Poison Pen: Bed Stuy Parade

    For close to a decade Brooklyn MC Poison Pen has been rocking crowds with his brash, in your face lyrics and larger than life persona. Pen has released countless mixtapes with his crew’s EMVEEZ and Stronghold and has made guest appearances on a number of albums and mixtapes. He has worked with artists such […]

    For close to a decade Brooklyn MC Poison Pen has been rocking crowds with his brash, in your face lyrics and larger than life persona. Pen has released countless mixtapes with his crew’s EMVEEZ and Stronghold and has made guest appearances on a number of albums and mixtapes. He has worked with artists such as Immortal Technique, C-Rayz Walz, and Pack FM, but up until this summer the former battle MC has never released his own solo album. Released in June, Pick Your Poison–Mark Of The East, Poison Pen’s debut is an album almost 10 years in the making, but well worth the wait.AllHipHop.com met with Poison Pen in Bed Stuy, Brooklyn to discuss mainstream versus underground Hip-Hop, gaming, and the pros and cons of being in the underground. AllHipHop.com: How did you come up with the name Poison Pen?Poison Pen: I was reading the Daily News one day. It was like ’95, and it was an article on this dude he was kind of like a stalker or whatever and he was sending threatening letters to people harassing people and stuff and it was just like, “Blah, blah, blah sends poison pen letters,” and I was like this is kind of cool. It’s hot. All I used to do back in the day was concern myself with punch lines. So it kind of fit the style of rhyme I had. You know what I’m saying? Poison Pen. I write sick, whatever. So yeah, Poison Pen I just took that name on and then when I told people that was my name people started laughing at me telling me how wack it was, but who’s laughing now?AllHipHop.com: Growing up in Brooklyn around so many artists how do you think that’s influenced your style?Poison Pen: The era that we come from I was influenced by so many people being in my hood. Like I seen with my own eye’s I’m from Bed-Stuy, I’m from Nostrand Avenue. So I seen with my own eyes as a little dude… I seen [Jay-Z] in the hood before he became who he was; I seen [Notorious B.I.G.] in the hood. I’ve seen these brothers physically before most people became who they was. I seen all these dudes, personally. Spoke to these dudes, personally. The only one I really didn’t speak to, have a conversation with was Big. Never really spoke to him. Everybody else people I spoke to, chopped it up with I’m not saying they my homies. I’m [just] saying we’ve spoke before on more than one occasion. It’s kind of different being here [because] from other places the only time people see these artists is on television or BET or whatever have you. You get this whole other imaging. You don’t see them as a regular person. You just see them as a, “Oh snap, that’s XYZ.” I see people as these regular dudes. The voice of Hip-Hop in my hood is so diverse. Most people in Bed-Stuy don’t even sound like the other one. You can look at the list of artists that come from Bed-Stuy. You can go from Big and Jay, the obvious choice to Mos Def. You know what I mean? You can go from Mos Def to Lil’ Kim, Lil’ Cease. You can go to these new dudes like Maino and then you can go to Fabolous to Memphis Bleek. And don’t none of these motherf**kers sound like each other. The hood is real diverse like that. I can look at people for inspiration and all that, but that drives me to not sound like that motherf**ker more and to do what they do. Like I hold this dude down [pointing to Pack FM] I hold Pack FM all day and we sound nothing alike. We rap nothing alike, nothing. Our styles are totally different. I’m a part of Stronghold, my clique. Immortal Technique is my partner. C-Rayz Walz is my partner. AllHipHop.com: Why do you think rappers from other regions tend to sound alike?Poison Pen: I don’t know. I think maybe because everybody who I roll with is in the mid-20’s and up range. That era was you had to be your own individual. Look at all the dudes from back in the day. Look at N.W.A. they was all gangster and s**t, but they all had distinct voices. Ren wasn’t sounding like Dre. Ice Cube wasn’t sounding like Eazy. Even though they all had the same subject matter and things of that nature when they were rhyming together, but they still didn’t sound alike. AllHipHop.com: Okay. So you’re known as more of an underground artist. How would you feel entering the mainstream genre?Poison Pen: Ain’t nothing wrong with it. As long as I don’t have to compromise myself and s**t. I mean you compromise yourself in the underground. You know what I’m saying? Anytime you’re dealing with a label, it’s not 100% what you want to do. This product that I have out [is] on Fontana/Universal, it’s a mixtape album. All the songs on there was my choice. I’m an adult. AllHipHop.com: Do you think you would be successful as a mainstream artist?Poison Pen: I don’t see why not. I know how to talk to the crowd. I’m mad charismatic. I look good. It’s all in how you’re presented to the people. It’s all it is. It depends on if the timing is right for you to come out as a mainstream artist. You gotta look at it like…50 Cent he was signed five years before he came out and went multi-platinum.When he got signed it wasn’t no time for him. When he got signed to Trackmasters [through Columbia] it wasn’t time. I mean he wasn’t 50 Cent. He wasn’t that dude. But I don’t see why not. AllHipHop.com: Aren’t you successful now as an underground artist?Poison Pen: I pay my rent. S**t. I could be more successful. I’m not a household name. Some people know me, some people got love. Some people like, “Who? What? Huh?” Some people think I’m dope, some people think I’m trash. It is what it is. I’m not here to win the whole world over. I’m here to solidify the people that f**k with me now and just ride with those people. AllHipHop.com: You’ve been around for a minute, over a decade. Why so many mixtapes, guest apperances, but no actual album for this long?Poison Pen: I didn’t see the point. AllHipHop.com: Why?Poison Pen: Honestly, we’ve been working for years doing shows. Getting paid shows for years. Might not have been mad paper, but getting paid. Most people do that s**t for free. You understand what I’m saying? Honestly, I’m a confident dude, but I’m a realist. I didn’t think it was time for that. Plus I was sharpening myself as a songwriter anyway because I came from a group mentality from when I started rhyming. I was always part of a clique always part of a group. Always. Even when I was in school, when I was writing rhymes, I didn’t want to rhyme by myself. That was something I really had to come into doing. Even when I was in school if I wrote a verse, I would write a verse for my man too. Just so I wouldn’t be alone rhyming. AllHipHop.com: You’ve done video game voice-overs for The Warriors and Grand Theft Auto. How did that come about?Poison Pen: They liked my voice. My dude Greg Johnson who works for Rock Star, he’s an MC, he used to write for Blaze magazine. We just were real cool and he became a Rock Star employee and [was] recruiting people and stuff. He was always like, “Yo son your voice is crazy.” It was not something I aspired to do, but he was just like, “Yo, why don’t you come and read for these parts?” Read for parts? What am I acting now and I was like f**k it, it’s fun. So I went in there I read and the first one I did was Warriors I think. The first video game I did, we did a song me, DJ Static, Lifelong, and E Dot for Project Gotham Racer. And my brother Breeze Evahflowin he was doing music for video games too. He did the main song for one of them NCAA basketball games in 2001, early 2000s. The video game s**t is crazy. You get paid. It’s fun. It’s games. So Gregory Johnson he was like, “Yo, I’m doing these games. I told them about you. They really interested in hearing you [and] we doing Warriors.” I’m like, “Word, Warriors is like my favorite movie of all time.” So I went and read for the part of Cyrus which is retarded ‘cause I sound nothing like him. If you’re doing a movie remake, but for a video game you want to emulate that person so if it was an original part I’d be like alright cool, but this is a person whose voice is already mad distinct. This n***a’s voice is like mad distinct. This dude is a classically trained actor and s**t. So it’s like you want me to read this part, but my voice sounds nothing like this dude. I was the voice of the [Gramercy] Riffs. It wasn’t a part from the movie it was just a part for the game and I did mad random background voices and s**t. So they kept calling me back. They were like, “Yo you dope, you a natural.” I’m like, “Cool. Thanks.” Right after that, the same day literally I finished that, “We like you. We want to keep you around. Do this Grand Theft Auto s**t.” And I just did that, same f**king day. I auditioned for their parts for a few hours. Boom, they gave me the Grand Theft Auto script and I just started doing that sh**. Then I did a few more games. At the end of the game you see my name so that’s kind of cool. It makes you feel like you accomplished something at the end of the game when you see your name scrolling down.