 2009, The Tabloids, and continues to impress us with his smooth rap and soul vibe as a member of Hip Hop Organization and Good Vibes Crew. If you like A Tribe Called Quest or Slum Village, this one’s definitely for you. We caught up with the MC in early January to talk about music and why he’s not on Twitter.

What did you do last night?
I hung out with some friends that I’ve known since elementary and middle school. We cooked dinner, had a few drinks, listened to good music and watched old video footage of us skating. We spent most of the time laughing our a$$es off. I have great friends.

For those who don’t know, tell us about yourself and what you do.
Well, I was born in Raleigh, North Carolina and grew up in Burlington. I love chillin’ with my fam and friends. I’m a music junkie who’s always listening to and looking for new music. I graduated from NC State University with a degree in parks, recreation and tourism management. I’ve yet to put that to use (laughs). I’m an MC and I plan on making a living doing what I love by rocking shows. That’s the long and short.

Fair enough. Do you remember the first time you heard hip hop?
I can’t pinpoint the exact time, but I do remember seeing Run-DMC on MTV back in the day. By 5th grade, I was bumpin’ to Digable Planets. I remember the boys’ high school basketball team coming out to ‘Can I Kick It?’ by A Tribe Called Quest. It was my favourite part of the game.

Talk to us about Kooley High and Inflowential. What’s going on with those?
Both groups started at NC State. Inflowential came first. It consists of 6 members and we make hip hop music with beatbox and live instrumentation. We’re currently finishing our album and have been playing shows. Kooley High came 2 or 3 years after Inflow. It’s a more traditional hip hop group with 2 producers (Foolery & Sinopsis), 3 MCs (Rapsody, Charlie Smarts and I) and a DJ (DJ Ill Digitz). Kooley’s working on a new mixtape that should be out early 2010. The mixtape will be followed by our album The High Life. To avoid confusion, me, Charlie and Digitz are in both groups. Both groups sound like butter gettin’ spread on toast.

Yummy. We absolutely love The Tabloids. What was your creative strategy?
Thank you very much. I’m glad you dig it. With The Tabloids, I wanted to make an album that was reminiscent of my influences. I think it’s fairly obvious with some of the groups I reference in my lyrics. The album was a way to say thank you to the artists who encouraged me to make music. We recorded all the lyrics in 2 days and spent about a week or 2 mixing it to get it bump to how we wanted. It’s a personal album and deals a lot with my growth as an MC and as a person. Shout out to Napoleon Wright, Foolery and Kash for the amazing production. The album wouldn’t be what it is without those guys.

How are Hip Hop Organization (H2O) and Good Vibes Crew (GVC) doing? What are your roles?

H2O fell apart after we graduated from NC State. We’ve had some younger folks ask about it and express interest in starting it back up. We’ll see… It will definitely always be a part of our history. We had fun. As far as GVC goes, it’s funny that you ask. I forget that I have that on my MySpace! (Laughs.) GVC is just something I made up with some friends. It’s about putting out those good vibes. Anyone is welcome to join. Consider yourself part of the crew.

Do you get frustrated with the music scene?
Not really. I get more frustrated with people who complain of the lack of one. It is what you make it. As long as we’re grinding, having fun and making good music, then the scene is good with me. Plus, North Carolina has a ridiculous amount of talent. I’m lovin’ the scene lately.

You are definitely representing real hip hop. Does it matter to you if you don’t make it to the mainstream or make lots of money?
Not at all. That was never my aim. My biggest influences were never mainstream acts. I just want to be able to travel, meet new people and share my music. If I can do that, and make enough to support myself and a family in the future, I’ll be a happy man.

Any new acts we should check out?
I’m really diggin’ that Fashawn album, Boy Meets World. My NC folks Commissioner Gordon and King Mez are about to drop a project together called The Paraplegics. I’m working on a project with Lefty of the Bash Bros. called Monster’s Ink, so be on the lookout for that. Other than that, I really listen to a bunch of old stuff. I can’t help it.

Word. What are the 3 things we don’t know about Tab-One?
I’m left-handed, I have a PEZ collection and I drive a Killa Cam.

What’s your favourite thing to order for lunch and dinner?
Can’t call it. I’m not picky, so it depends on my mood. I love pizza and burritos. I just love food.

Can you sing and dance?

I would say that I can carry a tune. As far as dancing goes, hide your rugs because I’ll cut ’em up.

Do you steal the “Tab” on keyboards?
Out of respect for my alias, I can’t do that in good conscience. Although if you look at the “Tab” key, you’ll notice that the “1” key is just above. Coincidence? I think not.

How many hours do you spend online a day?

1 to 2. Any more is too much.

If you could turn back the hands of time, what is the one thing you would do?
I wouldn’t change a thing. Glad to be here in the present.

Why aren’t you on Twitter-land yet?
I don’t feel the need to tell people what I’m doing every 10 minutes. I’m boycotting Twitter.

What do you wish for in 2010?
More shows, more fans and the ability to stay humble.

Can you drop a few bars for us here at JUICE?
Hi haters, we buzzin’ like vibrators/And came to toss flavour all over the crossfader/It’s the bar bench pressers, benchmark setters/Here to spread feathers and fly higher than ever/Get your rhetoric together, we’re clever and never slippin’/A product of hard work, talent and ambition/So thank ya’ll for listenin’, tunin’ your transmission/To this Carolina wave radio rendition.

That’s all you get for now. Thanks for the love. Much respect. Peace!

Hit Tab-One up at Thanks to YZ International for the hook-up!