February 28th, 2008 | Interviews

Jati Lindsay

Platinum Pied Pipers “I Got You (ft. Tiombe Lockhart)”


The Platinum Pied Pipers are one of the founders of Slum Village, Waajeed, and Saadiq, who studied songwriting with Barrett Strong (who wrote “Money” and many of the best psychedelic Motown records). Their debut Triple P dropped in 2005 and was so well loved that ?uestlove reportedly played it seven times in a row the first time he heard it. Waajeed speaks to Alex Roman while working in the studio, and the Platinum Pied Pipers play Saturday, March 1, at Crash Mansion.

How do you think the new record will be different from Triple P?
The last album came out three years ago, and in general, our tastes have changed—times have changed. It’s definitely a different record, but there are still a lot of similarities. The cast is different, for one, because for the most part we have two main lead vocalists on this album instead of a revolving cast like last time. The similarity is that we’re still mashing up our influences; it’s totally different but it’s still a combination of several different sounds.
It seems like it would be easy for you to grab some big name and throw them on your record—why do you think it’s important to use artists that people may not have heard yet?
Because it’s fuckin’ wack in my opinion. Anybody can do that. I think that’s the problem with the industry now. Everybody has the same sound—everybody uses the same producers or some rip-off artists that sounds like that producer. It’s all just recycled bullshit. I think that’s how we separate ourselves—by bringing in new talent and doing something that is sonically different. Doing music that you can’t really categorize is important for us because there’s a lot of shit that sucks out here. There’s a bunch of fuckin’ garbage out man.
I read a quote by you that said you guys wanted to be as big as the Neptunes—has that changed?
No, not at all. I think the Neptunes were and still are a groundbreaking group. They do shit that nobody else dares do. On that level, I definitely want to be related to as a production team the way they are, as far as being innovative and bringing in a new sound. The Neptunes changed radio!
How has your move from Detroit to New York influenced the sound of your music?
I wouldn’t say it’s changed the sound a lot, I’d say it changed our work level. Being in Detroit you can kind of go at your own pace because life in general is much slower and calm. You can be a little more reflective in Detroit. Here in New York you got to turn shit around. They move really fast here, and beside the point it’s taken us three years to make a fuckin’ record. Our turnaround time, as far as getting things done, has been a lot faster.
What’s taken so long to get this record together?
I’m going to keep it real—I didn’t even want to do a second album after Triple P. We toured for about a year and a half for the last record, and just due to how much we were downloaded, I was kind of bummed out. Especially after Jay [Dee, Dilla, Deezee] passed—it was a turbulent time and I didn’t want to do another record. I didn’t particularly feel great about the music business and all the changes that it has gone through. Looking at things on a positive side, there are a lot of fans that really wanted another PPP record and you can’t say no to those people. That’s who this new record is for, really—the fans that have supported what we do and are willing to grow with us as we continue to do whatever it is that we do.
When you and Saadiq met did you know of his background and his association with Barrett Strong?
No, I just thought he was a weirdo. I thought he was a weird dude with long straight hair. It all came after the fact, which is good because I got to know him personally first and the music came afterward.
So were you informed on Motown when you were a kid?
Yeah, definitely. My parents were big on it—at least my dad was. My mom was a little funny about Motown.
Why’s that?
She, uh, she kind of grew up with Diana Ross and they had some type of falling out about a boy or something.
Funny. You knew Jay for quite a while—do you remember the first time you met him?
Yeah, I do. In Detroit—I think it was junior year in high school—they were having this talent show. I had formed a group with T3, but I had also formed a group with several other people so I could guarantee that I’d win by being a part of all these different groups. But it was too many groups for me to do beats for at the time. There was this kid in my art class who told me his brother makes beats and this and that, so I should think about hooking up with him to get some tracks. So I decided that I would buy some beats from this guy and give them to my other groups and produce it that way. The dude gave me his address, and I went to his crib the next week. He was a super quiet dude, and the first time he played the beats, I was like ‘Oh shit, this type of music is coming out of this little crazy guy?’ So that was the first time we met, and that was actually before he and T3 and everybody else met.
You were one of the founders of Slum Village, but your parents wouldn’t let you be in the group—why was that?
I was actually part of the group, but I got a full scholarship to go to art school. My parents told me that my little music thing was cool, but I should take the opportunity to go to school since a lot of people don’t get that chance. So that’s what happened more or less that caused me to leave the group.
Were you upset about it at the time?
No, my relationship with Slum is that we were always friends first. So even though I wasn’t in the group, technically, and I wasn’t rollin’ around in Jay-Dee’s little red car with them going to gigs, I still saw them every weekend.
When they asked you to DJ for them in Europe is that pretty much what got you back into music?
Yeah, it was the first time in a while that I had been around music. What happened was that Jay-Dee told me that they really wanted my energy out there because at the time they were kind of bickering at one another. So Jay asked me to come help them, I don’t know, relate to old times again.
To bring a little piece of home?
Do you think not being in Slum Village changed your career? Did you finish school?
You know what? I didn’t. Because after the Europe tour it rekindled my fire with music.
The pull was too strong?
Yeah, I remember going back to school, but I only went half-time. Then I went back the next year and eventually realized that I really loved to make music, so I left school and locked myself in my apartment for a year making beats.
So your real name is Robert O’Bryant IV. Is there a fifth?
No, Not yet. Music’s my only baby.
Do you plan on keeping the line going?
I don’t have a choice. My father told me at eight years old that I had to continue. I didn’t even know what sex was at the time, but my father told me I had to keep the line going.
Do you know any good stories about the first?
Ah man, there’s a ton of stories. What I know about the first—and everything I know about the second and third and even myself—we’re all highly motivated to do something new. So I feel like I’m keeping up with the lineage.