Along with L.G, Fred Flak was responsible for the production and co-production on MobStyle's The Good, The Bad, The Ugly and Game Of Death albums as well as Azie Fassion's solo tape Street Wise, but his greatest work came about when Pretty Tone Capone went solo and he became Tone's main producer. Together they recorded such Harlem classics as Can't Talk Too Long On The Telephone, Case Dismissed, Across 110th Street and Marked 4 Death, albeit with a little help from Funkmaster Flex on Across... After he replied to one of my MobStyle posts, Fred and I arranged to shoot the shit and he's since been kind enough to lace me with a few unreleased MobStyle gems from his vault for the interview.
(From The Good, The Bad, The Ugly; 1990)
T.M : Let's start with Harlem. What I love about the O.G wave of Uptown Rappers like Spoonie Gee, Harlem World Crew, Dr Jeckyll & Mr Hyde, Crash Crew, The Fearless Four and Doug E. Fresh is that their records sound so different to the Bronx Rappers . Tell me what sort of impact these guys had on you as a kid?
F.F : Spoonie Gee was my first Hip Hop record when I got my turntables back in the day. Well, when I was DJing I actually had a crew who had a few rap battles with Treacherous 3, and Crash Crew was my homies. I used to chill with Darryl C and me and Reggie Reg are still cool - thats a real cool bro. As well as Reg, I'm cool with DJ Barry B from the Get Fresh Crew, Doug E. Fresh lives directly across the street from me. Me and Teddy Riley used to do jams in the park in my projects and the place used to b packed like a concert.
(From Fred Flak's unreleased stash; 1989)
T.M : So, how did the MobStyle hook-up come about?
F.F : Well I met tone first 'cause Tone heard I was the go-to kid for street beats. So when me and Tone started doin songs in the studio I guess Azie liked what he heard and thats when mobstyle came about so he asked tone to hook us up, so Tone brought Azie to my apartment. I let A hear some samples and about 2 days later we was in the studio like everyday for 12-14hrs a day. Being in the studio with Tone I've met so many artist I thought I was famous! *laughs*
(From Fred Flak's unreleased stash; 1990)
T.M : I think you just pipped EPMD to the post to be the first person to use that Love Unlimited Orchestra sample on The DL and I love what you did with Nautilus on Can't Talk Too Long On The Telephone. What are some of your favourite breaks?
F.F : I was a DJ before I started producing so I like a lot of break beats, but U.F.O by ESG is one of my alltime favorite beats
T.M : Good choice. You a Phil Collins fan? Harlem love Phil's music, right?
F.F : Yeah - Phil the man. *Laughs*
T.M : Okay, I gotta ask about the N.W.A incident when they played the Apollo and Tone, Gangster Lou and a posse of Uptown goons bumrushed the stage.
F.F : Well the Apollo incident was a normal reaction, really. Tone wasn't gonna let N.W.A perform in Harlem or N.Y period after they dissed MobStyle on record and at that time Tone was a loose cannon.
T.M : 100 Miles And Runnin' away from New York. *Laughs* What a pity that nobody captured that on camera.
(From Case Dismissed 12"; 1992)
T.M : So, the Case Dismissed video is one of the wildest Rap videos I've ever seen. What's the story behind it?
F.F : Well the court room is the same court room from the movie New Jack City and most of the people there are homies from the 'hood who almost got us kicked out because we had blunts, blunts and more blunts lit up. *Laughs* Rick Rubin from Def American supplied us with a nice budget. I wish I could make a movie bout myself and the adventures back then. So many!
T.M : Was the cute Puerto Rican chick with Tone his girlfriend?
F.F : No, that was a chick we scooped up on the street. *Laughs*
(From Def American Recordings Preview tape; 1992)
T.M : Smooth operators. Tone signed a solo deal with Rick Rubin's label Def American Records in 1992. How much material did you record for them?
F.F : I produced around 8 - 10 songs for Rick Rubin. We worked around a lot of artists for it like Fat Joe, Showbiz, Lord Finesse, Father M.C, Ru-Paul, Funk Master Flex and the DMC champ' DJ Steve D.
T.M : I've gotta confess that I'm having difficulty picturing Tone and Ru-Paul on the same track together.
F.F : Yeah, thats what we said. Thats why we scratched it off the album. *Laughs* And the name of the song was Where's The Beef! *Laughs* It probably would've went platinum with all the homo thugs out nowadays. *Laughs*
(From Across 110th Street 12"; 1993)
T.M : Def American was more of a Rock label than a Rap label really because Tone, Sir Mix-A-Lot and Milk D were the only Rappers Rick Rubin had back then. Did you ever meet any of those Rock bands like Slayer or Danzig?
F.F : No, we haven't met them guys but we were on our way up.
T.M : Do you think Def American didn't really know how to promote really raw Street-Rap like Tone?
F.F : As far as Rubin goes, honestly I don't think he was ready for Hip Hip.. or maybe Hip Hop wasn't ready for Rick. Tone would've ripped that 99 Problems beat up. *Laughs*
T.M : What happened with Tone's album getting shelved? Was it down to major labels getting shook during the whole Ice-T Cop Killer controversy?
F.F : With Tone's album, him and Rick just couldnt see eye to eye. We was outta control. Oh boy, the stories. You might have to wait for my movie. *Laughs*
T.M : I sent you the video of K-Def cuttin' up that song with Tone on the intro. What's up with that one?
F.F : That's not one of ours. I asked Tone about that and he says he doesn't even know how they got his vocals for that.
T.M : Damn. What did you and Tone think about people like Cam'Ron & Bloodshed or Ghostface Killah? You think they swaggerjacked elements of Tone at all?
F.F : Well honestly theres a lot of rappers out now who i think stole Tone's swag, ya know?
(From Across 110th Street 12"; 1993)
T.M : Okay, so, is there any joint in your catalogue you could single out as a favourite?
F.F : My favouriteS, you mean. I can't choose just one. Every song we did was then and there, and every song has a story behind the scenes, so even if the song wasn't my favourite, the story that goes with makin' the song makes it one of my favourites
T.M : Fair enough. I like Can't Talk Too Long.. and Case Dismissed, myself. And you co-produced Gangster Shit, right?
F.F : Yeah, and I produced Part 2.
(From Loyalty; 2006)
T.M : So, I've been checking some of your newer beats and they'd sound real good with someone like Black Rob over them. I'm feelin' that Killa Dilla joint you sent me too.
F.F : That's my man! We recorded that one around 2006-ish along with some tracks by my boy M.C Future, who did a joint with Max B.
T.M : You listen to Max? Or any Cam and Dipset in general?
F.F : I'm not a big fan of Dipset. They aiight.
T.M : Finally, 5 songs which represent Harlem?
F.F : 5 songs... right now... none! Foreal, I miss the old real hip-hop, this music now is too corporate, no originality, lame ass fake gangsters. I like Jadakiss, Styles-P, Jay-Z, a lil' Rick Ross!
T.M : Thanks for the time, Fred.
F.F : No probs. Stay in touch, man. Peace.
As well as the phone number, Gmail address and Facebook page on his business card up top, you can also find Fred on Youtube at FredFlakGreatestHitz.