YV LOUISVILLE SUPERSTAR
R PROPHET // R.I.P. STATIC MAJOR JEFF JOHNSON // NOVA // CODE RED NAPPY ROOTS // CUNNINLYNGUISTS
YV // SOLO // R.I.P. STATIC MAJOR JEFF JOHNSON // NOVA // CODE RED NAPPY ROOTS // CUNNINLYNGUISTS
R PROPHET FREE AGENT
SPECIAL EDITIONS EDITOR: Jen “Ms Rivercity” McKinnon PROMOTIONS/DISTRIBUTION: Devine, Eric Perrin, Kaspa the Don, Lil D, KYMP Street Team, Malik Abdul, Strictly Streets Ozone Magazine 644 Antone St. Suite 6 Atlanta, GA 30318 Phone: 404-350-3887 Fax: 404-350-2497 Web: www.ozonemag.com COVER CREDITS: YV photo by Julia Beverly. FINE PRINT:
OZONE does not take responsibility for unsolicited materials, misinformation, typographical errors, or misprints. The views contained herein do not necessarily reflect those of the publisher or its advertisers. Ads appearing in this magazine are not an endorsement or validation by OZONE Magazine for products or services offered. All photos and illustrations are copyrighted by their respective artists. All other content is copyright 2008 OZONE Magazine, all rights reserved. No portion of this magazine may be reproduced in any way without the written consent of the publisher. Printed in the USA.
Section A 6-7 8-10 11 12 13 14-17 18-19 20-21 22 23 24-25
R.I.P. STATIC NAPPY ROOTS LOUISVILLE MAP CLUB LISTING EVENT LISTING YV COVER STORY JEFF JOHNSON NOVA SCOOTER MERC SQUAD SOLO
Section b 4 5 6-7 8-10 11 12-13 14-15 16-17 18-19 20-21 22-23
DJ Slikk DJ Thru da Roof Code Red R PROPHET DJ Kaos STUDIO Jup Father Jah D FRESH CunninLynguists BLACK-JACKK
Photo and Wardrobe by: J-Bees Clothing
PUBLISHER: Julia Beverly
Louisville, Kentucky: The Lost City
- by J. “Divine” DaInstagata Alexander Myspace.com/divinedainstagata Outtadashopent@hotmail.com You would figure that being in a central location, Louisville, KY would have access to the ins and outs of the industry, but for some unknown reason it has been off the radar. Even with the success of platinum-selling group Nappy Roots, an R&B sensation like Playa, a well-known underground crew CunninLynguists, and notable songwriter Static Major (R.I.P.), it has yet to receive the exposure that’s due. I would like to offer you this opportunity to take a walk with me and see what’s really poppin’ in the hoods of the Lost City, and see why the Ville’s “just-due” is long “over-due.” RESTAURANTS: After leaving St. Stephens Church, hit the West End of Broadway and Shawnee Park for Sunday dinners at Big Momma’s Soul Food. If that line is out the door, go to Dino’s at 26th and Broadway and wait for chicken wings. MUSIC: When supporting CDs, DVDs, mixtapes, you name it, hit up Better Days West in the Lyles Mall. That’s where you can pick up a DJ Jelly mixtape and find local Louisville artists like SOLO. Better Days has become a hub for up-coming artists to market and retail their music. It’s also a place for national recording artists to do in-store promos, signing sessions, etc. STUDIOS: When cats want that hot sound from the studio, a few spots stick out. You have the Nappy Roots owned Louisville Sound Lab, ran by engineer Joe Hopp; Head First Media with head engineer E Slick; and Mudnoc Studios via Atlanta. When artists leave “The Ville” to promote or record in the A, they’re over at Mudnoc’s. CLOTHING STORES: When it comes to exclusive urban apparel, go to Exclusive Wear. Exclusive is also a ticket outlet for concerts, and artists often stop by and pop tags. If they’re closed, Q Balls Fashions offers extended shopping hours for the convenience of late night club outfit shoppers. BARBERSHOPS: The “Official Hip Hop Barbershop” Divine C.U.T.S. is not only where you get the latest cuts and styles, but also where Hip Hop is discussed on a regular. Topics range from who’s the hottest in the game; who cuts so and so’s hair in the industry; politics; and the use of the “N-word.” Plus, it’s home base for Outta Da Shop Ent., a management/promotions company. Local artists often stop by to get cuts and drop off their CDs for customers to vibe to. It’s a very positive, stimulating, and professional atmosphere. CLUBS: Club Stages, now known as the Complex, is the “hood’s club” for real. They give promoters an opportunity to promote other parties and concerts at their venue. Yo Gotti even came through during Derby ‘07 and promoted his own birthday bash. Now how real is that? //
Guest EditorIAL OZONE |
IN MEMORY OF
ouisville, Kentucky is lavish with heavy hitters. Decades ago you could see native son Muhammad Ali delivering jabs in the ring. Every summer you can hear the distinct clink of a Louisville Slugger baseball bat upper-cutting a ball towards centerfield. And up until February 25th, 2008, Louisville native Stephen “Static Major” Garrett was in the studio creating music to hook the entire world. If you’ve listened to the radio at any time within the past ten years, you’ve surely heard the hard-knocking hits of Static Major floating through the airwaves. “Are You That Somebody,” “Try Again,” and “Rock the Boat” by Aaliyah; “Pony,” “So Anxious,” and “”Same Ol’ G” by Ginuwine; “Say My Name,” by Destiny’s Child, “Tell Me,” by Diddy, “Juicy,” and “On the Hotline,” by Pretty Ricky, “Change the Game,” by Jay-Z, “You Owe Me,” by Nas, and “Lollipop,” by Lil’ Wayne, just to name a few, were all his creations. But, the average fan of Static Major’s compositions probably doesn’t even know who Static was. They probably don’t know that Stephen Garrett was a family man who loved his wife and children infinitely more than music. They probably didn’t know that Static was a great chef who often made meatloaf, roasted potatoes, and macaroni and cheese for his out-of-town guests, or that Static was a humble man who kicked it in the hood every week and treated his $400,000 Bentley like it was a used Toyota. Nor do they know that after Static’s sister died at age 22, he adopted his niece, Lexi, who is now a sophomore at the University of Louisville. Sadly enough, they probably have no clue that he died in a hospital in Louisville, Kentucky at the young age of 33. The average fan of Static Major may not know much if anything about him, but Stephen Garrett lived a life that was truly admirable. During his 33 years on Earth, Static made an incredible impact on all those he touched. He will always be remembered as someone who made the world a better place and will be missed by anyone who ever came in contact with him or his music. Thankfully, at the time of his death Static had over 1200 songs unreleased, ensuring that the world will be blessed with many more Static Major melodies for years to come. He recently worked with artists such as Jessica Simpson, Beyonce, Janet Jackson, Bobby Valentino, Trey Songz and countless others. Less than three
weeks before his death, Static flew to Las Vegas to film a video for “Lollipop,” a single he cowrote with Lil’ Wayne. His manager Lil D proclaims, “I never saw him get excited about working with anyone the way he did when he was working with Lil Wayne. For the last two or three years that’s all he had been talking about, and he made it happen.” Not only did Static make his collaboration with Lil’ Wayne happen, but the song he helped create has proven to be a tremendous hit. Around a week after posting the song on his Myspace page, Lil’ Wayne received a million page views and rose to the #1 position on the Top Artist profile. Then on March 28th, “Lollipop” jumped 76 spots on the Billboard Hot 100 chart going from # 85 to #9. At press time “Lollipop” was #2 on the Billboard Hot 100, solidifying the song as Lil’ Wayne’s highest charting single ever as a lead artist. “I will miss Static,” says Lil Wayne. “We will all miss him. He had a promising future, and a well respected history.” In addition to his collaborative efforts with other artists, the world will also miss out on Static Major’s solo career, which was just beginning to blossom. He recently completed Suppertime, his first album on Blackground Records, and was prepping for its release. “Static’s solo career was really starting to take off,” says Jomo Hankerson, President of Blackground Records. “He was so excited about following up ‘Lollipop’ with his single, ‘I Got My.’ He was finally gonna get his shot as an artist.” Although he died in his prime, he accomplished great feats. He was persistent and he always knew what he wanted in life. “I’m so proud that he was able to accomplish music as his career,” says his mother. “Music was his lifestyle, and he lived a wonderful lifestyle.” His wife Avonti adds, “His legacy will live through his music. When I start missing him I just start playing his music, because it makes me feel close to him. I can still hear him to talk, and I can still hear his voice—-a lot of people don’t get that when they lose a loved one...
To read this article in its entirety check out the April Issue of OZONE Magazine on newsstands now.
Words: Eric Perrin OZONE |
ince their major label debut Watermelon, Chicken, and Gritz in 2002, the Nappy Roots have been concentrating on developing and maturing as artists, as well as cohesively creating a sound suitable for their comeback. B. Stille spoke with OZONE about their newest singles, plans for releasing The Humdinger, and what it means to be pioneers for the state of Kentucky. >>
What’s been going on with the group since your last release? We put out a few projects since our last national release. We sold over 500,000 copies. The main thing is, Nappy Roots is still together. We’re still making hot music. Since then, we haven’t been on the national scene but it hasn’t been a state that we haven’t hit hard. We’ve still been touring, on the road, raising our families, starting businesses, and just getting our grown man on. It’s taken a long time to get it right but right now we’re in the best possible situation an artist can be in. We’ve got the best deal in the industry. We have a label deal and we’re signing artists. We’re looking for talent and plan on being out every year from now on.
That’s been a huge part of the Nappy Roots sound. We like to take our time and we take pride in making our music. We don’t lay down no bullshit in the studio. There’s five of us [B. Stille, Big V., Fish Scales, Ron Clutch, and Skinny Deville] and it’s gotta get through us before it goes to the rest of the world. I hear a lot of people saying that now is the time for Nappy Roots’ music to come back around. We have classic Nappy Roots’ music on our album as well as new cuts. We’ve got kids so we make things for them to enjoy as well. We’re trying to reach a new and wider fanbase. That’s why you hear a difference, but the chemistry is still there; the lyrics are still conscious. Nobody can make the type of music we make.
Have you signed any talent yet? Kentucky Boy is an artist we have signed to our label under Universal. Break Bread Squad is another group we’re working on.
Do you feel that Nappy Roots are pioneers for Kentucky? Most definitely. I don’t want people to get it misconstrued or have a misconception. There has been a lot of talent coming out of the state now. Muhammad Ali was the greatest boxers of all time and he’s from Louisville. Colonel Sanders was from Kentucky and he had restaurants all over the world. Countless actors from George Clooney to Ashley Judd and talented athletes have come out of the state. As far as music, our state is mostly known for bluegrass music and country artists. We did have a major R&B group kinda peak in the industry about ten years ago by the name of Playa. I want to give a special R.I.P. to my man Static. He’s a hit-maker. As far as pioneers in Kentucky, nobody’s gonna do it like Nappy Roots. We are the first. We get our own holiday on September 16th. But don’t think that the music we make is like the music everybody in Kentucky is gonna come out with. We have a wide range of music and artists you gonna hear, from the hardcore Hip Hop crowd to the street music. But we are the pioneers in Kentucky. If somebody comes outta the state and doesn’t say that, then they’re hating.
You were saying that you’re on your way to Nashville right now. Are you on a promo tour? We’re getting it however. We’re getting money of course, but at the same time we’re getting back into grind mode like the beginning when we first started. Instead of a 15 passenger van, we got two Chevy Suburbans and we’re doing it right with a whole bunch of promotional items. We’re lacing up every gas station and restaurant that we stop at. We’re getting back with the people again; back in the good graces with folks. Talk about the singles you’ve been putting out lately. I want to give a shout out to Jonathan Payne who’s been really helpful and beneficial to us with the online presence. He keeps us on the internet with places like HipHopDX, iTunes, Myspace, and things like that. “No Static” is one of the songs that we came out with. It’s getting us back to reality rap. It’s cool to party and all of that, but you also gotta know that too much of anything makes you an addict. We took that line from Greg Nyce and turned it into a whole song. It’s the #1 rated song on HipHopDX.com. We got a record called “Fresh” and another record called “Who Got It.” We got a video on YouTube and Myspace produced by my man Drae Jackson. We shot that in Lexington. We’ve been real busy getting ready for the takeover this summer with our album The Humdinger. It seems like you’ve changed up your sound a lot. Is there a reason for that? Of course you gotta change with the times. Music has changed since the time when Nappy Roots was on top selling millions of records. 10 | OZONE
Will you be in Kentucky for the Derby? We’re gonna hit the scene hard at all the parties. I want to give the utmost respect to the mayor of Louisville Jerry Abramson and to the people of the city as well. I also want to mention I’m shooting a t.v. show to highlight local artists around Kentucky and the South. We’re trying to show the world that there’s so much talent in here. // Websites: nappyroots.com myspace.com/nappyrootsmusic Words: Ms. Rivercity Photo: Hannibal Matthews
11 | OZONE
OZONE | 11
Club Listing Louisville, KY
I Bentley’s adway ro B & th 6 2 Billy’s) (next to II Bentley’s e n a L s m ru C KY 40215 e, ll vi is u Lo ce Billy’s Pla adway ro 26th & B KY 40210 Louisville, 27 3 502-776-1 City Block ty Street er 133 W. Lib KY 40202 e, ll vi is Lou 866 502-589-3 s Club Oasi hore Ct. es k a L 6 150 KY 40223 Louisville, 75 2 .2 502.412
Fontana Club Villa h St. rt u o F 650 S. KY 40202 Louisville, 40 0 502-584-7 plex The Com . Street Rd 1801 7th KY e, Louisvill ge Felt Loun Street 427 S. 4th KY 40202 Louisville, 00 4 502-560-1 all s Music H Headliner gton Rd. in 1386 Lex KY 40206 Louisville, 88 0 502-584-8
12 | OZONE
ers Icebreak loyd & Market fF o er rn o C et Stre lle n Louisvi Downtow ’s Jim Porter gton Rd. in ex L 5 4 23 KY 40206 Louisville, ke Lanes Lucky Stri reet St th 4 S. 7 42 KY 40202 e, ll vi Louis 00 4 -1 0 502-56 Kyes I & II e, Indiana vill Jefferson r the 2nd Street ve (Right o Bridge) htclub Petrus Nig St in a M . 116 E KY 40202 Louisville, 72 7 502.583.3 Bar rs Sports Tailgate yd St. lo F 2787 S. KY 40209 Louisville, 41 2 502-637-5 Willy’s r Avenue 942 Baxte KY 40204 Louisville, 69 9 502-583-2
Thursday, May 1st Soul in the City Pre-Derby Jam @ Club Oasis with Doug E Fresh, MC Lyte, and DJ Dimepiece 1506 Lakeshore Ct., Louisville, KY 502-412-2275
Friday, May 2nd The Good Timers Presents… The 10th Annual Derby Eve Bash 10 PM – 3 AM @ Kye’s I & II (Over the bridge in Jeffersonville, IN) Derby All Star Comedy Jam Featuring Mike Epps, Lavell Crawford, & Louisville’s Own Spike Davis @ Louisville Gardens 7:30 PM KY Muzik Pool Industry Networking Mixer 7 PM – 9 PM Location: TBA (Invite only event) Lost Land Ent and JY Ent Present… Pre-Derby Jump Off Party Hosted by Buffie the Body & Rap City’s DJ Q45 9 PM – 5 AM @ Club Villa Fontana 21 and over Make It Rain Ent. Presents… Chocolate Fantasy Ent. Body Blast Gone Wild Featuring exotic dancers from NYC to ATL @ Club Icebreakers
Saturday, May 3rd Freedom Festival – Uplifting Fallen Humanity Block Party @ 28th & Broadway 12 PM – 5 PM Big Don & MJ Entertainment Present… The 8th Annual Derby Bash 10 PM – 3 AM Kye’s I & II @ Kye’s I & II (Over the bridge in Jeffersonville, IN) KYMP 2nd Quarter DJ/Muzic Conference Doors open at 1 PM – Conference 2 PM – 6 PM @ Club Oasis 1506 Lakeshore Ct, Louisville, KY
Thru Da Roof Ent. & Famous Ent. Present… Lollipop Derby College Blowout @ The Complex Bring lollipops for admission 18 to enter, 21 to drink Darrell Griffith All Star Celebrity Party @ Clarion Hotel 9700 Bluegrass Parkway (at Hurstbourne Lane) Louisville, KY
Sunday, May 4th Big Don & MJ Entertainment Present… Annual After-Derby Bash 10 PM – 3:30 AM @ Jim Porter’s Louisville, KY 2nd Annual 2008 KYMP Awards Red carpet starts at 5 PM, Awards start at 7 PM @ The Grand Theater (Right over the bridge in New Albany, IN) 502-681-4318, Kymuzicpoolmp3@gmail.com Lost Land Ent & OZONE Magazine Present… Bun B Album Release Party ft. DJ Kid Capri @ Club Villa Fontana Funkmaster Flex Car Show Featuring performances by Bun B, Mike Jones, V.I.C. River Rd @ Water Tower by Cox Park 11 AM – 6 PM Static Tribute @ City Block (Formerly O’Malley’s Corner) 133 W. Liberty St., Louisville KY
KENTUCKY DERBY WEEKEND
event listing OZONE | 13
YV LOUISVILLE, KY
14 | OZONE
riginally seeking a name as a hook writer, YV relocated to Atlanta from Louisville, Kentucky to place some of his work in the right hands. It was a move that eventually put him in front of Polow Da Don, who signed the young talent to Zone 4 (Rich Boy, Keri Hilson). Under Polow’s direction, YV was convinced to record a full song. Even though it was his first attempt at a single since moving to Atlanta, “I Gotta Dolla” turned out to be hit material and is now receiving a widespread street campaign. >>>
OZONE | 15
How long have you been with Zone 4? I’ve been with Zone 4 for a couple of months now since Polow Da Don came to me. I was doing a whole bunch of hooks. I ain’t never write no full songs. He came to me and was like, “You need to do a full song. I like your voice and your concepts.” “I Gotta Dolla” was the first song I did down here in Zaks studio. I had energy; I kept the whole room alive. I used to rap but I gave up because ain’t nobody understand where I was coming from. The way to keep myself alive in music was by doing hooks. That’s one of the main parts of a song. Have you ever written something for someone and later wished you had kept it for yourself? Plenty of times, but at the same time I look at it like, I’m YV; if you want to be greatest you have to prove to yourself that you can do it. I can do another [song]; I can give him one and make ten more for myself. That’s how I am. So have you learned anything from Polow over the past months? I learned plenty of things. Everybody knows Polow’s a genius. I learned so much from him on the business side. I learned so much on music, like how you’re supposed to put things together and making different hooks that I would have never even thought of, putting beats together. He’ll show you a little bit of everything. You produce as well, right? I do it all baby. It’s just that I don’t want to put it out there yet ‘cause I’m trying to focus on one thing. I’m an artist so I got to get all that together. I make beats; I record myself, everything. Who all have you been working with on hooks? Actually, my stuff hasn’t come out yet, but I got a couple with E-40. I just did two more for him last night but we don’t know what will happen with it yet. Lil Jon produced a couple songs for E-40 and I did a couple of hooks for them. I worked with Attitude ,who’s on Warner Brothers. I’ve done stuff with a couple of local cats in Kentucky and down here in Atlanta. “I Gotta Dolla” is a club song. Is the stuff you’re working on now pretty much the same types of songs? Yeah. Me and Polow went in on a song called “Stroke.” It’s like an up-tempo beat, like some Florida stuff. I was actually born in Tallahassee,
16 | OZONE
Florida. I was raised in Kentucky. I like to give stuff to people from both the states I’m from. Florida’s tempo is real fast. The next one we’re going with is “Stroke.” It’s like a dance record for working out. You know how you got your trainers and stuff? We got something for that. What are you expecting out of your deal? What are they talking about doing for you? Videos, getting me out there, and making me poppin’. I’m a star so they really gon’ do whatever it takes. I’m from Kentucky and I have a chance to make it big. There’s a lot of stuff on my back. I got a lot a stuff I can carry and make history. If I make it pop, that’s Kentucky. A lot of y’all are like, “Kentucky?” That’s why I’m wild; I’m crazy. I do whatever. I’ll jump on stage; I’ll flip, whatever, get all in a girl’s face. So represent for Kentucky. What’s the Derby all about? You have your separate crowds. Some of the people go to the racetrack and watch the horses and bet money. But me and my crowd go downtown, more towards the hood where it’s partying and music, shows, different artists, people that come from outta town. We go more into Broadway, the West end to the East end. It’s just crazy. We’re trying to get Polow to go down there, Greg Street, all of us. How long have you been in Atlanta? I’ve been down here for about two and half years now. You gotta love Atlanta. That’s why Atlanta has so much respect ,because artists like me can come from anywhere and they give you a chance down here. They listen before they just throw you up under the bus like, “Aw, we don’t like that.” You’re gonna have haters everywhere you go. Shouts out to B.O.B. for that one. See, my homeboy Willy Will moved to Atlanta first. That was my producer; he raised me. He got on through connecting with Atlanta people and working. He came down here and then brought me on. Actually, my cousin had a KY) went down deal with Universal(Louisville, but something to where his stuff didn’t pop. He actually had the “I Gotta Dolla” song first. They didn’t catch onto it; they ain’t like it. It isn’t bad or nothing so we took it. I went to my cousin and was like, “That song is a banger.” Polow loved the song. They came to me and was like, “Why don’t you do it?” But the song belongs to you, right, according to the paperwork and all that?
Oh yeah, we good. It’s like a beat CD. When you give somebody a song, if you don’t do any paperwork, ain’t nothing done. It’s not official. If I give somebody a song and they don’t do no paperwork or nothing, it’s not theirs yet. Have y’all started setting up performances or a promo tour yet? The next big thing we got coming up is the Derby. This is my first time going back to the city like, “It’s YV! Here I come!” I’m ready to rip it. I got a deal; we got money; we got cars; we got it all now, and we’re bringing it back to Kentucky. That’s #1 right now. Do you think it will be all love going back home, or are you expecting some haters? You gon’ have haters everywhere. But me, I overlook that ‘cause I’ma crowd pleaser. If you ain’t never seen me perform, you need to see it. I grab the females; I don’t really care about males. I like girls. They make me YV. If anybody’s not gon’ like me, if somebody got something to say, I ain’t trippin’. That makes me move. If you ain’t got no haters, you ain’t doing something right. On the topic of what motivates you, was there a specific moment that you decided to push harder? Did something happen that made you really want to get it? Yeah! That’s why I fell back on being an artist and looked into some other lanes with music. It’s like, if you’re a producer, you make beats. When you’re an artist, it’s so many things you gotta think about. You gotta think about if the crowd’s gonna like it, if I’m delivering the verse right. So I stopped doing the artist thing and ran with the hooks. I was like, I gotta get on my grind and take these hooks to somebody else that people think is hot. If T.I. need a hook, I’m thinking to myself, “What would T.I. say?” Or Jeezy, or some local people in my city, just to get my name out there. I wasn’t trying to rap and be the artist; I wasn’t trying to be in the spotlight, but I wanted my word and message to come out through somebody else. One day I got up and was like, “I need to go hard with that.” It worked out though. I got a deal now. How would you describe yourself? If you’ve ever been around me or kicked it with me, I’m crazy. You have YV, and then you have Vonn and then you have Devon. With my mama and them, I’m just crazy and wild. And to the crowd I’m crazy and wild, and to you I’m crazy
and wild. That’s it. I’m from Kentucky; we can do whatever we want because it’s open. I would like to represent that. As long as it ain’t no gay shit, we with it. If it ain’t gay, hey, we rollin’. Being so young and having such a big opportunity given to you must feel good. It’s really a blessing. I done had so much money at this age before I even got on. Dealing with Atlanta and music, it’s a lot of money here if you’re staying on your job and you’re really good at it. I’ve been blessed with money, being around Polow and Zone 4. A lot of people in Kentucky would love to be in my position right now. Do you believe in karma? Like, you’ve lived your life right so now you’re being repaid for that? It’s about how I treat people. I got a couple of homies I done looked out for over the last couple of years, and family members. I try to do a nice deed every day for somebody. I don’t pray everyday, but I try to. When it comes down to it, I know I need to thank the Lord for this. I feel like when stuff like this comes around, with me getting a deal and money and having a hot single in the streets, it’s like hey, I did something good and it might have come back around. What else should people know about you? You gotta come see me perform. If you see me perform, you’ll look more into my music. That’s how I got Polow. He looked at me as was like, “You’re a star.” And to keep it real, he looked at me more than he looked at the music. It’s because of the way I talk, the way I walk, the way I act. My style is wild. I want to give a shout out to Louisville, KY, Atlanta, GA, Tallahassee, FL, Zone 4, Polow Da Don, and all my homies. R.I.P. Static Major. He was one of our leaders in Kentucky. He was a close friend to me. He was a special person. Even though he passed away, he’s still the man. He gave Lil Wayne a banger before he left the earth. R.I.P. to my homie Do It All; he was real close to me too. I got a lot of stuff to carry on my back. I’m the voice of Kentucky; I’m the Louisville Lip; it’s time to move. It’s a lot of people went up and we thought Kentucky was gonna blow and it just disappeared because some people just don’t got the work ethic. // Website: Myspace.com/yvigottadolla Words by Ms. Rivercity // Photo by Julia Beverly
OZONE | 17
JE F F JOHNSON PADUCAH, KY
18 | OZONE
eff Johnson is not your conventional rapper. The Southpaw Outlaw stands out amongst his peers both lyrically and personally. Even if you didn’t know him two years ago, chances are you’re aware of the buzz JJ and his street team have created over the last several months. I see you put a new song on Myspace. When did you drop “Big Time”? Yeah, this is a new song that Tony Neal cosigns and it just got picked up on 16 stations. Tony Neal’s my muthafuckin’ ace and this is the #1 record in the country. Who produced it? A local producer in Kentucky named Ghost. You were telling me that you live in Orlando now. What are some of the differences between your hometown and Orlando? The clubs are prone to playing Reggaeton. In the same club you’ll hear Young Jeezy and Reggaeton, and that’s a culture shock to me from being in Kentucky. I’m used to hearing all slow records or hood records together. Down here fast records seem to get a reaction in the club. It’s definitely a different environment in the club atmosphere. Do you think that sound will influence your music? No, the move hasn’t influenced any of my records. My influences go back to the 90’s and early 2000’s. I haven’t been influenced by any new music in a long time. You’re using a lot of mixtapes to promote yourself. How many have you done lately? We’ve got six mixtapes. We’ve got mixtapes with DJ DCeezy. My mixtape series is The Name You Know. We’re on Volume 3 and working on Volume 4 which will be the prequel to the retail album. We got the At the Crib Outlaw Edition with DJ Slikk. We got Gone Off That Shit with DJ Showtime, which y’all [at OZONE] were kind enough to put in your mixtape vending machine. We got Late Night: Two Turn Tables and One Mic mixtapes with DJ Tito. He’s always been a big cosigner of me in New York City. It’s been a good look to fuck with Tito and all the DJs that have cosigned me, the KYMP Kamp DJs. I got more mixtapes than that out but they’re in different regions that I don’t even know about. When are you planning to release the album? I couldn’t be more fucking excited about the album. It’s gonna be the biggest record since Thriller. We got production from DJ Montay, and Los Vegas, who did shit for Rick Ross’ Trilla.
We got Joe Traxx who works with UGK. It’s absolutely the best album that’s been out. The release date will depend on what the record “Big Time” does and this other single “Do It Big.” We’ll see how it goes. Hopefully we’ll have it out before the end of ’08. You have a crazy amount of energy. Have you always been that crunk? It’s easy for me to be excited about something I’m passionate about. If you’re asking me about how did your science fair project go, I’m probably going to lose a lot of the energy, but if you ask me about my records I can definitely pump you right up. How are you able to grind it out independent? God’s blessed me. I put all my faith in Jesus. I’ve had a great team of people who’ve helped me get to this position. Last year the folks at OZONE didn’t even know me, so this just shows what a true testament God has been to my life. If God’s on my side, I feel like saying fuck poor selling records ‘cause that’s not the category I’m gonna be in. My label FSH Records is 100% behind me and God is on my side so don’t be surprised if this is like a Kanye West album where we have six singles. That’s the type of album we’re putting together. If you think my mixtapes are what it do, wait for the album. Do you pull more females now that you’re rapper? I’ve been doing shows in Indiana, Kentucky, and Tennesee for years now. The first Name You Know came out in January 2007 and I’ve been doing shows every weekend until I moved to Orlando and was commuting between Orlando and L.A. The people that hit me up the most are rappers, folks [who are] like, “Put me on a song,” or, “Sign me.” It gets old really quick. The females are always a plus though. The rappers will stalk you in the mall and shit. You don’t really look like the typical rapper. Do people tell you that a lot? I may not be the typical rapper. My content isn’t typical. I don’t have any drug slangin’ or pistol totin’ in my records either. It is what it is. It gets attention and we’ll take whatever we get and run with it. What are your plans for the Derby? I may be in L.A. We’ll definitely have a street team out there. DJ DCeezy and DJ Slikk will definitely hold me down for Derby. Website: myspace.com/thesouthpawoutlaw Words by Ms. Rivercity // Photo by Eric Williams OZONE | 19
A V NO Y K , E L L I LOUISV
20 | OZONE
breath of fresh air in the Kentucky Hip Hop community, Nova hopes to appeal to the regular person, as opposed to representing the typical gangster images prevalent in the game today. His mixtape The Lou-Breze, hosted by DJs EFeezy and Khaled, is gaining Nova one fan as a time as it continues circulating in the city. Introduce yourself and talk about what you represent. I’m Nova, a.k.a. Kasanova. That’s what my name stands for. I definitely don’t try to represent what I’m not. I’m 100% myself and I’ll always be myself. I love to do the music. Now people are catching on to what I do. That’s a blessing to me. The way I got the name was my auntie used to call me Lil Cassanova when I was younger. I don’t know why. I took the name and changed the spelling around. I did some research on the real Cassanova and he ain’t never tried to find his true love, but I know what my true love is; I love to do music. That’s how I incorporate all that together. What are some good phrases to describe you as an artist, producer, and as a person in general? I’m laidback, cool, different. I always try to take a chance. I’m always willing to try something new. Everyone usually says the same ol’ thing and you usually hear the usual things, like I’m the hottest and all that. I really don’t think I’m the hottest around. I just love to do it. I believe I can take it to a lot of people. My main thing is just being different, especially living in Kentucky. When people think of Kentucky the first thing you hear is “country bumpkin.” A lot of us ain’t really grow up like that. I know I didn’t. Since you don’t look at yourself as the hottest around, would you say there are some areas you’re trying to improve on? The main thing is that I want to make history and leave a mark and have a following. It could be 100,000; it could be 300,000; it could be a million. Another thing that I do represent is the regular person. A lot of people we hear coming out now, well, everybody’s a d-boy or everybody’s a gangster, and a lot of people didn’t grow up that way. Some people grew up wanting to go to school and it just didn’t work out. That’s what happened to me. I did want to go to school and progress. I actually wanted to be a lawyer and a computer programmer, but I just
had a love for doing music. I wanted to show people that you don’t have to be a gangster; you don’t have to talk about slangin’ drugs; you don’t have to be the biggest baller. You can just make great music, be yourself, and still be successful. When I’m tried by people, I will let niggas know I’m in my own world and if you cross over in this lane, I’ma have to scoot you back into your own lane. If you try me lyrically, I will bust your ass. But that’s not really my main focus. I want to make good music that’s gonna last and make music that people can relate to or make people think out of the box. Does your city support local artists or the music you’re making? It’s like a gift and a curse. A lot of people from Kentucky, especially in Louisville, are just now getting around to supporting it. In Louisville, if you’re not on the radio or if you’re not nationally known, sometimes they don’t care. Louisville is a tough crowd, but at the same time it does have a lot of talent. It’s just now getting to the point where people like Simms, Keys, and Hurricane are getting noticed for what they do. It’s taken a long while for people to realize what people can do. It’s a slow process but it’s coming together. Would you like to speak about Static Major and the influence he’s had on your state and Hip Hop as a whole? R.I.P. to Static Major. A lot of people that was close to him and people that grew up with him definitely showed him love. The city definitely showed him love and is paying homage. Not that many people know he’s from here and he’s worked with Pretty Ricky; he did the hook for Jay-Z. He’s definitely getting a whole lot more love since people have seen him in that “Lollipop” video. What do you have in the works for your music? Will you be doing anything for the Derby? I’m still pushing my mixtape The Lou-Breze Volume 1 hosted by E-Feezy and DJ Khaled. It’s a breath of fresh air. We’ll most likely be at The Leak’s party, performing and doing what I do. I’ll be performing at the KYMP Kamp Awards too. That’s on Sunday. // Website: myspace.com/mrnova749 Words by Ms. Rivercity // Photo by Leon Lewis
OZONE | 21
SCOOTER MADISONVILLE, KY Scooter is an upcoming KY emcee armed with a formal education in the radio biz. Inspired by the grind of Jay-Z and Master P, Scooter is using his insider knowledge to get a foothold in the independent label game. What sets you apart from other rappers? I’m not afraid to be myself. I just do me. I don’t try to be something that I’m not. I don’t put up no front for nobody. I’m not a gangster. I’m showing people it’s cool to be who you are. Do you think Kentucky has a particular style when it comes to Hip Hop? I think Kentucky’s got a variety of styles. We got different swags. People do their thing in different ways and put their own spice in the game to make Kentucky stand out. What songs do you have out? I just dropped my street single called “On My Grind.” I’m out promoting that real heavy right now. A couple of mixtape DJs got it right now. I’m promoting the street single for it to lead up to my radio single for the album. I opened up for Kia Shine. I’m doing small venues at different clubs in the tri-state area of Kentucky and across the bridge in southern Indiana. Tell me about your indie label. I’m doing my thing. I got my indie label, Dope Boy Fresh Entertainment, that I’m trying to get off the ground. I have a couple artists that I work with. My manager is Kevin Waters from H2O Entertainment. What are you working on in order to get the attention of major labels? I’m really not looking for a major label deal right now. I’m being patient and trying to set my mark out there and get my target audience. I’m doing it myself so the labels can see what I’m doing to promote myself; I got my own street team. I’m doing shows, passing out flyers, putting out posters, contacting DJs ourself. Are there any independent labels you’re trying to model yours after? What really influenced me was the whole grind of Jay-Z and Dame Dash before Jay even really got it poppin’, when they were going to labels and people weren’t hearing them out so they decided to do it themselves. I like how they grind in Houston, going out and bangin’ CDs out 22 | OZONE
they trunk. I really look up to Master P and the No Limit Camp, how they was going to different hoods and bangin’ CDs to get their name known. Have you ever wanted to quit music, and if so, how did you overcome it? Everybody doubts themselves. I’m my worst critic. It’s been times where I wanted to give up and quit, but whatever don’t kill you makes you stronger. When people tell me I can’t do it, I use that to power my dreams. I do not want to live a life of regrets and “what ifs.” My inspiration is my mother, Rocelia Owens. She showed me that you get out what you put in. If you put 110% in, you’ll get 110% out if you keep faith and believe in the man above. You went to college for radio broadcasting, right? How has your education helped you? It helped me get in contact with some DJs and some radio stations. Did it teach you how radio actually works at all? Or give you some insider knowledge? It taught me that music is a real business. People think that radio is all about playing music. Radio is all about commercials and selling ads. Radio is a business. You gotta promote your radio station for people to listen. That’s what I got out of it. Radio stations gotta sell ads to get their money. With music, you gotta sell yourself for people to have faith and buy your product. Anything else you want to plug? The radio single will be coming soon. Check out the street single “On My Grind.” I want to shout out H20 Entertainment and Vez Ent., my producer Q da Gamer. R.I.P. Static Major – he will be missed. And R.I.P. to my father James Owens. // Website: Myspace.com/dopeboyfreshent Words: Ms. Rivercity Photo: Chase Hollie
MERC SQUAD LOUISVILLE, KY Originally comprised of the three core members, Creeze, Eddie Roe, and Tat, the Merc Squad inducted Cutty Bang into the group and the quartet was complete. Their singles “Turn U Out” featuring TQ and “Rock It” are keeping the momentum going for their newest mixtape release, Grand Entrance Volume 4. What’s the history behind the group? Cutty: They’ve been around for years. I recently got with them. They already had stuff going on and we’re all family. I got my own group called M.O.B. but they had some things going on, situations where they was getting locked up, and it slowed up the process. I seen that Merc Squad was serious about the music so we linked up and started doing songs together. Tat: Merc Squad was originally supposed to a power house group like Wu-Tang. It was a lot more [members] than us three but we’re the only ones that stayed on our grind. The original members are Creeze, who’s like our C.E.O.; then you got me, the music/Hip Hop guy. Most of our music is me and Creeze with our creative minds tuned together, banging out ideas in the studio. Eddie Roe was under our tutelage from day one. He’s the young, aggressive, passionate person like Tupac. Cutty Bang was the fourth member. He’s like the young, up-and-coming southern guy that everyone is going to relate to and love his voice. It was like with Lil Wayne, how you was paying attention to him but you wasn’t really paying attention to him at first. He’s like the Cash Money piece that everybody is gonna see in the future and it’s just gonna hit you. I hear the Louisville remix you guys did of “Independent” is getting radio play. Creeze: We did the remix and spelled out Louisville. We recorded it at DJ Drizzle’s studio in Cincinnati and when we got back to town I gave it to DJ Q at 96.5. He got with DJ E Feezy and they both started spinning it during their shows. It’s been generating a buzz. We’re getting a lot of calls and hits on Myspace. So the new mixtape is out. How did you hook up with Mick Boogie for the hosting? Creeze: Ant Wright from SWAG, Inc. turned us on to Mick Boogie. Mick Boogie listened to the music and was digging it. It took off from there. Judy from Judy Jones Entertainment introduced me to SWAG and we’ve been doing business for about a year. She was one of my mentors. She
taught me about music, kept me in a straight line and kinda put me in this position I’m in now. Lil D is also one of the main people who made all this possible for me. Cutty: We got TQ on the mixtape, Slim Thug, G Mack. I think it’s gonna do real good ‘cause we put our time and craft into it. Tat: You need to check for our original songs like “Rock It.” That’s gonna be a big one for y’all. Of course we have “Turn U Out” featuring TQ. It’s a couple of other songs on their like the song “We Rollin” with Stat Quo. Will you guys be out promoting the mixtape during the Derby? Cutty: We’ll be out there with t-shirts and CDs. We do all the promotions ourselves. When Volume 3 came out we went all across the country and promoted in California, Phoenix, Vegas. Eddie Roe: We got a few shows lined up for Derby; I’m not exactly sure where they’re at right now, though. We’ve done shows all over. Tat: We’re always on the road. We took it back to the old school way, getting ourselves in the van, on a plane, whatever it takes and hitting up all major cities, giving out mixtapes and flyers. We try to knock out as many shows as we can from West Virginia to L.A. to Texas, wherever we can find people willing to listen. Of course it’s the digital age and you gotta stay on the net. At almost every conference if we’re not all there, you’ll see a representative of Merc Squad. We’re networking and making sure we’re the next big thing that people are paying attention to. // Website: Myspace.com/MercSquad Words: Ms. Rivercity OZONE | 23
SOLO LOUISVILLE, KY 24 | OZONE
ccording to his manager, Solo is one of the youngest and consistent out of a long line of Kentucky emcees. At 20 years old, Solo has already learned to produce, engineer, write, record, and perform. He also has a hit song in rotation on Louisville’s B96.5 and he’s anxiously awaiting his chance to shine so he can show the world what a “character” he is. What’s up with the song you have on the radio? Give some details on that. It’s called “Everybody Say EEEH.” It’s a catchy little song. It’s in the local clubs here and it just got broken on the radio station here B96.5, and 98.9, 92.7, and there’s another one. We’re just working the record and hoping people respect good music and play it. If not, I have more records. I’m in the studio everyday. How did the song end up on radio? Did you hire someone to promote it or did it happen on its own? My manager Divine got all that taken care of. We just waited our turn and they played it. People called and requested it and they finally broke it. That’s as far as I can explain it. Are you from Louisville originally? I was born in Chicago. I’ve been living in Louisville for about 8 or 9 years. I can say I was raised here. I’ve been through a lot here. I’m from Louisville via Chicago. You mentioned having other songs just in case this one doesn’t take off. Do you have a whole project’s worth of songs? I make so much music. I be in a jam trying to figure out what I want to do. I’m a producer, an engineer, a rapper, and I have my own studio. I’m constantly creating. I ain’t even thinking about the songs I make; I’m just creating music. I’m back at the point where it’s for the love now. I’m hoping to eventually get placements on my production. I was working with Static Major a lot before he passed. A lot of people have been asking me for music so I’m planning on bringing out a small underground CD. I got so much music I could go on my computer and burn five different albums. I’m really waiting on some publishing and distribution but I still got to please the people that do like me and want to hear me in the streets. I’ma have an underground street album with about 14 or 15 songs, no DJs or none of that. Have you thought of a name for it yet? I’m just so innovative I think of something everyday. The name I really want to call it is Rare Form. That’s what I’m shooting for ‘cause I’m in
such a rare form right now with my music. That’s how I feel. I done dropped street CDs by myself in the past that did thousands of units just here locally. I’ve produced a lot of tracks for people. I love being in the studio so that drives me to work on my CD. Do you think you fit in with the current sound of rap music today? I always strive to make different types of music. It’s more hunger when I make my music. This is what I do everyday, all day, from 10 a.m. to 6 a.m. When you see these other people in Hip Hop, they already got money in the game. They’re just doing it to stay afloat; I’m doing this to make a way out. It’s like a stepping stone. When I make music, it’s put together real well. A lot of people just throw anything together and push it. That’s not me. I really premeditate how I want it to sound, how I want it mixed, how I want it produced. The music is thought provoking; it’s conscious with a cutting edge. I don’t hear that much right now. That’s a pretty a thoughtful description of your music. I’m talking about real life. I’m young; I’m 20 years old. I got a lot of girlfriends; I got baby mamas and stuff goes down. Of course that’s going to be in my music somewhere along the line. I just be focused on making big records. Well since you brought it up I have to ask, how many baby mamas do you have? Just one. One is enough, huh? That’s enough! That’s stressful enough. Before we go is there anything… Aren’t there anymore questions? That wasn’t many questions. I like doing stuff like this. I’m a real character. I think once I get in the game I’m gonna stand out ‘cause of my whole personality. I’ve always been different since I was a kid. I’ma swagg doctor! That’s what they call me. I can help other people with they swagger, whether it’s music or anything. What else should people know about Kentucky’s Swag Doctor? I’m the last guy to work with Static Major. I think when times goes on and I eventually blow, you gonna remember me. Remember you did an interview with me ‘cause I’m about to be real big in the future. // Website: myspace.com/soloky Words: Ms. Rivercity OZONE | 25
DJ Slikk, otherwise known as “The Mixtape Ironman,” is President of the KYMP Kamp DJs and known around town for his work with local artists. His mixtape series At The Crib is going on its 18th volume and features some of the hottest talent from in and outside of the Ville.
The market in Louisville is kinda funny. It’s not too many DJs that have steady one spot gigs. They follow the promoters. I do all of the gigs for C.P.K. – College Party Kings. And I do a lot of gigs outside of Louisville, like in Bowling Green, Paducah, and Mayfield.
How long have you been with the KYMP Kamp DJs? For two years now. We’re like a brotherhood. We’re a crew of people that have common goals. We push each other. Once you surround yourself with people that are trying to reach their goals, it’s easier to obtain. We’re trying to break music in Kentucky and let people know that Kentucky is a force to be reckoned with and we are a good music market. Our goal is to break to Kentucky artists.
Who are some artists in Kentucky that do well on your mixtapes? Jeff Johnson is real big on the mixtapes. Every time I do one he does a freestyle for me. Monoply Wylekatz do real good. I just did a mixtape with a cat named Delivery. His mixtape is moving pretty good on the internet. It’s a lot of cats like Hurricane, G Mack, a lot of cats that make moves in other places. I hit a lot of smaller areas. It means a lot to them to see those people on my mixtapes. A lot of times people skip those smaller cities. I live in Louisville but I’m from Mayfield, Kentucky and it’s a small market that people skip over. If you ask G Mack about Paducah, Mayfield, or Bowling Green, when he comes to town he’s like a super star. They appreciate somebody in Kentucky coming out with solid music and then fooling with me. If they got hot music, give it to me and I’m gonna put it out there. //
What events will you guys be presenting during the Derby? We have our industry mixer on Friday. Saturday we have our quarterly conference. The awards show is on Sunday. I hear you have some pretty catchy intros on your mixtapes. I came up with an idea to be a little different ‘cause none of the cats in Kentucky were really doing intros on their mixtapes. I did my first one last Derby and used a sample of all the Kentucky artists. I figured it would be something different for Derby. I tried to bring out some of the hot lines from Kentucky and it took off from there. That spread around and from then on I used themes. One of my intros I used things with people talking about money. Another one I used all Pimp C songs. Whatever’s in my head at the time I take that concept and run with the theme. I use lines that stick out to people that they remember. I also showcase my scratching skills and try to be more creative than just doing a regular mixtape. What tapes will you have out during the Derby? I’ll be on At the Crib 18 for the Derby. I did Volume 16 with Gorilla Zoe and Volume 17 with Roccett, the west coast cat that’s signed to CTE. I’m out here in L.A. promoting that. Do you spin at any clubs as well?
Website: myspace.com/djslikkrick Words: Ms. Rivercity
DJ Kaos is somewhat of a nomadic DJ. Originally from New York, Kaos moved to Detroit and several other locations trying to find his niche before settling in Kentucky. Now that he’s been made an official DJ for Slick Rick, Kaos rarely finds himself at home, except when it’s Derby time. Tell me a little bit about your history as a DJ. I’ve been DJing for about 17 years. I’m 34 years old. I started out DJing for free. My first paying gig was at a club when I was 15. I wasn’t even old enough to be in the club. I moved to Detroit and DJed at a couple skating rinks there. I ran into Kid Capri and a whole bunch of other cats. Here recently I’ve been doing a lot of parties with Biz Markie. My blessing in DJing at the present moment is being Slick Rick’s DJ, which has turned into Road Manager, and a booking agency, and I’m doing a lot of artist relations things right now. Do you have any favorite moments from DJing with Slick Rick? Being on tour and doing shows with Big Daddy Kane, filling in for Dana Dane’s DJ, working with Chubb Rock, MC Lyte, Doug E. Fresh. There’s times when we all do shows together. Those are the best. When I do shows with Slick Rick by himself, I actually fill in for Doug E. and play the beat box for “La Di Da Di.” That’s a real big moment for me.
In your opinion as a DJ, has Hip Hop progressed for the better or worse? Why? I think it’s progressed for the better. Originally it started off to give people a way to release whatever they were thinking about, and now it’s become a way you can provide for your family. To see where it’s come from is really good. I like the progress of it, however I think respect is missing in the whole art form of Hip Hop. People say keep it real, keep it real, but they have no history of what they’re doing and what it came from. You have people that don’t have respect for the culture itself. I love what it’s doing but as a whole, people need to learn their history. It’s like how some people don’t know the basics of Martin Luther King and Malcolm X, or the LL Cool Js and Slick Ricks and Run DMCs. People need to learn the culture and also advance the culture. A lot of the youth looks up to rappers right now. We need to teach more and Hip Hop needs to be more responsible. Who are some artists in Kentucky that have the potential to go nationwide? I hate to say names ‘cause you always leave out names and they get mad at you. In order to get what you think you should, sometimes you got to leave the nests. We have a gang of artists like Hurricane, Nova, B Simm, G. Fresh; Solo is a real hot young cat; Native should have been multi-platinum; it’s so many people. A lot of people didn’t understand how big Static Major was until he passed. He inspired me to leave Kentucky. His whole thing was you have to branch out. We have a lot of talent in Kentucky. Muhammad Ali is from Louisville, however if he’d stayed in Kentucky, nobody would have ever heard of him. Where will you be during the Derby? Me and a cat named Reggie do an all white celebrity party every year. Last year we had Jordan and Gabrielle Union come through. This year I’m going to have Dana Dane host and Slick Rick come do a small performance along with some other old school Hip Hop and R&B cats. // Website: Myspace.com/kydjkaos Words: Ms. Rivercity Photo: Phat Fotos
or their sophomore album Jr. Dread, El One, and Manfred have decided to go back to the grassroots tactics that got them a distribution deal with Universal. Prior to Derby weekend, El One spoke to us about their new production team, finding a niche in sports theme music, and what the group needs to go from Patiently Waiting to nationally known.
What’s going on with your music at the moment? We’re in the final stages of [recording] our sophomore album Commercial Break with Label X/Toucan Cove. We’re doing post production and hope to get into the mixing and mastering sometime in the middle of May. We were hoping to get all this done by the end of last year. We’re working with a new production team which is DJ K-Dogg and Scott “SC” Crum. When we first went in the studio we had one type of sound and then as it evolved we saw where this whole thing could go. In the middle of last year we created a whole new batch of songs and took it in the direction where it’s going now. I hate to set deadlines on it, but it’s in the finishing stages. Why do you think your music is so diverse? It comes from the background that each one of us in the group has. We’re different ages; there’s different nationalities; we’re from different parts of the country. When we first came together, we came from that whole underground movement of ciphers and emceeing. We all had this eclectic, diverse musical taste and when we came together we brought out all of our backgrounds to the table and moshed it up. Unlike some other groups that get in the studio and have one dominating force that drives the direction, we actually all have equal input. On each song you’ll get a little bit of Jr. Dread, El One, Manfred, and then you got the producers that solidify the whole vision. We try to make it as organic as possible and go back and listen to a song and refine it. And hopefully when it comes out it’s all Code Red. Who decides what songs get pushed and released on the album? On the first album, probably to a fault, it was mostly us. Even though we had major distribution, our label gave us a lot of leeway creatively as far as A&Ring the album. We did have input from a radio station, but if we put up a fight they let us have the winning hand. On the second album, I think the label is going to have a bigger hand in A&Ring and song selection and what goes to radio. Because we had such an eclectic mix of songs on the album, I think we kinda messed up the whole marketing scheme. It was hard to place us. Now they’ve seen what people are gravitating towards and it helps guide us along this time. What are some of the marketing techniques you’re planning to use on the second album? We’re taking a couple of steps back to take many steps forward. We’re starting all over again to rebuild our grassroots campaign. We did a lot of college tours last year and now we’re going to hit a lot more intimate setting
venues. We want to get more in people’s faces and utilize the web super heavy. We also have a lot of established relationships in the corporate world. We did a lot of stuff with ESPN and we have a really good publicist that’s gotten us placement on TV shows. We’re gonna try to carve a niche in that area – pop up on TV programs, get on some soundtracks, hit the web, tour as much as possible. It seems like Code Red would do well overseas. Do you have a fan base in other countries? Our label head at Label X flew over to Germany to talk about getting overseas placement. The deal didn’t go through but that’s something we’re very interested in. We also just got signed into the U.S.O. program for the armed forces. We’re looking to do a tour overseas this year for the troops. Dread and I are veterans so it would make sense for us to do that. What is the missing piece that would get you to that next level? We sat back and evaluated what was the missing link, like we did this and that so why is it not connecting? That’s when we decided to go back to what we were doing in ’98. We’re not going to turn down offers for shows. We’re traveling as much as possible. If the label doesn’t provide tour support, we’re going to try to do it ourselves. We’re going to get in front of people because our live show is a strong thing for us. When we found out Universal was putting the first album out, we thought they would do a lot of stuff. It’s not that easy and we shoulda kept grinding. Now we got to reestablish the name and let people know we can take it to the pop charts, to the underground, to the streets. We’re not gonna be too good to show up to your spot or collaborate with people. Will you guys be anywhere during the Derby? There’s a teenage event we did last year called Illumination Derby Ball on Oaks Night. We might do that again on Friday. On Saturday we’ll just be kicking it with the rest of the people. What else do you have going on? We found a niche in the sports market. We do stuff for NFL teams and MLB. Chicago Bears had us on WGN and we made their NFC Champion video disc. For all of our Chicago fans, we’re performing at the Bears’ convention June 6th and 7th. We kinda infiltrated the sports market and everybody has been coming at us for sports songs. // Website: myspace.com/coderedmusic Words: Ms. Rivercity
R PROPHET LOUISVILLE, KY
As the final member added to the Nappy Roots, R. Prophet’s concepts and visions completed the group’s overall creativity and fueled the success of their debut release in 2002. Now branching off into a burgeoning solo career, R. Prophet discusses his individual motives which include community involvement, his album release, and being a part of Louisville’s growth as a whole. What’s been going on with your music lately? I started my own label called VVS Records. I’m the first artist on the label. I have some things unfolding but I can’t speak on it yet ‘cause the contracts aren’t done. I got a single called “Run Tell the DJ” produced by Mannie Fresh which is the high researched song in Louisville urban history, even over the group’s “Aw Naw” and the Grammy nominated “Po Folk.” And I got a newer one called “What the Bidness Is.” My focus is putting together my album called R. Prophet: The Voice. A lot of people refer to me as the guy having the voice in the group. Have you worked with Mannie Fresh again since you recorded that song? I made that song in 2006. I have another song that nobody’s heard called “You the Shit.” When I went to Houston to work with Mannie Fresh I did two songs. I kept “You the Shit” for my album release. I’d like to work with him on each of my albums after this one. What’s the scoop on your side ventures? You have the new night club and the radio show now, right? I just opened a club twenty minutes away from Tampa, FL, in Dade City. The grand opening is gonna be in May. We’ve been having some pre-openings for the last few weeks. That’s looking nice for me. I’m expecting some good things from that. I also own like 30 properties in Tampa; that’s how that came about. My real estate company is called Your Place, LLC so right now the club is called Tu Casa Lounge – which means Your Place. We’re talking about naming it Club Prophet’s. And the radio show is on B96.5, right? I’ve been doing that for like 2 years now. It’s me, my brother, and Christopher 2X, who are both community activists in America and the city of Louisville. Not only do we talk about different issues, but we also give upcoming artists from Kentucky some shine so they can build their following. It’s called “The Streets Are Talking” and it’s on Sundays from 2-3 PM. How did you end up with the radio show? Being that Louisville is not as fast paced as other places, before us there wasn’t any artists
here in the city being played in rotation at the radio station. When I started working on my solo project, I made a song called “Represent the Ville” talking about all the different hoods in Louisville. Everyone wanted to hear it and it got a lot of requests at the station. After that the guy said he would put it in rotation but he didn’t. So me, my brother, and Christopher 2X had a meeting with that PD and his bosses. One thing led to another and we got into a heated discussion. I was saying, “Not only are you not playing and supporting me, but you’re not supporting any artists in Louisville. They need an outlet too in order for Kentucky to grow.” Me and the PD got into a heated discussion and I left the meeting. At that point I thought I may have jeopardized myself being played forever, and maybe even jeopardized the group getting played again because we got into it. But actually the next day they demoted the PD and hired a new one. It’s a wild thing because I went in there for one cause and it turned into me standing up for a lot of the artists. I didn’t know what was going to happen but I stood up for what I believed in. The next morning the new PD Tim Gerrard called me, and from that point on, me, my brother, and Christopher 2X were advising B96.5 how to bridge the gap between the station and the community. This is the first interview I’ve spoken on this publicly, and because of this incident local artists have been in rotation for the last couple of years. You seem to be very involved in the community. Do you have anything else going on, like charity work or things of that nature? I’m the youngest member on the board of chairmen for the Muhammad Ali Center along with the Dalai Lama, Quincy Jones, Will Smith, and Mya Angelo. They appointed me to help keep his legacy alive for the younger generation, to let people know all the great things he did for people. We do different events throughout the year where we bring kids together and help them with different issues like school. Outside of that, me and my brother came up with this thing called Hip Hop Multiplication. Hip Hop tends to get a bad wrap so we use Hip Hop to help kids with multiplication as well as other things to educate them. It’s a CD to help kids learn mathematics. I’m working on a website for it – Myspace.com/R.Prophet. Right now it can be purchased at CDBaby.com/RProphet. I also started a reading program that’s held at the Jefferson County Community College. Kids can come and we teach them how to read. My mother and brother run it. We’ve maintained that for a while. A lot of people refer to you as the voice of the OZONE |
streets in the group. Why is that? That comes from my past dealings. I used to get my grind on back in the days in the Norfolk Projects. I really think it’s just a matter of dealing with people. People always see me out in the streets. If you come to Louisville, I’m everywhere. You’ll probably see me on some billboards. Why did you leave the Nappy Roots? This guy came in and wanted to sign our group and our solo rights. I had so much invested and didn’t want to make a bad business decision. So he told me if I wouldn’t give him my solo rights I couldn’t be a part of the group still. He went on and set up a photo shoot for the new album without me. Over the next few months, the group figured out that the manager didn’t really have a deal; it was a lie. Then the group started reaching back out to me wanting to talk. At this point I was still disappointed so I didn’t want to talk. I ended up hooking up with them and they asked what could they do [to get me back in] and I basically told them to just return that loan that I gave the group before they hooked up with their manager. We wished each other well and both went our separate ways. Has being a solo artist been easier or more difficult than being part of a group? Creatively it’s been easier, as far as making music. Business-wise it’s about the same. The industry has been shaky and not a lot of people are selling records so it’s made it hard for people to rise to the top. Musically it’s easier, and business-wise I feel more comfortable [being solo]. When you’re dealing with a group you gotta do things democratically and you gotta roll with it whether you agree or not. But in this situation I’m the captain of the ship as far as decisions that I make. I can live with the decisions I make for myself. Did you put any work into the Nappy Roots’ Humdinger album before leaving the group? Yeah, definitely. We were working on the album and that guy came in and told the group he had some things going for him and they believed him. The last record I wrote and arranged with the group was the single they’re coming out with Greg Street called “Good Day.” I did the first verse on the original song and I ended up parting ways. They now have Big V on the first verse. Speaking on your writing skills, have other artists asked you to write material for them? Is that something you’re considering doing? Yes, it’s something I’ve done and something I’m definitely looking to pursue further as far as getting publishing checks. I’d like to use my 10 | OZONE
skills the best that I can. Static was from Louisville and he was a great writer himself. He wrote a lot of different songs for people and that’s something I’d like to pursue. Do you have plans to sign other artists to your label? I always keep my ear to the streets. I always know what’s going on in the streets as far as who’s making those songs and creating a following for themselves. I’m always watching. Right now my main focus is to get myself in a position where I can help others. My whole focus is on me but once everything is put together then I’ll definitely be signing some artists. Would you say your style has progressed or changed over the years? How do you stay relevant as an artist when music and trends are constantly changing? I think it’s necessary to grow as an artist and reinvent yourself. I think that’s one of the other reasons why it was necessary for me to leave the group because I’ve really grown a lot. I think sometimes being in a group, you’re not seen so much as an individual. So however your group is perceived, that’s how you are perceived. That’s one of the biggest necessities for me, for people to see who I am and what I’m about. I know a lot of times the group was seen in the country in hay and things of that nature. I had never been in no hay until being with the group. I’m originally from Oakland, California and I moved here to Louisville, which is the biggest city in Kentucky. I don’t come from the country part of Kentucky. As a group, we put Kentucky as a whole on the map but one of the things I wanna do is bring light to Louisville and show the streets of Kentucky, the city side. When you seen those pictures of me in hay, I was rockin’ Adidas suits and Kangols, gold and diamonds, things of that nature, but because I was in a group it was never explained who I was – like, this guy is really different. People didn’t get to learn that story so that’s why it’s necessary for me to come out and do my own thing and let the group continue doing what they’re doing. I need to make my own mark. What will you have going on for the Derby? We’re going to be partying. I’m going to the 2nd Annual Pre Derby All Star Jam and the Gala. The last couple of years I’ve been in there kicking it with Nelly, [Michael] Jordan, Serena [Williams], and we all just have a good time. That’s going to be a great thing. I’m looking forward to it. // Website: Myspace.com/rprophet Words: Ms. Rivercity
DJ THRU da roof
Do people know you more by DJ Teezy or DJ Thru Da Roof? It’s probably half and half. I split them up into different personalities. DJ Teezy is like the college, clean-cut guy and DJ Thru Da Roof is like the hood DJ, the rough kind of guy. They also call you “The Birthday DJ.” How did you get that alias? From doing a lot of birthday parties with Hurraseason. He’s a local artist here and I’m his DJ. He has a hit song called “Birthday.” What made you want to work with him? It was a real good connection. We instantly connected with each other. I respect his hustle and his grind. I respect his business mind and his street mind, kinda like a role model. He’s got a real positive frame of mind. Who are some other artists from the Louisville area that you see consistently working hard? Guys like Louis Keyz are definitely working hard. D Fresh works hard, J Skillz, Solo, Dodie is a real street grinder. Those are the guys I see on the grind and getting it right now. We actually started a thing called Kentucky U.S.A. for Kentucky unsigned artists. What clubs do you DJ at regularly? I do afterparties at Club Villa. I do the Complex, Jim Porter’s, Tailgaters, Billy’s, Bentley’s, Headliners, Louisville Gardens. I’ve DJed everywhere. I recently did the Webbie concert at Expo Five. How did you become a Slip N Slide DJ? I became a Slip N Slide DJ about two months ago. My squad leader DJ Dread who’s over my region got wind of me and did some homework on me. He contacted me and asked me some questions and told me they was interested in me. A couple weeks later he asked me to submit a bio and some information. Everything was moving within the next couple of days. So what does it mean to be a Slip N Slide DJ? How does it benefit you? As far as what it means, it’s a really good network-
ing crew. In Miami you got Trina, Plies, Rick Ross, DJ Khaled. Miami is real hot right now. It’s opened up so many doors for me. We got Rick Ross coming here soon. I can make phone calls and pretty much get whatever I want to get. And in some cases I can get a lot of stuff for the low. I’ve gotten a lot set up. I’m going to Miami for Memorial Day and I got tickets to all types of events off the strength. It also means I get to help out a lot of artists that I’m working for. The main thing it does is it brings something to my city. That’s what I really want. That’s one of the reasons I do what I do and why I’m going so hard. I love my city. What’s going on with your mixtape game? I have my In Da Club mixtape series. I want to mention that my business partner is the one that really helped me make things really big. I was in the clubs and doing promotions before. He came and helped me with the business side so I could go and network and do what I do. He knows my love of music and if it weren’t for him I wouldn’t be in the clubs and stuff like I am now. // Website: Myspace.com/djthrudaroof Words: Ms. Rivercity Photo: Infinite Graphics
OZONE | 11
STUDIO LEXINGTON, KY 12 | OZONE
As part of the Lost Land Entertainment crew out of Lexington, Kentucky, Studio has followed closely behind G Mack awaiting his time to shine. The Concrete Jungle is Studio’s breakout debut hitting the streets Kentucky Derby weekend. With several years worth of material and a noteworthy list of supporting DJs, the mixtape promises to keep Lost Land Ent. in the spotlight. Introduce yourself to our readers and talk about how you linked up with G Mack. I come from Lexington, Kentucky. I’ve been doing music for about twelve years now; I started off early. I’m 25 now. I linked up with Mack in 2000 and I’ve been running with him ever since. We did Hood Rich Won’t Cut It Volume 1 and Volume 2. I was on his album The Street Bible. I’m working on my mixtape The Concrete Jungle Volume 1. That’s gonna drop during Derby. I’m doing four mixtapes with different DJs hosting. DJ Mr. King is blazing it. I got DJ Testerosa and DJ Slikk from Louisville. I got Bigga Rankin coming out with a Real Nigga Radio Concrete Jungle. Will all the mixtapes have the same music or will you be switching it up at all? That’s usually how everybody else does it. We just opened a studio in December. I’ve been in there non-stop and I got tons of songs. I want to switch it up and probably put different music on different tapes. I don’t want to give everybody the same music. Out of all the music you have, which songs are you leaning towards for singles? I got tons of singles. I rap; I sing; I make beats; I do all that. When I say I sing, it’s like 50 Cent singing. I’m hood. It’s real grimy. I got a nice, professional sound. I do have two new singles for the clubs and the DJs called “X Pill” and “We In Here.” I’m not sure if they’re for the radio though because of the content. [Doing hooks] is what I want to do. Once they hear these hooks they gonna be wantin’ to come see me. Since you’ll be promoting the mixtapes for the Derby, are you going to perform anywhere? We got the KYMP Kamp Awards and Conference. I’m gonna perform at the awards. I’m nominated for four awards – Rookie of the Year, Grinding on the Block, and a few others. That sounds like a good look. So for people who don’t know exactly how big Derby is, explain what goes down during that weekend. I’ve been going to the Derby since I was little. It used to be real crunk. The strip would be lined up kinda like Black College Reunion in Daytona. It used to be like that, but now it’s more in the clubs. They got all kinds of celebrities coming
out and throwing parties. It’s real big in Louisville at that time. You sound a little hoarse. Have you been in the studio today? I’ve been here all day and I smoked about 18 blunts. How many hours do you spend a day in the studio? Is that how you got your name? Yeah, that’s what it was. My name is Stewart and since I’m in the studio all day long I’m like, that’s the perfect name. I’d say I’m in the studio for at least eight hours, a full day’s work. That’s just a minimum. I usually spend the night in this bitch. I smoke 10 or 12 blunts and get a pint of liquor by myself. I record myself most of the time. I be runnin’ in and outta the booth. That’s what I like to do. I’m in here all day. So tell me about the other musical skills you have like producing. I used to make beats on Frooty Loops. My dude Bishop Jones from Jacksonville came up here – he’s the one that made the beats for “Checks Out” and “The Money” on G Mack’s Street Bible. He got a whole lot of tracks on my new mixtape with Bigga Rankin. I got some with Young Sears too. Bishop came up here and showed me how to make the beats on the board with the MPC, the Triton, the Phantom and all that. He showed me how to session it out in Pro Tools. My beats got a lot more quality now. How would you compare your city to some of the other places you’ve been? Our city is the same; it’s just different people. They’re more fast paced and they support their music more. I will say that. They support their independent artists more. If we just come together like the cats in the A. The A came together so big; they support each other. Down here everybody does music so it’s like, “Fuck you, listen to my muthafuckin’ CD” instead of networking and doing stuff together. It’s all about self down here. If niggas could do stuff together we’d be good. We’re starting to do it, though. There a few cats that’s ready to get it. Is there anything you’d like to mention about yourself or your label before we go? Lost Land Entertainment baby! Ain’t no way we can fail. I’ma ride with ‘em to the death. We gon’ get this deal and get this money. Shout out to all my dawgs. Good lookin’ G Mack for holdin’ me down and my managers Caper and Troy B. // Website: myspace.com/studio859 Words: Ms. Rivercity OZONE | 13
JUP LEXINGTON, KY 14 | OZONE
As part of the group Infinite Faction which also includes J-Bird Jones, C-Gates, and Shaun Gottie, Jup has gained a reputation of consistency over the years. Now working on his solo album, Jup is making efforts to break into the game through networking, traveling, and side ventures like a clothing line. Talk about your album Jupbox. What can people expect from it? I put a lot of meaning into my music. It’s gonna be a sound that a lot of people haven’t heard. I’m doing old soul music; I got new sounding stuff. It’s like when you go to a jukebox; you put money in and get a variety of music. That’s why I named it Jupbox. Your music is very seasoned. Were you naturally gifted or did it take some time to get to the level where you’re at? Well, I’ve been at this for a while, for about 12 or 13 years. I guess that’s what 12 or 13 years of hard work without making it into the game sounds like. I’m just hungry. You have some dope production. Where does it come from? Right now I’m working with a production team called Track Boyz out of Lexington. The main guy is Frank Mabson and he’s worked with numerous guys in the industry. Back in the day he used to work with Jamie Foxx and some other people. The kind of sound I’m looking for is what they do. They got a seasoned sound. They got soul beats. It’s like they’re in the pocket with me. I work with them a lot. I work with a lot of cats in Lexington but with the Jupbox album I’ve mainly been working with Track Boyz. Everybody in the game talks about being real, but you seem to have a knack for actually bringing up some real subjects. What are some topics you like to touch on when you write your lyrics? I just talk about being a young cat from the ghetto, not forgetting where I come from. I talk about real topics. I’ve been around friends who’ve fell off in the streets to smoke crack and went to jail for life. I speak about that. I speak about Hurricane Katrina and the loss of people in our country. I speak about everything. It ain’t nothing I don’t really touch on. I’m the type of cat that if I wanna say something I’ma say it. If you don’t like it, so what? Don’t buy my record. Are you originally from Lexington?
I was born in Richmond, Kentucky and I moved here when I was five years old. I’ve been here ever since. Have you had a chance to travel and take your music to other markets? Yeah, I’ve been back and forth to Atlanta. I got a lot of plugs in Atlanta. I’ve been trying to get my foot in the door. My partner KY’s Finest is an engineer at Hot Beats Studio. He’s worked with Rick Ross, Lil Wayne, a whole bunch of guys. I’ve been hooking up with him trying to better my sound and see what we can do. What makes your city different from other places you’ve been to? We have our own everything in Lexington. We got our own sound, the way we talk, the way we do everything is different down here. Do you feel like there’s enough resources in your city to make it as a rapper? Or do you need to go outside of the city to get where you want to be? There’s definitely not enough resources. We’ve had people make it out of Kentucky and be lightweight successful. Like Rob Jackson kinda got there but he didn’t make it all the way. But a lot of people really haven’t reached back and brought the good resources back home. It’s not enough. You gotta get out and travel and let it be known what you’re doing in your hometown. After that, if you’re the type of person to bring it home then it could be a little better here. But now it’s not a lot here. Everybody’s on their grind trying to do what they gotta do. A lot of cats are leaving town just to make moves. So what is Jup like outside of rapping? I’m a 24/7 entrepreneur. My group Infinite Faction and me have been out in the scene in Lexington and traveling for a while. We’re constantly doing shows and recording. We starting our own clothing line. We’re all the time hustling and trying to find ways to better ourselves. I’m thinking about getting back into college and everything. It’s really no limit for me. I’m trying to be the best Jup I can be. We just shot a video last summer for one of the songs I have called “I Get Cash.” We’re looking to submit it to BET. We’re trying our best to grind our way to the top. // Website: myspace.com/kyjup Words: Ms. Rivercity
OZONE | 15
FATHER JAH LEXINGTON, KY
16 | OZONE
Father Jah is known for his Hip Hop efforts in Louisville beginning the early 90s and continuing on through the new millennium. Still maintaining relevancy today, Father Jah has a new single, a new business model, and a new audience thanks to the World Wide Web. So I hear you’ve done a lot for the underground scene in Louisville. How long have you been putting it down? I’ve been putting it down ever since I could talk. My first words came out as a rap. I put my first product out in the streets in ’92. Before then, we were rapping on the street corners and I was making beats. What keeps you going after 16 years? What do you get out of the grind? It’s my passion. Plus, I’m like a voice for the voiceless. I represent the niggas in the real hood, not the rap hood. I represent for the bad niggas all across the globe. When I say bad niggas, I mean the disobedient slaves. Every slave master had his good niggas and his bad niggas. In the historical sense, I represent the bad niggas of today. I gotta bring this bad nigga rap to the table. I represent for the next level real nigga, for the intelligent thug. You music tends to have strong messages in them. Would you call yourself a conscious rapper? I try to escape from labeling myself as anything. I’m just a bad nigga. But at the same time, if you’re not a conscious rapper, you’re unconscious. Ya dig? I’m definitely conscious of my surroundings. Most rappers are conscious rappers. How have you been an instrumental part of your city’s growth? We have been involved in the music thing on all levels. We did everything from put out independent releases and owning a record store to throwing concerts and putting together our own independent tours and our own line of clothes. We’ve been involved for a very long time. We were the first down here doing this. We’re like the inspiration for a whole generation. With record sales declining did you have to close the store y’all had? We closed our store down. It was called Total Experience. It was run by my man Messiah. We sold CDs, tapes, and car audio equipment. But between the bootleggers and downloading we had to shut it down. We had cats in the area giving away three CDs for the price we were
selling one CD for. We were able to survive off of specialty CDs that nobody else was getting in like Texas music, Rich the Factor, and shit like that. How have you been able to combat the bootleggers and keep up with the times? I don’t have any problem with the bootleggers. Really, the industry is just a step behind. The industry is still using the damn business model from the 50s and 60s. But the world done changed and the labels, both major and independent, need to change to suit the world. I definitely got my music on the internet – Amazon.com, iTunes, CD Baby, Myspace. You gotta have all that available. What makes it so beautiful is that the WWW is putting your product worldwide. I just produced half an album for some cats in England. People are buying my shit all the way from England. That’s a beautiful thing right there. You rap; you produce; you’ve worked the retail scene. What other skills do you have? I’m black owned and undependent – not independent, undependent. We also got a series of DVDs with my man John Doe from John’s Doemain. We have everyone on there from Lil Wayne and Rakim to De La Soul. You got to be creative and make a new business model. Out of everything you’ve done, what are some of the things you’re most proud of? I’m most proud of being able to stay relevant and understood by my young Gs out there; and still have the respect while doing my grown man thing so my peers can accept, understand, and appreciate what I bring to the table, which is bad nigga rap – black owned and undependent. What are some things you’re working to accomplish over the next few months? What we have on deck for the next couple of months is we’re putting together an independent tour; maybe do a song with me and a few more artists. I can’t say all the names but it’s gonna be something real nice. I’m doing the “Read a Book” remix with my man Bomani out of D.C. I’m also doing an LP with Dinco D from Leaders of the New School. My new single that’s out right now is called “Jungle Walk” featuring M1 of Dead Prez and Native, another local legend. // Website: Myspace.com/fatherjah Words: Ms. Rivercity Photo: Yono’s Photography
OZONE | 17
D FRESH LOUISVILLE, KY
18 | OZONE
D. Fresh is a prodigy of Louisville’s DJ Q. Starting off battling his way into the scene at the age of 15, D. Fresh (initially known as Dougie Fresh) eventually evolved into a lyricist and became the fresh face of DJ Q’s label Sluggah Entertainment. Introduce yourself and talk about some of the things you’ve done to build a buzz. I’m D. Fresh, a.k.a. Fresh the Beast. I’m with Sluggah Entertainment. I came up on the battle scene battling different emcees. I dropped a series of mixtapes called Birth of a Star Volume 1 and 2. I sold about 5,000 of the first one and close to 10,000 of the second one. Ever since then I’ve been performing and opening up for people. I’m trying to push my album now. Back to the battling days, how did that help you gain a name? I used to battle whoever on the spot, at any type of spot, whether it was for money or for free. I was young, hungry, and always ready. At the time the battle circuit was really poppin’, ‘cause of 106 & Park. It was really competitive. It wasn’t some weak muthafuckas playin’ around; people were really ready. You never knew what was gonna happen. Do you think Kentucky gets the recognition it deserves? When people get out there, they don’t help anybody. They don’t come back. It’s always a gimmick involved so when it’s over, it’s over. After the gimmick’s over, nobody’s thinking about them anymore. How do you plan to change that? I put out good music. I put the city on my back and represent it well. First impressions are everything. I don’t go nowhere without lookin’ fresh. This is where I’m from. No matter how small or big the city is, no matter how much hate there is, no matter how much love is here, it’s still where I’m from. How does being from Louisville influence your music and your grind? It makes you wanna try harder. There’s so much hate here that nobody sticks together. When you go out of town and you tell people you’re from Kentucky, everybody thinks you wear boots with spurs on the back. When people meet you it’s like a culture shock.
When you approach someone about your music, how do you sell yourself to them? Most of the time I’m in my car, near something that plays that music, and I let them hear it. I’ll tell them I’m D. Fresh, a local artist doing my thing. I sell my CDs for $5. The catch is I always tell people, “If you don’t like it and feel like you want your money back. My cell phone number is on the back of the CD. Please call me and tell me I suck and I will give your money back.” You know what’s funny? I had a girl from Indiana do that. She called me and said, “I don’t like your CD. Can you come back and give me my $5.” When I drove back and got to her door, she was crackin’ up laughin’. She was joking and just wanted to see if I was gonna drive all the way back out there. She gave me a hug and told me she liked my music. I couldn’t believe it. You think she was just trying to holla? I don’t know what she was trying to do but the shit caught me off guard. I thought she was serious. I made the trip and when I got there I never thought she would’ve said she loved the CD. What’s the deal with Sluggah Ent.? That’s DJ Q’s label right? Yeah, that’s his label. I’m the only artist on it. I’ve known him since I was 15 years old. That’s like my mentor/father. It’s more than the music. He taught me everything. We used to go to this club called Tsunamis and he was the DJ. This was when 106th & Park took off and they used to have an open mic in middle of the club. It would be packed and they’d do a 10 minute session for people to freestyle. All my homies told me I should go up there; but I was shy then and it was a whole lot of people. I went up there and gave it a shot. At that time, I was going by the name Dougie Fresh. DJ Q was like, “What are you about to do, beat box?” My name was Doug and I was young, so I didn’t know better back back then. I got up there and stole the show. What are some things you’d like to accomplish in the near future? I want to go hard. I want to let everybody know that in Louisville and Kentucky we don’t walk around in boots and wear straw hats. We’re up on fashion and know what’s going on. People actually make good music here. I want to rep the city well. // Words: Ms. Rivercity
OZONE | 19
CUNNINLYNGUISTS LEXINGTON, KY
20 | OZONE
With perhaps the most misspelled name in the music industry, and one of the most faithful followings, the CunninLynguists (Deacon The Villain, Kno, and Natti) have been a standout group amongst Hip Hop heads across the nation. Endeavoring to further their movement while staying true to their southern roots, Deacon discusses the trio’s progress over the last decade. Who have you and Kno been working with lately on the production side of things? We’ve done a couple of things that haven’t come out yet. We go to Zak’s recording studio in Atlanta a lot. There are a couple artists in there that we recently placed beats with. YV that’s signed to Polow’s label just picked a track from us for a song with B.O.B. That just happened within the last four weeks. I’m not sure if they want the world to know about it yet. The track is really hot. It’s all live instruments. So you’ve been in Atlanta a lot? We might be moving to Atlanta in a couple months. We’re kinda outgrowing the city we live in. It’s hard for us to get a lot of things accomplished. People are always in our face. We got love for ‘em but we’re just real focused and it’s getting hard up here. We know a lot of people in Atlanta and have a lot of connections down there. Actually that’s where we met. Do you feel like your group is bringing a missing element to the game? Yeah. The only thing really missing is individuality. Everybody is a clone of something else, or a hybrid of somebody else’s sound. We’re trying to be ourselves to the core. We produced for Lil Scrappy and D12 not too long ago. The tracks they did on our beats, they said they don’t even normally come like that. It’s over a sound they might not be accustomed to. We’re trying to let our true influences shine and not what’s currently influencing the market.
The West Coast, Canada, and Europe pretty much hold us down. It’s kinda hard for us to get shows in the South. We’re out in California, Colorado, Nevada, Utah, Washington, and British Columbia. That’s where most of our American fan base is located. When you formed the group, did you expect to gain such a large following? No, definitely not, ‘cause if we did we wouldn’t have named ourselves CunninLynguists. We woulda came up with something a whole lot easier to remember, easier to spell, easier to understand. When we first started, we were just two people that didn’t know each other. One person had beats, one had rhymes. We thought we would press up 50 copies and give ‘em to friends and family, but it snowballed. There’s a lot of things we would have done different but we don’t regret it ‘cause we got somewhere. How often is the name misspelled in magazines and websites? Shit, every day. We make jokes about it at this point. Especially when we go overseas, they really fuck it up. XXL even said we have the worst name in Hip Hop. We were gonna put that on a shirt. Back to your beginnings. How were you able to capture the attention of so many people? Even though we didn’t exactly take ourselves serious, we still treated the music serious. We made sure whatever we brought to the table was quality. That consistency is what created our fan base, even though we didn’t have any direction in the beginning. We just made rappity-rap Hip Hop songs on our first two albums, but we tried to make sure they were melodically good and had creative concepts. By the time we developed chemistry and tapped into our southern sound, we had a fan base of people who appreciated that we took the art form seriously.
Because you don’t follow what everybody else is doing, does that make it more difficult to get commercial exposure on television, radio, and things of that nature? Seven years ago it was tough for us to come straight out the gate with a brand new sound; it was hard then. But overtime, the fact that we never stopped and never let it discourage us, it’s gotten us to a certain point where it will actually work out for us. Over the years we’ve made so many connections and learned so many tricks that we’ve learned how to slide our undefined sound into the mainstream market.
What’s next for y’all? We’re always trying to make our production thing grow and working on our next album. We’re doing something we don’t think anybody can do but us. It’s something completely leftfield and something the game really needs. We’re pushing our European single “Mexico” and our album Dirty Acres. We’re pushing our song with Devin the Dude and trying to get a video for that. We’re trying to get to Atlanta and make some more things happen. //
Tell me about the West Coast tour you’re going on. Do you have a large fan base out there?
Words: Ms. Rivercity Photo: Jens Nordstrom
OZONE | 21
BLACK-JACKK CINCINNATI, OH 22 | OZONE
If you ask about the next to blow from Cincinnati, nine times out of ten someone will mention Black-Jackk. The single “She Gone Rush Me,” otherwise known in the streets as “She Gone Fuck Me,” has accumulated over 160,000 plays on his Myspace page and radio stations have joined the bandwagon. From his gear to his jewelry to his cars, Black-Jackk knows how to stunt like it’s a habit. How did you start getting such a huge buzz in your region? I’ve been doing this rap stuff for about seven years. I would always be in the bright candypainted cars. I put Stunt-Aholic on all my cars. I was around the Florida dudes that drive cars with cartoons and stuff. Everybody knew about Stunt-Aholic but they didn’t who the person was behind it. I chilled out on all the car stuff and put a song out after we did a DVD. We put together like a Smack DVD and out of everybody on it, my segment stood out the most. I was talking about my jewelry and everybody liked my swag and then I made a song based on what I was talking about on the DVD. Everybody said I should make a song about my chain and watch and all that. It’s called “She Gone Rush Me.” I went in there playing around and made the song and promoted it. It just took off like crazy. How did you promote it? We did email blasts, DVD mixes, anything you could possibly think of. I got a million Youtube plays. I’ve done shows all over. The only thing I haven’t done was go to a TJs DJs event or a CORE DJ event yet. That’s what I’m planning to do now. Where does all your swag and confidence come from? It just comes from being me. You gotta meet me in person. I’m the same dude all the time. I got a real sense of humor. I’m not uptight trying to rap about the hard part of life. I don’t really sugar coat it but there’s a character in my rap. It’s like Ludacris; he might rap with a funny style. He might be saying something but the way he delivers it might sound funny. I got a funny delivery. You wear extra colorful clothes. Talk about the clothing line that you wear. I’m starting my own clothing line called Stunna Wear. I’m promoting like a hood mentality. It’s like if a guy sees a girl in the club he’ll be like, “Aw, I already had her.” I got a lot of shirts with Dora the Explorer and Bart Simpson laying in
the bed saying, “I already had her,” and stuff like that. It’s painted like on a Miskeen level. I got Dennis the Menace holding up chains and Rug Rats chasing him saying, “She gone rush me for the chain.” Little stuff like that. It’s customized for myself. I got my own shoes that should be coming out late September. They’re gonna be called Air Thirsty’s. With everybody talking about you lately, I’m sure some major labels have been checking you out. A&Rs from Universal contacted us. We talked to EMI. We talk to a lot of distribution companies ‘cause we really wanted to concentrate on promoting my own buzz and get myself out there. I could make a lot of money just with a distribution deal. We talked to Sony, a few guys over at Koch, and then a hundred and one higher independent labels that tried to grab me like Garnett, Aristocrat, labels around this region. I’m already an independent artist so it’s kinda pointless to sign to another independent label. I’m doing a lot on my own. A few radio DJs brought up your name recently. Where have you been getting spins at? I went from getting 25-30 spins per week just in Cincinnati and Dayton. A lot of internet radio shows [are playing the song]. My single gets a lot of plays on MusicChoice.com. I don’t know if that’s part of radio or not. I’m getting spins in Columbus, Georgia, I should start to get some spins in Birmingham. I got a mean promotional street team down there about to start promoting in all the clubs down there. It seems like you have all the bases covered. Don’t you have a mixtape out right now? I got my first album in the streets that I did back in ’03 called Black-Jackk: It’s My Turn. I put that out just to get the streets’ attention. Then we came with Before the Deal. That was a group venture with some other guys I rap with. Then my mixtape that’s currently out right now, that’s getting a crazy buzz, is Stunt Talk with DJ Drizzle. That got numbers. We did like over 1,200 units the first week. That’s independent, selling it out the trunk. It sells out every time I restock the stores. I got another mixtape that’s downloadable on datpiff.com called Follow the Leader. // Website: Myspace.com/stuntaholics Words: Ms. Rivercity
OZONE | 23
Published on May 5, 2008