TAME ONE: GruffRyno CMZ (BOOM SKWAD, BOSS MOB) lived uptown NYC when I met him back in 1980. He and his best friend LUZE ONE were active NYC graffiti artists. When I met them, I was writing stupid shit like “Chilly Smurf” and “Terekrashad The Ladies God”… lol. They had lists of aliases and throw away practice names to piece. I ran across one that said TAME ONE, like the letters and so they gave it to me and I ran with it.ELEMENT TREE: I’ve seen interviews with you and you always seem to come off as a humble down to earth type of individual. Mind you someone like myself that grew up listening and being inspired by your music looks at you as a hip hop legend and in my opinion one of the most lyrical dudes in the game. Do you feel that way about yourself… does knowing that people feel that way about you as an artist ever get to your head?
TAME ONE: I definitely feel as though I am humble and down to earth. I acknowledge the fact that ARTIFACTS were lucky enough to have come out in a very classical time in Hip Hop (BIGGIE, NAS, WU-TANG, BOOT CAMP) all came out about the same time in the early 90’s, but no I don’t see myself as being legendary for my lyrics, or conceited.
ELEMENT TREE: The Artifacts was the first hip hop duo that made me want to sit down and write a rhyme, especially being from Jersey. Now I know you guys originally went by a different name and you had to change it once the group got its first official deal, but why The Artifacts and I’m sorry if I should know this one. I just feel when the project was first released the name had a dope ring to it, but now that sometime has past and many view it as a classic.. The name is much more powerful and goes with the classic feel of the album. “The Artifacts”… Historic to hip hop culture. Was this what you guys were going for, if not how was the name born?TAME ONE: Ironically enough, that’s exactly what we were going for. We understood that our then name “THAT’S THEM” although had served us well coming up in NJ through all of our shows, battles and songs n such locally. It wasn’t really marketable worldwide. When I picked out the name ARTIFACTS, I felt it described us perfectly from the artistic standpoint, something created culturally to be viewed in the present to reflect the past. In Hip Hop that’s what we felt we were.
ELEMENT TREE: I’m not into a lot of the music being passed off as hip hop nowadays because of the lack of creativity and the repetitiveness. There are definitely plenty of artists I do listen to but 9 out of 10 are rooted or stem from that golden age of the music. How do you feel about todays “hip hop”?
TAME ONE: I agree with NAS. I feel the Hip Hop I grew up on has died or been out grown and replaced with something else I don’t have a name for.ELEMENT TREE: What’s your creative process like? How do you get these intricate flowing patterns on to paper?
TAME ONE:I hear a beat I like and I try to fill the empty space with my lyrics to accentuate the music. I try to add on to whatever it is I like about what I’m hearing.ELEMENT TREE: Was Parallel Uni-verse the first time you worked with Del on a project? Both of you have some serious histories and reputations for kicking some free as a bird type rhymes… what was that experience like?
TAME ONE: Yes. DEL and I go back decades. Back when we both had just signed our deals. We had never worked together other than freestyling for radio shows or being booked on the same bill. I enjoyed it one, because I felt it was long overdue and two because I feel we have so many similarities in general. It was like rocking with a close brother.
ELEMENT TREE: The Industry: A monster that takes comsumes an artist’s creativity and eventually spits out something completely different. Were you ever a victim to it and do you have any advice for the younger generation of artists on the come up?TAME ONE: My only advice to the younger generation is to not sleep on us elders. Respect what and who made it possible for them to even do what they’re doing at all.
ELEMENT TREE: What’s next for Tame One? I almost don’t even want to ask as if you haven’t given us enough throughout the years. Lol. But, I can’t front… if there is something in the works I know I can speak for plenty of people… What is it, where can I buy it, when does it drop?
TAME ONE: THE ARTIFACTS reunion album- a project with C CHAN (from THE DUSTED DONS/SLOW SUICIDED STIMULUS) called “THE TOXIC TWINZ”- and a group project called “THE ATOMIC HEADZ” on/for GEORGE CLINTONS new label. (featuring his nephew SA’D ALI, GRUFF RHINO, DJ PORN and a few female vocalist) No release dates yet. No deadlines. All I can say is keep your eyes on me cuz I’m grinding like crazy this year.ELEMENT TREE: So… graffiti was and still is something you incorporate into your rhymes and if you’re from Jersey you know the name… Tame1! What can you tell us about coming up in those times when graffiti was splattered with style through the streets of our cities. Do you still practice it and what made Tame get out there and rock?
TAME ONE: Ironically, it’s now a personal guilty pleasure. I started out doing it for notoriety. Now it’s more about self-expression and therapeutic release. After rapping about it with ARTIFACTS fame was no longer and objective, so now it’s more or less my artistic medium of choice, artistic freedom for the hip hop culture with no guidelines or rules.ELEMENT TREE: Well, thank you and it’s been beyond a pleasure picking your brain. What can we expect from Tame One in the years to come and do you have any last thought?
TAME ONE: Thank you. Like I said before just keep your eyes on me before it’s all said n done. You may be surprised and definitely entertained. Peace to THE ARTIFACTS, my BOOM SKWAD FAMILY, THE WEATHERMEN, THE STIMULUS BROTHERS and to all the Hip Hop nation universally. Peace.