The @HipHopGods #Interview

Percee P is more underground than the New York City subway system. The South Bronx native has been lurking beneath the surface ready to rise to prominence since his first single, 1988's "Let the Homicides Begin" on Gotham City Records. From his battles with Lord Finesse in NYC's Patterson Projects to his many guest spots on albums such as Aesop Rock's Music for Earthworms and Jurassic 5's Power in Numbers, he is no stranger to rap's elite. It's mind boggling that his career is only a partial reflection of his immense talent and networking prowess. Percee P has made HipHopGod status and shares his insights with us during this brief, but divulging interview. -Kyle Eustice

What made you fall in love with hip-hop?

I'm very nostalgic and remember the jams in the park in the South Bronx where I grew up. I saw how different people gravitated and all the different elements as well, come together in the parks and the streets. My uncle DJ Cooley Breeze, who was down with T La Rock, got my older brother Dice involved. I would go to my Grandmother's house to my uncle's room where he would be hangin' out with his crew "The Undefeated Force." They would be rhyming and DJing back in mid to late '70s. I was a young kid then, growing organically into and with the culture of hip-hop, and before it even had the name "hip-hop." It was just a sound, word and vision, and then hip-hop became the title. I can remember the verbiage before the term hip-hop came along, it was like "they jamming" and "rockin" to describe the events of the culture which is: DJing, MCing, graff, fashion, and dancing, which at the time was the electric boogie and breaking.

Growing up on East Coast, you must have been exposed to a lot of dope hip-hop and other elements that make up that culture. How did places like Fat Beats play a role in your career?

I think I answered the first part of this question in the above. But, yeah, Fat Beats was a spot I strategically sought out to sell my mix tapes and a good place to network. Being one of the very first artists to be invited as a special guest on the legendary Stretch & Bobbito show, which always promoted Fat Beat Records and independent hip-hop, I felt like consumers coming to Fat Beats would already be familiar with my music and me when I approached them. So, instead they would see more as a celebrity instead of a solicitor.

How would you describe your musical style? Do you have a specific songwriting process?

Chaotic, rhythmical puzzles and street intellect. I have my own pace that doesn't really need music when I write my lyrics. I've been compared to mathematics like geometry and ahead of my time like the Dogon's relationship with dark star Sirius B, able to master time and space into a multi-syllabic and internal rhyme schemes, or the advanced architectural construction of Imhotep building things that still puzzle the mind.

With the amount of work you've put in, you should be up there with Jay-Z and Kanye. Why do you suppose your "big break" never came?

One of the factors is that I never sought out a record deal throughout my whole career. I always met people along the way and I was able pick and choose opportunities off exposure when they were presented to me. As far as a "big break," the term itself has a double meaning to me. I haven't compromised my style and still am who I am. I never broke from my roots to true hip-hop culture. So I'm whole and never had to compromise my style so a "big break," as far as mainstream success, I've had my share in the limelight through movie soundtracks, videos games soundtrack, TV and radio exposure, but as we may all well know, in today's media, the good shit ain't gonna be heard. So I'm cool with my true fans. "Real recognize real." I'm good. I just want to become more acknowledged with the youth with what I have accomplished as a pioneer in lyrical engineering, and I want to continue to tour and do what I love to do like Mick Jagger until the wheels on my walker fall off [laughs].

Despite not having that "mainstream, commercial" success, you are very highly regarded and well respected in the hip-hop community. How do you think you accomplished this?

One word: Perseverance! People that follow me know that I know every era of hip-hop by a first hand experience. I have one foot in the streets and another in the industry; money can't buy my experience.

What do you think is lacking in hip-hop today?

I think black audience participation is lacking at what some consider the more authentic and classic hip-hop events. But I think all that is about to change with the reemergence of hip-hop pioneers. I can smell the change coming! What else is missing in hip-hop is a lack of variety being played on the radio. The fans now seem to need industry validation before showing appreciation. Shit's been dumbed down and no one is held accountable for the whack shit. Yeah, we used to hold people accountable for their whackness, now the whack gets a pass unlike when I was coming up. For that 95 percent crap on the radio, I would say it's a lack of respect for the roots and culture of hip-hop.

What are your hopes for the future? What are you working on now?

I'm working on a collaboration LP with Akil from Jurassic 5 and other legendary and upcoming artists slated to be on board, a project called Bronx-Angeles. I'm also concurrently working on my next album Sirius P- The Distant Star, slated to be produced by Diamond D. I've also been building with Lord Finesse on some future joints taking it back to the Bronx, but taking it to the future.

Your debut album on Stones Throw, Percerverance, wasn't released until 2007. Why such a long wait?

I never sought out record deals until Peanut Butter Wolf, Egon and Madlib met me in New York and offered an opportunity to record music with them; mind you, they were still a young label and things could be slow at times. We did a lot of international touring and Madlib until this day is always booked producing some project for different artist, so this makes his availability scarce, but he still found the time to not only do my whole album Percerverance, but he also did a remix album and I'm totally satisfied with what he did.

Is it true you freestyled with Eminem and Fat Joe? What do you think is the secret to a good freestyle

We weren't freestylin' as most know and it wasn't a battle. It was just us respectfully trading verses for Ghetto TV for my man Gee-rard X. A good freestyle is a spontaneous unwritten verse and saying some hot shit with some dope metaphors, sensible lyrics and a good punch line.

How did you first meet Lord Finesse? Do you credit him for kind of leading you down the path to a career in hip-hop?

I first met him when we battled in 1989 in the Patterson Projects where I grew up in the South Bronx. A year previously, I was only featured on one record titled Let the Homicides Begin on a small indie label, but with the Lord Finesse album Return of the Funky Man, I was featured on 2 songs, which I got the hip-hop quotable rhyme of the month in The Source magazine, which was the biggest hip-hop magazine at the time. Also, his album was on a major label, Giant Records/Warner Bros. I always regarded Lord Finesse as a big part of my exposure to a more major audience and much respect to him.

By Kyle Eustice for


Unknown said…
Man , Percee P and Lord Finesse performed in Amsterdam last night ( 23-12-14 ) and they blew of the roof !!! it was incredible. The best true hiphop show i ever witnessed. true legends and true craftmanship!! Much love from Amsterdam Percee P ( FInesse ofcourse ) , thanks for the show!

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