In keeping with our KN Certified coverage, we were granted the rare opportunity to speak with loquacious linguistic legends One Be Lo and Senim Silla aka Binary Star and have them do an extensive walk through of their classic album, Masters of the Universe. This is a rare one so check it out and get some information about the inspiration, creation, and preparation that went into the making of one of Hip Hop’s classic yet buried treasures.
Will: Besides the budget, what are some major differences between Waterworld and Masters of the Universe?
Senim Silla: Waterworld was just a compilation of songs we already had…it was basically taking [those] and putting them on a record together.
One Be Lo: Waterworld was never intended to be our album. When we were just recording songs, we were recording them to perform them. We came out of prison thinking, “We better start our label…and if we got friends that are gonna go with us, let’s go”. We were gonna use Waterworld to raise money for our real album.”
On how the songs came together:
OBL: I remember when we first came home, Decompoze was like, “16 bars and a hook.” We were like, “Fuck 16 bars and a hook, doe. Fuck 16 bars and fuck a hook.” When you listen to that album, you don’t really hear any 16 bar verses on there. You don’t really hear a hook cause we was like, “Fuck that shit!” I’m [also] notorious for having one long ass verse and it’s so long that I gotta chop it up in different parts. “OneManArmy,” and “Glen Close…” a lot of those songs are just verses and then I just break it up somewhere.
SS: Back on the 16 bar standard…we weren’t aware of that. We would write verses until we proved a point. That’s all you were trying to do. I would rap until I made my point and then the verse was over. We didn’t look at it like we needed so many verses in a song or we had to have a hook. We just weren’t familiar with those concepts. We weren’t trying to battle the mainstream or fuck over the radio. This is how we do it. This is the only way we know how to do it. When Lo and I left [we missed] some pivotal moments in rap. Things changed significantly in that time, but Lo and I didn’t. We stayed on the same path when things went in a different direction. So we come home with the same thinking… we’re still thinking it’s 1994. This is why on Waterworld we pressed tapes.
OBL: We came home [and] we pressed 300 tapes and 300 pieces of vinyl! Cats were like, “Tapes is cool, but y’all ain’t got no CDs?” I’m like, “Man, fuck CDs!” That was the best investment we ever made. Vinyl was still like God then.
I gotta identify all the One Be Lo’s. I gotta identify myself on “Evolution of Man.” I gotta identify myself on “Glen Close.” I didn’t want to wait for the third album and do, “Evolution of Man” and then they look at me like Canibus or Chuck D. Senim is gonna make a simple phrase or a simple thing complicated. Like on “Slang Blade,” all he says is, “I’m doper than you.” But the way he says it is super complex. And me, I’ll take something that’s super-duper complex and make it real simple. That’s kinda like the Yin and Yang of the Binary Star. When you listen to Ross, the wordplay and the trickery is all crazy, and then you’ll listen to my thing and think it’s mad simple.
WS: I’ve never thought about it like that.
SS: That’s why it works. We make each other’s ends meet.
WS: Every time I hear those strings I’m like, “Ah, shit, here we go.” How did that beat come about?
OBL: Man, I was listening to this record one day. When I drop the needle I listen to the whole song. For all the people that don’t know what I’m talking about because they got waveforms and shit, I’m talking about phonograph records. [Laughs] It’s weird in the beginning and right at the end of the song, this loop just comes out of nowhere, and it just fucking blew my mind. It’s funny because we didn’t have a sequence to the beat until we went to the lab to layer it. Don’t even ask me why, I just wanted to have a long ass intro. I think I wanted to develop the bassline. It doesn’t really make sense to do that shit, but…
SS: We didn’t care at that point… Lo brought me the track and the first time I heard it, it was the most beautiful piece of music I had ever heard. It literally brought tears to my eyes. As I was busting my verse, my eyes started to water like, “Man, this shit is beautiful.” [Laughs]
OBL: This is the crazy part about “Reality Check.” His verse was so fucking bananas, I was looking at my verse and I was like, “There’s no way I can spit this shit.” So I went back and rewrote my verse thinking, “There’s no fuckin’ way I can rap with this dude.”
SS: So to all the listeners…you’re welcome because the verse that he’s got on “Reality Check?” I did that for you. [Laughs]
OBL: This is the only dude that had me nervous on the mic like that. I was thinking these people are going to hear me rap and then they’re going to fast forward and skip over my shit and go to this dude because this dude fucking murdered that track. I was shaking’ in my boots when I wrote that shit.
Now why is that song called “Reality Check?” Don’t even ask me. It used to be called, “The First Joint.” We don’t really have names to songs…we just call them random shit just to remember them. I’m not saying it’s not a reality check, I’m just saying that it’s not a real reason why [we called it “Reality Check.”]
SS: I have no idea. We never got a hook on that. It was never even discussed.
WS: Just the scratching and, “I wanna know something else.”
SS: And the reason our verses are as long as they are is that we didn’t know how to time out 16 bars.
OBL: I’m not mad at old girl singing on the hook, but I like to hear dope rhymes.
SS: Beats and rhymes.