Updated: Feb 16
The long awaited Vol 2 of the 5PL1T EP Series took us first to Charlotte, North Carolina and the 4 man group Lower Level. [Some] Cats will know Lower Level from their huge grail “Top Notch/F[l]avourable Fluids”. Impossible to find and mighty dope, this heater has been eluding grail hunters for a minute.
A short interview with Jay Flav from Lower Level:
Tell us a little about the group:
Lower Level came together as a group in 1992: the members are Joseph Caldwell (Jay Flav); Milton Smith (Money Milt); Willie McDuffy (Wil-Nice); Barry McDuffy (KHB). All recording on this EP were recorded at D&D studio (NY) and House of Music (West Orange NJ).
Did you all grow up in Charlotte?
We all grew up in Charlotte myself, Wil & Barry grew up in Hidden Valley and Money Milt grew up in Earle Village. Milt was the only one that didn’t grow up with us, we met in another street capacity.
How did you end up recording at D&D Studios?
We were working with Mark Spark at D&D on the production side and stumbled on an engineer by the name of Joe Quinde….he was a beast at mixing. That was around the time we were working with a label out of Newark called Brick Boulevard that had a production deal with Elektra Records. We were going to be the first act off that label, but when Busta left the Leaders of the New School, Elektra went on a all out campaign to promote The Coming album by Busta, so the label along with other groups on Elektra, such as 3 Boys from Newark [which had another NC native Omniscience] got dropped by Elektra. Unfortunately they let alot of good music go to waste.
What was the scene like in North Cackalacka back in the day??
The scene in NC was crazy, we had mad talent with groups like SoHo (Southern Hospitality) my brothers they were dope, Omniscience the Funky One Liner, Ski Beats (produced Reasonable Doubts for Jay Z) and was also the founder of Original Flavas, Nasty Fruit. ….and many more. Dopeness brother!!! Alot of notable producers such as Fanatic, Mark Spark, Laquan, Skazz Daddy, Wil-Nice and many more….
Who did you look up to growing up?
Locally I looked up to all the cats on Payroll Records such as the Bizzy Boyz and Supreme Nyborn, nationally I looked up to Large Professor, KRS One, Cold Crush Brothers (Almighty K.G) my man, Big Daddy Kane who has been in NC for over 20 years and actually came to a couple studio sessions.
Did you do cats do the support slot for acts touring down South from the North East?
We opened a lot of shows back in the days. NC was different than other parts of the south because we banged Hip Hop and artists would come down to perform and be amazed that we sounded professional and on the same level as they did. A lot of groups came to perform in NC and left with a new found respect for NC. Even recording at D&D, up north cats would come in the room spark up and pop their neck to the sounds, such as Guru, Sadat and many more.