Q&A With Rising Hip Hop Duo Glass Bottom Boat

Hip Hop duo Glass Bottom Boat! Much love on that group name!!! Definitely one of a kind for the underground scene!!! Tell us a bit about the group, how/when/where was if formed? Who is the better Rapper amongst the two? Where are you guys from?

Haha, yeah the name was kind of an accident. It was a name I used for the SP-808ex sampler I created our first two albums on. So I always labeled the projects as”The Glass Bottom Boat Presents:” and since we didn’t really have a group name, when we started performing it was kind of the thing people identified with so it stuck and we were cool with it as it has kind of come to symbolize what we do together for sure; the Glass Bottom Boat aka the Window to the World, aka the Pens-Men Ship.

As for the group, we formed it while we attended high school together in Irvine, CA (Orange County). Tone and I (along with Rico, who was an on and off third member) would work with beats I pieced together on the 808 and before on my computer. Tone moved away after our freshman year to North Carolina and really polished his rhyme style while at the same time I would get more and more into producing the beats and when he moved back to SD when we were both seniors, we had already dreamed up several tracks that became the first album that utilized the 808 after my computer crashed where I was originally using Fruity Loops.

I’m originally from the Irvine growing up amongst the cow pastures and track homes. In contrast, Tone grew up all over the US since his Dad was in the Marines. So we bring different flavors to the mix for sure.

Tone Dogg Raw
I’m originally from Roswell NM, and like Cal said my dad was a Marine, so I grew up moving around from base to base. The most significant time of my adolescence was spent on El Toro Marine Base, (during that time I met Cal, being bussed to school in Irvine), and Jacksonville NC, where the name “Tone Dogg Raw” was coined.

Haha, who is the better rapper? I’d say we each have our own style and talents when it comes to song writing. I think we push each other to be better composers and think of lyrics, cadence and syllable counts. I’d say we make each other better MCs.

Haha, Tone’s being modest! He’s the more natural writer out of the two of us. He writes albums as fast as I write songs! Haha. I’m only semi-joking, but no, honestly, I tended to gravitate toward the production and composition side the more we worked together when I was primarily making all the beats we were spitting on whereas Tone usually brings the flow and verses to life. Captain Hooks and shit.

It’s extremely difficult to rap with someone else, let alone form a duo or a group.. That being said, what’s the spark,or motivation to make Hip Hop as a duo? Any pro’s or con’s in being a duo?

Tone and I began to write rhymes together even back when we first started. Like he’d take 4 bars and then I’d take 4 and back and forth it’d go on the same page in the notebooks. So we’ve just kind of continued that when we’ve worked on tracks as a group. Building together we always found that while there might be compromises on individual ideas at times, the collaborative effort usually resulted in something with much more depth and perspective given our individual tastes and perspectives coloring our rhymes differently.

Maybe the only con I can think of is that scheduling and strategy can be a little more of a challenge with more people to consider, especially since we got families, day jobs, schooling, etc. that we must work around.

Tone Dogg Raw
I agree. I think there is compromise, but that lends itself to making something truly unique. Especially when both of us want to feed-off of the energy of the other or inspire one another with an idea or melody. And we been doing this for more than a decade, when we start making something, it just flows and is natural.

Yeah, I guess we do talk about it how there’s not many groups any more that we are hearing and really seeing making moves. I mean I was watching Dilated, Living Legends, Project Blowed, Stonesthrow and all that kind of during my formative years and I don’t see that as much nowadays. We definitely take it as a source of pride that we are determined to build something bigger collectively than we could individually.

Tell us about your Hip Hop and/or music influences? Any Hip Hop duo’s who you guys get inspiration from?

For me, the original influences were like Snoop Dogg, Dre, Dogg Pound, Nate Dogg, all that West Coast. DJ Quik, Julio G, the Beat Junkies yeah know. But as I got into more and more underground and new school, Tribe rose to the top as one of my favorites. So did Slum Village and Pete Rock & CL Smooth. Blackstar, Common. All that. Of course, as I’d consider myself a producer before a rapper Pete Rock, Premo, Dilla, Daz Dillinger, Quik, Madlib were all huge influences on how I listened to hip hop. Also, got a huge soft spot for anything Dungeon family, which I know Tone shares with me. But also as a kind of casual record collector I do find a lot of inspiration from discovering older artists in Soul, R&B, Rock, Jazz and other stuff. Last, as you know I could go on forever about music, I’ve been blessed to meet many talented artists being that I lived in LA and LBC for about 5 years so some people I’ve been able to call friends have had a big influence on me as well, DJ Orator, Rebels to the Grain, Dellue, Cloud 9 Articulate are all people who have been big supporters and inspirations for me musically.

Tone Dogg Raw
Growing up primarily on the west coast and in the south I have an affinity for a lot of the names Cal mentioned, Dre, Snoop, Warren G, Ice Cube, Outkastand Goodie Mob. I always liked the independent southern hip hop, the trunk music, stuff to ride to that has that heavy kick. Some Eightball and MJG, Scarface and UGK. In North Carolina we would listen to a lot of Wu-Tang also which had me geeking on old kung fu movies and stuff and freestyling all the time. Some Killa Army would have me wanting to write some flows. I identify heavily with the Chicano rap scene as well just because that’s what we listened to in our culture, like some Slow Pain or Frost or Mr Shadow, those guys are all legends to me. But honestly I listen to all kinds of music. Put on some Groove Theory, Slum Village, or Rolling Stones I’m good. I also get inspired by the music of peers in OC, LA, SD, NM or anywhere, when something notable drops, I like to listen.

Please breakdown the creative process of your latest project “Definitive A Year In The Nebula Spring”“. Sweet album cover BTW!!..LOL I love the tits….LOL

Yeah, the project was kind of wild because as worked together to launch Tone’s Doggma Uno label and release his first “official” project, OPTIMO last October, Tone started planting the seed of working on a new project. First sending me beats, then rhymes. And I still had trouble writing to them after the long lay-off (7-8 years!). But after we got a few tracks under our belts, it kind of just snowballed. A lot of it was just having the beats. Dope beats from these talented producers, I think that got me going again whereas Tone writes prolifically. Then the idea was we got a lot of tracks what should we do? And we kind of started leaning toward the idea of just releasing everything. However, with the way people consume music these days, we decided to release it in batches. When that cemented, I got the idea to do it kind of with the seasons following the year we spent recording all the music and picked the songs I felt reflected each season and some themes we agreed on. So really this album is part of a larger whole.

As for the album cover, haha, yeah, I used to bootleg the artist’s, Genzoman, art for our myspace page with the 808 photoshopped so when we decided to work again on a group project I reached out to him with our idea so as to make it official and he was game and brought his own vision to it. Yeah, the “endowment” that he bestowed was kind of his own stylization of our original idea, which turned out lovely as you pointed out, haha.

Do you guys ever plan on possibly signing a deal, or are you guys strictly unerground??

Tone Dogg Raw
For now, our focus is on building the Doggma Uno brand and repertoire, so that the creation of art is self-sustainable and so that we can provide opportunities to others who are struggling to get exposure for their art. We believe in community and unity, I suppose if that’s “underground” than I want to stay that way. In the end, it’s about more than me and Cal, and our music, it’s about what we can leave this world, legacy.

Rappers nowadays think by throwing up a few videos up on social media and pushing quick projects, they can blow up overnight! Give us your view on how over saturated the market is right now with so many MC’s/Producers but not to many quality music.

Yeah, it does seem much easier to broadcast your music now than ever, but in many ways the market is still very similar to how it was when myspace was cracking. A lot of music, and a lot of it good, and its so accessible. The big thing is high quality video and audio recording has continued to become even more inexpensive allowing more and more people to make “high quality” music. What I sometimes think is missing is people pushing the boundaries of what is hip hop. I mean the song writing and melody can lack sometimes and the video themes and content can be very one-dimensional, which is a shame since we both feel that the music is ripe for more fusion and blending of genres than it has ever been, which bodes well for artist that can bring that to the scene.

Tone Dogg Raw
There is so much music out and its heavy competition out there right now. Just like anything else in the world, it’s about putting in work. I think the more effort that’s put forth will be apparent and has more value and the quickly thrown-together stuff will be naturally weeded out. It’s something that we hold of the utmost Importance, making sure whatever we do,that it is well thought out and is high quality. Most people don’t want to put in work to get what they want. There is an entitlement that permeates society. It’s why we play the lottery. But those of us who don’t win gotta get up and go to work the next day. Haha.

Doggmauno / Tone Dogg Raw

Doggmauno / Tone Dogg Raw

Here it is! Our most popular question! What is your definition of “underground hip hop”?

Underground hip hop is kind of cultural attitude that’s adopted by many within the industry for hip hop that either isn’t good enough to attract mainstream appeal or has been relegated to be a fringe or niche market. But I don’t think the underground idea is really anything other than a label as hip hop is worldwide and many mainstream artists have ties or connections to the artists and labels that many hip hop purists hold in high esteem. So while the grass-root, community-based approach is something I’ve always loved about the “underground” scene, I am not always a fan of how we sometimes shun more successful artists while not appreciating the art of their projects because of these labels. It’s something I’ve been guilty of myself, honestly, but nowadays I tend to appreciate the way hip hop has continued to grow more diverse and continues to be so connected to young people throughout the world especially the classic stuff be it commercial or not.

Where can people find you on the web? Drop all the vital links.

All social media @cal_s_thetics or @doggma1 and @doggmauno
Itunes, Spotify, bandcamp all that.

Lastly, and shout out?

Our families for sacrificing their time and our time with them for us to pursue these dreams. the Break beats and Rhymes family who have always been supportive of our work. Of course, EQ – Out the Ashtray of LA who has been a key collaborator mastering, mixing and producing our projects and also is about to release some of his own projects on Doggma Uno very soon. Enkrypt Los Angeles, Victor Hernandez and Joe Matamales who have been expertly holding down the visuals for us and help us push the boundaries there. Big Rob and Showcase 626 who has supported us a lot too, Endz and Dave Allen of the Locally Grown Collective, just way too many to mention, but that was my attempt!

About Armando Urena Jr

Senior Publisher for @UGHHBLOG // Been an Underground Hip Hop fan all my life and I'm dedicated to keeping the culture alive on a daily basis. Working hard every day and staying positive is what LIFE is all about.