Hello, this is Fitz Winkleman. You may have heard my distinguished voice on Westcheddar Radio, a program I co-host with my good buddy Stan Ipcus. Today, I’m here with Ipcus to discuss his latest project, Verses From The Ipster, which is an 80 minute onslaught of verses spanning his entire rap career from 1999-2009. I had the privilege to preview the project last night, and I must say it’s quite incredible. For those of you like me who have been Stan Ipcus fans since the beginning, it is certainly a trip down memory lane. So Ipcus, where did the idea come for this project?
IP: I guess I was thinking about how long I’ve been rapping, and realized it had been 10 years since I recorded my first album. Dirty Jax and I put out a Best of Stan Ipcus mixtape last April, and it was hot because it had a bunch of new stuff on it as well as some of my older songs. But I really left a lot of songs off that, especially my stuff from when I was in college. It was more of a way to put out some new music while simotaneously introducing some of my new listeners to some songs that were a couple years older they probably never heard before. But with Verses from the Ipster, I’m taking it all the back to the very first album and going right up to the end of last year. It’s a complete retrospective.
FW: Why did you decide to put the verses in chronological order?
IP: It just made sense that way. It’s kind of my evolution as a rapper. You can hear my voice change, and how the flows progressed, and kind of see how I grew as a rapper. Plus, it made it easier to put together. I kind of sat down with all my albums and went through them in order searching through my favorite verses.
FW: But there’s some stuff on there that never popped up on any of your albums.
IP: Yeah, well I have a file of unreleased songs I’ve done over the years, and I mixed those in too. Some of my favorite verses on this project come from songs I never officially put out.
FW: Was it overwhelming to try and tackle your whole catalog at once?
IP: Not too bad. I have a pretty good grip on my discography. Once I started I just kind of got rolling and was excited to get to the end. The hard part was fitting everything in I wanted to use. I was pretty selective though, and really stuck to my personal favorites. Some things I thought were hot I ended up pulling off or skipping over, especially if I wasn’t really digging the beats. And also, I noticed that a few of my favorite songs actually didn’t even have a verse that really stood out to me.
FW: Like what?
IP: Umm, “Dan Dynamite” was one. I mean, that’s one of my absolute favorite songs I ever recorded. We even made it the first song on the Dirty Jax mixtape. But it’s more the beat and the chorus and the concept that’s hot. It’s not really my most lyrically crazy verses. I also like my voice on that song. But I skipped over that one. Same thing with “Rap Video” and “Let’s Walk”. Two of my favorite beats and songs, but there just wasn’t one verse that really jumped out at me. It’s more the song as a whole. I really tried to reach for verses that stood out for this project.
FW: Your voice has changed a lot over the years. But it’s not like it started as one voice and progressed to another. You kind of hop all over the place with it.
IP: It’s weird like that. I definitely had more of a high pitched voice in my early recordings, and it got lower over time. But I still revisit the high pitched voice a lot. Like on “My Ferris Buellers”, that’s almost like my old voice. Then there’s some songs where I have the raspy voice like on “Dan Dynamite” or “Wifey Material”, which seems to come out on more laidback cuts. And then there’s the aggressive voice, when I’m just going in, like on “Brainiac” or “Hammer”. And then sometimes, it might just sound like my normal speaking voice. I can’t control it, unless I purposely use a different voice on a chorus or something, like on “Brainiac”. But it’s usually the microphone or the feel of the song or what time of the day I’m recording that changes the tone though. Like I said, it’s weird.
FW: Any favorite old verses that you forgot about that popped out at you while you were putting this together?
IP: Yeah. One of the first verses on there is over this old Cypress Hill interlude, and it’s really slow, but I love it. I’m talking about being in class with my old roommate Apo, and I’m just kind of observing what’s going on around the room. It brought me back to my college days. At the end of the verse we both get up and give our teacher dap in the middle of class and leave to go smoke pot.
Halloween on Knox Road in College Park, 1998
Stan Ipcus rapping on WMUC in College Park, Fall 1998
FW: Hilarious! Any others. I mean, there’s 80 verses on there.
IP: Another old one that cracks me up is this verse I put on there that I spit on the Sports Junkies radio show down when I was living in D.C. My boy told me they were having this contest around the time 8 Mile came out for white rappers, so I went up there just for fun. I spit this quick style verse over an old Jay-Z beat. I really thought I should have won that contest. There were mad dudes up there, and I can’t front some of them were pretty nice, but cockiness aside no one was touching that verse, and they all knew it, including the hosts of the show who were bugging out when I finished. But I don’t think the judges wanted to give me first prize because I was from New York. It was a fun event though, and they gave us all free passes to an early screening of the movie. And the recording still puts a big smile on my face.
FW: Me too. That verse is crazy good. You’ve got a bunch of Jay-Z beats on there actually.
IP: Yeah I realized that too. I don’t know, he’s one of my favorites, and I always liked his beats. There’s a couple strings of like three or four that I put together that are pretty fun. My favorite is probably the one over the “Squeeze First” instrumental.
FW: There’s a lot of original beats on there too.
IP: When I was living in College Park and D.C., I used to work with my boys Max B and Bless a lot. A lot of the the early stuff is produced by them. Of course, we’re all still friends and collaborators even though they both live in Maryland. I recorded a bunch of songs for Bachelor Party down there that Max actually co-produced and played instruments on. In fact, if you listen closely to “Wifey Material” you can hear Bless talking in the background through the whole song. Those are my dudes. I do a lot of production myself too, but it’s mostly just looping up old records. I don’t really program drums.
Stan Ipcus flyer, College Park, Summer 2000
FW: What’s with the breaking glass in between each song?
IP: I wanted to drop Funkmaster Flex style bombs to transition between each verse because I don’t know how to scratch and I wanted it to flow from one verse to the other without any breaks for choruses, but I couldn’t find a bomb sound that had the right impact. I thought the breaking glass was cool and more original and it had a good sound to it that wasn’t annoying. I tried to have each beat kind of fit with the next one, but also keep it chronological order for the most part, so that was a little tricky. And the volumes of the verses fluctuates a bit throughout the 80 minutes, which I tried my best to control. But I think the overall flow of the project is pretty seamless. It works.
FW: I have to agree. So you’re having a baby. Are you still going to rap when you become a Dad?
IP: Probably, but not as much as I used to. It’s really just a hobby at this point. I rarely perform. Five years ago, I was doing shows all the time at lots of major venues in NYC and Westchester. Now it’s maybe once or twice a year that I touch a stage. I like to come out and perform “WP” with Matisyahu when he’s in town. But I enjoy keeping up my blog Westcheddar, and I’m working with Up North Trips now too, which is a cool site that kind of merges old sports and hip hop pics from the 80’s and 90’s together, and that’s really fun to contribute to because that’s my zone. And every once in a while I still get the urge to write or record songs. I actually just did a new song that Max B produced. I’m always working on some sort of project, and this is evidence of that. I like being creative, and it’s fun to have such a lengthy discography to play with. Right now I think I’m most excited about Westcheddar Radio and us recording our next episode. Have you been enjoying co-hosting that with me?
FW: Of course! Yeah, it’s been fantastic. I’m looking forward to our next episode too. Now Ipcus, I wanted to ask you, do you have any favorite rap verses from other artists that you listen to?
IP: The Nas verse on “Verbal Intercourse” might be my favorite verse of all time. It’s so good. The whole song is amazing, but that actual verse is bananas, and historically it’s so important too. For Nas to be the only non-Wu member on that album says a lot about how much he was respected back then by his peers. I have a couple high school kids I work with who are really into hip hop and writing raps and making beats. Me and this one kid in particular have a very similar taste in rap music, so I put him on to a lot of stuff. Right now, ever since I played him “Exhibit C”, all he listens to is Jay Electronica. I made him a CD of all Jay Electronica songs, and he loves it. And he’s really into 90’s hip hop too, especially Biggie and Nas. I was giving him a ride one day and I had some mix CD in my car and when “Verbal Intercourse” came on he started bugging out! He kept rewinding it over and over. Somehow, he had never heard it before, which blew my mind. But then again, he’s still in high school, so that’s an oldie to him.
FW: Who are you checking for right now?
IP: Jay Electronica. He’s dope. I like his flow, his voice, the way he pronounces his words, and he has that thing about him where every verse I hear from him has that classic sound. People keep saying he reminds them of Nas, but I think he’s kind of a mixture of Nas and Biggie. He’s ill.
FW: Well thanks for your time Ipcus. I guess I’ll see you for the next episode of Westcheddar Radio.
IP: Thanks Fitz. And to everyone out there, enjoy Verses From The Ipster. It’s a doozy. Perfect for your Ipod, and it will fit on a CD if you want to bang it in your car. Thanks for all the support. Peace!