Sheek Louch: Point Blank
After a personal introduction as a solo artist, Walk Witt Me, Sheek incorporated much more of the industry on his sophomore release, After Taxes. On his newest album Silverback Gorilla, dropping March 18th, Sheek has features from Bun B, Fat Joe, The Game, DJ Unk, Jim Jones, Hell Rell, protg Bully, and his L.O.X. family.
Excited about the production, conceptual range and growth on the album, Sheek combines the enthusiasm of a new jack with the outlook of a seasoned veteran. While discussing major labels, disgruntled artists, the music grind, and the impact of The L.O.X., Sheek still gives it to you point blank.
HipHopDX: Walk Witt Me seemed like a more personal album, you didnt have any features besides D-Block, and then on After Taxes you brought in a lot more of the industry as far as concepts and features. Where is Silverback Gorilla going to be compared to those first two albums?
Sheek Louch: You're right about that, Walk Witt Me was the breaking out of, Let me show people I can do that too, besides the group. Then I felt like everything you just said , with After Taxes. This one, Im more grown- Im older now, been through more, touched on more topics, experimented with different songs. Like for example, my lead single, Good Love, thats not usually my style of a song that I would do. But Red Spyda brought the track to me and he was like Yo Sheek, if you bang this out, you out of here. It had the feel to me of that Erick Sermon record (Just Like) Music, when he had Marvin Gaye coming in. I said This is hot, everybody loves that Betty Wright, so its just different.
DX: You have a lot of non-New York features on the album, how did you choose them?
S: These are people like I respect. Fat Joe, I like his growth, I like that hes still in the game grinding. Just when you count Joe out, hell come with a Lean Back or Top 10 record. Bun B is definitely a legend in this game, just like myself I feel. And [DJ] Unk, I liked his grind, and it wasnt just because hes on Koch as well. He came to me with these tracks. Like a lot of people that I dealt with are people that I speak to anyway. Like [Fat Joe] could call me like, "Yo, Louch I got this video, come and fly down man, I got you, its like that with us. Even though Ghostface aint on this album, thats another brother that I speak to on the regular, its not even about music.
DX: It seems like whenever you have an album you have a song that talks about your experience in the game and is personal, is there going to be a song like that on Silverback Gorilla?
S: Honestly I think, Dont be Them, thats the one for me. Im explaining to all these people, talking about my experience on the road, off the road. And for the youth thats looking at us thinking we superstars or whatever, we aint. We working, we grinding like any other person thats grinding. And Im saying Dont be Jada, dont be 'Kiss, dont be Sheek, dont be Lox, dont be Kim, dont be Fox, dont be them. Dont be Bush, please not him. You gotta hear it, its crazy.
DX: Do you feel like there are a lot of L.O.X. imitators out there?
S: I hear it in their flows, definitely. I dont think theyre running around trying to be the L.O.X., but you can tell our whole style of rapping grew on a lot of this industry. We dont really do gimmicks, that aint us. So as far as doing a gimmick to be us, we dont really got gimmicks with us. Its just our whole style that we brought to the table.
DX: You didnt really have any solo plans in the beginning, and now it seems like youre going hard with the solo career, would you say youve become hungrier?
S: Hell yeah. Im more than hungry, Im starving. Once I got a taste of it, the blood and all that Cause I was content with just doing the L.O.X. projects, then we slowed up on the L.O.X. projects, everybody was doing their own thing, and then I got into it a little more. But yeah, its fun man. Im not doing construction, Im not coming home from coal mines and all that, Im using my brain and Im putting my pen to the paper. And I got a track going, and a chance to travel and bring my boys off the block and do what I got to do, I love it. And to be in the game this long and walk on stage, and the crowd still yelling your name and loving everything youre doing is retarded. To be relevant right now, thats a dope thing. To reinvent yourself as D-Block, as "the silverback," after all this time, nahmean?
DX: So now youre on a promo tour right now, is touring a big part of your grind?
S: Yeah, definitely, shows and tours cause right now sales aint it. I dont care who you are, sales aint it, so you gotta get on the road. I got a Top 10 record right now with Good Love, and people hear it but they wanna see you, so thats why we get out there and get in each others face and see whats popping and get to the stations and bug out with them, and people got a thousand questions when they call. So you gotta love it, cause sales is down more than 55% ,so we aint banking on that. If it does do well as far as record sales, thats dope. Ringtones and all that, thats cool too, whatever. But Im not really a ringtone rapper, if it goes, it goes.
DX: You praise Koch a lot, are you still as happy with your situation there?
S: You know what? I love Koch, man. And what homie and them say? Koch is a graveyard? Koch is the major right now, Koch is the independent major right now. These majors aint doing shit, and Im not really blaming it on the major and I have nothing totally against them. But you got artists like myself, like Styles, like Jim Jones, all these people thats indie doing better than these guys thats major. The only difference is they put two million dollars behind that person to come out thats on a major, and they dont do shit, but now they owe all that money back. But we over here that didnt put half of that kind of money, the people love us, and we did nice the first week and these other motherfuckas didnt do half of what we did, and they still gotta recoup all that money, looking crazy.
DX: How much of a hand do you have in terms of promotional decisions for your projects?
S: Me, personally, I meet down in the office, its not just management. I come down there to have my meetings I get out there and I talk to them and I tell them, I dont want it this way, I need this picture, I want to go over here. Like my promo run couldve been strictly Virginia, New York, nah. We out in San Francisco, Oakland, L.A., Im trying to reach those people. We getting calls Yo, your record is in heavy rotation in L.A. and Miami right now, its cause Im out there and Im doing what I gotta do. Koch gives you that, I dont know about majors 'cause you're never gonna meet the head dude over there, you gonna meet the A&R or whoever else. Koch, you're going in and meeting and talking about which way your project should go.
DX: How did you link up with Jimmy Henchman and Czar Entertainment?
S: Thats fam right here. Now I seen him at a summit down in Puerto Rico, I told him ,Yo, Im looking for management," so thats how we got to know each other. Shout out to Butch and Lamont, too.
DX: Did you bond over the 50 Cent situation?
S: Yeah you know what? At the time, it was that too, it made sense cause we was actually having our little rap feud with 50, so it all came into play. But that wasnt my only thing. I pretty much got a lot of connects my damn self, I could call anybody whoever else could call, Ive been in this game a long time. But it was someone who could take that and bring it to another level. But yeah, thats when the 50 Cent thing was in play. [Laughs]
DX: Of all the L.O.X., you seemed to go the hardest at 50. Why was that?
S: [Laughs] When we was going at each other, at the shows and all that? At the time it was like the audacity Like, Cmon b, see we dont go about it like that. When you getting at one of us, you might as well get at all of us. He aint talking to me, he talking to Jada. We ride like that, and then he had his boys as well opening their mouth getting at us. Thats why I was like, Man, look any second, cause hes the dude that won't let up. If he see that you weak with it, he gonna keep mashing at you. Us? He made is so that lyrically he couldnt open his mouth, he had to resort to talking about, Lets do something to your project. He aint say that he was going to tear you up on that mic, no way. But whatever, hes doing his thing, he got them millions.
DX: You told us about the new L.O.X. album [click here to read...]. Is Live Suffer and Celebrate going to be that classic L.O.X.?
S: Hell yeah, its going to give you a feel of that L.O.X., that classic music that we do, word up. We study whats going on, the same with me and my solo project, but we dont turn into them. We dont got no gimmicks for you, we aint dancing, we aint coming out for just one single. We got a whole bunch of fresh shit, crazy, crazy, new ideas, everything. Live Suffer and Celebrate is just what we feel. You here living, doing it up, you go through some pain, when its over you celebrate, whether its in heaven or whether its still here on earth. I swear, finally its coming. Hopefully back to school, or a little bit later. I dont know what time 'Kiss is planning on dropping, but if he doesnt make his move, we moving with that L.O.X. project, and you will get a D-Block compilation, No Security. But we always try to feed people, like the Styles record Gangsta, Gangsta, we try to feed the streets with us as a whole. I got a joint on my album with all three of us called Getting Stronger, its crazy.
DX: A lot of crews have disintegrated. What keeps the original L.O.X. so tight?
S: Cause we was never put together by any managers. You got people that was placed together, thats how they became a crew. My moms hang with Kiss moms, for real, they probably going out tonight on a Friday night, they talk to Styles moms. We all own a studio together and a car wash together, and we speak. Im on the road, 'Kiss will come join the show to come help me and go up to the stations, and I do it vice versa. My kids hang with his kids, like we brothers for real. We do it like that. A lot of these dudes, they separate themselves and get egos. Hey you wanna say 'Kiss is the front-man, go head, I know what Im doing, I know I got it poppin right now, Im hot to death! We dont play; we grown men and we be banging out, still hot to death.
DX: You mentioned that youre planning on putting new D-Block artists out such as Buck and Bully. How does your experience with J-Hood affect how you look at doing that?
S: Thats a good question, because Im not so gung ho to work with everybody right now. [Laughs] Like Yall little motherfuckers arent going to get out there and shit on me all crazy! Cause I know Im way bigger than him, and way more grown, so its not affecting me to the point where I cant sleep. But it definitely is like, Damn, this little dude? You get to trust somebody and let them into your camp, and for them to act raggedy with their style and their whole swagger is corny. So Im taking my time with people, but not taking my time putting them out anymore. With Hood, it was more like I had him as my little brother, Nah, we cant do this right now. Any other label wont do that, they dont give a fuck, they like Go ahead, put that project out. They need to meet a quota, they need to meet a date. Thats what them niggas dont know. Us? We were like Nah, lets keep working, man," cause we tried this record, it was hot to death to us, but these deejays didnt like it at all. He was just real tight.
DX: Even Styles had trouble getting his project out at one point, so it seems crazy that J-Hood would be tight.
S: You know what anybody can do that I recommend? You an artist He couldve said Yo, on the real dog, I wanna go and do my own thing. But when somebody asked him a question about it, he couldve said Those are my niggas, but Im doing me right now. But definitely, those are my boys. In that way, hes doing what he gotta do, and we still got support for what hes doing. People think when you leave a company you gotta have beef. You dont have to have beef just cause you leaving somewhere. But I think he took the approach like what we had with Diddy, Let The L.O.X. go, Let the Hood go. Yo Hood, when we were saying Let The L.O.X. go, we couldnt get away from Diddy, they would not let us off the project. We would gladly sign your papers, you just jumped out the window trying to follow a way that we did back then.
DX: And the L.O.X. and Diddy are still cool now
S: Extra cool, and Diddy even gave us back our publishing. And I would never, ever fuck with 'Hood again in my life. I would never do business with him, I would never get back with him. I think hes a talented dude, I think if he get his head together he could still go on to do big things with his life and God Bless him, but hes a faggot as far as the way hes going about shit. Hes talking Yo those niggas over there know my guns go off. Im like, When? What guns going off, where? Why aint the guns going off at us? Trust me, its weird to us too.
DX: We recently passed 11th anniversary of Notorious B.I.G., and you big him up a lot in your music. What was it like recording Last Days with him?
S: Last Days was amazing. I remember the time when B.I.G. was like, Yo, I got this track I want yall on. Right away, I dont care what the song sound like, Word? You want us on your album? You gotta realize we just got over there, he brought us to the station with him to do freestyles in New York, we did a song Youll See, and that went out everywhere, automatically. It was crazy that we made B.I.G.s album. [Sings hook] Can I Live to my Last Day, that joint was crazy, B.I.G. was dope. I just wish we had time to get on stage more with him, you nahmean?