Wildchild in Elemental Magazine

  • Aqua Boogie
  • Elemental Magazine
  • May 01, 2003

When speaking to Call lyricist WiIdchild he tends to use words like patience and persistence throughout the conversation. He along with his co-d's, Lootpack, have managed to release a grand total of one album in four years. It's even harder to swallow that it's been eight long years since Tash of The Alkaholiks kicked, "We got my man Cracker Jack from the Lootpack about to set this shit off," on their sophomore album's, Coast II Coast, combustible opening track "WLIX." It wasn't the Oxnard, California (about an hour outside of L.A.) trios first appearance on wax but it got heads checking for more from the sharp tongued MCs. What matters at the moment is that Jack Brown, that's his real name... for real, is Wildchild who along with DJ/producer/MC wunderkind Madlib and DJ Romes have dished out some of the best hip-hop the West has had to offer this side of Dr. Dre and Hieroglyphics.

The journey begins when Wildchild was a young and very sober Call b-boy finding his way. As he recounts, "I started back in '89, '90. I used to pop, break and stuff with my man Madlib." Friends since the 6th grade and initially in it for the dancing, they gradually got deeper into the culture when Madlib, along with DJ Romes, started DJing parties around the way. But it was his buddy God's Gift, who was fea- tured on their first album, who pushed him into freestyling and lit Wildchild's desire to grab the mic while still in high school. The freestyling led to house parties, which led to clubs, which led to opening up for different groups that would come through the Oxnard area; to eventually making demos and 4 track recordings. It wasn't until after high school, around 1993, that Lootpack was officially formed. "We were really trying to make money at that point because none of us were holding steady jobs. It wasn't no real defined name. We were actually going to go by The Pack at first. We put a little pack together and we were trying to make money but we weren't too sure because a lot of people would stereotype us as just doing this just for the money. We tried to come up with a different way of explaining the acronym behind loot. When we first started it was Lyrics On Original Tracks Possible Antidote Created in Kali, before the album came out," explains Wildchild.

It was a chance meeting with Tash of The Alkaholiks that set the wheels in motion and made dreams of mics, shows and albums feasible. "He used to come around the way to Oxnard. Him and a couple of DJ's that we used to know back in the day were doing parties," recalls Wildchild. "J-Ro has family out there as well but we never met until we hooked up with DJ Pooh later. I was actually working at Wherehouse Music PIus (a record store). A lot of the stores didn't always sell vinyl but we did. It was the 1st 12-inch they were putting out with King Tee, "Got it Bad Y'all." I was in the spot playing my demo tapes my whole shift. He came through and was vibing to what I was playing and that's how we met and hooked up at that point. I started explaining who we were and then I didn't give him the demo until a week or so later when we hooked up at a party. They were coming through to peep out the singles that they had put out with King Tee and the next week we were hooked up with DJ Pooh and cats started showing love from there. It was cool."

After the connection, the mutual respect for each others work led both squads to collaborating in the studio. The Alkaholiks helped keep the trio busy by having them guest appear on their first three albums. Despite above average skills and a growing following, the pavement still had to be pounded in search of the right record deal. "We were shopping deals left and right. We were hungry for it but at the same time we weren't fully represented in our corner. Not on the artist aspect but we didn't have an actual manager that was representing us the way we wanted to be. We felt that if we jumped into a label we would have got thrown up on the shelf and then locked into a major deal type of thing. The Liks were only able to do so much, so we decided it wasn't the right time for us and that's why we just wait- ed." It's not like labels were simply cool on Lootpack's music, they were just being extra cautious. Case in point, "We almost signed a deal with Loud Records right after we did "WLIX." It was more or less a single deal they offered us, to follow up with an album. But once again it was one of those things we weren't a 100% feeling sure that that was the right move." Not a bad call since the once glorious label which housed legends like Wu-Tang Clan and Mobb Deep, is now defunct.

Even with the Likwit Crew affiliation and coming from a scene where their contemporaries were groups like The Pharcyde, Freestyle Fellowship and Dilated Peoples, it wasn't until 1997 that the Lootpack secured a deal with Peanut Butter Wolf's Stone's Throw Records. Ultimately, creative control was the major factor in their decision to sign with the renowned indie label. "We still weren't sure until he let us pretty much do what we wanted as far as the creative control. The deal itself was one of the basic deals that the independent labels were doing at that time. We were still developing our sound, what we wanted to sound like. We did the album in '96 and we didn't hook up with Wolf until '97. And at that time we wanted to get something out. We got to the point were we gotta get something out but at the same time we wanted to make sure we were still gonna keep that creative control behind. That's when we hooked up with Wolf and it worked out from there he put it out. The vibe was there but it was more or less I don't know if we got really stereotyped from the raw we were bringing. Because you know it was our first album toeverybody. We were kind of sketchy about it but everything worked out cool, that's why we're just trying to keep being persistent."

The lack of a timely Loot Pack follow up album to their critically acclaimed debut, Soundpieces: Da Antidote, is explained matter-of-factly, "Once the album came out we got a lot of busy work as far as the touring and my man Madlib with the production. That's what took a while for us to get working on the next album, which still leads us up to this day. 'Cause everybody had different things they were going through, where we were living and moving and personal situations." Work has begun on a new Lootpack album with the possibility of release late this year.

For the record, the Lootpack hasn't pulled a Slum Village or a Tribe Called Quest and are not on the outs. Rather, the different projects were always in their blueprint. Envy hasn't reared its ugly head in this team's ranks. "The whole goal was always to do different projects," explains Wildchild. "Whether it was a solo album or to do alias projects which my man Madlib did first with the Quas(imoto) album. I was going to follow with another project called The Jackal but I ended up going for the Wildchild album. I was actually planning to release it a year and a half ago already. The goal was to have the album released so by this time we would already have had second Lootpack album done. But, there's only so much you can do when you're with an independent label. You gotta be patient." There goes that word again.

Patience is a virtue certainly not lost on Wildchild. the Lootpack's debut was four years ago, eons to listeners with fickle and impatient tastes. They've managed to keep their names fresh in forgetful hip-hop heads with the aforementioned projects. Madlib has been busy as a highly sought after producer. A solid resume of recent guest appearances including songs with Sandman and DJ Strong have made Wildchild's impending debut, Secondary Protocol a no brainer. He confidently describes the difference between his solo work and Lootpack material, "I still brought the raw vibe but it's still universal because the music is more melodic. It's not just the raw, hardcore SP type of sound. It's unexpected, that's the whole goal. It's not something that you would expect to hear listening to the Lootpack album versus the Wildchild album."

It's still a family affair with Madlib supplying about half the tracks and Oh No providing the rest of the production. The disc is littered with freestyle inspired battle lyrics along with the head nodding production you have come to expect. The lead single "Code Red" sets the tone for the album with strutting drums anchoring a mean string section sample. The usual suspects like Planet Asia, Aceyalone, The Liks and Phil Da Agony make solid contributions, but Wildchild is never lost in the shuffle and maintains the album as his own. Even Native Tongue songstress Vinia Mojica makes an appearance on the sublime "Party Up." One of the more notable collaborations is with subterranean legend Rhyme Inspector Percee P on "Knicknack 2002." Its manifestation is a story in itself. Wildchild reflects on their initial meeting, "We were in New York doing a show and this cat came up to me at a club and he was selling these old school Cold Crush and Lord Finesse tapes. I didn't know he was known for doing that, selling a lot of battles that you really can't get from anywhere else. He tells me his name and I explain who I am and we were both trippin' off each other. It was one of those things where we connected right at the beginning we just had to work together. He liked the stuff we were bringing and we were already fans of his stuff from way back in the day. From there we just kept in touch but it was a hassle because he's away in New York, we're out here so it wasn't easy to just knock out a schedule and just record the song. It took like a year or so to finally get that worked out."

Other influences in Wildchild's repertoire include The Isley Brothers and Earth Wind & Fire down to Kool G Rap, Pharoahe Monch and, "my whole crew in the 805. Oh No, Medaphoar, they keep me going. Keep me on my tips and toes." Not many newcomers on that list but he does offer hope, "With all the music that's being released now, everyone has that mind-state now that rap is the dying element of hip-hop. It's so many artists out there now that's trying to bring that breath of fresh air." A very humble individual, when asked his purposes in hip-hop is in contrast, "Just keeping hip-hop alive as far as rap music," and enviable task to say the least. But you have to start somewhere.

Wildchild's name is an oxymoron now. He's 28, been married for two years and has an 8 year old daughter named Kiana to think about and provide for, making him more family oriented. Having held multiple jobs in the demo days from retail to telemarketing to sales to construction, the bills will get paid. The true grit of artists like Wildchild and his peers is found in their persistence in producing music that steadfastly forsakes record sales for quality. It's not that he doesn't want dough, who doesn't? But his drive and inspiration is encouraged by an ideal he hints at when he says, "Right now music is my life, but music isn't my job. I want it to become both." Not a bad gig.