Greg Broussard aka The Egyptian Lover is a man of historical proportions, a true pioneer in our music for decades now and still going! Starting off an illustrious career with Uncle Jam's Army in the nascent L.A. Hip Hop scene, leading to the iconic and highly influential productions as The Egyptian Lover, this one man empire continues to be an unstoppable force in the scene, recently lighting the fire once again with the release of the highly-anticipated "1984" album, and touring the world without any signs of slowing down...here, our good friend Madorski Vladislav Alexandrovich has the pleasure of speaking to Greg about his early life, and accomplishments throughout his career. If you ever wanted to find out more about this fascinating artist, then this is the place to start. Without further ado, let's meet the Pharaoh of Electro Funk!
Madorski Vladislav Alexandrovich: Please introduce yourself: what is your real name? how old are you now? your occupation?
Egyptian Lover: Hello, My real name is Greg Broussard. I was born and raised in South Central Los Angeles, California. I am a D.J. / Producer / CEO of Egyptian Empire Records. I'm 45 and still rockin' the Parties.
Greg, let's start from the beginning of your career. How did you get into the business? Could you also tell us about the early period of your work, like your first experience in Djing?
I started out by making mix tapes back in 1979 for people at my High School in San Fernando Valley. I used to take a 2 hour bus ride everyday and you know, music is the only thing that kept people happy for 2 hours, so I made Mix Tapes using the pause button on my Boom Box. Everyone loved my choice of Music and the creative pause button edits I did. I even put a custom Rap on it (before Rap was popular). All we had was "Rappers Delight" so I created my own Rap songs and sold them on the tape. I was a Celebrity at my High School, sold many tapes and made much money.
Nowadays it's not a problem to buy equipment if you want to be a DJ and Producer. But how was it back in the days? What equipment did you use? And if you could, a couple of words about the Roland TR-808 Rhythm Composer.
I never owned any really good equipment, I had 1 belt drive turntable and a Radio Shack mixer and a Boom Box to record on. It was only after I joined Uncle Jam's Army that I made a lot of money to be able to afford the TR 808. I remember when Afrika Islam told me what it was, I went straight to the Guitar Center and bought one. I loved it ever since. The following week, I D.J.'d at an Uncle Jam's Army Party and the people went Berserk to the Beats I was playing.
Under the influence of which musicians did you start to create your own music? Was Kraftwerk your main inspiration?
I had many influences but Prince and Kraftwerk were the main ones. I was a huge Prince fan so my nasty lyrics came from him and the beats and music came from Kraftwerk. I only funked it up a bit to make it club worthy.
Did you spin at Venice Beach or did you like clubs more? Were there battles between the DJ's back in the days? Battles in Scratching or whatever...
I spun everywhere I could, clubs were my favorite spots. Uncle Jam's Army were the best Dance Promoters in the World, so it was easy to get an audience when I got with them. No battles between D.J.'s, everyone knew I was the best hands down, so they started to compete for second best. I liked Bobcat, he had my style but added a few nice scratching things and that was nice. When I saw Joe Cooley for the first time I had to give it up to him as the best Scratcher I've ever seen.
"Egyptian Lover" - why did you choose such a pseudonym?
It came from King Tut (an Egyptian named Tutankhamun), a boy-king who had it all at a very young age and ran his own Empire. And Rudolph Valentino (Lover), was an actor who loved women and they loved him back.
Uncle Jam's Army. When did you join it? What was the idea of the crew? And the 1st time you saw Flat Top was at a dance party right?
I joined Uncle Jam's Army in 1982 and saw them go from 2,000 party people to 10,000 party people. I really made a name for myself. Many people came to our dances, Flat Top, Dr. Who, Wave-o-Matic, any and everyone had to be there if they wanted to be seen.
Greg, did you ever try your skills at dancin, B-boying or pop-locking?
I was always a Dancer before I was a D.J. and that is what made me a great D.J. because I knew what Dancers wanted to hear. I became a D.J. in 1981 so it was before B-Boying but I did Pop a little, Hell I created the Tut!
The atmosphere at the parties, today and back in the day...is there any difference?
Back in the day everyone came to have fun, dance to good music and get some girls. We did not have Myspace, Twitter, Facebook or cell phones, we had to get a phone number and call her at home. It was hard to keep in contact, but when you finally got a hold of her on the phone you'd better have your mac down. We used to see who could get the most numbers, but then you would forget who was who and end up calling the wrong girl. Today all the guys want to be hardcore Gangstas and don't even dance and get their freak on. It's sad to see so many guys just hanging around. I bet the Ladies really miss the gentlemen in us fellas.
Please tell me about the clubs in L.A., name your favorite! Also, did you perform at Radiotron?
Yes. Ice T, Glove and I performed at Radio, it was a nice spot to play at because you could play whatever you wanted. But the best was Uncle Jam's Army at the L.A. Sports Arena with 10,000 people and 150 speakers. We even had groups like Run DMC, Whodini and Jeckle and Hyde open up for us.
Greg, are you the owner of Egyptian Empire Records? What was better for you in the 80's - to be independent or to perform under a record label, owned by another person?
To own my own label and do whatever I wanted was a dream come true to me. I am still living this dream today. Being that it is Egyptian Empire Records' 25th Anniversary I am putting out Twelve 12" singles in 2009. The First two are "Electro Pharaoh" and "Freaky D.J."
Hip-Hop... So who came up with the true Hip-Hop scene? Who were the first in L.A.? Did you work with Rappers Rapp Records, and do you know Duffy and Jerry Hooks?
Hip Hop was starting all over, Uncle Jams Army, Wreckin' Kru, all the dances we threw were based on Hip Hop. Yes, I knew Duffy Hooks and he always wanted to make records. He was a true Hustler. Ice T was doing his thing, Mix Master Spade was doing his thing, Snake Puppy (before he was with L.A. Dream Team) and I used to make mix tape Rap Songs. I think since "Rappers Delight" everyone started rapping and that's how it all began. Duffy was the first to make a record I think. But it was getting large all over. We had Michael "Mixing" Moore and Tony Joseph on the radio playing all kinds of stuff. I used to see these guys named "Disco Daddy and Captain Rapp" making records with Duffy. It was the beginning of West Coast Rap.
Talking about Cali, there are a lot of cities. Which have the biggest influences in street dance & music in the West Coast? The cities like L.A., San Diego, San Jose, San Francisco, Compton, Pomona, etc...Does a political argument about "which city is the best in Cali in different fields" often take place? What is your personal opinion on "West Coast vs. East Coast"? Why do people sometimes disrespect other cities? can we all live in peace and harmony?
I don't know why other people hate on other cities or Coast, I'm International so I love them all and all of them love me. I've been everywhere and seen my fans all over the World goin' crazy over me. I was only 15 or 16 writing raps and making mix tapes. I didn't make a record 'till 1982, but since 1979 I was making rap songs on tape. I used to talk about my neighborhood because that was all I knew, but I soon told myself to become bigger than that; so I made songs to Dance to.
So it was pretty much fun back in the day, you could go for a walk and turn your ghetto blaster on full...by the way, could you name some famous Ghetto Blasters?
Nah, I could not name them but I had many of them made by many brands: Sony, JDC, Emerson, Panasonic and many more.
And what about gangs? Do you believe that Hip-Hop saved the lives of young kids in ghettos with Break-Dancing, Graffiti, and Dj'ing?
Yes! Hip Hop gave the young kids a new dream: "I can make a rap record"! So even if you could not sing, you could still make a record. Being a D.J. also made you think: If you can't rap, you can be the D.J., B-Boy, Breakdancer, or write Graffiti. It was a place for everyone in Hip-Hop.
In 1984 you released "On the Nile", how long did it take you to record the 1st album? How many copies were sold? Did "On the Nile" give it a start?
"On The Nile" was half way done because many songs were already out on 12" singles. "Egypt Egypt" came out in 1982 with "What is a D.J. if he can't Scratch?", "And My Beat Goes Boom" and "Ultimate Scratch". On the B Side, "And My Beat goes Boom (Long Version)" in early 1983, "Girls" in mid 1983 and then "Dub Girls" after that. So it was easy to put that album together. "My House On the Nile" was on that album and everyone loved that song. I was touring at that time so I rushed the album in about 1 week. We sold about 750,000 copies. But the "Egypt Egypt" 12" single sold way more and is still selling today.
Was it a risk to release an album? Were you afraid some people may not understand your music?
I never cared about people who did not understand my music, I made music for me. I made what I wanted to hear and being a D.J., it was what I thought people needed to hear. There was no one making crazy beats like that yet, so I had to start it to be a bit different than all the other rappers. I wanted to make my mark really different.
The early 90's: In 1994, "Back From The Tomb" came out. Tell us about 1990 -1994, did you take a break?
The music scene was changing and I had gotten caught up before in the change, so I took a long vacation to see what was next. I saw that the music was getting worse and worse and there was no way one man could help it. Some of the music was good, but the radio would play it to death and kill the specialness of the song, I feel sorry for the people who had to live with that wackness. Now it's even worse and the 90's don't seem so bad after all, that is why I had to come back and make some dance cuts for people who like to dance. On my break I got Married and chilled with my Family which is very very large.
Is there a connection between your personal life and the lyrics in your songs?
Yes. I write what I know and I know Parties and Girls.
L.A.'s artists co-operate with NYC? As far as I know you are a close friend of Afrika Bambaataa. When did you meet Bam? Did you perform together?
We are not close friends but we met in Reno doing a show together and gave mad respect to each other. Many East Coast guys give me respect just as the West Coast does and for that matter, all over the World. I just did my thang and never had beef with anyone. It's all about making people dance.
Have you ever been to Detroit? Juan Atkins (Cybotron, Model 500) is the originator of Techno Music in the D. Did you visit or give some performances at the Rave parties, such as DEMF?
In 2008 I performed at DEMF and it was one of the best shows ever. Ask anyone from 2008 at DEMF, and ask them who turned it out?
Is it true that every city has a unique beat? What can you tell us about tempo, does it get any faster from West Coast to East Coast?
Every city has a Unique beat but "nowadays" with the internet we are one big happy Planet loving all beats and styles of music from all over.
Honestly, I can't imagine Electro Hip-hop without a vocoder. Greg, did you use the analogue vocoder, because software vocoders came later, when the PC became mainstream.
I love Robot voices, Yes I always use my Roland 350 Vocoder and anything else I can find.
What really happened to Hip-Hop? What do you think about the scene now? It's a lot more commercial and people just want to make money from it. Can you compare standards in music in the 80's, 90's and today?
As I said before, back in the days we made music because we loved it. Today, the Majors got involved and made it mainstream. They killed the radio.
Greg, let's get into philosophy. What does the music (any kind of music) mean to you?
Music to me is the cure for all of the world's sickness. Music is for everyone. My beats make you dance no matter what you believe in or what mood you are in. Music is the true meaning of happiness. Every one should dance! Just forget your problems and dance.
Do you miss the old times? Any ideas to create a time machine and live your life one more time? Well, would you do that, at least in your dreams?
I am happy that I grew up when I did and could do all I did, it was special to me to be part of music history.
"Oh hell, I can't do this anymore, I'm tired" - those words are like a thunder when a person wants to quit. Were there times when you just wanted to say: "I quit music & DJ'ing"?
Never, I always made music, even if it was just for me to ride to. I made a new album every year but never released them. I have them to listen to and steal an idea or two.
What was your main goal in the 80's? You wanted to spin, to spread Electro Music, to be a famous person? Did you change your life priorities in the 90's or maybe later? What do you expect from your life now?
I wanted to simply make people Dance. Today I make my living from it but it will always be my main goal to make people dance.
Greg, do you feel like a Legend?
I do now that everyone tells me that. I also feel this way when I hear so many songs sampling me or re-doing my style.
How do you become a really good DJ? because if a person is well known it doesn't mean they are "the best", right?
People will make that choice if you are good or not. The best D.J. in the World is me hands down! Everyone else is fighting for a distant second.
In Sweden, you made the video "Egypt, Egypt" with Bam Bam Frost, Damon's daughter. Was it easy to work with her? Did you like to stay in Europe, what were your impressions?
I Love Europe, the U.K. and Scandinavia. People love the music and I love the people. The Parties are always so full of energy. Bam Bam was so cool. She is a beautiful and talented woman. She plays Cleopatra in my Video.
So you like all kinds of music, could you name your favorite artists?
One Republic, Prince, Aux 88, The Fray, James Blunt, Michael Jackson, Dean Martin, U2, Isley Brothers, Timberland, M.I.A. and countless others.
Name the 3 best Hip-Hop producers:
...I guess I'm a West Coast Man at heart...LOL!
Greg, could you say a couple of words to all the fans?
First I'd like to Thank everyone that has supported me throughout the years. Thank You! I am blessed to have the fans I have. Electro is Beautiful, yet Beats are like a Beast. Hip Hop is and will always be my first love. Thanks to all my Hip Hop Fans, B-Boys, Breakers, poppers, M.C.'s and D.J.'s "What is a D.J. if he can't Scratch?" I love the biz of music and I am grateful to be a part of it's History. I am currently celebrating my records label 25th Anniversary and I am pleased to say it is going well. I am back in the studio having fun again making Jams to make you Dance.
Interviewed by: Madorski Vladislav Alexandrovich for TechnoBass.net
Edited by: Santino Fernandez