Do Or Die: The Rebirth

posted February 08, 2005 12:00:00 AM CST | 0 comments

Every couple of years, another city emerges as the new hot spot for Hip Hop. In 2003 it was Atlanta, a few years before that it was Philly then St. Louis.

Right now, Chicago is claiming the throne, and with due cause. Kanye West is up for 10 Grammys (petition or not), Twista has taken over Bustas spot as the #1 guest feature and Commons album is arguably the most anticipated of 05.

But back in the late-90s, it was all about Do or Die. The group...AK, Nard and Belo received a lot of attention with their first two releases, "Picture This" and "Headz or Tailz" which were both filled with candid stories of pimpin and hustlin.

Then, in 2000 they moved to Rap-a-lot and released the ill-received "Victory". Two albums later, DOD is back with their self-titled release on Legion Records/WEA. Led by the K. West produced Higher and Magic Chick produced by Kells, rest-assured, theyre still keepin it PI.

You guys were away for a while. What was going on in between albums?
Nard: Honestly, we was hustlin and getting ready to put this album together on our own. At the beginning, from a business perspective we didnt know what we were dealing with so we said, lets get it together and get paid. We was comin off Rap-a-lot and so we were in a better position to be more creative.

Speaking of Rap-a-lot, not many artists ever leave there. Once you sign with J its pretty much a wrap. Was youre departure friendly?
AK: [Laughing] Youre right, it do be a wrap once you sign to Rap-a-lot for a lot of artists. But the thing is, we had a mutual respect with Lil J because we came in as artists, but we came in as men too. So we understood how he deals with certain situations and he understood how we deal with certain situations. We still see each other and we can still talk. Everything is cool.

Did you approach this album differently than your previous releases?
AK: There was no change, just growth as artists. We tried to give a different perspective of life, were growin in the industry right now, weve traveled and been around. Its a different perspective than if you just stayed on one block.

Whod you work with?
AK: DJ Quik, R. Kelly, Kanye, Scott Storch, Remy Ma, Twista, Seleena Johnsona lot of people.

Was it a conscious decision to have so many features?
Nard: We wanted to show we can work with other hot artists, and show our diversity.

Youve been in the game for almost 10 years now. Whats the biggest change youve seen?
Nard: The loyalty. Its not like it used to be. Rap used to be about people, now its about glamour.
AK: And they dont want the independents to make money. Thats why so many big companies are merging together, they dont want to have to go through the independents anymore and that stops young blacks from making millions in this game.

How have you survived all of the bullshit of the industry?
AK: To survive the bullshit, you have to be vigilant. Its not the industry, its the people in the industry. If you want to be at the top of the game, you have to know everything from back to frontevery aspect of the game.

Were you worried about appealing to those 106 & Park kids who dont really know about Do or Die?
AK: You have to understand that weve sold millions of records, so its not like folks dont know who Do or Die is.

But you have to admit that the average 15-year-old, who gets their daily intake of rap from the Top 8 at 8 or Free and AJ may not be familiar with you all, even though youre vets.
AK: Yeah, I feel you. You do have younger fans [out there] now and theyre finicky about music. But once you hit the stage and people see that you believe in what you do, theyll believe too.

How has Chicago shaped you as artists?
AK: Growing up in Chicago, you have a different mentality as far as gangs and pimpin we had a different mindset. Were very aggressive and people dont want that in their atmosphere.

How does it feel to see Chicago getting a lot of shine?
Nard: I think its real good. People are getting a brand new view. They see we can come out there and compete. Now we hear Twista, Kanye, Common, Shawna, were about unity. Its the same things as with Lil Jon, Luda and Usher in Atlanta, unity.

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