Yes In My Backyard is a semiweekly column showcasing MP3s from new and emerging local talent.
O.C. and A.G. are New York hip-hop legends holding their own. The two members of longstanding pan-borough collective Diggin’ In The Crates (the same one that spawned Fat Joe and Big L) still sound deadly: their first album-length collabo, Oasis (Nature Sounds, due November 10) is all effortless flow and perfectly skeletal boom-bap. Both rappers’ most famous works are 15 years behind them: O.C. is the nimble voice from 1994’s classic-beyond-classic, back-to-basics manifesto “Time’s Up”; A.G. is best known for 1992’s neck-snapping Runaway Slave. But their no-fat, no-gristle rhymes remain monstrously aerodynamic, zipping past sloppy up-and-comers–not retro, just timeless. “Think About It” is a lean motormouth boast meant to set the real from the imagined–one of those rhymes that manages to take shots at soft MCs and corrupt governments alike while still giving props to good weed and hip-hop’s roots.
Why did it take 15 years for you guys to do an album together?
A.G.: It took 10 years for DITC to do an album, so I guess we were on a good pace. We all started as individuals, not a group, so it took us 10 years to coordinate schedules and minds. You got all alpha males in the crew, we all have our own opinions and voices and they are all valid. So considering that, it’s right on time, really.
What was the inspiration for your verse on “Think About It?”
A.G.: Let’s do something where we make the people think about different scenarios. It’s not about one thing. Some things are humorous, some real, some fictional. Something just to trigger your train of thought. We want people who listen to out music to think.
Why are you making an album in the year 2009? Especially when so many artists are just doing “street singles” and mixtapes?
O.C.: Just the love for the music. No particular reason.
A.G.: A true artist fiends for that feedback and interaction with the fans. To not put anything out, you don’t grow.
Do you find it easy or challenging to keep up with all the new jacks who came in your wake?
O.C.: At this point it is effortless for me to do what any other artist in this time and day does, but I choose to stay a leader and not a follower. That’s what has sustained my longevity in this game. My respect always outweighed the dollar.
What’s your favorite thing and least favorite thing about hip-hop today?
O.C.: That it has earned its place in being recognized as a legit artform in this day and time. The thing I loathe about the game is that it can be disposable, because of all the billions it generates for people who have no clue of what the music is about, but make tons of money off the people who create it–meaning industry wigs.
A.G.: I might change things, but hip-hop is about people’s realities, and I can say nothing bad about expressing reality. Music is an opinion and everyone is entitled. It’s about expression regardless what your expression is.
What’s your most memorable New York show?
A.G.: Big L anniversary at Trampps… and Madison Square Garden opening for Kris Kross.
What’s your favorite place to eat in New York?
O.C.: Any good vegan spots.
A.G.: Amy Ruth’s in Harlem.
OC and AG play tonight, October 15, 2009, at Southpaw with RA The Rugged Man and Ayatollah.