Before Eminem exploded onto the scene in 1999/2000, there were just a handful of white emcees to make an impact on the hip-hop scene. Obviously, there was Vanilla Ice -- who many credited for ruining the opportunity for other white rappers -- but there were also guys like the group 3rd Base, Everlast (of House Of Pain) ... and a New Jersey spitter named Miilkbone.
Miilkbone rose to prominence in the mid-1990s with hits singles such as "Keep It Real" and "Where'z da Party At?", and inked a deal with Capitol Records after affiliating himself with Naughty By Nature. But despite his success, a restructuring at the label left him in limbo, and he eventually gave up on his hip-hop dreams. After a run as a bright young rap star, he went back home, started a family, and went on live a "normal life." Nearly 20 years later, the rapper ready to give hip-hop another go... and has already begun releasing new music.
In late February, Ballerstatus.com had the chance to chop it up with Jersey emcee, immediately after he dusted off his microphone and hit the stage for his first performance in 12 years. During our chat, we reminisced a bit, before getting into his failed music career, his feelings toward today's hip-hop trends, Eminem's diss to him and his response track, and his future plans in the coming months.
We see you starting to release new tracks again. Is there an album or mixtape in the works?
Yeah, I have mixtape with Doo Wop coming in a few weeks. Collabos with Krs-One, Black Rob, Kool G Rap, and more. I ain't playing this time. Over 50 joints in seven months? Dude's hungry.
For those that don't know -- maybe some of our younger readers -- let's break this down real quick. Correct me if I mistake anything. You hit the scene on a national level in 1994, and were signed to Capitol Records. You dropped two major singles, "Wherez Da Party At" and "Keep It Real". After you dropped your debut album, Da Miilkrate -- by the way I had the cassette (laughs) -- you kind of left the game for a while. So, my question is: after a moderate success, how come you stepped back for a while?
With Capital shutting down there urban department, it left a bad taste in my mouth for the industry. People think I fell off ... nah. It wasn't in my control. Then, still being under a management contract, and nothing was getting done -- I was locked into nothing. So, I said "F*** it, settled down, got married and decided to try and be a normal person (laughs)." Marriage failed after nine years, so I said "F*** this, I'm going back in." I really wasn't expecting things to develop so fast, and so much love from all over the world. It's a bigger motivator for me.
It wasn't until five years later, you popped up again on Suge Knight's Death Row Records compilation, The Chronic 2000 (Still Smokin). So, for starts, how did you get introduced to Suge or link up with Deathrow for that collaboration?
One of my producers had connects with them. And with Eminem dissing me, it was a perfect opportunity at more exposure.
On The Chronic 2000 (Still Smokin), you went after Eminem on the track, "Presenting Miilkbone". Now a lot of people thought, at the time, you were a bitter that another white rapper grabbed the spotlight and was gaining worldwide recognition. Truth is that Eminem dissed you first, along with MC Serch, Pete Nice, Everlast and Vanilla Ice on the track, "Just Don't Give A F***," where he spit "I'm Nicer than Pete, but I'm on a Serch to crush a Miilkbone / I'm Everlast-ing, I melt Vanilla Ice like silicone." It was pretty apparent Suge was trying to capitalize on the moment. So, how did it feel when you heard Eminem dissing you on his debut album?
When I first heard it, I was definitely impressed at his skills. The boy nice as f***, but I didn't realize he was gonna take off like he did.
With the diss aside, how did you feel about Eminem before he dissed you?
Before he dissed me, I never heard of him at all. I was in Detroit on tour and was chilling with Proof (R.I.P.) and all. He never even mentioned Eminem to me. Who knows if we woulda met, what coulda happened. But, everything happens for a reason.
How do you feel about some of the new breed of white rappers like Asher Roth, MGK and Mac Miller?
Not to familiar with MGK's or Mac's work. But Asher? Nah bruh. I f*** with Rich Quick and Skrewtape all day though.
Back to Suge. Do you still have communication with him? And, did you have an actual deal with Death Row or it was just a guest appearance on the compilation?
Nah, I was just a guest appearance. They paid me for it, but no contracts signed.
How did it feel rocking the stage after 12 years?
I was nervous as hell (laughs), but after it started, it was great.
To be blunt, after all this time, what is making you want to make a come back?
Like I said I never wanted to stop. After this long of not writing a single word, I got a lot of sh** bottled up. There were times that if I heard a hot joint on the radio, I would shut it off 'cause I would catch myself thinking of lines and flow patterns.
The world has changed drastically over the last decade. You hit the scene almost 20 years ago. In your own words, how the rap game changed for the better and for the worst in your eyes?
Like everything else, it evolves. Hip-hop always returns to its essence though. This whole era of "trap music" and down south flows happened because the east coast artists stopped being original. It's just the same type of beats with nothing new being said. Now everybody getting tired of what they're hearing on the radio. Again, it's the same ol' same all over again. Meek's my dude and he's the only one I support of these new MC's.
In the classic "Keep It Real" video, you wear rocking a Naughty by Nature hoodie and repping that Jersey brand strong. The Perth Amboy/ East Orange connection was in full tact. Do you still talk to Vin Rock and Treach these days?
Not really, but it's about to reconnect. 12 years off of the scene is a long time. But, like I said, we weren't only artists, we were friends also. Never a hardship between us.
How did it feel that your instrumental from "Keep It Real" ended up turning into one of the biggest classic freestyle templates of all time? In other words, what was it like hearing a young Jay-Z and Big L giving there all on your beat?
That was an epic feeling. My chin was held head high.
Back in your "Wherez Da Part At" video, you had cameos from Nas, Bill Bellamy, Sticky Fingaz, Play, Naughty By Nature, DJ Red Alert and more. Do you feel like that East Coast unity that once existed is missing now?
Absolutely. But if you noticed, most of the east coast artists are smart. They're waiting for the Ferris Wheel to come back around. Not too much can be done successfully, until everybody's on the same east coast hip-hop page again.
When you dropped "Wherez Da Party At" back in 95, you made a dope club record. Do you feel like those elements are missing from club bangers today?
Yeah, 'cause everybody wants the two-stepping joints. There's no joints to make the girls dance anymore.
It's always interesting to hear how an artist got their big break. How did Miilkbone get his demo into the right hands back in the day?
I used to record mix cassettes with Cool V and Biz Markie in V's basement twice a week. Tapes circulate and ended up in Naughty's hands. Then, the real break was after signing to Capital records. "Keep it Real" got into the hands of Angie Martinez on Hot 97. She put it on "Battle of the Beats" -- it went five nights in a row, got retired into the Hall of Fame, and beat every from Bush Babies, Redman, and others that I can't recall. Not only, if Capital had there game right, I may not be sitting here. Hot 97 wanted to add it into rotation, but Capital said not yet 'cause it wasn't going into stores for two weeks. what a bunch of idiots.
You came in the game the same time Nas, Jay-Z, Wu-Tang and Biggie were. You had to be on point with your spit game. It seems like over the last 10 years the lyrics in hip-hop have diminished. What are your feelings on the current state of hip-hop?
My biggest pet peave is the lack of lyrics.
After the late 90's, you seemed to have disappeared from the public. What were you doing for the last 13 years?
(laughs) I was married, raising my son, working, and getting cheated on (laughs). Told you, I'm honest, open and real.
How does an emcee survive after the record deal is over, and the music game drastically changed for the worst?
I'm about to find out (laughs). All I can do is do my music from my heart. If it fails or succeeds, I can only blame or commend myself for staying real to what I feel.
What are your goals? Are you trying to get another deal? If so, major or indie?
Since nothing is ever promised, all I want is to be comfortable. I want to be able to provide for my son, while doing something I love to do for a living.
What is up first: a mixtape or album?
First mixtape is Miilk and Doo Wop, which is already in the works. We just dropped my first video for "Keep it Real, Pt. 2," and collabed with another joint called "We Up Late".
Back when you came out, there were no mixtapes for artists to get their buzz going. How do you feel about the over saturation of mixtapes in the game today?
I don't really have an opinion on that 'cause everything is done online these days, so it's easier for everybody to get heard and have exposure.
It was great kicking it with and we are glad to see you never let your dream die. We heard some of your new music and it's pretty dope. Any last words you want to tell your fans and the Ballerstatus.com viewers
We back to stay, thanks for the love and support. "Struggle Enterprise".