MuskaBeatz Coast To Coast
Interview by Skin

Chad Muska’s New York bound, a hotel room awaits him, his studio, and some of the most prestigious names in the history of Hip-hop. A few weeks after his return to Los Angeles we got together to go over exactly what had happened.
Okay, let’s talk about the idea behind this trip. How did it all come together?

Well, I’ve been working hard on this album trying to finish it. It all started when I had to go to New York. I’ve been mad scared to fly lately, so we came up with the idea of skating cross-country, hitting up a bunch of spots as I made my way out to New York to finish the album.

Did you organize all your beats before you left?

Yeah, I made a bunch of different ones to choose from. I got my laptop together with my setup and started heading out there (to New York). The whole trip got put together in five days or something crazy like that. As far as the skating side goes, I called you up and was like, “Yo, we’re going to New York-you wanna go?” I had no clue who was gonna film it or anything, so we called up a few people and tried to put it all together.

Victor (Fonosch) rolled with you guys, too?

Yeah, Victor was over in Canada-I called him and he flew in the next day. Victor’s a new loc-a new Shorty’s recruit. We just made the trip happen last minute. Got all the beats and the equipment together-a generator, lights, video cameras-and basically took off to Arizona without any plans. We didn’t have a road map-we didn’t have anything-we just took off, you know? Headed out to AZ and started a mission.

You stayed with your dad on the first night, right?

Kicked it with the pops-had a little barbecue with some veggie burgers and some f-kin’ chicken sticks or whatever the hell those were (laughs).

How often do you see him?

We probably meet up about once a year for my birthday or his, some kinda special event or something, you know? He usually comes out for the Shorty’s premieres. Whenever something major’s happening, we usually kick it. But not quite as often as we’d want. So yeah, we did the whole Arizona thing. I’ve been doin’ so much beats lately-that was the first day I skated in like a month or two. We ended up getting a bunch of shit in one day out there. That was cool. We did the AZ thing real fast-in like one or two days. Then we broke out for Flagstaff, and Skin had to go have a baby (laughs).

Do you have spots in Arizona you saw growing up? Are there still some things you want to hit?

Yeah, Arizona always has those spots people used to skate. Sometimes you go to a spot that you always used to skate and there’s something new that you didn’t ever notice because you wouldn’t have thought about doing shit like that back in the day. Even like that place with the roof gap-it’s so crazy because I used to f-kin’ climb that mountain to look for skate spots back in the day, you know? When I was younger I used to ride on the picnic tables underneath the roof. I’d ollie from table to table, and then ollie off them into the dirt. I’d imagine there was a skate spot there. So that was pretty crazy to go there and skate that spot. That was fun. But you know, there’re always those spots you remember, there’re always new spots to do new shit, and other new revivals that you have in old spots, too.

Where did you go after Flagstaff?

We just pretty much spent the night in Flagstaff, and from there we took off to New Mexico and rolled into Albuquerque. Basically, the whole tour had no plan, no demos, no setup, no nothing-we just basically rolled into a town and tried to meet some skaters who could take us around and show us some spots. That was the whole mission. We rolled up to a Subway and there were some skaters in there-this whole little crew of skaters from New Mexico. We hooked up with them randomly, and they took us to their house. They had a little skatepark on the side of their house, and tn they took us to some ditches. We bombed a bunch of downhill ditches and got some street spots out there. Kinda just went in and out of there for the day and then took off. From there, we drove to Oklahoma City and hooked up with the T.D.S. crew.

What does “T.D.S.” stand for?

The Death Squad. What’s that guy’s name from Foundation? Oh yeah, Don Nguyen-they’re all his homeys out there in Oklahoma, so I called them “Oklahomeys.” The Oklahomeys T.D.S. crew. Those kids are funny as f-k, man, so funny. They just chill in Oklahoma. They got their whole little crew out there, their own little scene. We went to skate some spots with them-we got a few things out there, and then a tornado almost struck.

What was that all about?

Well, we were at this spot, man-it was so sketchy, dude, so sketchy. We had the generators at this bump with the tires stacked up. I thought I was going to die, no joke. It was windy as hell and rainin’, and as we were setting up the generators and everything, all of a sudden, I looked up and saw this black wall coming toward us. I was like, “What the f-k?” It started getting so windy, it was crazy. Then the locals started trippin’, they were yelling, “It’s a tornado!” I just like lost it, man. I was like, “Start the car, Victor!” I was f-kin’ screamin’. My hat blew off, lights were falling down-it was f-kin’ gnarly, man! They thought it was a tornado, but it didn’t get real warm and quiet so they knew it wasn’t one. They kept f-kin’ with me, sayin’, “Tornado! Tornado!” I threw the generator, lights, and everything in the car. I didn’t even care-I just threw it all in there, took off, and drove away from the big black wall that looked like a wide-ass tornado. I guess it was just a storm with a lot of clouds, but you couldn’t really see what was happening because it was so windy. All we saw was this black wall coming toward us, and we just freaked out. So then we ducked away in this Taco Cabana. They were servin’ up premade margaritas. We drank some pitchers and had a couple Coronas while the storm died down. We kicked it with the homeys out there-had a good time, man. We left Oklahoma and took off to St. Louis to check out the arch and some skate spots. It’s pretty much crazy over there, man. The cops just weren’t having skateboarding in St. Louis. We tried to hit a lot of spots and this one cop just followed us around. He said that if he caught us anywhere in the city of St. Louis again, we’d be ticketed and have to spend 24 hours in jail, no matter what.

So we got a few things in St. Louis, and then we cruised into Chicago and ran into some bad weather. It was raining a lot, so we ended up just walking around the city and checking it out. Chicago is a cool city, man-a really, really cool city. I didn’t have the chance to spend time there before this trip. It’s one of the biggest cities in the heartland of America, you know? It’s like New York. You ever been out there before?

No, but I hear nothing but good things.

It’s nuts, man. You roll into it and think you’re in New York City. There’re fashion buildings, lights, cars, and people. We ran into some cool cats from this skate shop and just kicked it with them. They took us all around and hooked us up with these two little skate rats who were rippin’ it up everywhere. It was cool-every place we went to, we just randomly hooked up with people. They took us into their scenes and the houses they hang out at and just kicked it with whoever. We rolled in and hooked up with a bunch of different people in every place we went. Chicago was really cool, I got to skate that bank on the side of the water. That was fun just to ride on. It was kinda scary because if you f-ked up, your board was goin’ straight into the water. So yeah, Chicago was good. From Chicago, we headed to Detroit, Michigan. Detroit’s a pretty f-kin’ run-down little city. It was raining on and off all day while we tried to hit some spots. There’s some good shit out there, though, I gotta go back-there’s some f-kin’ good shit out there that needs to be done. It kept raining, so we broke out and headed to Ohio. We did the whole Ohio trip, kicked it with my family, and had a big barbecue.

That’s your mom’s side of the family, right?

Yeah, my mom’s. Some of my dad’s family lives out there, too, but I just had a chance to kick it with my mom, my sisters, my grandma, my cousins, my aunts and uncles, and everybody. Just kicked it out there.

Crazy cousins?

Oh yeah, we got all crazy with the cousins-we set up a bonfire in the back. My homey Brian was getting all crazy lighting himself on fire with some gasoline. He lit the whole river on fire! That shit was funny, man. Joe Dirt, that’s who he looks like. He’s my homey. We checked some sick Ohio spots, too, but the cops just weren’t having it out there, either. We skated downtown and got rolled up on three times. The fourth time, a cop rolled up on us and gave me a ticket in the park. He said if we were caught skateboarding again, we’d get our boards taken and have to go to jail. From Ohio, we originally planned to go to Philly, but we ended up trucking straight across the country to New York-right to the Big Apple. I tried to get a hotel for like three hours straight because it was so crowded, and then finally got one, man. We ended up in The Marriott overlooking where the World Trade Center used to be. The hotel is one of the only buildings next to it that didn’t fall.

Ground Zero?

Yeah, it was ridiculous. We showed up, opened up the window-Ground Zero right at the bottom. Nothing else but Ground Zero, right there. That was a pretty crazy way to roll into New York. We stayed there for two days, and then we got another hotel. As soon as we got into New York, my main mission was the album. It was like, “What do I have to do to finish this thing?” So we basically started the hustle: made my phone calls. Everything started coming together more and more. We got to this Soho Grand Hotel down there, and that’s where we set up our studio. We had a whole portable studio setup: computers, keyboards, monitors, mixing boards, microphones, et cetera. It was all set up right in our hotel room, and we just did it ghetto-style and started hustlin’-we brought in MCs one by one and recorded the whole album right there in the room.

So go through the MCs.

First off, we did Biz Markie-he was the first major connection we made. Biz drove out from Maryland, and we had a bunch of beats ready for him, so he picked one out. We kicked it and wrote some raps right there. At first, Biz actually wrote a little skateboard rap-he wanted to do a skateboard rap, you know? It was funny as hell, man, but I didn’t really want to make the album about skateboarding-it’s about some real hip-hop shit.So he had a few other rhymes and put them all together. Biz came through and just blessed it, man. I’m honored to work with somebody like him, you know? It was a miracle. After Biz came through and laid down his verses, people took us a little more seriously. Things started flowin’ a lot easier after that. We got Special Ed to come in and do his track, Jeru Tha Damaja, then Afrika Bambaadaa and Ice T. Oh, and before that, Raekwon and U-God. Rae came in and laid his verse. Actually, Rae came over to our house in Cali and we’d already done some vocals with him, so we cut up a hook from that, and he came and laid his verses. After that we had Guru, Melle Mel, Prodigy from Mobb Deep, and Flavor Flav. Every person we dealt with are such strong individuals and characters that each person had a new story with every scenario. It was just so crazy how the whole thing went down. It was a miracle that we pulled off recording all those people in the hotel room without the hotel kickin’ us out. We didn’t tell the hotel we were doing it or anything, we just rolled in, set up the studio in the room, and just hustled, got everybody in ther shit out there, though, I gotta go back-there’s some f-kin’ good shit out there that needs to be done. It kept raining, so we broke out and headed to Ohio. We did the whole Ohio trip, kicked it with my family, and had a big barbecue.

That’s your mom’s side of the family, right?

Yeah, my mom’s. Some of my dad’s family lives out there, too, but I just had a chance to kick it with my mom, my sisters, my grandma, my cousins, my aunts and uncles, and everybody. Just kicked it out there.

Crazy cousins?

Oh yeah, we got all crazy with the cousins-we set up a bonfire in the back. My homey Brian was getting all crazy lighting himself on fire with some gasoline. He lit the whole river on fire! That shit was funny, man. Joe Dirt, that’s who he looks like. He’s my homey. We checked some sick Ohio spots, too, but the cops just weren’t having it out there, either. We skated downtown and got rolled up on three times. The fourth time, a cop rolled up on us and gave me a ticket in the park. He said if we were caught skateboarding again, we’d get our boards taken and have to go to jail. From Ohio, we originally planned to go to Philly, but we ended up trucking straight across the country to New York-right to the Big Apple. I tried to get a hotel for like three hours straight because it was so crowded, and then finally got one, man. We ended up in The Marriott overlooking where the World Trade Center used to be. The hotel is one of the only buildings next to it that didn’t fall.

Ground Zero?

Yeah, it was ridiculous. We showed up, opened up the window-Ground Zero right at the bottom. Nothing else but Ground Zero, right there. That was a pretty crazy way to roll into New York. We stayed there for two days, and then we got another hotel. As soon as we got into New York, my main mission was the album. It was like, “What do I have to do to finish this thing?” So we basically started the hustle: made my phone calls. Everything started coming together more and more. We got to this Soho Grand Hotel down there, and that’s where we set up our studio. We had a whole portable studio setup: computers, keyboards, monitors, mixing boards, microphones, et cetera. It was all set up right in our hotel room, and we just did it ghetto-style and started hustlin’-we brought in MCs one by one and recorded the whole album right there in the room.

So go through the MCs.

First off, we did Biz Markie-he was the first major connection we made. Biz drove out from Maryland, and we had a bunch of beats ready for him, so he picked one out. We kicked it and wrote some raps right there. At first, Biz actually wrote a little skateboard rap-he wanted to do a skateboard rap, you know? It was funny as hell, man, but I didn’t really want to make the album about skateboarding-it’s about some real hip-hop shit.So he had a few other rhymes and put them all together. Biz came through and just blessed it, man. I’m honored to work with somebody like him, you know? It was a miracle. After Biz came through and laid down his verses, people took us a little more seriously. Things started flowin’ a lot easier after that. We got Special Ed to come in and do his track, Jeru Tha Damaja, then Afrika Bambaadaa and Ice T. Oh, and before that, Raekwon and U-God. Rae came in and laid his verse. Actually, Rae came over to our house in Cali and we’d already done some vocals with him, so we cut up a hook from that, and he came and laid his verses. After that we had Guru, Melle Mel, Prodigy from Mobb Deep, and Flavor Flav. Every person we dealt with are such strong individuals and characters that each person had a new story with every scenario. It was just so crazy how the whole thing went down. It was a miracle that we pulled off recording all those people in the hotel room without the hotel kickin’ us out. We didn’t tell the hotel we were doing it or anything, we just rolled in, set up the studio in the room, and just hustled, got everybody in there and recorded, you know? It was really cool. My friends Block and Raffi were out there doing a documentary on the relationship between hip-hop and skateboarding. It’s called Project Street, and they were doing an interview with Afrika Bambaadaa in the (same) hotel, so he saw what I was doing, and we just linked up like that. A lot of things just naturally coincided and came into place at the right time-everything really went down good. So yeah, props to those guys, too, for doing Project Street, those guys really helped us out a lot getting us some people.

How did it feel to actually hook up with your heroes?

I’m still on a high from it right now, man. I can’t even believe I had the opportunity to work with those cats on this album, you know? I mean, every person on the album has made such a significant impact on hip-hop music from all different time periods. To have someone like Afrika Bambaadaa who invented the word “hip-hop,” one of the first people to call it hip-hop. Then you’ve got the Mobb Deep cats-when Prodigy and them came out, they brought a whole new feel to the East Coast thug-gangsta rap with all the hip-hop levels added to it. Nobody had done gangsta rap that was hip-hop, you know what I mean? Cats like the Wu-Tang-when they came out, they were some of the first people to bring their whole clan of people up. That was the significant difference that Wu-Tang made. When cats like Ice-T came out, he was a forefather of gangsta rap with some of the gnarliest stuff out there-he’s just a walking hip-hop icon. Then you got people like Melle Mel who came from Grandmaster Flash And The Furious Five, and brought out that whole style from the people who started rap. It started from plugging a turntable and microphone into a lightpost in the park to what it is now. We tried to bring in key people who are a major part of hip-hop in general, and especially my life-people who I really listened to growing up. So to work with any of these guys has been a blessing and an honor, and for them to be rocking on my track is just amazing. I feel like it’s just a real positive way to let people know what these people did for hip-hop, and if it wasn’t for these people then there wouldn’t be the Jay-Zs and the Puff Daddys and all the stuff of today all over MTV and the radio.It wouldn’t be possible without people like Melle Mel, without people like Afrika Bambaadaa, without people like Ice-T-all of them have made it possible for hip-hop. Working with Flavor Flav has been one of my all-time biggest accomplishments. Words can’t even express how much it meant to me to work with all these people and to hear them rap on the music I made. It’s a dream come true, man.

So what’s gonna happen now? When are you gonna put the album out?

We’ve got two more tracks left to do-MC Lyte and KRS-One. Obviously, KRS-One has been a part of hip-hop since day one, too, an innovator of all this music, and it’s just gonna be amazing to see how his track turns out. MC Lyte is a female rapper who was one of the O.G. hip-hop female heads out there who wasn’t doing it solely on a commercial level like Salt ‘N’ Pepa and some of the other stuff that was going on back then. Lyte was a real hip-hop head. So it’s an honor to work with her on this and to just really let everyone know that these people made a difference and recognize what they’ve done and continue to do today. To me, this whole project was a semi-educational process for people in general, for a lot of these little skater kids who like hip-hop now, but when you ask them who Afrika Bambaadaa is, they don’t know. But they’re all into hip-hop, so they need to look back at the roots of where it came from. That’s where I’m going with this, but it’s just crazy, man. The next step is mixing and mastering all the materials, and finding out how we’re gonna be able to get it out to people through distribution ’cause it’s a real obligation now that I have all these tracks that are such jewels.. It’s really my obligation that we get this album out to as many as possible to let them hear what we did in the hotel room and what we’re throwin’ down in my house in the next couple recordings. I tried to stick to a real roots-type feel for this thing. It was like, “Let’s get some beats together, let’s get a microphone, and let’s kick it in a room and record some raps,” instead of trying to get into a million-dollar recording studio with the best mixing board and setting up some studio time. It was more along the lines of trying to get together, do something real, and have fun doing it. That’s what the feel of the whole project was, and that’s how it all turned out.

We filmed a lot of the stuff that happened, too, so we’re trying to get a little documentary together of how the whole thing happened. That could be another cool thing to put out so kids can really get a feel of the recording process, and how it all went down in the hotel room-kinda get a visual on it. The next main step is mixing the sounds and getting it out to the people, so that’s where we’re at now.

nd recorded, you know? It was really cool. My friends Block and Raffi were out there doing a documentary on the relationship between hip-hop and skateboarding. It’s called Project Street, and they were doing an interview with Afrika Bambaadaa in the (same) hotel, so he saw what I was doing, and we just linked up like that. A lot of things just naturally coincided and came into place at the right time-everything really went down good. So yeah, props to those guys, too, for doing Project Street, those guys really helped us out a lot getting us some people.

How did it feel to actually hook up with your heroes?

I’m still on a high from it right now, man. I can’t even believe I had the opportunity to work with those cats on this album, you know? I mean, every person on the album has made such a significant impact on hip-hop music from all different time periods. To have someone like Afrika Bambaadaa who invented the word “hip-hop,” one of the first people to call it hip-hop. Then you’ve got the Mobb Deep cats-when Prodigy and them came out, they brought a whole new feel to the East Coast thug-gangsta rap with all the hip-hop levels added to it. Nobody had done gangsta rap that was hip-hop, you know what I mean? Cats like the Wu-Tang-when they came out, they were some of the first people to bring their whole clan of people up. That was the significant difference that Wu-Tang made. When cats like Ice-T came out, he was a forefather of gangsta rap with some of the gnarliest stuff out there-he’s just a walking hip-hop icon. Then you got people like Melle Mel who came from Grandmaster Flash And The Furious Five, and brought out that whole style from the people who started rap. It started from plugging a turntable and microphone into a lightpost in the park to what it is now. We tried to bring in key people who are a major part of hip-hop in general, and especially my life-people who I really listened to growing up. So to work with any of these guys has been a blessing and an honor, and for them to be rocking on my track is just amazing. I feel like it’s just a real positive way to let people know what these people did for hip-hop, and if it wasn’t for these people then there wouldn’t be the Jay-Zs and the Puff Daddys and all the stuff of today all over MTV and the radio.It wouldn’t be possible without people like Melle Mel, without people like Afrika Bambaadaa, without people like Ice-T-all of them have made it possible for hip-hop. Working with Flavor Flav has been one of my all-time biggest accomplishments. Words can’t even express how much it meant to me to work with all these people and to hear them rap on the music I made. It’s a dream come true, man.

So what’s gonna happen now? When are you gonna put the album out?

We’ve got two more tracks left to do-MC Lyte and KRS-One. Obviously, KRS-One has been a part of hip-hop since day one, too, an innovator of all this music, and it’s just gonna be amazing to see how his track turns out. MC Lyte is a female rapper who was one of the O.G. hip-hop female heads out there who wasn’t doing it solely on a commercial level like Salt ‘N’ Pepa and some of the other stuff that was going on back then. Lyte was a real hip-hop head. So it’s an honor to work with her on this and to just really let everyone know that these people made a difference and recognize what they’ve done and continue to do today. To me, this whole project was a semi-educational process for people in general, for a lot of these little skater kids who like hip-hop now, but when you ask them who Afrika Bambaadaa is, they don’t know. But they’re all into hip-hop, so they need to look back at the roots of where it came from. That’s where I’m going with this, but it’s just crazy, man. The next step is mixing and mastering all the materials, and finding out how we’re gonna be able to get it out to people through distribution ’cause it’s a real obligation now that I have all these tracks that are such jewels. It’s really my obligation that we get this album out to as many as possible to let them hear what we did in the hotel room and what we’re throwin’ down in my house in the next couple recordings. I tried to stick to a real roots-type feel for this thing. It was like, “Let’s get some beats together, let’s get a microphone, and let’s kick it in a room and record some raps,” instead of trying to get into a million-dollar recording studio with the best mixing board and setting up some studio time. It was more along the lines of trying to get together, do something real, and have fun doing it. That’s what the feel of the whole project was, and that’s how it all turned out.

We filmed a lot of the stuff that happened, too, so we’re trying to get a little documentary together of how the whole thing happened. That could be another cool thing to put out so kids can really get a feel of the recording process, and how it all went down in the hotel room-kinda get a visual on it. The next main step is mixing the sounds and getting it out to the people, so that’s where we’re at now.

jewels. It’s really my obligation that we get this album out to as many as possible to let them hear what we did in the hotel room and what we’re throwin’ down in my house in the next couple recordings. I tried to stick to a real roots-type feel for this thing. It was like, “Let’s get some beats together, let’s get a microphone, and let’s kick it in a room and record some raps,” instead of trying to get into a million-dollar recording studio with the best mixing board and setting up some studio time. It was more along the lines of trying to get together, do something real, and have fun doing it. That’s what the feel of the whole project was, and that’s how it all turned out.

We filmed a lot of the stuff that happened, too, so we’re trying to get a little documentary together of how the whole thing happened. That could be another cool thing to put out so kids can really get a feel of the recording process, and how it all went down in the hotel room-kinda get a visual on it. The next main step is mixing the sounds and getting it out to the people, so that’s where we’re at now.