He’s worked with and produced for Notorious Big, Big L, Dr Dre, Capone and Noreaga, Fat Joe and Roy Ayers amongst others, influencing the sound of hip hop over many years.
We spoke in New York about lack of label promotion, disco DJ sets, and how long it takes to get a project done.
Lord Finesse: Ya’ll know me as Lord Finesse aka the Funky Man aka The Under Boss reppin D.I.T.C, live, New York.
Lady Jay UK: So what’s been happening with you?
Lord Finesse: A lot of behind the scenes work, you know, I’m a behind the scenes dude right now. A lot of production, DJ gigs, I organise events… For my birthday I took Nice and Smooth, Beatnuts, D.I.T.C. we did Japan; working on doin’ somethin’ in Paris. You know I just got my hands mixed up in a lot of different things.
Lady Jay UK: Tell me about the production stuff that you’re doing?
Lord Finesse: Working with one of my people from Freestyle Professors, Brainspark, y’all might not know him, independent thing. I’m working with a Japanese artist, out of Tokyo, her name’s Sitomi, I’m probably gonna work with Q Unique from The Arsonists; the list goes on and on and on. Those are what I know off hand, I haven’t told you about all the projects I’m supposed to submit…
Lady Jay UK: So what about the DJ’ing stuff?
Lord Finesse: Oh I love that. That’s my pride and joy. Dj’ing I do basic clubs like everybody else, you know play everything from the 80’s and 90’s all the way up ‘til now, breaks, RnB, soul, jazz, you know, everything.
Lady Jay UK: You got any favourite records that you just love to play?
Lord Finesse: I don’t have any favourites, once I’m in the zone, it’s just like I play anything. Workin’ on a nice disco set right now. No one really rock disco like that, so…
Lady Jay UK: Get the people dancing huh. You’ve had such a journey in this industry…
Lord Finesse: I’ve been around since 1989 so…
Lady Jay UK: How did it all begin?
Lord Finesse: It all began in Forest Pprojects of course. Really, growing up in life, I wanted to be a DJ, I didn’t really wanna be an MC. The MC thing I just tripped upon it and I was real nice at it, and pursued that; but I think I would have been equally as nice on the turn tables. I used to enter into all the DJ competitions and stuff like that.
And then, I shot my demo’s around, basically, just everywhere.
Lady Jay UK: What have been the highs and lows on that journey?
Lord Finesse: The nineties was probably one of the greatest eras you could have came out in. That golden era, I don’t think it’s gonna be a era for a very long time that’s gonna have anything to do to top the golden era. I think the ups of it is doin’ somethin’ you love doin’. I was told once you find a job you love, you’ll never work again.
Lady Jay UK: Do you feel like that?
Lord Finesse: Yea, I love music. I could do 14 hour studio sessions and don’t even feel like that ‘cos I love to do it, you know. The downs? You’ll get downs but I think it’s that you living from experience. You can’t really call them downs, when something happen that never happened to you before, you learn, you get around it, it makes you strong, and you build of off it.
You get downs as far as, the label not promoting you well, or, maybe not getting toe notoriety you felt you deserved, but shit it’s part of life you know.
Lady Jay UK: Have you ever felt like packing it in?
Lord Finesse: Nah, I never got to the point… I mean I laid the mic down, for a nice long while right now.
(his phone rings and he arranges a couple games of pool with a friend!)
Like I was saying, yea you get your ups and downs, but I think me thinking about ever giving this up, nah. Nah, I can’t just give up music. I laid the mic down for a good long while now, but I could pick it back up, it’s nothing, you know.
I’m like that dude that wear the 23 jersey and come back to play ball, he played it for love, I put my jersey back on, take my team to the chip. You know what I’m sayin.
I love music though, I think the greatest part about DJing and producing, I can be 40 something, 50 years old, and if I’m still nice, I’m still nice.
Lady Jay UK: Is there anyone that you haven’t worked with that you’d like to?
Lord Finesse: I still wanna work with Rakim,… Big Daddy Kane, Ghostface, and maybe Jay Z. If I could get to sit with him and we do something I think that would be incredible. That’s about it.
Lady Jay UK: Who are some of the people that you have worked with, and are there any studio sessions that stand out?
Lord Finesse: I’ve worked with Notorious Big, Big L, Dr Dre, Capone and Noreaga, of course Fat Joe, Roy Ayers. That’s why there’s not a lot of people left I really wanna work with.
As far as studio sessions I think Big L and Notorious Big. Those is like the most memorable sessions. Big L because it’s just gonna be a comedy fest with Big L, and I could kinda say the same thing with Notorious Big. On my myspace site, I got footage of a Notorious Big session where we was clowin’. Well he was doin’ most of the clownin’.
Lady Jay UK: So what do we need to know?
Lord Finesse: Well the last project I just finished working on was the O.C. / A.G. project. You need to look out for that. I don’t like to keep telling people I’m working on my project because a year go by, and another year go by, then two other years go by. I mean the project is special because for me to do the project that I wanna do I have to really shut down and not do nothing and just do my shit. That’s hard to do because every time I turn around I get my hands into something else, I don’t never get to shut down, but hopefully I’ll shut down… I don’t wanna say this summer, ‘cos I wanna do some travelling. I’d say towards fall or something. You know, shut down, work on Lord Finesse, E.P / album whatever. If I feel it’s gonna take me too long I got a E.P. If I feel it’s goin’ better than expected I got a album. If I feel shit don’t get done and I only get one song, it just be a expensive ass single. Hahaha a $60 single.
Lady Jay UK: Limited edition… so where can we check you out?
Lord Finesse: www.myspace.com/lordfinesse that’s it. Otherwise you gotta catch me somewhere you gotta bump into me.
(speaks to A.G.) The Lady here she just bumped into me, and we had chance to do this interview. It wasn’t planned , it wasn’t like ‘yea I’m a call Finesse’s agent’ she bumped into me on a humble and here we go.
I’d just like to say thanks. Thanks for the years, the decade of support that I got over years and years of being in the game. That’s one thing I’m always humble to the fans. I appreciate the love, I’m not one of them souped up cats, I’m very down to earth. Keep supporting me and hopefully, I’ll never upset ya’ll, keep doin’ the music y’all have grown to love me putting out.