YouKnowIGotSoul got a chance to catch up with former Terror Squad member Armageddon. I discussed with him everything from what to expect on his upcoming album, to leaving Terror Squad, to working with Big Pun to his Geddy Movement.
Although he will finally be releasing his debut album next year, it is safe to say there were times when this wasn’t guaranteed for Armageddon. After all, nothing was ever handed to him when it came to building his career. When it came to pursuing his passion for music, Armageddon took matters into his own hands from an early age. Not only did he begin rapping when he was in grade school, but at the age of 16 he began hanging out around Jazzy J’s recording studio where all the big name rappers in the Bronx would go to record their music in the early ‘90’s. Before long, he had an underwhelming first meeting with Fat Joe who was there recording his debut album, and as he put it, “At first Joe thought I was someone’s little cousin.” After months of hanging around and paying his dues by getting food and other things for people in the studio, he had a chance to spit for Joe who was so impressed that he allowed him to roll with him and his crew.
Before long, Joe would look to add another member to his crew. After hearing about another rapper from the Bronx called Big Moon Dog, Joe and Armageddon went to check out his performance at a club. “The other dudes were alright, but we were there to see the fat dude” Armageddon boldly puts it. History was now sealed, and the man who would later become known as Big Pun would also join the crew. The group now included Joe, Armageddon, Big Pun, Gizmo and Keith Nut, but lacked a name. Before they were scheduled to make their first performance, Joe announced “we were the Terror Squad, and that just stuck.”
Eventually, after Keith Nut left, and Gizmo passed away, Pun would bring in Cuban Link, Triple Seis and Prospect to complete the Terror Squad. Although the crew was such a talented group of rappers, Armageddon went on to say recording the group’s debut “The Album” in 1998 was a “headache” and that everyone was trying to outshine each other on every track. Armageddon, who also handled most of the production on the album, was serious in completing the project while others were simply just having a good time. His initial thoughts on the album were: “I thought it was trash, I didn’t know what people would think of it.” His preliminary reaction couldn’t have been more off; the album is now considered a classic by many hip hop heads.
After the passing of Pun, the Terror Squad would undergo drastic roster changes leading up to the release of the second album “True Story” in 2004. This album had a much different feel than the first, and Armageddon only showed up on a couple of the tracks. As he puts it, “We were in New York, and Joe was in Miami, so it was like working on a different wavelength than him.” It was around this time that he realized things were not really moving in the direction he had hoped for his career.
At this point, he had been down with Joe since the mid ‘90’s, but still had not released an album. His explanation for this was “Some of us were waiting around expecting for someone to do something for us.” He revealed that Remy was the only one who really took advantage of the situation she was in, and that’s why she had a leading role on the 2nd Terror Squad album and was able to release a solo album. This lead to Armageddon’s departure from the crew, “I didn’t want to be someone’s hype man getting paid $1000 a show, so I left.”
Despite his departure from Terror Squad, he maintains that he still keeps in touch with Fat Joe and they are on good terms. The only other member he keeps in touch with is Prospect who now lives in Boston with a wife and kids and will soon be releasing an album himself. For those hoping for a Terror Squad reunion of sorts, unfortunately it doesn’t sound like this will be happening anytime soon.
As for his relationship with Big Pun, Armageddon boldly states “he was an asshole.” He goes on to clarify that Pun was often joking around and playing games such as squirting water at and “f***ing with people.” Armageddon, on the other hand, was more serious and more focused on his work, “I didn’t want to be f***ed with, but he did f*** with me a few times.” Although they had no beef outside of music, he says they did go back and forth on tracks a few times. The reason for the animosity was due to the fact that although Armageddon as in the crew first, Pun was able to release an album before him. However, he does admit that “Pun was more ready” and “I respected his talent as an artist.”
In reaction to the direction of Fat Joe’s career following his departure, Armageddon states “It’s like the big fish and the little fish, and Joe has always been the little fish that followed the big fish.” Essentially what he’s commenting on is how Joe has always followed the latest trends, but has never been a trendsetter. He goes on to say that Joe has always displayed “survival skills” in the way he’s been able to maintain his career. Although he only sold eight thousand copies of his latest album, he feels “Joe has never been a big seller,” and that is a decent number for an independent album. However, he does adamantly claim that his latest album shouldn’t have been called J.O.S.E. 2 because “it didn’t live up to the original.” It would be very hard for anyone to argue with him on this, since the original went platinum. It was actually Armageddon who in fact had a hand in guiding J.O.S.E. to platinum status, serving as the album’s executive producer; something he holds as one of his greatest accomplishments in his career.
Just for the record, I also attempted to clarify a rumor that had been going on for years of a confrontation between the Terror Squad and Roc-A-Fella crews at a club in the late ‘90’s. Although Fat Joe has commented on the situation in the past, most of what he went on to say seemed to be idealistic. In response to this, he claims “I wasn’t there, it seemed like I was never there when stuff went down.” However, he did have knowledge of the event, saying it was just a scuffle between the “other n****s who hang with the crews” and that rumors had spread and “blown things out of proportion.” Not quite the story we heard from Joe about Pun flipping tables and chairs, but at least we have confirmation.
When I asked for his thoughts on hip hop today in response to how far it’s come since he entered the game, he assured me he is not bitter at all and still enjoys hip hop despite some of the “garbage” that is out there. His opinion was people are “afraid of change” and constantly want to hear the same thing they are used to hearing. He attributes this for the reason many consider hip hop to be dead today after it has undergone such a big transformation. Armageddon is quick to point out that when it first came out, people weren’t really feeling hip hop because it was different. He definitely has a point there, as the mainstream took years to embrace hip hop after it was created.
In essence, change is what Armageddon is all about, and he started the Geddy Movement to lead this type of change. Aside from his digital label, Armageddon has established a program to “inspire and create growth and change within the Urban Hip Hop Community.” I respect him for the fact that not only did he want to make positive change in his own lifestyle, but also understands the importance of making a change in the community. As someone in a position to be a positive role model to the youths, it is refreshing to see him embrace this responsibility and do something about it. Additionally, he also has goals for the future that include motivational speaking and a guide on how to be successful.
Armageddon will be releasing his long awaited debut album “The Journal” in March of 2010. He came up with the title because verses on the album were recorded between 2005 and now, with some songs even having verses from multiple years, so it plays out as sort of a journal of where he has been. Production will be handled by the likes of legendary New York hip hop producer Buckwild, Cool and Dre, and possibly even a DJ Premier collaboration is in the works. It should also be noted that he mentioned after appearing on Fat Joe’s hit “All I Need,” he actually “had more female fans” because of the at that point he was most known for this song and because of the nature of the song.
For this reason, “The Journal” will serve as a re-introduction of sorts to the hip hop community of just who Armageddon is. Once depicted by Fat Joe as “the deepest lyricist” in Terror Squad, it’s now his time to shine on his own. Although his new album was originally intended to be distributed exclusively online through his digital label GeddyMusic.com, but will not also be sold via CD’s as well. After speaking with him for the interview, I’m left with the impression his intelligence, humbleness and business saavy will lead him to a prosperous career in the future, even if it is not in hip hop.
Armageddon’s debut album “The Journal” will be released March 2010.