Legends of Hip Hop
Featuring E-40, Mystikal, Scarface, 8 Ball & MJG, DJ Quik, Bun B, and Dogg Pound
Scarface’s Official Bio: The saying goes, the more things change, the more they stay the same. In the music industry, the main talk these days is about how much has changed with the advent of new technologies and the image over everything attitude that dominates so much of what we see and hear. In hip-hop, rappers come and go like the wind. Sounds and styles hit the top of the charts and then disappear forever. The family tree has grown off in so many different directions that it’s sometimes hard to remember where it came from.
Thankfully we still have an artist like Houston’s own Scarface, a man who refuses to stray from what made him regarded as one of the best MC’s who ever did it. After a bit of a musical hiatus – a stint in prison, and a radical change in his health regimen briefly shifted his focus – Face is coming back hard this summer with his 13th album, Deeply Rooted.
From his earliest verses in the late 1980’s as a solo artist and a member of the Geto Boys to every song on Deeply Rooted, Face has always made sure to tell the stories he feels the world needs to hear. Whether it is speaking out against injustice, reflecting on his struggles with depression and his own mental health, or just telling the stories of the streets, he is one rapper you can always rely on to give you the real deal.
Scarface has seen it all, and has worked hard his entire life to keep the culture of hip-hop Deeply Rooted. When a doctor told him he needed to lose weight and that he was at risk of having a stroke, he took matters into his own hands and changed his diet, gave up the drugs doctors had prescribed him over the years, and hit the gym relentlessly. He knows that we have lost a lot of our greats over the years, and that he needs to stick around. One hundred pounds lighter, he looks like he did when he was first starting out at 17 years old, over 25 years ago. And the energy that runs through his new songs is rivaled only by his earliest work.
8BALL AND MJG Official Bios: Respect. You can want it, you can demand it, but ultimately, it must be earned.
With a career that spans nearly two decades, Memphis, Tennessee rap duo 8Ball and MJG have done nothing short of that. And in an era where hyperbole is in no short order when it comes to the latest flavor of the month MC, these two veterans aptly wear their titles of living legends, because that’s what they are and that’s what they’ll continue to be.
Premro “8Ball” Smith and Marlon Jermaine Goodwin (dubbed MJG for obvious reasons) were both reared in households that championed the classic soul sounds of Al Green, Marvin Gaye and the like. They met at Ridgeway Junior High School, where they shared an affinity for hip-hop, but also played in the school band together. It was the early ‘80s, and the hip-hop scene in Memphis at the time was was bubbling, infused with music and imagery that people were hearing on the radio, seeing on TV and in movies. “We were in the age of breakdancing; freestyling; Adidas jogging suits; Cazal glasses; donkey ropes and dollar sign finger rings,” says 8Ball, reminiscing. “It was a real hip-hop scene in Memphis for sure. Memphis was like ‘Beat Street’ or ‘Breakin’.”
Their union as a rap group was solidified during their senior year at Middle College High School, an alternative school for students seeking advanced education and college credit. It was around this time they started recording their own songs and becoming more ambitious about having careers as rappers. “We started throwing parties, doing shows,” says MJG. “We had a DJ partner, he used to build his own turntables out of the entertainment system you would have in your living room. DJ Squeeky from Memphis, Tennessee. We would record on whatever was available, instrumentals on wax, or if we had access to drum machines, we’d use that.”
8Ball and MJG initially met success locally, quickly attaining a reputation as a rising rap group. Concurrently, Tony Draper, an aspiring record business entrepreneur, had an upstart indie label based out of Houston, Texas called Suave House. A mutual friend of the group connected them with Draper, and within months they found themselves in Houston, living out of a hotel and recording their debut LP, Comin Out Hard, in the spare bedroom of Tony Draper’s baby mother’s apartment. “We produced the whole album, with records, actual wax that we brought from home,” 8Ball says. “We brought a suitcase full of records and created Comin’ Out Hard from that bedroom.” The project was released in 1993 and was successful in the growing Southern rap market.
Subsequent albums from 8Ball and MJG- On The Outside Looking In (1994) and On Top Of The World (1995)- sold well, and were met with critical praise, thus further solidifying the group as an emerging act in the Southwestern hip-hop scene. They rose along with UGK, The Geto Boys and from their own hometown, Three 6 Mafia. These projects also raised the profile of Suave House Records, a family-like label with a growing roster of artists, that was quickly becoming an independent powerhouse.
The group’s run with Suave House continued through their gold-selling 1997 LP, In Our Lifetime Vol. 1., and eventually a set of solo records for each member- MJG’s No More Glory (1997) and 8Ball’s double album Lost (1998). In 2000, they left Suave House and released Space Age 4 Eva independently through JCOR Records. “Through JCOR, ‘Pimp Hard’ and ‘Stop Playing Games’ were big songs for us,” 8Ball says. “The project we released was successful but the label made a lot of bad records that caused them to go out of business.”
By 2003, 8Ball and MJG were looking for a new recording home. They had multiple deals on the table, but one particular offer, from Diddy’s Bad Boy Records, who they’d had a relationship with dating back to the Mase-era (they appeared on “The Player Way,” from Mase’s Harlem World in ’97), seemed most promising. “We felt it would bring a more organized structure, and maybe better marketing,” explains MJG, of the group’s eventual signing with the Bad Boy South division of Bad Boy Records. “We were trying to take 8Ball and MJG to the next level. Not necessarily saying we’d be there forever, but do something new and keep it moving.”
The signing was met with much hype. It was seen as a strong acquisition for Diddy’s label in what was at the time an exploding Southern rap scene. 8Ball and MJG were considered, as their Bad Boy Records debut title alluded to, Living Legends. The album dropped in 2004, spawned the trunk-rattling hit single “You Don’t Want Drama,” and quickly went Gold. Things were looking up for the group.
It was only a few years later that everything went awry. Their second Bad Boy album, Ridin High, released in March of 2007, wasn’t promoted well by the label, and stalled out at roughly 200k copies sold. The group lashed out at Bad Boy in interviews, blaming them for the project’s failure. A year later they were amicably dropped. “It wasn’t like sh*t was over for us; it was just over for us at Bad Boy,” clarifies 8Ball. “I felt like it was love. Diddy’s reputation, he’s not known for letting a group like us go with no strings attached, which we did. We didn’t owe them anything.”
Dusting themselves off, May 4th will see the Tennessee rap titans finally releasing their comeback project, Ten Toes Down, through a partnership with TI’s Grand Hustle Records, Push Management and E1 Music. Explaining the album title, MJG says: “Ten Toes Down means staying humble and true to what you do, to who you are. To reach forward, to reach for the sky, but keep your feet on the ground, and keep yourself firmly rooted to where you come from.”
The buzz single from the project is the Lil’ Boosie-assisted “Ten Toes Down,” which features the MCs planting their feet in the ground over Drumma Boy’s brass-infused production; the first official single is the festive Nitti-produced “DJ Bring It Back,” where Grand Hustle/ Push Management affiliate Young Dro rides shotgun. Other collaborators on the LP include Bun B on “I Don’t Give A F*ck,” Snoop Dogg on “Smokin, Chokin, Locin,” David Banner on “Where We From,” and a surprising cameo from one of the youngest in charge, Soulja Boy.
Despite the unequivocal respect they’ve earned, as the release of their 8th studio album draws near, 8Ball and MJG are appreciative of their position within hip-hop- grateful even- but not necessarily coasting on their past achievements.”Living legends was one of them titles that was given to us,” says MJG. “But now we feel like we’re on the enterprise, only going where no man has gone before; into the unknown, going deeper and deeper into a career that we weren’t even sure would make it this far in the beginning.”
Bun B’s Official Bio: Rapper Bun B (born Bernard Freeman) rose to fame in the duo UGK. Bun B and Pimp C formed UGK in the late ’80s when their former crew, Four Black Ministers, fell apart. Based in Port Arthur, Texas, UGK signed with Jive, and with 1992’s Too Hard to Swallow began a series of Southern gangsta rap albums that were successful sellers. Bun B formed the side project Mddl Fngz in 2000, but his main concern was still UGK. Things came to halt in 2003 when Pimp C was sentenced to eight years in prison on an aggravated gun assault charge. Bun B carried on solo, making numerous appearances on other artists’ tracks and then in 2005 releasing both the mixtape Legends and his debut album, the Rap-a-Lot release Trill, a Top Ten hit. With Pimp C seeing early release in late 2005, Bun B returned to UGK and a self-titled double album from the duo dropped in 2007. Tragedy struck in early 2008 when Pimp C died suddenly, leaving Bun B to return to a solo career. His second solo album, II Trill, arrived that same year with his third, Trill O.G., following in 2010. In 2013 he closed the Trill series with the fourth and final effort, Trill O.G.:
E – 40 Official Bio: With millions of records sold, nationwide sold out shows, loved by both the streets and respected amongst his peers, without question E-40 continues to reign supreme. Empowering a familiar cliché that states, “If it’s not broke, don’t fix it” the Revenue Retrievin’ series continues and the most underrated rapper returns with two brand new albums entitled “Revenue Retrievin’ Graveyard Shift” and “Revenue Retrievin” Overtime Shift.” March 29, 2011 will mark the release of the 15th and 16th albums from one of the biggest rap artist to come from the west coast. Artists T-Pain, Tech N9ne in addition to E-40’s bay area conglomerate Guce, Black C of RBL Posse, Laroo, Turf Talk, Cousin Fik, J. Stalin and The Click all grace the forth coming albums. E-40 and his son Droop-E who also raps and produces will once again share Executive Producer credits on both albums.
Mystikal Official Bio: Mystical does not technically rap. “He howls, he bellows, he barbarically yawps himself raw, all at a volume and velocity as unrelenting as any hardcore punk or metal outfit,” wrote Mark Binelli in Rolling Stone. Yet Mystikal’s talents lie far beyond his original style of rapping. By the late-1990s, MYSTIKAL cemented his reputation as one of the most promising MCs in rap music, supporting his blasting delivery with witty lyrics and a crafty flow. “Mystikal’s appeal rests in his unyielding vocal intensity, his ability to maintain his scream-like delivery at any speed, his vivid imagery and his utilization of self-created sound effects to accentuate his point,” noted Soren Baker of the Los Angeles Times. “To the uninitiated, he may come off as a Busta Rhymes imposter, but Mystikal is one of rap’s most gifted and distinctive artists.” (Winter Coast Productions Event Listing)
Once one of the leading rappers on Master P’s No Limit record label, Mystikal quickly evolved beyond the label’s clichéd thug trappings and found himself one of the Dirty South’s most recognized rappers, alongside the likes of Juvenile and Ludacris. He released an eponymous debut on the independent label Big Boy in June 1995. It earned the attention of Jive Records, who signed him later that year. His official major-label debut, Mind of Mystikal, was released in October 1996 and became a major hit in the rap underground, falling just short of going gold. The MC then hooked up with Master P and No Limit, along with the label’s Beats by the Pound production team. This union produced Unpredictable, which was released in November 1997 and helped the rapper build a substantial following. It peaked at number one on Billboard’s Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart, reached number three on the Billboard 200, and eventually went platinum. Ghetto Fabulous, also driven by Beats by the Pound, followed in December 1998; it topped the R&B/Hip Hop Chart as well and debuted at number five on the Billboard 200. Despite a move to the Jive label, Mystikal wasted no time in issuing a follow-up. Let’s Get Ready appeared in September 2000 and went double platinum. Driven by the James Brown-like Neptunes production “Shake Ya Ass” as a lead single — an MTV staple before the album even hit the streets — the album featured a vast range of productions from Earthtone III, Bink!, and the Medicine Men (a newer incarnation of Beats by the Pound). Let’s Get Ready demonstrated the wide-reaching ambitions that had only been hinted at in previous releases. Mystikal made his unique rhyme delivery accessible enough to reach a significantly wider audience. Mystikal released his sixth album, Tarantula, in December 2001. “Bouncin’ Back (Bumpin’ Me Against the Wall),” another funky Neptunes collaboration, was one of 2002′s hottest singles. The following year, Mystikal garnered Grammy nominations in the categories of Best Male Rap Solo Performance and Best Rap Album. Tarantuala eventually reached gold status.Michael Lawrence Tyler (born September 22, 1970), better known by his stage name Mystikal, is an American rapper and actor from New Orleans.
Dj Quik’s Official Bio: DJ Quik (born David Martin Blake on January 18, 1970) is a West Coast rapper and record producer from Compton, California. He was raised at 436 West Spruce Street in Compton, California. As a teen he took up an affiliation with the Tree Top Piru Bloods, hence why his name is spelled Quik with the C conspicuously missing. A lot of Bloods would let the name “Quick” (because CK stands for Crip Killer) but he chose “Quik” to represent the Red but at the same time in some form of respect for the other side . He grew up without a father and moved out of his mother’s home when he was only 17. He lived in the house as the only male with 8 sisters. His home life was far from stable as he raps in a song that one of his sisters was selling drugs to one of his other sisters. He began selling homemade mixtapes (like “The Red Tape”, 1987) after he received a turntable for his 9th grade graduation and then began doing shows DJing around Southern California when he moved out. He signed to Profile Records in the summer of 1990, reportedly as the label’s first six figure signee. Not only could he rap and write his own songs, he could produce as well.
His debut album, “Quik Is The Name” was led by the success of two top 20 R&B singles, “Tonite” and “Born and Raised in Compton.” “Tonite” even charted on the pop charts. The album ended up reaching 10th on the album charts. None of his successive albums reached the success of his debut, though they have been well received in California, particularly his 1998 release “Rhythm-Al-Ism.” His most popular albums are Quik Is The Name and Safe + Sound. . On “Safe + Sound” appears “Dollaz And Sense,” which was a diss track to Compton rapper and member of the rival Tragniew Park Crips MC Eiht. Though full of bravado at the time, Quik now admits to fearing for his life during the period.
Instead of joining the G-Funk movement during the 1990’s, DJ Quik had his own style that a new version of P-Funk, inspired by artists like Roger Troutman (who even taught him the use of the talkbox, which became a trademark for Quik’s sound in the 1990’s) and George Clinton. Throughout his career, Quik has collaborated with and produced for artists including 2Pac (“Heartz of Men”, “Words To My First Born”, “Late Night”), Janet Jackson (“All For You”), Snoop Dogg (e.g. “Doin’ Too Much”, “Buss’n Rocks”, “Don’t Tell”), Talib Kweli (“Put It In The Air”), Whitney Houston (“Fine”), Kurupt (“Can’t Go Wrong”), Jay-Z (“Justify My Thug”), Xzibit (“Sorry I’m Away So Much”), Ludacris (“Spur of the Moment”), Chingy (“Bagg Up”, and “Wurr’s My Cash”),Dr. Dre, 2nd II None, Hi-C, Suga Free (“Street Gospel” album and on the “New Testament” album), 8Ball & MJG (“Buck Bounce”) and others. Though he formally produced only “Heartz of Men” on 2Pac’s masterpiece “All Eyez On Me” album, he went uncredited for work on many other tracks on the album; on that track he used his real name David Blake, because Profile did not allow him to use his stage name. In 2002, he produced Truth Hurts’ Top 10 pop hit “Addictive”. Quik used an uncleared Hindi sample on the record, and the copyright holders eventually filed a $500 million dollar lawsuit against Truth Hurts’ label, Aftermath Entertainment.
Quik faced personal and professional tragedy when his friend and protegé Mausberg was murdered on the 4th of July, 2000. This was compounded by the death of his best friend Daryl Reed soon after.
Following 2000’s “Balance and Options” CD he was dropped by Arista Records which in 1998 had bought Profile Records. In September 2005, DJ Quik released his first independent album on his own new label, Mad Science, which was supposed to be distributed by Warner Bros but Quik was forced to let Time Warner and so signed his Mad Science with Fontana/Universal. The album is titled “Trauma” and reflects the turmoil in the producer’s life over the past few years. He than released “Trauma: Instrumentals”. In recent years he has worked with a 74 piece orchestra during a collaboration with Marcus Miller while working on the score to the movie “Head of State.” Over the years, Quik has morphed from a hardcore gangsta rapper to a mainstream producer and rapper who is not afraid to change his style. He has not abandoned his West Coast roots and now produces very much his own unique style.
Dogg Pound’s Official Bio: The two Californians began their recording careers individually, both of them featured sporadically on the foundational Death Row release, Dr. Dre’s landmark The Chronic (1992). Kurupt and Daz were first billed together as Tha Dogg Pound on “Niggas Don’t Give a Fuck,” their contribution to the Poetic Justice soundtrack (1993). Later that year they reappeared as Tha Dogg Pound on Doggystyle, the solo debut of Snoop Doggy Dogg, where they were featured on a few songs, most prominently the hit single “Doggy Dogg World.” In 1994 they were featured on a pair of Death Row soundtracks, Above the Rim (“Big Pimpin'”) and Murder Was the Case (“What Would U Do?,” “Who Got Some Gangsta Shit?,” “Come Up to My Room”). Around this same time, Daz established himself as a capable producer, with the Lady of Rage’s “Afro Puffs” to his credit, among other tracks.
All Eyez on Me Death Row released Tha Dogg Pound’s debut album, Dogg Food, on Halloween 1995. It was quite a success, topping the Billboard 200 album chart. “Let’s Play House” was the biggest hit, breaking into the Top 50 of the Hot 100, while “New York, New York” was an MTV favorite; in the video for the latter, Kurupt, Daz, and Snoop stomped Godzilla-like around the Big Apple, taunting their East Coast rivals. Tha Dogg Pound remained active thereafter, rapping on both 2Pac’s All Eyez on Me (1996) and Snoop’s Tha Doggfather (1996); Daz produced on a number of tracks on both albums as well, including the singles “2 of Amerikaz Most Wanted,” “I Ain’t Mad at Cha,” and “Doggfather,” not to mention numerous album tracks.
Snoop’s so-called Western Conference in December 2005 went a long way toward initiating a new partnership between Kurupt and Daz, and a promising year awaited. In 2006, Daz released Kurupt’s Same Day, Different Shit on D.P.G.; Koch released a full-fledged Dogg Pound reunion album, Cali Iz Active, and Jermaine Dupri released Daz’s So So Gangsta on his So So Def Recordings label. As if this flurry of 2006 releases weren’t enough, Tha Dogg Pound returned in 2007 with Dogg Chit, whose cover quotes that of Dogg Food. Despite hitting snags with the Cash Money and Koch labels, Kurupt and Daz kept tha Dogg Pound active with additional independent releases such as That Was Then This Is Now (2009), the compilation Keep on Ridin’ (2010), and 100 Wayz (also 2010). Doggy Bag (2012) rounded up stray cuts. All the while, through the mid-2010s, the duo continued to collaborate with other artists and release solo projects.