interview Strong Arm Steady  (March 2011) | Interviewer Javon

   Strong Arm Steady is the definition of a powerful triumvirate. Mitchy Slick, Phil Da Agony and Krondon have been setting the underground on fire for years now with mixtape after mixtapte and the top notch Madlib produced Stoney Jackson project. Each member is an accomplished solo artist and brings hunger and passion to each studio session. Dubcnn.com had the pleasure of linking up with the Strong Arm Steady crew as they prepare to release the long-awaited Arms and Hammers project.

Take a few minutes to get to know each of the members. Krondon tells us how Strong Arm Steady and their upcoming opus will be measured by time. Phil Da Agony breaks down what each member brings to the table that makes SAS so potent. Mitchy Slick lets us know if he is today where he thought he would be career wise. Ever wonder how many tracks they crew has recorded for the project? How do they narrow down to the final tracklist? All that and more will be addressed.

As always, send your thoughts to javon@dubcnn.com

Read on and enjoy. As always feel free to hit up the forum with questions or comments.

Interview was done in March 2011

Questions Asked By: Javon

Download The Audio
Dubcnn: Now if you haven't heard of Strong Arm Steady then you must have been under a rock or had some headphones on with no music playing or something like that. But I do have the pleasure of conversing with these gentlemen. How's it going?

Krondon: Everything is good man. We're just over here in the studio just hammering away at some future projects and preparing as we countdown to the release here.

Dubcnn: Speaking of that...I want to be able to touch on a few things in the few minutes that we have but...talk about this...this has been a project that has been talked about for some time. You've had some things that have come out before that but talk about the build up to this. How do you feel when it is so close on being able to drop?

Krondon: Its kinda surreal in a sense. The Lord has allowed us to wait quite a long time and record over 150 songs over the course of the last 4 1/2 years. It's just an exciting time and we feel like the Lakers in the Finals man. We're about 3 games up and just have a couple more to play. We're trying to come home with a ring man.

Dubcnn: I know in this time you've covered a lot of ground and done a lot of things so what moment...whether it was traveling and being in a certain city or maybe the reaction from the crowd...what sticks out with you that makes you smile and say, 'This has been a great trip so far.'?

Krondon: My brother Mitchy Slick was just talking about that before we got on this call. I think its just feeling the reaction from the fans and the people that have been with us from day one. And we've got a lot of new fans over the last year or so from doing the Madlib record we released last year called Stoney Jackson. Just the reaction that and the response from that just heightened the anticipation that was already in place for Arms and Hammers. Just being able to touch the people first and foremost is the best part and the response and reception is just a good thing.

Especially here on the West Coast, which is where we are...we're not on television or radio a thousand times a day. We have been blessed to be on there (radio) but even more than that you get the sense that we've been doing it a long time and they just respect it in the marketplace.

Dubcnn: Speaking of that Kron, I was reading something that you said and I'm going to quote you, "In the current state of L.A. there is a resurgence of talent that is like a Do It Yourself. Almost like a Punk Rock movement." And I think that really sums it up perfectly because you guys have really shown that Do It Yourself...get out there and grind and be able to build a buzz for yourself with hard beats and lyrics. That has to be gratifying.

Krondon: Yeah, you know, each of us individually as a collective we all started out of the trunk. As my brother Mitchy Slick likes to say, we started out of the trunk....both individually and as a collective before the internet was the primary highway for new music and things like that. Mitchy was selling 40-50,000 out of the trunk. Myself and Phil Da Agony were selling 10's of thousands of pieces of vinyl across the world and making a name and presence for ourselves. When we came together as a collective we brought our own manufacturing devices to press up our own cds and make vinyl and cut artwork out. We were doing that around '03, '04 and '05 before signing major deals and things like that. It was...knowing what we were doing at the time and needing to fill a void for good music and foundation that was left in the West Coast.

Then as time went on and the internet became the highway for new music I just love how this new generation is being very self sufficient and really DIY and doing it themselves completely. It's still out of the trunk but its more out of the backpack as far as the computer itself, you know what I mean?

Dubcnn: I hear you. Now, to you point though, I am sure that Arms & Hammers is going to be one of those top notch quality, put it on repeat, type of albums...but do you worry about the microwave society that we're in now where people might say, 'Yeah, its dope but when is the next one coming?'. Do you worry about the longevity or legs of a project in today's marketplace?

Krondon: Um, I'm glad you said that, and this will be the last question I answer (before passing it to the next member). You have to take into account the thing that's really missing from music right now is true artistry. And true artistry, or anything like if you go into a good restaurant...good things take time. It takes true time and you can't say something is timeless until you've given it the test of time.

You can't say something is classic because you've liked it for a couple of weeks or months. You can't say that an artist is proven just because he's been hot for 12 months. Or the depths of what makes an artist a legend or what makes an album a classic. I think that what makes Strong Arm Steady unique and different from things that are happening right now is that we do take into consideration that we have a bar that has been set prior to us when it comes down to legendary classic status.

If I can use a sports analogy, you can't say you are the best at sports and not have no fu@$ng rings and not really have your stats up and your numbers...you can't just go run around and talk about that even if you make it to the league. You have to...over time. Think about when they talk about the best the greats man. They were great for a period of time that went into 5 to 10 years.

We've worked on this one particular project, even though we've released other things like the Madlib record and mixtapes and doing individual projects...Phil Da Agony had the Think Green and Mitchy had the Yellow Tape and Urban Survival Syndrome and things like that. But at the same time this particular entity was created to stand the test of time. That's Arms and Hammers, you know? You have to look at it and listen to it that way. If you think about a Sade record or a Dr. Dre record or an Outkast record. If you think about a great record and you wait for so long...and in no way are we saying that we are making records in that sense but at the same time we are. We are swinging our bats and shooting our balls to that level. So you can't discredit that. You can't discredit what Phil Da Agony has done for the last 15 years for the world of rap music. You can't discredit what Mitchy Slick has done for the last 10 years. You can't discredit what Krondon has done for the last 10 years from underground level to a mainstream level. And if you don't know then that's homework that you haven't done.

So when you take all of those things into account and you put them into one project that is Arms and Hammers with the legendary assistance that we had from Too Short and KRS-One and Game and Kurupt and Marsha from Floetry. You look at their record and you say, 'Well, what the f#$k!?' You just have to listen to it at some point.

Dubcnn: I'm with you there. I like that. Cool. So, were you going to pass it real quick?

Krondon: Yeah, I'm going to pass it. Hold on.

Phil Da Agony: Yo, yo what up?

Dubcnn: What up? Mitchy?

Phil: Naw, this Phil.

Dubcnn: What's going on man? How are you doing?

Phil: I'm good. How are you?

Dubcnn: I'm good. I appreciate a few minutes of your time. Now I want to hit the ground running with you so...when people say the name Phil Da Agony what do you want to be the first thing that comes to mind when they mention your name?

Phil: My name just embodies the struggle and what we all go through. That's really what it is.

Dubcnn: Ok. All members of Strong Arm Steady have done their solo thing and have been successful and have come together as a group. What is one of the best things that you have learned from working with the other two fellas that you work with?

Phil: Just the range of music that we all have. Like, Mitchy comes from an underground, Murder Dog kinda Chitlin Circuit. Gangsta Rap type sh#t. He has that realm totally locked down. He goes from state to state and there are all types of soldiers that come out and salute Mitch from the hood, ya know?

When I work with Kron...he is like a song and hook master. He writes all kind of songs for the group and for other artists. I mean we learn a lot from each other. We just take it from one side of the realm to the next. Kinda what Stoney Jackson was to what Arms and Hammers is, from the right to the left. I'm a mixture in between from the Hip Hop side to the gangsta side. Like Kron is a mixture of the angle where me and Mitch is at.

Dubcnn: Today you always have to look ahead to what's next to always continue to push the boundaries and just create dope music...so what can people expect from Strong Arm Steady going forward? What's the blueprint? What's your plan? What do you have going on? I know Arms and Hammers is coming out but what do you have moving forward?

Phil: We always get together and focus in on different projects. Like, Arms and Hammers is what it is right now. Beyond this we all have solo projects that are gonna come out. We're probably gonna do another Strong Arm Steady album. We're putting out other artists and writing for other artists. A lot of stuff like that. We have a project we started up with Statik Selektah. We'll probably release an EP with him before the year is up as well.

Dubcnn: So is it difficult to juggle? It seems like you are in a good position to be able to do a lot of different things. So is it difficult to kind of plan and keep this momentum going as a group and really be able to continue the success?

Phil: Well we have a lot of songs recorded man. We have so much done up and to this point. We're really sitting on a lot of good music that we can sit and release for the next year or two easily. So its really not a thing of content. Its just the direction we want to go with it.

Dubcnn: Ok, I gotta ask this question because Kron said you recorded over 100, 150 songs or something like that.

Phil: Yeah, we recorded a lot of songs. We're in the studio now and usually when we are in the studio we are recording and knocking out records. Even when we are out of town we do stuff. We got a lot of songs recorded. Even when we did the Madlib record there were 16-17 records on that and we recorded at least 40-50 records when we did that album.

Dubcnn: Now I gotta ask, especially when you have three cats with different opinions...how do you narrow it down from that big a number to get something that everybody feels good about? Talk about that process and probably how there was some push and pull when you were trying to narrow down.

Phil: To narrow down the tracklist it just came down to what were the best records overall. It wasn't really hard of a process doing that...it might be a situation where we had an R. Kelly record and that record just to make it happen would cost over $100,000 from putting it out to having a visual for it and everything. So that's a record that we couldn't necessarily put on the album.

I mean, when it comes to a situation like that we all sit in agreement with a record like that. The records that we put on the album from the producers that we work with are the best songs that we have with those producers. We wanted it to be cohesive and what the concept of the album was and just putting it out in that sense too. So it wasn't really to hard figuring out which joints should be on the album.

There's stuff that's not on the album that we felt should have been that we will probably put out in some form.

Dubcnn: Ok. Now, leave me with this before you pass it to Mitchy.

Phil: For instance, the Eminem record was a record, the "Talkin' To Myself"...that was a record that we had recorded originally that Khalil produced and Eminem wound up using. The Kanye West record that he did with Pete Rock was a record that we had. So its a lot of different songs and stuff that we may leak and over time you will get a chance to see it.

Dubcnn: Ok. Leave me with this. "Trunk Music" hits hard and I know you probably hear that all the time. From the Arms and Hammers tracklist which one is your favorite?

Phil: Right now its a song that DJ Khalil produced called, "Where the Gangsta's At?". That's probably my favorite on the album right now.

Dubcnn: Ok. There you go. Hey I appreciate you taking a few minutes man.

Phil: Hey, thanks for having us. I'm gonna hand you over to Mitchy.

Dubcnn: Fa sho

Mitchy Slick: What's up?

Dubcnn: What's going on man? This is Javon with Dubcnn, man. How are you doing?

Mitchy: Javon, what's up homie? What's hapennin'?

Dubcnn: Man, I'm chillin'. I'm enjoying this conversation with y'all.

Mitchy: Ah, you talk to us you gonna go on a rollercoaster ride.

Dubcnn: *laughs*

Dubcnn: Speaking of rollercoaster ride, talk to me about...obviously your pedigree and what you bring to the table as a talented artist. If someone asked what your skills or strengths were what would you say to them?

Mitchy: As an artist or musically?

Dubcnn: All the above

Mitchy: Ok. Musically, Mitchy...when you listen to Mitchy you are going to hear authentic street sh*t and you know you aren't hearing it from someone who is not just an average player. That's why the majority of my fanbase comes to f*ck with me for because when you hear Mitch you hearin' a ni##a that just didn't have bit#@es and cars when he started rapping. You knew he probably grew up hustling and gettin' money. You can tell that this sh*t is real and he wasn't just an average dude because your hearing stories of a boss and there is sh*t being said that a muhfu#$ah that ain't really a boss can't say. So that's what you're getting from Mitch.

In today's little Hip Hop world there are certain people that don't give a sh*t about that then there are a certain group of muhfu#$ah's that are only in it for that. So for being a hood cat, Mitch got all the credentials to be valid. So all the real cats want to hear Mitch and hear what he got to say. That's what I bring to the table.

I bring that street edge especially to Strong Arm Steady. I bring all the bloods and crips and SA's... I bring all them and give them something to hold onto and identify with...like a whole lot, not just a little bit. Its not like there's something about me that they can get, no, they embrace me totally because they know I've been through those same struggles. You can hear that in my music.

Dubcnn: Now Phil was talking about when you were narrowing down the tracklist for Arms and Hammers and some songs ended up going to other artists, the beats and what not. Have you ever had someone come to you with a track saying, 'Yo, Mitch you gotta jump on this.' and you passed on it and it ended up going on to big things and you regretted it. Have you ever had that happen?

Mitchy: Not really bro because most of the producers that I fu*k with its just a situation where somebody else can get the beat...usually most of the producers I fu*k with that don't just fu*k with me and my camp its so much bigger than me to where its never been an issue.

For instance, if DJ Khalil, that's my brother and he's a part of the crew but he's such a beast that when DJ Khalil give you a beat you don't turn it down, you rock that sh*t. Know what I mean?

Dubcnn: *laughs* I hear you man.

Mitchy: So on that level of the game that's how its been for me. But I haven't been fortunate enough to just have a budget to where every super hot producer...a producer that could possibly land any beat they make somewhere, them dudes ain't just sending me beats. I got some of them cats but their my personal friends, know what I mean? So therefore there's never a conflict about beats when it comes to that level. Hopefully if this record does about 3-4 million like we predict then that day will come and I'll be able to tell you one of them stories like Nas or Jeezy can tell you. You know what I mean?

Dubcnn: *laughs* I got a question for you. Because of the way that you guys have really had that Do It Yourself work ethic and really grinded out everything...I mentioned this a few minutes ago to Kron, do you ever sit back and say, 'Wow', look at how this hard work paid dividends and the seeds that you have planted are really starting to grow?

Mitchy: Um, nah because personally for really for real I feel like I'm supposed to be...maybe not because as far as who I am as an artist...I feel like I'm supposed to be like 50 Cent or somebody, ya know what I mean? For real though.

Dubcnn: I hear you.

Mitchy: I know you aren't supposed to toot your own horn and all that sh*t but I don't do that. I keep it 100. Because if we are going by what people say and they like the Hip Hop and the killer beats then you hear that because Khalil is right here. Ok, they want to have a rapper with a story...besides maybe dying or coming back to life or something then the story I tell...it doesn't even have to be super gangster and I went through all this...I did do that but there's sh*t about my life that ain't the gangster sh*t that can make a story incredible.

I watched Nicki Minaj story the other night, that girl has a story and that girl comes from nothing. She struggled to make it, parents were...anyway my story is all the ups and downs and the sh*t I've accomplished, I feel like I'm way overdue. So its not like its finally coming around...fu*k that, I'm supposed to have about 5 platinum plaques on my wall already from the sh*t that...maybe not as far as budget wise because I don't think that people should have been as responsive to my music as much as 50 Cent's because there was a big machine behind 50's music along with some of the tightest production, tightest promotions and all that sh*t. But T.I. or whoever that could have been me in any one of those situations so I'm not resentful or nothing like that but at the same time I'm not jumping for joy over what's here now.

Maybe over what's possibly to come but right now I feel like I'm supposed to be going to McDonalds in the tour bus like R. Kelley and everywhere I go I'm supposed to be parlayed up. I'm supposed to live my life on a tour bus. That's where I feel I'm supposed to be as far as the work that I put in.

I've done sh*t that a lot of independent artists haven't even come close to doing. I introduced to the game, when I first came in I was kinda linked up with Tha Alkaholiks through my association with Xzibit, Krondon and Phil's sh*t...that's how we all came together was through Tha Alkaholiks and the Likwit Crew. I was about to put out my first dolo album that I put out myself with a partner of mine by the name of Romey Rome. I heard Tha Alkaholiks was going on a tour and I rented a mobile home. I drove 36 cities in the Winter bro. From San Diego to Rhode Island, know what I mean? 36 times out of my own pocket, rocking shows for free and not getting paid sh*t.

So the sh*t I've done, I don't know anybody that's done that and other things beyond that but the sh*t I've done and the notice that I feel that I should have received from this sh*t is crazy. But I know the situation on the West Coast...we don't even have a major label out here on the West Coast to represent the streets like Dungeon Family or Def Jam or Cash Money. We don't have a West Coast label. There is no West Coast label where it was built from the streets like a Death Row or a Ruthless. If that was prevalent on the West Coast from when I started from 2000 to now then y'all would be saying that we got Mitchy Slick stuffed animals or whatever. Mitchy Slick dolls like they got the Big Pun and 2pac dolls. In the West Coast we are our own vehicle right now. But we are trying to change that. But it is what it is.

Dubcnn: From hearing what I have been hearing from Arms and Hammers I think you guys are doing a real good job of bringing that spotlight not only to lyrics but to quality music. So much success on the album and I appreciate the time




Enter Your Email Address > To Receive Our
Free Newsletter!