Breakfast With Domino


Domino reached out to us and we took the opportunity to pick his brain a bit. This is for all the Hiero fans out there so check it out and get hip to Hiero 101. –Philaflava

How did you meet Del and the rest of Hiero?


I was introduced to Del through Dante Ross, at the time an A&R at Elektra who signed Del. I used to rent the back room of a SF record store Groove Merchant where Dante was shopping and we became friends basically through our similar tastes in records. I played him some of my tracks and he said I had talent and was gonna help me out. Ultimately he told Del about me, and he and A-plus came to my house and listened to beats. This was before the release of “I wish My Brother…” but after it had been recorded.

A month ago we did a piece on the Unkut interview with Dante Ross and we touched on his comments about Del’s “No Need For Alarm” album, care to lend your thoughts?

I mostly agree with Dante about No Need for Alarm being a no chorus/freestyle type of album with very little song structure when when it was first delivered. I will give you the complete story of that album from my stand point since I was around for most of the sessions.
Around late 91′, Del felt like “I Wish My Brother George Was Here” didn’t truly represent who he was as an artist and more importantly, a lyricist. For the most part Ice Cube controlled what did or did not go on the album and Del grew to dislike his “Funky Human Being” image/sound. Most of what Del recorded at home with the rest of his Oakland crew sounded nothing like what on his first album. When it came time to do singles for IWMBGWH, Del was given free reign to release whatever he pleased on the b-side. It was on these singles that Del did Burnt and Eye Examination, songs that most reflect what Del was truly on at that period. By early 92′, Souls of Mischief and Casual were getting signed and set off to do records about the same time Del was getting ready to start album number 2. This album was to be be recorded in the Bay Area and not in LA under Cube’s control thus Del was able to totally spread his wings, at least he thought.

Del was booked for a long lockout and started recording songs for what was to be his new album. In the mist of this work, Street Knowledge (Cubes company) sent a Paul Stewart up to check on the progress and take back copies of the 8-10 songs Del had recorded already. Word got back that Cube didn’t like anything he heard so Del went back into the studio and literally had the engineer (Matt Kelley) erase all he had recorded to start from scratch. (The only copies of those songs that exist were whomever had a rough mix cassette from the sessions. A few songs, “Neighborhood” and “What Do You say” are on Hiero Oldies and one, “In n Out”, was re-recorded for the album. Del then recorded most of what would become No Need For Alarm with me and the rest of the Hiero crew focusing on what we were on at that time, lyrical skills.

Souls’ 93 til and Casual’s Fear Itself were being recorded at the same time in the same studio so all those 3 albums were in a lot of ways a joint effort. By the time we were done, Cube had basically stopped checking on Del and we delivered most of what was the album directly to Dante. Dante felt that the album was ok but mostly a bunch of freestyles and lacked structure and hooks that was needed for singles. Dante had him come to NY and they recorded “Boo Boo Heads” and “Treats For The Kiddies” to round out the album.

One thing I will always remember around that time was Cube told Del, “your crew makes good beats but they’re not producers” and in hindsight, he was right. I think No Need For Alarm wasn’t as well put together as IWMBGWH and certainly wasn’t as commercial. At the same time, I believe it was the right record for Del to do at that point in his career because it established him as a lyrically progressive artist and helped get him the type of longevity that another IWMBGWH wouldn’t have given him.
What is your favorite self-produced track?
“After Dark” is my all time favorite track that I produced. Mainly because of the many different sources of samples that matched so well together on the song. I also love Pep’s performance on it, a perfect blend with the intensity of the track. I still get pumped when we do it live.

What is your favorite Hiero song?

Very hard to say but a few that stand out are”Make Your Mind Up” by SOM, “Thats How It Is Pt 2” by Casual feat A-Plus. A few Del Demo’s, “Captain America” and “What Do You Say” still blow my mind when I hear them. As did “Eye Examination” when I first heard it. I obviously can’t just say one.

Is there a lot of unreleased material in the Hiero vaults?

Yes, there is a lot of stuff but honestly most of the best work has been shared in one way or another through our Hiero Oldies releases. When I initially compiled them, I took what I felt was the strongest stuff we had done. Lots of the remaining stuff are cool demos but nothing to the level of the oldies songs, which I felt were as good as anything we had released on labels.

Can you elaborate on the Snupe situation?
Snupe just didn’t fit where we were heading musically and there were also a few incidents between him and other crew members that made it best that we part ways.

Let’s talk about Opio’s progression as a producer. He didn’t produce until the 2nd SOM LP so did you have anything to do with him becoming a producer?

I am sure he was influenced somewhat by me and the rest of the producers in Hiero but I believe it was something he wanted to do all along. I remember him buying a ASR-10 after the release of the 1st SOM album and just started making beats. There was a lot of tough love and jabs from us about his early work but he eventually came into his own nicely.

You disappeared for a few Hiero solos during the late 90s such as Future Development, Meanwhile, Focus, and 2 For 15, any reason why?

I was heavily involved in Future Development and in fact, “At The Helm” and “No Nuts” were originally recorded for that album. I was in the studio everyday and had input on every song he did. The Opio-produced “Oakland Blackouts” is another original Future Dev song.
I wasn’t involved in Meanwhile or Focus because they were both a compilation of songs recorded at home by those guys. 2 for 15 was done after Snupe left Hiero although I recall being at one session, I didnt have much to do with it.

How many “classic” albums do you feel Hiero has in their catalog as a whole? And what are they?

I don’t think I should be the one who says which of our albums are classics. That’s best left for the fans and people who know our music. The album I personally liked the best is Hieroglyphics “Third Eye Vision.”

In your opinion rank the following in terms of lyrical ability; Del, Pep or Casual?

Come on, thats like asking someone, who’s their favorite child (laughs). I’ll just say that Del is by far the best emcee I’ve ever been around in terms of originality combined with an amazing use of the English language. The best thing about all the emcees in Hiero is that they are all dope but still different from each other.

What is the most slept on Hiero album?
Pep Love “Ascension” is the most slept on Hiero album.

Where was the video for You Never Know shot?
The video was shot in Hawaii.

Will there be another Hieroglyphics album?
I don’t know. It is becoming more and more difficult to get everyone together and focused. We tend to revisit the subject frequently so hopefully it will catch one of these times.

Outside of hip-hop what are some artists/albums you really enjoy?

Current non-Hip-Hop artists I most enjoy are Radiohead and Amp Fiddler. If you’re talking about all time, I’d be hard pressed to name just one, some that I love off the top of my head like The Beatles, Curtis Mayfield, Fela Kuti, James Brown, Donny Hathaway and of course lately I’ve been listening to alot of MJ (RIP). For the most part I just listen to my iPod on shuffle so the variety is massive.

What are some non-Hiero artists you’d like to work with?

I’d love to work with Redman, Cee-lo or Rakim

Who are you 3 favorite producers of all time?

3 favorite Hip-Hop producers of all time are, Dr. Dre, The Bomb Squad and The Beatnuts.

Who are your 3 favorite current producers?

Currently it’s Just Blaze, Dan The Automator and Jake One.

Best Bay Area athlete- Rickey Henderson or Jason Kidd?

I’m from SF, definitely Barry Bonds!!

What new material can we expect from the Hiero camp?
I am finally working on a production album which will have many Hiero cameos as well as others.
Any last words?

I want to send much love to all the people who have showed us love through the years. Ya’ll have been a force in spreading the Hiero word to those not knowing. Keep asking questions and coming up to talk at shows because I really enjoy interacting with ya’ll. Ya’ll passion definitely helps keep me motivated

Hiero Producer Series: Domino

Domino – Production Files Volume 1
1. Pep Love & Jay-Biz – Sailing
2. Pep Love, Jay-Biz & Del – Anasthesia
3. Pep Love & Jay-Biz – The Blues
4. Casual – Fear No Evil (Demo)
5. Casual, Opio & Tajai – Rippers (Demo)
6. Souls Of Mischief – Our Secret (Demo)
7. Del – No Need For Alarm
8. Del, Casual, Snupe & A-Plus – No More Worries
9. Del – Don’t Forget
10. Souls Of Mischief – Let ‘Em Know
11. Souls Of Mischief – Live And Let Live
12. Souls Of Mischief – Disseshowedo
13. Souls Of Mischief – What A Way To Go Out
14. Souls Of Mischief – Make Your Mind Up (Remix)
15. Souls Of Mischief – Cab Fare (Remix)
16. Souls Of Mischief – 93 Outro


For volumes 2-4 click here

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