SANTA MONICA, California — When he’s not supplying killer beats for Limp Bizkit, DJ Lethal is keeping busy with his new record label, Lethal Dose Records, and an upcoming solo debut.
The scratch master recently signed his first artist, New York rapper Rock of the underground hip-hop duo Heltah Skeltah and the group Boot Camp Clik.
Rock’s upcoming solo album, Planet Rock, is expected to feature guest vocals by Limp Bizkit’s Fred Durst, Outlawz, Method Man and Redman, while producers will include Lethal, Rockwilder (Method Man & Redman), Shok (DMX, Rah Digga) and Scott Storch (Snoop Dogg, Dr. Dre). Timbaland (Jay-Z) and the Neptunes (Ol’ Dirty Bastard, Kelis) are being sought as well.
Lethal met Rock through Tha Liks (formerly Tha Alkaholiks) last summer, but he’s been a fan of Rock’s work for years. “Besides his style and how authentic it is, his voice just puts it in there,” Lethal said while hanging out with Rock in a recording studio Thursday night. “After one note of his voice, you know it’s him.”
Rock first gained notice in Heltah Skeltah with his partner Ruck. An underground buzz over their 1996 debut, Nocturnal, resulted in a deal with Priority Records, which released their second album, Magnum Force, in 1998.
Rock laid down several songs last year for a solo album he had planned to release through Priority; several of those tracks will be carried over to Planet Rock. “I’m an adrenaline junkie, so expect a lot of adrenaline on my album,” the rapper said.
Lethal said his vision for Lethal Dose Records is “breaking barriers, all authentic, no Britney Spears put-together pop stuff — bringing back the phat sh–.” The Lethal Dose imprint is a joint venture between the DJ and Geffen Records.
Meanwhile, Lethal is making progress on his solo LP, though he’s had to put the project on the back burner while Limp Bizkit tours behind last year’s Chocolate Starfish and the Hot Dog Flavored Water. He’s hoping the group’s upcoming hiatus will allow him to complete the disc in time for a late summer release.
“It’s hard to finish, especially when I have to find so many artists to rap, since I don’t rap,” he said. “I get a month at a time, and I use that month to make music, so by the time I’m ready to have vocals, I end up going back out on tour.”
Lethal had planned for the effort to be half rock and half rap (See “DJ Lethal Taps Korn, Sugar Ray, STP Singers For Solo LP” ), but the album is shaping up to be heavy on the hip-hop. “I might sprinkle a little bit of rock in there, but it’s pretty much straight hip-hop, my first love,” he said.
Tha Liks, Kurupt, Rock and Dilated Peoples have already recorded their vocals. Kurupt appears on a track with a late rapper named Smash, whom Lethal had planned to sign to his label.
“Apparently he used to ride his bike to see these girls in the ’hood,” Lethal said. “And one day, somebody just pulled up on him and thought he was somebody else or something and shot him.”
Lethal said he and Everlast are discussing the possibility of a House of Pain reunion, but finding the time to make it happen has been difficult. “I’m open to it — we’re just trying to figure it out.”