CONSTANT DEVIANTS

con•stant adj – continuing without pause or letup; unceasing.
de•vi•ant n – a person or thing that departs markedly from the accepted norm.

In the world of Hip-Hop, a name carries the weight of an entire career. It’s the brand, the logo, but most importantly the mission of the group. For Constant Deviants, it’s a title that has grown with them over time: constantly changing, departing from the norm. As the duo collectively kick starts their journey into Hip-Hop once more, their name bears more meaning than it ever has.

Consisting of emcee M.I. and producer/DJ Cutt, the New York slash Baltimore artists began making music as teenagers during Hip-Hop’s pivotal Golden Era. The pair locked themselves in a studio during a 24-hour period, delivering their 4-track demo. On it, the classic “Competition Catch Speed Knots”, which caught some speed knots of its own. Released under Vestry Records but distributed through Dance/Reggae label Strictly Rhythm, “Speed Knots” was a Rap record touted to a Dance audience. “That was our first independent deal so we were just excited about it,” Cutt explains. “We didn’t understand what it was at the time,” continues M.I. The record was affectionately certified “Ghetto Gold” by the team, where true Rap fans were demanding it but couldn’t find it. “It seems like a lot of people have that record, but we have no numbers,” M.I. explains. “There’s a dude from Germany I met and he even has the record and still plays it to this day.” CD also delivered their letter to Hip-Hop “Can’t Stop” (Brooklyn Pipeline) and “8th Wonder / Hustler’s Prayer” (Brooklyn Pipeline), among other notable cuts during their early run.

Their music reached the ears of famed manager Mark Pitts. By 2000, M.I. signed a deal with Arista Records, with Cutt aiding in production while solidifying his career as a DJ and engineer. The next few years showed M.I. as an emcee on the rise, Cutt working heavily with Rap heavyweight N.O.R.E. as his engineer and touring DJ, plus working with Jay-Z’s famed Roc-A-Fella Records. By 2006, their worlds came together, again, as M.I. featured N.O.R.E. on the remix to the track “Yup” alongside Rick Ross, co-produced by Cutt. Their efforts reached another pitfall when an outside marketing agency promoted the record as “M1” a.k.a one-half of the group Dead Prez. The backlash was terrible. “We had a lot of money invested in that record, and that one mistake completely sabotaged it” M.I. recalls. “It killed me because it ruined that record and there was no way to get it back.”

The duo realized in order to get their original spirit back, they’d have to return to their roots. They started SIX2SIX Records, self-funded and self-managed by Constant Deviants, releasing other artists’ material, but most importantly their own. “We realized we had to do our own thing,” Cutt explains. “Creatively, we had a good time when we were in the studio and needed to get back to that.” The meaning behind SIX2SIX is the hours they work, 6AM to 6AM. “Anything we do, we go that hard,” says M.I.

Their triumphant return to Hip-Hop will be marked by the release of Diamond, a culmination of the eras that Constant Deviants experienced on their journey, while pushing Hip-Hop forward. “It took us time to put together something really right because it had been a long time since the two of us created that sound,” M.I. says of the project. The sound is an amalgam of organic drums and classic samples with the level of artistry that Constant Deviants were known for from the beginning. “We didn’t go back and completely recreate that sound and just leave it there,” M.I. explains. “We tried to update it a little bit so it sounded more modern from back then.”

Diamond primarily features M.I. and Cutt, with possible collaborations on remixes. The introductory track “Krush Groove” comes complete with a video honoring Hip-Hop’s beginnings, taking place in Baltimore’s Graffiti Alley with such relics as a 300ZX. “It’s a real simple video with a ‘90s feel,” M.I. says. As another testament to the past, “Won’t Stop” continues the progression of “Can’t Stop,” with a brand new letter about the current state of Hip-Hop. Finally, the track “Gotta Get Paid” is what the two simply call a “return to hard Hip-Hop”, sampling Greg Nice on the original and KRS-One on the remix.

Another remarkable aspect of Constant Deviants and the SIX2SIX movement is their loyal vinyl fan base. Digital downloads are offered for free, knowing the fans will purchase wax, a phenomenon that challenges the current recording industry’s infrastructure. “We look at our label almost like a boutique Hip-Hop label, like the early days of Def Jam” says M.I. “Even in a world where all people may not like vinyl, they still love Hip-Hop.” As Constant Deviants bring Hip-Hop back to the future with Diamond, they maintain their original mantra. “Sometimes people take Hip-Hop too far underground or too far Pop to the point where it’s not even Hip-Hop anymore,” says M.I. “We sit somewhere in the middle, just delivering good music.”