“I wish I was little bit taller;
I wish I was a baller,
I wish I had a girl who looked good;
I would call her.
I wish I had a rabbit in a hat with a bat;
and a six four Impala…”
Chicago born, New York City and Riverside, California, bred, Antoine ‘Skee-Lo’ Roundtree is easily best known for his mid nineties mega-popular hit single, “I Wish,” complete with its accompanying Forrest Gump parodied clip, which became a regular in rotation on every major radio station and video outlet show.
By the time his second album, the lackluster, I Can’t Stop, finally materialized, five long years had passed, an eternity for Hip-Hop, and Skee-Lo saw himself quietly fading into obscurity.
Fast forward nine-plus calendars later, and the 36 year old Skee-to-the-Lo has just re-emerged, armed with his brand new magnum opus, the appropriately titled FRESH IDEAS
” This isn’t just the return of Skee-Lo, it’s the start of Skeelo Musik, my record label. Building a team of 70 producers, and recruiting dozens of artists, rappers, and singers across the nation is not something that happens overnight.”
Let’s just jump right into this long overdue solo record Overdose — What does that title represent both to, and for, you?
Well, actually, Overdose is an underground EP project made to prep the fans for the full length album, which is titled FRESH IDEAS after one of the songs. It reflects the fact that I’m bringing fresh new ideas, and the spirit of Hip-Hop back to the music. Hip-Hop is a culture. Its original form was always positive. It brings people together, and it addresses the most serious social issues in our society…Or, at least it used to.
Who all did you enlist in regards to the album’s production?
I have recruited a team of producers known as Connected Music Group, who also worked with artists like Timbaland, and rising producers like OHENY, JENERUS, and CLIFF NOTE. All of which are incredible talents.
Are there any special cameo appearances to look out for?
Although we are still recording for the album at this time, I am currently working on songs with K-Solo, Rappin’ 4-Tay, and Bone Thugs (-N-Harmony), just to name a few. The album also features the new artists signed with, or affiliated with, SKEELO MUSIK; my new record label.
Any particular personal favorite track(s)? And, what reason do you give for your pick(s)?
All the songs are radio singles — No Fillers…Just Album Killers! I like them all. But, if i had to say…”I GOTTA GO,” “I Love LA,” “I Know You See It,” (and) “Just For Tha Luv” are some of my favorites.
FRESH IDEAS also signifies your “official” comeback after over a nine year musical absence — Why have you stayed away so long?
It took a great deal of time and effort to put this together. This isn’t just the return of Skee-Lo, it’s the start of Skeelo Musik, my record label. Building a team of 70 producers, and recruiting dozens of artists, rappers, and singers across the nation is not something that happens overnight. It used to be music was my deepest passion. Now, business and artist development is what I enjoy most. This album reflects my ability to put together diverse and quality projects. It’s hard not to apreciate this product after hearing it.
What exactly have/had you been up to during your lengthy career hiatus?
Mastering my art, building my company, and recruiting talent…So I can show off! *Skee-Lo laughs* I admire artists like Dr. Dre. He doesn’t drop the Chronic every year. He spends years planning and building, so that you don’t get a good album, you get a great album! That’s what I hope the fans will discover when they hear this. New flows, new producers, new artists, new swag — All things new! FRESH IDEAS!
Let’s take it back to your whole inception…When did you first become interested in music? And, how did it all begin for Antoine Roundtree?
Antoine X now. I see you’ve done your research though! *More laughs*I come from a musical family. I always loved music. Michael Jackson was my idol, and still is! Peace be upon him. When I was young, I moved to New York. That’s when I was introduced to Hip-Hop culture. Groups like Run-DMC, Whodini, UTFO was doing their thing then. I so desire to rejuvenate the spirit of Hip-Hop in this business.
Growing up on both the East and West Coasts, who all influenced both your sound and style?
Michael Jackson, LL Cool J, Will Smith, Fat Boys, Miles Davis, and KRS-One to name a few.
With that being said, describe for me your overall musical vibe?
I like real music, and real instruments. I love mixing genres and experimenting with music. And, I always go left field of what the industry is doing. I am an ‘Alternative’ Hip-Hop artist.
So, did you know from early on that music was your actual calling?
Yes, I was always a natural. I feel music. And, music is the only time I can truly express myself.
What particular string of events led to your, then, signing with, the now defunct, Volcano Entertainment?
I’m not signed to Volcano, and never was. In 1996, I was signed to Scotti Bros. They sold their company and their music catalog to Volcano, who re-released the I Wish album in 1999.
Looking back, did you ever think that your, now classic, single “I Wish” would have the impact that it’s had on Hip-Hop music?
One could never expect such an honor. I thank GOD for its success. People receive me everywhere I go, all over the world. I am very blessed.
What prompted you to recently re-record “I Wish,” as an all new, hard rock track?
It was a great idea from a wonderful producer, Dino Maddalone, who produced the track. We had a lot of fun recording it, too.
Your sophomore LP, I Can’t Stop, was solid, but commercially ignored — Why do you feel that this project didn’t fare better sales-wise?
I was not really involved with that project. The lyrics from my various demos were remixed, and released only in Germany if i can recall. Different from I Wish, which was produced by myself with full creative control. No one knows Skee-Lo like Skee-Lo. FRESH IDEAS is the first project since I WISH to be completely organized and directed by SKEE-LO — My style, my swag.
Aside from music, is there anything else that you’d like to get involved in or with?
Acting and commercials, guest speaking, and working with inner city kids.
How do you view the current climate of today’s Hip-Hop artists — Are you content with it?
We can do better. I’m not talking about talent, many are very talented. But, no one takes any responsibility for what they feed the public, It’s an ‘anything for money’ environment, and the spirit of Hip-Hop, as I remember it from its orgin, is not present. Hip-Hop is powerful. A rapper says drink Patron or Hennessey, and the world follows. People are suffering, War is abundant, jobs are scarce, and the world is losing its mind. And, all we can talk about is money, sex, dope, and how hard we are on every single song released. With the exception of a few responsible artists. We no longer support our old skool artists either. Corruption and payola in everything from radio to the labels themselves. What a sad place for Hip-Hop. If we wanted, we could change the world.
Very good point! Now everyone either knows your music already, or will become familiar with it soon, but who exactly is Skee-Lo?
I‘m your lil bro, your nephew, your uncle, I’m YOU. I’m just a brother trying to find his way in the world by GOD’s permission, and I don’t desire to be anything more than that.
And, what do you like to do in your spare time, completely away from this music?
No such thing as spare time. But outside of music, I am enjoying my family and friends. That’s all. I do enjoy bowling, and I am also a practical joker, too.
Ultimately, what is your 5 to 10 year plan in entertainment?
Never lose who I am, help as many artists as I can achieve their goals, fill the industry with quality music on the market, and give hope to the lil guys.
Your anticipated third solo album, FRESH IDEAS, is due out when exactly? What is/will be the lead single and/or video? And, are there any current plans to tour behind it?
First single is a song called “I Gotta Go.” And, yes, we’re working on a club and college tour for the summer.
What’s that “live” show element (gonna be) like?
A Skee-Lo show is always like a house party!
Are there any mix-tape(s) or cameos on others works to look out for from you in the meantime?
I’m on the new Rappin’ 4-Tay album, and I have Overdose the EP, “I Wish” the Rock version, and a double CD all drops this year as well. In addition, can’t forget the official album; FRESH IDEAS.
* Sadly, Thursday June 25th 2009, the world lost the greatest entertainer who ever lived — What was your first reaction upon hearing the tragic news? How does Michael Jackson’s untimely passing affect, not only you, but, music in general? And, in the wake of his demise, what does this mean for the future of recorded music?
I’m still devastated by his passing. It’s like we all knew him. I know everyone says that we lost a great entertainer, but really we lost a wonderful human being. Who knows what this means for music. But, I will miss the love and excitement of his music.
Yeah, me, too. Well, do you have any parting words?
Love you brother, thank you for making the world a better place. Peace Be Upon You.
Thanks for taking your time out with me today, good luck with the album, and continued success to you
Thanks for having me.