BandHip Hop


Both New York and San Francisco have professional sports teams named the Giants. So it shouldn’t be a surprise that legendary MC AG—aka Andre the Giant—recorded his latest album, Get Dirty Radio, 3,000 miles away from his South Bronx birthplace, in California. What is a surprise, however, is that while longtime collaborators Lord Finesse and Showbiz appear on Get Dirty Radio, the majority of the tracks were crafted by producers the rapper’s never worked with before, including Jake One, Dabrye, Tommy Tee, Oh No, Look Records head honcho DJ Design, and—representing somewhat of a hip-hop head’s wet dream—Madlib and J-Dilla.

“That’s gonna let em know right there,” AG predicts. “Those are two guys who carried the tradition of digging in the crates, and DJ Design linked me up with them, so it’s like the old legend with the new kings … The album is crazy.”

On the Madlib-produced “Frozen” (the album’s first single), AG proves he’s still got the verbal skills that made him a legend: Niggas say we real cause the way we got down/ From the streets to the industry locked down/Plot now on the world that’s the next stop/ Ladies listen cause I’m known to hit the wet spot. The DJ Design-produced “Triumph” bears much personal significance for AG, who’s overcome many trials and tribulations in his life, from a murder charge (since overturned), industry-related politics and the tragic death of his good friend Big L. On the track, he pays homage to his fallen comrade, declaring Big L will never be forgotten, then goes on to say, the Big Apple, I eat it rotten/ Just to keep it poppin’. Another unquestioned highlight is one of J-Dilla’s last production credits, “Hip Hop Quotable (feat. Aloe Blacc), a brilliant track which traces the history of hip-hop through its more memorable lyrics over the years, and finds AG up in the lab, stabbing that pad with a pen again.

Get Dirty Radio’s emphasis on lyrical skills, classic concepts, and innovative new music might just change people’s minds about the current state of NY rap, which in recent years has followed trends more than it has set them. “If music is pumping, Imma get into it,” AG says. “But the message, the lyrics, and the content are horrible right now.”

The album marks not only a return to form for East Coast-style rap, but a new beginning for AG, a member of the fabled Diggin’ In the Crates (DITC) crew, still fondly remembered by hip-hop heads for such classic tracks as “Soul Clap,” “Runaway Slave,” and “Party Groove.” AG says making Get Dirty Radio “revitalized” him as an artist, to the point where he feels he’s at the “peak” of his game, 17 years after releasing his first record. “If I’m gonna be in it, I gotta live it,” he explains. “And Imma a live it to the fullest.”

Growing up in the South Bronx’s infamous Patterson projects, AG was exposed to both street life and hip-hop at an early age. He remembers excitedly watching parties thrown by the likes of Grand Wizard Theodore, Grandmaster Flash, and the Cold Crush brothers, and being introduced to freestyling by his cousin, LB (currently a graffiti artist and graphic designer with his own clothing line.) While in high school he battled metaphor/punchline master Lord Finesse; the two hit it off, and after meeting producer/DJ Showbiz, he became a full-fledged member of DITC, along with Show, Big L (R.I.P.), Finesse, Buckwild, Diamond D, Fat Joe, and OC. Show and AG’s first EP came out in 1990; an LP, Runaway Slave, followed in 1992; both are hailed as Golden Age gems which currently demand a pretty penny on eBay.

Unfortunately, Show & AG’s 1995 album Goodfellaz got caught up in industry politics after their then-label Payday was bought by Universal. “The people in charge didn’t know anything about music,” he explains. “They didn’t do music, they didn’t live in the clubs.” Despite the setback, which cooled their momentum considerably, AG and his brethren continued to make records. 1998’s independently-released DITC album, Full Scale, moved a reported 30,000 units on vinyl and was hailed by the Source as one of the top underground albums of that year; in 1999, AG dropped his first solo album, The Dirty Version. Since then, the rapper has been sought out for guest verses on records by Dilated Peoples, Blacksheep, DJ Greyboy, Casual, and Handsome Boy Modeling School. He’s also toured numerous countries, including Germany, Austria, the Netherlands, and Japan. “I’ve been overseas a lot,” he says, noting that he’s been embraced by international audiences who appreciate hip-hop culture beyond just the current fad or trend. “They keep the real movement alive.”

In 2002, AG came across DJ Design backstage at a show in Germany. This was the first time the two reunited since 1994, when Design promoted a show in Seattle headlined by none other than Show & AG. The two discussed working together on an AG solo album, and soon after that, the rapper flew out to San Francisco to write what would become Get Dirty Radio, stay


Selected Discography:

1992 Showbiz & AG- Party Groove/Soul Clap EP- London/Payday

1992 Showbiz & AG- Runaway Slave LP- Payday

1995 Showbiz & AG- Goodfellas LP(featuring "Next Level")- Payday

1999 AG- The Dirty Version LP- Landspeed

2000 Tony Touch- "The Club" feat. AG

2001 O.C.- "Weed & Drinks" feat. AG

2004 Handsome Boy Modeling School- "A Day In the Life" feat. AG, RZA, and the Mars Volta- Elektra