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Spooks - “Infiltrating Your Mind Through Music”
Contributed by: Todd E Jones aka New Jeru Poet
Source: The Elements
Posted on: October 24, 2003 04:16 MST
Filed under: Rap

spooks

"Spooks is on some other script." Well, that's what they say. In the U.S., most people remember Spooks for their cinematic video for "Things I've Seen", which starred Laurence Fishburne. In Europe, Spooks became very well known and well respected. Originally, Spooks consisted of 5 members. There were 4 emcees: Hypno, Booka-T, Water Water, and Joe Davis. Then, there was one sultry, sexy, and soulful vocalist by the name of Ming Xia. Many comparisons were made to The Fugees because of the mixture of live instrumentation, soulful singing, and rapping with a positive message. The novel by Sam Greenle called "Spook Who Sat By The Door" inspired the name. Not only does the word "spook" have a ghostly quality to it, "spook" was also a name for someone who infiltrated the C.I.A., caused changes, and stirred things up. In 2000, their debut album was released on Antra Records / Artemis Records (Antra was founded by Kurupt of The Dogg Pound). "S.I.O.S.O.S. Volume One" consisted of 14 songs that had atmospheric instrumentation, intelligent rhymes, and soulful yet unique singing by Ming Xia. While Ming Xia does have a love for R&B and soul music, the vocals of Ming Xia tend to also have influences by Bjork, The Cranberries, Sinead O'Conner, and Portishead. "S.I.O.S.O.S." stood for "Spooks is on some other script" and that was the truth. On the surface, Spooks appeared to be another hip-hop group with live instrumentation, emcees, and a female singer. When people dug deeper, they realized that Spooks were always on another level and doing something very different from the typical music that floods television and radio. Along with "Things I've Seen", their debut album had other classic emotional tracks like "Karma Hotel" and "The Mission". Years went by and many people wondered if Spooks would end up one of those one-album novelty acts. Eventually, Spooks lost Water Water as a member. In 2003, they return with a new album on a new label. Koch Records just released "Faster Than You Know". On this new album, Spooks have upped the ante as they perfected their production skills and learned how to engineer in the recording studios. While most of the songs are produced by members of Spooks (Tongue Production), the new album also has production by Pitch Black, Supa Dav West and Da Beatminerz. "Faster Than You Know" has more songs about relationships and even a couple of party tracks. "Faster Than You Know" also has Charlie 2na of Jurassic 5 and Lady Alma as guests. On a warm autumn evening in 2003, I talked to Ming Xia, Hypno, and Booka-T of the Spooks about music, hip-hop, sex, politics, and more. Spooks have made their mark and they are not going anywhere. Right after this interview took place, Water Water passed away in an automobile accident in Washington D.C. Not only are Spooks creating soulful, intelligent and different music, but also they now have a tragedy to deal with. With conscious rhymes and a unique soulful voice of Ming Xia, Spooks infiltrate not only the music industry but also the minds of everyone who listens.

T.JONES: "What goes on?"
MING XIA: "Yo, yo, yo! Hi!"
BOOKA-T: "Right now, I'm in New York, coming home from football practice."
HYPNO: "We just got back from Europe. It was crazy. It was a lot of fun and real busy too. There was a lot of promotion and all of the shows. We did really well. We were interested in seeing how people are going to react because we have the new album, 'Faster Than You Know', which is all new material. Live, we did a lot of new material."

T.JONES: "The new album is called 'Faster Than You Know'. Tell us about it?"
HYPNO: "I don't know. It's good, man! So far, the feedback is good. I sure that everybody thinks that their album is good but we really concentrated on this record to really try to bring quality to the people in a time where a lot of people are scared to buy records because you may get like two good singles and that's it or something."

T.JONES: "Who did the production for the new album?"
BOOKA-T: "Evil D, from Da Beatminerz, did a song called 'Still Gonna Do It'. Another 3 songs were done by Pitch Black. They did 'Faster Than You Know' with Charlie 2na of Jurassic 5 on there. They did 'Change'. They also did a song called 'Deadly'. We have a song called 'Crazy' that is like a funky relationship / party joint and Dav West produced that track. West did production for Talib Kweli as well as De La Soul. Dav West is also singing the chorus on 'Crazy'."

T.JONES: "What is the meaning behind the title 'Faster Than You Know'?"
HYPNO: "We just thought that a lot of things in life hit you faster than you know. Even though it has been a long time since the last Spooks album, life for us has been moving fast. We were trying to build our own studio."
BOOKA-T: "We changed deals too. We thought that it was just a theme that governed the whole album."
HYPNO: "Once things got started in terms of writing and producing the album, we had a lot of momentum, that was building up, in terms of coming up with songs, hot joints. We actually probably wrote around 36 songs and decided to put 17 on the album. On the album, we painted a lot of different pictures of situations that happen in life. The title 'Faster Than You Know' also refers to the fact that if you make the wrong choice, your life can change drastically. That's why we painted a lot of different situations and different scenarios that you can choose from to determine how things can turn out."

T.JONES: "Do you have a favorite song on the 'Faster Than You Know'?"
BOOKA-T: "I don't know. It changes daily, you know? All the songs are like your children. I like the song 'In On It' a lot. We let the musicians do their thing on the end of it."
MING XIA: "That's always hard to choose. I'm sure everyone says that because every song means something different to them. I guess 'Deadbeat' would be the most personal because it deals with the deadbeat dad situation and it affects me personally, in my family. That song is the most personal. Also, I think everyone in the group can relate to it in some way, shape, or form. It just became something really intricate and moving and everyone added their own spin on it. It came out to be a really good track."

T.JONES: "How is this LP different from 'S.I.O.S.O.S.'?"
MING XIA: "It's more personal for us, I think not only because we engineered it but the songs are more personal to us. The songs are also more cohesive. On 'S.I.O.S.O.S.', we touched on different topics than on 'Faster Than You Know'. On this new album, lyrically, we upped the ante. We had deep lyrics in the first album but the only problem with that it went over people's heads. On 'Faster Than You Know', I think it will hit a more diverse group of people than the first album. The new album sounds more together. I had a friend tell me, 'It's great! It sounds more like Spooks.' He meant that we sounded more like a group instead of a whole bunch of emcees and a featured singer."
HYPNO: "I believe that 'Faster Than You Know' is different from 'S.I.O.S.O.S.' because it's more cohesive. Not only that, but you can determine which emcee is which better on 'Faster Than You Know' while on 'S.I.O.S.O.S.', a lot of people had problems determining who Booka-T and who Hypno was and the others by the way we were flowing in and out. With this album, I believe that you can really tell the difference. Sonically, there's a big difference too. We used live instrumentation all throughout this album as well as 'S.I.O.S.O.S.' but on this one, I believe that the album was recorded richer and the music was layered a bit more. 'Faster Than You Know' has a bit of a richer feeling to it. I believe that it is a bit heavier bass-wise. Sonically, the drums are more hard-hitting. There is a cohesiveness that is even better than 'S.I.O.S.O.S.'. On the new album, we also had more songs that tackled and dealt with relationships. On 'S.I.O.S.O.S.', we basically had one song that dealt with relationships but on this new one, we have at least four of them. I think that the average person, even if they are not a fan of Spooks, can listen to this album and relate to a lot it."

T.JONES: "Ming, being the only female in the group, what is that dynamic like? What obstacles have you faced?"
MING XIA: "Trying to freestyle on the spot. (Laughs). I don't know if there really are any obstacles. Of course, it's great being the only female singer. It definitely adds to the sound of what we do. At the same time, without the different personalities of the emcees, it wouldn't be Spooks even if there weren't a singing element in there. I've known everybody in the group for so long and we know where each other are musically. Sometimes we have creative disagreements or arguments but I think you get that with every group. It happens even more if you are in a close-knit group. It's great being the only girl and sometimes it's not. Sometimes, I wish I had some more girls around me to talk about girl things. At the end of the day, I wouldn't have it any other way."

T.JONES: "After 'S.I.O.S.O.S.' was released, were Spooks labeled as a consciousness group?"
BOOKA-T: "I think so. I think that is also a title that is not difficult to get though in this day and time because so few emcees aren't talking about anything at all. So, if you are talking about anything deep or important, you'll get that label. With 'S.I.O.S.O.S.', we got that label in a lot of circles. On this album, we may get that label a lot more. We don't shoot for that but we just try to kick the real story and the whole story. We try to stick to reality. It's not like we are trying to preach or anything. This is really what it is. If I say, 'Clean up the block and raise some kids', that's real. I don't care how gangsta a rapper is, he doesn't want his kids to live that life."

T.JONES: "Before there were 5 of you, now there are 4. Water Water is not a member anymore. What happened?"
BOOKA-T: "Yeah, we make it a policy to kick a member out every year. (Laughs). Next time, it'll be three of us. Nah, man. Water Water had stuff to do. He had some things he wanted to focus on that didn't really involve The Spooks. We talked about it and we agreed that it was best for him to pursue that."
HYPNO: "Actually, the original Spooks were Joe Davis, myself and Booka-T. I, Hypno, was solo. Ming was solo and Water Water was solo. We all planned to do solo projects as well as different variations of Spooks, with other members as well. I guess Water Water's project was the first project to pop up. We always had that plan."

T.JONES: "What happened with your involvement with Antra? How and why did you get involved with Koch?"
BOOKA-T: "Antra and Artemis were going through some changes. We were really trying to get our situation straight for this next album. We left because they were experiencing some challenges as far as exposure over here in the U.S. Things were a lot better when they were working the record in Europe. But here, where people would listen to it, we would accumulate fans but not enough exposure was given. The record label also had their issues so we pretty much parted ways right on the verge, when we began recording the next album. We hunted for a better situation. We were able to find that with Koch."

T.JONES: "How did Spooks come together and form?"
BOOKA-T: "Spooks hooked up in 1995. Originally, there were 11 members. I went to college with Ming Xia in New York. I met Hypno through a mutual friend and I was already in a crew with Joe Davis. We all became friends and hooked up through the mic sessions and freestyles in studios. Any member was working on their own projects but we decided to hook up and do a couple of songs together for fun, just to see how it would turn out. People really felt the songs that we did. We noticed that people dug us and we were gaining exposure as a group more than individually. Basically, we decided to stick together and try our hand as a crew. That's how Spooks were born."

T.JONES: "Do you go into the studio with pre-written rhymes, lyrics and themes or do you hear the beat first and write then and there?"
HYPNO: "I think it happens a number of different ways but generally, I think a lot of times, we know what music we are going to be rhyming to before hand. There have been times where the rhymes, or at least the concepts of the rhymes, are what dictated the songs. Particularly in the case where Booka-T, Ming Xia and myself has a production company called Tongue Productions. We produced about half of this album. Actually, about 90% of it. In those cases, when Booka-T and Ming Xia write a lot of times, the concept is what leads and then, they build a particular story around that particular concept. Me, I often times work the opposite way where I make music and then, later I try to understand the music and think how I can bring it out with lyrics."

T.JONES: "Charlie 2na did the title track but generally, Spooks does not use guest emcees. Is that done for a reason? Why did you choose to have guests on the new album? Who else do you have as a guest?"
HYPNO: "On this album, you're going to see a lot more of that. Not a lot more, but we have at least 2 guest emcees in the form of Charlie 2na of Jurassic 5 and also Aulpurpis, who is from a Philly crew named Prophets Of The Ghetto. Actually, Aulpurpis is on tour with Cash Money in Japan. Anyway, we also have Lady Alma and Dav West, Tiffany Bacon and Evil D who all make some kind of vocal appearances."

T.JONES: "How did you hook up with Charlie 2na of Jurassic 5? What was that collaboration like?"
BOOKA-T: "We actually did a show with J5 in New York but we actually met them a few years earlier when we were promoting 'Things I've Seen' as the first single. We met J5 at a radio station. We just remained in contact. Charlie 2na was a fan of Spooks and we were fans of J5 so he let us know that once we began working on the new project, he wanted to be apart of it. When we started working on the album, there were 3 songs that we thought Charlie 2na would sound great on. We sent them all 3 songs and let him decide which one he felt the most. He thought that 'Faster Than You Know' was saying something that he really wanted to say. We sent him the Pro-Tools session in L.A. He sent it back to us and we just knew that it was it. It was lovely."

T.JONES: "What emcee/group would you like to collaborate with in the future?"
HYPNO: "A lot. There are actually a lot of collaborations that are in the works right now. I know there are many international artists that we are looking to work with. Part of the reason why was that sometimes the U.S. can have some tunnel vision when it comes to the hip-hop scene. From traveling a lot, we've seen that you have hip-hop artists all over the world and a lot of them are doing real good hip-hop. Some of them are more true to the spirit of hip-hop than certain artists over here. We would like to do some collaboration with them and maybe, we can help with their exposure over here a little bit."
BOOKA-T: "I would like to do something with K-Os."
HYPNO: "His whole album is dope. He's an example of a Canadian artist."
BOOKA-T: "I met K-Os and we were talking about it. He was already familiar with the first Spooks album. Like Hypno said, most of the artists that we are planning on hooking up with are from other countries. Sometimes the way it happens in the United States, there's a lot of artists here that play that whole game of 'How many records did you sell here? How can you help me?' instead of having a mutual respect for the artist. We have artists who come up to us and are like 'Yo, Spooks are hot!' but when it comes time to us working together, they can be like 'I don't really like such and such but such and such sold so many records that I have to work with him'. Overseas, we're that artist. We are the group that sold a million records. There are a lot of people that approach us. We're more along the lines where we don't care how many records you sold. If I respect you and I think you are dope, let's do it! Like Lady Alma, she's from Philadelphia. She's on the song 'In On It'. She hasn't sold tons of records. She's an independent artist. A lot of people don't know that she's like the mother of that whole neo-soul vibe on the underground scene. Everyone that does neo-soul, they all know about Lady Alma. We really respect her and we wanted her to be on the album."

T.JONES: "Who thought of the name Spooks? What does the name mean to you? Has the meaning changed?"
BOOKA-T: "The name Spooks came from the novel by Sam Greenle called 'Spook Who Sat By The Door' as well as the film. We thought that the main character shared our plight. He had to spook his way into the C.I.A. and he took whatever knowledge back into his community. We almost had to spook our way into the music industry because no one wanted to give us a shot. Different record labels said that they didn't know what to do with us. Are we alternative? Are we hip-hop? Is it hip-hop jazz? Is it R&B? They didn't know. A spook is a person who infiltrates an organization and basically causes a change. We always try to do our own thing and stay true to what we want to do. Hopefully, we will inspire other artists to do their own thing. I believe that we are still on the same mission to make good music and hopefully inspire other people to be creative and to do them. Do you!"

T.JONES: Grand Agent (who is also from Philly) moved from the U.S. to Germany because his career thrived in Europe. Since Spooks have been more successful overseas, would you ever move to Europe?"
BOOKA-T: "We actually did consider it a year ago. We did plan on making that move. At the time, we had different offers and Koch gave us the best deal so, we decided to stay. It still could happen though."

T.JONES: "What has been in your turntable or CD player recently?"
MING XIA: "I have been going back in time in hip-hop history and trying to get familiar with albums by Public Enemy, Masta Ace, Eric B. and Rakim and Kool G Rap. That's what I have been listening to."
HYPNO: "I have been listening to the Lifesavas album. That's pretty hot. Little Brother's cool. I like the 'God's Stepson' album a lot where 9th Wonder of Little Brother remixed Nas stuff. Also, I picked up a real hot record by this DJ from the UK called Adrian Gibson and the album is called 'The NuYorican Funk Experience'. That's real hot. There's a lot of percussion and funky stuff on that record."
BOOKA-T: "I've been listening to Lifesavas a lot and this female called Liz Fields. A lot of Tribe Called Quest. I love every album they made, event the Greatest Hits album. Right now, I'm living in Tribe. Hypno put me on to Thick. I'm a lover of that album."

T.JONES: "What was the last incident of racism you experienced?"
MING XIA: "I know Hypno had an experience in France."
HYPNO: "Which one? (laughs)."
MING XIA: "At the hotel."
HYPNO: "That's not racism. That's anti-Americanism. I don't know. I think racism is very subtle right now because people understand that it's not politically correct. You experience a lot of small things like people acting funny at the elevator or things of that nature. I was in Amsterdam at this festival and this guy rolled up to me and said, 'I don't think that there is enough Negroes here at this festival.' It was in a real patronizing sort of way. I'm looking at him, trying to judge whether or not I should knock him out or not. He was drunk and then he comes up and says, 'Can I kiss you?'. I was like 'Keep it moving. You'll kiss my knuckles, holmes!'."
MING XIA: "I had 2 incidences briefly but it's more ignorance than racism. I had 2 females come up to me in two separate countries at two different times and be like 'I love you hair. Is that a weave?' They just assumed a Black woman with long hair cannot have her hair be real. Little things like that I get all the time. I don't know if that's a normal thing or not."
HYPNO: "Sometimes, when people see Blacks in other countries, racism happens. We can be walking down the street, not have any equipment or whatever, and for some reason, people always assume that we're athletes or entertainers. The thing that is strange about that is that while we were in Europe, I never saw anybody walk up to groups of people of other races and come out and say, 'Are you an athlete or an entertainer?' How come I just can't be a brother on vacation?"

T.JONES: "Where were you on the September 11th terrorist attack? How did you deal with it? How do you think it has affected hip-hop?"
BOOKA-T: "When it happened, I was in New York. I remember that I woke up in the morning and I was looking at television. I actually was supposed to have been in the World Trade Center that day. I had an appointment with our business manager and the office was in the World Trade Center. I was supposed to be there that day to discuss a trip to England that was going to happen few days later. We were going to do a show with Run-Dmc. I decided not to go that day. Basically, I was shook. I can't front. The day it happened and days after that, I was glued to the television set. I wanted to find out everything that was going on. Later on, we started to find out other things once we started to read websites and books. We found out that the World Trade Center attack was something in the making for several years. In terms of how it affected hip-hop, I don't think that it has affected hip-hop… not in a damn way. I remember when Biggie died and Tupac passed. A lot of rappers were on television and in interviews talking about how they were going to do this, do that, change their subject matter, have messages in their rhymes, and not glorify violence for the hell of it. The same thing happened after September 11th. A couple of months went by and then they began to think about record sales. It didn't matter. They went back to being who they were. A lot of artists thought they would change but they basically did the same bullsh*t they have always been doing. I don't think it changed hip-hop, for the most part, in a damn way."

T.JONES: "What is your favorite part of your live show?"
MING XIA: "My favorite part is probably the part with crowd participation. Especially this time around, we had a lot of songs where we have crowd call and response sort of thing. That's always enjoyable. We get them to say 'Hell yeah!' All these people are saying what you are telling them to say. That's always fun. It crunks me up to go into the crowd and have fun with them. I love it when the crowd participates."

T.JONES: "Word association. I am going to say a name of an emcee/artist and you say the first word that pops into your head. So, if I said 'Chuck D', you may say 'revolution' or 'fight the power'. If I said 'Flavor Flav', you may say 'crack' or 'clock'. Okay?"

T.JONES: "Wu-Tang Clan."
BOOKA-T: "Inspiring."
MING XIA: "Meth's eye. His cloudy eye."
HYPNO: "Creative."

T.JONES: "The Fugees."
BOOKA-T: "My favorite."
MING XIA: "Lauryn."
HYPNO: "Successful."

T.JONES: "Kurupt."
BOOKA-T: "Clown."
MING XIA: "Extremely lucky."
HYPNO: "Steven Segal."

T.JONES: "Eminem."
BOOKA-T: "B-Boy."
MING XIA: "Bleach buzz cut."
HYPNO: "Smarts."

T.JONES: "You collaborated with Evil Dee on 'Still Gonna Do It'. How did this get hooked up and what was that collaboration like?"
BOOKA-T: "Truthfully, I met Evil Dee walking down the street. I was walking down 23rd Street and I saw Mr. Walt. I was like 'Wassup?'. Evil Dee walked up and I said, 'I'm from this group called Spooks.' He was like, 'Word! Spooks? Yo! Y'all are large overseas, man. I was in the hotel room and there was Spooks everywhere!' We started talking and exchanged numbers. When we started working on the new album, we tried to call him but couldn't reach him. The president had a beat CD from him. We checked out the CD and we narrowed it down to a couple of songs that we wanted to do. We ended up choosing the song 'Still Gonna Do It'. From there, we spoke to him on the phone. He met us down in the studio called Spike Recordings in Manhattan. When Evil Dee is in the studio with Mr. Walt, it's a fun experience. Those cats are hilarious!"
MING XIA: "They have stories for days."
BOOKA-T: "They know their sh*t when it comes to the studio. They really know their way around the studio and well. Things move pretty fast. Mr. Walt is right there on the mix. They are pros, man. They are total professionals. They're legends too."

T.JONES: "How do you think Spooks have matured or changed as artists?"
HYPNO: "One real clear way is that between this album and the last album, we learned a lot more about production and stuff like that. We actually built a studio in my garage. We all learned how to engineer. We are already songwriters, emcees, vocalists but we also had various skills of production. So, we upped the production skills and then learned engineering as well. It pretty much made us a self-contained unit. We can just go into our garage, think of an idea in our heads, and create a fully mixed product. Ming, Booka-T, and myself… Each one of us does that. That's kind of rare. I don't think many emcees are engineers as well. That's one clear way we have grown."

T.JONES: "If you could remake any classic hip-hop song, what would it be?"
HYPNO: "For me, maybe 'Poetry' by Krs-One. I would redo 'The Bridge Is Over'. I love that song."

T.JONES: "What is the worst hip-hop fad?""
HYPNO: "In general, the obsession with death and destruction. If I can get on my soapbox, right now if you look at hip-hop, there seems to be an unspoken rule that you cannot talk about anything that is life-giving at all. Anything that is remotely healthy or constructive, you cannot talk about it. You have to talk about how much weed you smoke, how drunk you get or how much doe. It ain't into true relationships. It's unfortunate because it makes me think that the supporters of hip-hop culture are not going to survive because of the theme of destruction. It makes you think that if you live a hip-hop lifestyle, you'll definitely be dead before 50 either through violence or bad health. You know what? I also did not like the baby thing, the pacifiers in the mouth, was pretty bad too."

T.JONES: "When Spooks first came out, there were many comparisons to The Fugees. What did you guys think of that comparison?"
HYPNO: "I thought that it was inevitable because when you come out, comparisons always happen. I even do it now. If there's a new group, you describe them as somebody meets somebody else. People say, 'The group sounds like Frank Zappa meets Snoop Dogg.' (Laughs). So, I knew that we were going to be labeled as somebody meets someone else. Obviously, we are compared to The Fugees because we have emcees and a singer. I think it's a passing thing. Once we have more material out and once people get to know us, we will establish our own identity in the public eye and those comparisons will fall away. We don't sound anything like them. We've been doing so much promotion and touring in Europe that people over there don't compare us to The Fugees any longer."
MING XIA: "I think now we are going to be compared to Da Band. (Laughs)."

T.JONES: "What is the biggest mistake that you made in your career?"
HYPNO: "There are some things I look at with our first record deal with Antra. It's hard to say because on one hand, that was our first shot. If we did not sign that deal, would we be where we are today? On the other hand, there was a lot of stuff in that deal that was not good."

T.JONES: "What are some major misconceptions that people have of Spooks?"
HYPNO: "I don't know. I think that some people think that we may be a hokey group. I saw this one review in Europe, Touch Magazine actually, and they guy goes 'There's no swearing on the album'. I'm like 'Yes there is!' There's actually a lot. I remember sitting around for a whole day editing different curse words. This guy had this conception of us that we were this pure and clean group and that's definitely not the case at all. Don't get me wrong, I'm not trying to prove how gangsta or crazy we are. I'm not like 'I'm only gonna talk about gangsta sh*t! That's all I'm gonna talk about!' Because we are not like that, people put us in the other extreme like we're a bunch of priests or nuns or something. My whole thing is, I'm just trying to make a good quality product."

T.JONES: "Ming, as a singer, who are some of your major influences?"
MING XIA: "Growing up, definitely Sade and Billy Holiday. As I got a little older, I'm actually a big U2 and a Bono fan. I like Sinead O'Conner and Bjork. Delores, the lead singer to The Cranberries is another one."

T.JONES: "What do you think you'll be doing if you weren't making music for a living?"
HYPNO: "I think I would always make music even if I wasn't doing it for a living. I'd probably be a teacher of some sort. I like discuss different ideas and share ideas with people."

T.JONES: "Laurence Fishburne was in the very cinematic 'Things I've Seen' video. How did Spooks get involved with Laurence Fishburne and what was that collaboration like?"
HYPNO: "You know, I was actually the first choice for the role of Morpheus in 'The Matrix' and Laurence and I were good friends. I figured I'd let him have it since he wanted it (Laughs). Nah, what happened was, a music director for a film that Laurence Fishburne was directing put him on to Spooks. Then, Laurence Fishburne reached out to us while he was directing his movie 'Once In A Life'. He heard our music and then we actually met with him and discussed the movie. We went back, wrote a song, and that song was 'Things I've Seen'. It captured the feeling of the movie. Laurence loved it and thought that it was a perfect match. We formed a relationship based on that. He came down, got in the video, and that was even cooler."

T.JONES: "On your first album 'S.I.O.S.O.S.', there are skits about record label executives trying to divide the group. Would you say that it is a very accurate portrayal of record labels? Is it still going on?"
HYPNO: "It's definitely accurate and that's what record labels do. I forget what rap group said it but they have a quote that goes, 'You come into the industry as friends and the industry breaks you up.' They definitely saw the potential with different aspects of the group. With Ming, and the vocal potential she has, everybody was like 'You have to go on your own! You have to be solo!' With us, sometimes they would pull different emcees to the side and say 'You're the one! You're the illest emcee!' We were never about that. We do want to capitalize on our potential but we want to do it in a way that's based on origin and not what somebody else was saying."

T.JONES: "Would you say that is what happened to Water Water?"
HYPNO: "Nah, I wouldn't say that. Water did the things that he did after the group sat down and talked about it. We figured out how to do it. There wasn't any industry bullsh*t."

T.JONES: "What is next in the future for Spooks?"
HYPNO: "We have this album coming out 'Faster Than You Know' and a whole bunch of other stuff. There's another project coming out called Tongue. It's based on the production company that we have with me, Booka-T and Ming Xia. We are going to do something where we do all the production and we have guest vocalists."

T.JONES: "What other projects are you working on?"
HYPNO: "We are actually writing this piece for an off-Broadway play that we have been commissioned to write. Who knows what it is going to be called but right now. The working title is 'No Boundaries'. There are a couple of other interesting writers involved and Speech from Arrested Development is one of them."

T.JONES: "What do you want on your epitaph (your gravestone)?"
MING XIA: "He lies someone who made a small dent."
HYPNO: "He tried to do the right thing… and he was gangsta! (laughs)."

T.JONES: "Were there any songs that were too left-field and did not make it to the album?"
HYPNO: "Yeah, about 20 of them. (Laughs)."

T.JONES: "What do you think is the most bizarre or left-field song that Spooks have made?"
HYPNO: "Wow! Actually, one of them is on the album as a hidden track. It's called 'I Can't Sleep' and it's after 'Eulogy'."

T.JONES: "Do you have any final words for the people who are going to be reading this?"
HYPNO: "All I can say is that we tried hard to hit you with a solid album."
MING XIA: "Spooks are here to pump you up! (Laughs)."

Fast forward to mid October 2003. Water Water (former member of Spooks) just died in a tragic car accident. I talked to Spooks one last time so that we could pay some kind tribute to the man through music journalism.

T.JONES: "I am sorry to hear about your loss. Water Water was an excellent emcee. He had some intense classic verses on the first Spooks album. What happened?"
HYPNO: "He was involved in a car accident returning from DC. For us, that was a shock that we are still trying to deal with. It's almost like it's not real. We had the services and that was helpful for us and his family to try deal with the loss. He was an integral member of Spooks. He was working on a solo project. It just goes to show you that you are not promised tomorrow."

T.JONES: "Even though it is unfinished, are there plans for some of the solo work to ever be released?"
BOOKA T: "We are speaking to producers to get it released as a solo or release it on the next Spooks album. We record more than we release and we have tons of older Water Water material."

T.JONES: "Was there ever a chance that he was going to come back into Spooks?"
BOOKA T: "We kept a cool vibe. The vibe between us was always cool. That was always a possibility. His funeral was filled with people, artists of all kind."

T.JONES: "Even though there are many things you will miss, what is the first thing that pops in your head?"
BOOKA T: "He was a real comical guy. We call it 'waterisms'. Whenever he did something real funny, he would call it 'waterisms'. To this day, when we find ourselves doing something that he did, we think about him more. We picked it up being around him. This way, he's still with us. He's still making us laugh."

T.JONES: "Do you have any plans to honor him?"
BOOKA T: "Part of it is just to keep moving forward. He had a lot of music to put out and part of it is to deal with the family's lead on how they would like to do that."

T.JONES: "Any final words about Water Water?"
BOOKA T: "Now that he moved on, he's still with us."
MING XIA: "He touched a lot of people. He will be sorely missed by many people, both family and friends. He's still with us. Everyday we talk about him like he's here. As far as his personality and his music, we still keep it alive. He's gone but not forgotten."

R.I.P. Water Water aka Aqua Dinero

Thank you SPOOKS!

Interview by Todd E. Jones
toddejones@yahoo.com

The Official SPOOKS Website
http://www.thespooks.com
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