Exclusive: Loaded Lux explains how his father's work ethic inspired "You Gon' Get This Work" and how his hopes to elevate the art form fit in with his role as a father and an emcee.
Dressed in a suit and tie, Loaded Lux struts into New York’s Webster Hall. His confident stride is accompanied by a self-assured grin. He salutes the SMACK/URL audience and says, “I love y’all” repeatedly while shaking fans’ hands. On the stage, he holds his hands together as if in prayer and blows a kiss towards the crowd as they cheer him on. This is a Rap battle and he is giving this crowd a show. He’s giving this crowd that work.
Loaded Lux’s performance at this “Summer Madness 2” event has since become more than just an ordinary Rap battle. It has become a celebrated story told about a man coming back into the Battle Rap world to prove he can compete with anybody. But perhaps more importantly, it has become the story about how Battle Rap can lead to commentary on societal issues, on fatherhood and the condemnation of a gang-affiliated lifestyle. This battle has transcended Battle Rap in a way that even Jay-Z can recognize.
When Jay-Z quoted Loaded Lux, the emcee’s footprints became official in many peoples’ eyes. But Lux has been a part of this Battle Rap culture since he was in elementary school in Harlem, New York. He’s participated in battles on and off camera before and after the popularity of 8 Mile, and he’s been a name to be reckoned with from the SMACK DVD era of Battle Rap through BET’s “106 & Park” Freestyle Friday competitions. This is nothing new to Lux, but the world seems to finally be catching up. From Jay-Z to Lupe Fiasco to your next-door neighbor, Lux is becoming a known emcee for his delivery and content on and off the Battle Rap stage.
Recently, HipHopDX caught up with Loaded Lux to speak about his journey. Lux opened up about his battle versus Calicoe and his battles of the past, including an elementary school bout with a young Jae Millz. He also shed light on life as a father, as a son and as a rapper trying to give listeners “jewels.” Lux explained what it has been like to get that co-sign from Jay-Z as well as what he’s learned from working with Wyclef and Shaquille O’Neal. More than this, while sitting in Wyclef’s studio after a session with the Fugees founder, Lux also shared with us important life lessons he’s learned while maneuvering through this life’s journey.
Loaded Lux On His Work With Wyclef & A Childhood Battle With Jae Millz
HipHopDX: You said you’re working on a Wyclef record. How did that come about?
Loaded Lux: Aw, man. [Wyclef] is a connoisseur of Battle Rap. He loves Battle Rap, so I just came through on the invite. He’s just so dope in the studio; he’s the scientist. They got All Handz On Deck…yeah, All Handz On Deck. As far as watching the scientist, they’ve got the April Showers [project] droppin’. So he asked me to jump on something, and then we started working on something because I have the You Gon Get This Work mixtape. He said, “Yeah, I got you.”
DX: And all of this is from Battle Rap. So I wanted to start by taking you back. Can you take us back to your first battle ever? What do you remember about that?
Loaded Lux: My first memory of battling somebody was a battle that I had with Jae Millz at an elementary school I was going to at the time. That was St. Charles. My man instigated the whole thing and hyped Millz up to want to battle. [He said], “Let me hear something.” That’s how we’d do in the neck of the woods. We’d be like, “Yo, let me hear something.” If the dude knew you rapped, he’d say, “Let me hear something.” This is how it starts. My man didn’t rap but he said, “Let me hear something.” But we were young, though. This was elementary school.
It was a big basketball game [held at the school], and we wound up going to the hallway. That’s how it started. He drew first blood. Then I came back. Boom-boom-boom…back and forth. But the only thing is, we never got to finish it. The staff came and stopped it. We was gonna take it outside, but we just never wound up doing so. But yeah, that’s my first memory of a battle. The first battle that I had was really with Jae Millz; that’s serious. You know, we always in the same vicinity. I’m on 8th Avenue and like 141st. You’ve got Millz and them down the block on like 142nd and Lennox. So it’s all the same vicinity.
DX: So do you remember what you were rapping about in elementary school?
Loaded Lux: I have no clue! It was probably a bunch of guns and stupid stuff I wasn’t even doing! I just knew the concept of taking the components that people rapped about and flipping it to make it into a hot line. I got the concept of a hot line. I’m thinking of what everybody else was doing but doing it in my own way. So I was probably talking about a bunch of nonsense. At the same time, I knew how to put them words together. It didn’t have a purpose then but I had the concept down. I had that.
Loaded Lux Talks Fight Klub Battles & The Role Of Showmanship
DX: So then you make it through the ranks and the film battles and everything. What is your favorite early-filmed battle of yours?
Loaded Lux: I don’t even know if they still got that footage, man. But that had to be that Fight Klub. It was me—[T-Rex], Charlie Clips was with us—and a few others too. That night, Rex was gonna battle that kid, Axel. Axel was crazy, man. He’s never been on a battle stage like that, but he was dead nice. That night was crazy, and they was filming Fight Klub, and they used to do it in front of the pool table. That night, I don’t know what was in me, but I hopped up on the pool table and gave it to some kid. I don’t know what he was talkin’ ‘bout, but we was in there feelin’ ourselves. It was me, Rex, Clips; the whole hood is there, and we all from Harlem. We all nice; we somethin’ like killers, killin’ everything movin’. That night, I think Clips battled...killed a dude. I was next up. I was feelin’ it…hopped up on the pool table. I gave somebody out, and then Rex was gonna go. He just never got to finish his battle with Axel. But that one, in terms of the early televised battles, you gotta ask Fight Klub for that footage, though. That was crazy.
DX: That sounds crazy. You just got up on the pool table?
Loaded Lux: Hopped up on the pool table! I remember everything I had on, too. I Had the jogging suit outfit with some Jordans. That’s crazy! I remember that vividly, hopping up on that pool table and just rockin’. You know how they usually do it, the artists are separate; it was just something in regards to wanting to perform. I used to always tell people, Battle Rap is performance art. Whatever you can do to captivate somebody and hold them at attention so you can say your piece to where it resonates with them, it’s a beautiful thing. That’s what we always shooting for—how high we can connect with one another.
DX: There’s that showmanship.
Loaded Lux: Exactly! Yeah, a big part of it. I don’t know if we’re jumping around, but that’s what kind of happened this time coming back. I felt as though—as far as us being writers and having something to say—we do this on the daily. But then there’s another scale that we didn’t notice at one point, but we are performing. Even to say your piece and to say it to where it really lands and hits home with somebody, you have to say it in a manner with enough spirit to where it’s captivating. That’s done through charisma. It’s that thing that we all have. You just gotta conjure it up. I don’t know if it was just us going around battling each other for so long and doing it with no mic and having people around.
[We were battling] after YMCA parties and wherever with big crowds and us having to perform for hundreds of people with no mic, just you, holding the crowd. These battles are so vivid in my mental Rolodex. When I go back and I see the night where me and Millz battled with Vado and my man Cash, that was crazy. You got about a hundred people and some change out there just on a block in a little space. It’s something to see, and you’ve gotta hold that attention. It’s dope, man. This is what we come up off.
Loaded Lux Recalls Battling Against Den Diddy (a/k/a Den Ten)
DX: Thank you for taking it there. It’s kind of ill, because you’ve experienced both sides of that. But there are battle rappers out now who have never experienced battles without a stage and without a microphone.
Loaded Lux: Wow…yeah. That’s very true with the new way of doing things. It was just happening, man. It was just the time, and I’ve seen some artists that I thought I could never get to that level. I thought some of them was the greatest. Going back, it’s like how you hear certain could’ve-been-Michael Jordan stories; the guy that played in the park and never went to the NBA. I’ve seen so many of these entities. I’m blessed to still have the memories of them, and I can go back to that and relive those feelings and emotions. It’s like watching God work. I seen some killers. It’s what I come up off. A lot of us—Rex did, Mook did…Millz. Head Ice was one of those guys coming up when he was doing his thing. So it’s like, yeah man, it all makes up what we have presently.
DX: Who was one of those could’ve-been-Michael Jordan stories you were talking about?
Loaded Lux: I’d definitely say a guy by the name of Den Diddy. They called him Den Ten sometimes, the Ten Bar Assassin. I’m talking, corner-to-corner, we walkin’ the block era, just gettin’ your name up. Anybody on the set could vouch for that. You can definitely ask T-Rex about that on the co-sign. But Den Ten, he was one of them high school heroes. I ain’t never seen nothing like him. I battled him once. I gotta give him the edge on that. I ain’t gonna say Den killed me, but he just had more experience at the time. I’m talkin’ performance! I’m not talking just dudes having somethin’ to say. They out there performin’, puttin’ a show on and stuntin’. You’ve got grandmothers out there, ladies is out there, fellas, babies; it’s life. It’s happening. But I’m talkin about captivating characters. We was doing this shit before we even knew what we was doing. I watched certain dudes with different schemes and coming up with things that we do now. A lot of it is still innovative, but it’s innovative to what we’ve seen on camera. But I’ve seen things that are happening presently in the Battle Rap culture, and I’m blessed to have.
DX: That’s crazy. Den Ten.
Loaded Lux: Yeah, Den Ten, the Ten Bar Assassin. [He was] the type to roll up on you and give you a mean 10. That’s it. Bang. The rhymes be so hot though, literally. I battled him, so I didn’t get one of those mothafuckas. But he hit a dude right there at the parade on the set. You know, Harlem usually has a parade every year. My man came back to the block talking about this. It was almost like he really seen a man die. He was giving the story up. It was so intricate and detailed like, “Yo, man. He just rolled up, hopped off the bike. The dude went first and then Den just gave him 10, man!” I said, “He didn’t give him no 10 bars, man!” [He said,] “He gave him 10 bars, man, and then walked away! He got on his bike.” Yeah, like, he would give you 10 bars and bang! But the rhymes be so stunnin’, like, “Yo, don’t even make no sense for us to have a whole battle. You see what this is. This is a mismatch all the way around the board. You get 10. I’m out.” That’s how he got the name Den Ten. He was giving dudes 10 bars and getting up outta there. I’m telling you first-hand. I battled the man. He was just extraordinary. He could’ve easily been one of the top dudes now with us runnin’ around. We all would’ve got better, but he would’ve got better too.
DX: So you’re saying Den Ten had to give you more than 10 bars?
Loaded Lux: Yeah, Den definitely had to give me more than 10 bars. You’re not just gonna pull up on the set and just roll out on me. When you’re around this thing, you know performing is an element. You can’t afford not to have it. As important as you saying it, you’ve got to show it. When we was coming up, you seen this in the battles. If you’re not gonna hold that crowd and make a dude feel like, “I ain’t gotta say nothin’ back,” then, yeah, you get them ten bars from Den. But nah, I wasn’t having it. I’m loud too, and I could move with it. That was the big thing. You had to know how to switch octaves and move in a way where people just feel your spirit, charisma and style…your everything. That, a lot of times, was more important really than what you was saying.
I remember watching Head Ice, no BS, man. We was at a concert. We went to [Baltimore, Maryland] to see the  Ruff Ryders/Cash Money tour. I watched Ice, literally, in front of a big crowd, just really talk to D.N.Y. Everybody was trying to rap to them, and everybody was trying to get on. But I’m talking about shutting the strip down. It was like watching God, man, when I talk about these entities. We’re all vessels. But you could just watch that light come through them when they’re in that thing, and they’re saying what they’re saying. This shit is something else. You’ve gotta think. You’re living your life daily on a certain tempo, a certain level or momentum, I should say. But there’s always a time when you tap into your divine. That’s why I say, they ain’t built nothin’ that could really get with me like that. Because when I get into that thing, it’s all she wrote. They ain’t gon’ work hard as me. They ain’t gon’ prepare like me. They just ain’t gon’ do what I’m willin’ to do to become that. I remember watching Head Ice shut down a whole strip. It just felt like he was talkin’, but it was just the body language. The spirit that he had, it was just so captivating, man.
How Eminem, Dizaster & Canibus Rank In Loaded Lux’s Favorite Battles
DX: Taking all of that knowledge and experience and witnessing all of these battles, what if you had to introduce somebody today who has never really seen battles? What three battles would you show them from the current era or anything filmed they could find on YouTube?
Loaded Lux: Aw, man. See, I don’t know who [Eminem] was battling. It was definitely one of these Eminem battles. I would definitely have to say that battle with all of us out there—me, Jae Millz, Vado and my man. That was some shit I wish I had on camera. We had another battle too, where we battled Fred the Godson and his man, Slim. That was dope too, because they did some back-to-back shit and then we came back with some back-to-back shit. That was cool too. I’m talkin’ different things that…if you want to show somebody something, you want to show them.
You want to give a lot to their imagination. That’s what me coming back to Webster Hall [was]. I wanted to show my peers that we’re just so much more than staying on this level. We could elevate with the culture. But if I had to show somebody that, I would like to show them different things. So I would definitely show them that one, with me, Millz and Vado and all of us out there. There’s one with Eminem that I seen that was crazy. And shit, there’s definitely gotta be something with Den Ten in it, man.
DX: I’ve been asking a lot of people this. And unanimously, people have been saying Loaded Lux versus Calicoe and introduce them to battles that way. Are there any of the filmed battles that fans can access easily that you would say, “Yeah, I would put those three battles up there?” Why would you use those battles in particular?
Loaded Lux: Mmm…Okay. If they had to be televised—to the point I’m trying to make—I would probably have to say me and Calicoe. That definitely shows growth. I want to say that. Let me think. I can’t remember who Eminem was battling, man! Gosh, I’ve gotta find that out. I’ve gotta go through that again. It’s definitely this one Eminem battle. And if I just had to pick another one off top, I would say Dizaster versus Canibus. I would say that one too, only because that battle showed…at the same time we do this, I think people should always learn from something. [That battle] shows lack of preparation, and what can happen if you don’t take this thing serious. Even in watching that footage, I felt and played empathetic to the situation and felt like, “Damn, what if I was Canibus and I was in the heat of that?” So I could see somebody doing that, and you really get that from it when Dizaster is just really going in and just laying it to Canibus. But I would show that too, because of Dizaster’s performance. I think it was the third round [where] he took off. I mean, he damn near took off the whole battle. But one of them rounds, he was just really goin’, goin’, goin’. But yeah, I’d probably say that, Dizaster versus Canibus, me versus Calicoe, and I can’t remember the Eminem battle.
DX: Was he battling Juice?
Loaded Lux: Was it the Juice one? I don’t think it was. Was it the Juice? Eminem had this black hat on, a black hat real low. I don’t know if it was a white shirt. I just remember he had the hat damn near over his eyes. I can’t remember what the dude had on. I was just watching Em dance across the stage, mic in his hand, just goin’ off, man.
DX: It might have been him versus Juice at Scribble Jam.
Loaded Lux: It might’ve been, yeah. I know they definitely had the beat on and the retorts was crazy. He was just in a zone. He was just stylin’. I’ve got to give it to Em on that one. I thought it was a great performance. I would only introduce [new fans] to things that I think was great performances, man. It could show the level that a person could go into his mind as far as the culture.
Loaded Lux Explains Fatherhood Angle In His Battle With Calicoe
DX: You just talked about your battle with Calicoe. It really had a now famous third round theme. Was the concept of fatherhood something you wanted to talk about prior to battling Calicoe, or was it something that just came up as you were analyzing him as an opponent?
Loaded Lux: It came up as I was analyzing him as an opponent, to be honest. I thought it was definitely a great counter to anything he could say in regards to biggin’ up or givin’ glory to anything. He wanted to put a badge of honor on his chest as far as his manhood or being tough, you know…that whole street element. I thought we should dissect this whole thing. It was a very broad and general conversation. A lot of artists and a lot of rappers come in to the game and they apply what they’ve seen, what they’ve heard from other artists that may have been successful with the task. They’ll put it in their repertoire and try the same thing. But there’s a flip side to it and everything has cause and effect…action-reaction.
But it didn’t dawn on me until I started really going in and really assessing the whole situation. When I was calculating and putting it together, I was just like, “Wow, this would be a great theme or subject matter to touch on.” Definitely everybody who was in the crowd or anybody who takes a look at it can relate. Because in dealing with that subject matter, we know what comes of it and put some truth to it. It’s hard—very, very hard—to dispute truth. It’s a fact, and in things being fact, it’s not much you could say about it. They say women lie, men lie but numbers don’t. It’s the same thing, same science. So that came to me in the battle with Calicoe, definitely.
DX: Now the whole “You gon’ get this work” slogan, it seemed like it came spontaneously. Was that something that you practiced or was that something that happened spontaneous?
Loaded Lux: [Laughing] Nah, that was very, very organic. That’s you being in the essence, as we like to say or like [Wyclef] likes to say, “Catching the vibe.” [Laughing] But you know, work has always been in the vocab and the mental Rolodex. That’s something we always say, “Watch me work.” Coming up with my father, that’s what we talked about. [He’d say], “Hey, watch my dust, man. Watch my work. We gon’ handle this work.” That’s how we talked. This is regular. It’s always been in my makeup. It just so happened to come out that way on that stage. You know, like, “He’s gon’ get this work, though.” I can’t explain it, man. It was just God coming through. It came out like that spontaneously on stage, but we always kept that work going.
DX: That might be why it resonated with so many people, because it did seem so organic and unforced.
Loaded Lux: Yeah! Yeah! Everything you see on stage, the intensity, the coolness, everything, we groovin’ now. Once we get through the first round and I’m up again, I just go into that second round. We groovin’. We got the feel of this thing. We in our element. We in that zone now. So I’m gonna stake my claim right now, right here on this stage. Once you see that work comin’ out, I’m in my groove. I’m just floatin’. So it’s real, real organic, man. It just happened. But that’s just being comfortable and being sure in knowing your preparation and your work that you put in. It matters. It’s truth. There’s no way it can be disputed. When you put that time and that energy in, it makes a man sure of himself when he walk that walk in every element or every facet of his life. Going through anything, dealing with any situation, I’m sure. I know this. You gon’ get this work! Because I done put work in, he’s got to get this. All of them. That’s why when anybody calls me out, I welcome all adversity. I ain’t got no problem with it at all. It ain’t gonna do nothing but shape me to be a better individual and man, so it’s work. What we doing if we aint doing that?
DX: Speaking of that preparation and remaining cool, when you had that stumble on the “Harlem Hospital” beds, you still didn’t seem like you were too bothered by it. What went through your head at that moment?
Loaded Lux: [Laughing] I like to leave that room for imagination for the people. But we was cool. It was the way it was supposed to be. They could look at it a million times and have different speculations, but that was the way that it was supposed to be. It was supposed to go down and into the history books just like that…just the way they saw it.
DX: Right. I mean, you released the second verse separately. Right?
Loaded Lux: Mmmm-hmm.
DX: And so it was clear that it was planned to be revealed at the battle, but you’re right. I mean, it almost seemed like that [stumble] made the battle more dramatic.
Loaded Lux: Ah! Like a movie, right? [Laughing] It’s like you hangin’ on edge the whole time through. You can’t plan this thing, man. Me and my man, Mack were just talking about this earlier today. You could get an idea. The vision that you have for something, you can get as close to it as you would want to, but at the same time, like Murphy’s Law, whatever will go wrong can. But at the same time, the fact that you had the vision, that’s you doing your best. That’s in the cultivation when you finally get it as close as you can to your vision. And then you doing your best. I swear, and I believe it in my heart of hearts that the universe will take care of the rest. It showed up the way it was supposed to be. God don’t make no mistakes. I’m a man. You know? I’m just in His image, but ain’t no mistakes made. The way that they seen it was the way it was supposed to be.
Loaded Lux: I wouldn’t change it for the world.
Loaded Lux Responds To Praise From Jay-Z
"ya'll gonna get this work" haaaaaa.
— Mr. Carter (@S_C_) September 18, 2012
DX: So then Jay-Z tweets your words, and the whole world goes crazy. Other people tweet your words. Other people tweet about you. What were your thoughts as this was becoming bigger than maybe what most people imagined it would be?
Loaded Lux: Wow…overwhelming. It was a really overwhelming moment. It was so crazy, because I was talkin’ to Un Kasa that day for a second. And then when me and Un hung up, I was talkin to my father. I was talkin’ to him and I was like, “Yeah, man. It’s crazy.” We was talkin’ about the battle, and we was lookin’ at some of the comments and different things like that. We was talkin’ about the feedback. As we were talkin’ about it, Un started calling me on the other line. It’s happening simultaneously, because Un is calling me and I’m lookin’ at Twitter on the laptop. As it’s happening, it dawned on me. Once I seen it, I had seen the tweet as Un was hitting me on the other line. I was like, “Wow. I already know what he callin’ about.” I said, “Yo, pop! Hold on, pops.” I told my pops to hold on, clicked over to Un, and Un was like, “Yo! You see this shit?” [Laughing] Just like that. “You see this shit? Jay-Z just tweeted ‘You gon’ get this work’.” I said, “Yo! Aw, man.” [Un said], “It’s just what I’m talkin about, bro!” He was just going through the whole…it was so crazy. After a while of him giving it up, I had to click over to my pops like, “Yo, this is crazy right now.” It was just an overwhelming moment, man.
I watched the whole thing as it was happening. I’m like, “Wow.” But it also dawned on me that I know how we got to that point. I know everything from the essence, from the genesis of creating something that was in our hearts and doing everything to get on that stage. It was just like watching the results of something that you worked so hard for, man. There’s nothing ever that can come even close to that feeling. No amount of gold, money—no one can give you anything this world has materially that can equate that feeling of working hard and prevailing. And seeing the results of your hard work—there’s nothing that can match that! All the money in the world couldn’t. And if somebody tell you that, they’re lying! A man starting with nothing and turning that to something, nothing’s ill like that. That’s why everybody’s talking about getting money and making money. No. What you really talking about is creating something and making something happen. That’s all it is, bottom line. Nothing’s better than that feeling. So to have that, I was just overwhelmed, just watching the results.
DX: That’s crazy. So your theme was about fatherhood, and you get this tweet while you’re talking to your father. So what did your dad say about this whole thing?
Loaded Lux: He was just telling me, “Hold onto it, man…for as long as you can and run with it. We don’t play no games, man. You’ve got to get it. Stay in the game. Stay focused. Don’t lighten up. Tighten up.” You know, that whole thing. [He told me to] feel it because that’ll remind you that you like that feeling, so you’ll work for it. But he just gave me his best wishes and then he told me to stay focused and go out and get ‘em.
He loves to hear that, too. My pops is just like me; he’ll read each comment. We’re fanatics like that, man. We’ll look at each comment. I don’t care if there’s 3,000 of them, I’m reading everything, every tweet. I really study what everybody’s talking about. It’s just loving what you do, you know what I’m saying? There’s nothing like hearing that connection with people...there’s nothing like that.
DX: So you read every tweet, no matter if it’s Jay-Z or Lupe Fiasco.
Loaded Lux: It don’t matter who it is! [It could be] Johnny from down the block, man! They all count the same to me. I gotta take them into consideration. Unless it’s something just dumb, man, talkin’ about some other shit. But other than that, yeah, man, every tweet, I check out.
Loaded Lux On Performance Art & Inspiring Other Battle Rappers
DX: So you’re dressed in a tuxedo. You brought props to the battle, put images on the jumbo screen and had people dressed up behind you. As you’re going through this and you’re planning it out, what’s your ultimate goal for the theatrical aspect of that presentation?
Loaded Lux: Ultimately? It’s crazy. Don’t we want it to be entertaining? Don’t we want to show out, as far as making our presence felt the day of? Of course, we want to just outperform the competition in every way. But more so, as a whole—as far as the culture is concerned—I really wanted to put it on to show my peers that this thing is really elevating in terms of the interest. So to whom much is given, much is expected. So we comin’ back to the venue. This is my debut return! I’ve got to put on a show, man. They chargin’ $75 to $100 a ticket, and people want a show. You know what I’m saying? They done seen it to the point where anything less than is mundane at this point. I’ve got to show up, and I’ve got to be the most talked about. They’ve got to remember this! That’s how we thinking, though, as we goin’ to put it in.
It’s so funny, man, how…listen, the universe will work it out for you as long as you’ve got good thoughts and you’ve got truth in your heart. I wanted to come out there and—in terms of the time and energy that I put into that performance—we worked really hard for it. It just dawned on me, in regards to doing the theatrical part of putting the performance together, maybe two weeks before. It just hit me like an epiphany like, “Wow! Let’s get into it.” We did the funeral arrangements [video] just playing. I thought it’d be slick. And then it hit me like, “Wow. Let’s go!” It made sense. And as you embark on something that means so much to other people, having this responsibility when you express yourself, it touches other’s lives.
I want to do so much, man. I want to work hard and delve and find information that can make my peers evolve, and it helps me. It keeps me evolving. That was really my whole thing. I went in there to show up and put on a show, but more so for my peers, because I need them too. I need them to make me better, and keep me inspired to create. That’s what we doin’ here. We showin’ up and we creatin’ somethin’ out of nothin’. If we all put the pen down today, what is there? We need the world. People keep people going. So I did that for my peers, though…for the culture. For real, for real.
DX: So do you feel like the culture has taken heed to what you were sharing that night or do you think that it kind of stopped there? How do you feel about the way the culture has evolved since that night?
Loaded Lux: Nah, man! It’s movin’. You gotta these guys like Daylyt; K-Shine just had that battle with DNA. He did the lab coat thing, the whole science project kit. That was so slick. They get it, man. We tunin’ in, and this thing has grown. It’s infinite now, the possibilities. They can’t stop it. I was watching something on Tupac and he said, “I may not be the one, but I may be the one that may sparks the mind that’s the one.” That’s what it’s about, man. You know? So we movin’, though. It’s in motion. It’s happening.
DX: It’s interesting. I just saw the K-Shine battle [with DNA], and you can almost see that rappers are upping the ante in battles.
Loaded Lux: Yes, sir. Yes, sir.
DX: It puts it back on you for the next time you step on that stage to kick it up even more. Right?
Loaded Lux: I welcome it, man. I welcome it. Let me go into a place I’ve never been. That’s what it’s about. You don’t know the true you until you really work for it. You’ve gotta find it. Who knows your pinnacle? So if that be the case, all work is easy work, like my man Money May say. You know? Let’s go and get ‘em though.
DX: Now, you’ve mentioned presentation but also preparation. What goes into a preparation for a battle for you from the day that it’s assigned to the day of the event? What goes into that process for you?
Loaded Lux: Aw, man! See, that’s the only thing…ah, I can’t answer that. [Laughing] Let’s just say a whole lot of focus! If I had to generalize it: a whole, whole, whole lot of focus. That’s something that I stress to aspiring artists and people that ask me what advice I would give to anybody on the come-up trying to embark on their dreams. I just tell ‘em, “Stay focused.” So that’s what is required in my preparation, a whole lot of focus. I can’t give you all the ancient secrets, man. I can’t do that in detail, but that’ll come out. You know how the government put out top-secret information like 20 years later and everything? I’ll probably bring that up then. When it’s all said and done, they couldn’t figure it out, I’ll show them then.
DX: I feel like you’re gonna write a book about it and hide the book and we’re gonna find it out then. Twenty years later, we’ll find it and then we’ll know how Lux prepares for a battle.
Loaded Lux: [Laughing] Right! Like, “Aw, that’s how he did it! That’s the blueprint.” Okay!
DX: “That’s how many times you have to rehearse that line!”
Loaded Lux: [Laughing] Yeah! “Until you’ve really got it and it’s kept! Okay! Now I know!” Yeah, man.
Loaded Lux Talks “True Love;” Gaining Inspiration From “Inception”
DX: Okay, you know what’s really interesting? Just keeping the fatherhood concept there, on “True Love,” you say, “I hold you shoulder to shoulder to bring us a little closer, because I want to, not ‘cause I’m supposed to.” That speaks so much in regards to your views on fatherhood. Where did you write that song? How did that track come together?
Loaded Lux: Well, the original score is from Hans Zimmer for the movie Inception. That’s where the original score’s from. The guy who produced the record, Ahk 2G’s, was showing me something for a clip that he did for a video. When he was showing me the clip, he had the score in it. Now I’m a big movie head as well. I watch movies like crazy—like Inception and anything as far as movies that are interesting—comedies or anything. That’s my thing; I just love to watch films and also watch how a movie is written. It’s very important to me how it segues. It’s somewhat aligned and it is aligned to what we do and what we write. I find stuff like that interesting. When he was showing me the clip, he had the score playing, and I remembered it. I was like, “Oh, that’s my shit!”
Look at the irony in the whole make up. When they are playing the score, that part right there, that Hans Zimmer “Time” track. I think the name of it is “Time,” if I’m not mistaken. When they’re playing that score, the part that we took it from, is played in the part towards the end, where he’s going to finally see his kids. You know, they still leave you hangin’. You don’t know if he’s up, if he’s sleeping or if he’s woke. But every time they show that part with his kids, that beat is playing. I swear…I lie to you not, I wanted to do the record, the music. I didn’t originally have the concept already. I was listening to the beat over and over and over and over, and I swear it just dropped out the sky, man. Out of nowhere, I was like, “Wow!” But when I think about the whole thing, how it all came together. It’s all on the same subject matter. It’s just so wild to me, and it’s so out there. But that was the original score. When I heard it, I told 2G, “You’ve gotta load it up. I need that.” As soon as I heard it, we just started loading it up.
He did the beat right there, and I took it home. I think I had the record in the next two or three days. Word. That was history. I did that before we came, in terms of the orchestration of the battle and all of that. That was all done beforehand. It was just like a divine hand putting it together. It’s so deep. I love stuff like that, man. I get into life like that, watching the connections that all have to do with your thoughts, living introverted, metaphysical…I love all of that. It’s just so crazy how that track played with the kids and his babies, and then we got a song about my baby and then the battle. The most poignant part of it is the third verse that had to deal with the father-son…it’s all crazy. I don’t know. It boggles me, but I love it though.
DX: Right. A lot of people have written about the battle being a great commentary on fatherhood, and then you drop this track and it’s almost like Loaded Lux is gonna become the expert on fatherhood.
Loaded Lux: [Laughing] Laurence Fishburne in Boyz N the Hood. Nah, I mean, it’s just truth, man. We all connected, man.
DX: So you got to play this track for your son. What’d he say when he heard it?
Loaded Lux: My little man? He’s just singin’ it. If he likes a record, he just rocks it. However long he rock it…we just usually get in the car, and we start playing the records. He got his favorites. But that’s, ironically, he really likes the song. That’s dope.
DX: He’s gonna have words to carry for years.
Loaded Lux: Yeah! Yeah! No doubt, man. The babies need that love, man. You just gotta instill certain things in him at this point. So when he gets older, he can have the concepts with him. That’s all I want my baby to do—as far as my son—to take these concepts I give you. You’ve gotta apply them. You’re gonna have to think, baby. You’re gonna have to survive out there.
DX: Especially after that battle, you kind of have to be like the illest dad ever [laughing].
Loaded Lux: Right? Right! [Laughing]
DX: You put some pressure on yourself there.
Loaded Lux: I’m gonna do the best I can. This thing don’t come with no rulebook or no manual. It’s usually passed down, though. I will say I had a great role model in regards to fatherhood. My father was definitely my hero. He’s given me everything in terms of his love and his teachings. I couldn’t have had a better start in regards to that…in terms of knowhow and what you must do. I’m not talkin’ material. I’m just talking about a man being a man. That’s what you gotta do, and he was a great example of that. I’m just gonna keep the torch. You know what I’m saying? I’m passing it down.
Loaded Lux Praises Eminem’s Depiction Of Battle Rap In “8 Mile”
DX: You talked about being a fan of films. That made me think. Earlier you said an Eminem battle was one of the illest you’d seen. What did you think of the 8 Mile film and how it depicted battles? Did you feel it was true-to-life or was it theatrical? Was it weak to you? Was it dope to you? What did you think?
Loaded Lux: I actually enjoyed 8 Mile. It actually showed his life from a standpoint of it being an uphill battle trying to make it and then having to get in this ring. And it’s the same thing. This is no B.S. I’ve been around grandmothers, grandfathers, babies. It’s very hard to not be interested in two people dueling it out. Think about just walking the street on the average day, and a fight’s about to break out. For some reason, they can’t help but to look and be interested in what’s about to happen. It’s that feeling of battle and competition, because it’s what’s so true to your nature. It’s a battle every day just with yourself in making choices, decisions and staying focused and doing what you’re supposed to do to get where you gotta go. That’s a battle. That ain’t easy. So, I love how they depicted that in the movie. It shows how he had to stay focused, and he had to sacrifice and do a lot of things to get the success that he achieved in the room. It was very well shot and depicted.
DX: A lot of people have talked about Eminem being one of the few shedding his battle rapper image. Have you found it difficult to shed the “battle rapper” image? Is that something that you even want to shed? How do you approach it from here on out?
Loaded Lux: Nah! You embrace all that you are! Em did Em. He was who he is. That’s the same thing. I guess it’s because this stigma has long been perpetuated and put out there as far as battle rappers transitioning to music. When you hear things, people digest it. It’s a lot of sheep and few shepherds. People hear things, and they just take it for what it is.
People’s mentality is, “They said it on TV. They said it on the news.” But the beauty of life is you can always change things. It’s always forever changing. With me, as far as I’m concerned, I embrace all that I am, all that I do because it is me. You can’t just take one aspect of me. You’ve got to take it all. I ain’t got no problem with that. These are things that I’ve achieved, and these is my accolades. Yeah, I battle rap. You can put me in that category, if you want. There’s more to me than that. [Laughing] Like me or love me for whatever it is, but at the end of the day, they sayin’ something and they sayin’ something from the essence. I’ll never deny that, dispute that or try to be something other than myself.
DX: I was talking to Immortal Technique about this recently and he said, “It’s not battle rappers. Most rappers can’t make good songs nowadays.”
Loaded Lux: Right, in general. Yeah, it’s either not enough truth in it, because you’re put into a position where you just want to make something sound successful or feel right and the content of Hip Hop change. It’s not so much about the message and more about the feeling. It’s still going on today. You’ve got artists that say something. You’ve got artists that fill voids. It’s pockets. We’re all here for our purpose. Life is about balance, and it has to have balance. That’s what’s going on now too, somewhat, with the saturation of the game in terms of sounds. If we search deeper, we just see who we are. It’s there. But what happens is you’ll have a company or a label or anybody that has control trying to make a dollar out of something. They’ll watch the wave or watch the way the sound is, and then try to manipulate it because it’s successful. That has nothing to do with the integrity of the game or the artist just being who the artist is and expressing what’s true to him. Why even be artists? What do you have to say, if you’re not gonna do that? This is what we’re doing.
DX: They’re looking for the sounds but they’re not looking at Inception enough.
Loaded Lux: Mmm! There you go, beloved! [Laughing]
Loaded Lux On SMACK/URL’s “Summer Madness 3” & Hollow Da Don
DX: Of course everybody who is a fan or follower of the Battle Rap culture is really excited about [SMACK/URL’s] “Summer Madness 3.” I think Loaded Lux versus Calicoe is a big reason why. They want to see the follow-up. They want to see what Lux has in store. What can you tell us about “Summer Madness 3?”
Loaded Lux: Just be there. You need to be there! Especially if I’m in the building, you need to be there. Just know that we’re never gonna cheat ourselves, first and foremost. We’re never gonna do that. As long as we don’t do that, we ain’t gon’ cheat you. So come on down. Come watch the show. That’s as much as I can give you for now [laughing].
DX: Now you said “if,” so it’s not for sure that you’re gonna be at “Summer Madness 3?”
Loaded Lux: Nah, it’s not in stone. It’s not in stone.
DX: We’ll wait on that. So Hollow Da Don decided to bait you at [the] Conceited versus Tsu Surf [battle]. What did you make of that?
Loaded Lux: I thought it was a good ploy. If I was in his shoes—in terms of taking on who’s hot in relevancy—I’d probably throw a shot at me too. You know what this thing about. I feel I’m the best, so in order for me to let you know that I know I’m the best, I’ve gotta take on the best or who you think the best is. So if the world or people speak of Loaded Lux as the top, I’d probably take a shot too. It ain’t nothin’ personal. It just comes with the territory. This is why we say, “Stay ready so you don’t gotta get ready.” So yeah, I don’t make nothin’ of it. This is Battle Rap, and I could respect that. That ain’t about nothin’. It’ll shock me when you show up. That’s what I think.
DX: I’ve heard battle rappers talk about having [battle] rounds in the stash just in case something were to happen. Is that something that you carry with you?
Loaded Lux: I’m always writing. I just am. There’s never a dull moment. Whatever it may be for, this is my life. This is who I am. This is my makeup. This is what I do. This ain’t no annual. This ain’t no time period or something temporary. This is who I am. This is what I was put here for. So as far as it being specifically for people, I don’t know. But on the daily, in general, I’m just always writing and always trying to get better. I’m in the studio now, still. But I’m learning. I’m always learning different things to add to the repertoire.
Loaded Lux Speaks On Learning From Wyclef & Shaquille O’Neal
DX: Working with Wyclef now, what have you learned from this experience?
Loaded Lux: I would say linking or staying attentive for the people. There’s different techniques, different things that he’s teaching me in regards to melodies and different things that flow in regards to the beat. [I’m learning] different things like that to just keep an audience member captivated. In terms of how we do it, I could relate from the stage in how we say certain things or why we say certain things. So this is right up my alley…in the same lane. It’s just a different cadence, but he was showing me different tricks on how to keep them captivated. So that’s definitely dope. So that was certain pointers, but the rest of it was just watching God work. [Laughing] It was just watching a show, man. It just came natural, and I don’t even think he can explain how it came up. It just was what it was. Yeah, I’ve been learning though. He’s a scientist.
DX: You’ve talked a lot about watching God work today. Where does this idea come from for you? Where did that originate for you?
Loaded Lux: Well, don’t sink so much into the word “God.” It ain’t the word. It could be anything. I say God. I say the essence. I say truth. But it’s all one in the same. It’s that thing that you know is there that we all got. It’s almost like when you hit a dead end or not even a dead end. When you’re at an intersection and you could only go left or right. What makes you go right, or what makes you go left? It’s that thing. You know what I’m saying? I know we are that, and everything comes from that. I’m tellin’ you, man. In 20 years, I’ma give away the whole thing. Twenty years!
DX: You know what’s ill? You talk about learning from Wyclef, but you’ve also linked up with others, Shaquille O’Neal in particular. How did that connection come about?
Loaded Lux: Aw, man. Shaq is another connoisseur, man. He watches a lot of battles. Actually, he’s Cory Gunz’s friend. He called me one day. We was just buggin’ on the phone, but they was all chillin’ together. They had let me know Shaq wanted to holler at me. When we got on the phone, we was just talkin’. He was talkin’ about how he loved the battle.
You know, Shaq used to get busy. He rapped. People don’t remember too much, but Shaq had platinum albums. So in regards to that, he was just letting me know that he was really entertained and impressed with the battle. He came to New York, and he was shootin’ a comedy. We just linked from there. We got to know one another personally. He was dope, man…a good humble dude. We clicked, man. You know, meeting my big brother, staying in touch with him. We got family. Sometimes you gotta go out and find your family, you’re A-alikes, dudes that operate in the same way as you. In meeting Shaq, he’s definitely a great human being, good peoples, great ethics, great dude, loves to laugh, loves to smile and be happy. That’s what it’s about. True story.
DX: That is something that comes off in the video where he’s clowning around too.
Loaded Lux: Word, man. It was crazy. [Laughing] I can’t talk about everything, but he’s dope. He’s just a great guy, a great human being. He’s cool like that, real cool. True story.
DX: People do forget about TWISM.
Loaded Lux: Yeah they do, man! The man had platinum albums. That tells you something too about why you’ve gotta stay on your game. This life moves. It goes on, and it keeps forever changing. It’s supposed to be that way, but it’s for us to move with it. That’s the beauty of it. As life keeps moving forward, you’re supposed to keep elevating. You’re supposed to get better. That’s what this is about. In this journey, we as people, have to keep reminding ourselves, in terms of being on that righteous path and staying motivated with ambition. These are the heart attributes. This is a higher point of living you’ve got to keep up with. That’s what you’re here to do. You’re here to produce, fill a void and become your purpose. But yeah, people forgot. They definitely forgot.
DX: In terms of keeping it moving and moving forward, how far along are you in the next official, full-length Loaded Lux album?
Loaded Lux: I really don’t know how many are keepers [laughing], but we got a lot of joints. I’m in the studio now, and I actually gotta go to another session after we wrap up. Then I’m gonna record more joints. So I don’t know. I’m just putting them down. I’m trying to stay motivated and busy. I think it’s very important. There should be no such thing as idle time. Everybody’s here with a purpose, so there’s always something that you should be doing.
Loaded Lux Expresses Interest In Future Collaboration With Jay-Z
DX: Have you reached out to Jay-Z?
Loaded Lux: Not as of yet. I’ve met some mutual parties; let’s just say that. We’ve sent some word back, but I didn’t get to him yet. But I know it’s coming along. Hopefully when we get to that point, everything will just be right where it’s supposed to be, and he ain’t got too much going on. I mean, he always got a lot going on, but he’s definitely one of the premier artists that I’d love to work with and experience and learn from. You don’t get to that level of success without having a heightened level of living and knowhow. Definitely, just chopping it up with the man would be dope for me. Yeah, man. I’m always looking to learn.
DX: Hopefully we don’t get the collaboration with the 20-years-later book.
Loaded Lux: [Laughing] Yeah, that we don’t want. I’m trying to get that this year, hopefully.
DX: The last time we saw you battle was at [last year’s] “Summer Madness 2.” Since then, we haven’t really seen you battle. What does it take to get you on the stage?
Loaded Lux: Definitely the competition and having something to say. I don’t think time should be wasted, especially on that platform. If you see me up there, it’s on. Every time up, it’s on. It’s going down. We at a point where we’re catalysts for the culture, myself , top tiers like Murda Mook and a lot of legends you seen on stage at “Summer Madness.” There’s a lot of new guys coming in in regards to Battle Rap, and they making their own way. There’s nothing wrong with that. But as far as the culture’s concerned, I’m gonna try to keep it artistically at a level where people are always excited and entertained as far as the culture and they want more of it. The only way to do that is to keep the movement moving and evolving and showing people, artistically, how high we can go. That’s what it’s about.
I look at artists like Jay-Z, like Kanye [West] and I’ve watched the evolution. I’ve been inspired—not even just as artists, I mean as people—watching prominent people and how they come along. This hasn’t failed them, so in watching different examples, it must be done in order for this movement to keep being prosperous. I love Battle Rap. I love the culture. I love what it means to Hip Hop and to the world. Understand, this thing has grown as far as music is concerned, on a Rap level. You’re always hearing new music and different things that we like, catchy hooks and beats. There’s nothing wrong with that. But as far as the content and what we’re speaking on, that will forever be. As far as I’m concerned, that’s always shaping and molding different lives, man. You can dance to your favorite record, man, and you like it. You like the beat, you like the feel, but a lot of what they’re saying…
You’d be surprised how much it influences the babies out here, the teenagers and people that take their content and act that out. They become that. These are now the leading authority figures for certain people. So it’s just always responsibility, man. We’ve got to keep the word important. I think Battle Rap, that’s what it’s about. What are you saying? That should always be important. This needs a forum that keeps the word important. That’s my thing.
Loaded Lux On Gaining Inspiration From His Father & Malcolm X
DX: You just mentioned artists being leading authority figures in lives. Who were the leading authority figures in your life?
Loaded Lux: I want to say definitely my father, man, first and foremost. I watched a lot of prominent writers and advocates. I definitely loved Malcolm X, rest his soul, and James Baldwin. One of my favorite authors is John Baines. I’m trying to think. Aw, man. I don’t know. There’s so many. If I could name a few that helped me model my works and just try to be a human being, those are some of the people that I definitely look to and admire.
DX: At a young age, this was something that you saw?
Loaded Lux: Yeah, definitely. My father was in my life, and he pointed me to certain things. He showed me certain things. At first, I’m young, and there’s some things that I’m not too interested in. But I love my father, so I’ll check it out. It was there, but ain’t nothin’ like learnin’ when you’ve got a hunger for knowledge. There’s nothing like it when you really want to know something. You’ll be surprised what’s entertaining to you when you get to that level. So at first, I was exposed to it very young. As I grew and progressed and started to have my own experiences that I should read and hear about, yeah, now I need to know. I want to know!
DX: And then that “want to know” leads to the want to show. So after that, you start to write about these thoughts and ideas that you’re having.
Loaded Lux: The want to know definitely leads to the want to show. Yes, yes, man, yes. You know? It’s one thing to believe in something but to know, know makes the faith, man. It resonates so true to you, and then you can’t help but to write what’s true to you because it comes from you. This ain’t no make-up. If I go in and I put it together, it’s coming from that thing, man. That’s the essence.
DX: Okay, so you start to write, and right now you were talking about teaching to the babies. How important is it for you in your own writing for this upcoming album, especially with the platform that you have now?
Loaded Lux: It’s very, very [important]. You want to put content in the message that’s definitely uplifting. Then there are ways of doing it, the tricks of the trade, to where it resonates when you’re trying to get it to the masses. I understand that may not be as popular right now to say something that matters. They may be young, but at the same time, they know what’s right and what’s true. Your nature can’t lie to you. You may not want to get around to it now, because it may not be as interesting, but young adults and adults will get it. Children and teenagers, it’s gonna get ‘em as long as the material and the content is there.
I used to hear records by [Notorious B.I.G.] and [Tupac], and it didn’t resonate with me then. I still heard the music. And then five years down the line, I heard that same song, but I’m listening to it now with a whole ‘nother perspective. And now, wow, it’s like, “Okay, that’s what he meant. That’s what he was saying! I got it!” But for it to never be don’t make any sense. What’s the point of having these thoughts and this view and not to give it and share with everybody? There’s no point to that. That’s not what we’re here for. This thing is very important to put those messages in the music. And yeah, we party. You know, we have a good time. We human. We live and do everything like everybody else. At the same time, there has to be a point of responsibility, of consciousness, of understanding what’s important and prioritizing and doing it right, though. See? Prioritize it right. There’s nothing wrong with content that’s out there now, but if you don’t balance it with that other thing, then we’ve got a problem.
DX: Yeah, it’s interesting to hear a song by Kendrick Lamar in a club that is about not wanting to drink anymore and people are toasting to that song with drinks in their hands.
Loaded Lux: Right! But this is what I’m saying. You’ve got to recognize how to slip in [that message]. My man Mack was just telling me, “It’s like you’ve got to give them the food but you’ve got to give them jewels. Maybe not the whole thing but one or two of them may hit them like, ‘Oh, okay! I see it! Alright. That’s what he means!’” But it’s knowing how to do it. [Wyclef] was showing me that too. It’s picking your shots in regards to that so we gon’ be smart about it, though.
I think the most genius person in terms of doing that was Tupac. Thug Life. Ran with that. We thuggin’. But he had a purpose behind that. He knew what he was doing. He was building an army. He had soldiers. And it was gonna be something righteous. It just took a matter of time, and though he never got there, he left a blueprint. I get it. I see it.
How Fatherhood Impacted Loaded Lux’s Music & Lyrics
DX: So did having a child impact you in the way that you thought about writing?
Loaded Lux: Aw, man…more than ever! More than ever. That changed my whole perspective, first and foremost. I can only write from my perspective. Having my son heightened my conscious level in terms in terms of what we doin’ out here leaving something for the babies. You’ve got to do that. That’s what this is about. That’s what being a responsible adult is. So he definitely affected that in every level. He’s heightened my ambition and my tenacity to go and get it. That was everything. I feel like I was born with my son. You know, I was here but I was born. I started living when I had my son.
DX: That’s interesting. In what way?
Loaded Lux: It’s very interesting, man. It’s so funny because you have a male child, and you call him the son. The sun gives light and energy and feeds everything. You know? That’s so profound to me though. That’s really important to me. You have a son, but the sun is the reason we here and why everything grows. I had my son, and I grew when I had my son. That hunger for knowledge I was talking to you about, that happened with my son. All that information now found its purpose. I knew I couldn’t be in that state of being if I was gonna walk into fatherhood. We can’t live like this. Everything got to change. What we thought it was ain’t what it is. But now I see that. Now I see.
DX: So you’re in the hospital and this realization hits you?
Loaded Lux: Yo, I remember the first time I looked at my son…that shit was crazy! I can’t even give you the verbiage to describe. It’s inexplicable, man. It was very overwhelming. But the moment, when it hit me, I was saying, “I’m a father.” I’m leaving out the room with baby girl, and I’m going to look at my son, and it was so crazy. I was like, “Wow, I’m a father.” It was ill. I could never escape that.
But that moment was so overwhelming to me, and we just started moving into who we needed to be. That’s what life does. If you stay true, you become who you need to be to get through any situation. But you’ve got to be conscious of it. You’ve got to want to do it. I knew I wanted to be better. I wanted to be a better man for my son. He gave me that, and I want to give him everything.
That’s why, if you listen to the hook in “True Love,” [I say], “This what I live for. I’m raising you. You raising me up. Can I live more for my lil’ man?” Though I’m raising you, you raising me at the same time! That’s the deepest part people don’t understand about having children. When you young, running and you have a baby, then that thing dawns on you that a child don’t eat if I don’t eat. He ain’t gon’ have a way if I don’t make a way. When that hits you? Man! And if it don’t hit you like that, I don’t know. But for me, that was it. Everything that did matter that wasn’t conducive to him having a better future, it then didn’t matter.