You guys are on the road right?
Styles P: Yeah. Right now we're traveling from North Carolina to Va.
I was always curious about the road life. How do you guys prevent the road life from ever interferring with your family life at home?
SP: You can't ever stop the road from interfering with your family life. You have to find ways to work with it, and work around it. It's not like you could be three places at once. When you're on the road, you're on the road. When you're at home, you're at home. You gotta find a way to be on the road, and just make your presence felt at home. You have to make sure your responsibilities are handled before you get outta here (home).
What's funny is on the last Vibe Magazine, I was reading how your take pride in being a family man and caring solely about the essentials more then the glamour. Do you feel rappers today let the hype interfere with their family life?
SP: I mean I think Hip-Hop--well not Hip-Hop in general, but people get attracted to the fast life. When you have money coming in, a lot of people calling your name, and phones ringing all the time, I think people tend to forget what's going on at home. That's whether you're a rapper, ball player, or anybody.
So in terms of music, the LOX have been around since the mid 90's. Do you feel with the lack of talent in the industry that the word rap group has lost its appeal?
SP: I mean I think it does, and it doesn't. I think it does when you have people holding on to the past, but I mean today everything is so different. I mean yeah and no. You gotta remember. Hip-Hop is a culture. You have two different people in the culture. You have people who talk, breathe, eat, sleep, and shit it. Then you have people who'll do it for the swag, the parties, and to be up to date. So you know, it's a yes or no answer.
Since it has been a while since the group's last release, is that the reason you guys decided to drop the album, to remind fans of what a rap group essentially is?
SP: Yeah not only that but i think music is starting to have a void. I think even with the corporate rappers, they just kind of like to talk about what's hot instead of trying to be hot. So I think we're trying to bring that back to the table as far as L.O.X., with me, Sheek and Kiss. As far as D-Block, the next generation, we're trying to bring that fire to the table.
You know another rap group that's catching buzz in the game that has joined your label recently is Slaugtherhouse, which features, Joel Ortiz, Joe Budden, Crooked I, and Royce Da 5'9. What do you think their impact will have on the game as a group?
SP: That shit should be good. They bring a lot lyricism to the table. I'ma cop.
With you guys still being at Koch, and watching a lot of artists from major labels make the transition to Independent, how do you feel about artists making those moves this late in the game, when you guys made that leap a while ago?
SP: I mean, I think I could speak more on that on my behalf, but as far as what I think of artists trying to switch from then to now? I think they don't have the vision and understanding of what to do when to do it. Now is the time when artists who have been majors for so long that are fucked up. Sometimes you could be doing what me, and Sheek and did remain to be independent, or you could go back to a major because they know Sheek's success as an independent, and give him a nice check in advance. You know, I think it's all on how you play the game, trust the game, conserve the game, and figure out what's going on. There was a time where niggas who were on a major wasn't really popping, and shit was declining. When this shit was happening, we had the idea to go independent. It's gonna be tough for everybody to go independent since we're in a recession. Now is the time where we're either gonna stay independent where we established ourselves for our core audience or go get a big check. We could tell the companies, “Listen, you know we know what we're doing." If we put out an album with such and such artists, it's gonna sell such and such amount. From then, they're going to recoup off of us and recoup off us. It's a different pattern. That's when you have to have the wisdom to see the game through different eyes.
So with that said, do you think your next album personally should go digital since the internet is destroying sales?
SP: It depends on the time. Everything is timing. Everything is timing, and having strategic maneuvers to do what you gotta do, and when you wanna do it.
When I spoke to Jada, he accredited his recent success off the Last Kiss to perfect timing.
SP: Yeah you gotta make sure you have your good time right. If you aren't in an era where sales aren't booming out of the window, then you got a problem. It all depends on the timing if you wanna get that commercial success. If you get that, then you might achieve a certain buzz to keep your name right. You dig? If you have a song out in February that's a nice spring time song, then it's going to be irrelevant from that time to that time. So timing is everything. It's like if i haven't been out in a minute, when I come out, I'm going to attack the underground. Then, I'm going to step it up a level when I go to the mainstream level. I know once I work the underground level for a certain amount of time, I'll know the word spread. Then if you drop at the right time, you might not get a lot of sales, but you'll put yourself at the position to do a lot of shows. If you have the right song at the right time, especially with the way society is at that particular time, then you're good. Timing is important when you make a song, man. That's going to determine whether you stick around, and have the ability to perform that shit.
Before I get any deeper, to clear the confusion, I thought this album was supposedly titled Live, Suffer, and Celebrate?
SP: Nah that's gonna be just L.O.X. This one is just to show people the whole D-Block movement. This just to show how shits going to be the new L.O.X. order. They haven't seen a new L.O.X. order in a minute. So we're going to be putting this work in for this compilation, and wait till Kiss finishes his solo project. So right now, you could see we have a new L.O.X. order. You could see we have a new army. You could see how we're going to keep it moving, and keep it rolling. So L.O.X. should be out around January. My album should be out around February. With all the artists we got, we're just trying to keep this shit rolling. This a new L.O.X. order. We're just trying to get shit back to where shit needs to be.
Okay. So as for the album No Security, the first single Get My Paper has a real old school vibe behind it. Was that intentional to let the fans know that's ok to go old school in 2009?
SP: Yeah that's where we were going. You could be cool. You could be chilled out. You know everything now is just jumping around, bugging out, and shit. Sometimes you just need to cool it out, and have a little fun man. You could have fun with cooling out. You could be laid back. Nah mean?
With a lot of people being accustomed to the hard and gritty records from you guys, do you feel worried about the potential backlash you may get from fans about the record?
SP: Nah not really 'cause we cooled out, just trying to have fun. That was the whole point of it--to have fun. I mean who the hell could be rowdy, crazy, and be on some killer shit all the time? I mean sometimes you gotta have fun. That's not the first time we did that. I have the "Can't Believe It" with Akon. Sheek got the "Good Love". Jada got the "Knock Yourself Out". We had all these shit our entire careers. Shit we did songs with J-Lo, and Mariah. For us, it's we do what we do. We don't have to follow the norm. They could follow us.
So as for No Security, who can the fans expect in terms of features?
SP: Features we got Beanie Sigel, OJ Da Juiceman, DJ Webstar. As for production we got Pete Rock, Poobs.
(Styles passes phone to Sheek)
How you feel about the album coming out June 9th
Sheek Louch: I feel great, man. I feel blessed man to have these young boys out here with us like that nah mean? We gonna get to showcase all this shit we got coming man. We got that smooth joint we got up there. You know trying to get that paper. The video, I'm loving it. The video is hot to def. That's what it is man. Nah mean? Wait till you hear some of the songs on there man. We went off. We got mad shit. We got shit from everywhere. We got shit from the south.
I see that with you guys having OJ Da Juiceman on the album.
SK: Yeah Yeah. That's a good look. We in the Carolinas right now. We've been making hot records, and they're loving it. We actually did a show last night.
So while you guys are touring, do you guys have time to get in the booth and record?
SK: Yeah. Hell yeah. Always. I mean not now, while we've been on the road.
You know I just asked Styles about this, the first single “Get My Paper” has a real old school vibe behind it. Was that intentional to let the fans know that's ok to go old school in 2009?
SP: Yeah. Hell Yeah. My man overseas from Germany can sing, man, had sent the joint. It had a hot sound to it. We had our boy S.I., our artist, just come through and lace it. It's cool man, because we just talking that fly shit, and just bugging out. My man Ed Hard had came up with the idea of like, 'Let's get that whole Bad Boy "One More Chance" video vibe.' I mean especially with the weather getting nice, that's a nice thing to do.
You think the fans will be cool with you guys having a more mellow approach instead of the grittiness they all came to love?
SK: I think it's cool. I think we had the chance to do that. I don't talk all that killer shit, because we passed that. We did that drug talk in our sleep. I mean, we did that already. It ain't like we got something to prove. Like, we've been talking to women, having fun on our records, but they know our whole style.
It's crazy because it's been 11 years since you guys came out with Money, Power, Respect. How can you describe your growth from then to now with No Security.
Well, I can't really compare the two because this is us being surrounded with new talent, new thoughts, young minds. It's like a showcase LP movement that we got. We're just doing this to showcase them. The Money, Power, Respect is a whole different movement.
So are you guys in a sense trying to be role models.
I mean not necessarily role models, but we're trying to show our educate, and swag. We're just trying to show our mannerisms, like the way we do shit. It's all about just paving the way, and showing them what's what. We try to show them in the studio how hard to go, how much work you gotta put in.
So is the mindset for you guys different in contrast to 10 years ago for when you guys head into the booth?
I don't know. I mean it's still kind of the same with us because we could mash everything, and anything we get on. Whenever I get on a record now, I'm trying to kill it. I'm trying to destroy it. Back then, it was more about music. You had to be lyrical. You had to sit down and write out those lyrics. Right now it's different. You just need a hot hook, a beat, a keyboard on your voice--whatever they call that shit, and you're good to go. Nah mean?
I know Jada's not here, but I had the chance to speak to him a while back. I wanted your take on this: Do you feel people in the age group of 16-20 are deprived in a sense of music, compared to back when you were coming up?
SK: (sighs). Yeah. I don't even fuck with mixtapes right now. Mixtapes are not what it was back then. Right now, you have so much garbage out right now. People have one or two hot songs on a mixtape and the rest is trash. When we were coming up, the mixtape was like a street album. A mixtape was like a street bible with the Ron G's and the Doo-ops. Those are real mixtapes to get at. The artists really gave you a whole body of music. You had all the shit. You had the hood shit, the club shit, the girl shit. I can't blame the kids. I gotta blame some of the record labels man. These niggas just want that one ringtone hit. They don't care about the rest of your music. A lot of labels are fortunate that us artists have those ringtone records. They be like, 'I don't care about the rest of your album. The rest of your album is trash, but so what. We got this song, let's make sales off that.' It's not a body of music no more. When sales are low, and trust, I know the economy is low, but when sales are low, people get mad at you. You're not giving people nothing hot, or worth while to buy. Motherfuckers aren't gonna spend $10 on that shit man. Niggas is hearing that your all around shit is wack. Yeah they have that one song on the radio everyday but, where's all that fire at on their album?
Since you guys are veterans, do you guys ever get tired of rappers saying, “Hey, we're trying to bring New York back"?
SK: It's funny you say that, because to me, one group or one person can't do that. One person cannot bring New York back. It's just at time where it's not shining. It's like the earth. It turns, and it's shining one place while it's raining in Central Park. That's how it works. It's raining but then it's gonna come back to common grounds. It's gonna come back to the X (DMX), the 50's (Cent), and the nitty gritty. It's going keep doing it.
I always ask this to the veterans of the game, so I'm going to pose this question to you and Styles: Would you do an album in Autotune, or would you just rock skinny jeans?
SK: (Laughs) Autotune all day baby!
I asked Jada that, and said he would just go to jail.
SK: (Laughs). I didn't know that was one of my options.
I mean he ended up picking the Autotune. What would Styles do?
SK: Lemme ask him. "Yo Styles would you wear skinny jeans, or do a whole album in Autotune. Kiss said he'd go to jail." (laughs). Styles said Autotune. (laughs) But son listen, the music is the music. Skinny jeans is your manhood. You could rock skinny jeans when the cameras on to put on an act. But when the cameras off, and the guy yells cut, it's over. That's real life. (laughs)
With you guys being parents as well, do you ever get worried about how the trends might affect your kids? What do you tell your kids if they wanna wear a pair of skinny jeans?
SK: They can't do it. They can't do it. You know what, that's a blessing that I got. they're so thorough that they don't want no skinny jeans. As for as the dancing, I can't stop them. The music, I let them listen to whatever they want as far the Soulja Boys or whatever. I could let that rock. As far as me raising them as men, that's not happening.
Before I let you guys go, I'm curious as to whether you guys seen what's been going on with the Vibe tournament as far as the Best Rapper Ever is concerned. Do you feel these critics, and magazines deserve the right to rank particular rappers?
SK: Nah, I really don't. It's cool with them making the concepts up, but as far as the decisions go no. What gives these guys the credibility to say whose the hottest and whose not? Like what are they going by, the sales or the skills. Some of these people be asking me like "How do they get the right to decide?" That shit is going to be written in stone. That's bible 'cause this person said that these are the hottest rappers. Nah man, that's according to the people. Half of these motherfuckers that make these decisions, you never seen them in the hood. You never seen them nowhere. None of the clubs. None of that shit. They're just chilling behind their cubicle. They're strictly behind their cubicle. I'm not saying stuff like, "You gotta come outside", and people gotta be shooting at you. These niggas ain't never do any backspins, pop locks, or break dances. They ain't do none of that shit. I guess they're going off record sales.
I can't lie. I was pretty shocked about how high they ranked Will Smith. He was pretty high up there. They had Will Smith vs. MC Hammer.
SK: Yeah but with MC Hammer, it was all about his dancing and all that. That's just according to these guys man. Is it about how many records you sold, or are you the hottest MC? They could be going off strictly that. Will Smith is amazing man. At the time, “Parents Just Don't Understan”…man. Was it 'hood music? It probably wasn't, but he didn't claim to be a mass murderer either. It all depends what these people are judging the shit off of.
Real quick though. Lakers or Magic. Who you have taking it?
SK: You know what, man? I would love to see Howard get it. See some young new blood. Kobe is definitely working mad hard. I like dudes who be in the grind going mad hard. Kobe has mad rings but overall I would have to go with Kobe.
How 'bout Styles?
SK: Styles said he doesn't give a fuck. (laughs) I used to fuck with Phoenix but Shaq fucked my team up. Listen though, right now, I'm David Stern. I ain't got no team. I'm just David Stern. I got everybody.
Any last words man?
SK: Just really please go support the album. These guys worked really hard on it. It's good music nah mean. Please go hold that down. Good questions homie.