The Rub Hip-Hop History Interview

Sweden’s Let’s Mix site interviewed us about our Hip-Hop History series. Read the whole interview here (or below).

Hey Rubbers! You’ve done an amazing job compiling and producing the Hip Hop History mixes. How did you come up with this, slightly crazy, idea?

Ayres: Thank you! If I remember correctly, I had the idea for a series of hip-hop history mix CDs at first, but it just seemed crazy to try to dump that many CDs on the market place. Most of the years would have been double or triple CDs. But yeah, Eleven and Cosmo were both into the idea to do it and just give the mixes away on The Rub website and Brooklyn Radio. So we split it up between the three of us into years, like “I’ll take 1979, you do 1980, he does 1981…” and so on. It felt really ambitious but also once we got the bug, it was a project we had to do. And it is awesome now because it has found such a huge audience and people keep finding it and emailing about the mixes long after we first put them up.

How long did it the whole process take, from compiling the tracks, via laying out the order in the respective mixes to finishing the actual mixes?

Eleven: The mixes got longer the further we got into them. But they average around two hours. For each of those, there was three-four hours of tracking down and going through music, a couple hours of prepping to record, three-four hours of recording and touch up. So each show probably took at least ten hours. By the time we bring the project up to now, we’ll be 300+ hours in!

How many tracks are there in total on all the mixes, as of today?

Ayres: Around 1200 songs. It was fun to work on this together because we got to share a lot of music with each other, like when I was missing something from my collection I could just hit up Cosmo and Eleven and they would usually have it. And it was a great excuse to rip all these records to MP3, so we kind of have every hip hop song we need now, in our digital collections.

Did you have a process for the track selection, like voting or something?

Cosmo Baker: We selected what years we wanted to do and then after that it was an individual choice.

Which, in your opinion, is the best year in hip hop history – and the best mix of the ones you did?

Cosmo: There’s no best year in the mix. Every year has its flavor, and all three of us bring our own interpretation of those years to our individual mixes. Like I was partial to the years 1986, 1990, 1996, 1999… So I think they’re the best mixes per se, but that’s discounting such a wide swath of music that it’s impossible to pin down. My two cents.

Eleven: That’s like asking what the best hip hop song in history is or the best hip hop album of all time or the best year in hip hop history. There’s no answering that. It’s totally subjective, so there’s no right answer. There were great records in every year.

Ayres: Mixwise, I still listen to Eleven and Cosmo’s mixes but I am less likely to listen to mine because I spent so much time on them, it’s kind of like staring in the mirror for two hours. But I was really happy with how 1994 came out, with the blends and stuff.

If you could add just one more track to all the mixes, which would it be?

Eleven: Every single record I had to cut was agony. There’s no way to go back and pick just one. There was too much great music left on the cutting room floor.

And if you’re still with us, here is an older, more in-depth interview on