Eleven Ego Crusher: Respect B4 Fame
A BSN Exclusive
Eleven was sixteen when his parents packed up and moved to South Carolina, leaving him behind, telling him they would continue paying the rent in their Bronx apartment so the child could continue living there. But little did Eleven know, he was in for a big surprise. Not long after his parents left him behind to fend for himself in the apartment, the Marshall burst in, raided the place and threw the boy out on the street. Eleven found himself homeless and destitute. Help from welfare was not an option, because being underage would have landed him in a group home, where homeless kids are imprisoned and worse, shuffled right into a population of predominantly juvenile delinquents and gang bangers. No one would give him a job because he was underage and didn’t have working papers. He couldn’t go to school because he had been absent too long, and the principal demanded to see his parents before he would be readmitted. Eleven’s only option was to make it on his own on the streets. So, Eleven became a street kid.
One can only imagine all of the trouble and danger a 16-year old kid can get involved with on urban New York City streets, and for Eleven, it was no different. His once normal child life, living in a family unit, where getting good grades in school and eating all his vegetables were his biggest challenges in life, became sullen memories since his parents left him. Now, his biggest challenge was to stay alive.
Eleven became a full time street hustler, moving everything from weed to Teddy bears. But his hustling lifestyle was destined to be his claim to fame, as his early introduction to entrepreneurship is now getting him big props as a tremendously talented and sought after music producer.
Eleven Ego Crusher has progressively become a very respected name in the hip-hop industry, distinctively recognized for his capriciously arousing lyrical flow, combined with those sick, hypnotic, multi-dimentional beats, ranging from sexy gangsta go hard that bumps in your jeep to throbbing party music that lures you to the dance floor.
To his recent credit, Eleven has produced two tracks for Wiz Khalifa (Rostrum/ Warner Bros), Nefu da Don’s (Queen Pen's son, Teddy Riley's godson) single, "Listen To Your Heart," Dana Dane's new novel, "NUMBERS" soundtrack, Marc John Jefferies (Lil Cease in NOTORIOUS, Lil 50 in Get Rich or Die Trying), and Model Yago Monique's Theme song to her show, "In my Stilletoes."
Access granted to Black Star News as Eleven Ego Crusher gives us an exclusive look inside the life and mastermind of this child prodigy, on the grounds of survival against all odds ~ this incredible young man, music producer, and just a wonderful guy. Eleven will share with us a series of inspiring inside scoops on the music industry then and now, bootstrap entrepreneurship, and just plain ride or die maneuvers, juggling survival on the mean streets while making his Rapdreams a reality for himself and for others.
Today, Eleven shares with us, raw and uncut, as he insisted would be the only way he would grant the interview ~ his overwhelming trials, miraculous triumphs and how he became a master producer of hip hop and R&B, while juggling street life.
BSN: Eleven, thank you for sharing this remarkable and compelling story with us. Describe your life on the streets as a teenager.
Eleven: OK, here’s the short version, keep in mind that I’m 16 -17 years old. Welfare wasnt f__’in wit me cus I wasn’t 18 nor could I get a job cus I was underage. I was stayin’ in Schomberg on 110th and Madison Avenue, wit my uncle, shout out to my cusin TY WIZ Anyway, KG (Uptown Freaky man) put me on the phone with this lady that was lookin’ for a bouncer for a party. DJ Capone was the dj, The party was cool but as usual the fight broke out. Three weeks later, KG put me on the phone with this guy named “Jay Money”* that might have a job for me. I didn’t know at the time that Jay Money also was going around asking other Dj's if i was a honest dude, KG and DJ Next told him I was cool. ANYWAY, I go and meet Jay Money and he has these carts with mixtapes and speakers attached to them. I been seein’ these carts all over Harlem, so I was already excited about the job. At the time, I didn’t know it was an illegal hustle. The crazy part was that his girlfriend was the woman that hired me for that party where the fight broke out. The money was sick. Straight cash. Within two days I found my own route, stop stations and everything. Crazy sh*t was that you couldn’t be on main streets. For example, you couldn’t be on 125th Streett but you could be on the corner of 125th ‘n’ Lenox.
Every mixtape was 8-10 dollars, depending on who the dj was, and I had to give Jay Money 4 -6 dollars cut off each one. But, the dudes I used to chill wit’ were the first to burn mixtapes when no one else was doing it. So they would give me Mix Cd's to put on my cart, and whatever i made off those were mine cus i didnt have to give Jay Money a cut. Of course he didnt even know bout it. Keep in mind this was the mid-90's, so people were paying up to $20 - $30 for mix cd's back then. I was movin’ 60 - 80 mixtapes a day, but I could move 10 mix CD'S in less than a hour.
As usual, there’s always a female involved. I don’t wanna say her name but she was on a major label. Her daughter’s father was in the group, Color Me Badd. I was a fan of hers before I met her cus she was on the 'New Jack City" soundtrack. Anyway, I got kicked out my uncle crib. He thought I was selling drugs and didn’t like my late hours. So, I started staying with my friend, Gilbert. Every weekend, me, him and KG would dj parties together. Eventually I ended up staying with the girl I mentioned. We wasn’t a couple or nuttin’ like that. But she lived in the Bronx. So now, I had to take the train to Harlem everyday.
By this time, I had trained two to three new workers. So, I guess as some kind of promotion, Jay Money felt I was ready to graduate to hustlin’ mix CDs. We got 10 mixtapes from DJ Next, He was getting them from my peoples and giving them to Jay for conignment (That’s when you get the product then give the owner his cut after you made the money) . Jay only wanted $8 off every mix cd. So I made sure the cheapest I sold his was $16. The rest everyone was paying top dollar for. Besides, I don’t gotta worry ‘bout pushin’ a cart anymore because I been “promoted” to cd’s. I could just put the cd’s in my pocket. When I was hustlin’ mixtapes, I had to use a cart and the cart held over 100 tapes and had a gym speaker attached to it. So, you could hear me coming from down the block. So, I get to Jay Money’s crib to drop off the money and he's not there. I waited, then I went home. We didn’t have cell phones back then. From where I was staying, I called the whole day and night and still got no answer. I went to Harlem but when I got back to the BX, the girl I was staying with had moved. And she moved not only wit my dough that I was saving but with Jay Money’s cut, too! it was only $250 but when you a 17 year old kid, new to hustling, it’s a lot of money! Not to mention some of his cut goes to DJ Next cus he got them on consignment. Anyway, I got to my friend’s crib that makes the cds to get some cds to sell so i can make up the $250, but KG is there and he's telling me the guy is lookin’ for me sayin’ I stole one of his carts. (How the hell Imma fit a cart on the train) needless to say, I get the mixtapes and I start hustling to get the money back. One day, I see these real flashy dudes comin’ outta cars and I go to approach them to buy cd's and its DJ Next. I wasn’t scared but I was nervous cus he knows me by my government name and he was tight cus he felt I f___’ed up cus he co-signed for me. Then, he called Jay and put me on the phone wit him. After his threat, he decided to let me go and that was it. DJ Next, on the other hand, felt that he wanted to take my cd's. The only reason he didn’t was cus they belonged to the guys he gets them from. If he woulda took my cds he woulda had a problem with the dudes I was cool wit and he really didn’t want that.
BSN: How did you break into the music business?
Eleven: I was always into music. I hid it from my parents cus they wanted me to be a doctor or lawyer or sumthin’. I used to battle and do cyphers in school. I didnt really start getting’ into it till I got to jr high school, I was f’_in up so bad my zoned school didn’t want me (Roosevelt on Fordham Road in the BX). Dewitt Clinton had a spot open for me. I just wanted to go there cus Red Alert, Antoinette graduated from there. My parents worked at Metropolitan Hospital and I would go to the Christmas & New Years parties. This guy named Rudy and a kid named KG who changed his name to Uptown Freakyman [the one who got me in the mixtape hustle], were the djs. KG was also the soundman and booked acts at the Apollo. He got me on Amateur Night in a week. He did the beat I was gonna perform to backstage. I only heard four bars of it and when my chance came, I went hard. I didn’t win, but i didn’t get booed either. In the summer time they would DJ alot of outside events and let me go up and rap. My most favorite and memorable time was a show we did in Metro North on 1st Ave. That was the first time I officially rocked a crowd on stage. That’s when I truly realized I got this and I haven’t stopped since.
I remember, when I came of age, I used to work at KFC and I always tried to give away my tapes and demos with every 2-piece. Of course, they didn’t let me work the register but the customers always asked for me cus they thought I was funny. I ended up workin’ at The Skate Key as a bouncer down the block. I wanted to work there cus its one of the landmarks of hip hop, and it kept me in the loop of my music. They used to have competitions and shows there but they didn’t let me compete cus I worked there, or I would win competitions but they wouldn’t let me have my prize cus I worked there. There was this one competition that was going on and the supervisor kept tellin’ me I wasn’t good enough to enter. F __’d his head up when I won second place. I perform every year for the Zulu Nation anniversary (shout out to The 1st Female Mc Pebblee Poo, & Yoda), did Joe's Pub (wat up Michelle), Speed.
BSN: What are you working on now, Eleven?
Eleven: Miss Cash is my artist I’m producing right now. She’s on Deep Focus management. Her mom directed videos for me, so I knew her since she was a kid. She always told me she rapped but I was focused on other things at the time. Last year she hit me and said she was ready. We‘ve been going hard ever since. There are no females reppin’ Harlem and I think she’s got what it takes to be the Queen ~ not only for Harlem, but for the industry period. She doesn’t talk about everything that these other chicks do, actually she talks about situations that dudes and chicks can relate to (besides sex). She’s definitely got the look, style voice, and she actually knows what she wants, which is hard to find in any artist, male OR female. I’m Just smoothing out the rough edges, but she’s gonna be a problem. Shout out to her Manager Tina Boykin. I got 3 songs on music choice, 3 on the NBA rasta, me and miss Cash are on the Hip Hop Appreciation Week Tour this year, my partner, G and myself will be on the conference panel there, also, shout out to KRS1 & JAH JAH from Shadesradio.com .
I recently produced two tracks for Wiz Khalifa (Rostrum/ Warner
Bros), Nefu da Don’s (Queen Pen's son, Teddy Riley's godson) single,
"Listen To Your Heart," Dana Dane's new novel, "NUMBERS"
soundtrack, Marc John Jefferies (Lil Cease in NOTORIOUS, Lil 50 in Get
Rich or Die Trying), and Model Yago Monique's Theme song to her show,
"In my Stilletoes."
BSN: Describe what it was like working with Dana Dane.
Eleven: Dana Dane has been like a big brother to me in this sh*t. I used to run into him all the time when I was bouncing in clubs and I always had a new mixtape or sumthin’ poppin’. He was playin’ me from a distance at first. I think he just wanted to know if I was consistent and seein’ if I’m a real dude. He hit me up ‘bout a project he was working on called "The Great Unknowns." We had a track on there called "Lets Go." <a href="http://www.winningbeginnings.com/LetsGo.mp3">CLICK HERE TO HEAR "DANA DANA DANE ft. ELEVEN, “LET’S GO" </a> I learned a lot from Dana Dane from working in the studio to being on stage. I was used to payin’ 5 hours in the studio and makin’ a song. We actually recorded that song three times before the one you hear now. I had the hook already cus I recorded it in my crib but Boogie had a bunch of beats and that shi*t went perfect. Dana added his ingredient and it was a wrap after that. Actually “Lets Go” <a href="http://www.winningbeginnings.com/LetsGo.mp3">CLICK HERE TO HEAR "DANA DANA DANE ft. ELEVEN, “LET’S GO" </a> and “Rapdreams” is on the Downtown sound track. Both were produced by Mark Boogie Brown. He produced everybody from KRS1, Boot Camp, Buckshot, Slick Rick, etc.... But Dana Dane definetly opened up a lot of doors for me as well. Everybody, go out there and support his book "Numbers."
BSN: Eleven, there are so many hip-hop artists and rappers out here now. Everybody and their mother is a rapper today. What makes Eleven different?
Eleven: I’m young, but I still fux wit the old school, cus they paved the way. There would be no Jay-z's, or Lil Kim's if it wasn’t for them. For example Me & G re-made “On The Radio.” We didn't sample The Crash Crew, we put Reggie Reg on it. Now Raekwon 'bout to get on it. That's Hip Hop. I have a video featuring Pebblee Poo the 1st female MC. She was on Profile. She’s like my big sister. Dj Red Alert always looks out whenever I need him for knowledge. I got a song called “V.I.P.” wit Amil formely of Roc-a-fella. I speak to Canibus from time to time, Buckshot from Black Moon always shares knowledge wit me. But I understand we in a new time, so I bring those qualities to what I’m doing. And thats what makes Eleven. Also, I cant forget my man Easy Mo Bee. He produced just about every Biggie and early hits Bad Boy ever had. ( Flava In ya Ear, Warning, Machine Gun Funk, Wats Beef, Love the Doe, a whole bunch of sh*t). I used to see him spinnin’ in the clubs but I could neva get to him. One day, my man DJ 3D told me he was comin’ up to the radio station. So, I went up there and spoke to him. He gave me his number, and when I finished up my mixtape, I hollard at him. Crazy sh*t was, he told me he was gonna come holla at me but I didnt believe him. When I got to the crib and called him, he was already downstairs for a minute. Mo Bee don’t talk too much, so he really didn’t like my sh*t at first. I thought I was Jay-z or Biggie when I left the studio but that was a wrap afta I met wit him. I called him a few weeks later and he came thru. While going thru almost the whole mixtape, he heard this dude rappin’ and asked who it was. I told him it was me. I just changed up the style a lil bit. He told me to keep spittin’ like that. After a while I started throwin’ my own swag on it and he started diggin’ what I was doing. And I been usin’ that voice ever since. You hear it on "Lets Go" wit Dana Dane <a href="http://www.winningbeginnings.com/LetsGo.mp3">CLICK HERE TO HEAR "DANA DANA DANE ft. ELEVEN, “LET’S GO" </a> , Ego Crusher with G, and a lot of my new shi*t. It’s like a arrogant, wise cracking voice. But definitely ~ without Dana Dane and easy Mo Bee, I wouldnt be the MC that I am now. I learned a lot from the both of them.
BSN: Hey Eleven! That piece, “Bounce Back!” One of my favorite joints, actually. What inspired you to write that?
Eleven: There was one point where a lot of people were comin’ off negative on me about how I ain’t gettin’ nowhere and how I’m not gonna make it and all this crazy talk and it discouraged me for a minute. “Bounce Back” <a href="http://www.winningbeginnings.com/BounceBack.mp3">CLICK HERE TO HEAR "BOUNCE BACK" </a> is about negative people and negative things that happen in life, but you can’t let ‘em stop you. You gotta just bounce back!
BSN: So Eleven, what’s all this buzz about “She Got Next?”
Eleven: "She Got Next" is a brand that I’m working on to give females an outlet in the [hip-hop] industry cus they don’t get the same respect and opportunities that the guys do. I’m working this event with Joli from Icreeupree Productions. Right now, we’re doing an all female Producer competition. When was the last time you heard a female producer? “She Got Next” is gonna be hosted by me and my artist, Miss Cash at Revival in Harlem, June 3rd. Any famales looking to perform, hit me at firstname.lastname@example.org .
BSN: Eleven, I am so inspired by your talent and perseverance. After all that’s said and done, you remain such a nice person with such a beautiful heart, always seeking to pull others up. Eleven, one last question, that many of our readers would like to know your spin on, and that is, what would be your three keys to becoming the Ultimate Hustler?
1. Brand yourself. Always offer what others don’t have. If you do have the same or similar product or service, then just package it different.
2. DONT get greedy. It’s cool to get what you want, but do it for the things you need.
3. Know your lane, and surroundings. Don’t bring negative attention to yaself
And here’s a bonus for ya ~ Never give up on your dreams. Your dreams and your passion is ya lifeline.
In our next segment in the series, "Eleven Ego Crusher: Respect Before Fame," we will talk about the pros and cons of the music industry as it pertains to marketing, past and present ~ the big guns as opposed to internet indies, and more. In the meantime, here are some links. Ride with Eleven as domination continues.
Watch Eleven battle himself as Ego Crusher http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bT75yWw3Hrs
Jeanne Wyche is Managing Editor of The Black Star News and Harlem
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