Photo: Ian Meyer
The words “The Rub” for some invokes thoughts of a mishmash secret ingredients that they carefully concoct to help tenderize and/or enhance the flavor of the meat that they’re cooking. For others its the party rocking dj trio known as The Rub, which consists of Cosmo Baker, Dj Ayres and Dj Eleven. As a collective they’ve been rocking the scene via clubs and online radio since 2002. Their parties are known to be bananas and to guarantee a great time. We were fortunate enough to catch up with the trio for a quick interview.
First off, I got to say that I’ve been a fan of the Rub for a while now. The whole History of Hip-Hop series as well as the It’s The Motherfucking Remix compilations are insane. Anyways, what’s the origin behind the Rub? How did the crew end up forming?
Eleven: We’d all met separately in the years before the party began. Ayres & Cosmo met through On the Go magazine; Eleven & Ayres met through mutual friends; and, Cosmo & Eleven through a mutual DJ friend who’d forgotten to bcc their email list. Ayres started the party at Southpaw with one of its owners, Mikey Palms. Eleven played at the first one and Cosmo at the second. From there, we kept building, and the party at Southpaw, the CDs and the Rub continued to grow and grow and GROW!
How’d you guys all come up with the name the Rub? Is there a meaning behind the name?
Ayres: When we were trying to think of names for the party, we went through a bunch of different ideas, and I was looking at records for inspiration. “The Rub” is a George and Gwen McRae song about slowing the music down and dancing close, so it’s a thinly veiled metaphor for sex. And then a “rub” is also a simple scratch from the early days of hip-hop DJs, so the name fit nicely and everyone liked it. None of us had any idea that this party was going to be so successful and last so long, but because it did, we’re all happy we came up with a good name and logo.
How does the crew (Cosmo Baker, DJ Ayres, DJ Eleven) compliment one another with all of your styles when you guys are rocking a party or putting together a mix?
Cosmo: Like every DJ, we all have our own personal strong suits and things that we’re more well versed in, but all in all, the versatility of us all makes it easy to compliment each other. If one of us wants to stretch out in a particular direction, we all know each other’s playing style, and the music itself, to set them up perfectly, or to be able to downshift when that’s necessary. But that’s an important skill to have no matter who you’re rocking with. It’s just that we’re able to read each other so well by now that it’s seamless, and the same process is used sort of for recording mixes. One of us will say, “I want to play this, this and this,” and then we’re able to come to agreements and find a way to make everything fit. Usually, we sketch it out on paper and then get to the recording process and boom, there you go. Usually we don’t have to do too many retakes.
Any particular mash-up(s) that you guys did where you went, “Holy shit, that’s fuckin’ brilliant?” On the opposite end, any mash-ups you guys weren’t feeling afterwards?
Eleven: Every single joint that we put on one of the CDs had to pass the test. If the remix didn’t cause a collective “oh shit” or we disagreed, we passed on it. And there were definitely a couple that we did or, even more so, that people sent to us that got the gas face from the jump. A huge part of the fun and aggravation of making the CDs and sorting through remixes in general is listening to great ideas and make fun of terrible ones.
How hard was it to put together each of those History of Hip-Hop mixes? I mean, they’re hella deep, from the likes of Tim Dog, Son of Bazerk, Nine, Big Noyd, to Mac Mall. Shit, these mixes brought back a lot of memories. How much fun and/or pain was it to do all of this digging?
Ayres: It was a lot of work, but in a sense, we had always been preparing to do something like this just by being obsessive rap fans and record collectors for so long. So the work was in getting together all our music and making sure we didn’t forget anything, making sure everything was organized in the right year and then just whittling away so the mixes wouldn’t end up being five hours long each. We love this music and it was a lot of fun to do. Plus, we all keep each other on our toes and everybody pulled out records that made the other dudes say, “Oh shit!”
When hearing the Rub’s It’s The Motherfucking Remix series, listeners are treated to some ’80s pop, freestyle, RnB and new wave. Who are/were some of your major influences?
Cosmo: Black Sabbath, and nothing but Black Sabbath. There are no more influences on us.
Who do you guys see as the next big artists?
Eleven: Kid Sister, Wale and B.O.B. all show an amazing amount of promise and have been on their grind heavy. Now, they just need to turn in solid albums. PRGz and the Cataracs have a steady internet buzz. But with as quick as the music industry is changing now, it’s a little hard to call who’ll be big. The model that “big” is based on is collapsing.
What’s the schedule like right now for the Rub?
Cosmo: Crazy. We’ve actually slowed down a lot doing Rub tours and shows outside of New York a lot. Ayres just had a baby. I’m recently married, and that takes up a lot of time. Eleven just moved into a new crib. When you all have real life shit that you got to deal with every day, it’s not the easiest thing to be able to pick up and go traipsing across a far away continent for a month, but we still do try to get it in. We still do at least one or two Rub tours a year and a lot of spot dates as well. Plus, we all do individual gigs, so between all those situations, there’s not a lot of time to just kick it and veg out. Adding in recording schedules and it’s game over mannnn….
Any chance fans will see It’s The Motherfucking Remix Volume 3?
Ayres: It’s hard to say. At this point, it seems unlikely. We tried to do it last year but it didn’t come together the way we wanted it to. We’ll keep doing remixes, but we don’t all have the same hunger to get big, official remix CDs out like we did when we started the series. The next couple of CDs will be an ‘80s RnB mix and a classic house mix. It’s tough now because mix CDs aren’t selling like they were five years ago, so it makes more sense to do online mixes, which don’t cost us anything to press up and don’t cost you anything to download. We do our BrooklynRadio.net mixshow weekly and also a monthly radio show on Scion broadband, and we’re really enjoying that format: doing interviews, mixing records, talking on the mic and making it a fun show, but we’ll keep doing mix CDs here and there because it’s always good to have product out that looks good that you can put in someone’s hand.
What’s one piece of equipment/software/tool that you guys couldn’t live without?
Eleven: The one piece of software that we all use and swear by is Serato. It’s completely revolutionized DJing & added about 15 years to the lives of our backs.
Where do you see the Rub heading five years from now?
Ayres: Who knows? I hope we’re able to keep doing what we’re doing now, playing music we love and getting paid for it. We all have our solo shit that we do, from touring to making records, and by now, we’ve found a good balance between the group dynamic and our individual stuff. I think that all three of us are getting more into production. We’re at different levels in terms of making beats and putting stuff out, but we all have that as a goal.
Anything else you guys want to add for the fans?
Cosmo: This is where I’m supposed to say something witty and sarcastic or some sort of inside joke, but for real, thanks to all the people that consistently have supported us by coming to our shows, buying our CDs, listening and downloading our radio shows, all that shit. Those are the people that have made us able to do what we love to do for a living. It doesn’t get any better than that.
Thanks guys for taking this time with us. It’s mad appreciated.
All: Yeah. Anytime man.
There you have it folks, another exclusive interview from Killahbeez. For those that want to hear The Rub, check out their site www.itstherub.com as well as their online radio show on www.brooklynradio.net. Also they have an upcoming party on August 2nd at Southpaw out in Brooklyn, so be sure to check that out if you have the opportunity.
Edited by Michelle.