The Futurist: World’s Fair, the New Kings from Queens
All six members of the World's Fair collective sit down with Kidd Future to talk about the NYC hip-hop scene, signing to Fool's Gold Records, radio, and about being "bastards of the party."
During NY rap's storied Golden Era of the '80s and'90s crews were a driving force in hip-hop. More recently the resurgence of collectives like Beast Coast and A$AP have provided a much-needed jolt to NYC's once stagnant scene. Representing Queens is World's Fair, an assemblage of six MCs from various parts of the borough. The group's name is reference to their home borough and the group is as diverse and colorful as the slice of New York City they represent..
The individual members of World's Fair are Jeff Donna, Prince SAMO, Cody B. Ware, Lansky Jones, Remy Banks, and Nigel Nasty. (The latter three form the trio Children of the Night). This summer the group announced they've opted to sign with Fool's Gold Records. A major next step for the crew aiming to be the next kings of Queens.
Remy, please explain what Jeff Donna, Prince SAMO, Lansky Jones, Cody B. Ware, Nigel Nasty contribute to the collective.
Remy: We all have our own flavor. SAMO be spittin' that raw shit, that fun shit or that go grab your gun shit. Jeff's flow and versatility will be a problem to the whole rap game, you'll see when the tape drops. Cody is the definition of an artist. He's very passionate and may I include, he can sing. Children Of The Night is a different dynamic because we're a group but we all have our separate identities. Nasty Nigel is the most abstract artist I know, he can literally rap on anything, in his own way and make it sound good. Lansky Jones' lyricism is like no other, he's also a wizard when it comes to writing hooks. I bring that smooth wordplay and shifty flow factor into the equation. That's what makes up the World's Fair conglomerate.
The New York scene is being revitalized but at the same time World's Fair stands alone as a collective. What are your thoughts on the direction NY hip-hop has taken? How does WF continue to stand out in the crop of new talent?
Prince: That's because we do stand alone. We have people who we're cool with and close to in this NY rap scene but at the end of the day hip-hop is a sport of competition so to an extent, every man and every team has to make sure they can stand alone. That's where the strength comes in. Not to mention we can stand alone within World's Fair [as solo artists] as well. That's how it started.
Nasty Nigel: New York for the past two, three years has been shifting into an interesting place where all corners and eras of New York rap can coexist and be successful. You can have your combination Ma$e/Q-Tip and not be judged which is pretty cool with me. It's more about being an individual that reps New York, now more than just reppin' New York. That is where we stand. We're just a bunch of dudes with different stories to tell with a NY sound.
Lansky: I feel that there is enough diversity on the scene at this moment to really go out there and represent who you truly are, which is a beautiful thing. As World’s Fair, we really play off of our individuality, and that’s what truly makes us shine. I’m multiracial, and I don’t mind throwing in a little Yiddish in my rhymes here and there, it’s who I am culturally, and maybe somebody else out there can relate. I don’t mind making references to Steve Jobs or Woody Allen because these are people of interest to me. We leave nothing hidden, an honest approach, without trying to sound like those kids that are too cool for school. In the end I think it will make us very relatable.
Remy: I say the fact that nothing sounds like what we make is reason we continue to stand out. Our live show is like none-other also. [Laughs]
Jeff: I'm impartial to the direction NY Hip-Hop is moving in. We decide what we choose to entertain. As artists we do what we can to push NYC hip-hop further without dumbing down the quality. The new generation is not afraid to be themselves and make the music they want. I think we stand out because we rep Queens, we look different and our live show is great. Collectively, our music has been able to balance good fun and lyrical ability. I'm just happy people give a shit.
Recently it was announced you guys had signed to Fool's Gold Records. What was it about FG that made you go with them?
Prince: We just needed the ability to do and say whatever the f--- we wanted. As long as nobody tried to get in the way if that, we were good to go. FG is all about that. They f--- with us and we f--- with them. It's really that simple.
Nasty Nigel: FG's contribution to the music culture seemed organic. There isn't a suit aspect to them. Out of the other deals that were on the table, we felt that there would be room to grow creatively with them and we have received nothing but that. It honestly feels like we aren't even signed, we're just part of a growing family that has our backs.
Lansky: Fool’s Gold and World’s Fair are both party brands. It gave me the personal opportunity to venture into something I can’t do with COTN, because it wouldn’t have made sense. FG is a young, adventurous label with an overall great aesthetic. I really couldn’t think of any other label more suitable for World’s Fair and what we are trying to do. We bring that gritty edge to their equation. We have fun and sit with the new crop of rap artists but we are also emcees at the end of the day. Fool’s Gold gave us that freedom quite simply.
Hot 97 radio personality Peter Rosenberg has supported you guys from quite sometime. Do you think there is still life for independent and underground acts on the FM dial?
Prince: Yeah, I think the life for independent acts on the radio has just really begun. It's growing and it's still very early, but that's our job to change that. If we make great music, the people will demand it and it won't be possible to ignore it.
Nasty Nigel: To me, the FM dial works as a filter. There is no cap to musical intake anymore. You can literally follow 150 bands at once and they could all be super local and small. Listening to Peter's show, I got to hear who was putting the most work in as a musician to get heard or who was just straight up killing it in the underground/indie circuit.
Remy: Of course there's life for indie artists on the radio. I just think it's going to happen majorly going into 2014. I be having these weird prophecies, nevermind me.
Jeff: Hell yeah, we're appreciative of his support. It's people like Rosenberg who allow the independent voices to be heard on a larger scale. He, like most New Yorkers have a skill standard though so whatever does get airplay (hopefully) deserves it haha.
What's it like doubling as Children of the Knight and World's Fair? Or are they one in the same?
Nasty Nigel: We just had to make sure that while working on the World's Fair album, we still worked on the COTN project as well. It meant that we had to do twice the work the other members, who are also currently working on their solo projects. One of our songs for our next album even made it into 'BOTP' ['Bastards Of The Party'] so it definitely worked out for the best.
Cody: What's the reason behind retreating from all social networks? You are a hard guy to track down these days ...
The explanation is on the album track 'Blacklisted.'
What projects are in the works whether it be solo or collectively?
Nasty Nigel: 'Bastards of the Party,' September 3rd: Is all you need to know! But every single person is working on their individual project while still recording under World's Fair. Even Children of the Night is dropping bodies of work.
You guys made your presence felt at SXSW in 2013, World's Fair is known for a high energy live show. What is the craziest experience some of you had while performing live?
Prince: [Umm] I'm pretty sure we can't talk about the wildest ones due to legal reasons and statute of limitations and such. All I can say is that s-- get hectic and everyone should come check us.
Nasty Nigel: There's been so many shows that this is easily the hardest question and I always change my answer. I want to say a couple days before flying out to SXSW, we were wrapping up our winter tour as COTN and we did a show in Westchester, Pennsylvania. No one knew who the fuck we were and the venue was looking dead. Out of nowhere a yellow bus pulled up with a bunch of middle aged women ready to fuck with some rap music. We had to drop some jiggy cuts and all the soccer moms was dropping it low on stage for us.
Remy: The craziest experience I've had was walking on the crowd. The crowd was so packed and into our set that they allowed me to walk on them. I could've been a goner!
Jeff: Man, all of our shows have been nuts. I think the craziest one so far involves moshing, me front flipping into the crowd, Prince doing things I can't speak on, and girls with arm casts dancing on stage with us. Let the good times roll.
World's Fair's DJ is quite an interesting unknown mysterious fella, Can anyone elaborate on who the hell DJ THOTH is.
Nasty Nigel: DJ THOTH is so much of a mystery, we sometimes have to have him run by his moves cause the dude is always on his Morocco Mole tip. I'm surprised he hasn't DJ'd sporting a fez.
Remy: Thoth is the only living genie I know.
You guys are super Queens reps, if you had to pick one place or thing in the borough that inspired you in life, what would it be and why?
Prince: The Colosseum Mall. Simply because for a long time in my life it was the epicenter of the world. To see it still reminds me of when I thought the world was so small and how far I've come. Also how much farther I have to go and how dope that shit is.
Nasty Nigel: The fact that Queens is so diverse, it helps us coexist with each other. We may have different ideals and agendas in life but we learned how to accept our individuality. I can't think of something physically but I am sure we can all agree that the spirit of the borough is our main inspiration.
Prince SAMO is there a direct connection between you and the tag "SAMO" used by Basquiat and Al Diaz in the late 70's? I noticed some influence in your artwork.
Prince: There is a direct connection ... but that's for another time ...