[First Contact: Stone Mecca Speaks To Your Soul]

Interview Date: 26th. March. 2006

Conducted By: Dark 7 Invader

Special thanks to Traé aka Trú James, Salakida, and www.stonemecca.com for the interview.


It is official, Stone Mecca has been signed to Wu Music Group reads a message on Stone Mecca's myspace webpage. A new addition to the Wu-tang clan family tree, trust the Wu fans to find out things within a twinkle of an eye, just that morning of posting the news on the main page, emails starts pouring in, Who are Stonemecca? how many are they? are they hip-hop or R&B? enquiries about the group, this and that, that and this.

Thank God for the internet, with communication made easier online, Wu-International managed to get hold of Stone Mecca members Traé, and Salakida for an exclusive interview in midst of their already busy schedule.

So what's behind the name? Based on my recent interest and studies, a quick assumption to the name Stone Mecca, was that the group probably adopted their name from  "The Black Stone Of Mecca". For those who don't know, The Black Stone of Kaaba or Mecca is called, in Arabic, Al-hajar Al-aswad. The word Kaaba - Ka'ba - Ka'bah - means Cube and this represents a metaphor for In the Box - Qabbalah - the Tree of Life - Creation - Consciousness now evolving out of the box in the alchemy of time when matter [white] and antimatter [black, void] meet at Zero Point. As a cornerstone - we go to masons - free masons and reality as a masonic [mother/sound] program.

There are also various opinions as to what the Black Stone actually is, but my assumptions were definitely wrong about the meaning behind the name, without wasting too much time on the name of the group, I sampled some of their music from their website and was very impressed, leading to a general search about the group as from the quality of songs heard, it is quite obvious Stone Mecca were not rookies or new to the game as per say but have been in works and doing thier own individual thing for a hot minute now, infact it was in one of their shows that RZA spotted them, recognised their talent and took an interest in them that finally lead to signing them to his new label Wu Music Group.

The lead singer Salakida, is a multitalented singer, songwriter and entertainer who released a self titled album in 2005 independently, introducing the world to her soulful hybrid of R&B, hip hop, alternative and pop that she calls "Blippie Funk" or Black Hippie Funk. This distinctive sound has awarded her the tremendous opportunity to share the stage with talents like D'wayne Wiggins (Tony, Toni, Tone, Destiny's Child), Kenny Lattimore, Allen Anthony, (Roc-a-fella Records), Blackalicious, Tre Hardsen of the Pharcyde and Jaguar Wright, to name just a few.

Traé on the other hand is the magic behind the boards, whose influences musically comes from greats such as Bob Marley, Marvin Gaye, Jimi Hendrix, Prince and more, Trae's aim is to bring the apple from the juice, now do the knowledge on that.

Without much a-do, Why don't we cut the assumptions and actually hear from the horse's mouth (Salakida and Traé), get the chance to know more about the group that is about to add richness to everyone's heart and soul,  Enjoy the first contact interview.

Thanks first and foremost for taking the time to answer these interviews and I would like to add on that nothing will be altered, edited or changed when this is published online.

Question: Hello Stone Mecca, How are you? Not so many people know much about you, including myself, so could you please introduce yourselves to us, how many of you are in the group, names, your parts in the group e.g. vocalist, and where you are from/location?
Salakida: Hi, I'm Salakida, pronounced Sah-lah-kee-dah. I'm the female singer of the group, I write and play some guitar too. I'm originally from Oakland, CA.
Traé: Hi, I'm Traé James and I produced the album and performed on it as well...

Question: Please give us a history of how the group came about and how long it has been in existence?
Salakida: I was working as a writer with Dwayne (Wiggins, Tony Toni Tone) back in 2001 at his production company Grassroots, and I was looking for a producer to collaborate on my own stuff with. A friend introduced me to Traé who at the time was in the Bay Area doing production with (hip hop producer) Ant Banks. We worked on a few songs together, and found we had a chemistry, so even after Traé moved back home (Los Angeles) we stayed in contact. I had always talked about us starting a group, and Traé had come up with the name Stone Mecca. After a while of getting together and working on songs, we had all this material that no one had heard yet, and we were feeling good about it, so we decided to try doing a show to see how people would receive us. We got good feedback, so we just kept going after that, with me commuting in from Oakland, and later, Atlanta, to do shows and record.

Question: On hearing the name Stone Mecca, my initial thoughts was a name based on the Black Stone of Mecca, Please tell us why you are called Stone Mecca?

Traé: (It means) A solid place to exist. A solid center or core. Ironically I had never heard of the Stone of Mecca when this came to me.

Salakida: To me it means the perfect balance between being earth bound, but also spiritually connected, which is the human condition, and which is what we are trying to create with our sound, music that everybody can relate to, and hopefully speaks to your soul.

Question: It is common these days to have aliases in addition to a name, does the group have any other name they go by?
Answer: no

Question: You are the latest addition to the Wu-Tang Clan ever expanding family, how do you feel about that?

Traé: Like slipping your hand into a proper fitting glove. We and the RZA seem to share very similar Philosophies on life...

Questions: Who and how were you discovered that lead to the group getting signed to Wu Music Group?
Traé: RZA was moved by the c.d. a while ago, so he went to one of the live performances and got at us right away. He said he was going to get back to his label after wrapping up his movie projects last year and when he did he wanted to holla at us.... He offered us a deal at the top of the year (2006)...

Question: I hear you are currently in NY working with the RZA on your debut album, what is it like working with RZA?
Traé: I'm actually in the mixing process now and there's nothing like having ears like the RZA's around to make sure I'm keepin it crackin...

Question: Do you have a name for the album yet?
Traé: Stone Mecca First Contact

Question: What will be the first single?
Traé: Ya'll tell us....(Like Heaven)

Question: Has any date been set for the album yet?
Traé: Soon after the release of the Raekwon album (Cuban linxs part II)

Question: Any featured guest on the album?
Traé: There's been talk that Inspectah Deck may spit a verse on a song called Beautiful that's on our album.

Question: What names are responsible for the production on the album?
Traé: I did all of the music production on the album.

Question: What types of concepts, issues or topics will be covered on the
Traé: Love, Society, Awareness…
Salakida: We cover a lot of ground on this album. Even in our songs that on the surface appear to be about love or relationships,the messages can be applied to other things in life. For instance, one of our songs, 'Gettin' Wit' U" is about giving all of yourself to someone, because you know that what you put out, you'll get back in return, which is universal law, not just in love; creatively, in your job, whatever you want out of life, you get what you give. We have a song called 'He Say, She Say" about how doubters will try to get in your head and keep you down, if you let them, and how you can only look to yourself to get you where you wanna go. We're dealing with the things people go through in real life, everyday.

Question: I might be wrong in saying this, but I don't think there have been any major album release from any Wu-FAM in the Soul/R&B section, even though the fans know of acts like Tekitha, Blue Raspberry & so on, therefore Stone Mecca is probably the first, What would you say SM brings to the Wu-tang chamber that is different from others out there?
Traé: Solidarity, completeness, consistency
Salakida: Well, Stone Mecca was already in existence when RZA approached us, so we're different from other Wu soul acts, in that our sound and style was created outside of the Wu Family, and then we were invited in.

" I feel that anything that stirs the soul is soul music, RZA calls us hip hop soul...." Question: It is a common trend for artists to release Mixtapes these days right before or after an album, will Stone Mecca be following suit?
Answer: That's something to ponder.

 Question: Well I am currently looking forward to the album, should be

refreshing, currently my favourite track from what I have heard so far is " In Love", do any of you have any current favourites from the album?
Traé: Strugglin'…
Salakida: It's hard to pick a favourite child! (lol) But I'd have to say 'In Love" is my favourite too…

Question: On Stone Mecca Myspace page, the group has been put into Soul, Funk, and R&B categories, how would you best describe your style(s)?
Traé: I feel that anything that stirs the soul is soul music, RZA calls us hip hop soul....
Salakida: Yeah, I feel that's accurate, if we must have labels, because soul is definitely the foundation of our music. I was exposed to a lot of soul and jazz through my parents, especially my dad, my mom listened to a lot of hip hop too when I was young, so all of that has shaped what we're doing today.

Question: Who/what would you are your influences?
Traé: A lot of the classic soul artists from back when....
Salakida: Life, love, sadness, joy…the usual suspects, Joni, Chaka, Sly, Jimi, Gangstarr, Dr. Dre, Quincy Jones, Caron Wheeler, the list goes on and on…

Question: Are they any groups out there you are currently feeling or would like to work with now or in future?
Traé: I would like to produce an album for Rakim, Method Man
Salakida: I'd definitely like to write for other people.

Question: Any future side projects in the mix (e.g. movies, commercial, tours etc)?
Answer:  A tour is being scheduled..

Question: What do you get up to when not recording?
Traé: Touring.
Salakida: I'm in Atlanta right now, where there's a really strong underground and live music scene, so I check out other artists whenever I get a chance. I pretty much keep myself surrounded with music. Question:

Question: What's it like in L.A. compared to NY?
Traé: a lot colder and people walk everywhere here.
Salakida: I like walking everywhere! (lol) New York reminds of a bigger San Francisco, so I feel comfortable there, both L.A. and New York have this wired feeling, like something big could happen at anytime.

Question: Well, that's about it for now, anything else you would like to add on that we missed, final words, shout outs etc??
Answer: Thanks for listening and will get over there soon to holla at ya'll......

Catch up with Stone Mecca at their official website www.stonemecca.com or visit them on myspace at http://myspace.com/stonemecca and stay  tuned for more updates.

Other Related Interviews: Stone Mecca  
Meccanism [West Coast Killa Beez Series #6]  [August 2010]
Bringing The Apple Back From The Juice [March 2007]

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