Thursday, January 31, 2008

Adisa Banjoko & Josh Waitzkin on KQED Radio with Michael Krasny on Hip-Hop & Chess


I had a great time at KQED radio today. Much thanks to Keven Guillory and Michael Krasny for their open minds and hearts. The callers were awesome!!! Good callers always rule.


Saturday, January 26, 2008

Can you imagine playing chess against Coltrane's brain?


HHCF EXCLUSIVE: Adisa Banjoko interviews Josh Waitzkin on Martial Arts

At six years old, Josh Waitzkin was one of the toughest chess players on earth. His creative and aggressive style made him one of the most feared American chess players ever. His style was a fusion of his years being raised by chess hustlers in New York’s Washington Square Park and his classical guidance under Bruce Pandolfini. His early life was made into the cult classic film Searching For Bobby Fischer.

After leaving chess, he discovered the martial art of Tai Chi Chuan. After training in Tai Chi Chuan, he realized how much marital arts and chess are connected. On his path to becoming a two-time world champion in Tai Chi Chuan, he learned about Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. He wrote a book about his experience entitled The Art of Learning. It became a best seller and is used by CEO’s and fighters alike who seek a higher level of understanding.

I first met Josh at the second Hip-Hop Chess Federation event with the RZA from the Wu-Tang Clan. I remember how well he and RZA connected like old friends from the second they met. Josh is a living hieroglyph of the idea that chess and martial arts are one.

In this interview Josh Waitzkin talks about his path to learning Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, the relationship between chess and martial arts and his philosophy about the lack of philosophy in BJJ.

OTM: How were you first introduced to Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and when did you begin training?

JW: I began training BJJ out in LA with John Machado about 5 years ago. But for the first two years, 90% of my energy was focused on stand up, getting ready for the 2004 Tai Chi Chuan Push Hands Worlds. For the past three years I’ve been focused exclusively on Jiu Jitsu, with John out west, then in New York City at NYBJJ with Marcos Santos. I also worked a lot with Marcelo Garcia while he was in New York, which was incredible.

OTM: You are a two time world champion in Tai Chi Chuan. Many BJJ practitioners write off styles like Tai Chi. Why do you think that is?

JW: I was fortunate enough to be introduced to Tai Chi Chuan by William CC Chen, who is humble, understated, very practical, a true master of body mechanics, and a fabulous teacher. He is well into his seventies and is still a demon in the boxing ring. If grapplers were exposed to William Chen’s Tai Chi, they wouldn’t write it off.

But to answer your question—honestly, a very large percentage of Tai Chi practitioners have their heads in the clouds…and they are the ones who make the most noise, stage the silly fake demonstrations, and create a cultish mindset that a practical fighter can just walk right through. I’d write them off too. Plus the system has little groundwork and most teachers are still closed minded about that element of the martial arts. Frankly, I think this problem is rampant in many traditional martial arts—teachers are terrified of looking bad and losing students so they create a world that denies what they don’t know.

On the other hand, if you travel to Taiwan and China and focus on the top competitors, the Tai Chi scene becomes incredibly dynamic. The rules of International Push Hands comptition are that you are in an 18 foot diameter ring and points are scored for throwing the guy on the floor or out of the ring. No frills. The fighters are superb athletes, training 6 and 8 hours a day since childhood, competing all the time. There is no fancy esoteric language—they just smash you on the floor with a speed and power that is breathtaking. They are open-minded, incredibly subtle, and of a very similar spirit to the top BJJ fighters.

The chess world made me practical, so I always challenged and rejected the elements of the Tai Chi scene that were overly idealized. If someone told me they could throw me without touching me, I asked them to do it. If they said they could kill me with a touch, I said I’d be willing to take the risk. This led to some pretty funny scenes and was an easy way to filter out the nonsense.

OTM: What benefits from Tai Chi do you bring to BJJ and vice versa?

JW: Well, the learning process begins from different places but arrives, ideally, at a similar feeling. In BJJ, you tend to begin with technique, and through repetition you come to a smooth, efficient, unobstructed body mechanics. In Tai Chi, you begin with body mechanics, get a certain internal feeling over months and years of moving meditative practice, and then you learn the martial application of what you’ve been doing all along.

The essence of Tai Chi is sensitivity to intention. Turning force against itself, overcoming power without meeting it head on. Of course these principles are at the heart Jiu Jitsu as well. In my mind, the arts are completely intertwined and to be honest, the purest Tai Chi I’ve ever felt has been getting my ass handed to me, over and over, by John Machado and Marcelo Garcia.

OTM: Your book The Art of Learning talks about your journey from chess to Tai Chi and BJJ. What would you say are the core similarities between chess and martial arts?

JW: People tend to answer that question with clich├ęs. They talk about the need to think ahead, to combine strategy and tactics--those parallels are critical but obvious. To my mind, the interesting connections reside in the learning process. Both chess and the martial arts involve internalizing tremendously complex information into a sense of flow—I call this the study of numbers to leave numbers, or form to leave form. I love the play between the conscious and unconscious minds in the creative moment, and for me chess and the martial arts are both about developing a rich working relationship with your intuition. We are forced to be relentlessly introspective, to take on our weaknesses and build games around our specific nuances of character. If I learned anything from my life of competition in chess and Push Hands, it’s that if you’ve swept anything under the rug in your learning process—if you haven’t taken yourself on truly and deeply—it’ll come out and destroy you when the pressure is on.

In his translation of The Vimalakirti Sutra, Robert Thurman defines wisdom as “tolerance of cognitive dissonance.” That is chess and that is the martial arts. We are learning to cultivate a peace of mind, clarity of expression, and unstoppable growth curve in the most chaotic, wildly complex, and dangerous situations imaginable.

OTM: What rank do you currently hold in BJJ and who do you train under currently?

JW: I train under Marcos Santos in NYC and have been a purple belt for a couple years.

OTM: What is your ultimate goal in BJJ?

JW: I’m just a beginner in this art, but it’s my dream to win Mundials. I have a long way to go, but I’m committed.

OTM: Who are some of your favorite BJJ and MMA fighters today?

JW: Hands down my favorite BJJ fighter is Marcelo Garcia. The dude is amazing. Pure flow. He’s very similar to Tiger Woods in that he doesn’t hesitate to break down his game at the top, when it seems absolutely unnecessary. There’s a certain unstoppable mindset in his approach to learning. I also love how he hones in on one or two techniques and makes them manifest everywhere—this idea, of learning the macro through the micro, is at the core of my approach to everything. Most recently for Marcelo it was the omoplata and crucifix. He was catching his students in those two submissions from every conceivable position, and this was while his X-guard and back game looked unbeatable. Everyone prepped for the back attack and then he blew his weight class out of the water in Abu Dhabi with a brand new game. I can’t wait to see what he comes up with in MMA.

As for MMA fighters, all politics aside, I think Randy Couture’s mental understanding is off the charts, and Anderson Silva is the scariest dude out there.

OTM: What is your training regimen like these days?

JW: I train BJJ six days a week, twice a couple of those days if possible. My book has made things in my life more chaotic than I’d like and when I travel I inevitably miss some days. I’m trying to minimize that as much as possible.

OTM: Do you still practice Tai Chi?

JW: Internally, yes. Chess and Tai Chi are at the core of everything I do.

OTM: In the HHCF Chess Kings Invitational, RZA spoke about how Chessmaster 10 and getting coaching from you gave him a true edge in the tournament. Can you talk about what you taught him that enhanced his playing?

JW: RZA is an incredible man. He has a deep wisdom, and we have very similar approaches to creativity. He’s a very strong chess player, but he didn’t have a solid classical foundation. I suggested that he study the endgame. Instead of memorizing opening traps, I suggested he dive into the principles that govern all chess positions. That’s how I teach through Chessmaster—connecting chess to life—and maybe that approach helped translate his musical genius to the 64 squares. With a guy like RZA, who is a tremendously high level thinker, all you have to do is figure out how to open the floodgates so his understanding of Quality can transfer over. These arts are all the same, really. We just need to break down the walls in our minds.

OTM: What was your favorite memory from the HHCF Kings Invitational?

JW: Dude, the HHCF events have been amazing….I think the panel discussions with you, me, RZA, Rakaa, Qbert, and Kevvy Kev have been very dynamic. Bringing together role models from all these different disciplines to discuss the road to mastery is a brilliant way to inspire kids who might not otherwise be exposed to all the connections.

As for specific moments, two come to mind. Last event, it actually happened behind the scenes. RZA and I were waiting to go up for the panel, and we got into this intense conversation about creativity, going back and forth, discussing these wild connections between chess, hip hop, and the martial arts. We were speaking about improvisation, the role between the technical foundation and the creative leap, about where all these arts collide. I came out of the conversation on fire with new ideas—I wish others could have heard it.

The other moment happened on the street after our event at The Omega Boys Club. A young rapper approached RZA, Monk, and Reverend with a challenging vibe. He started freestyling and then a cipher broke out, with the Wu Tang crew blowing this guy out of the water. It all came to a head when RZA brought the house down with probably the most amazing improvised performance in anything that I’ve even seen. It was flat out awesome. After he was done, and without missing a beat, he said “Josh GO!” It was my turn. I laughed. I know when to keep my mouth shut.

OTM: What are the practical fighting limitations of tai chi?

JW: I think that depends on how literal you're being. If you come from my perspective, in which I rebound away from traditionalism and don't care much for labels, Tai Chi is in everything just as chess and Jiu Jitsu are in everything. The boundaries are very porous. From a slightly less irritatingly abstract perspective, the Tai Chi system, if cultivated in a no nonsense manner, can be quite powerful as a striking and throwing art. Despite what some might say, the ground element of the game is not terribly developed--and that's a big limitation.

OTM: What are the spiritual/internal limitations of brazilian jiu jitsu?

JW: I don't have any reason to believe that there are any.

OTM: Not any? I find this hard to conceive. Looking back into antiquity, the philosophies of Lao Tzu, Buddha, Jigoro Kano and even more recently Bruce Lee, gave each of the respective martial paths a sketch of spiritual structure. These sketches served as a loose road map to one's true self.

When I look at Rickson Gracie for example, the main thing I see that separates him from the rest of the jiu jitsu practitioners in the world is his philosophical approach to fighting. Many of his interviews highlight his respect for the traditional philosophical approaches of the past.

In America at least, there does not seem to be a philosophical methodology to Brazilian jiu jitsu. I have always felt this has created a vacuum of sorts that makes jiu jitsu more of a supremely effective fighting style- but not a martial art.

Do you agree? Also, could the absence of the philosophy in Brazilian jiu jitsu serve as the direct link to the blueprint of the essence of martial arts?

JW: That last point is deep, man. Alright, this is how I feel. I'm a student of philosophy and engage that element of my being in everything I do. As individuals, we have the choice to go down this road or not. I think the vast majority of people, in all disciplines, tend not to. You asked if there were any spiritual/internal limitations to BJJ. My feeling is that BJJ is a beautiful martial art that can take an individual as far as he or she is prepared to go.

I don't think that BJJ imposes any limitations—some practitioners might, but the art itself does not. I've met plenty of meat heads in the Jiu Jitsu world, but I've also known them in chess, tai chi, academia, science, religion…we can screw anything up. And there is no easy answer. If there is too much of a spiritual structure in an art, we may become dogmatic and not take responsibility for our beliefs. If too little, we can fail to even consider the critical questions.

I think there are countless paths to spirituality--meditation, surfing, running, climbing, music, sailing, archery, calligraphy, chess, martial arts, motorcycle maintenance, whatever. The vehicle is just the husk. It is a structure, a form, a channel to be penetrated with an understanding of its relativity. In my opinion, what matters isn't so much what art you pursue but how honestly, creatively and relentlessly you explore it. You brought up Lao Tzu, Buddha, and Bruce Lee. These were all sages who spoke about leaving form behind. Religious followers and devotees later took their ideas and made them much more static than they were ever intended to be. And that brings us to your last point which is very powerful.

OTM: Any last words?

JW: Yeah, one thing. I'm in the process of opening up a nonprofit foundation, designed to help disadvantaged children, teens, and young adults get their footing in the learning process. If anyone reading this works in this field and believes the educational philosophy of my book The Art of Learning can make an impact on their group, please contact me on my website and I'll do my best to help out by donating copies to teachers, families, and students. It's been a pleasure, man.


Everyone in a while, you just need to turn the music up and let go....

NOW, is that time!!!


Thursday, January 24, 2008

HHCF EXCLUSIVE: Wu-Tang Clan's GZA On Tour in Orlando

We caught up with GZA today before the Wu-Tang Clan destroyed the stage in Orlando, Florida. In this interview, we talk about why everybody loves a Wu-Tang show, how O.D.B. used to be a wicked beatboxer and if GZA thinks he can beat 50 and Souljah Boy on the 64 Squares.

HHCF: OK, so- y’all are in Florida right now? What’s goin’ on?

GZA: Nothin’ much right now. The weather is nice. But its not t-shirt weather. But it beats some of the weather we just came from [laughs].

HHCF: How is the tour coming along?

GZA: It’s going good. Great response- as always. A couple of chess matches in between.

HHCF: You playin’ other cats in the Clan, or fans- who?

GZA: I been playin True Master, one of the engineers and one of the other brothers that’s been on the road with us.

HHCF: How good is True Master. Is anybody especially dominant?

GZA: I’ve been pretty dominant. But True Master has a good game when he’s concentrating.

HHCF: I think you and Public Enemy share the title as the Rolling Stones of rap. Everybody gets excited whenever you guys tour. What is the essence of passion that people have to see the Wu perform?

GZA: First of all, there is so much energy. When we we’re on stage, its like another world. We can be in a heated argument on the bus. But when we get to the show and walk on stage- you’ll never know. We love what we do.

Also, this is its rawest form. RZA once said it a long time ago “100% natural, No preservative, no additives”. People just love Wu.

We are like grandparents, that are outliving their grandchildren. Because we not only have our first fans- we have their children. That’s RARE in Hip-Hop.

HHCF: That’s true. What are some of the first shows that you remember attending as a fan? Not as a performer.

GZA: I can’t even remember. Maybe Harlem World. I been there once or twice. I don’t remember who was playin’. I don’t remember if it was Kool Moe Dee, or Busy Bee. There were quite a few artists performing that night.

We did not go to too many rap shows. We were at too many talent shows trying to get put on, to tell you the truth. It was more like block parties for us. Almost since the beginning of Hip-Hop. We had a chance to see people perform way before there were concerts.

We used to go to the South Bronx from Staten Island back in 1977-76. We would go to block parties- and get a lot of stuff for free [laughs]. Jams is what they called them back then.

HHCF: Outside of MC’ing, did you ever do any of the other elements of Hip-Hop?

GZA: Mostly MC’ing. I definitely used to break, around the time I started MCing. I was pretty good to. But that was before they stated spinning on heads and windmills.

HHCF: You was more of an uprock kinda dude?

GZA: Yes. I did sweeps and a little bit of floor stuff. But not once it actually became breakdancing. The windmills and spins and things of that nature. But I did that at an early age.

I wrote on walls and the halls. But it was nothing that stood out. I was just puttin’ my name up.

DJ’ing? I tried that. But I never had equipment at my house. Dirty and RZA were actually good at scratching and cutting. They were both human beatboxers also. I never did that. Dirty I must say he was one of the best.

HHCF: As a beatboxer or a DJ?

GZA: He was good as a DJ, and RZA was good as a DJ. But Dirty was one of the best human beatboxers. He was really good. This was in the 80’s. We called him the human beatbox specialist.

We had a crew called the All In Together Now Crew. It was myself, Dirty and RZA. Dirty was “The Professor”, RZA was “The Scientist” and I was “The Genius”. I didn’t want the title “Genius”. I really didn’t. It was too much to expect with that name. I wanted Professor. ‘Cause there were more words that rhymed with that word at the time.

We were MC’s, Dirty and RZA would beatbox and DJ- we just combined that all together.

HHCF: Tell me about your experience at the Chess Kings Invitational. What did you expect and what did you see?

GZA: I didn’t know what to expect. I mean, I expected people, and tables, chessboards and press. And it was all there. But I did not expect THAT any children involved. I mean, I knew it was for a good cause. I knew children would be involved- but it was a great event.

I enjoyed being there. I hope to be there over and over again and hopefully win. I also did not think that it would be that easy for us (GZA, RZA and Monk). They were quite easy. The only game I lost was to RZA- a stupid blunder! It was something that was just ridiculous.

HHCF: In late 2008 we gonna do it again for a new belt. You coming out or what?

GZA: Yes!

HHCF: When is it?

GZA: The Honor the Queens has just been moved to May. There will be lots of MMA fighters and a lot of the top ladies in chess and Hip-Hop there. After that, we’ll have the next battle for the belt in August 2008.

HHCF: What chess books and videos do you get into to help prepare you?

GZA: I had tapes a long time ago. I don’t remember their names. When I was at the Chess Kings Invitational, I bought a lot of books from Eric Schiller.

HHCF: I remember seeing you guys talking after the event.

GZA: I have not had a chance to read them because I’m touring. I’m on the road trying to write, so I got the at home for when I get off tour. I have about 15 chess books though. The book I have picked up the most is The Game of Chess by Tarasch- it’s a green book. I also have 101 Chess Combinations….I don’t know who wrote that. I’ve had The 200 Best Games by Kasparov. That’s a good book right there. The first game starts when he was ten years old. It’s a strong game.

There’s probably some really good chess players reading this and they’ll be like “Man, them books is whatever”. But they’re good for me though.

HHCF: What did you think of the passing of Bobby Fischer?

GZA: Its sad.[long pause] He’s done a lot for chess. I mean, he pretty much revolutionized the game- for his time.

HHCF: I can’t think of another American with such an impact. It was so immense.

GZA: I can’t either. He was one of the best. If not, the best.

HHCF: I saw a lot of chatter back and forth between you and 50 and you and Souljah Boy. Who do you think would win in a chess match if you played those two?

GZA: Well, of course I’m going to say myself. I don’t know if Souljah plays. I’ pretty sure 50 plays. He may be familiar with chess. Of course I’m gonna say myself. As far as dealing with the situation…If I compare it to chess…His method of playing chess, is as old as human thought. It needs some improvement.

HHCF: So the tour is about to end. What do you do at the end of a long tour?

GZA: Rest for a few days. Then it’s back to business. Then I’m back on the road.

HHCF: Will you ever do a sequel to Grandmasters?

GZA: Yes, definitely. I don’t know if we’ll call it a sequel. But, I’m gonna do another album with Muggs.

HHCF: I look forward to seeing you in 2008 when you come out to get that belt again. Do you have any last words?

GZA: Wu-Tang is Forever. 8 Diagrams.

© 2008 Hip-Hop Chess Federation

Monday, January 21, 2008

FREE DOWNLOAD: Okwerdz Rush Hour 3 Mixtape

What happens when one of the hottest battle MCs gets possessed by his fascination with Jackie Chan? You get The Rush Hour Mixtape. Based out of the dusty, hot, crime-ridden streets of Stockton California, lives a rapper by the name of Okwerdz. He is a pioneer within the West Coast battle scene. Okwerdz has ripped ciphers and stages from New York to Los Angeles to Australia .

Kung-Fu films have had a huge impact on every element of Hip-Hop. Some say it's the competitive spirit that the films showcase. Others say it's the Eastern Philosophy embedded into the films that have the greatest impact. But most believe that watching someone deliver a well-planned butt-kicking soothes the soul.

For Okwerdz, the release of Rush Hour 3 had to meet with a new mixtape. sat down with the mastermind behind The Rush Hour Mixtape, his love for Jackie Chan and why he likes Jackie over Bruce or Jet Li. : For those who don't know tell them who Okwerdz is.

Okwerdz: I always hate this question. [Laughs] Long story short, [I’m a] former MC battle-champion from Stockton California, been doin’ my thing for about eight years. Worked with cats like E-40, Kool G Rap, Mistah F.A.B., DJ Green Lantern, Tech N9ne, Rahzel, Capadonna, Casual, Sean Price. What was the first martial arts movie you ever saw?

Okwerdz: To be honest I really couldn't even tell you. I grew up watchin' all the obvious stuff that came from America...All your Steven Segal, Chuck Norris, Enter The Dragon type stuff. I got interested in more, and I started watching the Hong Kong films with my uncle Randy when I was little. He thought Chuck Norris could beat up Bruce Lee. What was the first Jackie Chan film you ever watched?

Okwerdz: I believe it was Police Story when I was real little. But what really sparked my interested was when I first saw Rumble in the Bronx. I was completely blown the f**k away. Then my mother took me to Chinatown in San Francisco for my birthday one year. I just bought every Jackie Chan movie I could find. I kept ordering them all through like sixth and eithh grade till I had ‘em all. How many Jackie Chan films have you seen?

Okwerdz: I own something like 50 or 70 Jackie Chan movies- dubbed, subtitled, VHS, DVD, VCD, etc. Why do you think you like Jackie more than Bruce or Jet Li?

Okwerdz: I mean they are all extremely talented. But from a film standpoint, Jackie Chan is just a lot more fun/interesting/creative to watch. In my opinion, he's one of the best fight choreographers in the world. Bruce Lee movies are a bit far-fetched for me, that one man can beat up so many people without gettin' even touched. He still has time to sit there and make crazy noises after each move. There still fun to watch though; Return of the Dragon is amazing. As far as Jet Li goes, I don't like too many special effects and wires and flying around and whatnot, Jackie's films are more real. What gave you the idea for the mixtape?

Okwerdz: As in most Hip-Hop records these days, we've had some delays in getting out my next mixtape The Off-Season. So I kinda juts needed somethin' to keep me busy, and I'd always wanted to do somethin’ Jackie Chan-oriented. I'm such a big fan I just never knew what, then it hit me. After that, I just tried to think of a producer down to get his hands dirty to make some low quality kung fu s**t. My homie The Wrist just popped in my head and we went from there. How hard was it to put this together lyrically?

Okwerdz: Lyrically, it’s the easiest project I've ever written. I've spent like no more than 5 or 7 minutes on each verse. All the Jackie Chan references just leaked out of me, combined with a whole lot of swagger. I just breezed through the whole thing. For those that are familiar with my work its a bit more unorthodox as far as rhyme patterns and what not go I just kinda let personality take over on this one and had fun with it. If you knew Jackie would hear this mixtape, what would you want him to feel from it?

Okwerdz: Well I dunno if he's into Hip-Hop at all or anything. But I'd hope he'd be able to appreciate it for what it is, and not get mad that we sampled all his s**t to make a record. 'Cause he's the last cat I want pissed off at me, believe me. It'd be nice if he felt it and I could write a song for one of his next movies…eh? What’s up with the next LP?

Okwerdz: I'm slowly working on it, thus far I have like 12 beats for it from Domingo, Bosko, M-Phazes, and E-40 and Kool G Rap were kind enough to bless me with some ridiculous verses. Also, I just finished the new mixtape coming out before the album entitled The Off-Season...20 tracks or so all on original beats; the s**t is ridiculous and by far the best music I've ever made thus far in my life. There are so many Jackie Chan fans out there...The potential for this is just amazing. What are your thoughts?

Okwerdz: Honestly, when I first started writing it I didn’t think much of it I was just passin' time with a passion project. But a lot of people are taking it a lot more seriously than I planned. I'm not quite sure what's gonna happen with it from here but I'm definitely excited about it. I know you’re a really big Jackie Chan fan. But which movies aren’t you feeling? Tell the truth, ‘cause Shanghai Knights sucked.

Okwerdz: This is a great question. I actually don't care too much for the American films Jackie has been in, and none of it is his fault. He's been great in them all. What I don't like is how American films shoot their fight scenes...The camera angles are always bad and they just need to take some advice from Hong Kong films. On top of that, they won't let Jackie do crazy stunts due to big budget insurance crap. So they use a lot of wire and blue screen s**t which kinda takes the fun out of a Jackie Chan movie...But hey, he's gettin paid and I'm glad he's gettin' a lot of exposure in America, so I'll continue to support. Any last words?

Okwerdz: Yeah, if you can’t relate to this record- don't judge me on it. Make sure you go pick up a more serious CD of mine to get the full feel for what I do. I just wanna make sure that its really known to the public that this record is jus me havin' fun and messin' around. I do things on all sides of the spectrum so check me out.

FREE DOWNLOAD HERE: (kids get your parents permission!!!!)

Adisa Banjoko is cofounder of the Hip-Hop Chess Federation.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Bobby Fischer dies at 64...

This is the Fischer we knew and loved...

The icon is gone. Bobby Fischer is dead. He is the reason most Americans take pride in chess. He's the reason so many have aspired to be great on these boards. Just saying his name made you want to play better.

However, at the hight of his game, he just dissapeared. He became a recluse and said many things that were negative about America and about the Jewish people.
People say that sometimes, chess can become an obsession that makes a person lose their mind. It appears that Bobby Fischer may have been one of those people.

I was always in hope of him snapping out of it. I envisioned him one day just walking into Washington Square Park and putting the smackdown on any takers. I thought he'd hop up and challenge Kasparov or invite Josh Waitzkin to a game (he was always searching).

But this? For me, this is a tragic death. Not just because of of who he was, but how he died- alone and apparently confused. Some would argue that he died without excercising his full potential (despite all the amazing things he did). Others might say he had done what he came to do. Its all so odd.

I also think its ironic that he lived one year for each square on the board. I wonder if he wanted it that way?

I don't know which Bobby Fischer the world will remember. The clean cut champion or the the buckwild, hateful, lunatic. I will try to remember the best he gave to the boards. I think when someone dies, you should hold onto the best, and let God handle the rest.

I just hope he is able to find the peace through death, that he never found on the chessboard of life.

-Adisa Banjoko, CEO HHCF

Monson Vs. Brasco at The Bud Cup...

Courtesy of our good man Gumby from


Wednesday, January 16, 2008

HHCF EXCLUSIVE: World Champion Grappler Denny "300" Prokopos

Denny "300" Prokopos is one of the newest rising stars in the grappling world. When I first met him (at the age about about 14) Denny Prokopos was that kid on the mat with a ton of skill and a heart that would not quit. Today, Denny Prokopos represents America's new breed of grappling elite. Recently, he won the No Gi Mundials in Los Angeles. It features the best of breed grapplers from around the globe.

Before he had this title, I interivewed him in Lyrical Swords Vol. 2: Westside Rebellion. I have no doubt, that he has a magnificent destiny in the grappling and MMA arenas.

Denny Prokopos in his final match at the no gi Mundials!

HHCF: When did you begin training jiu jitsu and how old were you?

DP: I began training in jiu-jitsu on February 12, 2001. I was twelve years old. I remember when I was about eleven years old I was at suncoast videos looking for pro wrestling movies and I came across UFC's 3 and 4 and my mom bought me the videos. I watched those videos almost everyday. I loved watching Royce Gracie submit everyone using Jiu-Jitsu. Then I asked my parents to let me do jiu-jitsu and they said no. I continued to beg them everyday and knew that sooner or later they would give in. I ended up being right, I made them tap out from all my nagging.

HHCF: At a certain point, you began to focus more on no-gi, why is that?

DP: Well for some reason no-gi always had more appeal to me. I also began to take private lessons with Eddie Bravo when I was fifteen and he began to open my eyes and show me the truth about jiu-jitsu. But what really did it was when my former trainer tried to beat me up. I decided to take the no gi path because at the time no gi didn't have the politics that the gi jiu-jitsu did.

HHCF: How did you prepare mentally for this event?

DP: I have always believed that I had what it took to win a world title or to be the best, regardless of what some negative people have told me throughout my years of training. When I was 15 I lost to Kron Gracie, and after that loss I went back and analyzed my performance and figured out that he didn't beat me because he was a better grappler but because he was better prepared mentally. Ever since then I have been on a path to master my mind and my emotions. But as far as mental training for this event, I made sure that I rolled hard at least 10 minutes a day with Jake Shields, that always keeps my ego in check. I visualized my hand getting raised. I also did "shadow grappling" about ten to fifteen minutes a day. And dialoged on a daily basis with all the people I look up to, in order to keep me in check. I also watched grappling footage and tried to stay as positive as I could.

Jiu Jitsu champions Paul Schreiner (L) and Denny Prokopos (R) hit the boards at the first Hip-Hop, Chess & Life Strategies event in San Jose.

HHCF: How did you train physically?

DP: I trained six days a week anywhere between four to six hours a day. The training session include rolling, drilling, and conditioning. I went to 10Th Planet for about four days and trained there with Eddie Bravo when I was six weeks out and went back to 10Th Planet to train for two days again when I was four weeks out. Most of my preparation was done at fairtex with Jake Shields and our crew. But I controlled my whole training routine. I also taught about two private lessons a day, which is a form of training. What was also pretty cool is that this was the first time I didn't have to cut weight because when im in shape I walk around at about 155-157lbs. and the weight limit was at 162lbs. I weighted in with all my gear 158lbs.

HHCF: I know you have battled through knee injuries to get to where you are today. How did you keep faith through your rehab that you could still win at the top levels?

DP: In my almost seven years of training I have had about seven serious injuries or possible career threatening injuries whatever you want to call them. Throughout the years I have just learned to deal with them. I really believe in myself and I refuse to put limits to what is possible. I remember when I had my second serious knee injury and my doctor told me that I might never be the same or be able to compete at the level I was once at. I turned around and told him watch im going to win a world title one day and no one is going stop me. But about a year and a half ago I meet Dr Peter Goldman who is also Bj Penn's and Eddie Bravo's and the who's who of the fight game doctor and he has kept me healthy. That man is a magician. He's the best I would refer that man to anyone he heals people with all kinds of injuries and diseases.

HHCF: What is your most memorable moment of that day?

DP: There were a lot but there are a couple that really stick out. Eddie Bravo was supposed to corner me originally but he had a seminar booked in Toronto. He had booked it a while in advance to leave at like 10 pm so he could still do the seminar and still be able to corner me, but there ended up being a snow storm and he had to leave at 3, which are what time, my divisions started at. So Joe Rogan corned me instead. I remember getting my named call over the microphone and I went and I got Joe to walk over with me to weigh in right before the match. I remember saying to him "Dude, remember when I got my brown and you told me that I could be the best in the world and that I could be as good as Marcelo Garcia, I never forgot that". He was like "Yeah, you can. Today is your first big step toward that. You're going to win the world title today."

HHCF: Do you have any MMA aspirations?

DP: I do I'm supposed to fight this year. But im taking my time with it. I think that there are way too many people fighting too soon in MMA. MMA is no joke and when I fight I really want to be ready. Plus im still 19 there is a really good chance that if I put in the same amount of effort into my striking that I did to my Jiu-jitsu I'll dominate. But im really enjoying Jiu-Jitsu right now. I love training, teaching, and competing it's my passion. People always ask me what I do for fun. And im like dude I do Jiu-jitsu for fun. I mean think about it Jiu-Jitsu is like a real video game you get to choke people out for fun haha. And then you have to master different levels of offense and defense. It's so cool because you always learn and evolve as long as you keep an open mind.

HHCF: Any last words?

DP: Of course I've always got something to say haha. I'm really happy that Jiu-jitsu is blowing up right now. I believe that right now the second explosion is happening since Royce Gracie came out in the old school UFC days. I would like to thank god, my family, my grandmaster Eddie Bravo (his new book Mastering The Twister and Mastering the Rubber Guard dvds are out), Joe Rogan (the best comedian in the world), Jake Sheilds(most under rated welterweight in mma), Gilbert Melendez(the toughest guy I know),Dr Peter Goldman(,Darren Uyenoyama(he's going to be the next big thing in mma), and to all the other people that have ever supported me. Also special thanks to my sponsor's they got some of the coolest gear in the industry. Philz Coffee the best coffee not only in San Francisco but the world "one cup at a time baby" check them out at Also Eternal Unltd they have some of the coolest shirts in mma check them out at If anyone is interested in Jiu-jitsu Private lessons or seminars contact me I got some really good rates.
Peace Out!!

© 2008 Hip-Hop Chess Federation

So many can attest to this...But Lupe Fiasco illustrated it so well...

I'm one of them.


Saturday, January 12, 2008

Photos from the Chesspark New Mexico Meeting

So, earlier this week I went down to meet with Jack, Patrick and the rest of the Chesspark team. It was a great time. Brian Zisk and I flew in and Patrick was there to swoop us at the airport. We met up with Driftwood, Dandee, Kim and Jack at Jack's house. From there it was a long hard day of strategic planning.
I'm sworn to secrecy on most of the stuff. But I will say that 2008 will be a magnificent year for Look for some announcements in the coming months.

Anyway, Driftwood and I had some unfinished chess beef to settle. And BOY, did he put it on me! It was not pretty.

Chesspark's Driftwood puts the critical beatdown on The Bishop.

After my huiliating loss, Brian Zisk stepped up and played Driftwood. Brian is the nice guy we all know and love who kills you with a smile.

Earlier in the day, we broke out to get some enchilladas. MAN were they good.

Chessparks Brian Zisk puts the mob on Driftwood.

After Brian beat Driftwood, I tried my luck with Brian. I got SERVED!!! For one second I had an advantage. But I blundered and lost it.

Brian Zisk attacking Adisa with authority. One day though, I will have my day!!

The Bishop & Driftwood tangle once more.

Being a guy who never says die, I challenged Driftwood one more time. It was an ugly war, but I got my revenge.

The Bishop wins the game and gets a cool watch in the process! Just kidding. Don't gamble on chess. It ruins the beauty.We just thought it was a cool shot.

Like I said, 2008 is gonna be filled with big thangs for chesspark. I had a great time. After returning though, I got a NASTY virus and I've been in bed ever since. Thats why I have not added any more exclusive interivews....I think I'll be good on Monday. So, look for it then and we'll take it from there.


Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Chess should be taught in all American schools from the 1st through 12th grade....

"Chess can enhance concentration, patience, and perseverance, as well as develop creativity, intuition, memory, and most importantly, the ability to analyse and deduce from a set of general principles, learning to make tough decisions and solve problems flexibly." - Peter Dauvergne, University of Sydney


Monday, January 7, 2008

HHCF EXCLUSIVE: Balance & Big Rich

Balance and Big Rich bring banging beats and Bay unity to the mic.

Bay Area rappers Balance and Big Rich are ice cold on the mic. Balance represents Oakland and Big Rich reps SF’s Filmore district. Both city’s have high reputations for their sports, music and murder rates.

In the early days of Bay Area rap, violence was real common. Rappers from different cities could not always perform together. There were a few acceptions, but as a rule, rappers in Oakland performed in Oakland and rappers fro SF or Vallejo stayed to themselves.

So, when Balance and Big Rich came together to make an album- this was history. Folks like to talk about nonviolence in rap. The “Unda Dogg Kingz “ is a slammin’ LP that shows a new era for Bay Area artists and for rap music in general.

The existence of the “Unda Dogg Kingz” will do more for peace on the streets than any half baked “Hip-Hop Activist” can ever put down. These cats have a deeper connection to the streets (where the violence jumps off) than a lot of the “activists”. So the power of an album like “Unda Dogg Kingz” can never be underestimated. In this interview, we talk about how they came together, how hyphy dropped the ball and how the Bay will rise anyway.

HHCF: How did this album happen? I’ve been covering rap for a long time. Ten years ago a dude from SF and a dude from Oakland doing an album together would be unheard of.

Big Rich: Well me and Balance been friends outside of rap for years. We both dropped our debut albums last year. So, we’re both rookies. Me and him were just having conversation on the sidekick and we were discussing doing music. He was like “Ok, I’ll send you some joints, and you send me some joints. I don’t even remember which one of us came up with it first. But it was like “Let’s just do a whole project.”


We’re underdogs still. We’ve been in this game for a minute. We’ve sold a nice amount of units. We’re in the upper echelon of the Bay Area rap scene. But we’re still underdogs as far as getting our full credit for what we do.

We started out to make a mixtape. But as we began recording, it became bigger than a mixtape. It just sounded bigger than a mixtape. The album is great.

HHCF: What was your artistic approach to the Undadogg Kings. What were you looking to get sonically and lyrically outta this?

Balance : One of the first things was…We were tired of the commercial ringtone type rap. We wanted to get it back to sharpening your swords- lyrics and hot beats. We wanted to prove that we are masters at what we do. That’s really where it stemmed from. Rich grabbed some bangin’ beats. I grabbed some bangin’ beats.

Rich would lay a verse and I’d lay a verse. It was like friendly competition. Like sparring. You hear the energy. I believe some of his best lyrics are on there. Some of my best lyrics are on there. We took it back to raw beats and lyrics.

When people hear it, people tell us “I love it because y’all just on there bustin’!”

Now days, cats are like, “I only wanna make a club joint. I wanna make a ringtone. I wanna make something the girls love me for.”

What we do is art.

HHCF: So, when you think about the future of the Bay, what do you want the Bay to get from this record.

Big Rich: Of the top? UNITY. It gets frustrating to me. Some people don’t have to like each other. But we still need organization to we can get this money flowing. It took a long time for the rest of the country to even start noticing us…Let along respecting us.

Now that they notice us, we have to get their respect. Once we get their respect we can take this thing further than the Bay. But there is no organization.

In the mafia, they did not always like one another. But they kept it organized so that everybody could make money. Things were not stagnant. The money was steadily flowing. This album is a proper demonstration of that unity.

Me and Balance don’t talk every day. But when we do talk its positive. We’re gonna be friends past this and we were friends before it. We need more of that, so we can get this money. Nobody here is really bigger than nobody else.

There are a few exceptions like Too Short and E-40. But outside of that, they look at all of us [Bay Area MC’s] in the same boat.

We need to tour together, and do more together.

HHCF: Balance, we don’t even have to talk about how hyphy dropped the ball. A lot of good music was made but cats could not close the deal. I think one of the issues is that cats are too Bay’ed out. They shout out to Bay too much in the hooks for the songs to be universally absorbed. Lil Jon does not say ATL in every hook. Do you think those kinds of things are hurting the Bay?

Balance : I think that once of the reasons we throw the city’s out so much, is ‘cause don’t have nothing. So when cats don’t have anything they gonna shout out they hood, and where they’re from. At the same time, when I went to NY, they don’t really care where I’m from. If I’m doing an interview with Kay Slay or Big Rich is on Shady 45- they don’t care where he is from. They just care if its hot or not.

I feel like if its hot, it transcends all ages, races, creeds all of that. At the same time, I do think a lot of Bay artists do keep it too Bay’ed out. You gotta go around. See what cats are doing in ATL, NY, LA and be aware. Unless, you are just making music for yourself and for your homies. If that’s the case your music is never gonna travel anywhere. You gotta make music for yourself, but keep everybody in mind.

I think early on I kept it too Bay’ed out. But I think I find more success as I expand my horizons. I’m from The Town [Oakland]. I do mention it in my verses. Not just on every hook, “This the Town! This the town!”

Just like Rich. They know he’s from Filmore. They gonna hear it in his music and in his verses. But every song don’t say Filmore. Because you alienate people when you do that.

HHCF: So will this be a series of records.

Big Rich: We’re gonna record some more and let people know this was no one time thing. We gonna go do part two.

I’m starting to give more of our music away. I am starting to do that with more of the music that I have sitting around. Of course the soundscans across the country are not the same. But the Bay Area has never been nothing to talk about in terms of soundscans.

I’m gonna give these people music to enjoy. But when the solo album comes its like “Now you owe me.”

I just wanna be more consistent. We gonna keep the Undadogg thing going. We ain’t mainstream platinum. Even after that happens we gonna be Undadoggs.

Its like Blue Magic [from American Gangsta]. It’s a brand.

We wanna bring more groups in and do collective compilations.

We don’t wanna alienate ourselves from the rest. He has artists, I have artists. They have the same mindstate as us. So, this is a brand. We gonna expand on it.

HHCF: So if this is the only thing people read about the Undadogg Kings, what do you want them to know about this album?

Balance : I want them to know that two highly touted lyricists got together to give something to the people for free. If you wanna hear some real west coast, street music that hits you in your stomach- then we got that for you. And we’ll continue to do that.

© 2008 Hip-Hop Chess Federation.

DJ Pam from The Coup and Author Jeff Chang on KPIX 5 w/ Joe Vazquez

Cool spot on Hip-Hop as a movement! Joe Vazquez BTW, covers many of aspects of Hip-Hop and this is one of his most recent interivews.


Check out the link:


Sunday, January 6, 2008

Rapper DLabrie, and O.G. soldier for the HHCF tangles with Adisa Banjoko

Yo, my brother from another mother, Dlabrie finally locked horns on the chessboard. It was so dope!!! We played old jams froms PE, NWA, Busy Bee and the Funky 4 plus 1 as we drank tea. He's been a true soldier for the HHCF and he is sooo skilled on the mic. But lyrics to not win chess games!! LOL...

He made and early mistake in the gae and I kept the pressure, but it was a hard win.

Check the photos below!!!

DLabrie the EOG enjoying Chinese tea at the 64 squares.

Two soldiers clash on the eternal four corners of combat.

The Bishop of Hip-Hop's mental fitness crushes DLabrie. It takes a nation of millions to hold me back from taking DLabries king. Its a chess thing.

Listen to a clip DLabries "Life Strategies" from this Geek TV HHCF coverage:

You can catch Dlabrie ripping shows as he tours across the world. Check out one of the hottest rappers in the game at:

Its all about the endgame, in chess and in life


Chess Icon Josh Waitzkin on martial arts and chess

The Art of Learning is the official book of the HHCF


Knowledge of proper technique and strategy is how David beat Goliath


Friday, January 4, 2008

The first book on Hip-Hop, Chess & Martial Arts...

Incisive, real, and always bold, Adisa Banjoko is one of the rare writers who really matters. If you care about the destiny of our generation, you need to arm yourself with "Lyrical Swords".
-Jeff Chang, Author of "Can't Stop Wont's Stop"

Lyrical Swords Vol. 2: Westside Rebellion is the first book to illustrate the relationship between Hip-Hop, Chess, martial arts and non-violence. It features interivews with RZA, GZA, Nas, Slick Rick, Paris, Run DMC and Jam Master Jay,, Spider Loc, Ray Luv, Mix Master Mike and many others. Get it today at !!!

Hip-Hop Video Shoot in Oakland on Sunday!! Rappers come together to stop the violence!


Happy New Year Friends and Family,

We will be shooting the second half of our anti-gun violence hip hop music video based on our current single
"Squash it!" this coming Sunday.

Featuring: Tru Vibe Records, Keldamuzik, DLabrie & MORE!!

1) We will shoot the night club scenes at Dorsey's Locker located at 59th Street and Shattuck from 8a.m. to 12 noon. The address there is 5817 Shattuck Avenue in North Oakland. We will need extras dressed like they are going out to a night club.

2) We will have hors d'doeuvres at Downs Memorial United Methodist Church, located at 6026 Idaho Street (two or three blocks east of San Pable Avenue between 60th and 61st Street) also in North Oakland, at 1:30 p.m.

3) At 2 p.m. we will shoot scenes of a staged memorial service there. We will need extras dressed in black to be in the pews pretending to mourn the death of a loved one or friend.

4) If you will be attending both scenes, I recommend that you wear a black outfit that you could wear to both church and a night club.

I know that the National Football League playoffs are going to be televised then, but if you can get away for a while to support us we wil greatly appreciate it. This video is part of a movement to stem the tide of violence in general, and black-on-black crime in particular.

For more information about the music video, the single, or our upcoming album, contact Wendy Ingram (510) 350-7280

Stop watching bum fights and see how skilled dudes put it down

Muhammad Ali

BJ Penn "The Prodigy"

Bruce Lee (an amazing interview)

Thursday, January 3, 2008

HHCF EXCLUSIVE with Def Poetry Jam's Amir Sulaiman!!!

The Warrior Poet: Amir Sulaiman

Amir Sulaiman is one of America’s most courageous and skillful poets to emerge in the last 20 years. He burst nationally onto the scene through Russell Simmons Def Poetry Jam. He is physically intimidating. But he is so nice, you can easily forget that you are in the presence of a giant.

His latest album, Like A Thief in the Night is a must have album for music lovers of every genre. Amir Sulaiman is also a lover of the chess. He gave a few MC’s some scrapes and scars at the Chess Kings Invitational in 2007. In this interview we talk about Hip-Hop, poetry, the spirituality of Bob Marley and the power of love.

Amir Sulaiman ripping the set on Def Poetry Jam

HHCF: Tell me about Like A Thief in the Night.

AS: It’s a genre defining album. Its taking the growth and development of spoken word poetry and Hip-Hop, and R&B into a single project. Its creating something real fresh, real new- because the people need that right now.

HHCF: This is my favorite spoken word album in the modern era. I grew up on Nikki Giovanni and The Last Poets, The Watts Prophets. I’ve always felt that a majority of the guys today spend a lot of time mimicking that style of delivery and cadence. You have a very fresh style. What is the source of that freshness?

AS: I think that is was because I did not grow up on Nikki Giovanni and the others. I came fresh outta Hip-Hop. So my lyrical inspiration comes from Nas, Wise Intelligent, Black Thought from The Roots, So, I approached it from the vein of them, Chuck D and others.

HHCF: I know Bob Marley is a hero of yours. Talk to me about that affects you as a human being and an artist.

AS: The big thing to me about Bob Marley to me is…He is loved all over Africa, all over Asia, all over Europe. He did not create this effect by submitting to the will of the market. Jay- Z has a song where he talks about “dumbing down his lyrics to double my dollars”. Many times people go pop by dumbing down what they do.

Marleys ideas were very sophisticated, very spiritual and controversial. Very few people are Rastafari. Its not like he was like “I wanna be popular, so let me talk about the religion of these other people”. His songs were almost missionary in nature. He was about Selassie- Jah all day!!

Yet, because he spoke with such sincerity and such a human element within itself that he was able to transcended peoples prejudices and bigotry. Humans in general consider him to be one of the worlds best artists.

HHCF: So how does that affect your music in general?

AS: I’m Muslim. I’m not one of those guys who you might hear “Yo, I heard so-and-so is Muslim”- its obvious what I’m on. I mention Allah (God) and His Messenger in my music all the time. But it is not exclusive in appeal to Muslims.

Its not like Gospel music. Like “This is for these people and those who believe in this thing”. If you don’t believe in that thing, its not welcoming.

I got invited to do these poems at the Congressional Debates in Atlanta in 2004, in classrooms, prisons and all kinds of places. The people know that they are not excluded from what I do. They say “OK, this is what he is on [the Islamic faith] but that does not exclude me.

Amir Sulaian video Spit

HHCF: Another thing about you is your physical frame. You are over 6 feet, over 200 pounds. Did you grow up as poet? ‘Cause I can imagine you in high school being this huge dude writing poetry.

AS: In America we have a very fragmented standard of manhood. If you look at the great men of the past you were a poet and a warrior and a scholar. It was just like that. It was nothing for you to literally take a mans head off. It was also nothing for you to be a scholar, or a farmer. None of those things contradicted each other.

So, I’m a big dude. I played football and wrote rhymes and I battled dudes. All of that. Its all a part of my personality.

HHCF: As an artist of your caliber, who do you listen to right now?

AS: I’ not listening to too much rap right now. I’m waiting for Andre 3000 to stop playing around and put out an album. I listen to a lot of Radiohead. I’m always listening to Portishead. Kanye and Commons stuff is nice.

RZA, Joslyn Rose of BET, Amir Sulaiman, Adisa Banjoko and DJ Kevvy Kev at the Chess Kings Invitaitonal

HHCF: One of the songs How Beautiful Are You deals with rape. It deals with that it takes for a woman to heal through that trauma. As a man, what gave you the courage and vision to write that?

AS: This is one of the benefits of the poetry culture. In poetry this kinds of subjects are not as taboo as they are in Hip-Hop. Rap requires a certain bravado, or what they call swagger.

It amazes me how much people talk about swagger. Its as if they confuse swagger and honor. Swagger and honor are not the same thing. Swagger is something to be seen. It is pretense- it is a show. Honor is something that is rooted and its real. Swagger is often rooted in fantasy. Now honor, can lead to swagger. But swagger cannot lead to honor.

So me opening up in this way on such a sensitive issue…Women will come up and be like “How can you know this stuff and speak on it as a man?” Obviously it comes from Allah (God) because I have not ever experienced anything like that.

Its just something that occurred to me when I was in college. Specifically as it related to one sister I knew and the relationship she had with other men and herself.

People just need to know that someone cares about them. That they matter.

For more info on Amir Sulaiman visit:

© 2008 Hip-Hop Chess Federation.

Chess gives you undeniable truth in black and white...


"I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality".
-Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

HHCF Exclusive Interview with Scarface!!

As promised, the Hip-Hop Chess Federation will begin 2008 bringin' you exclusive interivews with the best artists on earth. We start with the living legend known as Scarface. Scarface is one of the best rappers of all time. Before crunk was dream in Lil Jon’s trunk- The Geto Boys ran the South. Scarface, Willie D and Bushwick Bill changed Hip-Hop forver. In order for T.I., Luda, Lil Wayne, etc., to have a crown to fight over- somebody had to make it first. All of today’s Southern rappers should hit one knee and recognize the presence of the eternal King of the South. Cop the new Scarface solo release, Made asap!

In this interview, Scarface talks about the early years of the rap game, fatherhood and chess.

HHCF: What did it take to make a hit rap record back in the day when you dropped We Can’t Be Stopped ?

Scarface: I don’t know. We just wrote what we felt. We just wrote our feelings, man. We didn’t do anything spectacular. We wrote the moment.

HHCF: So now we fast-forward to 2007. What does it take now?

Scarface: The same thing. Write the moment. Whatever is going on at that moment is what you need to write.

HHCF: But when you dropped We Can’t Be Stopped there were not all of today’s advertising tools and digital media forms. How do you approach putting an LP out today as opposed to ten years ago?

Scarface: Ten year ago we relied on word of mouth., publications, billboards, bus stop ads- now you just go online. Google what is coming out next! If you go online right now you can find out what’s coming out tomorrow. Now you can go online and do in seconds what it used to take weeks to get out, otherwise.

I like the conventional way of getting things out. The internet has its pros and cons.

HHCF: Do you yourself get online and try to measure the market and see where things are at?

Scarface: No, I don’t. I use the internet to look up stuff that interests me. I do not look up record sales, or who likes me or who doesn’t.

HHCF: How do you keep yourself in the mix? I mean, you are a star- so maybe the mix is coming to you.

Scarface: I’m a Geto Boy in real life. I’m from the ghetto, and in the ghetto all the time. I sit in my neighborhood and do what I do. Play cards and dominoes, drink- everyday. It’s not a shock to see me in my neighborhood. Some stars go to their hood and everybody wants to take pictures with them- because they never see ‘em. I am always in there. I never left.

HHCF: So when you look at different rappers now who have a platinum ringtone before their album drops- what do you make of that? Its it good? Is it bad? Does it matter?

Scarface: I ean if they are getting paid for it its cool. If its gonna keep them out the streets and outta the penal system- F!@# it. Sell you some ringtones. As long as they are not in the penitentiary giving away that free labor, I’m cool.

HHCF: How would you rate the quality verses the quality of rap today verse ten years ago?

Scarface: Ten years ago, honestly- on a scale of one to ten in the high nines.

HHCF: What is it today?

Scarface: I can’t even answer that. Some people still take the art seriously. You can always bank on Dr. Dre to have an amazing album come out. There are still people that take rap seriously, believe it or not.

HHCF: Who are your three favorite producers and lyricists?

Scarface: Producers? Dre, Marley Marl, Tone Capone and [inaudible] Joe. I could say those four. Lyricists? All of them- especially Souljah Boy.

HHCF: OK- I’m not even going to quote you on that because I know you are joking. So, I’ll just erase that part. Seriously, who do you like?

Scarface: Souljah Boy is the best rapper since me! I ain’t BS’ing. He ain’t trying to overdo it. I do not know what he’s saying- but it sounds like a winner to me, man!

HHCF: I really can’t tell if you are joking or not- and its bothering me.

Scarface: I’m not joking. I like Souljah Boy. He sold a lot of ringtones for real. Listen to what I’m saying. He did this s!@# himself- he’s seventeen. You’re talking to me about business? He blew himself up- feel me? That’s a business minded seventeen year old. As the parent of a 17 year old, I have to respect that.

What is he saying? I don’t know what the F!@# he is saying. But I think he’s brilliant.

HHCF: Isn’t it funny that the parents of kids who listened to the Geto Boys didn’t know what y’all were saying? Now we got kids who listen to rappers like Souljah Boy and we’re like “What’s he saying?

Scarface: What is he saying?!?!? But I tell you what! I coach little league football. If one of the kids on the field plays that song there will be no peace on my sideline!! I coach seven and eight year olds. As soon as the first notes drop- they go nuts on both sides of the field. You know he blew himself up right?

HHCF: Yep, on the myspace and youtube shot.

Scarface: That’s amazing right? I think there is something to him. If he could blow himself up, what could he do with the next guy that’s really doing something.?!?

HHCF: What are three rules of business that you live by?

Scarface: I refuse to be denied. I refuse to compromise. I will not kiss a** to be accepted.

HHCF: I think I saw you on MTV or BET and you had a chessboard in your home. Are you a chess player?

Scarface: Everyday in life. I love the game. All my movements are eight moves ahead.

HHCF: What are the best three books that taught you about living life?

Scarface: The Bell Curve, Behold A Pale Horse and the Holy Qu’ran.

© 2008 Hip-Hop Chess Federation.

Embrace every loss, they hold the seeds of your ultimate victories!


“You may learn much more from a game you lose than from a
game you win. You will have to lose hundreds of games before becoming a good player”.
- Jose Raul Capablanca

Uproxx Covers HHCF Founder plus, FREE PDF download of Bobby Bruce and the Bronx Available

The book Bobby Bruce & the Bronx by Adisa the Bishop is now available from this day forward FREE in PDF form. Please enjoy it and share ...