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St. Louis, the gateway Arch city, has a storm brewing in the form of gangsta rap group The AllStars. Group members Nimmy Russel, Trust, Top Dolla, and Vic Damone have captivated their city with tales of hustling, street life, and partying. Top promoters and coCEOs Guccio and Just Black are the guiding hand behind the group and their successes. The AllStars’ album All City features names like Akon, Styles P, Bun B, Webbie, Murphy Lee, and Chingy. How did the AllStars come together? Just Black: The AllStars came together in 1999. I started this company in 1991. I was the first artist out of St. Louis to represent gangsta music independently. I didn’t really know what I was doing when I first started out, but I just did my songs and put it out. How has the music business changed from the time when you first started rapping until today? Just Black: It’s not even music right now. It’s politics. It’s all political, it’s all about the game. It’s all about who you know. It’s not really about the music like it was back then. The game has changed tremendously. Do you think the changes in the game have benefited you and the AllStars, or made it tougher for you to succeed? Just Black: Nah, it helped us. Gangsta music has never been represented in St. Louis like we’ve been doing it. It’s 390 independent record labels in my city, and I can assure you that over half of them are gangsta rap labels. But you’ve got to do it right so hundreds of thousands of people can know who you are. There aren’t a lot of people who know how to do it right. We know how to shape songs to get mainstream acceptance. Why do you think the AllStars are so popular in St. Louis? Would you credit that to Guccio and your promotional savvy? Just Black: You know, Guccio had a record label in 1993 called Good as Gold. He already had the promotional game down, and so I did I, so we really had come together even before we had the AllStars. Once we came together we developed the AllStars. It took us a while to get to this point, because we’ve been working with them for so long, teaching them different aspects of the game. We always knew they were good rappers, but we had to turn them into writers and entertainers and mold them into good artists. What was the AllStars’ first project? Just Black: We were developing the group from 1999 til 2003. we did our first project in 2002, which was a mixtape. In 2003 we put out our first album, The Movement. What does each member of the AllStars bring to the table? Just Black: Trust is the strongest player of the group. He’s got a real pimpin’, player style. He’s grassroots, straight from the street. He keeps most of his lyrics real, real basic. Playa style. Vic Damone is the real laid-back, gangsta-type playa. He keeps it real to the situation. He’s going to give you the real, straight and direct. He don’t write about nothing but facts. He spent a little time in the military. Then you’ve got Top Dolla. He’s the crunk man, he’s extra crunk. He’s the one

that keeps everybody straight and together. He’s always on time and puts forth the effort. Next, Nimmy Russel is the wild one. His whole image is just wildin’ out. He’s a battle rapper too. He brings that hardcore street sound. Are all the members of the AllStars from the same neighborhood? Just Black: Nimmy’s from the West side of St. Louis. Top Dolla and Trust are from the North side of St. Louis. Vic Damone is from Illinois, across the water, East St. Louis. Who’s featured on the All-City album? Just Black: Webbie, Bun B, Akon, Styles P, Murphy Lee, Just Black, Icon and Chingy. How did you get big-name features, being independent? Just Black: This is 2005, and we’ve been in the game since the early 90s. For over thirteen years, we’ve been building relationships. That’s how we met all these people. We didn’t have to call their agents or go through middlemen, we didn’t have to do none of that. They gave us their prices direct. Each one of these artists flew in, dropped their stuff, collected their money, and that was it. Except Styles P, cause he did his right after he got out of jail. We were actually gonna go with Jadakiss, but we felt that Styles P fit what we were doing a little more. Tell me about some of the producers who contributed tracks to the All City album. Just Black: We’ve got our own in-house producers, 1-0 Productions. We’ve got some tracks from Organized Noize but I’m not sure if they’ll e on this album. We went to the West coast and got a few tracks, but most of it is from the MidWest producers. We wanted to keep it real Southern, real home style. We decided instead of spending $30,000 on production and $10,000 on features, we’d be better served if we spent the bigger bulk on the features and the rest on production. What’s the first single? Just Black: The first single is “So Serious.” The

remix features Chingy. Speaking of Chingy, with him and Nelly having a war of words, how do you guys get along with both cliques? Just Black: They’re not really beefing. It’s just a verbal beef. It’s like, a rapper said something about another rapper, and that’s it. That isn’t street beef. It’s a DJ up here named DJ Bishop who’s a part of our house staff, and he put out this mix CD called Beef. He took some exclusives from Nelly and some exclusives from Chingy. Bishop did it so big that the rappers had to speak out about it. It got to the point that radio stations had to take two days out of the week to get Nelly and Chingy and them on the phone and sort things out. It’s not a legitimate beef, though. If it was real there would be casualties. With all the members of the group coming from different parts of the Lou, do they get along pretty well? Just Black: They get along good because Guccio and I really raised them as a group. We put them on the road and took them all over, and they just bonded with each other. Each one of them is ready to put out a solo project, but they understand how important the group is and that they need one another to be successful. What group would you compare the AllStars to, past or present? Just Black: I’d have to say N.W.A. Is there anything else you’d like to say? Just Black: Go out and pick up the All City album. Check us out on the web at www.bobqp. com. I’ve also got to mention that Bun B is our partna, for real! Look out for my solo project Grown Folks Music coming real soon, as well as a new youth rap group that we’re developing. We’re an entertainment company, first and foremost, and we’ve got a lot of big things happening. - JC (Photo: Andre B. Murray) OZONE AUGUST 2005

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Ozone Mag #37 - Aug 2005  

Ozone Mag #37 - Aug 2005

Ozone Mag #37 - Aug 2005  

Ozone Mag #37 - Aug 2005

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