Behind the scenes with Pimpton & JD Era [Interview]
Edmonton, AB – In between shows during the western leg of his KCMKV2 Tour, Regina’s rising star Pimpton made a stop in Edmonton for a two-day video shoot for “The Roaches vs. The Chosen.” Shot and directed by Big Shot Music, the video is set to be released on March 25 and features Canadian hip-hop legend Madchild and the Battleaxe Warrior’s newest member JD Era. If you haven’t checked out the teaser, you can peep it here.
I caught up with both Pimpton and JD Era, on set, after the video wrapped up on the second day of shooting (Jan. 19). Madchild had just enough time to get his verses shot before he had to dip, so unfortunately he couldn’t join us. However, while giving daps on his way out, you could see the love he had for this collaboration. The collaboration was one thing, but you could also see an honest brotherhood between the three MCs.
After celebrating [the shoot] with a little champagne and Hennessy; the three of us sat down for some genuine conversation. Check it all after the jump.
Pimpton & JD Era: Q&A
Interview conducted by Rosa Jason for HipHopCanada
Pimpton: Fuckin’ with Madchild – now I want it even more. This guy literally has the most solid fan base. Different than a fan of Jay Z – know what I mean? As fan of Jay Z, I like [Jay Z] because of his success, but these guys hang on to this dude’s every word – wearin’ fuckin’ biker jerseys and shit. There was like 100 people yesterday, just to volunteer. 100 fuckin’ people at this party just because they want to be a part of something Madchild is in.
HipHopCanada: It’s amazing because he’s been around for so long and it’s not something you see too often, as far as Canadian [hip-hop] artists go. A following of that nature –
Pimpton: He’s not loved because he’s famous, he’s loved because of these people that love him. After this trip – more and more Battleaxe Warriors are liking my shit.
HipHopCanada: As far as your affiliation [with Battleaxe] goes – are you a member?
Pimpton: Oh no, no – we’re just fuckin’ with Madchild cause he fuckin’ with us. That’s what it is.
JD Era: I consider myself an unofficial member – me and mad got so many fuckin’ songs. It’s like – I consider myself a part of CJE – know what I’m sayin’? Those are the homies. It’s a collective, those are my brothers, so if they move forward I move forward. As much as Madchild has the Battleaxe shit – whether you’re locked in or not locked in – we still party.
HipHopCanada: So between the two of you, how far back does that relationship go?
JD Era: Mad? or Pimpton?
HipHopCanada: With you two and then we’ll touch on Madchild.
JD Era: He reached out to me and showed love and was like, “Yo I want you on this joint.” I looked into some of his stuff and thought he was dope – he’s on the come up. For me it was more important that he was from another region, know what I’m sayin’? I’m always listening to who’s doing what in different places and I didn’t know any rappers in Saskatchewan, so for him to be the first [in my eyes], we gotta make this grow. I’m really big on the Canadian seen growing and just trying to be a part of that. That’s how we connected – we connected in person at the Junos and it’s just been all love ever since then.
HipHopCanada: And then with Madchild – how did he come into play with this project? Was it something you had been cooking up for a while?
JD Era: Mad actually mentioned it to me. I was in Van working with him and we did a couple joints and was just kickin’ it and he was like, “Yo I did this joint with Pimpton… Era you gotta get on this joint.” Then it just kind of turned from that. I already knew Pimpton so it was nothin – we already had that relationship.
Pimpton: With me – we had toured with him a few times when he did the Dope Sick album. We hit up all the Saskatchewan shows with him and [obviously] he saw us perform a couple of times, so he decided we were people he’d fuck with. From that day he gave us his personal cell phone number, and obviously we want to do work with you. My album was coming close to completion, I’m really trying to get you on this album. He told me to send him the track – that beat was actually already sold – but when I heard that beat I just pictured the way I’d see Madchild performing it; throwing his hands up and having people bouncin’ and shit. I told Merky Waters, “I need that beat. I can hear Madchild on that shit, I want that beat.” So he worked it out with the other homie and told him Pimpton was taking the track so he dropped it. I thought it was because he mentioned [Era] in my verse, but out of the blue Madchild was like, “You really need to reach out to Era and get him involved in this.” And they have their own history so that was just done, Era sent a fire-ass verse and that was that. Had you even heard Madchild’s?
JD Era: Yeah I had heard Mad’s at that point – actually you know what – he hadn’t even played me it. He just let me know he did it, know what I’m sayin’? And then he hit me – done and done.
Pimpton: Yeah and it was fast cause it was getting close to mastering time.
JD Era: [Laughs] Yeah you needed that, you were on my ass! I remember now.
Pimpton: [Laughs] Yeah that was live – everything came together so mint, so fuckin’ perfect. Mad fuckin’ slayed it – I grew up listening to Madchild cause Swollen Members was hot as fuck when I was getting into hip-hop –
HipHopCanada: They’re basically one of the first, as far as [Canadians] breaking out –
Pimpton: Exactly. And these guys that I brought with me, some of them are my 7 years old to now friends. And they were his die hard fans back then, so it’s crazy that he was willing to get down. And then past that he drops this verse and I showed to some of my old friends – they were pulling their hair out. He killed it. Sometimes you get a verse from someone famous or someone who’s already been in the industry and they’re lazy on it like, “Just pay me and fuck off.” Madchild – as far as business – it was like a family thing. It wasn’t like he treated me like I was just some guy who wanted a verse [from him]. Same with Era, honestly, Era coulda came at me on that weird shit too.
JD Era: I mean for me – it’s like learning from guys like Madchild. If Madchild can walk around without an ego and he’s been platinum in Canada for however many times, and toured the country however many times, and when he comes around he’s just mad cool. For me – I learn from guys like him cause he’s just willing to give gems. There’s only a handful of guys you can learn from in this country that put up numbers and really been through the game. Mad’s a guy that’s been through the bottom of it, to the top, hit the bottom again, and just rebuilt it. I just have so much respect for guys like that. And Pimpton’s just a hard worker, I like to keep myself surrounded by people like that, people that inspire me and keep me wanting to keep going. Cause I go through my slumps where I don’t want to do nothin’, I don’t want to do no rap shit. Then these guys send me a song, fuck, I’m back in [Laughs]. I tried to get out, now I gotta come shoot the video, I’m back.
HipHopCanada: And that’s when you know this is the place you need to be. You’ll have those moments when don’t want to rap, don’t want to write, you’re just done. But the minute you feel something, like the minute you heard that beat, you saw the vision. It’s enough to get you back on track.
So with all that being said about Canadian hip-hop, I wanted to touch down on your backgrounds. JD – with you being from Toronto – that’s a city that caters more to a hip-hop artist wanting to create a following. Not that it makes it easier, cause it’s hard no matter what city you’re in, but with you [Pimpton] coming from Regina; it isn’t exactly what you would call a “candidate city” for a hip-hop artist on the come up [Laughs].
Pimpton: [Laughs] Candidate city?
JD Era: [Laughs] The rap olympics won’t be there.
HipHopCanada: [Laughs] You know what I mean, you know what I’m saying. What steps did you take to create the fan base that you do? Not even just Regina, but the Prairies in general.
Pimpton: Honestly, hip-hop is about speaking and expressing yourself and I don’t think there’s anybody on the planet that doesn’t wish to do that. So it gives people a voice and I’m just someone who wants to say what I want to say. People just respect that you’re taking the effort and taking the risk. It just built off of that. At first it was like, “Oh you’re a rapper”, but now they see, “Oh it’s your career.” They address it as a career now. And it’s just consistency [I would say] beyond that, shove it down their throats, you know? It’s Pimpton, it’s everywhere.
HipHopCanada: Yes, you’re very well branded. Before I started with HipHopCanada I didn’t know a whole lot about you, but I saw how much the site [as a whole] – they’ve been showing you love since 2013. I can see how you’ve branded yourself and that’s how you make a name.
Pimpton: Past that you just try to put out quality material and throw a good show. Put yourself in it, make it your life, to me that’s my number one thing. If I go to a show – I don’t necessarily go home and listen to ACDC – but if I went to one of their concerts and I see someone enjoying what they’re doing, I enjoy that. I become a part of that, I engage with that so [to me] when you get on stage you make sure you know you enjoy what you do and they just fall in line.
HipHopCanada: And for you JD – coming from Toronto – it’s so competitive. Toronto is basically Canada’s New York when it comes to hip-hop. So for you – what steps did you take to branch out and make a name for yourself nationally?
JD Era: I came out in the battle scene. This was before King of the Dot [and all that stuff] so I started off on that freestyle circuit. I earned my name in a circuit where you can’t pay your way through, you had to have skills. If you didn’t have skills they’ll happily boo you cause there’s a gang of n***as from Scarborough in the crowd, then there’s a gang of n***as from Mississauga in the crowd and they’re all watchin’ you. You grew up with this half of people, know what I mean? So as big of a city as it is, it’s very small too. So you had to have skills just to get through. I came up at a time where that was necessary and the internet and YouTubes where just starting. My generation is the first guys on YouTube, first guys on MySpace – it was just kind of a combination that gave me that local respect and using innovative ways to get the music out. No one was giving me money to record an album, that was what the thinking was back then. You needed a budget to record your album so I was like, “Yo fuck it – let’s just record some mixtapes, throw these things online, and hopefully people will start to catch it.” That’s what started to take off. I don’t know if I was lucky to be around at that time, where guys like me and Drake and Richie Sosa, we had MySpace’s poppin’. But it just worked out that way. That’s where I came up from.
HipHopCanada: So let’s talk about your local following transitioning into to a national following. With Much Vibe showing you love for your videos “Pom Pom wit Killa Inside” and “Little Darnell” –
Pimpton: “Little Darrell” [Laughs]
HipHopCanada: [Laughs] Darrell – Sorry!
Pimpton: Yeah everyone does that. It’s ok. [Laughs]
HipHopCanada: Since those videos have been on rotation, what progress have you seen in your career? Like what kind of push –
Pimpton: It’s a huge push to be on TV because everyone around you immediately assumes they were right for backing you up. Know what I mean? It’s a pride thing on their level like “Not only do I know him, I’ve been down with him since day one.” So for that it made the fan base I already had even stronger. It unified us in that way that now everyone felt like they contributed to that occurring. Know what I mean? To that level of success. Then past that, obviously now you go places and random people occasionally stop you, and then I can push it down their throat. It’s Pimpton. But I wouldn’t go to the level that I’m nationally recognized, I am recognized in various corners of the nation, but it seems like it’s still a core following on that level. Those are generally, to my knowledge, people I have already interacted with or promoted myself too. It’s not like I’m just broadcasted and everybody knows me without knowing me. To my knowledge anyways. There’s obviously people who catch it on Much Vibe when it’s on rotation, but other than that, it’s just really strengthened what’s already been built.
HipHopCanada: Also with touring and promoting the album [“Killa Call Me Killa”] that’s obviously going to give you more exposure.
Pimpton: That shit has been huge!
HipHopCanada: Is this your first headlining tour?
“Honestly, hip-hop is about speaking and expressing yourself and I don’t think there’s anybody on the planet that doesn’t wish to do that.” – Pimpton
Pimpton: Definitely the first successful one. We’ve tried before and ran out of money after the first two shows, we just didn’t know what the hell we were doing. We tried to organize it, got paid, the first show was a success, the second show flopped. We were paying for so much shit that it became a deficit, it fucked up our funds completely and now we can’t just drive across the country [Laughs]. Know what I mean? Now we gotta go back and make money again. That was a learning experience, you know? Evidently we had to grow our fanbase to create this thing that all the venues call “pull”, to have a certain draw to have these people –
HipHopCanada: Bring the crowds in.
Pimpton: Yeah so we had to go back to basics and start working on that before you really push for a tour. Now this tour so far – everyday there’s like 20 new friends, 20 new followers –
HipHopCanada: And that’s what you want, that chain reaction.
Pimpton: Yeah exactly, we’re collecting.
HipHopCanada: So how deep are you into the tour now?
Pimpton: We’re about half way. It’s a western tour and then when I’m closer to the end of my school semester, we’ll do the eastern side.
HipHopCanada: So JD – are you playing a part in the tour?
JD Era: 100 percent. Like I said that’s family, that’s like a little bro to me; so he can’t do eastern and [inaudible]. You know you gotta spot, you know you gotta home cooked meal down the street. That’s just natural.
HipHopCanada: And that will be a huge show. You’re going to do a show in Toronto?
JD Era: Well we’ve been working on the dates and what not. I’m going on the road in the spring, so it will be perfect timing whether I throw him on my dates or I come out for a couple of his. It just connected that way.
HipHopCanada: Where in your art do you feel you have evolved the most? Whether it’s your flow, lyricism, your style. Where do you think from 2013 – to now – have you evolved the most?
Pimpton: I would definitely have to say the business aspect of it. As fas as my art – every time I approach any kind of beat – every time I write, I write my lyrics based on how the beat makes me feel. Honestly someone could tell me to write about whatever, and I could take any kind of topic and it’s gonna sound the way that I was really feeling. The flow is gonna come out the way the beat tells me to interpret it. It’s not gonna be like I hear, for instance, a Migos flow and then rap like this. Anything I do is literally down to where I hear the drum patterns and all of that shit. So as far as my evolution on that, I feel like I evolve every time I attempt to try a new beat. Every single time. So I wouldn’t say that between 2013 it’s any different. Obviously I know new things, so the way it will influence me will be different, but beyond that I’m always going to be expressing myself in the moment every time I hear it.
As far as my art as a whole, it’s really the way that I’ve come to learn to present it. Even this KCMKV2 thing – even down to this video being filmed today – we planned this last year. We planned all of this shit and that’s why I’m saying – it became crunch time to get Era and Madchild on the track. We were already working on it and this was what needs to be happening by the time we cross that bridge [next year]. We sat down and looked at what songs were going to be the radio singles. Awet and I, strategically. Even the last single was “My Day.” We’re really close certain Roughriders in the city and they’ve been pushing us for the last year to write a Riders anthem. I feel like if I just try to write a Riders anthem it would just be corny and it wouldn’t be me.
HipHopCanada: It wouldn’t be authentic.
Pimpton: Exactly. So when I heard the “My Day” song I was like, “Well this shit is about the struggle.” It’s obviously the struggle I encountered in Saskatchewan so this should be the Riders’ anthem. Just let it be a normal song and Rider-theme it out and that’s what we did. It’s a Saskatchewan-bred song now, it caught the fire we expected. It was posted after the video “All Men Are Mortal.” The video concept for that was on this revolutionary, slave history, really controversial themes and it shocked people. Canada loves to brush shit under the rug, they don’t want to see this. We submitted the video to Much Music and the screening people literally told us, “Yo Pimp, the video is too real. The first 10 seconds where you’re getting whipped on the back, it’s too real we can’t broadcast that on Canadian television.” That was a compliment to me, I took that in stride, like word I know you ain’t ready for that shit.
HipHopCanada: I agree, and not that I want to compare us to the States but it’s hard not too since we’re next door, but we do sugarcoat everything. We hide it under the rug and people don’t know these kinds of things happen. For example: I (personally) was very vocal about Eric Garner, Mike Brown and Trayvon Martin. A lot of my peers and people around me, they just didn’t get it.
Pimpton: Yeah like, “Why are you even talking about it? How does it affect you?”
HipHopCanada: How does it not?
Pimpton: People are dying out there. What the fuck do you think this is? Canada is on that, but whatever, as time passes we will be the ones in power. Eventually we’ll be the ones in power, so everything will have to change at that point. Even what I’m saying, is as backwards as it sounds, because I know people my age that are as conservative as the line. They’re my age and they were raised like that. Nurturing plays such a crucial role because they were raised like that and they think that’s right, and they’ll defend that with their life. They don’t see the side of the people that are struggling on behalf of that rightness. This is the way it is and they’ll accept it.
HipHopCanada: I love Canada, don’t get me wrong, but that’s almost the Canadian way: you see what you want to see and we’ll leave it at that. So I love seeing artists like you who actually step out of that box and let people know, it’s not an easy thing to do in these parts.
Pimpton: Exactly and that’s the point. That video, the attention that it got, it was met both ways; “good for you for pushing” and the others are like “hide my eyes and don’t show that to my children.” But like I said, the follow up to that was the “My Day” video and we had planned it out like that. Now all of a sudden they forgot about that shit already. Now they’re like, “Pimpton loves Saskatchewan! 306!.”
HipHopCanada: They see something that’s relatable.
Pimpton: And I love it. To me obviously either you’re confused or you just don’t understand that you also love that other shit. You just don’t get it, cause this is all one package. This is all being funnelled from the same source.
HipHopCanada: I think that’s brilliant to put that out after. Maybe that will give the more conservative follower/fan to look back and see what he’s talking about.
Pimpton: My views went up on “All Men” after “My Day.”
HipHopCanada: I love it. So we’ll wrap this up, other than the video dropping, what other upcoming projects should we be looking out for?
Pimpton: Definitely, like Era was saying, a big tour coming up. Aside from that, I want to get in the booth. I’ve been trying to do an EP or an LP with Era for a minute now. That’s definitely what I would consider one of the next moves.
JD Era: We definitely got some new shit comin’. We gotta couple records people haven’t even heard yet. Like I said, it’s just kind of naturally we just get in the studio and just start cookin’. One record turns into four, four turns into an EP. Just look out for new music, more music, new records from us, a couple from other friends getting involved in some of this stuff
HipHopCanada: More collaborations.
JD Era: 100 percent. And that’s all the way around and of course I always gotta throw out clothing. Know what I mean? Merch game heavy [Laughs]. And that’s a beautiful thing to see, like the merch game, just guys being on their business. There’s not enough guys that are on top of their stuff, know what I’m sayin’? So when I see the homies comin’ up and they’re on point with certain things, you gotta encourage them. You gotta keep them moving cause I didn’t have guys – I did – there were certain guys like Kardi and Madchild. When I was young, brand new coming in, they would give me tips “Maybe you should do it this way and maybe you shouldn’t say this.” They’d give me little gems, that’s what the OG’s are great for and unfortunately, at some point in time, I turn from a young boy to an OG. That’s how the game goes. Staying in tune with what’s new and the guys that are putting in work; it’s like 101 with rap. You know who the best at it is? And I don’t mean to throw this interview off, but Maestro Fresh Wes, that’s one of my biggest mentors. Fresh Wes, he’s a guy that no matter what, Fresh could be 90 and he’s always going to be in tune with what’s happening. When you live hip-hop, when you breathe it there’s no faking it. You’re just a part of it, so I’m just trying to get my roots in this thing and kind of get to that level. I’d love to get to his level.
HipHopCanada: Well I’d say both of you are on the right track. So we’ll end with any last words to the HipHopCanada community?
Pimpton: Shout-out to HipHopCanada for all the love and support, shout-out to Sarah for putting in a good word and being a fuckin’ homie. I actually met her for the first time just recently and it was dope as fuck. Shout-out to the squad CJE, shout-out to JD Era, his whole following, Madchild, Baxwar, my manager, all my homies that rolled out on the trip with us. Pretty much everyone who supports, shout-out to you.
JD Era: Shout-out Pimpton man, that’s it. It’s not my interview. Shout-out Pimpton, it’s about him. My brother’s gonna shine and I’m here to support any way I can.
Interview conducted and recorded by Rosa Jason for HipHopCanada
Twitter: @ThePimpton | @JDEra | @ Madchild57
Tags: Battle Axe Records, Battleaxe Warriors, BAXWAR, Big Shot Music, Black Market Music Group, CJE, Crown Jewelz Enterprsie, Drake, JD Era, Kardinal Offishall, Madchild, Maestro Fresh Wes, Merky Waters, Much Vibe, Pimpton, Richie Sosa
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