Well let’s start off from a little background for cats that don’t
know who Rob Swift is get a little background on it
Rob Swift: No doubt um I was
introduced to DJ’ing form my father who was a DJ back in the day when I was
a toddler. He use to spin Spanish music like salsa, merengue and cumbia records.
He use to take me to parties that his friends would hire him to DJ at like
birthday parties and new years eve parties and stuff. I would sit there and
watch him. That’s how I got introduced to DJ’ing. Then I was lucky enough
to have an older brother who was into hip hop and being that we had the best
as far as equipment was concerned we had state of the art top of the line
top-notch equipment. So um but what was wack was my dad wouldn’t let
us use it because he was afraid we would break it.
Of course can’t let the little boys play on the good stuff.
Rob Swift: Exactly, exactly
but you know I had a brother who was wild and always disobeyed my parents
and shit so when my father and mom would go off to work and we had days off
school like you know Veterans day or memorial day me and my brother would
stay home obviously and my brother would invite his friends over who had like
who would bring the records from their parents collection and they would scratch
up like breaks and Isaac Hayes records and stuff like that and they would
scratch em up and you know my dad had like technique turn tables and microphones
and my brother would go and set up all the equipment without my father knowing
and they would sit there in the living room and make music and I would be
there watching them and that’s how I got exposed to the hip hop side
So yea I just kinda of more or less got my start by emulating what my father
and brother were doing.
So quick question. Did you break the turntables, your father’s turntables?
Rob Swift: Naw we never broke
the turntables, but you know needles got broke every now and then but we always
figured out ways of like making it look like we never touched the shit. He
would be like how did this break and he would kinda just assume that he maybe
broke it or whatever. It was funny because we would always kind of play it
off. I remember one day my brother another day off we had from school my brother
invited his friends over and dad left for work. But my father ended up coming
back because he left something at home. He came back like about 2 hours after
leaving and he’s coming back to like living room packed with a all these
dudes and records all scattered and his equipment is being used. And I remember
my father flipped the fuck out. So that was like the one of things that shit
backfired on my brother. If it wasn’t for him disobeying my father I
would have never been able to learn how to DJ because I learned on my dad’s
equipment. So I am kind of thankful that he was as crazy as he was.
True True At least he didn’t get a hold of you and stop you from
DJ’ing after that.
Rob Swift: Yea exactly
Let’s talk about the Soulful Fruit CD. Now that originally came
out in 97 that was like Stone Throw’s first release wasn’t it?
Rob Swift: That was one of the
first releases but they had put out stuff before hand. Um and actually I want
to say Soulful Fruit came out a little earlier I’m not sure who gave
you that information but I want to say that Soulful Fruit came out like more
like 1996 end of 1995 early 96. You know what it was I put it out myself as
a mix tape in 95 96 and it got so popular that Peanut Butter Wolf who runs
Stones Throw Records said yo let me put it out for you like worldwide so then
we put it out as a mix CD vinyl. But at first it started off as a straight
up 90-minute cassette tape.
Oh this was on cassette?
Rob Swift: Yea it was on cassette
and again man I been around for awhile man and so that’s why even today
the term mix tape DJ is still kind of used because it originated by mix tapes.
Now the tapes are pretty much obsolete and people use CD’s. But yea
it started off as a mix tape put it 95, 96 um and with its popularity Peanut
Butter Wolf was like yo let me distribute it on vinyl and CD and that’s
where it took a life of its own
Now a lot of cats trying to give Soulful Fruit the label of classic and
um you know groundbreaking and what not. So what do you think it is that that’s
about it that got that label or how it got to that point because there was
other stuff on other DJ’s had done albums but what is it about Soulful
Fruit that makes heads say yo this is a classic joint right here?
Rob Swift: You know what I think
it is man at the time mix tapes consisted of dudes scratching up the current
hip hop records Tribe Called Quest De la soul OC whatever was hot Pete Rock
and CL Smooth whatever was hot at the time dudes would cut up for an hour
you know kind of like a blend of all these different songs that were hot at
the time. Or maybe some DJ’s would do a tape full of classic hip-hop
classic Tribe classic big daddy cane classic Gucci rap. So when I decided
yo it’s time for Rob swift to make a mix tape I was like how can I do
a tape that kinda stands on it’s own and is it just another tape with
hip-hop records on it. I was like yo a way for me to do that was to bring
my love for jazz and red grooves to the table and introduce how there are
certain songs and there is music out there that inspired the hip-hop that
we use. If it wasn’t for Bob James we wouldn’t have Peter Piper.
If it wasn’t for Amaad Jamaal we wouldn’t have Pete Rock producing
The World is Yours you know with Nas on the Illmatic album. There are songs
out there by jazz artists and other rock artists that help bring about these
songs that we love so much. I was like yo I want to compile a CD that is a
collage of that music and at the time it hadn’t been done before. So
uh Soulful Fruit was a collection of rare grooves samples that inspired the
hip hop music that we love and I think that the way the tape was composed
and the style and the fact that it wasn’t your average mix tape I think
that it really impressed a lot of people who were like yo this is some new
shit. Like Rob isn’t cutting up rock records he’s cutting up jazz,
he’s cutting up rare grooves and killing it. You know and introducing
like the whole sampling aspect of it to people. You know what I mean a lot
of people hear a beat and don’t stop to think and don’t know where
it came from, so I helped introduce that whole aspect to it and I think that’s
why it became so popular and got labeled a classic.
No doubt. Now there is also on the joint the Rob Swift vs. Rahzel on
there. How did that come about as far as is that something ya’ll did
on stage because it sounds like a stage recording. Was that a normal set and
you threw it on there or is it something that you had the idea to put on there
Rob Swift: Naw I had did a performance
with Rahzel maybe a month or so before I started working on Soulful Fruit.
Here in New York City I made an appearance with him. Out of nowhere we ended
up battling each other just to make it interesting for the crowd. Like what
would it be like for a dude on beat box to battle a dude on the turntables?
You know man versus machine sort of thing. It came about spontaneously we
just kind of came up with the idea of doing it on stage. I taped it I had
it on tape and listening to it was so interesting sounding and so cool. I
was like yo man I’m going to use this on Soulful Fruit. Cause again
I wanted the mix CD to stand out and be different from what was out at the
time and no one was putting out beat boxing on their mix tape and scratching
all at once and you know so it just broke a lot of ground on a lot of different
levels. That’s really what I’m about always man to always push
the envelope and do different shit. 10 years later kids just started asking
me like yo man I lost my copy where can I find one yo do you still sell Souful
Fruit or would you ever re release it. And by chance Fat Beats came to me
and was like yo we want to re release Soulful Fruit by chance. It was like
weird and I was like yea well let’s do it because there is so much attention
I seem to be getting around it now. So you know they are putting it out again.
I thin k it’s cool because people will get to see what my shit sounded
like 10 years ago when I first started really establishing myself as an artist
putting out product and stuff like that.
That joint with Rahzel that kind of epitomizes hip-hop it was spontaneous
it’s original it’s just something off the cuff fresh. That is
definitely something interesting to listen to. You go back a ways in hip hop
and been doing it a minute. Were you always called Rob Swift or did you have
an old school name to? You know cats with them old school names
Rob Swift: I use to go by Rob
Ski at first. That was when I had a crew and we use to break. Kind of like
some little trivia. I don’t know if you ever saw Star Wars. There is
a part in the documentary where they are filming at this club called USA it’s
like a roller skating rink. Rock Steady use to battle kids there like Dynamic
Breakers and all that shit and I lived a train stop away from there. So back
in the day I’m like 11, 12 years old we use to go to USA and battle
kids and break dance and shit like that. It was a popular place for breakers
and people that went to hip-hop. So back then I use to go by Rob Ski. Then
when I started DJ’ing I changed my name to Robby Rob, which was fucking corny.
That was kind of the times though. I mean you been a Ski, how many cats
had the Ski at the end I don’t even know where the Ski came from.
Rob Swift: Exactly. Then you
know when I started getting more serious about DJ’ing and shit a friend of
my brothers said yo man you should call yourself DJ Swift. I was like yea
that’s dope I’m gonna keep that so I was callin myself DJ swift
for like a couple of years. Right before I entered my first battle in 1991
the DMC I had really looked up to this dude Steve D who is credited for inventing
beat juggling you know making beats on turntables and stuff. For one I really
looked up to him and I use to model myself after him as far as being funky
on turntables and shit like that. And I was like yo it’s dope that he
has his real name and he’s not like this Grand Wizard Imperial or Grand
Master this it’s just Steve D. Like yo it’s his name you know
what I’m saying. And I was like yo that shit is real dope cause it’s
like it makes it more personal you know. And I was like yo I think I’m
going to put my real name in front of the Swift. So I was like yo I’m
just gonna make it Rob Swift. So it’s kind of a mixture of me looking
up to Steve D and also realizing there is a way for me to let the people connect
more with me as a person oppose to being DJ Swift. So I just threw Rob Swift
in front and it stuck ever since.
Ok so ya we got a trivia question there. Rob Ski and Robby Rob. So the
re -release came out on the 15th so you about to shut down a lot
of people’s hustle because this cat moving original copies on Amazon
we saw for 99.00 and 40.00 and you getting ready to put it back out.
Rob Swift: Yo it’s like
the thought of that makes me feel really good because one thing that coming
into this I always wanted to make an impact in the art of DJ’ing and just
hip hop culture in general. Like as a DJ I was never concerned about winning
a title and being thought of as the best I just wanted to come in make an
impact make a dent. You know and contribute and when I hear shit like that
that my mix tape is going on sale on fucken EBay for 60.00 the original version
it makes me feel like wow like damn man like I accomplished what I set out
to do and there is still more to accomplish.
From you saying that kind of shows where your mind and your mentality
is at as far as hip hop goes as wanting to come in and do what you said you
wanted to do instead of I want to come in and get a bunch of jewels and fat
rides you know. You want to come in and make an impact I mean you know what
I’m saying. You can see a cat like you that the culture is important
to you and hip-hop is important to you and that is a beautiful thing. So as
far as now it’s on Fat Beats versus Stones Throw. How come Stones Throw
didn’t redo it?
Rob Swift: I just think that
Stones Throw put it out and I think it did what it did and they were like
we are going to move on to the next Stones Throw release. After a couple of
years honestly they just more or less forgot about the project. And even me
I moved on and started thinking about other things Executioners and my own
solo albums you know recently I put out War Games that has a DVD along with
it. So yea man I went out and started thinking about the future and Fat Beats
they were like yo we got to put this album out again and I’m glad they
came to me with the idea man because it kind of for me brings back memories
it brings back what I was going through back then trying to just establish
myself as a DJ outside of the bedroom outside of the block you know what I
mean. Looking back to Soulful Fruits and how what I’m doing now it’s
kind of a good way to reflect on the last 10 years of my career as a DJ you
Is there anything that you want cats like I don’t know how much
more time you got we never touched on Executioners or Xmen type of deal you
want to say thing quick about what’s going on there or what happened
there or anything?
Rob Swift: In 2004 September
to be exact I decided to leave the Executioners cause I felt that the group
chemistry wasn’t the same as it was in the earlier years. I felt like
things didn’t feel right to me man it felt like we were on different
pages. It felt like the focus of the group was scattered and I realized we
were arguing a lot about the music and it wasn’t fun to me man. And
also the label situation we were on Columbia Records we had put out our third
solo album Revolutions and we were going through a lot creatively. With the
label trying to dictate to us what kind of music to make how to make our music
videos. All around it was a situation that I just wasn’t happy and I
just decided you know what it’s time for me to turn the page and start
a new chapter in my career so I decided to leave the group and continue on
and discover new things and work on my next album which is War Games which
is out now. You know it’s all good now man with the crew and I speak
to them on occasion. It’s all good I have nothing but love for those
guys. I’m not exactly sure what they are doing now as a group but I
know what I’m doing you know. That’s really what I’ve been
trying to get to that I was at a point with the group where things didn’t
feel secure creatively and emotionally and I just wanted to get to a point
where I knew what time it was. I am there now and I’m happy and when
I look back I think it was the right decision for me to make. Word.
Especially dealing with a major you can get lost you got a whole bunch
of hands in your creativity pool.
Rob Swift: I think that even
played a big role in why the group chemistry kind of in my opinion at least
in my eyes started to fall apart. And I mean since then man I have launched
a new website djrobswift.com.
Oh yea you gotta get that in there. What is your myspace page you know
everybody got one?
Rob Swift: DJ Rob Swift yup
just myspace.com/djrobswift. Get all the info, tour schedule all that shit.
The website is crazy you know it’s like a little forum for DJ’s
all around the world to connect and network on there to and exchange opinions
and ideas. Dudes be posting up MP3’s and scratching teams on there.
I’m really excited about the website. I dropped an album that has a
DVD with it. It’s not just a scratch DJ album something that I have
done already with the Executioners. This album is more social political it’s
making a statement. It’s addressing what’s going on right now
in the world from the war in Iraq to terrorism the police brutality.
That’s War Games?
Rob Swift: That’s War
Games. It’s like to say that in the last year and what three months
that I left the Executioners I probably have accomplished more than I would
have if I was still in the group.
You’ve got your own freedom now to do whichever direction you feel
you feel to go.
Rob Swift: Exactly so overall
man I’m in a better place right now I’m happy. I’ve been
touring I just got back from Japan. Yea man there is a lot going on man so
I’m in a good place right now. Fo real
Is there anything you want to say before we end this off. Any final words?
Rob Swift: Really man I just
want people to go out there and support albums like Souful Fruit and War Games.
There are other artist out there like DStyles and Mix Master Mike that put
out product. QBert and its important for fans of myself and the art form in
general to go out there and buy the music because what people need to realize
is that we’re completing with Eminem, 50 cent and Britney Spears. You
know our music goes to all the same stores and if people don’t go out
and buy our music then the stores don’t have incentive to stock the
music. Then people can’t complain when they can’t find a Rob Swift
album or whatever so people have to go out there man support man so please
go out there buy my album and buy albums like it so that it keeps progressing.
On a side note real quick did you try that Qbert turntable that new joint?
Rob Swift: I fucked around with
it I had a show with him a while back, backstage like I fucked around with
it and it’s bugged out how it’s just one turntable and it’s
shaped like a UFO and shit. There are all these faders on the sides and there’s
just the one turntable the platter. You know it’s good for scratchers
people who just scratch, but if you do more than scratch like if you’re
into party rocking and manipulating two turntables it’s limiting because
it’s only that one turntable it’s more of a thing for a scratch
No doubt. We can end
it off like that and I appreciate you taking the time and hopefully everything
goes well with it. Especially with the interest and cats that been looking
for it now they can get it.
Transcribed by AccuClaim Pro