Along with acts like Spank Rock, La Crate is responsible for popularizing the sound with albums like the seminal 'B-More Gutter Music' and other releases on his Milkcrate Records imprint.
Now he's teamed up with famed hip hop label Delicious Vinyl to remix two of their most classic cuts in his crunked-up club style. Young MC's 'Know How' and Masta Ace Incorporated's 'Jeep Ass N-' both get the re-rub treatment. We grabbed a few minutes with the man to find out more…
How did the Delicious Gutter project come about?
"The Ross brothers, from Delicious Vinyl, were familiar with the gutter movement we were doing, the B-More gutter project alongside Spank Rock and Amanda Blank, and they liked it. And they wanted me to get involved to face off their tracks with the kind of stuff I've been working on."
Why did you choose Young MCs 'Know How' and Masta Ace Incorporated's 'Jeep Ass N-' to remix?
"It was a tough decision to be honest because they had so many great records. Me being a DJ since I was a kid, and actually buying a lot of their records, they had so many more records out rather than just 'Wild Thing' and 'Bust a Move'. Those are two more of their offbeat hits that not everybody knows, they show a bit of knowledge."
The B-More style which you've pioneered seems way more popular now, with acts like N.E.R.D. getting in on the act. Are you surprised that it's starting to crossover so much?
"Pharrell (from N.E.R.D/Neptunes) and those guys have been into it for a minute, coming from Virginia. They're definitely not close but it's still mid-Atlantic. Timbaland and Missy have been doing the little bits and pieces for ages, that were very B-More-ish. But it's really just an extension of party breaks and fun club music, I'm not that surprised really, I've known for a long time that it was gonna have its spot. I think it just needed a bit of proper guidance and steering. There were other people doing other things, but I definitely think that me being the kid from the city, who's out and about in the world already, I think that I was able to lend quite a bit of guidance, steer it in the right direction. It was definitely in a hiatus for quite a time. Every year, people were like, 'B-More's dead, nothing's happened this year', its funny when the fans are so quick to turn on something. I stick to the things that I enjoy regardless of whether I'm getting accolades or harsh criticism, both of which I've got for doing for what I've done."
Hip hop seems to be a real state of flux, with a lot of former hip hop DJs blending B-More, electro, house and Baile funk. Do you think this is the way forward, a way to keep the genre alive, or is it something entirely separate?
"Its hip hop. If you look back at the history of hip hop, and electro, at 'Planet Rock', early Tommy Boy Records, early electro records, no one was saying, 'that's a dance record or an electro record, they were saying that's a hip hop record'. It does frustrate me because hip hop has got to an excessive phase. Any time something is worth that much money, it's gonna continue to be pimped out and whored. The beautiful thing about hip hop is that it's in essence an underground movement which will always reinvent itself at the right time thank God. I'm very adamant to tell people that B-More is hip hop. The problem is when you have a lot of indie kids – I'm not dissing them at all – but they're not hip hop kids.
"You could meet a DJ who's been playing for six months and downloads all of his music from blogs, no disrespect, he's just come into the game at such a late stage, at the end of the road, not knowing how amazing this thing was and has been, and he's missed so much. A lot of the kids that are popular today, they missed so much, there's so little common ground between them and people like myself who've been DJing for more than half of my living life. You meet DJs, where B-More is the first thing they've gotten into. B-More has turned more young kids into producers than any other genre in history, but none of these kids are really doing anything for B-More or for the city of Baltimore. There's a lot of people taking but no-one giving back. Growing up in Baltimore they didn't play hip hop, they played Baltimore club music. It was where all the drug dealers were, where all the action was. They were playing NYC house, Miami house, Miami bass, UK rave, and all of that shit ended up chopped and dissected. It was house music played hip hop style, that's what B-More in its essence was. In 1990 they were running two copies of 'The Bouncer' by Kicks Like a Mule or Precious Red, a lot of UK records, or House of Venus, 'I'm Gonna Dis You Right Now', but you were only taking the best bit, and you were quick to jump into the next best bit, and so on. It's not meant to be like house where you lay back and play five minutes, you don't even play three minutes. It's always been hip hop, and that's why I've seen a lot of kids who are not into hip hop, they're involvement has been amazing, but they need to understand that this is hip hop, and don't be trying to change this into something that it's not. If you want to be down with this B-More shit. I think you should be playing it the way it's supposed to be played not trying to change it into something that you can slap your name on."
Which producers out there at the moment are you feeling?
"Debonair Samir, he's amazing, beyond B-More. The minute I met him he had to join my organization. He's a beast! Out of the whole city he's amazing. But also
Booman, KW Griff, DJ Class, DJ Equalizer, they're the original guys that still never get enough shine on their own. Those guys are like the scene never acknowledged Bambaataa."
What's happening with your Milkcrate record and clothing label?
"The Milkcrate Records label is re-releasing the original 'B-More Gutter Music' album, that's gonna be on Beatport, and all of our catalogue is gonna be on Beatport and Beatsource. It's gonna be available in high quality format. We've just signed an artist by the name of Verb, an MC, I took him up to Ronson's radio show and he just murdered it, Ronson's head was blown. He's working on his record which is gonna be a combination between club shit and next level hip hop shit. I'm also finishing off the Aaron La Crate record which will have all the different vocalists that I'm down with, Lily Allen will be on there, Dizzee Rascal, Cool Kids. The record 'Blow' was quite a progressive, trend starting record. People weren't really rhyming over shit like that ever. Was it hip hop or B-More, what was it? It was gutter music actually! There's probably going to be 12-13 joints that are going to expand what that record was. Next level club shit of all genres. And the clothing is still out there, it's starting to become more accessible in the UK."
Check out the video for 'Know How Theme'here.