A Q&A with Ogun
Baltimore hip-hop veteran Kevin “Ogun” Beasley has been through a great deal since he was first featured in City Paper nearly four years ago. He’s released two solo albums and several mixtapes, as well as performed countless shows.
But most dramatically, last year a dispute with local DJ and promoter Pete “P-Funk” Lynch, whose wife accused Ogun of assault, resulted in the rapper being temporarily banned from several local venues and having to defend himself in court. Now acquitted of all charges, he’s moving on with a new mixtape, named for a title bestowed by his supporters during that ordeal, B-more Hero, and a partnership with Mike McIntosh’s influential Architects
Recording Studio. Ogun wanted to speak about the recent events in his life on the record, and Noise met with him at the Creative Alliance April 5.
City Paper: Your previous two solo projects, 2003′s The Movement and 2005′s Real on Purpose, were albums, so do you look at this new mixtape as an album, even with all the freestyles and collaborations?
Ogun: I don’t consider myself having an album, because the albums that we did, they’re more street-oriented, just tryin’ to put somethin’ out there to get the name goin’. They never came out in the stores per se, or on a national level. So the idea behind the mixtape was to use what we already established for sure, but me takin’ a transition into [working with Architects Recording Studio], it’s more of a reintroduction.
CP: And you’re only the second solo artist that Architects Recording Studios has released a mixtape by, after ShellBe RAW, right? Is this mixtape partly about just collecting all the songs you’ve done since your last album?
Ogun: For sure. I know for a fan . . . they would hear the mixtape and say, “I heard that song,” and, “That was on that,” which I can understand. But the mixtape is really a reintroduction for a national level, for people who have no idea. At the same time, anyone who has some idea [about my career], hopefully they can find somethin’ on there that they would like.
CP: It seems like something you’ve almost pioneered around here is getting a lot of artists from different camps on one track, like “Bmore Shit”–last year’s remix of Busta Rhymes’ “New York Shit” by Ogun, Tim Trees, Little Clayway, Comp, Mullyman, and ShellBe RAW–on the mixtape.
Ogun: ["Bmore Shit" is] old as hell. But we used that on the promo scheme. 92Q uses that hook in a promo a lot, a promo during the day, during the week. So people hear that, as if “yeah, that’s Ogun!” So we just wanted to use that kinda as a reference point, if someone doesn’t know Ogun but he’s kinda heard that before, like “what’s that song by so-and-so.”
But in general, as far as the collaborations, my whole vision is no one ever [collaborated] on that level. And now, it’s startin’ to be the new trend–like, “Fuck it, let’s get it done.” Which is all good with me, but I just know that it was a tension of “I’m so better that I don’t wanna be on that track with him.” And I feel like I broke that with ["Bmore Shit" and "Just Us"].
And if you look at the collaboration with “Just Us,” it wasn’t positive corny, but we didn’t cuss. I had to tell [the other rappers] that, because they come in, they wanna just pull the guns the out. But I really told ‘em, like, “Nah, we not cussin’, try to give some kind of message.”
Some people did better than others, but either way, it still had a small theme of “it’s just us.” And really, as far as hip-hop–and beyond hip-hop, but as far as hip hop–all we really got is the people who are really doin’ somethin’. Once we really see that, like how Bossman said he’s gonna start makin’ tracks with other people . . . we can see our power as far as comin’ together and the impact that it’ll make.
CP: And I saw recently that you resolved the whole issue with P-Funk?
Ogun: Yeah, actually I buried that personally; where I was, people were comin’ to me wantin’ to do somethin’. That situation was real deep. I went to court, I got on the stand. And I defended myself, like I was my lawyer. I was my lawyer askin’ questions, I was cross-examining.
So it’s like, it was hard to bury, and I made that song [the P-Funk diss track "Truth Serum"] after the fact. I didn’t make it before, because that’d add more to their quote-unquote case, which was nothing, because I didn’t do anything. But I got to the point after all that was over, where people were still comin’ up to me like, “If I see [P-funk] . . . ”
So I didn’t want that on me. So I went to [P-Funk], sayin’, “Let’s let it go, I’m not happy about what happened,” blah blah blah. So that’s definitely buried for sure. I hugged his wife.
CP: It felt really positive that you made that announcement on the Elements Party message board that you were cool with him, and that you didn’t put the song about him on the new mixtape.
Ogun: It was ugly, it was ugly. That song is dead. Even though somebody can buy Oil And Water 2 [Ogun's 2006 mixtape with Profound, which featured the diss track], and it’d be rehashed–I hate that kinda, where I might even recall the song. It was a bonus track, so it really doesn’t matter.
What I realized is that . . . if I came to an Elements Party, Timmy Grins was comin’ to me and sayin’, “Ogun, please don’t wild out,” when I came there to support. So I wanted to kind of erase that energy as much as possible, so people could see me and P-Funk at the same place. We shake hands now; we kinda leave it at that. At the end of the day, it’s not that deep for me. I didn’t get prosecuted, so it’s gone; it’s not on my record, nothin’. So, we gotta move on, that beef shit is wack, man, for sure.
CP: You’ve never really been a singles-oriented artist where people know you for one particular song.
Ogun: Right. One thing I do admit is that I don’t have that song. I have good songs that are tolerable and they get a vibe. But “that song”–that’s our new focus, to get four of those, five of those, and then just keep ‘em comin’. Flood it through the radio and the little media that we have [in Baltimore].
CP: Do you have any shows booked right now?
Ogun: We’re plannin’–I wish I had a date yet, but we don’t–but we’re plannin’ a release party. We kinda played up the Fusion event [at Creative Alliance in March] with the mixtape, but we’re gonna plan a release party, probably be in late April or early May. We’re tryin’ to just secure a spot. We don’t wanna do the average spot, but we don’t wanna make it so glamorous that you can’t wear any hip-hop attire.
From there, [our next show will be] the A.R.S. grand opening. [The studio has] a new building, so we’ve been workin’ on that for a long time. And from there we’re gonna start bringing back the Street Radio [mixtape series]. Once we got to the building stage, man, we be there every day, doin’ the work ourselves. It’s not like we hirin’ people; we really in there.
CP: So are you really a part of the Architechts team now?
Ogun: Actually, I’ve been hired by A.R.S. on a business tip, and I can sign, as far as a label-type situation. When the studio opens, I’m gonna manage the studio . . . as far as the CD duplication, I’ll manage that [too]. But we’ll see what happens; hopefully it won’t be too much for me to balance.
CP: Anything else you want to speak on?
Ogun: I just really wanna stress how adamant I feel about bein’ “B-more’s Hero.” Like I didn’t choose [the title] as just a cliché type of thing, a “king of Baltimore” type of thing . . . I wanna make songs that will touch everybody.
The average 16-year-old . . . even if a track calls for an “ughhh” type energy or aggressive type energy, I’m not pullin’ out my gun, I’m not throwin’ clips off at people. But I fit that energy, so it’s like, that energy for that particular song will grab that ear, and then from there they can hear the other song. But if I never grab ‘em, they’ll never hear anything, ’cause they like, “He conscious, he’s positive.”
It’s real sad, it’s real sad. On this mixtape are songs that I knew, like “Push It” [a freestyle over the Rick Ross song of the same name]. [Listeners] gon’ think they already knew that song, the beat is gonna grab them first. They could care less. And if I could just keep up the tempo and keep up the energy, then they gon’ like that song, that might be their favorite one on there.
But when they eventually listen, they can get attached to something that might have more meaning, more of a positive vibe behind it. But until they meet me off of that negative song, they’ll never get to the point where I really wanna take the people in general. So I really wanna stress the fact with B-more Hero that for every man, for every woman, I wanna be their real example.
I really feel like with this mixtape we’re gonna step out of our box. Because it’s not a boxed-in mixtape. It’s not all heart-driven, it’s not all positive, it’s not all negative, so we can definitely pitch it to the “masses,” where they gon’ pick and choose. At the same time, they have no reference point outside of the city. I mean the city is more than our “hip-hop community” that comes to 5 Seasons.
We really wanna start reaching people on a bigger scale . . . like art, you gotta have different paint, you gotta have different styles, because if I drew that rose or that flower every time, it’s like, who wanna look at flowers all day? So I wanna use different paint where it can be a gallery, vs. just one steady painting.
For more information about Ogun, visit www.myspace.com/realonpurpose.