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
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.
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?
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
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.
Wu-International: What were you doing prior to
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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?
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.
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:
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
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
Russ Prez: Universal owns the rights to that
album. I believe they will release it sometime it the
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
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,
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
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??
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
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
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
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.
Envy Audio Uprising)
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
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
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
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?
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 ?
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
Wu-International: Anything else you are working on
that you would like to share with us?
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
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
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”.
Wu-International: How can we keep to date with
what you are doing e.g websites?
I update my Face book and Twitter
accounts the most. Here they are:
Twitter Bronx Hip Hop Block Party, Facebook
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...
Keep up to date with
Mook o Wu-Tang Management
<Read Other Interviews>