YOUR FAVORITE RAPPER’S FAVORITE MAGAZINE
NEVER MIND WHAT HATERS SAY, IGNORE ‘EM TIL THEY FADE AWAY
T-PAIN E-40 BOSS HOGG OUTLAWZ
GORILLA ZOE PITBULL UNK
OZONE MAG //
YOUR FAVORITE RAPPER’S FAVORITE MAGAZINE
E-40 BOSS HOGG OUTLAWZ
GORILLA ZOE PITBULL UNK & MORE 28 // OZONE WEST
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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, Richard Spoon PROMOTIONS DIRECTOR // Malik Abdul SPECIAL EDITION EDITOR // Jen McKinnon LEGAL CONSULTANT // Kyle P. King, P.A. SUBSCRIPTIONS MANAGER // Adero Dawson ADMINISTRATIVE // Kisha Smith INTERNS // Jee’Van Brown, Kari Bradley, Torrey Holmes CONTRIBUTORS // Anthony Roberts, Bogan, Charlamagne the God, Chuck T, Cierra Middlebrooks, Edward Hall, Jacquie Holmes, 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, Rohit Loomba, Shannon McCollum, Spiff, Stan Johnson, Swift, Thaddaeus McAdams, Wally Sparks, Wendy Day STREET REPS // 3rd Leg Greg, Adam Murphy, Alex Marin, Al-My-T, Benz, Big Brd, B-Lord, Big Ed, Big Teach (Big Mouth), Bigg V, Black, Bogan, Bo Money, Brandi Garcia, Brandon “Silkk” Frazier, Brian Eady, Buggah D. Govanah (On Point), Bull, C Rola, Cartel, Cedric Walker, Cece Collier, Chad Joseph, Charles Brown, Chill, Chuck T, Christian Flores, Clifton Sims, DJ Commando, Danielle Scott, DJ Dap, Delight, Derrick the Franchise, DJ Dimepiece, DJ D’Lyte, Dolla Bill, Dorian Welch, Dwayne Barnum, Dr. Doom, Dynasty, Ed the World Famous, DJ E-Feezy, DJ EFN, Episode, Eric “Crunkatlanta” Hayes, Erik Tee, F4 Entertainment, Fiya, G Dash, G-Mack, George Lopez, Gorilla Promo, Haziq Ali, Hezeleo, H-Vidal, Hotgirl Maximum, Hotshot, Jacquie “Jax” Holmes, Jae Slimm, Jammin’ Jay, Janiro Hawkins, Jarvon Lee, Jay Noii, Jeron Alexander, J Pragmatic, JLN Photography, Joe Anthony, Johnny Dang, Judah, Judy Jones, Kenneth Clark, Klarc Shepard, Kool Laid, Kurtis Graham, Kydd Joe, Lex, Lucky, Lump, Lutoyua Thompson, Marco Mall, Mario Grier, Marlei Mar, DJ M.O.E., Music & More, Natalia Gomez, Nikki Kancey, Oscar Garcia, P Love, Pat Pat, Phattlipp, Pimp G, Quest, Quinton Hatfield, DJ Rage, Rapid Ric, DJ Ricky Ruckus, Robert Lopez, Rob-Lo, Robski, Scorpio, Seneca, Shauntae Hill, Silva Reeves, 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, White Boi Pizal, Wild Billo, Will Hustle, Wu Chang, Young Harlem, Yung DVS
monthly sections 15 22 72 73 74 26 24 44 28 12 22 51 15 20 22 38-42 23-43 32 16-19 30 21
10 THINGS I’M HATIN’ ON ARE U A G? BOARD GAME CAFFEINE SUBSTITUTES CD REVIEWS CHAIN REACTION CHIN CHECK DJ BOOTH DOLLAR MENU FEEDBACK HOOD DEEDS INDUSTRY 101 JB’S 2 CENTS MATHEMATICS NAMES OF SHAME PATIENTLY WAITING PHOTO GALLERIES PRISON DIARY RAPQUEST SIDEKICK HACKIN’ WHERE U BEEN?
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 // T-Pain photo courtesy of Jive Records; Pastor Troy photo by Albert Troy; E-40 photo by Ty Watkins. DISCLAIMER // OZONE Magazine is published 11 times per year by OZONE Magazine, Inc. OZONE does not take responsibility for unsolicited materials, misinformation, typographical errors, or misprints. The views contained herein do not necessarily reflect those of the publisher or its advertisers. Ads appearing in this magazine are not an endorsement or validation by OZONE Magazine for products or services offered. All photos and illustrations are copyrighted by their respective artists. All other content is copyright 2008 OZONE Magazine, all rights reserved. No portion of this magazine may be reproduced in any way without the written consent of the publisher. Printed in the USA.
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cover stories 46-49 E-40 56-59 T Pain
34 52-53 68-69 54-55 62-63 70-71 60-61
BLEU DAVINCI BOSS HOGG OUTLAWZ GORILLA ZOE PASTOR TROY PITBULL ROB G UNK
features 36 64-66
OZONE SPORTS SHAKIR STEWART
LLOYD pg 58-60 g 62-64 p Y T I C BG & CHOPPER
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Send your comments to email@example.com or hit us up at www.myspace.com/ozonemagazine
I’ve been reading OZONE for a long time. I used to get copies over at BME. I have worked in music for over six years, but I left three years ago because I got tired of the shadiness, lies, and people not wanting to pay you. That’s why I love this magazine so much. I’m proud of Julia’s success and her ability to stick to it despite the bull and drama. - Leslie Purifoy via Facebook, (Atlanta, GA) Hey Too Short, I just read your $hort Stories column. Your article in OZONE is the first shit I read every month when it comes out. I just got through watching you on VH1’s Hip Hop Honors. I’ve been checking for you since 1984. I’m from Omaha, NE, but now live in Orlando, FL. I remember when my homeboy used to bring back your tapes from Cali. I’ve been hooked ever since. When you came to Omaha in 1989 you let me and my little crew get on stage while you performed. I’m 37 and I know your Hip Hop Honors award is long overdue. It’s bullshit that they took so long, but people from the West and the Midwest know what’s up. - Chris Mudd, via email (Orlando, FL) I cannot tell you the difference that you made in so many people’s lives this weekend by covering the Ohio Hip Hop Awards. My phone has not stopped blowing up since Saturday. We have been waiting so long for the industry to show us love and now OZONE is going to be looked at as the forefront. The idea behind OZONE was a wellexecuted and ingenious plan. You focused on areas that everybody else was overlooking. You have breathed so much life back into an industry that has often become deaf to the underground Hip Hop movement. OZONE has taken off and now it seems every magazine is trying to fake the funk by piggybacking your concept. I saw a couple mags (who will remain nameless) go from a one page article to having half the magazine dedicated to indie Hip Hop artists. We can see through their bullshit and I know Ohio does too. - Rick Rucker, via email (Cleveland, OH) JB, I read your 2 cents in the Three 6 Mafia edition, and all I can say is WOW. I see your experiences with Publicists haven’t been too exciting. I was actually surprised to read about your past and recent experiences. From reading, I can understand why you’re not too fond of publicists. But there are some stellar ones like myself who are just like you, grinding and hustling to build a dream and earn the respect of the industry. I’m sure all Publicists don’t fall into the bad category. I can’t speak for everyone else, but all I can say is that I respect the hustle, from one hustler to another. - Portia Jackson, via email (Las Vegas, NV) What’s up, OZONE? Your mag is popping! I love how y’all do Rapquest, but where is Richmond, VA? Virginia Beach ain’t running noth-
12 // OZONE MAG
ing. Richmond and Petersburg are running the show. Don’t let them rag-ass bitches down in VA Beach fool you. We’re up here making good street music and begging these fuck-ass DJs to put our shit on the radio. They turn their shoulder and put them beach boys on. It’s bullshit! I ain’t mad at it because it’s all VA, but the Clipse ain’t the hardest group in VA, trust me. They’re good, but go to Petersburg or Richmond and stand on the corner and rep with those cats. And to Charlamagne da God, I know you’re a DJ and you took offense to the saying “the DJ is dead” but yo, that’s the truth. When DJ Unk got on the mic it was a wrap. Mixtapes are good for new artists, but let’s be honest, who the hell wants to buy a record with DJ Khaled yelling “We the best!” over every track? That’s reason #1 the DJ is dead. Polow da Don doesn’t need to be rapping either. Y’all need to be breaking records. Come to Richmond, VA and break some records for us, dawg. - Mic Archie, firstname.lastname@example.org (Richmond, VA) Great 2 Cents this month, JB. I have faith you can make it to the Olympics, and I’d fo’ sho’ put my bread on you in a race against Jeezy. - DJ Supa C, via email (Houston, TX) JB, I was recently put on OZONE Magazine. I must say I enjoyed reading it because you touch on the issues that other mags don’t. I really love the fact that you feature a lot of underground artists. On another note, I’m very intrigued that you are a young woman with your own magazine. You are a huge inspiration to me. - Jessica, via myspace (Alabama) OZONE is the Southern artists’ Bible. It is the real shit. But I live in the upstate of South Carolina and I feel that we aren’t represented at all. There are hot cats up here just like there are in Columbia and Chucktown. TD the Don and Lil Ru did a show this past weekend here along with a local artist called Carolina James. Is there any way we can get up in OZONE? Our events go unnoticed. OZONE is the best mag out there, though. Damn the haters! – Telly, via myspace (South Carolina) Y’all did it again! Issue #71 was a success, way better then the last two. They were missing so much that I’m used to. Charlamagne forever keeps it real and Wendy gives us inspiring artist information we wouldn’t know otherwise. I declare myself your biggest fan beacuse when y’all were here in Orlando I always had a copy. It’s motivation to me as a young artist to see that you can make it far despite of the so many others that’s trying to do the same thing. I’m still waiting for y’all to do an issue on teen rappers. I should be the highlight! - A.J.G Da Aviator, via myspace (Orlando,FL)
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JB’s 2cents I
exist in the depths of solitude / Pondering my true goal / Trying to find peace of mind / And still preserve my soul / Constantly yearning to be accepted / And from all receive respect / Never compromising but sometimes risky / And that is my only regret / A young heart with an old soul / How can there be peace / How can I be in the depths of solitude / When there are 2 inside of me / This duo within me causes / The perfect opportunity / To learn and live twice as fast / As those who accept simplicity. - Tupac Shakur
10THINGS I’M MOST HATIN’ON
3. Joe the Plumber He doesn’t represent the middle class. What about Barbara the Baby Mama? What about Fella the Felon? What about Freddie the Faggot? What about Bobby the Bum? What about Ja Rule? Doesn’t he need a job?
This duo within me causes the perfect opportunity to learn and live twice as fast as most of you, who seem to “accept simplicity.” I’ve always felt a burden I can’t express in words. I know I’m different. I know I’m here for a reason and I wish someone would tell me what the fuck it is. My work has brought me to incredible adventures all over the country, and I’m always wishing I could just party and enjoy the moment and stop thinking so damn much.
2. Golddiggers I’ll do anything for a woman, but I ain’t gon’ give her no money. I had this girl call me the other day talkin’ bout she needed $700 dollars by 5:00 or they gon’ put all her furniture out on the curb. I told her, “I ain’t got $700 dollars, but I got a truck.”
Me, Slim, & Candy @ the Dirty Awards
Me & Wendy Day in Myrtle Beach
1. GIRLS THAT WEAR TOO MUCH MAKEUP I had this girl over at my house. She went to the bathroom and put on about 3 pounds of makeup: eye shadow, blush, and mascara. Then she shaved her eyebrows off, drew some mo’ eyebrows on, and put on some lip liner, teeth liner. I walked in the bathroom and she asked, “What else do I need?” I said, “Embalming fluid, cause bitch, you dead!”
by Shawty Shawty ”What My Name Is?”
Me & Rocko @ the BET Hip Hop Awards
6. The word “swag” A lot of y’all muthafuckas knew y’all was “fresh” back in 1985. Ol’ trendy ass nigga. 7. Morehouse The rockstar era is over. Now, that means you’re gay. You ain’t a rockstar, you’re a cockstar. 8. My wife I’m hatin’ on my wife, ‘cause she keeps hatin’ on my girl. 9. All these “My President is Black” parties Y’all know that nigga Barack Obama ain’t gon’ be there. 10. Yung Berg (again) Nigga, GET SOME REAL SECURITY! Check out Shawty Shawty at Uptown Comedy Corner in ATL every other Tuesday
4. All women over 26 that ain’t got no kids She must got some bad pussy. You mean don’t nobody wanna nut in her? 5. Black women that don’t give head It’s some white bitches out there that’ll suck New Orleans dry.
This poem (from Tupac’s book The Rose That Grew From Concrete) is the only thing I’ve ever considered permanently tattooing on my body. I’m an avid reader who once devoured both the school library and public library, and it’s sad to see how books are becoming a lost art form. Most of us have developed mini-ADD thanks to the internet and have no patience to sit and read a whole book anymore (myself included, unless I’m on a plane). But nothing I’ve ever read has summarized the secret insecurities of a true Gemini like this poem (I am proud to say that ‘Pac and I were born the same week). Most people know that Geminis are twins, and even though I am one, after 27 years I have barely begun to figure out what that means.
Me & Trey Songz @ the Dirty Awards in ATL
I feel disconnected from all of you. I could walk through crowds of thousands of people anywhere - the mall, a concert, a rally, the airport, even the Vegas strip - and be completely alone. It can’t be just a Gemini thing, cause I know B.o.B. feels me. Ironically, writing this column is one of the few times I feel connected to other life forms, because of the random strangers - the T-Mobile store customer, the Wells Fargo telemarketer, or the Wachovia bank drive-thru teller - who recognize me or my name and recite a line from my 2 Cents that touched them. I didn’t understand why everyone was shocked when Shakir killed himself. It’s a tragedy, to be sure, but trust and believe he isn’t the only one dealing with internal issues. Do you think he’s the only successful music industry executive that has contemplated this? Hell, I think about it sometimes. And who would I talk to? Who would stop me? Who would give a fuck? The last person I trusted with this type of information said I’m “too deep” for him. All that expensive Ed Hardy gear sold for a reason: Love does kill slowly. So what choice do I have but to continue on in the depths of solitude, learning and living twice as fast? Kanye’s verse on “Put On” was the truest shit he ever wrote. The top is so lonely because it’s the only place where you can afford to be. Being at the bottom is a communal struggle: you’re forced to have roommates, ask for rides when your shitty car breaks down, double or triple up in hotel rooms when you travel, and work shitty jobs where bonding with fellow employees is the only way to get through the day. I’m nowhere near as rich as Kanye, but now rhat I can afford to be in the “depths of solitude” it’s both a blessing and a curse. But it can only make me stronger. If I’m “too deep” for you this month, I apologize, and you can skip to page 26 to read about Tity Boy’s big shiny chain (bling bling!). It’s deeper than rap, word to Rick Ross. If another Tupac or Andre 3000 doesn’t come along soon, I’m about done with this shit.
Me, Eric, & Kerisha @ Hip Hop Awards
- Julia Beverly, email@example.com
Jamie Foxx f/ T.I. “Just Like Me” Kidd Kidd f/ Lil Wayne “Living Room Floor” Ne-Yo f/ Jamie Foxx & Fabolous “She Got Her Own” DJ B-Lord f/ Lil Ru & TD Da Don “Happy Juice” The Foreign Exchange “I Wanna Know” Black Milk f/ Royce Da 5’9” “Losing Out” John Brown “Sarah Palin (I Wanna Lay Pipe)” Soulja Boy “Turn My Swag On”
firstname.lastname@example.org T.I. “Illy” Kanye West “Heartless” Young Re “2nite” Joe Budden “Sidetracked”
OZONE MAG // 15
ABILENE/SAN Lola LuvO, TX:
Citybird Base in Flight brought DJ Michael Watts and DJ Wild Hair to the Midnight Rodeo 3 Complex with EGZ, Slaughter House, Jubo, Bizz, Broke Kane and DJ Moody. West Texas Party Patrol hosted their First Annual Back 2 School Jump Off with DJ Fed and Sir Yungsta and Yung C. Big Sid hosted the Shwayze and Tyga Tour along with Cisco Adler, First Class, Go Geda Records, Fresh to Deaf, Fresh Off the Block, Playaz Choice, and DJ Skeet Skeet at Graham Central Station. First Class held it down with Lil Scrappy and Baby C. - Christian Flores (email@example.com)
Bavu Blakes held it down on the Austin Ventures stage at the 2008 ACL (Austin City Limits) Music Festival. DJ Kurupt from Hot 93.3 was Bavu’s DJ for the afternoon. DJ Rapid Ric headed to Boston with Chamillionaire for College Fest. Slim Thug, Pitbull, Trae, and Rob G were all on the same line-up for a show at Paradox. The Beat 104.9 was suddenly taken off the air. Original SUC (Screwed Up Click) members, Lil Keke, Lil O, Big Pokey and ESG, came through town for a show at Spiros. - O.G. of Luxury Mindz (www.luxurymindz.com)
DALLAS/FT. WORTH, TX:
Big Chief released Vol. 6 of his Eat Greedy series at Club Enigma in the North. Exquisite and Jen-Gerbread have your PR needs. Bay Bay (above, with Big Chief) is officially in DFW everyday on K104 and they just added On Air Divas to the mid-day rotation. Ya-Ya has Member’s Only – your after-hours spot in the Southside. Definition DJ Steve D is holding down Club Starz. BMZ from Power Broker and DJ Wildhairr kicked off their b-day bashes. Free Lil Soc, Bo Leg, Twisted Black, Mychal Jeter, Z-Ro from Red Rum, Lil Joe and Pat Bash! RIP Big Stuckett from HTE. - Edward “Pookie” Hall (firstname.lastname@example.org)
The long awaited mixtape from Kode Street was finally released. Kode runs through flows with ease on Kode of the Street and brings guest appearances from Comp, ShellBe RAW, XO, Rod Lee, and Samir. DJ DNA is back at it with a new line of mixtapes. He’s also managing a hot new artist named Kia Calloway. Check her out at myspace.com/kiacalloway. - Darkroom Productions (TheDarkRoomInc@yahoo.com)
Maddwest Entertainment and their artist Ben Beamon have some hit songs blazing the streets of Cincinnati – “Fredd Flinnstone” and “Scooby Doo” are hot in the Clubs. DJ 96 is a Slip n Slide DJ in Lexington, KY. He’s hungry and his fan base is rising fast. Studio Endure is customizing your gear from head to toe with the most exclusive sneaker selections, as well as graphic designers for Hip Hop Myspaces and websites. Contact Studio Endure 513-579-1120. WIZF has a new Program Director. Big Terrence “BT” wants to know how we can make the station better. Go to www.wizfm.com and click on Email The Boss. - Judy Jones (Judy@JJonesent.com)
Macavelli has the #1 street team in Chicago covering all events, various artists, and steadily building clientele. Power 92 has discontinued the Power Hour. J Lyn is a new R&B singer emerging on the scene and Implicit is a femcee making moves out here. Koch Records recently came to Chicago to scout new talent. All artists catch up to industry standards by working singles to DJs, using blogs to expose music, going to industry events in and outside of Chicago, and building relationships. Stop thinking you got a buzz by getting your record played on Go Ill Radio and harassing Timbuck2. Put in Work. - Jamal Hooks (JHooks@tmail.com) 16 // OZONE MAG
Another nice new club, Tabu, opened recently. H2O is a good spot for the mixed crowd. Lots of events have been popping off, like Cash P of Skintastic Body Arts’ Halloween Party which featured models in nothing but body paint. Smitty and J-Stylz of Foxie 105 did the Fountain City Classic special edition of the Urban Café, a jazzy event for the grown and sexy. If you-know-who wins the election, look for a party of all parties to go down somewhere with yours truly smack-dab in the middle of the dance floor! - Slick Seville (SlickSeville@gmail.com)
DAYTONA BEACH, FL:
Grand Hustle’s Young Dro hit Club Aqua on the beach side with Ratt Productions and Wilin’ Entertainment. The Opa Locka Goon Brisco murdered a show at Club Xclusive with Tommie Tom Ent. and G-Type Promo. Barack Obama visited the HBCU Bethune-Cookman University on his campaign trail to the White House. He spoke in the school’s Performing Arts Center to a packed crowd. DJ Smallz and the Southern Smoke College Tour made its first stop at Bethune-Cookman and brought along Bizzle, Papa Duck, and Daytona Beach’s own Sticks. - DJ Nailz (email@example.com)
The last recording from Colorado legend Colfax Cac, Elite Protégé, just hit the streets. It’s mixed by DJ Ktone and features Innerstate Ike, Young Doe, Kevin Pistol, Dre Payne, Mr. Midas and more. WCM/Koch is now distributing Denver artists Young Doe, Hawkman, and Innerstate Ike. R&B sensation Dom has something big up his sleeve, and Julox put in his two week notice. Urban Nerd keeps the town in new fashion. Fly Mag is flooding the streets of the state. The Loft is still going strong on Fridays, and Blue Ice is killing the town on Saturday nights. - DJ Ktone (Myspace.com/djktonedotcom)
Detroit living legend Esham dropped a new album called Sacrificial Lambz. DJ DDT launched whatsnextonthemenuning.com. Buff 1 from Ann Arbor is gearing up to drop his new album. Dingo A. Young of Deal Wit It Records is heating up the streets with his new single “D.I.N.G.O,” abd The Metro Music Expo went down at the Rock Financial Showroom. - AJ (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Rhymefest came through to rock the vote and talk about his new muppet show with Kanye. Bobby Valentino, 8Ball and MJG, Pleasure P, and Plies stopped through, but the local music scene was on fire! Wallabe dropped two albums back to back: The Realest Alive and The Rapture. He was also just named Director of Arts and Entertainment at Trendsetter Magazine in Atlanta. Check him out at myspace.com/wallabe614. Two other groups from the CO have just put out mixtapes. The 3rd released The Fixtape and Fly Union collabed with Mick Boogie for Closed Doors Open Windows (above left). Check them out on www.flypaperblog.com. - Yohannan Terrell (ImageInq@gmail.com)
Whenever the Gators play, the city is insane. After every game, win or lose, we party hard. Plasma Nightclub is the official hangout spot for UF athletes, and is always swole on Saturdays after games. Mr. Ripper, a.k.a. King of the Club, also puts it down Saturday nights at the Venue. There’s some changes at MAGIC 101.3, with the night show being taken over by Klarc Shepard and the late nights by yours truly. The Ville finally has a weekend after-hours spot at The Panda, which doesn’t close until 5 in the morning. - Jett Jackson (email@example.com)
Crooked I, Pacific Division, and Strong Arm Steady rocked the house to a set DJed by Jazzy Jeff at Area. DJ Quik was at the Key Club where he practiced his crowd diving and performed all his hits with a live band. Ice Cube, WC, and Crazy Toonz got it in, promoting Cube’s new album Raw Footage at House of Blues. Jeremy Greene debuted his music alongside Roscoe Umali for an event promoted by DJ Warrior. Planet Asia and Muggs held their album release party for Pain Language at Whiskey-A-Go-Go. Nelly got down with the St. Lunatics and Avery Storm at House of Blues with surprise sets from Busta Rhymes and Keak da Sneak. - Devi Dev (firstname.lastname@example.org)
The biggest thing to hit Houston recently was Hurricane Ike, which left many homes flooded, without power, and severely damaged. Without power for weeks, Houston was in desperate need of ice. Chamillionaire, Trae the Truth, local radio stations, and the UrbanSouth/OZONE/Carnivo XO truck were there to help deliver. Speaking of Chamillionaire, Mixtape Messiah 4 has been blazing the streets, as well as Boss Hogg Outlawz’ Back By Blockular Demand. - Ghost Da Hustla (Ghostdahustla.blogspot.com)
My O.G. bro Project Pat came down from the M-Town for a quick in and out show at a new club. Tink & Lifetime Ent. killed the scene when they brought Gucci Mane to Club Industry over Labor Day weekend. Plies and the whole city came out to Club Tropicana for a sold-out performance. Killa Will is holding it down. Unborn Records in Lafayette Square is keepin’ the hood on the new music up-and-up. Pretty Ugly, Lil Nut, and DJ Black have come together for Indiana’s first nationally distributed CD, featuring the top Indianapolis artists, called Fuck-B-N-Local. - DJ Black (email@example.com)
Tambra Cherie held her annual Virgo bash at Freelon’s with DJ Aziatikk Blakk. OZONE Magazine was in the building and BET’s DJ Q45 hosted the event. It was definitely off the chain and brought out all the local entertainment and artists. Maino, Pleasure P, and Yung Steff all hit up the Annual Battle of the Bands. Lil Will, MJG, and Yo Gotti hit the city up too. The streets are starving for work with the recession going on. The Sin City trip to Las Vegas giveaway was crazy. Everybody’s in Jackson putting in work. - Tambra Cherie (TambraCherie@aol.com) & Stax (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Midget Mac, P.I.T., and Loyalty Ent. are on tour promoting Mac’s new single “Big Bank Roll” produced by Cashous Clay, and P.I.T.’s “Lane 2 Lane” produced by M.Geezy. Trick Daddy, Young Dro, Juvenile, Trina, and Fantasia all hit the city recently. Chopper Young City and Sean J. of Field Mob are rumored to be working on projects with Hustle House Ent. Bigga Rankin just released From Dade 2 Duval with Brisco, and From Zone 6 to Duval with Gucci Mane. - Lil Rudy (LilRudyRu@yahoo.com)
LAS VEGAS, NV:
Young Jeezy held a listening party for The Recession with DJ Franzen. Planet Hollywood Hotel & Casino is keeping the parties lit, with Too $hort at Club Asia and The Dream at Prive Nightclub. Common, Paul Wall, and Ray J slid through town to party at Poetry Nightclub. For laughs, check out comedian Mike P’s comedy show at Poetry on Saturday nights. Las Vegas installed x-ray vision scanners at the McCarran International Airport when you pass through the security gates. No flying dirty. - Portia Jackson (PortiaJ@sprint.blackberry.net)
LOS Lola LuvES, CA:
The Wiltern Theatre presented N*E*R*D and Common to a sold out crowd courtesy of Power 106. N*E*R*D’s set was bananas and Common performed his old favorites and the entirety of his new album Universal Mind Control. Janet Jackson blew out the Staples Center a la Rhythm Nation. The Avalon off Vine and Hollywood Blvd. had a daytime show featuring Strong Arm Steady. Living Legends and Murs held down the Anaheim House of Blues and Jimmy Lovine held a showcase at his infamous Tom Tom club with a performance from Virgin Island born and Atlanta based group R. City. - Devi Dev (email@example.com)
OZONE MAG // 17
PALM BEACH COUNTY, FL:
Palm Beach County’s rap movement is at an all time high with unsigned talent such Finesse, Kanibal, Triple J, Suave Smooth, Papa Duck and Mr. Flic. More and more northerners are moving to the Palm Beach Area and you know what that means – more variety in our underground Rap music. Club C&N is still jumping with their Wednesday night open mic show. Florida Atlantic University’s radio station is taking over the street on the south side, and Club Phantom, Club Pulse, Ultra Lounge, and Mirage are still running the night life in the 56Ace. - DJ Pro (Myspace.com/profeshinell)
KILLEEN/BELTON/FT. HOOD/TEMPLE/ WACO, TX:
Quick Mixx Rick of 97.9 The Beat aired “My Swag 2 Clean” by DJ Mack featuring Lil Za of B.O.C. and Lil Wayne’s artist Lil Twist. Black Sound Ent. released their new album. Damm D hit the stage with his single “Love Me” at The Music Vault. Lil C Da Mic Wrecka performed at Spiro’s. Obsessions by Carolyn held a Voter’s Registration Drive with The BabySitter of Clear Channel Radio Z92.3, and OZONE was there to represent. Motorcycle Club’s number-one stunnas, Slo Motions and Soul II Soul, showed their support. Ron Foster and KTCOK.com held a military tour for our US Troops with acts like Yung Joc, 2 Face, J Xavier, Carl Thomas, DJ Mack, Trina, Lyfe Jennings and Eve at Hood Stadium. - Tre Dubb (Myspace.com/mackonthariserecords)
MANATEE COUNTY, FL:
Tampa’s Acafool, a.k.a. “Mr. Hata Blockas,” is continuing the grind with his newest single “She’s Ready,” which is featured on HollyWood Red’s Boycott Commercial Radio Volume One. S-N-S Street artist Chill the Million Dollar Man is promoting his newest mixtape Can’t Hide This Money hosted by DJ Khaled. Palmetto’s gigantic Club Hall is preparing for an upcoming Plies concert, presented by Firm Life Ent. - Hollywood Red (firstname.lastname@example.org)
A new label is coming out of the 3-0-5 called Swagga Ent. The label includes a Hip Hop male quartet called Da Freshman, Trina protégés Pretty Money, and even a rock band called Another Day, proving the label is beyond versatile. The return of Karu n Y went down with 1,800 people deep. Remember DJ Khaled’s album We Global is in stores now! - Supa Cindy (www.Myspace.com/Supadupe)
Small Tyme Ballaz recently had a reunion party and every original member showed up except Jungle Baby. Rich Boy and Jackie Chain did it big at Club Boomerangs. Apollo Wednesday at Boomerangs has artists from everywhere coming through to perform. Nito Da Don, OZ, and Pley Boi are some of the mic champions. On Sundays, Herve Owens, DJ George, and Chris Hester hold down the comedy. The hottest local song right now is Eldorado Red’s “Stack of Ones” ft. King South and Killa Katt. Bama Ben is holding it down, and so is DBF. Rich Boy dropped an exclusive verse for DJ Frank White’s Alabama mixtape. - Hot Girl Maxximum (Maxximummp3@gmail.com) & DJ Frank White (email@example.com)
Just in time for homecoming, Nashville got a preview of the newest additions to the city courtesy of Barfly, Lot 7 and the Wet Dymes. Paper is already working on his next project with Coop and will be feeding the streets once again. The new TV show Hip Hop in the Ville is off and running, bringing additional light to the city and those making moves. Mixtapes on the move are MUG with DJ Smallz and Deuce with DJ Teknikz. Rob Dee has the city buzzin’ with his new video. Speaking of videos, Iceman’s latest video was snatched from YouTube (it was hot!). - Janiro (Janiro@southernentawards.com)
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Radio personality Tina Tilton formulated a great plan to help new artists reach out to the city. Her show Video Waves airs on Comcast 30 Tuesdays at midnight. She and other hosts put together a new show every night full of interviews, inspiration, and new artists. Computer (pictured at right with Lil Jon), with Hypnotized Mindz, is back in Memphis utilizing his rap game knowledge and computer skills to launch his booking and promotions company, www.235kreative.com. He’s done a great job so far with clients like Lil Jon, Shawty Lo, and Gorilla Zoe. Free Sol and Justin Timberlake finished a new hit produced by Timberland and it’s breaking through repping the M. - Deanna Brown (Deanna.Brown@MemphisRap.com)
It’s football season and everybody is headed for the goal line. Press shot a big-budget video for “She Wanna a D Boy” while Boaz and Owey have also turned their hit singles into videos. Ikey Bubz is still getting his shine on and F-Block is still in the streets. Treeze has Da Kushpack mixtape is coming soon and U.P.S., P.I.F.F. Boyz, Young Monk, M-Skeazy are all on their grind. Timebomb is still killing the streets with the hottest gear and mixtapes. - Lola Sims (firstname.lastname@example.org)
The Tampa Bay Rays won the A.L. East divisional title, to the tune of Cristol’s “It’s Our Season” featuring Bay Boi and Big Gill. Tom G finally released a video for his radio/club smash “I’m There,” while Rahim Samad delivered another solid video for his track “John Horse.” The DJ team beat the Artists team decisively in the 1st Annual DJ C.L.I.P.S. Charity Softball Game (right), which raised a considerable sum for the late DJ’s son. DJ Spinatik teams up with T.I. for Street Runnaz: The Paper Trail Edition. - Slick Worthington (SlickWorthi813@gmail.com)
ST. LOUIS, MO:
Nelly’s new album Brass Knuckles hit stores with a total of 83,000 the first week. DJ Sno had a nice turn out for his b-day party at Delmar Lounge. He’s still holding down the STL Home Jamz on 104.1FM on Sundays from 11 PM - midnight. Radio vet Craig Blac has popped back up on the scene with his Renegade show on www.riverfrontradio.com. You can catch him supporting STL artists Monday, Wednesday, and Fridays 4-6 PM central. Another STL-based internet station exposing local artists is THE WAVE at www.waveradio1.com. They do a weekly podcast and a one-hour show on Saturday nights from 11pm-midnight. The podcast is carried on one hundred FM stations in France. - Jesse James (JesseJames314@aol.com)
FAMU’s Homecoming went down October 31 through November 2. Young Jeezy and T.I. were the headliners for the annual FAMU Homecoming concert at The Leon County Civic Center. In addition to the big weekend, the Homecoming edition of TJs DJs Tastemakers Music Conference went down at The Moon. You already know it was off the chain! - DJ Dap (DJDapOnline@gmail.com)
The 1st annual Black Wall Street Classic football game and Battle of the Bands between Langston University and Lincoln University took place at Booker T. Washington High School. DJ Biggrich and DJ Earthquake of the Fleet DJs conducted a very entertaining interview via Sirius Satellite Radio with Houston rapper Trae tha Truth. Trae explained the OZONE Awards incident involving the scuffle he had with fellow Texas rapper Mike Jones. An upand-coming artist by the name of EP just released a new single called “Do Ya Swag” which is in heavy rotation on 105.3 K Jams. - DJ Bigg Rich (DJBiggRich@gmail.com)
Dre “All Day in the Paint” hosts an open mic every Tuesday at the Legend Nightclub. Rapper 20 Bello hosts the Proving Grounds showcase Wednesdays at the Island Cafe. Brother Maniac and Hitmaka have assembled 20 of the best emcees in the DMV on a posse cut called “Roll with Us.” Former RocA-Fella executive Kenny Burns has struck gold again with Marky. Be on the lookout for Marky’s first single “Sheila.” On the mixtape circuit, check out The First 48 by Solo (Queen of the DMV), Smokin on My Black by Carty Yeah, and Voice of the Metro by Lyriciss Flowz. - Sid “DCSuperSid” Thomas (email@example.com)
DJ Rick Flare’s No Mercy mixtape just hit the streets and Tex James of the Kadalack Boyz is bringing some heat with his Back to the Streets mixtape. His single “This Side” is making some street noise. Doski Wo’s Mutiny on the Bounty mixtape is out and features a lot of great artists. They’re bringing it to a city near you with a 15-week tour (check your local listings). - Ali Roc (firstname.lastname@example.org) OZONE MAG // 19
DEATH | By Wendy Day (www.RAP-COALITION.COM)
had written an article for this month’s column about the proliferation of negativity in this industry—namely, HATERS! It has gotten so bad that some of my more powerful friends have been holding conference calls to block and destroy the people who are attacking them with words (publicly and privately). I am a more karma-driven person than a pro-active blackballer, but I understand it. But you’ll have to wait til next month to read about how to handle the haters in your life, because last night I heard that Shakir Stewart shot and killed himself. And while I understand why people want to stop the pain they are feeling, I have to admit that the news of his death shocked the shit out of me. It brought back the pain I felt when I heard Pac passed, and when I got that call from Vanessa Satten at XXL telling me there were rumors that Pimp C had died. She wanted me to call his Mom to see if he was okay. Nah, I’ll pass on making that call: “I hear your son may be dead. Have you heard?” I immediately called Chad’s cell phone and was able to leave him a voicemail—that was an encouraging sign that his voicemail wasn’t full. I called Julia Beverly at OZONE and Grouchy Greg at AllHip Hop, neither of whom had heard the rumor yet—more good signs. Both did call me back within the hour to verify his death, however, while my assistant called Greg Street who also verified it as truth, not fiction. The thing about death is that it is both personal and public. So not only do you have to deal with your own feelings of loss, but you have to deal with others’ reactions as well. So, not only did Shakir leave my life, and the industry, but he left the lives of his family, friends, children, co-workers, artists, and fans. He also left the people he interacted with along the course of his daily life, from the person who cut his hair to the guy who parks his car or sells him coffee in the morning. Bear with me as I write about death, because I’m trying to understand the loss of a guy who from the outside looking in seemed to have everything going for him - success, a dream job, a great life, money, connections, power, kids - but youu never know what the next person is going through. When Biggie passed away, it was a mess. He left behind a wife, a mother, children, and a label CEO, all of whom seemed to have some stake in ownership in him. Biggie left no will, no paperwork, no instructions for what HE wanted to happen after his death, so there was nothing to sort out the mess besides time and fighting. When Pimp C passed, it was also a mess. He had a wife who had legal say, but also a mother, artists, a label, and a partner, all of whom had emotional claim to what came next. Chad also died without leaving any instructions. The outcome after your passing may be a scenario that you would never want to have happen. So handle it now. Here are the basics: • A Will: A will is a legal document that enforces your wishes of what happens in the event of your death. It says who gets what, whether you’ll be buried or cremated, if you want to donate organs or body parts, and who gets to make decisions about your estate. When I die, I want to be cremated and sprinkled in the ocean, and this document specifies exactly that. • Life InsurancIf you have children or loved ones that you want supported financially, after you are no longer alive to do so, get an insurance policy. I pay a little under a thousand dollars a year for a million dollars worth of coverage. If I die, my Mom will become a wealthy woman because it is my intention to take care of her as she gets older, and if I am not here to do so, someone has to. • An Estate Executor: If you are someone who has wealth, this is an important aspect of your instructions. You need to choose a friend, a family member, or a professional (like an accountant, lawyer, or business manager) to handle your business when you are gone. Biggie’s mom handles his estate. Tupac’s mom handles his estate. A business manager named Artie Erk handles J Dilla‘s estate. My entertainment attorney will handle my estate. I trust him and he knows me well enough to know what I’d want and not want. Here are some of the things an Executor will need to know: • Vital Statistics and Data: Parent’s address, children’s names and addresses (and birthdates), and your correct date of birth. Gather this information in a notebook: Full Name, Address, Birthplace, Date of birth, Social Security number, Marital status, Husband or wife’s name, Children names and dates of birth, Father’s name, birth date
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and birthplace (city and state) Mother’s full maiden name, birth date and birthplace (city and state). Keep copies of your official birth certificate and social security card with this personal information. • Personal Data: Year moved to current address; Education: High school attended, year graduated, colleges attended, dates of graduation and degrees. • Occupation: Employed by or retired from and any additional employment information you want known; Church Membership or Affiliation; Heritage/Ancestry; Veteran: Branch of Service, Date enlisted, Serial number, Date of discharge, Location of discharge papers, Last rank, Additional military information (It is helpful if a copy of the veteran’s discharge and form DD214 are stored with this personal profile); Professional/Fraternal/Charitable/Social Organizations. • People to Notify: List Full name, address, phone number and your relationship to this person • Personal Records: List all Bank Accounts-- Checking and Savings-- Name of bank, Type of account, Address, Phone number, Account number; Safe Deposit Box: Name of bank, Address, Telephone, The name on the box if not your own, Location of key; Insurance Policies List policies with name of Company, Policy number, Name of insured, Amount of benefit, Beneficiary, Location of policies; Pension Plan: Name of company, address; Real Estate Owned: Address, Location of Deeds and Titles, other documents related to the real estate • Location of Important Papers: Automobile Registration; Birth Certificate; Income Tax Records for past 3 years; Marriage Certificate/Divorce certificate; Last Will and Testament; Original Last Will and Testament and the copies; Stocks and Bonds; Attorney’s Name, Address, Phone number; Accountant’s Name, Address, Phone number; Executor’s Name, Address, Phone number; Real Estate Broker’s name, Address, Phone number; Stockbroker’s Name, Address, Phone Number; Authorized persons to arrange final details of funeral (chose two); Additional information: extra keys, car title, bills, loans that need to be paid off, etc. • Funeral Service Choices: Choice of funeral home, name, address and phone number; Type of service, Catholic, protestant, new age etc.; Location of service, name address and phone Officiate, Clergy, other: Name, address and phone. Other speakers or readers at servicName, address and phone numbers; Participating Organization: Fraternal or Military Pallbearers: Name, Address, phone numbers; Honorary Pallbearers: Name, Address, and phone numbers. Obituary: Yes or No, Photo attached?; Name of newspaper, address; Family Visitation: yes or no; Public Visitation: Yes or no; Casket: Open or closed; Casket typSteel, Copper, Bronze, Wood, other; Casket Color, Interior Color; Flag: Yes or No, Folded or Draped; Clothing: From current wardrobe or new; Jewelry: Yes or No; Preference of Flowers; Memorials: Full name and mailing address; Favorite Poetry, scriptures or other readings; Music; Items to Display: Collection of Family Photographs, Favorite possessions, Family mementos, Awards received; Special Items to be placed in casket, etc. • Cremation: Urn: Wood, Metal, Steel, Copper, Bronze, other Disposition of Remains- Earth burial, Entombment, Kept by the family, Scattering, other Special instructions if kept by family: Special instructions for scattering. If Earth Burial: Outer Burial Container: Yes or No Concrete, Steel, Bronze, Other Exterior Color Inscription Name of Cemetery: Location: Lot in name of: Section: Lot: Block: Plot: Inscription for memorial marker: If Entombment: Name of Columbarium, Location, Inscription for memorial marker There are professionals who handle this planning for you before you die; lawyers and accountants who specialize in estate planning. But the bottom line is that you need to take care of it now. After you pass away, it’s difficult enough for those you leave behind. Don’t allow them to fight amongst each other because you were too lazy, or too scared, to plan for your future beyond your life—especially if you have kids. I have watched too many friends die and the uncertainty is cruel, at best. When Proof passed away, he had an entire record label but no instructions on who’d run it, how it would run, how it would be funded, or what would happen to the staff and artists signed to the label. I can’t imagine Proof would have wanted it to end like that. When Pimp C passed away, the careers of his artists came to a grinding halt. This forced his wife to wake up the next morning as a label owner, plus deal with her husband’s death, whether she wanted that responsibility or not. Planning for your death doesn’t mean you are going to die anytime soon. It’s just the responsible thing to do. And if Biggie, Pac, Proof, Pimp C, and others made plans for what would happen when and if they passed away, it would have made the lives so much easier for those they left behind. Folks will already be grieving over your loss. To make them step up and handle business, make hard decisions, and fight over what remains (worst case scenario) is crueler than cruel. //
Missing In Action
Last seen: 2002 Spotted In: Atlanta, GA @ Chicago’s Very Own Restaurant Back in 2002, 16-year-old Archie Eversole was riding high on Atlanta’s pre-Crunk explosion wave. His debut album Ride Wit MDirty South Style was one of the year’s most popular albums off the strength of his smash hit “We Ready.” The anthem that borrowed from Steam’s 1969 novelty hit and sports arena favorite “Na Na Hey Kiss Him Goodbye” made the charismatic Atlantarepresenter both a regional and national star. Unfortunately, his shine faded away after years of contract disputes with his former label Phat Boy/MCA, practically silencing him for six years. Now 22, Archie has returned independently with his new label Slummed Out Ent./Dry Rain Entertainment, a joint venture with platinum producer Needlez (50 Cent, Young Buck, Rich Boy, Ludacris, Lupe Fiasco). With plenty of years still ahead of him, Archie is back on the scene with his new single “What Money Sounds Like.” He wants to get the world ready all over again. What have you been doing? I’ve been doing production. You know Ray Lavender from Konvict? I did a couple records for him on the production tip. I’ve been grinding, just trying to work. I was stuck in that [Phat Boy] deal for like 5 years, and that’s what pushed me to the dungeon. I couldn’t put out any records legally, so I had to start pushing in another direction. I get in the streets here and there. Ask ‘em about me, they’ll tell you. What’s changed about you since then? Stepping in at a young age, you’re just doing it for the love of rapping. But then you start looking at these contracts and realize that it’s way more than just rapping. There’s money getting made out here. So I went in that direction. You need to pick up the book All You Need to Know About the Music Business. Read it, don’t breeze through it. I did that myself, which got me into the situation I’m in now where I’m a partner in the label, not just an artist. You appear to be pretty happy. What’s kept you from coming back out on bitter note? People that know me will tell you that I was
wild as hell. I was beating niggas up in the club, religiously. I was taking the anger I had towards [Phat Boy CEO Mason Hall] and how he did me in the game out on some other shit. I’m a Godfearing man, and you’ve got to forgive [people]. If you don’t do that, you can’t move on. You can’t cry over spilled milk. You’ve gotta get up and keep grinding. I ain’t got time for that shit anymore. I’ve got mouths to feed. Do you feel like a new artist more than a returning one? For the people who don’t know me, yeah, I feel new. But the people who do know me, I’m still me. I just got back from Miami, and people who still know me tell me I ain’t changed a bit, especially at my shows. I dropped “We Ready” when I was 16. The kids that were 10 [years old] at that time are now 16 or 17. They might need an older dude to remind them who I am. Do you look at going through the situation you did so early in your career as a blessing? I feel like that’s the biggest thing. I tell my partners that I feel like I’m the most blessed young nigga in this music business. One, I got the opportunity to have a name [already]. We all know that makes its that much easier. When the [radio station] program directors see my CD they go, “Oh, oh yeah? I fuck with that little nigga.” Being a youngin’ in the game, people want to help you, like, “Oh, that’s my little homie.” So when they see you, they want to see you win. As soon as they hear that I’m not around [my former CEO] anymore, they’re like, “Oh, what’s up!” That’s the biggest blessing of it all. Words by Maurice G. Garland Photo by Ben Rose
Since Archie’s Last Album: George W. Bush created the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Two Olympic Games passed Three Spider-Man movies have been released FUBU has gone out of style
OZONE MAG // 21
Are You a G? 7 Questions to FIND OUT if R&B star BOBBY VALENTINO is the 7th letter of the alphabet. A. When was the last time you walked through the mall by yourself? I go places by myself all the time. The trick is to go to lowkey spots. I was at Perimeter Mall in Atlanta myself a few a few days ago. I go to Phipps and the little high-end boutiques. Bobby V gets credit for being able to walk through the mall alone, especially since so many “gangsta” rappers roll with more security than Barack Obama. B. What’s the strangest request you have on your rider? My rider is pretty basic, but I do have candy and stuff like Starburst, sour Skittles, gummi bears, gum, and a fruit tray. I don’t really stress when it comes to the rider, but I gotta have my candy. I don’t need my M&M’s lined up in different colors or anything, but I definitely gotta have my fruits and candy. Candy and fruit are cool, but not gangsta rider requests at all. C. What’s the most interesting thing a fan has ever asked you? I was on a plane and this girl asked for my autograph. Then, like ten minutes later, she had the flight attendant deliver me a note that said, “I wanna do it to you right now on the plane.” The girl was pretty bad too, but she was kinda young so I didn’t do it. It tripped 22 // OZONE MAG
me out because she wasn’t playin’. She was really serious. She was definitely persistent. Damn, Bobby, this story could’ve been so much better—for a wasted opportunity, you get no points.
of my music. I try to make sure everything I put out is representative of me. If I don’t like something I’ll go back in the studio and recut it. I like my music to be almost perfect. This is a cop-out answer.
D. Have you ever been kicked out of a club or a hotel? Yeah, I was doing a show out in London and I got on the mic and told everybody in the club there was gonna be an after party in my hotel room. I gave out my room number and everything, I was tripping! About 100 people showed up, and it turned into a big party. It got kinda out of control, so they kicked us out. After the party it’s the hotel lobby…but damn, those hatin’ ass, stuck up 5-star English hotels. We gotta give Bobby credit for trying.
G. Ever had a real life experience with a lady cop? Yeah, I got pulled over by my house. I was doing like 120, and it was late at night coming home from the studio and I was real tired. I already knew I was either gonna get a fat ticket or get taken to jail. But when the cop came to the car and it was a lady, I got excited. She was young and cute; she was hot! I had to spit some game. Me and her became very close. Actually, we’re still close to this day. And I definitely didn’t get a ticket. She let me go home. If this story is true, Bobby V definitely redeems himself with this experience.
E. What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever put in your mouth? I don’t know what it was, but it was some food I had when I was in Japan. Whatever it was, it was real nasty. It was like sushi times ten. Over there they eat pure, raw fish. No points. You could’ve put something nastier in your mouth a couple questions earlier on the plane. F. What’s the worst song you’ve ever recorded? I don’t really regret any
Bobby V shows flashes of gangsta potential, but he still needs some work to truly be a G’. Check out his new album The Rebirth, coming in 2009 on Blu Kolla Dreams/Capitol Records. This project, his first since splitting with DTP, promises to be full of “real down to earth music” - gangsta or not. - Eric Perrin
Hood Deeds By Eric Perrin A few months ago, the 12th annual Zo’s Summer Groove kicked off in Miami, with the intention of raising money to benefit students of Miami-Dade County schools. “Our schools rank 47th or 48th out of 50 states in this country,” laments Mourning. “We’ve got 54 percent of the kids in Miami-Dade County not graduating from high school. Those are very disturbing statistics to me.” Not only do Miami Dade County students have a tendency to dropout, but they are much more likely to turn to violence and crime than drop-outs from other parts of the country. “Without the opportunities others provided for me and Dwayne [Wade] as a child, we wouldn’t be in the position we’re in today,” says Mourning. “We believe every child has the ability. They just don’t have the resources. It’s up to us as responsible adults to provide the resources for these kids to grow and be productive citizens in our society.” The opportunity Mourning has provided, for the last 12 years, is Zo’s Summer Groove. The three-day event, which is co-sponsored by Publix, was co-hosted this year by Dwayne Wade. “It’s very impressive [how] it has continued to grow,” says Wade. “There’s a lot of pressure on mNow I’ve got to help it get better and better.”
1. Lil Nut
This Indianapolis rapper (right) actually changed his name from Big Headed Nut to Lil’ Nut. No, seriously. To avoid having to follow every word with a “no homo” or a “pause,” we’ll just leave it up to your imagination to come up with your own laughs. To his credit, though, Lil Nut’s music doesn’t sound all that bad. Think a laidback DMX-like voice and delivery mixed with Gucci Mane’s content and a Memphis attitude and sound.
2. Full Penetration Promotions
This company specializes in sending email blasts of their clients’ new music, but the name suggests they provide clients with another type of service. Let’s hope they’re not raping people with their prices.
3. Stayin’ High Records
Not sure how many albums you can expect to record and release if you’re always high.
(above L-R): Young Jeezy & BG @ House of Blues for Young Jeezy’s party in New Orleans, LA (Photo: Marcus DeWayne); JR Get Money, Yung LA, & Young Dro @ Vibe Yardfest in Atlanta, GA; Freeway & Maino @ Atlantic Records pool party during the CORE DJs Retreat in Myrtle Beach, SC (Photos: Julia Beverly)
01 // Young Jeezy & ladies @ Amore for Young Jeezy’s birthday party (Atlanta, GA) 02 // Jarvis & DJ Judgemental @ Frequency for GreenHitz & ATL Clubs’ DJ Event (Atlanta, GA) 03 // Ladies on the set of Yung LA’s “Aint I” remix video shoot (Atlanta, GA) 04 // Big Kuntry, DJ Chuck T, & Ike G Da @ Asylum Records showcase during the CORE DJs Retreat (Myrtle Beach, SC) 05 // Kaspa the Don, The Game, & guest @ The Artistry (Atlanta, GA) 06 // Taydizm & T-Pain @ Vibe Yardfest (Atlanta, GA) 07 // Big Kuntry, Yung LA, & BOB @ Kryptonite for The CORE DJs Award Show (Myrtle Beach, SC) 08 // DJ Drama, Gucci Mane, DJ Holiday, Yung Ralph, Yo Gotti, & Zaytoven on the set of Gucci Mane’s “Bricks” video shoot (Atlanta, GA) 09 // Tony Neal & Maino @ Kryptonite for The CORE DJs Award Show (Myrtle Beach, SC) 10 // DJ Dynamite & Nile Goodwin @ Kryptonite for The CORE DJs Award Show (Myrtle Beach, SC) 11 // David KA & Yung Joc @ Club 595 for Yung Joc’s Ace of Spades birthday party (Atlanta, GA) 12 // Hip Hop Friends & Piccalo @ The CORE DJs Retreat (Myrtle Beach, SC) 13 // Fiya & Mercedes @ Kryptonite for The CORE DJs Award Show (Myrtle Beach, SC) 14 // RawLT & Troublesome @ Trae Day (Houston, TX) 15 // BG & Hurricane Chris @ Seabreeze (Jacksonville, FL) 16 // DJ Lil Boy & Lloyd @ Vibe Yardfest (Atlanta, GA) 17 // Greg Street & DJ Infamous @ Vibe Yardfest (Atlanta, GA) 18 // Maino & P Wonda @ Atlantic Records pool party during the CORE DJs Retreat (Myrtle Beach, SC) 19 // Papa Duck, Bigga Rankin, & Rarebreed @ The Moon for Big Spendaz Ent (Tallahassee, FL) 20 // Michelle Brown of StraightFromTheA.com & Necole Bitchie @ Amore for Young Jeezy’s birthday party (Atlanta, GA) Photo Credits: Eric Perrin (03,08,11); Ichigo (14); Julia Beverly (01,04,06,07,09,10,13,16,17,18,20); Kingpin (12); Ms Rivercity (02,05); Terrence Tyson (15,19)
OZONE MAG // 23
CHIN CHECK By Charlamagne Tha God DEAR LOS ANGELES, I never told you this before, but I really, really, really, fucks with you. I almost feel like I’m cheating on you with my main, South Carolina. I try to disillusion myself by saying, “I’m going to see my boo SC.” Southern California or South Carolina, it’s all the same, right? Wrong! Home is where the heart is and my heart is forever in South Carolina, but when I’m out there with you, I feel - dare I say - comfortable? I feel like I’ve known you forever. In 1992, The Chronic was the soundtrack to my life. I was 13 smoking weed and yelling, “Bitches ain’t shit but hoes and tricks!” In 1993 I was praying Snoop didn’t get locked up for that murder charge. When he yelled, “I’m innocent!” at the 1994 MTV Awards after performing “Murder Was The Case,” I was screaming at my mom, “I told you he didn’t do it! Now give me back my Doggystyle CD!” L.A., there’s just something about you. I see why they call you the City of Angels, because I feel close to God when I’m with you. I tell my homies all the time that they haven’t lived until they’ve ridden down Sunset in a drop on the way to 7009 Sunset Blvd. That’s the In & Out Burger. The locals, like my homegirl Devi Dev of 93.5 The Beat, tell me that In & Out is the most overrated place ever. Every time I go there, the lines look like I’m voting for a president and all I’m trying to do is order a Double Double Animal style (you have to check their Not So Secret Menu for that) so I don’t know what she’s talking about. Dev is on some veggie shit anyway. She had me eating Thai food last time I was with you. It was good, but I really wanted to go to Roscoe’s, and not the one on Sunset and Gower either. I used to go to that one until my other homegirl Keisha Nicole of 93.5 The Beat told me that’s the one all the tourists go to. She said if I wanted the real Roscoe’s dining experience, I have to fuck with the one on Manchester and Main. I knew that one was going to be great when I pulled up and heard a brother out there threatening the valet to find him a parking space. He must have really wanted that Roscoe’s Big Mama Special (scrambled eggs delicately mixed with onions and cheese, served with potatoes smothered in gravy and a biscuit). Is it fucked up for me to have the number to Roscoe’s in my phone? Is that normal? Listen,
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L.A., I do things when I’m with you that I don’t do when I’m in New York or at home in South Carolina, like smoke weed. When in Rome, do as the Romans do, right? Every time I inhale some of that good ol’ Cali ganja I never regret it. Remember when I was out there and Phil Da Agony from Strong Arm Steady had his born day party at this hotel I can’t remember the name of? We were on the roof and my man King, who was with Krondon and Mitchy Slick, was showing me love, telling me he fucks with me heavy. Then he reached in his pocket and gave me like $50 worth of some good ass Cali kush. Do you know I got high and went into the Scientology Center to ask if Tom Cruise was there? I asked the receptionist at the front desk if they had any spare spaceships I could borrow. That’s how high I like to be when I do smoke. I don’t want to get high and do normal shit I would always do, and I can only get that high in Cali. The other thing I do when I’m with you and not on the East Coast is white women. Cali white women are different. I’m talking about straight Elizabeth Hasselback Republican white women who dance off beat when T.I. comes on and who would never think about bringing me home to meet daddy. I don’t sleep with these women, we just have good drunk conversation. But I do think about banging them. For some reason I never have those thoughts on the east coast. Why don’t I sleep with them, you ask? Because I’m too busy having sex with the prettiest Latino women Cali has to offer. You know that line when Jeezy says, “My Spanish chick in L.A., yeah, I owe her one”? Man, I owe mine two, maybe three. She’s so damn beautiful, I call her Sunshine. We like to role play. We act out Training Day. I pretend to be Denzel and she pretends to be Eva Mendes. Remember the part were Denzel walks in and tells her to fix Hoyt a plate and then they show Denzel waking Hoyt up? We act out the scene they didn’t show. Whatever Denzel and Eva were doing took long enough for Hoyt to fall asleep, so we act that out. Yeah, man, L.A. loves me and I love L.A. and its music scene. All my new favorite artists are either from L.A. or South Carolina. It’s weird because I have personal relationships with all these dudes, like Glasses Malone, Crooked I, Bishop Lamont, and the Strong Arm Steady Gang. I love these brothers’ music, and they’re good people.
Glasses Malone is heavy in the streets of L.A. and he can move in any circle because he gets what he gives, and that is respect. We were eating at a Denny’s in the middle of Watts and he had his Bentley sitting outside and no one thought of jacking that brother. Everyone from the patrons to the waiters was showing that brother love. Crooked I set up bar tabs for me and had the strippers give me free lapdances, and he wasn’t even at the club yet. Bishop isn’t into all that shit. The realist thing he ever said to me was when I asked him what was popping in L.A. that night. He responded, “I have no idea.” Bishop’s Confessional mixtape makes you realize that every emcee in L.A. is not all about Impalas, bitches and chronic. L.A.’s new west Hip Hop scene is the shit. I just pray those brothers get the same chances that Snoop, Dre, Cube, Xzibit and other West Coast emcees who came before them did. You would think those brothers would be putting more of these new West Coast artists in positions; giving them a hand, but I guess that’s hard to do when you’re still trying to rap your damn self. “To Live and Die in L.A.”, Pac said it best, “It’s the place to be / You got to be there to know it, everybody wanna see.” I’ll be seeing you soon, baby. Writing this letter has me about to go to cheapair.com and book my ticket and call my homegirl Toni at The Standard hotel downtown and tell her to reserve my rooms. L.A., until I see you again, peace! Love Always, Charlamagne Tha God a.k.a. Charla Chronic P.S.: Stupid Dope Moves Inc presents No Time Zone (Ode To The West) hosted by Glasses Malone and The Game coming soon!!! You know we’ve got this digital mixtape game on smash! Over half a million downloads this year! Cali, I got you!
(above L-R): Alfamega & BG @ Crucial for Grand Hustle BBQ in Atlanta, GA; Buckeey & Black on the set of Gucci Mane’s “Bricks” video shoot in Atlanta, GA (Photos: Eric Perrin); Ciara & Young Jeezy @ Amore for Young Jeezy’s birthday party in Atlanta, GA (Photo: Julia Beverly)
01 // Scarface & Leo G @ Wildhorse Saloon for Young Buck’s celebrity party (Nashville, TN) 02 // Bankroll Jones, Breneshia, & Seventeen @ Picazo (Houston, TX) 03 // Bay Bay & Big Chief @ Club Enigma for Big Chief’s Eat Greedy Vol 6 release party (Dallas, TX) 04 // Ed from Miskeen, Keith Kennedy, & Malik Abdul @ The Edge for Keith Kennedy’s birthday party (Tallahassee, FL) 05 // Jose & Tonya Terrelle @ Kryptonite for The CORE DJs Award Show (Myrtle Beach, SC) 06 // Brisco, DJ Q45, & Ace Hood @ Club Aqua (Jacksonville, FL) 07 // Rico Brooks & Gorilla Zoe @ Georgian Terrance Hotel for the Hittmenn DJ Awards (Atlanta, GA) 08 // Young Dro, Maino, & BG @ Crucial for Grand Hustle BBQ (Atlanta, GA) 09 // Summer Walker & DJ Drama @ Vibe Yardfest (Atlanta, GA) 10 // DJ Khaled & Nicole @ Mansion for Lil Wayne’s birthday party (Miami, FL) 11 // Godwon & Slim Thug @ SEA’s Milkshake Thursdays (Houston, TX) 12 // Lonnie Mac & DJ Drama on the set of Willie the Kid’s “For The Love Of Money” video shoot (Atlanta, GA) 13 // Obama crew @ Vibe Yardfest (Atlanta, GA) 14 // DJ Benny Boom & Bigga Rankin @ Club Phantom for DJ Benny Boom’s birthday bash (West Palm Beach, FL) 15 // CORE Models @ The CORE DJs Retreat (Myrtle Beach, SC) 16 // Kinky B & Shakir Stewart @ The Tabernacle for Young Jeezy’s Recession concert (Atlanta, GA) 17 // MC Kane & Dr Teeth @ Vogue for Dr Teeth’s birthday party (Houston, TX) 18 // Bigg DM, DJ Chuck T, & Big CO @ The CORE DJs Retreat (Myrtle Beach, SC) 19 // BOB & Ed from Miskeen @ Kryptonite for The CORE DJs Award Show (Myrtle Beach, SC) Photo Credits: Edward Hall (03); Eric Perrin (08,12); Ichigo (02,17); Janiro Hawkins (11); Julia Beverly (01,05,09,13,16,19); Kingpin (15,18); Malik Abdul (10); Ms Rivercity (07); Terrence Tyson (04,06,14)
OZONE MAG // 25
She Liked my NECKLACE and started relaxin’, that’s what the fuck I call a…
TITY BOY of PLAYAZ CIRCLE
THE DUFFLE BAG BOYS PREPARE FOR TAKEOFF
go by the name “Tity Two Chains,” so it’s almost a part of me to continue buying jewelry, especially necklaces, that compliment what I’m doing and where I’m going with my career. My new piece is an iced out airplane with wings that are about 7 inches wide on my chest, and it comes out about 3 inches like 3-D on the nose of the plane. Shout out to Avianne & Co., the jewelers in New York, for making the airplane. They’re in the Diamond District and they’ve been holding me for down about 5, 6, 7 years with the ice game. I don’t know how many carats are in this piece, but I know it was expensive. I don’t really wanna mention what I spent, but it was definitely over $40,000. The whole concept and idea behind the airplane chain was to promote our new album, Flight 360: The Takeoff. I saw Rick Ross with a big ‘ol face symbolizing his album was coming soon. I saw Plies with a big ‘ol Goon piece symbolizing his album was coming soon, and I saw Yung Joc with a big ol’ ass “H” symbolizing his album Hustlenomics was coming soon. So, Playaz Circle got a new album coming soon, and it’s called Flight 360: The Takeoff.
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360 is another analogy for circle, and since the success of [our single] “Duffle Bag Boys” we’ve traveled a lot. We saw a lot of different cultures, a lot of different females, just a lot of different ways of life, and style, and slang. Flight 360 is kind of like a celebration of what the song “Duffle Bag Boys” did for us. It bought us jewelry, chains, cars, rims, property, but we also used some of that money to invest in a studio. Since “Duffle Bag Boys” was the last thing people really know us from, we invested the money from that—which was a great deal—into things that will help promote, market, and move this new project, Flight 360. The plane on my neck symbolizes me being fly, it symbolizes the takeoff, it symbolizes the Southside, because the Southside is right around the corner from the airport; I’m like a Delta mascot with this piece. Really, the chain has like 100,000 meanings, but the one y’all need to know is that Flight 360 is coming soon. // As told to Eric Perrin Photo by Julia Beverly
(above L-R): Alonzo Mourning & Dwayne Wade @ Zo’s Summer Groove in Miami, FL (Photo: Johnny Louis); Dr Teeth & Slim Thug @ Vogue for Dr Teeth’s birthday party in Houston, TX (Photo: Ichigo); Jermaine Dupri & Tony Neal @ Kryptonite for The CORE DJs Award Show in Myrtle Beach, SC (Photo: Julia Beverly)
01 // Mistah FAB, Greg Street, & Supreme @ the BET Hip Hop Awards (Atlanta, GA) 02 // St Lunatic Slo Down @ Chaifetz Arena (St Louis, MO) 03 // Madd Hatta, Common, & J Que @ KBXX The Box (Houston, TX) 04 // James Lopez & TI @ The Biltmore for TI’s Untouchables Part Deux birthday party (Atlanta, GA) 05 // C-Rod, Mike Peterson, Mike Lace, & TI @ Spice Market for Grand Hustle’s Power Lunch (Atlanta, GA) 06 // Big Kuntry & Maino @ Vibe Yardfest (Atlanta, GA) 07 // Grandaddy Souf on the set of Gucci Mane’s “Bricks” video shoot (Atlanta, GA) 08 // Yung Joc & Yung Ralph @ Club 595 for Yung Joc’s Ace of Spades birthday party (Atlanta, GA) 09 // Q Parker, DJ LS One, & Freeway @ 400 Club (Miami, FL) 10 // Trey Songz & BloodRaw @ Amore for Young Jeezy’s birthday party (Atlanta, GA) 11 // DJ Kool Aid, BloodRaw, & DJ Funky @ The Tabernacle for Young Jeezy’s Recession concert (Atlanta, GA) 12 // Fat Pimp & crew @ Trae Day (Houston, TX) 13 // Tony Neal & Supastar J-Kwik @ SoHo Lounge for Bigga Rankin’s birthday party (Jacksonville, FL) 14 // K-Rab & crew @ Vibe Yardfest (Atlanta, GA) 15 // AJ, Squeak, & Drumma Boy @ The Biltmore for TI’s Untouchables Part Deux birthday party (Atlanta, GA) 16 // DJ Drama & Gumbo @ Vibe Yardfest (Atlanta, GA) 17 // Haziq Ali & Mr Collipark @ the Almost Famous Awards (Atlanta, GA) 18 // Terrence Tyson & DJ Misbehavior @ The Edge for Keith Kennedy’s birthday party (Tallahassee, FL) 19 // Pat Nix & Bizmarkie @ Frontline’s Greeknik 2008 (Orlando, FL) 20 // Bow Wow & actor Andre Pitre’ @ The New Orleans Arena (New Orleans, LA) 21 // Kalim Hasam, Ike G Da, & Carlos Cartel @ Kryptonite for The CORE DJs Award Show (Myrtle Beach, SC) Photo Credits: Edgar Walker (12); Eric Perrin (07,08); Ichigo (03); J Lash (09); Julia Beverly (01,04,06,10,11,14,15,16,21); King Yella (02); Malik Abdul (19); Marcus DeWayne (20); Ms Rivercity (05,17); Terrence Tyson (13,18)
OZONE MAG // 27
This is the story of Queen—a small town girl who is still adapting to city life. “Moving from Macon, Georgia to Atlanta was a big step for me,” admits Queen, who has been stripping for two years. “But it’s definitely more exciting out here. I’m still not used to seeing so many celebrities in person. Almost every rapper that’s on TV I’ve met and probably danced for.” And it’s no wonder that all the rappers and athletes are attracted to the shy girl from the country town. Her distinct Southern drawl and goodgirl image are two of the reasons she has so many famous fans. Another reason is her 36-26-40 figure. Queen seems equally fond of her seductive shape, as she hopes to one day pivot into modeling. Later, she plans to finish school and become a registered nurse. “I can’t dance forever,” she bluntly states. “One day I’m going to finish school, but right now I make too much money stripping.” Proving that her seemingly shy demeanor is just an act, Queen admits she sheds her good-girl image as soon as she gets a few shots of Patron and lime juice. “Patron makes me a totally different person. I think that’s probably why I’ve been so successful at my job.” For Queen it truly is just a job, and not a lifestyle. But although most strippers choose dancing names to distance themselves from reality, 21-year-old Queen was actually given her stage name by her father. “My dad used to always call me his queen when I was growing up, and that made me feel so special, so that’s why I picked that name,” she says. When Queen is not at work, she’s likely at home playing with her own 4-year-old daughter or relaxing on her couch with a glass or Riesling. “I’m a homebody. When I’m not at the club I just like to chill,” says Queen. “I love to dance, but there’s nothing I enjoy more than spending quality time with my family.” Words: Eric Perrin Photographer: Sean Cokes 404-622-7733 Make-Up Artist: Mike Mike 678-732-5285 Hair Stylist: Baby Boy 404-396-2739 Booking: www.myspace.com/strokersatl 770-270-0350 Websitwww.strokersclub.com
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(above L-R): Young Dro & TI @ The Biltmore for TI’s Untouchables Part Deux birthday party in Atlanta, GA; Maino & Young Capone @ Atlantic Records pool party during the CORE DJs Retreat in Myrtle Beach, SC (Photos: Julia Beverly); Greg Street & Young Jeezy @ North Georgia CD store for his Recession in-store signing in Atlanta, GA (Photo: Eric Perrin)
01 // DJ B-Do & ESG @ Picazo (Houston, TX) 02 // J Xavier & Fat Pimp @ KBXX The Box HIV benefit concert (Houston, TX) 03 // Prince Markie Dee, K-Foxx, Joe, & guest @ Park West (Miami, FL) 04 // Big Chris, DJ Nasty, DJ Demp, DJ Young City, & Spiff @ Firestone for Greeknik (Orlando, FL) 05 // Gorilla Zoe & guest on the set of Gucci Mane’s “Bricks” video shoot (Atlanta, GA) 06 // Bizzle & BallGreezy @ Club Phantom for DJ Benny Boom’s birthday bash (West Palm Beach, FL) 07 // TJ Chapman, J Prince, & Madd Hatta @ KBXX The Box’s voter registration drive (Houston, TX) 08 // DJ Jelly & Yo Gotti on the set of Gucci Mane’s “Bricks” video shoot (Atlanta, GA) 09 // Yung Joc & Gucci Mane on the set of Willie the Kid’s “For The Love Of Money” video shoot (Atlanta, GA) 10 // ESG, Mama Wes, & Bankroll Jonez (Houston, TX) 11 // Allison & Dre Barrett @ The Biltmore for TI’s Untouchables Part Deux birthday party (Atlanta, GA) 12 // Klean Cutt & Charles Chavez @ Trae Day (Houston, TX) 13 // Guest, Romey, & Rick Edwards @ the BET Hip Hop Awards (Atlanta, GA) 14 // Papa Duck & DJ Benny Boom @ Club Phantom for DJ Benny Boom’s birthday bash (West Palm Beach, FL) 15 // Ron Stewart & Garnett Reid @ Atlantic Records pool party during the CORE DJs Retreat (Myrtle Beach, SC) 16 // Slim of 112 & crew @ Vibe Yardfest (Atlanta, GA) 17 // DJ Nasty, DJ Demp, & DJ Q45 @ Frontline’s Greeknik 2008 (Orlando, FL) 18 // T-Boz & Iisha Hillmon @ The Biltmore for TI’s Untouchables Part Deux birthday party (Atlanta, GA) 19 // Common & Brandi Garcia @ KBXX The Box (Houston, TX) 20 // Juvenile & G-Moe @ the Mississippi Gulf Coast Coliseum (Biloxi, MS) 21 // Lucky Leon & DJ D-Tec @ Atlantic Records pool party during the CORE DJs Retreat (Myrtle Beach, SC) Photo Credits: Edgar Walker (10); Eric Perrin (05,09); Ichigo (01,02,12,19); Johnny Louis (03); Julia Beverly (07,11,15,16,18,21); Malik Abdul (04,17); Marcus DeWayne (20); Terrence Tyson (06,13,14); Thaddaeus McAdams (08)
OZONE MAG // 29
SOULJA BOY & LOLA LUV SOULJA BOY: U gotta donk! LOLA LUV: What? Damn nigga, you get straight to the point, huh? SOULJA BOY: Gurl, u know I ain’t lyin. U gotta donk. Where u at lil mama? LOLA LUV: Whatever nigga, I’m at a club right now. SOULJA BOY: I’m trying to cum see u shake sumthing. Damn, u gotta donk! Is it an 18 and up club? LOLA LUV: Um…they let Lil Bow Wow in. You’re older than him, right? SOULJA BOY: Yeah, baby gurl, I’m 24. I was just making sure there wasn’t gonna be no yung hoes up in there. But why don’t U just call me when U leave so we can link up? LOLA LUV: What you need to see me for? SOULJA BOY: U know why. U gotta donk! LOLA LUV: Shit, I ain’t even trying to see U tonight. I’m with Ne-Yo right now. SOULJA BOY: Ne-Yo? This is not the matrix, but I am the oracle. Do you wanna get with me? The question is rhetorical. LOLA LUV: That was a weak line. You gotta step yo’ game up, lil nigga.
OZONE EXCLUSIVE Textin’ is no longer safe now that OZONE’s dangerous minds have hacked the system.
SOULJA BOY: Hooooold on! My flow is broadband, I know U diggin me. I got mo’ money than all them other broke niggas U be fuckin’ wit. Trey Songz ain’t got my kinda bread. LOLA LUV: Yeah, but U a 5 second man, boo. U need to grow up SOULJA BOY: Just bring yo ass over here, my moms is outta town this weekend, and I want some of that artificial booty meat. U gotta donk! LOLA LUV: I’m not coming to yo fuckin mama’s house. Stop texting me lil nigga. SOULJA BOY: Bitch! Last nite ur 4-head was on my abs.
- From the minds of Eric Perrin & Randy Roper (Photos by D-Ray & Julia Beverly)
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(above L-R): Trae & Plies @ KBXX The Box HIV benefit concert in Houston, TX (Photo: Ichigo); Gucci Mane & DJ Drama on the set of Gucci Mane’s “Bricks” video shoot in Atlanta, GA (Photo: Eric Perrin); LeLe & Ludacris @ Clark Atlanta University for DTP’s block party in Atlanta, GA (Photo: Ms Rivercity)
01 // Shawty & Bishop of Crunk @ the Tabernacle for Young Jeezy’s Recession concert (Atlanta, GA) 02 // DJ Sense & Killer Mike @ Vibe Yardfest (Atlanta, GA) 03 // Nelly, Willie the Kid, Avery Storm, & DJ Drama @ the BET Hip Hop Awards (Atlanta, GA) 04 // Micha Porat, Monika Olimpew, & Izzy @ Sobe Live for Tony Neal’s birthday party (Miami, FL) 05 // Dow Jones & Roccett @ Justin’s for Young Jeezy’s voter registration drive (Atlanta, GA) 06 // Willy Northpole, Ludacris, & Small World @ Clark Atlanta University for DTP’s block party (Atlanta, GA) 07 // Day 26 @ Summer Jam (Portsmouth, VA) 08 // Playaz Circle & Greg Street @ Vibe Yardfest (Atlanta, GA) 09 // Former N.O Saint’s Michael Lewis & model Pinky @ The New Orleans Arena (New Orleans, LA) 10 // Rick Betemit, Hen Roc, & DJ Impact @ Atlantic Records pool party during the CORE DJs Retreat (Myrtle Beach, SC) 11 // Supa Chino & D Walk @ The Edge for Keith Kennedy’s birthday party (Tallahassee, FL) 12 // Young B, DJ B-Do, guest, & Cory Mo @ Picazo (Houston, TX) 13 // Maino shows some love to a guest on the set of his video shoot (New York, NY) 14 // Kerisha Smith & Eric Perrin @ the BET Hip Hop Awards (Atlanta, GA) 15 // Joe Gutta & Gary Smith @ the Almost Famous Awards (Atlanta, GA) 16 // Intl Red, Bun B, & Terri Thomas @ KBXX The Box HIV benefit concert (Houston, TX) 17 // Gholdy & ladies @ The Biltmore for TI’s Untouchables Part Deux birthday party (Atlanta, GA) 18 // Vic XL & VIC @ Throwbacks for VIC’s release party (Atlanta, GA) 19 // Benji Brown & Rick Ross @ Rick Ross’ Be Out Day (Miami, FL) Photo Credits: Cooley (13); Eric Perrin (01,05); Ichigo (12,16); J Lash (04,19); Jacquie Holmes (07); Julia Beverly (02,08,10,14,17); Marcus DeWayne (09); Ms Rivercity (06,15,18); Terrence Tyson (03,11)
OZONE MAG // 31
Pictured at left in happier times (January 2007, at an Akon video shoot), Zopound representatives Ali “Zoe” Adam and Derek “Toro” Johnson (a well-known Miami rapper who collaborated with Brisco, Rick Ross, and others) once ruled the streets of Miami. Zoe has been incarcerated since July 2007 on Federal charges of cocaine posession with intent to distribute and money laundering, and Toro was gunned down by an unknown assailant on October 18th, 2008, after leaving a Miami strip club. Zoe’s letter, curiously written in 3rd person, describes the unfortunate circumstances under which these two friends departed the rap game.
(above, L-R): Zoe and Rick Ross in Miami, April 2007
Write Zoe at: Ali Adam #33276112 FDC PO Box 019120 Miami, FL 33101-9120
(below) Portions of Zoe’s plea to Federal charges of cocaine possession and money laundering
(below): Zoe in October 2008
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(above L-R): Jermaine Dupri & Jarvis @ Amore for Young Jeezy’s birthday party in Atlanta, GA; Tony Neal & Congressman Leon Howard @ Kryptonite for The CORE DJs Award Show in Myrtle Beach, SC (Photos: Julia Beverly); DJ Q45 & Brisco @ Mansion for Lil Wayne’s birthday party in Miami, FL (Photo: Malik Abdul)
01 // Young Steff & Yancey Richardson @ Vibe Yardfest (Atlanta, GA) 02 // Freddy Hydro, Trai D, & E-Nu Hitz @ Wildhorse Saloon for Young Buck’s celebrity party (Nashville, TN) 03 // DJ Holiday & DJ Drama on the set of Gucci Mane’s “Bricks” video shoot (Atlanta, GA) 04 // Nappyville @ Atlantic Records pool party during the CORE DJs Retreat (Myrtle Beach, SC) 05 // Pretty Ricky & fans @ K104 Summer Jam (Dallas, TX) 06 // Young 50, Mama Wes, & Lil C (Houston, TX) 07 // Young Cash & TayDizm @ the BET Hip Hop Awards (Atlanta, GA) 08 // BG, Young Buck, & Leo G @ Wildhorse Saloon for Young Buck’s celebrity party (Nashville, TN) 09 // Lloyd & Lola Luva of Top Model Request @ Cameo (Miami, FL) 10 // DJ Tony T & Coach @ Boiler Room (Biloxi, MS) 11 // Jarvis, Yung Joc, & Kadife Sylvester @ Club 595 for Yung Joc’s Ace of Spades birthday party (Atlanta, GA) 12 // Tony Neal, the CORE Models, & Malik Shabazz @ Jillian’s for the CORE DJs Circle City Classic afterparty (Indianapolis, IN) 13 // Lil Duval & Bankroll Jonez @ Trae Day (Houston, TX) 14 // Kenny Brewer & Jessica @ Club 595 for Yung Joc’s Ace of Spades birthday party (Atlanta, GA) 15 // Xtaci & Alfamega @ The Biltmore for TI’s Untouchables Part Deux birthday party (Atlanta, GA) 16 // Steven Jackson & DJ B-Do @ Picazo (Houston, TX) 17 // Big Kuntry & DJ Dr Doom @ Square One (Jacksonville, FL) 18 // Drumma Boy & Damien Wilkins @ Opera (Atlanta, GA) 19 // DJ Affect, TI, & DJ Zion @ Club BED for TI’s listening party (Miami, FL) Photo Credits: D’Lyte (05); Edgar Walker (06); Eric Perrin (10,11,12,14); Ichigo (13,16); J Lash (09,19); Julia Beverly (01,02,04,07,08,15); Ms Rivercity (18); Terrence Tyson (17); Thaddaeus McAdams (03)
OZONE MAG // 33
Just days after BMF Entertainment president artist BLEU DAVINCI was sentenced to five years and four months in prison for his role in the drug trafficking arm of BMF, he reached out to OZONE to tell his story. Currently serving time at a federal facility in Lovejoy, Georgia, he was convicted of conspiracy to possess or distribute at least 5 kilos of cocaine. Do you feel that your sentencing was fair? Yeah. Actually, in the Feds they [base the sentencing on] a guideline grid. They held me responsible for 150 or more kilos. My grid was set at 260 months originally, but I was eligible for a “safety valve” because I don’t have an adult criminal history. That allows the judge to depart from the Federal sentencing guidelines, so that’s how my time started going down. I had a mandatory minimum of 10 years. Conspiracy carries a mandatory minimum of 10 to life, but since I had no criminal history as an adult, it allowed the judge and probation office to recommend less. A probation officer came out and interviewed me; they wanted to know how many kids I have, what grade I finished in school, how many jobs I’ve had, stuff like that. They recommended 84 months, which is seven years. My grid came back to 70 months after they did the reduction, and the judge departed from that by six months and sentenced me to 64 months. The minor role adjustment and the safety valve dropped me down from level 38 on the Federal sentencing grid to level 32. When I signed the acceptance responsibility as part of my plea bargain, it dropped me down another 3 levels to 29. That’s how they came up with my sentence. They do it by the rules in the Feds; it ain’t like the state. When you get locked up in the state you can get a good lawyer to make stuff go away or knock a big sentence all the way down to a small sentence. Here in the federal courts, they run it all by a grid, and without a safety valve recommendation they can’t depart from the federal guidelines. A lot of [other BMF affiliates] had a criminal history, so the judge wasn’t able to go under the mandatory minimum. That’s why a lot of people don’t understand how certain people got certain [sentences]. When we interviewed you previously, you were very emphatic that you were only involved in the music aspect of BMF and not the criminal aspect. Well, now everything’s out [in the open]. Of course being interviewed prior to being charged with a crime, nobody’s going to tell you what they’ve done wrong. But when 12, 13 people are [testifying], you know, of course I’m going to plead guilty. But I didn’t have a major role in the whole scheme of things. I still had a minor role, and they gave me exactly what they saw fit. I had a minor role on the street level of BMF. But as far as BMF Entertainment, I’m the president of the company.
with my life. Scarface is a movie, just like Terminator 2. He died at the end of the movie too. People that ain’t from the streets don’t realize that’s the way we eat. Some people finish high school, go to college, get a scholarship, and play football. It’s hard to fathom for some people, but some people are in the streets for a living. It’s not about wanting a nice car or house. This is how people feed their families.
What’s your feelings towards Meech at this point? That’s my big brother. I’ma always love Meech. A lot of people ask me that, and I don’t have any negative feelings towards him. Like I said, he always tried to keep me away from stuff like this. I made decisions for myself. I did the things that landed me in this position. When I get out, I’ve gotta get back to work to help support him and his family the best I can since he’s down. In the Federal system you’ve gotta do 85% of the time. I’ve been down for a year already, and I was recommended for the drug program for the marijuana problem they felt I had, so that takes another year off my sentence with six months in the halfway house. So basically I’ll be out in about two years. I’ve got 20-24 months of actual jail time left. You expressed some negative feelings towards Jeezy in our last interview. How did that turn out? Me and Jeezy have been through our personal ups and downs in the past, but he never stopped claiming [BMF]. We’ve had a chance to talk since then, and we got our situation together. I got much love for Jeezy. He’s doing his thing. Every man has to make decisions for himself. It’s not like he ever disowned my crew or had anything bad to say about BMF. He always keeps the name going, so I’m definitely in his corner of support at this time. Pimp C made a comment before he passed that everybody wanted to wear the BMF t-shirts when things were good but when things turned bad nobody wanted to rep anymore. Do you feel that way? Nah, I really didn’t feel like that. Everybody that I was messin’ wit’ at the time when Meech got picked up showed support. To me, it was even more support. Meech got picked up in October 2005 and I went on my first nationwide tour in February 2006. I had my brother J Diggs out there on the road with me, and artists like Fabolous, Akon, even B.G., they all kept it 100 with me. So I never really felt the way Pimp C felt, but I understood what he was saying.
Why are you reaching out to media at this point? I haven’t talked to media this whole year because I didn’t know what the outcome of the situation would be. I got picked up in December 2007 and I wasn’t gonna just jump out at the beginning of ‘08 doing a lot of talking. But since I’m an artist and I have people out there that check for me or just wanna know what’s going on with me personally or the whole BMF Entertainment situation, I just wanted to reach out. I missed the OZONE Awards. That was a bummer. [My people] came back and sent me a bunch of pictures and stuff like that. I was mad I didn’t get to go out there.
If you look at movies like Scarface or American Gangster or research the history of similar organizations, they always either end up dead or in jail. How did you think this would end? We’re from the streets. Tomorrow is not promised. I’ve got a little brother that never made it to the indictments because he got shot in Atlanta in ‘06, in the middle of my tour. A lot of people I grew up with in my neighborhood didn’t make it to 25. We pray for today cause tomorrow is not promised. That’s how we always lived. I was trying to work as hard as I could to get everybody out of the streets so we could all live off music and movie money. I was trying to beat the hands of time to become successful and look out for everybody on a positive level.
I read that during your sentencing, you apologized to the judge and expressed a lot of remorse. If I could turn back the hands of time I would definitely do everything different. My man Meech always tried to keep me away from [the criminal aspect|. I just took it upon myself to butt into other things that I didn’t need to be butting into. My whole goal with Meech was to put together an entertainment company. I don’t have any regrets for that. But I should’ve just kept it 100% entertainment without crossing the line.
Everyone idolizes Scarface, but still, he dies in the movie. Do you think rappers glorify that mentality? I glorify God. The money, cars, and jewelry is just a part of life. We don’t glorify the stuff that’s going on in the streets. Whether people believe it or not, we’re God-fearing people. A lot of people have made mistakes and had chances to corect them. A lot of people have served time for stuff they’ve done and when they got back, they were still able to do positive things in the community. It’s just something we went through and now I’m trying to move on
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But with the extravagance that BMF was known for, it’s hard to argue that you were only doing this to feed your families. At some point it was beyond that. I never thought about that. I was just trying to further my entertainment career. Before I met Meech I wasn’t on a corner selling crack, I was co-starring in movies. I was on stage with Ras Kass running around as a roadie. As a kid, I didn’t have dreams of being Scarface. My dream was to be Rakim or Too Short. My life took a detour into another world. Looking at the conclusion of BMF and where everybody is today, do you think it was worth it? Actually, I do. Like I said, if I could take everything back I would do it differently, in a 100% legal manner. But it wasn’t a waste of time. I wouldn’t be the person I am today if I hadn’t met the people I’ve met. God makes everything happen for a reason. God might have put Meech in jail because he wants to save Meech. I might have been about to get shot down in the streets. I don’t know what God’s plan is. From this point on, all I want to do is take care of my family and Meech’s family until he comes home. He’ll see the streets again one day. He’s not gonna do the rest of his life behind bars. And I can’t say I regret it because we had fun. Hundreds of families ate. I’m not glorifying it, but that’s a fact. Hundreds of families might have ate, but what about the hundreds of families that have been torn apart by drugs? How do you justify that? We all know that drugs rip communities apart, as far as drug use. I do agree with that. I’ve got an uncle that smokes [crack]. But when you’re out there doing your thing on that level, it’s beyond that. That’s how some people make a living. It is what it is. Do you think the election will help change that? Definitely. I’ve got young boys, 13, 8, and 4, and I don’t want them growing up shooting guns and selling drugs. I feel I’m an advocate of education. That’s the first step. We kept our people oppressed, like Biggie said: you’ve either gotta slang crack rock or have a wicked jump shot to get out of the ghetto. But that isn’t true, because my mom is an aero optical engineer. She just retired this year. She worked on night vision for F18 fighter jets. I definitely wanna urge the kids to get more education. You can still be of the streets and not necessarily be in the streets. There was a lengthy feature on BMF in Creative Loafing that exposed how the charges originally started. It’s a lot of snitches but the main one is William Marshall. But that Creative Loafing is a crock of shit. They want a story fast and first, I guess for ratings, so they go out and pick up little bits of information and gas it up into a big story, but everything is wrong. Then people like me gotta correct everything she’s saying with the facts and paperwork. In the same breath, it was a lot of people testifying witnesses for the government. A lot of people were like, “Aw, man, I can’t do no ten years.” A couple people were facing seventy years and they’re getting ready to go home early next year by assisting the government with putting people like me in jail. Of course I don’t condone snitching. When you get out do you plan on getting back to the music? Definitely. I don’t look at myself as being out of the music thing. I’m definitely gonna be back in the studio working with Diggs. I’ma be right back like I haven’t missed a beat. // As told to Julia Beverly
(above L-R): BOB & TI @ the BET Hip Hop Awards in Atlanta, GA (Photo: Terrence Tyson); Flo Rida & Rick Ross @ Rick Ross’ Be Out Day in Miami, FL (Photo: J Lash); Rich Boy & Gorilla Zoe on the set of Gucci Mane’s “Bricks” video shoot in Atlanta, GA (Photo: Thaddaeus McAdams)
01 // DJ Rip, Sean Paul, & Big Bam @ Asylum Records showcase during the CORE DJs Retreat (Myrtle Beach, SC) 02 // Stay Fresh & Paperchase @ Justin’s for Young Jeezy’s voter registration drive (Atlanta, GA) 03 // Sam Sneak & Rick Ross @ Rick Ross’ Be Out Day (Miami, FL) 04 // Peaches, Mike Clarke, & Sweets @ Yaucatan Beach Club for THCK Battle of the Beauties (Copeland, TX) 05 // Hen Roc & Maino @ Atlantic Records pool party during the CORE DJs Retreat (Myrtle Beach, SC) 06 // Freeway & Young Capone @ Atlantic Records pool party during the CORE DJs Retreat (Myrtle Beach, SC) 07 // Lex, TI, & DJ Cox @ Bed for TI’s listening party (Miami, FL) 08 // Jazze Pha & Block @ Radio One’s music conference (Atlanta, GA) 09 // Monica, Devyne Stephens, & Melyssa Ford @ the BET Hip Hop Awards (Atlanta, GA) 10 // Marc Decoca & DJ Burn One @ Frequency for GreenHitz & ATL Clubs’ DJ Event (Atlanta, GA) 11 // Baje & guest @ Mansion for Lil Wayne’s birthday party (Miami, FL) 12 // BloodRaw & Trent “G-Dub” Soto (Panama City, FL) 13 // Webbie & Young Fitz @ Platinum (Birmingham, AL) 14 // DJ Q45, Bizmarkie, DJ Khaled, & DJ D-Strong @ Frontline’s Greeknik 2008 (Orlando, FL) 15 // DJ Q45 & Cherokee @ Club Moto (Pittsburgh, PA) 16 // Ebony Love & Rovella Williams @ the Almost Famous Awards (Atlanta, GA) 17 // Thaddaeus McAdams & Jenny Mae on the set of Willie the Kid’s “For The Love Of Money” video shoot (Atlanta, GA) 18 // BSU & Julius from Making the Band @ Club Laraza (Dothan, AL) 19 // Frank White & Vital @ Wildhorse Saloon for Young Buck’s celebrity party (Nashville, TN) Photo Credits: Civilocity (13); Edward Hall (04); Eric Perrin (02,17,18); J Lash (03,07); Julia Beverly (01,05,06,19); Malik Abdul (11,14); Ms Rivercity (08,10,16); Terrence Tyson (09,15); Trent Soto (12)
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Lashawn Merritt Reflections of Track Star This summer, Virginia native Lashawn Merritt represented America at the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics. He won gold in both the 400-meter race and the 4X400-meter relay. His time of 43.75 ranked him the 5th fastest 400meter runner in history. That’s pretty impressive. Lashawn, like most other athletes, can occasionally be seen iPod-clad, bobbing his head to the beat, and doing the same ol’ two-step. What are you listening to in your iPod? Young Jeezy “I Put On For My City.” I have to do it for everyone who has come through Virginia, who is forced to go somewhere else because of what they do. Because of the sport that I’m in, I can’t stay home and make a living where I live. Do you think Hip Hop is dead? No way. I feel like Hip Hop is the new way. Hip Hop is its own life right now. Old school or new school? I’m more into new school Hip Hop, but my dad lived with me for a while so I had to listen to old school. Not old school Hip Hop, but old school music. What’s your first thought when you think of old school Hip Hop? Run-DMC! What’s your hype song or get crunk song? DJ Khaled’s “Out Here Grinding.” When I am training, I may listen to music, but when I am actually ready to perform, I don’t. I kinda feed off the 36 // OZONE MAG
adrenaline from everyone else. A lot of people have their iPods on, but I get in such a zone. I pull from everyone who is looking ready. I smell the Bengay and just take in everybody’s energy.
cally, I would go with Nas or Jay-Z. But if you are talking about what’s playing in the clubs, it’s Wayne. Kanye, internationally, he can do it all. I’ve tried many different crowds.
I heard that you recently did a party with Trina. The day Jeezy performed in Atlanta, I was there, and a couple people from the Olympic team that were from Miami went there. That was the day me and Trina had our event. It was awesome. She’s a great person and a great artist.
Since you’ve tried “many crowds,” are you East Coast, West Coast, or Worldwide? Worldwide! Snoop is my man. I am not onedimensional. I like a lot of different things. I listen to jazz, I listen to old school music, old school Hip Hop, and I listen to new Hip Hop and even some underground things, so it’s kind of a mixture with me. Whatever I am feeling like that day, that’s what I’m going to play.
Is she hot in person? Would you date her? Yeah, I would date her. Wait…your friends are laughing in the background, am I missing something? Did something pop off between you two? Yeah, it’s cool. We’re under the same publicist. Well, I wouldn’t say the same publicist, but we work with the same people. We are in the same circle. I don’t chase women, but if they come we can definitely go out. If she comes, we can definitely go out. We don’t talk on the phone. When I go to Miami, we are just in the same circle. We kinda just see each other when we see each other. Who epitomizes new school Hip Hop right now? Lil’ Wayne is on top of his game. Wayne is on fire right now, but we need a new direction for this genre. What about Kanye? Which one is the best representation? Well, right now the new Hip Hop is club [music]. Everybody is putting out something they can play in the club. Everybody’s got a dance. Lyri-
If you could have theme music like a boxer, who would you bring in with you? I would bring Hov…Jay Z. He is an icon in what he does. He is smooth. He came from the bottom, and now he’s at the top. He didn’t let anything get in his way. He’s diverse, and I respect him as an artist and also as a businessman. Do you have any last words? I’m not one-dimensional. I not only listen to Hip Hop, I listen to it all. Believe in what you do. A lot of young people who listen to Hip Hop are influenced by it, and they may become one-dimensional because they only listen to one thing, which may not be the best thing. Diversify yourself when it comes to music. If you’re going to listen to Lil’ Wayne, listen to somebody else too. Don’t just be one person. Listen to the Commons and Kanyes, and just take Hip Hop as a lifestyle. Words by Jonica Harris Photo by Fabrice Coffrini/AFP/Getty Images
(above L-R): Big Kuntry & TI on the set of Yung LA’s “Aint I” remix video shoot in Atlanta, GA; Maino, BG, & DJ Drama @ Crucial for Grand Hustle BBQ in Atlanta, GA (Photos: Eric Perrin); Fabolous & Red Cafe on the set of Maino’s video shoot in New York, NY (Photo: Cooley)
01 // Bigga Rankin, OJ Da Juice Man, & G Boy on the set of Gucci Mane’s Brick’s video shoot (Atlanta, GA) 02 // Big Boi & Fonsworth Bentley @ the Hittmenn DJs Retreat (Atlanta, GA) 03 // Kiki & Hope @ Chaifetz Arena (St Louis, MO) 04 // Guest & Alfamega @ Crucial for Grand Hustle BBQ (Atlanta, GA) 05 // Buckeey, Nicki Minaj, Eric Perrin, & Black on the set of Gucci Mane’s “Bricks” video shoot (Atlanta, GA) 06 // Guest, Flo Rida, Rick Ross, & Brisco @ Rick Ross’ Be Out Day (Miami, FL) 07 // Tiny & TI @ The Biltmore for TI’s Untouchables Part Deux birthday party (Atlanta, GA) 08 // Young Jeezy & guest @ Amore for Young Jeezy’s birthday party (Atlanta, GA) 09 // Rich Boy, DJ Drama, & Greg Street @ Vibe Yardfest (Atlanta, GA) 10 // Stay Fresh, Lil Larry, & guest @ Amore for Young Jeezy’s birthday party (Atlanta, GA) 11 // Mr Collipark & DJ G @ Frequency for GreenHitz & ATL Clubs’ DJ Event (Atlanta, GA) 12 // Hurricane Chris & Vanessa @ Seabreeze (Jacksonville, FL) 13 // Linda Robins, TJ Chapman, & Cheryl Dozier @ Kryptonite for The CORE DJs Award Show (Myrtle Beach, SC) 14 // T Roy & DJ Kool Aid @ Georgian Terrance Hotel for the Hittmenn DJ Awards (Atlanta, GA) 15 // Kaspa, Derrick Crooms, VIC, & P Brown @ Club Crucial for the Hittmenn DJs Retreat (Atlanta, GA) 16 // Rovella Williams & Johnnie & Cabbell @ Frequency for GreenHitz & ATL Clubs’ DJ Event (Atlanta, GA) 17 // Pretty Ricky @ Mansion for Lil Wayne’s birthday party (Miami, FL) 18 // Lil Jon & Big Teach on the set of “Go Crazy” (Miami, FL) Photo Credits: Allwyn Forrestor (02); Bogan (18); Eric Perrin (01,04,05); J Lash (06,17); Julia Beverly (07,08,09,10,13); King Yella (03); Ms Rivercity (11,14,15,16); Terrence Tyson (12)
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ne of the most sought-after elements in the world is gold. In medieval times gold was seen as beneficial to health under the belief that anything rare is ultimately healthy. Some modern esotericisms and alternative medicine assign metallic gold as healing power. Rob Gold is hoping to become one of these rare elements in the rap game. “Every area has their own swag, and my swag is Mississippi,” the Jackson, MS native says. “My style hasn’t been heard before. In my life I have seen and done a lot, some [of which] resulting in positions I didn’t want to be in.” Different problems and situations almost stopped Gold from making music, but through music and guidance he was able to get through them all. “Since I started to do [music] I lost my mother and my father to cancer,” Gold explains. “I caught a [drug] possession charge and was looking at some major time, but with God I got through it. That brief time I served put a pause on my music, but it just made me want to do it more once I got out.” Now, Gold has hooked up with producers Khao from Grand Hustle and T.A. from CTE and has made a name for himself through out the state of Mississippi. “It feels good to walk around your own state and people know who
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you are because your music is great,” Gold expresses. “Hopefully one day it will be like that everywhere I go and not just in Mississippi.” Gold has always had a love for music, his background in audio engineering has assisted his music career. While attending audio school in Houston, Gold ran into several Houston rappers who gave him opportunities as an engineer, and advice on the independent scene in Houston. “Audio engineering was my way in the studio,” Rob explains. “In Texas it’s a complete independent grind. Being out there I met T.A. from CTE, and I met Slim Thug; he said ‘Fuck that major label shit, it’s not all what it’s cracked up to be,’ and now he’s living real good.” Taking advice from the Houston pioneers, Gold has chosen to go the independent route also. “I’m my own CEO and independent artist on Full Blown LLC,” says Gold. His singles “Summer Girl,” “I’m Gone,” and “Why U So Mad,” have been making noise locally. His new mixtape with DJ Scream, The Midas Touch, should help him gain even more respect in Mississippi and beyond. Words by Jee’Van Brown Photo by Will Sterling
(above L-R): Big Boi makes it rain @ the Hittmenn DJs Retreat in Atlanta, GA (Photo: Allwyn Forrestor); Jus Bleezy & Block @ Block Ent Studios in Atlanta, GA (Photo: King Yella); Dolla Boy of Playaz Circle & Willy Northpole @ the BET Hip Hop Awards in Atlanta, GA (Photo: Julia Beverly)
01 // Ivory Orr, DJ Q45, & Malik Abdul @ the BET Hip Hop Awards (Atlanta, GA) 02 // Bun B & Cadi on the set of Willie the Kid’s “For The Love Of Money” video shoot (Atlanta, GA) 03 // Sean Paul & B-Locks @ The CORE DJs Retreat (Myrtle Beach, SC) 04 // Bigga Rankin & Kim Ellis @ Frequency for Street Report release party (Atlanta, GA) 05 // The CORE Models @ Kryptonite for The CORE DJs Award Show (Myrtle Beach, SC) 06 // Rick Ross & Gucci Poochie @ the BET Hip Hop Awards (Atlanta, GA) 07 // Dread, TV Johnny, & Spiff @ the BET Hip Hop Awards (Atlanta, GA) 08 // Alfamega & Young Dro @ The Biltmore for TI’s Untouchables Part Deux birthday party (Atlanta, GA) 09 // DJ Infamous, DJ Drama, & DJ Sense @ Vibe Yardfest (Atlanta, GA) 10 // Coach, Sug, & the Goon Squad @ Boiler Room (Biloxi, MS) 11 // 9th Ward & Nitti @ The Suite (New Orleans, LA) 12 // KC, Marco Mall, TayDizm, DJ Serm, & Cowboy @ Destiny for DME & Wil’in Ent’s Labor Day party (Orlando, FL) 13 // Big Kuntry & Sean Paul @ Kryptonite for The CORE DJs Award Show (Myrtle Beach, SC) 14 // Marley Mar, DJ Chuck T, Primo Starr, & Fat Boy @ Kryptonite for The CORE DJs Award Show (Myrtle Beach, SC) 15 // Jim Jonsin & Rick Ross on the set of TayDizm’s “Beam Me Up” (Miami, FL) 16 // Bigga Rankin, Bishop Jones, Young Cash, & TJ Chapman @ The Edge for Keith Kennedy’s birthday party (Tallahassee, FL) 17 // DJ Ike G Da @ The CORE DJs Retreat (Myrtle Beach, SC) Photo Credits: Eric Perrin (02,10); J Lash (15); Julia Beverly (05,06,07,08,09,13,14); Kingpin (03,17); Malik Abdul (16); Marcus DeWayne (11); Ms Rivercity (04); Terrence Tyson (01,12)
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udging by her name, and often scantily-clad figure, you might mistake Nicki Minaj (pronounced “ménage”) as just another female emcee attempting to use sex to sell records. But that notion disappears as soon as she grabs the mic.
“Sure, sex sells,” she admits. “But it’s not just about being sexy. Your music has to actually sound good, [and] within the next twelve months everybody is gonna start to see all of my talents. It’s more to Nicki Minaj than what people assume.” Most people don’t assume that Minaj, who has frequently been compared to such salacious stars as Lil’ Kim and Foxy Brown, originally intended to become a singer. In fact, she began as a preteen, casually singing hooks for local rappers in her native Southside Jamaica, Queens neighborhood. Eventually, she grew bored with singing hooks, but couldn’t bring herself to conform to the traditional rules of the R&B world. “I didn’t want to have to sing love songs,” she confesses, “so I started rapping instead. I would freestyle and make everybody laugh because I was so whack, but little by little I starting getting good at it.” As she matured, her fledging rap skills became more and more evident. Still, Nicki Lewinski, as she refers to herself, didn’t take her craft seriously until her peers began to cosign. “When people started really believing it, that’s when I started to go hard,” she says. “Going hard” included posting her music on a Myspace page which attracted the attention of The Come Up DVD creator Fendi, who featured her on his DVD. Lil Wayne, who viewed the episode, was impressed enough to get her in the studio.
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Nicki and Wayne worked on a plethora of projects including Sucka FreThe Mixtape, which received overwhelmingly rave reviews, and while a label situation with Wayne’s Young Money seemed eminent, it never materialized. Instead, Nicki was introduced to Gucci Mane and his aunt and longtime business partner, Debra Hinton, who flew the sexy singa turnt rappa to Atlanta and signed her to a management deal. “I don’t wanna upset anybody back home in New York, but the love in the Atlanta is just so much more real,” Minaj acknowledges. “The artists’ have so much camaraderie; it’s like a breath of fresh air.” In fact, she became so comfortable in Atlanta that she even dubbed herself “The New York Queen of the South.” Now that she’s been featured on projects with several Southern rappers including Gucci Mane, Soulja Boy, Gorilla Zoe, and OJ Da Juice, Nicki has certainly become acclimated to Atlanta rap. Although she’s still searching for the right record deal, Ms. Minaj is confident in her abilities and determined to prove she’s more than meets the eye. “If you took a lot of swag and mixed it up in a pot with wit and humor, and a little bit of gangstress, that would be Nikki Minaj. I’m the complete package,” she concludes. Words by Eric Perrin
(above L-R): Trey Songz @ the Young N Sexy Tour in Hampton, VA (Photo: Jacquie Holmes); Yung Ralph & Yung Joc on the set of Yung Joc’s “Posted At The Store” video shoot in Atlanta, GA; Gucci Mane on the set of his “Bricks” video shoot in Atlanta, GA (Photos: Eric Perrin)
01 // Chopper City Boyz @ Crucial for Grand Hustle BBQ (Atlanta, GA) 02 // David Banner @ the Mississippi Gulf Coast Coliseum (Biloxi, MS) 03 // Bu (Atlanta, GA) 04 // Big Chief @ Club Enigma for Big Chief’s Eat Greedy Vol 6 release party (Dallas, TX) 05 // Bizmarkie @ Frontline’s Greeknik 2008 (Orlando, FL) 06 // Yung Berg & VIC @ the Young N Sexy Tour (Hampton, VA) 07 // DJ Holiday & DJ Drama on the set of Gucci Mane’s “Bricks” video shoot (Atlanta, GA) 08 // Janiro Hawkins @ Tennessee Music Conference (Nashville, TN) 09 // Reppin’ OZONE (Baltimore, MD) 10 // TT Torrez @ her pink carpet event (Virginia) 11 // Big Righteous @ Club Laraza (Dothan, AL) 12 // Julian Boothe & Pitbull @ Diamonds Cabaret (Miami, FL) 13 // G-Boy @ Club 595 for Yung Joc’s Ace of Spades birthday party (Atlanta, GA) 14 // DJ Smiley @ Rhythm City (Dallas, TX) 15 // Lil D & his wife, Myko, & guest @ Kryptonite for The CORE DJs Award Show (Myrtle Beach, SC) 16 // Mr Lucci & Kazeeno @ Rhythm City (Dallas, TX) 17 // Afro Dothan reps @ Club Laraza (Dothan, AL) 18 // Cowboy @ Tennessee Music Conference (Nashville, TN) 19 // StreetTalk & guests @ Geisha House (Atlanta, GA) 20 // Foxx @ Wildhorse Saloon for Young Buck’s celebrity party (Nashville, TN) 21 // DJ Panic @ Jillian’s for the CORE DJs Circle City Classic afterparty (Indianapolis, IN) 22 // OZONE street team models Quita & Mekele & N.O Saints Charles Grant @ Ray’s Over The River (New Orleans, LA) 23 // Red Cafe @ Bulletproof celebrity basketball game (Miami, FL) 24 // KJ Hines & Jawar @ SW Georgia Radio & Music Conference (Albany, GA) 25 // Magnolia Grove’s Finest @ Boiler Room (Biloxi, MS) 26 // Cash Lingo & guests @ Club Laraza (Dothan, AL) 27 // Double Trouble & A+ @ Club Laraza (Dothan, AL) 28 // DJ Krunch One & BallGreezy @ Coco’s Lounge (Miami, FL) 29 // DJ Black & Mild & DJ Silver @ The Suite (New Orleans, LA) 30 // Yay, D’Lyte, Sara, & Ebony @ Club Enigma for Big Chief’s Eat Greedy Vol 6 release party (Dallas, TX) 31 // The Morton Sisters @ Club Moto (Pittsburg, PA) 32 // Scarface & guest @ Wildhorse Saloon for Young Buck’s celebrity party (Nashville, TN) 33 // Shane of Cool Runnings @ Frontline’s Greeknik 2008 (Orlando, FL) 34 // Kalim Hasam @ Kryptonite for The CORE DJs Award Show (Myrtle Beach, SC) 35 // DJ Funky @ the Tabernacle for Young Jeezy’s Recession concert (Atlanta, GA) Photo Credits: Bogan (12,23,28); Edward Hall (04,14,16,24,30); Eric Perrin (01,03,07,08,11,13,17,18,20,21,25,26,27,35); Jacquie Holmes (06,09,10); Julia Beverly (15,19,32,34); Malik Abdul (05,33); Marcus DeWayne (02,22,29); Terrence Tyson (31)
OZONE MAG // 41
hen you strike up a conversation with Zomba/Jive recording artist Lil Goonie you start to think that you’ve met him before. His voice sounds like one of the many you hear in the neighborhood barbershop. His demeanor resembles that of the group of guys you pass everyday on the street on the way to your destination. By the time you’re finished talking to him, you realize that you just might not only know him, but be related to him somehow.
“I didn’t really like the song at first. That’s not where my head was,” admits Goonie. “The people around me told me I was going backwards.”
Growing up in Nashville, Tennessee, Goonie’s experiences weren’t that much different from the average urban youth. He ran the streets, dropped out of high school, got tired of it and decided to rap.
“[Jive A&R] Memphitz had my CD, but it wouldn’t play in the radio at the time,” he says. “So my producers had to send it to Mark Pitts and it played for him.”
“Yeah, I was in and out different schools. I was a problem child,” he sighs, without a hint of pride. “I wish that I could go back. I would have done a lot of shit differently.”
Now that he’s on, Goonie’s first plan of action is to complete and release his debut album Goon Life. Mentioning songs with straight-to-the-point titles like “Man In My City,” “Raised Like That,” “You Know What It Is” and “What It Be” as the highlights, Goonie is looking to pick up where fellow Nashville native and former G-Unit artist Young Buck left off.
But from there, as far as his rap career is concerned, Goonie has done things differently. Starting off making what he called “street gutta shit,” Goonie, with the advice of his older uncles (who are also his producers), started penning songs to cater to radio and female listeners. The first one he wrote, “Girls Gone Wild,” became an instant hit. Seeing what he had, he skipped past the prototypical mixtape route and went straight to the radio.
Not quite. Goonie wound up going upwards, to New York to perform in front of Jive/Zomba Records, President of Urban Music, Mark Pitts. Instantly impressed, Pitts signed Goonie to his Bystorm Entertainment imprint. It didn’t happen quite that easily though.
“This album is for people that never had anything in life,” says Goonie, insisting that he had already adopted his name and lifestyle long before Slip N Slide artist Plies made the term popular. “It’s for the drop outs, people in the clubs, and people living everyday life.” Words by Maurice G. Garland
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(above L-R): 211 @ the Tabernacle for Young Jeezy’s Recession concert in Atlanta, GA (Photo: Eric Perrin); Lil Boosie & TQ in Baltimore, MD; Yung Berg reading about himself @ the Young N Sexy Tour in Hampton, VA (Photos: Jacquie Holmes)
01 // Alfamega @ Club Crucial for the Hittmenn DJs & Grand Hustle BBQ (Atlanta, GA) 02 // LeLe & Dean Jackson @ the Adidas store (Atlanta, GA) 03 // Jus Bleezy @ Jillian’s for the CORE DJs Circle City Classic afterparty (Indianapolis, IN) 04 // Keynote & OG Ron C @ Club GGs (Dallas, TX) 05 // Jay Love, DJ D-Strong, T-Roy, Young City, & DJ Q45 @ Frontline’s Greeknik 2008 (Orlando, FL) 06 // Guest & Tahira Wright @ the Adidas store (Atlanta, GA) 07 // Meany, Young Dro, & guest @ Crucial for Grand Hustle BBQ (Atlanta, GA) 08 // Lucky & Franchaska @ Jillian’s for the CORE DJs Circle City Classic afterparty (Indianapolis, IN) 09 // DJ K-Roc @ Club GGs (Dallas, TX) 10 // Carolyn & Ms Rita @ Obsessions’ Voter Registration Drive (Killeen, TX) 11 // Ace & DJ Khaled @ Summer Jam (Portsmouth, VA) 12 // Bryan Michael Cox (Atlanta, GA) 13 // DJ Misbehavior & TJ Chapman @ The Edge for Keith Kennedy’s birthday party (Tallahassee, FL) 14 // Dolla Boy of Playaz Circle @ the Adidas store (Atlanta, GA) 15 // Clay Evans & Lil Duval on the set of Yung LA’s “Aint I” remix video shoot (Atlanta, GA) 16 // Certified & Charles Wakeley @ The Edge for Keith Kennedy’s birthday party (Tallahassee, FL) 17 // Bigga Rankin on the set of Gucci Mane’s “Bricks” video shoot (Atlanta, GA) 18 // Big Ramp & Nitti @ The Suite (New Orleans, LA) 19 // Nokey @ the Tabernacle for Young Jeezy’s Recession concert (Atlanta, GA) 20 // J Que @ KBXX The Box (Houston, TX) 21 // DJ Clue @ Bulletproof celebrity basketball game (Miami, FL) 22 // Selah @ SoHo Lounge for Bigga Rankin’s birthday party (Jacksonville, FL) 23 // Danielle & King Ron @ Stankonia for Big Boi’s Hittmenn DJs listening party (Atlanta, GA) 24 // Young Jeezy & G Moe @ House of Blues for Young Jeezy’s party (New Orleans, LA) 25 // Richie Rich @ the Tabernacle for Young Jeezy’s Recession concert (Atlanta, GA) 26 // Deon Grant of the Seattle Seahawks @ Spice Market for Grand Hustle’s Power Lunch (Atlanta, GA) 27 // DJ G2 @ Club GGs (Dallas, TX) 28 // DJ Schooly @ The Lodge Dubai (Dubai, U.A.E.) 29 // Small World @ the Adidas store (Atlanta, GA) 30 // Wild Wayne & Ray J @ Q93 (New Orleans, LA) 31 // Triple Dynasty @ Yaucatan Beach Club for THCK Battle of the Beauties (Copeland, TX) 32 // The Kick Drums @ Cleveland Hip Hop Awards (Cleveland, OH) 33 // Randy Roper & Jee’Van Brown on the set of Willie the Kid’s “For The Love Of Money” video shoot (Atlanta, GA) 34 // Emperor Searcy @ Radio One’s music conference (Atlanta, GA) 35 // Freddy Hydro @ Tennessee Music Conference (Nashville, TN) Photo Credits: Bogan (21); Edward Hall (04,09,27,31); Eric Perrin (03,07,08,12,15,17,19,25,33,35); Ichigo (20); Jacquie Holmes (11); Kenneth Clark (28); Malik Abdul (05,13,16,32); Marcus DeWayne (18,24,30); Ms Rivercity (01,02,06,14,23,26,29,34); Terrence Tyson (22); Tre Dubb (10)
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When Hurricane Ike came, we thought it wasn’t going to be too big. But it turned out to be a real big storm. I stuck it out; I stayed in my house. [When] I woke up the next morning it had rained all in my house. I had to leave my house; they’re still working on my house now. I went to Dallas for a little while to chill out with my family, cause I’m originally from Dallas. I went there to chill at my parents’ house and a couple friends’ houses, and I stayed there for a week. I came back [to Houston] and the city was in turmoil. The storm itself was cool, but after it passed we had no electricity for a week and a half. No clubs were open, so there was no work for [any DJs]. I depend on working at the clubs. I work seven days a week, getting money everyday; that week, I ended up getting no money everyday. It took a toll on me, but it was a good thing I had some money saved up. Artists like Trae and Slim Thug were out there themselves giving ice and free food away. The GO DJs donated to a foundation that was giving stuff away. It was tough out here, you know. People downplayed it. All those Dallas people were like, “Aw, man, it wasn’t that bad.” But when you came back and saw all the turmoil, all the struggling, man, trees were all over the street. You couldn’t even go down the streets. People were jammed up; traffic was a mess because there were no streetlights. It was worse than what people thought. It felt like we had just gone through a war.
City: Houston, TX WebsiTE: myspace.com/djhic Affiliations: Go DJs, Core DJs, Atlantic Records, Rap-A-Lot Records 3 Songs In Current Rotation: Gorilla Zoe f/ Lil Wayne “Lost,” Scarface “High Powered,” C-Murder f/ Magic & Snoop DogG “Down 4 My Niggaz”
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I stayed in contact with all the GO DJs to make sure they were straight. A couple of the DJs needed a generator for their house to run the power. So the GO DJs got generators for the DJs that needed it. It took a while to get back intact. The first night back at the club it was off the chain because everybody was tired of sitting in the house. They were ready to get out and hear this music. It’s getting back to normal right now. [Musically], I think [Houston] needs to come out with some new faces. Everybody knows Slim Thug, [Lil] Keke, Trae, Scarface and all of them. They’re still hot, but we have a lot of new talent here that just hasn’t gotten the chance to be heard outside of Houston. My job as the head of the GO DJs here in Houston is to help the crew grow outside of Houston. We’ve got DJs in Louisiana, California, a couple in Atlanta, and San Diego. That’s how I’m going to help these new artists, by introducing their music to GO DJs [around the country] so we can be heard other places. Sometimes people are afraid to take a chance on a new artists, but GO DJs aren’t afraid to break new artists. That’s my whole motivation behind the GO DJs; to break new music. That’s how I think we’re gonna be able to get Houston back on the map like it needs to be.
OZONE MAG // 45
WORDS BY CAMILO SMITH PHOTO BY TY WATKINS
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There was a time, way back when. Before cell phones, and before people rolled their weed in Swisher Sweets and Backwoods. A simpler time, many thought, when all of the Hip Hop you heard generally derived from either New York or Los Angeles. But while so many heads had their ears trained on the electronic grooves and nascent gangsterisms bubbling out of the southern portion of the Golden State, just a few hours from L.A. the Bay Area was bubbling with it’s own scene. you could get your player fix by listening to Too $hort, or your gangster fix by popping Spice 1 into your DECK, BUT it was E-40 who supplied the endless swagger and soil spit that made him a fixture on the international hip hop scene with a longevity only rivaled by the best in the rap game. Starting with his independent grind and working it into a deal with the majors, he’s one of the true stars of not only the Yay Area, but THE WHOLE COUNTRY AS WELL.
Have you turned 40 yet? “They say 40 don’t act his age. 40 stay relevant. 40 ain’t never played. 40 ain’t no punk. 40’ll pull a gauge.” Man, to me, age ain’t nothing but mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it don’t matter. You smell me? Old enough to know better, but young enough to not give a fuck. But isn’t that going to be a special day for you, when your age and your name become one? (laughs) Nah, that ain’t got nothing to do with nothing, man. My name came from drinking 40s in the mid-80s, man. My first name is Earl, so that’s where the “E” comes from, and the “40” is from drinking 40 ounces of Olde English. I’ve been around forever, man, so I can do all kinds of words. I can say all kinds of things with the number 40, you know what I mean? What’s the background of a lot of folks who moved to the Bay? Historically? A lot of cats come from the South, like Louisiana. My grandmama and grandaddy came from Louisiana and had 11 kids. My grand dad was in the military. A lot of cats came from Mississippi. A lot of cats in Richmond already had permanent gold teeth because they’re from the South. The Bay had Alameda Air Force Base, the Oakland Army Base, [and] Travis Air Force base. The majority of ‘em are shut down [now], but that’s why people came out here for work and brought their families out here. And that’s what happened to the Yay, the south. Does that explain the love between Bay Area music fans and Southern music fans? One thing that I always loved about the South is they accepted all music. Years ago, they accepted New York music, they accepted L.A. music, and they accepted Bay Area music. Anything, they were fucking with it. They just love Hip Hop. Now the South has their own representatives, so they don’t actually have to accept none of our shit, if they don’t want to. But they do fuck with a chosen few, and I feel like I’m one of them. It ain’t just [the fact that] I’ve been in the game so long, it’s that I’m still relevant. I’ve been fuckin’ with them for many moons, and I’m giving muthafuckers what they want to hear. Me and [my] cousin B-Legit were on that Bout It, Bout It soundtrack. I been fuckin wit Cash Money. “Baller Blockin’” was the first video that they ever did with anybody
outside of Cash Money - with me. And you gotta realize, I fucked with Master P tough. I was on the Last Don album. Mystikal and 8Ball & MJG, we go way back. E-40 been fucking with the South. Who taught you how to rap? I heard my first rap when I heard the Suger Hill Gang in the 7th grade. Then I started listening to Grand Master Flash and all them. Later on, it was Too $hort and some brothers out of Richmond, CA. This dude named Freddy B used to rock with Too Short, and there were some brothers out of Richmond, a few exits from Vallejo, called Magic Mike and Calvin T. [They were] some of the coldest rappers that you never heard of in your life. You mix that up with some of the Hip Hop that I grew up on, like LL Cool J, KRS-One Kangol from UTFO, and Ice-T...we can go on and on forever. When did you land on your rap style? I started getting into my rap style in 1988, when I did the EP with The Click, Let’s Side. In 1989, I came with “Mr. Flamboyant,” and that’s when I really started to get into my start, stop, and go, scoot style of delivery. It was a development. On your new album Ball Street Journal, you used another Digable Planets sample. What’s the connection between your music and theirs? The [song] “Yay Area” area on the last album, My Ghetto Report Card, was successful on the underground. Every concert that I sing it at, they go crazy. That sample was so monumental. When Rick Rock did the “Yay Area” beat, I was like, “This shit finna be classic.” So I decided that instead of me just always trying to duplicate [someone else], this is my sound now. I decided to take another sample, and it was just saying, “Play me in the winter, play me in the summer, play me in autumn, any order.” You can play me year round. It was the perfect thing to start the album, because I am the ambassador of the Bay. It’s a different sample [than before], even though it’s from the same group. The Digable Planets is a group that I admire and looked up to, and watched them do their thing in their category of music. But at the same time, that’s my sound. It ain’t like I’m copying somebody else. I don’t know nobody else that used [the Digable Planets sample] besides me and Snoop. And Rick Rock produced both of them, the “Candy Song” and the “Yay Area” song. Why fix something that ain’t broke? OZONE MAG // 47
Everyone caught onto the hyphy element of the last album, and how it represented the hyphy movement at the time. How has that changed, or how is that different from this CD? My thing is, I always have been hyphy. But even on my last album, there were only like two or three so-called hyphy songs out of 20. I’m a well-rounded cat. I had my Southern stuff on there. I had my mob music. I spit, man. The first single was hyphy. “U And Dat” wasn’t hyphy, but muthafuckers go dumb to it, though, you smell me? This album is well-rounded, it’s the complete package. It’s me. It’s E-40. It’s what I do. I make slaps, for the trunk. That’s what I make. I design it for the trunk, you know, the trunk and the clubs. Shit that’s going to make a muthafucker fuck with it. And I’ve got a lyrical display on the album, where I show that I can get on some old-school lyricist type shit on a few of the songs. You smell me? And I got my own little way I get down, you know. I think I’ve got one of the realest songs in the world on my album. It’s called “Tell It Like It Is.” I don’t recall nobody coming like that in a long time. What do you mean by that? It’s telling them how it is. Not [about] rap, because I don’t give a fuck about this rap shit. I’m talking about life in general. When they listen to the song “Tell It Like It Is,” everybody’s gonna be able to relate, because somebody is going through the same thing. Or somebody done had that same shit done to them, or they did it to somebody else. It’s just on some loyalty shit. Who did the beat on that? Rick Rock did it. A lot of times muthafuckers are like, “I know it’s cool to be partying and hyphy, and going to the club, and throwing out money in the crowd, and riding on big rims and shit, but where’s the real shit at?” So I got all that shit on there. I’ve got that kinda shit on there. You just gotta listen. Sometimes my shit can go over their head. And then a few years later, they’re like, “Oh, I didn’t know 40 said that, my bad, okay. That nigga be saying some shit.” You smell me? What was the process of making that song? Did the beat come first? It was all at the same time. When we were making the beat, I said I wanted to make a song called “Tell It Like It Is.” The beat made me do it. Me and Rick Rock were fucking around at the Orange Room, and the beat was so gangster and sinister. It sounded like some shit I could just spit on. And I decided to talk on the hook, do the hook, the whole thing. Take it to the face, you know? So that’s me, talking to myself. I’m talking as if I’m somebody from the outside looking in. But it’s really me talking. And I just talk like, “Man that nigga 40, man I fuck with him, whoop, whoo, whoo. Cuz at 20 years in the game...stay consistent, whoo, whoo, whoo,” You smell me? That’s how I get down. With two decades in the game, how do you keep it fresh for yourself and for the fans? I just like to stay doing my thing, but at the same time mix it up a little bit. I’m staying current without going out of my jurisdiction. Spit some game, you know what I mean? And give the people what they want to hear, man. I know music has changed, though. A lot of people are saying, “I want that mob music,” but they don’t even know what “mob music” is. They think “mob music” is “shoot ‘em up, bang, bang” music. That “walk up to a muthafucker and shoot him in the head” type music. That ain’t it. Mob music is a certain sound. I’ve been saying “mob music since 48 // OZONE MAG
1989, so a lot of these youngsters don’t even really know what that shit is. The rappers know that 40 is the nigga that put that “mob music” out there. I’ve been in this for so long that it really defies logic for me to still be around. A lot of cats ain’t never been through what I’ve been through. The streets fuck with me. The suburbs fuck with me. Nationally, everybody fucks with me. There are some rappers that’ve been around as long as me, like LL Cool J and Too $hort, and I’ve got love for both of them. But I’m in my own category. I’m E-40, you smell me? I just feel like I’m a wellrounded cat. I rap all kind of different ways, you dig what I’m saying? I can rap on any kind of beat you give me. A backpack beat, you smell me? I’ll beat that shit back lyrically, you smell me? You give me a mob-ass track with a heavy ass bassline with a swing beat. Something with that gangster shit, where I can spit some gangster shit over it, put that dope game in it. Talk about life in general, talk about some bitches. Talk about money, talk about all that shit, that’s what I do. You smell me? Give me a party song. Give me something real international. Gimme a crunk beat, gimme a snap beat. Gimme something that’ll break your ankles, I’ll get on that. I can rap with the South cats, I fuck with them. That’s one thing about E-40. I can do it all. You can’t put me in one category. People say I’m known for slang, but I’m known for game, too. I spit that shit. You get love from so different areas: the suburbs of the Bay Area, and the push from cats like DJ Shadow, is that just some ecclectisim you get from working out of the Bay Area? Earth is my turf. It ain’t just for dough. I got love in the South, the Midwest, people don’t understand. Like, those who are just now finding out who E-40 is, or those who’ve been knowing who E-40 is; I don’t think they know how respected E-40 is globally. I’m not going to lie. I’m my biggest fan, but at the same time, I’m a humble and hungry dude. And I stay on the airplane, and everywhere I go, [I get] the utmost respect. If a muthafucker doesn’t respect for me, they must not have done their due diligence. They’re just on some of this right now shit. You know what I mean? Not knowing what I brought to the game. I brought so much to the game, it’s ridiculous. And the real niggas? The real muthafuckers, up out that 80’s game? Them niggas know how much I done brought to the game, or how far I done came because I was a real nigga in the traffic, gettin’ gusty. Out there getting it. You smell me? I don’t have to base my life on that. You know how muthafuckers be like, “Aw, that nigga ain’t real.” Nah, I just spit real shit. I spit real shit. I started from no airplay at all. None. For seven years. I started [rapping] in 1987 and May 1993 is when I first started getting airplay. We came from nothin’. What was the first record you got played on the air? “Call Me On The Under,” which is me and my brother D-Shot. Mean Green broke that out there in Houston. And then “Captain Save a Ho,” Greg Street and the Bay Area DJs, way back in the days, they broke that. Greg Street broke it out there in Dallas, and Mean Green broke it out there in Houston. It started just circulating all over the place. Big Tigger was fucking with “Sprinkle Me, way back in the days. “Call Me On
The Under” was on my brother D-Shot’s album, and I was on that song with him. “Practice Looking Hard” was another song that finally got some airplay. So 1993 was when we first started getting airplay. [During] the 6 years before that we had put out numerous records as SickWidIt Records independently. A lot of cats couldn’t have done that. They couldn’t have done it without the big push from the machine, the big majors behind them. This was all word-of-mouth. There was no big promotions. This was just all “soil spit.” It was straight head shit we were spittin’, so niggas related to it, and they fucked wit’ it. They rode to it in their cars, and woke up in the morning and ironed their clothes to our shit. You smell me? And to this day, they still fuck wit it. On last album, muthafuckers said, “Aw, 40 done switched up a little bit...I like that old school shit.” Nigga, this is the new old school. This is what it’s about. You smell me? They don’t make ‘em like me. You don’t see too many muthafuckers that’ve been in the game for 20 years and are still staying afloat like the Love Boat. Those stubborn muthafuckers fall by the wayside. They started right with me, but they wanted to stay in one mode. They wanna rock one particular way. And that ain’t no disrespect to nobody, that’s just the consequences you got to deal with, but me personally, I feel I’m a well-rounded rapper, and I’ve got a lot of shit to say. If you look at any of my music from way back in the days, from the Federal album in 1992, you’ll see I had versatility: I had a reggae style, and I spit some ole New York shit, too. My style is so unorthodox, and so muthafucking futuristic, I mean, it done lost a lot of people. To this day, some muthafuckers really think I’m whack, but they don’t know what the fuck they’re talking about ‘cause the shit goes over they head. They’re just square as a box of muthafucking Fruity Pebbles. They’re lame suckas. They need to get some get-right about their macking, man. The unorthodox nature of your rhyme style, to me, has a lot to do with the Bay Area. It’s an interesting mix of people and perspectives. It’s an ill spot. You have place like Berkeley, San Francisco, Oakland, Vallejo, and San Jose all coming together. You have the home of the Black Panthers and black consciousness, mixed with Silicon Valley types; hippies. All that shit. What’s the difference between a lot of those cities in the Bay? There really ain’t no difference. Just people from different little cities. Really, the Bay ain’t that big. So, you add all them cities up together, the whole Bay is just the size of one city in Texas. It’s really little. So we’re all connected to each other, just a few exits away. We can get to any soil in Northern California within an hour. In L.A., it take you 45 minutes to get from one side of town to the other. It’s different cuts of cloth out here, but for the most part, we all breathe the same air. Let’s talk about that early independent grind, like you and Short. You both seem to be still making stuff that’s relevant to this day. What do you attribute that to? Man, we’re just so ahead of our time. We just stay creative. We came back [to the Bay], and that shit is like the ripple effect. You pass it on through the generations, you know? Our OGs were taught by their OGs and their OGs were taught by their OGs and it trickels all the way down, you smell me? So it’s up to us to lace some of these other youngsters.
A lot of the cats that were carved from the same clay I was carved from are doing hard time now. They’re solid; like Lil D, Black, and Beasley. All of those cats are locked up, and they were some real cats. If some of them were out in the streets the whole Bay would be in a way better position. A lot of times, some of these youngsters are rattlesnakes, and they ain’t got no OGs to tell ‘em [different]. The young rattlesnakes are the most dangerous, because they can’t control the amount of venom they shoot. It’s a drought right now because there’s no cats to guide these younger cats, man. A lot of people are dying over shit they don’t need to be dying over. That’s what I’m talking about; the death toll. Back in the days, when a muthafucker was going to get it, they know what it was about. Nowadays they’re just getting [killed] for small shit that ain’t worth throwing your life away for. “Aw man, that nigga stepped on my shoes.” And even though he said, “I’m sorry,” and bought you a drink, you’re still gonna kill him when he walks out of the club because he stepped on your shoe. See, I don’t like that. That ain’t cool. It’s a whole new ballgame. Tell me about your first Jive deal. I was on there for 10 years. How you feel about being on a major label with so much time in the game and such a big fanbase? What do you think about a guy like Ice Cube who’s doing well independently? No disrespect to Ice Cube or anybody else that’s independent, but when I was doing independent, my shit was a one stop - Music People and City Hall - they were the main hubs. Those were the two little distributors in the Bay Area. My uncle St. Charles would send out one-sheets to all the mom and pop stores and chain stores with a copy of my CD in the package and say, “This is the new project that’s coming out. If you like it and want to order, call this number,” which went to City Hall Records and Music People. That’s how we were doing it. Now, all these cats that are “independent” have real distribution. Their distribution is the same as a major label’s distribution. When we were doing it “independent,” it was a one-stop with a small distributor. That’s the reason I signed with Jive Records, because I was only [reaching] 40% of the nation, as opposed to 100%. When I signed with the major, Jive, they had distribution that [helped me reach] 100% of the nation. I think independent is good too. But it depends on how you want to do it. You’ve gotta understand that the way I was doing it, you gotta put your own dollars in it. Your whole whoo-whop. You gotta put it all in the hands of God, really. You can benefit from being on a major label because of the exposure. You can really get the perks and amenities from this thang. Being independent, you can still be underground and have just as much money as a muthafucker on a major, but that depends on if your shit sells and if you’ve got the outlet. Sometimes you can have a great album in stores but nobody knows nothing about it. It’s a dice roll, daddy. You just gotta put that thang in the hands of God. While you were making this album, were you concerned with keeping hold of any fans you picked up with your last album? Me, personally, I criticize myself a lot. I go hard on myself. But I’m comfortable with this album. I feel like this album is well-rounded. You know,
just like In A Major Way, that album from 1995, you can’t duplicate that same album. I don’t plan on trying to duplicate My Ghetto Report Card. But you never know if it’s going to be better or mediocre, or just there, until you put it out. But personally, I feel like I’m gassing on that muthafucker. I feel like the muthafucker’s a winner. It’s back-to-back slaps on there. It’s not dull shit. Sounds like you have a few that won’t have a problem making it onto radio. Does it bother you to make those obvious radio-ready hits? I’m not gonna lie, when I first started off, I was stubborn. But nowadays, I’m a mature dude. I’m older now, and I’m making grown folks music, and I’m making music for everybody. I’ve got music for them youngsters, and I’ve got music for people that are over 25.
came to his mind. There’s a dance that goes with it, so in the video, y’all will see it displayed. You had a lot of famous guests, like Game and Snoop, on your album. Me and Game are cool. We talk from time to time. I always wanted to do a song with him, but I wanted to make sure it was the right song. Since me, Snoop, and Game are real West Coast fixtures, it’s only right for us to do a song together.
I see you brought T-Pain on board. We were on his tour bus and he was making these beats from the ground up. We did about 5 of them. He’ll do a beat and then start humming to himself for like 10 minutes. He didn’t write anything down, just went into the vocal booth on the bus and did his thing. A Captain Save A Ho is a muthafucker that tricks off his money taking You got trap songs on there, too. care of a broad that ain’t even his broad. That’s I got trap songs on there all day. a Captain Save A Ho, a muthafucker that just What made you work with Shawty Lo? comes to the rescue. That’s not the same thing as First of all, I remember Shawty Lo from D4L. What having a main squeeze. See, without my wife, I know I wouldn’t be where I’m at, because she’s really a solid broad. And “A Captain Save A Ho tricks off his when I say “broad” that’s just my soil money taking care of a broad that spit. I’m not calling her a “broad” ain’t even his broad. that’s not the [disrespectfully]. I encourage muthafuckers: if you’ve got a good same as a main squeeze. without my [female], you need to keep her. And wife, I know I wouldn’t be where I’m vice versa, for females, if you’ve got at, because she’s really solid. recoga good man, hold onto him. They’re to come by. Recognize a blessnize a blessing when it’s in your face.” hard ing when it’s in your face. made me really recognize dude was that game recognize game, like when he said, “Like 40, don’t save her.” A lot of cats in the industry are phony to me, but Shawty Lo wasn’t. That man said my name and shouted me out real tough, and I love that. A lot of cats know I gas; they know I got straight spittems, I got bars. They grew up on my music and they know I’m still relevant. A lot of cats, when I see ‘em personally, they’ll say, “Man, I grew up on your music, I got love for you.” But when I reach out to fuck with ‘em and get ‘em on my album or something, they act funny. They either send an invoice or they’ll be like, “My label ain’t letting me do any more features. Maybe on the next one.” And I know they took a page outta E-40’s book. I ain’t talking about my dictionary, just life in general. But Shawty Lo kept it all the way organic with me, and we got down with the “Break Ya Ankles” song. I know how to separate the real from the fake. Did you have an opinion about the Shawty Lo vs. T.I. beef? I don’t give a fuck about that. I’m in my own lane. People do songs with muthafuckers that’s in rap beef all damn day. If that’s the case, I could be made at a lot of muthafuckers. You smell me? What about the “Recipe”? Oh yeah, yeah, that’s me, Gucci Mane, and Bun B. See, those are real niggas that I fuck wit’. They’re genuine cats. They’re my friends. The “Recipe” is really just talking about the [drug] game, but at the same time, it’s explaining the consequences and repercussions. If you decide to elect yourself into the game of dope, just know that it is cutthroat. You can’t be crackin’ under pressure when you’re backed into the corner. You’ve gotta be built for this shit. What’s going to be the next single? “Break Ya Ankles.” I could see that song coming on ESPN. Shawty Lo came up with the concept. When we did the beat, that’s the first thing that
I never looked for somebody to put me on. I didn’t have an executive producer. Me, D-Shot, B-Legit, and Suga-Tee didn’t have executive producers. We never did a 16 bars with a major dude just to get on. We built our shit from the ground up. Nobody helped us. I always looked up to Too $hort, but he didn’t have anything to do with the beginning of my career. We put our own selves on, through word of mouth, our business minds, and family support. I try to encourage cats not to rely on the record label. You’ve got to get out there and grind for yours even harder now. It’s a brutal world out there and it’s an oversaturated market, so you can’t just rely on the record label. You’ve gotta get out there and network. You ain’t even got to be the best rapper in the world; as long as you’re making the right business moves and networking and muthafuckers are feeling your swag, you can do it. A lot of these d-boys don’t even know. It’s like Rappin 4-Tay said years ago: “Man, a lot of these players’ll make some real good rhymesayers.” He’s talking about the average street nigga; they can rap if they want to, and they’ll probably rap better than the muthafuckers they’re putting out. When you’re from that [lifestyle] and you know it, it’s easier to put out music [about it]. You were also on the “One Blood” remix. I don’t think a lot of people know that there’s a difference between Southern California gang culture and Northern Cali’s street culture. It’s not about colors or where you’re from. Muthafuckers have turf wars, but it’s not about colors [in Northern California]. When muthafuckers funk, they funk over individual situations. Then that trickles down and a whole hood gets involved. But it ain’t not color thing out in the Bay like that. Back in the late 80s and early 90s there were turf wars, but it was never about colors; just certain hoods, certain soils, and certain cities. But don’t let the niggas with the dreadlocks that be dancing and shit fool you. Muthafuckers been hyphy. // OZONE MAG // 49
You might have run into Platinum House founder and CEO Vee Johnson at the hottest industry parties on more than one occasion and had absolutely no idea of who he was or what he does. Even after having a brief conversation and asking for a business card, you still might not know what his job title is. But, once you find out about him, you’ll consider yourself lucky to know him. For the most part Johnson is one of those shadowy music industry figures that always finds a way to capitalize. The Los Lola Luves native grew up bouncing around between California, the Midwest and Southeast. His introduction to the music industry came when he built a recording studio inside of an Atlanta rim shop he owned in the mid-90s. The studio helped cultivate the careers of Jagged Edge, 112, and the Lost Boyz. After serving a brief stint in jail, Johnson returned with a newfound hunger, doing promotions for Dallas Austin and opening the once highly-popular Atlanta nightclub Platinum House. After too many shooting incidents marred the club’s name, Johnson decided use his relationships to finagle a successful career in the music industry. Now using his Platinum House brand as a management, A&R and consulting power, Johnson is poised to continue to both contribute to and capitalize of the music he so loves. So what exactly is Platinum House? Well, I own Platinum House consulting and La Costra Nostra which is another company I run with my wife Nicole Cooke-Johnson. We run [Sam Cooke’s] estate. She’s also one of the Three Brown Girls, you know the ultra-tainment company with Kim Porter. Together we are also on Yung Joc’s management team and we do a lot of consulting with Too $hort as well. The name came from the nightclub that we used to own. A lot of people came on my stage. I had the most incredible people of the time, like Michael Jordan and Jay-Z, I had only party in the region with Pac and Biggie at the same time. They were both my friends, and I had special moments in time with both of them. We had an East vs. West bang off one time, playing record for record, this was before the beef. That time period was very special, so I’m just taking that name and branding it. When people hear “Platinum House” they know what kind of people are involved. How did you get into the music industry? I opened a rim shop with some friends, right in the middle of downtown during Freaknik. We
Industry 101 Vee Johnson
built a recording studio [in the rim shop] and Anthony Dent, Jagged Edge, 112, the Lost Boyz, and Erick Sermon all came through there. After that I wound up taking a promo-type job with Dallas Austin. I knew him from school. After that I ended up hanging with She’kspere in 1999 and went out hustling beats going around the country selling tracks. Shakir Stewart came into our world at the time, and we’re partners right now. [Ed. Note: Shakir passed shortly after this interview. R.I.P.] I also wound up going into a situation with Devyne Stevens, who was a choreographer who you might know now from working with Akon. Why did you choose to go into the music industry? Sounds like you kinda just fell into it. I came in the game from the streets. I always had what the stars had, been where they was at. If you saw me, you probably thought I rapped. I’ve just always had a passion for music. I have a tattoo that says “music is my state of mind.” My mind is always on music. My wife is Sam Cooke’s granddaughter. I’m an MMA fighter right now, 50, and even when I fight I have to listen to music to get me going when I train. I try to keep my body moving rhythmically, so that’s where I’m at all times, I’m in between the beat. I think musical ears are something that’s given. Do you like being somewhat of a shadowy figure? I come from the era of “you don’t know me.” I’m a success story of the 80s to 2000s as a man who has been here for the full spectrum, people that know me know I’ve been here. I’ve never been in it for fame. I get the money and satisfaction of seeing people I helped go to the next level, and if things get hard, I know I’ll have favor with them. When you get full blown, if you fall off, you fall hard. I’m not into people looking at me; that’s for people who aspire to be a public eye figure. I like making money and I found ways to make money off public figures without being one. What projects is your company working on right now? We’re trying to set up a new situation for Too $hort now that he is off Jive. My management branch is trying to make Yung Joc more visible
through mainstream television and film. I’m also in the process of building a music charter school in Atlanta. I want to take the “bad” kids who may just be bored in regular school and teach them music. We’re also trying to put together the Sam Cooke story to make a film. We’re also still making sure that Shakir gets the best results possible during his time at Def Jam by bringing him good music. We have a few more new things coming to the plate in the 1st quarter. What do you call yourself? What “title” is on your business card? Vee Johnson [laughs]. When you find out what connection you have to me, and I have to you, the card won’t matter at that point. I tell people that your relationships will define you. People that I have day-to-day contact with are what make my job easier to do. I do bookings as well, and I have relationships so I’m able to do bookings better than someone else. Not only can I help with getting records for their project, I can take them throughout the Midwest and collect $100k from work and shows. The industry now is not just about selling records. Content is what sells. What else can they sell other than records? What can they sell virally, at shows? The album is like a flyer now, advertising the other things they sell. Everybody may not be Jay-Z, Wayne, Kanye, Biggie, or Pac, but there is still enough money out there to be made. Music is recession proof. When people are sad, broke, and lonely, music is one of the things people run to. They run to the bottle, drugs and music at the same time. You can always go to some club and see some drunk person dancing. What do you think it is about you that’s afforded you to be able to get involved in so many facets of the industry? I’ve just been 100 with my feelings and the way that I am. I cage fight and I don’t pull punches. So when I’m out working, I don’t pull punches, I’m 100 and true with how I feel. There is a value in that. If I can do it, I say yes, if I can’t I say no. If I like it I say yes, if I don’t I say no. Maybe that energy transfers to other people and they see it. // Words and Photo by Maurice G. Garland OZONE MAG // 51
Houston’s Favorite Team Wants To Switch Their Game Up In 2004 the grass looked so much greener on the other side of the fence for Slim Thug’s Boss Hogg Outlawz label. After ravaging through the South putting out what are now considered classic and hard-to-find mixtapes, the independent route seemed to be exhausted. So, hoping to capitalize on the rap world’s new infatuation with all things Houston, Slim Thug opted to step his game up and sign with Interscope Records. In a deal that was supposed to propel Slim and his label into G-Unit like proportions, things started off decently. Slim was linked with űber-producer Pharrell William’s Star Trek label while his major label debut Already Platinum was billed as one of the most anticipated albums of 2005. Unfortunately, it turned out to be too anticipated and was heavily leaked on the internet. When the album finally did drop it received mixed reactions. Slim Thug fans said it had too much Pharrell and that it was too 52 // OZONE MAG
commercial. New listeners said the album didn’t have enough Pharrell and that Slim was an average rapper at best. Either way, Already Platinum went gold. From there the plan was to showcase the artists on Slim’s Boss Hogg Outlawz label: Killa Kyleon, Chris Ward, PJ The Rap Hustler, Sir Daly, and new addition Young Black. But things didn’t quite work out. Like so many more before him, Slim found out what it was like to not be named Curtis or Marshall. The first sign of frustration came when Slim opted to release the first volume of Serve & Collect through Koch Records in 2007. In the following months, headlines were made when Slim began revealing the true nature of his relationship with both Interscope and Star Trek, saying that he was never signed with the boutique imprint, likening the arrangement to more of a production deal. By 2008 Slim was releasing another Serve & Collect titled Back By Blockular Demand and leaving Interscope.
Slim Thug: There are a log of talented artists on my label. We were all signed to Interscope, but they were moving slow and had us waiting on some other shit. But I’ve got a lot of good artists on my label. Did Interscope’s handling of your project disappoint you, or did you take it with a grain of salt? Slim Thug: It was definitely disappointing, but I ain’t holding no grudge. That’s business. Everything that looks good on paper doesn’t always go right. The people at Interscope ain’t from out here [in Houston]. They’re in L.A. and New York. They’ve never had a Southern artist except Young Buck, and that was with G-Unit. They just have trouble with the South. Killa Kyleon: I was signed [through] the same deal as Slim. On Interscope, the whole time they were taking on Slim project, I already had a project done. They wanted to wait for his [album] to drop before ours came out. When you’re independent, you get a chance to shine. We didn’t have to wait on Slim. We had a powerhouse that could’ve matched up to or even surpassed GUnit. I feel like we can compete with everybody else, but Interscope ain’t know how to work a Houston record. That halted us from doing what the fuck we wanted to do. Slim Thug: I’m on the business side of this shit. When you work your ass off to make a CD and one stupid muthafucker at the label fucks your shit up, it makes you feel like, “Fuck that shit.” You wanna do a song your way, but the radio wants shit for hoes or dance records. All these rules they’re putting in the game is fucking it up. You’ve either got to get the money and sell out, or keep it hood and go broke. Do you think the two years you spent caught up in that situation devalued your brand and music? Slim Thug: No. We were still doing our street shit, it didn’t devalue us because people know us out here. The idea for me signing was to expand, and that ain’t happen. We always rocking around here. Interscope was supposed to make it bigger, but they didn’t, so we’re really in the same position we were in before.
Have you ruled out the option of working with a major label again? Killa Kyleon: I don’t really knock being with a major if I had the shot and they knew what they was doing. The difference is that at Interscope we had to wait and sit back to put out the records. Then we had to have certain types of records. Independently, you crash and burn on your own, so you’re in control of your own destiny. Slim Thug: I can’t see [myself ] working with another major label. There’s no [major label] that I believe in like that, and they don’t hand out bankrolls anymore. That’s how Interscope got us. They handed us a bankroll but ain’t do nothing else. You can get a big check for something but if it stops your other checks [from coming], it just doesn’t add up. If they give you a check for an album and it takes three years to come out but you can come out once a year doing it by yourself, it doesn’t add up. Don’t get me wrong. Everything ain’t perfect at Koch either, but ain’t nothing perfect nowhere. Perfect example: On the first week of our release, they fucked up just like the first [deal]. None of our CDs were in Best Buy in Houston, and that’s our main market. That’s the main store. Not to mention that we paid extra to be in the front. The CD wasn’t even in the store. Making stupid mistakes like that will piss you off. We probably lost out a lot because the people going to the store to buy it didn’t see it and went out and bought a burnt CD or something.
Now that the album is out and the Boss Hogg Outlawz are officially independent, they have a entirely new set of obstacles to hurdle. Can they break out of the “Houston music” box? How long can six solo artists coexist? Will they prove to be the powerhouse they believe they are? Nothing is guaranteed, but so far things are looking promising. Since the first Serve & Collect dropped BHO has lost one member and even had slight differences about the direction of the music they wanted to present. Long time Hogg Sir Daly chose to live a more stable life working a regular 9-5 and left the label. But his departure hasn’t slowed down the label’s momentum as they’ve went on to grow an impressive web presence through a slew of YouTube video singles, proving even more that if given a proper major label push good things can happen. Take for instance J-Dawg’s solo record “Ride On 4’s.” The laid-back song, slow enough to not have to be screwed, quietly emerged as one of the most popular songs on the 2007 edition of Serve & Collect. The buzz grew so much that BHO decided to shoot an underground video for the song. Videos for Killa Kyleon’s “Badge On My Neck,” Young Black’s “I’m Fresh,” and Chris Ward’s “For The G’s” soon followed. Based off the response and reviews they received BHO decided to drop Serve & Collect II: Back By Blockular Demand to capitalize. The first single “Keep It Playa” featuring Ray J generated moderate radio and video airplay, thanks mostly to the singing on the hook and smooth R&Bish feel of the song. But BHO insists that they weren’t trying to make a “girl record.”
Killa Kyleon: It was just an idea I had. When I heard the beat I automatically had a concept. Everybody comes with a record where the dude is kissing the girl’s ass. But, some girls are playas just like dudes. Everybody’s got that situation where the chick and the dude both got somebody else on the side. They’re like their playa pa’tna. That situation is more common than [monogamous] relationships. The song doesn’t sound like what people would expect from you. Did you want to break out from the stereotypical Houston rap sound? Killa Kyleon: People categorized us for the music we make. But we set out to show them we’ve got more lyrical content than what y’all think. You couldn’t decide if “Ride Wit’ No Ceiling” was a good street single. Can you explain why? Slim Thug: It’s the same ol’ shit. When I do my show CD, I’ve got 10 songs about cars. I’m sick of the shit. We ain’t need to come out like that. I’ve got more talent than talking about cars. Killa Kyleon: We didn’t want to put that out. The record was strong just like “Recognize A Playa” and it had energy, but it still put us in the zone of a typical Houston record. But we still like to have fun with the music. I don’t think cats have fun no more. They’re so hung up on trying to make a girl song, a gangsta song or a dope song. Hip Hop was fun. It’s supposed to come out of what you really are. When you first heard N.W.A, they put you in a mindframe of what the West Coast was doing. When you heard Wu-Tang they put you in the mindframe of what the East Coast was doing. They ain’t care what you thought, they just did it, and you jammed to it. Nowadays it seems like many artist can only serve one listening purpose at a time. You either listen on your computer at work, in your car or at the house. Would you take it as a compliment or insult if someone said they only listen to your music in the car? Slim Thug: Yeah, I see what you’re saying, but I don’t give a fuck where you’re listening at. Hopefully I’ll make an album where you can listen to it wherever. I ain’t gonna lie, we ain’t have to do “Ride Wit No Ceiling.” We’re trying to get better like any other rapper. We’re in a certain circle and we know that. I know niggas in New York think we only talk about cars, but, they ain’t in cars, they’re on subways. So I can’t expect them to understand. But at the same time, we don’t wanna hear all that murder shit. I like to keep it real in my records. If I ain’t got it I don’t talk about it. I’m not saying every New York nigga raps about killing, I’m talking about rappers in general who be talking about blowing heads off knowing they ain’t doing that. I don’t wanna hear all that shit. I like to hear shit that I can believe. Killa Kyleon: I disagree with that statement for the simple reason that we’re got a song for every mood. Whether you’re hitting the club, on the block, or with your girl, we’ve got a record for every situation. We’re strictly for the streets. The streets are what made Hip Hop hot; we don’t care about radio or corporate America. Everyday I’m in the street, and people stop me and tell me that we’ve got the hottest record in Houston right now. I feel like our record symbolizes the streets of Houston. // Words by Maurice G. Garland Photo by SLFEMP OZONE MAG // 53
Pastor Troy has been at war for a decade—as a matter of fact, this month represents exactly ten years since the Down South Georgia Boy infamously declared war with Master P on his 1998 debut, We Ready. Much has changed since 1998, but twenty albums and several record labels later, Pastor Disaster remains as embattled as day one. He began as an underdog emcee selling records with Select-O-Hits, and today he remains an underground artist who recently returned to Select-O-Hits. He is still largely unappreciated in his hometown of Atlanta, where he receives almost no radio spins and inadequate respect. But after ten years in the game, P. Troy has nothing to prove; not to his fans, not to the naysayers, not even to himself. With his latest project T.R.O.Y. dropping on November 18th, his 30th birthday, the ATL veteran calls this album a present to both himself and his fans. “I’m introducing a gladiator,” he boasts. “We’re just gon’ give the people what they want.” In giving the people what they want, Pastor Troy has crafted a 20-track offering, complete with an entire section dedicated to chivalry. These songs feature samples from such legends as Michael Jackson, Prince, and New Edition. The rapper insists however, that T.R.O.Y. is more than just a commercial record with songs about ladies and love. P. T. promises his latest project is still brimming with the type of music that has cemented his place as one of the greats. His career hasn’t always been glamorous, but after ten years in the game he’s still here. Yes, Pastor Troy is still at war, but as a gladiator, that’s where he’s most comfortable. The new album is called T.R.O.Y.? It’s a ten year anniversary CD that’s coming out on my birthday. I always had the T.R.O.Y. idea in mind from the movie, but I was just waiting on the right album. T.R.O.Y.: Introduction To A Gladiator. What makes this album worthy of the name T.R.O.Y.? It’s just an album that I enjoyed making. It’s a lot of songs on there, and it’s gon’ be a real download. We’re just gon’ give the people what they want and show ‘em that we appreciate them ridin’ with us, man. We’re ten years deep, and I appreciate everybody that’s been with us. I
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dropped my first joint on September 28th, 1998. We dropped We Ready out of a trunk on the weekend, and here we are still standing. Looking back over those ten years, how does your first project compare with T.R.O.Y.? On this CD I’m showing my maturity. I’m 30 years old now. When We Ready dropped I was 20, so a lot of things are different. I know now that this shit is just music. Niggas ain’t out here trying to pull none of this crazy shit off. Back in the day you didn’t know what to be, or how to be. Who even knew we were gonna have success at this shit? Then you end up with success and you have to figure out what to do with it. Back when you were dissin’ Master P in ’98 did you think that you would be sitting here ten years later still putting out music, even years after Master P lost his relevance? Shit, I may have longevity, but I still ain’t got the fuckin’ money he has, so shit, he’s still winning. (laughs) But that joint was real pivotal. Whoever knew that some dudes in the studio just fucking around would get Master P to respond to this damn bullshit? We were in the studio laughin’ and bullshittin’, and this dude called us out and put us on his level. It was crazy, but it wasn’t no hard feelings. We weren’t on no shit like, “We wanna kill Master P,” or nothing like that. We were meeting crazy muthafuckas on the road that were ready to kill the man. [My response was], “It ain’t even that serious.” Much love ‘P. Out of the 20 albums you’ve released, which one is your personal favorite? Of course the first one always means the most, because shit, without that first one there wouldn’t be no second one. That’s just how I ride with it. I appreciate all the albums for meaning something to me, but T.R.O.Y. here just seem a little special to me because it’s falling on my birthday and it represents ten years. My album artwork is crazy, my video is crazy; it just feels real good. It’s a real good comeback album. I’ve been waiting for this one. You know, I’ve been putting out a lot of albums, and my fans have been supporting me through it, but they’ve been feature albums. They haven’t included my production, or DJ Squeaky bangin’ on the beats, or Fat Boy bangin’ on the beats. What exactly is a “feature album”? Somebody might come and buy an album from me, all in for $75,000 or something like that, and I’ll rap on ten of their tracks. And then they put the album out and collect all the proceeds. It’s no big deal to me because I made $75,000 in a week, and If I do a little more than ten of those feature albums in a year, I’ve made a million dollars right there. I’ve been playing the game like that, and that’s what’s been holdin’ a nigga over, but this album here is actually one that
we’re promoting. I don’t promote those feature albums or do any interviews for them. But in 2000 they’re gonna see me 1st Quarter, 2nd Quarter, 3rd Quarter, and 4th Quarter. We’re coming winter, summer, spring, and fall. How is T.R.O.Y. a birthday present to yourself? CDs come out on Tuesdays, and my birthday, November 18th, is a Tuesday this year. Everything was just set up. I wanted it to come earlier, but I wasn’t all the way prepared, but then after I finally did settle in the date, the Tuesday that was most appropriate was my birthday. I was like, “Damn, this is a helluva coincidence.” My music is real conceptual. I got a real concept with this album. In ten years ain’t nobody gave me nothing. I haven’t jacked nobody, and I ain’t bit nobody, but I’m damn sure getting bit. This CD is gon’ really show people the difference between them and me. What happened to your relationship with [independent label] SMC Records? SMC is cool, but I went back to my roots with Select-O-Hits. I didn’t feel like [me and SMC] were doing enough numbers to be partners, so I might as well go solo. With their office being in San Francisco, and me being in Atlanta, and as much work as I did, I figured, shit, what the fuck am I sending half the check out there for? Fuck that! Now I’m straight up doing my independent Mad Society Records, just like ten years ago, straight through Select-O-Hits. We are a major independent. 100,000 is platinum over here for us, and we ‘bout to do that shit in a week. With your dedicated fanbase and the quality of your music, do you think you could see real platinum success if you were on a major label? Man, I’m so damn tired of hearing that shit I ain’t even worried about it now more. It’s more about satisfaction and gratification for myself. If I sell a hundred thousand records, you better keep my email address, because my phone number ain’t gon’ be no good anymore, for real. (laughs) If I do those numbers with the situation I’m in, I’ll probably make a million dollars in a week. It seems like you’ve been blackballed by mainstream radio. You don’t even get any love in your hometown. Why’s that? It’s cool, man. When I had my words with Lil’ Jon they had a lot of influence in Atlanta. But it’s not hard to be blackballed when you ain’t givin’ them no music; I wasn’t even giving ‘em no music to play on the radio. I wasn’t recording any clean versions or stuff like that, as I was saying before, though, those albums weren’t mine, so I wasn’t trying to pull any radio spins in for somebody else’ album. I was trying to save the radio for this T.R.O.Y. album.
Do you feel that the lack of radio play has hindered your success? Naw, we’re still doing all our shows and all our gigs. Atlanta is the only city with the bullshit— and I ain’t gon’ buy it. What the fuck would I buy it with as many Birthday Bashes and shit we done packed, and how we done crunked the city up and showed Atlanta love? I’ll be damned if I go up there [to the radio station] kissing ass trying to get the damn song [played]. I’m gonna go somewhere where they wanna play this shit gladly. I don’t know if I even have any haters, because I’m always around m’fuckers that love me. That’s the best way to do it. Why would I wanna be around some muthafuckas that’s always throwing tomatoes at me? Fuck that!
I know you stay on the road doing shows. What are you some of the places you get the most love? Man, I work every fuckin’ weekend. Charlotte, North Carolina, Columbia, South Carolina, all across Birmingham, Jackson, Mississippi, Florida, Tennessee, Memphis; we keep this shit rocking. I’ve probably been to Charlotte ten times this year alone. Atlanta seems to be a harder market to infiltrate. Atlanta is always gonna be harder market to infiltrate because it’s a million muthafuckas that wanna do what you’re doing, so they can’t appreciate it and show you love. They look at
everybody as competition. I’ve had so many [wannabe] Pastor Troys come after my style, this shit is cookoo crazy. But shit, they don’t know no better, because it was too big of an event. They had to copy, because they couldn’t get away from it; it was a new sound. Does it bother you that you’re not as appreciate at home as much as you are on the road? I’m straight. I understand how it goes. I’m real, and that means I’d rather be loved by some real muthafuckas than [a lot of ] fake muthafuckas. I don’t like people being fake with me. Be real with me. It’s all good. Do you think Atlanta is fake? Let’s put it like this: a lot of Atlanta ain’t Atlanta. So I don’t know what it is, but I know the folks I fuck wit’ is real. I was engaging in one of those classic “Top Five in the South” arguments recently, and your name came up in the discussion. Do you feel that you’re one of the top five emcees? These boys know. It’s about having a track record, a real fucking track record, a movement. You’ve definitely outshone a lot of more recognizable artists throughout the years. That track with Big Boi on Rich Boy’s album was crazy, man. That was probably one of my favorite Pastor Troy verses. Those are the kind of problems I have - murking tracks like that. Muthafuckas don’t wanna do songs with you after I done gotdamn get off like I get off. It’s not too many features or songs I did with anybody in these past ten years where the other muthafucka drowned me, but you bet I done drowned a bunch of muthafuckas! And I’ve done songs with everybody: Tip, Luda, Jeezy, you name it. I ain’t never got drowned, but I done baptized some muthafuckas, believe that. And I’ll baptize some more if they ever do songs with me. Nobody wants to do any more songs. I know you have about 20 songs on the album, and you were telling me that you have a chivalry section on the album. That’s different. Yeah, it’s gon’ be an actual section. Songs like that [are] gon’ be in a certain section. And by chivalry I mean that you should be a warrior in battle, but meek to your lady. And that’s just something that comes along with the territory. Everybody’s all gangsta’d up, but even gangstas got a muthafuckin’ woman. So we gotta address that side too. You’ve got a lot of big time samples on the album. How’d you pull that off? Yeah, we’ve got Michael Jackson, Prince, and New Edition because we’re independent. We get it how we live down here. We don’t have the problems that the majors have with getting those joints cleared. My shit is more like a mixtape. Major labels have to go through a long process. Universal wishes they could put a sample on an album without getting that shit cleared. A Michael Jackson sample would cost them damn near half the company. I’d be done spending [the profits] by the time he came fucking with me. // Words by Eric Perrin Photo by Alfred Troy
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WORDS BY JULIA BEVERLY
THE HIP HOP CIRCUS ACCORDING TO T-PAIN, a.k.a. THE RINGMASTER The World’s Largest Elephant = Fat Joe. That nigga’s huge. The Woman With No Arms = Alicia Keys. She’s skinny as hell and it looks like she’s got no arms. The Midget = Bow Wow The One-Eyed Monster = My penis. My penis is dropping an album called “Suck This.” The World’s Tallest Man = Slim Thug The Strange Siamese Twins = The Girls From Crime Mob The Bearded Woman = I been saying that’s Remy Ma. The Hairy Faced Family = The Wu-Tang Clan The Monkey Boy = Soulja Boy The Monster Man = Busta Rhymes The Four Legged Lady = Beyonce. Her fuckin’ thighs look like they could be four legs The Sky Diver = That would be Chris Brown. That muthafucker is always doing a show where he comes in from the damn ceiling somewhere. The Fire Breather = Lil Kim The Contortionist = Ciara The Human Cannonball = That would be Omarion, cause he has a dance move where he rolls up in a ball and rolls across the floor and shit. The Strong Man = Rick Ross The Women On Stilts = Floetry. Those bitches are tall as hell.
It’s crazy how some artists like you and Akon are such international superstars but you’re still low-key enough that you kinda have a personal life without the paparazzi and people all up in your business. How have you been able to maintain that distance? I ain’t that famous to have muthafuckas following me around with a camera. Akon has white [fans] too, and the pop crowd. For some reason I can’t get out of the hood crowd. I guess it’s ‘cause of what I talk about and how I look. When you started out, was music the only career path you had in mind? What do you think you woulda ended up doing if this didn’t pop off for you? I ain’t got nothing else. I still don’t got another career path in mind. This is pretty much it for me. When I started, it was just for the love of doing music. I wasn’t watching the videos thinking, “I’ma get this car,” or, “I’ma have this many girls around me.” I wasn’t even into that. Kinda like how I am now, I ain’t got as many chains as everybody else. I ain’t ballin’ like everybody else, or it doesn’t seem like I am. I keep my [money]. That’s how the rich stay rich. Be cheap! (laughs) Buy the Mini Cooper instead of the Bentley? Exactly. I only got one expensive ass car, and that’s the Lambo. That was a gift to myself. When we did our first photo shoot, before
“Sprung” popped off, you had actually produced and directed a music video for the song as well. Are you planning on directing any of your videos in the near future? Yeah, I’m still doing the same thing with my videos. I just don’t want the stress ‘cause all that shit comes with stress. I ain’t tryna have all that responsibility. I’ma let other muthafuckas do that. I’ve done enough on my own. I’ve proved that to myself [that I can do it] so I’ll let other people do it [now]. When I got the Producer Of The Year [Award at the 2008 BMI Awards, along with J.R. Rotem and Kanye West] I felt like I don’t really have to produce that much anymore. Let other muthafuckers have that stress. I’m real hands-on [with my video concepts], but I don’t wanna be known as the director. The last couple videos I filmed, the [ideas] were really all me. They had all the capabilities and control to really bring my shit out. Once I got hands on it really brought it to life. What about your stage show? I read that Kanye was really involved in the design and format of his stage show, with the whole spaceship concept. Are you developing a theme for your stage show for the upcoming tour with Lil Wayne? Right now, I’m going with the circus theme. It’s just having fun. Fucking with people and fucking with their minds. I want people to ask, “Why the fuck is he doing that shit?” A lot of people OZONE MAG // 57
don’t understand that’s really how you [become successful as an artist]. Don’t give everybody everythang, let ‘em have some kind of mystery about you. That’s why a lot of people haven’t seen me without my shades on. So when I’m ready to take my shades away from the image, they still got something to look forward to, instead of already knowin’ what I look like without shades on. When you started, a lot of people doubted that the auto-tune effect would work for you. Obviously, they were wrong. Are there any “I told you so” moments that stick out in your mind? Any critics that had to eat their words later on? Pretty much everybody. Nobody thought I would get past “I’m Sprung.” Then “I’m In Luv (Wit A Stripper)” came out and they were like, “Okay, this is the last one right here.” Then “Buy You A Drank” came out and they were like, “This gotta be the last one from this nigga with the autotune.” And I just kept coming. Then I started doing all the features with everybody and shit got crazy. Everyone had to eat their fuckin’ words. I had gone to everybody, and every record label and every artist I tried to get on with was like, “Nah, we good.” They didn’t think [the autotune] shit was gonna work. But you know, they couldn’t see the future. So fuck it. Do you think the auto-tune effect is gonna get played out like a lot of the other trends we’ve seen come and go? It’s gonna get played out. It’s gonna come and go after it goes through all the stages. As long as it ain’t the same thing every time, that’s how people get tired of you. If every time they hear you on a song you’re coming with the same thing, using auto-tunes and doing the same rhythms or melodies, they’re gonna get tired of it. Do you think your songwriting and production abilities are something you were born with, or was there something in particular you did to develop yourself as an artist? It’s all about having experiences. If you ain’t got no fucking experiences, there ain’t no reason for you to try to write a song. People can tell when you’ve got a fake-ass song. When you talk about nice cars and you ain’t got no nice car, you’re fucked. People can tell. If you’re singing a love song and you ain’t got no girlfriend, what is you talkin’ about? Do you think a T-Pain hook could resuscitate anyone’s career? Not at all. If you have a history of sucking, then there ain’t shit I can do for you. People ain’t gonna accept it regardless of who it is. It ain’t really nothin’ I can do. If you ain’t gonna be accepted by yourself, ain’t shit I can do for you. Do ever listen to the radio and get tired of hearing yourself? I don’t really listen to the radio so I can’t say that. I’m always listening to a CD. I like to control what I’m [listening to] and niggas like to play a slow song right after a Jeezy song on the radio. They’ve gotta play certain songs [in the playlist] so there really aren’t any mixshow DJs anymore. Who has T-Pain’s permission to use auto-tune? Lil Wayne, Kanye, Diddy, and Timberland. Everybody else can suck my left nut with two lips. Diddy signed a contract sayin’ that I get points on his album just for using the Auto-Tune. Diddy! He’s the biggest, man. This man has a billboard in New York! 58 // OZONE MAG
I heard some of the stuff Wayne is working on for his rock album. Are you looking at going in a different direction as well? Oh yeah, I’ma definitely switch it up. I’m not gonna switch it up hard, I’ma keep it classic T-Pain. If somebody didn’t know who Wayne was, they really wouldn’t know what was going on. But that’s awesome ‘cause he’s bringing in a whole other audience, just like Kanye, so I think it’s great. I’ma just keep mine T-Pain and add different elements like I always do. I don’t want to be cliché and say that Hip Hop is dead, but do you think Hip Hop has lost some of its meaning and become commercial? It’s depends on which Hip Hop. If you’re talkin’ about the music where you had to pick up a dictionary just to listen to a damn song, hell yeah, Hip Hop is dead. But if you’re talking about music in general, then nah, we’re very much still alive. Music is about having fun. It’s not about using every word out of the dictionary. Hip Hop isn’t really lyrical anymore, and the people who grew up in that generation where you had to be lyrical to make a song hate that shit. When you’ve got Soulja Boy selling more than those lyrical niggas now, it’s killing them, and they’re the ones who are saying that Hip Hop is dead. You have two kids now, right? Two and one on the way. Aside from the music thing, what’s your ideal day if you didn’t have to work? All I’d do is chill out, hang with the kids, go buy useless shit at the mall, chill with the family. I buy useless shit like toys and fucking Halloween masks. Dumb shit. Are your kids spoiled? Yeah, but I go in Toys-R-Us and buy shit for my damn self. You gotta have fun. I gotta get all the stuff I couldn’t when I was a young man, a young stallion in the game. What’s up with the Nappy Headz now? I’ve been in Tallahassee for three days and haven’t seen nobody from Nappy Headz. I don’t know what they doin’. Last time I heard they were tryin’ to get back together, but they’re all doing their solo thing too. Do you think your success encourages artists from small cities, like Tallahassee, to know that they can make it too? I don’t think people look at it like that, man, because the level of hate I’ve been gettin’ while I’m here [in Tallahassee] is so crazy. I didn’t even think it was gonna be like that, but I came down here and I’m gettin’ more hate than I do in somebody else’s city. It’s kinda crazy. I mean, I get just as much love, but it’s amazing to see the amount of hate. It’s like people don’t care. People aren’t tryna get motivated or inspired to do anything else with their life or their career. People talkin’ shit, people trying me in the club. Nobody cares if you’ve got money. They think I’m trying to show off, but really, I’m just living my life. I’m enjoying what I’m doing. It’s really just getting bad. Niggas are vandalizing muthafucker’s houses down here just because they know me. You ain’t cool if you know T-Pain. Niggas are trippin’. Niggas try to figure out why I don’t go to Tallahassee much? This is exactly why. So with your label Nappy Boy Digital, you’re experimenting with different ways to release
music digitally, instead of the traditional album-in-stores method, right? I’m not paving the way, I just see where it’s going. All the major record stores like Virgin and Tower are shutting down. It’s getting stupid to the point where you’re starting to wonder where the fuck niggas gon’ buy CDs. The only choice you’ve got is the damn internet. We’re still gonna have physical sales, but we’re mainly focused on internet sales.
“Nobody thought I would get past ‘I’m Sprung.’ Everyone had to eat their fuckin’ words... every record label and every artist I tried to get on with didn’t think [the autotune] shit was gonna work.” Rumor has it that there was a little incident between you and Plies. What’s the situation? I haven’t seen him since the incident so I don’t know if everything’s cool on his side. But I’m just waiting to hear a response. He’s gotta talk to me one day. What was the incident? He basically told his security to get me off the stage when I tried to sing “Shawty” with him [at a show in North Carolina]. His security didn’t [push me off ], but it’s the fact that he told them to do it. He did the same thing to Trick [Daddy] in Orlando. I didn’t believe [Trick] until [Plies] did the same thing to me. So for the sake of Florida unity, you basically want to disregard the situation and move forward? That’s pretty much what I’m doing, but if it comes back again, I’ve gotta address it. I ain’t ‘bout to be a nigga that’s just avoiding the whole shit. It was a major situation. I feel like I had a major contribution in helping this dude. I don’t know how he feels about the shit, but I almost lost my damn career tryin’ to make sure he got [the record] “Shawty.” I was cussing out the president of my label. I basically said, “[Give him the record] and if the shit don’t work, then y’all can drop me.” Oh my God! I’m so glad the shit worked, you know, but I really put my whole career on the line [for Plies]. For yourself as an artist, is it important for you to look out for the people that helped you get on? Yeah, if people helped me out major. But if people gave me $2 to get a cheeseburger [back in the day], they feel like they helped me get on. I had somebody ask me today, “You know Ken, dawg?” I said, “I know a lot of Kens.” He said, “Well he said he’s the one that got you on. He said he helped you out a long time ago.” I’m like, “I don’t remember that. I don’t know nobody named Ken that helped me do that.” If you don’t remember their name they probably didn’t do too much. And niggas get mad at that. I don’t really know, I don’t remember a Ken that helped me out like that. Niggas take the small shit and make it huge. Why did you end up hosting the BET Hip Hop Awards at the last minute instead of Katt Williams? What’s the real behind-the-scenes story with him? That wasn’t even my business. We never had any contact, except for the day after. He was
at the Ludacris video shoot and I shook his hand like, “What’s up, Katt?” He was like, “You want a rematch on that breakdance thing?” I’m like, “What breakdance thing?” Later on I found out that BET was saying we had a breakdance contest to host the show. Whatever he had going on with BET wasn’t my business. All I know is that they called me, and I came. Do you see more hosting gigs in the future? Like the OZONE Awards? (laughs) I don’t know about the OZONE Awards. As soon as we get a lil more organized and everybody can’t get backstage. It already ain’t enough room for nobody and then Haitian Fresh always gotta bring his mascot back there. Are you comfortable with your image as the unlikely R&B star? You said the label tried to get you in the gym to get cute and all that, and it wasn’t really your thing. I don’t know about the gym. I ain’t never been in the gym. I went in there one time and that was to watch somebody else. People expect R&B stars to look like, you know, Usher. They can be R&B stars, but them niggas still gotta write and produce they own songs. [My] phone is ringing off the hook for [me to write songs for] Usher and Chris Brown. They’re still calling me, so ain’t nothing changed. Striped dreads and all? Striped dreads and everythang.
Actually, a townhouse. On the West side of Jacksonville off of 103rd Street. [Atlantic Records A&R] Mike Caren brought Sophia Fresh to me. He said they had a hot new group they needed me to sign. They showed me their shit and after that they were signed to my label [Nappy Boy]. Do you eventually see yourself going in the direction of Andre 3000, where you’re doing really abstract things musically? I don’t think I can, ‘cause I’m so connected. When Andre came out he wasn’t really connected [to mainstream music]. I’m so connected to – not really the hood - but drankin’ and strip clubs. What are your Top 10 favorite strip clubs? Well my #1 is Diamonds. Ain’t nothin’ gonna top that. I don’t know of nine others. So your wife wasn’t mad about “In Love With a Stripper?” Nah. She was in love with the same one. Me and my wife get it in. You let me know when you wanna go in three ways. Nah, I’m good, but maybe y’all and T.I. and Tiny could get together. Nah, I don’t know about that. I don’t think Tiny gets down like that. I don’t know, but that is the word on the street. I don’t know about the word on the streets. I mean, I read something on the internet about some Atlanta artist that was taking his girl to the club and taking strippers home. But Will Smith and Jada got more money. They can pay for the strippers.
“[plies] basically told his security to get me off the stage when i tried to sing ‘shawty’ with him. i feel like i had a major contribution in helping this dude... i really put my whole career on the line [for plies.” We recently interviewed rapper Ms. Cherry, who revealed on the VH1 reality show Miss Rap Supreme that she had a child with you. Did that cause problems in your marriage? Not at all. I’m very good. I’m real straight at the house. Did you vote for Barack? I didn’t vote at all. It’s hard enough to get one person to run a record company, and you’re telling me that this one dude is ‘bout to run the country? You know who I wanna vote for? I wanna vote for the muthafuckas that’s behind Barack, the muthafuckas you never see. Tell me about your Nappy Boy lineup: TayDizm, Sophia Fresh, Young Cash, and Jay Lyriq. Sophia Fresh is dropping “What It Is” right now. We’re dropping Young Cash’s “Mega Movie.” It’s already been going for a while so that’s coming out, and TayDizm’s “Beam Me Up” single featuring me and Rick Ross is all over 106th & Park. What attracted you to each of those artists and made you want to work with them? Jay Lyriq has been with me ever since day one. TayDizm’s been my hypeman since day one. I didn’t want him to be a hypeman that can’t make songs. That’s what he does. Young Cash was with me before I had any kind of money. I used to borrow Young Cash’s shoes. (laughs) I used to sleep on his couch at his condo. The condo up in Toronto? (laughs)
So you keep things spicy at home? Oh yeah, believe that. You gotta keep things spicy. If it ain’t spicy it ain’t hot.
In another interview you said that out of 100 guys in a club, only 3 of them are macks and the rest are regular guys. I meant like, real pimps. Niggas that could come in this room right now and be like, “Ay bitch, come here,” and the bitch actually comes. Yeah, 3 niggas out of 100. You fit into the other category? I can’t say. My wife would have to be here. My wife would come in here right now like, “Ay bitch, come ‘ere,” and the bitch will come. So your wife is more of a mack than you are? Did you get her or did she get you? She actually got me. We were at a party for her sister. I was producing [music for] her sister at the time. We were at her birthday party and [my wife] Amber came in and was like, “Ay you, come here.” I was like, “Uh okay, cool.” She was pretty. I thought she was Puerto Rican and I like Puerto Rican girls. I walked over to her and that’s what happened. After that came marriage time. What’s up with that comment you made about Ray J at the BET Awards? That was a joke on me. I still get interviews about [my come that Ray J had a big dick, in the Kim Kardashian porn]. That was a long time ago and I’m still getting interviewed about it. It was pretty much a joke. They’re still asking about it so I’ma still talk about it. Why not? In a Blender magazine interview, you were talking about your dad blackmailing you. Like, “Gimme $250,000 and I’ll get out of your life.” That was weird because they said a lot of shit [in
that interview]. They were saying that my dad said that to get rid of me, but really he meant that’s all the money he needed. That’s what would pay his bills for a long time to where I wouldn’t have to pay his bills no more. A lot of people thought it was like, “Give me $250,000 and you won’t have to be my son no more.” He was saying, “Give me $250,000 and that’ll pay my bills forever.” Did you give it to him? Hell naw! I don’t have $250,000 to spend like that. I’ll give it to him in spurts but I just can’t give up $250,000. I got shit to do. That’s not my responsibility anyway. Do you wanna bury your kids or do you want your kids to bury you? So that was taken out of context? Yeah it was. They took a lot of stuff out of [context in] that Blender interview. Yeah, your dad is an interesting character. He really is. Do you think you’d be in the position you’re in now without your dad’s help? Not at all. He kicked me off with [our rap group] the Nappy Headz. He was our manager, our road manager, everythang. When the group split up, that’s when I just told everybody I’ma do my own thing. Are you drunk right now? I actually stopped drinking for a while ‘cause I’ve been smoking cigarettes. I’m just rebelling. I wanna do something bad. Either I’m gon’ be a fucking alcoholic or I’m gon’ smoke. And when the T-Wayne tour starts I’ma stop smoking and start drinking. I’ma be drinking Nuvo though. What’s the difference musically between the T-Wayne album and the T-Pain album? First of all, T-Wayne is two people. I was just having fun. It may not be an album, it may be just a mixtape because it may take too long to bring an album out. You’ve got Universal, Young Money, Konvict, Jive, Nappy Boy, and you’ve gotta make all those splits. If we don’t feel like making all those splits, then it’s just gonna be a T-Wayne mixtape. What can people expect when they come see the tour? The whole damn circus, puttin’ it down. I know Wayne gon’ do his thing. I might even play guitar with Wayne. It might even be a guitar battle in that bitch, like Guitar Hero. You got Thr33 Ringz in stores now. Tell people what’s a couple significant records on the album that they might not have heard that they should be checking for. You should probably listen out for “It Ain’t Me” featuring T.I. and Akon, talking about buying a bitch a bunch of shit and I ain’t the person to do that. I’m cheap as hell. And I got “Change” with me, Diddy, Mary J. Blige, and Akon, which is about changing the world. It’s the Hip Hop version of “We Are the World” with a lil less people. Why should people buy Thr33 Ringz instead of downloading it? I ain’t saying don’t download the shit, if that’s what you feel like doing, but the reason you should buy my album other than somebody else’s is ‘cause if you buy somebody else shit it’s gonna sound like me anyway, so just buy the original. If I was to come out the same time as Roger Troutman, shit, buy Roger Troutman’s shit or Teddy Riley’s. It’s all about the originator. You want him or somebody that sounds like him? // OZONE MAG // 59
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For the last year and a half it seems DJ Unk has flown under the radar, but the “Walk It Out” ambassador insists he’s flown everywhere but. “I’ve been all over the world,” boasts Unk. “It’s unbelievable how big my music is overseas.” While his fans at home may have long grown tired of the once ubiquitous chants of “2 Step”, and “Walk It Out,” Unk’s international followers have faithfully kept him busy. “When it was 3 o’clock in the afternoon in Atlanta, it was nighttime in Europe and I was on stage performing over there,” explains Unk, of his questioned absence in ATL. “I was eatin’ swordfish and dolphins right across from the Mediterranean Sea. It’s been a blessing, man.” Now the Oomp Camp headliner feels blessed to return home, more cultured, more traveled, and more ambitious than ever. Unk has just released his sophomore project, Second Season, and while 2006’s Beat’N Down Yo Block! led him and his “motivational” music on a trip all around the world, DJ Unk stresses that his Second Season displays the growth he’s experienced over the past two years. Musically, he’s sticking to the same formula that led him to top in 2006. What’s the biggest difference between your first CD, Beat’N Down Yo Block! and this new one, Second Season? The biggest difference is just growth. Beat’N Down Yo Block! was just me showing everybody what I’ve got going on, and they saw it. This project Second Season is the follow up album. Everybody says it’s hard to come back with your second album [because of ] the sophomore jinx and all that other bullshit, but this is definitely an album full of growth. It’s more maturity in the sounds, new flows, and new hits. It’s more in-your-face, that’s why I’ve got a song on the album called “In Yo Face.” I get my point across on records, and I have fun doing that. That song “In Yo Face” made the [NBA] 2K9 video game, which is in stores right now. Being that the economy has changed so much in the two years since you last came out with an album, do you think it will be difficult for you to replicate the kind of success you had with Beat’N Down Yo Block!? The hardest part will be just gaining attention and that all comes from what you put out. The economy might be down, but shit, you can make something to motivate people and get the economy back up. I just dedicate my music to every different mood. I got something on the album for every mood swing. I try to cover as much as possible, so it fits perfectly. What’s your favorite track on the new album? Of course I love the [whole] album, so it’s hard to pick one track. “That’s Right” is real gutter, but it’s also real easy, and it’s one of those songs that’s gon’ put a big smile on your face. I got a song called “Make It,” which is a motivational song; it motives me as well.
Now you have a song with Ray J on your new album as well, right? Yep, that’s my homeboy, big shouts out to Ray J, because he snapped on that thang. Ray J has been doing his thing for years, so it was a blessing to work with him, and he’s on Koch, too. The song is called “She Freaky,” and the people gon’ love it; iTunes’ gon’ love it. We came hard on that track. Like I said, it’s all about growth. It’s my sophomore album, so I had to come with something hard. I also got a song called “Ridin’ Around” with a group called Blaze; we just signed them to Big Oomp Records, and those guys there are multi-talented, especially in harmonies. You can put them up against any other R&B group and Blaze will shut ‘em down. I think the song [“Ridin’ Around”] is gon’ be another classic. Do you think you have a song on Second Season that you expect to be as big as “Walk It Out?” “Walk It Out,” that was something unbelievable, man. It woke a lot of people up, and brought everybody together; it changed a whole lot. It wasn’t just a song, it was a mentality, the way you carry yourself. It’s a stress reliever, and it’s also a good workout. So I’m not even gonna say I’ll have another song like that again, because “Walk It Out” was priceless, and not just for myself. It touched damn near every household in the world. With your new music are you sticking with same style and formula, or are you switching it up? I stuck to my formula, but I’ve got a gumbo, and a gumbo consists of a lot of different ingredients. I could do a third album, which will probably be three years later, but the message I want to leave people with is that every time I drop something it’s gon’ be something you’re gonna want to listen to. I want to give them something to wake up to, something to go to the club with, and something that is there throughout all parts of life. I want my music to let me get my point across, whatever that may be. But at the end of the day I just want people to have fun. You mentioned that you probably won’t drop your third album for three more years, which is interesting because it took you two years to come out with the follow-up to your first. It seems that most new artists release CDs as quickly as possible. Why do you choose to wait so long? A lot of new artists don’t get booked like I got booked. The bookings have just been stupid. I can’t even explain it, that “Walk It Out,” just tore it out the ass and we’ve been riding that thing ‘til the wheels fall off. We got some good wheels; because them muthafuckas still ain’t fell off. We’re still gettin’ booked just off “Walk It Out.” All they want me to do is “Walk It Out” and “2 Step,” and I’m good. We hit Japan, Italy, Greece, and Germany like seven times. Every time we go to Germany we do like 5 to 8 cities. We usually hit Germany and then drive up to Italy, drive back to Germany and then go to airport. In the midst of all that, it’s just been shows, shows, and more shows. Damn, so your passport game is probably sick right now. What’s your favorite international spot to visit? It’s gotta be Germany, just because I’m over there so much. Them boys keep me working over
there, and their fanbase is so big that every time I go over there it’s nothing but love and clubbin’. They ain’t got nothing to do over there but club, and they love my music. It’s all support over there, and the German women are lovable. They hit the stage with me, they come dressed to impress and it’s just a lot of fun. But now I’m back. Second Season is in stores now so I’m just promoting that and the new single, “Show Out.” I read somewhere that one of your favorite things to do is go on YouTube and watch yourself perform at the ‘06 BET Awards when you closed out the show. What other moments in your two years of touring stand out the most? I always wanted to have a big birthday party, and for my 26th birthday I had a party in Japan. I don’t know if that sounds as big to everybody else as it was to me, but I had a party—in Japan. Man, there were Chinese people, Japanese people, people in kung-fu suits walkin’ it out, monks and everything. The love I got on my birthday over there was amazing. Everybody was bringing me gifts and singing “Happy Birthday” in Japanese, it was crazy. They didn’t speak hardly any English, but they knew every word to “Walk It Out” and “2 Step.” For your fans in America that really embraced your music two years ago, but may not be checking for you as much right now, what message would you like to convey to them? I just want everybody to know that if you liked my music before, this time around it’s Second Season. Everything we do gets bigger and better. It’s gon’ be more positive, more live, and if you sat down in the tub and you decide to get up, now it’s time to get your ass to the stage, because it’s all up. We’re going 200%. That first 100% is what gets you in the game, the next 50% gets you to the next level, and if you turn it up another 50%, you can’t do nothing but go to the top. And that’s Second Season. You worked with DJ Montay again for “Second Season,” right? Yep, DJ Montay has top quality production. You heard him from the Flo-Rida track, and that “Low” tore it out the ass. Do you know how many plaques he got from that song? It was on top of all the charts, Billboard Hot 100, Hot Digital Songs, Ringmasters, that shit was off the chain. It’s just DJ Montay, and he’s got more to come. He did my first album, and he did the second one, too. Montay, MC Assault, Mr. Jones, Malcolm, Joe; our production team is top quality. Ain’t nobody fuckin’ wit us. It’s just a matter of time. And we’ve landed so many projects. We’re on everybody’s stuff. What do you think your place in the Atlanta rap scene is right now? I see myself on top, man. But it ain’t just me, I got a good company, I got a good foundation, I got a good surrounding. I surround myself with nothing but positivity, and that’s Big Oomp Records and the whole staff. They keep me motivated. Our whole camp is up, and we ain’t doing nothing but staying on top. There’s no going down, there’s no turning back. We can’t go nowhere but up.
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to have longevity like Celia Cruz who can still do shows and get love, but I also want to be an entrepreneur like Gloria and Emilio [Estefan]. That’s how I want my career to be. At what point would you say you took your destiny in your own hands, career-wise? I took my destiny in my own hands when I was on Luke Records. Luke is the blueprint; he sold millions on his own. When I got to TVT I formed alliances with everyone in the building. These artists walk into these offices like their shit don’t stink and think these people are gonna want to work for them. But Mr. Gottlieb tied [the employees’] hands behind their back and said he wouldn’t pay them if they kept fucking with me. At that point me and Team Pitbull went out on our own. That’s what it’s all about. When these artists go out on tour, they gotta pick up business cards. It’s all about networking. That’s the only way you survive.
Though the title to his latest single would lead you to think that he is loco, Pitbull is far from “Crazy.” He knows exactly what he’s doing. Since busting on the scene in 2003 with his Lil Jon-assisted ode to ass “Culo,” Pit has built his name and brand as the premier bi-lingual rapper on the planet. Whether it be through keeping a musical alliance with Lil Jon or hopping on the right Reggaeton hits, Pit is swiftly approaching being a household name from the bricks to the barrio. Even through poor promotion and well documented disputes with his former recording home TVT literally had him on the shelf (his last two albums collectively sold half the amount of his Gold-selling debut), Pit has taken an independent route making a name for himself through doing shows and using alternative avenues. His latest venture, a single deal with digital powerhouse The Orchard has seen his single “Crazy” catapult to 250,000 copies sold on iTunes. In the midst of riding the success of his new single and prepping to release his latest fulllength Rebelution, Pitbull is taking a bite out of as many pies as possible venturing into both the online and television worlds. Here, Pit speaks on everything from his independent state of mind to why he prefers an actual party over a political one. Tell us about the unique situation you’re in right now with your record label. After this single “Crazy” I’m a free agent. I’m negotiating with labels as we speak. If anyone wants a sweet digital single deal I suggest you go through The Orchard.
Why did you decide to use this avenue this go around? It’s an avenue for me to continue to sell. “Crazy” is at 250,000 sold on iTunes. With The Boatlift I only sold 100,000 in stores because TVT went bankrupt, but I sold 1.2 million digitally. So I’m not new to the digital game. iTunes and all the phone carriers make money one way or the other. They help you market and get your radio up. I always had a team in place, so when the company gives me money, I give it to the team and do our thing. But for a record like “Crazy” without a major selling 250,000 in 5 weeks is pretty fucking amazing. You mentioned that you are in negotiation with major labels. What is attractive about them to you right now? I’ve never been looked at as a big boy in the game even though I’ve been doing big boy numbers. It’s always been an independent grind for me, but now, I get to plug into the machine. I’m not looking for an artist exclusive deal, and I’m going to cut a 360 deal either. I’m cutting a different deal because I bring my own fanbase, a diverse fanbase. Speaking of which, tell us a little bit about your new social networking site. PlanetPit.com is a place where I can keep up with the fans. Everyday I’m putting up new things to keep people updated, entertained and educated. I got someone who can handle the shit on the daily and I tell them what I want on there. Personally, I’m computer illiterate. You have a television show now as well, right? Yes. La Esquina. It means “the corner” in Spanish. It’s 2 weeks in and it’s the number one show on Mun2. That network went from 6 to 24 million viewers in one year, might I add. We touch on what’s hot in society and twist it and make it funny with a message in it. Back when you came on the scene around 2003, what were some of your goals? My goals have always been that by 30 I would have my own company, ownership, living on an island, and to establish myself in the music game with my own lane. I’m the only one who is bilingual who has been able to tap dance through all different cultures. I have my own company, Mr. 305 Inc., where I have my artists Cornbread, Sincero, and Young Boss who is already signed to Universal Republic. So none of this should come as any surprise. It was all part of the plan. I want
You’ve recorded political songs speaking on the situation in Cuba, but you’re more known for party tracks. Why do you think people would rather hear those types of songs? I put out “American War,” a very political song, which is on YouTube right now. But to turn on the TV and see all the negativity, people want to go to the club and escape. I make all types of music, but that’s the kind of music I have to continue to put out to survive. I cater to my fans in order to be catered to, and now it’s my turn to give them what I want to give them. The classic album that I never got a chance to do, a full spectrum of music. Not just dope, the streets, or political shit, I’m gonna be talking about everything they’ve been seeing. I thank God I wasn’t plugged all the way in early because I got a good perspective on things now. Over the years you’ve grown to become an internationally known artist. How much do you think that has to do with your nationality? A lot. I was on tour with Akon in Australia. We both had a mutual friend who would tell us about each other. He said that we were both going to blow one day. Akon comes from a different kind of struggle. If you’re talking about Senegal [where Akon is from] and you come to the States, it’s like Beverly Hills. Same with me being from Cuba and comparing it to the Pork N’ Beans. You’ve got a roof over your head and government help [here in the States], unlike third word countries. I think that’s why we’re winning. We talk from different perspectives. Do you ever look at some of your music peers a certain way, for acting like their life was rougher than it may have been? Everybody wants to paint their life as interesting. You’ve got [artists like] Kanye West who don’t rap about doing crazy shit in the streets, he just knows how to flip shit with good wordplay. Jeezy and TI paint good pictures too. But a lot these cats know they’re green as fuck. They don’t know nothing about the streets, but if there are people who believe them, hey, more power to them, because they’re good actors. Do they fuck with me? No. Do I fuck with them? No. It’s kinda like with homosexuals. I respect that you’re homosexual, that’s your thing, just never disrespect me. So when I see a lot of rappers who paint pictures of a life they never lived, that’s not my problem. Conscience is a muthafucker. It catches up with you. // Words by Maurice G. Garland
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and developing new talent, overseeing producers, and guiding the creative vision and brand recognition of the label. He was awarded the position in June 2008 after working at the label for four years, serving four years as VP of A&R and Senior VP of A&R. In layman’s terms, Shakir stepped into the title that rap king Jay-Z vacated six months earlier. Based on his previous track record, the job looked like it would just be another notch on Stewart’s already star-studded belt. Born and raised in Oakland, California, Stewart trekked out to Atlanta after graduating from Skyline High School to attend Morehouse College to study marketing. His impact was felt almost immediately. “Back then, Atlanta was the high moment for HBCUs,” says lifestyle specialist and founder of Studio 43, Kenny Burns. Burns was a friend of Stewart’s who attended Morehouse with him. The two met through mutual friends during Freaknik ’92. “As we started partying we saw the difference between us and them, you know?” Burns recalls. “[We] just had that glow and popularity. We had that upper hand.” His glow was realized before he even set foot in Atlanta. Even back in Oakland as a youngster, he had a rep.
G N I R E B M REME STEWART SHAKIR On the EVENING of November 1st, 2008, an eerie text message traveled from cell phones in Atlanta TO THE EAST COAST, WEST COAST, AND BEYOND:
know him or know him as well as you thought you did ask the same question that his closest friends are asking. Why? To people itching to get into the music industry, maybe even to those who are knee deep in it, Shakir Stewart had the dream job. Vice-President of Def Jam Records. He was responsible for daily activities at the legendary label including finding
“He was a go-getter. He was into the pursuit of a better life and happiness,” says veteran rapper and childhood friend Richie Rich. “He was always assertive about going to school. He kept his head in the books. I remember going out to Atlanta for Freaknik ’93 and some of the guys he hung with lost focus during the time I was down there, but not him. He hung out, but he ain’t miss no classes either.” During his time at Morehouse, Stewart was a partner in Ivory Coast Entertainment, a party promotions team that also included Chris Hicks, Ryan Glover and Henry “Noonie” Lee who went on to form Noontime Records. “[I was] the guy who was the head of passing out flyers at seven clubs a night, seven days a week in 20-degree weather,” Stewart is quoted in Billboard magazine about those days.
Def Jam VP Shakir Stewart dead from suicide.
PHOTO COURTESY OF KENNY BURNS
Of course, like most texts of that nature, you brush it off as a terrible rumor started by someone who has nothing productive to do with their time. Especially when it’s coming from a number that you don’t have programmed in your address book. But when you keep getting that same text over and over again from people that you not only know, but respect, you finally start to realize that damn, it just might be true. Still not convinced, you hop on the internet when you get home from whatever it was you were doing and go to a website you usually trust. They’re reporting the same thing you just read in your cell phone: Def Jam VP Shakir Stewart dead from suicide. Then it sets in. A man who was loved by many, respected by most, known by plenty took himself away. Then you, a person who probably didn’t 64 // OZONE MAG
This undated photo from his Morehouse days includes Stewart (far left), friend and business partner Kenny Burns (2nd from right in the black hat), and Diddy’s “other” baby mama Sara Chapman (3rd from left in the blue dress)
When he graduated in 1996, Stewart continued to make a name for himself in the promotions aspect of the music industry, eventually catching the eye of music impresario and LaFace co-founder L.A. Reid who hired him to join his Hitco publishing company in 1999. While there Stewart held two positions, Senior Vice President and General Manager, and secured his first big accomplishment by signing Beyonce to a publishing deal. Simultaneously, Stewart served as an A&R consultant to LaFace and Arista Records from 2000 to 2004. During that time he signed Ciara, which proved to be another victory. “Shake was the most ambitious person I’ve ever met,” says rapper and fellow Oakland native Too $hort. “He would be so excited about the moves
he was making in the music industry. I remember when he first got the job at Hitco. He knew he was going straight to the top.” When Reid departed the label to take over Island/Def Jam, he once again handpicked Stewart, this time as Vice-President of A&R. Naturally, even more success was expected of at Def Jam, and Stewart delivered. The highpoints of his tenure include the signings of Young Jeezy and Rick Ross, who are now two of the label’s biggest stars. Those successes led to Stewart being promoted to Executive VP of Def Jam in June 2008; a promotion that many referred to as “replacing Jay-Z.” “I was appointed as the Executive Vice President
of Def Jam and what we put out was simply that,” Stewart told XXLmag.com shortly after being awarded the position. “I don’t look at it as replacement to Jay-Z. I think Jay-Z is, obviously, an iconic rapper, a good label president, and a good friend of mine. These are big shoes to fill for anyone to come in and say they’re replacing Jay-Z. I don’t lend any thought or attention to that.” In hindsight after Stewart’s death, some are speculating that the pressures of the new job contributed to his demise. According to a statement released by Def Jam, Stewart’s fiancee Michelle Rivers said, “Over the past several weeks, Shakir’s behavior was inconsistent with the man we all know and love. As much as we all tried to help him, Shakir was in deep pain and largely suffering in silence.” Others claimed that he was “wigging out” during the weeks leading up to the incident. “At the end of the day, it was the business,” hypothesizes Burns. “The pressures of whatever it was [he was dealing with]. How could somebody on a Saturday afternoon, a beautiful day in Atlanta, just take his life? He had a newborn and the best job on earth. You’ve gotta imagine what this business can do to you if you’re not prepared.” “I talked to Shake a week or two before the incident,” says Rich. “I used to talk to him all the time, but the conversations slowed down once he took that position. Over the last three months, when I talked to him, he’d be kinda ‘busy.’ But he always sounded the same. Didn’t sound like anything [unusual] was going on.” Rich adds, “My thing is, the rumor is that he had been in a lot of pain and for the last 2-3 months he ain’t been acting the same. So my question is, if muthafuckas see this nigga ain’t acting the same, somebody’s got to be like, ‘Damn, what’s wrong my nigga?’ That’s ample time to get him some help if something ain’t right.”
(above) Stewart and Rick Ross putting the finishing touches on the Trilla album at HitCo Studios in April 2007; (left) Stewart along with friend and business partner Vee Johnson at T.I.’s Untouchables-themed birthday party in September 2007; (below) In January 2008, Stewart (in the striped suit) enjoyed ringside seats to the Roy Jones Jr. vs. Felix Trinidad fight at Madison Square Garden along with Poe Boy/Maybach Music Group/Rick Ross affiliates (l-r) Geter K, GunPlay & Torch of the Carol City Cartel, Gucci Pucci, and Slip-N-Slide CEO Ted Lucas
Since his passing, many have theorized as to what could have led to such an abrupt ending of a seemingly happy life. Autopsy reports will not be available for another 12 weeks, so the only sense of closure for those close to the situation is knowing that Shakir left a good impression on thousands of people. So much of an impression that the fact that he is gone is still hard for some to swallow. “That’s a testament, man, you gotta reach out to your folks,” says Burns. “If shit is going on and it’s something you think you can’t deal with on your own, you need to reach out. I would have loved to have a conversation with him just to keep him going for another week, so he could have seen Obama win the election. It might have changed his whole outlook. It’s so sad the way it happened. I could take my man getting murdered, but my man taking himself is unbelievable. The man I knew he would not have done that and left his kids [behind]. He had to be in a very dark place.” “People say he was under pressure, but my nigga wasn’t cut like that [to crack under pressure],” says Rich. “You can tell by the moves he made and the time he made them in. I’m willing to bet that my man was not in his right mind. There’s something that nobody ain’t saying nothing about that’s playing a big factor in this shit right here. My nigga wasn’t the type to be like, ‘The OZONE MAG // 65
job is too much, I can’t take it, I’m going out.’ Nah, he woulda just created some new shit.” He pauses. “It hasn’t settled in that my nigga done killed himself. I’ve been able to [accept], ‘Aw, they killed my nigga.’ But I can’t see none of my niggas doing that to themselves. Something just ain’t right.” Stewart’s private funeral and public memorial service were held less than a week after his death. At the memorial, held at his alma mater Morehouse’s King Chapel, singers Ne-Yo and Chrisette Michelle delivered tear jerking musical selections including Ne-Yo’s acapella rendition of “Its So Hard To Say Goodbye.” The memorial was attended by a number of high-profile mourners ranging from Island Def Jam exec Steve Bartels to the label’s first artist LL Cool J. While it was a somber affair, laughs were still shared at the expense of Stewart’s fashion sense.
With Stewart gone for reasons that still haven’t been determined, many are reevaluating what is truly important to them. Seeing a person who seemingly had it all, end their life so tragically will do that to you. “I think the death of my homeboy really has a lot of us in this music industry sitting back like, ‘Whoa. Is it really worth it?” admits Burns. “B-Mack, a dude Shakir looked up to, told him a quote that he told me,” shares Vee Johnson, Founder of Platinum House and a friend and business partner of Stewart’s. “It’s a quote I think people in this industry should adhere to: ‘We all should start paying more attention to what’s paying us, and less attention to what’s paying attention to us.’ I think if we all did that, we’d be better off.” // Words by Maurice G. Garland // Photos by Julia Beverly
“Was that a red velvet blazer?” Def Jam exec Shawn “Peckas” Costner joked at the service. “With fur?!” A testament to his colorful nature, the jacket seemed to be popular. “He used to wear the funniest suits,” adds Burns. “I thought he was from Detroit because he used to wear block-toed gators. He always wanted to be flamboyant. He was wearing ascots before they were in style. He’d wear a leather blazer with a fur collar.” “He was always fresh,” remembers Richie Rich. “He was the same as a youngster. When Ralph Lauren was hot, he had every color Polo.” “I know a lot of folks in the industry, and I can honestly say that Shake was a one of a kind,” says Too $hort. “Everybody who knew him has to agree with me. Things just ain’t gonna be the same without him.”
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Less than two months before his death, Shakir Stewart (far right) joined Def Jam’s Shawn “Peckas” Costner and Murder Inc CEO Irv Gotti for Young Jeezy’s Recession concert in Atlanta
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Growth & Development Surely you’ve heard the saying “you’re never too old to stop growing.” It’s sound advice for anyone who thinks they know it all. The adage seems to make sense everywhere else but in Hip Hop. In Hip Hop, unfortunately “growth” is often looked at as a bad thing. If you’re not saying what you were saying on your first album on your second, you’ve “sold out.” If you’re not using the same producers that you debuted with, you’ve “changed.” If you’re not dressing the same way, you “forgot where you came from.” Prepping to release his sophomore album Don’t Feed The Animals, Block Ent. recording artist Gorilla Zoe is going through his growth period. After experiencing moderate success with his 2007 debut Welcome To The Zoo, powered by his hit single “Hood Nigga,” Zoe has seen what it’s like to escape the zoo and live amongst civilization. He’s eaten dinners everywhere from Justin’s to Japan and graced stages from Harlem to Hollywood, but insists that he’s still the same hood nigga, to a degree. “I ain’t went too far away,” says Zoe, the night before he catches a plane to New York for meeting with execs at his label home Bad Boy to pick and choose what songs will make the cut for Don’t Feed The Animals. “I ain’t make a whole bunch of money and start living on a yacht. I done made some money and been some places, but I’m growing gradually. My fans are a year older and we’re growing together.” Zoe is relying on maturity from his fanbase to support his new album. Last year music listeners were introduced to the gravely-voiced emcee as the newest member of Boyz N Da Hood. Never attempting to “replace” former member Young Jeezy, Zoe instead established his own lane in the group, put in work on the mixtape circuit and built a big enough demand for more solo work. While genuine fans of his music supported, casual listeners quickly lumped Zoe into the prototypical Southern street rapper category. At the time, his subject matter didn’t do a lot to dispute the idea. Zoe will tell you that himself. “Last year when I was making music, I felt like I was in a box,” says Zoe. “It felt like I was making just real, great, club, hood music. There’s nothing wrong with that, but I couldn’t make feel good music, or even depressed music. There’s all kind of emotions other than “I’ll bust your head,” or “I’m getting money.” People fall in and out of love, people lose jobs, people win the lottery. It’s so many walks of life that I want to cover.” Up until after releasing Welcome To the Zoo, the 68 // OZONE MAG
artist born Alonzo Mathis wasn’t living the type of lifestyle that he does now. A product of Southwest Atlanta, Zoe came up in an area and time where life wasn’t easy. Opportunities knocked while trouble knocked harder. Zoe opened the door for the latter. Kicked out of school before he entered tenth grade, Zoe wound up enrolling in Job Corps at age 16. After spending a year in Kentucky and picking up some skills in the culinary arts (no, that isn’t code language for drug activity; he actually threw down in the kitchen with real food), Zoe returned home to Atlanta hoping to start a rap career. Unimpressed with what he was producing, Zoe went the 9-to-5 route and landed a job at Downtown Atlanta record store the Funk Shop. Before long he scrounged up enough money to build his own studio, recruit better producers and thus make better music. Through mutual friends, some of Zoe’s music landed in the hands of Block Ent. CEO Russell “Block” Spencer who inked him to his label in March 2007. A year-and-a-half later, success and travel has changed Zoe. It’s changed his address, wardrobe and means of transportation. It’s even changed his taste in music. But it hasn’t changed him. “I can hit Club Crucial on Monday night and then head to the Lotus Lounge,” says Zoe, inferring that he can kick it in both slummy Bankhead and swanky Buckhead in the same night. “You gotta mix it up. Vegas and L.A. are different from Atlanta. They party to different music than we do. When I heard the original version of the song Kanye used for that ‘Stronger’ shit, everybody was rocking to it. It blew my mind.” Of course, Zoe isn’t the first rapper to become a Daft Punk fan after hearing “Harder, Better, Stronger, Faster” for the first time. But in all honesty, he’s probably the last one you’d think would become one. How many “hood niggas” do you know enjoy Electronica music by two French dudes who perform in robot masks?
Welcome To The Zoo
attire; tank top, designer jeans and sneakers that probably aren’t available to the general public yet. His relaxed demeanor is telling of the day he’s had. Prior to rushing to the studio for a listening session, he spent most of his afternoon helping out at a voter’s registration drive, encouraging boys and girls in the ‘hood, especially felons, to register and vote for “change.” “This is the first time I’m registering to vote,” Zoe admits. “I felt like the system had nothing to offer me because I was in the streets, but it does. You just get to a certain point in your life where you look at things differently.” “Different” will be a recurring theme for the rest of the night. When Zoe instructs the studio engineer to pull up the collection of songs he’s recorded for Don’t Feed the Animals, a mischievous grin spreads across his face. It’s a grin that subtly says, “I’m about to fuck your head up.” After listening to the songs, your head is indeed, fucked up. Zoe’s lead single “Lost” featuring Lil Wayne hints at the direction Zoe is starting to take with his music. The Drumma Boy-produced track is literally spaced out, but grounding at the same time. Using the all-too-popular Auto-Tune effect for his verses, Zoe sings and raps self-analyzing rhymes about uncertainty, confusion, paranoia and being on the brink of insanity. It presents a vulnerability that doesn’t show in the scowl that Zoe usually wears in his pictures. “That’s an emotion people feel, and I don’t want to ignore that,” says Zoe, mentioning that he and Wayne actually went in the studio and made the song together, the same week that Wayne’s The Carter III album dropped. “People feel like we don’t tap into those types of emotions anymore.” He adds, “I wanted to do stuff like that on my first album, but it was too early. But this second album, I’m branching out.”
When you walk inside Block Ent.’s meager headquarters, McCoy Street Studios, not a whole not about it tells you that it’s home to what for a moment was arguably one of the most prolific imprints and brands in Southern Hip Hop. The fence surrounding the renovated former car detail shop makes it look more like a place where beatings and hits are taken more than a place where beats and hits are made.
In the process of touring and recording Don’t Feed the Animals, Zoe inherited an alter ego that he calls Lambo Zoe. Gorilla still gives you songs that speak on struggle, hustling and familiar “hood nigga” themes like the raucous “Untamed Gorilla” and “Hell Ova Life” featuring local street heroes Gucci Mane and OJ Da Juiceman. He also shows conceptual growth on tracks like the Lola Luva Winbush sampling “Smile” and the ultradescriptive “Neighborhood” that borrows from Mr. Roger’s iconic intro.
Inside the main studio, Gorilla Zoe lays reclined on a couch in the standard off-the-clock rapper
“I’ve made enough records to show I’m the truth,” Zoe smiles while playing his new records.
“Not too many people can play in my lane. Ain’t nobody got a voice like mines. I’ma deliver. Everyday the songs get better and better.”
Then comes Lambo The music from Zoe’s alter ego will tell you one of two things: Zoe has indeed “Lost” his mind, or Zoe is really enjoying life at this moment. Neither one you can really be mad at. In a time where everyone from the fans down to the artists complain about lack of originality, creativity and simply aspiring to be different from the norm, the Lambo side of Zoe can stand to be appreciated and encouraged. But damn if it doesn’t catch you off guard. “That’s the reaction I’m looking for,” Zoe exclaims. “I don’t want people to hear these songs just to say it sounds just like another song.” Songs like the techno-esque “Love Her” and “I Like Girls” will surely raise more than a few eyebrows upon first, second and third listens. “Superman” and “I’m So High” will take you on a roller coaster ride that you won’t know if you enjoyed or not until it ends. “If I can say one word to describe what I heard at first, it would be ‘shocking,’” says label boss
Block, of Zoe’s latest creations. “But I like for an artist to come out of his zone and take their shit to another level. When people don’t come out of their zone, they don’t grow.” Zoe’s manager Rico Brooks adds, “You always want to support the artist. I can’t hinder his creativity, if he’s open to different things, I’m going to support him. Its good for him to get those ideas out.” “I just wanted to have fun with the records,” says Zoe. “I started living life a little bit, breathing. Getting chips off my shoulder. I’m not mean mugging everyday anymore. I’m seeing another side of life.”
overused, if it sounds good, why not? “I use different plug-ins and programs to alter my voice,” Zoe says to defend himself against the notion that he’s “doing that T-Pain shit.” “Gucci Mane and them did it years ago on ‘So Icy,’ so its been here,” says Zoe. “Big up to T-Pain, but he ain’t come up with the program. It’s about being new, so you have to be fresh in your own way. With so many new sounds and tools at your disposal, why not use them?” By the time the Lambo portion of the album listening session winds down, Zoe reinforces a thought that you already had: Gorilla Zoe has grown so much he’s damn near Lambo.
For most of the Lambo Zoe records, he uses Auto-Tune the entire song. The tool and effect had been used by rock and R&B singers and producers for years to add an extra bump to vocals. But recently, largely because of T-Pain, everyone from Snoop Dogg to Kanye West has been using the software, often choosing to harmonize instead of actually rap.
Love it or hate it, the music that Zoe is aiming to release doesn’t sound like anything his peers, or labelmates for that matter, are doing. With tentative plans to release Don’t Feed The Animals next January and follow up with a string of Lambo Zoe releases and possibly a mixtape afterwards, it doesn’t look like the Gorilla is going to be doing much hibernating this winter.
The tool has been used so much that it’s warranted magazine articles and internet video interviews with everyone giving their take on it. So far the consensus is, although it’s being
“I record verses and songs all day,” says Zoe, who is now back on the clock, headed to the club for some quick facetime. “Work all day, party all night, sleep never.” //
WORDS BY MAURICE G. GARLAND PHOTO BY ZACH WOLFE
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Houston rapper Rob G has been through his share of pain. He lost his father at age 12, nearly lost his own life in the streets, lost his wife to cancer in January, and nearly lost everything else when Hurricane Ike hit Houston in September. Still, Rob has risen through the storm, and he’s here to tell his story. You’ve been through like a lot of personal issues: being in the streets, losing your father at 12, and your wife passing away earlier this year. How have you been able to cope with everything and still concentrate on your music? I’m very much of a realistic person. I know what I’ve been through, and a lot of people didn’t go through things like that, but the honest to God truth is that there are people who have been through more than I have. I just look at it as a part of life. No matter where you’re from, whether you’re from the hood or the suburbs, struggle is something everybody goes through in different shapes and forms. When you go through a lot of things in life, you can let it destroy you or it can make you a better person. And I chose to let it make me a better person. I’m fortunate to have great examples in my life, like my mother. She went through a whole lot of stuff while we were growing up. I’ve learned from her that no matter what, the next day will come. I just keep on going and strive to be a better man. As far as your music, what you working on right now? My album’s gonna be coming out within the next month, The Inauguration. It’s something that I’ve been waiting on patiently for a long time. It’s going to be coming out through Universal Republic and Latium. The album was supposed to drop a year ago but when my wife got terminally ill, I had to put everything to the side. Now that I got over that obstacle, I’m excited to put this out. I’m excited to see what the people think about it. Other than that, I’m trying to stay extra busy in the streets. I’m doing a lot of mixtape projects now. I just did a deal with Trae The Truth out here in Houston and we’re gonna be putting out some of his mixtapes. I’m starting a company called Rob G Mixtapes. I’m gonna to be doing a lot of collabos with Trae and other guys in the city, putting their stuff out kinda like a label. Me and Trae are gonna be dropping a mixtape in the next few months called Black & Brown: Both Sides Of The Fence; just showing the Latino culture and African-American culture coming together. We’re representin’ one city and one sound. I’m excited about all the things we have going on. How did you link up with Trae and why do you think y’all clicked? First of all, me and him are from the same hood. We’re both from the Southwest side of Houston, so that just opened up the door for the camaraderie right there. And he’s one of the guys I really
look up to as far as his work ethic and his grind. I think once we came together and he heard me really rapping, we started making all kinds of records together, because both of us are the same. He respects what I do. He respects my grind and my vision, and I definitely respect his grind and his vision, so we just had to come together and collab to try to bring this city up. A lot of people outside of Houston would say that Houston fell off. What’s your response to that? I think they just ain’t listening close enough. Falling off in the aspect of maybe the whole national limelight…I’ll agree. We haven’t been in the spotlight as far as the MTVs and BETs go. But truth be told, the same guys that opened up the doors for us did their jobs. You know, the Slim Thugs, Kekes, the Pimp Cs, Bun Bs, UGKs, and Chamilionaires, they opened up the door already. Now it’s up to the next generation like myself, Trae, and all the other guys coming up to put the heat on and take this Houston movement to another level, and bring it back to where it’s supposed to be, which is on top. And I’m very confident that it will be happening in the next few months. I’m down here, so I kinda see what’s happening in the streets. I really feel that Houston is going to come back on top. How great was it for the city to have the OZONE Awards in Houston this past year? It was a great thing for the city. I was extremely excited, and I think I can speak on behalf of all the artists out here in Houston. First off, it was a great thing just to bring everybody down to where we’re at. We let them see our culture and how we get down and interact with all these people. From what I heard, people really liked [Houston] a lot. The OZONE Awards was real good this year, and I hope we can bring it back the next year or the following year because Houston really is a big part of the South, going back all the way to the J. Prince, Scarface, and Geto Boys days. We have a lot to do with this whole Southern movement that’s going on right now. Hats off to the people at OZONE for bringing it down here and showing that to the rest of the country. How did you feel about the incident between Trae and Mike Jones? All I say is that I know Trae very well, and I know Mike Jones. Since I have a relationship with both of them, I’m not gonna pick sides. But as far as me knowing Trae personally and working for him, for him to do something like that, somebody must have provoked him. I wasn’t there, so I don’t get involved with the he-say, she-say. But it was cool, it had Houston in everybody’s mouths. I don’t really know where it’s gonna go from here, I’m just concerned with doing my thing. On Trae’s behalf, it’s wasn’t no publicity stunt. It was just a natural “you pissed me off, so I’m going to punch you” thing. Honestly, I don’t think the dude needs a publicity stunt. The mayor of our city gave him his own day. From what I know, Jay-Z doesn’t even have a day in New York. I know my opinion might sound biased because I work with him and we’re friends, but for him to do something like that, it means somebody had to provoke him. Why did you choose the title The Inauguration
for your mixtape? I did a mixtape series leading up to this called The Rob G Campaign just to get my music out there and get people aware of the Rob G movement. So now The Inauguration is my opportunity to be a leader in Hip Hop, not just for my race and my culture, but for everybody in general. Since this is my first album, I felt that the title really fit what I’m trying to accomplish. I’m not just trying to put out records and singles. I’m trying to make an impact in the community and the Hip Hop world, [and] all over the place. Since you chose to go with a political theme for your mixtape and album titles, do you actually follow politics? In the past, I had the attitude like, no matter who’s in office, I’m still gonna have to get up and go to work everyday. But with the state of the country right now, I think politics is something everybody is getting into now. I definitely have been following it. And now that I’m looking into it a little bit more, I really do wish I had put a little bit more effort into understanding what it is that’s going on out there and how it affects us. It kinda just happened that my album is dropping around the same time as the election and it’s called The Inauguration. How did Hurricane Ike affect you and Houston? I don’t think the nation realized how major it was. It definitely affected Houston; it was some crazy shit. I’ve been in Houston my whole life, and I have never seen anything like that. Houston’s a big ass city and nobody got discriminated on [by Hurricane Ike]. Whether you were from the North, South, East, or West side, some people got hit worse than others, but at the end of day, it was very difficult for us. I consider myself lucky because I was only without water and electricity for four days. Other people around the city were [without electricity] for a month. But at the same time, I tip my hat to the people in Houston, because I believe they did a good job compared to other disasters I have seen like Katrina. They reacting by making sure that our city had what it needed. It was really an eye-opener for us. It really set us back. There’s still parts of our city that aren’t back up and running yet. As far as Latin rappers, I know you’re looking to be a Latin rap legend. Where do see yourself at right now compared to artists like Big Pun, Fat Joe, or Pitbull? The difference between me and those guys is that they’re already established. Pun was the first Latin guy in Hip Hop to sell a million records. I think I’m on track to do that. As far as numbers go, there is no other Latin artist in Texas doing what I’m doing, so I’m happy about that. Honestly, there’s no other Latin in the South putting up the numbers that I’m putting up, whether it’s mixtapes sales or radio spins. I do represent Latins to the fullest, because that’s my culture. That’s my background. That’s what I live and breathe. But my music is really made to touch everybody, not just my people. I wanna be colorless to the people. Whether you’re black, white, Asian, or whatever, I wanna make music that you can feel. And I just so happen to be a Latin doing it, so I’m proud of that. // Words by Randy Roper
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//Production Credits GUCCI MANE’s “So Icy,” “Pillz,” & “Bricks” OJ Da Juice’s “Make The Trap Say Aye” Yung Ralph’s “That’s The Move,” “About A Chick” Shop Boyz “Up Through There”
type beats, but people out here were like, “What is this? Nobody wants this.” I wasn’t in it to make money, I just enjoyed making beats. I didn’t care that nobody really liked my sound per se. But the longer I was here, I started adapting to the music. Gucci Mane used to come over all the time. I used to go to school to become [a barber] and I met him through a friend there. He had a young dude he was writing for, and he wanted me to make the beats and we would put him out together. We tried to do that, but with the delivery Gucci had, I took an interest in him instead of the other guy. I told him he should be [rapping] so we just started recording. We weren’t trying to get a record deal, we were just recording. “So Icy” came about when Gucci got with Sign Ya Self [Records] and my buddy HB the CEO signed Gucci as an artist. He was gonna buy Gucci a necklace. That was the biggest thing in the world at the time. I didn’t want to be left behind. I had just made 20 grand out in the Bay at the time so I gave HB 10 grand and said, “I want a necklace too.” I started thinking, man, I just spent 10 grand on a necklace, I just made a bad decision. But we were really excited waiting on those chains. One day Gucci called me at the barbershop and said Jeezy wanted do a song with us. This was before I had even heard of Young Jeezy. I came home to the studio, and Gucci started talking about those chains again and started singing, “All these girls excited...I’m so icy.” It was funny, so I started making a beat to it. I made the beat in 5 minutes. We did it real quick, went to Patchwerk, and had to sit around and wait for Jeezy to finish his session. When he finally listened, he said, “It’s aight. I’ll do it if you want me to. You got something else?” Gucci was like, “Zay, put something else on it.” I was like, “Nah, this is the song we came to make. At the time, I ain’t think of Jeezy as big-time. I’d never heard of him before, so he couldn’t just make us change [the song] we came to do. By the time the beat started playing again, everybody in Patchwerk started writing to it. Lil Will was there. We didn’t have a singer [for the hook] so he sang it. By the time the song was done, everybody in there was like, “Y’all got a hit record.”
was born in Frankfurt, Germany. My pops was in the military and we moved around a lot. We lived in North Carolina, Columbus, Georgia, California, a lot of places. I tell people I’m from San Francisco because that’s where I went spent my teenage years and got all my game from. I got started in music through church. I started playing drums, keyboard, organs, that type of stuff when I was 5 years old. I still play the organ in church every Sunday at Life Abundantly in Conyers, Georgia. I started producing music when I was 18. I used to play in the band at school in San Francisco. JT the Bigga Figga heard me playing the keyboard in the band, playing all the songs on the radio. He must have seen me at the game and liked me because he wanted me to play keys on the beats he was making. He took me to his spot showed me how to use all the equipment, and I was hooked from there. I did a lot of records for him and E-40, B-Legit, Messy Marv, and San Quinn. I can’t even name the songs, there were so many. They weren’t big hits, they were on compilations, but I felt like I was the man. When I started producing in 1998, my parents moved to Atlanta, but I stayed in the Bay for another 2 or 3 years doing music because I started making a couple dollars making beats. I started spending every dollar I got at Guitar Center buying my own equipment. Then got all my equipment and shipped it to my parents’ house in Atlanta. They had a big basement for me to start working in. I moved to Atlanta in January 2001. I had to start all the way over because the music out here was totally different. I was used to making Bay Area72 // OZONE MAG
We felt like we had a hit, so we took it to the club, but nobody liked it. I tried to give a DJ at PrimeTime $150 to play it and said, “Keep your money. This ain’t it. Come with something better.” We were heartbroken, like, “I can’t believe he just said that.” Jeezy was becoming the new hot dude in the street, and Gucci was building his name up too. The song got on a mixtape and people liked Jeezy so much they thought it didn’t sound like any of his other stuff, so they assumed it was his single. BMF liked it so much so they was the ones making it work in the club, requesting it in the club. Then Def Jam wanted it for [Jeezy’s] single, but Gucci wanted for his single, and they weren’t get along. “So Icy” was the best thing to ever happen to me, but I couldn’t even enjoy it because of everything that happened after. That song led to me doing a lot of other stuff with Gucci Mane, but it wasn’t until recently that people really started to get at me. I did some stuff with Pastor Troy and a few others. I did the new Shop Boyz song “Up Through There” and the new Yung Ralph “About A Chick.” I did the majority of Ralph’s project that hasn’t come out yet. I’m working with OJ the Juiceman and Yung LA; for most of the artists I work with, I do the majority of their projects. All the guys I worked with didn’t even rap until they came to my studio. I feel like I’ve come up with all these dudes, I feel like they’re my artists. If I was in the position, I would have signed all of them. I prefer doing the majority of a project instead of just one song. I create a core sound for them. I still got that Bay Area sound in me, I go back [to the Bay] every other month. I make music on impulse, I might start on a MPC or the keyboard. I’m a musician, so I really know how to play. I can come up with the melodies, chorus, and all of that. I don’t think, I just make the beat. A lot of my songs are street singles. I feel like the mixtape game is my strongest point. People know me from that, they don’t know me from having the new song on the radio. I love being low profile and low key. I’m a family-oriented person, and a business person. I still cut hair. I’ve got a barber station in the studio and I’m in business with First Class barbershop at Stonecrest Mall. I like to keep myself grounded and stable, doing a lot of things. I get up in the morning, I gotta do something. I like to take a break from beats, that way I can come back fresh. Cutting hair is like my outlet. //
DJ Green Lantern, Russell Simmons, Barack Obama
Yes We Can: The Mixtape
1. Mick Boogie “The Honor Roll” www.mickboogie.com 2. DJ Chuck T “Down South Slangin Vol. 53” www.djchuckt.com 3. DJ Scream & MLK “Hoodrich Radio 12” www.myspace.com/4045405000 www.myspace.com/mlk ng 4.DJ Bobby Black “Crack Addiction: Jay-Z & Barack Obama” www.myspace.com/djbobbyblack 5. S. Dott “Rhythm & Street Vol. 1” www.myspace.com/sdottmixtapes
6. DJ Fletch & Ticketmasterstapes “Cool Whips” www.myspace.com/djfletchdallas 7. DJ Spinatik “Street Runnaz 23” www.myspace.com/djspinatik 8. Ill Fats “Coast 2 Coast” Hosted by Juelz Santana www.coast2coastmixtapes.com 9. DJ Barry Bee “Hood Legendz 18” www.myspace.com/djbarrybeenc
www.djgreenlantern.com Just in time for Barack Obama’s presidential campaign push, DJ Green Lantern put together the perfect mixtape to inspire Hip Hop fans to get out and vote on November 4th. This mix features commentary from Barack Obama, Russell Simmons,and Hip Hop heavyweights like Jay-Z and Nas. New music from Jay-Z, Kanye, Styles P, Cassidy and others help convey the “Yes We Can” and “Time For a Change” messages.
10. DJ Scope “Street Certified 35” www.djscopemixtapes.com 11. DJ Unexpected “Year of the Aftermath” www.myspace.com/djunexpectedbx1 12. DJ White Owl “Drop That Part 37” www.myspace.com/djwhiteowl 13. DJ 31 Degreez “Forecast 26: Still Duck Season” www.dj31degreez.biz 14. DJ Noodles “Fix Your Face Radio Volume 6” www.djnoodles.com 15. DJ Black Bill Gates & DJ Scream “King Shit: Madden/NCAA 09 Part 2” www.blackbillgates.podo matic.com www.myspace.com/4045405000 16. DJ Cashis Kay “Blends For That Ass 6” www.myspace.com/cashiskay 17. DJ Delz “Buck Against The World Vol. 2” www.djdelzonline.com
DJs, send your mix CDs (with a cover) for consideration to: OZONE Magazine 644 Antone St. Suite 6 Atlanta, GA 30318
18. DJ E-Top “Get Ya Game Up 12” www.myspace.com/etopent 19. DJ Snake Eyes “Mixtape 100th” www.dacrossbreed.com 20. DJ Wheezy “Trill Skillz 11” www.myspace.com/djwheezy
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The Foreign Exchange/Leave It All Behind/Imagine Nation Music/Hall of Justus In today’s Hip Hop, where artists have taken the vocoder route on seemingly every rap song, and one of the game’s biggest stars, Kanye West, has decided to sing his heart out on his next album, it’s not uncommon for a rappa to turn sanga. On Leave It All Behind, Phonte (one half of the rap group Little Brother), reunites with Netherlands producer Nicolay for their second album. This time Phonte opts for more singing and less (almost no) rapping. Phonte’s vocals, along with frequent assists from vocalists Darien Brockington, Muhsinah and Yahzarah, and Nicolay’s production make this album an 11-track smooth listen that’ll seduce listeners into kicking off their shoes and vibing to the melodies. - Randy Roper
Trae/The Beginning/ Rap-A-Lot After Trae’s departure from the label, Rap-A-Lot put out The Beginning. Any irony ends at the title as the album itself offers a stern Trae on mostly somber, reflective tracks. Regardless of the situation surrounding its release, Beginning captures Trae in fine form, hitting the faster flows at times and maintaining substance in his tracks. Tracks like “This Can’t Be Life” and “Hold On” display an introspective Trae and shed light on the instances that hardened him. Beginning is solid all around and hopefully will help this free agent find a winning team. - Rohit Loomba
Z-Ro/Crack/Rap-A-Lot Coming from a city known for rapping in slow motion, Z-Ro has made a name for himself rapping with emotion. Admittedly happier in life nowadays, the usually bleak rapper opens the album talking about finding and falling in love on “Baby Girl” but gets right back to the bitch-hating on “Call My Phone.” Naturally, ‘Ro feels isolated later on “Lonely.” When the Mo’City Don gets out of the blues and just raps, he still shines. The 9-minute Screwtape-style freestyle “25 Lighters” shows that Ro indeed has Screwston, Texas in his veins while “If That’s How You Feel” featuring Lil Keke reminds listeners there are still G’s in the city. Overall, Crack is one Ro’s most well-rounded efforts to date, showing that while he is still able to make the blues music he is known for, he’s also capable of showing flashes of optimism . - Maurice G. Garland
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Les Deal/The Road Les Travels Vol. 1 A “true emcee,” Les Deal is reminiscent of an old school rapper with new school content. On The Road Les Travels EP, the Orlando resident is at his best when grooving in a laidback lane on “Keep On,”“Tropicana,” “Love” and “Taking My Time.” But tracks like “Unreal,” and “For The Record” are lukewarm, when Les tries to showcase his rap skills to boom-bap beats. Overall, this project proves that the road Les travels is a path worthy of a few followers. - Randy Roper
Q-Tip/The Renaissance/Universal Motown Q-Tip is back with The Renaissance, an album many have long been anticipating. The 12-track release will definitely please A Tribe Called Quest fans, and features the soul and jazz influenced sound you’d expect from Tip. Production on the album keeps moving and varies from track to track, allowing him to switch up his delivery and make every track sound fresh without straying too far from the album’s underlying sonic theme. Tip defines his own sound on Renaissance, making it a welcome addition to your CD changer. - Rohit Loomba
Black Milk/Tronic/Fat Beats As a follow up to last year’s Popular Demand, the sophomore album from Detroit rapper/producer Black Milk, Tronic, offers more of a futuristic sound. It’s a strong album from top to bottom. “Long Story Short,” “Losing Out” featuring Royce Da 5’9”, “The Matrix” with scratching from DJ Premier, and appearances from Pharoache Monch and Sean Price are most memorable. While Milk’s production is more live and synthesized this time around, the outcome would make J-Dilla proud of the lineage that’s followed his footsteps. - Randy Roper
Gucci Mane & Bigga Rankin From Zone 6 to Duval Nominated for Mixtape Monster at the OZONE Awards, this time Mr. La Flare hooked up with Florida native Bigga Rankin to bless the trap stars and hood affiliates with another one for the streets. The energized track “My Rims Dancin” and “Hot Damn” will make listeners laugh a little, with the buzzing fly and Al Green sample. But Gucci smooths it out with the sensual “Body Language,” and “On Deck,” where Mane raps about his everyday life. There are some decent tracks for non-Gucci fans, but defiantly, this is a mixtape to add to the Gucci collection. - Jee’Van Brown
OJ Da Juiceman, DJ Drama & DJ Holiday Culinary Art School On Culinary Art School, Juiceman teams up with Mr. Gangsta Grillz himself to show that he can hold his own without his sidekick Gucci Mane. Juice raps about his daily grind on “9 In The Morning” and continues to add spices to the mix on “Choppers Loose.” He may have overcooked this tape with the overuse of his favorite adlib, “Aye,” but aside from that, the streets will dig what OJ is cooking. He remains an artist to watch in 2009. - Jee’Van Brown
Project Pat & DJ Scream A History of Violence From the intro, Project Pat lets it be known that this mixtape is strictly for the streets, so he linked with Mr. Heavy In The Streets, DJ Scream. “Favorite Things,” “Wit My Money” with Three Six Mafia and “Keep It Hood” featuring OJ Da Juiceman are notable tracks that deliver the North Memphis sound that Project Pat is known for. A History of Violence doesn’t come without a few flaws, as Pat’s freestyles over “A Milli,” “Swagger Like Us” and “Cash Flow” are beats that he should have stayed away from. But tracks with Akon, Gucci Mane and T-Pain make up for his mishaps, and when Pat stays in his lane, he’s still one of the best Memphis has ever produced. —Randy Roper Lil’ Phat/Life of Yungsta Fresh off his appearance on Webbie’s hit “Independent,” it’s Lil’ Phat’s turn to step through the door kicked open by Boosie and Webbie. This DJ Khaled-hosted mixtape follows Trill Ent.’s formula of bass-pounding beats, catchy hooks, and gritty lyrics. Although he’s a less talented rapper than his predecessors, this mixtape has bangers like “That’s My Baby,” “Cold Cup” with Paul Wall, and “Neva Change” with Webbie that prove Phat’s worth to his team. But still, 20 tracks with Phat’s basic flow at the helm is a bit much. - Randy Roper