Here is a 3 The Hardway interview originally conducted mid-April 2009 which in part, ran in The Metropolitan. This is the interview in its entirety. Enjoy.
LU: Tell me a bit about “Set In Stone”.
Es Nine: The album took just under a year and a half to complete. But it was basically all of our hard work and dedication to music put into one basket. We wanted to prove that we belong in the scene, not only on a local level but on a national spectrum as well. We wanted to bring back that classic sound of heavy drums, dope samples, excellent cuts, and meaningful lyrics. We wanted this album to be “Set In Stone” with some of the classic albums we grew up bumping. Since the album was released, "Set In Stone" was chosen as the “Hip Hop Album Of The Year” by Westword, and 3 The Hardway was selected to perform the “Bands You Need To Know” presented by 101.5 FM and Soda Jerk Presents.
Cysko Rockwell: This album has been in the works since the naming of the group. The reason the wait took so long is because of personal issues and also me breaking equipment, so the cuts took a little longer than expected. The album is being received very well and it is of no surprise to me. I knew Es-Nine and A.V.I.U.S. would do their part and hopefully I did mine.
LU: For those who don’t know yet, describe your sound and the vibe of the record.
A.V.I.U.S.: The sound of the album is very West Coast underground oriented: a very positive vibe, with that boom bap feel.
CR: Official Boom Bap Hip Hop
LU: What is the difference between an A.V.I.U.S. record and a 3 The Hardway record?
CY: More of a collab feeling as far as the dj element, meaning a lot more scratching. And also everyone grew as artists.
AV: The A.V.I.U.S. “Patience” album was a very aggressive album, almost angry, where as the 3 The Hardway "Set In Stone” album has more of an up-tempo good-vibe feel. It still has the “classic” A.V.I.U.S. rugged delivery, and has cuts on every track giving it a totally different feel than “Patience.” As a whole it showcased how much we have each grown as artists and proved that we work well together in our own aspects of the group
LU: Es-Nine, who would you most love to work with as a producer?
ES: I gotta say Rakim, Nas, and Jay-Z are at the top of my list.
LU: What are your feelings on the Denver hip hop scene? Who would you like to collaborate with? Would you leave Denver to “make it” on a larger scale?
AV: We love the Denver hip hop scene and the music scene in general. It has opened the door for us and given us a home and opportunity to make our mark on the industry. Honestly we would love to make it from here, but should the opportunity present itself yes we would, but only to open the door for ourselves and the rest of the scene here in Colorado.
ES: We have a new motto this year that we created with L.I.F.E.House (L.I.F.E. Crew, House of Waxx) 2009 is a new year and we need to come together with everyone. Give everyone a shot, and see what happens.
AV: We love the Denver hip hop scene and the music scene in general. It has opened the door for us and given us a home and opportunity to make our mark on the music industry. Honestly we would love to make it from here, but, should the opportunity present itself: yes we would, but only to open the door four ourselves and the rest of the scene here in Colorado.
CY: The scene is growing rapidly and I am impressed with the older cats in the scene growing into their own sound and things will only get bigger and better in CO.
LU: DJ Cysko Rockwell, tell us about your accomplishments as a DJ, a bit about the Crunk Bros., and your plans as a DJ for the future.
CY: I have won plenty of little titles along the way as well as some big ones!
2002 Barts Champion
2002 Guitar Center Colorado Blvd. District Champion
2002 Guitar Center Phoenix Regional Finalist
2003 Barts Runner Up(2nd)
2003 Next Level TV show Champion
2004 Guitar Center District Champion (Vegas, Phoenix, Utah, Colorado)
2004 Guitar Center LA Regional Finalist
2004 DMC Boulder Runner Up (2nd)
2006 DMC Boulder Champion
2006 DMC USA Finalist
2006 DMC Battle For Supremacy USA top 8
2006 Guitar Center Colorado District Champion
2006 Guitar Center San Francisco West Coast Regional Champion
2006 Guitar Center USA top 6
2007 DMC USA Runner Up (2nd place)
The Crunk Brothers are still working(somewhat) Thought, Shake, and Mier are busy with their new ventures and I wish them well, I am just happy to see them spin here and there. Tense and Discord are staying busy doing their thing with their groups (Maneline, and Boom Box Saints) as well as playing out when they can. Es-Nine and myself are trying to work on some new 2 by 4 routines and we spin the Tooeys night every first Saturday of the month and i am spinning Tooeys on another night i am starting as well as the loft every wed. I will e doing more underground and club nights in the future as well as shows. So be on the lookout for those nights. On another note I will be releasing at least 4 to 5 mix cds this year as well as working on my solo production/collabo project. On top of that you will see my name in all of the major dj battles this year (The Gong, Scribble Jam, DMC showcase and head to head, and maybe a few others) so keep your fingers crossed for your big CO homie and hopefully we will bring home a US title for our square state!
LU: Es Nine, how did you get started producing, what equipment do you use, and where did you go to school?
ES: I actually started as a DJ and from there I wanted to do much more than just play records I loved. I wanted to make them. The first piece of equipment I did anything with was on my mentor’s (El Sun) MPC 2000. But, my first exposure to production equipment was the EPS which later became the ASR10. I received my engineering degree at the conservatory of recording arts and sciences in Arizona. The best investment I made in my career.
LU: What artists are your biggest inspirations?
CR: Good music is what fuels me. I just love good hip hop and the shit is not dead. I think there is more good hip hop out there than ever before. But with that said there is twice as much bullshit you have to drudge through to find it. I am going to keep myself making mix cds, battle routines and now beats because that is what I love to do.
LU: Where do you see hip hop headed in the next few years? Do you see yourselves updating your sound to keep up with the ever-changing face of hip hop, or is the plan to stick with the true school sound 100%?
CR: I personally will keep doing what I have done in the past and maybe branching out to new avenues on my own path(as far a s my djing) but as for the group, we will keep making that authentic hip hop sound and not try to be scenesters but still keep up with the hot sounds.
AV: Don’t know where it is going…But as long as we do what we do, that is all that we can do. We don’t try to change ourselves with the newest trends of music. It hasn’t gotten us to where we are, and it sure won’t get us to where we are going.
LU: What keeps you motivated as a group and as solo artists in hip hop?
AV: My biggest inspiration is my kids, they keep me going and give me a reason to succeed. Music as a whole is an inspiration, it allows me to let go and tell my story and hopefully touch other people. Motivation is never needed. The will to succeed and belief in myself and my group is all we got.
The new album “Set In Stone” is available at Twist and Shout Records, or online at: