Edgar Allen Floe: Floetry

H ailing from North Carolina, Edgar Allen Floe has made a name for himself, writing and producing as one of 15 members in Hip-Hop’s ‘Knights of the Round Table,’ the Justus League. One might think that by having more members in your group than the Wu-Tang Clan, he would get a case of middle child […]

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ailing from North Carolina, Edgar Allen Floe has made a name for himself, writing and producing as one of 15 members in Hip-Hop’s ‘Knights of the Round Table,’ the Justus League. One might think that by having more members in your group than the Wu-Tang Clan, he would get a case of middle child syndrome. However, Edgar is carrying a torch as one of the League’s most recognizable MC’s.

While starting off as a producer and engineer, Edgar put writing to the side ten years ago. Today, his most recent mixtape, “Floe Almighty” reveals the multitalented artist. As 9th Wonder, and now Khrysis, become Hip-Hop household names, will Edgar Allen Floe follow suit? The patient veteran told his story to AllHipHop.com in our series on North Carolina’s brightest acts.

AllHipHop.com: How’d you get the name, Edgar Allen Floe? Obviously, it’s a play on Edgar Allen Poe…

Edgar Allen Floe: I got the name back in ‘96. One of my boys that I rhyme with, Mal Demolish from The Undefined, gave it to me. It was a play on words. I tried to negotiate how Edgar Allen Poe was a well-respected writer and storyteller. I tried to incorporate that into my standpoint. He was a dope writer; I’m trying to be a well respected and dope writer, so it all goes and in hand.

AllHipHop.com: On the “Floe Almighty Mixtape,” with the opening track, “Skyward,” you mentioned that you used to hold back. Was that lyrically?

Edgar Allen Floe: Yeah, it was kind of lyrically. When I first started, around the time that Justus League started; I felt like I wasn’t really delivering [my best]. Back then, we weren’t really getting respect. When we were working on tracks, it was out of respect for one another, and we and the same musical tastes, but we were just doing joints. It was a time in the game when things were really crazy, and there wasn’t a lot of good material out. We kept ourselves motivated. Slowly, but surely, people started checking us out, but even now, we’re trying to still grind it out and build. People are looking our way, so it’s serious. We have to step the game up. We have fans from all over the world and even pioneers who we looked up to when were coming up, giving us props. They’re taking us under consideration as great MC’s and producers. With all of that, you have to really dig down deep.

AllHipHop.com: On the mixtape, you obviously worked with the usual suspects, 9th Wonder and Khrysis. But what’s up with your alter ego, SliceMysta?

Edgar Allen Floe: When I started writing seriously, it was the name that I had for myself. For the most part, I used to do beats back in the day and write at the same time. ‘Edgar Allen Floe’ was another moniker that I had. ‘SliceMysta’ has developed into the producer side of me, and ‘Edgar Allen’ is the lyrical side. It’s just a way of showing people that I’m a man of many hats. I do it all, and now I’m really working hard, first for myself, but then for other MC’s. Hopefully, they will see that and I can get the kind of respect that I’m looking for.

AllHipHop.com: In writing versus producing, how do you approach each? Is it like a right brain, left brain situation, where one takes over depending on the job at hand?

Edgar Allen Floe: That’s how I try to come. I actually try to write in the same way that I make beats. When doing beats, I make sure that the drums are in a certain area, or that the break down is in a particular spot. When you deliver it to the people, it stands out a bit. My writing is similar. It’s very strategic. I think that cats appreciate my writing as being straightforward, when a lot of the time it isn’t. You have to sit back and think a bit. People respect that because that’s how the game has always been. Some cats have been the ones where you check them out, and have to listen to the track a second time to get the full picture. You catch things that you didn’t on the first go around. It makes you keep listening.

AllHipHop.com: When you write solo material, do you try to do in a different direction than when you’re writing for the Justus League?

Edgar Allen Floe: When it all started out, 9th was doing 90% of the mixing. Now that we’re all getting busy, we have to do our own thing for the most part. I definitely go to the studio to produce and engineer my own, as well as other Justus League artists. My solo material is pretty much Justus League material, so it’s not all that different.

AllHipHop.com: Is the criteria to be a Justus League member to be versatile?

Edgar Allen Floe: It just happened. We started off with ten or 11 members. By 2003, there was 15 of us, producing, MC’ing, and engineering. It just happens that with so many members, certain cats specialize in specific areas. You’ll never see 9th rhyming on a track. He’ll tell you that himself. Khrysis doesn’t rap. For the most part, we have producers that do their thing, or MC’s and DJ’s – the same. You definitely have a variety of minds to get a different perspective. We all know what we do best and focus on our strengths.

AllHipHop.com: You hear the good sides and bad sides of others’ opinions. Does it get overwhelming having so many people in the group?

Edgar Allen Floe: With any group, no matter how large or small, you’ll always have differences. We’ve always been the type if group that when we need to discuss something serious, we have a meeting and talk it out. That’s something that we’ve always done and it’s helped us stay focused. We don’t want to be that group ten years down the line, falls apart. We have so many cats that we have to stick together and keep going or we would never would have made it this far.

AllHipHop.com: How has the development of Hip-Hop changed your perspective or even your abilities to create?

Edgar Allen Floe: Back in the mid to late 90’s, when I was doing a lot of writing and developing, you had so many dope albums that it would motivate you. As soon as you’d check something out, you wanted to write and be on that level. I don’t really feel that as much today. As far as new material, I’ll say the past six to seven years have been really crazy. It hasn’t been as strong as it could be, but things come back around slowly. I’m trying to step it up and say, “I’m a dope MC, and I can keep the game going.” You have cats like Ghost that have been doing it for a long time, and still reinvented themselves. A lot of them rely on their legacies, which are respectable, but you have to look forward and not back. There are a few MC’s and producers out there that really motivated me into doing my best. This year has been good for new material that’s been coming out. I’ve been getting motivated to pick up an album and not question its quality. It used to be like that for years, but now I can have some sort of confidence in a lot of the MC’s.

AllHipHop.com: Why have so many older artists forgotten to step up their game?

Edgar Allen Floe: Different cats handle their business differently. A lot have forgotten. They rap about, “I’ve been doing this for over a decade. Respect me.” You have a lot of cats that do, but the younger generation doesn’t know who they are. Kids that were born when they were dropping those tracks don’t know who the best MC’s to ever do it were. You have to step it up and reach them somehow. You can’t be screaming about how you have classics from ‘89 to ‘94. Again, that’s when they were born, so how can you expect them to relate? These are kids that will be doing it from now until 2015 or further. That’s how time works, things evolve. The only way to reach them is by being brand new or changing your style. Don’t forget who you are or take away from that, but you have to meet them on a common level. Give them something that will have them following you around for the next five to seven years.