Langston Hughes III
Check out the latest interview we took on with Charlie Dawk da Superstar and Maximillion of the hip-hop crew Langston Hughes III. After taking an extended hiatus due to that thing called LIFE…these two skilled emcees, along with their brother-in-arms on the beats Da Moja DJ Cory B are back, reformed and stronger than ever before in the reincarnation of Langston Hughes III. They’ve experienced the highs & lows of success and support within the music-industry; now staying strong & independent these three are fighting their way back into the game – with words yo!
Excellent to talk to musicians clearly inspired by what they create together as a solid-unit. Lots of love for the skill & heart behind the music of LH3 – check out what Charlie Dawk da Superstar & Maximillion had to say about their upcoming album Dream Expedited and what they’re all about this time around after so much time away. Did things change? Did they stay the same?
Find out in the article below and check out a brand-new video for their single “Karolina Shine: An Old Kneegrow Spiritual” from LH3!
Interview With Langston Hughes III
SBS: Gentlemen! Thank you so much for taking the time out to talk to us all here today in this interview – I’m already looking forward to what you might have to say and I’ve only just started writing this! But from what I’ve learned, read and researched…words are pretty important to the music of Langston Hughes III! But I suppose just because I’ve being doing my homework doesn’t mean the world is completely familiar with the full story…so from your own perspectives…what’s the music all about in LH3? Give us a little history and some insight on what’s important to you when making the music – what makes it definitively YOUR style & sound and puts your own signature stamp on it?
CDS: History, Ok. We started in 93 as Da Phlayva which also included Shrimp Boogie Down in Charleston South Carolina. We got a local buzz that turn into a local record deal that turned into a distribution deal with Dick Griffey and Solar Records. We had the opportunity to record our first album in the same studio Dre recorded the Chronic a year after they recorded it. Our album cover was our rendition of the Confederate flag that pretty much caused an uproar. Death threats the whole nine. In the midst of it all we toured the country and performed with just about everyone in hip hop during the 90s. We had The RZA and KRS One slated to do remixes for our project. Future looked extremely bright then things kinda came to a screeching halt. Things fell apart and we found ourselves back home. So pretty much the proverbial door was opened to us. We were allowed to enter but we didn’t wipe our feet before we crossed the threshold. When the reality of it all set in we just went back to what we were doing… music on the local front. As far as our sound, it’s definitely evolved over time but the foundation has always been hardcore hip hop music. Not hardcore in the sense of gangsters but just that boom bap head nod magic. You can’t just point to one type of style or sound. we move by energy and that’s why I always tell our producers do not try to make beats for me. Make what your heart feels because we gravitate to different things for different reason so it’s no definitive formula. Our sound was never regional either. We are Mcs from the south not southern Mcs no limits no boundaries. We embrace the culture as a whole.
SBS: What about the gigantic GAP in the music…in the career‐path…I don’t need to explain it to you two, you already know where I’m going with this I’m sure…but, was it anything other than simply life taking you in different directions and getting in the way of the music? Did the music ever REALLY stop?
CDS: Hmm. The music did come to a complete stop but it was like 2006 for me. It was a lot earlier for Max. When we came back from our record deal. we started doing radio in Charleston and showcasing local talent. This first time Charlemagne The God appeared on radio was our show so to see him interview minister Farrakhan and Larry King as well as his other accomplishments its awe inspiring too. We then started a supergroup called Da Carolina Pathfindaz and opened a couple recording studios during that time. I also had a stint as a solo artist. Max got married and became a father and slowly drifted from the scene like late 90s I think it was 2006 when I said I’m gonna let it breathe. Started focusing on my kids, working and business.
SBS: And of course…I suppose we should really follow that question up with asking about what brought you both BACK to the music…to working with each other and pursuing the dream as LH3? What is it about how you both approach making music together that made it something you NEED to come back to after all that time away? Is there something different to be said? Or something that you can fully express now that you couldn’t back in the day? What does this second go‐around allow you to potentially achieve this time out? Or maybe an opportunity to do something you couldn’t last time? Was there anything you wanted to be different? Anything you wanted to stay the same as it was way back when?
MAX: Well I believe we both want to make more powerful and enjoyable music that isn’t confined, or has limitations and boundaries. Now that we are adult men who have lived through the bumps and bruises of life, we want to share those experiences through our music, and in turn, the listener who has had similar life experiences will feel a connection. I can say with conviction if there is anything that we would keep the same as we did back then, would be our love and respect for the culture as a whole; along with the respect for the artist and Patriots that paved the way.
SBS: Obviously the MC’s in LH3 gotta keep it tight, and they DO – anyone can hear that in the precision and confident approach…but HOW do you go about keeping the skills sharp? You guys ever battle each other just for fun? Try to outdo each other in the studio booth? A little friendly competition can always be a good thing right? What’s the training regimen that occurs behind the rhymes?
CDS: (laughs) we never ever battled each other and I don’t think there was even the thought of friendly competition. We are so much alike… You know when they say brother from another mother? We truly personify that. We are like conjoined twins.. extension of thoughts so I think our thing is more like I need to keep up not necessarily out rhyme just match that energy when one feels the other out did them. This may sound strange but my lyrical workout regime has been listening to The Combat Jack Show as well as watching The Breakfast Club and Vlad TV. That’s been my inspiration for thought. Listening to interviews with the icons I grew up with as well the present day Mcs motivates me.
SBS: Alright…considering he’s not around right now to answer for himself…tell us about Da Moja DJ Cory B and what made him the right fit as the beat‐supplier for your rhymes. Do you have any input on what comes through the output – or is it all on him?
CDS: Cory B was my first DJ in high school. He was that dude along with my man Vince Prince. Cory’s presence became part of the reason I pressed hard to be an MC. He had turntables and we made mixtapes and demos and that’s what made the dream real for me. It’s his time to shine. The music and the whole Langston movement is a collaborative effort with us and all our producers
SBS: When it comes to the rhymes themselves…how exactly do you know who gets what set of bars and when to trade off the mic? How do you go about making sure that the needs, wants and thoughts from each other get their representation on the m‐i‐c and how do you know when it’s fully nailed perfectly and finished‐fully when you’re in the writing process?
CDS: Everything is natural energy and we don’t force anything. there is no systematic formula. You feel when it’s right. So right could be the song is only one verse or we split a verse or its an awkward bar count for complete expression.(laughs) We used to be lazy MCs. didn’t feel like writing so we would share bars and that turned into a style for us almost like a Run DMC back and forth thing. We still incorporate that today. Max is very meticulous and serious about words so he is very critical of himself. I’m a little more whimsical… abstract at times.
SBS: Speaking of that…you guys have been busy since your return! “Karolina Shine,” the new single released in October this year…plus you’ve got a whole new album on the way, Dream Expedited – tell us a little about the making of this record! How did it feel to be back recording once again…did it all come back naturally or did it take a minute or two to get back in the flow? And when does that album come out anyhow?
MAX: Well the making of Shine was a slower process than in the past, due to our daily obligations such as our jobs, children, bills, and everything else under the sun; verses when we were young adults with little responsibilities and signed to a label. With all of the obstacles presenting themselves it still felt good to see your vision come to manifest. It took me a bit to get my sea legs back, we were featured on Mook Montana joint called “Troubles” and my cadence was a bit off because mentally I hadn’t been “Maxamill the rapper from Madd Phlayva or The Lower State Champs” in years. I had just been Chris Whitty the 9 to 5, bill paying, divorced single parent of 3 kids; so it took me a minute to get my mind conditioned for balance. The date for the album’s release in 2016 is still up in the air but safe to say at the beginning of the year.
SBS: Did you revisit any of the rhymes from the old‐school days or did you create brand‐new material entirely for the new album? Lyrically…what kind of themes, tones and moods can we expect to find on Dream Expedited?
MAX: (Lol) well Chawle Dawk has way more rhymes in the books than I do; he’s always been active without ceasing. That being said, he has a lot of material; old and new. Myself, most of my material is new material. I would say for the listener to expect to enjoy that “ head nod factor” that’s been absent from today’s “rap music”; thus the “Adult Contemporary Head Nod Music”the we push. Lyrically, if you could take the spirit of the 90’s and blend it with wisdom, and experience of a present day adult, who expresses themselves through Hip Hop music, then that’s what it will be in my opinion. Grown man raps with a grown man lifestyle; giving you quality music that’s classic and timeless.
SBS: How do you go about finding the balance between the light & the dark in the subjects you rhyme about…like…you know…not too serious, not too humorous…seems like you two find a solid balance between saying what you need to say without making anything that should be taken seriously become a joke. Finding that balance can’t always be easy I’m sure…and obviously different beats need a different energy…but how do the words come to life and what’s important to you both lyrically‐speaking?
MAX: Well you’re basically explaining our personalities; we have our serious side where we discuss a real issues in our music such as senseless killings; whether it’s by the police or genocide. But I’d have to say that we can have you in stitches as well; we both love making people laugh and enjoy life. It all comes out in our music because our music is an extension of ourselves, so we’re very picky with our music. All beats have some sort of character, and they speak to you before a word is ever written.
SBS: Before we leave the land of promotion‐speak here…I better make sure to get those websites from ya! Where did you want the people to go to find out more about Langston Hughes III and find out all the news about the upcoming release of Dream Expedited? Do you guys spend a lot of time on the social media end of it all connecting to the fans? How do they reach you? Can they?
CDS: The website is www.lh3music.com. We are on facebook, instagram and twitter @lh3music.
SBS: What are your thoughts on modern‐day Hip‐Hop & Rap? How is it doing now in comparison to where it all started? And as far as you’re all concerned – will the music, beats & rhymes of LH3 find a way to fit in easily in the present day & age? Why is now the perfect time for you to put out the album?
CDS: That’s a loaded question. I’m gonna take a different direction than the usual soundbites surrounded by that question. Hip Hop Music and the culture surrounding it is the most influential art form on the planet right now. From the street to the boardroom to far reaching corners of the globe. When you hear mention of Meek Mills in a Mercedes commercial that speaks volumes. I would have never guessed back in high school that the world would be using our slang and emulating our music when everyone was so anti rap back then. Now music producers outside of Hip Hop make “beats” and there is even country and artist spittin 16s. I know there is a space and place for LH3 today based on two things. 1, history repeats itself every 20 years or so and 2, I see the masses gravitating back to lyrics again. Exhibits A and B? High top fades and Kendrick Lamar’s success.
SBS: You guys sticking around this time? After nearly twenty years away…anything you can say to convince us that there’s not another extended hiatus to come in the future? What’s going to keep the bond between you in LH3 unbreakable this time around?
MAX: Life has taught the both of us that you never let your dream slip away, no matter who you are or what it is. You can find balance in life to do what you must do, and to do what you’d love to do. There is no hurtful feeling than watching life pass you by and not ever knowing what you could have accomplished because you didn’t try, or follow through. We both want to live our lives to the fullest doing what we love, a Dream Expedited isn’t just an album name, it’s very real to us both. Basically, we ain’t going anywhere, we have too much to give.
SBS: Welcome to the SBS ‘Open Floor’ my friends…that means you somehow made it to the end! Congrats on decoding all this rambling…I know it’s not easy and your efforts in answering are much appreciated! Chances are…even though we’ve talked a whole bunch here today, that there’s something you would have wanted to talk about that I didn’t end up mentioning…so take this space here to say anything else at all that comes to mind or that you wanna add – and thanks again LH3, all the best to ya!
CDS: I would like to acknowledge I-26 Nailz and Ray Massive for their contribution thus far. There are many more but they started the movement with us and gave the initial push. Also B73 Music who in my opinion is one of the most creative producers that no one has heard yet. Welcome to Adult Contemporary Head Nod Music world.
MAX: Go buy the album, it’ll make your teeth and bones really strong….and your playlist.