Talking to Omar Credle is a wild experience in itself; classic New York accent, elite emcee, and brash commentator on both hip hop as art, and hip hop in the eyes of the music industry, O.C. is not far from hip hop royalty. Never really a major label wet dream, O.C. got his break when Serch heard him on Organized Konfusion’s “Fudge Pudge” and decided to take a chance on him. O.C.’s debut was built out of an era, and at a label, where an artist’s creative control was encouraged, while strict quality control was enforced. Over the last thirteen years the industry’s guidance of artistic development and creativity has completely shifted and the quick buck single is often stressed over the quality of a whole album. O.C. and I caught up on his career, Reef The Lost Cauze, Organized Konfusion, DITC, Ill Bill, Serch, Jay-Z, Kanye, and Heiroglyphics among many other topics in this interview. He knows why he made the choices he did, he doesn’t regret his moves, but he does seem to be catching on to how to run this independent grind in 2007. But regardless of what he says he learned from his time with Heiro, to hear him talk of the new Prodigy record and his own music you can tell that he too, is back on his New York shit.
PhilaFlava.com: Would you rather be broke and have a whole lot of respect or be rich and have a whole lot of resent?
OC: (Laughs). Let me see, when did I make that statement in ’94. I guess a little bit of both, I’m not gonna lie. It’s a different day. I mean you know, the respect factor is a thing, where money comes into place you got respect, but if you don’t you know some people sell they soul for anything, not me.
PF: How have your goals changed over time in this rap game?
OC: As far as what?
PF: When you came into the game where did you see yourself with it in ten years? Versus nowadays what are your goals for the future?
OC: Ahhhh. Honestly, I have a whole different mindset now. But I don’t think me, you, I don’t think anybody knew it would go this far. I mean I knew it was going, it was going somewhere, but damn this is like the porn business right now. It’s so much money, it’s anarchy in the corporate world, you know it’s anarchy on the streets, like you know you gotta be down with certain crews, and you know… it’s different now. So probably to answer that question my goals is just like to keep hip hop preserved I guess? Just in the sense of making good music.
PF: Do you regret making Bon Appetit?
OC: Hell no.
OC: Nah. I think I laid a blueprint with that record. And you know, I think a lot of people followed suit. I think that… I think Jay, I think Kanye, I think a few people took that album and took it to the next level. Plus they was on the stage, so you know, it was a better platform for them, doing what I did.
PF: Who do you stay in contact with in DITC?
OC: Ummm… Everybody.
PF: Any possibility of a new DITC record at some point?
OC: Awww man. Honestly, I don’t know man like… I wouldn’t hold my breath at this point. I think if it didn’t happen now? You might see maybe a Finesse OC collabo album, or an AG Finesse collabo album before you see a Diggin’ album.
PF: That’d be sick though. That’d be sick to have one of those.
OC: Yeah we talking, and you know we talking… we just gotta iron out the kinks.
PF: How come Fat Joe doesn’t ever have any DITC members on this albums?
OC: I don’t know man you gotta ask Fat Joe. (we both laugh) I mean I think Buck was on the last… well nah Buck was on probably two or three albums previous production wise, but umm… and I think Finesse did the Pun, Big L record. I don’t know man. Like I always explain this in a nutshell I think Joe and Big L was more like the stars of the group. Like I think I always felt that they would’ve been the breakout stars before me, Finesse, or A.
PF: Yeah I guess.
OC: That’s just, that’s they character, they that charismatic type of dude. I mean L was going to Roc-A-Fella so that should tell you.
PF: Word. So what happened with that Organized Konfusion and OC collabo album a few years back?
OC: Ahhh. It just didn’t come to fruition man. I mean I really don’t like talking about it, cuz I think we had a little tension between, well we did have tension between us, me and Po.
PF: I remember seeing some stuff around that.
OC: He was talking shit, yaknawmsayin’. I talked shit… it just ain’t happen, but I don’t think it was meant to happen.
PF: Yeah. You still talk to either of those guys?
OC: Well yeah Pharoahe, that’s my dude. That’s like my mentor right there. I mean forever my homey, before the music.
PF: Word, word. You guys grew up together right?
OC: Yeah me and Pharoahe grew up on the same block, moved from Brooklyn to Jamaica Queens.
PF: Was Love, Hell, Or Right ever recorded?
OC: Umm nope. It was like actually it’s some songs that I don’t even have copies of that Buck has. And we probably did like a umm… and this might sound like some bullshit, but you know the shit that Prodigy just did with Alchemist?
OC: With like the 70’s samples we did that.
OC: We did it. And I’m wondering if Buck’s still got the joints or if the DATs is just messed up.
PF: Yeah I mean cuz that’d be crazy if that could see the light of day at some point.
OC: Crazy man. I’m loving that new Prodigy record right now just because it’s like so New York. I love those dudes. Cuz I mean, people can talk shit, G-Unit or not those kids did the same formula from day one. Prodigy is my dude, and Havoc, and Alchemist.
PF: Yeah that’s a dope record.
OC: Yeah I seen Al the other night we did a show with Everlast, Ill Bill and them (La Cokstra Nostra) at the Grammercy. And he was like “yeah that isn’t even the hottest shit,” and I’m like damn. I mean that wasn’t his hottest stuff? I mean goddamn man.
PF: Yeah it’s gonna be interesting how that HNIC 2 record sounds?
OC: Yeah I’m looking forward to that.
PF: Do you get more support overseas or in the states?
OC: Yeah I mean the… the in the states thing is more like a headnod respect. Whereas overseas it’s like if I was home getting the respect like it should be. Like overseas it’s like Michael Jackson walked in the building?
PF: (Laughs) Word?
OC: Yeah man.
PF: Why do you think that is?
OC: Honestly like for the last ten years with me going over there like… a lot of… I notice a lot of people go overseas and you know they don’t perform right, or they don’t perform the records like people anticipate them to sound like you know when they picked their records up prior to that. Me? I perform… I try at least man, like I try to perform each record like you hear it on the joint. Y’namsayin? Like I don’t get on stage thirty minutes, fourty five minutes, if I got six albums, you’re gonna hear six albums worth of stuff. And you know, just the DJ in me, no getting out of breath. You know, like the breath control. Y’namsayin’, I took my notes as far as KRS and Big Daddy Kane and them dudes man. Like them dudes used to perform. So I learned, y’namsayin? And I think people appreciate that, when you don’t go over there pull the wool over their eyes and take they money.
PF: Yeah and I mean I’d probably say DITC has more support overseas too.
OC: Oh, crazy. We actually did our first tour together last year. And I mean one show was empty because people didn’t believe we was all together. And we had Roc Raida DJing like you know, he’s an official DJ for us. So that one show we was kinda, and that was the first show, we was kinda you know dissapointed cuz we thought damn man this is our fault, cuz we ain’t been out here when L was alive altogether. You know we always came out, you know Finesse and L or Finesse and A and L and you know, we never did it as a collective. So it was just… it was incredible.
PF: How do you feel about resales of your old stuff on Ebay? What is that like when you see Word…Life go for you know $100 bucks online or something like that?
OC: That tells me that I made my mark. I haven’t finished, like people like “Yo you a legend.” I’m like “Nah man. Not yet.” Like don’t say that. Like legends are like Bob Marley and them are legends. Like Biggie is something legendary cuz he’ll never be able to make a third album. Like you know what it is to feel like you can reach out to something, but you can’t grab it? You know how many people looked forward toward his third record, even beforeLife After Death dropped? Like just the anticipation of: Is this dude gonna fall off? Is he gonna get nicer? Is he gonna… you know… like boost the expectations of Ready to Die, Life After Death on his third record? Like you know where would Jay be at? Like it’s so many questions unanswered man. So it’s like that’s a legend right there. It’s a legendary thought.
PF: Word. I still got my copy by the way.
OC: Laughs. Thank you sir.
PF: Who in the rap game “lacks minerals and vitamins?”
OC: Oh man… there’s a lot of people. You know what it is? I mean contrary what people might think. I listen to, I like, a lot of the stuff that’s out now. Not because, everybody’s not lyrical and it goes back late 80’s, early 90’s everybody wasn’t lyrical then. Jungle Brothers wasn’t lyrical, but you liked they music. And I think that everybody… the only downfall… one of the downfalls to the game right now is that everybody plays it safe. They make a hook, and they concentrate on the hook to get radio. And they don’t concentrate on lyrics on two or three verses. They not concentrating on that. And it’s about the buck. Like I said, fifteen years ago is not the same as now. It’s a business now, and people trying to sell, and package, and market a business. As opposed to… You know it’s a few dudes in the game. Papoose, Joell (Ortiz), you know Jae Millz battles. He battles hard like L and Finesse. Yknawmean. Mook, got um Serious Jones. I mean it’s dudes that’s here, it’s just that they’re not in the forefront.
PF: Yeah that’s not where the money is right now.
PF: Tell us about the Hidden Gems joint you just dropped.
OC: I mean I think, it’s basically. I hope a lot of people don’t be dissapointed, cuz it’s just like a collective of stuff you probably heard like… a few, like one or two original pieces. Like if you really a hip hop head and you listened to “Half Good, Half Sinner,” you gonna hear the “Half Good, Half Sinner” that’s not the same as the one that as the one that you picked up as a single. The original “Stronjay,” not the Beatminerz, the original one that I couldn’t clear the sample for is on there. Like Pre-Word(…Life) demo stuff that I don’t know how people, like you know… like we found like two songs. And I basically did like maybe two or three records on there that was new, thus calling it Hidden Gems. And mixed it up amongst the stuff that people already know. I did it like a little Isaac Hayes, like Barry White, back in the day when they made little compilations of they songs.
PF: What projects are you working on right now?
OC: Umm this next record I’m working on is called My Soul 2 Keep. This record right here, is gonna be official, album like. What I’ma probably do with it you know. I’ma give away records. Like you know reassure people that the Hidden Gems was just like a, you know, not an “official” album, but it is an album you know. Just so people can be like “aiight man, he ain’t fool us. Like he ain’t fooling us twice.” Cuz I know some people got a little confused. And I had to keep posting it, and let people know it’s not an album. The official album will be out in late summer/early fall.
PF: What label are you looking at for that?
OC: Umm… Right now I ain’t even looking at a label. I’m just finishing the project. And we’ll take it from there man. I mean a label is only goin’… I mean you don’t even need a label at this point. They come after you basically, when you like just doing the MF DOOM or the Jedi Mind Tricks, y’knawmsayin’. They want these groups, cuz these groups are putting in they own work. And I respect that.
PF: What was it like working with Hieroglyphics?
OC: They showed me shit man. Like I went on the road with them two summers ago. And God bless man. One show, not even to skip off it real quick, but one show we did in New Orleans, and we left two days later and Katrina hit. So we were fortunate, you know, to pull out that morning. But umm… I’ve seen places in the states, and I’ve been all over the planet, but I ain’t never been to like Seattle and Omaha, Nebraska, like Oregon I was bugging. There was people that was like “Damn your stuff is dope, but who are you?” So it made me feel good, it didn’t make me feel like “Damn they don’t know me.” It made me feel like a breath of fresh air people.
PF: Yeah and they probably just never got exposed to your music.
OC: They never got exposed. See what I’m saying? Like Seattle that was a big spot for me. When I went to Seattle and Las Vegas and people was like “Damn man I waited ten years for you.” And I’m like “Get out of here.” And they bringing me tapes, casette tapes, of my joints, cds with the original. What Finesse did… we had two versions of “Go Head With Yourself” Finesse did on the Word…Life album, like Finesse did two versions, like they was bringing me stuff that was limited. I was like goddamn this is forreal.
But umm… [Heiro] showed me the merchandising man. Like I never did that. Domino and them would complain some nights like “Yo man, we only made seven thousand.” And I’m like “What? I only made eight-fifty tonight.” Like y’all talking seven thousand dollars in merchandise. They had that shit down pat. Like they had they lighters, wristbands, they had shirts for the females, the lighters, the flashlight keychain. I’m like, damn. And I was like at that like at first, like that’s sales, and it sold.
Like they grossed at least a hundred grand, and not to put they busines out there, but they grossed over a hundred grand like damn near just of merch. And we was touring for over three months. And I couldn’t believe that. So when I came home and did Europe like I did go with the t-shirts, couple cds, but I went hard this time. Like I sent merch out to places before I even got to the country I was performing at.
PF: Did that work out well for you?
OC: Hell yeah.
PF: Any artists your planning to work with?
OC: I reached out to Reef the Lost Cauze. I told him awhile back, “I think you hold yourself back.” Like I think he holds backâ€¦ like he holds himself back. Cuz he could straddle the fence if he wanted to, he’s nice. I think he’s real like, I think he’s exceptional. He’s keeping true to the underground ynawimsayin’, but I think he could get into the world of what Big and them do too if he wanted to. I just think he’s not interested in that. He said he’s not. But I’m like “Yo B, Do it.” And he’s like “I don’t know O. I ain’t…” You know once you get into that world and you know, you mess up, people kinda turn they back on you. I’ll probably do some stuff with Ill Bill. We was talking about doing a record, like an album together. He’s always on my ass man.
PF: Yeah you know him from back in the Serchlight days right?
OC: Yeah. Non Phixion started with… Actually Sabac used to work my first record. That was my dude right there. He supported me hard. I respect him so much though, because Non Phixion they started a movement with that. Like there’s so many spinoffs from them you know what I’m saying? But they stay on my ass like you need to go, like yo man, you need to go… like you the millennium Rakim. And I’m like that’s a lot, like to take on man. So you know, me and Ill we’re gonna see what we’re gonna do. He’s like a workhorse though.
PF: Would you like to collaborate with anybody outside of hip hop?
OC: Ahh. Song wise? Rock wise?
PF: Yeah whatever.
OC: I would love to do a record with John Mayer. I would love to do a record with Sarah McLaughlin. It’s a lot of people man. It’s a lot of people like Meshell Ndegeocello. It’s a lot of people. I’ll save that for when I get super rich and I can make sure to lock ’em down. Nah, but all jokes aside, my thing always been like music, like emotion records man, and I think some people always been like “Yo, shit is a bit too emotional.” But I don’t care that’s what makes me O.C.
PF: Did you watch the (white) rapper show at all?
OC: Yeah, yeah I watched it a little bit.
PF: What was that like for you watching that show?
OC: It was weird. Because umm… not for nothing man, if it wasn’t for Serch nobody would know me. Nobody would know Nas either. But umm… watching him it just brought back memories, of like being in the studio and him looking at me like “Nah that’s wack.” You know what I’m sayin? Like he always honest about in a sense where he was like “Yo, what reflects you, is gonna reflect me, this is Serchlight.” But umm… The (white) rapper showâ€¦ that was funny.
PF: What’s your favorite album of the past year?
OC: Favorite album? Wow. I don’t think I have one.
PF: But you like the Prodigy record?
OC: Yeah I just peeped… I just peeped the Prodigy record. Well you know what? I take it back then. That’s probably my favorite record right now. Yeah I’m killing that right now in the car. Like I said, it’s so New York, but it’s so like Mobb Deep, but it’s Prodigy you know what I mean? Like I think that’s the record 50 should’ve got behind.
PF: I agree.
OC: But I think that’s why 50 agreed to do the Prodigy record, cuz I don’t think Jimmy (Iovine)… well I don’t think Interscope supports those kind of records. They want pop records. But you know that’s movement that will never go out of style. And they don’t understand that. You know what I’m sayin’? So 50’s a smart… well if he was smart I think he would’ve put that out on G-Unit.
PF: Yeah I think it would’ve sold better than their last album, cuz I think it threw too many people off hearing Mobb Deep over Dre beats and shit like that.
OC: Yeah like you was looking for grime, you wasn’t looking for polished up clean you know. But even when they did the 112 record, they got a lot of flack for that. But I was like yo that was a Havoc, straight Havoc beat, not dressed up. They was being honest at least man. Everybody can’t be gangsta everyday of they life every second, But it’s a hot record man. I think hip hop just needs umm… Grimy don’t mean you have to murder everybody in every verse, it just has to have that feel. That Rakim feel. You listen to a Rakim record when it first came out, it made you think gangsta, but it wasn’t cuz he was talking gangsta shit. He was talking positive.
PF: Yeah but just had that hard edge to it. I agree, like I think a lot of rappers could lighten up. Like you can make fun records. People used to make fun records without it necessarily having to be gimmicky jingly song. It’s just not valued anymore.
OC: You hit the nail right on the head. Yeah but it’s not valued. Even me and my peoples was talking about the other day like you used to go to the club sometimes, I know when we was younger we used to go to the club sometimes, and you heard a variety of shit. Usually you went to the spots that had two or three floors. Like the club people were so afraid that hip hop is just gonna draw negative shit. It’s weird. They’ll tell you don’t wear Tims to the club, and they’re playin’ 50 and you knowâ€¦ you know a slap a hoe record. And they talking about you gotta be dressed up to come in. Yeah so like I said man, I’m biggin’ up: Go buy Prodigy’s record fuck that man. His record is just like grimy, that’s what we missing. Go cop Joell Ortiz record too.
PF: Well I don’t got anymore questions man. I appreciate you taking the time to do the interview.
OC: No doubt man. That Soul 2 Keep is coming man, so I’ma start leaking stuff soon.
PF: Aiight man, if you ever want to holla at us to leak a record or whatever.
OC: I got you like I said, I’m gonna be giving away records. That’s not gonna be on the album. I just want people to feel like appreciated. I know I don’t want to feel cheated when I go buy a record. Cuz you know what I’m saying, I’m still a fan too. Hearing the same freestyle that you killed on your album. It’s not cool.
PF: The worst thing that happened I think that at least you used to feel like artists put serious thought and creativity into it. Nowadays it’s just a couple single attempts, a few skits, and some filler and they wonder why cd sales go down.
Interview taken from http://www.philaflava.com/q&a.htm
Born 2 Live
Bonus Video – Return of The Crooklyn Dodgers