REWINDING WITH JISE ONE OF THE ARSONISTS
1993 was the year while Brooklyn was the place when a crew by the name of the Bushwick Bomb Squad came out to set the world stage on fire. They would eventually become known as The Arsonists with main members Q-Unique, D-Stroy, Freestyle, Swel Boogie and Jise One. The crew is known for laying down underground classics while putting on live shows that kicked in the doors of the game changing indie Hip Hop scene of New York. In 1996, they released one of the most important singles of that era: "The Session." The single would lead the crew to radio play and eventually a record deal from Fondle' EM Records. In 1999, the Arsonists dropped their debut album "As the World Burns" which forged their names with fire into the Hip Hop history books. While the "The Session" 12-inch was being circulated worldwide, the crew pressed up an unknown number of cassettes independently and distributed them on tour. One of the cassettes that helped spark the inferno was a self pressed tape with "The Session" on the A side and "Halloween" on the B. Strictly Cassette was blessed with the opportunity to link up with Jise (formerly known as Jise One) to break down the anatomy of "The Session B/W Halloween" cassette.
(SC) - Can you give a short introduction of yourself for those who may not be familiar and the crew you come from?
The Name is Jise (Formerly known as Jise One of the Arsonists/ASF). A hiphop/rap collective out of Brooklyn, NYC. We were a detrimental part of the great hiphop indie/underground scene that took off in NYC in the 90s all the way into about 2002.
(SC) - Can you give us any behind the scenes info on The Session/Halloween cassette? (How many were pressed, where you sold them, etc...)
Ahhhh....Yes indeed. Thats a special tape indeed. Probably even more special than, even some of our fans don't know. When we recorded Session/Halloween, we had no idea how much of an impact it would make on the scene. I mean...We only pressed it on vinyl after Stretch and Bobbito played it and it kinda took off from there.
Alot of the tapes we made were previously recorded cassettes that we erased and recorded the Session/Halloween over them. Most of them were left over Nomaad (Q-unique's Previous Group prior to The Arsonists) cassettes that Q had just sitting around. We would be up at night erasing the music with a magnet and researching on how to scrub the old printed text without ruining the tape itself. This was a really time consuming job and obviously the crew was about 7 to 10 deep at the time so it worked out. Our fingers were a bit burned out from scrubbing the damn old text...shhheeeesh!
Not sure how many we printed, but it was quite a few. We sold these cassttes anywhere we performed..We wouldn't harrass or solicit people into buying them like alot of dudes I see doing with CDs in NYC right now. I definitely recall printing our 1st shirts and stickers as well. Nothing fancy, just the same flaming mic with a white background. I remember buying big clear plastic baggys and doing a package deal where you would get the Shirt, Tape and the sticker at once. We sold alot of those on our first tour to Cali.
NOTE: We also had SEED/VENOM and the First Arsonists mixtape on cassette.
(SC) - Was there a reason why the cassette was Manufactured and Distributed by Arsonists Records as opposed to Fondle' Em?
Well...for one? Bob only wanted to press Vinyl...That was his thing. He didn't want to deal with tapes, dont think he ever did anyways...but shit! We needed to get out as much as we could and we looked around and seen how much talent we had..We thought, "Why not do it ourselves?" We also recorded much of our material on quarter inch reels.
(SC) - The joint "Halloween" has a message that is still relevant today. A timeless one. Could you tell us a few thoughts that were going thru your head moments before grabbing the pen and pad?
Moments before? I was personally thinking...shiat! I gotta get on a song with these dudes?!!! They were beasts on the mic and they had more experience than I did. I was just playing around and writing poems and my lil raps in ciphers here and there. We were different, but we had alot in common. We used to have "Danger Room" (We named it after The X-Men training facility) ciphers that kept everyone on their toes.
My Halloween verse was really a combination of things I learned while observing people in the environment...not just rap, music, but the world in all. Status Quo, Class society, People running around acting or looking for something to be except theirselves.
(SC) - You recorded your verse in the legendary D & D studios in 96. What was that like?
Well...We recorded a couple of versions which had some funny ass intros that D-stroy and I believe Q pulled off. lol. D&D was incredible. Before that...We (As The Arsonists) were doing 4 track, 8 track...recording straight to cassettes just to have a draft of a song. Then we go to D&D?! shiat. I wasn't as dope as alot of the members in Studios. I was more of a banging on the wall and spit ya verse and be out kinda dude. Learned ALOT at D&D.
(SC) - How was the cassette received by the fans?
Recieved? Really Well. It's how a chef can cook with love and when you eat the food he's produced?!! You digest that love and its a beautiful thing. We didn't have to tell the fans all the hard work we put into making the Cassettes or music in general, for that matter. They felt it...heard it..Some seen it at our live shows or even just coming across and meeting us.
If you meant the other definition of "Recieve?" good ole phone numbers, PO box, hand to hand or just the USPS.
(SC) - I always remembered The Arsonists as a group that was really rooted in the culture of Hip Hop. When I say culture, I'm referring to the groups ties to the legendary Rock Steady Crew and other elements of Hip Hop. What do you think about Hip Hop music today which has gone further and further away from the culture as a whole?
We had an appreciation and were fortunate enough to have experience the elements while we were youngsters growing up. I was telling IDE (Creative Juices Music) the other day...on how lucky our generation is to have experience the evolution in the flesh. We got to play, record, buy, steal, repair cassettes...We witnessed and lived through the 8track, cassette, vinyl, CD and music file era. The next generation isnt experiencing it like that.
As far as RockSteady? Q-unique was a Rocksteady MC when I met him and Legs put the Crew down once he witnessed our live show. We paid respect to the elements because we seen the path Rap music was going on first hand. I was never a Graff artist, a breaker, a dj and I was barely an MC, so I seen the lack of respect for hiphop as a culture. I grew a greater respect for Hiphop from Arsonists and on.
Hiphop music today? ummmm...There is good hiphop music out there. I just think that modern technology has made society a bit lazy to dig, go out to live shows or just try new things. The Irony of it? Is that we have access to so much nowadays but people settle even more now. The elements of hiphop have evolved and grown to other things, in different ways, shapes, forms and fashions....but hey...Thats the world as a whole...so it seems fit with this moment in time.
PHOTO CREDIT: ISIS "SOL" MARTINEZ (PHOTOBYSOL)
(SC) - Any last shout outs? Comments? Projects to look out for?
Shouts to all the people who have supported "The Arsonists", it's member's. D-stroy, Freestyle, Swel, Q-unique, Kinetic NRG, Ching Rock, Dj Spin One, Dj Pop Rek, BBS, Durte, Dj Drastic, RSC, ZULU, CJM, NEMS, IDE, Alucard, CriticaL, DESTRUMENTS, Frank Sasoon, CF, Dontique, Respect Da God, I AM MANY, SWAVE, Makhno, Turntablizm fam, Sol, Joon, ILL BiLL, Mr. HYDE, NECRO and everyone else.
I'm part of the CREATIVE JUICES MUSIC fam now. I currently Have 2 releases (Lt.Worf Chronicles and CHRONICLES 2) on CJM's Catalogue and I've been featuring on my ASF brother's releases whenever I get a chance.
I'm currently part of the CREATIVE JUICES MUSIC movement and releasing music through there as much as possible. When I met IDE, Alucard and CriticaL? They embraced me as a brother...but when I heard their music? I was sold on CJM.
I'm almost finished "THE PASSION OF JISE" and "WRITER'S BLOCKS...LET'S BUILD".
I feature on ASF/CJM whenever i have an opportunity to. All my releases or links to my releases can be found on
As an added bonus, we compiled these videos of the closing day of the legendary Fat Beats in NYC featuring a reunion performance from The Arsonists. Fat Beats was one of the first locations to carry and sell copies of the Arsonists material on all formats including the cassette.