Eto: “My rhymes? Those who do know…know!!!”. The Interview.
We had the honor of interviewing ETO, one of America’s finest underground MCs, who spoke about his hometown Rochester aka Hell’s Roof, the albums he released last year, his links with Angel “Chi Chi” Salazar (the actor with a role in the movie “Scarface”), Dj Muggs, V-Don, 38 Spesh, Flee Lord and spoilered us something coming up soon…
Thanks ETO, it’s a great honour for us to have the opportunity of interviewing you for our international platform, as we are great fans of your music and we have followed your path since around 2016, when you were still called Lil Eto.
Actually, your rap career is much deeper and longer than that, though:
Can you tell us how it all started and what were the fundamental steps of your career back then?
Thank You! Glad To Assist You. Well as you know it started in Rochester N.Y. in mama’s basement, right in the heart of Hell’s roof (the North), Durnan street.
Before that tho , we had the karaoke and me and guys used to just do it for wreck: instrumental tape on one side, blank cassette on the other.
Among the several projects you have released in 2020, an extremely important album of yours was “The Beauty of It”: not only because of the great producers and artists you have collaborated with, as The Alchemist, Statik Selektah and others, but, also, for the personal stories you narrated on it. Can you reveal us something more about the concept and the making of this body of work?
Yeah! That piece means alot to me. It was my approach on doing what I wanted to do with it , I took total control of it. It wasn’t a concept: I just wanted to make it a point to include the big boys being that most of the projects I dropped prior were based with just that one producer solely.
I balanced it out a bit. I wanted to give them something a lil different, but still keep it me. I came with the title out of nowhere, it just stuck haa, my favorite by far.
We think “Hell’s Roof” you did with Dj Muggs ( DJ and producer of Cypress Hill) in 2019 is one of the most powerful Hip Hop albums of the last few years: How did you and Muggs link up? What was it like working with a legend like him? Did you work on the spot together? Do you have some “behind the scenes” anecdotes to tell us ?
Man, Hell’s Roof was an experience: It wasn’t just an album for me, it was an honor and an opportunity that most don’t get. Me and Muggs linked up thru the great pal Meyhem Lauren, whom I was introduced to thru my brother V Don. Working with Muggs is a vibe, mood , and work! I did a few here at my spot, the later he would fly me out to complete in the flesh. Great times. Big up my big dawg Muggs!!!”
“Hell’s Roof” is also how you call your hometown Rochester: what is the origin of this name? Right now, Rochester looks like the epicenter of the underground scene despite it’s not such a big city. It’s you, Spesh, DaCloth crew, Pounds, Jai Black and others who are representing the city… How do you explain the electricity and the abundance of talent that pervades the Rochester Hip Hop scene?
Most Certainly. Hell’s Roof is the ground we walk on, not just on the North but Rochester as a whole. It gets busy over. Can’t have cold feet. That handle actually stems from my brother Jai Black.
I mean i could speak for myself , I’d like to say it’s the never giving up thing I guess. I’m still gunninnnn… Lots of us are, from here to the west!
Your last solo project was inspired by the classic “Carlito’s Way” movie, is there something you feel you have in common with Carlito’s story? And what’s your favourite scene from the movie? How did you connect with Angel “Chi Chi” Salazar ( the actor with roles in “Scarface” and “Carlito’s Way” movies)?
Nah, not at all I just dig Carlitos style haa… Funny thing is that “Eto Brigante” came about during the process.. It wasn’t intentionally. It was one of those projects where you won’t know where it’s heading until the third track or so. So i just ran with it and redid the scenes in audio form.
My favorite scene is definitely the “pool hall” scene!!! Far as Chi Chi ( Angel Chi Chi Salazar), my brother Jay connected that dot. Chi Chi is that guy , reminds me of one of my uncles. Shout out to him.
For a long time you have been linked to another great producer, V-Don: how did you meet? Every time, your chemistry works incredibly well, why in your opinion? Your album with Willie The Kid, “Heather Grey” was amazing… Can we expect a sequel?
Crazy Man, I met brozay V Don on Myspace in like ‘07 ha, it’s been on go ever since. I love that guy! Don got a lot of flavas but I know he knows what I love. Were both trained and got gold ears. Before Heather Grey – it was “Omerta”!
That shit turned over a new leaf for us, down the lines we merged with the bro gawd Willie and “Heather Grey” was born… Craaaaazy!!! So yeah expect part 2 this year indeeed… Big my bro WTK (Willie The Kid) !
Talking about chemistry, the one you have with MCs as Flee Lord, with whom you made “RockameriKKKa” 1 and 2, or 38.Spesh, with whom you often collaborate, is great too… What can you tell us about the ties you have with these dope emcees? And who else would you like to collaborate with, maybe for an entire album?
Offtop , as stated in many interviews, me and Spesh are brothers first, we go way back since we were teens with guns etc..
Spesh has been a spitter and beat maker. Flee is one of those guys you meet and feels like you’ve known him forever, very solid genuine dude, just don’t force his hand haa.
So before music I just want to say how much I appreciate those guys! Ss of now i’m not looking forward to collaborating with artists, just producers. I am open for features tho (email@example.com)
Your pen is really dope : in fact, in our opinion, you are able to rap about an “usual theme” in hip hop, as the “streetlife”, in an unique and unusual way, very vivid and sometimes cryptic too.
It’s like you could give different layers of realness in your raps …
What’s your writing process and where did you get inspiration to develop such a style? And who are the MCs that inspired you the most? And how do you feel about the fact that a lot of your verses could “fly over the head” of some?
Thank You G , It’s greatly appreciated. To say the least, my writing process these days will always cover what was done , my experiences – their experiences – that’s my inspiration. The reality of it.
It’s been years since I been on the streets, but I’m allowed to talk about these things because me and mine went thru it. I’m not outside, I’m grown.
My mama is king, she warn me ’bout the drama it brings
Hurt me to my heart and it stings
But I was feelin’ like Mike when he walked in the ring
Couldn’t clean the rusty stainless, had to toss it and swing
Made an exit, won’t be them niggas that they respected once
They was butter-soft, I Avirex-ed it
Them days were hectic, gettin’ over the hump, huh
Handguns on our laps, pumps go in the trunk
“Rusty Stainless” – Beauty of It LP
Other hand, man Nas has and will always be for my the one who plays a big part in ETO! Mobb Deep also! Hopefully they don’t fly over heads haa , not sure if that’s a good or bad thing, but I know the ones that do know .. knows!!!!”
Your production game is underrated too: when and how did you start making beats? Are you preparing some beats for any project right now?
I’ve been producing as long as I’ve been spittin. One of my first big placements was with the late great Stack Bundles, but far back as I can remember it started with Ransom. Around that time, J-Hood – Purple City , Max B to name a few. Definitely brewing beats man, producing projects in full as well… You’ll see.
We feel as, in a certain way, you are still evolving and, somehow, you are far from your peak yet… Do you feel you still have more to prove and there is something “big” that is still coming in the next months/years ? And what’s on your bucket list?
Oh! most definitely! I always feel like I def got plenty of more work to do! That’s what keeps my blade sharp. Gotta stay uncomfortable you know. Can’t really speak on what’s yet to come, but yeah the bucket list has been good to me!!!
Can you tell something more about the New Crack Era movement ? Who are the members? And where does the crew’s name come from? What are New Crack Era next projects?
The “New Crack Era” started in ‘07 with me and Don ( V-DON). It was the first beat he ever sent and it was just a title for our track at the time. Years later, I attempted to build the brand but we had some legal run ins. However it’s still alive and … it’s a lifestyle. I got some gunners with, out the west also: shout out my yung G, Bubu the Prince , Dj Beanz and Jai Black goes without saying…
We re-branding the name but it always COLD SUMMAZ / NEW CRACK ERA .. TRUST – DGS!!!! LORD MOBB!!! That’s the swing!!!!
Thanks for the moment G.
STAY UP AND BLESSED!!!!!
Thank You ETO. One Love!
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