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Beats Per Millennium - Interview: The Hood Internet

Interview: The Hood Internet

The Hood Internet is a pair of mashup enthusiasts out of Chicago, Illinois, who just released “The Mixtape, Vol. 3.” In the almost two years since they debuted, they’ve released almost 200 songs, pairing up who are often the most improbable of pairings – David Lee Roth and the Notorious B.I.G., Genesis and Justice, R. Kelly and Broken Social Scene. And yet they never settle for novelty, they’re reinventing songs into their own creations. And if you listen to them enough, the radio starts to sound 0like a bunch of tepid remixes. I got to talk to them about hip hop, Dylan, and lolcats.

BPM: Hip hop is built on sampling, but outside of Kanye biting Daft Punk and Wale doing a track over Justice, no one is doing quite what you’re doing. Why do you think hip hop, in general, has such a limited range of influences? Or do you think the Hood Interfication of hip hop is taking hold as we speak?

STV SLV: I think there’s actually more and more people doing what we’re doing. We certainly weren’t the first to dig in a different direction to make hip-hop instrumentals (see: 2ManyDJs, A-Trak, Girl Talk, etc), and there are plenty of remixers new and old putting tracks like these together. Since those Wale and Kanye tracks dropped last summer, there’s already been more examples — to wit, Kid Cudi samples Band Of Horses on that last mixtape. Hip-hop has always been open to mining new sounds to make beats out of, I think that will continue.

BPM: If I were The Hood Internet, I would be scraping the bottom of my music library in an effort to keep unique mashups coming. In the year and a half-ish since you’ve started mashing up, you’ve posted something like 200 mashups, and you’ve only gone to the bountiful R. Kelly well six times. How do you keep your library fresh?

ABX: Only six times with Kels? We’ll have to step that up and do a whole R. Kelly month. We consume a lot of music to keep the hits coming, which tends to work because there is so much music coming out these days.

BPM: How do you pair up songs? Is it usually an epiphany, like “I should put these two songs together,” or is it a process of trial and error until you find something that works? Or something in between?

STV SLV: Something in between is pretty much it. Lil bit of this, lil bit of that, you know.

BPM: How has the process of making a mashup changed in the almost two years that you have been doing it? Have there been tricks to the trade that you have learned, or is it pretty much the same process you’ve employed from the beginning?

ABX: I switched over to using Ableton Live to do my tracks in the past year, which has made the process faster and easier. Also, acapella tracks have become more plentiful in the past few years, which gives us more options to work with.

BPM: Are the concept tracks/records (The Hood vs LA, The Hood vs Chicago, any of the artist-centric mixtapes like The Pack, Lykke Li, Aesop Rock/Tobacco) more difficult to accomplish than your everyday mashups?

STV SLV: When you’re working within a scope like that, the quantity of source material is a bit limited, so that can make things more challenging than the usual fare.

BPM: What is the ratio, approximately, of successful mashups that get posted on the site to utter failures that don’t?

ABX: Don’t forget the utter failures that do get posted to the site. The majority of tracks get finished and posted in one form or another that can involve both success and failure along the way. I would say the ratio is roughly equal to the square root of pi.

BPM: Is there any specific quality you typically need in tracks, musically speaking? How difficult is it to find acapellas of the songs you’d like to use? Is that a limiting factor, or is there basically an acapella available for anything you might like to do?

STV SLV: It’s nice when the acapella tracks don’t sound like shit. Some of the DIY ones floating around that are created from inverting the instrumental or whatever — those are often hard to work with. We have a few places we go to look for acapellas which are relatively bountiful, but certainly don’t have anything we could think of, otherwise you would already have seen The Hood Internet vs Phil Collins.

BPM: Have there ever been mashups that took a particularly long road from conception to birth? Like the Chinese Democracy of mashups, where it just offered so many headaches that it almost seemed like it would never be finished?

*ABX:*I felt like I was working on mixing that BeyoncĂ© track “Single Ladies” with something for a long time. I settled on mixing it with Fleet Foxes and posting it on our week of rejected tracks from ’08. I wouldn’t call that our Chinese Democracy, but we did spend $2 million trying to get the guitar sound just right.

BPM: STV, I know you’ve done a lot of DJing around Chicago with Stay Smooth and other outfits. How’d you get started with that, and how does that inform the mashups? (ABX if you do/have done DJing outside of the Hood, same question)

STV SLV: DJing parties like Stay Smooth ( is just an excuse to get friends together and listen to sweet jams. It has very little — if anything at all — to do with making Hood joints.

BPM: Whenever Cadence Weapon ends up in Chicago, you guys end up DJing a set with him – what kind of connections are you guys getting from being internet famous? Are you getting any offers for production work or anything like that?

STV SLV: Cadence and Weez-L are the dudes. We’ve definitely been hit up by a few bands, like Blitzen Trapper, The Rosebuds, and Tobacco — those are always pretty fun opportunities. We have some ideas about potential production work for the future that we’re working on right now.

BPM: Last year you got some love from the Matador blog after you posted My Chips Versus Yours and I heard that Broken Social Scene gave you a shout-out at their Lollapalooza after-show this year. What kind of other feedback have you been getting from artists you’ve tackled? Any negative feedback?

ABX: Soulja Boy told us that our mash up of “Crank That (Soulja Boy)” completely disregarded the original’s critique of postmodern gender politics. Other than that, we’ve heard mostly positive things from the artists we’ve messed with.

BPM: It seems kind of unlikely that two dudes who happen to have the same sensibility for indie rock / hip hop mashups would end up in the same band (May or May Not) at the same time – how did it happen that both of you guys synchronized so well to start The Hood Internet?

STV SLV: The planets were aligned, you know how they do.

BPM: Do you guys collaborate much in the process of creating mashups, or do you just happen to be two guys who share a domain and play shows together?

ABX: Most individual tracks are worked on individually. Bigger projects, the mixtapes and whatnot, are worked on together.

BPM: Who are your top 5 MCs?

STV SLV: Dylan, Dylan, Dylan, Dylan and Dylan.

BPM: Beyond the yearly roster of rejects, have there ever been any mashups you’ve never been able to pull off, or artists you’ve chronically never been able to find a place for in a mashup?

ABX: There are some artists I really like that I am surprised we’ve never included in a track. Okkervil River, Animal Collective, The Decemberists, Beirut, Sufjan Stevens, are some that come to mind. Perhaps we’ll change that.

BPM: I think one of my favorite things about the Hood Internet “mystique” is your ability to work multimedia – the awesome animated slideshow you had at your Sonotheque release party, or just the Photoshops that come with each and every mashup. How does that kind of stuff come to fruition? Is there anything more you’d like to do but just haven’t yet had the resources?

STV SLV: I would like to be able to RIDE AROUND ON A FUCKING ELEPHANT like T-Pain does. I’m not sure if that’s considered multimedia, though.

BPM: What is the future of The Hood Internet? Are you gonna keep on keepin’ on until you blow up big time, or are there other directions you want to explore?

ABX: In the future we’ll probably keep doing what we do and also branch off into some other directions. Plans are being hatched. Things are in the works. And there will certainly be hover cars.

BPM: How would you like the Hood Internet to be remembered?

STV SLV: As fondly as people will someday remember I Can Has Cheezburger.

BPM: Any last words?

ABX: Word.

Posted by Joe Kaiser at Jan 12, 2009 01:47 AM