YOUR FAVORITE RAPPER’S FAVORITE MAGAZINE
RICK ROSS TRAE & Z-RO
rd 3 annual OZONES
D AWAR special n editio
PLIES THREE 6 MAFIA
B.O.B. GUCCI MANE WEBBIE GORILLA ZOE
RAY J & more
OZONE MAG // 1
2 // OZONE MAG
OZONE MAG // 1
WELCOME TO HOUSTON 9. Sharpstown Mall (7500 Bellaire Blvd.) Houston’s #1 “Hood Mall,” you can get everything here from the latest mixtapes to the latest fashions to gold and platinum grills and chains. Paul Wall and TV Johnny’s spot is located here as well. 10. Breakfast Klub (3710 Travis St.)
www.thebreakfastklub.com You won’t find a better breakfast in the entire span of Houston. Their unique menu runs the gamut from Chicken & Waffles to Crawfish Etouffee with Katfish.
11. Screwed Up Records & Tapes (7717 Cullen Blvd.) www.screweduprecords.com Opened just a short time before he died, DJ Screw’s Screwed Up Records and Tapes is still the main place to get your hands on the man’s extensive catalog, South Side oriented,T-Shirts, and new mixes by Screw’s cousin Big Baby. 12. SF2 (215 W. Greens Rd.)
myspace.com/sf2store The spot for exclusive Hip Hop and streetwear, SF2 has their own lines designed by Houston heroes like Mike Frost and Happy Perez as well as all the new Nikes, New Eras and shirts that look like a Pokemon vomited on them. Which, for many, is obviously not a bad thing.
13. Premium Goods (premiumgoods.net)
Located just steps from the prestigious campus of Rice University, this small boutique stocks the most exclusive shoes you will find anywhere in Texas, alongside their own lines of streetwear and gear from around the world.
14.Warehouse Live (813 St. Emanuel St.) www.warehouselive.com When this venue opened in Houston, no one could have guessed the impact it would have. Hosting everything from hood rap to major label rock, Warehouse Live serves every musical community in Houston and boasts one of the most professional sound systems in the city. 15. Rap-A-Lot Records (2141 W. Governors
Circle) www.rapalotrecords.com For more than 20 years Rap-A-Lot Records has brought the hottest music from the southern streets to the world. If you can get past the gates, you’re in for a musical history lesson on par with walking into the Motown Museum.
16. This Is It (207 W. Gray St.) www.thisisithouston.com The neighborhood that This Is It calls home used to be straight hood. 4th Ward / Freedmans Town was built on land donated to freed slaves, just after Texas got around to telling them they were free (two years after the rest of the South). Nowadays, with its close proximity to downtown, they are surrounded by yuppies and condos, but still provide some of the most succulent soul food you’ll find in H-Town. 17. Spec’s (2410 Smith St.)
1. George R. Brown Convention Center 2. Hilton Americas 3. Main Street - Venue, Vault, Club Glo 4. Four Seasons Hotel 5. The Roxy 6. Bar Rio 7. Dave & Busters 8. Warehouse Live 2 // OZONE OZONE AWARDS MAG 2008
www.specsonline.com The world’s largest liquor store is one of the most fun places a drinker could ever walk around on a Saturday afternoon. Beautiful women serve free samples of everything from Russian vodka to Chilean wines to Canadian beers while you peruse their unparalleled selection of beer, wine, liquor and cigars.
18. Texas Southern University (3100 Cleburne
St.) www.tsu.edu The historic Black university, located in Houston’s 3rd Ward, is a prime spot for watching young hotties strut their stuff back and forth between class. And their annual Battle of the Bands is one of Houston’s biggest musical events every time. (There’s plenty more spots to see in Houston, but all of these places are in fairly close proximity to downtown – by Texas standards, or quite easy to get to by car if you are staying downtown for the OZONE Awards).
GEORGE R. BROWN CONVENTION CTR.
THE HILTON AMERICAS
THE FOUR SEASONS HOTEL
3RD ANNUAL OZONE AWARDS SHOW: MONDAY AUG 11 TJ’s DJ’s TASTEMAKERS DJ/MUSIC CONFERENCE: AUG 8-11
RICK ROSS & DJ KHALED’s “I’M SO HOOD” CONCERT: SATURDAY AUG 9
INTERSCOPE/GEFFEN/A&M’s “DJs ONLY” OZONE AWARDS AFTERPARTY: MONDAY AUG 11 OFFICIAL OZONE AWARDS AFTERPARTY: MONDAY AUG 11 SWISHAHOUSE & BOSS HOGG OUTLAWZ’ OFFICIAL TJ’S DJ’S AFTERPARTY: SATURDAY AUG 9 OZONE AWARDS 2008
TEXT “OZONE” TO 313131 TO RECEIVE ITINERARY UPDATES VIA TEXT MESSAGE (you will not be charged for this service) sat. continued 4PM - 5PM
Open Labs Workshop featuring a free MiKo Keyboard Workcenter giveaway @ Hilton Americas
(1600 Lamar St.) 2nd Floor Hosted by Victor Wong, the President & Chairman of Open Labs Come to this workshop to learn hands-on about the latest production techniques and you may win the sharpest tool in the shed: the Timbaland Special Edition MiKo Keyboard Workcenter by Open Labs.
5:30PM - 7PM
SMC Records presents The Independent As Fuck Celebration ITINERARY IS SUBJECT TO CHANGE
Friday August 8th, 2008 3PM - 6PM
Belvedere & Moet present The Kickoff Pool Party @ private location
Shuttles begin departing Hilton Americas at 2:30 PM * Registered conference attendees only
7PM - 9PM
Jive Records presents The UGK Pool Tournament @ Dave & Buster’s (I-10)
Hosted by Bun B * Shuttles begin departing Hilton Americas at 6:30 PM * Registered conference attendees only
8PM - 10PM
Derrty Ent presents Brass Knuckles Celebowl Bowling Challenge
@ Dave & Buster’s (I-10) Hosted by Nelly & the St. Lunatics
11PM - 2AM
Rap-A-Lot & Cash Money present The Official Welcome to Houston Kickoff Party @ Bar Rio (6400 Richmond Ave.)
Hosted by J. Prince, Baby aka the Birdman, & Slim Special Appearances by Lil Wayne, Scarface, & Bun B Performances by Z-Ro, Trae, the Dunk Ryders, Damm D, Brisco, Glasses Malone, & Kinfolk Thugz Music by DJ Hi-C & the GO DJs MTV Jams will be in the bulding filming for the Ozone Awards week special * Shuttles begin departing Hilton Americas at 10:30 PM * All registered conference attendees free til 12 AM
@ Hilton Americas (1600 Lamar St.) Suite #21002 Hosted by Killer Mike, San Quinn, Haji Springer, Beeda Weeda, & J Stalin
5:30PM - 7PM
Jive Records Presents Big Boi Listening Suite @ Hilton Americas (1600 Lamar
St.) Suite #22002 Hosted by Big Boi
8PM - 10PM
Koch Ent. & Boss Hogg Outlawz present Tastemakers Sizzing Summer Dinner & Showcase @ Hilton Americas (1600 Lamar St.) 2nd Floor
Performances by Boss Hogg Outlawz, Hot Stylz, L.E.P., Rob G, Spark Dawg, Myko, KOB, Jewman, Young AC, Archie Eversole, New Money, & Keelow
11PM - 2AM
Swishahouse, Boss Hogg Outlawz, & Trill Entertainment present The official TJ’s DJ’s Tastemakers Afterparty @
Club Glo (507 W. Main St.) Performances by: Slim Thug & the Boss Hogg Outlawz, Lil Keke, Shawty Lo, Lil Boosie & Webbie, Archie Lee & Coota Bang, & 3 Deep Music by Michael “5000” Watts & J Que * Shuttles begin departing Hilton Americas at 10:30 PM * All registered conference attendees free all night * Private party (not open to the public)
2AM - 4AM
Rebel Rock presents The Offical Late Night After-Afterparty
@ Harlem Knights (9834 Jensen Dr.) Hosted by B.o.B. * Complimentary admission for registered conference DJs ONLY (no media access)
2AM - 4AM
Sunday August 10th, 2008
@ Harlem Knights (9834 Jensen Dr.) * Complimentary admission for registered conference DJs ONLY (no media access)
10AM - 8PM (open all day)
Saturday August 9th, 2008
Suite #TBD Available all day for live recording freestyles or drops
The Offical Late Night After-Afterparty
12PM - 1:30PM
Lydia Harris of Lady Boss Ent. presents The Management Panel @ Hilton Americas (1600 Lamar St.) 2nd Floor Moderator: Wendy Day (Rap Coalition) Panelists: Rico Brooks (Gorilla Zoe, formerly Yung Joc), E-Class (Rick Ross, Brisco), Charles Chavez (Rob G, formerly Chamillionaire), Johnnie Cabbell (Shawty Lo, Fabo, Crime Mob), Clay Evans (TI, Young Dro), Snake (Czar Ent./BloodRaw) & more
2PM - 3:30PM
Ruthless Records presents The DJ Panel @ Hilton Americas (1600 Lamar St.)
2nd Floor Moderator: Tony Neal (CORE DJs) Panelists: DJ Khaled (WEDR Miami), Brandi Garcia (KBXX Houston), Greg Street (V103 Atlanta), DJ Hi-C (Houston), DJ Q45 (BET’s Rap City), Bigga Rankin (Jacksonville), J Que (KBXX Houston) Bay Bay (K104 Dallas), Jabber Jaws (KBTT Shreveport)
OZONE AWARDS 2008
Asylum Records presents The Studio Suite @ Hilton Americas (1600 Lamar St.)
12PM - 1:30PM
Producer Panel @ Hilton Americas (1600 Lamar St.) 2nd Floor Moderator: Dedra Davis & TJ Chapman (TJ’s DJ’s) Panelists: Jim Jonsin (Lil Wayne “Lollipop”), Gorilla Tek (Grind Mode), Bangladesh, Mr Lee, Mouse & BJ (Webbie “Independent”), DJ Montay (“Low”), Cory Mo, DJ Toomp, J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League (2 Pistols “She Got It”), Sean Garrett, Alchemist, Young L of The Pack & more
2PM - 3:30PM
Break The Bank Entertainment presents A&R Panel @ Hilton Americas (1600 Lamar St.) 2nd
Floor Moderator: Grouchy Greg (AllHipHop.com) & TJ Chapman (TJ’s DJ’s) Panelists: Dave Lighty (Jive), Orlando McGhee (Warner Bros.), Shawn “Tubby” Holiday (Interscope/ Geffen), Jean Nelson (Atlantic); Dee Sonoram (Koch), Lenny S (Def Jam), Anzel “Int’l Red” Jennings (Rap-ALot) & more
sun. continued 4PM - 5:30PM
DRANK presents The Artist Panel @ Hilton Americas (1600 Lamar St.) Moderator: TJ Chapman (TJ’s DJ’s) Panelists: Slim Thug, Shawty Lo, Rick Ross, Bun B, Flo Rida, Killer Mike, Chamillionaire, Webbie, Young Buck, Trae, Mistah FAB & more
6PM - 7:30PM
Columbia Records presents The Ballin’ Listening Suite @ Hilton Americas (1600 Lamar St.) Suite #21002 Hosted by Jim Jones
6PM - 7:30PM
Nappy Boy presents The Nappy Boy Digital listening suite @ Hilton Americas (1600 Lamar St.) Suite #22002 Hosted by Tay Dizm & Young Cash
8PM - 10PM
Capitol Records presents TJ’s DJ’s Tasties Fashion Show @ Grooves (2300
Pierce St.) restaurant & lounge Performances by Alfamega, Glasses Malone, Dunk Ryders, Trai D, Jus Bleezy, & Chop Chop Featuring Lavish Models & CORE Models * Shuttles begin departing Hilton Americas at 7:45 PM
11PM - 2AM
OZONE, TJ’s DJ’s, Grand Hustle & T.I. present The Grand Hustle Takeover @ Bar Rio (6400 Rich-
mond St.) Hosted by: T.I. & the ENTIRE Grand Hustle Family: Young Dro, Big Kuntry, DJ Drama, Alfamega, B.o.B., 8Ball & MJG, Yung LA, JR Get Money, Ricco, Mitchellel, & Xtaci Music by DJ Drama & Rap City’s DJ Q45 BET Rap City will be in the bulding filming * Shuttles begin departing Hilton Americas at 10:30 PM * All registered conference attendees free til 12 AM
Monday August 11, 2008 11AM - 2PM
Island Def Jam presents BBQ in the Park @ Discovery Green (across the street
from Hilton Americas) Hosted by Young Jeezy, DJ Khaled, Ace Hood, Playaz Circle, Willy Northpole, & 9th Ward BBQ provided by DTP, So So Def, CTE, Slip N Slide, & We The Best music group * meal ticket required
OZONE Awards Red Carpet @ George R Brown Convention Center (1001 Avenida de las Americas)
Doors open at 6PM * Doors close at 7PM 7-11 PM
OZONE Magazine & TJ’s DJ’s present 3rd Annual OZONE Awards @ George R Brown
Convention Center (1001 Avenida de las Americas) Hosted by comedian DeRay Davis Performances by T-Pain, Plies, Rick Ross, Bun B, Shawty Lo, Lil Boosie, Webbie, Trick Daddy, DJ Khaled, The Game, Big Boi, Rock City, & B.o.B. Backstage VIP Room hosted by TV Jewelry
11PM - 2AM
OZONE Magazine & TJ’s DJ’s present The Official OZONE Awards afterparty @ Venue (723 Main St.) Music by DJ Hi-C & Rapid Ric * Shuttles begin departing Hilton Americas at 11 PM * All registered conference attendees free til 12 AM
& next door Interscope/Geffen/A&M presents The “DJs Only” OZONE Awards afterparty @
Vault (723 Main St.) Featuring new records by Sean Garrett, Rock City, & YV * Complimentary admission for registered conference DJs ONLY all night (not open to the public)
OZONE MAG // 5
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OZONE MAG // 7
Panelist Bios By Jacinta Howard, Anthony Roberts, Ms. Rivercity
Management Panel Elric “E-Class” Prince
(Miami, FL) Founder and CEO of Poe Boy Entertainm ent, EClass says that he was destined for the business. An entrepreneur and self-proclaimed marketing genius, E-Class has played a vital role in the mainstream success of artists including Flo Rida, JackiO and Rick Ross. His company is also home to Poe Boy Films, CCC Entertainment, Blowout Promotions and Motion Graphics.
(Atlanta, GA) ement team at Grand As part of the manag ns has been an inEva y Hustle Records, Cla eers of both T.I. and car strumental force in the sible n, he also was respon Young Dro. In additio w, Trippin’ on sho edy com y ekl we for the label’s . Uptown Comedy Corner Tuesdays, at Atlanta’s
(Atlanta, GA) ooks has navibusiness, Rico Br A veteran in the rce in the music fo e ue rq m a ma gated his way fro ld the position of VP at Block ho retail business to ugh his management firm ro Th t. en inm ta ter En Gorilla Zoe les the careers of nd ha ly nt rre he cu among others.
(Atlanta, GA) Snake’s influence in the industry is one that is virtually unmatched, largely due to his ability to flex his skills in a variety of arenas. Currently working with Czar Management alongside Jimmy Henchmen, he is also BloodRaw’s manager.
(Atlanta, GA) Johnnie Cabbell’s position at Hitt Afta Hitt has made him an influential force in the Atlanta music scene. As Shawty Lo’s manager, he’s established a reputation as a dealmaker and busin essman.
(Houston, TX) A leader in Houston, Charles Chavez has continued to help push the city’s Hip Hop scene to the forefront. Widely considered a valuable asset to the city, Chavez remains a staple.
(Atlanta, GA) founded the Rap In March 2002, Wendy Day anization designed to org ofit Coalition, a non-pr ultuous music industum help artists survive the Visionary Management, of r nde fou the , Also try. most important Day has become one of the continues to be and ay tod sic forces in the mu and forthrightness. known for her integrity
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DJ PANEL Bay Bay
(Dallas, TX via Shreveport, LA) Known for inspiring Hurricane Chris’ “A Bay Bay,” DJ Bay Bay originally started as an on-air personality with 103.7 in Shreveport, Louisiana. He later moved on to K104 in Dallas where he currently holds it down from 3 pm – 7pm.
(Jacksonville, FL) Labeled as Florida’s A&R, Bigga Rankin has one of the longest resumes in the music business. CEO of the Cool Running DJs, Founder of Real Nigga Radio Mixtapes, Vice President of the Hittmenn DJs and President of Slip-N-Slide Streets are a few of his prestigious titles.
(Houston, TX) Starting as a radio intern in Tallahassee at the age of 15, Brandi graduated to commercial radio soon after finishing high school. She worked for several Tallahassee stations including 96.1 Jamz, Groovin 106, 100.7 The Beat, 94.9 WTNT, 1270 WNLS before moving to Huntsville, AL with Power 93.3. Now with the number one rated show from 10 AM - 3 PM on Houston’s 97.9 The Box, Brandi is one of the hottest DJs in the South.
(Atlanta, GA) As one of the most prominent on-air personalities in the South, Greg Street’s musical touch has been felt for over two decades on both radio and mixtapes. Considered one of the most groundbreaking DJs in the country, he continues to introduce artists and set market trends.
(Miami, FL) Khaled’s impact on Florida Hip Hop had been felt for years before he broke as a national DJ. Having fathered some of the most respected mixtapes over the past five years, Khaled has become a tastemaker and respected DJ worldwide.
(Washington D.C.) Leo G’s career began over 15 years ago at New York City’s WQHT FM as their Programming and Promotions Assistant. Presently, Leo G is the Program Director for XM 66 RAW where he “gives listeners the very best uncut RAW music the industry has to offer while maintaining the true essence and integrity of Hip Hop.”
(Jacksonville, FL) Labeling himself “the ladies’ favorite DJ,” DJ Q45 has quickly ascended the ranks of the music business, armed with his stellar DJ skills and infectious persona. He’s recently appeared on BET’s 106 & Park, Rap City and Spring Bling.
You may be familiar with Tony Neal through his position as Founder & CEO of the CORE DJs. Known for his expertise in breaking both records and DJs, Tony Neal is nominated for DJ of the Year at this year’s OZONE Awards.
PRODUCER PANEL Bangladesh
(Atlanta, GA) “A Milli” – Lil Wayne “Beam Me Up” – Tay Dizm feat T-Pain & Rick Ross “Talking Out The Side of Ya Neck” – Dem Franchise Boyz “Bossy” – Kelis “You Don’t Want Drama”- 8 Ball & MJG “HO” – Ludacris
Cory Mo (Houston, TX)
“Underground Thang” Bun B feat Chamillionare “Aint Nobody Trippin” feat. Pimp C “Don’t Fuck With You” - Pimp C “H-Town Anthem” – Brooke Valentine “Another Song” – Z-Ro “When It Get Gangsta” – Geto Boys “Nothing 2 Show” – Geto Boys “Don’t Go” – Devin The Dude “Gitcha Mind Right” - Pimp C
(Miami Beach, FL) “Lollipop” – Lil’Wayne feat. Static Major “Beautiful Nightmare” – Beyonce “Break Something” – Mario “Leather So Soft”- Lil Wayne & Birdman “Another Girl” – Bow Wow & Omarion “Show Stopper” – Danity Kane “Unpredictable” Jamie Fox feat. Ludacris
(Atlanta, GA via Tampa, FL) “She Got It” – 2 Pistols feat T-Pain “Maybach Music”- Rick Ross feat. Jay–Z “Luxury Tax”- Rick Ross feat. Lil Wayne, Young Jeezy, and Trick Daddy “No One Will Do”- Mary J. Blige “Bury Me A G”- Young Jeezy “Don’t Get Caught” - Young Jeezy “Rumble Young Man Rumble” – Juelz Santana
(Atlanta, GA) “Low” – Flo Rida featuring T-Pain “I’d Rather” – Three 6 Mafia “Foolish” – Shawty Lo “2 Step” – DJ Unk “Walk It Out” – DJ Unk “Who the Fuck Is That” – Dolla
(Houston, TX) “3 Kings” – T.I., Bun B, Slim Thug “Get Throwed” – Pimp C, Jay-Z, Bun B, Young Jeezy “Break Em Off” – Paul Wall “Recognize A Playa” – Boss Hogg Outlawz “Keep Pushin” – Bun B “Sex Faces” – Scarface “Chunk Up Da Deuce” – Lil Keke, Paul Wall, UGK “From the South” – Z-Ro
Mouse & BJ
(Miami, FL) “She’s So Fly” – Grind Mode “Freaky Deaky” – Flo Rida feat. Trey Songz “Champion” & “Pussy Real Good” – Jacki-O
A&R Panel liday Shawn “Tubby” Ho to hustle. Starting off
Shawn Holiday knows how rep for Bad Boy Records at the bottom as a college his way up through the ked wor y in the 90’s, Holida hold positions at both to ranks and later moved on Manager of Hitco Music EMI and VP and General serves as Senior VP of A&R now y ida Hol Publishing. Records. fen Gef for Interscope and
Throwing up the dynasty sign since before he can remember, Lenny S is the VP of A&R for the storied Hip Hop label Def Jam/Roc-A-Fella. Having been with the label since ’96, S has handled projects for Beanie Sigel, Ghostface Killah and scores of other Def Jam artists . Still on his grind, you can find him on the road at conferences, talent shows, seminars or wherever else talent is found.
A well-known veteran mover and shaker in the industry, Dave Lighty is Senior A&R at Jive Records. With well over a decade and change grinding in the business, the talent finder and artist developer was instrumental in signing acts including Lil Mama, as well as helping guide the careers of other Jive artists including T-Pain, UGK, Chris Brown and the Youngbloodz.
Making moves down South for a good minute now, Joie Manda currently serves as VP of Asylum Records. As an executive at one of the most powerful labels down bottom, he helps to ensure the success of his roster of artists, which include Bun B, Shawty, C-Murder and Lil Wil.
(Baton Rouge, LA) “Independent”- Webbie “Pop It 4 Pimp”- Bun B feat. Juvenile &Webbie “Wipe Me Down” – Foxx feat Lil Boosie & Webbie “Zoom” – Lil Boosie “All The Way” – 3 Deep “Adios” - Trill Fam “Missing You” – Webbie “I’m Hot” – Webbie “You A Trip” – Webbie “Distant Lover” - Lil Boosie “Just Like This” – Webbie
Being an executive at arguably the most successful indie imprint in the game already says a lot, but that’s not enough for Dee Sonoram. Having been with the label since 2005, as VP of Promotions for Koch Records, Sonoram makes sure that the world knows about Koch’s long list of releases, like projects by DJ Unk, Jim Jones, Hell Rell and DJ Khaled just to name a few.
A tastemaker’s tastemaker, Orlando McGhee is Head Director of A&R for Warner. A key and influential figure behind the scenes, McGhee has helped to ink and develop tons of artists including E-40, Lil Scrappy, Crime Mob, producer Nitty and singer/songwriter Attitude.
Red (Houston, TX)
As an A&R at Rap-a-Lot Records, International Red has helped to foster the careers of numerous flagship artists at the label, including Bun B. A fixture in the Texas rap scene, Red’s vision and tenacity has made him one of the business’ most respected executives. OZONE MAG // 9
ARTIST PANEL Bun B
Rap legend Bun B has garnered the respect of both fans and artists from coast to coast. With nearly 20 years in the game, Bun began his career as half of the seminal Port Arthur, TX group UGK along with partner Pimp C. Having collaborated with nearly every major artist including Jay-Z, Snoop Dogg and still showing love to independent artists as well, Bun is respected across the board. His 2005 debut Trill featured the Southern posse cut “Draped Up,” which featured Mike Jones, Paul Wall, Lil Flip, Slim Thug, Devin The Dude and Z-Ro. Still waving the UGK flag after the passing of Pimp C, Bun is still releasing music, with this year’s II Trill debuting at #2 on the Billboard charts and selling nearly 100,000 copies in its first week.
Bursting onto the scene with his huge debut single “Low” featuring T-Pain, Flo Rida is making a strong case for rookie of the year. Collaborating with Timbaland for the follow up “Elevator,” his album Mail On Sunday is climbing the charts.
Straight out of the A, Gorilla Zoe has been doing his thing for a minute. One fourth of the Hip Hop group Boyz N Da Hood, Zoe has been dropping verses everywhere, including on Block Entertainment/Bad Boy South label mate Yung Joc’s smashes “Coffee Shop” and “Bottle Poppin’.” His 2007 debut Welcome to the Zoo helped solidify him as a force in Southern Hip Hop and peaked at #3 on the Billboard Rap Album charts.
Also known as “Killer Kill from the ‘Ville”, Killer Mike is one of Atlanta’s most vocal rhymesayers. From his early days as part of Big Boi’s Purple Ribbon camp, Killer has always given standout performances. A previous OZONE Award winner, he has released three full length albums including his most recent, I Pledge Allegiance to the Grind II, on his own Grind Time Official label.
Hailing from the “M-I-Yayo”, Miami artist Rick Ross has solidified himself as the biggest thing in the Sunshine State. The Slip-N-Slide/Def Jam artist exploded on the scene with his hit single “Hustlin’” off of his debut, Port Of Miami, and hasn’t looked back since. His follow-up LP, Trilla, debuted at the top of the Billboard charts and has spawned the singles “Speedin” featuring R. Kelly, “The Boss” featuring T-Pain and “Here I Am” featuring Nelly.
The self-proclaimed “King of Bankhead”, Shawty Lo has been making a name for himself as of late. A member of the Atlantabased D4L and CEO of D4L Records, Lo has found solo success with his mega-hit single “Dey Know” and the follow up, “Dunn It All.” He has maintained a presence via mixtapes as well. His debut project, Units in the City, was released in February of this year.
Better known as the “Big Boss of The North,” Slim Thugga has been putting it down on the Houston scene since the 90’s, most notably making appearances on countless Swisha House mixtapes. He made his major label debut in 2005 on Star Trak with Already Platinum, which featured the singles “Like A Boss” and “I Ain’t Heard Of That” featuring Pharrell and Bun B. He released the follow-up, Boss Of All Bosses in 2007, and heads up his own Boss Hogg Outlaw imprint.
One of the flagship artists in the Trill Entertainment camp, Baton Rouge, LA rapper Webbie has being doing his thing for a minute. With “Gimme That” featuring Bun B propelling his 2005 debut Savage Life to success, Webbie followed that with Savage Life 2 and his current hit, “Independent” featuring labelmates Lil Boosie and Lil Phat.
OZONE AWARDS 2008
BY MAURICE G. GARLAND & RANDY ROPER
BEST RAP ALBUM Plies: Real Testament - Goons and bust it babies can attest, Plies’ debut album catapulted this Fort Myers rapper to the forefront of the Florida rap movement. Rick Ross: Trilla - Ross proved he’s boss among bosses when his second album debuted at #1 on the Billboard 200, even outselling Snoop’s shit.
AND THE NOMINEES ARE...
Shawty Lo: Units In The City - Critics hated L-O’s album, but they were foolish to think the streets wouldn’t get, get, get it.
BEST R&B ARTIST
UGK: Underground Kingz - The game belonged to Pimp and Bun when their long awaited double album dropped last fall, earning the legendary duo their first #1 album.
Chris Brown - This teenage singer hit the ground running (well, dancing) when his second album, the now platinum Exclusive, came out. Chris Breezy had Billboard hits, numerous awards and nominations, toured the country, and girls everywhere (including Rihanna) wishing for a kiss, kiss.
BEST RAP ARTIST Bun B - As one half of the trillest rap group in the South, Bun B was II Trill for every country rap tune he kicked a verse on. Lil Wayne - Weezy continued to solidify his “best rapper alive” claims through countless mixtapes and guest appearances, in addition, finally maximizing his crossover potential when “Lollipop” became his first #1 hit as a solo artist. Plies - He dropped hit record after hit record for the radio, clubs and streets, and let him tell it, a classic verse on “I’m So Hood.” Now the question for the street is, who’s hotter than Plies? Rick Ross - Just in case you thought “Hustlin’” was a fluke, the Boss came back way more Trilla this year. T.I. - Tip had a tough year, but he still released another platinum album and continued to set the standard in the A.
Keyshia Cole - Her second album went platinum and she was nominated for a Grammy as her songs “Let It Go,” “Shoulda Let You Go,” and “Heaven Sent” were fixtures on the charts. Ne-Yo - His second album landed at #1 on the Billboard 200, went platinum and won a Grammy, solidifying Ne-Yo as an R&B superstar. T-Pain - Pain’s sophomore album and single “Buy U A Drank” faired well on the charts, while he was a staple on radio, collaborating with everyone from Rick Ross to Kanye West to Chris Brown. The Dream - This A-Town singer/songwriter came out of nowhere and had fans singing along to “Shawty Is a Ten” and “Falsetto.” Trey Songz - Still somewhat slept on, the Prince of R&B added a second album to his resume while serenading “Wonder Woman” with fan favorites like “Can’t Help But Wait” and “Last Time.”
Young Jeezy - Da Snowman remained one of the hottest emcees in the game by smashing guest verses for everyone from Usher and DJ Khaled to Shawty Lo and Rocko.
OZONE OZONE AWARDS MAG 2008 // 11
BEST RAP GROUP
BEST RAP/R&B COLLABORATION
Birdman & Lil Wayne - Off the heels of their Like Father, Like Son album, the Birdman and Jr. popped champagne like they won a championship game.
2 Pistols f/ T-Pain “She Got It” - 2 Pistols and T-Pain teamed up on this synthesize track and made it known that if she’s looking, “She Got It.”
G.R.I.T. Boys - Although this trio isn’t a household name, they spread their ghetto reality across Texas while releasing a quality slept-on album.
David Banner f/ Chris Brown & Yung Joc “Get Like Me” - David Banner, Chris Brown, and Yung Joc showed that habits are hard to break especially when it relates to stunting.
Little Brother - They lost a member and their major label deal with Atlantic, but these Southern underdogs released their third critically acclaimed album. Playaz Circle - With an assist from Young Weezy, this DTP duo had everyone wanting to be a Duffle Bag Boy. Three 6 Mafia - The last two members of Three 6 spent some time in HollyHood, but everyone knows what these Tennessee boys would rather be doing. UGK - Add another classic album and a hit single in “International Players Anthem” to their resume and it’s still UGK 4 Life and R.I.P. Pimp C.
Plies f/ Ne-Yo “Bust It Baby Pt. 2” - Thanks to Plies and Ne-Yo, every guy has changed their girl’s nickname to “Bust it Baby.” Ray J f/ Yung Berg “Sexy Can I” - Ray J partnered up with the Chi’s Young Berg for this collaboration. It was only right to put out this smash after his sex tape escapade. Rick Ross f/ R Kelly “Speedin’” - The Boss and Kells made you want to take a trip to the MIA and speed down 95 while blasting this hit single.
Usher f/ Young Jeezy “Love In This Club” - Usher came back with a vengeance with a little help from Da Snowman. Usher let everyone know that he’s in love and doesn’t have a problem making it in the club.
Andre 3000 - Showing that quality outlasts quantity, 3-thou’s rare guest spots generate the kind of excitement that many rappers need entire albums to achieve.
CLUB BANGER OF THE YEAR
Bun B - The most consistent rapper in the game, Bun continues to raise the bar in Southern emceeing. Lil Boosie - The most popular rapper in Louisiana not named Dwayne, Boosie has been garnering 2Pac comparisons with his ability to wear emotions on his sleeve through his lyrics. Lil Wayne - The hardest man in the rap business churns out verses like an assembly line. Scarface - Everytime you think you’ve heard the last from him, ‘Face comes back to prove why he has the best pen in the game. T.I. - Small in stature, big in attitude, T.I. was able to write on behalf of two personalities in one album.
DJ Khaled f/ Rick Ross, Plies, & Trick Daddy “I’m So Hood” - This hood anthem even had the suburbia fans feeling like they were on probation. Flo Rida f/ T-Pain “Low” - Not all females wear the “Reeboks with the strap” or “boots with the fur,” but all of them were surely getting “Low” to this single. Lil Wayne f/ Static Major “Lollipop” - The only song that will ever cause a chain reaction of females pulling out lollipops like it’s a fashion trend. Playaz Circle f/ Lil Wayne “Duffle Bag Boy” - The song was so hot people didn’t even notice Lil’ Wayne didn’t have a verse on it. Shawty Lo “Dey Know” - The song that had everybody in the club giving big ups to all their haters.
Webbie f/ Lil Boosie & Lil Phat “Independent” - Webbie had every woman you respect in the club jamming to this, plus your aunts, nieces, cousins, and grandmothers.
Flo Rida - This Miami native had girls in the club getting “Low” and wanting to ride his “Elevator.” Flo Rida broke through and proved that he’s here to make you move however he can.
MIXTAPE MONSTER AWARD
Gorilla Zoe - With his distinctive voice and catchy hooks, Gorilla Zoe broke out as a solo artist with his single “Hood Figga,” while filling in for Young Jeezy as a member of Boyz N Da Hood. Rocko - Rocko broke into the industry telling everyone “Umma Do Me.” Shawty Lo - Shawty Lo broke through, stopped all the foolishness and made sure dey know who the real king of Bankhead is. Soulja Boy - You may not like his music, but Soulja Boy smashed the radio waves, had every teen and adult doing his dance in the club and even made history with ringtone sales.
B.o.B. - While waiting to release his debut album, B.o.B. kept haterz everywhere uneasy with a mixtape hosted by Bigga Rankin, The Future, and an LRG mixtape with Mick Boogie, Hi My Name Is B.o.B. Gucci Mane - He dropped a major album this year, but a Gucci track could still be found on DJ mixtapes from ATL to Texas. And his collaborative mixtape with Superstar J Kwik was a must-have for any Gucci fan. Lil Wayne - Weezy F. Baby’s music was in such high demand on the mixtape circuit he didn’t even know how his songs landed on most mixtapes. Shawty Lo - L-O didn’t just have Units In The City, he had mixtapes in the city too, with his I’m Da Man Pt. 2 mixtape hosted by DJ Scream being the most notable. Trae - He still hasn’t broken into the mainstream, but through the streets and mixtapes, Trae remains tha truth. Yo Gotti - Along with DJ Smallz, your boy Yo Gotti got everyone’s attention on the streets with his Cocaine Muzik mixtape.
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TJ’s DJ’s TASTEMAKER AWARD (Trendsetter in music, fashion, & style)
MOST SLEPT ON ARTIST BloodRaw - Panama City’s pride and joy graced the cover of OZONE in May 2004 and signed to CTE that next year, but since then he’s become everybody’s favorite rapper that you’ve probably never listened to. B.o.B. - Everybody knows that the “beast from Decatur” has some heat, but the only question is, when will we finally get it? Killer Mike - Slowly building an underground empire, King Kong Killa Kill from Adamsville is about to wake yo’ ass up this year. Trick Daddy - After putting his city and state on the map, the high gloss music coming from there lately has drowned out the grit he got put on with… but did you notice? Z-Ro - The biggest Lone Star in his state, Z-Ro continues to be overlooked when Greatest Emcee conversations are had.
PIMP C AWARD (TRILLEST ARTIST)
(an artist who isn’t afraid to speak their mind) David Banner - Music fueled with passion and anger backed up by action show why Pimp took this man under his wing in the late 90s. Kanye West - Even though he spends most of his time whining, it takes a lot of gall to make the public displays ‘Ye has become known for. Killer Mike - When he said he was “ready to go Pimp C Part 3” he wasn’t lying. Lil Wayne - Even though he’s accused of not saying much in his music, Wayne has no problem defending himself whether you agree or not.
Greg Street - Credit Greg Street for being the DJ that broke Soulja Boy, whomade everyone think it was as easy as making up a song and dance and putting it on YouTube. Plus, Street’s kicks collection has a big impact on sneaker fiends. Jermaine Dupri - JD continued to make being a producer/rapper/record label executive with a pop icon girlfriend the most coveted trend in Hip Hop. Pimp C - Before his passing, Pimp C has a lot to saying. Not everything he said was well-received, but he did inspire artists to speak their minds. Polow da Don - According to Polow, the beatmaker behind “Love In This Club,” he made Usher “cool” again and had people trying to get their rocks off in the VIP section. Soulja Boy - Who knew a song called “Crank Dat (Soulja Boy)” would spawn umpteen other “Crank Dat (insert Superhero name here)” songs? T-Pain - If artists couldn’t get T-Pain on their songs, they tried out T-Pain’s auto-tune effect themselves; a trend that most of us wish would go away, or just left to Teddy Pain.
BEST VIDEO Chamillionaire f/ Slick Rick “Hip Hop Police” - Tackling some serious issues by using a little bit of humor proved that the police’s attacks on Hip Hop are indeed laughable. Lil Wayne “Lollipop” - Weezy F. Baby hit the Vegas strip to remind you that it was him and the Cash Money Millionaires that taught you how to stunt. R.I.P. Static Major. Lupe Fiasco “Hip Hop Saved My Life” - Capturing the story of the dude on the block with rap dreams, Lupe’s words were given more life with the realityskewered visuals in this Houston-based clip.
Trae - Anyone bold enough to brand themselves as an asshole and “The Truth” has to be nominated for this award.
Rick Ross f/ R Kelly “Speedin’” - Ross literally lives his life in the fast lane and gives a pesky traffic cop an expensive watch instead of paying a ticket. Must be nice.
Trick Daddy - On top of calling out your favorite rappers, Trick gets invited on Miami talk radio to diss sports celebrities and local officials.
UGK f/ Outkast “International Players Anthem” - Southern Hip Hop icons unite to celebrate a wedding and give a toast to the player’s life
TJ’s DJ’s HUSTLER AWARD
DJ OF THE YEAR
Akon - Akon is only two albums into his career and he’s already an international superstar. Not to mention with T-Pain, Ray L, Dolla, Kardinal Offishal, Rock City and a gang of others under his Konvict Muzik imprint, Kon is doing pretty damn good for himself.
Bigga Rankin - The go-to DJ when trying to get on in Florida, Bigga Rankin will only continue to influence as the newly assigned president of Slip-NSlide Street.
Bigga Rankin - He’s CEO of the Cool Running DJs, Regional Vice President of the Hittmen DJs, and President of Slip-N-Slide Streets, all while branding WRNR mixtapes and maintaining the tour schedule of a major artist.
DJ Drama - Though his profile is lower than it once was thanks to the results of the R.I.A.A.’s raid, Drama continued to put out quality music. DJ Khaled - Yes. Khaled still DJs, although it’s hard to tell these days because most of the hit records he breaks, are his.
DJ Khaled - Aside from being one of the most popular DJs in the country, Khaled has managed to put together two—going on three—rap albums in as many years, and he doesn’t even rap.
DJ Q45 - Holding down the host spot for Rap City, Q45 still finds time to throw the hottest parties in the 904 and beyond.
Lil Wayne - He recorded more verses last week than most rappers recorded all year. You couldn’t turn on the radio without hearing a 16 from Mr. Carter in the past year, and you don’t even want to know what he charges for a verse.
Greg Street - Stepping up to dispute claims that the DJ was dead, Greg was instrumental in starting the Soulja Boy phenomenon and breaking records like Big Boi’s “Royal Flush” and Young Jeezy’s “Put On.”
T-Pain - He released his sophomore album and guest appeared on what seemed like every song on the radio. And if it wasn’t T-Pain sangin’ on a song, other artists tried their best to make it sound like him.
Tony Neal - We know, it’s hard to find evidence of him being on the tables but he’s put so many DJs on and breaks so much music that he has to be doing something right.
OZONE AWARDS 2008
BEST RAP ARTIST (WEST COAST) Ice Cube - Almost 20 years in the game and gangsta rap is still makin him, and us, do it. Ice Cube is constantly comin’ straight outta Compton to rewrite the history books.
BEST MIXTAPE / STREET ALBUM
Keak da Sneak - With a sound and voice undeniably his own, “the prince of the Bay” made major moves, both in and out of hyphy, towards claiming the kingdom as his own.
B.G. & DJ Drama - Gangsta Grillz: Hood Generals: Trumping all of his Koch material from the last couple years, B.G. whetted appetites for his Grand Hustle/Atlantic debut.
Mistah FAB - The Baydestrian has been grinding for years without the recognition he deserves, so this year Mistah FAB finally ghost rode his yellow bus and stole it.
B.O.B. & Mick Boogie - Hi My Name Is B.O.B.: Flowing over a bevy of tracks including The Beatles’ samples and old Jay-Z beats proving that he’s more than just a new rapper.
Snoop Dogg - Never one to stick to the norm, Snoop Dogg reinvented himself and sexually seduced the industry... again.
Chamillionaire – Mixtape Messiah 3: At some points Cham sounded like the best rapper walking, then at others he sounded like he didn’t want to rap anymore. Either way MM3 displayed Cham in rare form. Rich Boy – Bigger Than The Mayor: Realizing that no one will support him more than himself, Rich Boy got on his indie grind to put out music that didn’t have to be radio friendly. Shawty Lo & DJ Scream – I’m Da Man 2: This mixtape could have easily doubled as an album since it gave his fans most of his hits before the major label got their hands on them.
The Game - Critics want to say The Game ain’t shit without a certain half dollar. This year The Game’s unusually steady grind has proved the industry ain’t shit without The Game.
BEST RAP GROUP (WEST COAST) Dem HoodStarz - One of the few groups who exploded onto the scene during the era of hyphy that has the substance and diversity to get their grown man on outside of the bay and the west coast.
Yelawolf – Stereo: The only mixtape to receive OZONE’s 5-Blunt rating this year, Wolf’s blending of Hip Hop and soft rock blurred the genre lines.
DPG (Dogg Pound) - The re-emergence of Tha Dogg Pound reminds us why the West was best in the first place. Now with the bullshit, bitches, and beef behind them, Snoop D-O-double-G, Daz Dillinger, and Kurupt can reclaim the throne that’s rightfully theirs.
Yo Gotti & DJ Smallz – Cocaine Muzik: Bouncing back from his disappointing major label debut, Yo Gotti returned to the streets and made a soundtrack for his entire city to ride to.
Mob Figaz - Not even prison bars can stop these three. True to the Bay spirit Jacka, Husalah, and Marvaless have been on their independent grind since the late 90s and almost a decade later show no signs of slowing.
Strong Arm Steady - Put together three of the illest solo rappers in Los Angeles and you’re bound to create either a monster or utter chaos. The coming together of Krondon, Phil the Agony, and Mitchy Slick produced the chaotic monster the industry’s been needing.
DJ Montay - Montay produced this years biggest hit (Flo Rida’s “Low”) as well as acting as the in-house producer for Big Oomp Records (Baby D, DJ Unk). DJ Toomp - After producing for Southern heavyweights like T.I., Ludacris and Young Jeezy, Toomp updated his portfolio by making history with Kanye West, Jay-Z and Mariah Carey. Drumma Boy - Having songs that have been banned (USDA’s “White Girl”) and celebrated (Rocko’s “Umma Do Me”), this classically trained musician has everyone listening to his tracks, bitch! J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League - Responsible for most of 2 Pistols’ project, the League also laced Rick Ross’ Trilla with the best beats money can buy. Polow the Don - After busting the door open last year, Polow returned producing for both ends of the music spectrum from Gucci Mane to Usher. The Runners - Probably your favorite rapper’s favorite producers, this tandem continues to prove that music is about sound, not appearance.
The Pack - Before The Pack skateboard rap was a kick and a push away from Hip Hop history. Now it’s a cemented movement from the concrete jungles of LA to NY.
BEST RAP ALBUM (WEST COAST) Blu & Exile - Below the Heavens: This collaboration between rapper Blu and DJ/producer Exile was a surprise sleeper album that many considered to be one of the best albums in 2007, not just in the West, but in Hip Hop, period. Keak Da Sneak - Deified: The hit single “That Go” and a slew of strong features from Too $hort, Daz Dillinger, Lil Keke, Paul Wall, and the Jacka earned Keak the best album nom just a month after its release. Mistah FAB - Baydestrian: With the release of Da Baydestrian, Mistah Fab left no question as to who runs the streets of the bay. With a plethora of hits including “Goin Crazy (Big Ol Butt)” featuring Too $hort, Fabo, and 2 Dolla, FAB has solidified his undeniable presence in the game. Snoop Dogg - Ego Trippin: You’ve come to expect anything from Snoop. Yet Ego Trippin is still 5 slaps in your face. Only the Dogg Father could successfully put together such an ecclectic mix of songs from “Sexual Eruption,” to “Life of the Party,” to “Neva Have 2 Worry,” from the moment you “Press Play” almost every track is a banger. Too Short - Get Off The Stage: “Bitch!” With all who have come in gone in the game when you hear that word you think of one person. Get Off The Stage is another must-have in the Too $hort collection with hits such as, of course, “Broke Bitch” and “Dum Ditty Dum” featuring The Pack. The conservatives are trying, but no one can get Short Dog off the stage.
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LIVING LEGEND AWARD J Prince
PATIENTLY WAITING: FLORIDA Ace Hood BallGreezy Brisco Frank Lini Grind Mode Haitian Fresh
PATIENTLY WAITING: GEORGIA Alfamega B.O.B. O.J. Da Juice Man Rock City Yung LA Yung Ralph
PATIENTLY WAITING: TEXAS Damm D Lil Will Spark Dawg TMI Boyz Trai D
PATIENTLY WAITING: MISSISSIPPI Gutta Twins Lil C Rob Gold XVII (“Seventeen”) Scrilla Boy
PATIENTLY WAITING: ALABAMA C Hall Deuce Komradz Jackie Chain Yelawolf
PATIENTLY WAITING: LOUISIANA 3 Deep 9th Ward Lil Cali Mack Maine
PATIENTLY WAITING: TENNESSEE All Star Cowboy JAG Novokane
PATIENTLY WAITING CAROLINAS Carlos Cartel Shelly B Snook Da Rokk Star Sonny Rich
PATIENTLY WAITING: CALIFORNIA Bishop Lamont G. Malone Jay Rock Kuzzo Fly Roccett The Jacka
PATIENTLY WAITING: ARIZONA Cinque Hot Rod Jiggolo Willy Northpole
PATIENTLY WAITING: KENTUCKY Hurricane Kasanova R Prophet YV
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SPECIAL THANKS TO OUR SPONSORS DIAMOND SPONSORS Asylum Belvedere Boss Hogg Outlawz Capitol Records Cash Money Records DRANK Anti-Energy Drink Grand Hustle Island Def Jam J7 Records Jive Records Koch Records Outta Pocket Moet MTV Networks Poe Boy Rap-A-Lot Records Swishahouse TMI Boyz TV Johnny Diamonds Trill Entertainment UGK Records Universal Records We The Best
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PUBLISHER/EDITOR-IN-CHIEF // Julia Beverly SPECIAL EDITION GUEST EDITOR // Jen McKinnon MUSIC EDITOR // Randy Roper FEATURES EDITOR // Eric N. Perrin ASSOCIATE EDITOR // Maurice G. Garland GRAPHIC DESIGNER // David KA ADVERTISING SALES // Che’ Johnson PROMOTIONS DIRECTOR // Malik Abdul MARKETING DIRECTOR // David Muhammad Sr. LEGAL CONSULTANT // Kyle P. King, P.A. SUBSCRIPTIONS MANAGER // Adero Dawson ADMINISTRATIVE // Kisha Smith INTERN // Kari Bradley CONTRIBUTORS // Alex Cannon, Bogan, Charlamagne the God, Chuck T, Cierra Middlebrooks, Destine Cajuste, Edward Hall, Felita Knight, Jacinta Howard, Jaro Vacek, Jessica Koslow, J Lash, Jason Cordes, Johnny Louis, Keadron Smith, Keith Kennedy, K.G. Mosley, King Yella, Luis Santana, Luxury Mindz, Marcus DeWayne, Matt Sonzala, Maurice G. Garland, Mercedes (Strictly Streets), Natalia Gomez, Ray Tamarra, Rico Da Crook, Robert Gabriel, Rohit Loomba, Shannon McCollum, Spiff, Stan Johnson, Swift, Thaddaeus McAdams, Wally Sparks, Wendy Day STREET REPS // 3rd Leg Greg, Adam Murphy, Alex Marin, Al-My-T, Benz, Big Brd, B-Lord, Big Ed, Big Teach (Big Mouth), Bigg V, Black, Bogan, Bo Money, Brandi Garcia, Brandon “Silkk” Frazier, Brian Eady, Buggah D. Govanah (On Point), Bull, C Rola, Cartel, Cedric Walker, Chad Joseph, Charles Brown, Chill, Chuck T, Christian Flores, Clifton Sims, 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, G Dash, G-Mack, George Lopez, Gorilla Promo, Haziq Ali, Hezeleo, H-Vidal, Hotgirl Maximum, Jae Slimm, Jammin’ Jay, Janiro Hawkins, Jarvon Lee, Jay Noii, Jeron Alexander, JLN Photography, Joe Anthony, Johnny Dang, Judah, Judy Jones, Kenneth Clark, Klarc Shepard, Kool Laid, Kurtis Graham, Kydd Joe, Lex, Lump, Lutoyua Thompson, Marco Mall, Mario Grier, Marlei Mar, DJ M.O.E., Music & More, Natalia Gomez, Nikki Kancey, Oscar Garcia, P Love, Pat Pat, Phattlipp, Pimp G, Quest, Quinton Hatfield, DJ Rage, Rapid Ric, Robert Lopez, Rob-Lo, Robski, Rohit Loomba, Scorpio, Seneca, Shauntae Hill, Sir Thurl, Southpaw, Spade Spot, Stax, Sweetback, Teddy T, TJ’s DJ’s, Tim Brown, Tony Rudd, Tre Dubb, Tril Wil, Trina Edwards, Troy Kyles, Vicious, Victor Walker, DJ Vlad, Voodoo, Wild Billo, Will Hustle, Wu Chang, Young Harlem, Yung DVS SUBSCRIPTIONS // To subscribe, send check or money order for $20 to: OZONE Magazine, Inc. Attn: Subscriptions Dept 644 Antone St. Suite 6 Atlanta, GA 30318 Phone: 404-350-3887 Fax: 404-350-2497 Website: www.ozonemag.com COVER CREDITS // Rick Ross photo (cover and this page); Plies photo by Bob Croslin; Trae & Z-Ro photo by SLFEMP; Flo Rida photo by Chad Griffith. DISCLAIMER // OZONE Magazine is published 11 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 2008 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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interviews 71 92 16-17 19-25 85-88 96 14-15
DRANK HOODZ DVD CHIN CHECK PHOTO GALLERIES HOUSTON JEWELERS TJ’S DJ’S TASTEMAKERS CD HISTORY OF HOUSTON Hip Hop
top 10 lists 40 50 58 24 36 56 62 54 66 22 38 60 44 32 28 72 52 34 26 64 46 48 69 70 30 42 20
J.U.S.T.I.C.E. LEAGUE CHAMILLIONAIRE LITTLE BROTHER THREE 6 MAFIA DRUMMA BOY THE RUNNERS SPARK DAWG GREG STREET MICK BOOGIE GUCCI MANE GORILLA ZOE DJ MONTAY SHAWTY LO BLOODRAW ALFAMEGA RICK ROSS GRIT BOYS 2 PISTOLS ACE HOOD TMI BOYZ RICH BOY FLO RIDA BRISCO WEBBIE B.O.B. RAY J PLIES
pg 73-7 S S O R K RIC
78-83 pg o R TRAE & Z
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WORDS BY MATT SONZALA // PHOTOS BY JULIA BEVERLY & RAY TAMARRA
ntil recently, you’d be hard pressed to find any information about Houston that didn’t have to do with NASA or the energy industry. Long decried as a city devoid of culture, filled with oil-thirsty cowboys riding the range to riches, the world outside of Houston had no idea that our nations fourth largest city is also rife with culture. Namely, Hip Hop culture. It all started for Houston rap in 1986. In the years prior, Houston saw a major economic upturn, and people began flocking to this new city of opportunity in droves. Houston began to sprawl as the recent transplants created new suburbs and communities outside the 610 Loop that surrounds the city center. Hip Hop had already come into its own up and down the East Coast, and was beginning to brim with life on the West. At the time, the deep South was the last place anyone expected to see a Hip Hop movement. As newcomers found opportunities in this untapped market, some native Houstonians from inner city neighborhoods like 5th Ward, 3rd Ward and South Park created a musical movement that would provide income for themselves and their neighbors for years to come. In a dilapidated house on a used car lot in the Heights neighborhood – just West of H-Town’s notorious 5th Ward - a young entrepreneur named James Prince formed what was to become Houston’s first independent Hip Hop label, Rap-A-Lot Records.
The Geto Boys (known then as the properly spelled Ghetto Boys) Makin’ Trouble was the first full-fledged, full-length album to come out on Rap-A-Lot Records. Its raw energy and unparalleled street sensibilities brought a new energy to the game. The original line-up consisted of 3rd Ward resident Jukebox and East Coast transplants Raheem, Prince Johnny C and DJ Ready Red. But it wasn’t until the Geto Boys changed their line up almost entirely to include Willie D, Scarface and Bushwick Bill, and released their second album in 1989, 14 // OZONE MAG
Grip It! On That Other Level that people from outside the region started looking at Houston as a music city with a fresh sound. “People know that it was the Rap-A-Lot blueprint that opened the door and everybody came after,” Rap-A-Lot founder and CEO J. Prince states from his palatial office on the second floor of his label/compound on the north west side. “And it’s a good thing. I’m proud of everybody [else] that’s done it [independently] because that was my mission from day one. If you listen to those old songs, I wanted to kick the door in and open it up for a whole lot of the guys.” J. Prince opened the doors for Houston to thrive as an independent minded Hip Hop city, but he’s not the only musical revolutionary to touch the Houston scene. For many, 2005 was the year that Houston really hit the public eye, but fact is, Houston has had many periods where it seemed as though it was the most buzzworthy city in the Hip Hop nation. Around the time when Rap-A-Lot was first making waves, a crew of emcees from across the city were forming an alliance that is solid to this day. The South Park Coalition is a click formed by K-Rino, a firebrand lyricist widely regarded as one of the Godfathers of the Houston sound. He’s been around since day one and to this day survives off of releasing his records independently. “I was one of the first to start doing it along with the early Ghetto Boys,” KRino remembers, speaking from his South Park hood. “But there were a couple of people before us. There was a song called ‘MacGregor Park,’ that was a real big song for Houston, but no one can remember that group’s name. There was also a band called Perfect Timing in ’83 or ’84 who did one of the earliest rap records I can remember to come out of Houston. That was one of the things that made me want to get into it.” Many of those bands were born out of Houston’s rich history of blues. In the
Geto Boys Lil Keke
Trae & Slim Thug J Prince & Scarface
Chamillionaire & OG Ron C Bun B reppin’ UGK 4 Life R.I.P. Pimp C
3rd and 5th Ward areas, artists like Lightnin’ Hopkins, Albert Collins and Texas Johnny Brown played for decades, and some of the younger bands began to embrace rapping as a means of getting the party started. “Rap was in its early stages, period, overall.” K-Rino continues, “So down here it might not have been as advanced as on the East Coast and on the West Coast. But shit, a lot of us are still around to this day, making music. There’s a lot of cats who established that longevity to where they can still be around today.” In fact the Geto Boys, the recently departed OG Style, The Terrorists, Gangsta NIP, K-Rino and even members of Street Military – a group who was once signed to Wild Pitch Records – all have fairly current releases. Soon after the rise of Rap-A-Lot, many young entrepreneurs followed suit and began releasing records from the streets on an independent level. Most notably Russell Washington’s Big Tyme Records – who originally introduced the world to the duo known as UGK, and Tony Draper – a man who bridged the gaps between all the cities in the south with his Suave House Records. If Rap-A-Lot laid the blueprint for the Southern rap business, it was Suave House that laid the blueprint for the Southern rap sound. “We knew this sound was going to make it to the mainstream,” Suave House Founder and CEO Tony Draper recalls of his earliest days. “And now the world is jumping on it and [starting to] understand it. There’s so many creative lyricists in the South. We still have to have that branch that can hear the talent and develop that talent.” Suave House most notably brought the world 8Ball & MJG from Memphis, but also seminal artists like South Circle and Crime Boss from Houston. Around the time when Suave House was at its peak, a new face hit the scene in Houston, one that would change the landscape and shape all things to come. DJ Screw started out making slowed down mixtapes in his south side apartment in the early 1990s. This radical new sound was hard to swallow for mainstream rap fans, but the folks in the Houston community that surrounded him loved it. The slow, dragging sounds emanated from every other car in the city, and at that point Houston Hip Hop had truly found its identity. His tapes were more than just mixes. They featured freestyles from who would
Mike Jones, Bun B, Myke Diesel, Pimp C, J Prince, Trae, & Lil Flip
become Houston’s most legendary rap crew, the Screwed Up Click. Led by artists like Fat Pat, ESG, Lil Keke, Hawk, Lil O, Grace, Los, Mr. 3-2, Big Moe and many, many more, the Screwed Up Click, at their crest, became the most in demand rappers in the south. Lil Troy released his first records around the time Rap-A-Lot was forming, and even dropped a single with Scarface before he joined the Geto Boys. A man about town, Troy was always in the mix, and brought a lot of voices out first via his Short Stop Records. In 1995 he dropped an independent CD entitled Sittin’ Fat Down South that featured the mega-hit single “Wanna Be A Baller.” That song featured a who’s who from the Screwed Up Click and became one of the biggest rap singles to ever come out of Houston. Things were looking good for the city, and labels were flocking to see who from the SUC they could sign. Sadly, the world really wasn’t ready for the slowed down sounds of DJ Screw, and the movement didn’t travel too far outside the region. In November of 2000, DJ Screw was found dead in his studio, and all seemed lost. But it wasn’t. There was still plenty of talent in Houston, ready to explode. A north side DJ who had been doing slowed down mixes similar to DJ Screw, Michael Watts, had formed the Swisha House some years earlier and was quickly establishing his own crew of heavyweights. After years of grinding, selling mixtapes throughout Texas, and later on the internet to lands as far away as Germany and Japan, the Swisha House began to seek out a major deal. After landing a contract with Asylum Records, they released the hit single “Still Tippin’” which was produced by Salih Williams and featured verses from Paul Wall, Slim Thug and Mike Jones. The song represented the sound of H-Town and became a huge single around the world, turning all eyes towards Houston. In the wake of “Still Tippin’” Houston saw its biggest surge yet, and more artists from the town than ever before received gold and platinum plaques. What once was a hobby, relegated to mixtapes that many thought would never leave the region, is now a worldwide phenomenon and a highly recognized sound within the genre of Southern Hip Hop. It didn’t happen overnight, and it won’t be going away anytime soon. // OZONE MAG // 15
CHIN CHECK By Charlamagne Tha God Peace to the planet! It’s me Charlamagne Tha God, a.k.a. The Predator! You know why? I’m always the Predator never the prey, always the victor never the victim. I’m the man in the drive thru ordering the extra value meal, and you’re the filet-of-fish with cheese! Most of you dudes are born to be dinner. There’s people that eat, and people that get eaten. So ask yourself, which one are you? Now, the 3rd annual OZONE Awards and TJ’s DJ’s Tastemakers DJ/Music Conference is upon us. I have come to the conclusion that since Southern rap music is the only rap music that matters right now, the OZONE Awards have to be the biggest award show in the world! It only makes sense, right? So I take great pride and pleasure in reflecting on the previous year in music and picking my winners for this year’s OZONE Awards. Well, not every category. Just the ones I give a fuck about.
BEST RAP ALBUM
Plies - Real Testament Rick Ross - Trilla Shawty Lo - Units in the City UGK - Underground Kingz This is a tough category right here. All four of these CDs got major rotation in various vehicles I was driving in this past year. But I’ve got to give it to Rick Ross; Trilla was serious. This CD was so good we let Rick Ross walk around with his shirt off everywhere and no one said anything. It was almost like we were saying to ourselves, “Since Rick did his thing on Trilla, he can walk around with his stomach out if he wants to.”
BEST RAP ARTIST Bun B Lil Wayne Plies Rick Ross T.I. Young Jeezy
16 // OZONE MAG
If we are going strictly off the past year, Rick Ross has to take this one home too. The streets are waiting on that Recession by Young Jeezy; T.I. spent most of the year on house arrest, Bun B is a legend and should be forever excluded from this category, Plies is still growing, and just because Wayne sold a million in a week doesn’t mean he deserves this awards. The Carter 3 did not live up to expectations! In fact, The Carter 3 was like a dunk in the WNBA. You hear so much hype about it until you actually see the highlight on Sport Center and then realize why it will never be as popular as the NBA. In Wayne’s case he will never be truly considered one of the greats.
BEST R&B ARTIST Chris Brown Keyshia Cole Ne-Yo T-Pain The Dream Trey Songz
T Pain or The Dream. These are two people who have no business in front of the camera but both have conquered the world of R&B; only in Amerikkka! Whenever I see the Dream and T Pain I say to myself, “Either all the stylists in the industry have gone on strike or they just possess a real sick sense of humor.”
BEST RAP GROUP Birdman & Lil Wayne Grit Boys Little Brother Playaz Circle Three 6 Mafia UGK
Little Brother. Carolinas All Day!
BEST LYRICIST Andre 3000 Bun B Lil Boosie Lil Wayne Scarface T.I.
Can we start calling this the Andre 3000 award? If he’s in this category it’s not fair to anyone else. Scarface and Bun B are both legends who shouldn’t even be nominated. They should just be honored in some way, shape or form every year. They have influenced everyone else in this category. I don’t know if Lil Boosie is necessarily a lyricist but I feel him. T.I. is one of my top five favorite emcees of all time. The only question I have is how the fuck did the braintrust at Ozone exclude Killer Mike? Y’all must not have heard I Pledge Allegiance to the Grind Part 2 yet.
BREAKTHROUGH ARTIST Flo Rida Gorilla Zoe Rocko Shawty Lo Soulja Boy
I want to say Soulja Boy. Who wasn’t doing the Superman last year? If it was up to me I would say Shawty Lo. He can’t rap worth shit but I fuck with his music and I think he’s going to be in the game for at least another five years. Being that he’s CEO of D4L records maybe he will be nice enough to release a Fabo solo album. I can’t be the only person wondering what happened to that project.
BEST RAP/R&B COLLABORATION
2 Pistols f/ T-Pain “She Got It” David Banner f/ Chris Brown & Yung Joc “Get Like Me” Plies f/ Ne-Yo “Bust It Baby Pt. 2” Ray J f/ Yung Berg “Sexy Can I” Rick Ross f/ R Kelly “Speedin’” Usher f/ Young Jeezy “Love In This Club” Ray J featuring Yung Berg was my record, even though whenever that cornball Yung Berg started rapping I would just put my brain on mute. I remember seeing Ray J in LA and he asked me what I thought of the record and I told him it was dope except for Yung Berg’s verses. I’m biased because I have never heard a Yung Berg verse that I like. Yung Berg is like an evil little Mogwai who wasn’t fed after midnight so he hasn’t turned into a full blown gremlin yet. It’s like he’s stuck in the middle; tpo bad to be a Mogwai, but too soft to be a gremlin.
CLUB BANGER OF THE YEAR
DJ Khaled f/ Rick Ross, Plies, & Trick Daddy “I’m So Hood” Flo Rida f/ T-Pain “Low” Lil Wayne f/ Static Major “Lollipop” Playaz Circle f/ Lil Wayne “Duffle Bag Boy” Shawty Lo “Dey Know” Webbie f/ Lil Boosie & Lil Phat “Independent”
“I’m So Hood,” no question. So many people violated probation this year because of Plies’ last verse. “Damn my P.O. you can tell him I said it / Piss test me all you want, I’ma smoke when I’m ready.” Classic.
MIXTAPE MONSTER AWARD B.O.B. Gucci Mane Lil Wayne Shawty Lo Trae Yo Gotti
Lil punk ass Wayne. How ironic would it be if he won this award after the, “fuck mixtape DJs” comments he made. Maybe during his acceptance speech he will take the time to issue a real apology to mixtape DJs.
MOST SLEPT ON ARTIST BloodRaw B.o.B. Killer Mike Trick Daddy Z-Ro
Killer Mike! Are yall listening to this man? I was debating with my partner DJFrosty.com the other day about Killer Mike’s place in the game. I was arguing that Killer Mike is one of the top five MC’s alive right now and he would have competed in the mid-90s when the game was really competitive. Socially conscientious, gutter or pimping, Mike can give you what you want. Mark my words, “We’re dealing with Ice Cube in his prime, Nas when he was on the Illmatic shit, I been pledged Allegiance To The Grind.
TRILLEST ARTIST: THE PIMP C AWARD (Someone who’s not afraid to speak
their mind) David Banner Kanye West Killer Mike Lil Wayne Trae Trick Daddy
Kanye West. Why? “George Bush doesn’t care about black people.” Forget dissing mixtape DJs or other rappers, Kanye went at the most powerful man in America live on national television. How Trill was that?
TJ’s DJ’s HUSTLER AWARD Akon Bigga Rankin DJ Khaled Lil Wayne T-Pain
DJ Khaled sold records, broke artists, and started his own label, not to mention he’s the only person I’ve seen who doesn’t rap but can headline a show.
TJ’s DJ’s TASTEMAKER AWARD (Trendsetter in music, fashion/style, etc.) Greg Street Jermaine Dupri Pimp C Polow da Don Soulja Boy T-Pain
Pimp C, because he set the trend for honesty in Hip Hop. “Say what the fuck you want to say when you want to say it.” That was his motto and a motto I live by.
Chamillionaire f/ Slick Rick “Hip Hop Police” Lil Wayne “Lollipop” Lupe Fiasco “Hip Hop Saved My Life” Rick Ross f/ R Kelly “Speedin’” UGK f/ Outkast “International Players Anthem” UGK. Do I have to say why? You saw it.
DJ OF THE YEAR Bigga Rankin DJ Drama DJ Khaled DJ Q45 Greg Street Tony Neal
Greg Street, for the simple fact he doesn’t get the props he deserves, plus he ethered Jermaine Dupri. That is the first time I’ve seen a DJ make an executive die a slow, slow, death.
BEST MIXTAPE / STREET ALBUM
B.G. & DJ Drama - Gangsta Grillz: Hood Generals B.o.B. & Mick Boogie - Hello My Name Is BOB Brisco & Bigga Rankin - From Dade to Duval: WRNR Chamillionaire - Mixtape Messiah 3 Rich Boy - Bigger Than The Mayor Shawty Lo & DJ Scream - I’m Da Man 2 Yelawolf - Stereo Yo Gotti & DJ Smallz - Cocaine Muzic Rich Boy’s Bigger Than The Mayor CD should have been his album. It was that good.
BEST PRODUCER DJ Montay DJ Toomp Drumma Boy J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League Polow the Don The Runners
Damn OZONE, another year goes by and y’all still haven’t given Toomp his lifetime achievement award?!
Snoop Dogg The Game None of them should win this award. Cube is a legend and shouldn’t be listed here; same with Snoop. Game is dope, I fuck with his music heavy but Best Rap Artist should be Bishop Lamont, Dre’s new artist. Go get the street album the Confessional if you think I’m crazy.
PATIENTLY WAITING: GEORGIA Alfamega B.o.B. O.J. Da Juice Man Rock City Yung LA Yung Ralph
O.J. Da Juice Man is the next star from G.A., give him his award.
PATIENTLY WAITING: CAROLINAS Carlos Cartel Shelly B Snook Da Rokk Star Sonny Rich
This award means a lot to me, because it’s the Carolinas. Who should get this award? Well, Carlos Cartel invested in himself more than a lot of artists; Snook’s presence has really been felt the past year in SC; Sonny Rich is dope, I’m fucking with him; but the artist that embodies the essence of what the patiently waiting award really means is my homegirl Shelly B. You have never seen an artist, male or female, perform like my girl Shelly B, plus she can spit. I’m a true fan and she has my vote.
PATIENTLY WAITING: CALIFORNIA Bishop Lamont G. Malone Jay Rock Kuzzo Fly Roccett The Jacka
Glasses Malone is my man; he and Bishop have been grinding together for years. It should go to both of them. Now that I have given my 99 cents on all the nominations that I care about, any nominee that I may have upset should go kick rocks in traffic with your head down. Until next time Charlamagne Tha God
BEST RAP ARTIST (WEST COAST) Ice Cube Keak da Sneak Mistah FAB
OZONE MAG // 17
18 // OZONE MAG
(above L-R): Lil Boosie & Young Jeezy on the set of DJ Khaled’s “Out Here Grindin’” in Brooklyn, NY (Photo: Julia Beverly); Baby & Shawty Lo on the set of Shawty Lo’s “Foolish” remix video shoot in Miami, FL (Photo: J Lash); Bun B & TI @ Reliant Arena for the 93.3 car show in Houston, TX (Photo: Knowledge)
01 // TJ Chapman, Playboy Tre, & BOB @ Hot 107.9’s Birthday Bash (Atlanta, GA) 02 // Malik Abdul & Pookie @ Bar Rio for JB’s birthday bash (Houston, TX) 03 // DJ Khaled & Joie Manda on the set of Shawty Lo’s “Foolish” remix video shoot (Miami, FL) 04 // Rick Ross, DJ Christion, & DJ Khaled @ Club Skye (Tampa, FL) 05 // Ed of Trill Images & Seventeen on the set of Bun B’s “You’re Everything” (Houston, TX) 06 // DJ Drama & DJ Hi-C @ Reliant Arena for the 93.3 car show (Houston, TX) 07 // Lil Ru & DJ B-Lord @ Club Hypnotik (Florence, SC) 08 // TV Johnny & Chamillionaire @ the Galleria’s Louis Vuitton store for Bun B’s private album release party (Houston, TX) 09 // Trae & Hurricane Chris on the set of “Nothin’ To A Boss” video shoot (Houston, TX) 10 // Skip Cheatham & Plies @ Nokia Theatre for K104 Summer Jam (Dallas, TX) 11 // Juggie, DJ Ro, Tony Neal, & the Apple Bottom Models @ Club Ampersand for the Apple Bottom model search (New Orleans, LA) 12 // DJ Ro, 6 Shot, & 5th Ward Weebie (New Orleans, LA) 13 // Late night BBQ @ Prince Boxing Gym (Houston, TX) 14 // Akon & Alex Gidewon @ Hot 107.9’s Birthday Bash (Atlanta, GA) 15 // Terrence Tyson & his dad Trevor @ SeaBreeze for Terrence Tyson’s birthday bash (Jacksonville, FL) 16 // Midget Mac, Terrence Tyson, & porn star Kara Kane @ SeaBreeze for Terrence Tyson’s birthday bash (Jacksonville, FL) 17 // Bun B & Terri Thomas @ the Galleria’s Louis Vuitton store for Bun B’s private album release party (Houston, TX) 18 // Int’l Red & his kids with David Banner @ Reliant Arena for the 93.3 car show (Houston, TX) 19 // Bigga Rankin & J-Baby @ 4th of July party (Jacksonville, FL) 20 // OG Ron C, David Banner, guest, & DJ Hi-C @ Reliant Arena for the 93.3 car show (Houston, TX) Photo Credits: J Lash (03); Julia Beverly (01,02,07,10,13,14); Knowledge (05,06,08,09,17,18,20); Luis Santana (04); Marcus DeWayne (11,12); Terrence Tyson (15,16,19)
OZONEMAG MAG////19 19 OZONE
10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
Be the Best Sexual Experience – From a male’s perspective, a bust it baby is that one female that when it comes to being intimate is the best over anyone else you’ve had contact with. Your bust it baby may or may not be your girlfriend, but she’s the best sexual experience you’ve ever had in your life. Regardless if you’re in a relationship or not, she just does it for you. She’s Got that Come-Back – I don’t think any of us have ever had sex with someone that was our best and we didn’t want a part of ‘em again. If she’s your best, you definitely gotta see her again. From a male or female perspective, anytime you have the opportunity to connect with a person physically, and they satisfy you in a way you’ve never been satisfied before, you always think about that person. Go-Getter – I always looked at the golddigger thing in a different light. I don’t see nothing wrong with a woman that doesn’t want to be with a broke man. I don’t wanna be with a broke female neither. I never looked at the golddigger thing as a bad thing. Just don’t let a woman get nothing from you that you don’t want them to have. Lady-like – That’s the type of woman I choose to deal with. She’s gotta be lady-like with the way she carries herself. I hate a loud woman. That’s the biggest turn-off ever to me. Freaky/Exotic – I’m a spur-of-the-moment type of dude and I need someone that can fulfill that need. She’s gotta be like that to do it for me. There’s different strokes for different folks but in my situation, I always want your imagination to run with me. I can’t give too much information on what I like because it [might not always be the same]. Sex Appeal – She’s gotta be attractive to the eye for me to even [be interested]. Flexibility – To have good sex she’s gotta be flexible. Great Stamina – Sometimes you might be in the mood for a quickie; you don’t want it to take all day. Sometimes you might be in the car and don’t have an extended period of time. But sometimes we gonna do it all night so I definitely feel like stamina is very important. Dirty Talker – I love a communicator. I love a dirty talker. “Pussy Like Water” – She’s gotta be super clean in terms of hygiene in her lower body parts.
Nominated for Best Album, Best Rap Artist, Best Rap/R&B Collaboration, & Club Banger of the Year As told to Ms. Rivercity // Photo by Bob Croslin 20 // OZONE MAG
(above L-R): Kardinal Offishal, Bun B, & David Banner @ Bar Rio for JB’s birthday bash in Houston, TX (Photo: Julia Beverly); Lil Boosie & Stax @ Blockwear in Jackson, MS (Photo: King Yella); DJ Khaled & TI @ Hot 107.9’s Birthday Bash in Atlanta, GA (Photo: Julia Beverly)
01 // Cristal Bubblin & 50 Cent @ 93.3 (Houston, TX) 02 // DJ Ro & Spindarella @ the NV Lounge (New Orleans, LA) 03 // Ed of Trill Images & Bankroll Jonez on the set of Bun B’s “You’re Everything” (Houston, TX) 04 // DJ Christion & Tay Dizm @ Wild 98 (Tampa, FL) 05 // Gator, BloodRaw, & Mike Fresh @ Phillips Arena for Hot 107 Birthday Bash (Atlanta, GA) 06 // Bun B & Queen @ Bar Rio for JB’s birthday bash (Houston, TX) 07 // Rocko & Killa Kyleon on the set of the Grit Boys “Now Later Paint” video shoot (Houston, TX) 08 // Lil Ru & Collard Greens @ Club Hypnotik (Florence, SC) 09 // Rick Ross & Carol City Cartel @ Club Skye (Tampa, FL) 10 // Crisco Kidd & Trae @ Reliant Arena for the 93.3 car show (Houston, TX) 11 // Juggie & Bonose TV @ Club Ampersand for the Apple Bottom model search (New Orleans, LA) 12 // Hoetester & Plies @ CD Connection for Plies in-store album signing (Jacksonville, FL) 13 // Maricia Magana & Kardinal Offishal @ Reliant Arena for the 93.3 car show (Houston, TX) 14 // Tattoo Smurf, Baby Boy, Flo Rida, Fi’Jah, & Tee @ The Venue (New Orleans, LA) 15 // Washington Wizards Stephen Jackson & Andre’ Pitre’ @ The New Orleans Arena (New Orleans, LA) 16 // Play & Skillz & Slim Thug @ TUMS (Dallas, TX) 17 // DJ Infamous, Don Cannon, DJ Drama @ Hot 107.9’s Birthday Bash (Atlanta, GA) 18 // Big Teach, guest, Pitbull, Orlando, Purple, & DJ Christion @ Club Skye (Tampa, FL) 19 // Ray J, Boomtown, & Shorty Mac on the set of the Boss Hogg Outlawz “Keep It Playa” video shoot (Houston, TX) Photo Credits: Julia Beverly (06,08,16,17); Knowledge (01,03,07,10,13,19); Luis Santana (04,09,18); Marcus DeWayne (02,11,14,15); Terrence Tyson (05,12)
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Listen to Music – I like to ride around and listen to music. I mess with a lot of CDs on the market. I like to critique music. Traveling – I like vacationing. I like going to the beach and going to different casinos. I like to gamble. Shopping – I like to go shopping in California, like L.A. or something. I like shopping at the mall they have in Orlando. I like shopping in Columbus, Ohio at the Polaris mall. In Atlanta I hit the Lennox Mall. Buying/Fixing Up Cars – I like buying cars. I like fixing up my cars and going to my detail shop in the hood, make sure my cars are straight. I’ll get my car painted, get some music in it, or get the interior done. My favorite car is my BMW M6 with the drop top. Dating Girls – I like going on dates to nice restaurants. Go to the Aquarium – I like to go to the aquarium in Atlanta. They’ve got a big aquarium with all kinds of fish in there, sharks, whales, dolphins. I’ve been down there two times [and] I’ma try to go up there again this summer. One time I went up there and saw a bunch of stars in there. It’s a lot of celebrities at the aquarium. It’s one of the best aquariums in the world. Reading – I like to read all the current magazines and books to get my vocabulary right. Spend Time with Family – I definitely like to spend time with my aunties and ‘em. Spend Time with Friends – I like to go see my friends. Sleep – I’ll get in some good rest. That’s the best thing. I’ll get in my big ol’ bed and lay down and rest my head.
Nominated for Mixtape Monster
As told to Ms. Rivercity
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(above L-R): Jim Jones & Shawty Lo on the set of Shawty Lo’s “Foolish” remix video shoot in Miami, FL (Photo: J Lash); Suga D & Plies @ CD Connection for Plies in-store album signing in Jacksonville, FL (Photo: Terrence Tyson); Bun B reppin’ Pimp C on the set of “You’re Everything” in Houston, TX (Photo: Julia Beverly)
01 // Julia Beverly, Vawn, & Jazze Pha @ Phillips Arena for Hot 107 Birthday Bash (Atlanta, GA) 02 // Young Jeezy & Gil Green on the set of DJ Khaled’s “Out Here Grindin’” (Brooklyn, NY) 03 // Bigga Rankin & Jim Beam @ SeaBreeze for Terrence Tyson’s birthday bash (Jacksonville, FL) 04 // Ernest, Bay Bay, Brittney & Lil Josh on the set of “Jigga Juice” (Baton Rouge, LA) 05 // Baby Boy, Flo Rida, & Grand Hussle @ The Venue (New Orleans, LA) 06 // Ace Hood, DJ Khaled, & BloodRaw @ Phillips Arena for Hot 107 Birthday Bash (Atlanta, GA) 07 // Slim Thug & Crisco Kidd @ Reliant Arena for the 93.3 car show (Houston, TX) 08 // Paul Wall & David Banner @ Bar Rio for JB’s birthday bash (Houston, TX) 09 // Bun B reppin’ UGK on the set of “You’re Everything” (Houston, TX) 10 // King Yella @ Skybox (St Louis, MO) 11 // Young B & DJ Chill on the set of Bun B’s “You’re Everything” (Houston, TX) 12 // Montana Mack & Bigga Rankin @ Club Christopher’s for Young Cash’s birthday bash (Jacksonville, FL) 13 // Whitey, RIP, Bryant D, & Rage @ Hang Time (Nashville, TN) 14 // Partnerz N Crime & Dizzy @ Dizzy’s video shoot (New Orleans, LA) 15 // Lil Ru & Rob Lo @ Club Hypnotik (Florence, SC) 16 // DJ Nasty & Papa Duck @ Club Voyage for Plies’ Myspace Secret Show (Orlando, FL) 17 // DJ Benny Boom & Bizzle @ Club Mirage (Miami, FL) 18 // DJ Scorpio, Kaspa the Don, & DJ Red Alert @ Esso for ATL Record Pool (Atlanta, GA) 19 // Crisco Kidd, Luscious Liz, & Big Boy @ 93.3 (Houston, TX) Photo Credits: Janiro Hawkins (13); Julia Beverly (02,08,09,15); King Yella (04,10); Knowledge (07,11,19); Lex (17); Marcus DeWayne (05,14); Ms Rivercity (18); Terrence Tyson (01,03,06,12,16)
OZONEMAG MAG////23 23 OZONE
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Larger Bank Account = More Handouts – A lot more zeros were added to my bank account. Three 6 Mafia has sold millions of records independently since we been out in ’91, so I had a lot of zeros to begin with. But I did get a lot of extra ones after the Oscar. And now, people know my face from the TV show so I got more people looking for handouts. I got people that I don’t even know walking up to me in the streets asking for money.
a guy at Karl Kani. Now I get a lot of calls for shows overseas.
A Lot of Extra Women – The caliber of women is…whoo! I could show you some pictures of these girls and you’d shit yourself. I’m not trying to toot my own horn, but I always had a good caliber of women to begin with. I just got a nice, nice caliber after the Oscar. Now I got the rich girls that I usually never got before. They ain’t the scary girls with gold teeth and tattoos like they were before. Cars – The cars actually got cheaper, to be honest. I done had every car you could name but I stopped doing that ‘cause cars depreciate too much. When I won the Oscar I was riding in a Rolls Royce Phantom. These days I got a Hummer and an S550 Mercedes and a Smart Car. The Smart Car is made by Mercedes Benz and it’s real small. It’s a lil bitty car that don’t use no gas. You can ride for $300 a year in gas. That’s what I use to go the grocery store or the studio, just for quick trips. I ain’t gon’ pull up to no fancy restaurant in it. It don’t use no gas. I got to the point where I was thinking, I spend my money on a lot of dumb shit like drugs and a lot of alcohol, but gas gotta be the dumbest thing in the world to waste money on! My Hummer was eating up over $100 a week in gas. I was like, this is dumb. That’s like throwing away a pair of Air Jordans every week and it don’t make no sense. I stopped wearing Air Jordans ‘cause they got so expensive. So why wouldn’t I buy Air Jordans, which is something I love, when I’m spending money on gas? Nigga, fucking gas? When the country took over the gas, or whatever they did, and the gas prices went up, I’m like fuck that! More Houses – Right now I’ve got two houses in L.A., two houses in Memphis, and a house in Florida. I’m finna start branching out into other countries. I had the two houses in Memphis and the house in Florida before the Oscar, but not the houses in L.A. My Florida house was on MTV Cribs. I was getting into buying properties before the Oscar, but afterwards I got into it more because I started seeing more. I saw how the property was so much more valuable in California than a lot of other places. Seeing More of the World – We did an overseas tour. We coulda went overseas before – we got called to do that but we never liked to fly. We still don’t like to fly. We always rode everywhere. We got two custom vans with flat screen TVs, refrigerators, Playstations, and everything. We never flew nowhere unless it was really serious. When we went to California we had to fly more so I got used to flying, and I got hooked up with my first overseas tour through
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We Have to Work Harder – Being in California opened my eyes. I got lazy when I was at home in Memphis all the time. I would just sit and BBQ and drink beer every fucking day. All my houses and stuff in the South were paid for ‘cause it was so much cheaper. I was to the point where I was like, “I don’t gotta go overseas. I didn’t really need the money.” But when I moved to California, it’s so much more expensive. It’s like triple the price of everything in the South [so] it gave me a whole new outlook on money and grinding. In order to maintain all my properties and keep living the way I am, and while I got all this stuff coming to me, I might as well take advantage of it. In L.A., every car you see is a Rolls Royce or a Maybach or a Ferrari, and I’m the type of guy that if I see something I want I go get it. It’s a Different Style in L.A. – If you go to L.A. and look at the news, and then you go back to the South and look at the news, tell me the difference you see. The women on the news in L.A. look like models. They have big ass titties! Some of the news ladies are even actresses on the side. I love my city, but it’s just a different style. The women on the news in Memphis look more like your auntie. The women on the news in L.A. look like your girlfriend or fuck partner. The Respect Level Increased – The respect level went up. We always had a lot of respect, we were never into bullshit, but it’s so much more now. I can go anywhere. You can take me to L.A. or drop me in any hood and I’ma come out with a hundred niggas that wanna roll with me. Right now I’m in a hotel in Miami; it’s packed with all kinds of cars. As soon as I walk outta here I get mad love from everybody. Bigger Fan Base – After the Oscar and the TV show, more people know us now. A lot of people think that Three 6 Mafia just started with “Stay Fly” and the Oscar, but we’ve been out here since ‘91. Things Move Faster – Everything hit all at one time. The last album was the true meaning of “watch what you wish for.” We had made a lot of money, but we had never been on the cover of a lot of major magazines. There were a lot of things we had never done even though we had sold more records than a bunch of people in the music business. We had never won any awards for nothing. The first award I ever won was the Oscar. I never won shit in my whole life! Man, I would twist open a Sprite top and wouldn’t win nothing. If I opened a Cracker Jack box it didn’t have the toy in the bottom of it. That’s how bad my luck was. But once we made that album, things changed overnight. It was the first time we had three strong, hit singles on one album. Then the Oscar came, then the TV show – shit just started rolling.
Nominated for Best Group As told to Ms Rivercity (by DJ Paul) // Photo by Ty Watkins
(above L-R): Ace Hood & Rick Ross on the set of DJ Khaled’s “Out Here Grindin’” in Brooklyn, NY; Collard Greens & DJ B-Lord @ Club Hypnotik in Florence, SC (Photos: Julia Beverly); Bun B & Slim Thug @ the Galleria’s Louis Vuitton store for Bun B’s private album release party in Houston, TX (Photo: Knowledge)
01 // 6Shot, Raj Smoove, & Grand Hussle’s Street Team Adrianne, Pinky, Nakeya, & Ralaiya (New Orleans, LA) 02 // Rob G, Crisco Kidd, & Michael Watts @ Bar Rio for JB’s birthday bash (Houston, TX) 03 // Plies in-store CD signing @ Brandsmart (Miami, FL) 04 // Red Cafe. Erick Sermon, & guest on the set of DJ Khaled’s “Out Here Grindin’” (Brooklyn, NY) 05 // Prima J & Cindy Hill @ Reliant Arena for the 93.3 car show (Houston, TX) 06 // Play & Skillz & Bun B on the set of Bun B’s “You’re Everything” (Houston, TX) 07 // Ladies reppin’ Citrus CRUNK!!! Energy Drink @ Studio 72 (Atlanta, GA) 08 // Tony Yayo & 50 Cent @ 93.3 (Houston, TX) 09 // DJ Drama & DJ Holiday @ Club Crucial for ATL Record Pool (Atlanta, GA) 10 // Malik Abdul & Tony Neal @ Templo Lounge (Miami, FL) 11 // Derek Jurand, Aleshia Steele, & guest @ TUMS (Dallas, TX) 12 // Ace Hood, J Lash, & ladies @ Summerfest 2008 (Miami, FL) 13 // Tom G & Orlando @ Club Skye (Tampa, FL) 14 // Video models on the set of Shawty Lo’s “Foolish” remix video shoot (Miami, FL) 15 // Oddz N Endz & Slim on the set of Slim’s video shoot (Atlanta, GA) 16 // Supastar J-Kwik & DJ Kool-Aid @ 4th of July party (Jacksonville, FL) 17 // Tiffany J & Willy Northpole @ Patchwerk for BloodRaw’s listening party (Atlanta, GA) 18 // Steve Jackson & Bun B @ the Galleria’s Louis Vuitton store for Bun B’s private album release party (Houston, TX) 19 // T-Roy & Plies @ CD Connection for Plies in-store album signing (Jacksonville, FL) Photo Credits: Ben Rose (07); Edward Hall (11); J Lash (03,12,14); Julia Beverly (02,04); Knowledge (05,06,08,18); Luis Santana (13); Marcus DeWayne (01); Ms Rivercity (09,17); Terrence Tyson (10,16,19); Vinnet Bradshaw (15)
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Grind Hard – Definitely go hard at whatever you do. You gotta be a go-getter to keep the cash flowing. You can’t sit down or anything like that. Stay Away From Groupies – You gotta stay away from them to keep your cash flowing! Touch Other Countries – You have to build a network bigger, touch other fans that will go out and get your music, buy your albums, and stuff like that. Stay Hot – You gotta stay relevant. If you stay in the rap game or music game, you gotta stay hot to keep the cash flowing. Own Something – Another way you can generate cash is by owning something like a house. That way if you want to rent it or sell it, you can make money. Invest Your Money – Invest in something that’s worth investing into. I might invest in a restaurant or something like that, maybe a clothing line. Pay the IRS – You’ve got to pay the IRS. If you don’t, they’re gonna take away your cash flow. Keep a Positive Circle – You’ve gotta have positive people around you in order to generate the right amount of funds. Be the Best Like We the Best – You gotta be the best at what you’re doing. Give 10% to the Church – Putting God first is definitely the #1 way to keep your cash flowing.
Nominated for Patiently Waiting Florida
As told to Ms. Rivercity // Photo by Wuz Good
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Shakira – Have you seen Shakira? Oh my God! You see the way she moves? Kimora Lee Simmons – I just like her sassiness. She’s got very sassy ways about her. Angelina Jolie – You see those sexy lips? She got sexy ass eyes too. Yeah, she can get it. Cameron Diaz – She’s got little sexy ways about her. She’s powerful. I like her power in her movies. Katy Perry – Katy Perry is the truth. I fucks with Katy Perry. She’s sexy as fuck. She got this song called “I Kissed a Girl.” You know, I kissed a girl too. I kissed a girl, then I kissed a girl again. Then I felt like Britney, “Oops, I Did it Again!” I guess that makes me a lesbian now. Esther Baxter – For the simple fact that Esther Baxter is stacked like a muthafucker. She’s the truth. Got to give her props. You can’t take nothing from her. Lil Kim – I’d do Lil Kim on the simple fact that she’s a vet in the game. Sylvia Rhone – I’d bang Sylvia Rhone. What’s wrong with that? Ain’t nothing wrong with Sylvia Rhone. She’s an old sexual lady. You can tell back in her days she was a straight tiger. Vivica Fox – Vivica, man! I feel like Eddie Murphy on his first song, “Put your mouth on me.” Stacey Dash – That doesn’t have to be explained. Everything about that doesn’t need to be explained. Stacey Dash, she can truly, truly get it.
Nominated for Patiently Waiting Georgia As told to Maurice Garland // Photo by Zach Wolfe
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You Hate on My Song – Every time “Haterz Everywhere” comes on in the club people you start hating on it. Birds of a Feather Stick Together – You find yourself attracted to people that hate the same things you hate. You Can’t Stand to See Me Shine – You’re hating as you’re reading this article. Your Middle Finger is Always Up – Your middle finger is your favorite one to use. You Hate on Michael Vick – You were happy to see Mike Vick go to jail. You Hate on Obama – If you’re not gonna vote for Obama as President, you’re hating. You probably won’t even vote at all. Haterade is Your Favorite – You even thought Haterade was an actual drink. You’re Confused About Your Hater Status – At this moment you’re still wondering if you’re a hater or not. If in doubt, assume you are one. You’re in Denial – Anytime you hear the word hater, you’re the first to say, “That ain’t me.” You Don’t Support B.o.B. – If you don’t own the B.o.B. 12th Dimension EP, you’re a hater.
Nominated for Mixtape Monster, Best Mixtape, & Patiently Waiting Georgia As told to Ms. Rivercity // Photo by Wuz Good
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It’s Feel Good Music – It’s music you can play in the house or car when you’re feeling down. It’ll make you think about a lot of things in life and get your perspective in order. The Streets Love Me – The album is gonna show you why the streets love BloodRaw. It’s Motivation – Buying my album is gonna bring reality in your life. It’s not just about my life. You’re gonna be able to understand that you need to make some better choices or different decisions. It’s motivation for cats who’ve ever been in trouble. It lets them know that it’s not the end of the road just ‘cause you a felon. You can be successful even if your mother or father wasn’t there. It’s an album that lets you know that we need to stop making excuses. We need to put things behind us and get on with our lives. We can all be whatever we want to be if we put God first.
It’s a True Testimony – The lyrics are about real life situations. The lyrics are relevant and meaningful. They’re everything that needs to be said about what’s going on in the world. It’s Music For the Soul – The soul is something that needs to be fed. Listening to my music will give you a feeling like you’ve been there before, you’ve been through that, or you’ve seen that and you’re glad somebody is talkin’ about it. It’s some of the things people want to say but can’t. Check My Resume – I gave you Indictment Papers. I gave you Triple Beam Dreams. I gave you Against All Odds. I gave you I’m Done Bullshitting. Features Your Favorite Artists – I got Young Jeezy on the album, of course. I got Lyfe Jennings, Trina, Mannie Fresh, Slick Pulla, Big Rube – he did all the spoken words for Outkast.
Production – I got J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League, Drumma Boy, Mannie Fresh, The Runners, Midnight Black, and the Nasty 1. The production is what gets people’s attention. That’s what makes you get into the music and feel where the artist is coming from. If the beat gets your attention, then you’ll listen to the artist, especially with me being a new artist. Producers get a lot of credit for making albums become classic albums. It’s the producer and the artist put together. It’s a Banger – It’s good music. I got this Mannie Fresh record called “Almost There.” It applies to everybody; anyone that’s trying to get to the championship and it lets ‘em know that we almost there. There’s another one the females need to look out for with my girl Trina called “What’s Happenin’.” It’s about dudes trying to get at females. It’s about how I approach the situation. It’s a Classic – The way it was thought up, the format, the creativity, and the topics all make it a classic. Everything about the album was put together like a classic, from the production to the features. It’s not too much, not too little.
Nominated for Most Slept-On Artist As told to Ms Rivercity // Photo by Terrence Tyson
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Robin Givens – I didn’t really have a long conversation with her or nothing, I just seen her and had a brief conversation. I grew up watching Boomerang and all that so it was weird. Ray J – I think I was just like everybody else in music – you listen to his songs and think they’re good but in your mind you never think you’ll meet that person or talk to ‘em, socialize or kick it with ‘em. Prior to me meeting him, I didn’t really think he was the cat that he is. He’s an actor on all them television shows and he’s a fly boy so when you meet him you’d think he’s bougie or stuck-up. But in reality, he’s just a nigga from the streets. He ain’t no different. Rick Ross – I met him before I got a deal. After the deal, we kicked it at studios or whatever. You wouldn’t think Rick Ross the Boss would have known shit about me or my music or talk to me on some G shit or respect me. But when I met him he was a cool ass dude. He talked to me and explained different shit I should try with my records. We had some good conversations. I ain’t expect him to be open and be the individual that he is. He’s definitely a hard worker. The President of My Record Label [Universal], Monty Lipman – I had heard so much about him and never thought he’d be the individual that he is. I met a lot of executives before I got my deal but when I met him, he was just different. He won’t bullshit with you or none of that. He was cool. A lot of record label execs were bullshitting with me but he believed in me as an artist more than just the one record I had out. He saw my movement and my potential and looked as me as being no different than Nelly. I appreciated that. Trey Songz – I met him in Vegas and it was funny – he was crazy drunk when I met him. He had a full cup of Cognac and was like “What’s up!” – all spilling his drink everywhere. Him being an R&B cat, I didn’t think he smoked and kicked it like that. But dude is really gangsta, really street. He was twisted. Nigga cool. BloodRaw and Slick Pulla – I met them niggas and they fucked with me. This is some funny ass shit – before I got a deal, Bloodraw came to my house to do a record ‘cause I was on house arrest. I was fucking with this chick that wanted two miniature [dogs] so I bought a boy and a girl. When Blood came to my house, the girl had just went into heat and she got stuck together with the boy dog. So he comes to my house and it’s two dogs stuck together in my living room. He was fucking with me like, “What, you got a farm or something over here?”
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Winky Wright – Me and Winky Wright kick it crazy. We play hoops together. He’s my people. Whenever we’re in the same city we’ll hit each other. I was in New York and he hit me like, “Come to this boxing match.” I was in Florida at Chuck E. Cheese for my girl’s birthday and it was his son’s birthday so we were out there kicking it too. He’s real good people. He’s real down-toearth. I figured niggas wouldn’t be like that but they are. Nas – I met Nas recently at the BET Awards briefly. He was out there just like every other artist. I didn’t get to have too much conversation with him but I really respected him. He wasn’t really doing nothing that I’m not doing. He was in there doing interviews and DVD shit – just grinding. Yung Berg –Me and Yung Berg are cool as fuck too. I like that new single “The Business” he’s got out right now too. It’s crazy as fuck. He hit me about the video like, “Yo, what’s up.” I spent my own money to fly to L.A. and jump in the nigga’s video. Fat Joe – I fuck with him stronger than anybody else. I was doing the promotions thing before I got my deal and I brought him down for a couple of shows. I did DJ Christion’s party in Tampa. Tampa was fucking with my record before anyone else. Christion had this big party and ain’t nobody really knew who I was but they knew of the record. And this nigga Fat Joe was on the stage – he knew me from Bradenton – and he kept saying my name like 100 times. Between every song he was like, “That’s 2 Pistols! I see ya in the corner. That’s my nigga. I really fuck with him.” Fat Joe has been in the game for years and everybody saw that he fucked with me like that. The next day he hit me and invited me to Miami for Memorial Day Weekend. I didn’t have no deal or nothing then; he just really fucked with me.
Nominated for Best Rap/R&B Collaboration As told to Ms. Rivercity Photo by Jonathan Mannion
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I Promote Memphis in May – That’s one of the biggest events we’ve got in Memphis. They’ve got the best BBQ in the world. If you ain’t never been out to Memphis in May, please come out next year. Last year Fergie performed, the Black Eyed Peas, Three 6 Mafia, and Nelly. It takes place the whole month of May. We got crazy performances – from country, to rock, to R&B, to rap; every genre of music. The kids love it as well. It’s right on the river at Tom Lee Park. Don’t miss it in 2009. I Rep Memphis Titans – That’s my #1 team of all time. I like to put them on the map as much as possible. I grew up in Memphis. That’s who I was supposed to play ball for. I gotta keep them right there on tuck. Them my homies. Pass on Knowledge – To me knowledge is the key. Knowledge is more important than money, power, or respect. Without knowledge, most people won’t get respect and without respect you don’t get money. Without getting money, you damn sure ain’t gonna be powerful. That’s how I roll. If it ain’t beneficial, it ain’t necessary. That’s my motto. Ever since I’ve been living my life like that my life’s been great. I try to pass that on. Give Back to the Community – That’s a must. We’re into a couple of years of the hood Celebrity Basketball Game. That’s an annual charity thing we do to put money back in the city and the streets, especially for the kids. I do another thing with a couple of the other organizations in Memphis called Dreams Do Come True. On Thanksgiving we provide turkeys, dressing, yams, greens and just let everybody come eat, make sure everybody gets fed. We gotta do as much community service as possible. Create and Invent New Styles – Anytime you see me on the red carpet or in the clubs, you’ll see my flavor and swag. I don’t dress like nobody else. We got our own Drum Squad clothing. I just do me and represent myself and be as fashionable as possible. I dress to impress. When I look good, Memphis looks good. Encourage Others to Have Faith in Their Dreams – Without a dream you ain’t nothing. I’m trying to encourage the younger generation to keep them dreams alive ‘cause without that you ain’t got no passion. You ain’t alive without a dream. Put Forth 100% – My work ethic is motivation for others. The next, younger generation back home hits me on Myspace and tells me I’m the reason they making beats or I’m the reason they’re out the street. I’m making music an outlet for a lot of underprivileged kids to get out of the hood like basketball once was. Dudes are getting into music and making beats to get out of the hood. They see that if I did it, they can do it too.
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Deliver Quality Product – Quality music is important. I represent Memphis music. Anyone who is a fan of my music is a fan of Memphis music. That’s where I was birthed. Put Others in Position – I’ve got several other producers on the staff that I’m developing and encouraging. We’ve got a couple of artists from the city on the team – the Drum Squad label. We got street teams and crews that hit all of the events; make sure our flyers are throughout the whole city. When anyone comes through the city they see us and know we got the whole city locked down. Standing for City with My Success – My success represents Memphis’ success. Anything I do or accomplish, the city accomplishes.
Nominated for Best Producer As told to Ms. Rivercity // Photo courtesy of Helio PR
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Trying to Go From Nothing to Having Something – I got a song on the album called “And I” talking about coming from nothing to having something. You switch your whole flavor up – your clothes, your car game. It’s about upgrading. They See Other People Doing It – Some muthafuckas are just out there tryin’ some shit but they might not know what comes with it. They Trapped – Sometimes they might get in trouble and can’t go do nothing else. They get trapped in the trap. Sometimes they’re there ‘cause they ain’t got no other choice. Ain’t no turning back. Sellin’ Pussy – He might be on the corner sellin’ some pussy. Waiting on a Bus – A lot of folks in Atlanta gotta use the transit [system] so they might be at the bus stop or something. Holdin’ Another Nigga’s Work – He might be holdin’ another nigga’s work or trying to do they own lil’ shit. Watchin’ Other Niggas – They standin’ on the corner lookin’ for another nigga on the corner. He finna make his move on another nigga. Some muthafuckas watch other mu’fuckas, that’s they whole hustle. They Ain’t Got Nowhere to Go – They fucked up. They waitin’ for something to pop off, tryin’ to get on some kind of hustle. Niggas tryin’ to get some money and get somewhere. Trying to Get Them Packs Off – If their corner is in a drug-infested area, they pro’lly tryin’ to get on some work and sell their shit. Ain’t No Reason to Be On the Corner – They’re really ain’t too many good reasons to be on the corner. Sometimes muthafuckas just don’t go no other option.
Nominated for Breakthrough Artist As told to Ms. Rivercity
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Wonder Woman – I would have to compare Trina to Wonder Woman. They just have the same style. Batman – I’ma have to go with Jeezy on this one. Jeezy’s always had that dark style going on; that real hood, street shit. Flash – Flash would be Twista, of course.
Superman – Hov is Superman all day. Superman would definitely be like Jay-Z. Hulk – I’d have to say the Hulk would be compared to Lil Wayne. Wayne’s a pretty mellow guy outside the booth, but when he gets in there he turns into a beast. Yeah!
Nominated for Best Producer As told to Ms. Rivercity by Kenny Photo by Julia Beverly
Jeezy’s “Don’t Get Caught” from Thug Motivation 101 – You got to put that one up there because that’s the first one that really put us out there and we were very, very new when we worked with Jeezy and banged that one out. 2 Pistols f/ T-Pain “She Got It” – That’s the biggest club joint we’ve had so far. We saw the potential in 2 Pistols and that song. When we first got together with him, we knew the potential was there. We just knew it had to be done right. We had to go back and re–record it and make sure it was right, but I knew it was gonna be huge. “Bury Me a G” by Young Jeezy – That one is particularly hard to me because we worked on that track and really gave it a huge sound, relative to where it was before. We started off with the sample, with a monumental track, and Jeezy came behind it and really stepped it up with the story he told. I like that track. It’s got choirs, guitars, pianos, and everything else you can think of. Mary J. Blige’s “No One Will Do” – Mary always kills it, but on that particular track she started the album off with a banger. That was her first song on The Breakthrough album. She showed a lot of emotion right there. Rick Ross featuring Jay-Z “Maybach Music” – I loved that one because once again we teamed up and did our thing on the production tip. We came in and added a lot of instrumentation. We really took our time with that beat. We went back and make sure everything was right. When we heard Ross’ first verse and then heard Jay’s verse after that, it was crazy.
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Dallas, TX – I can’t even remember the name because this strip club was so crazy. I went in there with one of my homeboys who got about $150 million. Me and all the homies went in the back to the VIP and every girl that worked in the club came back there. It went from the homie making it thunder to girls doing any and everything you can imagine inside this room. It was so crazy, something I’ve never experienced before. When I left, I went right to sleep. Onyx – Houston, TX – Whoa! Onyx is outta control. When I used to go to Onyx, we would go in at about 3 AM and leave when the sun came up. After we partied and spent about 2 or 3 stacks, they would come out with pancakes and bacon and French toast. When you’ve been drunk in the club all night,the next thing you wanna do is eat. They provide that for you with the best breakfast. It’s like being in a high-end restaurant and strip club at the same time. The Players Club – Bronx, NY – DJ Kay Slay and myself did a party at The Players Club. He always throws parties there and he did a couple parties for me. It was so packed you couldn’t even move in there. The outside was so packed the police had to shut it down. It was unbelievable. The girls were fly. Kay Slay gave out about $5,000 for a booty contest. It was so many chicks on stage doin’ the do. Unforgettable. Diamonds – Miami, FL – Crazy! We did a Ray J/Knock Out/Koch party out there. It was bananas. There was about 20 girls in this one little box just butt naked, all on each other. It looked out of control. It was sexy. The after-event was unexplainable. The ending was as happy as it could get. Strokers – Atlanta, GA – I think that’s the one that Shawty Redd put me onto. It’s live. It felt like a club in there. Everybody’s cool. The chicks are cool. The vibe is real chill. You can drink and have a good time. I love Strokers. We did it big in there.
Nominated for Best Rap/R&B Collabo As told to Julia Beverly // Photo by Ray Tamarra
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Party in the Club Scene – All us round up and hit the club scene. Club Crucial is on Bankhead. I go up there on Thursday or Saturday. Club ESSO on Fridays and Saturdays. Velvet Room on Sunday. I also like PURE Atlanta. Hit the Club Scene Again – We party all night ‘til the sun comes up, then we do it again. Kick It In the Hood – After I get my jewelry cleaned I head back to the hood and kick it with my homies in Bowen Homes. When I’m in town I holla at all the players and ballers in Zone 1 and Zone 6. I might go over to Bricks 20 off Candler Road or Adamsville. I fuck with my pa’tnas in Decatur too – Gucci Mane and ‘em.
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Phipps Plaza – I like to go to Saks in Phipps Plaza. That’s where I get my cologne. After I get my cologne, I go to the Gucci shop. Shine Up the Jewelry – Before I go out to my shows, I go get my jewelry and everything cleaned up. My jeweler’s name is Sonny. He owsn a couple of jewelry stores – one in Greenbriar Mall, one in the Cobb Galleria Mall, and a few other stores too. Lennox Mall – We like to go out to Lennox Mall. Everybody likes to bring their good cars out to Lennox and put it in valet on a good day. I like to go to Metro Park. That’s one of the best stores I go to. I like Soulstice. Go to the Car Wash – On a good day I like to pull the whips out and take ‘em to a car wash on Bankhead, get ‘em cleaned up and wiped down. I pull out the Mercedes on a good day. Hit the Hood Mall – I go to Greenbriar Mall. That’s over there on my side of town, the Westside area. I go there to get my white tees, black tees, Air Force Ones, and my A hats. Eat Soul Food – I like to eat at K & K Soul Food on Bankhead and Chantrelle’s over there in the West End. Those are my two favorites. Hit the Strip Clubs – I’ll hit the Blue Flame. It’s on my strip on Bankhead. It be poppin’. When I get home from shows on Monday I like to hit the Blue Flame. I also like Magic City and Onyx.
Nominated for Best Rap Album, Breakthrough Artist, & Club Banger As told to Ms Rivercity
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Get Like Me – You have to change your original name to Cartier Benjamin, like me. Watch all my videos and get all my CDs to learn how to be a Rich Boy. Get my mixtape Bigger Than Tthe Mayor. Rep Alabama – You have to be born in Alabama like me. Your Girl Gotta Have a Girlfriend – You need to have at least two to three ménage a trios a year. Always Put God First – God has given me my success, most definitely. That’s who I would credit. Be Yourself – Always be original. I feel like I’m original ‘cause I grew up around a lot of soul music instead of rap. I’m true to myself and people really love it. I listened to a lot of old stuff like Marvin Gaye and Curtis Mayfield. I like music like that, even Keith Sweat. I want to have a lot of soul on my next album so I’m going back and listening to some of the older music. Love What You Do – You gotta really love it. You can’t just want a huge check. Be High Class and Country at the Same Time – You have to know how to be high class and country at the same time. That’s the definition of my style and finesse. Expand Your Business – I might start a car care center. I might open up a shoe store. There’s just so many things you can do. You have to build yourself. Be Creative with Your Thinking – You have to think of ways to make money, not spend money. Believe in Yourself – With my situation, I believe in myself so much. That’s most important.
Nominated for Best Mixtape/Street Album As told to Ms Rivercity // Photo by Jessica Hatter
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Taiwan – The only time I had ever heard of Taiwan was when I looked at different products that said “Made in Taiwan.” I was like, “They listen to music over there?” We got there and my hotel was across the street from the club. Prior to the show I was getting a massage at my hotel and decided to walk outside. I had to go back in ‘cause the line was around the entire block. I had to sneak in the back door of the club. The VIP was crazy. What really stood out was when I was on stage. I was wondering why everybody had their I.D. in the air. One person was like, “Give me a happy birthday shout out.” I didn’t realize there were a lot of American fans there and they were trying to show me they was from the U.S. I was like, why are they holding out their I.D.s? Is that some new type of swag? Malaysia – They had me as a headliner for a big Hennessy event recently. I was scared to perform ‘cause a lot of times when I perform I take off my shirt. They told me, “This time if you take off your shirt you’ll get the death penalty.” A lady told me, “You’d be surprised. You don’t gotta take your shirt off all the way. Just act like you’re gonna take it off and watch what happens.” Man, them people went crazy. They called police and stuff to stand by the stage. As far as being loud, those were the craziest fans. It was probably about 5,000 people but it seemed like it was about 20,000. That’s how energetic they were. I was so overwhelmed how they responded off of everything I said even though they don’t know the [English] language. Germany – I did a show about an hour and a half away from the hotel. Right after the show it was a bunch of girls and guys that wanted autographs. It got so crazy I had to leave. When I got back to the hotel, it was people in the lobby and by my room door. They had to change my room and everything. Belgium – I’ve never seen Boys II Men perform and I actually got to see them perform while I was there. I did a lot of television shows and magazine covers. I like the fans because as soon as I got to the hotel it was nothing but fans there. It was a high school across the street from my hotel and they were just screaming “Flo-Rida!” That stood out. England – I got to work with one of the hottest female rap artists there; we did a remix to one of her songs. I did a lot of television too. The fans there really know your music. They go into detail like never before. I had to sign autographs at the radio stations and most of the audience was a bunch of older people. One of the ladies was like 50 years old and she was like, “I love ‘Get Low’.” I asked her if she goes to the club and she said, “No, but I heard your song and I love it.”
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Sweden – Going to the airport, I was thinking, “Okay, I’ve been to all these other places, so maybe I’m just going to do radio.” But the clerks at the airport had my CDs and everything. When I first got off the plane to check in and find out where to go, they didn’t know who I was – I had on a hat. But when they found out who I was they were pulling out CDs. I was like, how did they get my CDs? I guess they knew I was gonna come. That definitely stood out for me. Paris – I’ve been there two times. I had went there first on a promo tour and they were telling me, “Next time you come here everyone’s going to know you.” The next time I was there, I was walking down the street coming from a club, and a cab driver stopped all the traffic and told me he had seen me in a club in New York and I performed real good. He caused a traffic jam getting out of his car to come say “what’s up” to me. Japan – I opened up for MTV Japan. Mariah Carey was there, Paris Hilton, Fergie, Nelly, everybody was there, and we all hung out at the afterparties. Everywhere I went in Japan, as soon as I got off the plane, they’d see me from blocks away. They would be like, “Flo-Rida!” I’d never been there before and they knew who I was. It was crazy. I performed at almost every television show out there and at each show they had literally 100 girls around me dancing. Canada – I’ve been there a lot of times. I did the Canadian MTV Awards. I opened up the show and they had me flying off of a five story building onto the stage. That was my first time in a harness. I was so scared. They had helicopters watching over me. It was a grand entrance opening up for MTV. That was pretty big. I performed with Simple Plan. We did a rock version of “Low.” Philippines – I performed at one of the largest malls in the world. I performed at like five different malls and did all the television shows out there. It was basically the same thing, except the traffic over there is so crazy. They had the police escort me out of there because the fans were so crazy. Those were the craziest fans I’ve ever seen in my life. They will actually attack you and rip you apart.
Nominated for Breakthrough Artist & Club Banger of the Year As told to Ms Rivercity // Photo by Chad Griffith
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Hip Hop Police Secretly Love Rappers – They love rap and want to help first week album sales by taking whichever rapper is dropping an album this week to jail. Flavor Flav is the New Hugh Hefner – It annoys them that Flavor Flav was able to become the new Hugh Hefner so they take it out on the rest of the rappers. Rappers Make Way More Money than Police – They are pissed off that Lil Wayne could sell that many records in a week and that Baby could blow up exotic cars in his videos like it’s nothing. Police Can’t Make It Rain Like Rappers – Police get upset at rappers that can make it rain a police officer’s whole year’s salary in one night at the strip club. Tour Buses Are an Easy Target – Tour buses are easy to spot and are too slow for rappers to get away. Birth Control – They think that if they lock up all the rappers it will lessen the chances of their daughters getting pregnant.
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Gas Too Expensive for High Speed Chases – Gas prices are too high and it’s cheaper for them to park outside of a club venue, holla at some groupies, and wait for somethin’ to pop off. They’re Tired of Rappers Clownin’ Cops – Every rap music video presents the image that police run slow and they ain’t feelin’ all the “police eat too many donuts” references. Myspace Bragging Rights – All police officers have Myspace pages and they like to have rapper mugshots to use as their default pictures. Felons Can’t Vote – They know felons can’t vote and they think all the rappers will vote for Obama (who will eventually paint the white house black and make UGK’s “International Players Anthem” the official national anthem).
Nominated for Best Video As told to Ms. Rivercity // Photo by Jonathan Mannion
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Houston’s Musical Influence/History – We had our run where Screw Music was introduced to the whole world and I think a lot of the music that’s out right now was influenced by Houston artists. We never have awards shows here and it’s time for people to come down here and see the culture. It’s a good way to pay homage to DJ Screw. I think he’d be real proud that somebody wanted to have something here. People really need to go by the Screw Shop when they’re in town and get them old-school tapes, see where Paul Wall got “Sittin Sideways” from. That’s the foundation. It Brings Unity to Houston – It brings unity to a lot of artists in Houston. We feel like we got something going on. It Brings Exposure to Houston – We were just independent at first. It brings more exposure back to us. We ain’t fell off. It gives opportunities for other artists that aren’t from here to do collaborations. They can maybe work with artists they haven’t had a chance to work with yet. Houston is Beautiful – It’s a beautiful city. It’s the fourth largest city in the country. There’s a lot more to Houston than just the popular conception, what you see on TV. It’s a big city just like L.A. and New York.
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Nightlife – Every time Diddy comes to town he goes to Club Hush to throw his parties. Trae the Truth got his club in the hood. Downtown is where all the bougie girls be. Houston Has Southern Hospitality – When I go other places, like in Miami, they don’t give a damn who you are. They ain’t letting you in the club if they don’t want to. It ain’t like that in Houston. It’s respect. If Rick Ross comes through, it’s gon’ be respect. Diversity – There’s a lot of diversity in Houston. People need to come experience it first hand. Experience the Soul Food – When people think of the South, they think of the soul food. You can go to Frenchy’s [Chicken]. There’s so many places to eat – Boudreaux’s, a lot of seafood. Shopping – The Galleria Mall is the upscale mall. Then there’s King’s Flea Market. TV Johnny’s shop is at the Sharpstown Mall. That’s where the locals go to shop for clothing and jewelry. The GRiT Boys are in Houston – The nomination is real big for us because we don’t have a lot of support from radio or media. We’re a predominantly underground group. Being nominated in the same category with UGK and Three 6 Mafia is a big accomplishment at this point in our career. It lets us know we’re on the right track.
Nominated for Best Group As told to Ms Rivercity
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Ray Paul Massaun – Ray Paul has a genuine, authentic hood flare. Everybody just likes him, even people who don’t really know him. His superstar quality is so real. Vistoso Bosses – It’s two girls in the group. They’re young – like 16 or 17 years old. They’re super talented. They’re gonna be the next TLC. The whole concept of the group is to be role models for young females. Young females have nobody to look up to. The female role models are Beyonce, Fergie, Mary J. Blige, Ashanti, Mariah Carey, and Janet Jackson, and most of these women are older. The whole image with Vistoso Bosses – the stuff they do with their hair and clothes – is not negative. It’s not hoochie. It’s kinda like how TLC came out with the baggy clothes, they weren’t half naked. It’s a whole other vibe I think the girls and young women are really gonna like.
Ace Hood – His energy and his ability to rap is his true talent. He has what it takes to take the We the Best music brand to another level for DJ Khaled.
YV – YV has what it takes to be the next Nelly. He has the style. He’s very creative and he’s different from what everybody else is trying to be. He’s being himself and I think a lot of people are gonna be able to relate to him and the stuff he talks about in his raps.
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Cutty Cartel – Cutty is one of the original members of Jim Crow with Polow and Mr. Mo. He has a solo deal with Warner Brothers. He’s an all around superstar. Maino – He has an incredible story. A lot of stuff he’s gone through in his life is gonna allow him to be a real factor in the game. He’s bringing his history and real life experiences to Hip Hop. If his first record blows he’ll have a really good chance. If the people buy into his story, it’ll be real official. You got a lot of artists who have a real story but sometimes they can’t sell it to the public. I think Maino will be able to sell it. Rock City – They’re superstars. They’re great producers, incredible songwriters and performers. When you’ve got all those ingredients and you’re signed a label like Interscope through Akon and Devyne Stephens, it’s kinda hard for you to lose.
OJ Da Juiceman – A lot of people who are into Hip Hop and rap may not understand his style, but he’s another person that people like. And when people like you, it’s not all about being the best rapper or the best lyricist. It’s about your star quality as a person. Even some of the best rappers from back in the day weren’t the best lyricists, but they sold a lot of records.
Lil Chuckee – He’s like a 20-something-year-old Ludacris trapped in a kid’s body. He’s one of those artists who’s always in your face. He’s always in the right places at the right time. His ability to speak while being so young is just crazy. His whole swag and personality is gonna allow him to take the Young Money brand to a whole other level.
Keri Hilson – Keri can be to Atlanta what Mary J. Blige is to New York. We have a lot of superstar females in Atlanta from Xscape to Monica, but I think by Keri not coming into the game big as an artist first, it’s allowed her to have an education that’s gonna make her career a lot bigger than other females. She also has the star quality that’s gonna make her big. Even though she’s more of a pop artist, she’s still a girl from Decatur who’s been raised around the best of the best artists in the hood. Honorable Mentions: Brisco, Gorilla Zoe, Chilly Chill
Nominated for Tastemaker of the Year, DJ of the Year As told to Ms. Rivercity
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“Slap” – Ludacris – That was a different record for us and Luda. “Come In” – Day 26 – That’s off their debut album. It was like an old-school R&B record. The whole vibe and instrumentation was different for us. It was a really dope R&B record. “Didn’t I Tell You” – Keyshia Cole featuring Too $hort – We’re about to go back in with her on this new album. But I like that one ‘cause there’s two sides to The Runners – the hardcore Rap side and then there’s the R&B side. This was the first time we really combined the sounds. Keyshia was a great person to do that with ‘cause she fits that mold. “Damage” – Chris Brown – That’s a big one for us ‘cause it was a ballad. It was something we showed the world we could do. “Money On My Mind” – Lil Wayne – I guess you could call that a street hit for Lil Wayne. That was one of our first placements before “Hustlin.” It was real dope working with Wayne. “Cash Flow” – Ace Hood featuring T-Pain – It was something different for us. It was a little different from what we normally do. “Go Getta” – Young Jeezy featuring R. Kelly – Jeezy is one of our favorite artists. Just to work with him and do a hit record with him and R. Kelly – the King of R&B – was an honor. “Out Here Grindin” – DJ Khaled featuring Akon, Rick Ross, Young Jeezy, Lil Boosie, Ace Hood, & Plies – That’s the new one. First off, the combination of music and all the artists on it is just incredible. Khaled did a remarkable job putting it together with Boosie and the way Plies comes in. It debuted on the Top 100 at #38 in the first week. That’s the actual Hot 100, not the Rap and R&B charts. That’s a nice start for us. “I’m So Hood” – DJ Khaled featuring Trick Daddy, Rick Ross, T-Pain, & Plies – That was our biggest record as far as charts. “Hustlin’” – Rick Ross – That’s got to be our all time favorite because it was the first record that really solidified us. We came into the game with Rick Ross, both of us together.
Nominated for Best Producer As told to Ms Rivercity
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Consistency – We consistently put out good music. That’s so important in today’s market ‘cause it’s so much music out there that people’s attention spans are growing shorter and shorter. If you don’t consistently put out music to keep your name out there, people will forget about you like you never happened. It was different back in the day when artists put out records every two years. That was cool ‘cause you were anticipating it. But now if you wait two or three years between records, people think you died or something. For us it’s been easy to do ‘cause all we do is make music. It’s something that comes naturally to us.
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Building Anticipation – We had the opportunity to put out three albums, and in between those albums we put out three mixtapes as well, which were almost like albums with all the original material. The fans can’t wait to hear how we’ve improved. My whole rhyme game has improved with every album. Now that 9th Wonder isn’t part of the group anymore, they anticipate hearing what we’ve got on the production. They anticipate hearing what we’re gonna come up with next. They know the music is gonna be dope, but what else are we gonna bring ‘em this time?
Take ‘Em By Surprise – The first two albums had heavy themes involved. People got accustomed to that so when we came out with Getback people were waiting to hear what the new theme was gonna be. We actually surprised them by not having a theme.
Taking Advantage of Technology – We’ve been able to adapt to the internet world. I think we were one of the first groups to start that whole thing where groups become stars on the internet. That’s how we got a deal. That’s how people heard of us. It played a major role in the beginning stages of Little Brother. We’ve embraced that ever since. We run our own Myspace pages. We’re heavily involved in our website. Everything you see or hear from us on the internet, 9 times out of 10 we’ve had our hands on it.
We’re Soulful – When you hear a Little Brother song it’s gonna touch a certain nerve in you no matter who you are or where you’re from or how much money you’ve got. It touches everybody in a different way. That’s what soul music is all about. We’ve got that real soulful sound. Chemistry – Our chemistry has improved with every album. Having Fun with the Music – A lot of things we come up with just comes from us joking around and a lot of ideas pop up like that. The whole Minstrel Show theme came about after we made the first record and we were just messing around. Our Music is Informative – When you listen to our lyrics they tell you exactly what’s going on in our lives and around us at that particular time. Like with the first song on Getback called “Siren,” I start off my verse talking about how people were wrapped up in the use of the word “nigga” at that time – like should people use the word or not. It’s a lot of other issues that we could talk about than that word. Things like that keep people up to date. When you used to listen to Public Enemy you knew exactly what was going on at that time. We don’t have people making those types of records anymore. Touring – We stay on the road. We tour heavily. We do at least one major tour in the U.S. and overseas every year. Touring and having a live show is one of the most important things that an artist can have. Music is free but the actual experience of going to a show and seeing your favorite artist perform their ass off, you can’t download that. We’ve always taken performing very seriously because we knew that was gonna be our money maker. That keeps the lights on. Simplicity – We just put out dope music.
Nominated for Best Group As told to Ms Rivercity
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Have a Genuine Love for Music – Those BMI checks keep me motivated but man, I love music. Music keeps me motivated, period. I might be tired of going to the club but after an hour or two of playing music, I’m right back on it. Listen to the People – I definitely gotta keep doing it for the fans. That’s another thing that keeps me motivated. Stay Grinding – I gotta stay up on new music, keep grinding, staying up on new beats. Breaking New Artists – People send me a lot of songs, and I still listen to other people songs like, “That’s a tight-ass song.” I break a lot of artists [in Atlanta] so that helps me keep a lot of relationships with all the artists so I can stay working. Working with Beyonce and Michael Jackson – I landed a track on Beyonce and Michael Jackson’s albums. We’ve been working with both of them. That helps me stay in the game, landing tracks on people’s albums [of that status] definitely helps us stay working. Getting Flo Rida Another Hit – I’m getting him another hit for his next single. Supplying the Oomp Camp with Product – I show that I’m an Oomp Camp grinder. My Oomp Camp artists still have hits and singles – artists like Baby D, [DJ] Unk, Loko, and our R&B group Blaze. Staying on the Radio Station – I make sure I’m in good with all the radio people and everything. I also DJ on the radio in Atlanta so that’s a big help too. I DJ for Hot 107. Stay in the Clubs – As far as DJing, staying in the clubs lets me know what’s hot. Me being in the clubs also helps me produce. Seeing what the people like and what they do in the clubs — I’ll be like, okay they like something like this so I’ll just switch it up and make my own lil’ style. I’ll be like, okay they missing something like this and I can just come up with it. Keep God First – Without Him blessing me with the talent to be able to make beats, I couldn’t DJ in clubs and stay in demand. He gives me the ability to do all of that. Without God I wouldn’t be able to do it.
Nominated for Best Producer As told to Ms. Rivercity
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Fake Business – I hate when random artists or promoters hit me up asking what I charge for a feature verse or how much it costs to book me for a show and then when I tell ‘em the price they be like, “Uh, oh ok, I’ma hit you back after I discuss it with my business partner or manager.” Nigga, if you ain’t got at least a stack in your hand ready to go, then you ain’t really got no “business partner” or “manager.” Stop cappin’! Free Verses – Now, don’t get me wrong, I love my city, Killeen, Texas, but I hate when local artists expect me to give ‘em free verses just because we’re from the same city. Biggie said it best when he said the rap game is just like the crack game. My flows are my “dope.” If I was still slangin’ pills or pushin’ dro, you wouldn’t come up to me talking ‘bout, “Hey lemme get 16 XO’s or 16 grams of dro for free since we’re both from Killeen.” So don’t think you finna get 16 bars for free either, ya dig? Now if you really ‘bout cha business, you can “Hit Me On My Sidekick” at DaLoneStarKid@tmail.com. Sideways Hating – I hate when jealous-ass artists call my phone asking me how come I’m always in OZONE Magazine. Uh, maybe because I’m out here grinding and making moves while you’re sitting at home prolly thrown darts at my pics in the magazine. Go get some grind about cha self and stop staring at my pics so hard, lame ass nigga. Looking for Hoes – I hate when niggas text me talkin’ ‘bout, “Where the hoes at?” Apparently not with you, nigga. Identity Verification – I hate when random people hit me on AIM (HitMeOnMySk) or Yahoo (Spark42683) asking, “Is this really SparkDawg?”
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Voicemails – I hate when people leave voicemail messages. It’s 2008. Just text a nigga unless you wanna wait after 9pm or until the weekend for me to actually check your message because T-Mobile charges 25 cents a minute. I ain’t finna spend a whole quarter just to hear you say some shit you coulda texted me for free. Step ya technology game up lil mama. If you’re a dude, you should already know better than to leave another grown-ass man a voicemail message unless it’s ‘bout some business or else you’re getting the “Dial Tone.” Asking for My Real Name – I hate when I meet a chick in the club and give her my number and the first thing she wants to know when she calls is, “What’s ya real name?” Bitch, if you met me in the club as SparkDawg, then that’s what it is until further notice. You ain’t special. I don’t even know you like that. Claiming to Be Someone I Know – Every time I do a radio interview or appear in a DVD, I get a call from some random-ass boppa I prolly went to high school with or a “distant family member” I’ve never met before takin’ ‘bout, “Oh my God, I always knew you’d make it!” Asking “When is the Scarface Presents: Greencity album dropping?” – The album is in stores right now! My solo album Da Lone Star Kid is coming soon. Asking If I’ve Slept With Any of the OZONE Staff – I hate when people ask me if I’ve ever slept with any of the OZONE staff members to get in the magazine. If I did, I woulda been on the cover by now, stupid. But I’d sleep with JB whether she had the magazine or not. I like white girls with big booties. Ms. Rivercity could get it too, ya dig?
Nominated for Patiently Waiting Texas As told to Ms. Rivercity
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Cars – A lot of places got their own culture when it comes to cars, but in Texas, it’s like a ritual for cars to have the candy paint and swangers. You might take an old 1984 Cadillac and put some swangers on there, some peanut butter leather seats, a woodgrain wheel, some TVs. You gotta get a pop truck with the neon lights. That’s Texas all the way. The Food – We’re big eaters down here so the portions on the plates are a lot bigger. But I’m actually from Galveston, Texas. It’s this thing down there I don’t think you can’t get anywhere else called a Bronco Burrito. You can’t get that nowhere else but Galveston. Music – Before Texas was seen on a national level, a lot of dudes were moving 100,000, 500,000 units on their own, by themselves – like ESG., Lil Keke, Big Pokey, Slim Thug, Bun, Chamillionaire, Paul Wall, Geto Boys, Scarface, and J. Prince. Shout out to Trae too. A lot of cats were doing it big in the music scene without any major help. They just got in they car and did what they had to do. Jewelry – We’ve got some of the best jewelers in the world in Texas. Shout out to TV Johnny. We got three of the top jewelers in the industry that stay right here in Houston. You got Exotic Diamonds on Westheimer Road. You got King Johnny at King’s Flea Market and he’s got another shop across from Sharpstown Mall. TV Johnny’s got shops at Sharpstown and the Galleria [Mall].
Grills – We pretty much made it cool for everyone to have a grill. We basically made that a fashion statement. In ’05, that was like the accessory of the year. The Women – Shit, we’ve got some of the finest women in the world. You come down here and see some of the finest, most thickest women you will ever wanna see. Clubs – We got so many clubs out here, the way we club is ridiculous. You got the club on the inside and then you got a car show on the outside. Straight up. The OZONE Awards – We really doing it big if the OZONE Awards is coming to Texas. The Great State! That’s what it is. You never know what’s gonna happen when you get down here. I know a lot of people when they found out the OZONE Awards was coming down here, they said “Uh-oh, we gotta get our shit together.” I know dudes that finna get they cars repainted for the OZONE Awards. I got some pa’tnas that got new jewelry for the OZONE Awards. It’s gonna be crazy. TMI Boyz – We got next. We follow behind our big brothers, Trae, Slim, Paul Wall, Chamillionaire, R.I.P. Hawk and DJ Screw. DJ Screw – If it wasn’t for DJ Screw, none of us would be on right now. The first time I ever heard a Screw tape, I was in elementary school. I was like, “What the hell is this?” My older brother was in the streets, and I was riding with him one day and he played it and I asked him, “What’s this?” He said it was a DJ Screw tape. I said “DJ Screw, who the hell is that?” Then I started hearing all these stories about a place called the Screwhouse. There would be people lined up around the corner just to get a Screw tape. He probably moved a million tapes with no major label. He started a genre of music and now it’s worldwide. If he was still living, I think he would be as big as DJ Khaled. DJ Screw is one of the forefathers of Texas music, hands down. DJ Screw is Texas Hip Hop.
Nominated for: Patiently Waiting Texas As told to Ms. Rivercity by Husky // Photo by Joe Robinson
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My Street Records – I got some of the hottest records in the streets right now. I got “Just Know That.” I got that “Bitch I’m Me” out. I got a record with Ballgreezy called “I’m the Shit.” “Bitch I’m Me” – I’ve been grinding all my life. Everybody knows me. “Bitch I’m Me.” I’m On Everybody’s Album – I’m on the new Carter 3 album, Flo Rida’s new album, Rick Ross’ album, DJ Khaled’s album. My Album is Dropping 4th Quarter – I’m coming out with Street Medicine album later this year. I’m Expanding – I eat/sleep/shit music. I done studied the best of ‘em and I’ve been growing. I’m expanding my horizons. I’ma Opa Locka Goon – I am the streets. My music speaks for itself. I’m Signed to the Biggest Record Labels that Exist – Poe Boy and Cash Money. Shout out to Triple C’s – Maybach Music. My Stage Presence – My fans love that. I got that swag going on. I try to put that swag out. I’m Always Fresh – My clothes and everything, I always come out fresh. My Music is Hot – My music is crazy. That’s the most important thing.
Nominated for Best Mixtape/Street Album & Patiently Waiting: Florida As told to Ms Rivercity
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“A Milli” (Excel’s Goblin Remix) – Lil Wayne – Play the original and mix into the Excel mix for some 1 AM club energy. Dope! “Ching a Ling Remix” – Missy feat. Jay-Z – I added a Jay verse to this, and the internet spread it before Atlantic promoted Missy’s original. The label was pissed, but it definitely helped the song. “Takin’ What’s Mine” – Mick Boogie & Busta Rhymes – Me and Busta got together to tribute the great J Dilla. If I had to choose one song from our project, this is it. “It’s Me Remix” – Swizz Beatz feat. Lil Wayne – Anytime you have prostitutes and drug dealers rapping in French you’re a beast. “Roc Boys” – Jay-Z – Sampling still exists. Hov killed it on this with those 70s horns. “Clumsy Remix” – Fergie feat. LMFAO – This takes a slow pop hit and makes it into a club banger. Play this in Vegas and it’s over. “Low/Elevator/In the Ayer” – Flo-Rida – They’re all like the same song, but all dope. They’re great up-tempo bangers for the club. “Paper Hood Figgaz” – MIA feat. Gorilla Zoe – This is an ill mashup done by my homie Neoteric. This remix killed the clubs for the ladies and the guys. “Check Your Coat” – Oneal McKnight feat. Greg Nice – Electro club bangers are the new thing, and this bridges the gap between hipster and current R&B. Great song. “Good Life” – Kanye West – Channeling Michael Jackson into contemporary Hip Hop is never easy, but Kanye does it easily.
Nominated for Best Mixtape/Street Album As told to Ms Rivercity
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Julia Beverly – That’s my girl! Keyshia Cole – You know she independent! Lauryn Hill – I liked her since back when she was with the Fugees. All Women Who Make It on TV – As long as you’re not on there for being wanted or murdering somebody or killing your kids, that’s independent. All y’all, congratulations. Rihanna – I like music if you can hear and feel something from it. Some people make music and they just rapping or they just singing, but some people actually got a meaning to it. Ciara – I like what she be saying in her songs. Mary J. Blige – I been liking her all my life. You already know why she’s independent; she says it in her songs. My Grandmother – She’s been working her whole life, ever since I was born and way before I was born. She do it all. My Twin Daughters – They’re two years old. There names are Tiara and Jocelyn. All Strong Women – You know an independent woman when you see her. It’s really no such thing as more independent then the next – independent is In-da-pen-dent! You don’t need to depend on nobody, you by yourself, a strong woman. No woman is more independent then the next. You got your own house; you got your own situations under control; and you don’t need to depend on no man every morning when you wake up. You not waiting for somebody to give you something – you go out and get it. Even if you not a millionaire, you can handle business like a motherfucker. I don’t know if you can go buy a Phantom or a Bentley or a mansion tomorrow, but if you can get a house and a car and take care of your kids by yourself then you are independent and you make my top 10 list. Honorable Mentions: Gladys Knight, Chaka Khan, Janet Jackson, Alicia Keys
Nominated for Club Banger of the Year As told to Ms Rivercity // Photo by King Yella
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Slim Thug sippin Drank
DRANK In March 2008 OZONE Magazine released their 2nd Annual drug issue that featured an in-depth article chronicling the negative effects that “lean” (also known as “drank”) has had on the Houston Hip Hop community and the threat it has on the rest of the country and society. The piece, that included commentary from many prominent Houston Hip Hop artists, at times revealed that many could possibly have an underlying dependence on the concoction. This dependence, according to many media outlets, was a key factor in the deaths of DJ Screw and Big Moe, among others. Having seen this with his own eyes, Peter Bianchi, founder and CEO of Innovative Beverage Company, felt that he had to put his resources to use and do something about it. “I’ve seen artists in the studio, working on music, but couldn’t function or go in the booth because they didn’t have any drank around,” says the former financial consultant who also spent a part of his life as a musician touring with the likes of George Clinton. “Someone looked at me and told me I need to find a way to make this stuff legal. From there my mind went off.” From there Bianchi created Drank, Extreme Relaxation Lifestyle Beverage. Also billed as an “anti-energy” drink, Bianchi had already been sipping the concoction he created himself for a while. It wasn’t until his revelation in the studio that night that he decided to share it with the public. After six months of fine tuning the drink, it’s finally ready to be unleashed on the world. So far the response has been overwhelming, even by Bianchi’s standards. “A lot of the studios I go to now, I look in the corner and see piles of crunched up cans,” gloats Bianchi. “I’ve even seen some of my favorite recording artists walk out on stage with it in their hand. That’s the best feeling ever.” As far as the feeling that the Drank drinker will receive, Bianchi likens it to taking a warm shower or plopping on the couch and watching a good game. Providing the antithesis of what an energy drink such as CRUNK! does, Drank is designed to be relaxing. “At the end of the day when you grab beer or wine, it’s to relax or unwind,” he says. “They relax you, but it alters your state and it’s not good for your body. I’ve created a drink that relaxes you but doesn’t alter your state.”
Tum Tum sippin Drank
Also unlike many other energy drinks, Bianchi insists that Drank only contains natural ingredients. He also notes that Drank doesn’t contain a cocktail of exotic, nearly unpronounceable vitamins that many energy drink makers use to cover the fact that their product is simply full of sugar and caffeine. Because of this, Drank boasts an enjoyable taste similar to grape soda. Though Drank was inspired by an adult activity, Bianchi hopes that his creation can not only impact them, but impressionable youngsters as well. “A lot of people out there are feeling pain behind the effects of sipping drank, so we want to put a positive vibe on it,” he says plainly. “So now when kids hear their favorite rapper talking about drank, they can go to the store and buy something that’s healthy for them.” // Words by Maurice G. Garland Photos by Julia Beverly
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My Beacon Score – I could sign my name and buy your magazine. Your Beacon score is very important. I wasn’t taught that when I was coming up. Once I got those [credit] cards I tore them muthafuckers up. The younger generation needs to know that it’s very important to protect the integrity of your Beacon score. Silicone – Not silicone titties, I’m talking about the armour that goes on your tires to make them shine. It’s like that Mac lip gloss for your tires. My Macbook Laptop – I keep a lot of classic [songs] on there. I do a little bit of everything on there. I keep in touch with my fans [online]. My Verizon Cell Phone – Verizon just shows me that love, especially when I go overseas. I’m the Boss of Berlin. Levi Denim Jeans – I like the 501 Blues, those $49.00 joints. That’s me all day. Diamonds – Diamonds are a man’s best friend, so why not have diamonds? Mouth – That mouth keeps me well-grounded. (laughs) The key to good mouth is that natural talent, that knowledge, that understanding. Kush – I can’t live without kush because it keeps me in that relaxed state of mind. It makes me look at the world differently, especially that Cali. Paper – Other than my family, that’s the reason I get up every morning. Family – One is family. My loved ones know who they are, and that’s most definitely #1.
Nominated for Best Rap Album, Best Rap Artist, Best Rap/R&B Collaboration, & Best Video As told to Julia Beverly // Photo by SLFEMP
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BY MAURICE G. GARLAND // PHOTOS BY MIKE FROST ABN CouldWORDS Be the Biggest Texas Rap Duo Since UGK… But Is It In Their Nature To Be That?
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In the spring of 1986, Houston, Texas had a lot to be proud of. Their hometown heroes, the Houston Rockets, had just defeated the Los Angeles Lakers and were headed to the NBA Finals to face the Boston Celtics. Underdogs for most of the season, no one expected them get that far. But their dynamic duo of Hakeem Olajuwon and Ralph Sampson aka the “Twin Towers” led them to the promised land by overpowering their usually smaller opponents by playing above the rim and out of their reach. 22-years later H-Town should be celebrating all over again for similar reasons. Known as an epicenter for independent Southern Hip Hop, two of its biggest products, Z-Ro and Trae collectively known as Assholes By Nature (A.B.N.) are back with their long-awaited album It Is What It Is. In the aftermath of Houston’s 2005 explosion, Z-Ro and Trae are standing strong as two of the few rappers who still have the luxury of capitalizing off the underground roots that made them, not having to worry about nationwide image and major label obligations. In layman’s terms, neither one of them look like they “fell off.” “When that Houston wave came, you didn’t learn about me,” says Trae. “You learned about me because I put myself out on my own. Muthafuckas didn’t want to hear Trae, you go look at cat’s albums, I’m not featured on nobody’s shit, man. I can tell you now, that they done fucked up because if they let me get on, Houston gonna be right back on top all over again.” After turning in solid solos such as 2006’s Restless and 2007’s Life Goes On Trae has added major label and commercial interest to his already loyal underground following. Not to be outdone, rhyme partner Z-Ro has also offered his fair share of quality street music, releasing a new album every year since 2004 through internationally known and locally respected powerhouse Rap-A-Lot Records. “We’re just showing these other rappers and the listening audience that we have skills, not just that, ‘man hold up/lean in my cup’ shit,” says Z-Ro. “Houston got real rappers, not just fly-by-night cats. We got real rappers talking about shit that’s happening in the black community, even the white community.”
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Just like Olajuwon and Sampson, Z-Ro and Trae play to win and represent their city. But also just like the original “Twin Towers” a rift threatens to silence the true potential of the duo. For undisclosed personal reasons Z-Ro and Trae have not spoken to each other since they completed the A.B.N. project in Fall 2007. While their squabbles and periods of non-communication are nothing new to their fans and followers, this latest instance is magnified in that both emcees are getting older and growing into their own lives as men with their own responsibilities. Far from schoolkids fighting at the playground, coming to the table to express emotion and talk things over becomes more difficult with age. However, Z-Ro and Trae have opted to keep their personal issue separate from their professional dealings all for the sake of making sure their new album performs well. Giving an even stronger meaning to the album’s blunt title, It Is What Is It. “We ain’t beefing, we just not fucking around,” says Z-Ro. “Whatever it takes to make the A.B.N. record work, we will come together to make the album work. But beyond the album ain’t nothing there.” Trae, who actually shared the stage with Ro months ago (footage can be found on YouTube), even in the midst of not talking to each other adds, “At the end of the day, we’re still cousins. We can go long periods of time without talking, because that’s what family can do. When it’s time to get work done, we get it done. That ain’t hard to do because we’re grown.” With the 3rd annual OZONE Awards coming to their hometown of Houston, we caught up with both Z-Ro and Trae to talk about their new album, their upcoming solos and why for some reason, they are better apart than they are together.
Grown Man Business Z-RO If you’ve ever met Z-Ro, hell, if you listen to his music, he doesn’t strike you as the most approachable person in the world. It doesn’t help that he likes to wear a skull cap with the words “Don’t Bother Me,” either. Something like a modern day blues musician, Z-Ro’s style is emerging as a needed boost of reality in a time where people seem to prefer escapist music in the midst of a recession. But today on a random July afternoon ‘Ro sounds unusually chipper when he exclaims, “What’s up, brotha?” when greeted. You sound upbeat right now. What’s going on with you? I’m trying out something new right now that I ain’t ever tried before called networking. I usually keep to myself and I don’t mess with too many rap niggas because rap niggas are fragile, handle-with-care ass niggas. I ain’t fitting to do too much fraternizing with niggas now, but I’m doing things differently. I’m going places where I ain’t even got shows and I’m fucking with niggas. I guess you can say I’m getting my networking up and my work ethic up right now. Did something drastic happen to where you wanted to go out and start networking with folk? To tell you the truth I don’t like doing that shit cause as many real niggas as you encounter, you encounter that many haters. But what really brought the change about is really, this is the first time in my life where my money is right, where I can afford to just really fuck off. Before I couldn’t afford to do it and leave my city and stay five or six months away from home. You don’t want to leave your family and come back and find that the lights, water or something is cut off. A nigga had to make sure home was taken care off before I left home, so that’s the only difference. Home is taken care of because the finances are there now, so it’s cool to leave from home. You said you don’t like networking, but is there anything you found out about yourself since you first started? Right now my patience is at an all-time high. If I woulda tried to do this shit before I went to jail my ass wouldn’t have been able to. If you wasn’t talking about no money or you wasn’t talking about an album to produce to get to money, I really didn’t want to talk. But now I’m really finding out about myself. Now I find myself sitting there listening to muthafuckers talk about nothing and for the first time I ain’t cussing them out, I’m actually having conversations with muthafuckers that ain’t related to rap and I’m not tripping. Like I told you, when the money comes into your life you come about a whole lot of shit differently than when you’re broke. Would you go as far to say this the happiest you’ve been in a long time, if not ever? I wouldn’t say happy, but I would say content. I don’t have nothing to complain about right now. I’m really content, I won’t be happy until I meet them pearly gates. But I’m content right now. How about the people around you, are they saying you seem like a new person? To tell you the truth, not really, because I don’t get around to hanging with that many people on a day-to-day basis. The only person I see on a dayto-day basis is the nigga I get my weed from. I don’t really do no kicking it with nobody but I notice [the change] within myself because I’m really having conversations with people and I’m actually going to the clubs when I ain’t got a show. That’s the only thing that’s really different and plus I’m not on no papers or having to go to court, because that had a lot to do with my temperament. The law ain’t fucking with me no more, or should I say I ain’t giving the law no reason to fuck with me no more cause I’m not fucking with the wrong crowd of niggas. So everything is strictly professional right now. Being a grown man. You hit it on the nail. I’m being a man now, not the kid I was a few years ago. The kid liked to fight and keep the pistol cocked. That’s when I was running around trying to gain a stripe every day. Now, I got kids, and they watch my every move. I don’t need them watching me, fucking up like I did. I’m doing this for my kids and other people’s kids. Like my mama said, if you ain’t got nothing to say, don’t say anything at all. I used to just say shit even when it was negative, but now, what’s the use? I grew up a lot this past year. I had a whole lot of time to think about this when I was in prison. All I had to think about was how to better Z-Ro, the Mo’ City Don, the King of the Ghetto, Rother Vadross, how to better myself. I bettered myself mentally first and then physically. I’m not trying to use my hands to make fists, I’m using my hands to use my pen and make some money. I’m not beefing with niggas no more.
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your fans? Anyone who tells you that will be a muthafuckin’ lie. Any nigga that really know, knows money brings more problems. I don’t think I’m gonna fall out of touch because my music is me and always gonna be me. If I get out here and talk about feeling decent and spending money I worked hard for and if I want to talk about having fucked up problems and how stress still ain’t left how much money I got, I can do that because that’s me. Prime example, “In Da Hood” with me and Yung Joc or “Screwed Up” with me and Wayne, that shit wasn’t commercial, but that shit carried over to radio. “Swang” with Hawk, that shit wasn’t commercial but it crossed over to radio, so I’m always gonna do me. Being me, and being one of the few thorough niggas left out here, I feel that’s what gonna carry me, man. How much do you appreciate how much people genuinely love your music? I’ll tell you the two most powerful moments of my career that a fan told me. One was when a guy said if it wasn’t for my music they’d be dead somewhere right now. When they said that, I understood what they meant. It’s a beautiful thing to know I’m not the only person going through what I’m going through to where I need to give up all the way. I’m showing that whatever you’re going through, I went through the same shit and I made it. I want you to do the same; I want you to weather that storm. For me to be able to touch them, that’s everything. The second thing is why I’m doing the prison tour. I did that shit out the love of my brother Dinkie; he’s the one that got me doing this rap shit. When he told me that me coming there was the happiest day of his life, he had been in there 18 flat, that shit was bigger than winning a Grammy. That’s why I ride for them. Whether or not we get in touch with each other again, whenever you see me, I represent for TDC (Texas Department of Corrections). I represent for these little females out here who been molested or raped, the niggas with no daddies or guidance. As long as I’m touching them by the masses, that means everything to me. For a while, I didn’t want to do no good feeling music, but then when you got niggas who go through what I go through and feel how I feel and say, “Fuck that, nigga. Be happy sometimes, bro, it’s always someone going through something worse than you,” I had to respect that.
TRAE Not to call the man predictable, but there’s three things you can expect from Trae when you see or hear from him. If it’s a picture, he’s almost always giving the middle-finger salute. If it’s a verse, he’s gonna call himself an asshole 99.9% of the time. But in that, Trae always lives up to his nickname, The Truth. Though his rough exterior exudes the attitude of a loner, Trae is rapidly earning a reputation of a being one of the hardest working artists in the industry, receiving daps and head nods of respect from his peers. Fittingly, when we ran into Trae he was fresh out of the booth from working on Jay-Ton of S.L.A.B.’s upcoming mixtape. One of his many efforts to as he puts it, “run circles around the industry.” You have a lot of music floating in the streets. Do you make it for yourself or for the listeners? I make it more for me. If a nigga tells me bootyshake is in right now, hell no. I ain’t making that because that ain’t me. Whatever I feel at the time, I’m gonna do it. They’re gonna take to it or they’re not gonna take to it. But do I personally care about it? No, because I do music just to do music, then at the end of the day, I’m a real nigga, so real niggas tend to relate to what I do. So I think my music reps for me and them and I’m content with that. Now I’m seeing my music is able to appeal to the masses so a lot more people feel like how I be feeling. I don’t feel I need to make music that ain’t me. I wouldn’t be the truth then. Does it shock you to see who and how many your music is touching? It amazes me, bro, but at the end of the day I’d rather give that honor to God. That shit is amazing, I used to be sleeping house to house bro. Me and Z-Ro used to stay in a gotdamn duplex on a dope block. I done came from a little bit of nothing. Just be able to see what my life has evolved to is special, I never forget where I come from. That’s why niggas tell you I’m one of the coolest niggas you’ll ever come across. How is it balancing your music with your life? You’re typically known for a down tone in your music. Will success along the way get you out of touch with 82 // OZONE MAG
Is it difficult for you to make “happy” music? My happy music really ain’t that gotdamn happy. My shit is probably something you can vibe to in the club, sometimes I do have problems. For example, you put on a track right now, and you talk about a struggle, that verse is done in less than 10 minutes. But if you put on a track talking about stuntin’ or how you feel, it may take me 20-30 minutes. It don’t come out as fast as what my mind is already trained for. I’ve lived struggle way more than I’ve lived comfortable now, but my mind still trained like we on a army mission. If you go from being a killer in the field to just being a medical surgeon, that killer in the field ain’t never gonna leave you. Where are you right now. Are you happy or content right now? When we asked Z-Ro, he said content. Me and him are so different but at the same time we are so much the same. Before you told me that, I would have said I was content. I don’t think I’ll ever feel all the way happy, as long as I’m cool, I’m content, I done dealt with so much pain, being content is cool with me. I got a brother doing three life sentences, a son who is sickly and two sisters that’s been murdered, so it’s gonna take a lot of shit to make me happy, bro. I’m cool with being content. When I’m able to touch people, that’s my comfort zone. Like with my holiday. Tell us more about that. The day is July 22 and it’s called Trae Day. I didn’t ask for that, I wasn’t expecting that. When they told me I was like, “What the hell are you talking about?” They repeated it, I was like, “Stop lying to me.” they repeated again and I saw they was for real, it’s crazy. The holiday is based on everything I’ve done in the community from the penitentiary to No More Victims to the children of incarcerated parents to anything. When it comes to holidays I don’t really sit with my family, I jump out help somebody. I don’t do that for publicity, I do it because it’s what I know. That’s why the media calls me an asshole, because I think the shine should be on the people, not me. Don’t come asking me no gotdamn questions about my career when I’m doing this. This year they gave me the whole backside of the Sharpstown mall. I got entertainers, NBA players, BET, everybody coming out for these kids for free. I got school supplies, HIV testing, I got live entertainment, I got everything out there, bro, I jumped back out there for my people because they stood up for me.
Family Business How did the ABN project come to pass? Trae: We just said we was gonna jump out there and do it, and we did it. We jumped out there for a few weeks and did what we did. Of course production on the album has changed, it wasn’t the same production we had when we finished, but we jumped out there and did it. One thing people gotta understand is we realized what they already know and that’s we are powerful by ourselves, but together, we a force to be reckoned with, we them muthafuckas man. “Who’s The Boss” wasn’t supposed to be a single, we just leaked it so people can know we working on an album. The streets picked that up on their own. Z-Ro: When I got out of jail this last time, I was in the studio everyday at the crib. One day my phone rang and it was Trae, he wanted me to meet him at Chili’s or Applebees, and we talked about what drove us apart and after that we called J Prince and I said “I’m fucking with Trae right now, what you got for us?” I came home on July 9th 2007, and about a week later, J asked how I felt about doing a ABN album. At first I said fuck that shit. Then a couple months later we had that chit chat and we was in the studio every night after that. Fourteen days went by and the muthafucka was finished, ABN been finished for along ass time, we was just waiting from some other things to go down. I just left the label to get my copy and they said it was the last one. Trae: It took us no time. I told you earlier, this is what we do. We don’t go in specifically to make a radio or club hit, our music is a form of us expressing ourselves, definitely for me, this I how I vent. It was nothing to put an album out, it’s gotta be another 1,000 songs muthafuckas ain’t heard from a nigga. I know I got shit sitting up in my hard drive just like I know he got shit sitting in his hard drive; this is what I do. I might be pissed one day and crank out 4 songs, might be happy and knock out 6, might be straight and knock out a couple mixtape tracks. What direction did you set out for in recording it? Z-Ro: The direction we took on this album is similar to a Z-Ro solo album. We’re talking about everything Z-Ro or Trae would talk about on their solo shit. We got some tight ass production on the album. We got remakes of Pac shit like “Picture Me Rollin’.” We on the same page throughout the record. Talking about snitches, crooked cops, we got songs about these busted ass bitches as always. Nothing different, just group effort this time. What was it like working together as opposed to alone? Z-Ro: To tell the truth, it was really the same. Trae would bring beats to my house and nine times out of ten one of us would have a show that night, so he’d give me the beats and just be like “come up with some hooks, put in on the beat and I’ll come back and take it to my house.” I did all my verses at my house, and he did most of his verses at his house, so really, it was like doing a solo. Did you run into any challenges being in a group with someone you don’t talk to? Trae: Since we finished, we ain’t talked at all. We did a show in the process of working on the album. I don’t see us running into no problem with these rap cats though. Our only competition in this rap is me and him. We’ll never have a problem with no rap cat or no one in these streets. At the end of the day, even though we ain’t dealt with each other, if I reach out to him he’ll respond back to me and vice versa. Do you think things would be harder if you were always in each other’s face? Trae: The way things are right now, it always makes it better, it puts us on our game and up to par. If we were to run into problems together, we might be able to beat that situation since we know how to handle it alone. How crazy is it that with the status of your relationship, the album is titled It Is What It Is? Z-Ro: Yeah, it’s just an album. It was some family shit. We’re riding for each other on the album, but it ain’t like that on the streets right now. If I was to see him on the side of the road, I would help him, and I hope he would do the same for me. We are family, we ate dog food together before. We been down and out together. I’ll kill for him, I’m not sure if he feels the same, but I ain’t tripping. Trae: He launching his label, I’m pushing mine and doing things other than music like this prison tour and making movies. When the time comes to come to the table we’ll do that. If it don’t come, shit we still cousins and it is what it is, it ain’t no other way to say it, it is what it is. People don’t understand, that title means so muthafucking much in different ways. Even political white people say, “It is what it is.” That term can carry itself for a long time, man.
Strictly Business Trae You’re no longer signed to Rap-A-Lot, but you still have an album coming out with them, right? The RAL album is called The Beginning. I’ve been off RAL since February, but they still had some music from me, so the homie J [Prince] felt that’s something the fans might need. People got to understand that even though I’m not over there, me and that nigga are close beyond the music. I get near him and we don’t even talk about music, we get to laughing about shit and these other niggas. But that album may come out the month that this issue is coming out. It’s gonna be 12 songs, strictly me, I don’t think I had any features on there, I might have had an older song with Khujo Goodie. I’m getting them warmed up for my new album The Truth. I got bunch of labels shooting at me right now, so whichever one I decide to get with, Def Jam, Universal, Interscope, J, I haven’t really thought on it yet. I’m just trying to warm up my buzz. You’ve worked with a lot of people since you entered the game. Even more over the last few months, we’re even seeing you do songs with DJ Khaled. That’s different from the Asshole By Nature attitude we see you exude. I work with a lot of people. That’s why I’m respected; there’s nobody that doesn’t fuck with me. But being an asshole, I still got that in me. Any real nigga stays humble to themselves, so they not really gonna chastise you or check you or go off on you if you ain’t did nothing wrong. But a lot of cats I come across, the relationship we got is alright. I can call them 4 or 5 in the morning and need something done and they do it, just like I’ll jump out there for them. With that said, I’m able to venture out and deal with a lot of cats. One thing everyone understand about me is if you fuck him over or do him wrong, he’s coming. I can mess with a million R&B, pop dudes, it don’t matter, I’m still the same Trae, as long as you respect me, I’ll respect you. But the time you disrespect, I’ma show you what not to disrespect. Sometimes people confuse respect with fear. That something you ain’t gotta tell me, I already know. Sometimes I see how cats wanna go through Houston and they jump to get with Trae, because when you come to Houston ain’t no nigga in the streets more than me. I’m able to go to any hood, I’m able to go squash beefs. A lot of people saw that first hand and probably dealt with me out of fear, but after being around me and understanding that yeah this nigga can be a threat but he is cool as hell. A lot of my relationships are built off that. To those who I only feel did it for protection, they was cut off. Earlier you mentioned the possibility of signing with a major. In this climate it seems like independent is the way to go. What would you stand to benefit in going to a major? What’s crazy is, what people don’t understand is I was still independent when I was on RAL. I’m one of the only indie artists with major recognition. I wasn’t on a major, I was on RAL, we were an indie entity. I had distribution through Asylum, but as far as seeing their brand all across my stuff where they was pushing it to BET and radio, that was moreso RAL. I was indie all the way, I just fuck with so many people my rep carried itself. Only benefit is to go over there, work and go back out on your own. Thing about me, once I have a fan I have a fan, they don’t leave. So if I gain a million fans, I do what needs to be done. We do music daily, bro. It ain’t shit for us to make an album. I do what I gotta do, when my contract up, I’m back indie and eating. I’ve been indie my whole life, I’ve scanned over 300k independently on my own. My RAL releases jump out doing 70-80k, 50k or whatever it is, but that’s by word of mouth because a lot of people still don’t know the album out. You got cats who got all the radio and TV and moving less units than me. What’s stopping rappers from saying fuck the majors altogether? If you ain’t start off in the indie shit, it’s gonna be hard for you. If you start off in the bottom, when you jump out here with what we’re doing indie or in these streets, you can’t depend on nobody to come hold your hand or walk you through it. So cats ain’t got that heart or hustle to be out here link that. That’s not to discredit anyone on a major; some people were blessed to get on a major and the shit worked. Some cats on a major and still work their ass off. Wayne is on a major but that nigga works just like I work on an independent. I believe last year me and him probably had more music out than any cat on earth, he made me feel lazy because he knocking out 2-3 songs a day and I’m knocking out maybe one. They gotta have that heart and that hustle, that’s what we both got. So when I get to a major imagine how much more deadlier I’m gonna be to a lot of the industry bro. My work habits is crazy right now. You can call J Prince, Wendy Day, Tony Neal, or TJ Chapman; they gonna tell you that Trae is a monster when it comes to his work, he on it. //
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Blood Di a monds Houston is home to three jewelers who
aggressively pursue the Hip Hop dollar. In this competitive environment, anything goes. by DeVaughn Douglas
ewelry is synonymous with being a celebrity. Whether you’re a famous actress, model, athlete, or socialite, having expensive, one-of-a-kind jewelry is often looked at as the hallmark of success. The rap community is no different, with artists often seeking to acquire the best quality stones and metal morphed into the most unique designs. Often these items become just as recognizable as the artists themselves - the G-Unit spinning chain, Rick Ross’s likeness that he wears around his neck, or Yung Joc’s Hustlenomics “H” customization of gold, platinum, silver, and diamonds. And it’s a lucrative business. The top dog in the Hip Hop jewelry industry is arguably Jacob The Jeweler, who rose to fame during the mid-90s by providing unique jewelry and timepieces for the top artists in Hip Hop and R&B. An although Jacob still has his place in the industry his recent guilty plea to falsifying records/providing false testimony and subsequent sentence of up to thirty months can’t be the best for business. He is, however, not the only jeweler providing services to the rap community. King Johnny, TV Johnny, and Emmett the Jeweler have each managed to carve out their own slice of the pie selling jewels to artists all over the world all while having bases of operation in the same city — Houston, TX. These three provide their services for most of the artist in the south and beyond. However, with the communities they service being so small and working out of the same city it’s almost impossible that there would never be any conflict between them. TV Johnny is perhaps the most well known out of the three jewelers. Learning the craft from his family TV Johnny’s claim to fame was providing grills for—well everyone. He and his partner, Paul Wall, had everyone from rappers to rich heiresses. Some people claim he may have sold his product a little too well (probably around the time Brooke Hogan started flashing a diamond smile) but he is definitely reaping the rewards of a successful business. What
Emmett The Jeweler
How did you get your start in jewelry? Emmett: I’ve been doing this since I was fifteen. My brother had a store on the north side. He moved into the wholesale division and I took over. I was selling jewelry to Slim Thug, Chamillionaire, and J Prince. A lot of the jobs they wanted were customized. How did you get involved in creating custom jewelry for rap artists? Emmett: Most every city has street dudes that come in and buy big jewelry and the rappers see that and ask where they got it from. We got turned onto rappers in Houston by word of mouth. Then we started going out to Los Angeles, Miami, Atlanta and New York, basically hubs where there were a lot of rappers. The rappers turned us onto the ballplayers and it just kept going. What’s the most expensive piece you’ve done? Emmett: We did a piece for Birdman that was $250,000. We did a piece for Lil Wayne that was $125,000. We just got an order from Rick Ross for $300,000. That’s just at one time. We’re not even talking about the people that spend with me over time. J Prince from Rap-A-Lot has done a lot of business with me, maybe about a million dollars’ worth. We have a lot of clients we deal with on a daily basis. I deal with the clients themselves and not the managers and agents because we just have that type of relationship. I’ve done work for Juelz Santana, Jim Jones, Rich Boy, Yung Joc, Lil Jon, 8ball & MJG, Mike Jones, Keak the Sneak, Plies (goon piece shown at right), and others. I did the Plies goon face and the Rick Ross face with the gold and black diamonds. What would you tell up-and-coming stars when it comes to purchasing
started out as a small store front in Sharpstown mall on Houston Southwest side has grown to a two thriving centers, one in Sharpstown and the other in the Galleria. Now his focus has moved to expanding his business even more and moving beyond only making grills. King Johnny or the self-proclaimed “Original Johnny” is another jeweler that is a staple in the Houston Hip Hop community. He is the second most well known Hip Hop jeweler in Houston but has been around the longest. Providing work for artists such as DJ Screw there is no doubt that he’s been working with rap artists for a long time. His longevity in the game has helped him gain a clientele which extends nationwide in the music industry and athletic arenas. Some would say that he has suffered a loss at the hands of TV Johnny, whom King Johnny will admit has confused many consumers since coming into the industry. Operating out of King’s Flea Market for the last fifteen years, King Johnny has made himself a fixture in the rap world. Emmett the Jeweler may be the least well known out of the three but makes up for his lack of celebrity with his client list and long time customers. He is another person who learned the craft from his family and turned it into a thriving business. Providing work for artists like Juelz Santana and record industry moguls like J Prince, Emmett has slowly and deliberately built up his customer base so that he is able to compete with other jewelers without much advertising. His goals are to be able to compete with people like Jacob the Jeweler who he believes has set the bar in creating custom jewelry. All three of the jewelers have managed to build successful businesses starting from nothing. All three have carved out a niche in the world of rap by providing a luxury its artists. Now all three sit down with Ozone and tell us about their start in the jewelry industry, where they plan on taking their businesses, and their dealings in and out of Hip Hop.
jewelry? Emmett: A lot of people don’t understand how expensive it is. It’s really about the person and how much money they want to spend. I can do a piece for $7,500 but I can do that same piece for $20,000 with better quality stones and workmanship. I can go from $500 to a million and beyond. What a lot of people don’t understand is that many rappers don’t have money on deck. You see them at home with a lot of jewelry on but they’re on a credit plan. TV Johnny and King Johnny have people on payment plans and I don’t do that. My clients come to me when they get the money because they want quality. Rappers don’t have guaranteed contracts. If a ballplayer gets hurt they still have a percentage of money coming to them. So they look for deals. I tell people to come to my store and then go to the other stores and you can see the difference. You can see the difference between my work and other people’s work. So what can you expect when you come in to have a piece made? Emmett: I’m doing a Poe Boy piece. I can do a handmade wax or a computer programmed one. The computer cost more but the finishing is a lot cleaner. You can take it anywhere and it’s still credible. I have a lot of clients in New York and if they take a piece to Jacob he can’t say it’s low quality. Jacob the Jeweler came into the game and raised the bar because he brought a product that to a niche that people OZONE MAG // 85
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weren’t paying attention to. He introduced those big face watches and no one thought they would sell. Now he’s the one on top. We have 3 jewelers in Houston that do work for most of the South. King Johnny does a lot of Atlanta [artists]. TV Johnny is more of a celebrity right now. I don’t want to be in the videos and the award shows. I want to just provide you with quality product. In such a competitive industry how do you rise above other jewelers? Emmett: A lot of people don’t understand that jewelry is a luxury item. It’s not gas or food where you have to buy. We have three big jewelers in Houston. I dealt with artists before the other jewelers got to them. They tell the artists, “Do a song for my mixtape and I’ll give you some jewelry.” That’s what it’s turned into. You go to TV Johnny and he make take a verse instead of money. I never do that. I always keep it business. I give them the best deals but I don’t give nothing away for free. If I go to Rick Ross and ask him to do a show for me, it’s not for free. And just like I’m going to give him his money he’s going to give me mine. It’s business. I try to compete with the Jacob’s, a new York hub. I’m trying to build a relationship and not just get your money one time. I want to give you a product that compares with the product that jewelers produce outside of Houston. A lot of jewelers in Houston don’t use the same quality I use. When you walk in my establishment it feels like a jewelry store. When you go to someone like King Johnny you’re walking in a flea market. TV Johnny just moved from Sharpstown to the Galleria because he’s trying to figure out what I do. I sell high end and I’m not all over TV. I sell high end. You can’t spend fifty grand at a flea market and expect to get the same product I’m giving you. I try to appeal to all people. You can walk in my store and spend $50 and beyond. I also like to keep product on deck. You’re not looking at a book of jewelry. You’re trying it on. I give you appraisal papers to make sure you know what you’re getting. You have to understand that this is America. Nothing is free. If a jeweler gives you something free then the piece has to be suspect. It might have diamonds in it, but its only 50% diamonds. You pay for quality.
What got you started in jewelry? TV Johnny: That’s the family business. My dad, uncle, and brother were jewelers. What made you move towards Hip Hop? TV Johnny: Originally I was in Sharpstown mall and it attracts a lot of Hip Hop artists. After that I met my partner Paul Wall and we blew up together. I became a nationally known jeweler and he became a platinum rapper. Speaking of which, Paul has a new album coming out so make sure that you support him. The first pieces I did were for Paul Wall, T.I. and Lil Jon. I was just happy that I made something that they were proud to wear but I never expected for it to get this big. That makes me proud. Are you surprised at the level of celebrity you’ve attained and how are you dealing with it? TV Johnny: I really appreciate that people respect me as a celebrity but I like to keep to myself. I more focused on learning new technology so that I can make better jewelry. I don’t ever want the quality of my product to slip. What made you want to move your store? TV Johnny: Well to clear things up, we still have the store in Sharpstown. We jus also opened the Galleria store. I deal with a lot of Hip Hop artists but I also had other clientele that wanted me to open in the Galleria. I treat all my clients the same and all my clients have value. I kept the Sharpstown store because a lot of my clients still want to shop there. But a lot of the rappers I’ve done work for were excited about me being in the Galleria because they like to shop there. It’s more convenient for them to stop by the Galleria. Also, I have more than just the store. We do a lot of business on the website so if you can’t make it to Houston you can still get quality pieces from me. What’s your price range for people that want to buy a piece from you? TV Johnny: Well, let me get one thing straight. I do manufacturing as well as selling. I can start a custom piece for cheaper than others because I have my own labor force and I manufacture myself. Which piece have you done that you like the most? TV Johnny: That would be Paul’s cup. Fat Joe’s piece as well. I like making each piece because they are custom. Are you still doing a lot of grills?
TV Johnny: Yeah. The grills is what got my name out there. That is what Paul and I were known for. I just did seven different sets for T Pain. It’s not as hot as it was two years ago but people out there still want them. Besides the grills are there any other pieces you specialize in? TV Johnny: Right now we’re doing a lot of watches. We have the technology to make a lot of specialized custom pieces in the watches. We do a lot of different piece and chains. Right now we’re doing 150 pieces a week. We have a lot of accounts. What are some of the mistakes up and coming rappers make when buying jewelry? TV Johnny: Depends on who you buy from. I don’t look at buying jewelry as a mistake because gold and diamond prices have been going up. If you buy from me I’m the manufacturer so you get close to the wholesale price. If they buy from me when they return there is still value to the piece. I make my pieces and other jewelers take orders and send to a third party. That’s why I can sell 30%-40% less than the competition. I guarantee that I will be 30%-40% cheaper. A lot of rappers buy a piece for $100,000 from a jeweler but when they sell the piece back they only get $20,000. You deal with me you get close to the value or more. Plus sometime they want to change the piece and because I manufacture them, I can change it easily. How do you stay above competitors in the Hip Hop jewelry niche in Houston and the south? TV Johnny: To me there is more than enough business out here for everyone to eat. Honestly, I don’t look at other jewelers in Houston as competition. I manufacture myself and I have my own labor plus I have the best location. I give the customer a good deal. I compete with Tiffany or Cartier. I compete with the top American companies so I’m not concerned with other jewelers. Who are some of the artist’s you’ve done work for? TV Johnny: Almost any rapper. Nelly, T.I., P. Diddy, Paul, Slim Thug, Jermaine Dupri (So So Def piece shown above), DJ Khaled, Fat Joe, plus a lot of athletes like Shaquille O’Neal and Mario Williams. We also did the rosary for Lil Wayne. Any last words for potential customers out there? TV Johnny: The main point is that I make my jewelry. The people that they compare me to don’t. I manufacture my own product and sell it. In Hip Hop I’m the only one that manufactures my product. That’s why I don’t understand how other people can call themselves jewelers. They sell jewelry, but they don’t make it. People can say I’m cheaper because of low quality but that doesn’t make sense. The gold price is set. If you buy a Si or a VS stone then the price is set. I get it cheaper because I buy wholesale. The price is different when you buy one of something versus buying one hundred of something. I get quality but because I manufacture I can sell at almost wholesale. If you don’t make it and you send it to a third party then you can’t call yourself a jeweler. They don’t make jewelry. They don’t even know the new software. I never call out King Johnny or Emmett, but they like to call me out. I came after them but I can compete because I’m an actual jeweler. If they want to compete, I’m up for the challenge. I will put up $100,000 to their $10,000 to see who can make a better piece. Not send it off to another jeweler to do it, but actually make a piece. If I can’t rap I’m not going to call myself a rapper. If you can’t make jewelry then don’t call yourself a jeweler. OZONE MAG // 87
King Johnny So what got you in to creating jewelry? King Johnny: Man, I’ve been in this business for fifteen years. I did some stuff locally first. I did some work for artists like DJ Screw and when people saw the work they started asking us to do jewelry for them. Now you were out here first, but the other Johnny appears to be very well known. Do you shy away from being a celebrity? King Johnny: I don’t like to go out like that. I’m not the guy that’s going to show my face everywhere. I get a lot of calls from artists that want me in the videos but I don’t like to be out there like that. Who were some of the first artists that you worked with? King Johnny: The first work was for Lil’ Flip. I did stuff for Mike Jones and then Nelly. After that word started spreading around and now I’ve pretty much worked with everyone in the rap game. Who are some of the rappers for whom you’ve provided work? King Johnny: I’ve done the four row diamond chain for Nelly. I introduced the four row chain to Houston. I did the 500 karat Ice Age piece for Mike Jones. We did the Screwed Up piece for Flip with the clover in the middle. I’ve done a lot of work for athletes as well. People like Steve Francis and other big name athletes. I got someone on every team. When I do work for a player it stands up for itself. They let their teammates and other people know the type of work I do and then that person comes to me. I get business by word of mouth. I’ve got a lot of celebrity [clients].
Well since we’re kind of going into it, how do you deal with the competition in the marketplace? King Johnny: I do my thing and they do their thing. My work speaks for itself. Most of the rappers buy jewelry from me because my work speaks for itself. What advice do you have for up and coming rappers when they’re trying to buy jewelry? King Johnny: When someone comes in we keep it 100 with them. We let them know what they are going to get for their money. Everybody doesn’t have money like a Rick Ross. You’re not going to get the quality that he gets but we’ll give you what you pay for. Now TV Johnny says he makes his jewelry whereas others do not. King Johnny: I have my own warehouse and I have people that work for me. I don’t sit over there and make the stuff. I have my brothers over at the warehouse working with hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of equipment. I work with the rappers and take their orders. I figure out what they want. I don’t know what the competition does but I don’t think they can do what we do. I don’t think they have the equipment and graphic capabilities that we have. I’ve got a machine that can cut any type of wax. So what are your plans for the future? King Johnny: I’ve been in this location for 15 years and I’ve been thinking about expanding…maybe in the next year or two. I don’t know though because I have so much business here already.
What’s one of the pieces that you’re most proud of? King Johnny: The latest one we did was the face piece for Rick Ross.
You did move to SharpstownKing Johnny: Yeah we moved over there but we were seeing the same clientele so it really wasn’t worth it. Something like our business…we do something that is impossible. We do all types of custom work. When it’s impossible for others to do the people know they can come to us because they know we can handle it. The word “no” does not exist to us. Right now we’re doing watches for Soulja Boy and Rick Ross where we have their face inside the watch. If the money is right it can be done.
Now you did that and not Emmett? King Johnny: We did that. It’s already been published in your magazine. That was us. (upon speaking with Rick Ross, he does clarify that it is King Johnny and his brother Nick that did the face piece)
What’s the most expensive piece you’ve done? King Johnny: I just did a piece for T Mac for $300,000. I did a piece for Mike Jones that was about $350,000. I made a diamond chain for T Mac that was $475,000. How much is the average rapper spending? King Johnny: When they come in they’re getting everything done. On average they’re spending $150,000. Anything you want to let future customers know? King Johnny: Just let them know that I’m the original. I was here before the other guys. I’m King Johnny and a lot of people get things confused because of the name. People claim to do what I’ve done but you can ask the rappers and see who is telling the truth. Ask the rapper. I don’t want to lie. You can ask anyone and they’ll tell you who did the work for them. When you come down to the OZONE awards come see me because I got the goods. King Johnny, don’t get it confused! //
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RICK ROSS:DEEPER THAN RAP What are you doing right now? I’m getting a tattoo of a crown. I get tattoos sporadically to signify different things. [The crown] signifies me being on top of my game. On top of your game as far as record sales, or what? I’m not even sure. I know we sold more records last week than the week before, so you know, when you have those spurts of sales that’s always good. I know we were certified gold in five weeks so I’m just letting it cruise. It has to be a little bit unnerving for an artist to be dropping albums with the current climate of the industry and the economy making it so tough to sell units. Did Trilla exceed your expectations of what you hoped to achieve? I really don’t look at sales. I look at the product. I believe that if I keep the product at the best, competing with the best in the game and possibly challenging to be the best in the game, the music is going to speak for itself and it’s going to be successful. How do you gage success, if not off the numbers? It’s really off a lot of different things. The business aspect is most definitely the numbers in black and white, but the other side of it is the love. When you’re touching people from different countries and touching dudes in your hood, it’s different. Where do you see the industry heading in terms of record sales? Do you think artists are ever going to abandon the whole CD/album format and just put out singles digitally? I don’t know about the format of the music because that’s going to be up to the labels and the distributors, but the music will never stop being made. Hip Hop will never stop being created and loved and consumed; that’s for sure. A lot of artists, even major artists, have decided to go the independent route lately. It seems like the majors have lost a lot of their power. For you, do you think being on a major label like Def Jam is significantly better than going the indie route? Everybody’s situation is different. There are certain markets where the independent money is excellent, so of course you’d recommend dudes should be independent. There’s other markets where the independent money may not be that strong so you need the support of other areas. Everybody’s situation is different but if everybody’s getting that paper and getting what they want out of the game, that’s what’s important.
I don’t know, because I remember back when I told myself I wanted to be a millionaire. Then once I became [a millionaire] it wasn’t enough. Then you want $5 million and so on and so forth. So, I don’t know. I don’t believe in salary caps. Do you think there’s real money to be made in the rap game? There’s so much stuntin’ and smoke and mirrors it’s hard to tell sometimes. I think Hip Hop is for the love, but it’s a game. I was in the game for a long time before I made any money, so it’s for the love for me more than anything. But I’ve got my business intact. I think that music can most definitely feed your family, if that’s what you’re asking, but it also opens the doors to a lot of other things you can do to get a lot more money. I believe this is the beginning of a lot of money. I saw you with Foxy Brown in Brooklyn recently and took a couple pictures of you, which Hip Hop Weekly ended up running with a cover story claiming that y’all are engaged and moving in together. Do you want to clarify your situation with Foxy? Yeah, you saw it, we were hanging out at the video shoot holding down my brother DJ Khaled. His album is in stores September 16th so go pick up that DJ Khaled album. Ace Hood’s album is in stores September 23rd. We were just in New York enjoying life, being bosses. She’s a boss. I’m a boss. Allhiphop said that y’all were suing Hip Hop Weekly for putting out false rumors about your engagement. I never heard anything about that either. I don’t have time for frivolous lawsuits. She’s cool, but you know, the engagement thing was just media rumors. We did an interview a while back when you mentioned that you had a little celebrity female friend but weren’t ready to put her out there yet. Is that who you were referring to? Naw, now you’re mixing apples and oranges. That was a whole other issue. I like to keep things in the present.
I heard you’re going to be putting out an album with Baby. What’s the name of your project? It’s called H. That represents the hustle. “H” represents homies, heroin, homicide, a lot of different elements that you see being a hustler. You have to know how to deal with those elements, avoid the problems, and get money. H is the name of our LP, our collaboration album. We’re going to release the first single in the next week or two and the album is coming the end of the year.
A couple years ago you had some strong words for T.I. but as I understand it, that situation was cleared up. Recently some bloggers got ahold of those comments and the rumor has been spreading that you have a problem with T.I. Do you want to clarify? This is the OZONE Magazine and I think you’re pretty current, so we’ve already pretty much addressed that. I think Tip is a real strong soldier for the way he’s handling his business and still getting money. Grand Hustle is something to admire; that’s something you can look up to. Maybach Music; that’s what I’m building my imprint to be. Let’s do some new shit. People want to read about some new money; gettin’ shit, not just the same beef that’s five years old that you try to rekindle, rekindle, rekindle. Let’s get money. That’s what I like to talk about, money, shit that I can buy. I like to look at new things. New cribs, planes, swimming pools with my face in the bottom, diamonds with colors.
What was the common ground that brought you and Baby together to do a joint album? Just being hustlers from down South. Me and Birdman been on top of the game, Cash Money Records for over a decade. I think that’s something for us young black entrepreneurs to respect. We’ve been spending a lot of time in the studio so it only made sense for us to sit down like two bosses and break bread and feed the streets.
Flo Rida said that y’all get tired of your chains after about two weeks. What’s your timeframe? How long does it take you to get tired of a new piece or a new house or a new car? It ain’t really about that. It’s about enjoying life. Enjoy your success, young nigga. You only live once, so do what you do. Make some good investments and put a lot of money up. Set yourself up to where you can’t fail and you can tell anybody to suck a dick.
Your outgoing voicemail message said that you’ve made a $5 million dollar bet with yourself. Explain to me how that works? I can’t even front, that’s something I can’t even explain. You’ve just got to vibe with me.
We interviewed all three jewelers in Houston for the OZONE Awards issue and two of them claimed they made your face piece. I mean, I’m the biggest nigga in the game, JB. I got the most jewels in the game. Who wouldn’t want to be my jeweler?
What exactly is the bet? You heard the answering machine.
So who is your real jeweler? Just to keep it real, I keep two or three jewelers. Whenever they can’t make that shit fast enough for me I reach out to someone else. It’s a competitive sport. It’s a lot of money to go around. As long as they’re keeping me happy, they’re my jeweler, but that can change weekly.
Yeah, but this interview is for the people. You’ve got to tell the people, because they haven’t heard your answering machine. That’s what it is. Everybody can’t hear the Boss’s answering machine. Do you think you’ll ever get to the point where you’re like, “Fuck it. I’ve got enough money,” and just sit around and relax. What would be enough money that’d make you want to just chill? 90 // OZONE MAG
There’s been little rumors here and there about you having problems with Plies and Trick and Trick having problems with Plies and so on and so forth, but I think one of the real unique things about Miami is that whatever is going on internally, the city seems to hold it together and have a unified front
for the whole Miami movement. You’ve got to understand that real beef, where I come from, is when you go to a nigga’s house and blow their brains out. Or you get your lil’ man from the hood who don’t give a fuck and give him ten stacks and he does it for you. I look at it like, these niggas are bosses over here, I’m a boss over here, and it’s entertainment. I’m fans of their music, I’m fans of their hustle, and we’re all getting money. It’s a competitive sport. Do I really want to see T.I. go to prison for weapons charges? Of course not. It’s not about beef, it’s about paper, man. It’s business. If Jay-Z goes and meets with LA Reid and Jay-Z is fighting for more percentage, that’s not beef. That’s business. That’s what everybody has to do to eat. A lot of times you have to play chess with a nigga to make a quick move to make that movie. That’s what it’s about. That’s what makes it competitive. Why do you think other cities aren’t able to put on the same unified front that Miami seems to, even when there’s internal problems? Do you think having neutral parties like a DJ Khaled that kinda keep everyone focused on the bigger goal helps? To be honest, I can’t speak on another region. I don’t know what might be going on, but as far as me, I feel like we should all just be getting money. But if it’s real beef and niggas feel like they got to do what they got to do, then handle your business and do that. But if you’re getting money in this music shit and you’re a real street nigga then you should know how to separate it. A lot of times you hear shit and it’s taken certain ways. Niggas got to boss up and let that shit walk by them and focus on getting paper. Let’s keep this game exciting. Now, if niggas want to really kill each other, that’s a whole other game. But if we’re gonna do this music thing, let’s go get rich and get new Bentleys and drop top Phantoms and drop top Rolls Royces like I just did. Yeah, I got a drop top Rolls Royce, black with the silver hood and the black interior and the red double R’s. That’s how I’m feeling. What do you think is the key to making your money multiply to the point where you can buy Bentleys and drop top Phantoms? A lot of young rappers see people like you with jewelry and blow their whole advance and end up broke. What’s the key to making it last? I learned that from coming up in the streets. It’s called trial and error. You’re going to spend some money and blow some money. I done fucked up a lot of money and woke up and said, “Damn.” I’ve gotten high and blown a lot of money before. You come down off a pill and wake up two days later and done blown a lot of shit. But by the same token, it depends on what level of the game you’re trying to go to. Right now I’m on 20 records that are in rotation. I’m on the Jennifer Hudson remix, the Mariah Carey remix, the Ace Hood single, the “Here I Am” still in rotation, the Bun B single, the Tay Dizm single, the list just goes on and on. I’m on 20 records right now but I make myself accessible to the people. I’m not one of those funny actin’ niggas. I’m in this game to monopolize, and that’s what I preach to my friends and family: E-Class, DJ Khaled, Triple C’s, Brisco, Flo Rida, Plies, Trick Daddy, the whole team, it’s whatever. In the rap game, which do you think is more important: the music or the image/packaging? To me, music is everything. It’s a lot of swag in the game but I think skill supersedes everything and that’s where I come in at. I made “Here I Am” just to show them that I can make a pop record, but “Hustlin’,” I can make a record like that sitting on the toilet. That’s easy. I wanted to do something different and threw it at them. I threw “Boss” at them. I threw “Speedin’” at them. I’m just showing niggas skill, skill. I think that’s important. That’s what really sells records.
Trilla was nominated for Album of the Year at the OZONE Awards. Why do you think it deserves that title? It’s one of the hottest albums of the year, but the people are going to decide [the winner]. Either way it goes, I’m happy to be nominated. It’s a classic LP. Recently the internet has been buzzing about some picture thesmokinggun. com found of you back in the day working as a correctional officer. You know I don’t entertain hoe shit. I’m on a money train. Ride or die. I just make great music and get money, and all that other shit is irrelevant to me. I guess that’s a “no comment”? Get money. Paper, deniro, pounds, boss.
Why does Noriega owe you 100 favors? Noriega is a real hustler. Shout out to Noriega. He should be home soon. Do you look at your music as just entertainment or an accurate representation of your life? I mean, you have published pictures of me before [I was famous] wearing $100,000 watches, so niggas will figure it out. Okay, let’s look at it as a hypothetical situation – Listen, everybody is different. Let’s look at two number one albums. Let’s look back at the BET Awards. Let’s look at the best in the game. This is my inauguration to success. R.I.P. to Biggie Smalls, R.I.P. to Tupac. Tupac gave you the rules to the game, get money, M.O.B., “that’s money over bitches cause they breed envy.” Game recognize game. Get money. My new album Deeper Than Rap is coming soon, and this shit is going to be incredible. You better get ready for it because I’m thinking about buying six ads in your magazine. I’m thinking about propelling this magazine to the next level because that’s what we do; we sell a lot of magazines. We make people read. I’m a big deal. I’m close to being the biggest in the game, and in another year or two, I’m sure I’ll be there. I appreciate the attention but the fact remains that I’m the boss. I’m eating good, my flows are getting better, and on my laptop I’ve got some of the best beats from some of the best beatmakers in the world. My flows are getting so good I might have to patent my flows. Shit is getting crazy for real. It’s deeper than rap. // Words and Photo by Julia Beverly
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TJ’S DJ’S / OZONE AWARDS XCLUSIVE CD REVIEWS DISC 1 1. B.o.B ft Amy Winehouse / Grip Your Body – Rebel Rock/Atlantic Contact: TJ – TJ@TJsDJs.com B.o.B, the strongest force on the underground circuit is soon about to explode with an Amy Winehouse assist on “Grip Your Body.” Take notes, this is a classic pitch to a sexy lady so she can let you get a hit. 2. Casino / Shy - Gangsta City Mafia Contact: Jah – 404.539.5264 Casino turns in a surprisingly creative use of Shai’s “If Ever I Fall In Love” to create a song that is a gamble sure to pay off in any set. 3. BG & Chopper City Boyz / Bubble Gum – Asylum Records Contact: Asylum Promo – 212.707.3030 BG creates another use of his moniker with this “Bubble Gum” record. Lyrically, it’s a great description of every man’s favorite juicy fruit. 4. Hot Stylez ft Yung Joc / Lookin Boy - Swagg Team/Bloc/Jive Contact: Ron Stewart – firstname.lastname@example.org Hot Stylez and Yung Joc take rankin’ or roasting to another level with “Lookin Boy.” In fact, these snaps are even more clever since they arrive in rhyme and on time. 5. Big Boi ft Mary J. Blige / Sumthin’s Gotta Give – Laface/ZLG Contact: Ron Stewart – email@example.com This track is for everyone who thinks that Outkast is a solo artist. Big Boi and the hip-hop queen of soul, Mary J. Blige turns in his version of 21st century hip-hop blues. Please LISTEN to this record as he gives you lyrical “food for thought.” 6. Slim ft Shawty Lo & Yung Joc / So Fly (Remix) – Asylum Records Contact: Asylum Promo – 212.707.3030 Slim recruited Shawty Lo & Yung Joc for a “fly” remix to this spectacular summer song. For those looking for room 112 where the players dwell, follow this sexy record to find it. 7. Boss Hogg Outlawz ft Ray J / Keep It Playa – Boss Hogg Outlawz/Koch Contact: Marleny - Marleny.Dominguez@kochent.com The Boss Hogg Outlawz led by Slim Thug drop all types of game on this bangin’ beat to make the case for why they keep all of the playa points. Ray J adds a nice touch to keep the ladies juicy. 8. Huey ft Trey Songz / No Make Up – Hitz Committee/Jive Contact: Ron Stewart – firstname.lastname@example.org Huey and the Hitz Committee once again live up to the legacy by linking with Trey Songz to create this wonderful record dedicated to the ladies with natural beauty. 9. Trai’d / Gutta Bitch – Hitz Committee Contact: Ron Stewart – email@example.com Hood chicks need love too, so Trai’d makes sure they get all the attention they deserve over a true gutta track. Biggie would be so proud that he and his bitch now have someone they can tag team with.
14. Corporate Thugs ft Keak, Quinn, Raydogg, & Suga Free / What Chu Know About Me (Remix) – High Money Contact: Raydogg – 916.396.3260 What Chu Know About those west coast Corporate Thugs? If you don’t know, this song will let you in on everything you need to know why they get so much Cali love! 15. Strong Arm Steady / Can’t Let Go – Blacksmith Music Contact: Corey Smyth – 212.586.2112 While bouncing to the beat, make sure you check out the wicked flow by Strong Arm Steady in the verses that make this such a fun song to c-walk to. 16. Jewman / Pull ‘Em Out – WG Records Contact: Marcus Wallace – 601.573.1892 Jewman pulls out all of the stops, his bank roll, and his toys on this club banger. 17. Damm D / Love Me – Rap-A-Lot Contact: Al Stafford – 713.680.8588 Damm D turns in a lovely tune called, “Love Me” with a heartbeat of its own. The rhythm of this song will make you fall in love with it too. 18. Diggie Die ft Mr. Sandman / Doin My Thang – Liquor House Contact: Mister Sandman – 404.402.7740 Diggie Die and Mr. Sandman are definitely doing their thang with a strong hook mixed well with a hard core beat. . 19. New Money Twinz (R&B) / Listen Up Joe – New Money Records Contact: New Money Records – 310.461.1994 The New Money Twinz deliver a mean left right combination to make you want to listen to this tune. DISC 2 1. Alfamega ft T.I. / Uh-huh – Capitol Contact: Tikke Chaney – 212.786.8436 If you don’t respect nothin’ else, you will respect this record right here, “Uhhuh.” Aflamega and T.I. link up to make another link in the Grand Hustle chain that is straight choking the game. 2. B.o.B / Mellow Fellow – Rebel Rock/Atlantic Contact: TJ - TJ@TJsDJs.com Although B.o.B is a “Mellow Fellow” he still has enough energy to deliver a record that makes your feet move. Expect big things from this dude, after all, there’s never Been One Before or Be One Beyond. 3. Glasses Malone ft Lil Wayne & Birdman / Haterz – Hoo Bangin/Cash Money/Universal Contact: Big D The Weatherman – 212.373.0782 If you ain’t got haterz, you ain’t doin’ it right. Let Glasses Malone tell it on this record, he’s doing it big. Plus it doesn’t hurt to have Lil Wayne and Birdman on your song to co-sign. 4. Tay Dizm ft T-Pain & Rick Ross / Beam Me Up – Nappy Boy Digital Contact: Marco Mall – 404.759.6100 This is one of those records that is so different, it may take a couple of times to catch on. But once you do, there’s plenty of room in the spaceship to get beamed up by Tay Dizm along with T-Pain and Rick Ross who will make sure there will be good music around no matter the galaxy.
10. Young AC / The Flyest – Deepside Inc. Contact: Teddy T – 954.793.3300 Young AC puts his bid in as a Miami mack over a smooth J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League track. The combination gives him a great chance to be known as “the flyest.”
5. Stevie Stone / Wait A Minute – Ruthless Contact: Ruthless Promo Dept. – firstname.lastname@example.org For those who thought Ruthless was done, “Wait A Minute” Stevie Stone is on deck. This record has a smooth bounce vibe that will remind y’all, goddamn they Ruthless.
11. Paul Wall ft Chamillionaire / Diamonds Exposed – Swishahouse Contact: T. Farris – 281.924.5371 In true Texas form, Paul Wall and Chamillionaire expose their diamonds to shine on this screwed up track with a slow booming bassline. If you want to know what Texas sounds like, you can always visit Swishahouse.
6. Lee Lee ft T Cutty / Low 2 Da Floor – Bout That Paper Contact: Ka$h Ka$tro – 803.455.6324 This slow vibe is exactly what you need to support the naked hustle and watch the pole dancers drop it “Low 2 Da Floor.”
12. G Mack / Get Naked – Lost Land Entertainment Contact: G Mack – 859.621.3309 On “Get Naked,” G Mack represents his home state of Kentucky well by giving the ladies a new reason to feel the KY.
7. Certified ft Pleasure P / Turn Off The Lights – Two Dog Records Contact: JV – 352.434.4315 “Turn Off The Lights” is a great record that you can play in the same set as a slow jam but still has a party vibe. In fact, with the inclusion of Pleasure P, this record is certified fiya!
13. C-Zen ft Tame / Do Da Willy – Street Pharmacy Contact: BP – 214.212.9714 C-Zen checks in with the latest dance tune called “Do Da Willy.” The song is best understood in live action so make sure you give it some action to see for yourself.
8. Jim Jones / The Good Stuff – Sony Contact: Bolo – email@example.com Jim Jones proves he’s got the good stuff to show he’s much more than a ballin’ one hit wonder. Plus, the production drops hard enough to make the party hot or your subwoofer hump.
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9. Killer Mike / 2 Sides – SMC Recordings Contact: Will - firstname.lastname@example.org On this record Killer Mike shows just because you have commercial success with a Grammy, goddamn, there must be two sides. He reps his hood with a ferocity only found in the lyrical spatter of Killer Mike.
15. Chop Chop ft Lil Boosie / Strut – Presidential Traphouse Contact: Smiley – 405.200.4357 Chop Chop hails from Oklahoma and with Lil Boosie they are out to show that a bad chick’s strut is more than OK, it’s fantastic.
10. Rob G ft Rick Ross / For The Hood (Remix) – Latium Entertainment Contact: Latium Entertainment – 713.414.3070 Rob G and Rick Ross demonstrate their love for the hood on this tune. More importantly, the hood loves them back on this gangsta tale.
16. Archie Eversole / What Money Sounds Like – Slummed Out/Dry Rain Contact: Delaney – 347.558.0430 Archie Eversole is on deck to demonstrate what money sounds like. And if it sounds anything like this track, then it sounds great!
11. Jus Bleezy ft Gorilla Zoe & Yo Gotti / Bosses – Jus Bleezy Entertainment Contact: Craig Blac – 314.498.1822 Jus Bleezy, Gorilla Zoe, and Yo Gotti put their bid in on why they run the commission. With records like this, it further cements their position.
17. Blitz ft Junior Pymp / Big Dawg – Teflon Entertainment Contact: Andrew “Steel” Lewis – 917.217.8581 Blitz pulls an all out attack on your party senses with the big dawgs on deck.
12. Myko (prod by Static Major) / Late Nite Creep – Outta Pocket Contact: Lil D – email@example.com Although Static Major may have passed, his music lives on with Myko. “Late Nite Creep” is a great example of a talent gone too soon, but will live on in mp3 and CD players forever. 13. KOB ft JC / Invisible Man – Good Lyfe Musik Contact: Varmah Morris – 612.990.7974 The organ sounds at the beginning of this unique song draw you in and show why this KOB is on another level. 14. L.E.P. Bogus Boys / Shawty Is A Rider – Infared Records Contact: Eric Jones - 773.370.3742 Putting a different twist on J. Holiday’s “Bed,” the L.E.P. Bogus Boys give shawty a reason to show why she’s a good rider.
18. Jewman / Found My Swagg – WG Records Contact: Marcus Wallace – 601.573.1892 Jewman and his swag are in full swing with this swaggalicious spectacle of a song. 19. Black Al Capone ft Jim Jones / Dollars Falling – 1-800-StarvinArtists Contact: King Islam – 713.384.2655 Black Al Capone recruited the #1 baller, Jim Jones to watch the dollars fall like autumn. This tune comes off strong enough to knock any king from his throne. 20. Money Jr. & Freak / Break It Off – Money Rules Entertainment Contact: Latasha Malone – 281.561.8787 If money rules everything around, then Money Jr. and Freak have no problems breaking you off with this song to stake a claim to their kingdom. - Keith “1st Prophet” Kennedy
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HOODZ Jay williams
and his girlfriend were murdered.
OZONE caught up with Hoodz founder Jay Williams to share his story on how Hoodz was created and managed to live through the oversaturation of Hip Hop DVD Magazines.
That’s quite a setback. What did you do next? I was still in the streets and a friend of mine who just got out was asking me about the movie business and telling me to leave the BS alone. So I started some businesses and got some real estate investments. Then I started working on my project Urban Stalemate and a feature film called Group Therapy where we put a bunch of people from different walks of life in the same room. We shot it in 2001-02. The idea for Hoodz came up in the production of that movie. I was trying to think of an idea that I could show what all was going on in different ‘hoods across America. I wanted to break the “just us” stereotype Black people have thinking that they the only one with problems. So I started going to different ‘hoods, getting my pass and going in with cameras. Within a couple days of Group Therapy 9/11 hit and that obviously brought a lot of things to a halt.
How did the Hoodz concept start? The whole concept came for me being in prison in the early 90s. Being in jail most niggas want to be rappers or rob rappers when they get out. I always wanted get out and make movies. My father has been involved in TV since the 1950s. He used to show it to me, but I didn’t like it at the time. It wasn’t until jail that I liked it. I got out in 1996 and started going to seminars and doing research. I shot my first short film in 1998. Right around that time, I got shot and shortly thereafter, my partner
But one night, my partner was doing a show with Cash Money and we did interview with Mannie Fresh, Baby and them. I didn’t know what I was gonna do with the footage yet. But there weren’t any other companies around at the time. No SMACK, no nothing. Not too long after that, Jam Master Jay was in town, I wasn’t too excited to do the interview, but I didn’t know he was gonna die a week later. So we had the last living interview of JMJ. As soon as we did that, we started hearing about all these other DVDs popping up. All that
When the DVD Magazine format became popular in the early 2000s, its quick ascension seemingly came from out of nowhere. Unfortunately, similar to its audio cousin, the mixtape, the rapid growth eventually lead to an oversaturated market. So saturated that the genre’s creator, Hoodz DVD Magazine, took a two year hiatus to let their competitors eventually fizzle out and open the door for them to return with quality product.
stuff was looking like it came off the cutting room floor of BET, it had no substance. It was rappers smoking weed and flashing guns. SMACK was coming out with DVDs every month and that shit was selling. It felt like we had the purp, but everybody on the block was buying regular. So it took two years for us to do it again. Why two years? Niggas on the team wasn’t really about it and I saw the importance of making a brand and making relationships. Early on I could see the industry was gonna be saturated with bullshit. I wanted to survive it for the long haul. So while niggas was putting out garbage back-to-back, we were creating better business situations. How did that decision pay off? From our first DVD people ran with what we did. We had Hip Hop, street shit and dope fiends. After that SMACK ran with the Hip Hop aspect, then Hood to Hood came out with the hood element of what we was doing. Everybody took a piece of what we wanted to do. I’m not mad, but they did it fucked up. So us not coming out for a minute was really agood thing. We got a good sense of where the market was going. What impact would you say Hoodz has had on the ‘hood and the industry? It gave the hood a voice. We go to places that no one else goes. We’ve been to the roughest parts of LA and to Charleston, SC. Those are the craziest places I’ve been. We’ve gone to Camden, NJ, that’s like 3-by-5 miles of death. But I figured, I did the same bullshit a lot these guys are doing, back in the day. Why not go back and do something positive. Words by Maurice G. Garland // Photo by Tyson Horne.
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RAW, UNCENSORED WEST COAST RAP SHIT
featuring ozone award nominees
DPG ROCCETT THE PACK G MALONE THE JACKA MISTAH FAB WILLY NORTHPOLE
KEAK DA SNEAK
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I’M JUST SAYIN’THO BY D-RAY
Publisher Julia Beverly Editor-in-chief Jessica “Mz Jae” Hagmaier Editor-AT-LARGE D-Ray GRAPHIC DESIGNER David KA Music EditorS Randy Roper Maurice G. Garland ADVERTISING SALES Che Johnson Isiah Campbell Contributors Big Fase 100, DJ BackSide, DJ E-Z Cutt, Gary Archer, Jelani, Jessica Essien, Joey Colombo, Kay Newell, Keita Jones, Luvva J, Nippy Swagga, Portia Jackson, Shemp, Todd Davis, Ty Watkins Street Reps Anthony Deavers, Bigg P-Wee, Bigthangs, Big Will, Dee1, Demolition Men, DJ Jam-X, DJ Juice, DJ KTone, DJ Nik Bean, DJ Quote, DJ Skee, DJ Strong & Warrior, J Hype, Jasmine Crowe, John Costen, Juice, Kewan Lewis, Luvva J, Maroy, Rob J Official, Rob Reyes, Shauntae Hill, Sherita Saulsberry, Sly Boogy, Syd Robertson, Tonio, Twin, William Major, Zack Cimini COVER CREDITS Keak da Sneak photo by Trevor Traynor.
THE JACKA ROCCETT DPG MISTAH FAB JAY ROCK TOO $HORT
Snoop Dogg - This was just a plain dope experience, not to mention that it was history: Snoop performing in his hometown of LBC for the first time! He killed it. He did “Murder Was The Case” alongside a dope interview with Power 106’s morning show, Backstage Breakfast with Big Boy! What it do Fuzzy?
20-21 KEAK DA SNEAK 17 18
Run-DMC - I saw them on my birthday at a club in San Francisco called DV8 and I recall just putting my camera down to enjoy “My Adidas.” That’s OG. Mary J Blige - Mary is so in touch with her feelings. She sings about real-life moments to put her fans in that hypnotic mood. I recall shooting her show on Mother’s Day in Concord, CA. There were mothers, boyfriends, and husbands in the building, and the whole place had a memory to go home with on a very special day. Her message is always deep and passionate. Mary is the only female on this list for a reason!
CONTENTS 9 10 11 13 14 16
LL Cool J - Everyone knows the OG in the game can’t deny his fame. I’m a female at a LL Cool J show in San Jose, and I must say that he is an all-around five-star entertainer. I’ve never been able to photograph his show because I’m too busy watching it!
WILLY NORTHPOLE GLASSES MALONE
got to catch a shot of him at a show, and boy, I waited! I would’ve been gone if it wasn’t Wayne in the Bay. He shut the shit down. He’s made history not only for his first day record sales but for selling out the latest Wild Jam just two days after The Carter III hit stores. He rocked the house and ended his show by thanking his fans and telling them he is thankful for them, and it’s because of them that he can make his living. So beautiful! Wayne’s Carter III has not left my deck. He’s deep! If you’re hating on Weezy, get a better hobby, or a better day job cause you’ve got too much time on your hands. West Coast End Zone issue #68, peep my shot!
Eminem & D12 - This was one of my first press junkets with a magazine. I got to go kick it with Em, and I had just seen him not too long before he blew at a Bomb concert in San Jose in his grimy-looking long-sleeved Budweiser Beer t-shirt. I was told, “Take his photo. He’s going to blow!” I looked again and said, “Ummm, no.” So I learned to never, never underestimate someone based on their fashion sense (or lack of). I was blessed with a great chance to be at their meet and greet and also shoot the show, where I saw Em in person kill it. Not to mention, I got a great shot of him and Proof on stage together that I love. My bad for judging you, Em. Thanks to one of my favorite publicists, Tresa!
Tech N9ne - I knew his music, I knew his face from magazine ads, I knew his wrapped truck - well, that’s a lot to know about this guy considering that DJs don’t play his music like they should. He’s serious and promotes his projects, with or without radio. I happened to be in Vegas one year when he had a show at the New Orleans Casino with Busta Rhymes, DMX, and Mistah FAB. That was my first Tech N9ne show and it was so dope I talked about it a lot. See, I’m still talkin’ about it! You have to see his show. He’s on point at all times during his set. Do you, Tech!
Mistah FAB - I have so many stories about his growth, I could do a whole Top 10 list of him through my camera. Fab does the dopest freestyles at his shows! The real freestyles, not pre-styles. Fans get a real heart-felt show. I captured a picture of him at the Wild 94.9 Bomb concert with him facing the crowd of 20,000 with their T’s up for Mac Dre.
David Banner - I recall my first David Banner show at the Tech.Nitions Conference in Vegas. He jumped off the stage and swung off the ceiling pipes into the crowd and just stayed there rockin’, giving love to his fans. That was early in his career, so to see him rock at a show today, nothing has changed. He’s a wild man in the crowd, letting the fans that paid to see him remember him with no blurred vision! Banner keeps that humble side to him that has taken him to where he is today!
Mac Dre - I’ve been a Mac Dre fan since the late 80s, no lie. When I started shooting Dre’s shows, I would just try to get in with my digital camera. All my memories are gone except a few because I was premature to the digital game and didn’t back up the computer, and it crashed. Now that a hater murdered him, all I have is memories and a frozen moment of his last birthday performance that he left us to remember him by! He was so fly that night, just gigglin’ and bustin’ all his hits. T.I.P. Dre! Lil Wayne - Wayne, the youngest Hot Boy! The swag he brings to the stage is straight RockStar. He’s got a great show. I was one of the select people that
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I Am The Streets – Street credibility is always important. Even though I’m out here on the radio and doing my thing I don’t forget where I came from. I know the dudes I looked up to might have rapped, but they were getting their paper in other ways. I just want the lil dudes lookin up to me to see a dude that’s actually getting paid for this rap shit. I’ve Been To Jail – Anyone who’s been there before can tell you it’s a good place to master your craft. It can be a good place for a rapper because you’re around different kind of attitudes and different kind of people. You’ve got a lot on your mind in there, so it’s a good place to really learn what to say. I’m Independent – There’s really nothing more that needs to be said. I’m The Hardest Working Rapper In The Game – I’ve never had a record deal. I sell a lot more records then probably anyone with a deal, doing the same thing I’m doing and I’m killin’ ‘em. I’m A Cool Ass Dude – When you meet me I’m the same person with everybody. I’m the same dude whether I’m wit’ my grandma or wit’ the A&Rs. You know what I mean? I’m A Handsome Ass Dude! – I’m definitely handsome enough to be one of the top artists in the world! I Have My Own Label – I don’t have to be signed as an artist. They gotta come at me with a distribution deal! I’m The Underground Artist Of The Year – I’m the Bay Area’s Underground Artist of the Year. I won an award for that. OZONE Magazine – I’ve been in there a million times. That’s one thing the industry knows me for, and that’s always a big deal. I’m Actually Dope – I’m not a gimmick. The only thing I use to sell records is the pure gift. A nigga’s fly when it comes to this music shit. A nigga’s raw, you know what I’m saying? That’s why they “All Over Me.” I’d bring swag to the whole staff, man!
Nominated for Patiently Waiting: California As told to Mz Jae
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Stop Wearing Shirts that Don’t Fit You – Where can you hide the burner at? Where you gonna put your burner if you got on a s/medium? If you’re 200 pounds you shouldn’t have no tight shirt on. Keep it G. Speak from Your Heart – If you’re gonna make music you need to speak what you know. Don’t fabricate nothing you do. If you G about it, your music should speak for itself. Don’t Kiss Ass – You don’t gotta kiss nobody’s ass in the music industry. You can make friends but you don’t gotta be an ass kisser. Be All About Your Money – Hoes come later. Focus on Your Goals – If you got a goal, make sure you meet that. Don’t let no haters get in your way. Keep your focus and don’t let nobody knock you off your block. Go out there and get it. Handle Your Business No Matter What – If you got a problem with somebody you need to handle that. Don’t keep ongoing beef. It leads to deaths. Never Associate with Snitches – I don’t care if it’s your brother, your cousin, your auntie, your mama – it’s not allowed. Rep Your Hood to the Fullest – It don’t matter if you’re from a small city or a big city. You can be the nigga to put your city on the map. Stay Away from Messy Bitches – Messy bitches will have you caught up in some shit. Don’t Discuss Your Business Over the Phone – Doing too much talking to people about street business over the phone can get you a lot of time in jail, so use pay phones and do a lot of meetings but don’t discuss your business over the phone.
Nominated for Patiently Waiting California As told to Ms. Rivercity
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KURUPT 5 4 DAZ 5 4 3 2 1
Style – Style in the form of our music, with the concepts we were delivering and the overall quality of the music. Now everybody uses bits and pieces of what we started in their raps.
Creativity – We’re still here. There’s not much more to say. After all this time we’re still here. Originality – In the 90s when N.W.A started, and when we started, we started that gangsta shit. We’re veterans of all the stuff that was going down in that era and we’re still here. Swag – Having a unique style, hanging with unique people, always being there, love moving, can adapt to anything that’s going down. Production – We’ve produced classics like “Ambitionz of a Ridah,” “I Ain’t Mad At Cha,” and “Got Your Mind Made Up.”
The Formula – We changed the whole formula for selling records and making music. We brought uniqueness to the table. Dr. Dre, Warren G, and DPG, we changed the whole face of Hip Hop. Variety – With us, we had everything in one. All our collaborations were done from the inside the camp. We had more variety as one. Evolution – Everything evolved after us. We brought life back into Hip Hop. Record sales stepped up after us; we brought the million dollar record deals to the table. We brought Hip Hop to a whole new level. Organization and Inspiration – We taught people how to do it. We were a part of the greatest organization in Hip Hop period. We taught people how to sell their records by their damn selves. After us The Firm, No Limit, and Bad Boy were all runnin’ their shit how we ran ours. Liberation – We weren’t afraid to say anything. We fought for the people who weren’t afraid to speak their mind. Say what you say, express yourself. People from the establishment tried to shut that shit down. From the C. Delores Tuckers to the Rev. Al Sharptons, to everybody trying to put a hold on gangsta rap, we brought liberation to the table. We fought for the right to be able to say whatever you want. Now if you want to say “nigga” you say “nigga,” and if you want to say “bitch” you say “bitch.” We put the G in gangsta and brought the streets in the game.
Nominated for Best Group West Coast As told to Mz Jae
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Girls – I got to have some girls on the bus. I need Zaria from The Parent Hood. She was bad to me, she gotta be on the bus. Raven Simone, I’d have to get with her and try and talk her out of a few dollars. I’d need Oprah on the bus. We would sit up in the back and have a long talk. I would just have some important women on the bus. A.F.N.F – My homies gotta be on the bus, and I’ve gotta have my family on there. A.F.N.F. All family, no friends. Everybody that’s in that circle knows who they are, no need to say any names. Kanye West – I need Kanye on the bus, man. We gotta talk about how he’s just choked the game, and how’s he’s one of the only artists that doesn’t care what nobody says. I need to learn a few things from him. Kanye is the truth right now. He’s layin’ the foundation for artists like me. I’m like the Bay Kanye: spoiled brat, cocky, arrogant, still hella cool, but don’t give a fuck what anybody gotta say. The whole One West Movement – All my rap homies that really get down with me. Glasses Malone, Ice Cube, Roccett, Husalah, when he get outta jail, Jay Rock, Turf Talk, Bishop Lamont, Beeda Weeda, The Jacka, Spider Loc, Snoop Dogg, Too $hort, Mack 10, they know who they are. All my cats trying to unite the west coast, not just Cali, but Oregon, Arizona, Nevada, Seattle, Alaska, they WHOLE west coast. Some Comedy – We definitely gotta have some comedy on the bus. Someone like Mike Epps, or Katt Williams. I need another life of the party on the bus, so definitely one of them.
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My DJ – Can’t go nowhere without my DJ, Tito Bell a.k.a. Chello, right? He’s the real life of the party. OZONE Magazine – I gotta have OZONE Mag on there! My Mama – My mama gotta be on the bus because she’s goin’ to keep it lit. She’s going to get us even more girls. She’s a girl magnet and she’s goin’ to bring the purple. And when we need some food she’s going to hook it up! Mom’s got to be on the bus! God – I want God on the bus. Without God there is no direction. With a power and belief in him you can go anywhere. So I always want him riding with me. That’s a very important passenger on the bus.
Nominated for Best Rap Artist West Coast As told to Mz Jae // Photo by D-Ray
My stylist – His name is Garfield, but everybody calls him G. Field. He does it all, he styles, cuts hair, he does everything. He’s that go-to guy.
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I’m a Real Blood Nigga – If you don’t buy my record I’ma have to kill yo’ ass. Night Job – I need you to buy my record so I can quit my night job jacking folks. Bitches – Everybody needs to buy my record and make me famous, that way I can give it to all these bitches that wouldn’t give me no pussy when I didn’t have nothing. Hoe Ass Niggas – Buy my record cause some of these other niggas records you be buyin’ is police, snitches, and just down right pussy ass niggas. I’m In Debt – I owe Top Dawg Entertainment and Warner Bros. about a half million dollars and if I don’t re-coup I’m in trouble. Nevermind – Y’all ain’t gotta go buy my record, fuck all y’all! Nah, I’m just bullshittin’. Go out there and get my shit, cause my shit is the bomb! Fake Ass Jewelry – Buy my record so I can stop robbin’ these fools that come in my town with this fake ass jewelry on. It’s not turning a profit! I Keep It Real – I spit that real, uncut, straight hood shit. All that other shit niggas is spittin’ is straight fairytales. I’ma Real Hood Nigga – I’ma real hood nigga and feel all the same things that other real niggas from real hoods feel. Everything about me is real, ain’t no fake, ain’t no playin’. I Fucks With Everybody – I’m spittin’ some shit that everybody can relate to. I’m the first nigga to spit some real hood shit since Pac. Everybody’s been trying to do it but they’ve been putting out straight bullshit. My shit is real life situations that everybody feel and everybody can relate to. At least anyone who’s been in the ghetto all their life. Nominated for Patiently Waiting: California As told to Mz Jae
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They’re Repetitive – The hottest artists of the year win at every award show, so they all look like reruns. Too Many Egos - Unimportant people all try to act like VIPs and keep saying things like, “Don’t you know who I am???” They’re Too Long - The pre-shows and the post-shows are as long as the actual award shows. It’s Just A Fashion Show - Everybody talks about what everybody else is wearing. The Afterparties Are More Fun - There’s nothing else to say. Overkill - There are just too many different award shows in one year. They’re Expensive - The clothes, hotel rooms, and flights are not worth it just for somebody to say “congratulations” and give you a trophy. Lame Performances - I could just go to a “real” Beyonce concert if I wanted to see her perform. Kanye West Syndrome - Some people are too sensitive and get mad when their favorite artist doesn’t win. They’re Biased - I have five platinum albums, one double platinum album, four gold albums, and have never won shit!
Nominated for Best Rap Album West Coast Photo by Julia Beverly
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10 Me Against the World
– 2Pac – I swear to God, that album was so close to me I thought Pac was from my hood. Everything he said on that album was me. How he came with “Outlaw” and “Fuck the World” and “Me Against the World,” and even with “Can You Get Away,” Pac made it cool to be romantic with a female. You have to respect that. He was saying real shit. My favorite song was “So Many Tears.” I lost so many homies and that song was just me all around. Out of all the albums on my list, that’s the one that emotionally touched me the most.
Lethal Injection – Ice Cube – That’s Cube’s best album. I don’t know if Cube was a Muslim at the time or what, but he had a chip on his shoulder with America and he wasn’t afraid to say it. Every song on Lethal Injection was a story. Cube always had a talent for writing stories. He was the mastermind behind N.W.A. I respect Cube for what he stood for.
8 Illmatic & Stillmatic
– Nas – You could mix both of these together. These albums had the same effect on me – it’s just different generations of music. Nas was New York. He was so ahead of his time with Illmatic. That was Nas’ #1 album of all time. If you listened to it you knew Nas was gonna be a problem. I was a big fan of the whole Nas vs. Jay-Z thing, seeing who was gonna say what.
7 Doggy Style
– Snoop Dogg – This was hands down Snoop’s best album. It was a funny, well put together album, even with the cartoon album cover. It was something different. And who didn’t want to be signed to Death Row at that time? Snoop could turn from a gangster to a pimp and people respected him. Snoop was ahead of his time. Even now with the “Sexual Seduction” and the wigs he puts on, Snoop is more than a rapper, he’s an entertainer. Even with the pimp character he plays with the buck teeth and everything, Snoop is probably the only emcee that could pull that off and keep his street credit. He’s the best West Coast artist in my opinion.
Straight Outta Compton – N.W.A – I think Eazy E was what DJ Quik was when he came into the game. His voice just stood out and the delivery was crazy. I know they used to shit on him and try to say that Cube wrote his lyrics. Regardless of how it came across, Easy was a star – from his image to the way he lived. I remember they used to wear the leather gloves and I used to try to mimic them when I was 9 years old, with the workout gloves and flannels. Besides the songs, Eazy is what made me like the album. The whole N.W.A movement started the West Coast getting respect in my eyes. I think a lot of people from the South and East Coast were influenced by that, which was a good thing.
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Life After Death – Notorious B.I.G. – I liked Ready to Die but Life After Death was my favorite. At the time when Ready to Die came out, I was really into the West coast music. I loved Biggie, his swag was crazy, but at the time I was just getting into New York music. That’s when I really started listening to Biggie. I went to jail when Life After Death came out. That was in ’95. The whole reason I got into East Coast music was because the East Coast/West Coast beef was going on. The Blueprint – Jay-Z – That album speaks for itself. As far as Jay-Z’s albums go, this was probably the only album where I liked every single song. People were sleeping on his last few albums before that, except for Hard Knock Life. I think The Blueprint was a classic. That’s when I was introduced to Kanye West and Just Blaze as producers. I think their style made producers step they game up. American Gangster – Jay-Z – That album just did something to me. I’m a rapper and lyricist so I listen to lyrics. I think Jay-Z reached his peak with this album. He took his whole swag and put it on the album. Plus, American Gangster was an anticipated movie. I used to work out to this album when it first came out. It was something I used to listen to all the time. Dogg Food – Tha Dogg Pound – That was like the prime of my life, as far as being a knucklehead. Snoop is still the man, but back then, even if you were a Blood you were damn near cool with Crips just because of Snoop. He brought that whole new vibe. I really respected that whole movement. The Chronic – Dr. Dre – Dre came like a beast. He came with a whole new slang. I liked the whole swag and the new team. He had Daz, Rage, Kurupt, Snoop. Everything from top to bottom, from the beats to the flow, was the best. He had the best female emcee, the best duo – Daz & Kurupt, the best solo artist – Snoop Dogg, plus him. Of course, that was when the West coast was at its peak and had the game on lock, with the whole Death Row movement. Honorable Mention: ATLiens – Outkast
Nominated for Patiently Waiting: Arizona As told to Ms Rivercity // Photo by Hannibal Matthews
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7 Arrests Deep and I Never Snitched – Nobody wants to go to prison and deal with the consequences of their actions. For me, a lot of times I had money for attorneys. I was able to get my charges dropped. I’m still going through a lot right now. The police harass me in my neighborhood and are like, “We hear that you’re the man around here. We hear you sell drugs.” I’m like, “Y’all crazy as fuck.” I coulda been out here puttin’ niggas on with work. I coulda stayed out here if I was gonna do that. They swear that I’m the man on some big dawg shit. I’m From the West and I Made It Past 25 Years Old – If you’re from the Los Angeles area – Watts, Compton, South Central, Englewood – whether you’re Blood or Crip, you’re born into the conflict. Every day you’re a target, no matter if you gangbang or not. It’s all about affiliation, where you’re from. It’s a forever-going beef. Every day you’re ducking and dodging bullets, trying to stay out of the morgue. I Actually Used to Lowride on Crenshaw Blvd. – It’s only been 3 successful rappers on major labels that lowride on Crenshaw. Mack 10 was the biggest rapper ever that used to lowride on Crenshaw. No other rappers, I don’t care what they lie about in they raps, can say they ride. Mac 10 is the only rapper I remember seeing out there in ‘95-‘97 lowriding. With his career, he was still out there posted up lowriding. 9 times out of 10 they’d be out there shooting because it’s so many enemies out there. I do remember seeing Dub C. He wasn’t into lowriding at that time, but he was out there. No other rappers were out there during ‘95-‘99. You gotta remember I’m kinda young compared to other rappers. People remember me out there lowriding and still hit me up about it to this day. Million Dollar Deal Later and I Still Street Race – That’s in my blood. That’s what I do. I’ll never stop street racing. I don’t care if I make 20 million dollars. I don’t give a fuck what the police say. It’s illegal as hell but that’s what I do. That’s why I understand a lot of rappers. Everybody was on T.I. talking about he’s got millions of dollars, why’s he buying guns? He can buy guns; he’s a real street nigga. That’s what he do. A real nigga gon’ be a real nigga. It’s the same thing with me and street racing. I’ma be me no matter what. I’ve Performed in All 3 Projects in Watts – Nickerson Gardens, Jordan Downs, and Imperial Courts. I done got down in all of ‘em.
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Once I Left Sony, I Had a Deal Within 20 Minutes – At first I didn’t think I was gonna get released from Sony ‘cause of everything going on. But I talked to a dude named K.P. – shout out to him ‘cause he really did something special for my career – and he was able to get me released. I was in Mack 10’s office trying to get someone else a deal with Mack 10 when I got a call from K.P. telling me I was released. Mack 10 overheard me talking to K.P. and asked me how much money did I need. He called Bryan Turner in from Priority Records and we worked it out right there on the spot. I walked out with a deal. I’m Signed to the #1 Baller Out West and Down South [Blu Division/ Hoo Bangin’/Cash Money] – Mack 10 is the biggest baller out West, hands down. He shines harder than anybody. He got the coldest car game. His crib is colder than most of these niggas out here rappin’. And of course, Stunna Man in New Orleans. People know what his money looks like. I Push a Bentley Without Ever Releasing an Album – I’m a real street dude. I deal with ballers. They put me on how to get my whip. They threw me the keys to the Bentley, no questions. From then on, I can whip out a couple of old-schools, a new Silverado. It’s ignorant. I Had the #1 Record in L.A. Talkin’ Ignorant as Hell on the Song – If you heard “Certified,” I talked super shit on that song. I pulled my shit out in front of everybody like, “Look – I’m the man out here. Fuck what everybody else is on.” Enough niggas understood my record and was like, “He a real nigga. This is the coldest record on Power 106 even with this nigga talkin’ all this crazy, outlandish shit.” For the streets and radio to embrace it the way they did, I think that spoke a lot about my character. The Only Crip Who Can Do All Blood Shows – I believe it has something to do with my faith in God. God wanted me to be able to put that on. It’s not about street credibility. I don’t care what I did in my past; people don’t care about that. This is about God, and people possibly seeing past my rag and wanting to hear what I have to say. By the time I’m done, most of the time people are like, “This nigga is on some real life shit.” It also has to do with me not believing in what I was born into. I’m hood and I’m a Crip, but I don’t believe in that natural hate for Bloods. In Watts, it’s more about neighborhoods than Crips and Bloods. I don’t believe in the system of Crips and Bloods. Being able to see past that has helped me be able to make the type of records I make, maybe some life-changing shit.
Nominated for Patiently Waiting California As told to Ms Rivercity // Photo by D-Ray
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KEAK DA SNEAK surviving the times
Keak da Sneak has lived through both the Bay’s mid-90’s hey day and the hyphy movement of two years ago, giving the title of his newest album Deified an even stronger meaning. OZONE caught up with the king of the super duper hyphy hyphy to get his thoughts on everything from Bay unity to bootleggers. Introduce yourself, for people who don’t know who you are. I’m from East Oakland, California, originally one-third of the group 3XKrazy. We had a major deal on Virgin Records back in 1997. I’m an entertainer and I have my own way of explaining stories which I spit out in the form of a rhyme. I’m not a battle rapper. We got goons from the bay like Mistah FAB who hold that down for the rest of The Bay. I have many, many stories to tell if you’re a slow listener. If you can’t understand what I’m saying you need to keep up. You are one of the few Bay Area artists to have a major deal. How did that come about? Man I know, it’s been a long time coming. In 1997 I started with the group 3XKrazy and we signed a bad deal with Virgin records I was 17 years old and still going to school. We were featured on all of the Bay Area’s major compilations and well as E-40’s Hall of Game. We fucked with the major Bay Area hitters and we stayed at it. What have you been doing since then? 3XKrazy decided to go separate ways because we did bad business with Nootrybe/Virgin. We were not happy with the things that were going on around us. So I decided to go solo in 1998. I breathe music so I couldn’t just give up. I’m not a quitter so I tried it on my own and it worked out. Every year since then I have been working on reinventing myself. I have had bad business partners make the wrong moves but I’m still not a quitter. I got people in my ear that constantly feed me negativity and the people that I thought was with me was really against me. They were all in it for their own personal reasons, but I’m still standing. I may have fumbled a few times, but I’ma get right back up. It’s all a learning experience. If you have the right people in your corner and around you it’s cool. When you have the wrong people it’s all bad. When you decide to do you, niggas be mad instead of being there for you. I’m a good guy so I would never turn my back on my niggas. I’m working on the Allndadoe album. I’m trying to build something solid and then I want to work with the South on something real big. I’m working on Bay Area’s Best Kept Secrets ranging from R&B to Rap. It’s hard to get a good fanbase and to get people to listen. I want to bring the best talent from
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the Bay to the table. It’s been a few years since your last album Copium. That was a classic. Yeah, it was it was one of my best albums by far. I just released Deified in June, it was a distribution deal with Allndadoe/Koch and I also put a lot into that album too. There were various albums released by prior management in between but this is my real 4th album. How’s everything going with Koch? Man, all I can say is, make sure you have your marketing team on hand. My publicist Hassana Chanelle walked with me on this and we did as much as we could. My album got pushed back for a year and it was frustrating. I couldn’t just bust another move, I had to wait. If you’re from New York it’s good, but if you’re from The Bay, do all the footwork you can before hopping into a deal. How do you feel about the growth of your career? I feel good about it because I have a fan base. I’ve been building something. I’m not out here just having fun. I’m really working. When people out of the area think “hyphy,” they really aren’t all informed correctly. Explain hyphy and the role you play in it. The word “hyphy” means showing off, having fun, giggin’. Instead of our youth being focusing on killing and shooting we have fun. We dance and create our own atmosphere. Hyphy is a way of life for us. What do you think is the problem with the Bay? There doesn’t seem to be much love in the game and you’ve got so many people burning albums. I feel like the Bay doesn’t come together and help each other out. Other niggas are sticking together these days and aren’t worried about who’s gonna be in the spotlight longer. Look at Khaled and what he’s got going on; it’s all about unity. I just wish we could all come together, and the time to do it is now. The rap game need all of us, not just me. What people don’t realize is that it’s getting hard for artists to sell if people keep burning stuff. It’s ridiculous. I’m still in the stores buying albums. I bought a few of Lil Wayne’s albums. When I catch muthafuckas burning shit on the street, I snatch all they shit up and throw the shit away. Our people as a whole should really know now is the best time for you to do something with your life. Burning CDs and DVDs ain’t no fucking career. // Words by D-Ray // Photo by Trevor Traynor
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YOUR FAVORITE RAPPER’S FAVORITE MAGAZINE
E OZAORN DS W A ion p s ecial edit
TRAE & Z-RO RICK ROSS PLIES THREE 6 MAFIA B.O.B. GUCCI MANE WEBBIE GORILLA ZOE SHAWTY
LO FLO RIDA RAY J & more 24 // OZONE MAG
Rick Ross, Trae, Z-Ro, Plies, Three 6 Mafia, B.o.B., Gucci Mane, Webbie, Gorilla Zoe, Shawty Lo, Flo Rida, Ray J, Justice League, Chamillion...