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From the Black Pool of Genius - Dres of Black Sheep

Hip Hop Scriptures had the honor and pleasure of sitting in the audience for an in-depth interview with Dres from Black Sheep (courtesy of the NYC Hudson Union Society)

The room was packed with every demographic that comes to mind, yet Dres was clearly eager to share and seemed to be in a comfort zone. Enjoy his take on several different topics below: 

On the meaning behind the album title 'Wolf in Sheep's Clothing': We were a lil' different, the Black Sheep of the Native Tongues [collective]. They were very Afrocentric...we had all of that in our hearts, but you couldn't see it by looking at us.

Being the 1st hip hop group on Jay Leno: Leno was a very cool dude whose head was much larger than all of ours (laughter) - I was thinking he had to be massively intelligent. 
Hip hop used to be something you only heard late at night or on the weekends [on television].

Incredible Bass from The Choice is Yours:  We got the loop from Hamilton; Lawnge found it. It was actually for Chi (chee). Back then, artists took snippets & embellished them; made it able to rock the party. We just wanted to prove that we belonged, that we fit in & that there were options. Trying to introduce ourselves as an option. Options are what is missing today - everything is monotonous, cookie-cutter.

On the The Choice is Yours (Revisited): In the early 90's, everything was remixed. I wrote three new verses. Mercury records really liked the third verse, but wanted to keep the first two verses from the original. I wanted it to have this really high energy that really didn't exist on records at the time.

How long did it take to compose choice is yours? I write all day. As a lyricist, I always have music in my head...that leads to lyrics. I'm constantly jotting. I pull from so many different sources. I expound on a combination of prolific statements. That's my process & I like it a lot. I have people tell me years later "I just got that [line]" & I love it!


Inspiration for Strobe Light Honey: It was actually from a true life experience. I had met this girl & mind you - I was VERY drunk. On the dance floor, one of the most beautiful girls that ever walked on the face of the earth. She lives deep in New Jersey & invited me to dinner the next day. It was an hour train ride. I remember walking past shacks & tin roofs. That's what her house looked like. The sweater she was wearing looked like a curtain. She looked NOTHING like a woman, let alone the one I was dancing with. A vermin ran across the floor. I told her I was leaving to go buy some ginger ale, and walked back to the train station instead. On the ride home, I thought I" should NEVER drink again". I actually ran into her 3-4 years later. She said "Do I know you?" I knew exactly who she was, & I said "No"

Lessons Learned: We did some things really well, & some things really poorly. We were kids. I got to see the world in the transition of becoming a man. Donald Trump can't buy the lessons that I've learned. I was part of a group that introduced hip hop to middle America. We formed this bridge for others to walk over.

The Black Sheep Breakup: As men, we grew to be in different places. Maybe he was walking, & I took a train. Sometimes you arrive at different times. Once I understood that Philips light owned Polygram who owned Mercury, I realized that it was all about the bottom line. Sometimes you need to look at things from the "roof" & step back. I was missing some shots that I should've made.

Moving Forward: It's so important to discover yourself. I'm still discovering myself & enjoying the ride.

Where did Black Pool of Genius come from? Stevie Wonder is my muse. He is the reason why I started writing songs. Key of Life. That's when I understood the importance of words. "From the black pool of genius"  (how Donny referred  to Stevie's vast collection) was from a Donny Hathaway cover of Stevie Wonder song. When I heard him say that in the intro, I thought "Wow I want to be in that pool".

On the current state of Hip Hop: I've grown to feel that much how there are subdivisions in jazz & rock, there is the same in hip hop. Most of today's music is rap, not hip hop. Rap music is corporate - how can I sell something? Hip hop is cultural, something you can grow from. It's become a corporate liaison. I look at the program directors, they are the "parents". I look at the artists as ditch diggers; they don't realize the ditch is for them. They'd rather be broken than broke. Hip hop is still growing. I think it will correct itself. It's starting to happen a lil bit now. It's happened time & time again with jazz & rock.

** From the Audience Questions**

Future projects? I feel like my best days are still ahead of me. There's so much good music that I have yet to share. I speak to anyone that speaks to me & I'm "elated" if you ask to take a picture with me.

On writer's block: You just have to not care - to not care is to write anyway. Write about having a problem writing. If you just keep trying, good will come. I promise you you'll get past it.  Don't be afraid to fail. Don't be afraid to fall. Embrace it.

Words of advice: Everyday is the opportunity for greatness. I earn a lot that has nothing to do with a dollar.

Family Life:  His oldest son Honor is in a band called Cerebral Ballzy. They are the first group signed to adult swim. Honor rounded out the top 3 of NME's 2011 Cool List. He's one of those Skateboard kids that are brilliant. He taught himself to play guitar in 3 months. Dres is an avid golfer, has even won a few tournaments. "I've always been down to learn".


I put most of my energy & attention into being a great father.


From The Black Pool of Genius Album:


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