Eso Tre of Substance Abuse sat down with Myka Nyne, legendary member of Freestyle Fellowship and progenitor of some of LA’s dopest styles, on the ten year anniversary of 9/11 to discuss hip hop, jazz, terrorism, and the unique music scene birthed by Los Angeles.

“It’s All Love” – An Exclusive Interview with Myka Nyne

Eso Tre: Tell us about the upcoming Freestyle Fellowship album “The Promise” and how it is different from the prior releases from Fellowship and how you guys have evolved as a group.


Myka Nyne: It’s like any Freestyle Fellowship album. I didn’t particularly like any of them when they were first recorded but history has always proven me wrong with the projected result.   As far as our evolution as a group, we’ve grown individually but the group has left off where it last stopped.  The group dynamic doesn’t reflect the individuals because the group is its own entity.  I do like some of the new songs, but more importantly I love the fact that we are still together and the [new] LP does in a sense reflect bits and pieces of every release we’ve ever had from old styles to new styles to the sonic quality.  The endless pursuit of perfection skews my opinion.


Eso Tre: Back in the day I remembered hearing the term jazz rap.  “Innercity Griots” was never classified as a jazz rap album but there was definitely a heavy jazz influence.  What role do you think jazz has in hip hop today and the general music landscape?

Myka Nyne: I’d say a better question is what role does hip hop have in jazz today?  Both are influential markers in music, culture, and art that derived from the black experience and have now gained universal appeal. I hear hip hop influences in the work of up and coming jazz musicians, especially when they throw a hip hop sample or chorus in the composition of a jazz tune.  On the hip hop side, there remains a “straight ahead” aspect to hip hop songs that have one long verse that repeats.  There’s still a sensitivity to the musicality of jazz and those bluesy chords still remain in a lot of hip hop songs.  You can hear it in some DJ scratch solos. I still scat over dubstep and freeform bass.


Eso Tre: Speaking of back in the day, I get nostalgic about the so-called “Golden Era” when I watch “This is the Life”, which you played a prominent part in.  While this considered a certain enlightened period in hip hop, is there a danger in artists of today romanticizing the past?

Myka Nyne: Absolutely.  No question.  We shouldn’t romanticize the past too much since we’re moving forward yet it’s important to pay homage to the predecessors of the positive, creative art that exists today.  You have this thing that was once so encapsulated, the West Coast Underground, becoming a world wide phenomenon where you got people using the term “freestyle” in T-Mobile commercials and skateboard competitions.  It has come to signify spontaneous or extemporaneous expression in one form or another and it all started in a little coffee house in LA.   Unfortunately, I haven’t seen the amount of groundbreaking music that I saw in the late 80’s and early 90’s. Still, we should move forward and push the envelope whenever possible.  Recording wise, I think Aceyalone is onto something with that doo-wop style he was doing, it has a nostalgic vibration.  Self-Jupiter is onto something with his pseudo Ben Vareen style of slam poetry with its melodic delivery.  P.E.A.C.E has a rhyme like a wicked laugh, he goes tribal with that shit.  Kiilu makes tracks with universal appeal, but when you rhyme on it it’s gonna bang.


Eso Tre: Today is the ten year anniversary of 9/11.  I remember being on Nardone’s show and hearing that song you did called “Think for Yourself” which I interpreted as telling people not to get caught up in all the patriotic fervor that was going on.  What relevance do you think that song has today?

Myka Nyne: (Laughs) Lately people have been coming to me with some of the most obscure songs I ever done, like they’re testing me to see if I can remember the lyrics.  In most cases I can, but features are a bit more challenging to recall.  I haven’t heard that song in years, but I think it still has profound relevance when I think about how I’ve been bogged down with conspiracy theories and the ideas presented to support them.  Those dudes took over planes in the name of jihad, there was no demolition explosions or inside job planned by Bush.  I think Clinton slipped when we could have had them and that we all slipped by not considering the dangers of a kamikaze attack, especially when it already happened in Pearl Harbor.  It was a crime by a few sordid individuals that didn’t warrant taking countries to war, extending more of our financial hardships and playing into Osama and friends’ domino effect.  The real question is do you really think they killed Osama or is he going through high level questioning right now?


** Check out Myka Nyne’s music video, “I Must Cross” **


Eso Tre: LA, at least when I was growing up, was associated with having a more avant-garde music scene, where people weren’t scared to do stuff that was different, at least in terms of hip hop.  Do you still think that’s the case today?

Myka Nyne: Los Angeles conforms to different eras of hip hop.  I hear demos that sound dated but are dope, people using the James Brown funky drummer loop with dub step.  I’ll hear gangster rap, people representing different hoods in LA. Then you hear “Teach Me How to Dougie”. There’s Odd Future, they have an interesting following.  In terms of clubs, you got “Heavy LA” which we do every Thursday with Nobody and Daddy Kev, where we do free form bass but the music consistently changes .  There’s “Urban Underground” at The Airliner where you can see different shows at the same time.  There’s “Low End Theory” where you can hear exclusive dub step and related vibrations. The bottom line is there’s different sounds coming out of LA and that’s to be respected.


Eso Tre: What new stuff are you listening to right now?

Myka Nyne: Airto, Von D, Georgia Anne Muldrow, Mumisa, Josef Leimberg, Kurt Elling, Smoke DZA, E-40, Big K.R.I.T., Tabernacle MC’s, Kanye and Jay-Z, Talib Kweli, No Can Do, Bus Driver, Audio Dice, Geno Cochino, Ioka, Flying Lotus, 12th Planet, DJ Drez, Amy Winehouse (RIP).  I listen to a lot of soul, dance music, electro, underground hip hop, dancehall, jazz.  I even do a little youtube DJing.


Eso Tre: I’ve always been enamored of your vocabulary.  It may be that I don’t pay enough attention, but it doesn’t seem like cats are flipping big words in their raps as much as they used to, something I miss a lot.  How important is having an extensive lexicon as a lyricist?

Myka Nyne: It’s extremely important.  When someone doesn’t seek to be so redundant it becomes necessary to have a more diverse vernacular.  I admit I’ve studied words but I’m not obsessed with them.  I write from the heart and the words just come to me.  When I look it up it always seems appropos.

Eso Tre: What upcoming projects are you working on?

Myka Nyne: Mykology, produced by Organized Elements, coming out on October 3rd.  This album has its own special appeal and is one of my better sonically produced albums with features from Aceyalone, Kirby Dominant, Casual, and Sunspot Jones.  It features a video for the song “I Must Cross” that documents the immigration struggle, “Hey” where I rap and sing about a girl who won’t leave me alone until the tables turn, and “Don’t You Go” which is almost Prince-esque if I dare say: straight funky. I salute Organized Elements and engineer Matt Kelly.


Eso Tre: Any final comment for your fans?

Myka Nyne: Look out for “Gramaphone 009” on my label M9 Entertainment ( see, which also has acts such as J the Savage, Medusa, Dave Dub and the Sutterkane Gang, Ishi Dubi, Magic Heart Genies, and more.  Be ready for Freestyle Fellowship’s “The Promise” on October 4th.


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