As told to David Ma. In the forthcoming issue of Wax Poetics Japan, egotripland contributor David Ma spoke extensively with Lord Finesse about his life and career. This in conjunction with the release of Finesse’s new Japan-only album release, Funky Man: The Prequel (Slice-of-Spice) – a compilation of previously unheard gems from the Underboss’ archives. Here, in the first of two installments of excerpts from David’s WPJ story, Finesse shares thoughts on family – both blood-related (his grandmoms, who raised him) and musical (Gang Starr, D.I.T.C.), along with some priceless photos from his personal scrapbook…
LORD FINESSE: “I had a performance at the Apollo and I told her she couldn’t come. It was hard for me to tell her that, but to be me and fully be the dude I wanted to be on stage, I couldn’t have her be there and see me like that. I didn’t want her to see me say profane and outlandish shit onstage. Sure, I’d get the videos and show her afterwards, but to have her there during would have made me feel uncomfortable. I’d send a limo out for her sometimes and go out to dinner. She was a fan of Van Damme and Steven Seagal movies and I’d take her to all those flicks in the ‘90s [laughs]. But my ultimate goal was to make my grandma happy and for us to move into a house together and for me to take care of her once my career took off. It brought me a lot of happiness taking care of her.”
LORD FINESSE: “Gang Starr was the big act on Wild Pitch [Records] at the time and so was Chill Rob G. [The label] signed me off the strength of Guru and DJ Word, who happened to be the A&Rs at the time. Wild Pitch’s owner, Stuart Fine, was interested but wasn’t a believer yet. It wasn’t until the New Music Seminar where I performed that I raised eyebrows. Premier was fresh from Texas and Stu wanted to pair us up for a record. Preemo was, of course, just finishing Gang Starr’s No More Mr. Nice Guy album. Those were wild times. I’d sit around with Preemo and just go through boxes and boxes of records. He produced ‘Strictly For The Ladies and ‘Track The Movement’ and really, honestly, he co-produced everything. He came to all the sessions to make sure my flow and approach was right lyrically. He was really good with being a part of everything that went down.”
LORD FINESSE: “Show and Diamond came up with D.I.T.C. They were around before me and I looked up to them. I mean, I was a part of the overall gathering of members at the end of the day, but Show and Diamond was the foundation. I wouldn’t say I was the founder, but you could say I was the glue guy during the process of the crew forming, as I helped bring everyone together. I’d say [that] at that time Diamond was the more experienced, because of his early recordings with Master Rob as Ultimate Force on Jazzy Jay’s Strong City Records label. So when I was signed to Wild Pitch Records the first thing I did was reach out to Diamond and Show for production for the Funky Technician LP. So you’ve got me, Diamond, and Show [in the crew]. AG – who I met at a rap battle cypher during my high school days – had a girlfriend that lived across the street from me that happen to bring us together during the making of Funky Technician. I immediately asked him to be a part of the project. Show ended up seeing AG at those sessions and then Showbiz and AG as a group came together right around that time.
LORD FINESSE:“I first met [Big L] at an autograph signing at a popular record spot on 125th street called Rock & Will’s in Harlem. It was a record store and the spot where everyone had mixtapes for sale. It was a legendary spot, actually. I remember Kid Capri, Brucie B, Ron G, all these cats hustling their tapes there. It’s where you wanted your music and mixtapes at because a majority of people would normally shop there. If you were a DJ with a rep, your tapes were in this store. Even people from out of town would stock up on music there. This would be the same spot I’d later discover and befriend D.I.T.C. member and producer Buckwild. I’ll never forget that day, man. This kid comes up to me who was actually L’s friend. He was like, ‘My friend wants to rhyme for you,’ and I’m like, ‘What? Look man, I’m gonna give y’all my manager’s number and just hit him up.’ Then L stepped in and was like, ‘No, let me just kick a rap for you real quick. If you don’t like me I’ll never bother you again.’ At that point, I was like, “OK, go ahead,” and he just went ahead and kicked it. After he was done, I was asking for his info! He was only about sixteen at the time too.”
NEXT WEEK IN PART 2: Finesse on career guidance from Ice-T, and working with Biggie Smalls, and Dr. Dre.
Lord Finesse’s Funky Man: The Prequel is now available via Slice-Of-Spice Records.