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Interview with Pumpkinhead [now known as PH]
July 14, 2004 - exclusive interview by Archrival

rapper Pumpkinhead picture

Brooklyn, stand up! The underground has voices and one is fixed on furthering its reach. Pumpkinhead has been a fixture on the underground Hip Hop scene for years, earning his stripes in the mixtape trenches and taking it back to the essence in the Blaze freestyle battles. Park Slopes' own talks to the people, Archrival caught up with Pumpkinhead at his crib for a exclusive interview.


Get the scoop on his crew affiliations, touring the world, getting inspiration from the one and only 'Pac, and some of his views on Hip Hop Culture. What artists inspired you when you were on the come up?

Artists that inspired me when I was on the come up were Redman, Leaders of the New School, Dana Dane was actually the first emcee that I heard that made me say "ok, I need to take this rappin' stuff seriously" and get into emceeing when I heard 'Nightmares', that song he did, that's when I wanted to really get into Hip Hip and the whole culture.


Him, Dougie fresh, you know what I'm sayin? But, definitely, like, when I was coming up, starting to get into the scene, it was Redman & Leaders of the New School.

Can you point out the specific point in your life when you said "This is for me, I'm an emcee"?

Hmmm. The specific point in my life? When I went, actually, to the studio and met Tupac. I met Tupac in the studio. It was a while ago, it was like during my first ventures into being an emcee. My manager at the time, this guy named Jay Dixxon who was Grand Pubas cousin, used to get me into all the spots. You know what I'm sayin'? And like, meeting all these emcees and sh*t, and rappers or whatever.


We went up to the studio, we went up to his hotel at first, he was rollin trees, chillin' with Alamo, who was Pubas DJ, and somebody else was there, I forgot who. Then we went in like a caravan into Queens. We picked up Stretch, who passed away also, from Live Squad. From there we went to Power Play Studios that was in Queens, where a number of people got robbed at like Fat Boys and a bunch of other people just used to get robbed there cause it was right next to Queens Bridge Projects.


We rang the doorbell and Freddie Foxxx came to the door with like, a glock and a big ass Rambo knife. Just makin' sure nobody was there to rob them. You know what I'm sayin'? So we came through and everybody was like "where's Pac at? Where's Pac at?". Pac comes runnin' up behind us and was like "You know I had to go to my cousins house and get the piece" and he had like, this big ass Tech 9 or whatever. [laughs]

I was buggin at first like I ain't really, you know, I mean being I was from the street, I was like "damn all these ni**as got guns", you know what I'm sayin? I'm like "I don't know if I want to be here right now". [laughs] You know what I'm saying? What if something pops off but we went into the studio and I saw Pac go into the studio, Freddie Foxxx said "this is the beat right here", played the beat, Pac literally wrote a verse in 5 minutes. Like 5 to 8 minutes he did a verse, on a yellow pad with a sharpie marker, I remember it vividly. He did it, went in there and killed it in one take. That's when I was like "Yo, I want to do that!". You know what I'm saying? That's what I want to do. That's when I realized I definitely wanted to be an emcee in the game.

For those that might not know, you're a member of the Brooklyn Academy, who else is Brooklyn Ac.?

Officially, Brooklyn Ac. is me, Mr. Metaphor, Will Tell and my brother Block McCloud. That's Brooklyn Ac. official, like, you know what I'm sayin', everyone else are affiliates. Producer-wise we got Black Panther and that's it, that's where we cut it off. So, mainly it's me, Will, Block and Metaphor.

What can we expect to hear from Brooklyn Ac.?

We're actually starting to work on a new project. A new album which is definitely going to be the official album. We're going to put it out through a real label, full backing, promotion, publicity, everything, video, we're going to do it all. We're going to do it like it's supposed to be done and get out there to the real Ac. fans that like the Ac.


And we're going to give you the original Academy, we're not going to give you no 'next sh*t' that we're tryin' to, you know, step up our sound. Or whatever you heard recently from that Ac., it's none of that. We're takin' it back to the essence of what the Ac. was.

Are you able to speak on what label?

Uh, at this present time, no! [laughs]

You are also a part of The Plague, who are the members?

The Plague is a crew that me and my boy Blitzkrieg, G.M.S. and Blitzkriegs brother, Wildchild (they're known as Hydra) started. It was just us four in the beginning and we all grew up in the same neighborhood, Park Slope. Same neighborhood which the Ac. is from also. We all were like childhood, you know, friends, acquaintances, we all knew each other.


The Plague is, it's a very long list, Plague is like the super group, super crew of emcees man I'm tellin' ya. It's myself, Hydra, which is a 3 man group that I named earlier to you, Tonedeff, Session, PackFM, Mecca, Substantial, Kameel-Yen, DP-1 our DJ and Bad Seed, I believe. I don't think I left anybody out. I think I got everybody. [laughs]

There is skepticism regarding Jin's membership to The Plague, can you clarify the situation?

[Takes a deep breath] Yiiiiikes!

You don't have to answer that if you don't want to.

Nah, nah, that's cool, that's cool. I actually want to speak on this. Jin came out to New York, basically, from Miami, to do what everybody else loves doin' out here in New York and that's Hip Hop, being an emcee, DJ or what have you. So he was trying to get his footing and base a foundation out there in New York. He was going to battles, you know, doing his thing. Got to know me, got to know Poison Pen, PackFM and C-Rayz Walz.


We all kinda like, you know, was like, this is the new up and coming right here and just showed him mad love and showed him around, you know what I'm sayin'? Brought him to battles, you know, helped him to get put on to a lot of things, I think, would have personally had a hard time doing without us. Around the time he was starting to get much acclaim with the battle scene, me, Blitzkrieg and PackFM talked about throwing him down with The Plague. You know and cutting it off right there, that was going to be the last member of The Plague and you know, leaving it at that.


We approached him and he was like "yea, no doubt, yo that's mad love", you know what I'm sayin', like, showin' us mad love that he really realizes that we are a main state in New York and that's basically one of the better crews out in NY. He was happy, you know what I'm sayin', he was like "yea, cool", he was down, officially down.


He came to a couple shows, shoutin' out Plague with us, comin' on stage rockin' with us and then 106 & Park happened. He went on to 106 & Park which Poison Pen is the reason why he got on to 106 & Park, not his manager. That's a lie that he tells, I don't know where he got that from or whatever but Poison Pen is the reason he got on there. After that, kid just started gettin' flakey, like yo, we understand, you know what I'm sayin', that you got to be in the studio and do your thing. After he got signed it was just like forget it, you know what I'm sayin'?


I see him like, I say, a month later, he walks into the End Of The Week Emcee Challenge with like a whole new squad. I'm like "who the hell are these cats?", it's like a bunch of younger kids, some black kids or whatever, some Spanish kids, I'm like "where the hell did these kids come from?", you know what I'm sayin'? I never seen him with these kids, ever. Basically it was like, I don't know, I felt a little disrespected, you know what I'm sayin'?


There were times where he reached out and was like "yo, I want to do this, I want to host this for you" and blahzay blah and then never call me back. He was like yea I'm going to be there and then never call me back on some real flakey sh*t. I'm just, I'm done, I'm done with him, you know what I'm sayin'? Like, whatever, he could still be cool, I don't know if he's still cool or what but to me he's just too flakey to deal with.


I know his manager K-Mel and I know Amore who also handles his situation at Ruff Ryders. Now Amore is my peoples and I've known him for a long time. So you know, me and him build, we cool. And I ain't got no hate for Jin, like, do your thing cuz-o but don't lie. Tell it like it really was, you know what I'm sayin', basically. Don't say that you were only an affiliate cause you were more than an affiliate, you was actually down with the squad. So don't say that you was only an affiliate cause right there your spittin' in my face and I'm not feelin' that. That's it.

What is in the works as far as The Plague?

As far as The Plague goes we're trying to work out our solo situations, our albums, you know, group albums or whatever. We're going to put out a mixtape soon, its called '28 Tracks Later' and that should be out by July for RockSteady. Then we're hopefully going to start working on an album here and there. Tones been real busy working on Archetype. I've been busy working on my mixtapes and working on my next 2 albums. It's like I'm doing a lot right now.


Hydras working on their situation so, I mean, The Plague, when the album is done, when Outbreak (which is the name of the album) is done, It's going to be phenomenal. It's going to be the craziest sh*t you ever heard because we've been waiting so long to actually get together in the studio and work on this.


We want to give you something good so that's why, you know, we're taking our time, we don't want to just be like, some kids goin' to the studio here, we're going to the studio there to do tracks, no! We all want to come together and work on ideas, work on beats and rhymes together
so we can give you a complete, dope ass album.

Are there any solo projects in the works?

Yea man, I'm working on an EP, the EP is done already, I'll be shopping that soon and I've got a couple of situations, you know, in the looks or whatever. I've got the album I'm working on, officially that's going to be, like my defining moment.


This album is going to be so sick from top to bottom. For all ya cats that know the real Pumpkinhead and how I get down as far as my music and the subjects I like to touch on. I like to touch on everything, pause. [laughs] I don't like to stick to one facet of rhyme, you know what I'm sayin'? I'm down to do all type of styles. Work on all types of things but I'm forever going to be known as an underground emcee and that's how I want to be known.


I don't want to be known as that cat that used to be underground and got a big record deal and now he's commercial, no! I will never be commercial. I make music for myself and only myself and ya so happen to like it. [laughs] I'm thankful for that.

What kind of collaborations can we look forward to?

The album collaborations? There will definitely be a Boot Camp Collaboration on my album. I don't know who yet but I've been talkin to Buck and Steele for a while about doing something. So either Steele or Buckshot maybe Sean Price, depends you know what I'm sayin'.


I've got beats coming from Heiro, Domino from Heiroglyphics. I've got beats coming from E-Swift from The Liks. Zion-I from the west coast, I'm supposed to be doing a joint with him. My family Brooklyn Ac. and The Plague will be on my album. Damn, I can't really think right now of who else I talked to. I'm tryin' to get this girl, a singer named Guapaley, she is hot. So hopefully through Domino from Heiro I can get that collaboration going. That's the only singer I'll have on the album. That's about it really.

If you could work with any artists, lyrically and/or production-wise, that you haven't worked with yet, who would they be?

Redman, hands down. Redman. Lyrically, definitely Redman.That is the guy that I was like "yo, this ni**a's nasty" and people sleep on him man, he's been like the most consistent artist, throughout his whole career droppin' some hot sh*t. You know what I'm sayin'? He's put out so much material and to me It's all been hot man.


Reggie Noble is definitely the artist I want to work with as far as 'lyrically' goes. Production-wise, I would say definitely either, I'm going to say Rza but ol' school Rza. I'm talking 'Protect Ya Neck' Rza. Sh*t like that, that old grimey style. Or Jay Dee from Detroit. I think his beats are dope too.

Who do u feel at the moment is taking it, lyrically, to the next level?

Hmmmmm. Can I say me? [laughing]

Ok, besides you.

I really don't listen to a lot of other emcees out there cause, I mean, I don't really care to listen to other peoples stuff. No disrespect to them but I don't know, I can't really even answer that question because there's not one person right now, that I think is putting out that next sh*t. I don't think anybody is putting out that next sh*t right now and that's what we need and that's what I'm trying to do. I think me, lyrically, the man to look out for. You know what I'm saying? [laughs]

What do u think about the state of Rap right now?

Sucks. Rap sucks. You know what I'm sayin'? I have nothing to do with Rap. Rap is not me, so I don't know if I can answer that question. But, I'm not into rap. I'm into Hip Hop.

And the Hip Hop culture?

Ya dudes out there, ya need to step it up, ya fallin' off right now. Everybody wants to do a bounce record. Everybody, you know, wants to do that "okaaaaay" sh*t and all that. Come on man that's their sh*t. Our sh*t is that street sound that underground east coast sh*t. Man stop biting everybody else's sh*t and just do you man and do what we're supposed to do. Do what we were meant to do, you know what I'm sayin'?


We are the creators of this whole Hip Hop Culture. People took it where they wanted to take it and went to the left with it and do their different style of it, you know what I'm sayin'? Like, just be yourself, be what your about not what's selling right now. Nobody wants to hear your joint because you sound like Ludacris. I don't want to hear that sh*t. I'm not going to buy it. Stick to your own thing, man for real.

Where in the world have you had the opportunity to tour?

I toured Australia. I've been to Perth, Adalayed, Melbourne and Sidney. I rocked it out there. I had like 2,000 each show, packin' like it was crazy man. People was coming out of the woodworks to come see me. That was like the most love I ever really got, it was bananas man.


Japan, I did Tokyo, Shibuya, Sweden, Amsterdam, I toured damn near every state in the United States. I've been to, you know what I'm sayin', I did the Lyicist Lounge Tour with Boot Camp. Then I did the Lyricist Lounge Technology Tour with Brooklyn Ac. and Bad Seed. We opened up for the Goo Goo Dolls. That was hot. I've been to quite a few shows. All over [laughs]

Which had the biggest impact on you? And why?

I would have to say Australia. Well, there's two, there's one that's overseas which is Australia and one show in particular out here where I felt I got a lot of love. Australia, they just have so much love for the culture of Hip Hop. It's totally different from out here. Out here people are too cool to give props.


They're too cool to nod their heads when they like something. Know what I'm sayin'? They're too cool to clap they're hands when they appreciate the music that's coming out [of the speakers]. That's the thing I hate about out here. Australia was like, yo, dudes was asking me "yo, sign my pipe!".


"Sign my record". They brought my record. Yea their 'weed pipe' not their, you know, anyway, pause! [laughing]. This is funny [laughs] you gotta' put all this sh*t in there. We're hilarious. [laughing] This is the first interview I've done with pauses in it. [laughing]


Yea, so this one cat was like "how much for your shirt?". He was like "I'll buy your shirt off of you". You know, the shirt that I was wearing. Dude wanted me to take my shirt off and sell it to him and sign it! He was like "how much, I'll give you any amount of money for it". He was pulling out a knot of money and I was just like "yo", I signed it and gave it to him like "here, take that". That was like one of my dopest experiences as an artist and he was so appreciative of that.

Not too long ago, Jean Grae opened up for Ghostface at SUNY Purchase College Upstate and I was hypemaning for her. Nobody said "yea Pumpkinheads coming on stage". So I'm standing backstage and this one kid in the front row sees me standing backstage before we come out. And he shouts out "Pumpkinhead's here! Pumpkinhead! Yoooo!". It just started a chain reaction.


People in the crowd, spots of people were like "Pumpkinhead! Pumpkinhead!". I start hearing all of this and Jean comes out and they start cheering for Jean. Shes like "I got my fam with me" and shes like "Pumpkinhead come out". Everybody was like "rraaahhhhhrrr", like going crazy. So she does her thing and I do a little verse over a beat and then she does her show.


So we're gettin' ready to walk off the stage and this kid, again, the first kid that yelled my name out was like "acapella Pumpkin, kick an acapella!". Then everybody else is like "yea, acapella!". Until the whole crowd was chanting "acapella" and there were like about, at least a thousand three hundred people, like fifteen hundred people there. It was an outside concert. Everybody was like "yea, yea".


I spit an acapella, I tell you how all fifteen hundred people put their hands up in the air and screamed at the same time when I kicked my last line. Everybody was wildin' out. I got off stage and, no disrespect to Jean, that's my sister, I love her but some cats was going passed her and coming to me like "yo, sign this, give me this, can you spit this for me, I'll pay you to do this". I'm like "wow" I got mad love and attention from all the people out there. It was definitely a dope experience.

How does an underground vet such as yourself hold on to his title?

I don't think I try to hold on to my title. Like, I don't even think I, well yea, you know what? Before Jadakiss came out with that "The Champ Is Here" sh*t, I was the peoples champion, aiight. I was the peoples champion of underground Hip Hop and that's my title.


I'm the peoples champion of underground Hip Hop. I don't try to retain the title thought, I mean, I just do what I know best. You know what I mean? My music allows me to get that respect and that acclaim from the people that like real Hip Hop. So, I don't try they just give me the title, they allow me to keep my title, basically.

My little brother's an avid listener of your music and wanted me to ask you this question. What would you do if your son grew up and started listening to commercialized Rap?

That's not gonna' happen. [laughing] That's not gonna' happen because I'm gonna' program him. That's right, I said I'm gonna' program my son. [laughs] He'll be listening to real music. I'm gonna' let him listen to everything from Jazz to Old Soul music to even some 80's rock or whatever.


Just real music, Hip Hop will come into play later, when he gets a little older. As a kid he's not gonna' be watching BET and all of them videos or MTV and all of that. That's where it stops 'cause I'm mad that I even watch some of that sometimes, so that won't happen with him. [laughing]

Where do u see yourself in 10 years?

Emceeing! [laughing] I'm 28 now, I could see myself at 38 spittin', still. But, a little more money in the pocket, a label situation. Probably living off the coast of Spain or something, seriously. I want to do it big. If I'm gonna' do it big, I wanna' do it BIG, man, pause! [laughing] If I'm gonna' move from the United States, I'll move to like Puerto Rico or Spain or something. Get a house, a big ass house off the beach or something like that. Live with my family and make mad babies. [laughing] You know what I'm saying? Teach my children HipHop. Teach them the culture that was taught to me and just live. Enjoy myself and enjoy life.

In closing, what would you like to say to the people that know about Pumpkinhead and those that don't?

There's a lot of sh*t-talk that goes on, on the internet. When I'm on the internet I conduct business. Getting shows and talking to people that want to do songs with me and, you know, just business situations or I'm just talking to my friends. But, I do check out these websites that have their little forum posts and stuff like that. There are a lot of kids out there that are young and like, just out of high school or old and bored and they like to talk sh*t and hate on people like me, Poison Pen, PackFM, you know what I'm saying, that do our thing.


I'm not an internet rapper, I'm not an internet emcee, I'm not a "netcee" as ya' call it. I don't "keystyle battle" as ya' call it. I don't do none of that sh*t. I'm a real person. I'm a grown-ass man and I do my thing. I just happen to own a computer. Forgive me for having a computer and having the ability to use a computer. You know what I'm saying? Once I know how to use a computer I'm a netcee now? You crazy? I'll punch you in your sh*t.


Like for real, a lot of these kids they talk alot of sh*t behind their screen name and they don't let themselves be known. A real man, a real person will step to you and will come up to you like "yo I don't like your sh*t". Aiight, fine, you don't like my sh*t? You don't have to like my sh*t. I ain't gonna' knock you out 'cause you don't like my sh*t. You touch me, that's another thing. If you're going to talk all this sh*t like your grown, you're allowed to have an opinion and diss my music as long as the computer lets you type. Go ahead, diss it, I don't care, that's your opinion but once you start talking about "yea, he's this, he's that" then you're getting personal.


That means, if I ever do find out who you are, It's not gonna' be a happy situation for you. But I don't stress cats like that 'cause they're bored, they're life is boring and that's why they do what they do. You know what I'm saying? They having nothing else to do with their lives. They're mad that we as people, as a certain genre of people, having the power that we do with our music are doing our thing and getting love. They're upset by it. All they do is sit home under their mama's roof, in the garage or whatever with a computer looking at porn all day and talking sh*t about us. C'mon man get big, pause. [laughs] Get a life.

Pumpkinhead on Twitter:!/PH_TEAMHOMI

Pumpkinhead on Myspace:   



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