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RedefineHipHop: James Sumbi of Freestyle Fellowship and All In All Pt 4 of 8!!!

4y ago


View more J Sumbi Info and more Hip Hop History at: Usually the reason why I'm able to get so much interesting information from an artist I interview is because of how much I know...the further I reach, the deeper they dig generally. However, with J-Sumbi (James Sumbi) I didn't know a whole lot. He has long been on my list of the largest Hip Hop mysteries. I had searched for more info about him years and mostly hit dead-ends, but every once in a while I would get a small tidbit of info that was interesting, but usually that just spawned even more questions. When I finally established contact and locked in the interview I was re-inspired to put forth my most spirited search for more details on him, which again only yielded limited results. When I finally pulled all the scattered small pieces of information together for the first time I knew this was going to be an epic interview. The raw info didn't necessarily suggest that outright, but I just had this feeling... Videographer extraordinaire, Adam Stanzak and myself met James Sumbi at his comfortable home in the Leimart Park area. I think he was nearly as eager tell his story as I was to hear it, perhaps that is because despite his important contributions to this Culture, you are unlikely to find many, if any, other interviews with him...I couldn't find any. Here was a goldmine of information that he'd been sitting on for a couple decades now and here was finally an outlet. My basic approach was to just sit back and let him talk and share as much as possible. Even though that made some of the editing challenging, I was able to get so much more from him that way. The result is a very extensive interview with James Sumbi. The more he spoke, the more questions arose. He had an endless supply of stories and I wanted to hear them all. Even after I left, feeling like a kid who just got everything he wanted for Christmas and then some, I found myself thinking of things that connected with those stories. Definitely a follow up discussion is going to be needed. As for now, we discuss how Freestyle Fellowship's "To Whom It May Concern" probably wouldn't exist without him, not to mention his importance in Freestyle Fellowship's forming in the first place. We learn why he wasn't a part of "Inner City Griots". The story of his group, All In All, who won The Source's Unsigned Hype and their then pending record deals. Plus we cover his involvement in The Nonce getting signed, why he disappeared from the scene and his very extensive archive of unreleased music. For those completely not in the know, J-Sumbi is a LA based Human Beatbox, DJ, MC, Producer, Instrumentalist, Music Theorist, and self-proclaimed bookworm/nerd, who was more than amply skilled in each aspect. This is his fascinating story... PART FOUR: This is the part of the story where I just sat there wide-eyed as it felt like he just teleported me back to retrace the steps with him to how "To Whom It May Concern" came about. This story continues thru the next couple chapters and is pure Hip Hop History gold!! He breaks down how the West Coast Posse discovered the Good Life and came to his house and told him he needed to go experience it and bring a beat tape. They all went the next week and J-Sumbi remembers having his mind blown by Aceyalone, P.E.A.C.E. and especially Myka Nine. From that moment he started to formulate a masterplan to form his own Juice Crew. He describes the vibe of the Good Life; who was there, people choosing their favorites, and how his beats started to make their way into the mix. He speaks on the magjc of how well him and Myka Nine collaborated from the first song they recorded. He goes into great detail of how the idea for "To Whom It May Concern" came about. A big influence of that was getting a job in the music industry doing marketing via his college professor and how that gave him some insight and connections to make his compilation plan a r...