Eligh of Living Legends (Photo courtesy Living Legends)
I’ll admit that during the past couple months, Mammoth Lakes may have had its fill of rap shows. But to be completely honest, we haven’t seen anything like this next one. Yet again, for your head-nodding pleasure, Late Night Productions offers up another gangbuster rap show with a stop from the Back To The Future tour at Whiskey Creek, March 6.
What makes this tour so unique is that it doesn’t just feature one world renown rapper, it features three. The all-star line up consists of Mistah FAB (one of the originators of the Oakland based Hyphy scene), Opio of the acclaimed group Souls of Mischief and Eligh of the Living Legends crew. So, whether you’re a casual hip-hop fan or a lifelong backpacker, I suggest you start stretching your hip-hop arm immediately. I had the opportunity to chat with Eligh last Monday via phone. The following interview has been edited for brevity and clarity.
Sheet: Hey, Eligh, how’s the Back To The Future tour going?
Eligh: Oh it’s been good. We are currently in Bend, Ore. We just had a show last night. It was cool, but it was an all ages show. So when that happens you typically have a few knuckleheads that try to start sh*t and get in fights.
Sheet: Whoa, hold up, did you say the show was all Asians?
Eligh: Hah, no man … ages. All AGES!
Sheet: I was gonna say…geez. Hey, don’t worry because even though your Mammoth show is 21 and up you’re still guaranteed a healthy dose of knuckleheads. But before we get into anything hip hop related, I need to know if you are a true fan of the Back to the Future trilogy, hence the name of your tour and all.
Eligh: Alright sure.
Sheet: Now the following questions aren’t Einstein worthy; in fact they’re pretty easy. Okay, here we go. What was the name of Doc Brown’s dog?
Eligh: Oh my God. Hold on, let me think. I’m envisioning that furry little thing in my head right now. Uh … Einstein!
Sheet: That is correct, sir. Now, what was the name of Biff Tannen’s hover-board in “Back to The Future, Part2?”
Eligh: Sh*t, I know this one too, man… um …
Sheet: You give up? It was the Pitbull. Come on, don’t you remember the line, “Hoverboards can’t go over water, unless you have power!” Alright this last one is by far the easiest. What speed does the Delorean need to reach in order to time travel?
Eligh: [Shouting] 88 miles per hour!
Sheet: There you go. Sooo, does anything awesome happen at the 88th minute of your rap shows?
Eligh: Uh … nope.
Sheet: Well that’s sorta lame. But what’s sorta awesome is that the three of you on this tour represent separate but equally important movements in rap history. We got Hyphy with FAB, Hieroglyphics with Opio and the Living Legends crew with yourself. Don’t you think it’s kind of a mish-mash combo?
Eligh: Yeah it is a crazy combo and maybe that’s what’s so cool about it. Back when Grouch and I did the “G & E” album, we had Mistah FAB on it for a track. But I only met him once or twice and I never really got to kick it with him. It’s funny, the thing with FAB is that the Hyphy movement is how his name got out, but the guy is definitely not about Hyphy music. He’s a real hip hop head. He can do just about anything. Honestly he’s one of the best free-stylists I’ve ever heard. In terms of Opio and [his crew] Hieroglyphics, they’re not that separate of a movement in relation to what we do at Living Legends. So when my boy Zen called me up and asked if I would be interested in doing a tour with these two guys, I was like, “Sure! Definitely!”
Sheet: Yeah, it seems like Hieroglyphics and Living Legends have always been collaborating. Why don’t you guys just merge and form an ultra-mega crew? You know, like Voltron or to a lesser extent AOL Time Warner?
Eligh: Hah. Well I don’t know about that. But we’re all friends, we’re all really close. We’re kinda like distant relatives so to speak. You know, one of the first tours we did as Legends was with Hiero. So in a way they opened the door for us. This tour is exciting for me personally because I never got to hang with Opio till now.
Sheet: Man, I’d love to kick it with Opio, or I suppose anyone from Souls of Mischief for that matter. On that note, do you look at these tours as an excuse to meet artists you look up to?
Eligh: Yeah always! That’s definitely a good way to look at it. One of the bigger tours we did a few years ago was Paid Dues. And it was fun because it gave me a chance to mingle with tons of artists such as Atmosphere and Sage Francis. At the time I didn’t know that much about Sage. So when I finally got the chance to hang with him I was like, “Damn! I f*ckin’ love this guy!”
Sheet: Besides being a rapper you’re also an accomplished producer. It seems like you’ve made beats for a variety of artists all over the rap spectrum. But the only one that’s a bit confusing to me is your connection with WWE professional wrestler, John Cena. How the hell did you end up working with the “Chain Gang Commander?”
Eligh: Sh*t! Well, I didn’t exactly work with him per se. My manager at the time hit me up one day and I’ll never forget it, he was like, “You’re not going to believe this, but John Cena is a big underground hip hop fan. He’s a fan of you and he wants to use one of your beats for his new rap album.” The next thing I knew Cena used one of my beats and I got paid really well.
Sheet: What song did he use it for?
Eligh: Oh man, I don’t remember.
Sheet: So I take it you never listened to the album?
Eligh: No, I did. I checked it out a few years back right when it came out. And I remember thinking beforehand that it was going to be terrible. But you know he’s really not that bad of a rapper.
Sheet: Um, okay. Let me give you an example of one of his rhymes, “I wear size 12, 13s don’t fit me.” I’ll be honest and admit that I bought that CD; however I’ll also admit that I immediately used it as a coaster.
Eligh: Yeah, he is quite the lyricist. However, you are right. I actually did the same thing. I listened to it once and, well that was that.
Sheet: Hey man, it’s cool. At least the beats were great! In your defense I will say that I’m a huge fan of the man you work with most, The Grouch. Is there a chance we’ll be hearing another “G & E” album any time soon?
Eligh: Yeah, you will! I just talked to Grouch the other day about that. He wants to do a solo album first and I got some other projects lined up for now. But we’ll be in the studio together soon.
Sheet: So I’m psyched for your show up here in Mammoth. But I gotta say, back in the day my only affiliation with rap music and ski hills was that Naughty By Nature video for “Feel Me Flow.” How did we get to this point where ski towns are now rap show destinations?
Eligh: Hmm, I don’t know. I guess a lot of snowboarders and skaters are fans of our music, which is really cool. I mean I love it when our music gets used for videos and sh*t. It’s really just more exposure for the music.
The show also includes acts from The Bayliens, Xienhow, Canibal Lecture, DJ Lex, DJ True Justice and Flossafee. Tickets start at $20 and are available at Stellar Brew and Ticketweb.com. Again, the 21+ show is Sunday, March 6 at Whiskey Creek. Doors open @ 9pm.