Against All Odds, the new album by turntablist legends, Da Odd Couple (Rob Swift & Mista Sinista) who reunited with X-Men’s Dr. Butcher who handled the album’s production. We connect with these Hip Hop OG’s to talk about the album, their careers, and the state of Hip Hop. Read our Q&A below:
For the readers who are not quite familiar with the background and legendary catalog, let’s take them back briefly to where it all started as Da Odd Couple.
Rob Swift: Dr. Butcher is the thread that ties Da Odd Couple together. It all starts with him. I was introduced to Dr. Butcher through a mutual friend and colleague Juju. People may recognize the name from the Beatnuts. I grew up with Psycho Les and Juju in Queens, NY. I’d go over there cribs or they’d make their way to mine and we’d listen to music together, make mixtapes, beats, etc.
Juju, knowing how serious I was about deejaying, offered to introduce me to a friend of his who lived up the block from his house and also deejayed. That friend turned out to be Dr. Butcher. I was already familiar with the name. Being a Queens native, Kool G Rap was my favorite rapper, next to LL COOL J. The ironic thing about it all is Dr. Butcher was G Rap’s deejay and he was also in a rap trio with LL when they were teenagers.
Eventually, Juju delivered on his offer and took me to Drew’s (Dr. Butcher) house and I got to practice with him. After seeing me deejay on his set, he sat me down and was like, “You’ve got mad potential Rob. You just gotta learn how to tap into your own personal creativity better. Don’t worry, I’ll help you with that!” That day changed the trajectory of my deejaying forever.
Mista Sinista: I met Drew through similar circumstances. Dr. Butcher and I had a mutual friend called Arty. Arty was actually really cool with G Rap. That’s how Art and Butcher knew each other. You know, we’re all Queens cats at the end of the day. Anyway, one day Art was like “Yo, I’m gonna take you over to Dr. Butcher’s house so y’all can practice together. He’s dope!” When I finally made it to Drew’s crib, I was just like “Damn, this guy is nasty.” I was a mainly a house deejay back then so seeing a dude like Drew cut it up on the turntables got me excited to wanna learn. Thankfully Drew took me under his wing and the rest is history!
How heavy was the deejay/turntablism scene back in the early ’90 through the early aughts? And what is the scene like today?
Rob Swift: Definitely not as heavy as it is now. I know you were probably expecting a different answer but the truth of it is deejaying in the ‘80s and ‘90s was more of an underground phenomenon. It was a subculture of kids who all channeled their energy into understanding how to make a Technic 1200 do some incredible things. Now, deejaying is a billion dollar industry and everyone does it. The art form today transcends age, race, gender way more than it ever did when Sinista and I were coming up. Shit, you have eight year old deejays verified on social
media today. That’s how crazy this art form has gotten. Back then, you had to earn that verification badge organically. By dedicating years of time and energy into training. Then eventually you’d enter a DMC or New Music Seminar competition and battle it out against other dudes who were out for the same respect you were after.
Lets get into the new album, “Against All Odds“, How do you guys feel about the authenticity of the album and the relevance of its content for 2020?
Rob Swift: Real talk, it doesn’t get any more authentic than Against All Odds when you’re talking about a hip-hop album. When you listen to it, it’s the perfect concoction of boom bap beats, scratches and lyrics. When it comes to hip-hop music, that is the original recipe and we followed it to a “T.” All the while figuring out creative ways to make the music modern so it can appeal to our younger fan base.
Mista Sinista: I agree with Rob. We’re offsprings of the dudes who started this whole hip-hop shit. I’m talkin’ Kool Herc, Baambaata, Grandmaster Flash, GrandWizzard Theodore,Grandmixer D.ST. We actually have relationships with those guys. We’ll never forget who started this and whose shoulders we stand on. That fact comes through in our music.
How does it feel like reconnecting with Dr. Butcher? Why did you guys decide to work together on this project.
Rob Swift: Fucking AWESOME is how it felt. As deejays, Dr. Butcher played an integral part in helping us understand how to build a closer relationship with music when we were first trying to get our name out on the deejay scene. From the listening aspect of music, to it’s manipulation. Against All Odds is symbolic of the idea that life is a circle and Da Odd Couple completed that loop with this project!
Mista Sinista: Word. Drew’s been our mentor before we even thought about making albums or touring. So in a lot of ways, putting this album together with him was our return to the essence of what propelled us into the world of hip-hop.
Who else is featured on the album? We notice a bunch of heavyweights!
Rob Swift: We got CJ Moore. That guy’s been around for a minute. Early ‘80s and ‘90s hip-hop heads will remember him from the shit he’s done with Black By Demand, Uptown, Phase N Rhythm, etc. We also got upcoming rappers like The Real DMT, Ray Lugar, and Ke Turner. Mista Sinista: I got one of my boys, Uptown Bodega on the album cut, “New York Straight Talk”!
Rob Swift: We also got Kid Capri, DJ Q-Bert, DJ Ace and our X-Ecutioners brethren Total Eclipse on a track produced by our friend Eitan Noyze titled, “Sinphony.” Think of it as a deejay posse cut. So yeah, the cameos on this project are bonafide dope!
Hip-hop definitely needed a refreshing album like this coming from real deejays. How would you describe the difference between deejays from the era in which you came up, compared to these new age deejays?
Rob Swift: I think the biggest difference that separates deejays from my era and the current one is technology. For example, when Sinista and I started training with Dr. Butcher, all we had to work with was your two Technic turntables, that’s if you could afford a pair. A lot of deejays like Roc Raida (Rest In Peace) started out with belt drive turntables like B1s. You also had your mixer and a pair of needles. That’s about it.
Mista Sinista: Word! Now, in 2020, these kids’ first sets be all tricked out. Rob Swift: Exactly. The typical deejay set today comes equipped with a $2,000 laptop, a $2,000 mixer and a pair of $1000 Turntables that don’t have a tone arm.
Mista Sinista: As a result, it’s just easier to learn how to deejay cause piggy packing on Rob’s point, technology now is so advanced today that you can just jump on your smartphone, log onto YouTube and watch a tutorial on all the techniques we had to walk a mile to get at Dr. Butcher’s house.
Rob Swift: Like with anything, you always have two ends of the spectrum. So on the one hand, deejaying is more accessible to people now than it was when Sin and I were coming up. But that degree of accessibility can be dangerous because it’s made deejaying easier to pick up as a trade or hobby, and easier isn’t always better.
How has technology changed the landscape for deejaying. Feel free to talk about the pros and cons.
Rob Swift: Of course! I mean, if you asked me to teach you Math, I’d be doing you a disservice if I let you use a calculator from jump. If you want to learn math, I mean truly learned math, the best way for me to start you off is with a pencil and a pad.
Mista Sinista: Word. Analogue.
Rob Swift: Right, like what Technic 1200s are to Controllers, a pencil and a paper are to a calculator. It’s only after you’ve mastered the basics of math with a pencil and paper that I’d feel comfortable as your teacher letting you use a calculator.
Mista Sinista: So when you have people getting into deejaying, and spending money on all these deejay gadgets but not properly learning how to mix by ear, or deejay with vinyl, among other things, they’re under the illusion that they’re deejays because they have the technology to do it. But then they see Da Odd Couple cut shit up and they realize, “shit, I still have a long way to go.”
If there is one piece of advice to upcoming deejays, what would legends like ya’ll tell
Rob Swift: Learn your deejay history. Take the time to discover who came before you. What techniques they’ve contributed. Learn about the difference between a radio deejay like Red Alert and a battle deejay like Cash Money, and why they’re both equally as important!
Mista Sinista: Also practice. Train hard. Like the way Rob and I did under Dr. Butcher. If you’re able to, find yourself a mentor. Someone who can help guide you on your path. Otherwise, you can end up wasting a lot of time.
Any more music in the works for the near future?
Rob Swift: There’s always more man! What that is exactly is yet to be seen, but if you asked Sin and I back in 2018—when we started linking up to train together again—that we’d have two albums out by 2020, I would have been like “Shit! Really?” [laughs]
The question we ask everybody, what’s your definition of underground hip-hop?
Rob Swift: Underground Hip-Hop is hip-hop that is unapologetic. Underground artists stay true to themselves and will never compromise their creativity to be considered mainstream. Mista Sinista: Facts. And that’s what you get on our album, Against All Odds. That raw hip-hop shit for people that can appreciate that real shit!
When it comes to the Da Odd Couple, where can fans find more of your music?
Rob Swift: We’re all over the place! We’ve been around for some time so basically anywhere you can find hip-hop, Sinista and I will be there! That said, you can always check for us on our social media pages and websites. And you could support, Against All Odds right here☛ https://soulspazm.ffm.to/againstallodds
Lastly, any shout outs or honorable mentions involving Against All Odds?
Rob Swift: I personally would like to send mega respect to Fat Beats and Soulspazm Records for believing in this project and putting it out for us.
Mista Sinista: Yes! Big shout to Joe from Fat Beats!
Rob Swift: Word. Fat Beats has been holding down authentic hip-hop for 25 years now. So putting out this project with them has been a blessing because Fat Beats also deserves some credit in the success that Mista Sinista and I have experienced throughout our career!
Da Odd Couple Online:
• Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/daoddcouple
• Twitter: https://twitter.com/DaOddCouple
• Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DaOddCouple
• Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/artist/1RGL6mdK0ouz2GdSK9GqhP