Overdoz Enlist Pharrell, Clams Casino & Others For Their Album, "2008"
Exclusive: Overdoz details the role they've played in L.A.'s resurgence and how their hijinks don't reflect their greater musical mission.
With ties to all of the major players involved in Los Angeles' present reign, Overdoz has put forth the necessary hard work to soon be recognized within their own right. Friends since adolescence, the four-man crew has pulled from a wide array of influences and gradually matured while sticking to themes they know best: debauchery not limited to recreational drug use and promiscuity. Taking their craft serious while engaging in outlandish antics, they have fine tuned their sound to near perfection with the recent Boom coming on the heels of a two-year hiatus, fulfilling the hopes of impatient fans and extending their reach to a new audience altogether.
In a game centered around branding, there's no easy way to categorize Overdoz as they're readily capable of being all things to all people. This versatility is reflected in their behavior as they can almost be considered two duos uniting under one banner. Their energetic humor and eclectic sides are most apparent by way of court jester Cream and the attention commanding wild card Joon, while P is the group's most reserved member and Kent carries perhaps the largest responsibility juggling the loads of emcee and lead singer. Not safely defined as a Hip Hop act, their style is best thought of as experimental and futuristic though they stay mindful to include melodies that can translate well with older listeners.
After extensive touring with the likes of A$AP Ferg and Danny Brown and recording alongside the West Coast's new all-stars including Kendrick Lamar and Dom Kennedy, Overdoz is on the cusp of realizing their dreams now that they're signed to RCA's Polo Grounds imprint. Bringing new life to the concept of a Hip Hop group (a dynamic nearly replaced by the shift towards label compilations from Young Money, G.O.O.D. Music, Maybach Music Group and A$AP Mob), word of mouth has boosted the group's profile and status now that they have major backing. Cream, Joon, Kent and P recently took time with HipHopDX to discuss their potential to reawaken the mainstream, their strong working relationship with THC (responsible for Kendrick's "m.A.A.d. city") and the shenanigans that have strengthened their bond musically and personally.
Overdoz Explains Their Evolution and Maturation Over Time
HipHopDX: Your first release, Bowties & Rosaries is hard to track down, but newer fans can see the three releases since (Nova, Live For, Die For and Boom) all sound completely different. How would you say you reinvent yourselves each time out?
Joon: Going through different shit, that's really it. On each project we were going through something else, and on the next one we're gonna be going through some whole other shit.
P: Bowties & Rosaries was me and [Kent] Jamz when we were first going hard with music. I was learning how to rap and what beats I sounded good on. With Nova, Joon came to the group, and Cream was already with us all the time.
Cream: That was more like fun, because we were just in LA making good music and having fun with it. With Live For, Die For, life got more serious and we had to grow up. So we were always together.
Joon: On Live For, Die For our parents stopped giving us money.
Cream: We went from house to house. We were at P's house, Kent's house, my house ordering all the movies…Joon's mama's house in the Valley.
Kent: We were getting thrown out of everybody's house for wearing out our welcome.
Joon: Every week we had a new house, because niggas was like, "Alright, y’all niggas are getting too wild."
DX: Tell me about your history with the production duo THC as far as the chemistry you have with them and how they've helped your sound come about.
Joon: I hated Axl [Folie] the first time I met him. We did 'shrooms together the first time we met.
Cream: You was 'shrooming before we were, so we didn't know what was really going on. First of all, I had to lie to my mama to get out the house, because I was on punishment in high school…
Joon: He said he was going to a Jay Z concert [laughs].
Cream: I said I was going to a Jay Z concert with Joon, because Teena Marie had the hook up, and her daughter gave us the tickets. We were going with them. I said, "I love Jay Z, and Kanye gonna be there too, so I gotta see Kanye too," and she said, "Alright." She gonna be so hot when she hears this. I was lying my little ass off. I met Folie that day, and we were 'shrooming. That was in 2008.
Joon: Folie kept telling me to put my shirt on, and I wasn't feeling it, 'cause I was a shirt off nigga for years. But I figured he had to be cool, because I went to middle school with his sister. Then I started fucking with him, and I was like, "This nigga's cool, plus he got beats [laughs]."
P: I think I my first time meeting Folie was in the studio. Jam had invited him, he put his hoodie on and he was just quiet. But there's something about Folie and Ricky—they make great music.
Overdoz Says They Won't Compromise Integrity For Radio Play
DX: On Boom you worked with up and coming soul acts like Iman Omari and Gwen Bunn as well as street dudes like Nipsey Hussle and Problem. How do you find yourselves bridging the gap between such different worlds?
Kent Jamz: Musically, we always try to search for that medium of supplying the fans that know about us. I call that the streets, and then you got the general public. The general public is the people who may like you without necessarily downloading a CD, and they may have just seen a video or two. On Boom we were just showing people the musical barriers that we don't have; we can record with Nipsey Hussle and Iman Omari on the same CD. You didn't mention it, but there's also songs with DJ Drama and Juicy J along with Problem. Those are club people, and we want to service our fans in the club, and we wanted to play shit that we would be satisfied with.
At the same time, we want to make something people can ride home to [with their parents] like, "Mama, listen to this Overdoz song. I know you don't like this one, because of what they're talking about, but listen to "Baby Steps."" You can get that with "Inside" that we did with Gwen Bunn. We listen to a lot of different music, and if we don't like it, then we know the fans ain't gonna like it, because they like what we like. At the end of the day we're still Overdoz fans too. We wanted to choose the best songs that serviced every aspect of music that we were listening to at the time.
Joon: As far as bridging the gap is concerned, we are the gap. We grew up in the hood, but we fucked with everything else from the white people to Mexicans and everything else.
Kent Jamz: We wasn't rich, but we wasn't poor. We know exactly how to tap into that and make Hip Hop lighter but serious at the same time. So when the album 2008 comes out with Sony, you'll see we've been listening to more EDM, we've been to festivals like Coachella and Lollapalooza, and we want to service that crowd now while also being played on New York and L.A. radio. Bridging the gap is our niche.
DX: Boom's opening song, "Underground" talks about not sacrificing yourselves musically with P saying, "Won't let you suits destroy us, telling me how to change to get some change." How are you balancing out your label's expectations for a hit song with your creativity and being able to do whatever it is you want musically?
P: We ain't really been that far yet to where they tried to make us change. When I said that, I was talking about the process of getting signed, where people were wanting to sign us and telling us what they expected. To get signed, you could really give up the ass, no homo [laughs]. You could really give up the ass trying to find your dreams, and that's what the industry wants. From the little bit of experience we have, I see a lot of it is about them trying to pimp you.
Joon: Our label believes in us right now, and they're not trying to change us.
P: That's not our situation. I wasn't talking about the people that took the risk on us.
Kent Jamz: I don't know if they remember, but that song was recorded while we were meeting with Epic and Def Jam, and it seemed like we were meeting with every label at the time. Especially when Pharrell tweeted about us, because he was supposedly starting a label at the time, and he wanted us to go with him at one point. It was different stuff going on with us where we dropped a video for "Lauren London" and mothafuckas wanted to sign us off of that. So if we were going to come out with a project, we wanted to start it off [with a song like "Underground"].
We wanted to tell the corporate people that we know what the fuck is going on, and you ain't just gonna get us how you get other mothafuckas. We got a lawyer. We got a lawyer to check our lawyer, and we got accountants to check our accountants. It's that type of world, and we've already seen that when we look at groups like Slum Village or even The Pharcyde. That's the reason OutKast can't make music [where Dre appears on a Big Boi solo song] because of something technical going on with the label that you overlooked.
P: The first question they would all ask is, "What do you have that they can play on the radio?" Every time they asked us that, we would say, "Radio is gonna come to us. When the radio is ready for us, that's when we'll be on the radio." We know that's what it's about, and that the politics of the game say you gotta have a hit. But we're not gonna make music like that. It's gonna come just because it's good music.
Joon: You gotta have a sample in your hit to get on the radio. Everything is recycled right now with a old song that we grew up to that niggas remixed.
Why Kent Jamz Feels Overdoz Is The Most Important Group In Hip Hop
DX: You guys are still young, and as Kent mentioned a moment ago ,you make music that folks your age and older audiences can enjoy. How do you find yourselves able to please both crowds?
Kent Jamz: I still want to be James Brown and fucking Ron Isley. Just how some niggas probably want to be Rick Ross; I want to be George Clinton. But at the same time, when I go outside, I'm gonna dress how I want. I'm not gonna wear a sweatsuit like my pops. Like Joon said, everything is recycled, and I believe that in spirits and energy as well. That's why when people look at us, they see that energy that we've learned and cultivated from these types of groups. That's why I make the comment that right now we're the most important group in Hip Hop.
People recognize that we can tap into different walks of life not only through race but musically. No matter what, everybody everywhere needs water and food, which I feel like is music and movies. Music is water; you need that to live and sometimes people fast, where you can go a while without eating. But you can't go no day without hearing a song or listening to music—even if it's somebody humming next to you on the street.
Joon: We're good kids too. We wild niggas, but we was some good kids. I want my parents and grandma to be able to listen to my music.
P: Our families are musicians and listen to all kinds of music.
Kent Jamz: My dad is a pastor.
P: The things our parents listen to came through us, and everybody can say that. You know what songs your parents listened to.
Kent: We might not sample a Ron Isley record, but I'll sing like Ron Isley on "Baby Steps" out of respect, or I might say a Biggie line. A lot of people might not get it, and a lot of people used to hate on Jay Z back when he did it. But a lot of artists is doing that right now, and I'd rather do that as opposed to sounding like a sample on the radio. We do sample music, but people identify with the actual sound of what we're doing and we sound like who we listen to.
DX: When you say you're the most important group in Hip Hop right now, what role would you say Overdoz plays in California's present renaissance?
Cream: I say we have our own lane. We're the guys that you're gonna have fun with.
Kent: We were in the parties back in the day with DJ Mustard. He used to deejay parties when we were 16. Even if you didn't know us, you'd tell your cousins from out of town, "I know them…that's my homies."
Joon: We was supposed to do a EP with Mustard.
Kent: I feel like we're the cool, laid-back kids. We played football and baseball in high school, we was most popular, best dressed and all that.
Cream: We just smoke a lot more weed now.
Overdoz Talk Joon's Childhood Music Career & Early Show Memories
DX: Joon, you have a lot of history coming up around everyone from Snoop Dogg & Kurupt to Michael Bivins. Tell me about your earliest experiences with music before Overdoz.
Joon: I've been doing music for a long ass time. I still remember opening up for Boyz II Men and Destiny's Child in New York when I was eight with the Biv 10 Pee Wees. It was weird, because I would always be doing school and music. I'd get my work and leave school, but my dad would never let me leave sports for music. If I got football, I'm not doing that show, so I always had a regular childhood, but music was mixed in there.
Cream: Man, he did not have a regular childhood [laughs]. I went to junior high with the kid, and he would just be shaking school. I was like, "Damn, Joon gone? Where's Joon at?" He'd come back in a few weeks from touring and I'm like, "Man, I be on the blacktop running with that nigga."
Joon: But we all played sports together, so I was like a regular nigga still. That's one thing: if my kid does music, he ain't leaving music for sports. You playing in your league, and then after that you can go and do it. You still need to be a regular nigga. Child stars grow up fucked up because of the shit they be seeing, and my dad made sure that shit didn't happen to me.
DX: I saw you guys open for Danny Brown last summer, and it was a pretty crazy performance. Joon had on a tiger costume, and you guys trolled the crowd with your drummer running on stage like he was going to fight you…
Joon: That is the fastest, strongest nigga in life.
Cream: That's the homie. It's a fact he's the brown Power Ranger.
DX: What are some of the craziest show memories you guys have?
Kent Jamz: In Tampa, on this last run with [A$AP] Ferg with these two girls while I was onstage. Literally, one grabbed my dick, and the other one had my balls…just ripping them apart. I couldn't believe it.
Cream: I got a show memory that was dead wrong. When we performed at the Echoplex, we brought out Nipsey Hussle. I stage dived and they didn't catch me, so I fell straight to the floor.
Kent: Stage diving is one of the most fun things. I feel like a god.
P: What I always remember is the first couple of shows that me and Kent did, and these two clowns was right there in the front.
Kent Jamz: They were screaming for us to do certain songs, and we were like, "Shut the fuck up, you know we 'bout to do that."
Joon: We Lil' Mama'd their show before we was in the group. I remember one time we walked in late and "Hey Mama"—the last song they were doing—was our favorite song, so we walked in turned up.
P: That's just a testament to how organic our group is.
Joon: Looking back, shout out to Sean Healy [for booking us]. Them was some days.
How Overdoz Works Adult Entertainment Into Their Routine
DX: I first found out about you guys with the "You're Blowin It" video. Unless it's a strip club setting, you don't really see naked women in Rap videos every day. How was that video received when it came out?
Kent Jamz: A lot of people didn't see that. I don't even think my parents have seen that yet. There's one on YouTube, and I don't know how they got it up. We put it out on Vimeo at the time, because that was where you could release that type of content. The reception was really 90% positive, believe it or not. A lot of people got the topic we were trying to attack. It wasn't to disrespect women or just have a naked girl in the video, it was to capture the thirst of how chicks are over any dude in the same city [over weed].
Joon: Shit, her uncle said, "I like that video." Her uncle!
Kent Jamz: She tried to sue us low key. Shout out Asia Dee; she's on tour with Kanye West now. She said, "Can you take the video down? My agency said they were going to sue you." I was like, "That's not my problem."
P: We not taking it down.
DX: Speaking of the strip clubs, you guys seem to be connoisseurs from songs like "Lapdance" and "Barbary Coast." What are some of the top clubs you've been to?
Kent Jamz: We haven't been to Tootsie's in Miami yet, but we went to King Of Diamonds this last time.
Cream: We didn't get to go to one in Houston. I'm mad about that.
Kent: We went to the Hustler club in New Orleans and met some cool ass lil' thangs over there. But the best one is K.O.D. by far.
Joon: I'm not giving my money away; I'm not a real connoisseur. I be broke…I got a baby.
Cream: I'm all about the T-Pain song [starts singing "Up Down"]. "I don't got no problem spending all of my money." I heard that at the strip club in the after hours when I was damn near passed out.
Overdoz Discusses Their Humor Won't Overshadow Their Music
DX: You guys have comedic personalities, what are some funny memories you have of each other?
Joon: I remember Kent was riding a scooter and Cream was on punishment, so he couldn't get out. We're talking to him on the phone, and the homie was so hot because Kent was at USC on a Razor scooter in a party and everything.
Cream: The homies called me 40 times, and I was so hot like, "Stop calling me telling me about some shit I cant be at." They're like, "He done hit the function with the scooter!"
Kent Jamz: That was the ecstasy days.
Joon: I'm so glad ecstasy's not roaming around the streets no more [laughs].
Kent Jamz: I'm so glad it's gone. My favorite memory of Cream was at the Slauson swap meet at nine in the morning fighting his homeboy.
Joon: The funny thing is, they got into it the night before and he told him, "You drunk right now, but wait. When we wake up, I'ma beat your ass." I remember I burned this nigga Cream's armpit. He was on the iChat talking with a girl trying to look sexy and shit. I didn't know his deodorant was flammable, so I lit a strand of hair, and the whole shit just went up.
Kent Jamz: I walked in at the same time like, "Why does it smell like burnt hair?"
Cream: A funny moment I got with P is back in '08. Joon is going up in the bathroom going up with a girl, and P was trying to be so sneaky and watch. He has on his brand new Vans. He had just got them, and they were sweet, and he steps on a paint bucket. Another time we were out of our minds, and Kent leaves us. He's hot that we were this maxed, and he said, "Y'all niggas are too turnt. I'm leaving. I can't believe this shit." We were knocking on my door when I had the key. I opened the door and Joon falls headfirst into the door.
Joon: I don't remember that. I remember waking up in this nigga's pajamas, and my cowboy boots were next to me with mud and scuff marks all over them. That was back when we used to wear cowboy boots. We bringing cowboy boots back just to let y'all know.
DX: All of the fun you guys have is definitely reflected in your music. Do you ever worry that people might miss the fact that you can actually rap well?
Kent Jamz: No, because it's like OutKast. When I first heard their music as a child, I was like, "This shit sounds tight," and I was just bobbing my head saying the words. Then when I started smoking weed and having sex, and I was listening back like, "Damn, that's what he said?" It's like Joon said on "Lauren London," "They say they don't understand me, that's exactly what I'm hoping / So you listen years later, when all the signs are potent."
That's how we felt listening to music like N*E*R*D and all that shit. We thought it sounded tight, because we listened to alternative music at the same time. We was listening to Good Charlotte at the time, and it sounded like them, but these niggas was black. We didn't know that "Maybe" was going to be one of our favorite love songs of all time. We didn't know on Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik when they was talking about, "Get up, get out and get something." Listening to it as a 19-year-old with no money and no job just doing music, that's the shit I didn't hear before.
Joon: I didn't know what Goodie Mob's "Cell Therapy" was talking about until I was 21. They was talking some real shit on that song. I was like, "Whoa."
Kent: "Follow The Light" by the Dungeon Family, we know shit. Slum Village, we can go through anybody that we overlooked or everybody overlooked because it sounded so organic, but it felt good, which made it that much more relevant. I bought the albums again. I bought every OutKast album about three times…you can check my banking statements.
P: If they don't listen to the rapping portions, that's just how some people listen to music.
Kent Jamz: That's just a shout out to THC…they got good beats.
Joon: This year we just gonna get deeper and deeper. I'm on my Mac Dre, and if you listen to his albums you know what that nigga did every day. I'm listening to some niggas that really tell you what they're doing. In the future, you gonna know what kind of car I got from my raps, what I wear everyday, what food I eat—you just gonna get to know us more.
Kent Jamz: I listen to a lot of Baatin and Ma$e, Timbaland and Total.
DX: How far along are you into the process of your debut retail album 2008, and what can people expect from it?
Joon: We finished it and then started again [laughs].
P: People can expect revolution. It's not gonna be a typical Rap album. It's weird, and you can't even call it just Rap.
Kent Jamz: Revolution and evolution. It doesn't sound like anything else, and I don't think Rap when I hear it. Some of those verses I didn't write. We had the time to sit there and go line for line. When I listen to the tracks, I always mix up the tracks and mix them around. We've been working with DJ Dahi, Pharrell, Pop & Oak, THC and Clams Casino. We're supposed to have a session with Hit-Boy, 1500 Or Nothin, and we're trying to tap into everything. I want to get a song with Little Dragon on it, or if we could do a song with Kings Of Leon. They're signed to RCA.
Joon: I think it's a mix of Boom and Live For, Die For but an evolution. You gonna hear some hood nigga shit on some alternative beats [laughs].
Kent Jamz: It's gonna sound like Suga Free on a MGMT beat, you feel me? Like Kurupt on a deadmau5 or a Danger Mouse beat, but at the same time still keeping that funk. We consider ourselves a funk Rap group.