YOUR FAVORITE RAPPER’S FAVORITE MAGAZINE
PIMP C BUN B
D POUNC K
PA F THEW OL YELA
PAUL L L A W H G U O R R O D KWROITLF BIG ELA Y
OZONE MAG // 1
YOUR FAVORITE RAPPER’S FAVORITE MAGAZINE
RICK UGH O L DORLRW PAU AL KPRIKIT BIG S E L I M E S MAS F L O W A L E Y
K C A P E H T OBBY B BRACKINS
C P PLIIM N O S E V
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PUBLISHER/EDITOR-IN-CHIEF // Julia Beverly MUSIC EDITOR // Randy Roper ADVERTISING SALES // Che Johnson, Gary Archer PROMOTIONS DIRECTOR // Malik Abdul SPECIAL EDITION EDITOR // Jen McKinnon WEST COAST EDITOR-AT-LARGE // D-Ray LEGAL CONSULTANT // Kyle P. King, P.A. SUBSCRIPTIONS MANAGER // Adero Dawson ADMINISTRATIVE // Kisha Smith INTERNS // Devon Buckner, Jee’Van Brown, Ms Ja CONTRIBUTORS // Anthony Roberts, Blogxilla, Bogan, Camilo Smith, Charlamagne the God, Chuck T, Cierra Middlebrooks, David Rosario, Diwang Valdez, DJ BackSide, Edward Hall, Eric Perrin, E-Z Cutt, Gary Archer, Hannibal Matthews, Jacquie Holmes, J Lash, Jason Cordes, Jelani Harper, Joey Colombo, Johnny Louis, Kay Newell, Keadron Smith, Keita Jones, Keith Kennedy, K.G. Mosley, King Yella, Luis Santana, Luvva J, Luxury Mindz, Marcus DeWayne, Matt Sonzala, Maurice G. Garland, Mercedes (Strictly Streets), Natalia Gomez, Portia Jackson, Ray Tamarra, Rico Da Crook, Rohit Loomba, Shannon McCollum, Spiff, Stan Johnson, Swift, Tamara Palmer, Thaddaeus McAdams, Ty Watkins, Wally Sparks, Wendy Day STREET REPS // 3rd Leg Greg, Adam Murphy, Alex Marin, AlMy-T, Ant Wright, Anthony Deavers, Baydilla, Benz, Big Brd, B-Lord, Big Ed, Big Teach (Big Mouth), Big Thangs, Big Will, Bigg P-Wee, Bigg V, Black, Bogan, Bo Money, Brandi Garcia, Brandon “Silkk” Frazier, Brian Eady, Buggah D. Govanah (On Point), Bull, C Rola, Cartel, Cedric Walker, Cece Collier, Chad Joseph, Charles Brown, Chill, Chuck T, Christian Flores, Clifton Sims, Dee1, Demolition Men, DJ Commando, Danielle Scott, DJ Dap, Delight, Derrick the Franchise, DJ Dimepiece, DJ D’Lyte, Dolla Bill, Dorian Welch, Dwayne Barnum, Dr. Doom, Dynasty, Ed the World Famous, DJ E-Feezy, DJ EFN, Episode, Eric “Crunkatlanta” Hayes, Erik Tee, F4 Entertainment, Fiya, G Dash, G-Mack, George Lopez, Gorilla Promo, Haziq Ali, Hezeleo, H-Vidal, Hotgirl Maximum, Hotshot, J Hype, Jacquie “Jax” Holmes, Jae Slimm, Jammin’ Jay, DJ Jam-X, Janiro Hawkins, Jarvon Lee, Jasmine Crowe, Jay Noii, Jeron Alexander, J Pragmatic, JLN Photography, Joe Anthony, John Costen, Johnny Dang, Judah, Judy Jones, Juice, DJ Juice, Kenneth Clark, Kewan Lewis, Klarc Shepard, Kool Laid, DJ KTone, Kurtis Graham, Kydd Joe, Lex, Lucky, Lump, Lutoyua Thompson, Luvva J, Marco Mall, Mario Grier, Marlei Mar, Maroy, DJ M.O.E., Music & More, Natalia Gomez, DJ Nik Bean, Nikki Kancey, Oscar Garcia, P Love, Pat Pat, Phattlipp, Pimp G, Quest, Quinton Hatfield, DJ Quote, DJ Rage, Rapid Ric, DJ Ricky Ruckus, Rob J Official, Rob Reyes, Robert Lopez, Rob-Lo, Robski, Scorpio, Seneca, Shauntae Hill, Sherita Saulsberry, Silva Reeves, Sir Thurl, DJ Skee, Sly Boogy, Southpaw, Spade Spot, Stax, DJ Strong, Sweetback, Syd Robertson, Teddy T, TJ’s DJ’s, Tim Brown, Tonio, Tony Rudd, Tre Dubb, Tril Wil, Trina Edwards, Troy Kyles, Twin, Vicious, Victor Walker, DJ Vlad, Voodoo, DJ Warrior, White Boi Pizal, Wild Billo, Will Hustle, William Major, Wu Chang, Young Harlem, Yung DVS, Zack Cimini SUBSCRIPTIONS // To subscribe, send money order for $20 to: Ozone Magazine, Inc.
Attn: Subscriptions Dept PO BOX 250009 Atlanta, GA 30325 Phone: 404-350-3887 Fax: 404-601-9523 Website: www.ozonemag.com
COVER CREDITS // Rick Ross photo (cover and this page) by Julia Beverly; Bun B photo courtesy of Rap-A-Lot Records; Masspike Miles photo by Derick G. DISCLAIMER // OZONE Magazine is published 6 times per year by OZONE Magazine, Inc. OZONE does not take responsibility for unsolicited materials, misinformation, typographical errors, or misprints. The views contained herein do not necessarily reflect those of the publisher or its advertisers. Ads appearing in this magazine are not an endorsement or validation by OZONE Magazine for products or services offered. All photos and illustrations are copyrighted by their respective artists. All other content is copyright 2010 OZONE Magazine, all rights reserved. No portion of this magazine may be reproduced in any way without the written consent of the publisher. Printed in the USA.
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32 28 38 12
8 FORGOTTEN HIP HOP HONRS 8 HOT NEW PRODUCERS 8 STILL PATIENTLY WAITING MOST MEMORABLE OZONE COVERS
50-51 BIG KRIT 36-37 BUN B 34-35 DORROUGH W20-23 FREEWAY RICKY ROSS 44-45 MASSPIKE MILES 46-48 PAUL WALL 52-53 PILL 42 SPIFF TV W10 TERRACE MARTIN W14-15 THE DOGG POUND W18-19 THE PACK 43 TORCH W12-13 YA BOY 54-55 YELAWOLF
13 10 THINGS I’M HATIN’ ON 14 ARE YOU A G? 26 BOARD GAME 56 CD REVIEWS 18 CHIN CHECK 58 END ZONE 4 I’M JUST SAYIN’THO 24 INDUSTRY 101 13 JB’S 2 CENTS 14 JEWELRY CORNER 16 MATHEMATICS 18 NAMES OF SHAME 15-33 PHOTO GALLERIES 20 SIDEKICK HACKIN’ W25 WEST COAST CD REVIEWS W26 WEST COAST END ZONE W6-8 WEST COAST PATIENTLY WAITING W7-11 WEST COAST PHOTO GALLERIES
W16-17 BOBBY BRACKINS 30-31 PIMP C 40-41 RICK ROSS
OZONE MAG // 11
Having dropped 85 issues (plus several dozen special editions) over the past 8 years, OZONE has had plenty of memorable covers. Here, we’ve compiled a list of 10 of the most powerful covers/issues since we came in the game in 2002.
Pimp C (May 2005):
Five years later, when people think of OZONE Magazine, this cover image probably still pops in their head. OZONE may have not been the first media outlet to talk to Pimp C while he was in prison, but it was definitely the first to put him on the cover.
Trick Daddy (Jun 2006):
This issue is widely considered to be one of the best issues of OZONE’s 8 year run. It featured explosive interviews with the always outspoken Trick Daddy, David Banner and Too $hort. The centerpiece, however, was the 20 Essential Southern Albums list that featured a panel made up of respected journalists, DJs and artists, all offering heartfelt perspective on some of their favorite Southern Hip Hop albums.
Pitbull (April 2005):
For this issue OZONE teamed up with MTV Jams to present the “25 Greatest Southern Artists of All Time.” The only people that seemed to disagree with the list were Killer Mike and JT Money, but other than that, most readers thought it was spot on. T.I. and Lil Wayne were ranked #15 and 18, respectively. Five years later some young buck would probably say they were #1 and 2.
T.I. cover story by Pimp C (May 2006):
To celebrate our 4th Anniversary, OZONE wanted to show our growth by bridging the past with the present. One of the things we did was have Pimp C interview T.I. for the cover story, since some Southern rap fans had funny feelings towards Tip calling himself “The King of the South” with guys like Pimp C and Scarface still around. But the most interesting part of the interview is when Pimp confronts Tip about his beef with Lil Flip at the time. This issue also featured a photo essay of our travels throughout the South up to that point.
Rick Ross (August 2006):
Right when the world was under the spell of Rick Ross’ smash hit “Hustlin’,” OZONE came through with a complete cover story on the future star when all of the other magazines were just starting to catch onto him. We learned a lot about Ross in the interview, like him not being able to multiply past six. OZONE’s cameras also visited New Orleans’ 9th Ward one year after Katrina hit to find very little improvement in the conditions. 12 // OZONE MAG
by Maurice G. Garland
MOST MEMORABLE OZONE COVERS
(log onto www.ozonemag.com for more) DJ Khaled with Rick Ross, Akon, T.I., Fat Joe, Baby and Lil Wayne (June 2007):
A large portrait of this cover hangs up in OZONE’s office and it instantly command the attention of everyone who walks through the door. Shot during some DJ Khaled’s video shoot for “We Takin Over,” all of the guys in the photo were at the top of their game, making this a classic moment in rap history. So we snapped it. This issue also saw us trying our hand at another list with the “25 Greatest Moments in Southern Rap History.”
David Banner (Oct 2007):
Probably one of our most timely and powerful covers today, we shot this with David Banner right when he was in the middle of a verbal conflict with several Black leaders at the time. The story also showed the transformation from activist to Hollywood movemaker that Banner was going through at the time. This issue also featured an OZONE West cover story entitled “One Love” where Too $hort (who also wrote a heartfelt, self-analyzing “Short Stories” column) attempted to bring every artist in the Bay Area to work together…we’re still waiting.
DJ Drama (May 2007):
In his first cover story after the infamous RIAA raid on his Aphilliates offices in Atlanta, DJ Drama opened up as much as he could about what happened the day he had M-16 rifles pointed to his head and why the government shut down his operation. The interview showed the surprising amount of miscommunication, red tape and grey area that was in the mixtape game up to that point. It’s safe to say things haven’t been the same since.
Webbie (March 2008):
OZONE’s second annual drug issue featured some of our most hard-hitting journalism with stories on the city of Houston’s deadly fascination with syrup a.k.a. lean and a story on the controversial (and now deceased) Jackson, Mississippi mayor Frank Melton. But most people remember this issue from the cover image alone that featured Webbie rocking a t-shirt with the XXXL sticker still on it, gaudy jewelry and somebody’s college tuition in cash in his hand with the ironic cutline, “Recession? What Recession?” Perhaps we spoke too soon.
Lil Wayne (Issue #83, 2010):
OZONE secured Lil Wayne’s last interview before he was sent to Rikers Island to serve a 12-month sentence on gun charges. After observing some of his final days in Miami and Atlanta, readers got to see a vulnerable side of Wayne that is often overshadowed by the larger-than-life personality he projects on his omnipresent songs and videos.
JB’s 2cents Blah blah blah, blah blah, blah blah - Julia Beverly, email@example.com
10THINGS I’M HATIN’ON by @Eleven8
1. LACEFRONT WIGS Since when was it fashionable to have a Cabbage Patch Kid hairline? If your edge-up is sharper than your boyfriend’s, you need to reevaluate your hair choices. 2. MTV Your name is MUSIC TELEVISION. Why don’t you play any music?
At the BET Awards afterparty with Trey Songz...
3. FAKE WEED HEADS Everybody in the Wiz Khalifa generation claims to smoke a lot of weed, but these are the same people who would get loopy smoking basil. If you don’t really smoke, it’s not necessary to pretend you do just to fit in. You can still be the weed holder and get to hang out with the cool kids. 4. T.I. I’ve accepted the fact that jail is a revolving door for some rappers. But T.I.’s situation is like one really bad BET Blackbuster movie: he gets out of jail, gets caught with drugs, and then 2 days before his sentencing he saves a man from jumping to his death? 5. ANTOINE DODSON Antoine is the educated black person’s worst nightmare. We always joke about that one bafoon that is interviewed by the local news and makes a fool out of himself, his family, and his entire race. Well, it’s happened again. On a grand scale.
...and backstage with Ray J
In LA for the Warner Bros BET pre-party with Memphitz...
6. THE REAL HOUSEWIVES OF ATLANTA None of these ladies are wives and none of them are real, so the show should just be called The Atlanta. 7. MALE GROUPIES The worst kind of groupies in existence. Not only do they chase down celebrity women, models, and strippers, but they also cling onto every major artist or DJ that comes to their city, trying to take pictures with them and give them demo CDs. 8. R&B/RAP COLLABOS Back in the day, you got three verses and a bridge from an R&B singer. Just good old fashioned singing. These days, EVERY R&B song features a rapper. Nothing ruins the mood more than listening to a sexy slow jam and all of a sudden Plies comes screaming out of nowhere. 9. 3D Movies Every movie is in 3D these days and I’m over it. Shred in 3D? What’s the purpose? 10. 2010 CAREER CHOICES Everyone’s a rapper or a model. Everyone’s in entertainment. I miss the days when kids wanted to become firemen, pilots, nurses, and doctors.
...and Bibi Guns
Wiz Khalifa “Black & Yellow” Kanye West f/ Pusha T “Runaway” Kanye West f/ RZA, Jay-Z, Swizz Beatz & Cyhi Da Prynce “So Appalled” Rich Kid Shawty f/ T.I. “Get Yo Girl” Sean Garrett f/ J. Cole “Feel Love” Lloyd Banks f/ Kanye West, Swizz Beatz, Ryan Leslie, & Fabolous “Start It Up” Mantiz f/ warrenJae “Political Dialogue” Terrace Martin f/ Kurupt & Overdoz. “Makings Of You”
firstname.lastname@example.org J. Cole “Blow Up” Playboy Tre “I Don’t Care” Cyhi Da Prynce “Sideways” Tity Boi f/ Yo Gotti “Boo”
OZONE MAG // 13
Are You a G? 7 Questions to FIND OUT if R&B STAR TANK is the 7th letter of the alphabet. Maybe Tank deserves to be considered a G’ and not just another Nuvonursing R&B singer. We put the Atlantic crooner to the test to determine if he is, in fact, the 7th letter of the alphabet. A. You recently re-tweeted something one of your followers wrote:“Tank don’t look like no R&B musician i ever seen. Dude look like he gone kill!” Is that a look you strive for? Tank: Yeah. I want to look at little more aggressive than the average R&B singer. I have a strong athletic background: football, basketball, just being in the gym and getting physical. So that makes me different than other R&B singers. [But] I am a true R&B singer in every sense of the word. From a musical standpoint, I love to sing to the ladies and sing about the ladies. I love to beg. All of that is R&B and I love to do that. I’m not too far off of the beaten path but I do add some things that a lot of people are not doing. Tank almost earned himself a point for this response, until he admitted his affinity for begging. Never a G’ move. B. You had offers to play college football. What made you choose the R&B route? Tank: I took my music scholarship instead of my football scholarship because my football scholarship was partial. So I was like,“I want the full [music] scholarship and I’ll still be able to play football when I get there.” But when I got there they loaded me down with so
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many music classes that I was in class during football practice and never made it to the field. I thought I was tricking them, but they were actually tricking me. Anybody who’s ever paid back a student loan knows what it’s like to be a victim of a college’s tricky ways, so we can’t discredit Tank on this one. C. Did you have more success with the ladies based on football or music? Tank: The first time I sang at the high school assembly all the girls started screaming and it was like nothing I had ever heard before in my life from scoring a touchdown or dunking. That scream right there when I sang that high note made the girls go crazy. So Tank chose takin’ down cheerleaders over being tackled by 300-pound linemen. Possibly the best decision in “Are You A G’” history! D. As an R&B star, how many phone numbers do you get on an average day? Tank: With me it’s about quality, not quantity. I’ll sacrifice ten for one. My [phone] number is valuable. It means something if you get my number. You don’t just get my number because you happen to be a female in the club and you have a little something on you. I can’t even say that there is an average. I might be lucky to give out my number once a day. Sounds like a typical R&B response crafted to manipulate even more adoration from the ladies, so we’ll give Tank a point.
abcdefG E. Are there any songs where you wish you could change a line or a lyric? Tank: There is a line on “Maybe I Deserve”where I said,“To grab your neck until you let me know.”I couldn’t believe I put that on a record and it was actually a big record. Every time I sing that part in a concert the ladies are like, “Grab it baby!”It’s crazy. I get applauded for that part. They like it rough. Maybe Tank should teach a class to younger R&B singers about how to grab necks and get applauded for it rather than prosecuted. There’s obviously an art to it. F. If you could play a character in any movie, who would you be? Tank: Maybe I could be the first black Batman. I’d be a billionaire, run the country, have my own city, and become a superhero at night. Batman was about his business during the day and then at night he was about his other business. Not a bad answer to a bad question. We’ll give Tank Wayne credit for this one. G. You spend a lot of time in Miami. What’s a typical Miami night consist of? Tank: KOD. If anybody knows anything about that, it’s self explanatory. Sorry Tank, but makin’ it rain is so 2006. Score 5/7 - A solid mark for the Milwaukee native. Since Tank is now a certified G, make sure you pick up his 4th album Now or Never.
Words by Eric Perrin
WORDS By MO THE JEWELER, ICEBOX JEWELRY
A quick flip through any recent issue of OZONE magazine will quickly prove that “black on black” is one of the hottest and most in-demand trends in jewelry today. But until recently, black diamonds were dismissed as simply being expensive lumps of coal. Today, they can be found everywhere from double-digit custom diamond pieces to mall kiosks across America. Black diamonds are a naturally opaque stone, most widely found in their color-treated form. It’s important to keep in mind that a treated black diamond is still a real diamond in every way. An enhanced black diamond is a natural diamond treated with radiation only to obtain uniform color. Visually, enhanced stones will be of a better quality when compared to natural untreated black diamonds due to the amount of visual inclusions. Because natural black diamonds are not very desirable, it is recommended to stick with color treated black diamonds over untreated black diamonds any time you have the option available. If you’re an avid jewelry buyer, you are probably familiar with the higher ticket that comes with the purchase of white diamonds. Under most conditions, white diamonds are the most expensive. In smaller sizes, black diamonds will be similar in price to your average quality color enhanced canary yellow and blue diamonds. In larger sizes, however, black diamonds will be comparatively cheaper to natural stones of the same quality. The most important factors when considering a diamond, untreated or not, is to look for a smooth surface and a deep, rich color. The color must be vivid and evenly distributed. With a natural, opaque black diamond, clarity has to do with luster and the absence of surface chips or cracks. A high quality black diamond will have a glossy, sparkling surface. In terms of clarity, black diamonds are rated within four main grades. The highest of these is AAA, followed by AA, and A. The quality below A is typically referred to as Below A or simply “cheap black diamonds.” I DO NOT recommend going any lower than AA as the color of the treating inside and on the surface of the stone itself is not consistent and is very noticeable. Black diamonds rated below AA also have many pits and are a lot more brittle than the two qualities above it. Until the recent black [diamonds] on black [gold] craze, most of the black diamond pieces were contrasted by a more prominent color, like white or yellow along with it. Because it is not as “flashy” as your typical white diamond jewelry, this monochromatic look is understated and sophisticated. Combined with a more reasonable price point, it is no surprise that black diamonds have shot up in popularity. The amount of variety you have with using black diamonds is immense and I believe this trend will last for a long time. It is safe to say we’ve come full circle; black is the new black. If you liked this article or learned something new, feel free to check out our blog online at www.iceboxjewelry.com/blog. On the website, you’ll see more articles like this one and pictures of our custom work as well.
(above L-R): Young Dro & Lil Duval @ Obsessions in Atlanta, GA (Photo: Ms Rivercity); Diamond & Dorrough on the set of “Don’t Spill My Drank” in Dallas, TX (Photo: Never B4 Seen); Mims & DJ Big Dee @ The CORE DJs Retreat in Orlando, FL (Photo: Terrence Tyson)
01 // Hush @ St Andrews for Bizarre’s album release party (Detroit, MI) 02 // Skyhighworld, Dorrough, & Trae @ Mambo (Dallas, TX) 03 // Vawn & Jazze Pha @ the Ralph Lauren store in the Lenox Mall (Atlanta, GA) 04 // Guest & Waka Flocka Flame @ The Coliseum (Daytona Beach, FL) 05 // Clay Evans, Steve Raze, & Cory Mo @ Obsessions (Atlanta, GA) 06 // DJ Drama & Diamond @ Havana Club for BMI’s Urban Showcase (Atlanta, GA) 07 // Nappy Roots @ St Andrews for Bizarre’s album release party (Detroit, MI) 08 // Ace Hood & Papa Duck @ Club Zanzabar (Ocala, FL) 09 // Ludacris & Chaka Zulu @ the Ralph Lauren store in the Lenox Mall (Atlanta, GA) 10 // Pat Nix & Tony Khuu @ Showalter Airport for the Kappas Pajama Jam (Orlando, FL) 11 // Zaytoven, OJ da Juiceman, & Sig HB @ Obsessions (Atlanta, GA) 12 // Tosha, C’na, Star, & Sashey @ The Loft (St Louis, MO) 13 // Big Chris & Sha Tik @ Club Mirage for Street Runnaz celebration party (Tampa, FL) 14 // BoBo Luchiano & Pookie @ Pookie’s birthday bash (Dallas, TX) 15 // Kevin Cossom, Duval, Young City, & DJ Q45 @ Showalter Airport for the Kappas Pajama Jam (Orlando, FL) 16 // Jazze Pha & guest @ Park Tavern for ATL Live (Atlanta, GA) 17 // Rick Ross & Bigga Rankin @ Plush (Jacksonville, FL) 18 // Sweetness, CeCe, JW, & Cole @ Plush (Jacksonville, FL) 19 // Eye Candy model search winner Dominique @ The Loft (St Louis, MO) Photo Credits: Chics with Pics (14); Edward Hall (02); Julia Beverly (03,06,09); Malik Abdul (01,07,10,12,15,16,19); Ms Rivercity (05,11); Terrence Tyson (04,08,13,17,18)
OZONE MAG // 15
| By Wendy Day (www.RAP-COALITION.COM)
riting this article is the first productive thing I’ve done since I got my iPad. It’s crack to me. I’m so addicted to my iPad apps I can’t get any work done. And I’m gonna have to take out a loan to pay for all of these expensive ass apps I am downloading onto my toy! The apps on my iPhone were 99 cents to $3.99. The iPad? The business apps are $9.99 and up. Games and books? $4.99 and up… crazy. But I’m officially addicted. I have to pay to play. With the internet and technology, the playing field of the music business has been leveled. The price of recording equipment came down so anyone could record songs at home without having to spend a lot of money to record in a 64-track studio. Then, with the social networking sites, artists could go direct to fans and promote. With companies like TuneCore.com, artists can upload from home, and digitally distribute their music while collecting the bulk of the income from the sales. Could it get any better than this? But here’s the downside: the internet with its relatively free access has led artists to believe that this is all they need to build a career and promote themselves. And that message was welcome news to most ears because— well, let’s face it, artists are almost always broke. So when led to believe that all they need is to upload their shit to the web and promote for free from home, they ate that up! And still do. Unfortunately, it has NOT made any internet millionaire artists in the music industry. This thinking of “oh, that’s easy, I can do that,” spawned an entire new generation of people who jumped headfirst into the industry. This not only included artists and producers, but anyone who was able to invent a job within the music industry and look important. People able to copy news from major Hip Hop web sites became “bloggers” and started blabbing their personal opinions and called themselves “legitimate sources.” Anyone able to collect email addresses and press “send” on a mass email became email blasters (for a fee). People with the ability to email bloggers and websites started calling themselves publicists and charging for it even though they lacked the relationships, skills, and experience to get successful placements for their clients. On the social networking sites, like Twitter, people with no experience and no access gained instant access to the inner circle of the music industry. You can “friend” or “follow” Julia Beverly, Puffy, Steve Rifkind, and every star and convince yourself you have a relationship with them. You can retweet what they say, or repeat it in an e-blast and lead others to think you have access and inner knowledge (reminder: you don’t). Industrious folks quickly learned they could sit at home and surf the web in between computer games and would call it “grinding.” They could print up business cards and charge other naive folks money to publicize them, promote their music, buy beats or hooks, subscribe to their eblast services, and pay good money for a variety of useless and ineffective services. Up sprang a cottage industry overloaded with conference calls, record pools, DJ coalitions, award shows, mp3 blasts, and seminars. So an industry already rife with bullshitters and scam artists went into hyperspeed. Intent on making money off of artists’ dreams, these less than experienced wanna-be’s started promoting themselves and their services as if that’s what it took to succeed in this business. Only, they were wrong. They haven’t helped create any stars.
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This has created is an industry that became overcrowded, inexperienced, and full of shit. It made it next to impossible for anyone to make a living doing music. And even worse, it became overcrowded and oversaturated at the exact same time that fans stopped paying for music. The ancillary services were reduced to a few very talented people and a sea of bungling idiots. Many, many artists lost large sums of money banking on the wrong people to help them. When artists stopped making money on sales, they turned to touring for income. As new artists were coming up (like Yo Gotti, Plies, Jeezy, Lil Wayne, etc) there was a market for artists to make $5,000 to $10,000 a show. Up and coming artists who had developed a street buzz could make a living doing shows. When I first met Yo Gotti, he was doing very well for himself performing for $3,000 to $8,000 a show, three or four nights a week. For years he toured both smaller and larger markets. He could eat, his manager and his team could eat, and it helped to build his reputation and buzz. He built a solid foundation. In today’s economy, artists seem to raise their prices quickly, so they become more expensive faster than they can attract fans. For example, Nicki Minaj had a wonderful buzz very early. Before she had a single or an album to promote, the word was she was charging $16,000 a show. That is a wonderful thing, but here is the reality of that….in a smaller market, which is what makes up the bulk of America, to make a profit on a $16,000 show (which is about $26,000 all-in with venue, travel, and promotions), the promoter has to have a venue that holds at least 2,000 people willing to spend $20 or $25 a ticket. In a smaller market, there are very few large clubs that hold 2,000 people and very few people who can afford a $25 ticket a couple of times a week. So newer artists went from being a regular feature in a small town, to a once-in-a-while event. The industry is too oversaturated with artists to only have sporadic shows. There was a point this past Spring where the show prices of newer artists either fell into the $1,000 to $5,000 range (Travis Porter, Roscoe Dash, Alley Boy, etc) or the $15,000 to $25,000 range (Yo Gotti, Waka Flocka, Nicki Minaj, etc). While I absolutely LOVE seeing artists get money, I can’t help but wonder what the promoters did who needed shows in the $5,000 to $12,500 range. Sadly, I know the answer--they stopped doing rap shows. They couldn’t make money. The artists who commanded the higher price point ended up doing spot dates in bigger markets, and couldn’t tour properly because the economics didn’t make sense. I worried about Gotti and Waka when their planned tour ended after just a handful of dates. Touring not only brings in income for the artists (and now the labels) but it also promotes the artist amongst the fans all over the US. Not being able to perform in Albany, GA, Columbia, SC, Fayetteville, NC, or Knoxville, TN hurts the artists, the fans, and the industry as a whole. If an artist can only do shows in the bigger markets to survive (like Atlanta where clubs routinely hold 2,000+ people, and there are enough fans to have shows every night of the week at $25 a head), they are fucked from the gate. When I pulled up SoundScan last week, I noticed that very few rappers have gone Gold. The artists who’ve sold the most are the mainstream pop acts, the artists like Black Eyed Peas, Lil Wayne, Kanye, Rick Ross—the ones who’ve already built their careers on a solid foundation. The ones who no longer need the smaller markets or the smaller clubs to make a living. And the ones who make music that goes to pop radio. Here’s the light at the end of the tunnel: bullshit comes to light very quickly and the folks who will remain after all the dust settles are the ones who were passionate enough to ride out the turbulence and stick it out. The artists savvy enough to think longterm and who realize that it’s better to work for 7 nights at $2,000 a night, instead of once a week for $10,000, are the ones who will have the staying power and the solid careers. The rest will fizzle out and go by the wayside. Natural selection at its best! //
(above L-R): DJ Drama & Pill @ Havana Club for BMI’s Urban Showcase in Atlanta, GA (Photo: Julia Beverly); Trae & Gudda Gudda on the set of Gudda Gudda’s video shoot in Houston, TX (Photo: Sweetness); Julia Beverly & Mystikal @ House of Blues in Houston, TX (Photo: Julia Beverly)
01 // Kenny Burns & Jermaine Dupri @ Converse’s celebrity basketball game (Atlanta, GA) 02 // Pat Nix & DJ Q45 @ Tera Nova for the Just Wright release party (Jacksonville, FL) 03 // Short Dawg & Greg Gates on the set of Gudda Gudda’s video shoot (Houston, TX) 04 // Guest, Lil Hen, Midget Mac, Young Cash, JW, & Quentin Groves @ Plush (Jacksonville, FL) 05 // DJ D-Strong, Disco Jr, & PI Bang @ Showalter Airport for the Kappas Pajama Jam (Orlando, FL) 06 // Eye Candy model Teresa @ The Loft (St Louis, MO) 07 // Young Buck & guest @ The Hall (Palmetto, FL) 08 // Antonio Tarver, Slim E, & Chris Turner @ The CORE DJs Retreat (Orlando, FL) 09 // Trina signing autographs @ DTLR in Dekalb Mall for Trina’s album signing (Atlanta, GA) 10 // Jay Electronica goes hard on the defense @ Converse’s celebrity basketball game (Atlanta, GA) 11 // Bizmarkie & DJ Q45 @ Tera Nova for the Just Wright release party (Jacksonville, FL) 12 // Gucci Mane & Coach @ Plush (Jacksonville, FL) 13 // Supa Cindy & Special Ed @ The CORE DJs Retreat (Orlando, FL) 14 // 4 Tre, Zaytoven, & OJ da Juiceman @ Obsessions (Atlanta, GA) 15 // Ratt & Waka Flocka Flame @ The Coliseum (Daytona Beach, FL) 16 // Loaded & Berto @ The GO DJs conference (Dallas, TX) 17 // Murphy Lee, Kywaun, Birdman, Nelly, & City Spud on the set of “Money Talks” (St Louis, MO) 18 // Omega Red & Still Grindin crew @ Omega Red’s press junket (San Juan, Puerto Rico) 19 // City Spud & Jus Bleezy on the set of “Money Talks” (St Louis, MO) Photo Credits: Edward Hall (16); Julia Beverly (01,10); King Yella (17,19); Malik Abdul (05,06,09); Maurice Garland (18); Ms Rivercity (14); Sweetness (03); Terrence Tyson (02,04,08,11,12,13,15); Travis Pendergrass (07)
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CHIN CHECK By Charlamagne Tha God HATING IS FOR SUCKAS Haters are just confused admirers. I know this for a fact because I myself have been prone to hating. First Corinthians 13:11 reads, “When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me.” Well, that’s true of me also. When I was a child, I envied like a child, got jealous like a child, and hated like a child. When I became a man, I put my childish, hateful ways behind me. There’s a difference between hate and honest critique. I don’t like being labeled a “hater.” I prefer the term “cultural critic,” but there’s a fine line between the two. A cultural critic says, “Nicki Minaj is dope, she’s doing her thing. I actually think her rhymes were a lot harder when she was doing On The Come Up DVDs, but she’s still nice and I hope she does the right things with her cult-like following because she has a lot of young girls looking up to her and trying to be like her. I hope she leads them to do the right things because with great power comes great responsibility.” A hater says, “Fuck Nicki Minaj. That bitch can’t rap. She’s a fake Lil Kim and she be trying to sound like Wayne. Fuck her and all the Barbies that want to be like the bitch.” See the difference? The cultural critic gave his honest opinion on the Nicki Minaj movement. He said what he thought about her, what he used to think about her, and what he thinks she should do with the power she has. The hater had nothing good to say, it was all disses and insults. With envy comes needless criticism. Jealousy destroys from within. Haters can never think rationally about someone else’s situation because they are too busy wondering why they are not in that situation. They’re unhappy with what they’re doing so they bash what someone else is doing because it makes them feel better about themselves. Most losers are haters; that’s why you should never listen to a loser’s opinion. They sit around on their keyboards all day and throw insults about people via Twitter and Facebook and post negative comments on different websites. Go to any blog right now and I guarantee that out of the 50 comments on any one article, only two or three will speak about the artist mentioned in a positive light. There are so many people LOSING at this thing called life that everybody hates anyone that’s WINNING! Think about some of the most storied franchises in sports: Los Angeles Lakers, Boston Celtics, New York Yankees, and my favorite team ever, the Dallas Cowboys. People either LOVE or HATE these teams. If you love them it’s because you’re a loyal or fanatical fan like me. If you hate them it’s only because you grew up watching them beat the shit out of your favorite squad. You hated seeing them win Super Bowl after Super Bowl, World Series after World Series, NBA championship after NBA championship. You wished it was your squad that was winning, so the jealousy and envy you felt manifested itself into
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pure hate for these teams! It’s the same exact thing with people! I personally feel like nobody has experienced more hate than Sean Carter a.k.a. Jay-Z. Since 1996 he has done nothing but win. When he first came out, we all wanted a movement like Roc-A-Fella. He was the star player on a team he owned but there came a point when you started to hate Jay-Z because he was winning WAY too much. Haters started to look for flaws. Haters wanted Nas to knock him off his pedestal, and cultural critics just wanted a good Hip Hop battle. Haters graded his presidency at Def Jam an “F” because LL didn’t sell records, or Meth and Red didn’t get proper promotion, or Memphis Bleek and Young Gunz didn’t do well. Cultural critics took all those things into consideration and still gave him an “A” because he was instrumental in helping Kanye, Rihanna, Ne-Yo, Rick Ross and Jeezy’s careers. When Kingdom Come came out a lot of people bashed it, but I loved it because it was grown, executive Jay-Z reporting live from the boardroom. He was taking us somewhere we had never been, and I appreciated that. Listening to music is the same as reading a book. We can experience things we’ve never done and it shows us where we can go. That’s what he did with that album. It did have a couple of whack joints, like “Anything” featuring Usher and Pharrell, but overall I thought it was solid. Haters said, “Fuck Jay-Z, he’s whack, his old ass needs to stay retired,” with no real reasoning. I didn’t like American Gangster as much. Musically it was great but I felt like he was going backwards by using the movie as an excuse to rap about the dboy lifestyle again. I feel like Jay-Z is bigger than the trap lifestyle. We know you used to do that and we don’t need to hear about it anymore. Then, when he dropped “D.O.A.,” haters (including myself) said, “Why is he declaring death to AutoTune?” Of all the things in Hip Hop that he could declare death
to, why did he choose AutoTune? Why not death to the drug culture in Hip Hop? Why not death to rappers disrespecting women? A hater would say, “Fuck Jay-Z! If Big and Pac were alive he wouldn’t be shit. He hasn’t dropped a dope album since the first Blueprint. All he does is bite Biggie. Death to AutoTune? Niggas are eating off that shit and his old ass wants to hate? The only reason he’s on top is because he’s part of the Illuminati and worships the devil! I hope Beyonce leaves his camel-lookin’ ass!” What kind of a world are we living in that whenever a black person is winning, it’s because he worships the devil? Forget God, talent, and hard work - the only reason he’s winning is because he worships the devil? That’s when hate has gone too far. We must challenge ourselves to understand the difference between honest opinion and hate. Honest opinions and constructive criticism are great; they can only help you grow. Hate is destructive and it only hurts you in the long run, because you’re wasting your time instead of focusing on how you too can become a winner. Next time you speak on a person ask yourself if you’re jealous of them. Do you envy them? Do you want to be in their position? If you answer yes to any of those questions, don’t speak, because you won’t have anything constructive to say. It’s better to remain silent and be thought of as a hater than to speak out and remove all doubt. Remember - haters are just confused admirers. Being a hater is childish and we cultural critics are quite grown. May Allah bless you all, Charlamagne Tha God Follow Me On Twitter www.twitter.com/cthagod
1. SLAVE TRADE ENTERTAINMENT www.slavetradeent.com With 360 Deals running rampant in the music business, Slave Trade Entertainment actually doesn’t sound that far-fetched. But their slogan “we want reparation in the entertainment industry” makes this name even more confusing. 2. Doin’Time Entertainment www.inmatesgottalent.com For the type of work they do, their name is actually appropriate. They are currently making a prison-based American Idol-type show called Inmates Got Talent, hoping to actually rehabilitate convicts by allowing them to perform music and comedy routines. However, if you ever get an offer to sign to this label…you probably aren’t where you want to be in life. < 3. Mayo and B.White www.myspace.com/billymayonaise &
www.myspace.com/bwhiteakathewiseguy These two names go right alongside Vanilla Ice and Snow as the corniest white rapper names ever. Don’t be surprised if we hear of some guys named Saltine and Marsh Mellow after this. Words by Maurice G. Garland
(above L-R): Jay Electronica & his niece @ Converse’s celebrity basketball game in Atlanta, GA (Photo: Julia Beverly); Common & DJ Q45 @ Tera Nova for the Just Wright release party in Jacksonville, FL (Photo: Terrence Tyson); Sean Garrett & Bangladesh @ Havana Club for BMI’s Urban Showcase in Atlanta, GA (Photo: Julia Beverly)
01 // Prince Rick, Treal Lee, Mr Hit Dat Hoe & Travis Porter @ Pure Lounge (Dallas, TX) 02 // Steve Bellamy, Pat Nix, & Ali Muhammad @ Tera Nova for the Just Wright release party (Jacksonville, FL) 03 // Sean D & DJ Demp @ The CORE DJs Retreat (Orlando, FL) 04 // Lloyd, Hollywood, & Mystikal on the set of “Set Me Free” (New Orleans, LA) 05 // DJ D-Strong & Roscoe Dash @ Spring Bling (Daytona Beach, FL) 06 // Travis Porter @ Columbia High School (Columbia, SC) 07 // Juvenile & Tony Neal @ Tongue & Groove for Ray Rizzy’s video shoot (Atlanta, GA) 08 // Jay Electronica front & center for Big Boi’s Microsoft show @ Shriners Temple (Atlanta, GA) 09 // Cali Swag District @ Pookie’s birthday bash (Dallas, TX) 10 // Ensayne Wayne & J Holiday @ DJango’s for ATL Beat Battle (Atlanta, GA) 11 // One Chance on the set of Sophia Fresh’s video shoot (Atlanta, GA) 12 // 9th Ward Gucci, Lloyd, & DJ Mike Swift on the set of “Set Me Free” (New Orleans, LA) 13 // Lil C & Big Cotton @ Patchwerk for Lil C’s listening session (Atlanta, GA) 14 // Guest, DJ Jelly, & Big Boi @ Stankonia for Big Boi’s listening party (Atlanta, GA) 15 // Git Fresh & G Dragon (Seoul, South Korea) 16 // Bigga Rankin & Zaytoven @ Club Obsessions (Atlanta, GA) 17 // DJ Sir Thurl & Birdman on the set of “Money Talks” (St Louis, MO) 18 // Common & Pat Nix @ Tera Nova for the Just Wright release party (Jacksonville, FL) 19 // Mr Collipark, Rage, & Soulja Boy on the set of “Daze” (Atlanta, GA) Photo Credits: Chics with Pics (09); Julia Beverly (08,11,14,15); King Yella (17); Malik Abdul (06,07,13,19); Marcus DeWayne (04,12); Ms Rivercity (10,16); Never B4 Seen (01); Terrence Tyson (02,03,05,18)
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LIL KIM, NICKI MINAJ, & DRAKE Lil Kim: You Want To Rumble With The Bee Huh! NICKI MINAJ: [No Reply] Lil Kim: Don’t act like you don’t see me! I got your info from the gay guy who did my colorful wigs in the Crush On You Video! That’s right, the same one who does your wigs now! I know this is you Nicki! You need to pay homage! NICKI MINAJ: [No Reply] Lil Kim: Get Your Own Shit Nicki! Why You Riding Mine! NICKI MINAJ: [No Reply] Lil Kim: I don’t want you to think I’m doing this because I’m not hot right now, and this generation doesn’t care about me, and I’m trying to generate some interest because I want Roc Nation to think I’m viable enough to sign. This isn’t about none of that, this is about respect! NICKI MINAJ: [No Reply] * FIVE HOURS LATER * DRAKE: Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending. Lil Kim: What? Is this Aubrey? Here you go speaking up for Nicki again! Listen here you thumb with eyebrows why don’t you say something to Ray J or Beanie Sigel? They the ones who got @ you not me! You looking real PINK right now getting at a female!
OZONE EXCLUSIVE Textin’ is no longer safe now that OZONE’s dangerous minds have hacked the system.
DRAKE: Anything I’ve ever done that ultimately was worthwhile...initially scared me to death. Lil Kim: You need to be scared! When I come to one of your shows Dressed in all Black like the Omen, i’m a have your friends singing this is for my homies! DRAKE: I’d rather be an optimist who is sometimes wrong than a pessimist who is always right. Lil Kim: What? Look here Pink Boy this isn’t Twitter! I want to talk to Nicki not you! DRAKE: Nicki is only responding to relevant people today. Lil Kim: What the fuck is that supposed to mean? DRAKE: It means Thank Biggie for writing your rhymes...Thank you for that Hardcore poster with the nice vaginal shot....Thank you for the memories... thank me later for letting you know it’s OVER. Now I’m going back to, wait? What was I doing? Oh that’s right, I’m doing me, I’m doing me....... From the mind of Charlamagne Tha God Nicki Minaj & Drake photos by Julia Beverly
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(above L-R): Young Cash & JW @ Plush in Jacksonville, FL (Photo: Terrence Tyson); Dream & Bone @ Stankonia in Atlanta, GA (Photo: Ms Rivercity); KLC & Mystikal @ House of Blues in Houston, TX (Photo: Julia Beverly)
01 // Bryan J & Sammie @ Columbia High School (Columbia, SC) 02 // Stax & Lil C @ Hot Beats for Lil C’s listening party (Atlanta, GA) 03 // Yancey Richardson & Wale @ The Loft (Atlanta, GA) 04 // Julia Beverly, DJ Infamous, Miss Info, OJ da Juiceman, & DJ Holiday @ Converse’s celebrity basketball game (Atlanta, GA) 05 // Eldorado Red & Yung Ralph @ Patchwerk (Atlanta, GA) 06 // Git Fresh & Flo Rida (Seoul, South Korea) 07 // Sam Sneak, Young Breed, Rick Ross, & Masspike Miles @ Compound for DJ Infamous” party (Atlanta, GA) 08 // CORE Models & Ray Rizzy @ Tongue & Groove for Ray Rizzy’s video shoot (Atlanta, GA) 09 // Baby Boy & Young Dro @ Obsessions (Atlanta, GA) 10 // Lloyd & EI @ Havana Club for BMI’s Urban Showcase (Atlanta, GA) 11 // Wendy Day & Grand Prix @ The CORE DJs Retreat (Orlando, FL) 12 // Saw Money & Young Cash @ The CORE DJs Retreat (Orlando, FL) 13 // Omega Red & crew @ Omega Red’s press junket (San Juan, Puerto Rico) 14 // Playaz Circle @ Throbacks (Atlanta, GA) 15 // DJ Drama & Khujo Goodie @ Havana Club for BMI’s Urban Showcase (Atlanta, GA) 16 // Pookie from Urban South reppin” OZONE (Greenville, MS) 17 // Tarvoria & Haitian Fresh @ The CORE DJs Retreat (Orlando, FL) 18 // Mo Spoon & Eye Candy Models @ The Loft (St Louis, MO) Photo Credits: Edward Hall (16); Julia Beverly (04,06,10,13,15); Malik Abdul (01,02,03,08,18); Ms Rivercity (05,09,14); Terrence Tyson (11,12,17); Thaddaeus McAdams (07)
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(above L-R): Jay Electronica, Pill, & Angela Yee @ Shriners Temple in Atlanta, GA (Photo: Julia Beverly); Sophia Fresh on the set of their video shoot in Atlanta, GA; D Woods & Verse Simmonds @ Door 44 for Shanell’s shower in Atlanta, GA (Photos: Malik Abdul)
01 // Freeway Ricky Ross & Emperor Searcy @ Echelon (Atlanta, GA) 02 // Rick Ross & Young Breed @ Plush (Jacksonville, FL) 03 // Wendy Day, E-Class, & Nancy Byron @ The CORE DJs Retreat (Orlando, FL) 04 // Big Kuntry & TJ Chapman on the set of B.o.B.’s video shoot (Atlanta, GA) 05 // Yancey Richardson, Plies, & DJ Q45 @ WJBT (Jacksonville, FL) 06 // Brandi Garcia & Mystikal @ House of Blues (Houston, TX) 07 // Lil Tony & Charm @ Pure Lounge (Dallas, TX) 08 // Stephanie & DJ Hella Yella at Bacy’s (Dallas, TX) 09 // Akon pulling up in style @ Compound for DJ Infamous” party (Atlanta, GA) 10 // DJ Bigg V & Global Mixx @ Delta Nights (Indianola, MS) 11 // Yancey Richardson, Wiz Khalifa, & Cannon Kent @ The Loft (Atlanta, GA) 12 // Trina & Mz Shyneka @ DTLR in Dekalb Mall for Trina’s album signing (Atlanta, GA) 13 // T Streetz & Gudda Gudda on the set of Gudda Gudda’s video shoot (Houston, TX) 14 // Terrence Tyson & Shanell @ The CORE DJs Retreat (Orlando, FL) 15 // Nicole & Vee @ Havana Club for BMI’s Urban Showcase (Atlanta, GA) 16 // Jim Jones & Miss Info @ Converse’s celebrity basketball game (Atlanta, GA) 17 // Jagged Edge @ Havana Club for BMI’s Urban Showcase (Atlanta, GA) 18 // Ace Hood @ Club Zanzabar (Ocala, FL) 19 // Lil Hen, Quentin Groves, & Jamar Hornsby @ Plush (Jacksonville, FL) Photo Credits: Edward Hall (10); Julia Beverly (06,15,16,17); Malik Abdul (01,04,11,12); Never B4 Seen (07,08); Sweetness (13); Terrence Tyson (02,03,05,14,18,19); Thaddaeus McAdams (09)
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MUHAMMAD The walls OF Rasheed Muhammad’s Atlanta, GA office – lined with plaques from the likes of LIL WAYNE, T.I., Jermaine Dupri, Bow Wow, Young Buck, Lloyd Banks, Young Jeezy, Dallas Austin, USHER, Pharrell, Ne-Yo, Yung Joc, Keyshia Cole, AND T-PAIN – seem more fitting for a record executive than a banker. As the Vice President of SunTrust’s unique Sports and Entertainment division, Muhammad was able to parlay his passion for music and formal training into a secure career which still affords him the excitement of the entertainment world. We met recently at T.I.’s wedding. A lot of people think that to be a part of that social circle you would have to be a rapper or a singer, but it seems like you’ve managed to have the best of both worlds. Did you plan it that way? I got really lucky, because I was able to marry a hobby with my career. When I was growing up I had formal training as a singer, and I was always interested in the business side of the music industry. I pursued a career as a singer and a songwriter, and I didn’t make it, but I didn’t want to just be a person who was on stage performing. I wanted to know how to leverage my personality and do everything. I had already been researching merchandising and touring and royalties; all the different revenue streams you can make in the music industry. So I already had a firm grasp of that. At what point did you decide you weren’t going to “make it” as a singer/songwriter? I graduated from the University of South Carolina, and while I was going to school there, I was in a singing group and we’d been doing shows on campus. At school, we were stars, you know? We did shows and frat parties. At one of the frat parties this guy said he was Diana Ross’ cousin and he wanted to bring us to do Showtime at the Apollo. We thought he was [lying] but we still traded numbers. And he ended up calling us and scheduled us to do [Showtime at the Apollo] in two weeks. We were in college, and we didn’t have any money. So the four of us piled into a rented two-door Nissan Sentra and drove all the way up to New York. We shared the hotel room, we shared pieces of chicken, we shared everything. We did Showtime at the Apollo in 1994, and we actually almost won. But for the four of us, we felt like that was the pinnacle of all talent shows. Within a few months of us leaving the Apollo, one of the members of our group tragically died in a car accident. We kinda regrouped and I decided to move to Atlanta, both because I was interested in the music business and because I wanted to make use of my degree. What did you get your degree in? 24 // OZONE MAG
I have a degree in Retail Administration and Management and a second concentration in Finance. When I moved to Atlanta, I started working for another financial institution and I had to build a portfolio [of clients] from scratch. And since I had always been around the music industry, those are [the clients] I went after. There was a lot going on in Atlanta at the time – this was right before the 1996 Olympics. LaFace Records was here, and the music industry was busting at the seams. If you’re passionate about the music industry, you understand how money is made in the industry. Shows like VH1’s Behind the Music will really show you examples of clients who either didn’t get expert financial advice or didn’t follow it, and as a result, you get the rags to riches and then riches back to rags story, you know? How did you end up at SunTrust and how did they decide to start a separate division for entertainment? SunTrust has been doing it since 1988; a guy named Brian Williams had the vision to sort of become the banker to the stars. Brian started off with one client and just built it one client at a time through referrals. I had a lot of opportunities to go to other firms, but in 2003, Brian called me and said, “Hey, I have an opportunity for you,” and I was like, “Brian, I’m really happy where I am.” And Brian said, “Just give me an opportunity to tell my story. Once I’ve told my story, you’re informed, and if it makes sense, let’s talk more.” He told me his story, and SunTrust’s story. SunTrust was one of the first firms to get comfortable with royalty lending and catalogue lending. I literally went from being happy and comfortable at my job to [quitting] and starting at SunTrust seventeen days later. It just made sense. Here we do a lot of music, but also sports – baseball, basketball, football, golf, tennis, everything. Why would an entertainer or athlete come to you instead of another bank? I don’t believe there are any other financial institutions that have a separate line of business that is totally sports and entertainment. That’s all we do. We also do private wealth management. [At a general bank] you can make a deposit, do
small loans, credit cards, things of that nature. But here, the client is aligned with a true wealth advisor that can give them advice on general bank stuff as well as more sophisticated financial conversations, like insurance, estate planning, investment planning, wills, trusts, things of that nature. And by doing business with us you also get access to our network. We can align our Rolodex – we have clients who can help other clients. Not only that, but our group is really passionate about the business. Being an artist is always going to be in my blood, and that’s what gives me the passion to be out there at 2 or 3 in the morning trying to connect the dots. I believe the role I play at SunTrust helps the industry as a whole. You did mention someone who had interviewed for a job at SunTrust and you turned him down because he wanted to be a music artist as well. Where do you draw the line between the passion and the business? Well, we did have a highly regarded intern who they thought would be great for the sports and entertainment group. I met him and he was great, and we really wanted to give him an offer, but he also had a strong musical interest and the passion to do it. He said he really needed the job, and we told him, “If that’s in your blood, that you really love the music, just pursue your dreams.” We wanted to help him out in any way we could, but you can’t be the person trying to be the artist and you’re the financial advisor as well. We didn’t want to have a conflict of interest. When a new client comes to you on the entertainment side, what are some of the typical financial problems or mistakes you see? First, we have to examine the people they surround themselves with; their professional consultants. They have to have a true business manager or accountant in place. We can’t really be instrumental unless those things are in place. We work hand-in-hand with a lot of business managers to design an approach. I think a lot of the financial woes of the industry... To read the rest of this interview, search for “Rasheed Muhammad” on ozonemag.com. Words & Photo by Julia Beverly
(above L-R): OJ da Juiceman & Miss Info @ Converse’s celebrity basketball game in Atlanta, GA (Photo: Julia Beverly); G1 & Birdman @ Club Cinema in Pompano Beach, FL (Photo: Travis Pendergrass); Camron & Vado @ Compound for DJ Infamous” party in Atlanta, GA (Photo: Thaddaeus McAdams)
01 // DJ 5 Venoms & DJ Smallz @ Club Mirage for Street Runnaz celebration party (Tampa, FL) 02 // Jabar & ladies @ Club Tavern (Orlando, FL) 03 // Pookie of Urban South & friends @ Club Pure for his birthday party (Dallas, TX) 04 // Waka Flocka Flame & Gudda Gudda on the set of Gudda Gudda’s video shoot (Houston, TX) 05 // Bigga Rankin & Young Cash @ Plush (Jacksonville, FL) 06 // Flo Rida takes over the DJ booth (Seoul, South Korea) 07 // Angela Yee & 9th Wonder @ Shriners Temple (Atlanta, GA) 08 // Jim Jones & Camron @ Converse’s celebrity basketball game (Atlanta, GA) 09 // Ladies @ Spring Bling (Daytona Beach, FL) 10 // Alley Boy, Zaytoven, & Big Bank Black @ Club Obsessions (Atlanta, GA) 11 // Ms Rivercity & Grand Prix @ Plush (Jacksonville, FL) 12 // Spodee & Baby Boy @ Obsessions (Atlanta, GA) 13 // Stix Malone & DJ Holiday @ Converse’s celebrity basketball game (Atlanta, GA) 14 // Yung Joc & SWAGG Team affiliates @ Havana Club for BMI’s Urban Showcase (Atlanta, GA) 15 // St. Lunatics Ali, Murphy Lee, Nelly, Kywuan, & City Spud on the set of “Money Talks” (St Louis, MO) 16 // Plies & Tarvoria @ The Coliseum for Plies concert (Daytona Beach, FL) 17 // Lloyd & Princess Denisia on the set of “Set Me Free” (New Orleans, LA) 18 // Alley Boy & Eldorado Red @ Club Fushion (Montgomery, AL) 19 // Maurice Garland, Mecca, & Janee Bolden @ Shriners Temple (Atlanta, GA) Photo Credits: Edward Hall (03); Julia Beverly (06,07,08,13,14,19); Keith the Beast (02); King Yella (15); Marcus DeWayne (17); Ms Rivercity (10,12,18); Sweetness (04); Terrence Tyson (01,05,09,11,16)
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Since 1989, Steve Below’s production has appeared on many of your favorite artist’s albums. Lil Boosie, Webbie, and Young Bleed were a few of Below’s first projects. Later, he provided the backdrop for UGK classics like “Swishas and Dosha” and Bun B’s “Right Now,” featuring Pimp C, Tupac, and Trey Songz. But in between those productions, Below still worked 9-5 jobs until the next call came. OZONE sat down with the producer to find out what it’s like to make a classic while still leading a “regular” life. Who were your immediate influences coming from Dallas? Watching Yo! MTV Raps, BET, and Donnie Simpson. We had Nemisis, Ron C, D.O.C. He was the one that came out and showed everybody this could be done on a nationwide scale, aside from the obvious ones like Run-DMC. Back then it wasn’t about what Coast you were from, it was about the music. They inspired everybody, like, “Hey, we can get into this too.” When did you start producing? Around 1996. I grew up in Dallas, but it wasn’t until I left and went to Southern University in Baton Rouge that I started meeting people in the business. I met Curt B, who was doing beats. We’d be sitting around in the apartment trying to make something that would pop. Curt B is one of those cats that could make friends with anybody. He started telling people about me, like C-Loc. I was fortunate to watch Nappy Perez work on the first Young Bleed album, and then I worked with him on the Concentration Camp’s album The Holocaust. I did five beats on Young Bleed’s second album; that was my first national placement at the time. Next, Curt B introduced me to Mel, who is coCEO of Trill Entertainment. We started hanging out and then working together. He was looking for artists. I met Pimp C through him. When Trill first signed Lil Boosie, I worked on his first album For My Thugz. When things quieted down, I moved to Atlanta and hooked up with Pimp [C]. He was working with an artist named Young Smitty. We would just be in the basement making beats; we came up with some
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good songs. We dropped a Smitty album but it had to come out through another label because Pimp got locked up. We had to regroup when Pimp got locked up. I moved back to Dallas and got a regular 9-5, but I would still come home and do music. I shot to a high and then hit a low point, but I never got discouraged. Rappers tend to hide when they come down from being in the spotlight, but producers can still maneuver with no ego involved. Bouncing back depends on your personal character and how bad you want it. There were days when I was discouraged and asked myself if I wanted to be working a 9-5 for the rest of my life. How did you get back in the game? I got another chance to work with Trill Entertainment on Webbie’s Savage Life album. But when people heard the tracks I did on UGK’s double-album, that’s what did it. I did “Swishas and Dosha” and the “Like That” remix. That motivated me to keep going, because to stop after getting to that point didn’t make any sense. What was it like working on an album of that magnitude? Prior to that album you didn’t hear about Pimp C working with a lot of outside producers for UGK albums. I’m not gonna lie to you, it was a lot of pressure. Before I even submitted any tracks to that album, they had already gotten beats from Swizz Beatz, Jazze Pha, the Blackout Movement, and Lil Jon. So I was about to be in the company of folks with platinum, mega-hits. But Pimp used to constantly tell me I was jammin’, so that helped a lot. The “Swishas and Dosha” beat was a turning point in my career. People always tell me that’s the song they listen to when they’re having a long day.
about business. We’d just ride around and talk about music. Tell us about your work on Bun B’s Trill OG. I met both Pimp and Bun at the same time at Mel’s house. I played some beats for them and they bobbed their heads. From there I developed a relationship with [Bun’s manager] International Red. I called Bun and told him I thought he was going to make a classic. He said he wanted to make the album that everybody thought he could make, but hadn’t made yet. Bun brought me down to a spot and put me in a situation where I could be comfortable and just work. I produced the intro, “Church,” “Right Now,” “Lights Cameras Action,” “Get Down For Mine,” “Show Money,” and some extra songs that are on the deluxe edition. What was it like producing “Right Now”? I was already a fan of everybody on that record, especially Tupac and Pimp C. Their music was already embedded in my soul. I was a huge Tupac fan. Most of the time when I make beats, I have Tupac in mind anyway. When the opportunity arose - I wouldn’t say it was easy - but I felt like I was ready. It had to be a song that both the young and the old would like, and it had to sound like something both of them would rap on, so it had to be musical. When I was making that track, I had pictures of Pimp and ‘Pac in front of me, talking to them. I know that sounds crazy, but I couldn’t mess this up. I wasn’t the only person to get my hands on it; they gave it to a couple other producers too. It brought out my competitive spirit. I said, “Nobody is taking this one from me.” //
Did that open a lot of doors for you? After that album came out, we had so many things we were going to do, but when my brother Pimp C passed away, a lot of those things fell flat. Even after that album I was still working a regular job. I got paid, of course, but we all know that just because you do a couple beats on a big album doesn’t mean you can retire. I kept doing my thing. Me and Pimp were really good friends, before I even got a placement on a UGK album. It wasn’t just
OZONE MAG // 26
OZONE MAG // 27
by Randy Roper
HOT NEW PRODUCERS
Over the last eight years, from Polow Da Don to Mannie Fresh to Drumma Boy, OZONE has featured the best producers behind the boards. To celebrate our 8th Anniversary, we selected eight producers or production teams that are providing the freshest sounds in Hip Hop.
Chase N. Chase & Hit-Boy
Representin’: Los Angeles, California Production Credits: Snoop Dogg “I Wanna Rock,” Snoop Dogg f/ Jay-Z “I Wanna Rock (The Kings G-Mix),” Fat Joe f/ Young Jeezy “Slow Down (Ha Ha)” Website: scoopdeville.tumblr.com
Da Honorable C-N.O.T.E.
Representin’: Benton Harbor, Michigan Production Credits: Flo Rida f/ Lil Wayne “American Superstar,” Gudda Gudda f/ Waka Flocka Flame “Locked My CEO Up,” Rocko “Lingo,” Rocko f/ Cam’ron & E-40 “Lingo (Remix)” Website: twitter.com/honorablecnote
Nard & B.
Representin’: Atlanta, Georgia Production Credits: Maino f/ T-Pain “All The Above,” T.I. f/ B.o.B. “On Top Of The World,” Yung LA f/ Rico Barrino “Futuristic Love,” Willy Northpole f/ B.o.B. “Hood Dreamer” Website: www.myspace.com/nardandbbeatz
Alex Da Kid
Representin’: New York, New York (via London, United Kingdom) Production Credits: Nicki Minaj “Massive Attack,” B.o.B. f/ Hayley Williams (of Paramore) “Airplanes,” B.o.B. f/ Eminem and Hayley Williams “Airplanes Part 2,” Eminem f/ Rihanna “Love The Way You Lie” Website: twitter.com/alexdakid
Representin’: Lansing, Michigan Production Credits: Young Jeezy f/ Drake & Lil Wayne “I’m Goin’ In,” Jadakiss “Letter To Big,” Young Jeezy “Greatest Trapper Alive,” Donnis “Gone,” Pill “On Da Corner” Website: www.needlz.net
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Representin’: New Orleans, Louisiana Production Credits: Lil Wayne f/ Eminem “Drop The World,” Flo Rida f/ Birdman “Priceless,” Young Money “Pass The Dutch” & “New Shit,” G-Unit “Kitty Kat” Website: itsthesurfclub.com (Photo: Official Don)
Representin’: Atlanta, Georgia Production Credits: Travis Porter “Go Shorty Go,” Travis Porter “Get Naked,” “Gorilla Zoe “iBall,” Roscoe Dash “Sexy Girl Anthem” Website: twitter.com/spinzhoodrich
1500 or Nothin’:
Representin’: Los Angeles, California Production Credits: The Game f/ Travis Barker “Dope Boys” & Game f/ Keyshia Cole “Game’s Pain,” Drake f/ Nipsey Hussle “Killers” Website: www.1500ornothin.com For exclusive interviews with these producers, log on to Ozonemag.com.
(above L-R): Big Boi & his son @ Stankonia for Big Boi’s listening party in Atlanta, GA (Photo: Julia Beverly); Freeway Ricky Ross & Shawty Lo @ Echelon in Atlanta, GA (Photo: Malik Abdul); Nelly & Birdman on the set of “Money Talks” in St Louis, MO (Photo: King Yella)
01 // Bu & Shawn “Tubby” Holiday @ Havana Club for BMI’s Urban Showcase (Atlanta, GA) 02 // Coach K & Coach @ Plush (Jacksonville, FL) 03 // JW & Bigga Rankin @ Plush (Jacksonville, FL) 04 // Cory Mo & TJ Chapman on the set of B.o.B.’s video shoot (Atlanta, GA) 05 // Byron Wright, Travis Porter, & Catherine Brewton @ Havana Club for BMI’s Urban Showcase (Atlanta, GA) 06 // Kyjuan, Chingy, City Spud, & Murphy Lee on the set of “Money Talks” (St Louis, MO) 07 // Guest, Arab, Soulja Boy, Jabar, & Bay Bay @ Spring Bling (Daytona Beach, FL) 08 // Flo Rida & Git Fresh (Seoul, South Korea) 09 // DJ Smallz & DJ Quick Mixx Rick @ Stankonia (Atlanta, GA) 10 // Jus Bleezy & Ruka Puff on the set of “Money Talks” (St Louis, MO) 11 // Sean Garrett & Lil Bankhead @ the BMI Urban Showcase (Atlanta, GA) 12 // Rob Love, Tony Neal, & Ray Rizzy @ Tongue & Groove for Ray Rizzy’s video shoot (Atlanta, GA) 13 // Mack Maine & Terrence Tyson @ Nocturnal for OZONE’s Free Weezy party (Miami, FL) 14 // Lil Rock Dogs & Macksippi (Indianola, MS) 15 // Video models on the set of Mon E G & Masspike Miles’ video shoot (Miami, FL) 16 // Janee Bolden, Mecca, & Angela Yee @ Omega Red’s press junket (San Juan, Puerto Rico) 17 // OJ da Juiceman, DJ Holiday, & Green Lantern @ Converse’s celebrity basketball game (Atlanta, GA) Photo Credits: Edward Hall (14); Julia Beverly (01,05,08,17); King Yella (06,10); Malik Abdul (04,12,15); Maurice Garland (16); Ms Rivercity (09,11); Terrence Tyson (02,03,07,13)
OZONE MAG // 29
PIMP C’s GREATEST HITS Words by Maurice G. Garland Photo by Julia Beverly
hen Pimp C passed away three years ago, he was no stranger to controversy. Much of the last years of his life were spent ruffling feathers, whether it was in interviews or songs he recorded. UGK fans knew he was never one to hold his tongue, so his public tirades never came any real surprise. Always speaking his mind and expressing himself, Pimp C has left us plenty of moments and quotables to remember him by. Here are a few we picked out.
GREATEST HITS ON WAX: “Diamonds & Wood”
Ridin Dirty is perhaps the most personal album in UGK’s catalogue, and “Diamonds & Wood” is one of the rare times in Pimp C’s lyrical history that he showed vulnerability. He touched on everything from enemies lurking in shadows to vengeful baby mamas. The song has quotables for days and some of its lines have been re-used by many rappers, including E-40.
”Aint That A Bitch”
“Bitch” is a word often used in rap songs, but here Pimp actually explained the term and made it into a double entendre that would even make Jay-Z listen harder. If you bought the Dirty Money album when it (finally) came out, you probably wanted to yell the song’s title at the top of your lungs because Jive Records edited out most of the cursing. Thankfully, the uncensored version is widely available on the internet now.
”Sippin On Some Syrup”
In hindsight, some may feel that Pimp’s enjoyment of this potion is the very thing that led to his demise. But looking beyond that, the classic line “Take that monkey shit off, you embarrassing us” has become the standard critique for any person or action that makes Southerners look bad.
”Swishas & Dosha”
On the first track of UGK’s long-awaited return Underground Kingz, Pimp came out with guns blazing, going off on the new crop of rappers who obviously were nothing like their predecessors. Calling them everything from “hoe niggas” to “homosexual on-the-low niggas,” Pimp let it be known that he didn’t think too too highly of today’s rap stars.
”Knockin Doors Down”
Did every Southern rapper in the history of rap get along? Of course not. But while Pimp was locked away, beefs between T.I. and Lil Flip, Z-Ro and Slim Thug, and Chamillionare and Paul Wall threatened to destroy the legacy that Pimp and his peers help build. So like any O.G. would do, Pimp put all of them on blast. Needless to say, all of these beefs are finished now.
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One of the main verses that kept him on our minds throughout the “Free Pimp C” campaign, here he laid it out flat for low-balling hustlers “trying to get the cheaper price” and the consequences awaiting them. He even made a fashion statement: “Polo, fuck that Hilfiger.”
”The Game Belongs To Me”
Depending on how long they’re locked away, when friends and family get out of prison, the world often leaves them behind. Pimp was only gone for four years, but a lot changed in that time, especially with new technology and cell phones. Even pimpin’ changed: “pimping ain’t dead, it just moved to the web.”
”Top Notch Hoes”
A rare gem from the UGK catalog, this song only appeared on either the Dirty Money bootleg or the Trill Azz Mixes mixtape. Most of the song was about sexual escapades, but Pimp still found room to make bold statements against anyone he thought was “dissing my friends.” Namely The Roots, who he felt were mocking Too $hort in their “What They Do” video.
Another instance of Pimp taking off of the shades and allowing the world to look him in the eye. “Tired of living fucked up, tired of living bad / Tired of hearing Grandmama say, ‘When you gonna go to church, Chad?’” is a line that most of us could relate to. “I wish that I could tell you I wore a rubber everytime / But if I told you that, nigga, you know that I be lyin’” is probably the realest line you’ll ever hear a rapper spit.
”I Feel Like I’m The One That’s Doing Dope”
In his later years, Pimp’s persona often outshadowed his actual creative talents as a producer, songwriter, rapper and storyteller. This solo song from Hard To Swallow is perhaps his darkest (or depending on who you ask, psychotic) opus. Right up there with Geto Boys’ “Mind Playing Tricks on Me” and The Notorious B.I.G.’s “Suicidal Thoughts,” Pimp’s audio nightmare of being a murderous, suicidal, diseased rapist crackhead (yes, that is a lot going on) came out way before Horrorcore became the gimmick it was in the mid-90s.
GREATEST HITS OFF WAX: On Rappers Carrying Guns
This is a dangerous industry. It’s foul. With as many devils and vultures and hogs and wicked people that are involved in [the rap game], I think every [artist] ought to have a license to carry guns – felons or no felons. So off top, if [the police] pull a rap nigga over and he’s got a gun, shit, he’s probably got a gun because he’s scared somebody else with a gun is gonna try to do something [to him].
On “video models”
You know what I like to do when I get to my video set? I like to just fire all the broads that are already there. I just fire everybody, send ‘em all home. Shit, I’ll bring my own crew of bitches. I’d rather have a real live prostitute bitch on the set than some bitch that’s been fucking the director and got promised a spot in my video. (OZONE Magazine)
On Pimpin’ In the Music Industry
We’re talkin’ about pimpin’ and hoeing, [but] the biggest pimps are the record labels and the biggest hoes are these muthafuckin’ rap niggas. Rap niggas and entertainers are getting hoe’d more than any prostitute I’ve ever seen on any track or any bitch I’ve ever seen selling pussy. Muthafuckers get out here and do all the work and risk their lives, get shot, see their homeboys get shot, go to jail, all kinds of shit. Take all the risk and another muthafucker gets the lion’s share of the money? Hey, mayne, if that ain’t pimpin’, you tell me what is. (OZONE Magazine)
On Balance in Hip Hop
A lot of people attack music like the Soulja Boy music, but hey man, my kids love that. And “Laffy Taffy,” that was my shit. I liked that shit... We need fun records... That dude from the “Laffy Taffy” song, Fabo, that nigga is one of the most gangsterist niggas I’ve ever seen. He’ll beat a nigga to death if you fuck with him at the club. We need those types of records to balance out all the other shit. (OZONE Magazine)
On Media Criticism
I heard a little bit of criticism [of the album] from magazines that don’t understand our type of music, but all the magazines that do
understand our type of music – like yo’ book [OZONE] and the XXLs and The Sources, I ain’t hear nobody complaining... I heard people complain about how long the record was in Rolling Stone and Spin Magazine, muthafuckers that don’t know too much about our music in the first place, but hey, man, fuck them. We ain’t makin’ it for them. (OZONE Magazine)
On Russell Simmons
Last time I checked, Russell Simmons was a multi-billionaire, and he made his money off niggas saying the “n” word and cussing on records... If you’re a billionaire off rap music and you want us to stop cussin’, give us that billion dollars back and let us throw a party in that muthafuckin’ mansion you’ve got. Or forever hold your peace.
On Down-Low Brothers
It’s no gay-bashing with me. It’s just, be proud of what you are, instead of hidin’ in the closet. And if ya fuck boys in the ass, then don’t be tryna fuck with the girls, too, poisoning the pussy population wit’ ya shitty ol’ dirty-ass dick. (XXL Magazine)
On Going to Prison
I feel like I got put on the shelf, preserved, so I could come back later and do something positive. If ‘Pac hadn’t got out of prison, he might still be alive today. Maybe there was a worse fate out there waiting for me. (OZONE Magazine)
On R&B Singers
I ain’t out here dressing up trying to be sexy licking my lips like old gay ass Ne-Yo. Pussy dick-in-the-booty ass niggas wearing all that gotdamn lip gloss at their video shoots and letting niggas put makeup on their face. Yeah, I said Ne-Yo, you heard what the fuck I said. Niggas putting all that lip gloss on they fuckin’ lips looking like they’ve just been eating a pork chop sandwich with no hands. (OZONE Magazine)
On Rappers Lying
Everybody on these records are lying. Everybody is this big D-boy, these hardcore gangstas... Truth be told, we too blessed and we making too much money in this rap game to be going to war with each other. Truth be told, dont nobody want to fight nobody in this rap game because 98% of these dudes is cowards. (Hot 107.9 Atlanta) OZONE MAG // 31
by Maurice G. Garland
FORGOTTEN HIP HOP HONORS
When Vh1 announced they were going to be a doing a “Dirty South” version of their Hip Hop Honors show, it received mixed reactions. When they got around to announcing who would be honored, the reactions weren’t mixed at all. They were pretty direct as many pioneers and fans voiced their displeasure of being left off or misrepresented. Here are a few:
< JT Money
Jackin’ Tourist for Money has always been left out of casual conversations when it comes to speaking about the greatest artists to come out of the South. Hell, we ourselves even made the grave mistake of not including any Poison Clan albums in our 20 Essential Southern Albums list in 2006. So you can’t really be too surprised that the Bitch-izer wasn’t mentioned at the show, not even during Luke’s set.
< Three Six Mafia
Easily, the worst oversight of the Dirty South Hip Hop Honors is the fact that they didn’t honor any artists from Memphis. Not even the only rap group to ever win an Academy Award. How does Oscar know more about Memphis Hip Hop than Fab 5 Freddy and Nelson George?
8Ball & MJG >
To Ball & G’s credit, Vh1 probably didn’t want to honor the Living Legends because they are nowhere near retiring or disappearing. They actually released their 8th studio album just a month before the show was filmed, so maybe they were out promoting the album and couldn’t make it anyway. Well hold on, they did honor Snoop Dogg and he’s still releasing music right? Yeah, our guess is that no one at Vh1 probably heard of them.
DJ Screw >
The Hip Hop Honors haven’t recognized a DJ since the second annual ceremony anyway, so we really shouldn’t be shocked that DJ Screw wasn’t recognized. The fact that they had a “Texas” set and didn’t have not one Screwed Up Click member on stage is also laughable.
< DJ Magic Mike
We’re assuming that by honoring Luther Campbell (and 2Live Crew separately, which was odd), the Hip Hop Honors wanted to recognize Bass music with one sweeping motion since Luke has always been considered the face of the genre. If that’s the case DJ Magic Mike is the hands, arms and legs.
Tony Draper >
To honor Master P and J Prince and leave out Tony Draper is sad. Draper’s Suave House records was the first Southern label to even get the big wigs and checkwriters in New York and Los Angeles to even pay attention. He has every right to be upset.
< Geto Boys
Scarface, Willie D, Bushwhick Bill (Big Mike, Prince Johnny C, The Slim Jukebox, DJ Ready Red too if you want get technical) should’ve already been honored in one of the previous shows. Their contributions and controversy were bigger than the “dirty south.”
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The harsh reality is that UGK is no longer a rap group. We won’t be getting anymore UGK albums, songs or features. The name and legacy will always be alive, but at the end of the day, the group is no more since Pimp C is deceased. Having Bun B perform on the show was great, but he really should’ve been in the balcony getting honored too.
(above L-R): KLC & Mystikal @ House of Blues in Houston, TX (Photo: Julia Beverly); Nicki Minaj @ Plush in Jacksonville, FL (Photo: Terrence Tyson); Yelawolf @ St Andrews for Bizarre’s album release party in Detroit, MI (Photo: Malik Abdul)
01 // Omar, Rob Love, & Stay Fresh @ Tongue & Groove for Ray Rizzy’s video shoot (Atlanta, GA) 02 // Mr Collipark on the set of “Daze” (Atlanta, GA) 03 // DJ Daisy Dukes @ Tongue & Groove for Ray Rizzy’s video shoot (Atlanta, GA) 04 // Masspike Miles, Mon E G, & Torch on the set of Mon E G & Masspike Miles’ video shoot (Miami, FL) 05 // Eye Candy model Britthany @ The Loft (St Louis, MO) 06 // Juvenile @ Tongue & Groove for Ray Rizzy’s video shoot (Atlanta, GA) 07 // Mo Spoon @ The Loft (St Louis, MO) 08 // Yung Joc @ Spring Bling (Daytona Beach, FL) 09 // Virgie Man @ Club Nuvo (Leland, MS) 10 // Vic Damone @ The Loft (St Louis, MO) 11 // Master P @ Spring Bling (Daytona Beach, FL) 12 // Short Dawg @ Vice Lounge (Atlanta, GA) 13 // Juney Boomdata, the Hip Hop Barber, Rage, & Miami Mike on the set of “Daze” (Atlanta, GA) 14 // Jabar on the set of “Daze” (Atlanta, GA) 15 // Papa Duck (Indianola, MS) 16 // Natalie Nunn, Jeremy, & Jerri @ Questions (Pittsburgh, PA) 17 // Rico Brooks on the set of B.o.B.’s video shoot (Atlanta, GA) 18 // Ray Rizzy & Juvenile @ Tongue & Groove for Ray Rizzy’s video shoot (Atlanta, GA) 19 // Pookie of Urban South @ Mansion for Dorrough’s Gangsta Grillz & OZONE release party (Dallas, TX) 20 // Playboy Tre on the set of B.o.B.’s video shoot (Atlanta, GA) 21 // Roland & Lara @ The Loft (St Louis, MO) 22 // Eye Candy model Nicole @ The Loft (St Louis, MO) 23 // D Rocc @ Tongue & Groove for Ray Rizzy’s video shoot (Atlanta, GA) 24 // Benny @ Vice Lounge (Atlanta, GA) 25 // P Wonda @ Tongue & Groove for Ray Rizzy’s video shoot (Atlanta, GA) 26 // DJ Holiday @ Vice Lounge (Atlanta, GA) 27 // Lil C @ Hot Beats for Lil C’s listening party (Atlanta, GA) 28 // Eye Candy model Lona @ The Loft (St Louis, MO) 29 // Bree D’Val @ Vice Lounge (Atlanta, GA) 30 // Beat Gang (Cincinnati, OH) 31 // BallGreezy @ Club Cinema (Pompano Beach, FL) 32 // Mary Datcher and Global Mixx from Do or Die @ Delta Nights (Indianola, MS) 33 // Big Teach @ Spring Bling (Daytona Beach, FL) 34 // Big Hood Boss & Miami Mike on the set of “Daze” (Atlanta, GA) 35 // Devyne Stephens @ Park Tavern for ATL Live (Atlanta, GA) Photo Credits: Edward Hall (09,15,32); Julia Beverly (19); Malik Abdul (01,02,03,04,05,06,07,08,10,11,12,13,14,16,17,18,20,21,22,23,24,25,26,27,28,29,33,34,35); Tammie White (30); Travis Pendergrass (31)
OZONE MAG // 33
fter the success of his smash single “Ice Cream Paint Job” and self-titled debut album, Dorrough Music kept the momentum going with the release of his Gangsta Grillz mixtape and sophomore album Get Big. The motivated Texan talks about staying on his indie grind and avoiding the usual beefs and gimmicks.
Have you picked out the second single to be the follow-up after “Get Big”? The ladies are loving “Breakfast in Bed” featuring Ray J, and a lot of people are feeling “Get ‘Em Live” featuring Jim Jones. So it’s [a decision] between those two right now, but my personal favorite record is “MIA.”
So your new album Get Big is in stores now, right? Yep, the album is in stores. I went on 106th & Park to promote it, so, so far so good. “Get Big” was number six or seven on the countdown. I’ve been getting a lot of positive feedback from this album. We’re trying to choose the next single and everybody’s feeling certain records, so that’s a good thing even though it makes [the selection] more difficult.
DJ Khaled used to be your labelmate at E1, but he recently left. How does that affect your situation? I feel like it’s given me the chance to step up and become the priority at the label. I’ve kinda been at the forefront of the label besides Khaled, so I think between myself and Slim Thug, I think we’re really going to hold the label down. I think they’re really going to step up and make me and my projects a priority. Losing Khaled on their side is probably a big loss, but with what I’ve got in store, I feel like it’s really going to be a good look. I’m definitely going to step up to the plate.
What else do you have planned to promote the album? I’m shooting visuals for every song on the album. I did a huge album release party and I’m on the road too. I’m not “on tour” but I’m doing spot dates, and I’m gone all week, feel me? So it’s pretty much the same thing as a tour. I’m hitting the road and promoting, definitely working on these visuals, getting my street team out in the streets promoting, stepping up my online presence, and the whole nine. What can people expect from Get Big in comparison to your previous projects? I definitely stepped it up on this album. My lyrics are stronger, my production is stronger, and my concepts are stronger. I think my concepts set my album apart from any other album and even my past projects just because of the concepts. There are fifteen songs but if you buy it from Best Buy or on iTunes you get several bonus tracks. Anybody else dropping an album is only giving you nine or ten or eleven songs. So my album is just a step up. The title is Get Big and I’ve been doing it bigger and better than I’ve been doing it before, and bigger and better than a lot of other projects that are out right now. Do you see a lot of Dallas artists taking advantage of the door you’ve helped open for the city? Yeah, there’s a big support system here in Dallas. Right now a lot of people are watching me and a lot of people are rooting for me. You don’t know who’s rooting against you, but it’s not really about that to me. It’s more about the fans in Dallas. I’m trying to put on for Dallas no matter what the situation is, and I feel like I’ve been doing that since day one, so that’s a given. Right now my focus is not just on putting on for Dallas, it’s about putting on for the whole region and the whole South. A lot of [artists] in Dallas are doing their thing too, so I’m supporting the people who support me. Of course I’ve got the Primetime Click, so shout out to Lil Tony, Ace Boogie, and others who aren’t in my camp like Big T and Fat Pimp who are out here grinding. They’re doing their thing. Is Diamond still down with the Primetime Click? Yeah, Diamond is still affiliated with us. She’s doing her thing out in ATL making a name for herself, making herself bigger than she already is, and she’s growing as an artist. She’s been touring and she’s really got a great position on the female Hip Hop side. We’re working on some projects together and are going to start getting some visuals together. On my last project I really didn’t put out too many visuals, but with this project and everything else I’m working on, we’re definitely going to take advantage of that. A lot of artists lately seem to use gimmicks and beef to get their names out there, but you seem to stay away from it for the most part. Is that intentional? I only engage in what’s natural. I don’t go looking for animosity. I feel like if you’ve got so many things on your mind and so much on the agenda, how can you have time to search for beef? Even dealing with the [controversy over] the Hurricane Chris record, after that died down, I really just focused on my music. A lot of that stuff can take you out of your zone and away from what you’re supposed to be doing as far as crafting music. Sometimes it happens – if somebody is beefing with you sometimes it’s appropriate to step up and engage you, but other times it’s a waste of effort and it’s a bad look to go that route.
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At one point Koch was known as the graveyard for artists, but now they’ve got a new name – E1 – and it seems like the perception of the label has changed. A lot of people don’t realize that Koch is still an independent label, and that’s how I look at it. I’m an independent artist doing major things. I just look at it as a situation where I can learn and make my situation better. It’s almost like being in college. You have to use it to keep your own movement going, and you can learn how to maneuver a lot better when you’re independent because you have to do a lot of stuff on your own. But yeah, I think a lot of people go over to Koch and don’t have the mindset of working as hard as they’ve been working, or even harder. They feel like the label is supposed to do everything, but Koch ain’t that type of label. It’s not the type of label where you expect them to do everything for you, and you’re not supposed to do that with any label, but you definitely can’t do that here. You’ve got to work your ass off and whatever they’re going to do for you is just a plus. That’s my mindframe and that’s why things seem to be moving a different way. If you’ve got that mentality you’re always going to win. Is there anyone you want to collaborate with that you haven’t worked with yet? Yeah, I’ve worked with a lot of artists, but I think it will happen in time. Working with some of the bigger artists will come because my name is going to get bigger and bigger. I’m more anxious to just keep making good music because at the end of the day, who you work with doesn’t necessarily make you or break you. Sometimes you’re just drowning yourself out. I love working with different artists if they’ve got something going on, but it’s never my priority. Any luxury purchases you’ve indulged in lately aside from your jewelry? I’ve been taking care of my family for the past year. I’ve got a huge family, probably bigger than anyone would ever expect. I’ve been taking care of my daughter, my brothers and sisters, and my mama and daddy. I’ve just been taking care of the fam and I’ve been on the road a lot. Were you happy with the response you got to your Gangsta Grillz mixtape with DJ Drama? Oh yeah. The Drama mixtape actually set off the “Get Big” single. It was on Drama’s mixtape and the [feedback] was so good that we ended up making it a single, so that shows you how effective the mixtape was. The single just got to number 16 in the country and it’s a top 40 crossover, so that’s a big record, and it’s still growing. Also, the record with Yo Gotti made my album, and that was a huge record out here in Texas. The Gangsta Grillz mixtape was very effective, so shout out to DJ Drama. Is there anything else you want to plug? I’m promoting the album and I have a real big project for Super Bowl weekend coming out, so I want to give people a heads up. I’m always working. // Words by Julia Beverly
DORROUGH GETTIN’ BIGGER Words by Julia Beverly Photo by Derick G
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What’s the difference between your previous solo albums and Trill OG? I think the first Trill album really established me as a solo artist. Trill OG, with everything that happened over the last couple years, just having to regroup emotionally and musically, it’s just time to get back to business. How hard have the last couple of years been for you, both musically and emotionally? I mean, of course, as everyone knows, I’ve had my ups and downs. But we get stronger everyday. And the spirit of Pimp C still lives on, within us and within the music. We just take it one day at a time, man. Was this your first album recording completely without Pimp? Yeah, I guess in that sense you can say so. Like I said, the spirit of Pimp C still lives on. The majority of the album was produced by Steve Below. Steve Below produced on UGK albums under Pimp C, so the UGK sound, that bass, that knock in the trunk, that organ, the melody, we’ll still have the music. We’re also working with people that understand and respect the UGK sound, like the J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League, Jazze Pha, and Pharrell. [The album] will sound similar to what you heard before, and one or two will sound a little bit different, but I’m not trying to step outside of my character. For example, when I’m working with a person like Pharrell, we gotta meet each other halfway, cause I can’t really do what everybody else does with Pharrell. If seems like you collaborate with just about everyone, and you’re always doing features. Why do you choose to work with so many artists? I just try to keep the movement going. For me personally as an artist, to keep my juices going, it’s good to always go out there, exercise and shoot jumpers. You know, like going out to the park and playing a couple games. I like to know that I still got it. So, I go out, I work with the young’ns, the best and the brightest in the game right now. We exchange creative energy, we put together great music and great art, and have great fun and entertain the people. And let the people know that I’m still here doing it, just as good, or even better than some of the people that’s still doing it. What do you think has been the main thing that’s been able to keep you in the game for so long? I think it’s the fact that I still want it. That hunger is still there inside of me to be the best. As much as I’ve achieved throughout my career, there’s still some areas in which I care to attain [more]; there’s still some levels that I’m still trying to get on. I’m an OG, but there’s still things that the OG hasn’t seen yet. And I’m not giving up on that just because of how many years I’ve already been in the game, or my age, or whatever the case may be. I don’t feel like anything anybody else got their hands on, I can’t get my hands on. It’s just a matter of time, and I’m patient. How many more albums are you thinking about doing? I put together No Mixtape, which was over 20 songs, real quick. That wasn’t even meant to be a mixtape. That was just me going in and letting my creative juices go. And that thing just ended up going out the trunk and becoming a mixtape on its own. I can do this all day, if the people wanna hear me do it all day. But we’ve been getting a good response on No Mixtape. We’ve been getting a good response on all the remixes I’ve been on, like “I Look Good” and “Homegurl’” and all these different features that I do. People are still excited about the music and definitely wanna hear that trill sound, so as long as they wanna hear it, I’m gonna give it to them. I’m not trying to force nothing down people’s throat. You never really had major mainstream success, but artists and all your peers respect you. Are you content with the UGK legacy? Well, I beg to differ. I think UGK has had a great number of mainstream successes. We had an album that was #1 on the Billboard 200, not just the #1 Rap album or the#1 Independent album or the #1 R&B album, but the #1 album, period. We had Grammy nominations, we’ve won countless awards from BET, and of course, your very own OZONE Awards, so UGK has received its accolades, in its own right and respect. And UGK is a legacy that I’m more than proud of. Yeah, there were some other things that I’m sure myself and Pimp would have liked to achieve, but looking back on it, I can’t knock what we put down. It’s still history. There are still young artists coming in the game, contributing their two cents, and they’re [achieving] the things me and Pimp put down on 18 years ago. So, I’m going to always look at that as something to be proud of. But continuing a new movement for myself, and there’s another Pimp C album coming, I think we’ll still be able to add something to that legacy before it’s all over. You’ve always been a lyrical rapper. When you hear a new rapper like Waka Flocka Flame saying he doesn’t have or need lyrics, how do you feel? I mean, he’s saying he doesn’t need lyrics to succeed, and if that’s him, then kudos to him. Everybody’s gonna do what they wanna do and how they do 36 // OZONE MAG
it. I’m not here to judge nobody for what they say or what they do, unless they’re saying it about me. I choose to be a lyrical artist. I still keep it real in my lyrics though, and street niggas can still understand what I’m sayin’. He doesn’t have to be lyrical if he don’t want to. That shit ain’t no requirement in the game. And that’s the problem. Everybody wanna act like rap started with Rakim and Nas and De La Soul. And while these people made critical contributions to the game, that’s not all of what rap is. Everybody making music ain’t lyrical. We’ve got Rap and Hip Hop legends that weren’t always lyrical, but they did entertain people. With the way they contributed and the way they got down, they are considered legends. I don’t think anyone is gonna sit here and say that the Fat Boys were lyrical legends, but they are legends. I think everybody is taking everybody too seriously. I think we should just start minding our own business and doing what we do. The more we put labels on this shit, the more we have confusion. Recently, you performed at a Haiti relief concert in Houston. Do you feel it’s a rapper’s responsibility to participate in events like that? I think if you’re a person of influence and a person that other people will follow to help a situation, you should. You don’t have to be a rapper, but if you’re an athlete, an entertainer, a politician, or just a person in the hood that people follow and people respect your opinion, then you’ve gotta bring attention to things like that. Otherwise, what’s the point in having power? As a rapper, I can make money and get all the superficial shit that kinda comes with the job. But it’s the extra shit that doesn’t come with the job, the responsibility and the power, that you’ve gotta learn how to handle and treat with respect and honor. We show people that we care, and we respect certain situations and we’re going to stand up for people. And that’s what Hip Hop Houston For Haiti was all about. Now, you’ve been in the game for a long time and you’ve worked with a lot of artists, but is there anyone that you haven’t worked with yet that you still would want to? I mean, you’d be ignorant as an MC to not want to work with someone like Dr. Dre. Lyrically, I don’t feel like you’re a lyricist until you’ve went bar for bar on a song with a brother like Nas. Right now, I think those are the last two. I just recorded some stuff with DJ Quik, who I’ve looked up to for years, and had a long mutual respect for each other. And we finally, after 18 years, got a chance to work together. I’m very excited about that. Also, I got the chance to work with DJ Premier on my new album. Again, another long time friend, mutual respect on both sides, of course, my prayers go out to Guru. So, I’ve been blessed throughout my career to earn the respect of every artist that I’ve wanted to work with to the point to where I’ve been able to work with them. Word is that Trill OG features a “Hip Hop legend and a cultural icon.” Can you talk about that song? I’d really hate to give that away. II think it’s gonna be something that just drives people crazy. It’s a lighthearted song, it’s a fun song, it’s an energetic song. Some people are going to flip when they hear it. If I say too much, I’ll give it away. But it’s big. It’s really big. We can assume there will be some Pimp C verses on your album, right? Well, I’m not sitting on Pimp C verses. Any Pimp C verses that I use come directly from [his] estate. Pimp C’s legacy, music, and lyrics are all controlled by his estate, which is controlled by his wife. I’m blessed to say that I have a great working relationship with her, so I was able to get some [verses] for my album. Pimp C’s solo album is coming later this year, and it’s incredible. It almost sent me back in the lab a couple times. I’d listen to my album, then I’d listen to his album, and how intense everything was put together. Just the precision of knowing how he wanted everything to sound and everything put together, his foresight, it’s just unbelievable. And his album is going to really take people by surprise. It’s called The Naked Soul of Sweet James Jones. Is there anything else you want to tell us about your new album? I’m putting a lot into this album. A lot of people, when they listen to the album, like Birdman, Drake, 8Ball & MJG, Young Jeezy, they say this is that old Bun. This is that raw Bun, and that’s what a lot of people have really been wanting to hear from me. I think the problem was that people were so worried about taking advantage of radio opportunities that we hadn’t had before, and media opportunities that we hadn’t had before, and didn’t realize that at the end of the day, my core audience is still from the street, and they need to be catered to. And that’s what we went back to with this album. If you’ve got a good song, it’s gonna make it on the radio. You don’t have to make something for the radio. If you got something’s that’s jammin’ and the streets love it, they’re gon’ make the radio play it. It’s just that simple. We just went back to the raw and uncut. That’s why I called it the Trill OG album. I couldn’t call myself the Trill OG if I wasn’t on some OG shit with this album. And we’re definitely getting our OG on. //
BUN B STILL STANDING
Since the sudden and heartbreaking loss of his comrade Chad “Pimp C” Butler, Bun B’s job of carrying on the UGK legacy they built together hasn’t been easy. Still, he’s determined to keep it trill. Within the last year alone, he’s collaborated with everyone from Birdman and Rick Ross to Talib Kweli, and many artists in between and released a much-hyped project (No Mixtape). Yes, Bun Beater is a Hip Hop OG, but he’s not done yet. Matter of fact, he doesn’t plan to hang up his microphone any time soon. Bun’s new album Trill OG IS PROOF OF THAT. make no mistake about it; it still is and will forever be UGK for life and R.I.P. Pimp C. Words by Randy Roper
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by Randy Roper & Maurice G. Garland
STILL PATIENTLY WAITING
In the last 8 years, OZONE’s Patiently Waiting section has featured some of rap’s biggest stars (and duds) long before other outlets started paying attention. While many (Akon, Pitbull, T-Pain, and Rick Ross, just to name a few) have gone on to superstardom and others into oblivion, a few are still around trying to get that one big look to take them to next level. Hell, some of them haven’t even dropped an album yet after all of these years. Here are 8 artists who have managed to remain relevant while they continue to wait for their time in the spotlight.
< Big Kuntry
Big Kuntry King (uh, c’mon!) has always been the most visible member of the P$C besides T.I. and unfortunately he’s spent a lot of time behind that shadow as well. After a couple successful mixtapes and scoring some underground club hits, Kuntry finally saw his debut album My Turn To Eat hit stores…on the same day as T.I.’s Paper Trail. Since then, Kuntry has laid pretty low, only releasing a few records here and there. Hopefully he will get chance to feast the next time around.
Bishop Lamont >
Being signed to two of the more successful labels of the last four years (Poe Boy and Cash Money), you’d think that Brisco’s album would have dropped by now. But his Street Medicine album has yet to find a cure to prevent its constant delays. Brisco has kept himself relevant via internet videos (both good and bad), but the “Street Medicine coming soon” messages at the end are starting to lose their luster.
When Bishop Lamont signed with Dr. Dre’s Aftermath Records he was supposed to follow in the platinum footsteps of Eminem, 50 Cent, The Game and Busta Rhymes. But even after dropping a string of acclaimed mixtapes he wound up getting sucked into the Detox vortex and sat on the shelf for five years. With no release date for his album The Reformation in sight, Lamont finally parted ways with Aftermath.
< Glasses Malone
After The Game made West Coast Hip Hop matter again, labels went looking for the next big thing. Sony thought it was Glasses Malone, so they dropped $1.7 million on him and gave him his own label. Fast-forward: Glasses wound up leaving the label and doing a joint venture with Cash Money Records and Mack 10’s Hoo-Bangin’ imprint. He’s been paired with everyone from Akon to T-Pain to Lil Wayne but he’s still yet to secure that hit that will make his backers confident enough to drop his long awaited album The Beach Cruiser.
This Miami rapper signed with production tandem Cool & Dre’s Epidemic label all the way back in 2004 and six years later we’ve yet to get an album out of the situation. C-Ride must be doing something right, though. As revealed in his OZONE cover story earlier this year, he’s turned down deals from Sony, Universal and can still afford to blow up to $2,500 in the strip club on a weekly basis.
< Mack Maine
After Curren$y left Lil Wayne’s Young Money crew for literally “greener” pastures, Mack Maine looked to be the heir apparent to the rap throne that pop star Weezy would leave vacant someday. Well, Mr. Carter still hasn’t gone anywhere and Mack Maine has yet to release an album. Actually, it doesn’t look like he’s sweating coming out with one soon, since he’s President of the company now. So you might as well just treat those Freestyle 101, Bitch I’m Mack Maine and This Is Just A Mixtape mixtapes like actual albums.
Jody Breeze >
Believe it or not, when Jody Breeze came onto the scene, he was just as hot and anticipated as his former Boyz N Da Hood partner Young Jeezy. But after a shelved debut album, his label home (Jazze Pha’s Shonuff ) crumbling and Boyz N Da Hood becoming an afterthought, fans still don’t have a proper Jody Breeze album. Each of his mixtapes, however, continues to show flashes of potential and keep fans interested. Hopefully with the internet and a restructured music industry, Jody Breeze can find a way to finally deliver the project that people have been waiting six years for now.
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Slick Pulla >
Primed to fit right into the lane that Young Jeezy carved out for him, Slick Pulla made a name for himself in the mixtape circuit with some solid performances and commendable lyricism. But street scuffles and legal troubles began to mar his career to the point that some folks actually thought his name was “Free Slick Pulla.” He was finally released from jail earlier this year, and is trying to get back on track in the rap game to release his debut album, The Trapublican.
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RICK ROSS GROUNDWORK
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Words & Photo by Julia Beverly
WITH THREE SOLID ALBUMS UNDER HIS BELT AND THE HIT RECORD “BMF” TAKING OVER NIGHTCLUBS AND RADIO STATIONS ACROSS THE WORLD, MI-YAYO’S RICK ROSS NEEDS NO INTRODUCTION. You’ve been talking a lot about “groundwork.” In the music business today, it seems like that’s a lost art form. Do you think artists in general have become lazier when it comes to the promotions and marketing? I think overall the music business in general cut back on a lot of promotion. I feel that a lot of artists take shortcuts with all this new technology. But I feel like you really need to have a balance of both. You’ve got to stay in the streets. I think people still need to see the physical promotion on the streets to capture the essence of your movement. And I think when [labels] cut back [on promotion], they tend to cut back on the smaller markets first. Those are the markets I try to still touch, because no market is really too small to touch. How would you define “groundwork”? To me, groundwork entails every aspect of hitting the community and making sure they understand you. Regardless if you’re promoting an album release date or you’re coming into the community to do community work, you need to make sure you accomplish your goal. You have to go straight to the source by hitting the vein of the community and working your way through. It’s pretty easy to find the vein. You just need to get in the streets and find the masses of people. You can start in a neighborhood or at the mall. You really just want to get out there and shake hands and network and let them know you’re here. Lately you’ve been referring to yourself as Rozay. Are you considering an official name change? It seems like you’re going that direction, and you’re being managed now by Diddy, who of course has been through several name changes as well. That’s just an alias for me. Was it related to “Freeway” Ricky Ross’s lawsuit, claiming that you owed him money for adopting his name? Not at all. There was an injunction filed against my album but it was dismissed. Overall, that shit isn’t going to work. Do I take it personally? Of course not. I feel like he was just rolling the dice, and we’re going to move forward regardless. I just wondered if it was a Diddy suggestion. I’m sure with all the success he’s had over the years, he’s able to give you some good advice. Is there anything he’s told you in particular that stands out? You know we got the rap game on lock. Diddy is great in other arenas. Aside from my personal situation, he’s got a lot going on outside the music. We have a couple things that we’re negotiating right now outside the music arena, so we’ll be able to make announcements real soon. It takes time and everything is in development. You signed a couple producers. Do you think that’s a better route to go, having folks in-house rather than going out and paying for beats externally? You’re asking me? You know that answer. Of course it’s a great thing. Anytime you can do business with great producers like The Olympicks and The Transformers and make them a part of the movement, it’s always a better situation. You’ve been real heavy with putting out viral videos and leaking music on the internet. Do you have the mentality that putting out more music and visuals will push more people to buy your album? Once your album gets to the stores your shit is going to be on the internet anyway, so leaks are not a big deal. That’s happened with every one of my albums. To me, I consider a real album “leak” to be one that comes out five or six weeks before the release date. You’ve done a lot of charity events in Miami. What do you have coming up with your non-profit? Y’all can go to rickrosscharities.com and see what’s crackin’. I let my charity deal with the charity work and I usually don’t talk too much about what we do with the charity, because I think you really should just do that from the heart. I let my team deal with that because they’re the best at it. At one point, you were anti-Twitter and making fun of people who were on it. What convinced you to go ahead and join? I still make fun of half of the people that’s on Twitter, but we’ve been getting so much love we thought it would be a good idea to give back. It’s cool, they be quoting your rhymes on Twitter and you can hit a few people back every now and then, so it’s cool. But some people just take Twitter too far.
Too far in what way? Being addicted? Tweeting everyone links to your music is not going to break your records. I think it’s a cool way to find out what’s up, stay in touch, and shout out different markets. If you’re going to do something in the market you can get a lot of love on Twitter, pay homage to a city or two, and keep it moving when you slide through. I think that’s really what it’s good for. There was a controversial video clip of your artist Gunplay in Colombia snorting cocaine. What’s your opinion on having somebody in your camp not only using drugs, but putting it out on the ‘net for everyone to see? Does it concern you at all? That’s my brother and that’s all I’m going to say about that. Okay, fair enough. I know you and Diddy have been cool for a while, but how did it get to the point where he decided to actually start managing you and partner together on projects? You know, that’s the homie. He’s gonna be the homie forever. But we just put our business in perspective and now we’re tackling some of these outside entities that are interested in doing business with me. Endorsements and such. I heard a radio interview where they were comparing you to Biggie and you didn’t like that too much. But at the same time, it almost does seem like Diddy has Bad Boy Pt. 2 with you and Nicki Minaj filling the part of Biggie and Lil Kim. Do you see that being a valid comparison? I think we’re the hottest in the game, and that’s when the comparisons stop. Biggie was one of a kind, and I’m most definitely doing my thing. You’ve definitely stepped your game up musically on each album. Even the critics have noticed the progression. It seems like a lot of artists do the opposite – their first album is their hottest, and then they fall off over time. How do you constantly challenge yourself to step it up musically? Just really investing in myself and focusing on the music and nothing else. I feel like that’s really paying off. When you go in the booth to record, what’s the key to blocking out all the external factors? By the time I’m walking in the booth I’m already in that zone. When I go in the studio I leave everything else outside the studio, regardless, so by the time I go into the booth it’s time to execute the plan. The plan is to sound better than everybody else’s shit. That’s my whole mental process. You came out with “BMF” and then Jeezy came out with “The Real BMF” and folks were kind of amping that up into a beef… Man, we getting money and making hits. I’ve been eating steaks every day at Ruth’s Chris; prime rib. As far as “BMF,” I was just making a hit record and saluting the big homie [Big Meech] at the same time. What made you go with Teflon Don as the title? That was one of my original rap names, and it fit the situation. You have some artists under you now as well, right? Is that a challenge to be both a manager/CEO and an artist? It’s all about Teflon Don right now as well as Masspike Miles and Triple C’s. I’m also managing the MTV-award winning video director Spiff TV. We’re just continuing to build our brand and do what we do. Of course it’s a challenge and that’s why we do it. The greater the challenge, the greater the reward. I know you’ve been all over the world touring recently. Is there one particular place you’ve been that really stood out to you? I can find something interesting in every place we’ve been. You can go to Germany and see a 500 year old castle and that’s a real dope experience. But at the same time, you could be somewhere as simple as Jamaica smoking good trees and eating fried fish. California has taken steps towards legalizing marijuana. Do you feel like the rest of the country is moving in that direction too? It would be a great day in America. You would hold the Ricky Rozay Freedom Parade? We might just all put it in the air at the same time once or twice a year. Would you like to plead to Barack Obama to legalize marijuana in your OZONE cover story? No thanks. If I talk to Barack Obama it’s going to be big business, no nonsense. It’d be about something real important. I’ve got another level of respect for that man. I wouldn’t even disrespect the team on that level. //
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MAYBACH MUSIC GROUP:
Words by Julia Beverly Are you still doing the Spiff TV DVDs? I’m going to do another one soon, but it’s a lot of legal bullshit I’m dealing with from the first one. I did a bad deal with these people in L.A. and they took advantage of me. They mass pressed it up and I didn’t know better. So, fuck them. But I’m still doing my thang with the beats and signing producers and artists. I’ve signed like ten artists to Ross’ roster, including five producers. I signed The Olympicks; they produced a lot of shit. They’re out of Detroit. I signed two more producers out of Dallas called The Transformers, and two writers out of Dallas called Suede Royale and EQ. They’ve been writing and doing a lot of shit. Suede is an artist too. He’s a problem. I’ve also got Cash Chris out of Orlando that I signed to Ross. How does it feel to be taken seriously now instead of just being an intern? It’s a grind. After you show you’ve got an ear for this, it gets easier. Now they’re getting paid $15k a track. The producers know that once they get the music to me, it’s going to get to the right people. If you make beats and you’re trying to get your beats placed, you can send them to RickRossBeats@ gmail.com. Do you think it’s harder to sell beats now that there are so many producers trying to get in the game? It’s all about quality. Everybody’s trying to make beats on their laptop on Frooty Loops or something, but you’ve really got to know what you’re doing with the sound. If you can do that, you’re going to get paid for it.
Orlando-based video director SPIFF TV started out hustling as an intern for OZONE, Strictly Streets, and DJ Nasty and the Nasty Beatmakers. His relationship with DJ Nasty and DJ Khaled, along with his aspirations of becoming a video director, eventually led to a full-time position working with Rick Ross. Spiff has directed dozens of viral videos for standout records like “Mafia Music 1” and “Mafia Music 2” and serves as an A&R for Ross’s Maybach Music record label. What are some videos you’ve directed? I directed “Mafia Music,” the first one off Deeper Than Rap. I did the new “Mafia Music 2.” I did “Ciroc Stars” for Chester French featuring Diddy and Jadakiss. I did the Waka Flocka “Oh Let’s Do It” remix featuring Diddy and Ross, and a whole lot of viral videos for Ross that you’ve probably seen online. How did the idea come about to put out a whole bunch of viral videos for Deeper Than Rap? While we were recording Deeper Than Rap we were just shooting a video for damn near almost every song on the album. Now you see a lot of other artists kinda following that formula, dropping videos every other day and every other week. We started that pace. We just shot a video everywhere we went, whether it was the Bahamas or London or wherever. Before you linked up with Ross, you were working with DJ Nasty. What were you doing with him? Helping getting his beats placed and finding producers. I found The Incredibles and signed them to Nasty; they were producing for Jeezy and Ross, and they’ve got a track on Jay-Z’s album. Khaled manages them too. So that’s what I was doing. Before that I was working with you, you know, vintage OZONE. Crazy shit. With you, I was taking pictures for the magazine and seeing a lot of shit going on. So [I was thinking] damn, we’re with these [artists] every day. Let me just pick up a [video] camera and see what happens from there. Then I dropped the first Spiff TV DVD that was in Wal-Mart and everything. It was a lot of Hip Hop and Reggaetone shit, just linking with artists. Plus [Rick] Ross manages me now so he does all that shit; he plugs me with people like Diddy. I’m shooting for Diddy now too. I’ll fly out and do a bunch of shit for him. I’m just getting it in. 42 // OZONE MAG
When you film a viral video for Ross do you come up with a treatment or concept or just freestyle it? Sometimes, if Ross just feels like shooting, we freestyle it. I find something dope and we just do it. But usually I have a week or two to prep for it and write a treatment. He has a lot of ideas, so he’ll give me some ideas and we just mash together and write the ideas down and go at it. London was kinda crazy. We did a video in front of Buckingham Palace; Ross was smoking weed like, “I always wanted to blow one down with the Queen, but fuck it.” We shot in St. Maarten and St. Thomas too; we just went to Barbados and shot some crazy stuff over there. We always try to capture the essence of it. If we were in Jamaica we would get the guys bringing us fresh lobster and cooking it right in front of our face. We do it like that. The internet has opened up a lot of doors for directors such as yourself, because back in the day you would need a large budget and a lot of equipment to film a music video. The thing that’s so dope now is that you can reach everybody at one time by just turning the camera on and sending it out. You can prep them with trailers. I make sure I get the videos to MTV and MTV Jams and they put it up right away. As far as editing, they have better and easier programs coming out all the time. You always have to be a step ahead of the game. Everybody can’t see what you’re shooting with now. I’m online every day trying to see what the new shit is. What about on the editing side, did you kinda teach yourself? Yeah, I sit down with my editor and tell him what I want visually and graphically. I know all the shots I shot that look great. You might give footage to an editor without saying anything and he doesn’t know what the hell he’s doing, so he won’t cut it right. He may not know what’s fly or not, so you’ve got to show them exactly how to put it together. Are you mainly focused on doing Rick Ross videos? I’m doing a lot of other things too. I’m doing stuff with Diddy, Chester French, Pharrell’s group. I did a video for Clinton Sparks and Travis McCoy from Gym Class Heroes; we shot that in Union Square. They did a Fresh Prince and Jazzy-type theme. They were beat boxing and shit. I shot a video for Desert Storm’s artist for DJ Clue, Ghost featuring Fab and Ross; that’s a good one. Is there anything else you’d like to say? Get at me on Twitter, @SpiffTVFilms. Shout out to Maybach Music, Maybach Films, Gucci Pucci, Rick Ross, Mercedes Streets, and JB for giving me a job back in the day riding out in that small ass car. //
MAYBACH MUSIC GROUP:
Words by Randy Roper Photo by Julia Beverly How would you describe Rick Ross as a CEO? He gives his artists total freedom. He’s not gon’ spoon feed you, but he’s gon’ let you know what you need to be doing. He’s hands-on when it comes to the music. Once it gets to that point where he’s about to put it out, he’s gonna critique it down to the littlest ad-lib on the track, cause it’s a representation of him and his label. Maybach is the top-of-the-line car, and Maybach Music Group is the top-of-the-line in music. So he has to make sure that it meets our standard before we put it out. But with that said, he’s not one of those artist CEOs that’s gonna spoon feed you. He’s gonna let you make your own mistakes. Were you satisfied with the album sales of the first Triple C’s album? I’m the type of person that would never be satisfied, even if we sold 10 million records. Of course I wasn’t satisfied, because I felt like it was rushed. We put the album out in maybe seven weeks, so it felt like a rush job. But at the end of the day, I feel like the quality of the music on the album was great. I feel like the next album Color, Cut, & Clarity is gonna be way better because we actually had a chance to sit down and put it together properly and it’s not rushed. This one is gonna be a more thorough process, and that’s what people are going to appreciate the most about it: the growth. Triple C’s is you, Ross, Gunplay, and Young Breed. How do you make sure you stand out in a group along with other talented MCs, especially Rick Ross? The easiest way to stand out is to have other talented MCs around you. All you’ve gotta do is do the same thing that got you into the group; do you. If you say anything hot on a track with an artist of Rick Ross’s caliber, people are gonna take note and say, “Who is that?” So you did your job. It’s kinda like being under a microscope to see if you can hold your own next to a future legend like Rick Ross. Gunplay is on the come up and shout out to Young Breed. We’ve got four different styles and four different swags. When we come together - me being from New York City - I bring a whole other element. As soon as I come on the song, they know I’m not from ‘round these parts.
IN ADDITION TO BEING 1/4 OF RICK ROSS’ GROUP TRIPLE C’S, THE LEAD ARTISTS FROM MAYBACH MUSIC GROUP, TORCH HAS GAINED CRITICAL ACCLAIM FOR HIS SOLO SKILLS AS WELL. HERE, HE TELLS OZONE HIS FUTURE PLANS. You’ve been with Rick Ross from the beginning. How has it been for you watching him from the start to the success he has now? It’s something like a dream. We’ve always envisioned this, that’s why I put my faith and trust in him from the get go, ‘cause we’ve always seen big things. And to see it happen, it’s indescribable. It just gives you more and more hope. I feel like I’m just a song away. And to be right there with him, from then to now, seeing him win a BET award, after all the years we’ve been nominated and never made it to the stage, it’s great that we finally crossed that goal. Next is MTV and the Grammys. It’s something like a dream, man. Success is a journey and we’re just starting. Do you see similar success for yourself soon? Oh, of course. I’ve been granted that gift of hard work, so I won’t stop until I get to where I’m going. I’ve got a lot of writing credits under my belt, so now it’s time to put the face with the skills. My new single “Bang Your City” has been doing numbers, so I know it’s coming. What writing credits do you have? We got a lot of those, but that’s why they call it the “ghostwriter.” I love those checks, so I’ma just keep that [quiet], you know what I mean?
How hard is it being in Triple C’s when you’re a New York dude? How do you fit in? It really wasn’t hard at all because we’re not one of those groups that was put together at the last minute. I’ve been down with these boys since I was 16. We always got bread together, so it was kinda easy. The hardest thing is the beat selection, ‘cause Ross knows how easy it is for me to write. Sometimes I think he just picks beats to challenge me. But at the end of the day, we always do our numbers. And that friendly camaraderie in the music is just a friendly sport, so it’s a beautiful thing between all of us, seeing who’s gon’ come hard and how we gon’ come. And of course the Boss is the Boss, so we’re all just trying to hold our own. What are you working on as a solo artist? I got that Crash Course [mixtape] out, hosted by DJ Khaled and DJ Kay Slay. For the first time in history, the biggest on the streets of the North and the biggest DJ on the streets of the South came together and collaborated to put me in a good position. I’ve got a couple more [mixtapes] on the way, and I’ve got the UFO EP on the way. We’re just grinding. At the end of the day, my solo effort is gon’ be more musical than anything else. My influences are artists like Scarface and 2Pac and artists who just made music without trying to go down a specific lane. You never knew what you were gon’ get when you pressed play, all you knew is that it was gon’ be genuine, real and something you can really relate to. Is there anything else you want to talk about? I want y’all to look out for Specialyst Entertainment; that’s my company. You know the boss gives us the freedom and leverage to do a whole bunch of big things, so I started my own company and we’re doing some really big things this year. You can follow me on that Twitter, @torchccc and check my website out, TorchisNY.com for all the latest and greatest Triple C’s information. // OZONE MAG // 43
MASSPIKE MILES REINVENTION
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Words by Julia Beverly Photo by Derick G
fter a childhood stint in a “boy band,” Boston-bred artist Masspike Miles reinvented himself as a business-savvy singer with a bit of Hip Hop swag. Now boasting some powerful allies, like Rick Ross and DJ Drama, Miles is prepared to take his art form to the next level. Do you think coming out of Boston is a challenge for an artist? Yeah, it’s always a challenge coming out of Boston. I’ve been doing music for damn near twenty years now. I was singing in a group called Perfect Gentlemen back in 1993. That was during the New Kids on the Block/New Edition era; I was caught up in that. Coming out of Boston is definitely different than coming out of Atlanta or New York. It’s hard; it’s difficult, I ain’t gonna lie. But now that I’m moving around and adapting to my environment, no matter what it is, they understand that the person is Miles as opposed to Masspike. They get to know who Miles is. Masspike is your alter ego? Kind of. Miles is my government name, so people who know me call me Miles. If you don’t know me, you can call me Masspike. (laughs) So the boy-band situation back in ’93 didn’t work out? I guess you could say we had mediocre success. By today’s standards selling 150,000 would be great, but back then it wasn’t great to the Warner Bros. staff. They expected [more] because the New Kids on the Block were worth a billion dollars in merchandising alone. I was only eleven then. I ain’t even gonna front, I was dancing, singing, whatever it took for me to be a part of the group. I was the lead singer of Perfect Gentlemen so I had to do what I had to do. Did that discourage you from continuing in the music business? For a few years I was discouraged. I was still developing as a young man and trying to come up smoothly in the industry. Being a young dude in the streets from Roxbury, Massachusetts, I had to deal with a lot of different things. I was a chubby light skinned dude singing in a [boy band] when I was 11 and 12 years old, and it didn’t really pan out. My peers and people who I thought were friends [ultimately] made fun of the fact that [my group] didn’t do well. That kinda deterred me from singing for a few years. One day I was on TV singing and then the next day I’m on the block, 13 years old, trying to sell weed. It was discouraging. I could still sing though. What made me get back into it was my homies in the hood who were really friends. We were really clicking; they were rapping. My man used to have a microphone hanging from the lights and the ceiling. He would have a microphone plugged in with the tape deck and the boom. We would just freestyle, but the fact that I could do it so well just influenced them. I was rap/singing back then, kinda like what I’m doing now. I can do [rap] battles and pop music; I can do all that. Through them, I got into the beat-making and songwriting aspect of the music. That’s how I made the transition back into music when I was about fifteen. After your transition back into the music game on the songwriting and production side, what have you been working on? I got into beat-making and I worked with this artist named Smoke Bulga out of Boston. We ended up getting a deal with Sony/Epic. I produced his first single and was heavily involved with his project on the executive side of things. It just influenced me creatively to want to move forward. I knew I was talented enough. I’m not the greatest singer or dancer. I’m not gonna sit around and serenade your girl; if you meet me you may never know that I can sing. I just wanted to do music regardless if it was working as sa producer or an artist or being in the background. I just wanted to be a part of the music because I loved it so much. So in working with Smoke Bulga, you got more of a feel for the business side of the industry? Of course. I’m heavily involved with my business. I’m fully financing my own videos. Because I’m a boss, I’m not waiting for you to hold my hand to cross the street or waiting for you to give me some money to put gas in my car. I’m the dude that’s coming with the full package because I know what it is. I know what it feels like to have an artist that’s always – I won’t say “needy,” but – always depending on you for certain things. I know what it feels like to distribute money in certain places and never see it come back. Being an artist gave me an understanding of how I need to approach people and conduct myself as a businessman. How did the situation with Smoke Bulga pan out? We got caught between the merger with Sony and Epic and our A&R got fired. It was just the typical story of an artist trying to blow up and the [major deal] didn’t work out properly so we just stayed on the grind releasing Mixtapes. I felt like I was missing something personally, though. I wanted to be contributing creatively, as an artist. There were certain things I wanted to show the people that maybe [my artist] didn’t have the vision for. I feel like, if I want the bathroom clean, the only person that’s gonna clean the bathroom is me. So that’s what I needed to do.
Singing is a little more fun than cleaning the bathroom, but I get your analogy. How did you link up with Rick Ross? I met him when he came to [Boston]. But rather than just meeting him and being just another nigga, I felt like this was my opportunity to be an artist. I didn’t have a record done or nothing like that but I said, “My nigga, I need a feature. How much does it cost?” We discussed the price, got my brown paper bag, and I had him do 16 bars. I didn’t have a concept or anything. A couple days later he finished the 16 bars, we split the 16 in two, and just blasted the record off, “Get It Together.” I wasn’t really sure how [the streets] were gonna respond to it. I was just in my zone on some street shit and I released it and it got a lot of love. That was about two years ago, right? Yeah, it sure was. Then Ross told me that he wanted to shoot a video. He didn’t need to tell a nigga like me [that] twice; I needed that [look]. So I put my money together, we shot the video, and he was impressed with the professionalism. Since I’m a young dude and I’m ambitious and determined to win and willing to invest in myself, he saw that there was potential in the situation. We sat down after we shot the video and chopped it up for a few weeks. He told me I had a lot of potential and was like, “We’re bosses. Let’s come together.” I told him I didn’t want my project to be rushed. I really want to sit back and develop my shit, because I haven’t been on stage in 15 years. I’m signed to Maybach Music now, but it’s kinda like a joint venture. You just dropped a Gangsta Grillz mixtape with DJ Drama, right? Yeah, it’s called Super Fly. [Drama’s] brand is so hot in the industry that he’ll literally have thirty artists on his list [of mixtapes to do]. So he’ll have like Dream, dead prez, Gucci Mane, and T.I. waiting. My Gangsta Grillz is all original stuff. The big homie LA the Darkman wanted me to go out of the box and do some freestyles, but I really wanted to be intimate with the people. Why give away a mixtape with all-original music? Is it like an investment? Of course I could put it out as an album, but who am I to put out an album right now? Let’s keep it real. You may know who Masspike Miles is, but Bethany in Idaho doesn’t know who I am, and that’s the person that’s buying the album. I’ve gotta show the people that I’m worthy of putting out an album. The name of my album is The Struggle, and it’s coming in 2010 or 2011. Right now, I’m just gonna keep burning up the internet and burning up these streets. I’m doing some production, but I like to deal with new [producers] as well. I’m working with some cats out of Australia and some cats out of Canada. I’m looking for some thirsty dudes that I can call at any time and they’re on deck. I ain’t with all the bourgeois shit. Producers can send beats to MasspikeMilesBeats@gmail. com. I’m looking for writers too. I’m also working with J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League, The Incredibles, and Drumma Boy. Why did you call the mixtape Super Fly? Sometimes I have a hard time sleeping, so I do a lot of thinking in my sleep. I woke up one night and was watching the movie Super Fly. I felt like some of the things he went through were similar to what I’m going through. For all of my mixtapes, I like to base them off a movie. The last mixtape I did was called The Pursuit of Happyness, which happened to be a Will Smith movie. The next mixtape I’m putting out is going to be called Power, which is based off of an old Ice-T album. I take all the fly light skinned niggas’ movies. (laughs) Well, don’t forget Terrence Howard. Hustle & Flow: The Mixtape. That’s coming soon. (laughs) You mentioned that Ross was impressed with your professionalism. What are some good and bad ways of handling business? Bad business is basically just people not keeping their word, or club talk. “Club talk” is like, “Hey, what’s up my nigga, we gonna get up, we gonna do this record, I’m gonna holla at you tomorrow,” and then you never hear from them. I’m not with the club talk. I don’t do that. When you ask me to do a feature, it’s too easy. You know how to get at me and I’m willing to work with anybody who’s willing to work. But you have to deal with a lot of fuck niggas that are full of talk. This game is full of talk and backstabbers. But I’m not a jaded artist and I don’t have a problem being a raunchy nigga when a nigga treats me raunchy. At the end of the day I just keep it straightforward. But on the good side, there’s a lot of connections you can acquire in this business. The people you can be around, the caviar, traveling the world, and being able to indulge in different cultures. I did this to see the world. I do it for the love, I don’t do it for the money. I ain’t made a fucking dollar off this music shit yet but I still ride in my Benz, I still smoke the best weed, and I’ve still got the condominium with the marble countertops. Is there anything else you’d like to add? Hit me on Twitter, @MasspikeMiles. Hit me on Facebook, go on iTunes and download all my music. You can download the Gangsta Grillz off my Myspace or DatPiff.com. Keep God first and stay focused and determined. //
OZONE MAG // 45
PAUL WALL IN MY BLOOD
Words by Julia Beverly Photo by SLFEMP
nce a loud proponent of swangaz, syrup, and all things Houston, Paul Wall is now a proud family man building a new life in Los Angeles with his wife and two kids. Although he reunited with former partner Chamillionaire at the urging of Pimp C, E-40, and Killer Mike, here Paul has some strong words for former Swishahouse ally Mike Jones. He also answers a no-win question about Trae vs. Houston radio station The Box, and speaks frankly about the way his father’s heroin addiction influenced his own struggle with addiction. You’re living in L.A. now, which is interesting because people affiliate Paul Wall so closely with the Houston sound and Houston culture. What made you decide to make the switch? I wanted to get a different feel for this album. We’ve always had good success going to different studios and traveling. We did “I’m Throwed” in Atlanta with Jermaine Dupri, and we recorded a lot of the last few albums in Austin. It just seems like we get a good feel when we travel. When I’m away from home, it’s easier to focus. When I’m at home I get lazy. So I’m recording my album in L.A. but I’ll be back in Houston when I’m finished. Musically, the album is definitely a lot different. Travis Barker is doing most of the production.
With Travis Barker producing, does it have more of a rock & roll sound? Nah. That’s what a lot of people think, just because Travis Barker is our generation’s most famous drummer – and best drummer, in my opinion. Even though most people associate him with rock & roll, his Hip Hop production is wild. It’s incredible. Being in the studio working with him just motivates me. I also got a lot of features on my album just because 46 // OZONE MAG
[other artists] would stop by the studio to mess with Travis. Raekwon, for example. He just happened to be in the studio doing something with Travis and he ended up doing a verse for me too. Your weight has ballooned the last few years, up and down. They say when you get married you get fat. (laughs) Were you eating good? I definitely was eating good. When you get married you tend to get more comfortable and settle down, and that definitely was the case with me. That’s something you want to handle on your own because when you’re married, you want to keep it interesting. You get fat and lazy and look in the mirror and think, “How can I be attractive to my wife when I’m looking like this?” I don’t think [marriage] was really the reason I got big, though. I got big from drinking so much syrup and having bad eating habits. Vicodin, Xanax, and stuff like that really messed up my metabolism. Syrup slows your metabolism down too and it kinda makes you lazy. You’re less active, so I think that definitely plays a major role. Not to blame anything [in particular] because it’s definitely my fault. It’s not anybody else’s fault; I don’t blame anybody. It’s something I have to take responsibility for. My drug habits are definitely my fault. Are you clean and sober now or are you still drinking syrup? That’s the other thing: syrup looks like a cool drug. People don’t look at it as an actual “drug.” It’s still a drug. I’ve stopped drinking syrup. It’s not something I did just [to lose] weight, but for my family. My dad was addicted to heroin so that’s something I was always conscious of – I don’t want to turn into him. I want to be here for my family and live a long life with them. As I saw myself turning into my dad, being addicted to a drug
is kinda scary. It really made me just want to get better and be a better father to my kids. Syrup was apparently a factor in Pimp C’s passing. Did that influence you to stop also? Not at all, honestly. I’ve always been a big defender of syrup. Even when [Pimp C] passed, when Screw passed, when Moe passed, I kinda made excuses. I said it was other things that killed them, just their whole lifestyle. That’s part of being a drug addict. You make excuses and try to validate what you’re doing. But at the same time, in the back of my mind I was always thinking, “What if I go to sleep right now and don’t wake up?” That’s a scary thought. I don’t think the syrup played a part [in their deaths] 100%, it was just an ingredient for it. But like I said, being a drug addict who’s addicted to syrup and pills, you try to make excuses to validate why you’re doing what you’re doing. At what point did you admit to yourself that you were addicted? When my kids would wake me up in the morning and I wouldn’t want to get out of bed. It was just the way they looked at me, and the way my wife would look at me. She was constantly trying to get me to stop. I wouldn’t have any energy at times. The syrup makes you real irritable. We would be fighting and arguing over little stuff; little things would piss me off. Did you just quit cold turkey? Nah. Over the years I would stop, then start back up again, then stop. It was something I always struggled with over the years. The last time when I stopped, I just decided that it was serious, and that in order for me to be here for my family and be here for my kids I really need to stop. I can’t be a good father to my kids and be addicted to a drug, regardless of what drug it is. Growing up, I went to all the drug programs for the families of drug addicts. So I was always aware of the problem. Since I was related to a drug addict, I found myself turning into what I’d hated all my life. That’s exactly what I was afraid of. Was your father addicted to heroin before you were born, or was it something that happened over time? Probably before I was born. He abandoned me, my sister, and my mom before I was even in kindergarten. Is he still alive? I have no idea. My mom remarried and my stepdad adopted me and my sister. He took us in and showed us what it was to be a man and how to take care of your family. My biological father is just a sperm donor, but my stepdad is my father. What sticks out in your mind most from the drug treatment programs you attended as a child? I just didn’t understand what was going on. You kinda blame yourself. I couldn’t understand why he loved [heroin] more than he loved me. Even after my mom remarried, I still [attended] those programs because I was dealing with that sense of abandonment. As I drug addict I can kind of understand it, but I can’t rationalize how I could love [a drug] more than I love my kids. I love my wife and kids more than anything in the world, but drugs are real powerful. They change the way you think. They change your mind and your whole thought process, so when you do things it’s not really you doing them it’s the drugs doing them. Thank God that I was able to have the support and able to overcome it. But a lot of people can’t overcome it. That’s deep. On another note, we ran a story in OZONE about your USO trip to Afghanistan to perform for the troops along with DJ Smallz. I shared my perspective on the trip, but what about you? What did you take away from the whole experience? I’m getting ready to go back [to the Middle East] with Big Boy from [Power 106’s] Big Boy’s neighborhood. After we came back from Afghanistan, I was just thinking how crazy it was that we were over there when all those people were dying. It was one of the deadliest months [during the Afghanistan war]. I think the craziest thing was just to think that some of the soldiers who died might have come to our concert and saw us perform. That kind of touches your heart to think, damn, I was probably the last concert they saw before they were killed. For a lot of artists, “Hey, do you want to go to the desert in a war zone in the middle of the summer to perform for free?” is not appealing. What was your motivation? I felt an obligation to do it. It’s my duty and responsibility. I’m not in the military but whether you support the war or not, it’s about supporting the troops. People always say it, but what are you actually doing to support the troops? They’ve always supported me. I’ve had family and friends in the military. Also, being from Texas, I wanted to show love back because I heard
a statistic that 80% of the troops that are in the Middle East either came from Texas or were stationed in Texas at one point. That’s a hell of a statistic and that’s a large chunk of the military population over there. They’ve always supported me and I just wanted to give back in some type of way. When did you decide to get serious about losing weight? Honestly, when we were in Afghanistan and [reps for VH1’s] Celebrity Fit Club were contacting you asking you to ask me about coming on the show. That was a hell of a wake-up call. [Being fat] isn’t a secret. You can look in the mirror and try to hide it and cover it up, and it may work here or there, but there ain’t no shirt or hat you can put on or haircut you can get to hide the fact that you’re morbidly obese. That’s what the doctor said: I was “morbidly obese.” I decided not to do [Celebrity Fit Club] but it was still a wake-up call to have people calling you saying, “Hey, you’re really, really fat.” What kind of weight-loss surgery did you get? The surgery I got is called gastric sleeve. There’s three kinds: gastric bypass, lap band, and the gastric sleeve. Gastric bypass is the one where you lose the most weight the quickest; it’s for people who are 400-500 pounds and have health problems that they need to fix right away. Since [the weight loss] happens so fast it leaves you with a lot of saggy skin. The lap band, which is very popular, is when they put a band around your stomach and it makes you feel like you’re full, so you don’t eat. But there’s ways to cheat with it, and with the lap band, you can always get it removed to go back to normal. [My weight] has been up and down my whole life, so I wanted to do something to permanently fix the problem. Since going back and forth on the drugs for years and taking diet pills, my metabolism was really gone. So I decided to go with the gastric sleeve, because it’s a little more serious than the lap band. They also cut out the hormones that make you hungry. So I actually don’t even get hungry anymore. The doctor talked me out of doing the lap band; he told me it’s the most popular, but it’s not as effective. With the lap band, you lose about 50% of your excess weight. I was 120 pounds overweight. I weighed 320 pounds, and I’m six feet tall. So with the lap band I still would’ve been morbidly obese. With the gastric sleeve, you typically lose 80% of your excess fat. I lost 100 pounds with it, so that’s putting me in a more healthy weight class. Having lost 100 pounds, do you see a noticeable difference in your life? Yeah, hands down. I feel like I got my life back. When you’re so big like that, it’s embarrassing. I didn’t want to go out and be seen. I felt uncomfortable because I’m not used to being that big. People would see me and say something about it, because it was no secret. I was morbidly obese, 120 pounds overweight. It was just embarrassing. I’d be on stage feeling like I was about to collapse. I’d get dizzy spells. I’d be on the airplane and have to ask for seatbelt extensions. Once you go up in the air, it’s really hard to breath. I was just thinking, “What if I have a heart attack?” I want to be here for my kids. I don’t want to have a heart attack. My son is four and my daughter is two and a half. The doctor told me that when you’re 50 pounds overweight, it takes 15 years off your life. So it literally saved my life. Have you been working out too? Nah. I’ve probably worked out twice since I had [the surgery] and that was just a light workout. It seems like your overall lifestyle has changed a whole lot since you first came out. Now that you’re a family man and no longer sipping syrup, has that affected the content of your music and the topics you rap about? I don’t think it’s affected it that much. I feel more motivated now. I guess that’s for the fans to decide, but I always try to keep the music relevant to who I am. But at the same time, it’s music, so I try to keep it entertaining. I try not to be a big farce. I don’t want to stray too far out of my lane because I make music specifically for my fans. Your album Heart of the Champion is out now. Is it still Swishahouse? Yeah, Swishahouse and Warner Bros. It came out July 13th, which is a good day for Houston – 7/13 – [Houston’s area code] 713. You were affiliated with Mike Jones through Swishahouse. Are y’all still on good terms? People are kind of wondering what happened to him. Me personally, I’d say he dug his own grave. He lied to a lot of people, he turned his back on a lot of people, and he burned a lot of bridges. I don’t want to kick a dog while he’s down and I don’t wanna just talk shit about him, but I think a lot of people were happy when [Trae] punched him and knocked him out. But at the same time, a lot of people were mad at Trae too. It’s not like Mike Jones is the gangsta of the year, so in my opinion, you don’t really get points for beating up Mike Jones. Some people say it was a publicity stunt on Trae’s part, but I disagree with that totally because I know Trae and he doesn’t really do publicity stunts like that. If Trae feels disrespected, he’s going to address it. I think that’s what happened. If OZONE MAG // 47
somebody disrespects you, [punching them] is not always the answer, but it’s definitely sometimes the answer. So I don’t feel like Trae was wrong in any form or fashion. Trae doesn’t do publicity stunts. But like I said, Mike Jones burned his bridge with a lot of people, so he probably had a knock out coming from somewhere at some time anyway. I’m positive of that. Where is Mike Jones? I don’t know. Ever since he left Swishahouse I haven’t really kept track of him. I really didn’t know him too well before he came to Swishahouse. I think because of the “Still Tippin’” record, people outside of Houston always had the perception that you, Mike Jones, and Slim Thug, were sort of a unit. I would’ve liked it to be like that, but Mike Jones didn’t want that. He kinda wanted it to all be about him. If that’s how you want it, I’m not gonna be the one to beg you to stay around, especially since all my major success came not too long after the break up with me and Chamillionaire. I was in a mindframe where it was like, “If you don’t want to be here, I’m not gonna force you.” If you don’t want to be on the Swishahouse team together, I’m not gonna force you. I’ve gotta do me and focus on what’s best for me. I would’ve loved for us to be a unit but he didn’t want that, so that was his choice. When he left Swishahouse, he was dropping salt on everybody from Swishahouse and not giving us any credit at all. He was talking down on a lot of us and he would never directly say our names, but he was still hating. There were times when I felt disrespected and I would call him out on it, and he’d be like, “Nah, I wasn’t talking about you. I would never do that.” I’m sure there’s a psychological term for this problem that Mike Jones has. He has a problem. His perception of reality ain’t the real perception of reality. I think the psychological term for people with a false perception of reality is “delusional.” (laughs) In his mind Mike Jones feels like he hasn’t done anything wrong to me, Trae, or Chamillionaire. He feels like everyone else is trippin’ and he’s the victim. But that ain’t how it happened. We always say there’s three sides to every story: your side, the other person’s side, and the truth. But in his mind, he’s the victim and he never did anything wrong to anybody. When somebody thinks that way, there’s no point in arguing with them. With that being said, I kinda washed my hands of him. I’m not worried about Mike Jones. I don’t wish no bad on him and I don’t hate him, but I’ve got to move in my own direction. There’s no sense in arguing with him. They say when two people argue, from a distance you can’t tell who the fool is. Speaking of Trae, did you keep up with his lawsuit against [Houston radio station] KBXX The Box? Do you think they abused their power by allegedly “banning” him from the airwaves? (long pause) No matter what I say here, somebody’s gonna get mad. And if I say “no comment,” everybody’s gonna get mad. (laughs) I don’t want to take sides, but there’s no correct answer here. If I was in The Box’s shoes, I would’ve done the same thing they’ve done. If I was in Trae’s shoes, I would’ve done the same thing he’s done. I don’t know the whole truth of the situation, just rumors. But Trae is the kind of artist who really doesn’t need the radio station. He’s a street artist and he’s got a street following, so him being banned from any radio station isn’t going to stop his show. Me, I need the radio station. If I got banned from the radio station that might be the end of my career. But Trae, honestly, I feel like he doesn’t need any radio play because he has a strong street following. And the radio station doesn’t need any artist. They don’t need us at all. The artists need the radio station. They’re a big conglomerate and my money ain’t long enough to fight with any radio station. Even the small mom and pop radio stations have more bread than I’ve got. Maybe Universal Records or Warner Bros could go up against [Radio One] in a courtroom, but lil ol’ me, man, my bread ain’t long enough to be having lawsuits that go on for eight years. The whole situation is real fucked up for a lot of artists in Houston, because a lot of artists, including myself, have a real good relationship with The Box. We have good relationships with the DJs, the jocks, the programmers, and the people behind the scenes. But at the same time I have a real good relationship and friendship with Trae. So it’s a real fucked up position for a lot of the artists to be in, and also for the mixers and the jocks because those people have good relationships with Trae too. They’re in a position where they’re forced to take a side. I always try to be politically correct and not choose sides, but it’s hard to do that. So you’re trying to stay neutral. I don’t know. There really is no neutral. Since Trae is my homeboy, I’m trying to support him in other ways. I’m hooking him up with some producers I know and shouting him out whenever I do interviews. If a DJ is asking for music I say, “Here’s my boy Trae.” I’m trying to help him move past it. So I’m trying to support him in other ways aside from saying, “I’m on Trae’s side.” I’m not on Trae’s side; I’m not on either side. I can’t really ignore it because 48 // OZONE MAG
everybody is conscious of it, but with The Box I try to support them by showing up to their events. The funny thing is the cyber thugs and Twitter gangsters. I’ve gotten so many threats from people [on Twitter], but I know they’re just cyber thugs with meaningless words. What kind of threats? “If you don’t boycott The Box, we’ll kill you”? Yeah. Prank calling. They’re not actual threats; it’s just words being put together on the keyboard. If anybody in the world wanted to kill me, I’m not hard to find. I’ve never portrayed myself as the world’s number one gangsta because I’m not. But I’m a man, I’m not a punk either. I don’t roll deep. If anybody ever wanted to hurt me I’m not hard to get at. It would be stupid to beat somebody up because you’re not saying, “Fuck the radio station.” Me saying that wouldn’t help anything anyway. Radio stations are funded by advertisers. If you go after their number one advertiser, that’s how you can make noise at the radio station. I need The Box. The Box doesn’t need me. It’s the same thing with The Beat in Dallas. If I didn’t have them, I wouldn’t have a career. People on Twitter want me to tell the radio station, “Don’t play me, play Trae.” Nah, I’m not going to say that about any artist. I want you to play my song. Yeah, I would like you to play my friends’ songs, but my priority is my song. I’ve got an album out and I’ve got kids to feed. I’m sure after this [interview] I’m going to get a thousand more meaningless Twitter threats from cyberthugs. The threats come from people who aren’t even in Houston. Trae is my friend beyond all this; he’s always going to be my friend. I’m going to support him because he’s always had my back. I don’t care what the gangsta geeks on Twitter say. Their messages get deleted and I move on. It’s just a topic of conversation, like, “Guess who threatened me today? Some 15-year-old cyberthug.” Real gangstas don’t make threats on Twitter. They’re not on Twitter at all. (laughs) I know the grill phase kind of came and went, but is business still booming at TV Jewelry for you and your partner TV Johnny? Grills aren’t a fad or a national trend like it used to be, but the people who always wore grills are still wearing grills – the dope boys, the hustlers, the ballers. We still sell a lot of them. In general, though, people are still coming in and spending crazy amounts of money. We do custom jewelry, so we make everything from scratch: chains, charms, rings, bracelets, and watches. We do a lot of jewelry other than just grills. The jewelry business in general is thriving. Johnny has the workshop to make jewelry for other jewelry shops, so a lot of the other jewelry stores sell jewelry that we actually made. That’s the crazy part. And you’ve also got the clothing line Expensive Taste, right? It seems like you did a good job of diversifying with the clothing line and the jewelry. Are you planning on expanding into other businesses? I’m always looking, but to me, it has to be something you believe in and are passionate about. I thought about opening a car lot just because I love cars so much, but these days I don’t know if it would be wise because of the economy. When you find something you believe in, it’s easier to promote. I’m passionate about the jewelry and the clothes. I’m pretty sure I’ll get into something else soon, because I was always taught to have more than one hustle. Hustling is like the seasons. Sometimes it’s hot, sometimes it’s cold. You have to change your wardrobe for every season. Sometimes the rap music might be booming, sometimes it might be clothing, sometimes it might be grills. As long as I’ve got a lot of different hustles going on, as long as I keep a good hustle I’ll stay busy, stay profitable, and stay grinding. How did you and Chamillionaire squash your beef and decide to go back on tour together? Little by little the wounds healed. We matured a lot. We’re both pretty stubborn and seven years ago we both were way more stubborn than we are now. With maturity we’ve grown in our adulthood. Killer Mike, E-40, and Pimp C were all real big supporters of us [as a team] and they kept telling us, “Y’all need to stop trippin’ and get back together.” Whether it’s for the friendship – we were childhood friends, like brothers – or for the fans, because the music we made together was phenomenal, those were good reasons why people wanted us to get back together. We both just grew and came to realize that we were both wrong in some areas and we both were right in some areas. It wasn’t one colossal event that made us grow apart and it wasn’t one colossal event that made us come back together. We’d just gotten tired of each other and grown apart and finally we’d had enough and went our separate ways. For me, when Pimp C [referenced us] in “Knockin’ Doors Down,” that was a real wake-up call. Everybody was like, “Did you hear Pimp C say on that song that y’all need to get back together, mane?” Especially when Pimp C passed, I knew he would love to see us get back together. When [Chamillionaire and I] do our shows now, I know Pimp would love to see this. When we performed in Houston at House of Blues, Pimp C’s mama was there, and his son too. That would’ve been real cool for him to see us together on stage, since he played a big part in us getting back together. //
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When OZONE featured Big K.R.I.T. in its Patiently Waiting section in 2006, only a few people had heard of the then 19-year old rapper/producer. He was from the small town of Meridian, Mississippi, so you almost had to either be from there or have worked with him to be aware of his music. Sensing that it would be an uphill battle to get noticed in his hometown, K.R.I.T. trekked to Atlanta, where he shopped beats and handed out mixtapes from his See Me On Top series, which featured assistance from DJ Folk, DJ Wally Sparks and DJ Infamous. While his buzz started to catch fire in the Southeast, a few obstacles set him off track professionally, personally and creatively. Almost getting swallowed up in Atlanta’s heavy dance and club scene, K.R.I.T. soon found himself at a crossroads. One that he actually hinted at meeting in his 2006 interview. “I try to be positive and have uplifting music, but sometimes you gotta bring it back down to reality,” he said. K.R.I.T. sensed that he was due for a reality check and moved back to Mississippi in 2008. After getting back in touch with his family and roots, he began recording Krit Wuz Here, a sample-laden, soulsearching opus that has surprisingly become one of the most heralded releases of 2010. Even though he gave the project away for free over the internet, he received a nice kickback in the form of a deal with Def Jam records. OZONE caught up with K.R.I.T. to talk about his journey and the project he feels took him five years to make. A lot of people are labeling you as a “new” artist, which isn’t quite accurate. You’ve been at this for about five years now. Yeah. In 2005 the first DJ that ever put me on a mixtape was DJ Folk on From The Trap to the Stroll; the song was called “They Gon’ Hate.” Then he put me on his Deep In the Game series. He wound up hosting my mixtape See Me On Top part 2. I also did King of the Queen with DJ Wally Sparks and See Me On Top part 3 with DJ Infamous. So DJs have been showing me love from the start. Around that time I was still making a name for myself as both a rapper and producer. I did “Live and Let Die” for Big Floaty and worked with Max Minelli. It was all about working with indie artists. What happened between See Me On Top parts 2 and 3 and then after that? It seemed like you got away from the soulful music you were producing for a minute, then disappeared. I was trying to figure out the best way to come out and be myself and building a brand. It got to a point where I was sacrificing my creative mindframe to try and get a buzz or be on the radio. So I went back to Mississippi to find my roots and what I wanted to put out to the world. I feel like Krit Wuz Here was five years in the making. It’s showing the world that I ain’t new to this, but letting the mainstream get introduced to me. The song that seemed to reel everybody in was “Hometown Hero.” When I did that track, I was riding with my potna Mike Hartnett of Rehab. He put me up on Adele’s “Hometown Glory.” Five months later I bought her music, sampled it, made a song, and just started blasting it. It started bubbling. In January, Creative Control did the video. I think the footage helped the song get out. Is there a story behind that beat? Two or three different artists hopped on it too. Did the beat get leaked or passed around? No, the song is just popular. Adele was Grammy nominated. The album is amazing. When I sampled it I was unaware of how many other people were sampling it too. How long did you work on Krit Wuz Here? It took a year and a half, two years to make. But I say five years because I want people to see my growth, see me getting comfortable in my skin, with my voice and my content and who I am. Cinematic Music Group and Johnny Shipes contacted me and we started working at the end of 2009 and getting with Creative Control. You were living and working in Atlanta for a minute. A lot of artists are dying to move here. Why did you opt to leave and go back home? Being home is always a humbling experience. You meet people you see every day, people you went to school with. You’re on TV but these people know you for who you are. I had my family supporting me. It was extremely important that I showcase me as an individual. The song “Something” was recorded in my grandmother’s bathroom. I wanted
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people to know that no matter where you’re from, it’s all about the quality of music you’re putting out and if you believe in yourself. Mississippi is a humbling place. When you look at BET and MTV, it’s surreal to think you’ll ever be there. Being in my hometown and speaking for them, it’s a blessing because we know it’s a long road to get here. Why go that route? Because my state never had a sound of its own, like, “Oh, that’s some Mississippi shit.” People don’t really lend an ear to Mississippi music because they may not understand the slang and what we go through down there. At the end of the day, it’s not so much of a coastal thing, it’s about putting out quality music period. That’s why I work with people from everywhere because we all want to regenerate that golden era of Hip Hop, where it wasn’t so factory-based and more organic. The production really stands out, especially at a time when “Southern” Hip Hop nowadays sounds more synth-heavy than soulful. No doubt. When you think of Mississippi you think of B.B. King, Muddy Waters, Howling Wolf. I really wanted organic beats like Organized Noize. It wasn’t sampled to the point where you could tell what they was sampling. But if they did, they chopped it up to where you couldn’t tell, it made for good composition. I just want to take it back to when the music sounded timeless. That why I have the song “The Return 4eva,” bringing back music where people thought about what they rapped about and the sample they chose to use, the way they layered them. All of that is extremely important. Look at the artists that did that like Biggie, 2Pac, Outkast, Goodie Mob, Mobb Deep, DMX. You still listen to these artists. I want to be timeless like them, it can be 2040 and you’re still listening to it. Which do you spend more time on, rapping or production? Both of them are long processes. I spend as much time possible trying to perfect the beat. At the same time I’m thinking of a concept for the song and I usually get that vibe from the beat. Whether it’s some playa shit, spiritual, some overconfident lyrical shit, or about grinding. I know exactly what I want to rap about. I name the track based off the vibe. With the beat I try to record over a two track first then go back and break it down for mixing. But I’m careful with that because when you get into breaking the beat down it can lose some of the energy. Being that you are both a producer and rapper, you’ve been drawing a lot of Pimp C comparisons, on both ends of the spectrum. Some say you sound a little too much like him, others love how he’s obviously influenced you. I was influenced by UGK. They were in a neighboring state. UGK, Lil Keke, Slim Thug, Paul Wall, Chamillionare, Suave House, 8Ball & MJG, Tela, Outkast, Goodie Mob, Cool Breeze, and Three Six Mafia were my influences. I was influenced by all of this music so it only makes sense that my sound would be derived from that. Mississippi is surrounded by these states and we loved this music and we could relate. It’s a lifestyle aspect. It was always exciting to hear them rap about how we get down and then do big things like win Grammys and stuff. When people tell me that, I feel like I’m representing where I’m from. All of them are legends and all I can do is try to influence people the same way they did and hope to make the same impact they did. Do you think you’re filling a void among the new artists? Many of you are reminding people of artists that they grew up on. Like say, how Nipsey Hussle reminds people of Snoop Dogg. Yes, it’s a new generation, and all these artists are young. So at the end of the day we are all students of this music and Hip Hop so we’re about keeping the tradition alive. I’m excited to be in a position for people to say I represent the South. I represent Hip Hop, quality music. How did the Def Jam deal come about? That was five years in the working. Krit Wuz Here came out May 4th. Sha Money contacted us, said he fucked with the music, so let’s do something. Def Jam is legendary. It was five years in the making as far as finding myself. It just all worked. Its God given. It was great timing, it’s a blessing, I’m amazed and overwhelmed and excited for everyone from my state and everybody who is around me. At the end of the day, I want to make music for everybody. I don’t want it to be a coastal thing, I want it to be for Hip Hop fans period. I’m trying to make real life music for everybody, regardless of what you listen to on the daily or in the club. I plan on making that kind of music for the rest of my career. // Words by Maurice G. Garland
BIG K.R.I.T. FIVE YEARS OF FUNK
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PILL HIP HOP’S NEW DRUG
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After three mixtapes and praise from critics, Pill has gone from being homeless to hardly being at home. Last year, Pill was living a life not too far from the one depicted in his breakthrough video “Trap Goin’ Ham.” While viewers were either entertained or embarrassed by the video’s images, Pill was still embedded in them when the cameras stopped rolling. Matter of fact, during the time he was recording his debut mixtape 4180: The Prescription, he was still searching for a cure for the ills in his own life. “I was sleeping in the trap still,” admits the rapper born Tyrone Rivers. “Me and my girl had broke up so I was basically homeless, but I was still going to the studio. I told [my manager] D that I was getting a deal this year. He was like, “I don’t know, maybe if you work hard for two years.” But I was like, “Nah, I’m going hard.” After releasing more eye-catching videos and a strong follow-up mixtape 4075: The Refill, Pill found himself with a deal within six months of releasing his first collection of recorded music. “It was very surprising,” he says, pausing as if he just realized it again. “I had to show people what I’m capable of, my lyrical ability, my dexterity and my willingness to be different with tracks. I wanted to open eyes and ears and in the next six months, everybody is like, “Pill!” I’m like damn. So I’m thankful to everyone who showed support. Without them I wouldn’t be here that quick.” On the heels of dropping his latest mixtape, a Gangsta Grillz with DJ Drama titled 1140: The Overdose (the numbers in the titles each represent an old address), Pill is riding high and becoming one of Hip Hop’s rising stars. OZONE caught up with him to talk about his journey over the last year and the long road ahead of him. A lot of people are hearing of you for the first time, or just now deciding to listen to you after doing a Gangsta Grillz mixtape. How does it feel to get that stamp? It’s refreshing. They’re used to hearing [DJ Drama] work with the really huge acts, so for me to do a tape with him is like a dream come true. When you’re on the mixtape circuit, doing a Gangsta Grillz is like, the goal, because he’s probably the hottest guy in the mixtape game -- not to shun anyone else, though, because I’ve done tapes with DJ Skee and Burn One, and the Empire. There’s millions of DJs, but Drama culminates it all when it comes to mixapes. A lot of people are starting to holler at me or recognize me at the grocery store. It’s a breath of fresh air for the streets because he has his fans and I have mine. Speaking of being recognized, it’s hard to find a lot of rappers just being out with the people. You seem to still be out there, even when you aren’t “working.” Do you think that’s a challenge for you, because people want to view their favorite rapper as a “star”? It feels good to be able to just be out. I want people to say I’m a good person. I don’t want them to say I’m an asshole. I roll places solo sometimes. People bump into me and say, “What you doing here?” I’m ready for the stardom mentally and physically, though. I know what I’m in for. When I started the journey I knew I wouldn’t be able to go certain places anymore. So when you ask for that, you know it comes with that. Nothing is easy.
The passion and realness in my music made people gravitate towards me. I was doing something fresh, real and raw, and that hadn’t been done in a while. In Atlanta, for the last couple years we haven’t seen that, it’s been the lollipop music and the swag music. That’s good music for what it is, but I wanted to make my music for the struggle. I think my shows have a lot to do with it too. People say I kill the stage with my energy. People say they can hear the realness in my voice. Judging from the places you’ve performed and the people that seem to latch onto your music, you appeal to almost everybody. As an artist, does that pressure to try and start making music that appeals to everybody bother you? It’s fuel to the fire. It’s no pressure with me. Pressure makes a diamond around this way. If I got everybody from all angles enjoying my music, I should just keep doing the same thing I’ve been doing. Why switch it up now? I always say, it’s like when the Falcons went to the Super Bowl, they played great all year, kicked ass. They had one of the best records, then went to the Super Bowl and switched up the game plan and got beat. Rapping the way I rap, doing the videos I do, it motivates me to remain consistent. The people can enjoy that. They can enjoy the guy that was on the corner drinking a beer, selling a gram, trying to get money for a pair of shoes and something to eat. They can enjoy the guy that was walking around homeless, in and out of jail. A guy that’s came up from nothing, a guy that was house to house since he was seven and came home and saw his mother dead. Well, I guess it’s wrong to say you please everybody. Most of your videos seem to be very polarizing. Some people love them, others loathe them. I let my haters be my motivators. The people that misunderstand or misinterpret what I’m doing, I don’t let it bother me. I see it, but I really pay it no mind. There’s no glorification in my music. If I’m rapping about it, I’ma show it to you. I’ma show you how messed up it is out here. I want to see you the impoverished side. You never seen me with a Lamborghini and Bentley behind me. I’m not the flexing type. I’m showing you the real, so if you don’t like it, beware. Hopefully you’ll like the next video I do. We’ve seen instances where your music gets lumped into the “trap rap” category. Do you fear having your music labeled as it gets out more? I don’t fear it. I’m concerned, but it only drives me to separate myself from that. When you are grouped or put in a box, it limits you. So I try to go opposite of that. Keep in mind I’m here to share my testimony with the world. People can say, “He’s like Jeezy, T.I. or Gucci,” but I’m me. If the people have watched my ascension, I’ve ascended to where I am faster than anyone else ever. My first solo project ever, video ever, I had all the labels after me. So you can’t put me in a group. I had a video on MTV without a deal. Nobody did that. I was on the cover of XXL without a deal, nobody did that. With no cosign. You’ve cemented yourself as your own entity over the last year or so. But you did get introduced to a lot of people through Killer Mike and Grind Time though. Is everything still good over there? It’s still all love with us. We all still go to each other’s shows. I still go to SL Jones’ gigs, and him and Killer were just at my last release party. Grind Time isn’t a rap group. It’s a brotherhood; a gang.
Getting back to the Gangsta Grillz mixtape, does it feel validating? You’re known in the streets for just being you, but as far as your music, you’ve had more of a web and blog buzz. It’s very validating. Drama brings a large street crowd. It warrants my hard work in a way. The only place you can go is up after a Gangsta Grillz. That is, if you are actually a good rapper with a buzz, not just a trap rapper with some stacks to throw Drama. We’ve seen those, but being that Drama attracts that street crowd and I’m from the streets, it just blends right in, so that gives it the stamp. It’s THE validation.
You’ve been around the rap game for years, but didn’t officially jump in it until recently. What kept you from wanting to go all in? My family had been telling me for years that I needed to get out on my own. They said I’m fi’e and that I need to do my thing. For so many years I shunned them because I was young and naïve and messing with Killer trying to be loyal. Then finally I woke up and smelled the coffee. I was like dang, they were right all this time. There was times when I didn’t believe I could. What stopped me from believing was what was going on at the present time. I was in the trap, I was in jail, I wasn’t in anybody’s college, I didn’t have a job. I was like, “Who wants to hear about this shit?” But I finally realized that this is a testimony so maybe I should do it. Let me take a shot at it.
You were also named one of XXL’s Freshman 10. That was surreal. But it was fuel to the fire. You see yourself on the cover as a XXL Freshman, but after that you’re like, “Can I get a cover with just me on it one day?” If I work hard I’m sure I can do that. Plus I was one of the few on the cover that didn’t have a deal at the time. It makes you work harder and appreciate them for recognizing my talent.
Your debut album The Medicine is around the corner. What should people expect to hear from that and from you in the future? They can expect me to expose my soul and give it to them in my rarest form. They can expect dope beats and dope rhymes, that’s my motto. I just want to give ya’ll something to ride out to. I want to be the soundtrack to your lives. //
What do you think you were doing to get a look like that?
Words & Photo by Maurice G. Garland
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YELAWOLF SICKER THAN YOUR AVERAGE
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Not to boast and brag or anything, but OZONE was probably the first major Hip Hop publication to interview YELAWOLF back when he joined our Patiently Waiting ranks in October of 2007. Admittedly, over the years, plenty of artists with Patiently Waiting cosigns are still, in fact, patiently waiting. But in the case of this Gadsden, Alabama MC, when his Trunk Muzik mixtape spread through the internet like oil in the gulf, it led him to a deal with Interscope (and a collective “I told you so” came from the OZONE headquarters). Since it has been well over two years since he graced this magazine’s pages, now is as good a time as any to catch up with Jimmy Iovine’s newest signee. Here, Yelawolf speaks on the direction of his music, his new situation with Interscope and ongoing comparisons to Eminem. You’ve been on the rap scene for a few years, but it seems like people are just starting to catch onto your music. Why do you think people are starting to listen now? After we put out Trunk Muzik, people were waiting to hear me rap over 808’s and raw shit. We put out Slick Rick E. Bobby, and we put out Stereo, which was a Hip Hop tribute to classic rock. OZONE nominated that for an award [and] we got 5 [blunts] for that mixtape [review]. It made a lot of noise on the underground. I went from there and did this experimental project called Arena Rap. We put a band together, and we were doing shows around Atlanta. Then, just me and my team sat down and we were like, lets just do some raw rap shit for this next project and let’s see how it goes. After we put that out online, obviously the feature [“I Run”] with Slim Thug…that’s when people started turning their heads, like, “This kid might have something.” After Slim ran that single for a while, Kane Beatz hit me up to do the “Mixin’ Up The Medicine” hook for Juelz Santana, and that was my first official video look. Then we dropped “Pop The Trunk,” and that started getting a lot of attention. Then we put out “Good To Go,” featuring Bun B, and then Raekwon’s feature for “I Wish,” and by then we had a lot of attention on blogs. By the time we dropped Trunk Muzik, it was like people were just waiting for me to rap. Was raw rap and 808’s the direction that you wanted to go with your music? Or did you want to go in another direction? After Stereo, I really wanted to evolve into a band, so I did the Arena Rap shit. It started doing really well around Atlanta, and we threw a show out there with a band. I had a fiddle player, a banjo player, guitar, drums, turntables; it was just a crazy fucking show. L.A. Reid came, DJ Khaled was there; there were a bunch of people there to see the show. There were 2,000 people in there, and they still were like, “I don’t know” and passed. L.A. Reid said, “No, I’m good.” Khaled was like, “I don’t get it.” So, we kept doing shows, and nobody was showing signs of giving us any help. You can’t keep continuously doing this as an independent label. You run out of money. It gets to the point where you can’t even do shows anymore because it costs a lot of money to have a band and all that shit. So my team was like, “Do a rap project. If you don’t have a deal in six months, you can do whatever you wanna do.” And I’ll be damned; they had deal for me in six months, after I put out Trunk Muzik. Obviously, I’ve always loved and will always love Hip Hop, but there was a point when it started getting tainted…I just thought nobody’s ever gonna understand what I’m doing, so I might as well be underground forever. When we put out Trunk Muzik I got excited again and realized a new potential that I had. So you signed with Interscope. Why did you choose to sign with them? We had just got off tour with Wiz Khalifa and we went straight to South By South West. And we did like nine shows in five days, and we killed SXSW. Everybody had somebody from a label out there, so after we did SXSW we flew from Texas to Los Angeles to meet with Jimmy Iovine and Luke Wood. We had met with a lot of labels prior to SXSW, and they all said they wanted to do it, but they were just afraid. But when Jimmy and Luke flew us out there, they asked us, “Do y’all want to do this? Because if you don’t want to do this, you’re wasting your time being here.” Basically the same shit we had been telling other people, they told us. We’d walk into a label and be like, “Look, man. Do y’all want to do this, cause if not, we’re leaving.” But they told it to us this time. And then creatively it made sense. No matter how normal I may feel about my music. I have to admit that what I do is still left field. Interscope has a history of putting out records from the left field, and being successful with it. Do you think part of the reason Interscope wanted to sign you was because of the success Eminem had on their label? I don’t know. I can’t assume that. Based on his success, it’s fair to guess that, but I wouldn’t assume that to be true. But obviously, not just
Eminem, but what they’ve done with [Lady] Gaga, what they did with Dr. Dre when he was coming in with that super controversial shit that he was kicking with N.W.A. Everything that went down with Interscope has been left field. So I think more or less it made sense because it’s new to them; it was something they’ve never heard before. Are you tired of the Eminem comparisons yet? I’m a huge Eminem fan, so I’m definitely honored. If I could have half the success that dude has had, who wouldn’t want that? The comparisons are slowly starting to change into my own person. One day somebody’s gonna have to deal with being compared to me. When B.o.B. came out everybody was trying to say he sounds like Dre. Nipsey [Hussle] is dealing with the Snoop comparisons. That’s who we are as people, we compare. Eventually, that shit will go away completely. I flew up to meet with Eminem a couple months back, and just to settle it forever, Eminem told me, “I don’t know why people are comparing you to me, because you don’t sound anything like me. And not only do you not sound anything like me, you don’t sound like anything I’ve ever heard before.” I felt great [when he said that]. I felt like, well I guess that settles that. One thing that sets you apart from other artists is your live show. You have crazy energy on stage. How do you gather your energy to perform your shows? I’m just passionate about my music. When I’m in the studio recording my records, I can’t even get in the booth unless I’m hype about it. So I’m excited about the record, number one. Two, people’s energy gets me hype. And it only takes one. It starts with me, but if I connect with one person, it’s a wrap. Me and that one muthafucker are going to turn 50 to 100 to 300 people out. And there’s always a few people that are super into it, and I just go straight at them, and start putting on a show because I connect with them. And that connection is addictive, it just grows as the show goes on. When I did my show at Pacsun in Santa Monica, when I stepped out on the stage, there were a bunch of people standing with their arms crossed, but by the end of my set [they were] crowd surfing. I enjoy making fans at this point, because at the end of the day, I’m still brand new. You just got off tour with Wiz Khalifa. Was that your first tour? Yeah, it was the first time I had been on a tour, period. And Wiz, man… what the fuck! This fool sells out everywhere. This dude is no fucking joke, man. And his fans are so fucking cool; they enjoy just having a good show. The tour has been dope, plus Wiz is really cool people. We get along good, so we plan on continuing it. Next, you’re putting out a new version of Trunk Muzik, right? Yeah, we decided to put a project out called Trunk Muzik: 0-60, which is pretty much a description of how fast this is moving, and also where we wanna take people. So we’re taking five or six fan favorites from Trunk Muzik, adding on five to seven brand new records, and putting it out distributed [through] Interscope. 0-60 will be out in September. What’s your hometown of Gadsden, Alabama like? Gadsden is a small town in Alabama, east of Birmingham, west of Atlanta. Basically, I live in a blue collar, working-class town. There’s a lot of factory workers, people that work for Goodyear. My mom has been a bartender her whole life, my grandmother retired from Food World, my grandfather retired from Goodyear, and my great-grandfather retired from the steel plant. So it’s generations of working people. All this town is made of is fucking hand-to-hand combat, just fucking straight up survival. (laughs) My town is made up of some of the best, most humble people in the world, and also some of the most dangerous people in the world. It’s like we love where you’re from, we’re proud of it… but it’s like, come on in but wipe your feet at the doormat. Coming out of Alabama, what is your goal in Hip Hop? I’d like to have a ten-year run. I have a ten-year plan. I wanna evolve, I wanna grow up with my fans. And that is the main goal, to continuously gain fans from music that’s evolving. None of us are gonna stay young. I know my tastes grow and change, grow and change, so I expect the same for the people we’re making music for. So every project I’m just trying to challenge my last project, trying to outgrow it. Bigger venues, bigger arenas, and make classics that last for a lifetime. I was listening to Ice Cube’s AmeriKKKa’s Most Wanted album and Cypress Hill’s shit the other day, like, damn this shit never really goes away. Biggie Smalls, Jay-Z, Eminem, Busta Rhymes, UGK, N.W.A, Three 6 Mafia; these people put out records that last a lifetime. So I would like to be a part of that family. // Words by Randy Roper Photo by Maurice G. Garland
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Plies/Goon Affiliated Big Gates/Slip-N-Slide/Atlantic Don’t expect anything new from Plies on Goon Affiliated. His fourth album is the same formula as his previous efforts. “Go Live” is a record to bang in the clubs, “Get My Niggas Out” should satisfy the goons, and the bulk of the album caters to women. “Look Like” featuring Young Jeezy and Fabolous is the only song with a rap collaboration, and one of the album’s better songs. But annoying songs like “Bruh Bruh” and “Awesome,” along with “Rob Myself,” which is as ridiculous as the title would suggest, make Goon Affiliated the weakest Plies album to date. – Randy Roper Drake/Thank Me Later Young Money/Cash Money/ Universal Young Money is one of Hip Hop’s most powerful crews right now, and with Drake’s freshman release, Thank Me Later, there’s little question why. Drake’s mixtape success helped the Toronto native forge his identity but also set wildly high expectations for his debut album. It’s safe to say that Drizzy has met those expectations, wisely selecting production to complement well-constructed bars. “Light It Up,”“The Resistance,” and the Nicki Minaj-assisted “Up All Night” are among the standouts on this nearly no-filler album, which makes you wonder how long Drizzy can keep his streak going. – Rohit Loomba The-Dream/Love King Radio Killa/Def Jam R&B standout The-Dream returns as the Love King for his third, and possibly final, album. Twelve tracks deep, Love King is on par with Dream’s first two albums and finds him continuing the story of his former love, Nikki, on “Nikki Pt. 2” and telling us her heart belongs in chains at the bottom of a lake on “Abyss.” There is very little need for the skip button, although some may use it for “Yamaha” until it grows on them. Otherwise, tracks like the piano-driven ”February Love” find Dream in his comfort zone of craftily created R&B. Once again, Dream gives us an album that will probably be one of the year’s best in R&B. – Rohit Loomba 8Ball & MJG/Ten Toes Down Grand Hustle/E1 Take Ball & G, add a few Drumma Boy beats, throw in some verses from Dirty South luminaries like T.I., Young Dro, Lil Boosie, Bun B, David Banner and Slim Thug, let Grand Hustle oversee the whole thing, and you’ll end up with 8Ball & MJG’s eighth album. While that sounds good on paper, Ten Toes Down isn’t the Tennessee duo’s best work. Boring production, forced collaborations (especially “Fuck U Mean” featuring Soulja Boy), and lack of growth in 8Ball & MJG’s lyrics and storytelling still makes for a decent project that can give them relevance in today’s rap climate. But on the other hand, you’d expect more from their Grand Hustle album. – Randy Roper
Trina/Amazin’ Slip-N-Slide/EMI Considering Trina has lasted in the rap game for over ten years with minimal talent, this album is properly titled. While plenty of other rappers, male and female, have came and went, Trina brings a good body of work on her latest album (and believe it or not, I’m not talking about her figure). “I Want It All,”“Always” and “Make Way” show Trina’s growth as an artist and a woman, while cuts like “That’s My Attitude” and “Currency” give listeners the Trina that fans are accustomed to. I wouldn’t call Trina’s album “amazin’,” but the baddest chick did deliver a solid project on her fifth go round. – Randy Roper
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Paul Wall/Heart of a Champion Swishahouse/WARNER On Pall Wall’s fifth solo album, the H-Town emcee’s flow is as smooth as ever, but corny metaphors, which have plagued Wall his whole career, are abundant. Redundant lines like “flier than a mosquito” and “flier than a flock of pigeons” or “my wallet is stuffed like turkeys on Thanksgiving” and “my money’s stretching like Yoga class” are so laughable, it’s hard to take Paul Wall seriously at times. Wall doesn’t spit too much that you haven’t heard from him before, but his rhymes about chasing paper, grillz and boppers, over good production, along with guest appearances from the likes of Lil Keke, Bun B, Jim Jones, Z-Ro, Yo Gotti, Devin The Dude, Jay Electronica, Raekwon, Yelawolf and Slim Thug, and Paul’s reunion with Chamilionaire on “Round Here” make Heart of a Champion another decent addition to his catalog. – Randy Roper Lil Jon/Crunk Rock In an attempt to revolutionize crunk music, Lil Jon returns with Crunk Rock. But trying to revitalize this dead brand of rap music proved to be a tough task, for even Lil Jon. Listeners that appreciate Jon’s get crunk records will love the “Throw It Up, Pt. 2 (Remix)” with Pastor Troy and Waka Flocka Flame, and “G Walk” featuring Soulja Boy, but Jon’s elementary rhymes fail miserably, especially when he’s solo (“Get In Get Out”). Luckily, Jon mainly sticks to producing and chants, while taking a backseat to artists like Ice Cube & Game (“Killas”), Mario & R. Kelly (“Ms. Chocolate”), and teaming with artists like LMFAO (“Shots”) and 3OH!3 (“Hey”), which help salvage this mess of an album. – Randy Roper Talib Kweli & Hi-Tek (Reflection Eternal)/Revolutions Per Minute Blacksmith/Warner Bros. There’s not much left to be desired after listening to RPM’s, Reflection Eternal’s follow-up to their 2000 debut. Though Kweli and Hi-Tek haven’t been an official duo over the last 10 years, they’ve maintained an emcee/producer relationship, with the final product always the same – commendable music. From “Just Begun,” the super-collabo co-starring Jay Electronica, J. Cole, and Mos Def, to “Paranoid” with Bun B, RPM’s has a balanced serving of guest appearances. Along with socially charged songs like “In This World” and “Black Gold,” Kweli and Hi-Tek offer lighter fare like “Midnight Hour” with Estelle and “Get Loose” featuring Chester French, making this album both traditional yet surprising. – Ms. Rivercity Cee-Lo/Stray Bullets Cee-Lo Green deserves to be mentioned as one of the most versatile artists walking the planet. After succeeding in just about every genre but country and gospel, Lo pretty much meshes every form of music together on this effort that is only supposed to be a appetizer for Lady Killer. Even though 1% of the album features him rapping, Cee-Lo’s ability to stretch boundaries puts your personal preferences and nostalgia to the side. This is a truly unique piece of work. - Maurice G. Garland Big Boi/Sir Luscious Leftfoot Def Jam Even though this album has been completed for nearly three years, Big Boi proves that he specializes in making timeless music with an album that would be potent no matter the year. Here, Big proves that he is more than capable of being a solo artist. Now that he has all of the microphone responsibilities, Big takes the opportunity to speak on politics and community issues in a way that he might not have been able to on an Outkast album, but not without sacrificing fun nature that attracted people to ‘Kast in the first place. – Maurice G. Garland
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Trey Songz Venue: The Times-Union Center City: Jacksonville, FL Date: April 23rd, 2010 Photo: Terrence Tyson
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