Ozone Mag #75

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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, Gary Archer, Richard Spoon PROMOTIONS DIRECTOR // Malik Abdul SPECIAL EDITION EDITOR // Jen McKinnon WEST COAST EDITOR-AT-LARGE // D-Ray LEGAL CONSULTANT // Kyle P. King, P.A. SUBSCRIPTIONS MANAGER // Adero Dawson ADMINISTRATIVE // Kisha Smith INTERNS // Jee’Van Brown, Torrey Holmes, Memory Martin CONTRIBUTORS // Anthony Roberts, Bogan, Camilo Smith, Charlamagne the God, Chuck T, Cierra Middlebrooks, DJ BackSide, Edward Hall, E-Z Cutt, Gary Archer, Jacquie Holmes, J Lash, Jason Cordes, Jelani Harper, Joey Colombo, Johnny Louis, Kay Newell, Keadron Smith, Keita Jones, Keith Kennedy, K.G. Mosley, King Yella, Luis Santana, Luvva J, Luxury Mindz, Marcus DeWayne, Matt Sonzala, Maurice G. Garland, Mercedes (Strictly Streets), Natalia Gomez, Portia Jackson, Ray Tamarra, Rico Da Crook, Rohit Loomba, Shannon McCollum, Spiff, Stan Johnson, Swift, Tamara Palmer, Thaddaeus McAdams, Ty Watkins, Wally Sparks, Wendy Day STREET REPS // 3rd Leg Greg, Adam Murphy, Alex Marin, Al-My-T, Ant Wright, Anthony Deavers, Baydilla, Benz, Big Brd, B-Lord, Big Ed, Big Teach (Big Mouth), Big Thangs, Big Will, Bigg P-Wee, Bigg V, Black, Bogan, Bo Money, Brandi Garcia, Brandon “Silkk” Frazier, Brian Eady, Buggah D. Govanah (On Point), Bull, C Rola, Cartel, Cedric Walker, Cece Collier, Chad Joseph, Charles Brown, Chill, Chuck T, Christian Flores, Clifton Sims, Dee1, Demolition Men, DJ Commando, Danielle Scott, DJ Dap, Delight, Derrick the Franchise, DJ Dimepiece, DJ D’Lyte, Dolla Bill, Dorian Welch, Dwayne Barnum, Dr. Doom, Dynasty, Ed the World Famous, DJ E-Feezy, DJ EFN, Episode, Eric “Crunkatlanta” Hayes, Erik Tee, F4 Entertainment, Fiya, G Dash, G-Mack, George Lopez, Gorilla Promo, Haziq Ali, Hezeleo, H-Vidal, Hotgirl Maximum, Hotshot, J Hype, Jacquie “Jax” Holmes, Jae Slimm, Jammin’ Jay, DJ Jam-X, Janiro Hawkins, Jarvon Lee, Jasmine Crowe, Jay Noii, Jeron Alexander, J Pragmatic, JLN Photography, Joe Anthony, John Costen, Johnny Dang, Judah, Judy Jones, Juice, DJ Juice, Kenneth Clark, Kewan Lewis, Klarc Shepard, Kool Laid, DJ KTone, Kurtis Graham, Kydd Joe, Lex, Lucky, Lump, Lutoyua Thompson, Luvva J, Marco Mall, Mario Grier, Marlei Mar, Maroy, DJ M.O.E., Music & More, Natalia Gomez, DJ Nik Bean, Nikki Kancey, Oscar Garcia, P Love, Pat Pat, Phattlipp, Pimp G, Quest, Quinton Hatfield, DJ Quote, DJ Rage, Rapid Ric, DJ Ricky Ruckus, Rob J Official, Rob Reyes, Robert Lopez, Rob-Lo, Robski, Scorpio, Seneca, Shauntae Hill, Sherita Saulsberry, Silva Reeves, Sir Thurl, DJ Skee, Sly Boogy, Southpaw, Spade Spot, Stax, DJ Strong, Sweetback, Syd Robertson, Teddy T, TJ’s DJ’s, Tim Brown, Tonio, Tony Rudd, Tre Dubb, Tril Wil, Trina Edwards, Troy Kyles, Twin, Vicious, Victor Walker, DJ Vlad, Voodoo, DJ Warrior, White Boi Pizal, Wild Billo, Will Hustle, William Major, Wu Chang, Young Harlem, Yung DVS, Zack Cimini

monthly sections

13 10 THINGS I’M HATIN’ ON 26 are you a g? 38 board game 73 caffeine substitutes 70-71 CD REVIEWS 22 chain reaction 18 Chin Check 47 dj booth 24 Dollar Menu 28 D-Ray editorial 74 End Zone 12 Feedback 26 hood deeds 72 Industry 101 13 jb’s 2 cents 16 Mathematics 26 names of shame 32-46 patiently waiting 17-45 PHOTO GALLERIES 14-15 Rapquest 30 Sidekick Hackin


48-51 bun b 66-67 david banner 68-69 Flo Rida 52-53 OJ Da Juiceman 58-59 t-pain’s dad 20 young capone

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 // Jim Jones photos (cover and this page) by Ray Tamarra; OJ da Juiceman photo by Terrence Tyson; Mims photo by Hannibal Matthews; Flo Rida photo by Mark Mann. 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 2009 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.


cover stories

61-64 JIM JONES 54-47 MIMS


Send your comments to feedback@ozonemag.com or hit us up at www.myspace.com/ozonemagazine

I loved your 2 Cents. You’re not too deep for me, you’re just real, Julia! I’m glad to know that both of us are Geminis and I’m not alone in the way I feel at times. I’ve heard of Pac’s “The Rose That Grew From Concrete” but I never read it. I was astonished at what was in it, reading from your 2 Cents. Now I see why you’re so cool and genuine. I’m also thrilled about being mentioned in the same issue of OZONE in RapQuest. I’m finally getting some recognition. - Rob Dee, via email I love the [Prison Diary] article you did on my homeboy Gangsta [Williams]. He’s the man on compound now. – Aaron Hollins, via inmatemessage.com (Jesup, GA) What’s going on? I recently subscribed to your magazine after OZONE visited Houston for the OZONE Awards. I was looking through my first issue and I see there was no representation of Houston in the RapQuest. Why’s that? – Ghost Da Hustla, via email (Houston, TX) I love the mag. Keep up the good work. Baltimore’s got talent and I like how y’all show love to the underground. I’ll be home soon to grace the cover. – Vigeta G.N. Eazie, via inmatemessage.com I check RapQuest every time I get OZONE Mag, and there’s never anything about Greensboro, NC. There’s a lot of talent brewing in this area right now. Ed E. Ruger has Bun B and Stat Quo on his new album and he’s making noise. There’s a lot more artists in Greensboro, but he’s just an example. All of North Carolina is hot, actually. I would love to read more about the UpSouth movement sometime in your mag! – Stichy C, via email (Greensboro, NC) Can Connecticut get some light? I love OZONE Mag, for real. I lived in Georgia for six years but I’m actually from Connecticut and was featured in one of OZONE’s first issues. I had an album review under the group name Soul Snatchaz. Anyways, I wanted to let y’all know that Connecticut’s got mad flavor. – Jack Beazly, via email (Danbury, CT) D-Ray, I loved your editorial on psycho bitches. Man, I’m glad I don’t fuck around in those circles. This is real, a nigga could go through this anyway, but when the writing is on the wall and everybody else sees it, dang. You’re crazy, D-Ray. – Grown up Goddi, via email (Bay Area, CA)


On the Exit Strategy article, I’ve gotta say whaddup doe (Detroit for “whassup”) to Malik Abdul for not leaving the USA. He’s a true American. The rest of y’all are probably not here legally anyway. I say OZONE should dedicate a page to the street reps. Show some love to those who are spreading the good book to the people. – Eric “Crunkatlanta” Hayes, via email (Detroit, MI) In Issue #71 of OZONE’s RapQuest, I felt that the city of Galveston, recently ravaged by Hurricane Ike, was not represented at all. We have a rapper out here that’s making some waves as big as Galveston Island named Mista Smashsational plus there are other local cats in Galveston that need to be heard. I appreciate OZONE for keepin’ it real with the cities that are not making mainstream headlines in the rap scene, but you need to represent Galveston, TX as well. – Heady Luv, via email (Galveston, TX) It’s about time that the Borders in Montgomery County, MD started stocking OZONE in the music magazine section! I can’t tell you how excited I was to see OZONE Mag sitting on the shelf. It took a while but the best read in the world has come full circle and I know there are only bigger things to come for OZONE. Everyone at OZONE Mag does such an awesome job. I have a subscription but as broke as I was, I bought the issue at Borders with Lloyd on the cover because I was so excited. It’s the best read on newsstands out there. I never get bored reading OZONE, ever. I can’t put it down. I’m gonna read it after I finish writing this. God bless you JB and team, you all do such a great job and Ms Rivercity kicks ass on the special editions too! – UP, via email (Maryland) Thanks for showing us love; we finally made it into Patiently Waiting West Coast. It’s a very good look and well-deserved. My business partners and I have been going over a few ideas for OZONE. We have a plan to increase the impact that OZONE has in Northern California and eventually the whole West Coast. This magazine has so much potential to be the next XXL. You are already shittin’ on The Source by far and with poor projections for VIBE, OZONE is next up to bat to cross over into mainstream media but still keeping the underground feel that impressed me back in 2007. I buy the mag every month and I know it can get more attention that you’re getting. I congratulate you a thousand times over for being a young woman that’s holding it down for your region and giving young indie artists such as myself a chance to shine nationally. - D.E.O. of EVENODDS, via email (San Francisco, CA) Correction: We neglected to credit photographer Aaron Petz of www.aaronpetz.com for his photo of Cut Throat Logic that appeared in the All Star 2009 special edition.

JB’s 2cents I

t’s been an interesting month. People are still using the recession as an excuse not to pay their past-due ad invoices but I feel like the economic prospects are looking up and things are slightly returning to normal. I just got back from a trip to Alaska with Mistah FAB and Baydilla and the BD Productions crew (more on that next month). My quasi-assistant Kisha just welcomed a baby boy (Elijah) into the world, which was kind of a big deal at the OZONE office being that all of our employees are now godparents (kidding, kind of ).


The world is currently obsessed with text messaging. Everyone is addicted to Twitter, even CNN, and whenever they take a break from reporting how fucked the economy is (it’s not “breaking news” anymore, folks) they’re theorizing on the controversial Chris Brown/Rihanna text. This is headline news?

1. White people that ride bikes I just don’t like white people that ride bikes.


by Shawty Shawty “What My Name Is?”

Me & Alex Gidewon @ the Velvet Room in ATL

2. 50 Cent I’m hatin on 50 Cent for hatin’ on Rick Ross. 3. Rick Ross’s Baby MamaS I’m hating on them for representing baby mamas all over the world. Great job, you dumb bitches! 4. The Police I’m hatin’ on the police for takin a nigga to jail for weed…after I let this muthafucka hit my blunt.

7. All the women hatin’ on Rihanna for getting back with Chris Brown All y’all women need to stop hatin,’ cause shit, I love a woman that take a lickin’ and keep on tickin.’ No PUNch intended. 8. The Recession I ain’t know pussy stimulated the economy; it’s going for $25 around my way. Thank God for Barack Obama! 9. I ain’t hatin’ on Seattle, Washington Man, I went to Seattle, Washington and they had some weed so damn good I was smoking it by myself, passing the blunt to nobody whatsoever. I got schizophrenic and started passing it to my other hand, like, “Don’t mind if I do!” Big shout out to Seattle, Washington for having that goodass chronic. 10. All this beef shit all over the internet. I’m tired of it; it’s fuckin up the industry. I’m taking all my shit down. Check out Shawty Shawty at Uptown Comedy Corner in ATL every other Tuesday


6. Chris Brown Punching is okay, but damn, he ain’t have to bite her. Who the hell did he think he was fighting, Evander Holyfield? She damn sure looked like she had been fighting Holyfield when he was done.

Tambra, Mr. Marcus, & me @ Freelon’s in Jackson, MS


5. Random drug tests IN the workplace Shit, some people work better high. Look at Michael Phelps, that’s 8 gold medals. Nigga, if I win 8 gold medals I’d smoke more than a joint. I might pop a pill or two.

Ice skating in Anchorage, AK with Mistah FAB

Rick Ross & me in ATL

In case you can’t tell from my recent editorials I’ve been fighting off this disillusionment with the rap game for quite some time. Part of it is that I wonder if media is even relevant anymore. Technology has made every aspect of everyone’s life accessible to the world. As a media outlet, we are essentially middlemen. We - whether reporters, videographers, photographers, journalists, radio personalities, etc. - seek out the interesting and relevant aspects of an artist’s life and convert it into an easily digestible format for the viewer, listener, or reader. But now, every aspect of an artist’s life - regardless if it is interesting and relevant - is now available to the public at the click of a button. Rap beefs now take place on YouTube, Twitter, and WorldStarHipHop instead of in the streets or in magazines. Shaq, Mistah FAB, and Trey Songz no longer need to do interviews with media outlets - they just tweet to their fans directly while courtside, on the toilet, or in the studio, respectively. I was thinking along the lines of Charlamagne’s Chin Check (page 18) this month. The attitude which he refers to as “tabloid morals and pop culture values” has resulted in a lower quality standard in all forms of media. The art form isn’t respected as much as it used to be. I think there’s an art to capturing these images and moments, even if it’s just the energy of the newest trap star performing at a ‘hood nightclub. I like pictures for their aesthetic value. These days, none of that matters. Why do you need a photographer or videographer with a good eye who pays attention to detail and quality when the label rep can just snap a picture with their digital camera or iphone, upload to their Facebook mobile, and blast out to their blogger email list? It’s too much. We’re being given too much access into artist’s lives and the quality isn’t there anymore. It’s become homogenized and everyone’s doing the same thing. Blogs all post the same rumors (often false). The same effort isn’t put forth into building relationships and creating a buzz the old-fashioned way. We’re becoming so reliant on technology that we expect the ‘net to do everything for us - resulting in me receiving 2,000 mp3s every day from artists who swear their song is the hottest shit but don’t have a local fanbase. It’s scary to think of how drastically the game has changed even since I got into it just 7 years ago. Through Twitter, I can now let the world know where I am and what I’m thinking and what I’m doing at every moment of the day through text message status updates that are also accessible to my 4,652 Facebook friends and 11,901 Myspace friends. With Posterous.com I can automatically post pictures and video links to my blog, Facebook, and Twitter just by sending an email. And with Qik.com I can stream live video from my cell phone. But the question is: do I really want to? Sometimes less is more, but when consumers are being bombarded from all directions, it’s that much harder for them to know where to find the good shit.

Me, Thaddaeus McAdams, Eric Perrin, & Ms Rivercity @ Rick Ross’s listening party

- Julia Beverly, jb@ozonemag.com

Lil Wayne f/ Drake, Jae Millz, Gudda Gudda & Mack Maine “Every Girl” T-Pain f/ Kanye West “Flight School” Drake f/ Trey Songz & Lil Wayne “Successful” Drake f/ Bun B & Lil Wayne “Uptown” Cam’ron “Cookies & Applejuice” The All-American Rejects “Gives You Hell” Surf Club f/ Lil Wayne “I Can’t Miss” Joe Budden “I Couldn’t Help It”


randy.roper@ozonemag.com KiD CuDi “Sky Might Fall” Lil Brod “Do U Mind” Pacific Division “Pac Div” Thunderkatz “3 AM”


AUSTIN, TX: David Banner (pictured above), Bun B, Z-Ro, the COD, and more held it down at the Austin Music Hall for a big show put on by Rozone Productions and Hot 93.3. Rapid Ric just released Volume 5 of his Whut It Dew mixtape series. The Destiny by Design after-school program performed at the Mexican American Cultural Center. Gerald G’s “How I Was Raised Music” video premiered on TheScrewShop.com. Ice Cube came through for a packed show at The Mohawk. - O.G. of Luxury Mindz (www.luxurymindz.com)


Bamboozle just finished up a 22-track mixtape called Welcome to tha Duke. Baby Bash, Gemini, and Fat Fish did a show in Roswell, NM where the cops tried to take everybody to jail! That story is ongoing, stay tuned. Raw Muzik Store celebrated their third year in business. Twista is coming to the 505 .Tha Potnus just got signed to Crown Recording/Universal in Europe. The Latin Invasion Pt. 2, featuring Lil Rob, Kilo, a.k.a. Down, came to Albuquerque and rocked the house. - Beno (Beno@eadymusicgroup.com)


With the weather unbearably cold, the streets are a little quieter, but the studios are buzzing with hot new artists doing their thing. Young Dunny (R&B) is one of the most remarkable young singers that I have heard in a long time. Remedy (spoken word with an R&B twist) is the remedy for all your sadness, low self-esteem or whatever ails you; and the Gwopp Boyz (Street Life Ent.) have an out-of-this-world roster starting with K.I.D. and Young Maggz. Be on the lookout for these artists to blow in 2009. - Judy Jones (Judy@JJonesent.com)


Common recently came to Columbus and got a lot of love. He was all over the city the entire day, doing events with Foxie 105 and 98.3 The Beat. I’m sure he ate good, because every other event was at somebody’s restaurant. Common ended the night celebrating with Foxie 105’s Michael Soul and DJ OO Key for Soul’s birthday bash and OO Key’s radio anniversary. He did his thing, performing a few new songs and some old favorites. South Florida up and comer JW did his single “Bayk at It.” Bohagan was also in the house. - Slick Seville (SlickSeville@gmail.com) 14 // OZONE MAG


We’re back on star status with performances and appearances from Rocko, Scarface, TOK, Mike Epps, Black (from Flavor of Love), Eric Roberson, Unk, and more. Locally, Middle Child is touring again and her new collaboration with producer J Rawls is getting international recognition. Trav Dave of Mirror Love Productions took over for Illseed as a guest writer for the day on AllHipHop.com. DJ Mick Boogie recently interviewed me for his site and we are in the plans to do a collaborative project so look out for that. A new magazine launched last month called Hipolicy Magazine. Check them out at www.hipolicymag.com. - Yohannan Terrell (www.FlyPaperBlog.com)


Ricochet, “Mr. Clean as a Whistle,” from Power Up Ent. connects his link with Asylum/Warner Bros Music. Dallas now has the official Triple D hats repping the city from Christopher Cain Clothing. Definition DJs celebrated their 2 year anniversary. Big Clint is letting local artists perform at the Fare Strip Club in Aggtown. Blocc Bleeda is in the streets with his “I Want My City” single. YUMS kicked off their indie tour with BHamP and G-Spot Boyz. Power Broker has the entire state on “Escalator.” PartyChaser.com is your online source to the local night life. - Edward “Pookie” Hall (urbansouth@gmail.com)


Havoc of Mobb Deep, 40 Glocc, DJ Jelly, and Method Man and Redman have all hit the Mile High this winter. Hypeman P, Denver’s most prominent hypeman, has been nominated as a finalist for the Scion hypeman contest and goes to L.A. in January 09. Carmelo Anthony opened up his new barbershop downtown called Studio 15, and the Denver Broncos welcomed back running back Tatum Bell. The city shows love and respect to community leader Kathy Hill-Young who was a victim of a hit and run accident. She will always be loved and truly missed. - DJ Ktone (Myspace.com/djktonedotcom)


Fat Bastard and Big Tuck came to Don Victors and shut the club down on a weekday night. DJ Geno power-promoted The Thanksgiving Jam Comedy Show. B.G. performed at Club Industry on Black Friday. Dragged Up Music LLC is gearing up for the 10 year anniversary and is looking forward to keeping Naptown up to date with Project Pat, Dragged Up, Swishahouse, Zoe, Boosie, Free Gucci, OJ Da Juice in every CD player throughout the city. Will at MidwestStreetRyders.com just released the Midwest Street Ryders Vol. 4 DVD. The release party hosted by DJ Black was off the hook. - DJ Black (djblackhcp@tmail.com)


Young Jeezy, Lil Boosie, Murphy Lee, and Pleasure P all hit the city this month with Tambra Cherie and DJ Finesse hosting the concert. Stax had another sell-out afterparty. A new artist by the name of Goobie has the streets buzzing. For all your entertainment news, gossip, and anything else worth knowing about, check out www.tambracherie.blogspot.com. 1Life1Love CTE artist Boo is getting better by the day after his car accident. - Tambra Cherie (TambraCherie@aol.com) & Stax (blockwear@tmo.blackberry.net)

JACKSONVILLE, FL: The Duval Diamond Awards went down in red carpet fashion. Bigga Rankin held it down all night along with T-Roy from 93.3 the Beat and Ms. Dynasty (pictured at left), giving out over dozens of awards to Jacksonville’s hardest grinders, and hustlers from all over who support Jacksonville. On a political note, McCain won the Jacksonville vote, but we all know the whole nation wanted to vote for Obama right? Congratulations to Barack, and tell the police to stop harassing those guys stealing McCain/Palin signs, they were just “picking up the trash.” - Lil Rudy (LilRudyRu@yahoo.com)


Usher, Jazmine Sullivan, and Bobby Valentino brought some R&B soul right in time for cupcake season. E-40 held his Ball Street Journal record release party at Poetry Nightclub. Neffie had a celebrity-filled birthday party at Planet Asia. John Legend, Wu Tang, and Anthony Hamilton will be at House of Blues. Mike Epps will also host a comedy show at The Orleans. Magic was emptier than usual thanks to the recession. - Portia Jackson (PortiaJ@sprint.blackberry.net)


Heavy Hitter DJ EFeezy had his 2nd annual birthday bash at The Gillispie where DJ Q rocked the 1s and 2s. Speaking of Feezy, he and a local rapper have been beefing for months. After da Show hosted a successful town hall meeting on the state of Hip Hop in KY. Thanks T-Made. Tony Neal of the CORE DJs stopped by B96.5 to talk dos and don’ts to artists, and how you should/shouldn’t approach DJs. D Mawl, KD, and Nova have been added to radio rotation. I can’t forget to mention Trey Songz who came through. - Divine Da Liaison (OuttaDaShopEnt@hotmail.com)


Slowly but surely Playa Fly is releasing new singles and is gaining much respect with fans and radio stations here in the mid-south. Be on the lookout for the newest single “Great Night” produced by Zaytoven and a new mixtape in January ‘09. Lord Infamous and Koopsta Nicca both speak out separately on Memphisrap.com about new management, new labels, Three 6 Mafia rumors, and upcoming projects. Young Memphis is creating a buzz in the streets with his new album ‘Bout That Time. With this title I’m sure he’s referring to fame; he’s on his way folks. - Deanna Brown (Deanna.Brown@MemphisRap.com)


The streets are still buzzing about the Maxximum Exposure Conference and Award show held at Boomerangs. Everybody that won is happy but the ones that didn’t are having fits. Napalm Da Bomb won two awards. Grade A, DJ Frank, Michael London, DJ Swift, D.B.F., Zeus Entertainment, and everyone else gets props for their grind and hustle. It was supposed to be hosted by DJ Aaries and Jacki-O, but Jacki pulled a disappearing act after receiving the remainder of the balance. Damn, is she really that broke? Gorilla Zoe held it down at Boomerangs for Pimp’s birthday. - Hot Girl Maxximum (Maxximummp3@gmail.com)


First and foremost we must give a moment of silence for Manny. SoCashville.com and Total Package Show have hooked up to bring something new to the scene, just wait and see. Count Bass-D released L7 and the Underground Kings DVD is set to release Underground Queens DVD featuring women in the South who make it happen. DJ C-Lo teams up with Phat Kaps to give out turkeys and toys during the holidays (way to make it happen) and Lovenoise brought Anthony Hamilton to town for a sold out show. - Janiro (Janiro@southernentawards.com)


Phoenix welcomed Yung Berg, David Banner and Phoenix’s own Willy Northpole to the Celebrity Theatre. David Banner stole the show and Willy Northpole’s performance with an army of steppers and crumpers was official. The city is rallying behind our hometown favorites HMF’s Bombay and Tajji Sharp, who both have scheduled releases in the next few months. Sharp is a protégé and close friend of Kanye West. His album is sure to be a different sound for the city. NBA All Star weekend came to the Valley of the Sun. - Jasmine Crowe (jasmine@mystjazz.com)


Even though Steeler football took over the city, Pittsburgh’s nightlife and artists continue to expand. DJ Drama came through twice to kick it and southern style DJ Jelly brought the south to the north for one night. Biz Markie made his way through to rock the mic and Steeler Willie Parker threw a party to remember. Poparazzi is still taking all of the pictures and Moola Gang, Sledgren, and F Block Records are making a lot of noise. - Lola Sims (lolasims@gmail.com)


Ray Goss and DerrtyBoi Montana did interviews for www.mvremix.com. T Babe is selling her OOHWEE bottled water out of 9 clubs in the area. Raw Reese is dropping his new album Street Credit 1.5. Craig Black had Ludacris come through on his Renegade Riverfront Radio show. Jus Bleezy has been touring and giving out turkeys to the needy. Hakeem Da Dream was blessed with an article in OZONE’s Patiently Waiting issue. Unladylike celebrated their new Def Jam deal by partying at Club Casino. They were recently on BET’s Wild Out Wednesdays and their new Scummy Dummy will be wang’n out a radio near you soon. - Jesse James (JesseJames314@aol.com)


Once again WILD 98.7 Fm took over Tropicana Field for the Last Damn Show 10, with performances by Tom G, Gym Class Heroes, The Game, T-Pain, Tay-Dizm, E-40, and others. Derrick “Holly Grove” Hargrove (cast member from 50 Cent’s The Money and The Power reality show), hosted a VIP birthday bash at Club 301. Brooklyn Zu/ Wu-Tang affiliate, Silkski, debuted his single “Sista Love” featuring Cappadonna on “The Hip-Hawk Hour”. Jojo Pellegrino, DJ Spank (France) and Lounga Lo (Wu-Tang affiliate), also stopped by “The Hip-Hawk Hour” to promote their “Staten to Stardom” Tour appearance at Ritz Ybor. - Slick Worthington (SlickWorthi813@gmail.com)


Dre “All Day in the Paint” hosts an open mic every Tuesday at The Legend nightclub. He recently brought Houston rap legend Scarface to perform. Tae Barz won “Wild-Out Wednesday” on BET’s 106th & Park. Local artist and producer, Jamil “Face” Johnson, created a tribute song for fallen Redskin Sean Taylor on the one year anniversary of his death. The song “Every Given Sunday” features Wale, Kingpin Slim, and Miss Kim from Rare Essence. Raheem DeVaughn and Lil Mama were at the Go-Go awards presented by WPGC and the Peaceaholics. The event went off without any drama and Chuck Brown was inducted into the Go-Go Hall of Fame. - Sid “DCSuperSid” Thomas (dcsupersid@aol.com)





ver the past ten years, the price of equipment to make beats has come way down. In addition, the ability to circulate beats quickly, easily, and cheaply on the internet has made the amount of producers and beatmakers soar in the urban music industry. And if you also factor in that EVERYONE thinks they have the perfect ear for music and knows exactly what is missing from the current music industry, you get exactly what we have today in the music industry: a glut of producers.

own music to secure a spot in a production company owned by a more established producer or artist like Jermaine Dupri, Dr. Dre, or Jazze Pha. The thinking is that it’s better to give up half now to build a name and reputation underneath someone else. In my personal opinion, this doesn’t work out very well—just ask Sam Snead, Mellman, Butta, Ced Keyz, Carl-So-Lowe and the list goes on and on.

Producers, like rappers, have exploded onto the urban music landscape in droves. Hundreds of thousands of artists have set up MySpace pages attempting to sell their music, influence the industry, and take their shot at fame and success. What we have is way more producers than we need. The supply far outweighs the demand, driving down the income and opportunity for all producers.

The good thing about the glut in the marketplace is that only the truly dedicated will survive. The folks doing this because they think it’s easy, or because they think they can make a quick buck, will give up quickly and leave. When they see how hard it is to survive, they will move on. Only the folks with music in their blood and souls will be able to withstand the bullshit.

Very few producers really stand out in today’s business. The ones who do rise above the din most assuredly have platinum hits under their belts. The majority of A and B list artists and the bulk of label executives seek out the producers who have a track record of success in delivering hit singles, and are willing to shell out bigger checks to secure the hits. Meanwhile, there are usually between 10 and 15 songs on a CD, leaving room for the album filler to be filled by lesser known and new producers. The prevailing attitude at labels is that maybe we’ll get lucky, and one of the $1500 to $5000 filler tracks will be the next big radio hit. The more entrepreneurial rappers have set up production companies and signed their own production teams so that they can even claim ownership of a larger share of the music on their own releases. Very few are willing to use producers outside of their own camp because that eats into their profit margin.

Also, there are many levels of producers. The key is to figure out where you want to fit in and go for it. Not every producer needs to be a Dr. Dre. There are many underground producers in the ‘hood selling beats for $100 to $500, and perfectly content to be that underground go-to guy. Fearing my article was sounding a bit pessimistic, I put in a call to the always-positive Drumma Boy for advice. His opinion is that “this industry has always had a lot of competition making beats. Right now is no different, just the numbers have changed. It’s important to figure out what level you want to be on as a producer, and go for it. Opportunities open for those who are prepared and talented. Always have your beat CD on you. I’ve made connections with artists at the airport. They might not buy a beat then, but they’ll remember me.”

At all labels (major or indie), each artist has a recording budget. The budgets are determined by a mathematical formula based on how many CDs the label projects the artist can sell either based on previous sales, or based on the buzz and hype of the artist. For example, 50 Cent or T.I. will have a larger recording budget than Hurricane Chris or Alfamega because of their track record of success. However, Hurricane Chris and Alfamega will have a larger budget than Roccett or Papa Duck because their buzz is bigger.

I asked Drumma if he was a new producer today, what he’d do to sell beats. “It’s still all about getting to the artists. I’d pop up at studios every night. If I were in a smaller town, when the artist came to do a show I’d be at the club with my beat CDs. I’d still do what I did to get on…pop up on the artists. If Jeezy is performing, I’d be at the club pressing a CD into Jeezy’s hand-- not anyone in his entourage if I can help it, but Jeezy’s hand. After doing this over and over again, they’ll at least know about you at some point. They remember the tracks that bump. Every artist wants the hot tracks. Eventually they’ll call if your beats are hot enough.” Thanks, Drumma!

An entire album must be delivered within the confines of the recording budget. That budget includes production, studio time, features, sample clearance, and often mixing and mastering costs. If an artist has a recording budget of $250,000, then the album must be delivered to the label without spending more than that $250,000. If mixing and mastering costs $15,000 and recording at a decent studio is $125 an hour, that doesn’t leave much for the production of 10 or 15 songs—especially for artists who believe in recording 25 or more songs and choosing the best 10 or 15 for the album. If the artist wants a Jazze Pha, Jim Jonsin, Mannie Fresh, or Drumma Boy track that can cost anywhere from $20,000 to $70,000 depending on the relationship. It is easy to spend $100,000 or more on the production for three or four hot potential singles. And since it seems that one out of six Americans is a producer today, finding the remainder of the album filler is quite easy. The competition to sell tracks today is crazier than I’ve ever seen it. Even my mailman makes beats on the side. The best way for an aspiring producer to sell beats is to develop a relationship with the artists and the label A&Rs who buy beats. Selling tracks is an ongoing thing, because you never know who is buying beats and when. And because there are so many producers out here hawking beat CDs, you need to have your music in front of the decision maker at the exact moment he is buying tracks. Easier said than done! For a producer without local access to artists (meaning you don’t live in Miami or Atlanta), and who isn’t able to make regular rounds to the record labels (meaning you don’t live in New York City or Los Angeles either), this approach can be very difficult. The next best thing would be to find artists in your local area and provide their sound—their production, hoping that they blow up and achieve some success. That way, when they blow up, you blow up. This worked for Beats By The Pound, Mannie Fresh, and Dr. Dre. Of course, it’s harder now than ever for local acts to break through and secure the attention of a major label the way No Limit, Cash Money, and Death Row did back in the 90s. Some producers have even chosen to take the loss and give up part ownership in their

So what can a new producer do?

What else should a new producer do? It’s important to focus not just on the creative process, but also the business side. Making hot music is necessary, but so is understanding how the business works. The price a producer quotes for his beat is really an advance against backend royalties. Depending on the budget, and depending on how badly the artist or label wants your track, a new producer is usually paid $1500 to $5000 by a major label, and $500 to $3000 by an indie label for a track. The producer almost always goes into the studio with the artist to record. This is the difference between a beatmaker and a producer. A preliminary agreement called a “producer dec” is usually circulated, prior to recording, between the lawyer for the artist or label and the producer’s lawyer (yes, you need to have an experienced entertainment lawyer who is well versed in production agreements on your team). A producer gets paid half of the advance upfront BEFORE GOING INTO THE STUDIO TO RECORD, and half after delivering the track (that second half is usually paid when the album is released, if it’s a major label). The “backend” royalty is whatever you agreed to accept while negotiating, usually somewhere between 2 points and 5 points (3 points is average). Those points come out of the artist’s share, and artists rarely recoup. That means there isn’t always a backend, but be sure to negotiate it just in case there is. If you don’t understand what points are, there’s an excellent explanation in Donald Passman’s book “Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About The Music Industry.” At the very least, read the chapter on points and royalties in your local Barnes and Noble store. Also, attending Sha Money’s producer conference, One Stop Shop, in April in Phoenix is money well spent--it’s the best convention of all of the ones that I attend each year! And if you remember nothing else about this article, remember this: keep 100% of your publishing on ANY track you create. If you choose to sample, monies will be withheld from your backend and from your publishing to pay for the sample. That is why more experienced producers rarely sample anymore. Avoid any and all agreements that ask you to sell your beats as “work for hire.” They are fuck boy contracts. Even though the production side of the urban music industry is oversaturated, it is possible for producers to eek out a nice living. If you have the talent and the drive to succeed, you will. If not, make sure you have a back up plan. This industry can be ruthless. //


(above L-R): Idris Elba & Tigger @ Lebron James birthday party in Miami, FL (Photo: J Lash); Trey Songz & Lola Luv on the set of Ace Hood’s “Ride” remix video shoot in Atlanta, GA (Photo: Terrence Tyson); Ludacris & DJ Drama @ the Dirty Awards in Atlanta, GA (Photo: Julia Beverly)

01 // Moses Davis & Attitude @ The Biltmore for Warner Bros meet & greet (Atlanta, GA) 02 // DJ Dre, Bossiliny, DJ Lil E, & DJ Drop @ Definition DJs Christmas party (Aggtown, TX) 03 // Kenny, Trey Songz, & Bobby Fisher @ Club Honey (Malmo, Sweden) 04 // Supastar J Kwik & DJ Spinz @ Club Crucial (Atlanta, GA) 05 // Bigga Rankin & Ashley Morton @ Duval Diamond Awards @ Plush (Jacksonville, FL) 06 // Busta Rhymes & Geter K on the set of Busta Rhymes’ “Arab Money” (Atlanta, GA) 07 // Young Jeezy & some lucky Wal-Mart employees @ Wal-Mart for Hittmenn DJ’s Toyz N Da Hood (Atlanta, GA) 08 // Gucci Poochie, Rick Ross, & Block on the set of Gorilla Zoe’s “Lost” (Atlanta, GA) 09 // Mad Linx, Raekwon, DJ Q45, the RZA, & J Nicks on the set of BET Rap City’s finale (Atlanta, GA) 10 // DJ Drizzle & DJ Scorpio @ Sugar Hill (Atlanta, GA) 11 // Double A, Big Hood, Tum Tum, Lil Shine, & Yayo @ Definition DJs Christmas party (Aggtown, TX) 12 // David Banner & Tre Dubb @ Austin City Music Hall (Austin, TX) 13 // Shane and Bigga Rankin of Cool Runnings @ Studio Inc for Ace Hood’s release party (Tampa, FL) 14 // Thunderkatz @ Sugar Hill (Atlanta, GA) 15 // Q da Kid & DJ Bruce Wayne @ TSU (Houston, TX) 16 // Sophia Fresh & TayDizm @ Tropicana Field for Wild 98.7’s Last Damn Show (St. Petersburg, FL) 17 // Young Jeezy on the set of “My President” (Atlanta, GA) 18 // Ace Hood signing autographs @ Benchwarmers for Hot 103.5’s birthday bash (Huntsville, AL) 19 // Krystle Coleman, Ted Lucas, Trina, & Wendy Morgan @ The Victor for Slip N Slide’s 15th Anniversary party (Miami, FL) Photo Credits: Bogan (19); Edward Hall (02,11); Eric Perrin (07,08,18); Ichigo (15); Julia Beverly (03); Malik Abdul (09,13,16); Ms Rivercity (01,04,10,14); Terrence Tyson (05,06); Thaddaeus McAdams (17); Tre Dubb (12)


CHIN CHECK By Charlamagne Tha God Tablod Morals and Pop Culture Values You people kill me. When I say “you people,” I’m referring to the “new media”: the bloggers and websites who have taken it upon themselves to be the so-called journalists of this generation. I say “so-called” because many of you are not journalists at all. In fact, there is no journalistic integrity in 95% of the bullshit y’all report. All you do is take rumors, gossip, and downright lies and report them as fact. Think of all the rumors you’ve read on blogs. Do any of these rumors ever get proven as fact? I’m sure a few do, but when I say “a few” it’s only about 5%. As I stated earlier, 95% of what’s reported is bullshit. There is no investigative journalism that goes into your stories. If I call a blogger right now and say, “Yo, I heard such and such got beat up last night,” they will say, “Word? Let me make a few calls.” Within minutes, there will be a blog post on their website saying, “Such and such got beat up last night.” What investigative journalism did you do to insure that “such and such” really did get beat up last night before you put that information out there to the public? None. You didn’t do any research because you don’t care about journalism. You care about posting the rumor before necolebitchie.com or gyantscoop.com does. You are more concerned about generating traffic to your blog or website than you are about reporting a factual story. That’s the problem with the game today; if video killed the radio star, the internet killed the journalist. Our culture needs


more real journalists writing blogs. We need more real activists and intellectual thinkers like Boyce Watkins and Michael Eric Dyson to do video blogs and talk about the issues that affect our people on a daily basis. Think of all the hits that sites like mediatakeout. com and bossip.com get. There comes a point where you have to ask yourself why there isn’t more positive content on these sites. Why aren’t real issues being addressed? How come everyone cares about Chris Brown whupping Rihanna’s ass? Is it right for a man to hit a woman? Hell no. Does it happen on a daily basis? Hell yes. I’ve put my foot up a female’s ass a couple times (when I was younger, and believe me, I got bad karma for it) but what is the real issue? Are you bloggers reporting it because you’re trying to make people realize that domestic violence is an issue that needs to be addressed, or is your site just reporting it because it’s Chris Brown and Rihanna? I read a study that said approximately 1.3 million women and 835,000 men are physically assaulted by an intimate partner annually in the United States. It also said that intimate partner violence makes up 20% of all non-fatal violent crime experienced by women. So domestic violence has always been a major issue, but now that the victim is Rihanna, all of a sudden y’all give a fuck? This is what I call “Tablod Morals and Pop Culture Values.” Nobody really cares about the issue. They care about the celebrity. Case in point: a 15-year-old girl gets arrested in Seattle, Washington, and placed in a holding cell where she is beaten up brutally by two male cops! The cops’ job is to “protect and serve.” I don’t think “protect” means that a young girl is supposed to “protect” her skull from the next blow by these crooked-ass, pig-ass cops. I don’t think “serve” meant that these two grown-ass men were supposed to “serve” up a severe asskicking to a minor. It’s child abuse, abuse of power, and men beating up a female, but I don’t see you bloggers outraged about this. There’s even a video online where you can see the attack and what proved the officers, but I don’t see you bloggers calling

for these cops’ jobs the way you’re calling for the death of Chris Brown’s career. For the record, the cops are only on administrative leave. Don’t you think that if there was more outrage from the media, more would have been done? Of course, but you people don’t care about issues. You care about the celebrity. Tablod Morals and Pop Culture Values. Another example of Tablod Morals and Pop Culture Values is the cartoon in the New York Post that depicted the cops shooting the monkey with the caption, “Guess they will have to find someone else to write the next stimulus bill.” We all know this was a racial jab thrown at President Barack Obama, but what if this same cartoon was published in reference to Al Sharpton or Jesse Jackson? Would people have cared so much? No, I don’t think so, because Brother Al and Brother Jesse are not celebrities on the level that Barack Obama is. Rick Ross has been calling 50 Cent a monkey since their beef started and nobody took offense. Why is it wrong when the Post calls a black man a monkey? If the actual issue is a black man being called a monkey, the same people who are outraged over the Post calling Barack a monkey should be outraged over Rick Ross calling 50 Cent a monkey, right? I asked this same question on Twitter and Kitty Bradshaw responded that it’s okay because 50 is a rapper and Barack is the president, but to me, it shouldn’t matter. Black pride should be black pride whether it’s in reference to a president or a rapper. The bottom line is, nobody should refer to another black person as a monkey. But we don’t care about issues. We care about celebrity, because we have Tablod Morals and Pop Culture Values. In closing, I would like to say that the reason we are not taken seriously when it comes to real issues is because people know we are full of shit. We only protest and complain when it’s the hip thing to do. When the media makes it cool for celebrities to get involved (ie.: The Jena 6, the Sean Bell murder, and Barack Obama’s campaign) we all jump on the bandwagon. Once the cameras leave and the next scandal breaks out in Hollywood, we tend to just forget about the situation and fade away. Ask yourself if you care about the issues or the celebrity. Tablod Morals and Pop Culture Values. Streetfully Yours, Sincerely, Gangsta Charlamagne Tha God

(above L-R): The Game & Nu Jerzee Devil @ Wild 98.7’s Last Damn Show in St. Petersburg, FL (Photo: Julia Beverly); DJ Q45 & Big Boi backstage @ the BET Hip Hop Awards in Atlanta, GA (Photo: Malik Abdul); Lil Boosie & Twaun Pledger @ The Continental for Twaun’s video shoot in Birmingham, AL (Photo: Eric Perrin)

01 // DJ Blak, Tamika Howard, & SWAGG TEAM crew @ The Ebony Club for Hot 103.5’s birthday bash (Huntsville, AL) 02 // Guest & Cory Mo @ Stankonia for Outkast’s Christmas party (Atlanta, GA) 03 // Playboi Tre, BOB, Wes Fif & guest @ Sugar Hill (Atlanta, GA) 04 // Rob G & Roccett @ Geisha House (Atlanta, GA) 05 // J Nicks & Ms Rivercity @ Motions (Atlanta, GA) 06 // Kaspa tha Don & Mr Collipark @ the Boyz N Girls Club (Atlanta, GA) 07 // TI with his son and some adoring fans @ Cascade Roller Rink for Christmas Kids Holiday event (Atlanta, GA) 08 // DJ Drama & Summer Walker on the set of Ace Hood’s “Ride” remix video shoot (Atlanta, GA) 09 // Bobby Fisher, Trey Songz, DJ Foot, & Inga Nandi @ Debaser (Stockholm Sweden) 10 // MLK & guest @ Club Crucial for DJ Scream’s birthday bash (Atlanta, GA) 11 // Two of TI’s sons @ Cascade Roller Rink for Christmas Kids Holiday event (Atlanta, GA) 12 // Attitude & Kane Beatz @ The Biltmore for Warner Bros meet & greet (Atlanta, GA) 13 // OJ da Juiceman & guest @ DBS Sounds for OJ da Juiceman’s meet & greet (Atlanta, GA) 14 // Don Cannon, DJ Infamous, Shaheim Reid, Spiff, & DJ Nasty on the set of Young Jeezy’s “Who Dat” video shoot (Atlanta, GA) 15 // Rico Brooks & Tahira Wright on the set of Gorilla Zoe’s “Lost” (Atlanta, GA) 16 // Antonio Tarver & crew @ Karu & Y (Miami, FL) 17 // Young AC, Tony Neal, & Bigga Rankin @ Duval Diamond Awards @ Plush (Jacksonville, FL) 18 // Lori Harm & John Witherspoon @ Club Skye (Tampa, FL) 19 // Lil Boosie, Turk, & guest @ Trill’s Christmas toy giveaway (Baton Rouge, LA) Photo Credits: Allwyn Forrester (10); Bogan (16); Eric Perrin (01,02,07,11,15); Julia Beverly (09,18); Leetric Walker (19); Ms Rivercity (03,05,06,12,13); Terrence Tyson (04,08,14,17)


Missing In Action


Last Spotted: GeIsha House in Atlanta, GA filming “Choosin’” featuring Mario Two years in real life doesn’t seem like a long time, but in the rap game it’s an eternity. That’s how long it’s been since we were expecting Young Capone’s debut album Big Faces and Bright Lights from Jermaine Dupri’s So So Def label. The anticipation was there, but the album never came out and in a shifty rap game that moves at a 300 RPH (rappers per hour) Capone became a buried thought in the minds of most rap fans, but not all. Occasionally annoyed, but ultimately motivated by people constantly asking him, “Where the album at?” Capone sought a release from So So Def and started his own label, Trotti Ent. Now, with buzz singles “Shawty,” “Loud” featuring Maceo and Yung Ralph and “Choosin’” featuring Mario circulating, Capone is set to hit the streets with his new album Small Things To A Giant. So where have you been? Recently everybody’s been looking for me. I’ve been getting out of those contracts with So So Def. My fans have been wondering what’s going on. I had to get out of the paperwork, switch my management, and get my own team. I started my own label, and I’m getting back out in the streets. I’m putting an album together and then I’m going to shop it to the major labels. Should we be expecting a new sound? Things are very different from just two years ago. It’s gonna be the same sound, but people get to hear me and see what I’m about. It’s pretty much the same sound, I just ain’t with Nitti no more. I’ve got my own producers now. You’ll get to know me better and I’ll be handing business a little better. When I was with So So all the business wasn’t getting done right. I’m being on time for shows and doing the proper radio interviews now because I’m trying to take my career to the next level. I don’t want people thinking I was on the bullshit when I was at So So. It wasn’t in my hands because I was just signed as an artist. I have more creative control this time around. Why didn’t things work at So So Def? I think JD believed in my music, but I don’t think he really knew what to do with my street music. He had good intentions, but time just passed and things ain’t work out. We did do BET Access


Granted with “I’m Hot” and he planned on taking me to Def Jam with him. JD was down with me, but he ain’t know what to do with me. I’m a producer too. I always had intentions of having my own label and being my own man, but people never understood that because I was young. What kept you motivated through all of that? People kept asking me what’s up with my music. If they didn’t care, they wouldn’t ask. But my fans never forgot about me. I’m still getting paid shows all over the world without having a song on the radio or TV, so that kept me going too. JD ain’t make me do it, I did it myself from the get go. I ain’t gonna let nobody discourage me. Do you consider it a blessing in disguise that after the whole So So Def situation, you’re able to come back out and still look fresh? Yeah. I came in early. I’m 22 now; I came in when I was 18. It’s a good thing I started early. The most difficult part is cleaning up some of the bad business that was done. My music isn’t the problem. It’s making people understand that we aren’t doing the same things we did with JD. People wanna know that [my album] is really coming out. I just have to be consistent. What are the “same things” you’re referring to? I dropped a lot of bad habits. I was around people with the “I don’t give a fuck” attitude and it rubbed off on me. With So So Def moving so slow, it caused me to start moving slow. I’m trying to be more on point all around the board. I’m stepping my whole game up as an artist, producer and business man. I want to show people that I got what it takes to do what Jeezy, T.I. and Luda are doing with their labels. If you ain’t handling business right, you ain’t going nowhere. // Words by Maurice G. Garland Photo by Eric Perrin

Since CAPONE’S Last SINGLE: Senator Barack Obama is now President Barack Obama Boston Celtics Have Gone from last place to NBA Champions, threatening to repeat James Bond Has Come back, twice Ed Hardy Has Gone Being Exclusive To BEING Available at Ross Dress for Less

(above L-R): D Woods reppin’ Obama in Atlanta, GA (Photo: Thaddaeus McAdams); Ted Lucas & Plies @ The Victor for Slip N Slide’s 15th Anniversary party in Miami, FL (Photo: Bogan); Lil Boosie & an artist @ Trill’s Christmas toy giveaway in Baton Rouge, LA (Photo: Leetric Walker)

01 // Trey Songz & Inga Nandi on the set of Rebstar’s “Without You” (Stockholm Sweden) 02 // Nick Love, DJ Jelly, & DJ Hotsauce @ Hot Stix for Young Capone’s Meet & Greet (Atlanta, GA) 03 // City Boyz & Krazy Yogi @ Firestone for Papa Duck’s birthday party (Orlando, FL) 04 // Chuck & Billy Blue @ Mansion for DJ Khaled’s birthday party (Miami, FL) 05 // Cellski & Roccett @ Geisha House (Atlanta, GA) 06 // DJ Demp, K Foxx, & Iceberg of the Dunk Ryders @ Mansion for DJ Khaled’s birthday party (Miami, FL) 07 // Alesha Renee & DJ Q45 @ Lucky Strike Bowling Alley (Kansas City, MO) 08 // Rick Ross & Lil Chuckee @ the Dirty Awards (Atlanta, GA) 09 // Ted Lucas cutting the cake @ The Victor for Slip N Slide’s 15th Anniversary party (Miami, FL) 10 // Young Jeezy on the set of “Crazy World” (Atlanta, GA) 11 // Kim Ellis, Stephanie, & guest on the set of Ace Hood’s “Ride” remix video shoot (Atlanta, GA) 12 // Jackie Chain & Playboy Tre @ The Ebony Club for Hot 103.5’s birthday bash (Huntsville, AL) 13 // Midget Mac & Steet Money Records @ The Moon for TJ’s DJ’s (Tallahassee, FL) 14 // So Real Cru, Kiotti, Crisco Kidd, & DJ Coolaid @ 93.3 (Houston, TX) 15 // Guest, Cedric Hollywood, Charles Reed, & DJ Khaled @ The Victor for Slip N Slide’s 15th Anniversary party (Miami, FL) 16 // Elora Mason & Bigga Rankin @ Pre-Diamond Awards Mixer @ SoHo Lounge (Jacksonville, FL) 17 // Bizzle, Lex, & Ali Muhammad @ FAMU for Vibe’s Yardfest (Tallahassee, FL) 18 // Tai Boogie & TJ Chapman @ BOB’s Meet & Greet (Atlanta, GA) 19 // JC, LA the Darkman, & Rob @ Wildhorse (Nashville, TN) 20 // Plies & guest @ The Moon for FAMU Homecoming afterparty (Tallahassee, FL) Photo Credits: Bogan (09,15); Eric Perrin (12); Ichigo (14); Janiro Hawkins (19); Julia Beverly (01,04,06,08); Malik Abdul (03,13); Ms Rivercity (02,18); Terrence Tyson (05,07,11,16,17,20); Thaddaeus McAdams (10)


She Liked my NECKLACE and started relaxin’, that’s what the fuck I call a…


hile interviewing Gorilla Zoe for next month’s Drug Issue, Moe from Ice Box Jewelry stopped by McCoy Street Studios to drop off Zoe’s new piece. It impressed us so much we had to rearrange Chain Reaction to feature Zoe’s new ridiculously large piece. Gorilla Zoe: Don’t Feed the Animals, that’s what the chain says. After this, I want OZONE to shut the Chain Reaction section down. OZONE is not allowed to do any more Chain Reactions after this, because my chain is shutting it down. Seriously, after this segment, whoever is in charge of Chain Reaction needs to just quit. This is it. Moe the Jeweler: This chain is what Zoe is all about: breaking out of the cage—that was concept for this piece. The gorilla that’s inside the cage is its own separate piece, we don’t take any shortcuts or anything. The gorilla has hair on its back and everything, and it even comes out of the cage, too. When all the album promo is done, we can take the gorilla out to be worn separately. The gorilla’s hands even open so it can break out of the cage. It took me about three months to make this piece, but that’s because Zoe told me to take my time, as long as it was done before the album dropped. This chain was made strictly for the album. Gorilla Zoe: That’s my brother, jeweler of the year. Everything I’ve ever had on he’s made.




Moe the Jeweler: Yeah, I’ve done all of Zoe’s past pieces, everything he ever wore before. We generally make all the pieces by machine, but the gorilla was harder. It has so much detail we had to do it by hand. It’s white gold, and as far as the diamond carat weight goes, the cage, the sign, and the gorilla are all separate carat weights. The gorilla has the red diamonds on the tongue, the diamonds in the eyes, the white diamonds on the chest, and the rest of the body is black diamonds. Even the cage has diamonds on the side too. It definitely has over a hundred carats all together, but the only number I really remember is what Zoe paid. I get a wire transfer from Zoe every month, so it doesn’t matter how much it costs, the money keeps coming anyway. And I’ve done pieces for everybody: Bobby Valentino, T-Pain, Bow Wow, all of [Yung] Joc’s pieces, Young Dro’s stuff, Travis McCoy from Gym Class Heroes, Chingy, and a bunch of the [Atlanta] Falcons’ pieces, but out of all the pieces I’ve ever designed, this chain has to be my favorite, because there was so much invested in it; time and money. Zoe told me he didn’t have a budget, just keep on working and then let him know what the price was. Gorilla Zoe: Show money, man. Show money. I do a lot of shows. // Words and Photo by Eric Perrin

(above L-R): Chaka Zulu & Plies @ Patchwerk for Plies’ listening party in Atlanta, GA; Young Jeezy & Trae @ Mansion for DJ Khaled’s birthday party in Miami, FL (Photos: Julia Beverly); Pastor Troy @ FAMU for Vibe’s Yardfest in Tallahassee, FL (Photo: Terrence Tyson)

01 // TayDizm, DJ Demp, Pat Nix, DJ Q45, & Young Cash @ Leon County Civic Center for FAMU’s Homecoming concert (Tallahassee, FL) 02 // Sommore & Kevin Liles @ The Victor for Slip N Slide’s 15th Anniversary party (Miami, FL) 03 // Big Lip Bandit, Supa Cindy, & DJ Ice @ The Victor for Slip N Slide’s 15th Anniversary party (Miami, FL) 04 // Khia & Ron White @ The Ebony Club for Hot 103.5’s birthday bash (Huntsville, AL) 05 // Ivory Orr & Kiko @ Leon County Civic Center for FAMU’s Homecoming concert (Tallahassee, FL) 06 // Rick Ross & Carol City Cartel crew @ Karu & Y (Miami, FL) 07 // Sean Garrett, Yung Joc, & Plies @ Patchwerk for Plies’ listening party (Atlanta, GA) 08 // Young Jeezy & Fabolous @ Lebron James birthday party (Miami, FL) 09 // Ace Hood & Brisco @ Roxy for the Florida Classic (Orlando, FL) 10 // DJ Wildhairr & DJ Dre @ Definition DJs Christmas party (Aggtown, TX) 11 // King Arthur & guest @ Studio 72 for DJ Scorpio’s birthday bash (Atlanta, GA) 12 // Dee Dee Cocheta & DJ Judgemental @ Hot Stix for Young Capone’s Meet & Greet (Atlanta, GA) 13 // Tony C & guest @ The Moon for TJ’s DJ’s (Tallahassee, FL) 14 // QC Partystarters @ Studio Inc for Ace Hood’s release party (Tampa, FL) 15 // TJ Chapman & DJ Fresh @ The Ebony Club for Hot 103.5’s birthday bash (Huntsville, AL) 16 // BOB & ladies @ Sugar Hill (Atlanta, GA) 17 // Lil Will & DJ Mack @ Club Energy (Waco, TX) 18 // Bizzle & Sean D @ Leon County Civic Center for FAMU’s Homecoming concert (Tallahassee, FL) 19 // Gu & DJ Mr Rogers @ SF2’s 3rd store opening (Houston, TX) 20 // Derrick Crooms, VIC, & Mr Collipark @ the Boyz N Girls Club (Atlanta, GA) Photo Credits: Bogan (02,03,06); Edward Hall (10); Eric Perrin (04,15); Ichigo (19); J Lash (08); Janiro Hawkins (11); Julia Beverly (07); Malik Abdul (09,13,14); Ms Rivercity (12,16,20); Terrence Tyson (01,05,18); Tre Dubb (17)


Most strip club patrons recklessly furnish their favorite dancers with STACKS of cash that would make their accountants sick—unless their accountant is also their favorite stripper. Meet Jamie, a 25-year-old West Indian import who brings a whole new meaning to OZONE’s Dollar Menu. Raised in Atlanta, this Westside resident definitely knows the value of a dollar; in fact, she just graduated with a degree in accounting and plans on starting her own business. “The average customer would say I’m real cool and I have a nice smile, which is good because hopefully they’ll trust me with their finances one day,” theorizes the dancer, who does her own taxes. “I’ll be done dancing as soon as my permit expires, and then I’ll be going fully into accounting.” Though her dancing days are numbered, her five years on the pole certainly led to some memorable experiences. Just last week, for instance, Jamie was performing a table dance when her shoe broke, causing her to fall to the floor. When she stood up understandably embarrassed, no one was laughing, but her thirsty customers certainly tried to capitalize on her collapse. “This one dude kept trying to get me to leave the club with him so he could buy me some new shoes,” she recalls. “But it was 2 o’clock in the morning, where would I get some shoes from at that time? Some of these guys will try anything to get you to leave the club with them.” Though you can’t blame the guys for misjudging her level of intelligence, Jamie says the strength she exudes at work is impossible not to notice, even attributing the color of her attire to her personality. “I’m always wearing black at work because it’s a strong color, and I’m a strong woman. In my photo shoot I was wearing red, but if you notice my hair, which was also red has a black tint to it. It’s all about strength,” she adds. This statement is true in her personal life as well. While most dancers spend their free time shopping and frolicking through Phipps Plaza, Jamie is either shooting pool or riding dirt bikes and four-wheelers. “I guess I’m just a different kind of girl,” she says. “You just have to know me to understand.” //


Words by Eric Perrin Website: Strokersclub.com Booking: myspace.com/strokersatl Photography: DC The Brain Supreme dcphotoimaging.com Make up and Hair Styling by Mike Mike 678-732-5285

(above L-R): Tigger & guest @ Lebron James birthday party in Miami, FL (Photo: J Lash); Boo da Boss Playa & Roccett on the set of Young Jeezy’s “Who Dat” video shoot in Atlanta, GA; Papa Duck & Trina @ Club Sensations in Valdosta, GA (Photos: Terrence Tyson)

01 // Bibi Guns & Shaheim Reid on the set of Young Jeezy’s “Who Dat” video shoot (Atlanta, GA) 02 // Chamillionaire, 40 Glocc, & Sun @ Sharpstown Mall (Houston, TX) 03 // Mama Wes & DJ Mr Rogers @ SF2’s 3rd store opening (Houston, TX) 04 // Vanessa Phan with TJ’s DJ’s painting @ The Moon for TJ’s DJ’s (Tallahassee, FL) 05 // DJ Princess Cut & LA of Trillville @ the Dirty Awards (Atlanta, GA) 06 // Monica & Shawty Shawty @ the Dirty Awards (Atlanta, GA) 07 // Chamillionaire, Madd Hatta, 40 Glocc, Sun, Nnete, & J Mac @ Sharpstown Mall (Houston, TX) 08 // Guest, TI, & Dr Benjamin Chavis @ Leon County Civic Center for FAMU’s Homecoming concert (Tallahassee, FL) 09 // D Woods making voter registration calls for Obama (Atlanta, GA) 10 // Fat Pimp, Doughski G, & 8 Seventeen Productions @ The Ranch (Aggtown, TX) 11 // Zillaman, DJ Wildhairr, & guest @ The Ranch (Aggtown, TX) 12 // Young Jeezy & director Marc Klasfield on the set of “Crazy World” (Atlanta, GA) 13 // Plies, Ted Lucas, & Suga D @ Patchwerk for Plies’ listening party (Atlanta, GA) 14 // Kool Herc & Pookie @ Minc Lounge (Dallas, TX) 15 // Lola Luv & Fat Boy on the set of Ace Hood’s “Ride” video shoot (Atlanta, GA) 16 // DJ Brad, DJ Aaries, Kadalack Boys, & guests @ The Gate for DJ Brad’s video shoot (Atlanta, GA) 17 // Stay Fresh, Kane Beatz, Lil Scrappy, & guest @ the Dirty Awards (Atlanta, GA) 18 // Kay Slay, Patrick Adams, & models @ Cafe Iguana (Ft Lauderdale, FL) 19 // Lil Duval & DJ Demp @ Roxy for the Florida Classic (Orlando, FL) Photo Credits: Bogan (18); Edward Hall (10,11,14); Ichigo (02,03,07); Julia Beverly (05,06,13); Malik Abdul (04,19); Ms Rivercity (15,16,17); Terrence Tyson (01,08); Thaddaeus McAdams (09,12)


Talib Kweli, shown here performing in St. Petersburg, FL in April 2008

Are You a G? 7 Questions to FIND OUT if R&B star CASE is the 7th letter of the alphabet. A. What’s the worst song you’ve ever recorded? On the last album, there was a song I hate called “Crooked Letter.” [Originally] it had like 10 different samples on it, but as we started trying to get the samples cleared we had to strip it down, strip it down, strip it down. By the time we got done stripping it down I hated it, but we had already paid for it, so we put it on the album anyway. We don’t blame you for not wanting to waste money, but hell, you could’ve just sold the song to someone else. B. How many days out of the week are you in the hood? I used to be in Bankhead kind of often. I was actually in Mechanicsville the other day, but it doesn’t look like Mechanicsville anymore, so I really don’t know. Case, the hood’s “Missin’ You,” but we’ll award you a point for even knowing where Bankhead and Mechanicsville are. C. What’s the most bizarre thing a female fan ever asked of you? One girl wanted me to sign her ass, and then she went and got a tattoo that traced my signature. I thought she was lying about it, but she came to a show about two years later and sure enough, she had my signature 26 // OZONE MAG

tattooed on her ass. I hope she doesn’t plan on getting married no time soon. This response earns extra credit. Congratulations, Case.

D. Damn, so you go

around initiating groupies asses into the Case Signature Series? Wow…was it a nice quality ass? Yeah, yeah, it was dynamite. She was a true fan, and I wouldn’t necessarily call her a groupie, she was just a friend of the program. From now on, all groupies will be referred to as “friends of the program.”

E. How often do you do the domestic thing in the kitchen? I cook every day. I’m about to cook in a little while. I was starving after the gym, so I cooked two steaks last night. My signature dish is my smothered steak with rice and gravy and some peas. That’s usually works for me, every time I make that for someone they just lose it. But I can’t eat it right now, because I’m in the gym training. Sorry Case, we can’t award you G’ points for watching your weight. This is OZONE, not Men’s Health. F. When was the last time you got in a fight? I get in arguments all the time; you can’t be in the music business

abcdefG without getting into arguments. I argue with my manager all the time. But my last fistfight was in 1999. I had a birthday party and I thought this dude was trying to pick-pocket me. He acted like it was an accident, but I punched him in the face. Then we fought and everybody started laughing like, “How do get into it at your own party?” Fuck it. He had it coming. For beating ass on his birthday, Case gets another point.

G. What’s largest amount of money you ever lost gambling? I lost $3,000 in 1998 betting on the Minnesota Vikings against the Atlanta Falcons in the NFC Championship game. I had the Vikings all day. It was a no-brainer, but they lost. I’ll never forget, I was in Phoenix, Arizona watching the game, and I had bet one of my homeboys. I actually paid him. If I had won, I would’ve wanted my money. The Vikings? Really? You deserved to lose that 3K, Case. ScorE: 4/7

Though the title of his new album The Rose Experience doesn’t exactly scream “I’m a G!,” Case earns a passing grade for fightin’ in the club and leaving a permanent imprint on his biggest fans. - Eric Perrin

Hood Deeds WORDS By Eric Perrin // PHOTO BY LUIS SANTANA With the economy in the toilet and album sales down by devastating proportions, most musicians rely on performances as their main source of income. Talib Kweli, however, has chosen to donating a chunk of his to the Chicago Public School System. Kweli’s parents are both teachers. He will perform at a series of “Dare 2 Dream” concerts at Chicago’s House of Blues this May, designed to promote reading and higher literacy rates among students in the Windy City. The non-profit organization WITS (Working in the Schools) will use the proceeds from the concerts to provide tutoring and mentoring programs. Chicago Public Schools are infamously known as one of the least effective public school systems in America, graduating only 50% of high school freshmen. Among the 50% that do graduate, only a mortifying 6% percent of those finish college. Jeff Sodikoff, President of host Platform One Entertainment, expresses his gratitude: “I’m extremely proud and honored to partner with the incredible Talib Kweli to help foster major awareness and raise important funding for Working In The Schools all while continuing our pursuit to harness the power of music and entertainment to benefit important causes.”

1. LOOSE GORILLA (www.myspace.com/loosegorilla) When you hear the words “Loose Gorilla” your first reaction is probably to run. So why a five man rap/singing group that specializes in dance/ club music would name themselves that, we don’t know. From looking at their myspace page they’re garnering alot of industry attention, but we’re willing to bet money that the main reason they aren’t signed yet is probably because of that alarming name. They might as well call themselves House Fire. 2. Clete Nigga (www.myspace.com/cleteatm) Imagine this conversation: A: “Have you heard of this guy Clete Nigga?” B: “Clete? No.” A: “No. Clete Nigga.” B: “I don’t no a nigga named Clete.” A: “No nigga, Clete Nigga.” B: “Clete, nigga?” A: “Yes nigga! Clete Nigga. Damn.” 3. Waka Flocka Flame (www.myspace.com/wakaflockaflame) We’re speechless with this one.

(above L-R): BOB & Wes Fif @ Sugar Hill in Atlanta, GA (Photo: Ms Rivercity); Young Jeezy @ Wal-Mart for Hittmenn DJ’s Toyz N Da Hood in Atlanta, GA (Photo: Eric Perrin); Roccett & Young Buck @ Geisha House in Atlanta, GA (Photo: Terrence Tyson)

01 // Gator & Big Kuntry @ Leon County Civic Center for FAMU’s Homecoming concert (Tallahassee, FL) 02 // DJ Khaled, DJ Nasty, & Ace Hood @ Roxy for the Florida Classic (Orlando, FL) 03 // Yung Envy & Juney Boomdata @ Club Crucial (Atlanta, GA) 04 // Vistoso Bosses & Mr Collipark @ the Boyz N Girls Club (Atlanta, GA) 05 // Moses Davis & Yancey Richardson @ Patchwerk for Plies’ listening party (Atlanta, GA) 06 // Young Jeezy & DJ Q45 @ Leon County Civic Center for FAMU’s Homecoming concert (Tallahassee, FL) 07 // DJ Demp & crew reppin’ CRUNK @ FAMU for Vibe’s Yardfest (Tallahassee, FL) 08 // Plies & BallGreezy @ The Victor for Slip N Slide’s 15th Anniversary party (Miami, FL) 09 // Diamond & crew @ the Dirty Awards (Atlanta, GA) 10 // Frank Lini & crew & C Wakeley @ The Moon for TJ’s DJ’s (Tallahassee, FL) 11 // Marc Decoca & Twink @ Motions (Atlanta, GA) 12 // GunPlay, Torch, Masspike Miles, & Geter K on the set of Ace Hood’s “Ride” video shoot (Atlanta, GA) 13 // Bishop of Crunk & Young Capone @ Primetime for DJ Infamous’ birthday party (Atlanta, GA) 14 // Rick Ross & 1st Lady El @ the Florida Entertainment Summit (Miami, FL) 15 // Charlie Hustle & Bankroll Jones @ SF2’s 3rd store opening (Houston, TX) 16 // Stuart, DJ Drama, DJ Sense, & DJ Beestroh @ Hot 107.9 (Atlanta, GA) 17 // Joy, Malik Abdul, & Courtney Scott @ FAMU for Vibe’s Yardfest (Tallahassee, FL) 18 // Ms Rivercity & DJ Nasty on the set of Ace Hood’s “Ride” remix video shoot (Atlanta, GA) 19 // Kydd Joe & DJ Scream @ Club Crucial for DJ Scream’s birthday bash (Atlanta, GA) Photo Credits: Allwyn Forrester (19); Bogan (08); Eric Perrin (13); Ichigo (15); Julia Beverly (05,09); Kingpin (14); Malik Abdul (02,10); Ms Rivercity (03,04,11,12,16); Terrence Tyson (01,06,07,17,18)


editor’s note I’m Just Sayin’tho by D-Ray


o I have artists swearing daily that I’m hating on their career by not putting them in the magazine. Well, for one, this is a national magazine. Two, I’ve been to in-stores of artists with radio play and artists with no radio play, so let me express this thought. I am the West Coast kid. I rep the West Coast until I die! I’m from the Bay so you already know I’m gonna rep what I know. I’m not going to co-sign an artist prematurely. I just can’t. That’s like stamping a poor quality photo with my name. That would be reppin’ me bad. So I was at a recent in-store, and no one showed up. Hello! We need to get our promotion tighter or our raps hotter, because the in-store turnout made it clear that the fanbase isn’t quite there. The visual is a bitch! I didn’t hit the same line-up’s in-store in Sacramento, but I inquired and heard that it was the same turn-out. One of the artists that was scheduled to be there is the supposed King of Sac. I would have been very, very, very bugged if I had taken my time to drive to Sac for that. Sac is a whack drive from the Bay to me. Not sayin’ that they have whack artists; just sayin’ that the drive sucks! C-Bo comes from Sac and when I think of the King of Sac, I think of him, not the new artists.

Artists, to be successful, you can’t blame a bad turnout at an in-store on lack of radio play, because that’s far from the case. Artists like Mistah FAB, J Diggs, Andre Nickatina, and Messy Marv have in-stores that are fuckin’ bananas with no radio, period! Then there’s E-40: no matter what, his in-stores get shut down because he has a never-ending line of fans. Let’s reflect on what the real problems are and invest in our careers. Don’t worry about the radio so much. Radio is nice, but most people listen to CDs and MP3s and satellite radio today anyway. Satellite

Me & Chuy Gomez @ Blush for Streetcred’s Christmas party in Burlingame

Skin Head Rob, me, & Paul Wall @ The Mezzanine in San Francisco

E-40 f/ Cousin Fik “I Can Sell It” Nipsey Hussle “Hussle in the House” Ya Boy f/ Dr. Hollywood “We Run LA” Keak Da Sneak & San Quinn “Hot N Cool” Clyde Carson f/ The Game “Touchdown Remix” Baby Bash f/ Lil’ Jon, Mario, & E-40 “That’s How I Go” The Jacka, Big Righ, Balance, & Jimmie Reign “Can’t Go”


radio is uncensored. My ear is always to the streets, even if I’m not in them physically, so miss me with that “why are you hatin’” bullshit. I can’t do anything but keep it real. I refuse to co-sign a premature artist or project in the mag. You’ve gotta put your footwork in. I’m not sayin’ that if I see you out, I won’t take a photo and still rep you in the photo gallery to help build a buzz. But make sure you’re coming with that heat. Get your product out there. Shake hands and kiss babies. Your attitude may be standing in the way of your own blessings, and that’s real, so take time to reflect. If your homies are sayin’ your music is hot but other folks are hatin’, well, they’re your homies, so they’re supposed to say it’s hot. They want to be on stage with you and have a mic to overpower your lyrics and ad-libs. Take the time to re-evaluate your situation. Is it you? Is it your manager that’s holding you back? Publicist? Distributor? Promo team? Homies? Or do you just not have that Lil Wayne fan base yet? Reflect. Success doesn’t come overnight. Have patience and a good attitude, not a chip on your shoulder. There’s an artist out in the Bay right now who has so much talent, but has a huge chip on his shoulder. He gets radio interviews and spins, not to mention that the Music Director damn near sucks his ass, but has absolutely no fans. No loyal fans! Wow! Amazing, huh? The worst thing is, this wasn’t supposed to be my editorial this month. I wanted to talk about my Grammy week and how dope it was. So look out for next month’s editorial. I’m gonna tell you about the Cash Money party and DJ Quik’s monthly concert. I’m gonna take you through the Land of Hollywood! - D-Ray, OZONE West Editor-At-Large dray@ozonemag.com

Me & J Diggs @ The Phoenix Theater for Merry Thizzmas in Petaluma

Me & Rydah J. Klyde @ Pinky’s for Merry Thizzmas in Sacramento



Jay Rock “Be on the Block” Pacific Division “Mayor” Mistah FAB “Teenage Thug”

(above L-R): Rick Ross & Masspike Miles @ the Florida Entertainment Summit in Miami, FL (Photo: Kingpin); TayDizm & T-Pain @ Wild 98.7’s Last Damn Show in St. Petersburg, FL (Photo: Julia Beverly); BloodRaw & C Wakeley @ Duval Diamond Awards @ Plush in Jacksonville, FL (Photo: Terrence Tyson)

01 // Papa Duck & Armstrong @ Firestone for Papa Duck’s birthday party (Orlando, FL) 02 // DJ Hustleman, Ne Ne, & DJ Bigg V @ Club Fermier (Cleveland, MS) 03 // Tigger & ladies @ Lebron James birthday party (Miami, FL) 04 // Rick Ross Geter K @ Mansion for DJ Khaled’s birthday party (Miami, FL) 05 // Fabolous & DJ Q45 backstage @ the BET Hip Hop Awards (Atlanta, GA) 06 // Young Jeezy & DJ Fahrenheit @ Plush (Jacksonville, FL) 07 // Jarvis & DJ Demp @ Leon County Civic Center for FAMU’s Homecoming concert (Tallahassee, FL) 08 // Sammie & guest @ the Dirty Awards (Atlanta, GA) 09 // Ms Diva & Lil Wayne backstage @ the BET Hip Hop Awards (Atlanta, GA) 10 // D’Lyte & Pookie @ Definition DJs Christmas party (Aggtown, TX) 11 // Juney Boomdata & Ms Rivercity @ the Dirty Awards (Atlanta, GA) 12 // DJ Nabs & Chris Smith of Kris Kross @ Aquanox (Atlanta, GA) 13 // Guest, Fiya, & Q Da Kid @ TSU (Houston, TX) 14 // DJ Bigg V, Jazmine, & J Farmer @ Club Fermier (Cleveland, MS) 15 // Marco Mall, Pat Nix, & Willie Fisher @ Leon County Civic Center for FAMU’s Homecoming concert (Tallahassee, FL) 16 // Ali Muhammad & Kuzzo @ FAMU for Vibe’s Yardfest (Tallahassee, FL) 17 // Plies & DJ Blak @ Patchwerk for Plies’ listening party (Atlanta, GA) 18 // South Models TJ & Cayce with Twaun Pledger @ The Continental for Twaun’s video shoot (Birmingham, AL) 19 // Ike Dirty & ladies @ The Biltmore for Warner Bros meet & greet (Atlanta, GA) Photo Credits: Edward Hall (02,10,14); Eric Perrin (18); Ichigo (13); J Lash (03); Julia Beverly (04,08,11,17); Malik Abdul (01,05,09); Ms Rivercity (12,19); Terrence Tyson (06,07,15,16)


RIHANNA & JAY-Z JAY-Z: Ri, what up girl? RIHANNA: Hi. Who is dis? JAY-Z: It’s ya boy. Young Hova, ya heard. haha RIHANNA: Oh hey Daddy, I’m so glad you texted me, this nigga Chris went through my phone and deleted your number. He’s so intimated by you. JAY-Z: Haha He can’t help but be intimidated, ma. it’s HOV. What’s higher than numba 1? Hahaha RIHANNA: This nigga has been acting like a bitch lately. JAY-Z: Fuck that lil nigga, ma. You got 99 problems but a bitch ain’t one. Ha ha ha, It’s ya boi. RIHANNA: It’s not his fault, daddy. He knows I’m unfaithful and it kills him inside. JAY-Z: He don’t know it’s ya boi, do he? I don’t want that jealous ass nigga trying to fuck up my situation with Bey. You know I got the baddest chick in the game wearing’ my chain. IT’S THE ROCK! RIHANNA: Whatever, daddy. I wish you would hurry up and leave that bitch so we can finally be together. JAY-Z: LMAO! She wants that old thing back. It’s ya boi. I know what ya like. It’s HOV RIHANNA: I’m serious Shawn, I gonna breakup with Chris right after this pregrammy party so I can prove how dedicated I am to you daddy.

OZONE EXCLUSIVE Textin’ is no longer safe now that OZONE’s dangerous minds have hacked the system.

JAY-Z: You serious? Don’t do no shit like that, ma. That nigga’s in luv. Ha ha! He ain’t gone let you leave. If you try to break it off that lil mafucka might try to swing on you or something. And then I’d have to kill him. RIHANNA: I wish that nigga would try to touch me. I smack that pussy around everyday and his bitch ass don’t do shit about it. JAY-Z: You shouldn’t hit your man, ma. But enough of that, Bey wants to do another 3some. You down? Ha ha ha! RIHANNA: I can’t talk about this right now, Chris keeps trying to glance at my phone. But u know I’ll do anything for you daddy.

From the minds of Eric Perrin & Randy Roper Photo by Kevin Mazur/Wireimage


(above L-R): Ne-Yo & Jadakiss @ Geisha House in Atlanta, GA (Photo: Terrence Tyson); Birmingham J & Twaun Pledger @ The Continental for Twaun’s video shoot in Birmingham, AL (Photo: Eric Perrin); Talib Kweli & Mistah FAB on the set of BET Rap City’s finale in Atlanta, GA (Photo: Malik Abdul)

01 // DJ Fresh & Khia @ The Ebony Club for Hot 103.5’s birthday bash (Huntsville, AL) 02 // DJ Spinz & Juney Boomdata @ the Dirty Awards (Atlanta, GA) 03 // Creo, Busy Bee, Kool Herc, & guest @ Minc Lounge (Dallas, TX) 04 // Terrence Tyson & Debra Lee @ Straits (Atlanta, GA) 05 // DJ Ace & Noam Fam @ The Gate for DJ Brad’s video shoot (Atlanta, GA) 06 // DJ Misbehavior & Frank Lini @ The Gainesville Music Summit (Gainesville, FL) 07 // Nas & Young Jeezy on the set of “My President” (Atlanta, GA) 08 // Clyde Carson & The Game @ Tampa airport (Tampa, FL) 09 // Rico Brooks, Block, Drumma Boy, Gorilla Zoe, & Rick Ross on the set of Gorilla Zoe’s “Lost” (Atlanta, GA) 10 // Guest, Snoop, & Gucci Poochie @ Mansion for DJ Khaled’s birthday party (Miami, FL) 11 // Stephanie B, Steve Bellamy, & Shoeb Malik @ The Roxy for Classic Luau (Orlando, FL) 12 // Trae signing autographs @ T-Town for Trae’s mixtape release (Dallas, TX) 13 // Orlando & ladies @ Wild 98.7’s Last Damn Show (St. Petersburg, FL) 14 // Yancey Richardson & Plies @ Wild 98.7’s Last Damn Show (St. Petersburg, FL) 15 // Gorilla Zoe & TJ Chapman @ the Dirty Awards (Atlanta, GA) 16 // Guest, Rock City, Young Capone, Roccett, & guests @ Geisha House on the set of Young Capone’s ‘Choosin’ video shoot (Atlanta, GA) 17 // DJ Q45 & ladies @ The Moon for FAMU Homecoming afterparty (Tallahassee, FL) 18 // Meechie, 40 Glocc, & Sun @ Blow Studio (Houston, TX) Photo Credits: Edward Hall (03); Eric Perrin (01,09,16); Ichigo (18); Julia Beverly (08,10,13,14,15); Kurtis Graham (12); Ms Rivercity (02,04,05); Terrence Tyson (06,11,17); Thaddaeus McAdams (07)


Patiently Waiting


0 Bricks,” “Put Me On,” and “Never Be The Same (20 Bricks Pt. 2)” might not be the most familiar songs on your local radio station. But given corporate radio’s lack of interest in many talented local artists, a music video often takes them to the next level in self-promotion. Hit up YouTube and type in Laroothh; you’ll see a half-dozen of his recent music videos of professional quality that even MTV Jams couldn’t deny. The channel offered the 10-year-rap veteran some well-deserved exposure for his latest effort The Corporation and its first single, “Money and Power” featuring Keak The Sneak. “[Videos] are the biggest thing right now,” says Tha Hard Hitta, a nickname Laroo earned while growing up on the streets of Richmond, CA. “The game is changin’. Everybody’s [listening to music] on their iTouch, iPhones, and YouTube. If you’re really tryin’ to push a song, [those are the best outlets]. If you hear a song so many times you start to visualize how that shit would look. So I hit ‘em with the visual first, then the audio. That’s the key right now.” What’s also key is ownership, which is why Laroo started his own film/video production company, a subsidiary of his Timeless Music Inc. record label. He is also CEO of the production company. “I can do a shoot for anybody,”


the shot-caller boasts proudly. “We’ve got a strong staff and we own all our own equipment. I do professional shoots; I can call a shoot at the drop of a finger.” Laroo’s latest side projects are the Rappers and Trappers DVD, an in-depth look at the Bay’s lifestyle beyond what outsiders think of as “hyphy.” It also offers an introspective look at trap life in ATL and is the official movie and soundtrack to 20 Bricks - The Series with The Jacka. Having released his first album Fear No Fate back in 1998, Laroo has become an integral part of the Yay’s rap scene. He’s spent time with the AWOL Records rap collective (a tight knit family that includes Marvaless, Killa Tay, Pizzo and Luni Corleone) before branching out on his own. He recently signed a deal thru E-40’s Sic Wid It Records to release The Corporation. Armed with an enormous catalogue (evident on his myspace/laroothahardhitta page and itunes) his knowledge of the business was gained thru trial and error. It’s not just about rap, it’s business first. “This is my time now,” he says confidently. “I started in the game real young. I went into the business aspect of it rather than me just rappin’. Now I understand and now I see results because I understand what I’m doin’. I don’t have to go punch no clock; I’m able to survive off my talent.” Words by Kay Newell

(above L-R): Larry Johnson & DJ Q45 @ Lucky Strike Bowling Alley in Kansas City, MO (Photo: Terrence Tyson); Shawty Lo & Juney Boomdata @ Primetime for DJ Infamous’ birthday party in Atlanta, GA (Photo: Eric Perrin); Slip N Slide models @ The Victor for Slip N Slide’s 15th Anniversary party in Miami, FL (Photo: Bogan)

01 // DJ D-Strong, Brisco, & DJ Nasty @ Roxy for the Florida Classic (Orlando, FL) 02 // Cory Mo, Bushwick Bill, & Greg Gates @ Studio 72 for DJ Scorpio’s birthday bash (Atlanta, GA) 03 // Guest, Diddy, & Ump @ Karu & Y (Miami, FL) 04 // Gorilla Zoe, DJ Khaled, Arab, Akon, Soulja Boy, & Busta Rhymes on the set of Busta Rhymes’ “Arab Money” (Atlanta, GA) 05 // Pitbull & Qwote @ The Victor for Slip N Slide’s 15th Anniversary party (Miami, FL) 06 // Shawty Lo with his lady and daughter @ the Dirty Awards (Atlanta, GA) 07 // Arab & Soulja Boy on the set of Ace Hood’s “Ride” video shoot (Atlanta, GA) 08 // DJ Khaled, Willy Northpole, & Ace Hood on the set of Ace Hood’s “Ride” remix video shoot (Atlanta, GA) 09 // DJ Scorpio & Mr Collipark @ Studio 72 for DJ Scorpio’s birthday bash (Atlanta, GA) 10 // Guest, Lil Scrappy, & Stay Fresh @ Studio 72 for King Arthur’s Scorpio bash (Atlanta, GA) 11 // DJ Ace & Bama @ The Gate for Bama’s video shoot (Jonesboro, GA) 12 // Tetraz, P Brown, & Bama @ DJ Brad’s video shoot (Atlanta, GA) 13 // B Rich, DJ Swats, Playboy Tre, & Moss B @ BOB’s Meet & Greet (Atlanta, GA) 14 // George Lopez, Trae, & the Definition DJs @ T-Town for Trae’s mixtape release (Dallas, TX) 15 // Lil Boosie & kids @ Trill’s Christmas toy giveaway (Baton Rouge, LA) 16 // Ace Hood, GunPlay, Rick Ross, & Torch of Carol City Cartel @ the Dirty Awards (Atlanta, GA) 17 // Ladies @ Benchwarmers for Hot 103.5’s birthday bash (Huntsville, AL) Photo Credits: Bogan (05); Eric Perrin (06,17); J Lash (03); Janiro Hawkins (02,09); Julia Beverly (16); Kurtis Graham (14); Leetric Walker (15); Malik Abdul (01); Ms Rivercity (07,10,11,12,13); Terrence Tyson (04,08)


Patiently Waiting


s much as you’re embarrassed to admit it, you’ve had times in your youth when you were at the crib with your homeboys, bored, and just started horseplaying and wrestling. You might’ve broken something in your momma’s house or put a hole in the wall. Next time you try to judge the GS Boyz and their dance single “Stanky Leg,” realize that they are not that much different from you. Hailing from the same Dallas/Ft. Worth/Arlington scene that has brought you DSR, Lil Will, Damm D and the TMI Boyz over the last couple of years, the GS Boys are keeping the area’s hit-making tradition alive with their fun instructional “Stanky Legg.” The dance was birthed in group member Souf Side’s living room amidst a round of horseplay. “Me and Prince Charming were at my house, and we’d had the beat riding for 6 hours. My mom was like, ‘Turn it off, I’ve gotta go to work in the morning,’” remembers Souf Side. “Prince Charming went to sleep; he had writer’s block. I started messing with him when he was sleep and he woke up. We started running around the house acting stupid, then he starting wiggling his leg and I said, “Oooh, that thang look stanky.” [Editor’s Note: no homo] Inspired, the group quickly hit the net with a video of them doing the new


dance and it caught on like wildfire, garnering 10,000 views on YouTube and 50 comments on Myspace throughout the night. Before they knew it, the GS Boyz were doing paid shows and leaving impressions on very influential people, like DJ Bay Bay, the inspiration behind Hurricane Chris’ breakthrough record “A Bay Bay.” “Bay Bay was in Dallas playing [the record] and he wanted us to do a show at KoKo’s in Shreveport, so we hopped in our cars and went down there with Big Tuck and Tum Tum,” says Souf Side. “He said we made history at KoKo’s. They’re known to have a rough crowd, and to get them to dance was [an accomplishment]. After that Bay Bay said he’d have a deal for us. Next thing we know, he had Yung Joc on the phone.” Yung Joc adds, “I had to call into Dallas and do an interview with Bay Bay and he said he had some little homies that he thought I should help. I did my research first and saw their radio spins and internet presence. I took it to Jive first, and I got the green light [on the deal] the next morning.” Now freshly signed to Joc’s Swagg Team Entertainment (also responsible for Hot Stylz “Lookin Boy”), Prince Charmin, Marc D, Slizz, Souf Side and D.K. are looking forward to making the world get a little stanky. Words by Maurice G. Garland

(above L-R): Rich the Factor & Alfamega @ Barcelona Hall in Kansas City, MO (Photo: Ms Rivercity); J Diggs & Too Short @ Poetry in Las Vegas, NV (Photo: Julia Beverly); Turf Talk & Mugzi @ Rasputin’s for E-40’s Ball Street Journal release in Berkeley, CA (Photo: D-Ray)

01 // Zoe, Kilo, Big Dante & Beeda Weeda @ Pinky’s for Merry Thizzmas (Sacramento, CA) 02 // MoneyTree Twin & The Jacka @ Stockton Civic Center for E-40’s release party (Stockton, CA) 03 // Selau, Keak Da Sneak & DJ Krizma @ The Sharks Club for the Wake It Up Tour (Costa Mesa, CA) 04 // J Diggs, G Malone, & Baygeen @ The Phoenix Theater for Merry Thizzmas (Petaluma, CA) 05 // D-Lo & Mistah FAB @ Pink Diamonds for Mistah FAB’s birthday party (San Francisco, CA) 06 // Richie Rich & Paul Wall @ The Mezzanine (San Francisco, CA) 07 // Mistah FAB & Lil Twist @ Lil Wayne’s concert (Oakland, CA) 08 // The Game & Ne-Yo @ The Game’s ‘Camera Phone’ video shoot (Los Angeles, CA) 09 // T-Pain, Jada Fire, Mr Marcus, guest, & DJ Franzen @ Poetry (Las Vegas, NV) 10 // Pro City @ The Sharks Club for the Wake It Up Tour (Costa Mesa, CA) 11 // Why Hate Movement @ Stockton Civic Center for E-40’s release party (Stockton, CA) 12 // Abe Legend & The Jacka @ The Record House Studio (Fremont, CA) 13 // Kilo & Gary Archer @ Rasputin’s for Keak da Sneak & San Quinn’s meet & greet (Berkeley, CA) 14 // Bavgate & RedBull @ Pinky’s for Merry Thizzmas (Sacramento, CA) 15 // Laroo, E-40 & Turf Talk @ HP Pavillion for 94.9’s Wild Jam (San Jose, CA) 16 // Tito Bell, J Stalin, & Kilo @ Pink Diamonds for Mistah FAB’s birthday party (San Francisco, CA) 17 // DJ B-Eazy & T-Pain @ Poetry (Las Vegas, NV) 18 // Big Dant & Kuzzo Fly @ Pink Diamonds for Mistah FAB’s birthday party (San Francisco, CA) 19 // CeCe & DJ Backside @ UGMX Open Mic Night (San Jose, CA) Photo Credits: D-Ray (01,02,03,04,05,06,07,08,10,11,12,13,14,15,16,18,19); Julia Beverly (09,17)



(above L-R): T-Pain & Mr Marcus @ Poetry in Las Vegas, NV (Photo: Julia Beverly); Lil Chuckee & Mack Maine @ Lil Wayne’s concert in Oakland, CA; E-40 & his wife @ Blush Nightclub for Streetcred Christmas party in Burlingame, CA (Photos: D-Ray)

01 // Sean Kennedy & Amp Live @ Oakland City Hall for Oscar Grant rally (Oakland, CA) 02 // Rich the Factor & Young Dro @ Barcelona Hall (Kansas City, MO) 03 // Mugzi & BLegit @ Rasputin’s for E-40’s Ball Street Journal release (Berkeley, CA) 04 // Oscar Grant’s family @ Oakland City Hall for Oscar Grant rally (Oakland, CA) 05 // DJ Franzen & T-Pain @ Poetry (Las Vegas, NV) 06 // Sobrante Park Jock & Too $hort @ Poetry (Las Vegas, NV) 07 // Turf Talk & Laroo @ The Sharks Club for the Wake It Up Tour (Costa Mesa, CA) 08 // DJ Big Dee & Mamacita @ Poetry (Las Vegas, NV) 09 // Tito Bell & Benny D @ HP Pavillion for 94.9’s Wild Jam (San Jose, CA) 10 // Keak Da Sneak & DJ Backside @ The Sharks Club for the Wake It Up Tour (Costa Mesa, CA) 11 // Tito Bell, Mistah FAB, Zoesta Tha Roasta, & Glasses Malone @ The Who The Fuck Is G Malone concert (San Jose, CA) 12 // Guest & Jas Prince @ Lil Wayne’s concert (Oakland, CA) 13 // Young Sprano, Deltrice & Abe Legend @ Record House Studios (Fremont, CA) 14 // Branden Powers, DJ Masterweb, & Mike Goodwin @ Poetry (Las Vegas, NV) 15 // Chuck, E-40, & guest @ Blush Nightclub for Streetcred Christmas party (Burlingame, CA) 16 // Ne-Yo & ladies @ The Game’s ‘Camera Phone’ video shoot (Los Angeles, CA) 17 // Money B & guest @ Pink Diamonds for Mistah FAB’s birthday party (San Francisco, CA) 18 // E-40 signing autographs @ Rasputin’s for E-40’s Ball Street Journal release (Berkeley, CA) 19 // Big Rich & crew @ Blush Nightclub for Streetcred Christmas party (Burlingame, CA) 20 // Hed on the 1’s & 2’s @ Who The Fuck Is G Malone concert (San Jose, CA) Photo Credits: D-Ray (01,03,04,07,09,10,11,12,13,15,16,17,18,19,20); Julia Beverly (05,06,08,14); Ms Rivercity (02)




riginally from Seattle, Tha Bizness consists of (above L-R) Dow Jones and Henny. Together, they have quickly built a diverse catalog and sound that has taken many producers nearly a decade to compile. They’ve worked with the likes of 50 Cent, R. Kelly, and LL Cool J. Most recently, having producing Young Jeezy’s historic hit “My President Is Black,” Tha Bizness is definitely going to be in the black for a long time to come. Start off by telling us where Tha Bizness comes from. Henny: Well, we’re cousins and we’re both from Seattle. We were basically doing our own things. Dow was DJing and doing mixtapes and I was pretty much a musician at the time trying to become a producer. We both moved to Los Angeles doing our own thing and we came together 3-4 years ago and started cracking from there. Being a team, how do you balance who does what? Dow: That is what has made us successful. We believe in each other’s talent, so if someone is better at something, we let them handle it. We never do one thing the same; we do whatever works the best. So if Henny has had a relationship with someone forever, why would I talk to him? Why waste time trying to do an introduction into some new shit? We all know this game is all about relationships. We didn’t come in the game just trying to get some money. This was our dream; we’ve been wanting to do this forever. We’ve studied the game, the contracts, publishing, and how the game works from the artist perspective to the label perspective to the producer perspective.


Your production style isn’t really one that can easily defined or identified. Dow: Man, we just keep it real. Niggas be fronting like “Aw, I only listen to street shit.” Man, we listen to anything. It wasn’t until the 90s came around that niggas started labeling shit, like, “Oh, this is West Coast,” or whatever. That was a media thing. Luckily for us and how we were raised, we got to see different shit. If you can’t get out and see shit, you ain’t gonna know shit. Last year alone we [produced for] Ice Cube, Killer Mike, and R. Kelly, and right now we’ve got records with the Black Eyed Peas and Lil Wayne coming out. And we have the anthem of America with Jeezy’s [“My President Is Black”]. What other producer can you say has done a joint with an artist from every genre? Plus, we just did a joint with Norman Brown who is the most critically acclaimed jazz guitarist of our era. We’re touching so much shit. When you hear the melodies you’ll know its us. That’s why “My President Is Black” stood out on the Jeezy album. We gave you a Southern triumphant anthem but it didn’t sound like any other Southern beat on the album or Southern beat Jeezy has ever been on. We’re giving you something fresh. Some cats will get one hit and re-rock the same joint. We’re trying to be on some Quincy Jones shit. Some of our shit, artists tell us its too advanced for them at this time. Do you prefer being more hands-on in this age of emailing and IM’ing beats? Henny: We’ll do whatever it takes. When you get the chance to work with R. Kelly but you know that he only works out his house and he doesn’t know us like that yet, we have to send him the beat. We can’t have an ego, like, “Oh, he needs to come out and fuck with us.” So he’ll send us back his ideas and then after that he invites us to Chicago. You have to build relationships step by step. We work from the bottom up. It’s all about the little steps. // Photo by Marcus Henderson

(above L-R): Too Short & DJ Franzen @ Poetry in Las Vegas, NV (Photo: Julia Beverly); Keak Da Sneak & E-40 @ The Sharks Club for the Wake It Up Tour in Costa Mesa, CA; Beeda Weeda & J Stalin @ The Phoenix Theater for Merry Thizzmas in Petaluma, CA (Photos: D-Ray)

01 // AP9, J Stalin, & Dee @ The Phoenix Theater for Merry Thizzmas (Petaluma, CA) 02 // Big Kuntry & Tone @ Barcelona Hall (Kansas City, MO) 03 // J Diggs & guest @ The Phoenix Theater for Merry Thizzmas (Petaluma, CA) 04 // Guest & Kafani @ Poetry (Las Vegas, NV) 05 // E-40 & Omeezy @ The Sharks Club for the Wake It Up Tour (Costa Mesa, CA) 06 // Scoot & DJ Spin @ The Sharks Club for the Wake It Up Tour (Costa Mesa, CA) 07 // Stress of the Federation & Topic @ The Sharks Club for the Wake It Up Tour (Costa Mesa, CA) 08 // E-40 & Chaz @ Blush Nightclub for Streetcred Christmas party (Burlingame, CA) 09 // Glasses Malone & Mistah FAB @ The Who The Fuck Is G Malone concert (San Jose, CA) 10 // K-Max & Boobee @ KPOO (San Francisco, CA) 11 // Diva Sarah & Get Paid Spade @ Hawkman’s album release (Ft Collins, CO) 12 // AP9 & ladies @ The Vault for DJ Tito Bell’s birthday bash (San Jose, CA) 13 // Mohawk Marlon & Willie Joe @ The Phoenix Theater for Merry Thizzmas (Petaluma, CA) 14 // Tito Bell, Mistah FAB, & D-Lo @ The Phoenix Theater for Merry Thizzmas (Petaluma, CA) 15 // Trey Beatz & X.O. aka Scipio @ The Game’s “Camera Phone” video shoot (Los Angeles, CA) 16 // DJ Big Dee & Big Bank Hank @ Poetry (Las Vegas, NV) 17 // Chuck & Big Von @ Blush Nightclub for Streetcred Christmas party (Burlingame, CA) 18 // Kartoon & DJ Backside @ The Sharks Club for the Wake It Up Tour (Costa Mesa, CA) 19 // Dem HoodStarz & Cousin Flik @ Stockton Civic Center for E-40’s release party (Stockton, CA) Photo Credits: D-Ray (01,03,05,06,07,08,09,10,,12,13,14,15,17,18,19); DJ KTone (11); Julia Beverly (04,16); Ms Rivercity (02)


Patiently Waiting


ince Hayward, California emcee Amon says that his main influences are Scarface and N.W.A, you’d probably expect for him to have raps full of angst. But he insists that while the struggle is there, he has a lot more to offer.

“They can expect realness,” says Amon about his debut album Iller that’s currently circulating in the streets. “I think for a long time rap has been saturated with material things and I wanted to talk about what’s real. You’ve got people who work 9 - 5’s in the hood. I put myself in the position of a cat on the corner doing what he has to do or the guy who gets up and goes to work everyday but still finds himself in the struggle.” Struggle is something Amon got acquainted with early in life. The youngest of 13 children, Amon has never known what it’s like not have to compete to get what’s his. Coming from Hayward, he knew that the rap game’s focus was on Oakland and the rest of the Bay Area. This was nothing but yet another small obstacle he had to hurdle by making sure his material could stand alongside other artists from the Bay Area. “When I write a song, the main focus is the lyrics,” he says. “I like melodic beats, but a real emcee is always gonna strive to say something on a track. I don’t wanna be someone that’s just screaming a bunch of rhymes that are leading people nowhere.”


His career started when he joined the group Prime Suspect. The buzz they generated led to them signing with indie label Young Gotti Records. The label’s roster included Sean T and Scoot Dogg of Dem Hoodstarz. But the label opted to not to treat Prime Suspect as a priority and folded after releasing Sean T’s album. Amon left the group soon after. “It was a little discouraging being in a situation like that,” admits Amon. “But I always felt passionate about my music. Whether I sell one or one million records, I just want to be able to go to the studio and make music.” Right now, Amon is getting to do exactly what he wants as his Iller album features Bay Area vets like Too $hort and San Quinn. Backed by a diverse array of sounds and production, Amon is poised to become known as one of the more universal artists in the game. “My album may have some violent material, but it’s nothing [unrealistic],” he says. “I wanted to stray away from that and present real situations in the music. To me, that’s what Hip Hop is all about - making your listeners feel like they can relate to what you’re talking about.” Words by Maurice G. Garland

(above L-R): Rick Ross @ the Florida Entertainment Summit in Miami, FL (Photo: Kingpin); Ace Hood @ Benchwarmers for Hot 103.5’s birthday bash in Huntsville, AL (Photo: Eric Perrin); DJ Khaled @ Mansion for DJ Khaled’s birthday party in Miami, FL (Photo: J Lash)

01 // JuJu of Harlon’s Bar-B-Que @ The Ranch (Aggtown, TX) 02 // Q @ Barfly (Nashville, TN) 03 // Erin & TayDizm @ Icehouse for Steph Yah Game Up Mon (Atlanta, GA) 04 // George Lopez & Trae @ T-Town for Trae’s mixtape release (Dallas, TX) 05 // Roccett & guest @ Geisha House on the set of Young Capone’s “Choosin” video shoot (Atlanta, GA) 06 // Ages The Great @ Mack’s (Killeen, TX) 07 // Big Doughski G & DJ Cap @ Big T Plaza (Oakcliff, TX) 08 // Haitian Fresh & ladies @ The Roxy for Classic Luau (Orlando, FL) 09 // Guest & Jackie Chain @ Benchwarmers for Hot 103.5’s birthday bash (Huntsville, AL) 10 // Shawty @ the Dirty Awards (Atlanta, GA) 11 // Double A & DJ Dre @ Opus Lounge (Dallas, TX) 12 // DJ Infamous & DJ Smallz @ Primetime for DJ Infamous’ birthday party (Atlanta, GA) 13 // Guest @ Mansion for DJ Khaled’s birthday party (Miami, FL) 14 // 8Ball & MJG @ Hub City Dragway (Hattiesburg, MS) 15 // Deshun Smith & Dolowite @ Barfly (Nashville, TN) 16 // DJ Dr Doom (Jacksonville, FL) 17 // DJ Fresh & Malik Abdul @ Benchwarmers for Hot 103.5’s birthday bash (Huntsville, AL) 18 // Sweetness @ Studio Inc for Ace Hood’s release party (Tampa, FL) 19 // Dru-Ski (Atlanta, GA) 20 // Dance crew @ The Continental for Twaun’s video shoot (Birmingham, AL) 21 // C Wakeley & 1Lee @ The Gainesville Music Summit (Gainesville, FL) 22 // Yo Gotti @ Hub City Dragway (Hattiesburg, MS) 23 // KG & DJ Du2ce @ T-Town for Trae’s mixtape release (Dallas, TX) 24 // Mario & Kevin Shine @ Geisha House on the set of Young Capone’s “Choosin” video shoot (Atlanta, GA) 25 // OJ da Juiceman @ Firestone for Papa Duck’s birthday party (Orlando, FL) 26 // Lil C da Mic Wrecka @ Hood Stadium (Ft Hood, TX) 27 // Chaos of Grind Mode @ Mansion for DJ Khaled’s birthday party (Miami, FL) 28 // Boy Wonder @ Studio Inc for Ace Hood’s release party (Tampa, FL) 29 // Tha Bizness on the set of Young Jeezy’s “My President Is Black” video shoot (Atlanta, GA) 30 // Twaun Pledger @ The Continental for Twaun’s video shoot (Birmingham, AL) 31 // Torch & DJ Khaled on the set of Ace Hood’s ‘Ride’ video shoot (Atlanta, GA) 32 // Tomeka Pearl @ Definition DJs Christmas party (Aggtown, TX) 33 // Tiffany J & Willy Northpole @ Straits for Ludacris’ Power Brunch (Atlanta, GA) 34 // Bigga Rankin @ The Roxy for Classic Luau (Orlando, FL) 35 // Bali @ Roxy for the Florida Classic (Orlando, FL) Photo Credits: Edward Hall (01,07,11,32); Eric Perrin (05,09,10,12,17,20,24,29,30); Ericka Hicks (14,22); J Lash (27); Janiro Hawkins (02,15); Julia Beverly (13); Kurtis Graham (04,23); Malik Abdul (18,25,28,35); Ms Rivercity (03,19,31); Terrence Tyson (08,16,21,33,34); Tre Dubb (06,26)





his rap shit is nothing to Miami, FL newcomer Billy Blue. By age 18, he had already experienced more turmoil than a shady record exec could ever put him through. Born to Haitian immigrants in New Rochelle, New York, Blue’s mother passed away when he was just 10 years old. He was subsequently shipped away by his father, along with his two sisters, to an aunt in Miami. “That shit wasn’t easy at all ’cause when you move, and you don’t have nobody to lean on around that age, you’re subject to a lot of fucked up shit,” Blue says. Hard times living with his aunt forced him into the streets and landed him behind bars by age 13. The next few years in a juvenile detention center were some of the darkest times in Blue’s life. “That was the craziest time of my life, and I didn’t come back out until I was like eighteen,” he explains. “[There] was no prom, no graduation day, none of that high school shit. So, basically after 6th grade that was it.” But even after missing out on his wonder years, Billy’s next destination would be gloomier than the life he left behind bars. After three years in juvenile, Blue was released, only to find himself sent to Haiti to live with an uncle, in the mist of a Haitian revolt. “I got out on a Monday morning at 8 o’clock, by 9 o’clock that same morning, my dad had me on a flight to Haiti,” he recalls. “My dad wasn’t trying to have nothing [to do woth] me at that time. He sent me down there [to Haiti] when they were trying to overthrow the government.” By the grace of God, he survived that nightmare of late night gunfire and walking over dead bodies just to get to school, and returned to Miami at 19. Upon his return to the states, Blue took to rapping, a hobby he had picked up during his years in juvy. He recorded a song called “Ball Like A Dog,” which became a local hit. The record ultimately landed him a deal with Interscope through a joint venture with Poe Boy, Akon’s Konvict Music, and Timbaland’s Mosely Music Group. With a collection of the music industry’s most powerful record labels behind him, Billy Blue finds himself the next up in a lineage of Florida rappers to make waves in the industry. “I’m getting love from all the hoods,” he says. “Getting that respect means I’m doing something right. They’re saying, ‘Let me stop listening to Jeezy and Ross for a minute and pause the Plies [record] to hear what Blue has to say. I’m giving them something different.” Words by Randy Roper


Patiently Waiting

(above L-R): Block on the set of Gorilla Zoe’s ‘Lost’ in Atlanta, GA (Photo: Eric Perrin); Russell Simmons @ Straits for Ludacris’ Power Brunch in Atlanta, GA (Photo: Terrence Tyson); Plies in Virginia Beach, VA (Photo: Jacquie Holmes)

01 // Juney Boomdata @ Primetime for DJ Infamous’ birthday party (Atlanta, GA) 02 // Joe Gutta @ Studio 72 for King Arthur’s Scorpio bash (Atlanta, GA) 03 // Guest & Rick Ross on the set of Gorilla Zoe’s “Lost” (Atlanta, GA) 04 // Gipp of 8 Seventeen @ The Ranch (Aggtown, TX) 05 // Shawty Lo (Virginia Beach, VA) 06 // Acafool @ Club Skye (Tampa, FL) 07 // Guest & Sam Sneak @ Mansion for DJ Khaled’s birthday party (Miami, FL) 08 // Rock City @ Geisha House on the set of Young Capone’s “Choosin” video shoot (Atlanta, GA) 09 // Q da Kid @ FAMU for Vibe’s Yardfest (Tallahassee, FL) 10 // DJ Bigg V (Cleveland, MS) 11 // DJ Drop & Kiki J @ Definition DJs Christmas party (Aggtown, TX) 12 // DJ Fresh @ Hot 103.5 (Huntsville, AL) 13 // Al Lozano & Janiro Hawkins @ Barfly (Nashville, TN) 14 // Byrd & Miss Nicole @ Icehouse for Steph Yah Game Up Mon (Atlanta, GA) 15 // Midget Mac @ Duval Diamond Awards (Jacksonville, FL) 16 // Orlando @ Wild 98.7’s Last Damn Show (St. Petersburg, FL) 17 // Kuzzo @ FAMU for Vibe’s Yardfest (Tallahassee, FL) 18 // Snoop from The Wire @ Mansion for DJ Khaled’s birthday party (Miami, FL) 19 // Bless @ The Continental (Birmingham, AL) 20 // Teflon & Lil Shine @ Definition DJs Christmas party (Aggtown, TX) 21 // Birmingham J @ The Continental for Twaun’s video shoot (Birmingham, AL) 22 // Tony Sunshine & Yung Berg @ Calle Orange (Orlando, FL) 23 // Young Capone @ Geisha House on the set of Young Capone’s “Choosin” video shoot (Atlanta, GA) 24 // Mac Dice & DJ Bigg V @ Club Fermier (Cleveland, MS) 25 // Tina of Greencity & 8 Seventeen Productions @ The Ranch (Aggtown, TX) 26 // Thaddaeus McAdams & Ms Rivercity on the set of Young Jeezy’s “My President Is Black” video shoot (Atlanta, GA) 27 // CORE Model Alondus (Memphis, TN) 28 // Big Kuntry & Lil Duval @ Square One (Jacksonville, FL) 29 // Vanessa Phan @ The Moon for TJ’s DJ’s (Tallahassee, FL) 30 // Torrey Holmes @ Geisha House on the set of Young Capone’s “Choosin’ video shoot (Atlanta, GA) 31 // DJ Judgemental @ DBS Sounds for OJ da Juiceman’s meet & greet (Atlanta, GA) 32 // Front-Line’s Jessica & Christina Clark @ Roxy for the Florida Classic (Orlando, FL) 33 // E Class @ Definition DJs Christmas party (Aggtown, TX) 34 // Carl Thomas & Ms Rita @ Hood Stadium (Ft Hood, TX) 35 // BallGreezy @ Pre-Diamond Awards Mixer @ SoHo Lounge (Jacksonville, FL) Photo Credits: CW Photography (27); Edward Hall (04,11,20,24,25,33); Eric Perrin (01,03,08,12,19,21,23,26,30); J Lash (18); Jacquie Holmes (05); Janiro Hawkins (13); Julia Beverly (06,07,16); Mad Ron (10); Malik Abdul (22,29,32); Ms Rivercity (02,14,31); Terrence Tyson (09,15,17,28,35); Tre Dubb (34)



ith Trick Daddy, Trina, Plies and Rick Ross as their flagship artists, Miami, FL based record label Slip-N-Slide has played a prominent position in Southern Hip Hop. But R&B music has never been their forte. That is until now. Slip-N-Slide’s newest acquisition, Shonie, is looking to take the label known for Southern rap classics like “Nann Nigga” and “Shut Up” into a new direction in 2009. While being the first female R&B artist on Slip-N-Slide is a heavy weight to carry, Shonie is up for the challenge.

Although her indie deal didn’t work out, her name started becoming familiar, and buzz from the mixtape started to grow. Shonie began making headway in the Miami music scene by working with Slip-N-Slide artists Trina and Qwote, which led to interest from the label’s CEO, Ted Lucas. “I was working with the label before I signed with [Slip-N-Slide],” she says. “I was working with Trina on her single ‘I Wish I Never Met You,’ and another one of their artists, Qwote. So I’ve always been around but I don’t think Ted [Lucas] really noticed me until I came out with the mixtape.”

“I feel some pressure when I think about nobody doing this before from SNS, and everybody is counting me,” says Shonie, the 20-year-old songstress. “They’re depending on me and I can’t screw this up. I’ve got to do what I need to do and do it well.”

She went on to sign with Slip-N-Slide, and since joining the label’s roster, the blossoming singer has already worked with Flo Rida, Trick Daddy, Cool & Dre, in addition to her guest appearance on Trina’s album Still da Baddest. And now that her first single “Can’t Let Go” featuring Fabolous is starting to bubble, the thugs and goons of SNS better get ready to share the spotlight with their new R&B princess.

Born in the Bronx, New York, Shonie moved with her family to Miami when she was 9 years old. Shonie’s mother discovered her daughter’s talent when the young singer joined the church choir, and shortly after, Shonie recorded her first song. She continued singing and recording, and at 17, she was offered a recording deal with Miami independent label South Beat Records. It was there that she met her manager, James Jackson, who helped her release her first mixtape, Street Heat Vol. 1, hosted by DJ Khaled.


Words by Randy Roper

Patiently Waiting

DJ HOLIDAY HOMETOWN: Atlanta, GA Website: Myspace.com/dj_holiday1 Affiliation: The Aphilliates Mixtapes: EA Sportscenter (w/ Zaytoven & Gucci Mane), Culinary Arts (w/ DJ Drama & OJ Da Juiceman), Feeding Time (w/ Gorilla Zoe) Clubs (Atlanta, GA): Essos, Ten Pin Alley, Plush Blue, Arrows, Pearl Bistro & Bar. 3 Songs In Current Rotation: DJ Holiday feat. Gucci Mane, OJ Da Juiceman, Fabolous, 8Ball & MJG, Shawty Lo “Bricks (Remix),” Jamie Foxx feat. T-Pain “Blame It,” OJ Da Juiceman feat. Gucci Mane “Make The Trap Say Aye”

He’s one of the hottest DJs in the A-Town, and he orchestrated one of the city’s biggest singles (”Bricks”). Now, find out why Holiday is a DJ to know in 2009. You have a major buzz in Atlanta right now. Do you think your buzz grew more from DJing parties or doing mixtapes? I would definitely say it was a combination of both. I always had my own little niche because I love the spotlight but not to a point where it’s irritating. It’s my job. At the club I’m DJ Holiday; I make sure you have a good time. I cater to the ladies and make sure they’re good. When I’m DJing, I’ll focus on two groups of women, and if they’re not really dancing I feel like I ain’t doing my job. And real talk, I get nervous because I don’t want to fuck up when I’m DJing. I don’t care how big or small the party is, I do not want to fuck up the party. I have to do my thang. I don’t care if it’s 10,000 people in there or 10 people in there, I rock the party the same way every time. You’re a new member to the Aphilliates. What do you think they saw in you to make them want to add you to their DJ crew? More or less, the grind, man. Stix Malone saw me from afar. I was doing House Nightclub in the Underground and I had a couple of other spots jumping, so I was really like that street DJ. Everybody knew I had all the hottest parties with Plush Blue Entertainment. We had the sexiest ladies and the celebrities were slowly coming in. I was building my buzz up, knowing who’s who, and the Aphilliates heard about me. Drama, Sense and Cannon saw something in me. They were looking for somebody who had a buzz going and could represent their crew in a good manner. They put me in the squad. I think I’m the only Aphillate that’s actually from the A, so I’m like a hometown hero. I remember when I was in college, I’d see the Aphilliates [and be] like, “Damn, that’s Drama,” or “Damn, that’s Cannon, that’s Sense, that’s Jeezy’s Trap or Die.” So to actually be in [the clique] and to make my own role [by putting out mixtapes] with Gucci [Mane], OJ [Da Juiceman], [Gorilla] Zoe, and what I’m doing with Scrappy, Rocko and all of them, it makes me feel good about doing what I do. Can you explain that situation about you putting your name on “Bricks”? It was the EA Sportscenter mixtape, I could say it was a classic because everybody fucked with it. It was one of the biggest mixtapes that came out in the Southeast. We were all putting songs together for the mixtape, because we knew we needed about three classics on there. Zaytoven cooked up a beat, then we called Yo Gotti, and then we called Rocko over there and we were just chilling and burning. We had Popeyes chicken, drinking, and it was a good vibe, it was history in the making. Had I known then how that shit was going grow, it’s kind of mindboggling. Gucci was in the lab and Zay just had the beat playing over and over, and Gucci just laid back and listened to the beat. He was like, “Let’s talk about this trap shit, fuck it,” and then he was like “Bricks! All white bricks!” Then Yo Gotti came in later that night and I told him he had to say his name how he says it “Yo Gottiiiii!!” I said, “You can say my name if you want,” but I was joking though, and he said “This my nigga, DJ Holiday.” And that was it, it kinda took off from there. Words by Randy Roper



FOLLOW With His Partner In Rhyme Loo Down On Him king F r o Economy and m Above And The Rap Game Loo Down king Hard As He CPeriod, Bun B Is Working an As To UGK’s MostTo Make The Follow Up S u Best One Ever ccessful Album The . See If You Can Keep Up. WORDS BY MA URICE G. PHOTO BY DER GARLAND ON NEBLETT

As if his old soul, stoic demeanor and grown-man aura wasn’t enough evidence, Bun B has been here before. In what’s surely his umpteenth visit to New York City, Bun is worming his way through the Big Apple making his media rounds to spread awareness about his group UGK’s upcoming album, UGK 4 Life. Only one day into his trip, word is already circulating about the album thanks to music writers and critics twittering and blogging live from the listening sessions. Even though all of the feedback has been positive, Bun isn’t taking it too seriously. “How many people do you know would really tell you that they’re not feeling the album, right there in front of your face?” laughs Bun via phone, when queried about the pleasantries he’s been getting over the work. “We don’t have that much honesty running around in the music industry right now. The way you carry yourself in the game will get you farther than the music will.” Having been in the rap game for roughly 20 years, Bun has experienced just about every pitfall a rapper can ever imagine. Label turmoil, radio politics, media snubs, shady management and in December 2007, the death of his rhyme partner, Pimp C. Though he’s had to promote both of his solo albums, 2005’s Trill and 2008’s II Trill, with out Pimp by his side due to incarceration and death, respectively, UGK 4 Life will mark the first time that Bun has had to wave the flag by himself for a group project. Since nearly all of the album’s material was recorded around the same time as UGK’s previous effort Underground Kingz, Bun hasn’t had to stretch himself too thin making sure the album came out to UGK standards. “Musically, it wasn’t really difficult,” shrugs Bun. “When we ran into a rough spot we just had to think of the best way Pimp would handle it. The hardest thing emotionally was just getting over that bridge of hearing the songs and thinking of different things and getting in the studio and having the sessions turn into storytelling time and reminiscing. Muthafuckas all up in there crying and shit. It took a while to get all of that out and get to business. Once we did that, it was smooth sailing.” How much of this album did you have to handle by yourself? This process was a collective effort. Everybody involved was someone that worked closely with Pimp. All the of producers with the exception of Akon were proteges of Pimp C. All of the artists featured on here are all friends of Pimp C. Cory Mo, DJ B-Do, Steve Beelo, Avirex, Too $hort, Snoop Dogg, Big Gipp, E-40, B-Legit. These are all brothers to us. So for this last album it was important that I make this connection to people who already know this. Our core fanbase already knows that these are people who we break bread with. It was important to show that. Since Dirty Money came out so long after “Big Pimpin” hit, it didn’t really get to capitalize off the buzz. So in essence, this is the first UGK follow-up album after a big look. Thoughts? The reality of the situation is that everything built up to the last album. Pimp’s incarceration, releases, everything led up to the last album. We came with an incredible single, Three 6 Mafia made an incredible beat, we had incredible features from Outkast. Both of those groups are extremely popular, so a lot of that was just coming together at the right place and time. It wasn’t anything that we tried to make happen. Knowing that, I can’t try to set out and recreate something that I didn’t create by blueprint the first time. A lot of that was God showing favor and things just working themselves out. So I just kinda have to put together the best album I can and hope that God will show favor again. In just two years a lot has changed since the last UGK album dropped. How do you think the album will fit in this current climate? Do you think people will “get it”? That’s the thing. UGK has always made a conscious decision about the fact of whether we’re gonna make music and try to gain new fans every time or just solidify the base every time and hopefully have people join in. That’s basically what we’ve done on all our albums. There were extreme amounts

of resources available to me for this UGK album. I can’t think of an artist in the industry that didn’t want to be a part of this album in some form or fashion. But it would be far too easy to put the Lil Waynes, Kanyes and JayZs of the world on the album to exploit the situation. For me that would just be taking advantage of [Pimp C’s passing]. It’s almost akin to blood money or blood music, and I don’t want any part of that. I’m trying to make an album that’s very real to me; an album that means a lot to everybody that’s been a part of the situation. I didn’t come this far by myself and it’s not just my situation. So I’m not just gonna do what I want to do with UGK and I’m not gonna let anyone else do what they want to do with UGK. We’re gonna do right by the people, the situation, the movement and the music. We’ve heard rumors, but we have yet to hear it directly from you. Will this be the last UGK album? Is there no more material? I don’t control the music so if there’s enough music to make another album, I wouldn’t know. Keep in mind, there is a Pimp C solo album coming out after this UGK album. So once this album comes out, I have no idea what the estate has, but as far as I know this is the last album of new recorded UGK material for release. I know they’re probably gonna put out a deluxe edition with a DVD attached to it. There’s the Pimp C solo coming and I’m sure they’re gonna do a Greatest Hits or anthology through Jive records. But that’s about it. This UGK 4 Life album is it. I remember reading Run-DMC interviews after Jam Master Jay was murdered and them coming to grips that there will be no more shows and tours as a whole group. Have you had that kick in the stomach feeling yet, like damn, this is the last one? We went through that in some form or fashion with Pimp’s incarceration. But as he politely put it, it doesn’t matter if it’s both of us or just me or him, because we’re always UGK. So a solo album is still a UGK album. It’s just leaning more on the Bun or Pimp perspective. It still carries traditions, has themes, and content and intentions on bringing the truth to the street. There was a lot going on in rap and the world when the last album dropped. That coupled with the stretch since Dirty Money, you had a lot of ammo. What will you be touching on with this new album? UGK 4 Life is about morals and character and how you carry yourself and how it’s gotten you this far. If it’s gotten you this far, that’s what it is for life. UGK wasn’t a perfect situation. We had contract and management issues, but we wouldn’t change us for anything. It made us better men because of the hardships we had to overcome. This album, regardless of what was going on, we never let that effect the kind of music we made. I’m still not doing that now. In this day and age it’s more important for me to stick to my guns. I think people are looking for something they can count on. I think people are looking to be rewarded for their loyalty in a very disloyal world. For all the people that’s been down for all these years, I’m not gonna get out of character on this album. I’m not gonna sing when I’m a rapper. I’m not gonna put on skinny jeans when I know I represent for the Dickies crowd. I’m not gonna dance when I know I’m a fat nigga. I dance, but that ain’t no shit people want to see. (laughs) I can’t do what other people are doing to get money. I don’t think anyone should be doing what anybody else is doing. God bless anyone who finds a niche in this world who does their own thing. It’s always refreshing for me to see someone who bucks the system. I don’t understand why dancing ain’t cool now, when that’s all we fucking did was dance. Half the niggas criticizing shit were breakdancing back in the day. And if you weren’t breakdancing you were trying to roll up on some chick or some dumb shit like that. I don’t understand. All the shit was dancing at the beginning. Pee Wee Herman, Doo Doo Brown and all that shit. C’mon, man. Biz Markie is the king at making songs like “Picking Boogers.” We don’t have to take ourselves so seriously. The funny thing about this music industry that I’ve seen a lot of people defending people that they don’t even really know. I see a lot of people trying to stand up for this era of Hip Hop, what they like to call the “Golden Era,” which is the most ridiculous term I’ve ever heard in my life. Hip Hop is still evolving. Its not like fucking Big Band music that only made a couple styles. It’s totally different. It’s an ever-expanding thing. All these kids are talking about who they think is real Hip Hop, and we artists have way more in common than the consumers will ever know. People always trip out when thy see me do a song with Talib Kweli, but that’s because you think you know who Kweli is. You already made up your mind about what kind of person he is and that he doesn’t fuck with certain things. But Kweli is one of the most open-minded people I know, period. Who decides what’s “real Hip Hop”? People don’t get it. No one really made sense dissing Soulja Boy. At the end of the day nobody had a valid point. You’re just hating. Where do you think that came from? Man, I’m still trying to figure out when hating started. If I could pinpoint when muthafuckas started hating, I’d probably have a better answer. And OZONE MAG // 49

I’m serious, about this hating shit. I don’t understand it because the world wasn’t like this [before]. People ain’t pay attention to people like this before. People didn’t have opinions. Everybody’s got opinions now. Don’t get me started on the internet. Everybody on the internet has an opinion that you better agree with or you’re an asshole. They’re really clowning on the internet. It’s a good thing, but it’s a two-way street, as bad shit usually is. Bad shit is usually only good for you some of the time, but bad most of the time. That’s what people haven’t figured about the internet. The internet is okay when you want it to be. But when it’s not, it’s bad. It’s real fucked up and there’s nothing you can do about it. [The internet] is bordering on being the Antichrist. It’s just a necessary evil, unfortunately. There’s nothing you can do about it. It’s too ingratiated in too many people’s life. Right now the net is the best way to get music and get things across to people, but it’s also the best way to be completely misunderstood. Speaking of misunderstandings, in the wake of Pimp’s passing, what steps are you taking to protect or expand the UGK brand? The best thing you can do is take out the proper trademarks to protect your brand so people can’t manipulate it the way they want to. As far as the music is concerned, I don’t control anything. All the Pimp C vocals and production and all of that is owned by the estate. I don’t have any verses laying around anyway. Even if I did I couldn’t just do whatever I wanted without the expressed consent of the estate. So it’s not what we’re doing to expand the brand, per say. The primary concern is to keep people from manipulating the brand. Have you run into a lot of that? When we interviewed Pimp’s artist XVII last year he said a lot of people Pimp refused to deal with started reaching out to him. People already know not to come to me with that bullshit. I can sniff a bitch nigga from a mile away so you ain’t about to just tell me anything. I really haven’t had problems [aside from] the occasional kid making “R.I.P. Pimp C” shirts. But no one is trying to stock stores with the shit. You might go to the mall and see niggas at the picture t-shirt booth trying to get it in. You check niggas accordingly with that type of shit. I never had that problem because one, a lot of people have a lot of respect for Pimp and wouldn’t disrespect him like that. Second, if people don’t think it’s official they aren’t going to fuck with it anyway. A lot of times when people see something they call us. The UGK family is extensive. We’ve been here for 17 years now; we’ve made a lot of friendships with a lot of people in a lot of places. If you try to just hide in the corner doing something with my name, someone’s gonna call me and let me know. We’re able to shut shit down if it’s a threat to the brand. That said, a couple bootleg t-shirts ain’t gonna hurt nothing. Earlier you talked about things that you will and won’t do to stay relevant. Why do you think people are acting outside of themselves to compete? We see people both dressing and talking crazy. People are scared. Every outlet that’s been available for a lot of these people to thrive on in the industry is dying down. My career was never based on TV or Radio. If the exposure there starts dying down, it means nothing to me. Exposure there for me is just a plus. It’s not where my core [fans] or where the ideal UGK fan goes to find music. I will survive without [TV or radio] but a lot of people’s whole career is built off television or the internet or magazines. Now a lot of those [outlets and] magazines are closing down, so how do you get across to people? How do you feel about some of the new images that we are seeing in the game? People are getting very fashion conscious. I don’t mind. I enjoy it all. I don’t look at TV and music videos to influence me, I just look at it for entertainment. So seeing someone in tight jeans doesn’t bother me. If it works for them, that’s cool. I just know I can’t do that shit. Just because I can’t do it don’t mean it ain’t cool. That’s what happens a lot of times. When people can’t be a part of something they tend to shit on it, and that’s weak. I’ve seen it all before. A couple artists we interviewed recently have said that they think rappers shouldn’t be rapping after a certain age. You’re a vet in the game and you’re still good at it. How do you feel about this attitude that rappers should stop after a certain age? I don’t give a fuck. I’ma be very real. No man dictates what I can or can’t do. No blog, no magazine, no Geraldo, none of that shit. I give a fuck what the populist taste in America is. Populist taste said that UGK ain’t supposed to be here, ain’t even supposed to get in [the game]. So I’ve been bucking the trend from day one. To me, all they’re saying is pretty irrelevant. That’s just hating, man. Nobody gets to dictate how long anybody gets to be around. I’ve seen cats stay in the game for 20 years and seen other cats last for three weeks. The same young cats who are trying to talk about how long an old head has been in the game, they’re not promised to be in the game [that long] either. So they need to be careful. That’s just young arrogance. 50 // OZONE MAG

Days after his media tour in New York, Bun is back home in Houston with his wife. Sitting inside the Gucci store at the Galleria Mall as his Queen shops, Bun is still the center of attention even when he’s trying to be a spectator. Random shoppers who recognize his face walk up to him just for simple nod of acknowledgement while others attempt to strike up conversation. “You do realize I’m doing an interview, right?” he politely asks one fan. Picking up where we left off. As a vet in the game, do you think there is such a thing as age appropriate Hip Hop? I don’t think that when you’re young you should rap about childish shit either. But as you get older you need to show some of the experience you’ve gained in life because the people listening are getting older too and may need some of that game. So you owe it to your fanbase. You can show growth without compromising the art. Not everybody is able to show change and evolution the same as a Kanye West, but they should try to show some evolution. You did a song with Statik Selektah recently. Some people found that surprising. Do you think rap music will get back to being more homogenous as apposed to the segregation we tend to see right now? A lot of this is coming from a blog or two, not the real music [listeners]. Just a few opinionated people. But as far as artists are concerned, we’re not dividing the lines. We try to build with each other as much as possible. Artists are working very hard to tear down the lines. You see a lot of different people doing this. I heard Gucci Mane and Cam’Ron on a remix together the other day. We’re working hard to come together once and for all like how it was when we started. I want to backtrack for a second. You’ve always held your own as an MC. But, when Ridin’ Dirty came out you took it to another level with the flows. I’m curious what happened between Super Tight and Ridin’ Dirty. I wouldn’t say anything happened. I just started being around people that were serious about me being the best artist I could be. Pimp C really started giving me the kind of music that made me write better lyrics. Being around people like 3-2 and Big Mike, honing my freestyle skills. Having MCs to bounce ideas and flows off helped. Being around people like Ricky Royal of Royal Flush, really teaching me how to take one word and expound on that one word for 16, 24, 48 bars without limiting myself. There were a lot of opportunities at the time. The game was a little more open. Record companies were a little more supportive, and we were working in a bigger and better studio. “Murder” is a song where that flow was exhibited at its finest. Tell us about the making of that song. I had been asking and asking for Pimp to give me something to go hard on. He found the track and I wrote to it. When I got to the studio I was real tired. I had partied real hard the night before. We did “Murder” at 3 in the afternoon. I was pretty tired when I got to the studio. I wrote it and went to sleep at the control board. They woke me up when it was time to rap and I went in and did 16 bars straight and messed up a line. Ridin’ Dirty was one of the first rap albums recorded on ProTools. So they said I could punch in if I wanted to. I said I didn’t want to, I wanted to make to where it was no breaks in it, I wanted to spit it all the way through so that when the accapellas were made available, people could hear that there were no breaks. So, we went all the way back to the top and went in. Over the last year or so we’ve seen you popping on the web supporting “underground” brands like The Hundreds and Crooks & Castles as well as a couple sneaker head blogs. When and how did you become the king of all things underground? I made an effort to go out and support everything that fell under the underground title, or I wouldn’t be able to call myself the Underground King. People who knew me personally knew about different stuff I was into, but I never made anything public, so I started making myself more public and going out to the Magic convention. Miskeen helped me make connections. They were one of the first brands to support me. They didn’t tie me down into an exclusive situation and helped me meet other clothing lines. I was really getting into this as a businessman so I met Woodie and Jonas from LRG, starting moving around Fairfax on the West coast, hanging out with Joey Castillo and he linked me up with Eric Barnett who worked with Ecko, then Dennis at Crooks & Castles, then Bobby at The Hundreds. We just made personal relationships and kicked it. I would rock different clothes for different situation. None of these situations are ones I make any money off of, it’s just all about the support and the love of the brand. If I’ma call myself the Underground King, I have to support, not just because someone is giving me a check. That’s not real and that’s not what UGK stands for. What does the word “underground” mean to you? We have a lot of artists

claiming to be underground but their music sounds like what is already on the radio. It’s just that it’s not on the radio. When you say “underground” as far as UGK is concerned it’s music that was always commercially viable and commercially conscious but a bit too edgy for the mainstream’s taste. It wasn’t that we [as UGK] couldn’t make commercial music. It was just the fact that the subject matter or the content was considered by some individuals to be too edgy for the marketplace at that time. We never really fit what was going on in the radio or TV formats. That said, people who liked good music would always find our music and never had a problem finding UGK. How do you feel about current rap fans? Some complain about everything, some are lazy listeners and a few are still looking for good music. I come from a generation where it was “get the music” first and figure out the people later. We didn’t care about the artist’s personal life or what label they were signed to. As times changed, music became more accessible as well as people’s lives becoming accessible. People really stopped caring about the music and wanted to know about the person. They want to Google them, look them up on Wikipedia, and see them on YouTube behind the scenes. Nowadays as an artist you’re not just selling the music, you’re selling yourself. That’s what the fans demand. They aren’t interested in the music because they can get that with 3 clicks of a mouse. They want you to give more of yourself to them. People complain about it a lot, but at the end of the day, the fans are dictating what they want. People are saying the music ain’t selling because of radio and TV and all that. That has nothing to do with it. The fact is that whatever was helping push you through or whatever curtain you used to sing behind is pulled back now, so people can see you for what you are. Don’t complain to the DJs, program directors or video jockeys. You have to complain to the fans because dictating everything. After 2Pac got shot the first time and he actually rapped about it later, it seemed like we wanted to know everything about rapper’s lives from that point on. We didn’t know anything about Big Daddy Kane or KRSOne’s personal lives. That said, how you have you kept your personal life out of the public eye in this day and age? I’ve been very lucky to be pretty boring. (laughs) I don’t have a lot of crazy shit going on. Bun B isn’t having a big party every night. Bun B is usually watching Lost on Sunday nights, or trying to, anyway. I can’t never get into it. I’ll watch it one Sunday and it will be incredible and then the next

episode will have no correlation at all. But yeah, me and my home life is very subdued. I’m not much of an extrovert anymorel those years are pretty much done for me. So people don’t care to know about that. People tend to watch me and see what social issue I’m into. If I’m concerned about something it’s usually affecting the ‘hood so they figure the need to pay attention to it too. People ask me about the economy. A lot of people I know don’t work for corporate America and don’t have mortgages, so it’s different. They wonder how long it’s gonna be bad and how bad it’s gonna get. I just tell people to be smart about everything. Maybe you don’t need those sneakers this month. There’s a lot of people that have been over-extending themselves for a while, but in 2009 it’s not gonna work. Me, I try to get all the J’s and Air Force One’s, but that’s cool because I’ve got a good job and I can afford to do these things. I know people in the hood who want to look fly, but that doesn’t need to be a priority. If you’ve got little ones you need to be more concerned about their well-being. Since you’re not much of an extrovert, what do you spend a lot of your time doing? I’m an avid reader. I like to read a lot of autobiographies, on artists in particular to understand the entertainment industry more. I’m reading a lot about the financial sector. I tell people to put down the fiction novels and read about the home market. To my urban people, Blacks, Asians, Hispanics, Middle Eastern, we can’t keep living on the hook-up. Those days are gone. Trying to move into that new house, buy that new car with the hook-up; it’s time to start living as who we are and stop fronting. The reality is that everybody’s broke so it doesn’t make sense to act like we’ve got money right now. We know who’s rich: Puffy, Jay-Z and couple other folks. That’s about it. The rest of us are hurting right now. Most artists like myself ain’t about to get kicked out of our house, but the Gucci purchases are down by 30% and Louis Vuitton is down by 35%. They’re getting ready to close down some Saks Fifth Avenue stores as well. We just have to start keeping it real. I’ma say it, I’m doing bad. My Gucci is down by 20%, but my Louie is up by 5%, though. My Jordans and Nikes are at a steady pace, but I have to work twice as hard to get this money. Ain’t no use in fronting for America. I’m trying to get this money. If you’ve got money for me, holla at me. I’m working. It’s time for everybody to stop fronting like they’re sitting on mountains of money. Even the people I know with money are saving because they aren’t trying to burn cash. Like I said, I ain’t about to get put out my house, ain’t no meals being missed, but things are slowing down right now. //

“I see a lot of people trying to stand up for this era of Hip Hop, what they like to call the “Golden Era,” which is the most ridiculous term I’ve ever heard in my life. Hip Hop is still evolving.”




he night Gucci Mane went to jail for violating the terms of his probation in September 2008, Atlanta radio host & DJ Greg Street lamented on the air, “It’s the wrong time to go to jail, Gucci. The wrong time!”

Street was rightfully worried that Gucci’s rising status as one of the hottest rappers in ATL was in jeopardy. To fickle ran fans, artists are usually out of sight, out of mind. Going to jail is usually a surefire way to make fans forget about you—just ask Mystikal. But, unlike most rappers who get sent to prison, Gucci Mane had a secret weapon on his side: OJ da Juiceman. During the entire six months of Gucci’s incarceration, OJ made sure his childhood friend was not forgotten. Through Juiceman’s debut album The Otha Side Of The Trap and numerous mixtapes with DJs like Burn One, Dutty Laundry, Smallz, Bigga Rankin, Drama and Holiday, OJ has amassed a cult-like following. Undeniably, da Juiceman has secured his own place as one of the hottest underground rappers in the country, and he promises that his rise is just beginning. How does it feel to be considered one of the hottest new artists in the game? It’s actually a beautiful thang, you know? From my perspective, hard work pays off. You gotta stay down and it does pay off. You’ve gotta


work for it. I’m messin’ with the streets right now and trying to put my album out in stores. How long have you been doin’ your thing? Ah man, I’ve been rappin’ since ’99. What have you been doing since ’99 til right now to get to this point? I’ve been doin’ mixtapes and puttin’ ‘em out there, and getting ‘em in people’s hands. I’ve been puttin’ up posters, passin’ out flyers, showin’ up in clubs, just working my material. Gucci Mane is one of your partners. How did y’all two get together? We grew up in the same area, the same hood, the same apartments. We’d go from one set of apartments to another set of apartments pickin’ up cans, tryin’ to make a dollar back in the day. That was the thang goin’ on when we was younger. He shot off with the music first, then I shot off second. We started makin’ songs together. I think it was just a good look for us ‘cause we do make good songs. As his career was taking off, what was your reaction? I mean, it was wonderful seein’ somebody from my area, in my hood, on the corner or whatever, do this. It’s a beautiful thang seein’ somebody come from my hood ‘cause people that usually make it, 9 times out of 10, they aren’t from the hood. With Gucci being from

where we’re from, we just sat back and he shined out the hood on every verse. I know you’ve been shot eight times. How did that happen and how did you make it through that situation? It was just a lil street situation. I’m just happy a nigga still alive right now. That was back in the day. I’m alive, I’m well, I’m walkin’. It’s really nothin’ more on the street level. Right now I’m tryin’ to get more on the rap level and just keep this thang movin’. Was rapping always your plan to make it out of the streets? Is that how you’re looking at it? Naw. Really my plan for gettin’ out the street was whatever got the bigger check. It was all about the money. I ain’t never looked at it as I’ma go with rappin’ and try to get rich and live off the money rappin’. But by me sittin’ around in the spot with my boys, fuckin’ around with beats and shit, niggas was like, “Well, you need to fuck with that shit.” So I just gave it a try and it’s been hittin’ me ever since. It pulled me out the streets a lil bit. You’ve been doing a lot of shows around the country now, right? Yeah, I’ve been booked on the weekends. What kind of things are you seeing outside of Atlanta now that you’re on the road that are kinda new for you? Going to different markets, the expectations are really big for me. When I go do the show it be jammin’ like a fool in them states. It be crazy. I’m like, damn I really haven’t even touched these states way up top and in the Midwest, but when I get there it’s a different level. People really do consider you to be one of the next dudes. Has that hit you yet, that you’re on the brink of becoming a big artist? Ah man, I sure hope to be. I really hope to do good and give these folks Juiceman all the way. I try not to sugarcoat anythang. Do you want to stay more of like a hood, underground type artist? Or do you want to have crossover success? I mean, the hood, underground artist is tight or whatnot, but I plan on going super far to where folks come to me with movie scripts, and muthafuckin’ stupid endorsements, OJ da Juiceman shoes, stuff like that. How did you get the deal with Asylum? Well, they saw and heard about the buzz that was goin’ on in Atlanta that me and my team has been building for several years. The [“Make the Trap Say Aye”] song had got kinda big on the radio. Asylum came down and gave us probably one of the best, serious offers out of everybody else. Listening to all the labels, Asylum is some real standup people so far from what I’ve seen. I’m just happy they came to me and are tryin’ to put your boy in the store. Your album, The Otha Side of the Trap, is in stores now. Why did you go with that title? I went with that title to give these folks the meaning of the drug world and now I’m tryin’ to venture over into the rap world. It’s like being caught up in the drug world and tryin’ to make a dollar over into the rap world. It’s putting both sides together and giving ‘em my perspective of what the other side of the trap really means. What can the fans expect from the album? What do you have on there? They can expect some crazy shit. I’ve got several singles like “Cop a Chicken,” “Make the Trap Say Aye,” ”Nah Ming,” and “I’m Gettin Money.” I got them on there ‘cause the label loved those and the whole world hasn’t heard them yet. They’ve been on my mixtapes and shows and had a lil buzz. And I got probably about 7 or 8 new cuts on there. I got one song on there called “Washin Powder Money.” It’s gonna be a real big record when it drops to the world’s ears. It’s gonna be big like “Make the Trap Say Aye.” Is Zaytoven doing most of your beats? On this album, yeah Zay got a good handful, but my other producer Fatboi has a handful on there too. I have Speedy on there and Shawty Redd too.

Some people have been saying that Soulja Boy took your style and he’s biting your adlibs. Do you feel that way too? Nah, I can’t really say nothing about that. Not to speak on nobody’s name, but I just look at it as Juiceman set a trend. I set a trend with the “Aye, Ok” and people feel like whatever trend is hot at the time, they can depend on that train while it’s moving. I just learned to grind hard and do everythang myself and I never had a handout. I just respect the game. That’s how it go. That’s just like in the streets, if you catch somebody stealing, ain’t shit you can do about it but get another one. You’ve gotta move on. Is the adlib something you’ve been doing since you first started rapping? When did you put that into your rhymes? I wasn’t doing that when I first got into rapping. I got into it maybe in like ’03. That’s when I did the “Aye,” when I did the song with me, Courtney C and Gucci called “Street Smart.” We took off from there. What made you do it like that then? With the high pitched level? It was probably how my damn voice came out on the microphone. They were like, “Well, Juiceman that shit sound good as a fool, boy.” And I just ran with it from there. I read somewhere that your influences are N.W.A., Spice 1, and KRSOne. That’s who influenced you coming up? Yeah, the early 90’s and mid 90’s – everybody who was rappin’ at that time damn near. Everybody was one hunid then. Right now we’ve got a lot of sugarcoatin’ and salt shakin’ shit. I ain’t the person to speak on that, I’m just the one tryin’ to get in the game, feel me? If everyone else is sugarcoating things, what’s different about you? I try to keep it one hunid. The shit I say, 9 times out of 10, I’m doing it or I have done it. Everybody knows I’m a street artist, I’m not just Hip Hop or making music for the children or whatnot. All my music is on the street level. People that relate to my music have probably been through the same thang, are goin’ through the same thang, or are ‘bout to go through the same thang. How many mixtapes have you done already? I’ve got about 15 of them thangs if I ain’t mistaken. Do you have a personal favorite? Naw, not really ‘cause I don’t wanna leave nobody out. I like all of ‘em. Which one do you think had the biggest impact on the streets? I know the one you did with Drama and Holiday was a pretty good look to get your name out there some more. I’d probably say the first one that got me stupid was O.J. da Juiceman hosted by Dutty Laundry. When Gucci got locked up, did you feel like things were gonna slow down for you? Or did you feel like it was time for you to step up? I felt like it stayed neutral on my behalf. Gucci is Gucci, and Juice is Juice. I’ve got my own fans, he’s got his own fans. I felt like with him being locked up it was probably gon’ slow him down more than me. I’m gon’ keep movin’ ‘cause I’m still on the street. That’s just like being in the dope game. If you and your buddy are workin’ out of the [trap] house and he goes to jail, you’re still gon’ be movin’. Shit don’t stop. Have you been in contact with him since he’s been locked up? Yeah, he calls every now and then. He finna be out in a few minutes. “Make the Trap Say Aye” is all over the place now. Did you feel like that was gonna be the single to put you out there? Did you feel radio was gonna pick up on it, since it’s such a street record? Naw, not really. I thought they’d pick up on “I’m Gettin Money.” “Make the Trap Say Aye” has so much street language in there I didn’t think radio [would play it]. We did the song like a year and a half ago. When we first did it, it was kinda huge. People were loving it, but I guess we just had to sit on it for a while, then it got hotter and hotter. Is there anything else you’d like to say to our readers? I just need everybody to go pick up that album up. Everybody can log on to myspace.com/ojdajuiceman and listen to my music. I got videos on there. For the mixtapes in the streets they can go to datpiff.com and get all 15 of my mixtapes. //





Two years ago MIMS made a mill sayin’ nothing on the track— and now he feels guilty. He knows most artists spend years building a foundation, hoping for that ever-elusive hit single, and he knows many fans don’t respect his craft. But is it really 27 year old Shawn Mims’ fault that he struck gold without even trying? If you ask him, he’ll probably say yes. “[“This Is Why I’m Hot”] was kind of like a gift and a curse,” says MIMS. “The gift is, I came up with a record that the world received, and the curse is that I didn’t lay the foundation enough for them to respect my craft. So it’s my fault, and I do feel a sense of guilt.” In fact, MIMS feels so guilty that he is titling his sophomore album after the emotion that has plagued him for the past 24 months: Guilt. With this release, MIMS is hoping to replicate the commercial success he enjoyed on 2007’s Music Is My Savior, but also establish the respect he never attained from “This Is Why I’m Hot.” “Coming off a record like ‘This Is Why I’m Hot’ I have to really show people who MIMS is. Yes, that record put me on, it put money in my pocket,” he admits. “I’m living good now. I can put my feet up if I want, but I’m not. I’m a musician, and I want the respect that I think I deserve as an emcee. I won’t stop ‘til I get it.” MIMS certainly has felt his share of disrespect. Even before “This Is Why I’m Hot” fell from the number one position on the Billboard Hot 100 Chart, the Washington Park, New York native faced an onslaught of hate from every direction. He was ripped apart by virtually every blogger on the web; they called him a ringtone rapper, and essentially accused him of desecrating the art of Hip Hop. The fact that he was from New York disenchanted many of his Southern fans, but he wasn’t New York enough for New Yorkers. He was laughed off, ridiculed, and labeled a one-hit wonder. But MIMS insists he’s still hot. So while his legion of haters continues to hate, Mims has moved on—literally. He left New York for the South, and now splits his time between Florida and Georgia. Six months after “This Is Why I’m Hot” made its mark, MIMS made his first lavish purchase—an 8,000 square foot home in suburban Atlanta, and tomorrow morning, he will be inviting MTV into his home for his Cribs debut. “The way the industry is now, you almost have to go on shows like Cribs,” says Mims. “Nobody watches music videos on TV anymore. If they wanna watch a video they just go to YouTube. Cribs is an alternative way for me to reach my fan base. I think the most important thing in this day and age, is to give the public a piece of you.” Perhaps that will be MIMS’ biggest challenge. We all know he’s capable of making hit music, but the question is, will his sophomore album be able to connect with fans on a more personal level? MIMS feels Guilt contains by far the best music he’s ever made, and is excited about his second chance.


Today, the Atlanta transplant pulls up to a renovated loft, 892 miles south of where he grew up. He’s far from New York, but to MIMS Atlanta feels like home, especially today as global warming apparently called in sick, creating a frosty Southern Sunday. Mims, along with his girlfriend, is arriving for his outdoor OZONE cover shoot in an allwhite Range Rover. His manager, stylist, and assistant are all anxious to begin. The temperature is in the 30’s. It’s freezing and everyone including the photo shoot assistants—who are insulated in heavy coats and skull caps—are complaining about the frigid weather, but MIMS insists the cold doesn’t bother him. His demeanor is determined, and this is why he’s hot—even if no one else knows it yet.


So, you got the MTV Cribs joint popping off tomorrow. Is your house clean? Are you nervous? Naw, I’m ready. They’re coming to my crib tomorrow morning early, like 7 AM, but it’s all good. Normally, I wouldn’t invite the outside world into my personal space. I’m the type of person that likes being low-key. I don’t like anyone knowing where I live or how I’m living, or what I’m driving. When it comes to music, I feel like you can be boisterous on your records, but in real life you’ve gotta humble yourself because it’s two different worlds. So, with Cribs coming, it was more or less a decision I made out of necessity. There are a lot of kids that come from where I come from, and have been through what I’ve been through, and they don’t really get to see people from their neighborhood. I feel like MTV Cribs is one of those outlets where—if done the right way—you can show the kids of your community that there’s a better life out there than just selling drugs and going to jail. I was that person watching Cribs three or four years ago telling myself, “I can’t wait to be in that position.” You mentioned that you’re a humble person, and from hanging out with you for the past few hours that definitely seems evident. But do you think it can also be a crutch? Do people tend to take advantage of you? They always say the nice guy finishes last. I’ve always been the underdog, mainly because my attitude towards life is, “I’m not here to let anybody bend or shape me into something I’m not.” I came from a community that had a lot of negativity around it, but I’m not a negative person. I’m not claiming to be Scarface, or a kingpin, or a gangsta. I don’t walk around looking for trouble. I’ve always been the guy who wanted to go to school and get straight A’s and figure my life out from there. But I’m not interested in being anybody other than who I am, and that’s what I want the world to see. If that comes off as boring to some people, then so be it, but I think there’s a lot of people out there who can relate to me because I’m not too extreme. I’m not the person who’s talking about Liberace diamonds and things I don’t have the ability to obtain. I keep everything modest and within my means. Mostly everything I rap about is something I can accomplish or already have accomplished. You talk about New York all day, but you don’t really have a traditional New York sound. I think that’s just another part of me. When you talk about influences, most people would hone down on one thing. But for me, coming up as an emcee, I got a lot of chances to travel. One of the first tours I went on was with Method Man and I always talk about this because to me, it was like the pinnacle of my career being able to see different places. I went to the South as an underground New York emcee with no deal, nothing, going to the South to perform at House of Blues. I did a whole House of Blues tour with Method Man and it allowed me go from the Southern market all the way to over to the West Coast, and being from New York I already got to travel the whole Northeast, So when you heard the “This Is Why I’m Hot” record people thought it was just me trying to ride the wave, but really and truly it was me trying to pay homage to all the places I’ve visited along the way. When you’re not on the road where do you call home now? I’m back and forth. I always say I’ve got three homes: New York, obviously my first home and a place I love to be, and Florida, a place that influences me much, and Atlanta. But as of recently, the last year and a half, I moved out to Atlanta. I kinda get to have the best of all three worlds. It seems like half the people in the music industry have a place in Atlanta, regardless of where they’re from. As a New York dude, what caused you to move to ATL? For me it’s just square footage. The home buys are a better deal. I always wanted space; in New York you can’t buy the kind of space you can in Atlanta. I always wanted to look out my window and see grass and trees. I grew up in Washington Heights, but I also lived in Long Island for quite some time, and Long Island is a suburban type area. It’s kind of similar to Atlanta. When I saw Atlanta and the space it had to offer I was like, “Why not?” Atlanta is like the Hip Hop home right now. Atlanta is home for Hip Hop and R&B. Is that hard for you to admit that, being that you are from New York? A lot of New Yorkers are resentful towards the South’s prominence. I definitely don’t. I think that’s what makes me unique and different. I know a lot of people who hone in on the fact that certain areas aren’t as promising as they used to be, obviously New York, California and places like that where 10 years ago they controlled the radio. Now, when you turn on the radio all you hear is all the Southern markets flourishing. I’m a hater by no means. Do your thing. I congratulate anybody who gets on. I know how hard the business is. But I will say this, I’m from New York. I was born and raised in New York, so if anybody thinks there’s an excuse for why New York isn’t on the map, or whatever they feel, I’m a New Yorker, so I represent for 56 // OZONE MAG

New York, and I will always represent New York. There’s room for people like me in the game; you’ve just got to be willing to work as hard as I’m working right now. If you work hard enough it doesn’t matter where you come from: Idaho, Wisconsin, New York, wherever. In 2006-2007 when “This Is Why I’m Hot” dropped, you were arguably the hottest rapper in the game for a short period of time, and then the record cooled off. How did that whole journey from cold to hot to cold feel, the good and the bad? I guess my biggest challenge was the overnight success. I came from nowhere and just hit the scene, so I got a whole lot of the “one hit wonder” titles. At first obviously it starts off real lovely. Everybody loves you, everybody wants to be your friend, they want to come around you in the club, show you love, and they might bring you up on a song and mention your name, and then you slowly start to see the tables turn. As the record dies out, you start to see a lot of the faces turn and say, “Dude is a one-hitwonder, I’m not really messin’ with him. He can’t rap. He’s no good…” And while people respected the record, that’s all that I became. I became just a record. I became the, “That’s the ‘This is Why I’m Hot’ dude. That’s the dude who sung ‘This is Why I’m Hot.’” Half my fans wouldn’t even know my name. This time around I’m aware of that, and I’m working hard to make people respect me as an emcee. How are you planning to do that? It’s hard to re-sculpt a first impression. You have to let them see who you are as a person. I personally don’t believe people buy music just because they like it. I think they get an attachment to a certain artist, and when they feel that certain connection they want to follow that artist’s career, and that’s what people come to invest in. You’ve been getting back to your New York roots with the new single “Bread N Butta.” What made you decide to do a track with a Biggie sample? I actually recorded it just as a freestyle record, and we tried going through the proper motions to see where we could take it. The purpose of that record was to show my lyrical side, and I think it’s doing me justice right now. In no way, shape, or form did I intend on taking a Biggie sample on a record and then utilize it to make me more successful. DJ Absolut in New York actually brought me the record and I heard it and said, “Man, I gotta be able to rap to that beat, and do something with it.” So I took it home, and the next day I came back with something and said, “I got it.” On the internet it says you released a follow-up album to Music Is My Savior called More Than Meets the Eye. What was that about? You know what, I’ve so much about this More Than Meets the Eye album, and I had no part in that. A good friend of mine had an idea to put out a mixtape. When you’re in the studio recording you do a lot of records that don’t make the album and end up in someone’s closet, or on the back of someone’s computer. So what I think happened is that a lot of the unreleased stuff I had done even as far back as 2002 was released on a mixtape. The dude most have done a good job promoting, because everybody thought it was an album, but it definitely wasn’t an album. My album is actually slated to release in March 2009 and it’s called Guilt. I know this is probably the first question most journalists ask you, but why are you calling the album Guilt? That’s kind of an ambiguous title. When someone asks, “What were your emotions going into doing this album?” my response is that I felt a sense of guilt. Why? I have three aspects that I can name of the top, but the first one is the economy. Look at what I went through and what people around me are going through. I went from being a dude with nothing, to a guy who’s selling millions of digital downloads, millions of ringtones, and almost 400,000 albums worldwide. Money is just pouring in. I look around me and businesses are shutting down, friends of mine are facing foreclosure, and my family is needing financial help, so while I’m prospering the people around me are going through the worst times ever. I want to help as many people as I can, but I know I can’t help everybody because that’ll put me right back in their position—and that’s one of the things I feel guilty about. The other reason is the “This is Why I’m Hot” record. Like I said earlier, it was kind of a gift and a curse, and in that sense, I kinda feel guilty. Sometimes I wonder if it was the right move for me to put that record out at that time. The third reason I feel guilty is because with all this negativity going on throughout the world, I‘m wondering if what I’m doing is going to last. Is rap going to allow me to maintain my lifestyle? You hear all these stories about entertainers going bankrupt and overspending. I’m smart in maintaining my lifestyle, but at the same time there’s a sense of guilt that says I need to be very cautious because of the times. In the three years you’ve been in the mainstream what has been your most guilty pleasure? Something you splurged on?

Probably when I bought my house. I was about 26 at the time and it was my biggest, most hefty purchase. I was always the type of dude that was listening to people talk about jewelry and putting $100,000 and $200,000 around their neck, and I held on to my money. I always said my first big purchase was going to be my home. How fast did you see real money after “This Is Why I’m Hot” blew up? The turnaround was crazy. How fast it all happened was so ridiculous. Everybody says when it takes off, you’re gonna look back and say, “Damn, that was quick.” And that’s the truest statement I ever heard. 6 months before I purchased my home I was living in an attic. I didn’t have cable, didn’t have the internet, didn’t really have much heat going on. My mattress was on the floor, and there was nothing to do in my house except work on music. 6 months later I’m at the bank closing on an 8,000 plus square foot home, and thinking about how surreal the experience was. What’s the worst thing you’ve ever heard a critic say about you? I try not to listen to the critics, but we’ve all gotta admit they drive us to do better. The worst thing I’ve heard is that I’m not a true emcee. That I’m garbage; the worst thing to ever hit Hip Hop. I know my ability, and I know

ing in an I was liv idn’t have attic. I didn’t have cable, d rnet, didn’t the inte ave much really h on. My e th heat going w s as on mattres d there was floor, anto do in my nothingxcept work house e . 6 months on music at the bank later I’mon an 8,000 closing are foot plus squ d thinking home, anow surreal about h rience was. the expe

what I’m capable of, and anybody who sits in the studio with me can tell you. I have so many nonbelievers that come in the studio with me and once they see my creativity and the way I work, they’re like, “You’re good. You’re very talented, and I can’t see how certain people could even make these comments.” I think a lot of people overlooked me, and didn’t give me, or my project a chance to be heard. They just categorized me as a certain type of emcee just because I was selling ringtones. And I put this on the record: There’s nothing wrong with selling ringtones. If I could sell another 4 or 5 million ringtones, I’m taking it. There’s nothing in this world that you could convince me not to take the ringtones. On the flip side, what’s the best compliment you’ve heard? The best thing I could ever hear is that I’m one of the most underestimated emcees. I’ve had people write that, and a few people who have actually had a chance to work with me also said that. And that makes me feel good, because I’ve always been an underdog, and that’s the best time to overcome the controversy. For me to be an underdog and be underestimated, that just means when this new album comes out, I’m gonna shock the world because they don’t expect it from me. //


(below) Shaheed Najm and his son Fahiym “T-Pain” Najm in Tallahassee, FL, October 2005

Family Matters


[Editor’s Note: This article solely reflects the opinions of Shaheed Najm. OZONE has not verified the accuracy of any facts or accusations within. T-Pain, Akon, Bu, Konvict Music, & T-Pain’s management were not contacted for comment.] I was the manager of the Nappy Headz and also [T-Pain’s] manager for his solo career. I put [his music] all over this country through my record label Star Gate Platinum Plus Records. In 2004, I took the underground version of [T-Pain’s debut album] Rappa Ternt Sanga to a friend of mine, Greg Harrison in Dothan, Alabama. He took it to Akon. Akon called us for a couple weeks straight and we went to meet with him under the guise that T-Pain was gonna get a label deal. At the meeting, Akon wanted to buy six songs off the album. I told him he’d lost his mind. We weren’t there to suck off of what [Akon] had. We wanted my son to become [a star] like [Akon] is. Akon thought we were a bunch of country boys. They didn’t realize that our intellectual prowess was, in many ways, superior to theirs. My son was fascinated with Akon’s stardom but [he and his brother] were like little boys to me. I respect them for what they do, but I don’t worship nobody. I told them if they wanted to get involved in the process of getting [T-Pain] a deal, they’d have to come like businessmen. We had already spent a lot of money [on T-Pain’s career]. I spent my retirement savings. I had a job for 25 years. Me and my wife were married for 30 years and we’re still good friends. Nobody can separate us from our babies. I have 22 grandchildren right now. We’re no joke. I worked a long time in this community and took care of most of these young boys. I made a promise to my children that whatever they tried to do, I’d back them 100%. So I learned the music business. The reason the Nappy Headz didn’t break through with “Robbery” is because a label [prematurely] made an announcement that they had been signed. All the other record labels backed off. Akon’s brother Bu did the same thing. Bu tried to come off as a friend, but what he was really doing was interfering. [T-Pain] opened up for a show with Anthony Hamilton in Tallahassee and Bu got on the mic and said, “I want to make an announcement that T-Pain just signed with Konvict Records.” I called Akon and told him what his brother did and he admitted that he’d been telling people the same thing. Akon and his brother [Bu] were manipulating my son behind the scenes. I told Fahiym, my son – T-Pain is his alter ego – that I had sensed Akon was a dirty dude. I haven’t talked to [Akon] since they back-stabbed me. They manipulated my son. [My son] will probably say differently because he wants to protect his friendship with them, but I don’t give a shit. Akon is a Muslim. We’re Muslims. The dirty games he plays, sending his little brother Bu to manipulate my son, offering him all kinds of things and charming him away from his father, that’s the nastiest shit in the music game. That isn’t how a Muslim is supposed to act. We went down to Springfest in Miami to meet with a bunch of record labels – Slip-N-Slide, Atlantic, Konvict, everybody. Akon pitched his proposal and we tentatively agreed to it. I told them to put it in writing. I’ve been down that road too: people will promise you the world, but none of it is in the contract. With the Nappy Headz deal [that fell through], I had made the mistake of listening to labels promise us things and waiting on those promises instead of running an independent operation at the same time. I took an oath to never do that again. When the opportunity for [T-Pain’s] solo deal came along, I explained to him the pros and cons of each deal from my perspective as a father 58 // OZONE MAG

and manager. Every step of the way he agreed with me. Unknown to me, they were having different discussions behind the scenes. Akon had my son signing papers without contacting me, knowing that I’m his manager. [Akon and Bu] spread rumors that I’m on crack. Most folks don’t know this, but I’m on a waiting list for a heart transplant. I’ve had a triple bypass and a stroke since dealing with the Nappy Headz. For them to disgrace me like this and treat me like a bad daddy – that’s why I’m fighting back. I’ve let a lot of things go without commenting out of respect for my son. And I didn’t sue to get my money because that’s my child. I love him more than I love money. T-Pain said in an interview that I so-called blackmailed him for $250,000. I am the first black male in the damn family. I am the original black male. (laughs) But I never tried to blackmail him for $250.000. That’s a goddamn lie. I’ve never asked him for $250,000 to pay my bills. I asked him to give me and his mother one show per month and let us split the proceeds. At the time he was only making $20,000 a show. One show a month. He was doing a whole bunch of shows. That’s nothing big to ask for. I’ve never asked for $250,000 and I really don’t appreciate being lied on. I’ve heard all kinds of stuff, but when you challenge me as a man and as a father, I hate that with a passion. I love my son more than I love money, and I want to say that louder than anything else. I hate the fact that we’re at this discourse, but he’s got so many people interfering. There’s so many niggas on his dick – excuse my French – tryin’ to get on. Even his management tries to block me to get me out of the way. I know the game, man, and I’m sick of people playing these games and destroying families over some damn money. I’ll go to my grave broke and raggedy like I am right now if I have to. I hate to speak on this [in a magazine] but that’s the last lie I want told on me. I will not sit by and hear no more of this bullshit. When I see my son I graciously greet him and hug him. I don’t ask for money or anything. I’m trying to share opportunities with him and management’s trying to keep me blocked out. When my boys become grown men, I treat them like grown men. I don’t interfere with their decisions and their life; I don’t try to run their homes. I love my grandchildren with the same love that I gave my children. I don’t even know anything about the deal [T-Pain signed with Akon]. That’s how far away I was from [the situation]. We had another offer [at Interscope Records] and when I went out there to meet with them, Fahiym didn’t even come. You can ask TJ [Chapman]; we were at Interscope apologizing because T-Pain didn’t come out there. They spent money on us to come out there [to Los Angeles] and T-Pain was in Atlanta with Bu. We couldn’t negotiate anything because the main man wasn’t there. While we were sitting there, Bu called them to interfere. Akon didn’t do anything to develop my son. My son was a finished product when he left my house. I used to interview them on the couch in 1999, 2000, 2001, as if they were on the couch at 106th & Park. That’s why he does interviews well, and if you go back and check the record, you’ll hear him quoting me on damn near everything he says. I’m a grown man that has always challenged this society about the way we’ve been treated. So to anybody out there that’s still trying to

encourage a division between me and my son, they can suck my dick. I love my son, and I love his children and his family, but I don’t like the way I’ve been treated by his managers. His managers treat me and my wife like we’re crackheads. When we come around we have to beg for tickets [to his shows]. Man, if that was me, I would honor my parents. They spread rumors about me all over this country. I’m a walking shame. This should be a time of celebration for me, but it’s almost like my funeral instead. [T-Pain] didn’t fall out of the sky. That boy was built. I took him out of public school at age thirteen and taught him at home and bought him everything necessary to become the musician he is today. Akon and Bu are nasty ass niggas. They’re supposed to be Muslims but there’s nothing Islamic about what they did to my family. They’ve got us walking around in disgrace because their greedy asses want all the cars, all the women, all the pleasure, and all the opportunity. They know it’s fucked up, and I’ll tell ‘em to their face if I’m ever in their presence again. But they duck me because they know I’ve got a bullshit shield. They know I’m bullshit-proof; that’s why they back-doored my son. Akon sends his little brother in [to do the dirty work] so his hands will be clean. I listened to the dumb stuff that little boy [Bu] said. He couldn’t hold a good conversation with me so he sold my teenager a bunch of dreams. I don’t need a dream merchant in my life. I’m not buying dreams. I’m a grown man. I really don’t appreciate Akon because he has no integrity. He’s never kept his word. When we first met and he introduced himself as “Akon,” I’ve got a metaphoric mentality, so I thought, “a con”? A con what? A con man? A convict? I don’t even know his real name. I’ll slap the shit outta Akon. He’s a thieving, un-Islamic, back-stabbin’ pussy. Put that in the book. I’m hotheaded enough to tell him that to his face. I get a retirement check, but it’s not a lot of money. I’m on my ass right now, and I don’t deserve to be on my ass. All my money is gone and I’m struggling like I’m on social security. I should be honored for creating the most phenomenal thang that ever came out of Tallahassee. I saw [the talent] God had given [T-Pain] for music. I was him; that’s how I identified it. I was Mr. Music in high school. I was the drum major, director of the student choir and concert band; a very popular guy in the Marching 100. I have one bone to pick with my son. [In his OZONE interview] he said that my bills are not his responsibility. I’m being kicked to the curb. Every Tom, Dick, and Harry can come through his world except his father who built him. He didn’t do this by himself. A lot of family members didn’t want me to [speak on this], and I respect that, but you’ve gotta understand everything I went through [for him]. I had a stroke in Ft. Myers. A promoter wouldn’t pay us and I was trying to grab that nigga around his neck and I had a stroke. I had a triple bypass and had to leave my job after 25 years. I was making $30/hour. I walked away from that on behalf of [my son]. Now everybody’s gonna piss on me and call it rain? I don’t think so. I’ve always been by his side, to guide him wisely and gently and calmly encouraging him along the way. I’ll never try to take his manhood from him. I call all my sons every year on Father’s Day and on their birthdays. But I don’t get the same treatment. I always planned to relinquish the management role in order for [T-Pain]

(above) T-Pain and Bu in Orlando, FL, in April 2005 (left) Akon and T-Pain at Springfest in Miami, FL, in May 2005 Photos by Julia Beverly to get bigger opportunities. I was gonna reduce myself to his personal advisor. “Call me when you need me, son.” I’m still there. My phone number hasn’t changed. I’m still available. I’m not interfering in his business. Once he [signed the contract with Akon] I left it alone. Was I mad? Goddamn right. I was irate. In my first breath, as a man, I told him I probably wouldn’t ever talk to him again. In the next breath, as a father, I had to find out what made my son so desperate to sign a deal with a bunch of knuckleheads that were selling him dreams. But I did respect him for making a bold decision on his own. I asked him, “What the fuck is it about Akon? Did he catch you fuckin’ a rabbit or a fag or something? Do they have photographs of you doing something nasty that [makes] you feel obligated to these dudes?” He said, “Daddy, I can’t explain it. It was just like you taught me; it was like The Matrix.” In [the movie] The Matrix when Neo asked the Oracle if he was the one, she told him, “Being the one is like being in love. Nobody can tell you you’re in love, you just know it.” That’s what Pain told me and that’s why I left it alone. He made an independent decision. We were business partners and he ran away with the whole business, but I’ve forgiven him. I told Pain when he first came in the game that he was better than Akon. He did a parody of Akon’s song “Locked Up” and called it “Fucked Up.” Akon came to The Moon in Tallahassee and got booed because [the crowd] thought Akon was taking T-Pain’s stuff as opposed to the other way around. My son has blown past Akon by now. He’s probably accomplished more than Akon has. [T-Pain] had 11 number one hits last year; two more and he would’ve tied the Beatles. And y’all ain’t even seen the best of my son yet. That’s why I tried to be quiet. If I had challenged [his deal] y’all would’ve never seen what you see today. I stayed out of the way because I don’t want to destroy what I built. I had to get this stuff off my chest. I’ve been in agony. I have heart problems and my heart has been hurting ever since I read that [T-Pain said I tried to blackmail him]. People are trying to play us against each other, but I never believed in “divide and conquer.” Akon grew up in Africa, but I grew up in the ghettoes of America. He doesn’t know the rhythms of this society and he wasn’t in the struggle here like I was. I haven’t discussed all these things [with my son] because with the level of our energy, we’d end up arguing. I wouldn’t be heard and understood. I’ve cried a lot. At his show last year at the [Leon County] Civic Center [in Tallahassee], we got into an argument and one of the former Nappy Headz was the chief instigator. I won’t call his name out, but at that time, he destroyed the relationship between me and my son. I was hurt like hell. Now when [T-Pain] comes to town, I graciously honor him for his accomplishments and keep my old ass at home. // OZONE MAG // 59


With his hypeman days long behind him, Jim Jones is now all of the hype, man. WORDS BY MAURICE G. GARLAND PHOTOS BY RAY TAMARRA



im Jones just might have been the one man that was busier than President Barack Obama in late-January. WHILE Obama was taking train rides from Delaware to Washington D.C., Jones was flying from New York City to Los Angeles and back within a 24-hour span. So what if Obama had to hit up eight Inaugural Balls in one night? at least he got to stay in the same city. Jimmy was going from Miami to Atlanta to St. Louis. While Obama was getting ready to take over the country, Jimmy was busy flying over it. “As busy as I’ve been you might have thought I was getting elected president,” laughs Jim, who after spending the last two weeks promoting his forthcoming fourth album Pray IV Reign is finally getting a moment to catch his breath inside his studio. “I can’t even remember where all I’ve been. It’s a blur right now.” Since setting his foot in the rap game in 1997 alongside his childhood friend and Diplomats co-founder Cam’ron, the Bronx-born Harlem-made rapper has been quite a few places, both welcome and unwelcome. Hearing him rap alongside his surrogate family on Cam’s aptly titled 1998 song “Me, My Mom and Jimmy,” showed his ability to make himself at home wherever he goes. The half-Aruban, half-Puerto Rican always stands out from his peers, but finds a way to blend in at the same time. “We all came from the same struggle,” insists Jones, who moved from the Bronx to Harlem’s Taft Projects at 13 years old. “It wasn’t about complexion or nationality. If you grew up in that hood, it was all about learning how to survive. The only thing that was different for me was that the girls favored me a little more. They said I had that ‘good hair.’” So far it’s been what’s under the “good hair” that’s kept him a float.

“Nothing like Usher, more like a hustler” — Jim Jones: “Don’t Forget About Me” You’re pretty much the poster boy for the whole “I’m not a rapper, I’m a hustler” lane. So, what was your first hustle? I used to cut Sunday school and go to the store up the block. The guy who owned it was cool so he’d let us hang out in there. I’d rob them of all their candy and go to school the next day and sell them shits for 50 cents. Then my uncle, I forget where he used to work, but he used to bring home boxes of Oreo cookies and I’d sell them at school for 50 cents. Some days I would make $100 a day at 14 years old. I was doing pretty good. Then of course after that, we chose to indulge in the streets and we did our petty hustling, pimping and looking out. But my first hustle to get my own money was selling candy and cookies. At that age, it takes a lot of focus to not “get high on your own supply.” Well, I ain’t have to re-up, I had candy waiting on me. I had a locker full of candy and cookies. I have to re-up, and I kept getting weight. I was in. On an average I was making $300 a week off [candy] in school. I grew up in the streets of Harlem; it’s what we do. I’m grateful that instead of selling drugs I got the opportunity to hop in this game and use music as my drug. Evidently people are buying what you’re selling. Tell us about your new al bum Prey IV Reign. The reception has been lovely at the shows I’ve been dong. It’s even better when people love you after a hiatus. I was just falling back to get my album straight. I had a chance to do an incredible album. I did the new deal at Sony and I really got a chance to dig deep into my artistry this time. I never got a chance to do that, it’s always been a hustle to me. So I’ve gotten to put together a masterpiece.

that re a r very ’s It “ nds you make frie in age, a cert a ter f a ain very but you do g s with good rapport st a people. I’ve lo s from d n rie f f o lot e on jealousy, soMmE on my part, SO I’ve lost a their part. ds along of frien lot 62 // OZONE MAG he way.”

What was it like actually sitting down and making this album instead of cranking it out as fast as you’re accustomed to? It was a humbling experience. I

got a chance to talk about what’s going on and how to change for the better and get more money. You can’t keep doing the same things and expect different results. The most challenging part was completing the album and making sure you have the right music and not get biased. You get biased to the music you make because it’s so personal to you, so you have to put your personal feelings to the side and think from the fans’ perspective. Should we expect a drastic change with your sound? Don’t expect a drastic change, but the instrumentation, songs, and everything has gotten better overall. I’m glad it’s finished because making this album was like doing homework. But I’m ready to blast off now. What did you draw inspiration from while making it? Did you listen to anyone else while recording? When I get into album mode I listen to Pac, B.I.G., early Jay-Z, and I fuck with some Jeezy. I listen to some old Dipset tracks to remind me of how nice I’m getting and how nice I was from the get go. So it’s a few things. I’ve been working on this project for about a year.

“I hear the streets talking funny, so I laugh / Tell em keep talking funny, Imma keep talking money / And all different types, The yens and the pounds / Nigga just for spite push, the Bentley round town” — Jim Jones: “Love Me No More” Say what you will about Jim, he’s come a long way from the guy you only knew from cameos in Cam’ron videos. His popularity has grown to a level where casual Dipset listeners barely remember him ever playing back-up to anyone. The former hypeman has gone from being the last Dipset member you’d expect to ever release an album to having the second-most solo efforts out of the whole crew. Along the way though Jones has grown up, and at some points, away from what many hardcore fans grew to love from him. The man who once dubbed his crew “The New Black Panthers” and penned lines like: “See they tainted our image, it’s fucked up how the game painted our image / They say we dangerous people, why, because we sell ‘caine to the people / That don’t be the reason I be aiming this eagle, my aim’s to get equal / The first and fifteenth’s got some restraints on my people” is now more known for his fashion sense and slogans like “BAALLLIIIIN’!!!!!” and “Swag Splashin’.” “Your going to get every bit of them,” says Jim when asked which Jim Jones listeners will get on Prey IV Reign. “You may not get as much ‘Ryder Muzik’ as you want, but we got some ‘Ryder Muzik’ on there. You may not have enough ‘Swag Splashing’ but there will be some on there. It’s mixed up, I got you.” Rather than have a regular listening party for Pray IV Reign you opted to create an entire off-Broadway play, Hip Hop Monologues: Inside the Life and Mind of Jim Jones to present the music. How did that turn out? It was beautiful; it was exciting. I liked showing people that I’m vulnerable, showing people another side of me. People tend to be afraid of the music we make and the crowd we attract, but it was good. We had all types of people there, it was great to see so many people mixed up in one crowd and be classy. You know, to have people next to the danger without being in danger. Did you study or attend any plays while making it? Nah, I ain’t do all that. I’d only been to one play before that and it was one the director J Kyle Manzay did called The Actors Rap. People ask me how I pulled it off, but we’re hustlers. We do whatever we put our minds to. You also have a documentary that Dame Dash is promoting and producing for you. What is it like watching your life on film? It’s about my life, being born in the Bronx, in the working class, breaking out of poverty running through the city all crazy, and how we started Dipset. It was definitely crazy watching it at first, but it made me feel good to see what I’ve accomplished, and how much more I have to accomplish. To be here and not have to want for nothing is great. To know people have an interest to see the story of my life is crazy. Since you already know what happens in the story, was there still any room left for shock? Yes. Some of it definitely looks shocking when you are so far gone from it and you see it from the outside. But when you’re in it and you’re doing it, it’s not shocking. It’s just survival. I want people to look at this and think, “Anything is possible.” I mean that. There’s a lot of us, but only a few that have this opportunity. If I’m here and [my company is] all-black owned, I’ve got to be doing

something right. I may not be a role model, but looking in my direction, you’ve got to be looking in the right direction. Just hustle hard, get what you can when you can. Get more than what you can, I mean that. They say you don’t get what you deserve, you get what you negotiate. I hope you get more than what you negotiate. I saw a clip in there when you were in a room full of bougie white folks and they seemed to be enamored with your presence. It makes me laugh. It’s hilarious to walk into a room of people who wouldn’t [be near you] under any other circumstance or you know, might think twice about standing too close to you, but now they’re so elated to see you. These people are real far gone from where I come from. But, I’m one of those dudes. If you don’t want to meet me now, you’re gonna have to meet me later. How often do you go back to Harlem? There’s always time to go home and hang out. When it’s hot outside I go get a new car and check out the atmosphere. I’m not that far gone. I love to travel but home is home. You can never forget your home. You were still living there during the time they started gentrifying the area, and I know it probably looks different every time you go back. How do you feel about the process? It’s good to get a facelift anywhere poverty is. We deserve that. But what’s not good is that all the businesses and people with money come into the community and don’t want to give the people in the community the opportunity to get those jobs. That’s what not cool. It has pros and cons but nothing’s wrong with gentrification if it helps the economy for the people from that area. What advice do you have to the people living there facing that situation? I don’t know about advice. When you come into these communities we don’t have much to offer. It’s not like we have trust funds or silver spoons in our mouths where we can invest in the communities and build something up and make money. But I can tell you, hustle hard, take every opportunity that you can to make money and leave the hood. There’s nothing wrong with that. The object is to leave and see what else the world has to offer. Hustle hard. If you wake up everyday and try to make a dollar, I commend you for that. But you have some people who just sit on their ass and think it’s supposed to be given to them for some strange reason. Those are the people I can’t understand. With Barack Obama being elected president, what impact do you think that will have on communities like yours? I’m ecstatic to be alive to see that happen. Growing up we always said we were gonna turn the White House into the Black House. Now we get to see it. Now we have to ask ourselves, how many excuses are we gonna make as a minority? At some point we’ve all gotta get off our ass and make something happen. Do we automatically think everything is gonna be right overnight, no. But he looks smart enough to make us build bridges and not hate “the man” anymore. Being that we are in a recession, how do you feel about artists still making songs about balling out? Songs like your “Na Na Na.” I got a girl on the record going “Na Na Na,” so it’s a fun record. It makes you feel good. You need that in the midst of a recession; things that make you feel good. You can be like “I got some new shoes like ‘Na Na Na.’” I got that recession music, baby. Ain’t nothing changed.

“A newer version, a younger me / I want him to go to school, I raise him up gun free / I swear its some places I don’t want him to be / And I swear its some things that I don’t want him to see / But, little Bully, daddy loves you truly, so the nights you don’t see me know daddy’s on his duty” — Jim Jones: “Pray IV Reign”

treats their elder statesmen. They label them “old” and pass over them whenever the new flavor of the month arrives. Jim Jones has too much pride to go out like that. But leaving the rap game to enter new ones isn’t as easy as it looks. It takes maturity, prestige and ultimately an attitude adjustment.

“[My son] def makes me be initely responsible more actions in lifas far as my think about e. I try to do certain thhim when I I’m gone my m ings. When him, the num ind is on priority is tober one home to him.” get back

Your album cover for Pray IV Reign is different from your previous looks. Your face isn’t even on it. Yeah. I know people expect an artist to do the “car and jewelry” cover. To me, this one is personal. That’s my baby boy with me [on my album cover]. It’s a day in the life. We were going a picnic that day and the photographer took a beautiful picture.

How have you enjoyed fatherhood so far? Do you see a lot of yourself in your son? I love it. My son is a very smart child. I see my intelligence in him. He goes to a private school. He’s probably the only black kid in the class, not to say there’s anything wrong with that. He comes home to my moms, who is not the conventional grandmother. In school he is pretty much a nerd. It’s fun to go in there with the other parents and see how he is in the class, because at home he’s a totally different person. At home he’s a beast. I love him. How is it balancing fatherhood with your career? The balance is fucked up. It’s been cool for the last year or so because I’ve been home a lot. But when I’m on the road a lot, it’s fucked up. I would love to be next to my son more than anything in the world, but I gotta go get that money. How strong of an influence does he have on the decisions you make? It definitely makes me be more responsible as far as my actions in life. I try to think about him when I do certain things. When I’m gone my mind is on him, and the number one priority is to get back home to him. How is your dive into movies going? The only thing I’ve seen so far is some clip when they had you shirtless trying to be a sex symbol. Aw man, you saw that? I hope they burn that. (laughs) I had fun, let me stop. Acting is pretty good. I’m about to stop rapping in a minute. I’m trying to do bigger and better things, hopefully. Hopefully I can take Will Smith and Denzel’s spots because they’re getting old. Ya know, get a haircut, go to Hollywood, TA-DOW! We aren’t going to see you turn into the new LL, are we? What kind of roles would you want? No. I don’t lick my lips and I don’t take my shirt off too often. But who knows, for the right price? I might not have to cut my hair either, but if it’s a vested interest and it makes sense, hey, it’s only hair. It grows back. I don’t care if I’m an astronaut or Brad Pitt in Troy, Ferris Bueller or Forrest Gump. You say you’re moving on to bigger and better things. We’re hearing this a lot lately - rappers not wanting to rap anymore, or saying you shouldn’t be rapping after a certain age. Is there some kind of unspoken rule? Artists in other genres, for example Frankie Beverly & MAZE, still do music well into their older years. R&B is different. It’s melodic and soulful. Rap is about rebelliousness. You can’t be running around like a rebellious teenager at the age of 43. You should not aspire to want to dress like a teenager at the age of 43. Did you know Obama and Jay-Z are the same age? (laughs)

Jim Jones turns 33 this year. Jim Jones is a father. Jim Jones is a businessman. Those are three things he doesn’t hide. Jim Jones is obviously a rapper too, but in his eyes, not for long.

You really enjoy doing that. Why do you talk about dude so much? I just be having fun. We like to snap where I’m from. I didn’t say anything wrong. Did I say anything aggressive? I’ll snap on anybody. I’d snap on you if I knew how you looked.

“Rap is like high school,” he says. “You shouldn’t be in your 40’s or remotely close to your 40’s and still be doing it. It needs to stop.”

I hear you talking. I’m just playing, man.

Judging from the path Jim is on, it looks like he’s going to be following his own advice. Plays, documentaries, taking Vice-President roles at Koch Records (his second label exec job), and clothing lines. It really looks like he’s occupying his time doing everything but rapping. Can you blame him? Look at how Hip Hop

As far as rebellious nature goes, as you get older, are you trying to get away from that as well? I’m in rebellious purgatory right now, if there’s such a place. I know what I need to do, and I want to straighten up so bad, but these niggas are pissing me off. OZONE MAG // 63

I will kick one of these nigga’s asses. I’m stuck between a rock and a hard place. I’ve damn sure calmed down a little bit, for the most part. Because there are people that have stepped out of line that I just wanna, oooooh. But, that’s neither here nor there. I’m trying to give my brand a facelift. I’m trying to give my brand gentrification. (laughs) On your DVD’s or even on other people’s DVD interviews with you, you seem to run into trouble all the time. Does it feel like the police are following you? Well, I haven’t been the best student in the class. I didn’t grew up as an angel. Since I’ve gotten the notoriety we’ve gotten a little wilder. We did some things we weren’t supposed to and some people didn’t appreciate that, so they’re like, “We need to monitor his actions.” So it’s like, shit, what can I do? But what I don’t like is how they have us looking like we’re mob bosses or something. These are legitimate businesses we’re running. So for them to have a “Hip Hop police” or special force for the Hip Hop generation, it’s like, wow. They didn’t have that for the rock & roll or country [music] generation. But you know, I play the game. I’ll keep it fair. You be respectful, and I’ll be respectful. As far as conflicts and rebellion, at least you’re going up the totem pole. We used to hear about you beefing with Tony Yayo, and now we hear about you getting into it with Ne-Yo at Louie Vutton stores. Aw, that’s totally wrong. Shouts out to Ne-Yo. I never touched Ne-Yo and nothing happened. I saw Ne-Yo in the store shopping, nothing happened. Shouts out to Ne-Yo, I need you to come do a hook for me. Nothing happened. That’s as serious as I can tell you. If they got cameras you’ll see [that] nothing happened. You know how fast rumors fly. Speaking of rumors, what’s the latest with Dip Set? It’s still me, Cam, Juelz, Zeek as Dips as a whole. Me Zeek and Juelz have been doing music, holding it down. We’re about to do SS7, that’s a big bird that flies high. We gained so much notoriety that we’re able to do our own endeavors and we still have a strong brotherhood among anything else. Who knows, you may see something come back together. When’s the last time you spoke to Cam? I haven’t spoken to Cam, so I can’t tell you. At this point, are you numb to losing the relationship y’all once had? I dunno, I’m just waiting for the get back, baby. I’m immune to the bullshit. I’m a businessman, I like money. In your ascension in the rap game, have you gained or lost more friends? You lose friends and make rapports after a certain age. It’s very rare that you make friends after a certain age, but you do gain very good rapports with people. I’ve lost a lot of friends, from jealousy, some on my part, some maybe on their part. I’ve lost a lot of friends along the way. Wrapping up, I just wanted to get something cleared up. When you said T.I.’s swag was “fabricated,” you weren’t trying to diss him, were you? Everybody blows things out of proportion. That was just me doing me. Who am I to talk about somebody’s swag? We hear that you work out a lot and you seem to be pretty fit. How are you able to do that and still smoke weed all the time? I’m smoking after I work out. When I wake up, working out is the first thing I do. No weed, no nothing. Then I smoke before I go to sleep. If you smoke before you go to sleep, that’s actually working your metabolism. So that’s actually an ab workout. You can ask your doctor, but he’s not supposed to tell you that. (laughs) Don’t let too many people know that. I know, right. Niggas gonna think they can smoke their life away and get a six pack. Nah. But if you’re a person that works out and smokes, it helps your metabolism burn while you sleep. //




nited States Army Specialist David Willis couldn’t stop staring at his watch. Anxiously, he was planning an escape from captivity, but the man holding him hostage wasn’t allowing it. By the time Willis came to the harsh conclusion that an early escape just wasn’t part of the equation, there was nothing the 22-year-old could do except wait and pray for freedom. Finally, the bell rang and class was dismissed, forcing the hostile math teacher to relinquish control of his captives until the following day. Specialist Willis was left with only a few minutes to run from his on-base college Calculus class to the outdoor stadium at Camp Beuhring, Kuwait, where Mississippi rapper David Banner was set to perform. “I had to rush out of class just to get to the concert, man. By the time I got there, it was so many people, I had to stand all the way in the back to watch the show,” remembers Willis. “A lot of my family is from Jackson, Mississippi, so it kinda felt like a piece of home seeing David Banner perform.” The United Services Organization (USO) has been bringing pieces of home to soldiers living overseas since 1941, when Franklin D. Roosevelt founded the organization to “provide morale and recreation services to U.S. uniformed military personnel.” Over the years the USO has brought hundreds of celebrities and entertainers to appear in front of the troops. Everyone from Redd Foxx to Frank Sinatra, Marilyn Monroe to Jennifer Lopez, and even the Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders have performed for the military men and women. Earlier this year it was David Banner’s turn to answer the call. The performers are recruited based on requests from the soldiers, however, many of them decline due to personal or political impediments. Banner almost passed on the opportunity as well. “When the [USO] initially approached me about [performing for the troops] I was conflicted,” he admits. “I don’t agree with the war. There’s young people dying over there, and a large number of those people just thought they were going to [Iraq] for a couple weeks and then [coming] back to the crib. But I decided to go for the troops, not the government.” Two days before he boarded the 14-hour flight for Kuwait, Banner was sequestered by the Government. He was in Washington, D.C., at President Obama’s Inauguration, sitting close enough to actually see Barack without binoculars. Surrounded by a slew of the most influential people in America, Banner was certainly in his element. 48 hours later, while many of his fellow attendees were still celebrating, Banner was on his way to be with the men and women our new President is now responsible for. “I was ten rows away from Obama during the inauguration, and three days later I was in Kuwait and Iraq. In a week’s time I was a part of history twice,” marvels Banner. “Regardless of whether we recognize it or not, we are all a part of history; the question is, what role are we gonna play?” While there, Banner did much more than just perform a few songs and sign a few autographs. Throughout his stay he shed his celebrity status and interacted with the troops as if they were old college buddies.


“I really enjoyed his performance,” said US Air Force Sergeant Levona Massey, who saw Banner perform at Joint Base Balad, Iraq. “He was extremely down to earth and he connected well with the crowd. It wasn’t some over the top concert; it was more like we were just chillin’ with David Banner. “ Banner even brought his own personal camera and took over 400 pictures with the troops. “That was the best part,” says 18-year-old Private First Class Amber Melendez, who attended the performance at Iraq’s Cob Speicher Base. “When he came out into the crowd and took pictures with the soldiers, that was great. You don’t see many artists doing that.” 22-year-old Army Specialist Rejeana Dodson, who also saw Banner at Cob Speicher, adds, “I’m sure he was tired, but it meant a lot that he was willing to hang out and sign autographs and take pictures with everyone. I was a fan before, but after seeing him perform I’m more likely to seek out some of his music instead of just being a passive listener.” Not only did Banner gain new fans and take multiple memory cards full of pictures, upon returning home, he uploaded all his photos with the troops onto his Myspace page so that the soldier’s families could see images of their loved ones enjoying themselves and having a good time while at war. The majority of the nearly 200,000 troops currently serving in Iraq and Kuwait are in their 20s, which allowed Banner to connect with the crowd much more effectively than many of the other recent USO performers. “A lot of artists that go perform for the troops aren’t in our demo; they’re not in our age range,” explains Banner. “They have a lot of country and rock acts that go over to perform, but most people that are fighting this war like rap. So for me to go over there and touch their hearts like I was able to was incredible, and I honestly got into [rap] for that reason—to really touch people.” Sgt Massey confirmed Banner’s statement. “I went to the USO show because I’m a fan of rap music and it was a break from the reality of being at war. It was exactly what I needed—a break from the reality that I’m in Iraq and if some shit really pops off I might not see my family again.” “I’ve been a fan of David Banner ever since he first came out with ‘Like A Pimp,’” proclaims Specialist Willis, who is an aspiring rapper himself. “After the concert I handed him a copy of my group’s CD. That was my most memorable moment since I’ve been here, handing my group’s CD to a major artist. It’s not every day someone gets the chance to hand a mainstream artist their music, and it’s crazy because I would have never thought I would get the chance to do that anywhere, let alone here in Kuwait. David Banner coming here was a blessing.” And while Banner was a blessing to the troops, he found himself equally impacted. After an Army Commander shared a story detailing the consequences that can arise from not choosing your words wisely, the outspoken rapper pledged to be more careful. “I have a tendency of saying fucked-up shit, and just saying whatever I feel,”


Banner acknowledges. “But I grew really tight with one of Commanders over there. He told me that he promised all his troops they were gonna get home. When one of them didn’t make it, another one of his soldiers came up to him in tears, saying, ‘I thought you said everybody was gonna make it home?’ [And] that situation taught the Commander that when you’re in a position of power, people really depend on the words you say. You have to be very careful. [He shared that with me] and it made me realize that a lot of people trust what I say. I have a bigger responsibility than to just spew off at the mouth.”

awarded a Visionary Award by the National Black Caucus of the State Legislature for his work with Heal the Hood after Hurricane Katrina. In September 2007, he testified in front of Congress at a hearing about African American media stereotypes, and later that year he went door-to-door in his hometown passing out Christmas presents to the underprivileged.

Though the story resonated with the rapper, Banner still speaks his mind. He prides himself on being a voice for people who aren’t able to articulate their concerns, and even exercised this ability on stage in Iraq.

The son of the ‘Sipp has dedicated more time and personal resources to help those in need than perhaps any other rapper, yet despite his countless contributions, most of his efforts go unnoticed, much to his dismay. “I wish that we as Americans applauded positivity as much as we do negativity,” he laments.

“When I got up there on the stage I said, ‘I don’t support this war, but I support you.’ A lot of them don’t agree with the war either, but they’re soldiers, and they gotta do what they gotta do. I’m able to say things that a lot of troops want to say, but aren’t able to. I’m not in the Army.”

And it’s not that David Banner does hood deeds solely for the recognition, but it wouldn’t bother him if the drama-fueled public would at least acknowledge his acts. In fact, for his journey to Iraq and Kuwait, Banner even hired a publicist specifically to spread the story.

And though Banner isn’t in the Army, for those four days in January it certainly seemed like he was. During his stay, the producer turned rapper turned actor turned activist literally lived among the troops. He rode around in Military vehicles, flew on fighter helicopters, and even ate in the mess halls. At night, he and his crew slept mostly on Base, not in hotels.

“Everybody sells their blog sites, magazines, and radio talk shows on being negative. If somebody says some negative shit everybody will be all over that, but when I go to Iraq and do something positive, you barely hear about it,” Banner says, frustrated. “If we put more pressure on people to do positive things, or if we rewarded people for doing positive things, they would probably do more.“

Banner insists he had the time of his life. “People went out of their way to make sure I had a good time, and I was enjoying myself so much,” he confesses. “I got to drive a damn tank, I held a 50 caliber gun; I even rode on a Blackhawk [helicopter]. A Blackhawk, man! I saw a whole different side of the war.” Despite the obvious dangers a trip to a war zone may present, the former Southern University SGA President says he was never concerned about his safety. “It’s more dangerous in my city than in Iraq,” says the Jackson, Mississippi native. “The clubs that we go to are the same as being at war, so it’s just a part of our life. I think we look for reasons not to do the things we’re supposed to do.” David Banner certainly isn’t the type of person who finds reasons do avoid doing what he believes are his responsibilities. Throughout his entire career he has been a benevolent figure in the community, giving more than just turkeys on Thanksgivings and toys to tots on Christmas. In 2006, Banner was

However, he doesn’t feel it’s his duty to tell other entertainers to “Get Like Me.” He feels they should do good deeds out of desire, not forced obligation. “If helping people in need touches your spirit, do it, but I definitely don’t expect everybody to do what I do. But I will say this: there are people all over the world that need help, whether it’s in Mississippi, whether it’s in Iraq, whether it’s in Africa, or wherever, there’s always something to do.” Introspectively, Banner concludes, “I hate to say this, but at the end of the day, what in the fuck are we gonna say we did with our movement? What are we as rappers gonna say that we did with our time? Selling records and making money, all that shit’s cool, but when the smoke clears, and people look back, what can we honestly say our worth was? We as entertainers take so much from people. We take, we take, we take, but what do we give back? I want to be able to say I was a man. I want to be able to say that I affected people, and that I helped people. Maybe one person might be touched by something I do and feel inspired to push on another day. Just the possibility of that happening is a blessing.” // OZONE MAG // 67

H T I W GET O L E F H T The entire world has embraced Flo-Rida’s music; everyone except those in the realm of rap. Hip Hop loyalists say he’s become too pop, but Flo-Rida insists he’s still in touch with his R.O.O.T.S. Words by Eric Perrin Photos by Mark Mann


Flo Rida is stressed out, but he won’t admit it. He’s been on the road pretty much non-stop since his 2008 hit “Low” topped the charts on 3 different continents and countless countries (in the US, the ubiquitous hit nestled at number 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and stayed there for 10 weeks). And while his record rapidly traveled across the world, Flo Rida was moving even faster. “It’s one thing to travel nationally, but I’ve been travelling internationally,” explains the Miami rapper. “When I wake up, [people in America] might just be going to sleep or vice-versa, so it’s hard to have the same level of communication that I used to have. There’s only 24 hours in a day, and it’s more important for me to get my rest than to be worried about whether or not people back home think I’m changing just because I can’t talk to them all the time anymore.” Flo-Rida may not have changed all that much, but his life certainly has. In the last 12 months Poe Boy’s pop star has toured cities he’s never even heard of, places like Taipei City, Taiwan. “The only time I had ever heard of Taiwan was when I looked at products that said, ‘Made in Taiwan.’ I was like, ‘They listen to music over there?’” Flo remembers. “We got there and my hotel was across the street from the club. Prior to [my] show, I was getting a massage and decided to walk outside, [but] I had to go back in because the line was around the entire block.” The mayhem and feverish fans extended far beyond just Taiwan. In Malaysia, Flo was warned that he would face the death penalty for inciting the raucous crowd if he took off his shirt. Later, he caused a traffic jam in Paris when a taxi driver noticed him walking down the street and abandoned his cab in the middle of the boulevard just to run over and say, “What’s up?” The soft spoken rapper has gone club-hopping in places like Japan with Mariah Carey, Paris Hilton and Fergie, and he even opened the Canadian MTV Awards by flying onto the stage from the top of a five-story building. But today, Flo-Rida is at home in Florida - Orlando, to be exact. Although he’s still a three hour drive away from his Carol City origins, just being in his home state is good enough for him. Though his current single, “Right Round” has spent three consecutive weeks atop the Billboard charts, many of his longtime peers in the States have attempted to write him off as a substance-acking pop star, questioning his transformation as an artist. But Flo Rida doesn’t pay attention to the naysayers. He’s finally eating his cake every day, and he could care less what the haters say. The last time you to spoke to OZONE, you were telling us about the “10 Craziest Places You’ve Ever Performed.” Where have you been lately? I just went to Abuja, Nigeria for the African MTV Awards. I opened up the show, closed it, and presented an award. I hear a lot of entertainers saying women from Africa are the finest women in the world, but on the Discovery channel they don’t look that good. Honestly, how do African women compare to women in America? Aw man, [African women] really are pretty. Not all of them are, but when we did the pre-taping of the show, the dress rehearsal and stuff, there were all types of models and they were beautiful. During the show there were definitely some hot girls in the audience. Did you drink the water over there? Oh no, I didn’t drink the water. I had to get all kinds of shots before I went over there, and took all kinds of pills for stuff like malaria. We were touring for a long time; we went straight from Germany and London to Africa.

So life as a pop star is treating you good. I know that title comes along with [the music I do], but I just feel like I’m regular ol’ Tramar from the hood. In terms of my music, it’s just me doing something I love to do. When I did the song “Birthday” talking about how everybody’s gotta eat, that’s what it was at that time. Some people love it and some people don’t love it, but you’ve just gotta deal with that. I’m having great, great success with the music I’m doing now. You’ve had so much success on the billboard charts, but it seems like the more you achieve from a pop standpoint, the less respect you get from Hip Hop enthusiasts. People always ask, “How did this guy from making hood songs to making pop songs?” Does that bother you at all? Not at all, because a lot of times people who say something like that are less fortunate, or they’re just trying to come in the door themselves. There’s going to be haters and people who love you wherever you go. I just thank God that I can go back to my hood and show love, and get love back. What lane would you say your music follows, if any? I really think I’m unorthodox, truthfully. I could do any record right now, and people aren’t gonna say I sold out. My new album R.O.O.T.S., which is in stores March 31st, is definitely a well-rounded album. “Right Round,” and a few other records on the album are definitely gonna broaden my horizons and show people that I’m well-rounded. A few of my records have that “if you believe it, you can achieve it” theme. Those records are gonna make people from the hood reevaluate their thoughts if they felt I don’t have what it takes to be hood. I’m speaking from the roots: everything I’ve been through, everything I’ve accomplished, and definitely some words of encouragement to hopefully inspire someone else who doesn’t have nothing. What’s the worst part about the success you’re currently having? I can’t say there is a worst part. I wouldn’t change anything about where I’m at now, but certain situations can be difficult. Some people think you can give everybody a job, you know, family members. You’ve gotta deal with people gettin’ jealous because they feel like you’re leaving them behind. Everybody wants to know what’s going on with you at all times. What was it like watching Tom Cruise dance to your song during that scene in Tropic Thunder? That was everybody’s favorite part of the movie. Watching Tom Cruise do his thing was like, “Wow!” It just let me know that one day it will definitely be possible to do acting, because every step counts and it was a major step having a song in that movie. Who do you have featured on your new album, R.O.O.T.S.? It stands for Route Of Overcoming The Struggle. I’ve got my boy Wyclef on there, Ne-Yo, Pleasure P, Nelly Furtado, and Akon, just to name a few. Damn, that’s a wide range of artists. You’ve been able to create a formula that’s like a melting pot of different sounds. Regardless, you make hits. What’s the secret? I just work a lot. I’m in the studio all the time. If I’m not in the studio, I’m on the road, and when I’m overseas I might go in one of the bathrooms and just spit it in the air to get the acoustic sound. Really, I think people are intrigued with just having a little more of that melodic sound mixed with different flows. I’m very picky about choosing records, so instead of just me sitting back and picking the records, I consult with the entire Poe Boy family and the Atlantic family, and I take a lot of criticism. Sometimes I might spin one record nonstop for a week, maybe two weeks and no matter how mad people around me may get, I just make sure it’s the right record.

You used to be homeless, right? Actually when I was out in L.A. [I was homeless]. I took a Greyhound from Miami to L.A., like a three-day trip, with $300. I went out there thinking that I’d run into somebody, but I wound up living on the streets for a couple of days. It taught me a lot, though.

With any type of success criticism inevitably follows, but since you’ve been in the mainstream has there been anything someone said about you or your music that particularly bothered you? There’s nothing really that upset me. I just feel that in this industry you can be up and you can be down. I don’t get into nobody’s business and I don’t expect them to get in mine. I’m not here to promote anybody except myself. I don’t even get into that negativity because I feel that’s the first thing that can really stall your career, hurt it, or kill it. I’m all for positivity.

How did those few homeless nights affect your mentality towards your current triumphs? Right now it’s just like, “Wow!” I’m living a dream. I went from dealing with the trials and tribulations of not knowing where my next meal was going to come from to this. I’m blessed, and it’s just from having faith and putting God first. Now I’m blessed with a situation that can take care of [me] for the rest of [my] life. Every time I receive an award, every time I’m nominated, every time I gain a new fan, whether it be in the States or out of country, I just thank God, because I come from nothing. To have just about everything I want in my grasp is unbelievable.

Okay, but I’ve gotta ask, what are your thoughts on the whole 50/Ross beef? I know Ross, that’s my boy. I met 50; he’s cool. I think people should just continue to make hot music and put the negativity aside because you see what happened with Biggie and ‘Pac. It’s one thing when you’re exchanging words back and forth, but when there’s a funeral involved, trust me, everybody will change their mind. I recall going to a funeral the other day and regardless of the differences I had with [him], just to see one of my homeboys in a casket is an experience that makes it hard to sleep. Both Ross and 50 are hot artists and I pray that everything works out.


OJ Da Juiceman/Othaside of the Trap SO ICEY/ASYLUM Love it or hate it, OJ Da Juiceman is the underground’s reigning champ. While he isn’t saying anything new, people love the way he says it. That said, if there is one thing that can be said about OJ Da Juiceman’s “debut” album Othaside of the Trap, it’s that it is an optimistic and accurate portrayal of the lifestyle he wants to present to the people. You’re not going to hear any struggling here as OJ’s “othaside” mainly consists of the fruits of street labor. “I Be Trappin” and “I’m Gettin Money” state the obvious reasons why OJ is able to afford “Old Skool Cars” and travel the world and “kick it on resorts and islands” on “Batman.” Though backed by a backdrop of production that neither drowns or challenges him, OJ still manages to solidify himself as a personality you will remember and recognize every time you hear him. Akin to MC Eiht’s trademark “cheya,” OJ makes sure he staples his “Aye!” on the listener’s brain. Unlike his catalogue of mixtapes, though, there aren’t many tracks that make you want to listen again. Outside of “Make The Trap Say Aye,” it’s hard to find a song worth repeating. OJ is obviously saving his best product for his official debut, set to drop later this year. - Maurice G. Garland

Pastor Troy/T.R.O.Y. MADD Society/Money and the Power With countless albums in his catalog, Pastor Troy has proved that he can rap in his sleep. Unfortunately at times on T.R.O.Y., it sounds like that’s exactly what he’s doing. Sounding more like an appetizer than a full course meal, Troy goes through the motions for the first half of the album with the only highlight being his resurrection of Playa G’s classic beat from “Smoke A Sac” for “Snitch.” But towards the end he manages to open things up on songs like the Jackson 5-sampling “On The Top.” Known for wearing emotions on his sleeve, Troy exposes his vulnerable side on relationshipcentered songs like “Can’t Be Her Man” and “Textin’.” Instead of being an all-out assault, T.R.O.Y. sounds more like Troy is sharpening his sword for his next attack. - Maurice G. Garland

Project Pat/Real Recognize Real Hypnotize Minds/Asylum Hypnotize Minds artist Project Pat returns with his seventh album Real Recognize Real. Pat keeps it all the way hood with this album, but he probably wouldn’t have it any other way. “Keep It Hood” is a standout track with the street’s hottest up-and-comer OJ Da Juice hopping on. “I Be Fresh” is a perfect track to bump after leaving the mall on a Saturday afternoon. But Pat falls short on this album, as Hypnotize’s signature eerie production sounds more like a theme for a scary movies. I guess DJ Paul and Juicy J were busy trying to score more movies and handed some leftover beats off to Pat. - Jee’Van Brown

8Ball/Memphis All Stars 8 Ways Southern rap pioneer 8Ball, uses his latest project to put on for his city of Memphis, Tennessee. With features from artists like Yo Gotti, Gangsta Boo, La Chat, Skinny Pimp, MJG and many more, Memphis All Stars features some of the best rappers from Memphis to ever touch the mic. This album has a ton of standout tracks like “Gangsta Luv,”“Getting It In,”“Dollaz” and “This Ain’t,” but some cuts suffer from the sheer number of guest appearances,. A few the featured artists lack the ability to hang with Ball on a track. - Randy Roper


Lil Scrappy & G’s Up/Silence & Secrecy: Black Rag Gang Good Hands/ G$’s Up In Hip Hop, it seems that it’s a requirement for every rapper to put on his homeboys after he gets on. This Lil Scrappy release, Silence & Secrecy, is that project where Scrap looks to introduce fans to his G’s Up click, Vet and Pooh Baby. Scrappy’s two partners are decent rappers, at best, and they do a respectable job of standing out from their already established front man. Silence & Secrecy isn’t anything that you haven’t heard before, but there are a few tracks like “Cell Phone Watch,”“Damn,” and “Yummy Yum” that are worth checking out. - Randy Roper

Lord Infamous/The Clickhouse Click: Life After Sics Oarfin Distribution Life After Sics is Lord Infamous’ third album, and the second since the former Three Six Mafia member left Hypnotized Minds. On this album, Infamous teams up with Memphis rapper and Da Crime Click representer, II Tone, who appears on 8 of the album’s 16 tracks. But it’s hard to figure out what II Tone has added to the album. The album’s strongest points comes from Lord Infamous and his guest rappers’ rapid-fire rap style, but their lyrical content leaves much to be desired. In terms of quality of music, Infamous’ life with Three Six might have been a little better. - Randy Roper

Bobby Valentino/The Rebirth EMI/Blu Kolla Dreams After leaving DTP, Bobby Valentino is back in full force with a new label situation and a new album appropriately titled The Rebirth. Bobby breaks any mold that he may have cast himself in for the past few albums, flexing his vocal muscle without letting the melodies miss a note. The album is carried mostly by Bobby himself, with very few other artists stealing precious seconds of song from the crooner. The Rebirth is Bobby’s most free, explorative, and consequently, best work to date. - Rohit Loomba

Ryan Leslie/Ryan Leslie NextSelection/Casablanca/ Universal Motown A breath of fresh air is the best way to describe Ryan Leslie’s new self-titled album. The producer turned singer/rapper stands out from the average R&B singer. His self-titled debut album is driven by sensual synthesizers, giving some tracks a mellow Hip Hop aura. Just in time for Valentine’s Day Leslie’s track “Valentine” expresses his love for his significant other, even though they’re not a couple. And on “Diamond Girl” and “Addiction,” Leslie proves he can hold down a notable 16 bars. Anyone tired of whiny, string-driven R&B singers will appreciate this album. - Jee’Van Brown

DJ Infamous, Young Dro & Yung LA/Black Boy, White Boy Grand Hustle partners Young Dro and Yung LA team up to give you some of the smoothest futuristic rhymes from the South. After killing their verses on “Ain’t I” the duo keeps it coming with multiple tracks such as “Shower,”“Blessing” where Yung LA thanks the man above, and “Rats,” a blingin’ hood anthem. But some tracks may be too far out into space for the average music listener, causing the mixtape to fall short. - Jee’Van Brown

Drake/So Far Gone So Far Gone is the third official mixtape release from Canadian actor-turnedrapper/singer Drake. Whether he’s holding his own with an underground king on “Uptown” featuring Bun B, matching Lil Wayne line-for-line on records like “Successful” (which also features Trey Songz) and “Unstoppable,” or singing duets with R&B vets on tracks like “A Night Off” with Lloyd and “Bria’s Interlude,” along with Omarion, the Young Money affiliate showcases a versatility and poise that is virtually unmatched by today’s newcomers. So Far Gone is a mixtape that’s better than most albums, and instantaneously puts Drake’s name in the forefront of Rookie of the Year conversations. —Randy Roper

Don Cannon & Mack Maine/This Is Just A Mixtape Volume 1 Even with all the tremendous success Lil Wayne is experiencing right now, the general is making sure that all his troops are making big moves individually as well. Mack Maine takes up arms alongside Don Cannon for This is Just a Mixtape. Mack’s delivery is on-point throughout and a noteworthy bar or two are spread throughout the mixtape. More importantly, Mack remains consistent from start to finish, waving the Young Money flag proudly. This isn’t just a mixtape, this is a good mixtape. - Rohit Loomba

Stat Quo/QuoCity Stat Quo takes us all on a trip to QuoCity, a world filled with witty lyricism that rides waves of solid production. QuoCity may not have any of the hundreds of Dr. Dre tracks that Stat has in the vaults but this mixtape still shines. The production here will give New Yorkers, West Coasters, and Southerners all a little something to feel at home and helps Quo show off his abilities in all Hip Hop realms. All in all, QuoCity is growing quickly as the mayor pushes for even more progress. - Rohit Loomba

La the Darkman & DJ Drama/ Living Notoriously With LA the Darkman showing up on pretty much every Gangsta Grillz, you’d have to be under a mountain or two to not to have heard a LA verse. But for those few who somehow have managed to remain unexposed, there is now Living Notoriously, an LA edition of Gangsta Grillz. While LA has his shining moments on tracks like “Black James Bond,” he does little to prove why he should be called up to the album league from the mixtape league. - Rohit Loomba Tity Boi/Trap-A-Velli Despite the diamond-encrusted chain hanging around his neck, Tity Boi shows no signs of taking off anytime soon. The Tity half of Playaz Circle brings a weak offering on Trap-A-Velli, not giving much in terms of lyrics or delivery. While a few tracks may make your head bob a little, there will be many more that will mysteriously relocate your finger to the skip button. With more potential than he displays on this tape, Tity needs to bring his best on the next. - Rohit Loomba

Don Cannon & Juice/Position Of Power Arizona’s Hip Hop representative, Juice, is back at it again and this time he’s riding with none other than Don Cannon. Juice stays consistent with Position of Power, a mixtape where he lets everyone know that all is still well within the Black Wall Street family and that he’s now partnered up with Amar’e Stoudemaire. Position of Power shows that a mixtape with Juice is fully fortified with all the lyrical vitamins you need. - Rohit Loomba

Birmingham J & DJ Serious/I’m The Shit Period Some people may remember Birmingham J from his appearances in OZONE way back when, and yes, he’s is still at it. But while I’m The Shit Period has a good collection of bass-pounding production, listening to him rap over these beats is as uncomfortable as a prostate examination. Not even guest spots from T-Pain, Bobby Valentino and Attitude could save this mixtape from coaster status. But at least the beats bang. - Randy Roper

U-N-I & Mick Boogie/Before There Was Love Saying that Thurzday and Y-O, better known as U-N-I, are a breath of fresh air may be cliché, but after listening to this mixtape, there isn’t a better way to describe the Cali rap duo’s music. Along with Mick Boogie, they’ve put together a mixtape that displays their lyricism, creativity, and innovation. Before There Was Love is both a glimpse of the feel good days of Hip Hop and a New School twist. Listeners will fall in love with songs like “Cali Soul,”“Beautiful Day (Remix),”“Yesterday” and numerous others. Emcees like Talib Kweli, Rapper Big Pooh, Black Milk, Evidence, and Mickey Factz also make appearances, adding to U-N-I’s lyrical exhibition. - Randy Roper DJ Scream & Joe Gutta/Grind Hard Winner of the OZONE mixtape contest with DJ Ace, Joe Gutta excels in both delivery and presentation on Grind Hard. The project opens with an attention-grabbing anthem for money-getters everywhere on “Grind Hard.” The young Atlanta rapper continues to impress with tracks like “Stay Down,”“Let’s Go Remix,” and “Dat Bitch,” all featuring Grand Hustle’s JR Get Money. The production and lyrical content leave a little more to be desired in the variety category, but all-in-all, Grind Hard is a solid offering for diehard Southern rap fans. - Ms. Rivercity OZONE MAG // 71

Industry 101


Richardson As the Southeastern Regional Promotions Manager FOR Atlantic Records Special Ops, Yancey Richardson handles promotions in the Dirty, Dirty for Yung Joc, Plies, Diddy, Lil’ Boosie, Webbie, Gorilla Zoe, and MANY OTHERS. OZONE politicked with the marketing guru from OAKLAND, and discussed the nature of his daily operations, the pressures of the industry on his specific field and the science to getting the heat to the streets. How did you get your start in the industry? It’s actually a long story, but I am from Oakland and went to the same High School as Dewayne Wiggins from Tony Toni Tone. I linked up with him and he gave me my first internship right around the time he got Destiny’s Child signed. A few years ago I was on an Internet reality show called “The Biz,” which aired on AOL. It was a joint venture between Lyor Cohen, Kevin Liles, AOL, and Warner Music Group. Did you win? Nah, not really. I got second place on the show. Shortly after the show wrapped, I got a call from Azim Rashid inviting me to meet him in LA. I interviewed with Azim and a week later with the late Ronnie Johnson and they offered me a position working with them. Azim asked me if I’d be willing to relocate, and before my mind could tell my mouth “no,” I said “yes.” Next thing I know I was being shipped out to Miami. They gave me my first real start in the industry and have remained strong mentors in my career. What were you doing before music? I was in finance and managed two mortgage branches. Wow. That’s a big jump my, man. So which areas are under your region? Georgia, Tennessee, Alabama, and Florida. That’s a wide area. Do you only deal with Hip Hop? Not at all. I am responsible for Urban, Rhythmic and some Urban Adult Contemporary for the region. Which artists do you cover for the label? Man, I have a lot of artists but just to name a few: Diddy, Plies, Gucci Mane, Gorilla Zoe, Lil’ Boosie, Pleasure P, Webbie, and Maino.


What do your direct responsibilities with those artists involve? My job is to look at the market and find ways that the label can capitalize in my particular region. I’m not a road manager but I schedule out an artist’s day while they’re in my region. That could mean setting up radio station interviews and on-air promotions, in-store CD signings, promotional tours, blogger meet and greets, anything that keeps them visible and fresh in my area and would make radio remember them and want to play their records. I do whatever needs to be done. After being involved in a totally unrelated industry do you see much of a difference in marketing music compared to other products or services? I really don’t look at it that way. I generally break things down to the natural principle behind it. Music is no different than anything else; it’s all about supply and demand and relationships. All I have to do is give people what they want. There’s always a different way to do things in business, but when you break it down to it’s basic form, it’s simple. How much of a budget do you receive per artist? Does a more popular artist get a bigger budget than a new artist who needs that push? Great question! How do I answer this safely? Each artist is given a budget that makes sense for what they need in that particular region. Budgets are specifically designed for each artist and what they are trying to do. Good answer. Do you work more closely with the A&R, or with an artist and their management directly? Because I live in the major music hub of Atlanta, it’s a bit different for me. A lot of artists live in my region, so it’s not uncommon for the artists, their management or A&Rs, to call me directly. But I personally report to the Sr. Vice President and VP

of my division, Azim Rashid and James Brown. What is the hardest part of your job? Being treated fairly is definitely the hardest part of my job. Relationships are such a huge part of this game that even when you get in, “breaking in” is still difficult. The biggest key is allowing a relationship to grow and develop. You’ve got to have the ability to know when to back off and let a person decide if they can work with you. It’s not easy getting a fair shot with Radio Program Directors, not because they are evil but because there aren’t many open slots for new music and there is huge competition to fill those slots. Def Jam sends a box every other week with at least four new songs to be played, and that’s just [one label]. You can only imagine how many records the other labels are sending, and on top of that you’ve got independent artists trying to get time on air. It’s like playing musical chairs with forty people and four chairs. Are there any new technologies you are using to help market your artists? Yeah, I partnered with a media team called Motion Family and we’ve created a website called Theradioinc.com. I wanted to find a new way to get my message across to the radio Program Directors. I would send emails of my artist’s pictures and songs that would eventually clog up their email boxes, so I designed a way to get that information to them without being intrusive. I started sending video messages through YouTube to the PDs instead of emails and they responded well to my efforts. I try to stay innovative with the way I communicate and work. That’s genius! It’s my job to know what’s hot and get it to the people. I just consider it part of the job to be fresh. // Words by Jared Anderson Photo by Diwang Valdez

Eighty81.com & Don Cannon

1. DJ Chuck T “Down South Slangin’ 56” www.djchuckt.com 2. DJ Scream & MLK “Saks Fifth Series: Louis Vuitton Edition” www.myspace.com/4045405000 3. DJ Plus “American Express: Expensive Taste” www.myspace.com/djplusm usic 4. DJ Headbussa “Supply & Demand: Volume 10” Hosted by Project Pat www.myspace.com/djheadbussa 5. Sam King “Respect & Honor” www.myspace.com/samkingatl

6. DJ Furious Styles & DJ 2Mello “Shine R&B” Hosted by Pharrell & Rock City www.myspace.com/djfuriousstyles 7. DJ Raze One “Return of the Hustle Volume 5” Hosted by Roccett 8. DJ Drizzle & Swag Inc “Drizzle Mix Volume 14” www.myspace.com/djdrizzle 9. DJ Shure Shot “Durty South Shootout 4” Hosted by Soundchild Crew 10. Black Bill Gates “King Shit Radio 5: Valentine’s Day Massacre” www.myspace.com/theblackbillgates 11. DJ Ktone “Playa’s Glide 7” www.myspace.com/djktonedotcom 12. DJ Delz “Street Soldiers” www.myspace.com/djdelz 13. DJ Effect “Welcome Back” Hosted by MQ Beatz www.myspace.com/djeffectsc 14. DJ Scope “Street Certified 46” www.myspace.com/infrareddjscope 15. DJ Leezy “Tote Tha City 3” www.myspace.com/djleezy352

“Cool Guys Always Finish First” While we can’t cosign all the artists on this mixtape being the coolest, Cool Guys Always Finish First has a collection of dope tracks from underground favorites like Little Brother (“Let’s Get Away”), Currensy (“Rooftop”), Naledge (“Underground Kings”) and Pacific Division (“Lets Go”). This mixtape, spearheaded by Eight81.com and quarterbacked by Don Cannon, is one for all the cool kids. And if after listening to this one, if you don’t like it, you’re probably not that cool. DJs, send your mix CDs (with a cover) for consideration to: OZONE Magazine 644 Antone St. Suite 6 Atlanta, GA 30318

16. Ill Fat “Coast 2 Coast 66” Hosted by E. Ness www.coast2coastmixtapes.com 17. Legend, DJ Nice & DJ Green Lantern “Back To The Basics 2: The Resurrection” www.onsmash.com 18. Demolition Men “One West Vol. One” Hosted by Glasses Malone www.myspace.com/demolitionmenmusic 19. DJ Bobby Black & Rebel Musik “The Definition of a Rebel” www.myspace.com /djbobbyblack 20. E-Top “Get Ya Game Up 13” www.myspace.com/etopent



50 Cent Event: Bay Bay’s birthday Venue: Kokopellis City: Shreveport, LA Date: March 6th, 2009 Photo: Eric Perrin