Local record label Closed Sessions has made a name for itself over the last five years by associating and propelling top-tier local talent into new stratospheres. While they may have grown from a local mainstay to a nationally-recognized indie factory, the CS team has always done so while never forgetting where they came from or who was there at the start. Continuing in a sort of top-down understanding of the scene they represent, the staff once again reached out to an established name, this time linking up with none other than DJ Rude One for his first project in twelve years, ONEderful, due out next week.
While the project, which has been preceded by a pair of talented singles is only available for pre-order via iTunes until it's unveiling Thursday, we decided to catch up with the industry veteran who's handled DJ duties for the likes of Roc Marciano and came up alongside a cross-section of earlier waves, working alongside pioneering acts like Moleman. It's been twelve years since we last got a full-length project from Rude One and, similar to their work alongside A-Villa in 2014, the CS team propels a longtime act forward, helping him to craft a project that touches on his ride thus far while also laying the groundwork for a new succession of artists such as SHIRT, Your Old Droog, Westside Gunn and Conway. We caught up with the pillar of Chicago hip-hop about coming aback around with a local outlet, teaming up with the next up from out East and beyond and what it's been like to watch the scene swell in recent years. Check it all out below.
TheseDays • Tell me a little about the project you have coming now……what was it like to work on something with Closed Sessions, getting a project out with a Chicago based outlet?
Rude One • It was dope, I’ve known Alex (Fruchter) for a while and he’s been in my ear to put out another record, my first one in 12 years since doing my Single Minded Pros project. He was a big advocate for me getting back in it; I was DJing a show for Roc Marciano, he was in Chicago and we decided to try and record a couple songs, no real intention to it or idea of an album. Alex and Michael went to the studio with me, they heard both songs and thought that we had something. Like I said, I hadn’t really thought about doing an album until then, but they approached me with a good plan and environment.
TheseDays • Ho has it been working in the New York scene, watching Chicago artists rise over the last 3-4 years?
Rude One • It’s dope, it’s a cycle you know? When I was putting out records in Chicago, Chicago made a lot of noise then too. There wasn’t as much internet push but All Natural, J.U.I.C.E., Molemen, that was when I first started making records in Chicago. It’s dope to see this become full blown now, there’s so many dope cats out.
TheseDays • What’s it like for you to come back now? Coming from a previous wave, we always hear its way more open now as far as differences and working together.
Rude One • No, but I wasn’t one of those people who thought it was closed off. A lot of people from my era coined the term “Haterville” and all that stuff, but I got love in all the circles I ran in out there so I can’t really complain with that. I’m older than a lot of dudes there now but I still get into the music, it’s seamless when I’m in Chicago, for me. I feel like I can move in a number of circles and it’s all good.
TheseDays • Does that come from being a DJ? You’ve got to be malleable.
Rude One • Yeah, but also staying dope too (laughter). A lot of DJ’s from then to now, they didn’t stay sharp. I always kept my ear to what’s going on, I always loved DJing and making beats. Even if I wasn’t playing out, I was at the crib chopping or sampling. I never fell out, and even though this is my first record in 12 years, I don’t really feel like I’ve been gone or that I put it “down”, down, per se. Didn’t have to come back to it and be mad at stuff that happened while I was gone. I was always kept my sword sharp, you know?
TheseDays • Talking about sampling, in the current generation do you think it’s at all antiquated? Do the elements in your music set you apart?
Rude One • No, because it was like that then, too. For everyone that had an SP1200 or MPC sampling, there were dudes doing keyboard beats too. It is a lot more accessible and there’s a lot more people making music now, but it was the same then. A lot of it’s good, a lot of it’s bad – a lot of kids sampling, they suck too.
TheseDays • What does it mean to you to have another project out, a body of work?
Rude One • IDK, I have to see when I’m finished. I’m still an active DJ, still doing beats, lots of parties and party promoting, throwing shows over the years. It’s still kind of going and maybe one day I’ll look back at everything and make sense of it all. I’m still immersed in it now, so for now it’s kind of hard to answer.
TheseDays • Any moments where you step back and think, shit, this is pretty cool?
Rude One • Yeah, I did an interview with the Reader 12 years ago and it got re-tweeted last week! I had forgotten that Kool G Rap was interviewed for the piece, who’s for me the greatest lyricist of all time, so to go back and see them talking about how dope I was? Oh shit. It’s like someone whose jersey I had, or baseball cards I collected. So every once in a while it hits me. If I get to DJ for a favorite artist like Roc Marciano, or when I was doing my parties, or the Goodness parties in Chicago that me and Alchemist DJed. I’m a genuine fan of every element of hip-hop, and all my favorites I have been able to work with, be in the studio with, for the most part. I’m super, dumb appreciative of that.
TheseDays • Yeah, it seems the money comes and goes but the experiences are the coolest part of the whole thing.
Rude One • Yeah, well that’s the idea when making the record. When I was doing records before, I was in the studio with cats, never did a record with someone I didn’t meet. And that was important for this project, that I got to meet everybody I worked with. Like Westside Gunn, for instance, we agree to do the song over email, like send me the beat and I’ll send you the verse back, and I was like “nah, I want to meet you dog!” I was telling him about how I came up, and who knows this may be my last record and whatever, but I’m not going to do the “whatever, just add water” instant rap album formula. I actually went to his crib down in Atlanta, we got to chill and now we stay in touch, and through that is how I got the song with Conway, who is his younger brother. So now I have all these friendships, wasn’t just the old guy trying to get in. The experience is everything when you’re in the studio with Your Old Droog, Roc – when it’s over, going to your last question, looking back at everything the experiences will let me take away the most.
TheseDays • What’s the goal with your project? A benchmark, a chapter, in a book of many?
Rude One • No, I really wanted to work with some of my favorite MC’s - I’ve joked with Alex, I’m ok with the album living in my phone. I did this for myself, although it’s great that I get to share it. Maybe a few more DJ gigs would be dope – this is what I wanted to do, for me.
TheseDays • What can we expect moving forward from DJ Rude One?
Rude One • I don’t know! There’s this, the vinyl is out in January, still working on beats (I made something disgusting this morning).The Conway record did so well for us, Danny Brown showed us love, I'm always in touch with roc, so I honestly don’t know. This process was very organic, and I’m in no hurry to do anything.