Agent Sasco Says His Phone Started Burning Up on Leak Day
If you aren’t living under a rock, then you know that today Kanye West’s album Yeezus hit stores. And if you read this blog, you know that Yeezus is Kanye’s most dancehall-flavored project yet, with four of ten tracks including vocals by dancehall artists—not to mention the occasional “Dutty Wine” mention. Where most of the tracks are sampled vocals, one Jamaican dancehall star actually spit a new verse on Yeezus. His name is Assassin aka Agent Sasco, and we had a chance to reason with him earlier today. Audio & Interview After The Jump…
Kanye West “I’m In It” featuring Assassin
Where in the world is Agent Sasco right now?
I’m in Kingston right now
This is official Yeezus release day. Are people excited about the record in Jamaica? Is it a big deal?
Yeah it’s on the front page of one of the papers today. it’s a huge deal. I mean, come on, it’s Kanye. So it’s a huge deal across the globe. It’s Jamaica, it’s Caribbean, it’s Europe, it’s US. It’s Kanye so it’s a big deal.
Jamaica pays attention to popular music of all styles, but when I first heard Yeezus, I was really struck by how much dancehall flavor was on there. Are people in Jamaica aware of that, that Kanye really went in on the dancehall style with this record?
Yeah I mean it’s a big deal for dancehall in terms of… You know, Kanye is a certainly a creative genius. He could have gone in so many directions with this project. And he decided to include not one not two but like four samples in the project and also to mention Jamaican culture here and there throughout the project. That’s just huge for Jamaica and it’s huge for dancehall. And of course people who know hip hop and know dancehall would know that in the creation of hip-hop there was that influence in the beginning. So its not like a brand-new concept but at this stage of the game its good to see the combination of the two.
Kanye West & Jay-Z working on “Lucifer”
Yes it’s very good to see. And as you say, it’s been going on for a while—“Mercy” had the Fuzzy Jones sample on it and even going back to the Jay-Z song that Kanye produced with the Max Romeo sample in it, “Lucifer.”
Yeah, yeah. [Sings] “Lucifer…” Exactly. Kanye is definitely plugged into the Jamaican music and it’s good to see in the music at the level that he does. and it’s the greatest compliment to what we do and of course it’s of course a great endorsement. And it’s a big deal and we’re excited about it and we’re happy about it.
I of course want to encourage the bredren to continue to use more.
The greatest thing is to see the feedback on the tracks. And I’m sure not just Kanye, but other R&B and hip-hop, whatever genre, other people will be inspired to use the dancehall and the reggae influence. Because the feedback has been crazy, from leak day to release day today it’s just all positive feedback. “Yo, who is that Jamaican dude? Man, he’s goin’ in! Yo” You know I mean? That energy. That is crazy.
I counted four tracks that have dancehall style vocals on them, and three of them were sampled from records. But your track sounded different. It sounded like you were riding the riddim. Tell me how that track “I’m In It” came together.
All right so… About last October Kanye’s production team came to Jamaica. I got a call from Gee Jam Studios in Portland Jamaica that the team was there and they wanted some vocals from various artists in Jamaica and so I was invited to do some work on that. When I got there the vibe that I got was that Kanye was working on another Lamborghini Mercy kinda vibe, where it would be like a mixtape or whatever. Some side project but not necessarily a Kanye West album. So I did my verses, like, they just played some instrumentals. There were no vocals down. They just played some straight-up instrumentals and be like, Give us what you got on this. Whatever you feel, whatever vibe. They were like, Give us something a little more hardcore here. Or here, try something… whatever the vibe of the track was. So I laid down about five verses from 16 bars, 24 bars, 32 whatever.
Fast forward to about January I got a call that, “Listen Kanye got the stuff, he’s listening to it and he’s just in love with some of the things you did. We might want you to do some more things. Keep listening out.” And then the next contact I got was that they needed my lawyer’s info so that we could iron out some paperwork because Kanye decided to use one of the verses on something coming up. At that point I still didn’t know it was gonna be the Kanye West upcoming album, Yeezus. I was just there going along, like, “Wait Kanye has an album coming up—I wonder.”
And then on leak day it’s just like my phone literally was almost burning up. Like, “Yo I’m in a club. What is happening to my brain? Are you on the Kanye album?” So everything just got crazy. Yeah, yeah… so that’s just incredible.
I don’t know how they went about doing how they did it and how they put it all together. Kanye is just crazy with what he does. I’m just excited that it’s there. It’s a good look and it’s great and people love it, which at the end of the day is most important.
It’s nice to hear new vocals on the track. Cause there’s only so much you can do with a sample. I like how the beat drops out and comes back.
It’s very dramatic how he did it, yeah for real. With the drop out and—mmm—yeah, for real.
The lyrics are kind of like a bad man concept.
Yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah. As I said I did various things and maybe he was just feeling the vibes from that and just decided that he was gonna put it on there. It’s just creaivity. At the end of the day people are gravitating towards it and liking it and loving it. So it’s just a demonstration that Kanye is a just like a creative genius who knows what he’s doing.
Did you actually bump into him at the studio?
No it’s just the team that came down. So Kanye didn’t come to the session in Jamaica. He got the stuff back and that’s when I got the call that he was “in love” with what was there.
Were there any other artists who you recnognized who also worked on the project?
A few people came down. I can’t remember exactly—I was there at a different time or whatever. But I know that a lot of people recorded for the project.
What about for Kanye? Any producers you recognized?
I met Che Pope, that’s who was in charge of the session at the time. A few other people were there, but Che was the one running the program.
So any plans for videos or performances?
Well it’s release day today, so it’s still early days. And so I’m sure in the near future we’ll know exactly what direction they want to go and where things go from here. But for now I’m just excited to be a part of it and excited for dancehall that this is happening. We’re still waiting to see where it goes. As It is now, it’s great. I just want to be about that and focus on that. If it goes further that would be even greater.
For people who are hearing your voice for the first time on the Yeezus project, what are some of the tracks right now that people ought to check out?
All right so there’s a song called “Shell” and I think it would fit into that vibe of the “I’m In It” feature because it’s more like a gangster record. And it’s getting a great buzz in JA. It’s just like real hardcore incredible. And then we have a song called “Tell Unuh” which is also in a sense hardcore side. And then we have “Material Girl” which is another vibe of Assassin but it’s interesting and it’s showing the versatility and people can check that out as well.
Agent Sasco “Shell”
And of course they can just hit up the Twitter @AgentSasco and Instagram. Stay tuned and you’ll get all of the stuff, where you need to go and all that.
What else are you planning to do to maximize this moment? Any plans for a mixtape or anything else?
Certainly this is a huge platform. And so we have a team now that we’re gonna be certainly maximizing whatever is to come from this opportunity. It’s just a great opportunity, it’s a great platform to work from. And we’re certainly gonna be working hard to maximize that.
Kanye Previews “Yeezus” in NYC
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