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RUSS PREZ (PROTECT YA NECK / WU-TANG MANAGEMENT/ ROCKS THE WORLD) 
[Poison Beats  (Interview)]


Interview Date: 07th. February. 2012 

Published Date: 13th. Febraury. 2012

Conducted By: Dark 7 Invader

Notes:
Special thanks to Russell Pressley and Recollectah 


Interview

Russ Prez

During Wu-Tang’s earlier days, The RZA had the Clan, Killa Beez and Wu-Elements, this production unit was a very vital part of the world domination Wu-Tang had in mind. Numerous chambers were created within the movement, John “Mook “ Gibbons was in charge of Protect Ya Neck and Wu-Tang Management and just like RZA’s Chamber the structure was pretty much the same: there were the Killa Beez such as MMO, KGB, Deadly Venoms,… as well as their own “elements” production team collectively known back then as Rocks The World which were mainly Storm, Russ Prez and Smokin Joeh.

This crew soon proved to be a notable movement within Wu’s already great movement. Over the years Wu-International has been able to go back in time to catch up and find out more about Protect Ya Neck/ Wu-Tang Management (PYN/WTM), having interviewed the older heads such as M.M.O., Ill Knob from KGB, Deadly Venom’s J-Boo and LinQue and Iron Sheik to the new acts such as Krumb Snatcha as well as WTM’s head and CEO John Mooks. The only thing that was missing to complete this series of interviews was the backbone of this chamber, the production unit, while these gifted producers might have been behind the scenes most of the time, they were an equally if not more important part of this whole collective.

So let’s introduce them again before diving into the interview: the “Rocks The World” producers were part of PYN/Wu-Tang management and were not just the production crew behind the hits that toured through the underground scenes in hip-hop’s golden era but also delivered the initiative, creativity and muscles behind some of your favorite artists from PYN. So while most Wu fans might think they know all that went on, plus why and how from the few interviews posted online it will never really be complete until you’ve read this… For instance there is the most talked about all-star Deadly Venoms are known to be just 4 members, but was this the intended amount? Perhaps there were about 9 - 10 of them to reflect the same amount of the actual Wu-tang Clan, so how did it get narrowed down to just the 4 we mainly know of? Who were the other members? What about MMO and KGB? This team was also responsible for music for others such as 9th Prince (Killarmy), Shyheim, Wu-Syndicate as well as some of the Generals, how did each puzzle fit?

Enter Russel Pressley, commonly referred to as Russ Prez, one third of the production team alongside Storm and Smoken Joeh… While the fans might be aware that most of the PYN projects that came out then were the brain child of these producers, not many know what each producer was doing prior to joining PYN/WTM, and what they have been doing after leaving to date. Having a very interesting background and experience, Russ Prez was kind enough to take us back in time to educate us about his rich history, and that of PYN/WTM, what he is currently working on, his goals and aspirations and much much more, another personal dope interview Wu-International can not wait to share, Enjoy!


I like to say thanks first and foremost for taking the time to answer these questions, highly appreciated, and will also point out that nothing will be altered, edited or changed when this is published online.

Wu-International: Peace and how are you Russ?
Russ Prez:  I'm good, thanks, and thanks for for recognizing my work and I appreciate your interest in an interview from me.

Wu-International: Where are you from and where are you currently located?
Russ Prez: I’m from C. I. (Coney Island) Brooklyn NY. I currently live in New Rochelle NY.

Wu-International: Our introduction to you was through your work with Deadly Venoms, Protect Ya Neck/Wu-Tang management etc, can you please tell us how you got involved with PYN/WTM? 
Russ Prez:  My involvement was through John “Mook” Gibbons. Mook, CEO of Wu-Tang Management/Protect Ya Neck, is from Coney Island as well. I knew of Mook from the neighbourhood but I was formally introduced to him by “Trigga” (Lead Rapper from MMO). Trigga was an up an coming rapper from Coney Island. I produced the B-Side of his first single called “No Tomorrow”. (No Tomorrow by Trigga) The record got modest air play and was a featured video on Ralph Mcdaniels Video Music Box.

Russ Prez Wu-International: What were you doing prior to joining WTM/PYN?

Russ Prez: Prior to joining WTM/PYN, I started out as a rapper. I went by “Swift P”. I was the lead rapper in a group called “Citi Heet”. in 1986 we were signed to NY Knick hall of fame basketball player, Earl “The Pearl” Monroe’s In Your Face Records. While with Earl Monroe, I learned how to produce my own music by observing the many super producers Earl employed to produce my group such as “Patrick Adams, Rod Hui, Greg Radford, John Cromer and Hank Shocklee to name a few. In 1986 along with Steven Flagg my Beat Box then named “Automatic”, I wrote, produced and was the lead rapper on a song called “The Saga Of Begging Billy”. (The Saga of Begging Billy by Citi Heet ) That song Quickly became a DJ Red Alert favourite! Blasting through the NYC airwaves it lead to performances at the infamous Union Square with artists such as “Spoonie Gee”, “Ultramagnetic Emcees” and others. “Begging Billy” became a NYC Classic. I became a Hood Star in Coney Island. Soon other Coney Island rap groups started asking me for beats and to produce their songs.
I started making beats and producing rap groups out of my bedroom in Coney Island Houses on west 30th Street in BK. Some of the groups were; Trigga, Sham and The Professor, K.G.B, Lac Tha Ripper, Madame Star and M-Tri. I started out as a rapper and stumbled into producing/making beats. I teamed up with my partner from Citi Heet, Steven Flagg, and we started “Begging Billy Productions”. We started producing and shopping groups to record labels eventually landing deals with such labels as; Cold Chillen Records, Warlock Records, Freeze Priority, Mic Mac Records Maxin Records and Prince’s Paisley Park/Warner Bros. Records.

Wu-International: Impressive, we know you worked closely with Storm at PYN/WTM and eventually Rocks The World etc, how did you two meet, were you already a duo before the situation with PYN/WTM etc?
Russ Prez: I met Storm through the rap group “KGB” and an O.G. from Coney Island & Jersey City named “Kenny Ken”. Kenny Ken, KGB’s DJ, used to bring Storm (From Jersey City) to Coney Island to hang out. Knowledge aka Ill Knob of KGB suggested that Storm, who also produced KGB, and I team up because we had two different sounds as producers and he thought that if we came together we could produce great albums. We both like the idea and we quickly became great friends and business partners. Storm also introduced me to producer “Smokin Joeh”. We started Storm Russ/Rocks The World Productions. The Three of us started Producing all the groups we knew stamping every track with Rocks The World.

Wu-International: Are you still in contact or working with Storm?
Russ Prez: Yes, Storm and I will always be friends. We haven’t done any business together in a while but that option is always there.

Wu-International: Was your role within PYN/WTM mainly production or did it entail other things?
Russ Prez:  Mainly production. Mook, Storm and I decided to work together with all the groups under one umbrella. Protect Ya Neck Records & Rocks The World Productions. The main groups were, Deadly Venoms, MMO, KGB and a few solo artist under PYN. Storm, Smoke and I started Producing Wu-Tang groups for PYN such as Shyheim, Killarmy, Wu-Syndicate, Wu-Tang Compilation Albums and others.

Wu-International: We are going back in history now, you and Storm were really the back bone of that movement and chamber, so please excuse us if sometimes the questions deviate to others around then. Please give us a full list of those that were under you or rather artists on the label that you produced for in addition to the ones listed above?
Russ Prez:  Deadly Venoms, KGB, Nashier & Ill Knob were under us (Rocks The World). We produced PYN Artist such as MMO, Bumps & Bruises, Pearl Handles, Kai Bee and others. We had lots of fun back then. We practically lived in the studio.

Wu-International:  We are going to discuss some of these artists in detail as they are of great interest. We will start with the infamous and great concept of the group Deadly Venoms and their albums, it was said DV was yours and Storm's brain child. Can you please tell us how you both came up with this project and how it became a reality?
Russ Prez: Storm & I started brainstorming on ideas. We wanted something different from what was out there, something that would stand out. We came up with an all female rap group. A female Wu-tang Clan called “Deadly Venoms”. We quickly started auditioning female emcees. We started out with a posse like, J-Boo, Champ MC, D’Dae, Sinner, Madame Starr, Farrah Burns, Lin Que, Finesse, N-Tyce and Blunt. We took the girls to meet Earl Monroe and we recorded in his studio in Jersey. A song we recorded called “Blvd” stood out. We took the song and a photo of the group to John “Mook” Gibbons of Wu-Tang Management. Mook love the song, the group concept and all. He wanted the Deadly Venoms under Wu-Tang Management. The Deadly Venoms was narrowed down to 4 girls, Champ MC, Finesse, N-Tyce and J-Boo. We landed a deal with A&M Records. We were signed by John McClain (He was behind Dr. Dre & Suge at Death Row). Some of our label-mates were Kurrupt (Tha Dog Pound) and Shaquille Oneil (T.W.I.S.M). We started Producing Kurrupt, Shaq and a few others on A&M as well. (Fly like an Eagle By Shaq)

Wu-International: Had no clue there were more members in the begining, how did you go about selecting the members and how easy was it to get them involved in this project?
Russ Prez:  I worked with a lot of female emcees and so did Storm. We just reached out to who we knew and they all loved the idea. They looked at it like a platform to get themselves exposed. We Basically went with the most dedicated and how well they got along with each other. All of the ladies that auditioned had skillz!

Wu-International: You said narrowed down to 4, Was under the impression that Isis aka Lin Que was meant to be the 5th member, no one’s really sure why this never happened?

Russ Prez:  Lin Que was originally picked as the 5th Venom but she didn’t get along with the some of the other girls particularly N-Tyce. I’m still cool with Lin and all the other girls that didn’t make the group.

Deadly Venoms

Wu-International: Let’s talk about the first album that was meant to come out in 1998 via A&M records, few still confuse the name to be “The Antidote”, but we have it listed as self-titled “Deadly Venoms”. What was the actual title of the album?
Russ Prez: The title of the Album was “Deadly Venoms: The Antidote”

Wu-International:  Personally I think that album was a classic, can you please tell us why it was never released officially?
Russ Prez: That Album in my opinion was the best album that Storm and I produced. It was a classic! We would never admit it but I think we were in a friendly competition to try to make the hottest beats and produced the best songs for the DV’s. I think we both wanted one of our tracks to be the featured single. We really went in on that album. It was never released because A&M merged with another major label and Deadly Venoms never got picked up by the new label. (Pockets Stay Deeply By Deadly Venoms)

Wu-International: You produced the hit single "One More to go" featuring Wu-Tang Clan members, can you please tell us how this collabo came about, what it was like recording with the Clan members and so on?
Russ Prez:  It was only right for the Deadly Venoms to do a song with the Wu-Tang Clan so we gave Mook a bunch of beats to play for Method Man, GZA and the Clan members and Mook told me that they chose my track. We went in the 36 Chamber Studio in NY and banged out a classic. Working with Meth, GZA, Deck, Street-life and Cappadonna was great! They were studio vets. GZA and I played a lot of chess. (One More to Go by Deadly Venoms)

Wu-International: What are the chances of that album ever seeing the light of day, it’s been more than 14 years now?
Russ Prez:  Universal owns the rights to that album. I believe they will release it sometime it the future.

Wu-International: The second project “Pretty Thugs” was also met with ill luck, another great project. Do you care to elaborate as to reason this album was also shelved?
Russ Prez: There was an issue with one of the members of the group that created turmoil between us. It ended with us asking Dreamworks Records for a release.

Wu-International: You are probably talking to one of the biggest DV fans, I loved the concept, the music, each emcees, everything about it about it was great. I am surprised the group had so much problems getting the music out. Do you think the game was not ready for an all-female group like the Wu or was it just hard to market the group because they were all women?
Russ Prez:  There were definitely some people hating on female groups. We would hear things like female groups don’t sell unless they are catering to men talking about sex and looking like sex objects. The timing was off as well. We got caught up in music industry mergers and politics.

Wu-International: The group lost Finesse by the 3rd album, do you care to elaborate as to why she left please? 
Russ Prez: I’d rather not elaborate on that. We were a family and we had a family problem between us.

Wu-International: Understandably so, we heard there were talks of the likes of Bambi The Iron Maiden and Madame Scheez becoming part of the DV, how close to happening was this, as in did tehy join the group, records songs?
Russ Prez:  I believe Mook wanted that to happen. I wasn’t opposed to it. Storm and I always talked about putting the group back together with new members but we never acted on it. Maybe sometime in the future.

Wu-International:  Speaking of that, no one is certain if the group’s broken up, only thing we know is that every member is doing their own solo thing. We interviewed J-Boo some years back and lately Mook and they both hinted the possiblity of a group / album renuion. How involved or aware are you of this?

Russ Prez: Everyone has moved on but it could happen. If the girls came to me or Storm and wanted that to happen I am sure we would do it.

Wu-International: Looking back at the group and projects, if there was anything you could have done differently now, what would that be??
Russ Prez:  I would have made sure that we released “One More To Go” Feat. Wu-Tang Clan with a full length Video. I think that would have made the DV’s a household name.

Wu-International: There were other groups that you also worked with as mentioned earlier, which other projects were you heavily involved in just as you were with DV within PYN/WTM??
Russ Prez:  I was heavily involved with MMO & KGB because we were all from the same hood, Coney Island. Trigga, from MMO, used to call me “Russ Prez” all the time so the name stuck.

Wu-International: Just wanted to point out that the song "Last Poets" you produced for Killarmy on Dirty Weaponry is one of my all time favourites, shout out to Islord, 9th Prince and Dom Pachino for doing that beat a great justice. Not to be confused with track of same title on "A New Chamber" how did you wound up producing for Killarmy?
Russ Prez:  We were always around the Wu-Tang Clan and all their other groups. We all just clicked. Mook and Storm started setting up sessions for us to play Clan members beats. I produced a few tracks for Killarmy but “The last Poet” made the album.

Wu-International: A project that did surface in 1998 was “Hot Butter: A New Chamber” which actually had you featured vocally on some of the songs on there, have you gone on to feature on other projects as an emcee as well?
Russ Prez:  That was a one off. We did that album in 2 days. We were clowning around having fun. We were just collecting a Check!

Wu-International: Interestingly I bumped into some old stuff you done pre-PYN with Sham & The Professor and you were featured as an MC on there, you already started you started off rapping, will we ever get the chance to hear you rap on a record again?
Russ Prez:  Yes, I believe I answered some of this earlier but as far a me rapping again? Maybe. I can see myself doing some kind of project. I will definitely get back into producing. It’s just a matter of time.

Wu-International: So moving on, you had your own label/collective as Rocks The World, please list all the acts that were part of this after you left PYN?
Russ Prez: Deadly Venoms, 40 Glocc, Littles, Prodigy, Riga-mortis, Born God (from Now Born Click, My Cousin RIP), KGB, Bad Azz, Kurrupt & Dazz (Dogg Pound). (Littles & Prodigy QB Murdaraz).

Wu-International: You had a compilation out on the same name “Rocks The World MCs”, was this collective also dissolved as there was no follow up to that project?
Russ Prez:  Rocks The World MCs was a compilation album of all the acts Storm & I were producing at that time. There will be no follow up. Rocks The World Productions is no more.

Wu-International: Can you please tell us more about Prowax and Prez-One?
Russ Prez:  Prowax is a Music and Video Distribution Company own 50/50 by myself and Scott Schlachter. Prez One is my Company Own and run by me. Prez One does management, consulting, events and artist liaison. (DJ Envy Audio Uprising)

Wu-International: Do you still produce or have you gone on to take on different roles within the music industry?
Russ Prez:  The competition is basically a combined situation where you got American Idol, The Apprentice, ... quite a couple of shows. It is a combined situation where all these different things created will stimulate the mind of the individuals and the consumer so everyone can see something, feel something and believe in something. That’s what it is.

Wu-International: So what will be the name of the next 9 generals, would they also be called Wu-tang Clan?
Russ Prez:  I haven't produced for a while but i definitely have the bug in me. I’ll be back in the studio very soon. I am heavily into events, booking and artist liaison. I was responsible for T-Pain’s headphone deal with Nox Audio. (http://www.nox-audio.com/News) I am also executive producer of DJ Envy’s Audio Uprising Album. (DJ Envy Audio Uprising) I created an annual event that is officially a part of Annual The Bronx Week Celebration called “The Bronx Hip Hop Block Party”. This is a Concert and Block Party celebrating and paying homage to the Birthplace of Hip Hop, The Bronx. Last Year Jim Jones, Maya The B of Thisis50.com, Grand Master Caz, Grand Wizard Theodore, Large Professor and more hip hop legends joined me in the celebration and I also had a ceremo ny honoring Dj Mister Magic where Tyrone Williams of Cold Chillen and Magic’s Family accepted a proclamation on Magic’s Behalf from the Bronx Borough President. (2011 Bronx Hip Hop Block Party w/Jim Jones).

Wu-International: Checked out your site and saw prowax distributes for artists such as Doitall from Lords of the underground, Blaq Poet, MMO, Rayvon, etc, do you work with them as in produce, promote etc for these artists?
Russ Prez:  I Am distributing their albums under Prowax. I did not produce any songs on any of those albums.

Wu-International: Interesting to see you still work with MMO, anything new coming from them soon?
Russ Prez:  I did my best work as a producer with MMO (& Trigga Lead Rapper MMO). We seem to click better in the studio than with any of my other groups. We still keep in touch & I think we’ll definitely work together again.

Wu-International:  During your time at PYN, you must have archives of unreleased songs for the likes of DV, MMO and KGB, will the fans ever see some of the songs released sometime in future?
Russ Prez:  I Do have archived songs and yes we should put a collection album out. I might have to talk to Mook & Storm and make that happen.
.

Wu-International:  Having worked closely with Wu, do you still work with some of them and what is your relationship with the likes of say RZA, Mook, etc ?
Russ Prez:  Mook & I support each others events and Projects. 9th Prince and I are working on different projects as well. One is a parody film called “Paranormal Raptivity”.

Wu-International: Thanks very much for those answers, saw you name as director for the Comedy Mixtape Vol. 1 DVD that came out in 2009, can you please tell us more about this release?
Russ Prez:  I have promoted Comedy shows as well. I have comedian “A.G. White” and “Marlon Randolph” on Friday Feb 17th at the Bamboo in the Bronx. The “Comedy Mixtape” DVD was a collection of my comedy events that I turned into a film and released under Prowax. Comedian “Anthony Anderson” recently put out “Mixtape Comedy”. Hmmm.... wonder where he got that Idea?

Wu-International: Anything else you are working on that you would like to share with us?
Russ Prez: Mainly the “Bronx Hip Hop Block Party”. This annual event is important for hip hop. I think artist should pay homage to the Bronx as the birthplace of hip hop at least once a year. As this event grows, we are making that happen. Last year we honored the great “Mister Magic”. This year we will honor “Big Pun”. I will need your support and all Wu-Tang Fans support to make this a B.I.G. Deal!!

Wu-International:  Thanks very much for your time, do you have any advice to give to those coming into the music industry as a producer, singer, mc and what have you?
Russ Prez:  Yes. If your pursuing a career in music, make sure this is something that you love to do not something your doing just to try and make so quick cash. Have something to fall back on because you might go through ups and downs will pursuing your dreams. “The music biz is like a lotto. You gotta keep getting a ticket to have a chance to win”.
Russell Pressley

Wu-International:  How can we keep to date with what you are doing e.g websites?
Russ Prez: 
I update my Face book and Twitter accounts the most. Here they are: Facebook, Twitter  Bronx Hip Hop Block Party, Facebook ,Web site www.Prez-one.com

Wu-International:  Is there any else you might want to say that has not already been covered?
Russ Prez:  I want to thank John “Mook” Gibbons for giving me the opportunity to work with Protect Ya Neck / Wu-Tang Management which helped my career in the music industry. Thanks to Wu-Int


Thanks to you for your time and respect...


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