When it comes to the career-building concept of paying dues, the Beatnuts are well-versed. With eight years in the business and five albums ("Intoxicated Demons," "Street Level," "Stone Crazy,"
When it comes to the career-building concept of paying dues, the Beatnuts are well-versed. With eight years in the business and five albums ("Intoxicated Demons," "Street Level," "Stone Crazy," remix EP "The Spot," and "Musical Massacre") to their credit, Psycho Les and Ju-Ju know what it takes to maintain hip-hop longevity. The New York-based duo remains consistent on its latest set, the March 6 Loud Records release "Take It Or Squeeze It."
The new album-the Beatnuts' first on Loud after a stint on Relativity-follows the simple musical approach that has earned the act its dedicated following.
"The beats definitely come first," says Ju-Ju (real name: Jerry Tineo). "Les and I bring a whole bunch of beats together. We choose what we want to work with and what direction we want the album to go in. Then we sit down and write. On this album we were more organized. With the others, we wasted a bunch of time tracking a bunch of songs and ended up only using 13 or 14.
"Every cut is bananas on this album," continues Ju-Ju. "We only picked the cuts that had that kind of an impact on us."
"We planned every joint as a single," adds Les (real name: Lester Fernandez). "We don't have any album cuts because that was the problem with the last album. The label thought the last album only had one single. So with this album we decided to give them 12."
Although Les and Ju-Ju went into the studio wanting to create a singles-driven album, they didn't lose sight of what was most important to them -- making quality music. "When it comes to creating music, it's about making ourselves happy," says Les. "When you say 'radio,' don't think [the song] has to be all happy and corny. It can be hard. It's just how you do it, and we've proven that."
Loud director of A&R Che Harris agrees. "With Loud, it's never about being something you're not," says Harris. "Les was adamant about taking it back to the beginning, back to the sound of their first album. Artists have to be able to stay true to their style, and the Beatnuts are known for those obscure, hard-to-find samples. They have a broad and dedicated audience who expects that."
With an eye on the business side of things, the Beatnuts have branched out to a broader audience via video-gaming. "We produced some tracks for the 'Madden 2001' video game," says Les. "It's just another market to touch. You have all these young kids and people who don't even like hip-hop up on the Beatnuts because they play the game."
The Beatnuts, who have produced tracks for Mos Def, Fat Joe, Big Pun, and Ghostface Killah, insist that "Take It Or Squeeze It" is unlike anything else in hip-hop right now. And therein lies its strength.
"There's a lot of stuff on the radio that sounds similar," says Ju-Ju. "But we always try to wake people up from the daze of all that other stuff. If you cop this album, we will give you your money's worth -- and guarantee your satisfaction.