Many iconic hip hop artists rose to fame during the mid 80s – early 90s earning this time period the title of “The Golden Age of Hip Hop”. One such duo is made up of lyricists Andre Weston (aka Drayz) and Willie Hines (aka Skoob), better known as Das EFX. Hailing from New York and New Jersey the two met during their time at Virginia State University where they caught the attention of legendary hip hop artists EPMD during a local talent show. Soon after Das EFX went on to sign a recording contract and began releasing albums and hitting the charts.
Known for their distinctive lyrical delivery Das EFX easily stood out while working along side artists like Ice Cube and EPMD. Soon other rappers began picking up on their style which eventually grew to become a core sound in the world of hip hop which is still being used in songs today. Imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery but there is no denying that Das EFX are the originators. Due to the widespread use of their style amongst fellow greats like Common and Public Enemy its safe to say that you would have a hard time finding an artist in the hip hop community today whose work has not in some way been influenced by Das EFX’s signature sound. They have forever cemented their place in the history of hip hop and continue to make music and influence new artists some thirty years later.
I recently had the honor of speaking with Drayz and Skoob to find out more about not only their beginnings in the music industry but what they have been working on in recent years. With all that they have experienced through the years their insight and advice to future artists are invaluable. In speaking with these two men it is easy to see why they are so well respected and influential in the hip hop world and beyond.
DAS EFX INTERVIEW:
TAMMY: What is your favorite memory from the beginning stages of your career?
Drayz: My fav memory is when we did our 1st show in New York at a club down town. All the industry people/big shots/shot callers and insiders were there because of our buzz and being discovered by EPMD. They wanted to see who this group was all about and looked and sounded so different. They wanted to see if we could deliver, and we did…BIG TIME!!
Skoob: For me it was the progression. It went from writing rhymes in the crib and letting the team hear them to actually recording in the studio. Then from recording okay songs to recording bangers. Having bangers recorded to letting people hear them as well as perform them. Performing at a rap battle to getting discovered. Getting discovered to signing a record deal.. The rest is history.
TAMMY: You are among some of the most respected pioneers in the rap/hip hop genre. How do you feel the industry has changed since the early days? (positive/negative).
Drayz: What I’ve learned about the “game” is it is always changing. The 80’s was different from the 90’s and the 2000’s are taking it in a new, like it or not direction. Don’t like it? Do somethin’ about it like make a song and get a situation and get fans to start your movement.
Skoob: “THE COMPUTER”!! It’s a lot easier to get exposure and get your music heard. There was a time when you would go into record labels and A&R’s would have boxes and desk drawers full of demos (majority of them probably never got heard). Now, if you’re looking for a new act, they’re right there at your fingertips via social media. From an artists perspective, you can wake up and record in your own home anytime as opposed to having to book studio time.. convenience
TAMMY: What do you miss the most about the early days of rap?
Drayz: I miss us all having major deals, songs all over the radio, videos playing 24/7 and touring, networking, getting paid for our contribution to music…Oh wait…besides the major deal part, we’re still doing those things!! We’re still doing us.
Skoob: Mainstream diversity. For instance, you could have Das EFX coexist with Arrested Development and UGK etc. You probably won’t see a combination like that at some of the bigger shows or radio playlists today.
TAMMY: Who are some of your greatest influences both personally and professionally?
Drayz: Personally my pops who always told and tells me to go for it! Professionally I like any rapper who has paid dues and clawed up out the mud and got major exposure. The grind and hustle is real. I might dig your music but I can recognize hard work.
Skoob: Personally, a lot of family and friends(too many to name). Professionally, I’ve come across a lot of people in all genre’s of entertainment. If I had a dollar for every time I became star struck when meeting certain people.. whew! But what always stood out to me was, when I would meet some of those people (Jerry Seinfeld for example). They were humble, down to earth just regular people. Then I would go home and see them on tv like oh sh%t, I was just with that person. Entertainers who didn’t take themselves too seriously were a huge influence on me.
TAMMY: How does it feel to have been such a big influence for so many artists such as Outkast, Jay-Z, Common Sense, Keith Murray, etc.?
Drayz: It feels great.
TAMMY: Your music has really stood the test of time and is highly recognizable across a large fan base. What can your fans expect from Das EFX in the future? Any new projects?
Drayz: From DAS hopefully soon and from me I have music floating all over the net just google Krazy Drayz.
Skoob: I have some new music on deck. You’ll get a whiff of it before the year is out. And a DAS joint most definitely.
TAMMY: What advice do you have for young people out there today who are pursuing their dream of making a name for themselves in the music industry?
Skoob: Treat this as you would treat any other job. You start at the bottom and bust ya ass to get to the top. Once you’re there, that’s when the real work begins.
To be an artist and maintain a fan base for any time period is an accomplishment in itself. However, to dedicate your life to music and inspiring others through your work means that your legacy will live on forever. This is certainly the case with Das EFX. These men are true artists who have continued to grow and experiment with their sound spanning over decades of time. I will always appreciate their work and the contributions that they have made in the progression of the hip hop genre. I will continue to look forward to hearing all of the music that they have yet to release for years to come.