RedefineHipHop: James Sumbi a.k.a J-Sumbi (of Freestyle Fellowship and All In All) Part 6 of 8!!

August 04, 2012 3 min read


In Part Six we focus heavily on his crew All In All. He talks about “Sunshine Men” and where he and his partner, Mellow D were at mentally when we they made that song. It was fueled by their frustration of the artists who were getting all the recognition on the LA Hip Hop scene. At the time, it was mostly either Electro styled Hip Hop or artists who were transplants from other places amd moved to LA to build a rep. He goes on to say about "Sunshine Men" that to this day, “I stand by it. There’s nothing I would retract.”

He elaborates on his and Mellow D’s distaste for the so-called Hip Hop Magazines that were more teenie-booper focused. Then a few months later they discovered The Source. He explains how they were blown away by groups in the Unsigned Hypecolumn, like Puppets Of Chaos. He then talks about sending in the All In All demo to The Sourceand getting the call from Matty C saying they won and how he felt that was like being knighted in the Hip Hop world they admired. He explains how they had to rush to  get their picture done, so he rushed over to the Movie Theater were Mellow D worked at and they went in the basement to take a quick flick (with Mellow D fresh out of his theater uniform!).

He reveals how that Source article got them on the radar for some industry people. At one time DJ P (a.k.a Paul Stewart) and Tony Mylan (??) (Herbie Hancock’s then manager) were both trying to manage them. He speaks on regretting not going with DJ P, who had came to them with a deal with Steve Rifkind right after he signed Tung Twista and they could have been the second artist on the label.

However, they choose Tony Mylan as a manager because he was an industry veteran. He arranged for them to fly to New York and work on a project with Bill Laswell, Bernie Worrell, and the Jungle Brothers ("Blacktronic Science" album '93). He recalls hanging out at Herbie Hancok’s house and looking at his room full of literally every sampler made, including a Linn Drum modified to be a sampler, which Herbie let them borrow!! Tony also arranged for them to record in a studio at Universal Studios were they COMPLETED an All In Allalbum!!! J-Sumbi has the finished album on DAT Tape and talks about some of the songs on the album.

We close this segment talking about a Freestyle Fellowship show in Santa Monica. While selling tapes after the show in the audience J-Sumbi is approached by a lady who wants to buy a tape, so he sells it to her. A few days later he gets a call from her and finds out she is Kim Bouie, A&R for 4th & Broadway/Island Records, and wants to set up a meeting with Freestyle Fellowship. He breaks down how the meeting and discussions about signing with the label went. He explains how he had reservations on signing with the label because of what he knew about how the label was known to treat artists, which was he and Mellow D decided to not be a part of the deal. He speaks on being around during the making of “Inner City Griots”, but made a conscious choice not to be on the record. He also explains how the concept of Freestyle Fellowshipbeing a group and not a collective of individual artists was born from this deal with 4th & Broadway/Island.  The legend continues...

Interview & Text By Kevin Beacham

Video Shot & Edited By Adam Stanzak Of Oh Boy Films

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