Wednesday, June 15, 2011


When I first heard The Qure's single "Baby Mama," my mouth didn't hit the floor. It went through the ground. I couldn't believe how bold, raw and talented this Houston Texas based duo were. Well it's suits them well because many fans can't get enough JAPAN & APOLLO who's debut mix tape received thousands of downloads upon it's release, having fans want more. The duo met through a mutal friend and after getting their hang ups about each other, they clicked and became tight friends and music partners, who's personalities (JAPAN is the wild one, while Apollo is the mellow member) work well and it shows on their music.I had the opportunity to interview the talented duo via telephone and this was one interview that kept me on my toes.

DA-PROFESSOR: How did you two meet?

JAPAN: I'm from California.
APOLLO: I'm from Tennessee. Two different spectums of the world.
JAPAN: We were introduced by a mutual friend and we didn't like each other at first.
APOLLO: I didn't like him. (All three of us laughs).
JAPAN: We're just keeping it real. Now he's my brother from another mother. I wish a nigga would!

DA-PROFESSOR: So Apollo you're from Cali?
JAPAN: I'm originally from Cali. I'm a Cali boy.

DA-PROFESSOR: What part?

JAPAN: Sacremento born and Oakland raised. I flew back and forth between Cali and Texas and ended up going to the University of Austin for journalism and moved on from them.
APOLLO: I'm from Nasville, Tennessee. Home of country music. That don't make me country.
JAPAN: Yeah he country. (both laugh).
APOLLO: I came here for work and ended up meeting Japan and here we are.

DA-PROFESSOR: What prompted you to perform a career as an Gay Hip-Hop group?
JAPAN: It was accidential. Both of us love music and we're really, really competive. Not with each other, but anything we see another person do, we can do. If they're steam rolling, we can do it.

DA-PROFESSOR: Who are your musical influences?

APOLLO: Mine are more singer based than rap based. Old School.
JAPAN: He's the Black dude. I'm the White dude. We call it melodic and infusion. Olaot of our songs, "Revenge," "Turn Off Da Fans," and stuff like that we build on inspiration. James Brown, Donna Summer's "Hot Stuff." Those things. Dionne Warwick for "Walk." If you hear something Black, it's Apollo. If you hear a White voice, it's JAPAN.
APOLLO: Don't push it (All three of us laughs).

DA-PROFESSOR: I LOVE THE Mix-Tape. What was the concept and inspiration for the title "Gay 4 Pay?"

JAPAN: Honestly, we put the album together accidently. We were listening to tracks and we put songs to them and we started playing them in clubs here in Houston. Then in the end, we were like "Gay 4 Pay." If you wanna do anything with me you gotta pay me (All of us laugh out loud). That's real talk.
APOLLO: It kinda started out as a joke. Then we were listening to tracks, then we were like I can write to this. It started out as a joke, then we started taking it quite serious.

DA-PROFESSOR: One of my favorite joints is "Baby Mama." What was the inspiration for the song and what inspired you to rap over Lil' Kim's hit "Whoa?"

JAPAN:I'm glad you like that. I cringes sometimes when I hear that song. Believe it or not, more females love that song, more than anything. Females love that song. We thought we were gonna be pissed, but they loves that song more than anything on the album. I guess it's because 9 times out of 10, they're fucking with a dude with a baby mama.

APOLLO: Everybody's boyfriend got a baby mama.

DA-PROFESSOR: Another favorite is "Milk & Cookies." What prompted you to write about your favorite entertainers and how would you think they would react if they were to hear the song?

JAPAN: We love them all!! That was a ode. That's like an ode. That's like paying homage.
APOLLO: The sexy above the sexy.
JAPAN: If you wasn't on that list, you ain't shit. If they hear it, they should be proud of that shit (all three of us laugh).

DA-PROFESSOR: Revenge is antoher favorite. I love how you incorporated The Human Leauge's "Don't You Want Me" and Oran Juice Jones' "The Rain." He's from Texas too.

JAPAN: I didn't know that. That goes to show you Apollo again. I'm the Human League. Apollo you're so Black dude.
APOLLO: Get on my nerve. (I laugh).
JAPAN: It's one of our favorite songs.

DA-PROFESSOR: Alot of people can relate to the song because it deals with I can't believe that Bitch Motherfucker did this to me and I held you down and you're gonna cheat on me with some tired bitch! (All 3 of us laughs).

JAPAN:We love that song. Everybody can relate to that. Everybody can relate to that whether it's Apollo's verse or my verse, and in all honesty, that song is a piece of art to me. The way that we fused "I will follow him.'I think that shit is gangsta.

DA-PROFESSOR: I like the lines I called your mom's crib and told her you know your son is gay/Takes dick in the ass in the bed where you lay.

APOLLO: I was speaking from real experience. I was quite mad during that relationship.
JAPAN: Apollo's mean.
APOLLO: But I'm really the nice one. I'm America's sweetheart. I'm not a vengal person.

DA-PROFESSOR: You also did a sexual song called "Turn On Da Fans."

APOLLO: I'm pretty mild compared to Japan. He is pretty explicit.
JAPAN: Well the truth is when we wrote that it was a heat wave here, and there was a thunder storm that knocked out all the lights and in the apartment we were in at the teime was very fucking hot and it was nearly 100 degress. We wrote that song that night.

DA-PROFESSOR: JAPAN, you're from California. Oakland has produced many talented artists including MC Hammer, Oaktown's 357, En Vogue and Toni, Tony, Tone. How does it feel to be raised in a city where the Black Panther movement and those talented artist came from?

JAPAN: I gotta show up and show out every single time. En Vogue. Too Short. E-40. Ice-T. Ice Cube & N.W.A. D.J. Quick. Those guys influenced me. Being from the West Coast, they are great influences. If you ever get the opportunity to see us live, you'll see exactly what we bring every (single) time.

DA-PROFESSOR: Apollo You're from Tennessee. In additional to Country music, Tennessee is also known for producing several Blues and Soul artists such as Issac Hayes and Stax Records. How does it feel to come from the state that produces great soul musicians?

APOLLO: That's what I'm about. I love soul. I love harmonics. I love melodies. I'm a rapper and a singer, but I love to sing and I love to rap as well. We're entertainers.

DA-PROFESSOR: You're very active in the HIV Community. How important is it for you to be active in the community?

JAPAN: We want to bring more attention to that and do it in a positive way and not be demonized. That's extremely important the activism. That's the most important thing. At some point we want to bring together some kind of foundation where we can bring boys that's been newly diagonsed in our spot to give them HIV 101 and teach them it ain't over. Alot of those boys can't pick up the pieces. And that's what we wanna do for them. We also understand we gotta get their attention and get their attention through music.

DA-PROFESSOR: The South is known for people being friendly, but it's also know for people throwing the bible belt at gays. Have you ever had to fight homophobia?

APOLLO:I've never encountered it. Being in the south that's weird to hear it. But me personally I've never encountered. JAPAN have you?
JAPAN:I haven't neither.The truth is I'm like an Lantern. I've never been gay bashed and I've never been called a nigger. I've been in Texas half my life on and off. I've never experienced anything like that. Not even online.

DA-PROFESSOR: You're coming out with a new album am I correct?
JAPAN: It's called "The Virus" We are super, super, super, super stoked about this album, because it's our first original. There are ten songs on the album (and) everything is us.
APOLLO: The Virus is more mature. The songs everything can realte to. It's very emotion driven.
JAPAN: It's alot darker and not darker in a bad way, but "Gay 4 Pay" was inspired by people, places and things. "The Virus" is inspired by emotions, situations and feelings and relationships. Not even relationships with men and women, but relationships with God. Relationships with your best friend. Actually the lead single from the album is "Made To Ride."

DA-PROFESSOR: So Apollo you're the laid back one and JAPAN is the wild one.
APOLLO: He's a shit starter.
JAPAN: Apollo's the good cop and I'm the bad cop. Apollo's absoultely the ice and I'm
absoultely the fire. We feed off each other. Apollo's my favorite rapper. I'm inspired by him single everyday. That's real talk. I feel like I'm blessed to be in a group.

DA-PROFESSOR: Where have you performed at and do you have plans to do any touring?

JAPAN: We've performed all throughout the south. We got the change to play with Last Offence and Twizza' We got the chance to rap with them. After we drop "The Virus," we're putting out a remix album with ten songs and we're picking the hottest Gay Rappers. Regardless of whether they came before us or whether they came after us. I have a collabolation with Sonny Lewis. Sonny Lewis is a good guy. Apollo has a collabulation with Tim' M West.
We love Tim' M West.
APOLLO: Nobody better not say anything bad about Miss Jenkins.
JAPAN: Nobody better not say anything about Tim. I love Tim Dirty Dawg. That is my big brother. Tim has shown us n a very short period of time, how to make it happen. When Tim speaks. I'm hard-headed. When Tim speaks, I listen. Because of Tim, we did a show with him and at that show, there were producers from the Austin Music network there, and they called us a few weeks later and ask us to do a TV show. It's a 16 piece episode with musics all over Houston.

DA-PROFESSOR: What prompted you to do a remix album and reach out to the hottest Gay Rappers?

APOLLO: I think that everybody thinks we're stuck up.
JAPAN: While part of it may be true, we wanted to reach out to our brothers. Everybody's putting out really good music, you know what I mean. We're very impressed. I really wasn't really impressed at first.

APOLLO: I made him listen to the music
JAPAN: He had to literally strap me down and make me listen to shit. Not so much now.
We wanted to reach out and show love. We're all in a race to see who's gonna be the first to get signed to a major label. May the best man win. That's real talk. In the meantime, we wanna have some fun.

DA-PROFESSOR: I like for yo to give me a real answer on this one. It seems that most Pride Organizers will hire Drag Queens, but not reach out to and hire Gay and Lesbian artists. How does it make you feel?

JAPAN: In my opinion, I think that in order to embrace things like this, you have to be visionors. If a person denies us, depress us. I kinda blame it on them. It's like the first female rapper and the White rapper. There's obviously gonna be a Gay Rapper. If you don't see that and if you can't feel us and you don't wanna deal with us, like my partner used to say a bitch don't like me, they don't like themselves.
That's real talk. You have to be a trendsetter.
APOLLO: In the south, they're quick to put on a drag queen or transgender. I'm not putting down drag queens or transexuals, but they're quick to put them on insread of live entertainment. They rather see lip-synching.
JAPAN: I'm a steamroller. and I really don't accept no for an answer and wherever we go, we get in. Houston has showed us an incredible amount of love. We're the dukes of Houston. We're gonna start filming our reality show "The Dukes of Houston."

DA-PROFESSOR: If you have the opportunity to work with any mainstream artists, who would it be?

JAPAN: I wanna piece of Rhianna. I wanna piece of Rhianna. I like Rock & Roll. I like the White Boys.
APOLLO: I like more singing type dudes. I like Ryan Leslie. Big shout out to Ryan Leslie. He's a Harvard graduate.
JAPAN: To be honesty, most of the people I wanna work with are dead. I'm inspired by Old School. Bob Marley, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones.

DA-PROFESSOR: What else do you have planned besides the album and reality show?
We're thinking we're doing one more mix-tape, and shortly after that I'm gonna do a solo project "Made In JAPAN" and Apollo's gonna do a solo project "Showtime At The Apollo." We're busy boys. We both have strong work ethics. We are both furiously competitive.

DA-PROFESSOR: How did you come up with your stage names and what do they mean?
APOLLO: Apollo's Greek. Apollo the God, little G of music. The sun. He keeps it happy. He keeps it going. He's musically incline.
JAPAN: I'll keep that real. Fuck that. Apollo call himself Apollo cuz he think he fine. That's why. He think he fine. He think he got the body of a Greek God. (We all laugh).
APOLLO: Mind your business (Laughs).
JAPAN: Then JAPAN is an acromyn for Just A Pretty Ass Nigga.It's a big name, but it is what it is. I make no apologies for that. That's the name of the mix-tape "Glamour By Glamour." That's like a movement because there's too many youngsters are afraid of being themselves. Fuck youngsters, there's grown niggas who are afraid to be themselves. That's what we're talking about. That's a lifestyle. We wanna empower and embrace those who are afraid and empower themselves.

DA-PROFESSOR: How do you think that CD is gonna inspire listeners to be themselves?
JAPAN: Even before the CD, I think that everything we put out there. The pictures and everything. We are not afraid to be who we are You know what I mean.
We lead by example. To much is given, much is required. God has given us everything we asked for. Literatually. Winners think about winning all the time. We wanna win.

DA-PROFESSOR: How do you think you're making a impact on the Gay Community and Homo-Hop scene?

JAPAN: I hope we can inspire. Apollo and I challenge one another other. And we inspire one another. There's always gonna be competition, but we love each other. When one of us gets signed that's a beautiful thing. When one of us gets signed, you're turning the light on and when you turn the light on, there's a whole bunch of us in the room.
APOLLO: When one label gets one, the next label is gonna want another. It's gonna be a domino effect.

DA-PROFESSOR: What advice would you to a kat who wants to pursue a career as an openly Gay Rapper?

JAPAN: Bring it! There are two words; bring it! The world is listening to us. There were some kats who got to do somethings with Kay Slay and that's a good luck. If we come to the game talking dumb shit. Talking about sucking dick and getting fucked all the time, that's what the world's gonna see us. I think the world knows we are extremely talented and the truth is we been behind the scenes doing hair and everything. We're trailblazers. We're pioneers. We're trendsetters and I mean that.