YOUR FAVORITE RAPPER’S FAVORITE MAGAZINE
9th WARD Jermaine Dupri’s Secret Weapon
I WAKE UP TO GET MY CAKE UP
NITTI Super Producer
GUCCI MANE MEMPHITZ LIL WILL MJG
the So So Def mogul introduces 9th Ward & Nitti
ack! b anniversary rowissue h t 6 year OZONE MAG //
YOUR FAVORITE RAPPER’S FAVORITE MAGAZINE
TZ HI P M ME
odel: n John m a e S & t, s ti eman, Ar A&R, Hyp
Making e h T n I l A Mogu
9TH WARD Secret Weapon
GUCCI MANE Shows Us Why The Hood Loves Him
Fresher than Doug E.
Space Age Pimpin’
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y sar k r e nivowbac n a ue! r r ss a i h t ye
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PUBLISHER/EDITOR-IN-CHIEF // Julia Beverly 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 SPECIAL EDITION EDITOR // Jen McKinnon 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, Brian Eady, Buggah D. Govanah (On Point), Bull, C Rola, Cartel, Cedric Walker, Chad Joseph, Charles Brown, Chill, Chuck T, Christian Flores, 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, DJ Rage, Rapid Ric, Robert Lopez, Rob-Lo, Robski, Rohit Loomba, Scorpio, 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 // Jermaine Dupri, 9th Ward, & Nitti photo by Tyson Horne; Memphitz photo by Tyson Horne; Cash Money throwback photo (this page) by King Yella; MJG photo by Angela Morris; YV photo by Julia Beverly. DISCLAIMER // OZONE Magazine is published 12 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.
10 // OZONE MAG
six year anniversary
67 ESG 61 UGK 58 BABY 69 NELLY 63 TRINA 76 PIMP C 65 LIL FLIP 81 FAT JOE 85 JA RULE 81 BIG PUN 83 OUTKAST 64 CAMRON 70 WILLIE D 72 J PRINCE 74 JUVENILE 75 SCARFACE 68 DJ SCREW 62 LIL BOOSIE 77 RICK ROSS 79 LIL WAYNE 60 SLIM THUG 80 GETO BOYS 78 GOODIE MOB 59 YOUNG BUCK 73 FOXY BROWN 71 TRICK DADDY 82 METHOD MAN 66 DAVID BANNER 59 MANNIE FRESH 82 JERMAINE DUPRI 84 RUSSELL SIMMONS 72 FLOYD MAYWEATHER
monthly sections 90 END ZONE 16-19 Rapquest 12 FEEDBACK 88 CD Reviews 13 JB’S 2 CENTS 20 Mathematics 22 CHAIN REACTION 21-37 PHOTO GALLERIES 36-40 PATIENTLY WAITING 89 Caffeine Substitutes 13 10 THINGS I’M HATIN’ ON
jd, 9th Ward , MEMPHITZ
nitti pg 42-
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Send your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org or hit us up at www.myspace.com/ozonemagazine
I just wanted to tell you how much I love OZONE. It’s the only magazine I can’t stop reading. Every article and every interview is so real and uncut. Please keep doing what you do. Leave the magazine the way it is and pretty soon everyone will switch over to you. I’m addicted. I’m a person that really doesn’t read a whole lot, but I’m dissecting every OZONE I get my hands on. – Chris Mudd, email@example.com How ‘bout doing a spread on the women that hold down these wannabe rap artists, promoters, producers, DJs, and street team workers? Plenty of focus is placed on the man behind the music, but how ‘bout the women who give these men the opportunity to pursue their dreams while we stay at home focusing on the homefront? These guys claiming to be on their grind are doing it because they need income to support a family, who, while they are “out on the road,” is being taken care of by the wife or girlfriend at home. We give them the support and believe in what they’re doing, while waiting with them for their “big break.” Half of the promoters or artists in this business wouldn’t be able to do what they do without a “personal assistant,” who, nine times out of ten, happens to be the wifey or girlfriend whose brain is the entire operation. Without me, there is no you! – Lyn, firstname.lastname@example.org (Tallahassee, FL) I don’t know if there’s been a life-changing event [in his life] or what happened, but the last few entries of Charlamagne Tha God’s “Chin Check” have been some of my favorite pieces to read! In the past I have disagreed with the things he spoke on, because it was always hating or tearing down someone or something. I am anti-hating. But his approach lately has been more inspirational, making muthafuckers aware of very ignored topics. The 3rd annual DJ issue entry struck me right in the heart because it was so true. I’m born and raised in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, and as soon as I got the chance to work at the local radio station as the morning show board operator, I jumped on it, worked my way up to the #1 night jock in the state (check the ratings!), and it ain’t about the money or the local fame! I got a homeboy that works at T.G.I. Friday’s that brings home more money than me. I do it for the love of my city and my neighborhood. I hear the same shit all the time when I talk to other radio personalities: “I just work here,” “As long as they cut the check…” and I ain’t gonna lie, I have said those things too, but I had to pull myself back and remember why I really do this. The [radio] pay isn’t enough to live off of, let alone try to ball! So big ups to Charlamagne and his Chin Checking. Sometimes the only way to wake people up is to knock ‘em out! I’ve been rolling with JB and OZONE since it was a 32-page picture fest held together with staples. Keep going in the same direction! There’s still a 300+ pound black man from South Mississippi who has y’all back! – DJ Big BRD, email@example.com (Hattiesburg, MS) Hey JB, your 2 Cents about the booking game is too real. I am also a booking agent and have dealt with artists who have turned down $400,000 tours which would’ve made my 10 percent $40,000. I have had artists decline $60,000 shows because they didn’t want to fly to Australia. The artists are bad but the promoters are the worst! Promoters say they have the money ready, then as soon as you send contracts, they’re nowhere to be found. – Tyler Morgan, firstname.lastname@example.org 12 // OZONE MAG
I’m glad the OZONE Awards are gonna be in my hometown of Houston this year. I really hope Lil Flip drops some new material very soon so he can be nominated for something or at least perform. He should’ve been nominated for most slept-on album this year. Flip is the South, what OZONE mainly reps, and he definitely is Houston. If not, hey, he can always perform an “R.I.P. Pimp C” tribute. Since I first heard of OZONE in 2004 I have gotten subscriptions continuously and will continue to do so. Keep up the good work! – Luis Reyes, email@example.com (Miami, FL) I just got the issue with Trina and Dem Franchize Boyz on the cover and like always it’s a good magazine, even though there’s still no Streetz & Young Deuces. The made-up Sidekick/Blackberry conversations are the best thing ever. – Young Deuces, firstname.lastname@example.org (Milwaukee, WI) I think next month’s 10 Things I’m Hatin’ On should be about these lameass DJs. They claim they show love to local artists, but when you take them your material they don’t even listen to it to see if it’s hot or not. I was once told that you’re not a DJ if you can’t break a record. These DJs only think about playin’ these lame-ass industry rappers, who only talk about the same bullshit, but when someone approaches them with some real shit, they don’t wanna listen. They act like my struggle ain’t shit. – Hurricane BJ, myspace.com/hurricanebj (West Palm Beach, FL) I picked up the new issue of OZONE with Bun B and Webbie on the covers and was skimming through the pages and came across the article about Calvin Klein. When I saw that it was written by Wendy Day, I couldn’t wait to read it, one because of Calvin Klein’s past and, two, because I knew that Wendy would ask the questions the readers want to know without holding back. The article didn’t disappoint me one bit, and the ending comments were the icing on the cake, where she stated, “After hearing similar stories over the years from Jaz-O, Dehaven, Biggs, and Damon Dash, I lost the stomach to speak with New York’s king of rap.” You really put my thoughts and feelings on paper with that statement because I was feeling the same way as well. I wonder if you could do the same with all the ex-members of Terror Squad, because I hear the same things about Fat Joe. Wendy, you’re incredible in your work and what you bring forth to the table. I appreciate your hard work and dedication to the culture. – Ray Matos, email@example.com I read a comment from a reader named Beno in the last issue who said that OZONE is killing the magazine game right now, and I agree! All the other magazines are filled with [articles like] “Make Your Penis Bigger,” “Have Great Sex,” not to mention the phone sex ads. This is a muthafuckin’ Hip Hop mag that reports Hip Hop! It’s all good, though. As long as those other magazines sell their 100 copies, OZONE will be dedicated to the readers of real Hip Hop. I read the DJ issue, and I need to send mad shouts to the Detroit DJs who weren’t mentioned: DJ DDT at WJLB and Suga Rae on Hot 102.7. – Eric Hayes, myspace.com/crunkatlantamusic (Detroit, MI)
jb’s 2cents T
he last month has been a complete blur but I’m pretty sure it was during a dinner meeting in New York, somewhere in between offcolor jokes about the kumquat martinis, that my favorite executive Denmark (who once introduced me as Pinky & the Brain, and I love him for that) asked the simple but profound rhetorical question that’s been sticking in my head ever since: “So, ninety percent of your job is basically figuring out who’s full of shit?” The more I mull over this in my head, yes, it’s true. No matter whether I’m listening to new artists who want to be featured telling me that they’re the next big thing, selling advertisements, booking artists for shows, or seeking sponsorships for the OZONE Awards weekend, it’s true. Ninety percent of my job (maybe even more than that) is figuring out who’s full of shit.
10 THINGS I’M HATIN’ ON PART 1
2. NICK CANNON AND HIS COUGAR! I don’t know about this one. I love them both, but I’m not sure if I love them together. He is so silly, but cute, and she is - well Mariah! - a bad, talented, rich I-N-D-E-P-EN-y’all know the rest - woman! What could she possibly need or want from that little boy? I guess when you get it put down on you, marriage and tattoos will follow. Dang, I need to get it put on me! Note to self: find some good, young love!
Cheesin’ Weezy in ATL
Me, The Jacka, & D-Ray @ his video shoot in San Francisco
Ike is afraid to see me on the basketball court
5. BaraCk’s pastor Jeremiah Wright No disrespect, but my mama always told me when grown folks are handling business, to shut up! I wish someone would have told Pastor Wright that! I understand his need to defend himself and his faith, but we are trying to get a BROTHER in the WHITE HOUSE! White folks can’t handle too much aggression from black folks, educated or not! High yella or not! Does the rest of the world need to know that his crew is so hood? No, not so soon! Pastor Wright, let that man handle his business and then you can do you! Sit your ass down; you’re about to cost him the race!
3. PEOPLE THAT SAY, “MY EX IS A GOOD MAN!” Well, why’d you leave that good man?
Me, Chamillionaire, & Trae @ Crisco Kidd’s birthday party in Houston
Fortunately, God has blessed us all with gut instincts, and the more we make use of our internal bullshit detector, the sharper it gets (just like gaydar, or big dick radar). Maybe I make it more complicated than it actually is. The first impression you get of someone is usually correct. No matter how many promises they make, if it sounds too good to be true, guess what? It probably is.
If the new guy seems too good to be true (cute, has a great body, has money, acts like a perfect gentleman, and says all the right things) he probably is, in reality, married with two children (it’s easy to look up marriage licenses these days; just Google it). His wife probably has a tracking device in his phone which she uses to hunt him down at women’s houses and assault them (yes, “assault” as in, a bail bondsman is involved) with brass knuckles. She might even drive one of his cars and smash it into his SUV (again) if she reads this. If a party promoter is promising a deal that seems too good to be true (four consecutive parties where you just show up and get half the money), chances are, after he’s wasted your time for a month and disappeared without sending contracts or deposits, you’ll find that he never even had the venues secured and was simply making empty, hollow promises that meant nothing. Similarly, if you’re asked to wire $18,000 to a personal account and it doesn’t seem quite right, it’s your own fucking fault when they disappear with your money. Bottom line, most “industry” folks are completely full of shit. If it doesn’t feel right, it isn’t. If it seems too good to be true, it is. Leave it alone. Walk away, because it’s not worth the time and energy and effort. Me, I want my life to be real. I want my relationships to be real and my friends to be real and my business to be legit, and if I put my word on something, I’ll do everything in my power to follow through. These values, especially in the music business, seem to put me in the minority. So if you’re one of the 10% (or less) who feels like me, just do yourself a favor: go with your gut.
4. THE INCONSISTENT WEATHER I won’t lie, I wear a weave!!! I love it because it’s easy to maintain and I’m always ready to kick it! It only becomes a problem when the weather is not willing to work with your girl. I bought some very expensive Indian hair, and apparently, it doesn’t rain where this chick was, because my hair swelled up like Sophia from The Color Purple. The worst part is, I had told my new dude that this $150.00/ounce hair was mine. I was tricked! Bamboozled! Now, I am in a tangled, matted, bad weave that cost me a thousand dollars, and I’m banned from the Korean’s store because I acted a fool trying to get a refund!
I read Into The Wild on a flight this month, a book about a guy who abandoned everything he owned, burned all his money, and hid out in the wilderness in Alaska. He died of starvation, of course, but that’s beside the point. I truly felt him on that. Sometimes this industry bullshit gets so bad that I fantasize about destroying everything I own and never seeing or speaking to another human being again, ever, in life; disappearing into the wilderness. JB is just the alter ego. The real me is anti-social as hell. I get too stressed out over people’s bullshit because I take it personally. If people would just say what they mean and mean what they say, we’d all be better off.
If a business proposition seems too good to be true (the promise of seven figures, or even eight figures, being wired into your account at any moment, from a major corporation), they will probably dangle the carrot in front of your nose for a good month or two, just to entice you, before having their lawyer send you over a lengthy contract demanding a large lump sum up front in addition to lots of other barely decipherable legalities. D-RAY
1. CHICKS THAT DON’T WEAR GIRDLES, SPANX, OR MASKING TAPE TO HOLD IN THOSE ROLLS! Skinny chicks, I’m talking to you too! Yes, I said “tape”! Yes, I have taped my problem areas! Don’t ask how I got out of the tape! I don’t advise taping, especially if you’re doing it yourself, but I will endorse the good ol’ girdle or spanx! The only problem with wearing a girdle is that it looks like you have on a girdle. If you need to just address a specific area, like the tummy (which most of us do), the panty girdle may be your answer. The problem is that you will almost always have the dreaded panty lines. This is never, ever cute! So, go to the store and get yourself a spanx! It’s like a thick pantyhose that’ll hold in all your problem areas and relieve you of any panty lines. Thank you Jesus!
by comedian Kiana Dancie myspace.com/kianadancie
David Banner’s birthday weekend
- Julia Beverly, firstname.lastname@example.org
Usher f/ Beyonce & Lil Wayne “Love In This Club Part II” Killer Mike f/ Shawty Lo “2 Sides” The Roots f/ Chrisette Michele & Wale “Rising Up” Jarvis f/ Ludacris “Pretty Girl” Beach 2 Da Beans “Her iPod” Carlos Cartel f/ Spark Dawg “Cokarobics” Team I.R.A.C. “Pants Saggin’” Phyzical f/ Jazze Pha “Who Let Em In”
email@example.com T.I. “No Matter What” Nas “Be a Nigger Too” Rapper Big Pooh “Smile” Pacific Division “Taste”
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T S E U Q P A R
’ , HIT US UP at JB@OZONEMA N I P P O P SEE WOHR ANOTT’SREPRESENTED AT ALL CHICAGO, IL: O T S T E E R T REPRESENTED, S The CORE Street DJs just inducted Averi Minor, DJ E H T S T I IS Shotime, DJ Kcperfect, DJ Predator, and DJ Bonsu. OZONFEEEHL THAT YOUR CITY IS M GAINESVILLE, FL: We had a great time at the CORE Retreat in New IF YOU
More than 100 residences, hotels, and apartments in Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky have been raided since methamphetamine first surfaced as a drug problem here in 2000. The Cincinnati Union Terminal, formerly a major stop for passenger trains, celebrates its 75th anniversary throughout 2008. NKU’s women’s basketball team is in the record books as national champions of NCAA Division II. Six-time Grammy Award winner Kanye West brings his Glow in the Dark Tour to U.S. Bank Arena this summer, sharing the spotlight along with Rihanna, N.E.R.D., and Lupe Fiasco, - Judy Jones (Judy@JJonesent.com)
Innerstate Ike drops the highly anticipated album Whales and Watergunz. Julox from Ugly Azz Ent. is working on a new mixtape called My 2 Week Notice. Him, Kevin Pistol, Gangsta Head, City of the Snow, and Tytanik all have mixes dropping with DJ Ktone The Turf DJ. DJ Bedz is advancing in his career, and KS 107.5 hates it. Club Treo had a no-show Battlecat party, but it was packed as hell. First Saturdays at Blue Ice starts in May, and Chingo Bling is coming to the town in May. The Jazz station is now history, and so is Club Rise downtown. It’s now called Beta, and it’s been poppin’ for the techno heads. - DJ Ktone (Myspace.com/djktonedotcom)
Mary J. Blige and Jay-Z shut down the Heart of the City Tour with Kanye West, Timbaland, Memphis Bleek, and Jeezy blessing the stage. Beyonce, Questlove, Fabolous, and Mary’s husband Kendu watched from the Rocawear/99 Jamz VIP section along with me! The afterparty at Karu & Y was a celebfest of actors, singers, rappers, NFL and NBA players. Rick Ross and Flo-Rida both had album signing events at Best Buy where the support was 3-0-5 beautiful. Flo-Rida had a bowling afterparty (and I beat him). Miami must be an inspiration for Beyonce, Janet Jackson, Cee-Lo, Ciara, Solange, Charlie Hustle, and Nina Sky because they all booked out the studios here. - Supa Cindy (www.Myspace.com/Supadupe)
Aych defeated New Jersey rapper M.I.L. on BET’s 106 and Park and earned a trip back in May. Jook music pioneer Tampa Tony received a life sentence for possession and conspiracy to distribute (but is still alive and well, despite rumors that he committed suicide). The mixtape scene heats up with multiple releases of DJ Spinatik’s Street Runnaz series. Grammy Award winning producers J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League and BMU brace for the release of 2 Pistols’ debut album. Third Leg Greg returns to WiLD 98.7fm on weekends. Bubba Sparxxx opened Twice on Sundays Recording Studio. - Slick Worthington (SlickWorthi813@gmail.com)
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The streets are awaiting the highly anticipated mixtape by DJ Terrah, Cut the Check or Cut the Coversation Vol. 2. Since MAGIC 101.3 received BDS status, ranking it 83 in the country, the city has been invaded by visits from Trina, Day 26, Mike Jones and countless other superstars. The Venue and Plasma still have the club scene on smash for Saturday nights, holding it down for the hood and college crowds, respectively. Artists gaining momentum in the streets are Ball Greezy, Grind Mode, and Big Koon & Hollywood with their banger “I’m Leanin’.” - Jett Jackson (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Orleans along with CORE DJ Lil John from WGCI. The city was well repped along with Infinite Hustle Ent.’s Dutch Dinero, Hymalaya, DJ Young Shadow, and Shabazz. Hot Styles had the #1 record in the city with “Lookin’ Boy” featuring Yung Joc. Donski had a showcase at Tini Martini that highlighted acts like Dutch Dinero, Hymalaya, Thraxx, J Lyn, Kurfew, and The Cartel. No ID and Traxster have a new blogsite called Noidvstraxster.com. The Hipster movement has taken over Chicago with Cool Kids and Kid Sister. - Jamal Hooks (JHooks@tmail.com)
The 505 has been on fire with concerts this year. Kanye West’s Glow in The Dark concert is coming. Darren Lopez was named the new Program Director for Kiss 97.3. Too $hort’s concert is being rescheduled. Raw is hitting everyone over the head with his multiple CD releases this year. YLI will be taking over Tha Lab Hip Hop Store. Eric Martinez from Power Moves Entertainment presented on the Tastemakers’ Panel at Sha Money XL’s Producer Conference in Arizona. - Beno (Beno@eadymusicgroup.com)
ABILENE/SAN ANGELO, TX:
April saw Big Sid celebrate his 4th Annual Birthday Bash Concert at Wildrose in San Angelo. Slim Thug headlined the event with special guests Playaz Choice, Gerald G, Grit Boys, 1st Class, and Slaughter House. Abilene’s weekend starts popping Thursdays with DJ Skid at O’Kelly’s Co-Ed Thursdays; Fridays with Lady D’Vine at El Sitio’s Hip Hop Fridays; and Saturdays at Midnight Rodeo 3 with DJ Jale on the 1s and 2s. - Christian Flores (email@example.com)
DALLAS/FT. WORTH, TX:
The Texas Urban Music Summit (Texas U.M.S.) backed by the CORE DJs is coming to city early summer. PPT just dropped their album Denglish. I told Big Chief I was sleeping on him and he told me I’ve got to wake up. The way he flips through the city, he’s right. Check out “Go Harda” and “Supastarz” at myspace.com/bichiefa. Big Doughski G is in the streets with his new mixtape Just Feel Me Bro while Lil Fred Records is keeping Young Nino and Hotboy Starr grinding. 97.9’s D’Lyte and EClass are live at Rhythm City every Saturday night. MS got transferred to Seagoville; stay strong, man. - Edward “Pookie” Hall (firstname.lastname@example.org)
SSU and E93 blazed the airwaves and campus with Spring Fling, a week long break for Savannah State co-eds. Lloyd and Shawty Lo brought Spring Fling to an end but the party kept going. Big O and Rich Life have the college scene on lock with the hottest parties of the season. Kappa Alpha Psi’s lingerie party at Frozen was too hot for TV and the greatest end to it all is Top 25 and Island Breeze, where A.M.I & Kappa Alpha Psi’s Benney Jay was nominated. - Lucky (LuckyCharmsEvents@gmail.com)
Ice Cube, Bun B, David Banner, N.E.R.D., Clipse, Ludacris, Mannie Fresh, Talib Kweli, Rob G, Chingo Bling, Tech N9ne, and more were all in town for the 2008 SXSW (South by South West) Music Festival. Local and area participators included Gerald G, Chalie Boy, Pimpin Pen, On The Line Records, JKapone, Public Offenders, Set 4 Life, Bavu Blakes, Question, Drojo, C.O.D. and more. DJ Rapid Ric and Chalie Boy are releasing Versatile Child 2: Return of the Versatile Child. Pitbull came to town for a show at Paradox with The Beat 104.9. - O.G. of Luxury Mindz (www.luxurymindz.com)
KILLEEN/BELTON/TEMPLE/ WACO, TX:
Smoke and Pay of Club Hypnotic teamed up with Starr & O of 360 Hood Ent., Alexander of Standalone Ent., and B 106.3 to bring acts like Paul Wall, MyLyfe Records, Green City, Gutta of Mack’s On Tha Rise, Swisha House, Kyle Lee, and Grit Boys. Ms. Rita and Doza Don TV got plenty of footage. Dirty B, Lonestar, Fed 500, and KTrain of Fedtyme’s single “Make Moves” gets heavy radio rotation. Lemmie B Down and Adykted Sol opened Club Kaching with Big Brad of Scorpion Records and LIl Sean of Kachiing performing. Greta held a Celebrity B-Ball game in Waco. - Tre Dubb (email@example.com)
The local Hip Hop TV show Da Show has been on smash with local videos, interviews, and live performances. Make It Rain Ent. brought Shawty Lo to Jim Porter’s and it was hot. Hurricane Chris came through EXPO 5 and performed for a less than packed house. Father Jah dropped his highly anticipated album Philosophies of a Modern Day Mastermind with features from M-1, Native, Nappy Roots, Taylor Mayd and others. The Kentucky Derby and KYMP Kamp Awards were crazy. - Divine Da Instagata (OuttaDaShopEnt@hotmail.com)
Producer PC from Inkster, MI worked with C-Bo and Young Buck this month. AL Nuke was robbed of a victory on BET’s 106 and Park. One Be Lo continues to tour overseas. The Bullfrog in Redford, MI is the place to perform at. Buff 1 was named Best Detroit Rapper. Street Lord Juan’s album Lord Status is highly anticipated by the streets. Ready Roc Records in Ypsilanti was shut down after a drug raid. Made West Entertainment continues to hold down the streets. Blac-E-Blac hooked up with C-Murder’s Tru Publishing. 2raw4fm.com launched its website with a party. - AJ (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Ike & Shyst of Hazardous took home Best Group of the Year at the Carolina Underground Music Awards. Real Dynamite was nominated for Best Single of the Year and word is they’re signing with Asylum. The Endzone Lounge got Saturday nights on lock in the Raleigh City. To those blue and red boys, y’all need to stop the bullshit and get money. The Othaz are holding it down in G-boro. P-Wonda is on the new video shoot with Rico. Wemon’s Empowerment was a great success for Radio One’s WQOK and Kathy Hughes. The Fireman, a.k.a. DY-Nasty, still has the city on lock. - Yung Fly Obama Jr. (email@example.com)
Come Claim the Mic Music Conference was a great success. Blood Raw visited the Magic City. He’s also featured on the B.A. Boys’ new single. Shawty Lo came to the city promoting Units In the City. DJ C. Ross blessed the streets with his new Showtyme mixtape series which features artists such as Young Cash, Alfamega, 9th Ward, Corey Barbar, Rick Ross, Attitude, and Gorilla Zoe. Ron White continues his monthly R.W. Record Pool at Mike’s Crossroads. Scarface and Bun B visited Club Platinum. Teflon has a new single on radio which features Birmingham J. They recently shot a video for it. - K. Bibbs (AllOrNothingPromo@hotmail.com)
Prayers go out to the families affected by the tragedies that have been happening here. I don’t even want to get deep into it, but let’s just say Columbus made CNN two weeks in a row. Rick Ross held an album release party at Club Ritmo. Cash P held an album release party at his tattoo shop. J Stylz of Foxie 105 is hosting the Urban Café, which brings a much-desired alternative for those that are on their “Grown and Sexy.” It features rappers, poets, comedians, and more. Kendrick High girls won the State Basketball Championship. - Slick Seville (SlickSeville@gmail.com)
FORT MYERS/NAPLES, FL: Wick’s album release party for City of Wicks Volume 2 went down earlier this month. Frank Lini continues to makes the streets buzz with his lyrical style; he’s definitely Southwest Florida’s most unsigned hype. Riskay’s “Who You Creepin’ With,” produced by 105.5’s own DJ Quest, continues to rise in the charts. Yes, it’s only the first quarter of the year and the 13th grow house in Lee County has already been busted. See all the pretty green? - Jae Rae (JaeRae1055@aol.com)
Recently Freeway, I-Wayne and Wayne Wonder, Shawty Lo, Lil Webbie, B.E.T.’s DJ Q45, Lil Boosie, Trina, Sean Jay, Rick Ross, The Franchise Boys, T-Pain, Crime Mob, Pleasure P. all visited the city. The hometown radio station switched from 92.7 to 93.3 with the same line-up featuring DJ Dr. Doom, T-Roy, and Easy E. Bigga Rankin threw a big Duval All-Stars party featuring some of Jacksonville’s top artists such as Young Cash, Hustle House, P.I.T., Loyalty Ent., Supa Chino, DJ Kool Aid, and Swordz. Rumor has it our own Midget Mac will be featured on a new VH1 reality show this summer. - Lil Rudy (LilRudyRu@yahoo.com)
WEST PALM BEACH, FL:
B.E.T.’s Spring Bling invaded West Palm Beach and the city was buzzing. The weekend started with a performance by Brisco at Club Phantom. OZONE Magazine kept the weekend going with a grown and sexy party at RJ’s Lounge. On Saturday, Flytyme Marketing & Promotions teamed up with Mirage Gentlemen’s Club to bring Spring Blingers a girl-on-girl freak show. Entrepreneur Entertainment and Carbeen Music have teamed up to become the musical powerhouse in Palm Beach County. With Triple J’s album 10 Toes Down already in the streets and mixtapes by G-Boi, Vandam, and Toedown on the way, they will surely be solidified in Palm Beach. - Juice with Flytyme Marketing (LadyKillaEnt@ gmail.com)
Wynette “Lil’ Bama Gurl” Newby, an up-and-coming artist/video director, created a DVD entitled Welcome to the Dot. It caught the attention of local authorities as well as the media. The DVD spotlights the residents of the city showing how they do them. Local police believe it promoted gang affiliation and weapon usage in the city. Soulja Boy was a no-show at his own concert, which disappointed over a thousand concert goers. Luckily female rapper Skyylevel from Tallahassee, FL opened the show and got the crowd crunk before attendees learned about the headliner’s absence. - DJ Akil (DJ.Akil@yahoo.com)
Jim Jones and Sheist Bub’s protégé DK just released his new street album It’s All About Me. Although he reps Baltimore, DK’s buzz in New York a couple of years ago was too heavy to ignore. The Dipset family members Purple City signed the young emcee to their imprint and immediately released King Me, The Kay Slay/Sheist Bub mixtape which garnered national acclaim for DK. Critics everywhere were buzzing. Now he is back with even more crack as the new album features Young Jeezy, Kanye West, and production by 9th Wonder. The album available on Purple City/Babygrande Records at www.myspace.com/dk730. - Darkroom Productions (TheDarkRoomInc@yahoo. com)
OZONE MAG // 17
Always giving honor to the OGs…Happy Birthday to Malcolm X (May 19). Look for OG Wojack’s (Criminal Nation fam) new, as-yet untitled, project in Fall 2008. There are also rumors of a new Criminal Nation project. The 206 Zulu Nation is throwing its annual Zulu Jam at the end of May in Seattle. Omari Salisbury’s Definition Wireless is blowin’ up on the business front. Check for Olympia’s Royal Lounge on Fridays rockin’ everything from Al Green to Guns & Roses and Run DMC. - Luvva J (Myspace.com/luvvaj)
Portland’s Hi Rollerz Records continue to make a name for themselves via the mixtape game. It’s rumored that they’ve signed Olympia representative and Source Unsigned Hype alumni (Jan. ’08) Slo Poke, a.k.a. SP, and are working with his team The Real Life Click from Lacey, Washington. Lapwai, Idaho’s DJ Tee, known as Native America’s #1 DJ, dropped another gem for the streets just in time for summer with his Native American Idol series. Where are The U-Krew and Nu Shooz? They’re some of Portland’s finest for real. - Luvva J (Myspace.com/luvvaj)
SAN DIEGO, CA:
Fresh off their MTV America’s Best Dance Crew win, The Jabbawockeez are geared up to wreck stages across the country. Z90 preps for a crazy month of shows and is even taking it across the border with Pitbull. Watch ya’self in Tijuana though, don’t want any of that party crowd becoming one of the infamous TJ kidnapping victims. - Ant Wright of Swag, Inc. (Myspace.com/antsandg)
SACRAMENTO, CA: (916)
The Sac Hip Hop scene has been pretty quiet. Everyone seems to be on edge with the big election coming up. Former Phoenix Suns player and Oak Park native KJ is running for mayor - go Kevin Johnson. Good Luck to Doey Rock on his recent release 916 Unified. Pinky’s is the new local Hip Hop venue and Center Court has Grown & Sexy Hip Hop every Friday. If you haven’t been to the Distillery with DJ Epic on Thursday, you’re missing out. - Zay (firstname.lastname@example.org)
LOS ANGELES, CA:
We’re seeing a trend for L.A. rappers – if you want to play in the big leagues and your name isn’t Snoop, Cube, Game, or Dre then you better link up with a heavy hitter from the South. Hailing from Watts’ Nickerson Gardens Projects comes Jay Rock with a street banger called “All My Life” featuring Lil Wayne. Also from Watts, Glasses Malone signed to Cash Money and dropped a heater featuring Akon entitled “Certified.” It’s currently killing the Power 106 airwaves. Speaking of KPWR, their #1 DJ Felli Fel signed a production deal with So So Def and released a mega-single that boasts cameos by Kanye, Fabolous, Ne-Yo and JD. - Ant Wright of Swag, Inc. (www.Myspace.com/antsandg)
REPUBLIC OF IRELAND:
St Patrick’s Day may be internationally celebrated, but where better to be in the month of March/April than Dublin, Ireland? We took a trip back to the nineties this month with Boyz II Men and Naughty by Nature braving a visit to the land of boozers and brawlers, to be met by stage invasions and heavy hangovers. Rihanna waved her umbrella through the streets of Dublin with a Chris Brown lookalike hiding underneath. Local boy Darren Sutherland boxed his way to the Olympics and Rhapsody was the latest of the recent spate of club closures. - Kev Storrs (email@example.com)
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LAS VEGAS, NV:
Las Vegas is known for 24 hour partying and gambling. This month we’re known for music videos. Lil Wayne capitalized on the Vegas lifestyle in his new video “Lollipop.” Snoop Dogg, Too $hort, and Mistah F.A.B. also shot the “Life of the Party” video here. Speaking of Too $hort, his birthday party went down in Vegas. Digital Underground paid a visit to Poetry Nightclub and took it back with the famous “Humpty Dance.” With $hort’s birthday party, Jay-Z and Mary J.’s concert, and Kanye’s Glow in the Dark tour, it’s busy in Sin City. - Portia Jackson (PortiaJ@sprint.blackberry.net)
SAN FRANCISCO, CA:
Producer Cozmo is slowly coming out of the woodworks with bangers for San Quinn, Bun B, and Jody Breeze’s upcoming projects. One thing about Frisco artists is that they stay grinding like Pablo Fetti (The Game Iz Up 4 Grabz), Ya Boy (I’m About to Murder Shit mixtape) and Baily (“Work the Magic”). - Kay Newell (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Over the last month celebrities such as Fabolous, The Dream, Young Jeezy, Jim Jones, Too $hort, Shawty Lo, Webbie, Lupe Fiasco, Hillary Clinton, and Barack Obama have made it through the CO. We were fresh to def at Power 107.5’s 10 year anniversary party and it was packed. Our homies Fly Union linked up with mixtape master Mick Boogie for a couple exclusive tracks on his new CDs. ZB and the rest of Hardlife Ent. opened up for Jeezy and Jim Jones. Seen America’s Next Top Model lately? The beautiful girl with the attitude is none other than CO’s own Dominique. - Big Yogi (ImageInq@gmail.com
Keak the Sneak’s highly anticipated album Defied (Koch) finally shows signs of life with a new video for “That Go.” Erykah Badu and The Roots performed live at the Paramount Theater. J. Stalin dropped a YouTube video for the street single “Paint the Town” to go along with his latest project Slap Shop Ent’s mixtape Welcome to Da Slap House. Go to mypsace.com/meowmixtapes and check out Mia Meow’s music. She’s feeding listeners a taste of the fast life in the town. Georgia’s first lady of rap Rasheeda flees in from the shawty capitol for a special appearance at Oakland’s Studio 420/Midtown Ballroom. - Kay Newell (email@example.com)
SAN JOSE, CA:
Alicia Keys performed live for one night only at the HP Pavilion and Kanye was back for a second round with his Glow in the Dark tour. For those that wanna feel like they’re ballin’, shop at Westfield Valley Fair Shopping Center (Louis Vuitton, Macy’s, The Cheesecake Factory, and way more). Wild 94.9 and party DJ Jose Melendez dominate the South Bay, particularly at Taste Ultra Lounge on Tuesdays, Friday, and Saturday nights. If you they won’t let you in, go to Vivid Ultra Lounge for an ultra-sexy crowd and musical mix of Top 40/Hip Hop/Reggaeton. - Kay Newell (firstname.lastname@example.org)
The city is coming off its Que/Delta week high and is ready for Bruhfest (Mason Week). Recently appearing on Rap City, DJ Sweat’s new mixtape The Movement, a compilation of Mississippi’s hottest artists, is killing the streets. It features all the Sipp’s regions from the Dirty Delta down to the Coast with artists like XVII, GMB, Mugsy, Reek Dog, Hoodoo & Killa, and more. I.G. and Lil D.P.’s “Tip Witcha Boy” is finally getting spins on the video channels. Young Jeezy got the buzz around town with his arrival soon. And although I’m big fan, Webbie stood the Hub City up again! - DJ Big Brd (email@example.com)
April 6th was DJ Frank White and Greg Street’s first Alabama showcase featuring guest judges Greg Street, TJ Chapman, Chad Brown (Jive), Rich Boy, and Doughboy (97.9 PD). Rich Boy performed some new music. The showcase winner was Trap House – Gump’s Most Hated Vol. 5 out now. Lil Chappy’s “Rollin” is off the chain in the clubs. Gucci Mane came through and instead of paying him, they should have paid his hype man because he did all the work. Khia and Maceo came through and performed their new singles for the crowd. Long Money Ent. is rumored to have signed to Tight to Def (Raheem). - Frank White (www.Myspace.com/djfrankwhite96) & Hot Girl Maximum (HotGirl.Maximum@gmail.com) adupe)
99.7fm KMJJ was awarded Best Radio Station in America by Radio & Records Magazine. The station reaches Arkansas, Oklahoma, and half way to Houston, Texas. Cappuccino gets the morning started Monday-Friday 9 AM to 2 PM, and Saturdays 2 PM to 6 PM. Hotsauce heats up the evening Monday-Saturday 6 PM to 10 PM. Young Nisa seduces the late nights Monday-Thursday 10 PM to 2 AM, and Sundays Noon to 4 PM. E Law cranks up Saturday mornings from 10 AM to 2 PM. C Mac grooves the evening every Sunday 4 PM to 8 PM. Other notable club/underground DJs include Woody, K-Rock, and Pop. - Cmac (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Some very deserving artists got their chance to shine at the Beale Street Music Festival. This year Memphis natives Al Kapone, Project Pat, Lord T & Eloise, and Muck Sticky were added to a line-up that includes The Roots, Fergie, Aretha Franklin, and more. Live Hip Hop band Free Sol will begin recording a new album this year with Justin Timberlake. Free Sol recently signed to Tennman Records, which was launched by Justin Timberlake himself. Rapper 40 Kel has gained a lot of attention by doing rap movie reviews every Friday on Q107.5 and with his new hit song “Memphis Tigers.” - Deanna Brown (Deanna.Brown@MemphisRap. com)
T-Pain picked up a Grammy for Best Rap Song with Kanye West for “Good Life.” TJs DJs was a success with the help of artists such as Shawty Lo, Rick Ross, Blood Raw, B.O.B, Pretty Ricky, Khia, Yung Joc, Gorilla Zoe, & DJ Unk. Mr. Buss It Baby himself Plies returned to the city with a show at Bajas Beach club. Lil Boosie showed up this time to rip up a sold-out crowd at The Moon. The Dream hit the city with very short concert at Bajas Beach Club. P. Diddy’s new Making of The Band artist Day 26 came into the city to host and perform at Florida A&M University. - DJ Dap (DJDapOnline@gmail.com)
OKLAHOMA CITY, OK:
Kanye West performed at the Ford Center in Oklahoma City on April 29th. The after party was at Club Deja Vu. Presidential Trap House hosted a release party for their new artist Chop Chop. The guys had mad support from the city. Gunna and Ms. HoneySiccle performed as well. On May 18th, HoneySiccle had her release party which was combined with the TMI Boyz’ listening party. - Marshlynn (Marshlynn.Bolden@uscellular.com) & PL (BeatBrokers77@yahoo.com)
SAN ANTONIO, TX:
This month was a surely on fire with shows from Making the Band’s Day 26 at Club Antro and Club Planeta Mexico all in the same night. To top things off, it got really crazy when the 7th Annual Low Low Car Show came to town. The stage was graced by none other than Grammy Award winning artist and producers Three 6 Mafia. Rob G and a list of other local talent also graced the stage. - Bishop Maxx (email@example.com)
Scarface gave the OGs a reason to come out for a heck of performance. Actress and model Melyssa Ford was a no-show for a scheduled hosting event; apparently the wind caused a flight problem. Boosie and Yo Gotti hit the race track, bringing in over 6,000 people. Lil C from Battlefield is reportedly the next best hood artist leading into the summer. Stax’s 6th Annual Birthday Bash during Memorial Day weekend had the streets buzzing. Lyfe Jennings put in work, banging out two performances at two different locations in less than four hours. - Tambra Cherie (TambraCherie@aol.com) & Stax (firstname.lastname@example.org)
G.B. the Fly Boi’s single “Think I’m Icy” is killing the radio and streets. Dragged Up Music opened up its second Soundscan location and kicked off Dragged Up DJs. ATB Ent. has a new single featuring Lil Boosie. DJ Don Don launched S.B. Ent. with a mixtape release and store opening. Bangin’ in Da Trunk features Boosie, Webbie, OJ Da Juice, Lil Wyte, Gucci Mane, and Plies. Dynasty Hair Salon keeps all the ladies looking fresh. Smog@comcast.net and Unorthodox Media kicked off their company. The Hypnotized Tour left Conseco Feildhouse. Barack Obama came through. Katt Williams rocked the Murat Theatre three sold-out nights in a row. Shawty Lo, Bun B, Scarface & Webbie made trips to Cloud 9 Bar & Grill. The new Mr. Dan’s at Keystone and Fallcreek holds it down with the Coneys and Burgers late night. - DJ Black (email@example.com)
ST. LOUIS, MO:
Trillion Billion Beats, a.k.a. Killa Squad, produced several singles in the street right now for artists like Dutch Jackson (“Fuck Da Lou”), Yah Derty Zo (“Triple Step”), Young Ill (“Check Me Out”), Louie V (“Like a Model”), and City Boi (“Gitcha Good”). They also have a credit on Chingy’s new album and a pending lawsuit with Bone Thugs over “Order of My Steps,” which was written by Dutch Jackson. The hot new albums in the town are Family Affair’s Daily Situations and Gotta Be Karim’s Bean Pie. County Brown of Addicted Dopeness is STL’s new Hittmenn DJ rep. - Jesse James (JesseJames314@aol.com)
Thanks to The Firm, The Place, Zen, Sensations, Rhythm Kitchen, and Super D’s the city can finally enjoy a variety of venues. The DJs are boomin’ too. C-Lo is gearing up for a new mixtape series; HB is still putting in work; Whitey just signed with Def Jam to do exclusive mixes; and DJ Infamous and Sir Swift gear up to drop their authorized Cashville Mixtape Series. Speaking of Cashville, Haystak is still moving major units and Platinum Bound Records is back with a new location in Antioch. - Janiro (Janiro@southernentawards.com)
106.9 KHITS brought Bow Wow, Naughty by Nature, and Cherish to town for their Spring Bash 2008. Local Producer O-Boi gains exposure by producing “Still Missin” on Flo-Rida’s new album. DJ Good Ground has heated up the streets with his newest mixtape, Country Swagger Vol. 1. Rapper B.E. is the newest artist on the grind with Slip N Slide Records. The album is called Let Me Get Me featuring his hit single “Hustlin” with Gator of C-Side. It will be in stores this summer. - DJ Civil Rightz (Myspace.com/DJCivilRightz)
OZONE MAG // 19
Day (www.WendyDay.com) CONS AND SCAMS IN THE MUSIC BUSINESS | By Wendy
s many of you know by now, it’s very difficult to maneuver in this industry unless you’re in the inner circle. There is a large circle of people who all do business together, and getting into that inner circle is never easy. It’s even gotten harder as the music industry is making less and less money these days. The cool thing about Hip Hop is that we have never waited for an invitation, and we don’t care if you like us, we just bulldoze our way into situations and make the best of it. I call this ‘kicking in the door.” We don’t knock and wait for an answer, we kick that bitch in! Part of kicking in the door, is knowing how, when, and where—and what, to kick in. An even larger part of that is making moves utilizing relationships and connections. If you are missing a key aspect, you need to be able to pick up the phone and call someone legitimate who has that access or knows someone else that they can call to gain access. That access allows you entry (kicking in the door) to the industry, and achieving success will keep you there. Surrounding you, every step of the way, are bullshit people who claim to have access and connections, but don’t. At best, they can get a meeting or a call returned, but they can’t close the deal. Let me be real frank here: if you are the type of person that people do not like, or if you have any asshole tendencies (including an over inflated ego), you should NOT be on the front lines. Find someone in your camp who is a people person and can kiss a little bit of ass to get what is needed. It’s not a problem if you are not that person, as long as you don’t try to be something you are not. People see right through the bullshit in this industry very quickly, and we all talk to each other (in fact, male or female, we are little gossiping bitches in this industry, so expect bad stuff to spread faster than a forest fire). The hardest aspect for you to overcome, if you are NOT in that inner circle, is knowing who is legitimate, whom to trust, and to whom to turn when you need something accomplished. This industry is ripe with sharks, snakes, scam artists, and idiots. And all of them have one goal—to separate you from your money, especially if it appears as though you have a lot of it. In the music industry, there are a LARGE handful of clueless people who suck at what they do, but will happily charge you money. You will lose money if you fuck with them. You will also lose credibility with the legitimate people if you fuck with them. Inevitably, I get a handful of people who come to me every week asking me to undo some stupid shit that another “consultant” did to fuck up their project. It is ten times harder to clean up someone else’s mess than it is to start a project from scratch, so expect to be turned down by the legit folks, if your project is already a shambles. I know I won’t touch it. Oddly, the clueless people who suck at working other people’s projects, seem to be masters of their own self-promotion. Not only are they not too busy to send out a ridiculous number of email blasts talking about their “success” on a project (I especially LOVE the ones that come through talking about the meetings they’ve had that didn’t lead to anything, but they sure have pictures of themselves with famous artists and CEOs who would never take their calls again), but they think that doing a little bit of work is the same as finishing a project from A to Z, and they pump that up publicly. I guess it’s like a little kid learning the alphabet, where they feel that if they can recite the first four letters of the alphabet, it gives them the right to claim they know the entire alphabet. And then they go brag about it.
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I have spent the past year undoing incredible damage that one of these “master self-promoters” has done to an artist’s career. And he or she is still out there claiming to have built success for this artist, when all that was accomplished was a big mess for 4 other industry professionals to have to sort out and clean up. Every time I receive an email blast from this idiot talking about what a great job he did building this artist, I cringe and roll my eyes in disbelief. It’s hard for me to decipher if he or she really feels that something positive was accomplished, or if the goal is just to claim success to get checks from other artists who don’t know any better. Part of me wants to expose the fraud, and part of me wants to accept that this person’s intentions may have been good, just that ignorance is bliss. On a similar note, there’s an artist out there (many actually) who has built some limited success on taking others’ music and selling it as his own. Of course, in this industry, exposure comes very quickly—you get about a 2 or 3 year run before everyone finds out what a fraud you are. This artist recently got signed and then dropped from a major label when it was discovered that he has limited fans but bodacious self-promotion. Why is it that other industries have Better Business Bureaus, Consumer Report Agencies, and Ralph Nader type whistle blowers to expose the frauds, but in the music industry we shrug off the frauds who are jerking people out of millions of dollars every year? I hear folks compare the music industry to the streets and the drug game regularly, but if that were true, we’d have no scams because the price of ripping someone off would be very, very high. There’s an artist in Indiana, whose parents were bilked out of a quarter million dollars that they invested into their son’s career (the Feds got involved in this one). A few guys out of Chicago with no traceable track record of success took these people for a financial ride, promising to help their son accomplish his dream of being a superstar producer. When I asked the parents what made them trust the guys (a Google search turned up NO information on them), they pointed out that these guys claiming to be music industry executives always showed up to their home in a limousine, so they assumed they were successful. Classic. Jimmy Iovine, the head of Interscope Records (one of the most successful labels on the plant) wouldn’t even pull up in a limo. I remember meeting with a charismatic “producer” when I lived in NY. He flew in from out of town. He constantly cited God for his success and even closed our meeting with “may God bless you!” He had a beat CD of incredible music. What I did not know at the time was that this beat CD contained beats of not his own work, but the production of 3 or 4 other producers from his hometown. Although I never did business with him, that “producer” went on to get a publishing deal for his production even though it was not his music. He never became a “super producer” because the real producers back home caught on to what he was doing. Two of those producers who got jerked by this bullshit artist have gone on to become platinum producers in this industry, and the bullshit producer has just recently been exposed for being the sham that he is. Couldn’t happen to a nicer guy!! I hope God “blesses” him properly. All this to say, when you do other people dirty—intentionally, or through inexperience and ignorance, there is a price to pay. This industry is built on connections and relationships. Once you burn them out, there’s nowhere else for you to go, but down. And it happens very, very quickly. And I am happily spreading the word.
(above L-R): Uncle Luke & Too $hort @ Sobe Live for Too $hort’s birthday party in Miami, FL (Photo: Julia Beverly); Ray J & Trae @ The Beat car show in Dallas, TX (Photo: Edward Hall); Yung Joc & Usher @ Luckie’s for BMI Urban showcase in Atlanta, GA (Photo: Julia Beverly)
01 // Playaz Circle, Chingy, & Willy Northpole @ MTV Jams’ ATL Week filming (Atlanta, GA) 02 // Greencity @ The Beat 713 (Houston, TX) 03 // Kenny Kenny & Coco Renae @ Southern Hustlin Tour (Hampton Roads, VA) 04 // Brandi Garcia, guest, & G Dash @ Pashaa Ultra Lounge for Crisco Kidd’s birthday party (Houston, TX) 05 // The BA Boys & crew @ Club Red for the BA Boys’ “I Like All That” video shoot (Birmingham, AL) 06 // DJ B-Do & Young Buck on the set of Bun B’s “That’s Gangsta” (Port Arthur, TX) 07 // Seventeen & Mama Wes @ Bar Rio for Bun B’s 2 Trill album release party (Houston, TX) 08 // Snoop Dogg & Nnete @ 97.9 (Houston, TX) 09 // Pitbull & guest on the set of Qwote’s “Don’t Wanna Fight” (Miami, FL) 10 // BA Boy & ladies @ Club Red for the BA Boys’ “I Like All That” video shoot (Birmingham, AL) 11 // Kiotti, Dee Money, DJ EFX, Smitty, DJ Storm, & guests @ Paul Wall’s birthday concert (Houston, TX) 12 // Ladies @ The Marlin (Miami, FL) 13 // Mike Sherman, Rocsi & Tearany @ Spring Bling (Riviera Beach, FL) 14 // Patty Jaime & DJ Khaled @ Mansion for Rick Ross’s Trilla album release party (Miami, FL) 15 // J Prince Jr & Teresa on the set of Bun B’s “That’s Gangsta” (Port Arthur, TX) 16 // Mama Wes & Bobo Luchiano @ Bar Rio for Bun B’s 2 Trill album release party (Houston, TX) 17 // Trina & Toccara @ Prive for Trina’s album release party (Miami, FL) 18 // Cherell, Smitty, & Jimmy Boi @ Pashaa Ultra Lounge for Crisco Kidd’s birthday party (Houston, TX) 19 // Omar & Beyonce @ Patchwerk for Rick Ross’s “Trilla” listening session (Atlanta, GA) 20 // DJ Khaled & Orlando @ Wildsplash (Tampa, FL) Photo Credits: Bogan (17); Eric Perrin (05,10); J Lash (09); Julia Beverly (03,07,14,16,19); Knowledge (02,04,06,08,11,15,18); Luis Santana (20); Malik Abdul (12); Ms Rivercity (01); Terrence Tyson (13)
OZONEMAG MAG////21 21 OZONE
She Liked my NECKLACE and started relaxin’, that’s what the fuck I call a…
his chain right here is new, it’s Da Hood Luv Me chain. I’ve got some tighter stuff than this, but this is my favorite chain because it’s got [my label] So icey on it. This is the one I wear every day.
I’ve got a couple of chains. I wasn’t planning on wearing this one for shows; I just wear it every day to keep from wearing my big stuff cause they’re so big and bulky. It’s kinda clumsy to walk around with so I wear this one cause [the chain] is shorter. Everybody fell in love with it, and I fell in love with it too.
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GUCCI MANE HOOD LOVE [The stones are] red rubies and VVS white diamonds. This is a white and yellow chain. The chain cost about $30,00 and [the charm] cost about $70,000, so the whole thing is about $100,000 easy. Plus, my watch cost $100,000.
I don’t ever mention my jeweler’s name. This shit is serious. I am the kid who’s So Icey. This ain’t your little rapper’s chain you have in there. No one can fuck with me on the jewelry. None of you rappers. None of the rappers can fuck with me on the jewelry game, period. // Words & Photos by Julia Beverly
(above L-R): Slim Thug & Smitty @ Pashaa Ultra Lounge for Crisco Kidd’s birthday party in Houston, TX (Photo: Knowledge); Trina & Qwote on the set of Qwote’s “Don’t Wanna Fight”in Miami, FL (Photo: J Lash); Nelly & Webbie @ Skybox in St Louis, MO (Photo: King Yella)
01 // TJ Chapman, Playboy Tre, BOB, & Rich Boy on the set of “Haterz Everywhere” (Atlanta, GA) 02 // T City, Yung Berg, & G Man @ 97.9 (Houston, TX) 03 // 9th Ward & Nitti @ 93.3 (Houston, TX) 04 // Lloyd & a young fan on the set of “How We Do It In The A” (Atlanta, GA) 05 // Haitian Fresh’s ZMF @ Spring Bling (Riviera Beach, FL) 06 // Too $hort & Monika Olimpiew @ Sobe Live for Too $hort’s birthday party (Miami, FL) 07 // Carol City Cartel & Haitian Fresh on the set of Haitian Fresh’s video (Miami, FL) 08 // Byron Wright, Catherine Brewton, Bobby Valentino, & Lil Scrappy @ Luckie’s for BMI Urban showcase (Atlanta, GA) 09 // Rick Ross & Shawty Lo @ Southern Hustlin Tour (Hampton Roads, VA) 10 // Greg Street & Glasses Malone @ Club Crucial for BloodRaw’s birthday party (Atlanta, GA) 11 // Spiff, Cool, & DJ Nasty @ Mansion for Rick Ross’s “Trilla” album release party (Miami, FL) 12 // J-Que & Brandi Gracia @ Warehouse Live for Snoop Dogg’s listening party (Houston, TX) 13 // Yo Gotti & DJ Kool Laid @ Club Fermier (Cleveland, MS) 14 // Model search contestants @ Studio Inc for OZONE model search (Tampa, FL) 15 // Janky John & Young Jeezy @ Freelon’s (Jackson, MS) 16 // Slim Thug & Keith @ Prive for Trina’s album release party (Miami, FL) 17 // Bigga Rankin & Rick Ross on the set of Mon-E G’s video shoot (Kansas City, MO) 18 // Jim Beam & ladies @ T-Pain’s Grammy Appreciation concert (Jacksonville, FL) 19 // Gary LaRochelle & Mercedes @ the CORE DJs Retreat (New Orleans, LA) Photo Credits: Bogan (16); Eric Perrin (01); Julia Beverly (04,06,08,09,11,19); Knowledge (02,03,12); Malik Abdul (07); Ralph Smith (13,15); Terrence Tyson (05,10,14,17,18)
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(above L-R): Pops, Corey, & Mama Wes on the set of Bun B’s “That’s Gangsta” in Port Arthur, TX (Photo: Knowledge); Akon & Kardinal Offishal on the set of “Dangerous” in Miami, FL (Photo: Bogan); Yung Berg & 2 Pistols @ Powerfest in Augusta, GA (Photo: Terrence Tyson)
01 // DJ Greg G & Wes Fif @ Icon (Orlando, FL) 02 // Lil Peace & Hoodkings @ Rhythm City (Dallas, TX) 03 // Wyclef & Orlando @ Wildsplash (Tampa, FL) 04 // Yung Joc @ Luckie’s for BMI Urban showcase (Atlanta, GA) 05 // Killa Kyleon, Breneshia, & Young B @ Bar Rio for Bun B’s 2 Trill album release party (Houston, TX) 06 // Cherell, Slim Thug, & Julia Beverly @ Pashaa Ultra Lounge for Crisco Kidd’s birthday party (Houston, TX) 07 // Brandi Garcia & Crisco Kidd @ Crisco Kidd’s birthday party (Houston, TX) 08 // Drumma Boy, Rock City, DJ Trauma, Akon, & Benny D @ DJTrauma.com’s launch party (Atlanta, GA) 09 // Rick Ross, J Lash, & video model on the set of Rick Ross’s “Here I Am” video shoot (Miami, FL) 10 // Terrence Tyson & Ashlee Ford @ The Marlin (Miami, FL) 11 // DJ Storm, Jimmy Boi, & Dee Money @ Crisco Kidd’s birthday party (Houston, TX) 12 // Murphy Lee & DJ KTone @ Club Dolce (St Louis, MO) 13 // Ted Lucas, Askia Fountain, & Ne-Yo @ Patchwerk for Rick Ross’s “Trilla” listening session (Atlanta, GA) 14 // DJ 151 & DJ Young City @ The Edge for OZONE party (Tallahassee, FL) 15 // Guests @ Club Red for the BA Boys’ “I Like All That” video shoot (Birmingham, AL) 16 // G-Mack & DJ Mr King @ Villa Fontana for G-Mack’s party with Bun B (Louisville, KY) 17 // Ali Vegas & models on the set of his video shoot (Miami, FL) 18 // Greg Street & Paula Michelle on the set of “Haterz Everywhere” (Atlanta, GA) 19 // The ladies of College Hill Atlanta @ Spring Bling (Riviera Beach, FL) 20 // Maddog & Young Cash @ The Marlin (Miami, FL) Photo Credits: DJ Greg G (01); DJ KTone (12); Edward Hall (02); Eric Perrin (15,18); J Lash (09,17); Julia Beverly (05,07,11,13); Knowledge (06); Luis Santana (03); Malik Abdul (10,16,20); Terrence Tyson (14,19); Thaddaeus McAdams (04,08)
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(above L-R): Polow da Don & Ciara @ Luckie’s for BMI Urban showcase in Atlanta, GA (Photo: Julia Beverly); Young Buck & Bun B on the set of Bun B’s “That’s Gangsta” in Port Arthur, TX (Photo: Knowledge); TI putting in some community service hours during Ryan Cameron’s youth golf clinic in Atlanta, GA (Photo: Thaddaeus McAdams)
01 // Yung Berg & guest @ Luckie’s (Atlanta, GA) 02 // DJ B-Do & Fiyah on the set of Bun B’s “That’s Gangsta” (Port Arthur, TX) 03 // Shaggy, Pitbull, & Malcolm Jones on the set of Qwote’s “Don’t Wanna Fight” (Miami, FL) 04 // Ludacris & Ebony Steele @ The Box car show (Dallas, TX) 05 // Rich Boy, Miss Alisha, & TJ Chapman @ The Moon for TJ’s DJ’s (Tallahassee, FL) 06 // Foxx & his son @ SU Springfest (Baton Rouge, LA) 07 // BSU & DJ Smallz @ The Edge for OZONE party (Tallahassee, FL) 08 // DJ Ro & Mannie Fresh @ The CORE DJs Retreat (New Orleans, LA) 09 // Trai D, Memphitz, & friends on the set of Hot Stylz’ “Lookin’ Boy” video shoot (Atlanta, GA) 10 // Guest, Tony Neal, & Micha Porat @ The Marlin (Miami, FL) 11 // SkyyHigh & Niecy D @ Koha for Treal’s video shoot (Orlando, FL) 12 // Money Marc, Blaze, & Kiotti @ Pashaa Ultra Lounge for Crisco Kidd’s birthday party (Houston, TX) 13 // Lupe Fiasco with the 97.9 The Beat crew (Dallas, TX) 14 // Lump & Kadife Sylvester @ 93.3 (Houston, TX) 15 // Bankroll Jonez, Teresa, Julia Beverly, TJ Chapman, & Cristal Bubblin @ Pashaa Ultra Lounge for Crisco Kidd’s birthday party (Houston, TX) 16 // Terri Thomas & Nnete @ 97.9 (Houston, TX) 17 // Keith Kennedy & ladies @ The Edge for OZONE party (Tallahassee, FL) 18 // Queen, Bun B, & Breneshia @ Bun B’s 2 Trill listening party (Houston, TX) 19 // Bigga Rankin, Young Cash, Midget Mac & Guest @ T-Pain’s Grammy Appreciation concert (Jacksonville, FL) 20 // Da Ryno & Money Marc @ Crisco Kidd’s birthday party (Houston, TX) Photo Credits: D-Ray (01); D’Lyte (04,13); DJ Who (06); J Lash (03); Julia Beverly (09,20); Knowledge (02,12,14,15,16,18); Malik Abdul (10,11); Ms Rivercity (08); Terrence Tyson (05,07,17,19)
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(above L-R): Shawty Lo & Mike Jones @ Powerfest in Augusta, GA (Photo: Terrence Tyson); Mistah FAB & DJ Jelly @ WVEE in Atlanta, GA (Photo: Julia Beverly); Bun B with his wife Queen and mother on the set of Bun B’s “That’s Gangsta” in Port Arthur, TX (Photo: Knowledge)
01 // Kaspa, DJ Miss Behavior, & Big Teach @ The Moon for TJ’s DJ’s (Tallahassee, FL) 02 // Kiotti, TJ Chapman, & Poe Diamond @ Crisco Kidd’s birthday party (Houston, TX) 03 // Big Teach & Avery Storm on the set of Rick Ross’s “Here I Am” video shoot (Miami, FL) 04 // Rocko & Pookie @ Rhythm City (Dallas, TX) 05 // Ed the World Famous, DJ Demp, & DJ Khaled @ Mansion for Rick Ross’s Trilla album release party (Miami, FL) 06 // Lil Boosie & Bugg @ Kush Lounge for Sixteen Seventy’s Lil Boosie show (Charleston, SC) 07 // DJ Epps & DJ Q45 @ The Marlin (Miami, FL) 08 // Chaos of GrindMode & DJ Khaled @ Mansion for Rick Ross’s “Trilla” album release party (Miami, FL) 09 // Dallas Austin & Catherine Brewton @ Luckie’s for BMI Urban showcase (Atlanta, GA) 10 // Trick Daddy & Baby on the set of Dunk Ryder’s video shoot (Miami, FL) 11 // Roccett & T-Balla @ GO DJ Conference (Houston, TX) 12 // Tony Neal & Magic Mike @ Club Destiny (Orlando, FL) 13 // DJ Khaled, Ace Gutta, Fabolous, Baby, & Gil Green on the set of “Cashflow” (Miami, FL) 14 // Greg Street & Kaspa @ Powerfest (Augusta, GA) 15 // Gucci Poochie, E-Class, & Sam Sneak on the set of Mon-E G’s video shoot (Kansas City, MO) 16 // Fiend & KLC @ Luckie’s for BMI Urban showcase (Atlanta, GA) 17 // DJ Hi-C reppin’ Strapped on the set of Bun B’s “That’s Gangsta” (Port Arthur, TX) 18 // DJ Q45, Ivory Orr, & Mad Linx @ Ora Lounge (Miami, FL) 19 // Tony Neal & Gil Green on the set of “Dangerous” (Miami, FL) 20 // Stephanie B & Juvenile @ the Hypnotized Tour (Augusta, GA) Photo Credits: Bogan (19); Edward Hall (04); J Lash (03); Julia Beverly (02,05,08,16); Knowledge (17); Leon Lloyd (10); Malik Abdul (07,12,13); Terrence Tyson (01,06,14,15,18,20); Thaddaeus McAdams (09); Tre Dubb (11)
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(above L-R): TJ Chapman & Chilli @ The Moon for TJ’s DJ’s in Tallahassee, FL (Photo: Terrence Tyson); Young Buck, Mama Wes, & Seventeen on the set of Bun B’s “That’s Gangsta” in Port Arthur, TX (Photo: Knowledge); Stack$ & Too $hort @ Sobe Live for Too $hort’s birthday party in Miami, FL (Photo: Julia Beverly)
01 // Kadife Sylvester, 9th Ward, & DJ Fresh @ WHWT (Huntsville, AL) 02 // BloodRaw & Kim Ellis @ Club Crucial for BloodRaw’s birthday party (Atlanta, GA) 03 // Willy Northpole & DJ Impact @ DTP (Atlanta, GA) 04 // TJ Chapman, DJ Miss Behavior, & Slim from 112 @ The Moon for TJ’s DJ’s (Tallahassee, FL) 05 // DJ Kut, Ebony Eyes & DJ Kay Slay @ DJ Technology Retreat (St Louis, MO) 06 // C-Bo, Rocko, & Youngbleed @ The Beat car show (Dallas, TX) 07 // Ted Lucas, DJ Khaled, Ace, & Shakir Stewart @ Mansion for Rick Ross’s Trilla album release party (Miami, FL) 08 // DJ Irie & Qwote @ Hooter’s Beach Ball festival (Miami, FL) 09 // Jas Prince & Queen (Houston, TX) 10 // Grit Boys, Killa Kyleon, & Starchy Arch @ Paul Wall’s birthday concert (Houston, TX) 11 // Maricia Magana & Cindy Hill @ the Houston rodeo (Houston, TX) 12 // MOE @ The Globe for Webbie’s release party (Jacksonville, FL) 13 // Vonchell from American Idol @ the Babylon Boyz car show (Ft Myers, FL) 14 // Shane, Big Bodie, & Teddy T @ The Moon for TJ’s DJ’s (Tallahassee, FL) 15 // DJ Mars & Ciara @ Luckie’s for BMI Urban showcase (Atlanta, GA) 16 // Ques @ Club Red for the BA Boys’ “I Like All That” video shoot (Birmingham, AL) 17 // C-Funk & A Bunny @ the Babylon Boyz car show (Ft Myers, FL) 18 // Rick Ross & Lump @ 93.3 (Houston, TX) 19 // Smitty & DJ Storm (Houston, TX) Photo Credits: DJ Fresh (01); Edward Hall (06); Eric Perrin (16); Johnny Louis (08); Julia Beverly (07,15); King Yella (05); Knowledge (09,10,11,18,19); Malik Abdul (12,13,17); Ms Rivercity (03); Terrence Tyson (02,04,14)
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(above L-R): Pleasure P & Yung Berg @ Club Level for The Beat’s birthday bash in Columbia, SC (Photo: Terrence Tyson); Lloyd & Ludacris on the set of “How We Do It In The A” in Atlanta, GA (Photo: Julia Beverly); Mike Jones & VIC @ Funkmaster Flex’s car show in Louisville, KY (Photo: Malik Abdul)
01 // BloodRaw shares the love @ Club Crucial for his birthday party (Atlanta, GA) 02 // Fat Boy, Gucci Poochie, Bigga Rankin, Rick Ross & J-Baby @ T-Pain’s Grammy Appreciation concert (Jacksonville, FL) 03 // Smitty, Dee Money, Scooby of the Grit Boys, & TV Johnny @ Paul Wall’s birthday concert (Houston, TX) 04 // Honee & her models @ The CORE DJs Retreat (New Orleans, LA) 05 // Ray Lavender & guest on the set of Rock City’s video shoot (Atlanta, GA) 06 // Shawty Lo & Dorian on the set of “Foolish” remix video shoot (Miami, FL) 07 // Nappy Roots @ Club Destiny (Orlando, FL) 08 // Gucci Mane & Boomtown @ Patchwerk (Atlanta, GA) 09 // Ace Hood & Commissioner @ The Moon for TJ’s DJ’s (Tallahassee, FL) 10 // Show, Wop, & DJ Raj Smoove @ The CORE DJs Retreat (New Orleans, LA) 11 // Haitian Fresh, Chef Creole, & CEO of Sak Passe Records on the set of Haitian Fresh’s video (Miami, FL) 12 // The Runners, DJ Nasty, Jay Love, KC, Bali, & guest @ The Roxy for DJ Nasty’s birthday party (Orlando, FL) 13 // Dreadlocks & Troy Marshall @ 93.3 (Houston, TX) 14 // T-Pain, Lil Mama, & Malcolm Jones on the set of “What It Is” (New York, NY) 15 // Marlei Mar & guest @ Villa Fontana for G-Mack’s party with Bun B (Louisville, KY) 16 // Day 26, Blaze, & Kiotti @ Sharpstown Mall (Houston, TX) 17 // Yo Gotti & Southside Posse @ the Hypnotized Tour (Augusta, GA) 18 // Mannie Fresh, Mia X, & Wop @ The CORE DJs Retreat (New Orleans, LA) Photo Credits: Julia Beverly (05,08); Knowledge (03,13,16); Malik Abdul (06,07,11,12,15); Ms Rivercity (10,18); Terrence Tyson (01,02,04,09,17)
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(above L-R): Don Cannon & Gucci Mane @ Luckie’s in Atlanta, GA (Photo: Ms Rivercity); Orlando & Ray J @ Studio Inc in Tampa, FL (Photo: Luis Santana); J Prince & OG Ron C @ GO DJs Music Conference in Houston, TX (Photo: Lamont DeSal)
01 // CO & guest @ Prive for Trina’s album release party (Miami, FL) 02 // Rock City & Ray Daniels @ The Moon for TJ’s DJ’s (Tallahassee, FL) 03 // Joe Hound with Cool & Dre @ Fashion week (Miami, FL) 04 // J Xavier & Madd Hatta @ 97.9 (Houston, TX) 05 // DJ Irie & the Blissberry ladies @ Hooter’s Beach Ball festival (Miami, FL) 06 // Trae & Chamillionaire @ Pashaa Ultra Lounge for Crisco Kidd’s birthday party (Houston, TX) 07 // Ace Hood, Tony Neal, & DJ Khaled @ Prive for Trina’s album release party (Miami, FL) 08 // Young Buck & Krystal on the set of Bun B’s “That’s Gangsta” (Port Arthur, TX) 09 // Pitbull, Nelly, Rick Ross, & Avery Storm on the set of Rick Ross’s “Here I Am” video shoot (Miami, FL) 10 // Loaded & Headkrack @ The Beat car show (Dallas, TX) 11 // Kiotti, The Dream, & Crisco Kidd @ 93.3 (Houston, TX) 12 // Homer Blow & Pill @ The CORE DJs retreat (New Orleans, LA) 13 // Bigga Rankin, Mon-E G, Yo Gotti, & Rick Ross on the set of Mon-E G’s video shoot (Kansas City, MO) 14 // Edgerrin James & Steve Bellamy @ Northwestern High for Memorial Day celeb basketball game (Miami, FL) 15 // Catherine Brewton & Lil Wayne @ Luckie’s for BMI Urban showcase (Atlanta, GA) 16 // Smitty & Kiotti @ Paul Wall’s birthday concert (Houston, TX) 17 // The DEY & DJ Coolaid @ Party 93.3 (Houston, TX) 18 // Tonya Terrelle & T-Balla @ GO DJ Conference (Houston, TX) 19 // Gucci Mane & Ms Rivercity @ Luckie’s (Atlanta, GA) Photo Credits: Bogan (01,07): D-Ray (19): Edward Hall (10): Johnny Louis (03,05): Julia Beverly (12,15): J Lash (09): Knowledge (04,06,08,11,16,17): Ms Rivercity (14): Terrence Tyson (02,13): Tre Dubb (18)
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LIL WILL DALLAS, TX
Words by RANDY ROPER
With an NFL team nicknamed “America’s Team” and a success Mavericks basketball team that reached the NBA Finals in 2006, Dallas, Texas is already on the proverbial map. But aside from sports franchises owned by Jerry Jones and Mark Cuban, respectively, Dallas’ notoriety doesn’t center on much else, especially not rap music. Of course, neighboring city Houston has a long lineage in the rap game, and for the past few years, acts like Big Tuck and Tum Tum were supposed to open the flood gates for Big D. While both artists have had marginal success, it’s newcomer Lil Will that’s bringing the national spotlight to Dallas in the tune of his hit single “My Dougie.” “The Dallas music scene is outrageous, it’s so much talent there,” Will says. “As far as me bustin’ the game open, I feel like honestly, I already did that. It’s time for me to plant my foot in the game and bring the rest of the city with me.” Before throwing the city on his back, Lil Will, who was born in New Orleans and moved to Dallas with his mother at age 11, began rapping at an early age. It wasn’t until 2002, while living in Atlanta, that he began to pursue his craft. He teamed up with rapper Amaan and worked with Atlanta hitmaker DJ Toomp. Besides a few mixtapes, nothing major came of Will’s work in Atlanta and the youngster began losing interest in the mic. After relocating back to Dallas, the shooting death of Amaan in 2005 led Will to refocus on rap as a tribute to his fallen cohort. He began working with reggae artist Rudebwoy, who made him the lead artist on Rudebwoy Ent., and with “My Dougie,” a song and dance inspired by legendary NYC rapper Doug E. Fresh, picking up spins across the country and climbing up the Billboard charts, things are working out well for the now 21-year-old rapper. “We all know the rapper, Doug E. Fresh,” he explains his hit single. “I kinda just took his name and made it into a terminology, a new word we use around Dallas. ‘Dougie.’ Dougie means your whole personality, your swag, just everything that makes you fresh. That’s your dougie.” Now that his “dougie” is right, Lil Will is set to release his debut album through Asylum Records entitled Dollas, TX, and if everything goes as planned, Terrell Owens won’t be the only Dallas representer making headlines this year. //
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y l t n e i t PWaaiting
(above L-R): YV with his OZONE cover @ City Block for Static Major tribute in Louisville, KY; Shawty Lo with his OZONE cover on the set of ‘Foolish’ remix video shoot in Miami, FL (Photos: Malik Abdul); Bun B with his OZONE cover @ The Beat car show in Dallas, TX (Photo: Edward Hall)
01 // Ray J @ Studio Inc (Tampa, FL) 02 // Pleasure P @ Club Level for The Beat’s birthday bash (Columbia, SC) 03 // Pastor Troy & Rasheeda @ Powerfest (Augusta, GA) 04 // Mike Jones, Funkmaster Flex, & DJ E-Feezy @ Funkmaster Flex’s car show (Louisville, KY) 05 // Memphitz & Trai D on the set of Hot Stylz’ “Lookin’ Boy” video shoot (Atlanta, GA) 06 // Young Buck on the set of Bun B’s “That’s Gangsta” (Port Arthur, TX) 07 // Lloyd @ Luckie’s for BMI Urban showcase (Atlanta, GA) 08 // Wes Fif @ Destiny for Dawgman’s Crunkfest (Orlando, FL) 09 // Webbie @ Powerfest (Augusta, GA) 10 // 2 Pistols @ Powerfest (Augusta, GA) 11 // 9th Ward & Jermaine Dupri @ 93.3 (Houston, TX) 12 // Randy Roper & JR Get Money @ Powerfest (Augusta, GA) 13 // Avant reppin’ OZONE (Miami, FL) 14 // Kid Capri @ Funkmaster Flex’s car show (Louisville, KY) 15 // Baby & crew on the set of “Foolish” remix video shoot (Miami, FL) 16 // Lil Will @ Party 93.3 (Houston, TX) 17 // Bankroll Jonez @ Kush Lounge for Sixteen Seventy’s Lil Boosie show (Charleston, SC) 18 // Bobo Luchiano @ The Beat car show (Dallas, TX) 19 // Malik Abdul & Miss Bless @ Villa Fontana for G-Mack’s party with Bun B (Louisville, KY) 20 // Bohagon @ DJ Teknikz’ birthday bash (Macon, GA) 21 // Winky Wright @ Janus Landing (St Petersburg, FL) 22 // DJ Joe Blaque, DJ Frosty, & Randy Roper @ Club Level for The Beat’s birthday bash (Columbia, SC) 23 // DJ Krunch One & C-Ride @ the Lexx (Miami, FL) 24 // Eric Perrin & the BA Boys @ Club Red for the BA Boys’ “I Like All That” video shoot (Birmingham, AL) 25 // Fabo @ Powerfest (Augusta, GA) 26 // Grind Mode @ City Block for Static Major tribute (Louisville, KY) 27 // Gucci Mane & Shawty Redd @ Patchwerk (Atlanta, GA) 28 // Spark Dawg & Cy-Fyre @ The Beat 713 (Houston, TX) 29 // Jas Prince reppin’ Strapped & Young B reppin’ OZONE (Houston, TX) 30 // Jizzal Man of Dem Franchize Boyz & Khao on the set of “How We Do It In The A” (Atlanta, GA) 31 // JR Get Money, Big Kuntry, & Deon Grant @ Powerfest (Augusta, GA) 32 // Juvenile @ Society (St. Louis, MO) 33 // Redd Eyezz & Big Teach on the set of “Foolish” remix video shoot (Miami, FL) 34 // Rocko @ Powerfest (Augusta, GA) 35 // Shawty Lo & Jim Jones on the set of “Foolish” remix video shoot (Miami, FL) Photo Credits: Bogan (23); Edward Hall (18); Eric Perrin (24); Johnny Louis (13); Julia Beverly (05,07,27,30); King Yella (32); Knowledge (06,11,16,28,29); Luis Santana (01,21); Malik Abdul (04,08,14,15,19,26,33,35); Ms Rivercity (20); Terrence Tyson (02,03,09,10,12,17,22,25,31,34)
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Louisville, KY Words by MS RIVERCITY // PHOTO BY JULIA BEVERLY Originally seeking recognition as a hook writer, YV relocated to Atlanta from Louisville, Kentucky to place some of his work in the right hands. It was a move that eventually put him in front of Polow Da Don, who signed the young talent to Zone 4 (Rich Boy, Keri Hilson). Polow encouraged YV to record a full song. Even though it was his first attempt at a single, “I Got a Dollar” turned out to be hit material and is now receiving a widespread campaign. While songwriting has always been YV’s forte, the road to being an artist was paved with uncertainty at times. In fact, YV had actually given up on being in the spotlight prior to pairing up with Polow. “When you’re a producer, you make beats; but when you’re an artist, it’s so many things you gotta think about. You gotta think about if the crowd’s gonna like it, if I’m delivering the verse right,” YV explains. “That’s why I fell back and looked into some other lanes with music. I gave up because ain’t nobody understand where I was coming from. The way to keep myself alive in music was by doing hooks.”
“R.I.P. to Static Major. He was one of our leaders in Kentucky,” sighs YV. “He was a close friend to me. He was a special person. Even though he’s passed away, he’s still the man. A lot of people went up and we thought Kentucky was gonna blow and it just disappeared. I got a lot of stuff to carry on my back. I’m the voice of Kentucky. I’m the Louisville Lip. It’s time to move” Making moves with his new situation under Zone 4/Interscope is something YV shows no hesitation on. He recently wrote hooks for E-40 and continues recording songs with his new mentor. Following the success of “I Got a Dollar,” YV and Polow plan to release a second singled called “Stroke.” “It’s a dance record with an up-tempo beat, like some Florida stuff. I was actually born in Tallahassee, Florida and raised in Kentucky so I like to give stuff to people from both the states I’m from.” To sum up the last few years of his career, YV states, “It’s a blessing. It’s a lot of money here [in Atlanta] if you stay on your job and you’re really good at it. A lot of people in Kentucky would love to be in my position right now.”
Approximately two years after moving to the A to work with his producer Willy Will, YV was earning a solid income from his ghostwriting abilities, but Polow saw more in the 20-something year old. YV’s vibrant personality was what impressed Da Don the most. “He looked at me and was like, ‘You a star.’ He looked at me more than he looked at the music. It’s because of the way I talk, the way I walk, the way I act. My style is wild.”
YV believes that his blessings come from above, concluding, “It’s about how I treat people. I got a couple of homies I looked out for over the years, and family members. I try to do a nice deed every day. I don’t pray every day, but I try to. I know I need to thank the Lord for me getting a deal and money and having a hot single in the streets. It’s like, I did something good and now it might have come back around.” //
It’s this magnetic style that YV hopes will finally shine light on his hometown.
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BALLGREEZY MIAMI, FL
Words by ANTHONY ROBERTS
With Florida thug ambassadors like Trick Daddy and Rick Ross having laid a solid foundation before him, Ballgreezy is looking to take the baton, or should I say mic, and run with it. The 20-something year-old rapper from the Sunshine State has earned his share of stripes doing “this and that” in the streets and is now set to earn stripes in the rap game. With a loyal and continually growing fan base, the Miami emcee is looking to prove that, even though D. Wade and his squad may have fallen off this year, the city’s still got some serious heat. “[Rap] was something I grew up around. One day a nigga gave me a beat and dared me to do something on it… I did it so good that niggas started saying I should take this seriously,” he says of his impromptu beginnings in the game. He describes his style simply as “real.” Although he’s been spitting since the age of 15, it wasn’t until a number of years later that he released his own Straight Drop mixtape. Though he attributes the long layoffs to his unwillingness to divorce himself from the streets, he’s now focused on his rap career 100% and is looking to milk the game for all it’s worth. “I’m versatile; I can do it all. I don’t even know if they have a category for me,” boasts the dreadheaded rapper. “This music shit is like this street shit. You get out of it what you can while you’re in it. Rappers don’t influence me by what they say; I’m inspired by what they got. I’m more impressed with their status.” Having just released his Before The Deal mixtape, which will serve as a prequel to his as-yet-untitled debut LP on Iconz Music Group, Ballgreezy is aiming to have his name in lights and position himself amongst the best dudes doing it, bar none. “With your first album, you can’t go wrong. It’s gotta be a classic. I want people to be like, ‘That’s a classic that nigga put out,” he explained. “I wanna be able to compete with the best. Even if you’re not the best right now but you’re on your way, I can fuck with you. Watch your back; I’m coming.” www.myspace.com/officialballgreezymyspace
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WORDS BY RANDY ROPER
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// PHOTOS BY TYSON HO
here is a myth that says death comes in threes. A more positive thinker would tell you that success comes in threes too. In horse racing the Triple Crown is the ultimate prize. In hockey the Hat Trick (three goals in one game) is the ultimate highlight. In basketball, the 3-peat is what make guys like Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Byrant get remembered in the history books. Success in three transcends into Hip Hop too. Run-DMC. Dr. Dre, Eminem and 50 Cent. And if all goes their way, Jermaine Dupri, Nitti and new jack 9th Ward will triple their success as well. But, the road there has started off rough for the trio.
“Alright, this what happened,” sighs Nitti, telling the story of a bus malfunction during their Southeastern promotional strip club tour. “Our bus driver did something with the bus where he turned on two many buttons and stuff. When he turned them buttons on, it was like he blew something up. He blew a battery up or something. We was stuck out there in Dallas. We couldn’t leave ‘til the next afternoon. We had to end up paying about ten thousand dollars in batteries and stuff. He blew up some batteries and blamed that shit on us. But we ain’t tear the bus up, he wanna blame it on us, that’s all. But we got back to Atlanta and we got a new bus driver, so we good.” “I was actually in the strip club waiting on them and they called us talking about the bus was on fire,” says Dupri. “I think somebody turned the bus on and it burnt out all the batteries on the bus or whatever. I don’t know the particulars but the bus was fucked up and they had to ride back with no air conditioning. From Dallas to Atlanta with no AC? That’s nasty.”
th Ward himself has traveled harder journeys. A native of New Orleans, the rapper born Jamal Williams was in the N.O. when Hurricane Katrina hit. Luckily for him, he had the resources and sense to get out of town.
What were you doing when Katrina hit? 9th Ward: I was just in the bed and I saw the news. It was like mandatory evacuation. We always get hurricanes in New Orleans. Some [outsiders] asked, “Why did people stay?” We stayed cause it’s a normal thing to see a hurricane coming our way. But this was the first time it hit that hard. It wasn’t really the hurricane that hurt our city, it was the levees that broke. When the levees broke, all the water from the Gulf of Mexico, the lake, and the Mississippi River just came flooding into our city because our city is below sea level. The water just started rising, rising, rising and it just set in there. It was the water that devastated us. It really wasn’t the hurricane; the winds and the rain. When they told us to leave, we sat there. It wasn’t nothing. Niggas sat there and got caught up in the situation to where I was there. Everybody saw what happened on TV, people holding up signs, stuck on roofs. I ain’t had none of that to deal with. Luckily I was blessed to have a car, so I got away from a lot of it, but I was stuck in a lot of traffic. I was stuck on the interstate when a lot of the shit was happening but I had nowhere else to go. FEMA kicked in a little late. It took seven days just to rescue people, that just wasn’t overnight. I was in Red Cross shelter for about two months in Baton Rouge. It was about a thousand of us in there just sleeping on cots. We ain’t had nowhere to go. Some people went to Dallas. [FEMA] flew people anywhere; they were just trying to get you out of there. The bulk of us went to Houston, but they were flying you anywhere you wanted to go to get you out of the danger zone. In New Orleans, the water kept rising. I was in Baton Rouge, sleeping with thousands of people on a cot. Just watching on the big screen TV, one of them projectors, like a movie. And we were watching the news all the time just trying to see when we could go back to New Orleans. They wouldn’t let anybody go back. I ain’t get back to New Orleans for about three months. You weren’t allowed to back into the city. Just imagine if you couldn’t go home for three months. If you out yo’ place, but you know deep inside you can go home, it’s something different. But when you’re out of your environment, your element, and you know you can’t go back, that’ll fuck you up. And then when you go back and see the devastation, that’ll fuck you up even more. When I finally did get back to my house, my room was in my bed. And I had just brought a brand new bed. I thought I could save something, but there were looters. I had Gucci. I had jewelry. I had clothes. My shit was gone. One
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of my cars was empty like a nigga done went in there and took everything. Were you always calling yourself 9th Ward? Even before Katrina? Nah. My nickname in the streets is Gucci. 9th Ward could be anybody’s name [in New Orleans]. So my name is 9th Ward Gucci. They got 9th Ward Shawty, 9th Ward Phil. They got bookoo 9th Ward people. When I came out to Atlanta, they got Gucci Mane. Just to show people I was different, we dropped the Gucci and rolled with the 9th Ward but we worked with Gucci [Mane] and everything. We got a couple of songs together ‘cause [my producer] Nitti does a lot of his beats. We coulda dropped the Gucci and went with a whole ‘nother name but I said, “Nah, I’ma go with 9th Ward,” because I think 9th Ward stands for something now. It stands for when the levees broke in the 9th Ward. That’s where most of the damage happened. It means overcoming the storm and the weather, literally, but I use it in a spiritual sense, ya dig? What were you doing prior to rapping? I was rapping but not seriously. One of my cuts is named “You Can’t Compare Me To No Rapper.” I just write stories. Most of the time I rap about life, but I really wasn’t a rapper. I was hustling and I had my own studio. I moved all my equipment in a building and it was a hang out spot. One of my big homes who rapped got shot and paralyzed so he started rapping more. Being around him, he just told me to spit something, that’s how I started writing and rapping. This was in 2002. I was fucking around and niggas was telling me I could flow, I knew nothing [about how to rap]. I went to Guitar Center and got everything there. I still remember the guy who helped us, white boy Bill. I told him I wanted to be a rapper, what I need to get to recorded. So we got a MPC, modules, blue mics. I bought a whole studio, just fucking around. I want to be the best. I hate when rappers come out and say they’re the best and make garbage. What you wasting people’s time for? I told myself I’m not gonna be that person. So I listen to the radio and compare it, and say, “Nah, my shit ain’t hot yet.”
“I was watching Rap City and Nitti was on there. They asked Nitti about his upcoming projects. He said he was gonna sign 9th Ward Gucci. Who, me? I ain’t talked to this nigga in six months. But that let me know he was thinking about me. So I went back to Atlanta, found his crib, and knocked on his door.” - 9th ward
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Where does that humbleness come from? I think God just blessed me with an understanding. Like dawg, do my shit really sound like 50 Cent? No. I really started taking rap serious after the storm because I had nothing to lose. I was fucking around with the rap, I had the equipment so I just started doing it. I took the equipment I had in Louisiana and put it in my hotel in Atlanta when FEMA kicked in. I had a studio in Metairie, outside of New Orleans, so my equipment was safe. That’s a blessing, to lose everything but that. That’s a sign. I was recording in the FEMA hotel, rapping and chilling. They’d have open mics in Atlanta. I was like, “I can do this shit.” I ran into an A&R for Nitti and Playmaker and she took my CD to him. He sat on it for like 6 months. I was back in New Orleans by that time. I was watching Rap City and Nitti was on there. They asked Nitti about his upcoming projects. He said he was gonna sign 9th Ward Gucci. Who, me? I ain’t talked to this nigga in six months. But that let me know he was thinking about me. So I went back to Atlanta, found his crib, and knocked on his door. I thought it was Hollywood talk at first, but shit, he shouldn’t had said that. “I’m here now, nigga, where the contract at?” But I didn’t want the [advance] money yet. I said, “Just sign me, dawg. Just put me in a position to make my own money. I’m a hustler. I want to be in that position.”
ow many artists do you know who would say that?” laughs JD as he eavesdrops on 9th Ward’s interview. “That’s why I love this dude.”
Of course, any label exec would love an artist who says they’re not in it for the money. But when JD says he love 9th for that kind of attitude, it doesn’t sound like he’s wishing to take advantage of the rookie rapper. It genuinely sounds as if the veteran producer and current President of Island Records Urban Music actually wants to put money in the 9th’s hungry pockets. Known for his contributions to the careers of artists ranging from Mariah Carey to Jay-Z, JD working with a new artist like 9th Ward is a testament to his dedication to Hip Hop. Far from the usually polished rap that he’s known for making and promoting, dealing with 9th Ward offers more risk that reward. He’s a new artist who’s gone through a traumatic experience and is entering a ruthless game that isn’t for the weak at heart. “I know a lot of times, people look at me as the dude that makes pop records and makes records that’s more successful [as crossover records],” says JD. “But the artists that I always liked and listened to were the artists that had that edge. I always want one of them artists in my life forever. I always wanted one and I see the little parts of DMX in [9th Ward] from listening to him talk. It’s just a realness about 9th Ward that made me not be scared of nothing. I ain’t never really have
to know and I still don’t know if he ever gonna spazz out or none of that. We’ll have to see that. We’re still learning [about] each other but like I said, “I’m Hip Hop,” I don’t really care about it. So if he do that, that’s a part of the game.” Nitti adds, “When I met him, I had second thoughts because this nigga look like he might do something to somebody. He tatted up, he slugged up, got the golds in his mouth, so I’m like, ‘do I need to trust this nigga?’ So as a person, I had to take a gamble. I’m in the streets all day, every day. I’m good at judging character. So with him it was a little bit tricky because I was like, you can’t go off the image. Once I heard what he was talking about, I saw a little bit of me in him where people just had to just listen to what he had to say. What I heard what was on his mind and his goals, he told me, ‘I’m gonna become a priority on your label.’ And for someone to come to me and tell me that, I’m like, ‘Aight, show me.’” Everyone knows that you’re the head honcho at Island Def Jam now. Tell me what was so attractive about this Playmaker and 9th Ward situation? Jermaine Dupri: Nitti’s been down with So So Def [for a while]. I signed Nitti back when people was first hearing him. So I signed him as a producer back when he did “Stop Playin’ Games” for 8Ball. That’s one of the first times I was paying attention to him making beats and I’m like, “I like this dude.” I don’t know if people really know our relationship, but he’s been down with me for a minute. So through the whole Yung Joc thing, he was down with So So Def. With my producers, I’m always looking for them to go and find talent the same way I used to, so he found 9th Ward. I heard it, and it was poppin’. What stood out about the music that made you want to work with them? I like records that sound like I don’t need to touch them. The majority of the artists that I sign, I didn’t produce, I put their records out like the way the come, like Bonecrusher or J-Kwon. Their records were done. Rocko’s record was done [when I signed him]. I only produced one song on Anthony Hamilton’s record. He ain’t need me to produce none of his records to become the person that everybody know. It just needed somebody like myself to put the records out. After that, I started learning about the person. When you learn about [9th Ward] and what he had to go through, that’s a hard life. He’s only been rapping a short amount of time, but there’s people who have been rapping ten years and ain’t have to uproot they life and lose they whole hood. It’s a lot of craziness that went on and I think it got him [thinking] real serious like, “If I wanna rap, I need to really, really get on this.” From me hearing that story, you can just hear the pain in his voice, and when you talk to him you can tell it’s a serious situation. Not that all other emcees aren’t serious, but with [9th Ward], he’s got a lot of other stuff going on in his life that makes his story really more complex and compelling to me. What was it like working with an artist from New Orleans? Forgive me if I’m wrong, but I don’t recall you working with a lot of New Orleans artists in the past. It’s different. I’m a person that studies where people [are] from. I don’t try to make everybody uproot and come to Atlanta; it’s other things going on besides Atlanta. I’ve always been trying to push everybody to come to this city, but I mean, he named himself after a hood out there, right? So my thing was, let’s go to New Orleans and make sure that the people of New Orleans support you, as opposed to what’s going on in Atlanta and what I got going on. If something happened to me, the representation he’d get from Atlanta is based off of me, but where you’re from, you gotta get that on your own. It’s tough because I don’t know nothing about New Orleans. I just know from listening to Cash Money and Master P. So it’s crazy for me to run around the city with him and try to figure out the right things and the wrong things to do when you’re in unknown territory. But that’s part of my job so I have to do it. Did his music remind you of that early P and Cash Money? Yeah, 100 percent. When you listen to 9th Ward, he sounds like New Orleans. What I know New Orleans to sound like, that’s what he reminds me of, the early days when we first started hearing Cash Money, the first Juvy album, all that. It just sounds like a more up-to-date version [of New Orleans] with a little twist on it, from what Nitti’s doing with him and what I’m doing with him. We loved all that music, everything that came from New Orleans. We was on that hard, at least here in Atlanta. When I first heard his record, Nitti didn’t even play it for me. I heard it playing and I was like, “Who the hell is that?” That’s another reason why I wanted to sign him, because it sounded right coming out of the stereo without people pushing it on you. You usually got the introduction, like, “My dude will make you money and he’s the best rapper,” I ain’t get all that [with Nitti and 9th Ward]. I just caught the song. What song was it? “My Choppa.” I think that’s the first one we heard. And just from that song alone, it didn’t sound like he was trying to convince nobody of nothing. He’s not trying to make these quick records that you put out. With a record like “My Choppa,” he was trying to let people get to know him as an artist. You can tell he’s trying to make records that represent how he really feels and what’s going on in his life as opposed to thinking, “I need to make a dance record or something people can dance to so I can go to Atlanta and try to get on.” I think it’s important OZONE MAG // 45
that we have artists that make people understand that again. With the listening public now, it seems like everybody wants the single and sometimes they might not even want something that’s too hard or abrasive. What do you look forward to the most dealing with 9th Ward in the market now? Like I said, I’m me. I’m looking forward to breaking rappers the way I’ve always been known to break rappers. Rap is street. Rap is underground. Rap is mixtapes. Rap is OZONE Magazine. If you can get above all the stuff that you’re supposed to, you’re more than successful if you start getting bigger than that; but for the most part when you young and growing up, listening to rap music, learning about rap music, you wanna be in the same realms that you know rap is about. I ain’t never seen Rakim on too many magazine covers, but it wasn’t nowhere I could go where I wouldn’t hear his record, people wouldn’t be quoting his raps and people didn’t know who he is. That’s basically the same lifestyle I think this guy should take. He should definitely be on that page, where it’s not even about your first album. I think that’s another thing people focus on wrong in rap. You can make more albums. If you can be 50 Cent or Snoop Dogg on your first album, then you’re blessed, but everybody ain’t getting that. Everybody’s gotta work and grow into who they’re [supposed] to be. Tupac wasn’t Tupac on the first album. He grew into Tupac, and I think that’s what made people like the artist he grew into. It makes it harder for the artist if they come out and blow right up to the top; it ain’t really nowhere else for them to go. Then, the whole country is looking at you like, “He gonna fall off next time. I betcha his next album is gonna be whack.” It’s the same way with Lil Wayne. He was at Cash Money forever. He wasn’t the Lil Wayne that he is now, but we like him more because we saw him grow and turn into the animal that he is today. If he woulda came out [that way] from the gate, he wouldn’t have this buzz that’s got. We like those rappers the most [for their growth]. Is this gonna be a situation where you look from the skybox instead of trying to be the coach on the court? Hell no. I’m on the tour right now. We’re doing a strip club tour. We’re going to all the strip clubs in all the Southern cities. I’m on the tour right now, right there with him. One thing about [9th Ward] is, he’s young. He’s young to the industry and I’ve seen a lot of artists get on the road who can’t deal with a lot of stuff that’s going on. Like now, he’s getting a cover, [but] a lot of people don’t even know him. People might be like, “What the fuck?!” I’m beside him so he can understand how to deal with that; riding with him. [If I was] watching from the skybox, that ain’t gonna work. What’s it been like being on tour? Is it bringing back memories of when you first started? It’s funny, because people always ask me that like I’ve never done it before. Every artist that I ever brought out that was successful, I always was on the road with them first. Whether it be [Da] Brat, Bow Wow, Xscape, or Anthony Hamilton. When I first brought Anthony out, we’d go do shows and it might be 200 people in the audience or even 50 people, just to see him. And we’d keep going. And every time I’d go to do a show with him, one or two people would be like, “This guy’s incredible. I’ma tell my friends.” So the next time we came back to the same city, it’d be like five hundred people. And by the time his album came out, we’d come back again and it was 2,500 people. I believe that this is how you’ve gotta break 46 // OZONE MAG
records. I believe the record companies try to sell music to people who don’t wanna buy music, so you’ve gotta go to the places where people are showing that they still wanna buy. In the strip clubs, niggas are buying mixtapes. Niggas like it when you give them mixtapes. They enjoy coming to the club and listening to the music. The girls in the club know all the lyrics. You gotta go to the places where people enjoy what’s going on. I don’t believe in selling 9th Ward in places where I’m just trying to sell him to people and you don’t even know if they like the music. I’ma always do that. I’ma go on the road with my artist and really show them and make them understand my way of thinking. If not, you can get lost and learn other people’s way of thinking. Not to say my way is right, but if you’re on my team, I’ma be Phil Jackson.
f JD is the Phil Jackson of this operation. That would make Nitti either Kobe or Michael Jordan. The show can run with out him. He sets the tone and acts as the conduit between the coach and the rest of the players. This time around, Nitti the player will be making moves in the office as well as on the court. As CEO of Playmaker Music, Nitti has created hits for Boyz N Da Hood, Gucci Mane and most notably Yung Joc with “Its Goin’ Down.” Hired as more of a musical assassin for his hit-making prowess, Nitti will also be wearing the executive hat for 9th Ward’s project. “Wearing the executive hat is definitely a challenge,” admits Nitti about his latest venture, a joint deal between Playmaker and so so def through Island Def Jam. “At the end of the day, you’re spending money. When you’re operating a company it’s more than just you going in here slanging a beat or two. If you don’t slow down, you done spent bout a quarter mil real quick on some bull. you gotta be smart. How did this whole situation happen? Nitti: I did the deal last year and I also did a label deal last year at Warner Brothers, so it took a while to find some artists that I believe in. I don’t want one-hit wonders. As a producer, I got tired of seeing a lot of acts come in and sell 100,000200,000. A lot of labels wonder why they only sell 20,000 or 30,000 thousand copies in the first week. When you look at the big picture, it might boil down to the type of artist and the types of albums that people [are] putting together now. I always look at the big dogs like [Dr.] Dre and a lot of those cats. How do you go back to selling three or four million? That’s what I wanna know. That’s what I wanna do with any artist that I sign. How did you come across him?
I came across him through one of my A&Rs. She was in the club and she into 9th Ward, and brought me his CD. I sat on it ‘bout six months and I ain’t even listen to it. Why did it take you so long to listen to it? Honestly, I get a gang of CDs. I’m not one of those producers that doesn’t really go through music and listen to it. I really listen to it. I was so backed up with CDs, but [during] the time that I do take to listen to music, I happened to pick his up. I hadn’t heard nothing I liked, but once I got to his music I started to play it. Repeat it, repeat it. I immediately wanted to sign him. JD had just got the position over there [at Island Def Jam]. I had just done a label deal over at Warner Brothers but they had a gang of stuff going on, so I thought it was a better home for him to be over in the Universal/ Island Def Jam system. They’ve been doing a lot of rap stuff and ain’t nothing wrong with the Warner system, but I think that at the end of the day, I wanna win. I think Def Jam is where he belongs. What stood out to you about his music? His originality, and being able to keep my attention. His songs that made me wanna hear the second and third verse verses. He kept my attention, and that’s hard to do, because I hear so many rappers. I signed him and didn’t look back; then JD gave me a deal over at Island Def Jam. As a producer, did it sound raw or polished already? With him, he’s real raw. You’ve gotta let artists be creative. I let him go in the studio, and get the beat that I want him to rap on. He goes in the studio and he puts everything he wants to put into that record. I don’t have to babysit him, I just go in there and critique him. Once I hear what I wanna hear, I edit it and mix it. He’s real, he’s experienced, he knows what he’s doing. That’s something that I haven’t really come across in a lot of new artists. I’m like, “Did this dude have a deal or something I didn’t know about?” You come across a diamond and you’re like, “How did everybody overlook this?” He’s so raw that people looked at him like, “Oh, he’s a street cat,” but they didn’t take the time to listen to what he had to say. When you first got together to sit down and talk, did you feel like it was instant chemistry? Once I put him in the studio, he made song after song after song, good records. I was like “Damn, when is he gonna mess up?” but dude kept coming with hot records. He sold me. When you say “mess up,” what do you mean? Make a bad record. Dude made damn near sixty records, and I wanted to hear all of them. He did all this in three months and I haven’t heard a bad record come out of him yet. He’s not perfect, of course, nobody is, but he makes good records that will keep your attention. Everybody tries too hard to have swagger. Remember when everybody was trying to sound like T.I. a few years ago? At the end of the day, T.I. the only one still standing. Being original is what sold me on 9th Ward. He was original; he wasn’t trying to be like nobody, and that’s what I respect. What was it like working with an artist that was not really from the same background? You usually work with Atlanta artists. It was a challenge. I think I’ve got Atlanta riding with me. I know I’ve got my city behind my back, so I decided to go get an artist outside of Atlanta and show people what I can do. It’s the same thing producers like like [Dr.] Dre did. Dre went
and got Rakim. He went and got Busta. He went and got Curtis [50 Cent]. Eminem. They were all outside of [Los Angeles]; he just put his own blend on there and didn’t look back. With [9th Ward], I like his character, and his delivery is one of a kind. You’re gonna know him when you hear him. He’s not trying to be out here to be the richest or [claiming to have] sold the most dope. Understand, he did what he had to do in the streets. I can relate to him because I was the same dude. The music saved me. God blessed me with a talent, and God blessed him with a talent. It just takes somebody to give you a hand. When I started off, I was out here grinding. JD came to me and he signed me as a producer in the beginning. And then eventually, once I got out of my producer deal, I started my own company called Playmaker. Me and JD, over the years, developed a big-brother, little-brother type relationship so anywhere he goes, I’m good. We’re gonna keep everything rolling. How hands-on are you gonna be on the music side? Is his debut album gonna be all Nitti beats? It’s not gonna be like that. I’m here to sell records. I’m don’t wanna drown a project with all Nitti beats. I’ve been hearing a couple albums out with 10 beats from the same producer on there, and then niggas wonder why they ain’t selling no records. Tou got the same producer on your whole album, nigga. No wonder your album isn’t selling. People don’t wanna hear all that. When you look in your closet, you don’t want all Nikes. You want some Adidas over here, you might want some Pumas over there. With 9th Ward, I’m not doing the whole album. I’m overseeing the album, but I’m not gonna produce the whole album. You’re gonna know I had something to do with it. Have you had a chance to see where he’s from and meet his people? I met his mother; everybody. I’ve been down there [to New Orleans]. Don’t listen to nothing you hear on TV. It’s still messed up down there. It’s something you wouldn’t believe was still going on in 2008. How long ago was Katrina? It’s been three years and people down there still messed up. People down there still ain’t got nowhere to go. Their houses and stuff still messed up. It’s real down there. Do you think that’s played a part in you being able to make sure you got the best product out of him? That helps cause that’s motivation to see, he actually went through it. He was homeless. He went through that. By him to go through something like that, and still at the end of the day he was able to come out and express himself on a mic, I wanna hear that. I wanna hear what that does to a human mind. I’m not glad that the hurricane happened, but everything that’s meant to happen, it happens. With him, people are definitely gonna hear a solid album from a talented dude who loves music. That’s all that matters.
th Ward’s humbling image is sure to work in his advantage. Being able to make both party and gangsta music, and do it well, is a hard-to-find skill. He hopes to offer the world both sides of him in adequate doses on his yet-to-be-titled debut album. Do you think your rough exterior is going to resonate with fans? 9th Ward: Yeah. I think it will, but I’m more than that. I tell people the truth. I’ve worked at the mall before. Everything I’ve done, I rap about. I’ve popped bottles and been in the shelter, so I’ma I rap about that. I’m not gonna kill you on every song. If you rap about women and money, you really can’t go wrong, but if you rap about shooting and killing, it’s hard to win. Do you feel a pressure or responsibility to rap about Hurricane Katrina in your rhymes, or is that something you’d rather not talk about at length? Not all the time, but I need to talk about it. Wayne got a song called “Georgia Bush” that was good. It’s probably hard for some of those artists to rap about it because they weren’t really there and they could replace some of what they lost because they were financially straight. But, Juvy lost his whole projects. Me, I can’t take my son back and tell him that was my home. My son is a Katrina baby. What should we expect from your album? I think the album is classic. Niggas are checking for the album; they get psyched when they hear it. This is a Jay-Z, Kanye, 2Pac album. I know a lot of people say that, but you will see that this album goes in a completely different direction from the single “Add Me Up.” It’s gonna give you goose bumps. If I fuck up in the booth and I’m breaking down, I tell them to keep it. I want people to feel my pain. I really think this album should be the number one album in 2008. I call myself the Chris Paul of the game. Baby-face, nobody knows me so they’re underestimating me, but I’m ballin’. He should’ve been MVP, so I’ll be MVP instead. Was it hard for you to gain people’s trust in Atlanta? New Orleans natives kind of got the reputation of being grimy when you all started moving to other cities after Katrina. Nah, it was easy. Niggas felt sorry for us. Don’t get me wrong, we did bad stuff. But, they saw some good in me. I ain’t gonna lie, I used it to my advantage. I’d be telling folks, “C’mon, I’m a Katrina victim, man.” I used sympathy to my advantage. Not to take advantage, but for my advantage. But JD and Nitti, they get it. I recorded over 240 songs. I ain’t know no better. I thought that was my job. I tell folks that if I write 240 songs and can’t pick 17 hot ones, I need to quit. People say your voice and sound reminds them of classic New Orleans Hip Hop, or early Cash Money. Soulja Slim even. Would you say you’re trying to bring a certain sound back? I don’t try to bring back no sound, I just rap, I’m from New Orleans. I’m a little older [than most rappers] and I’ve been in New Orleans for a long time, so that why my sound is what it is. I’m just tired of popping folks’ CDs in and wasting my $12. I coulda bought a dimebag of fucking weed with that money. Some CDs I cant even get home from the store without being mad. //
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WORDS By Eric Perrin PHOTOS BY TYSON HORNE Mickey “Memphitz” Wright (shown at left with his hitz committee business partner glenn delgado) is not the typical person you would see on the cover of a magazine. He isn’t involved in any sex tape scandals. He’s not a teen pop star recovering from a crystal meth addiction, and he can easily go to sleep without worrying that paparazzi are burrowing through his bushes. In fact, you probably know nothing about the man’s personal life, but like it or not, Memphitz is nothing short of a mogul in the making.
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As a former football standout, Mickey Wright had a promising future. He excelled on his high school team and later joined the Memphis Samurais, a semi-professional team in the North American Football League. He had dreams of progressing in his career and was poised to make it to the next level, but unfortunately he suffered a major setback along the way. “I had a tryout to go play for the Oklahoma Wranglers, an arena league team, but right before the tryouts I fucked up my groin,” Memphitz laments. “They offered me another opportunity to tryout at the next training camp, but that was right around the time my dad had got murdered and it was then that I realized my dreams of going to the NFL weren’t a reality.” With this epiphany, Memphitz packed his bags and left Memphis for Manhattan. He enrolled in IAR, an engineering school where he spent 18 months learning the intricacies of recording and studio work. Though he graduated from IAR, being an engineer was never his intention. Immediately following his commencement, Memphitz became intern at Arista Records. “My counselors were like, ‘You just went to school for 18 months for engineering. Why do you want to work at Arista?’” remembers Memphitz. “But the real me was not behind that board. I couldn’t do that. I knew I could make it if I just got in the door [at Arista]; I didn’t care what I was doing. At first I was just dubbing videotapes, but it wasn’t long after that when everything started happening.” Everything really started happening for Memphitz when he met his future business partner, attorney Glenn Delgado, who was then the Vice President of Business Affairs at Arista and secretly wanted to start his own label. “I was looking at how labels were run, and I said to myself, ‘I know I can do this better,’” recalls Delgado. “I saw Memphitz running around Arista, doing his thing, so I pulled him in my office and said, ‘Look, I’m trying to start a label. I think you have the same passion as I do. I need you on the creative end, and you need me on the business end. Why don’t we partner up?’” Within a week of their initial meeting, Delgado and Memphitz not only partnered up, but had already conceived a company name, a roster of artists, and a budding musical empire. Today, four years since the two combined to form Hitz Committee, the company is reaching success of great magnitude, and largely due to the Memphitz’ success as an A&R (with the likes of T-Pain, Huey, Chris Brown, UGK, The Youngbloodz, J-Kwon, and Asia Cruz, among others) HC is now in a great position for negotiating the type of situation Delgado says will be “a historical, industry precedent-setting deal.” What’s been the most challenging part of your success thus far? Probably the politics of the game. Now I’m better at it than I was, but it’s been challenging. Everything from getting features to clearances, to all types of stuff. It’s just a lot of politics in this game. What first got you interested in working in the entertainment industry? Back in Memphis, me and a couple of my homies would be at the house trying to rap and shit. Really, all I did at home when I was back in Memphis was look at videos and listen to the radio. I was just a radio head. That’s all I used to do; watch 52 // OZONE MAG
and listen to music. My dad was like, “Do you ever watch the news? There’s more to life than what you’re watching.” And I was like, “Nah, but this is what I’m doing.” I started gearing up to get in the game that way. By the time I left home and moved to New York, I went to this engineering school, IAR, and from there I interned at Arista Records. That’s where I met [my business partner] Glenn, that’s where my first success happened with The Youngbloodz, so that’s kinda how I got in. When I went from the internship to the Arista doors, it was a long road, but when I finally got there, a lot of stuff started happening. Is there one thing that you wish would’ve known back during your days at Arista? Yeah, I wish I knew that Arista was gonna fall apart. (laughs) But even though it fell apart, I’m happy it fell apart, because otherwise I probably wouldn’t be here talking to you right now. At first it was like a comfort zone for me, and then it fell apart, and that kinda made a man out of me. I didn’t have that umbrella over me. I didn’t have LA Reid or any of the other people that were sort of like my protectors. I had to prove myself all over again. How did you go about proving yourself again? Obviously it was successful. I went and had a conversation with LA Reid, and he was telling me that because of the contractual obligations that he had to live up to, he couldn’t really talk to me about coming to Def Jam. It was something called a non-poaching clause, so I got together with an attorney, Steve Shapiro. He kinda got my name out there and let people know that I really was the person behind the records I did. At first my company was called Hustle Child, but that name was already trademarked, so I had to find another name. I had already had this custom-made “HC” chain on my neck, so I decided to name to company Hitz Committee. The main reason I went to Jive was because Barry Weiss, my boss, was the person that was really into my idea of having my own label, and after the signing of T-Pain, my deal got better. Then I signed Huey, and that project proved to be successful, and then the next T-Pain album was successful, so that kind of put us in the bracket to where we could get serious about negotiating a deal. Now we’re getting closer and closer to full ownership of our company. Neither [my business partner] Glenn or I really wanna work for anybody. Glenn covers the business angle and I cover the creative angle, so together we’re building this company. I’m the CEO and Chairman of the company, and Glenn is the President. Why do you think so many record labels have been failing lately? They’re not developing artists the right way. It’s the record label’s job to not only put out great music, but to also make sure people love that artist as a person; that’s just as important as the records or the quality of music. If people don’t love your artist you could get a hit, but it’s also a miss at the same time. The artists that were around when I was growing up are still around to this day, because they had such great artist development and we were made to love them, not just their music. And that’s what this business is all about. People aren’t fans anymore, and if they’re not fans then they don’t really care. As a fan myself, I know what needs to be done for that artist and their music to touch my soul to where I could download their music, but since I am a fan of that person I’d rather go out and buy that project. It’s like a plant. You gotta plant the seed. You gotta water the shit, and watch it grow. That’s
what marketing is, making sure muthafuckas love the shit. What’s the biggest project you’re working to develop right now? Asia Cruise. It’s gon’ be a shock to people who only think Hitz Committee is a rap company. We’re not only a rap label, we’re just a company that puts out great music. That Asia Cruise record is definitely catchy. Yeah, and just from my experiences over the years, if a record gets stuck in my head, then it’s gon’ get stuck in everybody else’ head. That’s my gift, my ears. When I hear something, my ears are automatically tuned like a radio. When I hear a record, I can tell you right off if it’s gonna be hit. What was it about T-Pain or Huey that made you realize they were capable of making hits? It was their ability to hook a person’s ear, to hook a person’s attention. That’s all this is about. Are you able to get people’s attention for them to listen to you and at the same time want to take their hard-earned money out of their pocket and buy your art? I’m always looking for different sounds and different music to hook my ear, hook my interest, hook my soul. If you have that ability I don’t care about anything else. All that other bullshit is lame. How did you first discover T-Pain? TJ Chapman. When I was in Miami TJ played “I’m Sprung” for me, and he was like, “If this ain’t a hit, don’t ever call me again.” I called him back immediately after I heard it. Then TJ called me one day when he was in St. Louis and he told me about this rapper [named Huey] who had a dance that was big out there in St. Louis, and that I need to go check it out. So I went and checked it out and I started listening to the record. At first I didn’t really like [“Pop, Lock and Drop It”], but I saw the movement, and after a few days it grew on me. So, much love to TJ. He also has an incredible ear for good music. Aside from music, you also have a venture in manufacturing baseball caps. Tell me about that? Me and my homies were in the kitchen talking about side hustles or whatever, and I was already thinking about doing something with New Era because I’m a cap dude, and I’m always wearing somebody else’s baseball cap. Whenever I travel I was always disappointed that I couldn’t rep Memphis. Memphis doesn’t have a baseball team, so there’s no reason for us to have our own cap. I knew some people at New Era and I told them I wanted to do a “Rep My City” series, with just the area code. So we designed an “M,” slapped it on with a New Era flag, and put the area code on there. I made them in as many colors as I could, just so there weren’t any color issues. I’m bringing it out for cities that don’t have New Era caps, like Memphis. What’s the next city you’re going to introduce the line to? I was thinking about Miami, the 305. I think that would be huge, but if people reading this want to request a cap for their city, they can hit us on Myspace, at www.myspace.com/iam901. Where can people buy the hats? Right now, it’s really just an online company. Even though business is good, we’re still in the testing stage. So you can either go online to buy them or call 1-877-79-I AM 901, and the website is www. iam901.com. Eventually we’re probably going to have them for sale at stores in Memphis, but for
“The artists that were around when I was growing up are still around to this day, because they had such great artist development and we were made to love them, not just their music.” now it’s just direct sales. Okay, now you’ve also got a CD you’re coming out with. What’s up with that? Yeah, it’s a compilation album. Once I get all my artists out and they made their own name and hits, I’m gon’ do a compilation album with everybody. I’m gonna be heading the album, and I’m calling it Nothing But Hitz. You not gon’ know what’s on it, it might be rap, it might be rock, it might be pop. You might hear some T-Pain songs, you might hear some Huey songs, some Asia, some Chris Brown, you might even hear some UGK songs. Whatever it is, it’s gon’ be 12 to 14 straight up Hitz. I know you do a little rapping yourself. Are you getting in the booth to hop on the project as well? Like I said, at home when I was younger I was trying to rap, but it wasn’t really a real thing, because really, I was just trying to do whatever I could to get up outta Memphis. When I moved to New York, rap was kind of being pushed on me. I was trying to explore my options with it because I felt I could do it, but I just ain’t never really did it. I kinda just fell into this A&R thing. I didn’t wake up one day and say, “I wanna be an A&R.” When I first get to Arista I didn’t even know what an A&R was. Somebody explained to me one day that A&R meant Artist & Repertoire, and I was like, “What the fuck is repertoire?!” That shit didn’t sound good, but I ended up being good at it, and I enjoyed the ride, but I am getting more into the forefront of things now. I’m modeling my career after people like Puff, and Irv Gotti, Jermaine Dupri—the kinda guys who are the faces of their companies. I don’t really watch rappers, because that’s not really what I’m trying to do. I know that’s an art form, and even I may feel like I can do that art form, at the same time we live in a real world where there are bills, and as businessman, it’s more lucrative for me to be the boss of my own company than it is to rap. Okay, so what else are you working on? Well they’re trying to do a reality show on us right now called “Making Hitz.” They basically follow me around, watch me and Glenn’s interactions, watch me and my homies who I moved into my house, and basically it’s like watching the real life aspect, and the business aspect, going from an A&R to a CEO. Eventually, I’m trying to take this music thing into making movies. I figure if I can put music together, I can put movies together. I got so many movie ideas that are in my head, and I don’t really wanna talk about it, but we got a movie right now we’re working on. Music is of course my nucleus, but ultimately I wanna get to the point where movies are just are big a part of my life as music. // OZONE MAG // 53
MJG takin it to the
space age Interview by Randy Roper PHOTO BY ANGELA MORRIS
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MJG needs no introduction. As one half of the Memphis, Tennessee duo 8Ball & MJG, he’s considered a Southern Hip Hop pioneer and a living legend. Fresh out of a Bad Boy contract, G’s next move is to do it on his own. His new solo album, This Might Be The Day, will be released independently through his own MJG Music imprint, with the help from Atlanta-based indie label 404 Muzik and for Ball and G fans, he’s still space age pimpin’. What have you been doing since you were last on the scene? Just been off in the lab working out. We’ve been doing the 8Ball & MJG thang. The last thing, you know, was [our] Bad Boy situation. But other than that, man, we’ve just been staying at it. Over the last couple of years, I’ve been getting my label together. It’s always been something that I wanted to do, but I’ve just been working on doing that. I’ve got a couple artists, been grooming them and just getting things together like that, and trying to look at things from a CEO perspective, as well as artist. So, you’re no longer with Bad Boy at all? No. What was the situation with that? Why did you leave? Well, it was just one of them thangs that was a good experience while it lasted, but basically it was just time to move on to another level. We had a couple good records there, and like I said, it was a good experience to be able to work with somebody like Diddy. And for him to allow us to be able to work with him, everything was cool. We just had to be move on to another level. The last two 8Ball & MJG albums; were you guys satisfied with what y’all put out on Bad Boy, or was there too much influence on the Bad Boy side? You know, it really wasn’t. We had a lot of creative control over there at Bad Boy. We were just working with different producers, and trying to reach out and work with a couple producers we had never worked with before. So we kinda used that opportunity. But as far as the producers that we were working with, it was still all about what we picked and what we wanted. It wasn’t really a big, big difference. It was just a couple of different producers that we never worked with but you know it was all cool, cause we were able to pick and choose how we want it. What’s been your secret for having longevity in the game? Just try to stay fresh and young and hard about the love that we got for the game. Try to have the same love and respect for the game that we had when we came in. It’s just hard work, other than that, but hard work yields good results. Other than that, we just keep the love of the game genuine and that’s what really fuels us to go on and on. How do you keep the 8Ball & MJG sound and still be relevant as the game and sound changes over the years? Stick to just kinda doing you, because if a fan or person likes your stuff, then it had to be some uniqueness about it to make them like it. So, we just try to stick to doing us. But at the same time just come up with new ideas for doing us and incorporate it into our music. That’s why we always say “space age.” We have been saying that for a long time because we’ve been trying to not only be cool for the time, but kinda make people focus on what was ahead, too. So, it’s like speaking for now and the future, so it kinda put a little bit ahead of the game. But not too far, we don’t wanna seem like we futuristic or nothing but at the same time we trying to be aware of what’s going on now and what’s to come. Do you feel the game gives you the respect you deserve? Yeah, man. I feel just for me to be able to be here, sound mind and body, able to still continue to do this. I believe the game showed me enough respect, just that fact there alone. You’re considered a living legend. What do you think makes a living legend? It was a tag that a lot of our fans put on us cause it’s still kinda hard for me to actually say it. I could say that it was easy to say it, but really, I’m not that arrogant. But we’ve had a lot of friends, partners, fans and family say, “Man, y’all [are] like some living legends, man.” We just kept hearing it so much. You don’t normally hear that about people til after they die or something happened to them, or they 100 years old or something. We wanted to be like, “Since we hear that a lot, let’s embrace it now while we’re alive.” Let’s just say we’re living it. Most legends aren’t legends until after their gone. You and Ball have always been space age pimps. Many people say they learned how to pimp from y’all. How do you feel about that? It makes me feel good, as long as they’re really getting they pimpin’ on, in whichever way that they see fit, and look at it like a positive thing. Gettin’
your pimpin’ on means you’re gettin’ your money and your whole attitude can be pimpin’. I spit a lot of pimpin’, been around it and also had my hands in it. That’s the reason you hear me say “pimp type” a lot. A lot of folks think I be saying “pimp tight” but I be sayin’ “pimp type.” My whole lifestyle, my whole swagger, everything I do my life and speak in my lyrics is sort of pimp type. I’m not necessarily saying I’m just a full time pimp and that’s all I ever did. I’m known amongst all the other pimps for pimpin’ hoes or whatever, but my whole swagger and style is sort of pimp type. I just got that type of pimpin’ edge about me. I’m just a pimp type kind of guy. Do you think a lot of the people out here got the whole pimp thing misconstrued? In this day and time, it’s about getting your money. It’s always been about getting your money, but a lot of cats out here are really on the pimp game hard and really are career pimps with hoes. I ain’t been no career pimp with them hoes. Like I said, I really had my hands in the game but that’s not exactly what I’m claiming. Like I said, I’m pimp type. If that had to be an area that I had to cover or if I had to, or if that music wasn’t here, then it might be a different story. But a lot of cats it’s really not in them. I know about the game because I’ve been around career pimps. A lot of cats are screaming pimpin’, but honestly, for me, I do too much music. I stay in the studio too much for me to have time to be pimpin’ some hoes. If they want to bring me something, it’s all good. They can bring it and I’ll accept it in a real pimpin’ type of way. But really I’m 110% bout my music. And I’m just a pimp type kind of guy. If a pimp could do music, he would wanna be me, basically. Why did you decide to put out another solo album instead of doing another 8ball & MJG album? I just felt like it was that time. I’m normally working on a lot of stuff, whether it’s a Ball & G record or some stuff I might be working on with my artists on MJG Muzik. I got a lot of stuff in the vault as far as records by myself but I just don’t be moving as fast like that, cause I like to get deep with my stuff, make sure that its there and I be a lot more focused. I be having fun doing the 8Ball & MJG albums, but I just felt like it’s that time right now. I just feel like the game needs me. What’s the title of your album? This Might Be The Day. This might be the day for a whole new change. This might be the day that everybody been waiting on. Actually, I don’t wanna be too arrogant and say this is the damn day right here, which it pretty much could be but this might be the day. What do you have on the album? I got one cut on there called “Shades,” that’s the first single. It’s basically about me and my love affair with shades. I got another song on there called “Its Been So Long” and that’s a song featuring 8Ball. It’s about life on the road or life away from home, and wanting to get back home. Got another song on there called “Dangerous” that’s featuring Gucci Mane. It’s about females who dangerous and bad, but in good way. Like, she can go to school, work, or take care of the house, kids, cook, clean. Handle up on hers if she had to with the strap, shoot dice, drink beer and the whole nine yards. I got another song on the album called “Big Time” and it’s just about doing things that’s all good and doing things big time with this sweet little tender that you just met or you’ve been wanting to get with, and you’ve noticed she looking good and you just letting her know that if she get with me everything gonna be all good—cause we do it big time. And that’s featuring Pleasure P from Pretty Ricky. For people who have already heard 8Ball & MJG and know what you’re bringing and your style, what’s gonna be different on this album? Well, you will know for sure that it’s up-to-date, fresh material; it’s new thoughts. On the lead song, “This Might Be The Day,” I’m also singing on that track. And that’s another thing I pretty much have done, throughout my whole career on a lot of our older stuff, I’ve written a lot of our older stuff or either sung on some of it or a lot of it. I also produced a lot of our tracks, our classic stuff that we are known for. I’ve been kinda underground getting my whole thing together to let the world know that I’m really not only an artist, I’m a writer. I sing, I produce, I do it all. And that’s basically what MJG Muzik is about. [I’m] not calling it MJG Muzik because it’s me on a song. The whole concept, the ideas, the music, some of the singing, the singing that other singers are singing on there and everything is all from input from me. It’s stuff written by me and produced by me, and that’s what MJG Muzik is all about. So that would be a lot of difference, but from the sound, a lot of stuff will probably sound similar because I’ve always had a big input on our music. So, most definitely [you’ll] hear different stuff. It won’t sound like everything else that’s out and you will be able to hear that it’s not the same old, same old and I’m doing different stuff. But at the same time, I’m still keeping it MJG but its just newer, fresher MJG and MJG in maybe a couple of different ways you haven’t heard him. // OZONE MAG // 55
WORDS BY MAURICE G. GARLAND
eats and lyrics are always going to be the driving force in Hip Hop. It’s the two things that people remember about their favorite artists and songs. Even the ones they don’t like. But pictures play an equally important part in driving the culture forward without its past being forgotten.
Sure, you probably have Pimp C’s verse on “Tell Me Something Good” memorized, but the image of him rocking an all-white mink coat with a hat to match is etched in your memory too. Yeah, you can beatbox “Mind Is Playin Tricks On Me” in your sleep, but you can’t forget the image of Willie D and Scaface wheeling a one-eyed Bushwhick Bill down the hospital hall on a stretcher on their album cover. For the last six years OZONE Magazine has captured some of the crowning moments in Southern Hip Hop. From Lil Wayne personally rapping “I Miss My Dawgs” to B.G. in Tampa to Bun B doing his first show after Pimp died, we’ve been there. From Webbie writing hits for his first solo album to David Banner laying down vocals for his latest one, we were there. The following collection of pictures is not a countdown or “top” list. It is simply a trip down memory lane, highlighting moments that you might have missed or not realized. Lil Wayne with just one tattoo. Rick Ross with no beard. We even came across rare and popular photos of 2Pac and Big Pun just to show you that OZONE doesn’t discriminate. To those who aren’t seen, don’t consider them left out or forgotten. We just had to leave some for next time.
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Brian “Baby” Williams, 1998 ROYAL SONESTA HOTEL (NEW ORLEANS, LA) PHOTO BY KING YELLA
When B.G. quipped that Cash Money was “highly respected without a major deal” he had to be alluding to CMR’s lavish lifestyle pre-Wendy Day and Universal; a lifestyle that had been promoted mainly by the label’s co-CEO, Brian “Baby” Williams. The flashy yin to his brother Ronald “Slim” Williams’ yang, Baby has always been recognized more for his appearance than his rap skills. Celebrating more than a decade in the spotlight, Baby has been one of the few personalities in Hip Hop that has been able to both start and hop on trends to stay relevant. If it’s hot, Baby is on it, often times making every picture you see of him feel like a time capsule. While Baby may be a 5-Star General rocking Gucci and Prada now, there was a time when FUBU and Soulja Ree’s (Reebok Classics) was the #1 Stunna’s favorite uniform.
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Young Buck & Mannie Fresh, 1998 ROYAL SONESTA HOTEL (NEW ORLEANS, LA) PHOTO BY KING YELLA
When Young Buck said “you probably seen me with Cash Money from back in the days,” on G-Unit’s “Stunt 101,” you had every reason to be confused. Buck never dropped any guest verses on their albums and he didn’t drop any albums with them. But for a brief moment, Buck was indeed a Cash Money Millionaire. Let this picture and his brief cameos in the “Big Ballin’” and “Ha” videos serve as evidence. Buck joined Juvenile when he left CMR in 2002 and then signed to Juvi’s UTP Records. The brief business relationship lead to Buck appearing on “Blood Hound” from 50 Cent’s Get Rich Or Die Tryin’ album. He eventually signed with 50’s label. Of course everyone remembers Mannie Fresh. Sadly, everyone remembers his bitter divorce from the label as well, taking his trademark sound with him. That’s probably what makes this picture more special than whatever day it was taken: the fact that the two men posing in front of the label’s airbrushed logo backdrop are no longer affiliated with the camp.
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Slim Thug, 1999
SWISHA HOUSE RECORDS (HOUSTON, TX) PHOTO BY DERON NEBLETT When Pimp C said that Texas had their own stars, he was obviously referring to independent artists like Slim Thug. Coming up through the underground ranks in H-Town, Thugga always stood out because of his distinct voice and obvious height. But at the same time, he blended in with his audience, making them relate even more, driving them to buy all of his records in the process. From the North Side braids to the cowboy belt buckle to the starch-creased jeans, Slim truly represented his audience and only cared about pleasing them, even if it was at the expense of national fame. In 2005, convinced he’d done all he could do independently, Slim opted to sign on with Interscope Records through Pharrell’s Star Trak imprint. The relationship resulted in Slim’s Already Platinum album that embarrassingly struggled to go gold. Since then, Slim has gone back to his roots to release independent music to make music for the people who truly love him, record deal or not. 60 // OZONE MAG
warehouse district (houston, tx) PHOTO BY DERON NEBLETT Even before the career-altering summer of 2000 where they saw two songs they were featured on (Jay-Z’s “Big Pimpin’” and Three 6 Mafia’s “Sippin’ On Syrup”), become hit singles, you got the sense that UGK would still be happy only being known in their underground circles, where fans and friends outnumbered pen-wielding critics. It was there that people listened to their music because it defined them, not just because it was the popular thing to listen to. Perhaps that’s why when all of the fame and accolades came their way, UGK opted to keep it street and continue to work with the same people they’d been working with, and making the same music they’d been making. Their middle-finger attitude towards the industry is probably best defined by the quote on Bun’s Da Link Went t-shirt in this photo: “fools trade their souls for gold, in an attempt to take hold of things they can’t control.”
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Lil Boosie, 2003
“FOR MY THUGS” video shoot (Baton rouge, la) PHOTO BY KING YELLA Coming up in Southern Hip Hop O.G. C-Loc’s Concentration Camp, Lil Boosie has never really been a “lil” guy. From the jumpstart of his career he’s been surrounded by grown men, which is why you can hear a certain maturity in his music. When he and his rhyme partner Webbie received a Pimp C co-sign on their 2003 Ghetto Stories album, it only made him more official. Reminiscent of the “little dude with heart” image that 2Pac made popular, Boosie has birthed a fan base that resembles the crowd behind him in this photo: a usually rowdy bunch of followers who understand that true strength is in numbers.
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MIAMI KNIGHTS (Miami, FL) photo by j lash Coming into the rap game at a time when most media outlet’s idea of giving a Southern rapper props was to label them an “Down South version of [insert New York rapper],” Trina constantly found herself getting compared to Lil Kim, even before she had an album out. Her strong showing on Trick Daddy’s “Nann Nigga” surprisingly catapulted her past other femcees like Mia X and Gangsta Boo and whetted appetites for her eventual debut, The Baddest Chick. A pretty face, ample ASS-ets and sexually charged lyrics proved to work, as the album went gold on the strength of her single “Pull Over.” As her career progressed, Trina became known less and less as a rapper and more of a personality. That really can’t considered a bad thing, since most rappers wind up using Hip Hop as a launching pad for other ventures anyway.
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Cam’Ron, 1999 ONYX (MIAMI, FL) photo by j lash
In 1998 Cam’Ron was perhaps one of the most hyped new artists in Hip Hop. He was golden boy Ma$e’s childhood friend. He was from Harlem. He was supposed to be in a mega group with Biggie, Jay-Z and Charlie Baltimore. Love him or hate him, Cam has been one of the more colorful and innovative voices in Hip Hop. You can call him the first rapper to market his music as a “movement.” You can say he’s the reason why Roc-A-Fella appealed to rap fans who didn’t live on the East coast. You can say he’s the guy who invented the worn-out phrase “no homo.” You can say he’s the man who had dudes rocking pink in 2003 and purple in 2004. You can say he’s the reason why his now-distant friends Jim Jones and Juelz Santana are stars today. Unfortunately now, you can also say that he’s missing in action.
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Lil Flip, 1999
Lucky charms album cover shoot (Houston, tx) photo by deron neblett The Leprachaun album is what put Lil Flip on the map, made him a successful independent artist and had major labels knocking at his door. Nobody, especially the fans who went out and bought it, seemed to mind his outfit. But when Flip grew out of his regional stardom and into national superstardom, the image that introduced him wound up being the same one that ruined him. In retaliation for Flip allegedly speaking unfavorably of T.I. at an Atlanta concert while T.I. was away serving a jail sentence, Tip resurfaced publicity shots of Flip in his Lucky Charms costume. To a bandwagon-jumping public that only knew of Flip though songs like “Like A Pimp” and “Game Over,” the pictures gave them reason to desert Flip the same way fans deserted Ja Rule when 50 Cent attacked him. Since the beef, Flip’s career hasn’t been quite the same as he’s gone back to the underground and fell out of the public eye. All but completely left out of the Houston Hip Hop takeover of 2005, Flip never got his just due for playing a part in introducing the mainstream to Screw music and Houston in general.
OZONE MAG // 65
David Banner, 1999 JACKSON, MS PHOTO BY PICTURE MAN
Fans and music listeners alike complain about the mixed messages David Banner often conveys, but all can agree that he knows how to get his points across in photographic form. American flag. Middle finger. Angry black man. Gun. Those elements make this picture worth more than a mere thousand words. Hell, a thousand words may be saying too much. After seeing how the United States government responded to communities effected by Hurricane Katrina, Banner probably has even more reasons to feel the way heâ€™s portrayed in this picture.
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HOUSTON, TX PHOTO BY DERON NEBLETT E.S.G. is a voice that’s been around to see Southern Hip Hop go from slept-on to blown-up. He’s also a voice that was instrumental in showing the world that Houston Hip Hop extended beyond the Rap-A-Lot tree. But at the end of the day, he may be remembered as the Everyday Street Gangsta that never got as much national recognition as his peers. After dropping Ocean of Funk in 1995 E.S.G. got locked up and could only hear about how his second album Sailin’ The South was doing in the streets. When he got out three years later he hit the streets hard and helped birth the careers of both Lil Flip and Slim Thug; two rappers that he eventually would end up feuding with years later. True to the underground in every sense of the word, you probably won’t hear The Original Freestyle King complain about not getting major deals or nationwide commercial radio play, as he’s considered a living legend in Texas.
OZONE MAG // 67
DJ Screw, 1997
HOUSTON, TX PHOTO BY DERON NEBLETT Like so many other Hip Hop icons, DJ Screw didn’t receive worldwide appreciation until he wasn’t around to bask in it. Rarely photographed or interviewed, people didn’t start learning about Screw and his contributions until after he passed and his many disciples started to spread his gospel. In a day where rappers and other personalities in Hip Hop love to display their lives, habits and vices, Screw was rarely captured sipping the concoction he made popular. Perhaps this photo can be indicative of a time where a true underground culture still existed; a culture where you had to be in it to understand it or speak on it. Death and tragedy have become mainstays in the deceased DJ’s Screwed Up Click, with five members dying in the past 10 years. Equally symbolic and eerie, the spinning ceiling fan above Screw’s head could be mistaken for a halo. From Houston to Heaven, Screw and his legacy will continue to live on. 68 // OZONE MAG
THE WAREHOUSE (St. LOUIS, MO) PHOTO BY KING YELLA Of course Hip Hop had to exist in St. Louis before Nelly even picked up a microphone, but you really can’t fault anyone that wants to believe that Mr. Country Grammar was the first rapper from the city. He’s damn near the only one you can name. When he exploded onto the scene in 2000 with his sing-songy pop appeal raps, many signaled it as the end of non-commercial rap. His busting out of the gate with a 9x platinum debut put his city on the rap radar and ushered in an era where Hip Hop artists became megastars who were able to sell multi-platinum albums, before technology made it possible for listeners to download music from the internet. You can also say it gave record labels reason to believe that any artist on their label, new or old, dope or whack, was a failure if they didn’t move major units. Hardly heard from nowadays, Nelly has his hands into restaurants, hotels, clothing and even owns stake in an NBA team.
OZONE MAG // 69
PHOTO BY DERON NEBLETT Even in his days as a younger rapper, Willie D still sounded like an angry elder. Whatever he may have lacked in witty lyricism or flow patterns, he made up for with intense, straight-to-the-gut parables. With Scarface being the front man and Bushwick Bill being the attention getter, Willie D was often disregarded but in actuality, he should be considered the anchor that held the Geto Boys down. Sure, he may have left the group at one point, but it doesn’t get more Geto than songs like “Bald Headed Hoes,” “Play Witcha Mama,” and it gets no realer than “Guess My Religion” and “Fuck Rodney King.” Even against critics’ advice, Willie continued to release music well into the 21st century. Why? Because he wanted to, not because he needed to. Aside from rapping, Willie is still swinging on suckers as an amateur boxer and currently lives in the Middle East, far from the Geto, in Azerbaijan, where he is a real estate agent.
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Trick Daddy, 1998 THE ROLLEXX (MIAMI, fl) photo by j lash
When Trick Daddy surfaced in the mid-90s with a feature on Luke’s “Scarred,” no one could have predicted that he would become one of the leading voices in Southern Hip Hop. Most people to this day, discounting people who live in Miami, probably didn’t realize that was him on that song until years later. When his 1997 Based On A True Story album hit stores, it didn’t make a lot of noise on the national music scene. But his NC-17-rated dialogue with Trina on 1998’s “Nann Nigga” made him a household name and XXX-rated songs like “Suckin’ Fuckin’” made him well known in the strip joints. While he made songs like “Change My Life,” people didn’t open up to hearing Trick speaking on life’s struggles or politics until later in his career. Known for both his vivid tales of reality and his frank sexual boasts, Trick’s lyrics are always worth hearing.
OZONE MAG // 71
Floyd Mayweather & James Prince, 2000 RAP-A-LOT VIDEO SHOOT (HOUSTON, TX) photo by DERON NEBLETT
Hip Hop is probably the most competitive genre of music that exists. Itâ€™s the only form of music where the artists go directly at each other. So it was only fitting that perhaps the best fighter of his generation, Floyd Mayweather Jr., aligned himself with someone entrenched in the industry. After firing his father as his manager, Mayweather hired Rap-A-Lot Records founder James Prince. The relationship must be fruitful, as Mayweather has managed to become the only superstar in the dying sport, generating publicity (and money) everywhere from Dancing With the Stars to Wrestlemania.
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Foxy Brown, 1998 ONYX (MIAMI, fl) photo by J lash
When Foxy Brown entered the rap game in 1996 appearing on a string of singles with the likes of LL Cool J, Toni Braxton, Case and Jay-Z, many thought the 17-year-old was acting too grown for her age. Regardless, the years that followed definitely made her grow up fast. Though she enjoyed one gold and two platinum albums between 1997 and 2001, her personal and legal issues since then have defined her career. Spitting on hotel employees because they didn’t have an iron, drug addiction, assaulting police officers and manicurists, and scuffling with Miami rapper Jacki-O in a recording studio are just a few of the many instances that have marred Foxy’s image over the years. Her skids hit a new low when she was diagnosed with sudden hearing loss and then sentenced to prison over an assault charge a year later. She has since been released and her most recent project Brooklyn’s Don Diva has been panned by not only critics, but Fox herself. OZONE MAG // 73
“Ha” video shoot at magnolia projects (new orleans, la) photo by king yella As Cash Money Records’ first star, Juvenile helped the label usher in the New Orleans sound that Master P and No Limit sometimes vacated. His distinctive drawl showed that Southern Hip Hop had different sounds and dialects within itself. While he may have participated in Cash Money’s blinged out imagery, Juvy’s albums always had a little bit more to offer, making his eventual break up with the label and transition into a stand-alone career without them a little less difficult. Any photo of Juvenile alone during this time period is hard to find. CMR’s early existence was built upon a brotherhood that often had them seen anywhere and everywhere together. As Juvy rocks the Cash Money medallion, notice the absence of a Cash Money tattoo. Unlike his younger peers, Juvy probably knew that this relationship, like most, would not last forever. 74 // OZONE MAG
HOUSTON, TX PHOTO BY DERON NEBLETT Around the time Scarface dropped his double-album compilation My Homies, the music-buying public just couldn’t seem to get enough rap music. Double-albums were dropping left and right, every Tuesday guaranteed at least 4 new albums and most importantly, the majority of the product was good. This is also around the time ‘Face started to flex his business acumen, putting the album together himself and acting as somewhat of an A&R. His executive talents would been seen at the next level two years later when he was named President of Def Jam South, where he’d go on to sign a then-unknown radio personality turned rapper named Ludacris.
OZONE MAG // 75
Pimp C, 1999
warehouse district (houston, tx) PHOTO BY DERON NEBLETT From the crushed velvet baseball jersey to the one-of-a-kind hat bearing his namesake, Pimp C is a once-in-a-lifetime personality. Who would have thought that a rapper with high-pitched vocals who wore glasses would be considered one of the “trillest” of all time. To the people that knew him, Pimp was both a jokester and a truth teller. Some would say that it was hard to tell if he was being serious or funny because either way, whatever he was saying always had truth to it. It’s well documented that he served nearly four years in prison as the Southern Hip Hop empire he helped build reached its peak. But he immediately made up for his absence by dropping a solo album and another UGK album with Bun B. But, eerily similar to 2Pac’s rants before his death, Pimp C took to airwaves and magazines with his staunch opinions on lying rappers and homosexuality, in addition to his infamous “Atlanta is not the South” statement. The Atlanta comment would be the only one he retracted before his death in December 2007. 76 // OZONE MAG
Rick Ross, 1998
opium gardens (miami, fl) PHOTO BY j lash You’ve probably heard that real hustlers move behind the scenes. Before his huge single “Hustlin” became the anthem of 2006, Rick Ross was doing just that. Entering the rap game under Suave House and then Slip-N-Slide, Ross used to be the unknown guy at all the video shoots rubbing shoulders with all the stars. Perhaps he preferred it that way back then, since he’s covering up his face in the photo. But, just like he said in a freestyle years ago, “Ever since Khaled been shouting my name, hoes at the flea market don’t look at me the same.” Now known one of the most recognizable figures in Hip Hop, Rick has no problem showing his face. Judging from his behavior as of late, he doesn’t mind showing off his body either.
OZONE MAG // 77
Goodie Mob, 1996 MIAMI knights (miami, FL) PHOTO BY j lash
Cool Breeze invented the term “Dirty South” but since the song derived from the phrase was a Goodie Mob song, credit often goes to them. Not saying they don’t deserve it. The G-Mo-B introduced a rare blend of spirituality, socio-political awareness and raw lyricism that has yet to be duplicated. Beyond that, their ability to connect directly with both book readers and block bleeders is what made them stand alone. What other group do you know of that could share stages with the Roots in New York and UGK in the rural South? The group’s diversity and perhaps imminent split is well captured in this particular photo. The eccentric Cee-Lo and Big Gipp lean forward rocking colorful outfits, subtly demanding attention, while the more low profile T-Mo and Khujo “keep their hat low” leaning back in attire more fitting of the laid-back Southern lifestyle. While both of their first two albums achieved gold status, their true impact wasn’t completely realized until after the group disbanded and each member embarked on solo projects. 78 // OZONE MAG
lil wayne, 1998
juvenile’s “Ha” video shoot at magnolia projects (new orleans, la) photo by king yella
Six years ago, in May 2002 [when OZONE was founded], I was probably just going on that Cash Money tour or the Ruff Ryder tour, one of those tours. The tour captivated my life at that point. [My daughter] Reginae was three [years old], and I got a spot in Houston during that time. My daughter is nine now, so since then, she’s had to go through a lot of changes by switching cities and states and stuff like that. That’s big for her. For me, during that time, I’ve moved. I’ve been to school. I re-enrolled in school in Houston and then switched to Phoenix online. I was living in Houston and then I moved to the beautiful city of Miami, and now I’m spending a whole lot of fucking time in Atlanta. Career-wise, I’ve gotten better [in the last six years]. I work a whole lot harder now. My work ethic is crazy because now I know where I want to be later, so I know how hard I have to work now. The females have changed. The money changed; I get different checks now. I don’t even look at certain people no more now. I don’t even have to go into certain parts of Universal [Records] now; things like that. It’s fun. In six years my daughter will be, like, 15. I’m shooting any [boys] that come by my house playing with my daughter. (laughs) Nah, I think in six years, she’s gonna be in this business doing what the hell she wants to do. She’s gonna be known already. She wants to be an actress; she wants to do everything. Six years from now, I would love to be a respected actor. Not a great actor or a well-paid actor; a respected actor. I would love to be the owner or part-owner of a sports team. I would love to be respected as a humanitarian. I would love for somebody to say, “You know, you used to be the best rapper alive.” I don’t want to be the best rapper [in six years] because that might mean that the game just totally sucks if I’m [still] the best rapper. But, um, what do I want to be in six years? Alive. That’s it. - by Lil Wayne, as told to Julia Beverly
OZONE MAG // 79
Geto Boys, 1996
“THE COMPOUND” - RAp-a-lot headquarters (houston, tx) PHOTO BY deron neblett In the mid-90s rap music was at a crossroads where the generally underground genre was starting to receive not only larger mainstream attention, but acceptance. It was also a time when rap groups proved to have equal if not bigger voices than soloists. Scarface, Willie D and Bushwick Bill opted to put their differences to the side, reuniting with their 1996 classic The Resurrection. With rap slowly trading in political stances for jiggy dances, the Geto Boys kept the reality rap flag flying with songs like “The World’s A Ghetto,” “Geto Fantasy” and “Point of No Return.” The reunion would be short-lived as GB’s next album dropped sans Bill, and the one that followed was only done to fulfill contract obligations. Either way, even though it came out that none of the members of GB were the closest of friends, they still put out music that proved a fist is stronger than a finger. 80 // OZONE MAG
fat joe & Big Pun, 1999 opium gardens (miami, fl) PHOTO BY j lash
Big Pun was one of the few examples of a sidekick rapper who eventually outshone the man who put him on. Introduced as Fat Joe’s associate, Pun’s debut Capital Punishment, alongside albums from DMX, N.O.R.E, Cam’Ron, Busta Rhymes, Canibus, Jay-Z, Redman, The LOX and Ma$e served as one of the cornerstones of East Coast Hip Hop’s 1997-98 relevance in the midst of No Limit Records’ reign of dominance. One of the few lyrically inclined rappers who was able to blend comedy with harsh reality, Pun became the first Latino rapper to go platinum. Even though he was known to the general public as a member of Fat Joe’s Terror Squad, most of the clique was made up of Pun’s own Full A Clips Crew who came along with him when he chose to align himself with Fat Joe in the mid-90s.
Hoping to duplicate the success of his first album, Pun was set to release his sophomore effort Yeeeah Baby. On the lead single “It’s So Hard,” Pun, who had well-documented bouts with weight gain, exclaimed “I just lost a hundred pounds, I’m tryin to live, I ain’t goin’ nowhere. I’m stayin’, alive baby!” Unfortunately a fatal heart attack and respiratory failure claimed his life in 2000 before the song and album were released. Being that he was the proverbial glue that held the clique together, TS began to slowly crumble in the years following his death. Claiming to be a mix of “G. Rap, ‘Pac, Master P/All balled up with a twist of Marc Anthony,” Pun was a rare breed of emcee who was able to introduce listeners to a new culture and remind others of theirs all at the same time. He opened doors for other rappers like Pitbull to take Latino rap worldwide.
OZONE MAG // 81
Method Man & Jermaine Dupri, 1998 HOw can i be down? music conference (Miami, Fl) PHOTO BY j lash
As the most recognizable member of the Wu-Tang Clan, Method Man helped make East Coast Hip Hop relevant again when he hit the scene in late 1993. It became apparent that he was also the most commercially viable and versatile member of the crew, gaining acceptance on all coasts. On the other end, Jermaine Dupri helped make Atlanta the music mecca that it is today, although some in the city felt that he didn’t do enough to help local Hip Hop artists get put on, instead opting to work with rappers from other cities. This picture captures two figures who show that Hip Hop shouldn’t be about where you’re from, or where you’re at, but how you come.
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miami knights (miami, fl) PHOTO BY j lash Though they did all they could to put their city on the map, there was actually a time when Atlantans did not support Outkast. Infatuated with whatever Death Row or Wu-Tang was putting out at the time, a lot of Atlantans turned their noses up at Big Boi and Dre when they first came out. While it can’t be confirmed that that’s what was on their minds in this photo, the somber looks on their faces as they await to walk through what looks to be a closed door is truly symbolic of the obstacles the duo had to overcome in order to become one of rap’s greatest groups.
OZONE MAG // 83
Russell Simmons, 1996 house of blues (los angeles, ca) PHOTO BY j lash
People like to refer to Russell Simmons as the “Godfather of Hip Hop.” Through his work in breaking acts like Run-DMC, The Beastie Boys and Kurtis Blow, he literally built the rap game from the ground up. And even beyond music, he’s proven himself a successful entrepreneur. Pictured here in clothes from his Phat Farm line, Simmons made it possible to look like a million bucks wearing a baseball cap. In fact, he’s admitted to wearing his baseball cap to bougie shindigs just get under people’s skin. As far as Rush’s contributions to Southern Hip Hop are concerned, you can thank him for launching Def Jam South. Even though the label is vaguely mentioned in the grand scheme of things, the imprint birthed the careers of Ludacris and Young Jeezy and planted a flag in the ground that most Southern Hip Hop artists could aspire to wave someday. 84 // OZONE MAG
Ja Rule, 1998 onyx (miami, FL) PHOTO BY j lash
People with a good memory remember that Ja Rule’s career dates back to at least 1994 when he emerged as a member of the Cash Money Click, a Irv Gotti-produced group that enjoyed a very brief stint at the now-defunct TVT Records. Though they only managed to put out two singles, Ja Rule’s undeniable presence led to him getting a deal at Def Jam years later. While he enjoyed immense success during the early part of his career, Ja was often vilified along the way. First he was called DMX-imposter, then a 2Pac-biter, then a fake R&B singer. In hindsight, he probably didn’t help matters by constantly screaming “It’s murdaaaa!” over tracks that resembled love ballads. In perhaps the best display of rap fans’ fickleness, most of the rap world turned their backs on Ja when his neighborhood-turned-industry rival 50 Cent led an all-out attack against Ja and his accomplishments. Ja fought back but eventually faded into near-irrelevance, instead focusing his energies on his family and entrepreneurial endeavors.
OZONE MAG // 85
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OZONE MAG // 87
Bun B/II Trill Rap-A-Lot/Asylum With the tragic loss of his UGK brethren, Bun B had no choice but to go for self. On his second solo album the Port Arthur, TX veteran carries the UGK legacy through 18 trill tracks. On “You’re Everything,” Bun teams up with 8Ball & MJG, Rick Ross and David Banner to declare their love for the South. He takes turns going bar for bar with Lil Wayne (“Damn I’m Cold”) and Lupe Fiasco (“Swang On ‘Em”), and takes time to shed light on political and social subjects (“Get Cha Issue” and “If It Was Up II Me”). “Angel In The Sky” is a heartwarming tribute to his UGK counterpart, while the Mouse-produced “Pop It For Pimp” featuring Juvenile and Webbie will have women bouncing like Sweet James Jones would have wanted them to. II Trill could have done without a couple fillers but this album is a must-have for any Southern rap fan. — Randy Roper The Roots/Rising Down/Def Jam Though it seems longer than two years since their Grammy-nominated project Game Theory hit stores, The Roots are back in full force. The Hip Hop super group has reunited to bring back heavy break beats and social relevance as only they can. Rising Down has a dark sound with a political stance that reflects urban America at its current best and worst. This album shines with a few surprises and single worthy selections. Within the 16 song track list, “Rising Up” stands out with its heavy Go-Go influenced rhythm and guest appearances by Chrisette Michelle and Wale. — Jared Anderson
Ace Hood & DJ Khaled Ace Won’t Fold
DJ Khaled presents Ace Hood on Ace Won’t Fold, a mixtape which seems to have more of Khaled’s shoutouts than Hood’s talent. While Ace shows versatility on this mixtape, there isn’t much that necessarily sets him apart from other rappers. Ace does have shining moments, though, and this mixtape isn’t one to completely write off, so give it a chance and see if it really was worth the listennnnnnn! — Rohit Loomba
Attitude & DJ Smallz Key 2 Da Streets Vol. 2 DJ Smalls and the Birmingham, Alabama native Attitude have crafted the latest edition of the Key 2 Da Streets mixtape franchise. After listening to his hometown anthem, “A-L-A-B-A-M-A,” the potential Timbaland must have seen to have signed him to his since defunct label Beat Club was evident. “I’ma Champion” features The Dream, which makes it an automatic must listen and single worthy song. While some music is hit or miss there is potential for Attitude to stand out and make a household name for himself. — Jared Anderson Lil’ Boosie, DJ Spinz & DJ Jay-O The Hood Champ
Capitalizing on the popularity of the “Independent” single with Webbie, Lil’ Boosie has staked his claim as the Champion of the Hood with this collaborative mixtape from DJ Spinz and DJ Jay-O. Boosie keeps it street throughout the whole mixtape with cuts like “Product of My Environment” and “Thuggin’” featuring Webbie. While his stories of street life and hard times fill the album, Lil’ Boosie did not forget about ghetto love, speaking to the ladies on “Ain’t Comin’ Home Tonight” and “Gangsta Bitch.” This mixtape holds true to the streets and confirms his status as Hood Champ. — Jared Anderson
88 // OZONE MAG
2 Pistols/Death Before Dishonor/Republic/Universal 2 Pistols should be forever indebted to the J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League for supplying his debut album with head-nodding production. 2 Pistols’ average flow and repetitive money, hoes, cars and street life content is less than impressive. But he banks off high-powered production and catchy sing-along hooks, similar to the Trap Or Die format Young Jeezy wrote the blueprint for. Death Before Dishonor doesn’t offer anything that will change the game, but it does have tracks that will bump in the whip this summer. — Randy Roper
Lil Mama/VYP: Voice of the Young People/Jive/Zomba Coming into the music industry at the young age of 18, Lil Mama still carries a lot of weight. Her debut album Voice of the Young People brings out her emceeing skills that can indeed catch some ears. On “One Hit Wonder,” Lil Mama spits that she doesn’t fit the title and can rhyme sicker than your average teenage girl. Catering to her youthful audience, she does score big on “Truly In Love,” speaking on the true love emotions that teenagers experience coming up. Overall, Lil Mama has a voice and since it’s just right for her targeted crowd, she could definitely be the voice of Hip Hop’s young generation. — Quinton Hartfield
Prodigy/H.N.I.C. Pt 2/Voxonic Many felt that Mobb Deep was finished after Blood Money, but Hav and P have both proved through solo efforts that their QB swagger hasn’t gone anywhere. P’s H.N.I.C. Pt. 2 may not necessarily offer the P that we heard on Infamous, but the grimy P double is definitely back. Just hope there are more tracks like these to hold us down while P serves his 3-year bid. —Rohit Loomba
La The Darkman & DJ Drama Notorious L.A.D.
Benisour & DJ GQ Bosses Only Vol. 1 Benisour has been paying his dues in the Miami rap movement for a while and with his latest mixtape, Bosses Only Vol. 1, he shows why it’s his time to see dividends. With a strengthening Miami movement, Benisour capitalizes on his city’s success by bringing a solid mixtape which includes tracks like “Shining” featuring Junior Reid. While most tracks are decent, his delivery could use more energy. — Rohit Loomba
LA the Darkman is no stranger to the Gangsta Grillz series, with Drama slipping an LAD track or verse on most recent editions. Now with his own installment to the series, LAD finally gets a chance to shine, and he does. Despite for the few repeated tracks, this mixtape is fresh, featuring LAD on a variety of tracks without him faltering on much of anything. A true test will be to see if LAD can keep this up or if this was a little more of that Gangsta Grillz magic. — Rohit Loomba
Southern Slang Volume 10 1. DJ Mr. King “Southern Smothered & Covered 11.5” Hosted by Filthy www.myspace.com/djm rking 2. DJ Chuck T & 50 Cent “Invincible: The Lost Tapes Disc One” www.djchuckt.com 3. DJ Spinz “Southern Swagger 9” www.myspace.com/dj_spinz 4. DJ B-Lord “Bike Week 2008” www.myspace.com/scdjblord 5. The DBoy Movement & Young Money Records “Life On Weezy Street” firstname.lastname@example.org 6. DJ Bobby Black “Crack Addiction: B.G. & Webbie” 7. DJ A-Smooth “Class Is In Session” www.myspace.com/djasmooth 8. DJ Scrill “S.U.A. Mixtape Radio Most Requested” Hosted by Blood Raw www.myspace.com/scrilla05 9. DJ Black Bill Gates & MLK “King Shit 23” www.myspace.com/theblackbillgates www.myspa ce.com/mlkng 10. DJ 1Mic & DJ DVS-1 “The League Leaders Vol. 1” Co-signed by Billy Danze www.myspace.com/dj1mic www.myspace.com/themixtapemilitia 11. DJ Slikk & DJ Testarosa “Get Down or Lay Down” www.myspace.com/djslikkrick www.myspa ce.com/djtestarosa 12. DK Delz “Love In The Club Part 2” www.myspace.com/djdelz 13. DJ 4Sho “Rumble In The Concrete Jungle 3”
Southern Slang Volume 10 has more new and exclusive music from the South’s elite emcees than the mixtape circuit has seen in recent months. Young Jeezy, Lil Wayne, Rick Ross and Ludacris are all featured, but it’s brand new music from T.I. that makes this mixtape a must-have.
DJs, send your mix CDs (with a cover) for consideration to: Ozone Magazine 644 Antone St. Suite 6 Atlanta, GA 30318
14. DJ Curren$y “Southern Swagga” www.myspace.com/djcurrensy 15. DJ Nik Bean, DJ Felli Fel & DJ Drama “Streetz of LA 4” www.mixtapebuzz.com
16. DJ Spree “Slow Jams Vol. 1” www.myspace.com/djspree 17. Real Muzak Vixens “A Vixen Affair Vol. 1” Hosted by DJ Gloss www.myspace.com/djgloss 18. DJ Rhude “We Got Now Part 4” www.myspace.com/djrhudemusic 19. Jay Force “Next Factor” www.nextfactormixtape.com 20. DJ Teknikz “If You Buyin’ We Sellin’ 16” www.myspace.com/djteknikz
OZONE OZONE MAG MAG // // 89 89
Diddy circa 1997 onyx (miami, fl) photo: J lash
Back when Sean Combs was still calling himself “Puff Daddy,” you could catch him in both HollyHood and Hollywood as he did everything he could to keep his Bad Boy brand alive in the midst of losing the B.I.G. star on his label. During the No Way Out era he had a roster that included Ma$e, The LOX, and Black Rob. All three acts had moderate mainstream successes, with Ma$e enjoying the most. Outside of him, though, Bad Boy had a relatively street-skewered crew. Perhaps that explains why a man of Puff’s stature is seen here in club that could be considered modest for his expensive tastes. Although he will never be known for his lyrical skills, his marketing genius can’t be questioned. In 1997 he had everyone screaming “No Way Out.” Ten years later, he has people rocking “No Bitch Ass Ness” t-shirts.
90 // OZONE MAG