Circa 2007 Scheme Magazine

In 2007 this was the official site of Scheme Magazine.
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Scheme Magazine “You choose”


To change the way our current and future hip-hop generation examines the world outside their doorstep.


Scheme, an online magazine that will serve as a catalyst to educate, inspire, and assist current and future hip-hop communities on the path towards self identity, open mindedness and CRITCIAL thought regarding social, economic, and political happenings that have historically taken place and are currently on-going. This webzine will contain a nucleus of handpicked talented writers who will give context and comprehension to those internal and external aforementioned aspects of today’s and future hip-hop communities. Using platforms consisting of interviews, podcasts, editorials, and artistic expression, Scheme will be the hip-hop medium that is formed at the intersection of conscious influential media, i.e. National Public Radio (NPR) meets


10 Minutes with M-1 of Dead Prez

Jun 29, 2007 – by Dale Coachman, Photos by Shannon Evans


Whenever Hip Hop and Politics meet they appear to have an allergic reaction. Hip hop artists even the “conscious” of hip hop artists make overt political statements when it comes to the current Bush Administration or any other civil unjustness, but what bothers me is when artists are asked the question are they political their immediate response seems to always be, “No, or I’m not a politician.” Maybe it’s for fear of losing a certain status, corporate sponsorship or they’re own livelihood, but the truth in the matter is there are politics in everything; all the way down to who is picked to be the next American Idol, what’s played on the radio and what CNN, FOXNews, and the New York Times decide to inform the people about.

Dead Prez is a group that does not fear what comes from the idea of sacrificing for the bigger cause which for one half of the duo M-1 is freedom. I had the opportunity to sit down with M-1 at a political event in Washington, DC to discuss how it felt to be in the presence of the government and to be in the Capitol buildings and hear what those walls could say if they could talk.

Scheme: What was it like being inside the capital building for the first time?

M-1: It felt like that old White bureaucracy, establishment. It felt so much in the way of ruling class oppression. The walls were wide and you could tell that much miscarriage of justice had taken place here. I was just happy to be able to holla at them.

Scheme: What has it been like coming to DC and experiencing driving past buildings like the CIA, FBI, the Pentagon because for me these buildings comprise a bunch of false truths; what was that like for you?

M-1: It was much like being at the State Capitol in Tallahassee (Florida) that me and Stic (Man) started organizing, it felt the same except more engrained and more institutionalized. We’ve been fighting this same ugly beast that rears its head in every city. We started in Tallahassee and I’ve fought this same head in Springfield, IL, Chicago, IL, Oakland, CA, Wichita, KS, Philadelphia, PA-you name it it’s happened.

“I’ve been experiencing dueling with the beast, I think we have to. Our leadership has learned that. I’ve seen Malcolm do it Stokley Carmichael (Kwame Toure) and I’ve seen so much of our leadership able to express clear leadership objectives in the face of trickery because that’s what it is.”

Scheme: When did you first create your worldview and perspective?

M-1: I was influenced, my political education was influenced by what was left from the Black Panther Organization and the best organizers who picked up the pieces. Willie Mukasa Ricks and Enua Injerry and I learned indirectly from Fred Hampton Sr. Deputy Chairman of the Black Panther Party in Chicago, IL who became my mentor in many ways.

Scheme: I watched you on Fox News and what was it like going into a set-up in which the media was going to twist to make it seem like they were in the right?

M-1: I’ve been experiencing dueling with the beast, I think we have to. Our leadership has learned that. I’ve seen Malcolm do it Stokley Carmichael (Kwame Toure) and I’ve seen so much of our leadership able to express clear leadership objectives in the face of trickery because that’s what it is. The media is smoke and mirrors and they want to create the illusion of legitimacy in a world when the reality is that their bankrupt and they don’t have it and I don’t do it for them, I do it for our people. I primarily don’t even communicate with them; they could never get a message from me they would have to go through

Scheme: Do you ever wake up in the morning and say to yourself “I’m tired” and not tired in the sense of lack of sleep but exhausted and mentally drained and you begin to sound like Fannie Lou Hamer where you are, “sick and tired of being sick and tired.”?

M-1: Yeah, Fannie Lou Hamer was essential to the struggle even here in Washington, DC. That phrase is literally tattooed in my brain because when I met Sister Assata who is our hero she explained the concept of a reluctant revolutionary. She basically said our highest interest is not to fight but we are forced into this position because we are warriors at heart and we are faced with oppression so we become this reluctant visionary and that’s where the concept of being tired is because of the job that we know we must do but its so much of what we really want to be doing but can’t be doing.

“To the sistas who can’t hear that message know that the brothas are sincere. The truest love is going to be the love that we develop in the struggle for freedom for one another.”

Scheme: If you had 10 or 5 points how would you begin to initiate what you just stated regarding a revolution?

M-1: It would be the RGB Code (Red, Black & Green)
1) No Snitching: We don’t deal with our oppressor in anyway possible as much as we can. All snitches don’t where uniforms.
2) Each One Teach One
3) Protect yourself, your family and your community at all times.
4) Be organized
5) Be productive and that’s the RBG Code.

Scheme: What do you say to the young women of color who have this image of them put on television that says if a guy has a nice car in some money you should get with him? What do you say to the woman who knows that there is more than that but doesn’t see it?

M-1: Everything is clouded by oppression. The search for love, understanding, health, family, economic stability is all clouded by exploitation of oppression. It’s hard to find that when every moment is an emergency or alert mode. To the sistas who can’t hear that message know that the brothas are sincere. The truest love is going to be the love that we develop in the struggle for freedom for one another.


Scheme: Before it’s all said and done what do you want to accomplish here on earth?

M-1: Our highest aspiration is freedom and we won’t compromise it. We pick up from the footsteps of those who were assassinated and who were attempting to carry out the mission that’s what and where I am. The ultimate mission is liberation for our people-true liberation and self-determination and anything short is a failure. I can’t be satisfied by gold trinkets and materialism or the high life.

Scheme: What are some of the craziest things you’ve heard from a record company when you present yourself to them?

M-1: It’s a general non-connection that we can read before they can ever get to the point where they can say something that is offensive directly. It generally comes after we sign the contract and theirs a marriage and we’re debating on the points of our attack or presentation to the people and that’s when the most absurd comments come out. Ultimately it’s censorship, when somebody has something to say the thing that would violate that most would be not being able to say it.


Stacy Epps: the Art of an Emcee

Jun 28, 2007 – by Simóne Banks 

Controlled art besmirches artists’ identities.

A true artist knows who they are and their convictions are displayed through their music. When it comes down to artist representation, outer depiction is reflected from an inner experience. In other words, what’s flowing in both mentally and spiritually will determine the value of your lyrical flow. “With me it’s all about reality, being down to earth and knowing that we all share so many experiences and emotions. Through our shared reality we can come together and unite to make positive changes in society. That is why I dedicate my life to the art of emceeing, because I am a messenger of light and love and hope that I can touch even a few people,” this being the manifesto of Stacy Epps.

Who is she? She’s the new voice of hip hop. A female icon that brings lyrical value yet with a respected image, she still has to experience the struggle to stand firm as a female emcee. “Unfortunately, the women are not put in the forefront and have to struggle to get heard and get signed within the industry. Historically, labels do not see women as profitable & therefore do not sign them. But many female emcees have shown the potential we have to create universal music that all people can enjoy. We need positive role models now more than ever, and especially women; people that our young girls can look up to and hear speak their mind. The current image of women in Hip Hop in the commercial industry is as “groupies” or very sexual scantily clad models. This is our dominant position right now. I say this to mean that you will see more women in this role than you will in the role as a female emcee or leader within the movement.”

Can you name five female emcees? Most rattle off the typical three, Lil Kim, Foxy Brown and Trina, but when you suggest naming female emcees that have contributed something positive to the culture, is when you really see people begin to struggle. “Queen Latifah, MC Lyte, Roxanne Shante, Salt n Pepa, Lauryn Hill, Bahamadia, Mystic and countless others have shown the ability of dope female emcees to shine and make their voices heard. This is more important now than ever. I know so many dope female emcees that just don’t get the attention they deserve like Bahamadia, Invincible, Mystic, Emoni Fela, Tiye Phoenix and more.”

In the midst of hip hop, representation is definitely controlling the growth of our present generation, and in regards to female emcees, their image reflects a lot more than on themselves. There is a responsibility that female icons have. Who will lead and where are the values we see coming from? “It is on us as female emcees to make this an issue and raise our voices to contest this series of events and not just let it continue on. I am committed to be a part of this effort.”

Epps was introduced to hip hop at an early age. Like many, she was attracted to the freedom and strength of the culture. It was the expression that gave a voice to the community many artists’ spoke of. Issues such as gang violence, poverty, education and family life allowed the culture to become a very precocious community. “When I was younger, I was drawn to the strength of the vibe and culture, the ‘freshness’ and the unique sound. There was a freedom in Hip Hop that existed nowhere else. Hearing emcees like KRS 1, MC Lyte, Queen Latifah, I was inspired by the message, the words, and the style. I knew this was a higher level of communication. Very spiritual and a direct response to the difficulties our communities were facing due to so-called “reganomics” i.e. crack, guns etc. It showed me that we had a voice and could speak to the people about exactly how we were feeling and that people would listen. It had such a pride and good energy towards it you couldn’t help but be drawn to this music. The lyrics man, wow, they really moved me, and from then on… well… it’s been on!”

Her focus is on the most high and her drive is nestled within. Her talent could be determined as natural though she’s insatiable when it comes to knowledge and sharing it. Despite the fact that she hasn’t been in the game long, she’s worked with many artists and producers alike that all have the respect from the music community. “I have been blessed to work with some very, very talented individuals worldwide. Scienz of Life really groomed me on learning the indie biz and the art of recording and doing for self. I am forever indebted to them for the strong foundation they shared with me. I was on their “Project Overground” album on about 4 tracks (some of my earliest work!  Then Lil Sci and I created the group Sol Uprising and we did an album called “Sol Power.” I also did a track with the Prophetix a dope group from ATL. I was blessed to work with MF Doom on the King Gheedorah “Take me to Your Leader” album also featured on the album he did with Madlib, the Madvillain Project. Worked with OH NO (Madlib’s little brother) on his album “The Disrupt”. Did a lot of work with Wildchild, we have a project in the works right now. I recorded songs with Madlib and also worked with Jneiro Jarel on his Dr. Who Dat “Beat Journey” project and also his upcoming album. I work very closely with Apex a dope producer out of D.C., he did like 4 of the tracks on my upcoming project. I recorded some songs with Georgia Anne Muldrow, the gifted and talented Muhsinah as well, she produced a song on my album. Flying Lotus produced a joint on the project. Goodness, there are so many dope people I worked with, I guess I’ll just start listing; Bilal Salaam, S1, Pharcyde, Baatin, Cris Prolific, Invincible, Finale, DJ PudgEmcee, Amdex, Jazz Liberators, Bembe Segue, Emoni Fela & the Epsilon Project. I’m sure I’m forgetting someone, but all are fresh!”

Upcoming is her first solo project entitled Eppisode 1: The Awakening that is expected to drop winter 2007. No mainstream diplomacy, just pure hip hop to enlighten the listener. In her words, hip hop is alive and flourishing; on the independent tip however. “Hip Hop is evolving like every other form of music. I feel that the whole “hip hop is dead” thing was a big publicity stunt. Although I think it was healthy for us to sit back and reflect on the art form and see its current contributions to society. Yes, on the mainstream/commercial/major label side of things Hip Hop or should I say rap (that’s a whole other debate) is polluted with a lot of negativity and lack of creativity and progressiveness. But this is what happens when art is controlled by money, because at the end of the day these major labels have to make their bottom line, they have to pay their CEO $500,000 to $1 million/year… they have to pay their bills… so for them that is a very controlling factor. But on the independent side, I see Hip Hop alive and well. I see fresh talent worldwide flexing their skills and contributing to Hip Hop culture. There are so many positive community organizations working in the name of Hip Hop. So it’s definitely not dead. But the evolution is coming, music and culture is an ever-changing entity, so it is important to embrace the changes that arise. I see music moving to amazing new heights, an amalgamation of all types of sounds and the destruction of all rules and boundaries lines to create mind-blowing music for all people…soon come.”

Being influential isn’t easy. Sometimes we influence others unknowingly. On a recent trip to South Africa, Epps was able to get first hand the experience of seeing how influential she really is. “Wow, that trip truly changed my life!! I have never had such a beautiful experience as I had visiting Mother Africa. I was blessed with the opportunity to travel to the homeland and it still affects me so deeply. I look back on that trip with love and still miss it. To actually be on a land that was HOME for people truly. People were truly connected to the land in that they knew their ancestors had walked that earth. There was a deep spiritual connection to nature and the incredible abundance of nature in that space. I was taken aback at how huge Hip Hop was out there and how much of the independent music they were into. It amazed me that my first night at a Hip Hop club, a young brother came up to me and was like, “excuse me are you Stacy Epps?” I was truly blown away!! But it really showed me how far our music travels and the importance of our voices throughout the world. This music we create is a serious thing!”




Slum Village: Still Standing

Jun 27, 2007 – by Dale Coachman  

A signature sound, Slum Village, something that you knew you could expect a sound thanks in most part to J Dilla that would be different from anything you’ve ever heard before or after. Drama has followed this group from beginning to end which has always lead fans to wonder, what will happen next? From the departure of Baatin who made a quick cameo on a Black Milk track called “Action” to the passing of Jay Dee, to the constant record company shuffle Slum Village’s sound and lyrics with the addition of Elzhi has always found a way to be heard. So the question is what’s next because a legacy has been created and now the torch must be carried, with the likes of Phat Kat, Guilty Simpson, DJ House Shoes and Black Milk they are in the process of keeping that light on so where does Slum Village fit?

Scheme: I really hate to ask this question but how is the group doing since J Dilla passed?

T3: I mean you know it’s a tragedy not just for us but for music but for personal that’s my man, I’ve been known him for 20 years. It’s definitely sad when you lose a friend outside of the music so we’re dealing with it. We’re doing a tribute album to Dilla with his moms so you can look for that coming soon-it’s with all Dilla beats that we chose, exclusive sh*t that nobody has. Trying to give back as much as we can to a lot of benefit concerts and trying to give back even to Lupus which is the disease which he passed from so its all that, we’re just trying to make good music and keep his name out there.

Elzhi: As far as Dilla he laid down the groundwork for the group and I feel like he was one of the forefathers of neo-soul. As far as how we’re going we’re just going to keep representing Dilla and keep giving you that Slum Village sound that ya’ll know and love. It might not be exactly the same all the time, we like to change up and we know a lot of fans would hate to see us grouped into a box because their so used to us doing different things and being innovative. See we’re going to keep that peace that Dilla provided for the group inside of our music always. As far as Dilla he was one of the best to ever do it, you have people from Pharrell (Williams) appreciating his talent, Dr. Dre all the way down to Sa-Ra, Erykah Badu and Common. Across the board everybody appreciated what he did and I feel like his legacy is being carried on by people who were influenced by him but most importantly its going to be carried on by SV because this is where it started from and we don’t want people to ever forget what he put into this world and into this music because it was real.

Scheme: What can we expect from the next Slum Village album and where can we see you perform live?

Elzhi: It’s basically more style, more lyrics, more of that Slum that you know and love but we’re going to keep it diverse and its not going to be like anything you heard on the last one. In case you (the people) didn’t know, we had a album that came out called Slum Village and it was self titled and a lot of people don’t really know that it was out like that but for those that did know it was one of our best albums along with the first album people know and love which was Vol.2. Slum Village is about to be overseas in July, we’re still on this run with Phat Kat and illa J ( J Dilla’s younger brother) and the next place we’re going is Boston. We’re working, we have a Remy (Martin) campaign going on where we make appearances at different clubs and we plan on putting three albums out this year so I’m not going to speak on the other two as well as my solo album so we’re going to keep that music bumpin! My solo project I’ve been holding off because I’ve been wanting Slum Village to get to a certain point because without T3 and the group…I wouldn’t say I would never have a voice but they made it to where I had a voice quicker than if I didn’t hook up with them so now that we’re getting back on our feet I’m about to do this solo album its about to be classic, JakeOne is doing beats, Pete Rock, Black Milk, DJ Dez, Vitamin D and a couple of other names.

T3: I have my T3 and I’m also putting out solo artists and putting out soul music. I’m working with this young guy names Al young guy, plays keyboard, sings and he’s from DC. I’m going to put out Dirty District Soul which is like up and coming soul artists that I like. I’m more so working on the new Slum album which is the same stuff just more harder with more edge. We’re headed to Japan, Brazil and Europe and then we will come back and do the states. Hopefully we can finish the album in the next couple of months or so and work with Pete Rock so.

“I mean if it was up to me I would’ve quit years ago but now that the expectations are so high I have to keep the legacy going and that’s why we brought out illa J, we want to keep the legacy and real music going and keep the cycle going. We have a couple more albums to do and some venues to connect and a couple of more people to reach and that’s why we’re doing it right now.”

Scheme: I see ya’ll in the car commercials how’s that going?

T3: I mean we we’re in the car commercials last year and they have TI this year, but it was love. We got free cars and exposure and now we’re doing stuff with Remy Martin and we do a party every Tuesday in Detroit for June and July and that’s love as well.

Scheme: Did you ever expect to make it this far?

T3: My expectation was high, and more so in the later years my expectation got lower because things were moving slower than I expected them to be and now I feel like we have no choice after the passing of Dilla to keep the legacy alive. I mean if it was up to me I would’ve quit years ago but now that the expectations are so high I have to keep the legacy going and that’s why we brought out illa J, we want to keep the legacy and real music going and keep the cycle going. We have a couple more albums to do and some venues to connect and a couple of more people to reach and that’s why we’re doing it right now. One of our most slept on Cd’s was the Slum Village self titled album and because me my favorite CD’s that we did we’re Vol.1 and Vol.2. So Trinity was an experimental album for us. We were going through a lot of turmoil and that’s when I became the leader of the group and it was hard for me because I was like a background guy and I was trying to be the leader but it was kind of thrown upon me and I had no choice, so it was like an experimental album. We had some love and made some joints on there but I didn’t know how it was going to come out. When we did the self titled joint that’s when me and El gelled together as a group.

“The hardest part of the industry is the recognition and getting the love, you want to constantly feel that but for us it’s been a constant struggle we’ve dealt with a lot of situations.”

Scheme: So explain the process of making music being in the studio and being on the road.

T3: It’s just at different times, right now we’re enjoying the road because we’re on the road but I love the studio too. It just depends on how I’m feeling at the time. It’s not one more than the other, its all music to me.

Scheme: What’s the hardest part of this industry?

T3: The hardest part of the industry is the recognition and getting the love, you want to constantly feel that but for us it’s been a constant struggle we’ve dealt with a lot of situations. From group members leaving to group members passing and that’s the hardest part about this process. Dealing with this drama in the public eye and that’s the hardest part of this industry and at the same time all the blessings we get from it we have to take that with it.

Elzhi: When Dilla left they brought me in and then Baatin left and then it was just me and T3 so we maintained that by working hard on the shows and working hard on the chemistry and making sure we came up with a nice formula for the albums and I feel like it’s really shining through the music now.