OG BIGG DABB: «I like that the sound is classic and fresh as a Polo RL»

We had a long conversation with the italian emcee OG BIGG DABB, fresh from the release of his album “Little BIGG Italy” (entirely produced by Camoflauge Monk, super Griselda Records producer), wich speaks about the Italian province and underground Hip-Hop culture through the voices of his various hosts, including Danno and Inoki.

Hi OG. It’s a pleasure to finally ask you some questions and congratulations for your new album produced entirely by one of the best current American producers, a.k.a Camoflauge Monk (Griselda Records). We would, however, like to start by asking you to tell our readers your story: your name, in fact, has traveled under the radar for a long time, but in reality you have been active in the Italian scene for almost 20 years. Starting from your reality, Grosseto, doing Rap with Garage Mob, together with Dj Shrek and the Shafy Click, first, then also behind the scenes as an event organizer, touring all over Italy and weaving connections and knowledge. Can you tell us more about your long “militancy” in the scene as a rapper but also about all the other many things you have contributed to behind the scenes to push this culture not only in your region but throughout Italy?

Good evening guys and thanks for the space. There have now been about fifteen years of real activity in the hip hop field, I started rapping a long time ago as my first playful approach to freestyle, already when I was about fifteen or sixteen years old, but in reality at that time I didn’t know anything about hip hop, I had cousins ​​and friends 4, 5, 6 years older than me and being in a very small town I hung out with the older ones because they had the means to get around and, like them, I listened to hardcore punk first , then from that and its nuances I arrived at reggae, then raggamuffin, and only at the end to hip hop in the true sense. In that period I immediately met the prominent elements of my area: Trais, DragOne and DJ Skilla aka Shafy Click. People who had already done a lot of training and had a crystal clear talent who took me under their wing and opened the doors to everything by putting me in contact with all the greatest of the moment both local and from all over Italy and taking me with them at live shows both under the stage as a fan to see the Americans when they played in Italy, and above the stage. 

Certainly the whole process was very important for me, because it allowed me to listen to a lot of music of different genres and above all it made me understand the importance of subculture in every musical genre, of which in some way it is always closely linked . There are things that are not just a passion and for me making this music is one of them. If I had to tell you a crucial turning point it was the Public Enemy concert at the Estragon in Bologna in February 2008, I was 17 years old and after I saw that thing there I understood the link between Hip Hop as a sub-Culture as a style of life and message to pass on and music and clothing etc. There I had already definitively decided that I would do this thing in my life at any cost.

Can we say, therefore, that this project with the Buffalo (NY) producer of Griselda Records, Camoflauge Monk, is the result of a long journey and apprenticeship? For what reasons?

My entire journey was fundamental to the birth of this album. In particular, more than the apprenticeship itself, the fact of having reached the point of having the possibilities, the confidence and the ability to speak directly with someone like Camoflauge Monk comes from years and years of general journey within certain environments.

Experience, which is therefore not just “painted”. Approaching an American stranger 100 thousand times better known than you is never easy, unless you have a bag full of money, let’s say that in our world instead there are things, ways of behaving, that you understand only the moment you live them. Things that open more doors than money, this is an excellent fortune of the “niche” circuit. It should also be said that since I’m someone who likes to look for the stuff he “needs”.

I knew Camo as a producer even before he became so established with productions on the latest Griselda classics these days. I had already followed him since his first works, so I was able to approach him directly, and when we started talking about beats we had already been in contact long before, let’s say he knew me.

So there was no need for marketing moves or agents in the middle or any of these things, we made a deal like the good street guys that we are and that’s it.

Often, in fact, people in Italy only look at the final result and think that certain connections are just the result of luck or that paying the artists is enough… in reality, behind it there is often a long journey of sacrifices, study and relationships. “Nothing is born by chance”. Do you feel this reflection is relevant to your story? What is your point of view?

Absolutely yes: nothing was a coincidence in this story and money was never discussed with anyone in this project, Camo obviously took it, of course, lol. But he is also the only one I don’t know personally and a very well-known artist, I think it’s normal, plus he is an extremely intelligent person devoted to art, I assure you we all got an excellent deal, the best of my life so far…  But for me the point is certainly not limited to this, and more than anything else the album was not conceived like this at any point.

I believe that it is not enough to give birth to something, you also need to know how to make it grow. And I mean both at the level of the relationship between the artists present in the album, and at the level of the quality of one’s music and one’s general militancy in trying to be part of something and truly trying to respect it and even pass it on.

It would have been a completely different type of work if Little BIGG Italy had ever been a tribute album or a product without a concept… but I would say that there is no need to say anything about it, you just need to listen to understand it.

How did your relationship with Camo Monk begin and how did you come to the idea of ​​an album entirely produced by him?

As already mentioned, I had followed him for a long time, and I always thought he was one of the strongest producers around, with a very distinctive style. right from the beginning he also produced many things on his own, not only with the other members of Griselda. I had already spoken to him via social media a few times and when I was doing C.H.E.F. which was an album that I cared a lot about and on which I wanted to put at least one “icing on the cake”. I decided to ask him for a production, it was the first time I paid for a beat in my life, we made a great deal like good street kids that time too lol and he gave me two (which were then transformed into the songs “Vernissage ” and “Terra Terra“).  The album went well, there were also other legends and master friends of mine like Skizo and Ice One. I printed it on vinyl in around 200 copies, 150 of which were numbered, which I sold completely in more or less six months.

To thank him I sent a copy of C.H.E.F. to him with related special dedications. Camo appreciated it because the album was well made, it was a very refined work, albeit independent as fuck. Precisely on that occasion, while talking, we managed to conclude another excellent, slightly bigger deal and I chose the 7 beats which have now become “Little BIGG Italy”.

I was confident as I had made a few euros with physical records and so we raised the bar. There’s a lot of talk about investing in your music and I really did it lol. The real advantage is that in the time that has passed he has become even stronger and has continued to always be present in the truly new Classics that churn out the big names of the Underground. On the other hand, it is well known that Chef Delbuono has a good ear lol.

Although Griselda Records has recently brought back a certain classic sound, the sound of Camoflauge Monk’s productions is truly for connoisseurs and enthusiasts of this stuff. Minimal, raw sounds and jazz samples. However, a courageous choice for the Italian public… Where does this choice come from? Are you a fan of the American underground scene and what stage is the Italian one at? What are you missing to make the leap in quality?

Well, courage is a relative concept, if you think about it: I would have been braver to make a record with autotune or with Paky. You see, the point is that I, like all those of the finest Maremma, have never cared about anything other than doing something that was exactly what we like. And 100% respectful towards a Culture to which we owe a lot on a human level. Point.

As far as Italy is concerned, however, the answer to its problem is easy and has always been the same: knowledge. In Hip Hip there is the concept of knowledge, some even define it as the fifth discipline. I also and above all talk about knowledge of the musical base, how a beat is made and why, about sampling from other musical genres. But even more Knowledge on a cultural level, a general picture of when and where and how Hip Hop culture was born.

In my opinion it is very important if you want to do any nuance of each of the disciplines that compose it. Even the most “modern”. As well as understanding the differences between the areas of each place and the different sounds that have always been created or other things like that. In my opinion it was a bit exaggerated in pointing the problem to Hip Hop culture itself. In a broad sense, certain closed-minded attitudes that some exponents have had in the past or something like that. It must never be boring and exclusive, but you only would do research if you search and have knowledge and, without research, there can’t be a true underground.

In addition to the technical level of rapping well and doing serious live shows and knowing what we’re talking about, I think there’s a bit of general knowledge and “study” of what came before and how we got there. everything that is there now.

The title “Little BIGG Italy” is also an allusion to the numerous Italian provincial realities like yours and your desire to represent them more. Hence also the choice of featurings such as Pessimo 17, Kronos Kroniko, Doye Tex, Effe Kappa, Enema SDO, D.Ratz, Toni Zeno, Dj Shrek, Greis and Tenu. Can you tell us more about your desire to represent the Italian province on your album?

More than will, it is essence. Being born in the province is different… you can only understand this by living it. People change, the light also changes. In the provinces the quality is exaggerated precisely because no one accepts compromises, because no one asks them to, and we are free to make art as we want. This, however, corresponds to little or no exposure to the public,an eternal problem.

Without a doubt, however, the artistic works born in this atmosphere have a depth and originality that is difficult to find in a big city, where we fight for trends and the public becomes employers. The guys I chose are all people with whom I have shared something important to me in recent years, guys like me, who rock everything, accept few compromises and come from small realities.

Alongside these names from the provincial Italian underground, the names of Danno and Inoki stand out. How was their song born? Can we say that this is also the result of that “long journey” we were talking about before, in which lasting personal and artistic relationships based on respect are also intertwined?

For me Simone (il Danno) and Fabiano (Inoki) have always been older brothers, friends and teachers. At the beginning the piece, Mantra, was supposed to be only with Danno and Toni Zeno but then Inoki arrived with his nothing less than magical freestyle, which gave even more to a historical piece like this.

The path is truly the root of everything and has generated a love and respect that you can’t say no to. Obviously, like many others, I went to school with Colle der Fomento and Inoki in my headphones, a piece like this for me is another rap champion’s cup to put on the bulletin board, it’s something that can’t be explained.

Certainly one of the peculiarities of the album that struck us the most is the fact that it was entirely recorded and mastered analogically in a well-known studio in Grosseto, which makes the raw sound of Camoflauge Monk’s productions even deeper and more real. This craftsmanship in sound quality and mix & mastering that few, today in the digital age, can boast. Can you explain better why you decided to focus on analog mastering and why in your opinion this adds something fundamental to “Little BIGG Italy”?

I admit that we are really lucky people because in Grotown there is Alessandro Benedettelli’s Side B studio. He is a true professional, who we grew up with as children both personally and in music.

Alessandro is a phenomenon and one of the most authoritative experts in the sector. He builds the cars, so he knows them better than anyone. He has a musical background where he had worked mainly on other genres and it was we who “corrupted” him, making him experiment with Hip Hop the first times. All of this, including the completely analogue and tailored sound, reflects what we are and how we are.

If you think about it for a moment, the same be real was also what gave the collaboration with Camo Monk that extra touch of originality compared to all the sounds “reminiscent of America” ​​heard in Italy. It’s all a circle but in this case very virtuous (very).

Have you received any feedback from Camo Monk about the album?

Yes Camo sent us his blessing and shared stories and posts, he is a real authentic Leader. Camo is also a craftsman of sound and likes things well cared for. He is a true Artist. I’ll just say that he gave me a lot of satisfaction and that I hope he comes to Italy as soon as possible.. who knows, we might take him here…

Already in the 2nd track of the album (Pray For Tuscanyfornia feat. Granu & Trais) you and your guests immediately remove several pebbles from your shoes and hurl yourself, without too many words, against various aspects of the Italian music scene that you don’t digest too much… What led you to make this song?

When you are born in the province, it happens that you end up with a few pebbles in your shoes, after all we are used to walking on less traveled roads. We talk to our listeners, not to other rappers. Having said that, it is clear that our way of doing things is very different from that of others, to understand this you just need to listen to the album. The song simply talks about the fact that we have always paid the price to come out where we come from.

If someone after listening to “Little BIGG Italy” wanted to get an idea of ​​your journey, which other albums of yours should they definitely listen to and why? In addition to “classic” boom bap sounds, have you also experimented with other types of sounds?

Everyone! On the other hand, there aren’t many, most are short in duration and they all run smooth as velvet. Removing the first from the discussion, “TheMOBtape“, which is a kind of mixtape album all on original beats that collects our works from the beginning. It came out in 2019 but contains pieces that were written in 2012/13 maybe before, or so anyway. It was our business card and I would say that listened to from this perspective, it still remains a work of absolute value today. Even taking away this latest album, which I obviously consider one of the best, perhaps the best on my technical level, it is certainly essential to listen to C.H.E.F. , my first solo LP. I have only made one album with sounds farther from my classic choices and it is “D&G” EP (Delbuono & Granafine)”.

Produced by Granafine aka B.R.R. who is a master and one of the best Tuscan rappers and producers ever, gave a very refined touch to the EP. In general, however, I think one of my best characteristics is precisely that of evolving my sound while remaining very faithful to the super Hip Hop and very Hardcore foundation I come from.

Leaving aside the musical topic for a bit…You are also a great enthusiast and collector of clothing, like all the Polo stuff also linked to the Lo-Life movement…Can you tell us about when and how your passion for street fashion was born ? What are the items or brands that you most enjoy collecting and what are the pieces that you consider the most valuable in your collection? Why?

Unfortunately for me yes, I have this serious illness lol. In my opinion, clothing and style are fundamental in Hip Hop and could distinguish you almost as much as the sound. It is an integral part of the culture and synonymous with belonging. Thanks to one of my teachers Granu from Pisa Est I listened to the material of Rack Lo and Thirstin Howl The Third at a very young age. I was already shocked by the matter at the time but I didn’t know Lo Life and all the talk around it.

Once I grew up, I got my head straight and changed my lifestyle, I slowly began to study the history of LoLife more and more and talk to its exponents. From then on I made contact with them and the step to making the first hits and starting to collect the first stuff was short. Obviously we are not officially part of it (for now) we are just affiliates.

The Polo is my absolute favorite because it represents very well that “both classic and fresh at the same time” style that I like about HipHop and that I would also like to express with music.

Then he’s a New Yorker and, having New York origins (my grandfather was born there), I see it as a bit of an obligatory thing. My favorite pieces are those from the Polo sport & Sportsman collections in general the outdoor stuff. Among the precious goodies in my possession… I would say the limited edition 1000 piece Aztec sweater together with various caps and unavailable pouches. I also have cups and various more particular objects and I am always active in “digging” looking for some coup. I’m always looking for new things with a tag and always to turn them over, buy them even at resell but at the same retail price or lower. Then even though I usually wear Polo RL “Head to toe” almost always, I’m a big fan and I will forever play many other songs that I love and have always worn. First of all the Jordan, of which I have a very respectable collection of shoes (which I still cultivate), as a good basketball enthusiast and super fan of Michael. 

My favorites in order are the Air Jordan 6,7,11,12,13 I also really like the Air Max 1, 90, and 95 shoes as well as having the white Air Force and the Timberland Boots as essential shoes forever. But I also really like The North Face, Carhartt, Lacoste, Pelle Pelle, Sergio Tacchini, Fila etc. as well as the historical rapper brands from the 2000s such as Karl Kani or Joker Brand, I still have a few pieces that I will never sell and every now and then I show off in moments nostalgic lol. In general I like every item of clothing that is closely linked to Hip Hop culture and has been made iconic by it.

You have dedicated several years to “Little BIGG Italy”. Do you now plan to get back to work on your music straight away or do you have other future projects?

Although Little BIGG Italy required more than a year and a half of work, also for the many guests present, they are obviously already working on several new projects of absolute value. Unfortunately, to find out more, I think we’ll have to do another interview. I’m just telling you that one of the next ones will be a tribute to LoLife and will contain some surprises that I would define as incredible… calmly.



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