Monday, October 18, 2010

B.U.K.A. Entertainment: What No Pittsburgh Hip Hop Label Did Before or Since

There's always been hip hop in Pittsburgh, but the small handfull of local labels that specialized in it generally struggled to exist. B.U.K.A. Entertainment managed to produce a total of thirty vinyl releases between 1998 and 2006. Not only impressive for a local hip hop label, but their output at least doubles that of the average local label regardless of the genre. B.U.K.A. Entertainment is the home of the Lone Catalysts. Frontman for the group and B.U.K.A. chief executive, Jermaine Sanders aka emcee J. Sands, explains "The label was really out of necessity because we wanted to put out music. Prior to that I was just a rapper and I'd made stuff with J. Rawls since '92 or '93. So there was a vision, but as far as doing what I do now that wasn't the vision back then." 

For those reading, who aren't familiar with underground hip hop, we're going to be referencing Rawkus Records here and there. Rawkus was a New York-based indy label founded in 1996. By 1998 they dominated the indy hip hop market until they were acquired by MCA Records circa 2001. Rapper/actor Mos Def and Talib Kweli comprised what was arguably the label's strongest act, Black Star. Talib Kweli was also in Reflection Eternal along with Cincinnati native, DJ Hi-Tek. J. Sands relocated from Pittsburgh to Columbus, OH in the 80's where he met the other half of Lone Catalysts, producer J. Rawls, in addition to other Ohio-based hip hop groups, namely Reflection Eternal, M.O.O.D. and Universal Dialect. These artists along with Lone Catalysts comprised what was known as the Wanna Battle Crew. "We weren't signed to Rawkus, but people we knew were signed to Rawkus. I met M.O.O.D. when they were signed to Blunt Records. When I met Kweli he was getting on M.O.O.D.'s records. Same with Hi-Tek. M.O.O.D. were signed and rolling. Once the M.O.O.D. thing hit I was back in Pittsburgh. I wasn't even in Cincinnati when that hit really. Then I started seeing Kweli pop up in magazines and what not. I hit him up and he was like 'What's up. you rapping? Come to New York!'"

"From that period in my life, say '96 to 2000, J. Rawls and I used to hit that highway and go to New York. We did it quite a bit back then. It wasn't because we had a deal. We were doing shows at Nkiru Book Store and things like that. I'd drive out to the 'Nati and do shows. That was all prior to having a label or a deal. Eventually word got around that these guys are actually kind of nice at what they do. It's an exciting feeling to do something and have people feeling you."

Lone Catalysts "The Paper Chase" (1998, LC30001)

"The first thing we ever pressed up was the demo tape. It really wasn't a demo because I was slangin' 'em. It was like an EP for real. At that time J. Rawls had a digital 8 track, so I used to ride to Cincinnati. He eventually moved to Columbus. I used to ride from Pittsburgh to Columbus to record stuff because I didn't have equipment until '99. I wasn't capable of sending files. It wasn't as digital as it is now. He would come to Pittsburgh and we'd rent out Audiomation on the Northside. Sometimes we'd be in Steubenville, we had a dude up there that was working with us. Whatever studios were around where we could get the good rates."

The first Lone Catalysts record was a four song EP that featured the A-side "Paper Chase." It was released in 1998 on B.U.K.A. Records through a P&D deal with the New Jersey-based, Big Daddy Distribution. P&D deals essentially mean that the distributor, or parent label, has a contract with the subsidiary label and they press and distribute their records for them. "We were on the phone with Big Daddy and they were like 'We like your record, but what's the name of your label?' It was a spontaneous thing." B.U.K.A. Entertainment, which was initially B.U.K.A. Records was named after a mutual friend of the Lone Catalysts. "I met B.U.K.A. in '92 and he went to jail in '94 or '95, so the majority of the time I knew him is when he was locked up. He got out in 2008 or something like that. He was the dude who introduced me to J. Rawls. They were younger than me. There was a guy that I played football and baseball with and they hung out with his little brother. His brother gave me his number and I went over to B.U.K.A.'s basement and freestyled for like two hours. J. Rawls was a rapper at that time, but I shut it down. There was only one man holding the mic that day and that's when he (Rawls) started making beats. So B.U.K.A.'s the dude who introduced me to Rawls, so I said 'That's what we'll call the label.' The acronym Brothers United Keeping it A'ficial came later."

B.U.K.A. scored a certified underground hit with their first release. One of the four songs on the EP, which was eponymously titled "Lone Catalysts" was included on the Nervous Records compilation, Hip Hop Independents Day Vol. 2. The market for independent hip hop was so lucrative then that Nervous did two volumes of this compilation series ... released less than a year apart. It was also in 1998 that Rawkus released Black Star's highly-anticipated full length album, Mos Def & Talib Kweli are Black Star. A majority of the Black Star album was produced by DJ Hi-Tek and it also included two tracks produced by J. Rawls. The Black Star association only helped to fuel the Lone Catalysts buzz.

Lone Catalysts "Due Process" (1999, BDS-823)
Five Deez "Blue Light Special" (1999, B.U.K.A. 001) 
Makeba Mooncycle "The Gibbous" (1999)

The name Lone Catalysts began to grow worldwide. J. Sands freestyles started appearing on a variety of underground mixtapes and UK-based Fat City Records released the compilation Heavy Lounging featuring a Lone Catalysts exclusive, "Jimmy Hats" as well as their collaboration with Chicago-based hip hop group All Natural. Lone Cats' sophmore release on B.U.K.A. was "Due Process." The A-side featured Talib Kweli, in addition to his cousin Rubix, as well as J. Sands' cousin Rashad who collaborated on the J. Rawls-production. The B-side "Let it Soak" featured fellow Wanna Battle members, Dante of M.O.O.D. and Holmskillet aka BJ Digby. In Sands' words "The first thing we did was put on our people. That was always embedded in me. When you get on you do something for the people around you, so that's what we did." B.U.K.A. released this record through a new P&D deal with a New York-based company, Buds Distribution. "We just wanted to test different doors. There were a lot of people out there trying to make money on the vinyl and CD tip and we messed with everybody. We were associated with a lot of groups and artists, so it was easy for us to get material. The first artists we did, besides Lone Catalysts or J. Sands, was the Five Deeez. That was the first time we expanded outside of that. That record did good actually back then." That record was actually released through a yet another distribution company by the name of Land Speed, which was based in Boston.

Next came a record by Makeba Mooncycle released through TRC Distribution, which was a company located on the west coast. "We never did anything exclusive. Projects yeah, but as a label never. We linked up with Landspeed and TRC, etc. You could work with anybody. (We'd) see how much money we could make with Buds. Well, how much can we make with Landspeed? The only one we didn't do anything with was Fat Beats. We just had a good rep back then. Makeba Mooncycle was on TRC. At that time Jason (J. Rawls) was working with her. Plus she was the one letting us stay with her all the time when we went to New York. At that time Kweli was going everywhere with the Rawkus stuff, so he wasn't there for us to stay at his place anymore. So we started staying at Makeba's and he was like 'She raps.' So we did something with her. Jason did some beats and she had us down in the studio in Brooklyn. It was off the chain. Her brother was Prodigal Son from Sunz of Man. Back in the day DJ Khaled ... you know 'We the Best' ... he was sleeping on the floor in Prodigal Sons room back in the day. That's the type of stuff we were around. I remember him from before, with Prodigal Son, when he'd come up from Florida to do his mixtapes. Now he's on TV talking about 'We the Best.'"

Rook & Bishop "Da Ill" (2000, BDS-839)         
Lone Catalysts "Politix (2000, BDS-844)    
J. Sands "Won't Stop" (2000, BDS-848)
Caleesh "Snake In The Grass" (2001, B-C0001)
BJ Digby "Breakthrough" (2001, B-C0002)

B.U.K.A. became more involved with the local Pittsburgh scene in 2000. They'd found a temporary home for the label with Buds distribution. The second Buds-distributed release was a single by Pittsburgh hip hop group Rook & Bishop, a group consisting of emcee LG and producer Joe Lucas, titled "Da Ill." Then came the follow-up Lone Catalysts single "Politix" and then the debut J. Sands single, which featured production by local producer Geeman aka The Grand Ear. When asked about how he hooked up with Sands he says "I would see him here and there and he'd be like 'I gotta get some beats from you.' Then we kind of sealed the deal at that Roots show at Metropol. He was like 'Yo, we really need to do something.' So we exchanged numbers then and got the ball rolling. It was me and Geology had the joint on the flip side." Geology was a New York-based producer who'd already established a name for himself in the underground scene. Geeman goes on to describe what it was like to be contributing to a vinyl release at that point in time "It was crazy. To get pressed on wax and get something put out on an indy label back then. Nobody else had really done it locally, so when I landed that first 12" with him I was like 'Dag ...' Nobody else was really pressing wax like that except for Strict Flow, Lone Cats and I guess what you could call WAMO acts, like Misfits In The Attic. Concrete Elete was around at that time. They had some 12"s I recall, one or two. There wasn't a lot though. You couldn't run down a whole list of cats that were putting out stuff. I don't think a lot of people locally knew anything about the distribution game really. You know, how to network that. That was really a great time to do that when people were really putting money behind these acts and putting stuff out there. A few people had contacted me from the UK. They were telling me they really liked that joint a lot. Holmskillet heard the stuff I did with Sands and was like 'Wassup?' I sent him some stuff, but that didn't manifest. He ended up doing some stuff with Joe Money and they released that."

B.U.K.A. released two more singles through Buds in early 2001. They were Caleesh "Snakes in the Grass" produced by DJ Drastik (both Pittsburgh artists) and the aforementioned record by Ohio-based Wanna Battle Crew member Holmskillet, who'd changed his moniker to BJ Digby by the time the record came out. Pittsburgh-based producer Joe Money, who was already working under the name Usef Dinero, did production on the former. Joe's been an active member of the Pittsburgh hip hop scene since the 80's. He talks a little bit about his experience with B.U.K.A. and why a scenario like this hadn't existed in Pittsburgh earlier. "A lot of that really never even touched Pittsburgh, for real for real. Not in my state of mind I don't think. I guess because the market wasn't really strong, so there were just a few people trying to do their thing. Most of the mugs back then was like either DJ'ing or break dancing. People weren't really into beats back then. I mean I was, but I was just getting my feet wet. I started making beats, I wanna say maybe '93 or '94. I didn't really get real heavy into it until '96 or '97. I bumped into a lot of other cats from messing with J. Sands and Jason (J. Rawls). I met Sands through my man LG. He hooked us up and it's been good ever since. It exposed me to a lot of people pretty much. I did a bunch of joints for J. Live, Unspoken Heard, El Da Sensei (from the Artifacts) and a bunch of other cats." At this point B.U.K.A. moves on to their next phase, which takes them across the Atlantic.

Lone Catalysts Hip Hop LP (2001, LCHH01-1)
Lone Catalysts Hip Hop instrumentals
LP (2001, LCHH01-3)
V/A Bringing It Home Volume One LP (2001
, LCBH0001-1)
Camu Tao "Hear Me Talking To You" (2001
, LC3005-12)
Lone Catalysts "Place To Be" (2001
, LCP00002)
V/A B.U.K.A Promo 12" (2001,

"Buds was a funny distributor to work with. After that we started hooking up with Groove Attack." Groove Attack was a German label and distributor based in Cologne. Sands explains the company's history and how their relationship formed. "They started a deal out with Landspeed and that all fell through. Then I think they started going through Fat Beats to do their pressing in the states and what not. As far as the singles, I guess they were selling quite a few of them. They got in touch with us. Back then we were emailing everybody. Email had just come out. Eventually our paths crossed. They dug what we did and we dug the fact that they had bread to break. They had a good reputation of putting out music, so that's how that all formed. We were with Groove Attack for a minute, at least five or six years. That was a good time over in Europe. As far as what they were doing over there in that market."

In 2001 Groove Attack put out the Lone Catalysts debut LP, which was simply titled Hip Hop. "We made a nice amount of money on the Hip Hop record. Advance money and sales. It was a great thing." Along with their international release and distribution came international tours. "J. Rawls is a school teacher and he had a family, so he didn't really tour, but I toured. I was out there gone. It was an experience that I'll never be able to give back. I'll always have the humility that you experience when you meet people. The first time I went to Japan I'm sitting there waiting and these two Japanese dudes are arguing over who's gonna carry my bags. I'd never been to Japan before in my life. You know what I mean? Just for rhymes. I definitely understand what I do and there's a lot of humility in that. It's the respect that you get from the music that you make. From Japan to Europe, to all around the states." The first single from Hip Hop was "Place to Be."  The only other single released that year was by Columbus-based emcee, Camu Tao. "Camu Tao ... rest in peace. He's dead now. We put out his first single, he did a lot of stuff with Megahurtz and Weathermen." Camu Tao actually went on to record quite a bit before he passed prematurely several years later.

There was an instrumental version of the Hip Hop LP and then B.U.K.A. released another full length project, which was a compilation titled Bringing it Home Volume One. "We had distribution and we had the spotlight on us, so why not put it on the people around us? That's what we did. It started as a way for me personally to put out music, but who's just gonna use a facility for themself when they can use it to put others out there." Bringing it Home featured a variety of artists primarily from Pittsburgh and parts of Ohio. It also featured the track "On Course" by J. Sands featuring LG of Rook & Bishop. This track was also released as a single by Rawkus Records in association with their Sound Bombing 2 compilation. Bringing it Home featured more production by Usef Dinero and another Geeman produced track by J. Flint titled "Hump Day." "He (Sands) called me and he wanted me to rap on the track. I was going to, but I was working with J. Flint at the time. I was just trying to get him off the ground and put him out there. He was doing stuff locally at the Shadow Lounge or wherever, performing. When that opportunity came up I plugged Flint with that instead of me doing it." Sands' explains the process of putting the compilation together. "It was people that were close and people we'd just met. Like J. Flint. I didn't know much about J. Flint, but we got his record with Geeman and that was amazing, so I put it on. I got to know a lot of the cats during that period. Some of them were living next to me on the Northside when I was growing up. 151 was from Penn Hills. I don't even remember how I met them. But then there's guys like my man DL. He was my neighbor growing up on the Northside from when I was a little kid. So there were all types of relationships. Then in Ohio I got my cousin Rashad and his group The 3rd. That's family."

I'm guess-timating that the B.U.K.A. various artists promo sampler came out circa 2001. It was a four track EP that featured "Place to Be" as well as a track from the J. Sands' Top Emcees side project with Heimy-D and a track from J. Rawls' 3582 side project with Fat Jon from the Five Deeez.

Lone Catalysts "If Hip Hop Was A Crime (Remix)" (2002 LCHHC02-1)  not shown 
3rd "Super Soul" (2002, LCSS 001-1)
Lone Catalysts The Catalysts Files LP (2002,
BUK 3)
Ant Lew and Maximum "Wild Out" (2002, BUK 4)
J. Sands "Manifest" (2002, BUK 5)
S.P.I.R.I.T. "Four U" (2002, BUK 6)
Lone Catalysts "Due Process (Reissue)" (2002, BUK 7)
Lone Catalysts "Destiny" (2002, BUK 8)  
Lone Catalysts "Paper Chase (Reissue)" (2002, LC30001)

2002 was B.U.K.A. Entertainment's most prolific year. They released yet another full length project titled The Catalysts Files, which was primarily remixes and B-sides exclusive to prior singles. A single for "If Hip Hop Was a Crime (Remix)" was released in association with this project. The first two Lone Catalysts records, "Paper Chase" and "Due Process" were completely out of print already, so they were reissued and reintroduced to the European market. New projects included a single by Icelandic hip hop artists Ant Lew & Maximum featuring El Da Sensei, a single from the Bringing It Home compilation featuring Sands' cousin Rashad's group, The 3rd, another Ohio group by the name of S.P.I.R.I.T. and finally new material from the Lone Catalysts forthcoming  sophomore LP, as well as the "Manifest" single from J. Sands debut solo LP, The Breaks Vol. 1. "Manifest" featured cuts by Usef Dinero and the B-side "Times We Chill" featured Pittsburgh emcees Caleesh and LG, plus production from Geeman with cuts by DJ Big Phill. Big Phill describes how he first met J. Sands and how he got involved with B.U.K.A. "The first time I met Sands is when we did a show at Time Bomb with us (his group Hi-Low) and Rook & Bishop. He was there with LG. After that I did a show at that spot that used to be in Wilkinsburg in the basement, the Turmoil Room. I brought this group in from Dayton, Universal Dialect and Sands knew them. Back then it was just us, Rook & Bishop, Strict Flow, Concrete Elite, Smoked Fish, RXC, The Math Team, W. Ellington whose now in DC doing things with everybody. That was pretty much it. I didn't even know who Sands was. Out of nowhere he had that 12" and the relationship kind of grew from there."

J. Sands The Breaks Vol. 1 LP (2003, BUK 9)
DJ Big Phill Wide Screen Music Volume One EP (2003, BUK 10)
By Any Meanz "Saturday" (2003, BUK 11)

According to Sands "I always say the industry started changing, to me where I started really noticing it, around 2003 or 2004. Between '03 and '06 is when we started to see a decline in the sales. At least on my end." B.U.K.A. grew and was averaging a half dozen or so releases per year. In 2003 they only released three records. The first of which was J. Sands' solo album, The Breaks Vol.1. The concept album utilized and reinterpreted popular samples from hip hop classics. It primarily featured guest artists from Pittsburgh and Ohio with production from J. Sands, J. Rawls, DJ Hi-Tek, Geeman, DJ Big Phill and Usef Dinero who was busy creating a name for himself in the underground hip hop scene. There were only two singles released in addition that year. They were a split single by By Any Meanz, Liberation and New York-based rapper Wordsworth, these tracks wound up being released on Bringing it Home Volume 2 (which eventually came out in 2006), and the debut single by DJ Big Phill, who was respectively the producer/DJ for Hi-Low Productions in addition to becoming the DJ for J. Sands depending on where he was performing live. Coincidentally Chentis Pettigrew of Liberation was previously in Hi-Low. Big Phill explains "In the early years it was me, Sef (U-Turn) and Tone (T-Note). Then I met Chentis at some girl's crib at a birthday party. Somebody was rhyming and I was like 'I got some beats in the whip.' And then Chentis started rhyming and I was like 'This cat is nice.' He came over the crib the very next day and by that weekend he was recording with us. There were so many side projects. I helped Chentis out with the Liberation project. He wasn't with us no more. T-Note kind of took a break and later came back in. He wasn't on the records that came out. That was just Sef on that single."

The single, DJ Big Phill Presents Wide Screen Music Volume One, was more of an EP that included two tracks featuring Shabaam Sahdeeq, a Brooklyn-based rapper who was one of the first artists signed to Rawkus Records, and a bonus track by Hi-Low. The Shabaam Sahdeeq songs were recorded early in 2000 while Sahdeeq, who was incidentally incarcerated by the time the record was released, was performing live in Pittsburgh. While Sahdeeq was the main selling point for the project, the real gem was Hi-Low's "412 Memory Lane." It's an homage to nearly twenty years of Pittsburgh hip hop that referenced local clubs, groups and anthems that had mostly been released via cassette tapes, if at all. Some of the references to the groups and their songs obviously went over people's heads unless they were listening to local college radio in the mid to late eighties. "I thought of it as a blessing when I got to do that 12". It got good reviews and whatever else. I was very concerned about making sure the image was correct and making sure the audio was dope. Making sure that I had enough where people bought it and thought 'This was worth it.' I put out a 12" that I thought I would buy regardless of whether or not I was on it. I was like 'Okay. We have the Shabaam Saadeeq song, the two jawns on there.' And I wanted to put some Pittsburgh shit on there as well. There'd be so many 12"s coming out and half of them was trash. It was an over-saturated market."

Lone Catalysts "En La Ciudad" (2004, BUK 12) 

The Lone B.U.K.A. release in 2004 was Lone Catalysts' "En La Ciudad" single. This was another single from the sophomore album that had been anticipated the previous year. Back in 2002 they'd released "The Hustle" featuring Ohio-based soulstress, Venus Malone. The "En La Ciudad" record included the B-side "The Ultimate" as well as the remix which was produced by DC-based producer/rapper, Kev Brown, who was generating a huge underground buzz at the time. The decline in the B.U.K.A.'s output was really just indicative of what was going on in the larger market. Like Big Phill stated, the market already became completely over-saturated to the point where a lot of people had simply become disinterested in underground hip hop. There were too many releases coming out and a lot of things were getting lost in the shuffle. Many of the labels that had sprung up over the course of six years were disappearing. Even Rawkus, who'd been setting the standard for underground hip hop had closed it's doors and sold itself off to MCA Records already. Talib Kweli released his debut solo LP on MCA in 2002. In 2004 his sophomore full length came out, also on MCA, while Mos Def was releasing his latest project on Geffen Records. To make a long story short, the cream of the late 90's underground crop was getting picked up by major labels, who were also very concerned about their declining sales, while everyone else was struggling to maintain what they'd spent the past several years building.

It's also worth mentioning that digital downloading hit it's peak of popularity in the early 2000's. It became obvious that hip hop consumers, and music consumers in general, really weren't buying nearly as much physical product as they had been in years past. In addition to the downloading issue, Serato Live Scratch and other similar DJ'ing programs have been introduced as of 2004. They allow the user to manipulate digital audio files via time coded control records, which completely eliminates the necessity for actual vinyl. Six years later this method of DJ'ing is now the industry standard unless you're a vinyl-purist nut like myself.

Lone Catalysts "La La La La" 2005, BUK13)
Lone Catalysts Good Music LP (2005, BUK 14-2)

In 2005 the Lone Catalysts long-overdue follow up LP, Good Music, finally arrived. J. Sands did quite a bit of globe trotting off the strength of the first album during the group's hiatus. It was a well-received record that differed from the first project in the respect that there were tons of cameos. It featured a lot of the same names that we'd seen over the years including Rashad and PA Flex from the 3rd, Donte from M.O.O.D., as well as artists that the label was helping to develop over the years such as Venus Malone in addition to other notable underground rappers including Mr. Complex, El Da Sensei and Asheru from Unspoken Heard. Even legendary hip hop icons including Masta Ace and Mixmaster Ice from U.T.F.O, as well as Grap Luva from I-N-I contributed. There was a single released from the album as well that year, but that was it for the oh-five.

V/A "Place To Be (Saturday Night)" (2006,BUK 14-1) not shown
J. Sands The Breaks 2 - The Interlude Violator LP (2006, BUK 15-1)
V/A Bringing It Home Vol. 2: From The Old To The New LP (2006, BUK16-1)

In 2006 we saw B.U.K.A.'s final vinyl releases. "We were still getting nice advances for Good Music, but then when we did Bringing it Home Vol. 2 and The Breaks 2, we were seeing that the money just wasn't there like it used to be when the vinyl was prevalent and CD's." A final 12" single was issued from The Breaks 2 full length. Aside from these three 2006 releases, which are still available from Groove Attack, the entire B.U.K.A. vinyl catalog is completely out of print. Sands says there are releases that he doesn't even own copies of.

In 2007 B.U.K.A. released their first digital-only release, which was a third Lone Catalyst full length titled, Square Binizz. Sands already  relocated to Maryland before it was released and the label has essentially been on hiatus for two years since the birth of his daughter. "I started it in Wilkinsburg and then moved on up to Peters Township and then moved to Baltimore, but the label has always remained. You hear this little girl in the background making all this noise? She's probably been the main reason for the pause. The whole process when you hear that she's on the way to her getting here, experiencing all of that ... I wasn't thinking about music. But now she's older. Daddy makes music and he owns a record label. I want to put some new stuff out."

"The business now compared to how it was in '97 is like Buck Rogers. But it's been done before and it can be done again. It doesn't matter how it's perceived because I just got off tour and I know what's out there." He's referring to the tour of Europe he did with Memphis-based rapper Count Bass D over the summer. "There's people out there that'll run through a brick wall for a new J. Rawls and J. Sands CD. I shake their hands and meet them. Now they can Facebook me and Twitter me, so it's about handling the business that's on the table. After my record's been out ten years it's still generating some money, but what about a new record? Maybe that could generate three or four times as much. I can't wait to find out."

B.U.K.A. doesn't have any plans to release more vinyl, but there are a few projects that will be released on CD in addition to digital formats available online at The current trend in hip hop is the artist mixtape, which differs from DJ mixtapes. The mixtapes are generally made to create a buzz for the artists' forthcoming projects. "I'm getting into the mixtape game. When I was coming up DJ's did mixtapes. Rappers didn't do mixtapes. A lot of these young dudes just rap, but they don't rhyme a lot. My first mix tape, LL Cool J Sands, is named after LL Cool J. He probably had the most longevity in this game and, after being in this game, I respect longevity the most over everything. Therefor LL Cool J's my favorite rapper. He might not have had every favorite album that I wanted, but as far as somebody I can look at like 'When I was a teenager, LL Cool J was hot.' And now if he wanted to do a song with T-Pain or Trey Songz, or whoever the hot dude is, it would be a hit. So I give it up to longevity always. It's hard to stay committed to this hip hop. We'll see. There's a lot of new rappers coming up and I'm seeing all of these videos and it's beautiful, but we'll see. Because I'm a fan and I'm gonna be watching like I watch the games. My next one is going to be named after KRS-One. The mixtapes are going to be themed after my favorite rappers."

"It's different, it's not just records anymore. It's about making quality hip hop music. That hasn't changed, but it's time to expand. As a matter of fact people don't buy records anymore. They buy mp3's, so it has to be something more than just records. The last four years I've been making tons of music but I haven't been putting it out. Count Bass D was like 'Sands, you got all these hot joints. Start putting them out.' is going to be the haven for the music and the t-shirts to Sands on Sports. It's time to expand." The latest Lone Catalysts full length titled Back to School is available now on iTunes with CD's anticipated soon. Other B.U.K.A. projects in the works include J. Sands' long-delayed solo project titled The Poetree of Life, his production project titled Beats & Dimes. Plus projects by other artists including LF Daze, Ze Man, and Neela K.

As for the other artists who contributed interviews ...

Geeman aka The Grand Ear
is working on a synth-heavy project titled the Electronic Pieces EP as well as an 80's boogie-flavored collaboration with DJ Nice Rec and another project that may potentially be released on the local Infinite State Machine label. Check out Geeman on Soundcloud and Myspace. DJ Big Phill is focusing on video production and films while working on an album. You can keep up with him online via his 33 and a Third Media blog and at Myspace as well. Usef Dinero informs me that he's busy grinding and staying focused. "I work during the day and I grind during the night. I just try to keep the beats coming. I wanna have a ton of shit on deck when some shit goes to explode."
Check out Usef Dinero on Myspace.

Visit to check out a small selection of B.U.K.A.
material that I curated.