Spspeakeasy with Russell Johnson 

As an MC with the M

As an MC with the Mudkids and a radio/club DJ, Johnson doesn’t spin wack shit.

Q: What’s up with a new Mudkids record?

We’ve tracked about 25 new songs in the last two years and realistically could finish and release a record by the end of the year. I think some of the demos are amongst our best work.

Q: As a prolific artist, is there a particular project you feel is most representative of your work?

I think the best, most complete work I’ve done is the second Mudkids album. That record has it all; we had found our sound. At that point I was writing so much, it just felt … right. I still can listen to it — and hip-hop, especially your own, ages fast.

Q: The Birdmen of Alcatraz is seen as one of the greatest things that almost was. Is the band’s endgame a sore spot for you?

Ahhhh … Birdmen. Oh, to be young and full of piss, vinegar, sweat, tears and hope. I really saw that band as ready to make it, but I don’t think any of us were prepared to make it. There’s a difference. At our best, that band was as good as anyone, especially live. I always hoped that someone from Major Label Inc. would see us and crap themselves, then write us a contract on a bar napkin after we got our check! It ain’t really a sore spot, it just makes me wish for do-overs sometimes.

Q: Do you worry about getting older?

When I jumped into this, I was a teen-ager, a kid, a boy. I think now I’m not as self-conscious as I was. I know what I can do. I guess the major change is I’ve gone from trying to be everybody’s favorite buddy to trying to be just a good writer/DJ. I used to worry about getting older in hip-hop. Let’s face it, there ain’t a ton of A&Rs out trying to find 30-something MCs. It’s just not the trend. Now, I just try to stick to my guns and put something in your mind.

Q: What are some of the hottest records on the club scene?

There are no hot records, only hot DJs. The DJ has to access the environment and make the records hot.

Q: You’re known for your ego almost as much as your talent. Care to comment?

Ego? Moi? Confidence, Darling! I think anyone who had to stand in front of people and say stuff they wrote better have an ego. As long as you project confidence, people tend to believe in you. I think people believe in the quality of my work as much as they believe in my assessment of it. Ego ain’t bad, ignorance is.

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