Outlawz: 40 Million Albums After 2Pac

posted May 02, 2005 12:00:00 AM CDT | 1 comments

Nestled in the heart of Atlanta, the Outlawz are gathered in their secluded studio, bobbing their heads intently. Theyre listening to a track that will potentially be used for their next album, a sample-heavy banger laced with story-telling strings. And though theyre already in the studio, grinding, for right now theyre focus is their two releases Outlawz for Life 2005 and Chapter 2: the Rebirth.

Its EDI, who for today at least, is the most vocal of the group that gathers everyone into the adjacent room to conduct the interview. On the TV hanging high overhead, BETs Rap City is on, and Fat Joe is discussing his forthcoming album, as they speak candidly on everything from fake beefs in the industry to Kadafis murder, to how after over a decade in the game and 40 + million sold they have still managed to remain one of raps biggest underdogs.

Have you been conscious of radio while youve been recording?
Castro: Were trying to make nice songs really good, put together songs and the radio should probably take to them. But we dont ever consciously make songs for the radio.

So theres no pressure to do the radio thing?
EDI: For us, the pressure comes in when youre trying to deal with the majors, cuz thats what the majors want. They want you to come in with hit records already. But the truth of the matter is, nobody knows what a hit record is. You can just guess and hope, like yeah, that sound like a hit but you can put it out and it be a dud and vice versa. But we dont ever put pressure on ourselves, like yo, we gotta do some radio hits, man.
Castro: Wed fuck up doing that shit [laughing]. Itd probably take us 8 days per song to do that shit
EDI: Yeah, if we did that the album would probably be corny too.

Whats the concept behind 1 Nation?
EDI: We feel like 1 Nation might be the little bit of light left in the rap game. Alotta beef goin on right now, thats popular, we feel like who done did that type of shit better than us? Rap music is keeping the music world afloat single-handedly, so for us to go about it the wrong way getting into all these petty conflictswhen you have a conflict with a dude, you might not wanna hurt him physically, but you got cats around you that aint got nuthin to lose thats like, okay give me $10,000 and Ill spray up they bus. So the mentality is getting real dangerous. We on some 1 Nation shit. My kids gotta eat, your kids gotta eat and if yall keep on this type of shit, fuckin up the game, then somebodys gonna have to come in an regulate and well put a movement together and smash on niggaz. You gotta a beef and yall goin about it the wrong way, we gonna get in the middle of it and make sure it aint a problem.

What do you think about the artist that are beefin just for record sales?
EDI: I aint even mad at that. But dont let it get confused to where people start thinking its a real beef and you get people worked up to where they start wantin to go out and do shit. A lot of these cats aint gonna blow a whistle, they aint gonna do nuthin, they just gonna make they records in the studio, but its the people around them that get caught up in the hype of it.

But dont you think that whole concept is detrimental to Hip Hop as a whole?
Castro: Its detrimental to our community as a whole, cuz its not progressive. Children are heavily influenced by the radio and shit like that, so they need to think more about that shit. But who am I? I just got my opinion.

Can you talk about your childhood and how being around the Panther movement influenced you?
EDI: I was a baby so I was too young to be influenced that much. I didnt really get a chance to witness a lot of what was going on back then cuz by the time we was growin up that shit was over. The FBI had came in and
Castro: [laughing] Shut shit down
EDI: Yeah, they had shut it down by the time we got to the age where we could really feel anything. It was a done deal and all you had was the repercussions and the aftermath of the Panthers.

EDI: You know, a lot of hard times, a lot of people going to jail, poverty, drug addiction, all of that going on. Not just with the Panthers, but the whole community. Once the whole sixties and seventies movement got killed, thats what you had leftgang bangers, you had crack, you had unemployment, all those things. We was just a product of that, we came up under that.

But was the overall mentality or ideology impressed upon you? And how did that affect you as artists?
Castro: We felt it cuz a lot of the old heads would come around and kick it to us, and shit like that, Im pretty sure some shit rubbed off on us. We never did no free lunch programs or nothing [laughing].

It seems like you guys would have a problem being marketed since your conscious but still street. The artists that are successful in that arena, the dead prezs and others kinda fit into that whole stereo-type of consciousness visually.
EDI: Yeah, and thats just it. We not all the way to the right they are, we aint chewin sticks and dreadin and all that. We in the middle of the niggaz on the corner, sellin the dope all that. And theres a whole lot of us thats in the middle thats not necessarily tryin to change the world tomorrow or start a revolution tomorrow, but they aint tryin to fuck up they communities and sell dope cuz they learned that that aint whats up. So we in the middle of those two extremes.

Can you talk about what went down with Cash Money?
Castro: We didnt sign. Actually we signed and they didnt cut our check and we got tired of waiting around for this magical day or whatever, so we was like fuck it man, we cant wait all year. A lot of people was really countin on us and waitin on us to put somethin out. We felt obligated to make sure we do that, and plus we gotta eat too. We aint tryin to sit around while niggaz is feedin they face. I want everybody to eat, but I gotta eat too. So were back on our hustle, doin our independent thing like we was doin before.

How long were you sitting over there?
EDI: It really wasnt really that long
Castro [laughing] It was like 24 hours
EDI: [laughing] It wasnt that long. But in this game we learned to read the signs. We learned that in the rap game, a day is like a month and a month is like a year. So, nah, it wasnt long at all it was about 24 hours, but I know it dont take long to get a check. Ive been in the game long enough to know. Checks get cut like that, so we had to move on. They do what they do, we do what we do.

What would it take for you to sign with another major, just them cuttin a check, or
EDI: At this point, we aint even tryin to sign with nobody. Were tryin to ball independently. Were not tryin to knock on the majors door and hope theyll accept us into they private club, we gonna start our own. If you pay attention to the game, a lot of major artists are doin that anyway and its gonna continue to happen cuz budgets are shrinkin, records aint selling like they used to, the scans aint there like they used to be. If you still wanna get paid, you can do 200- 300,000 independent and still be livin like a king.

EDI, you were saying in an interview a couple of years ago that Kadafis murder had nothing to do with Tupac. Do you still stand by that?
EDI: I know for a fact it didnt have nothin to do with that. Its just the fact that they was family and they was related, but one thing didnt have nothin to do with the other. A lot of people wanted to make it seem like that cuz it sounds good in the media and its good for reading and shit, but it wasnt like that.

I think since Pac has died its almost become a religion the way people follow him. How does it feel when people approach you asking if hes really dead and all that?
EDI: Being that its a personal situation, of course that can be aggravating. You be wantin people just to use a little bit more class than to ask you somethin like that. But I understand they curiosity and I understand the whole mysteriousness about it and thats all cool, if thats what you into. You into conspiracy theories and all that and you think the niggaz in Cuba, I aint mad at you. Its not surprising to me cuz he put it down and he deserves the accolades and the fact that people dont wanna let him go, I feel like its well earned.
Castro: Thats a helluva way to die, when nobody wanna believe you dead. Who could ask for something more than that?

What do you think about Interscope putting out these Pac albums with Eminem producing and everybody and they momma on the tracks
EDI: If you gonna do it, be sincere about, dont just look at it as another collabo. Do it like I would do it. I cant ask everybody to be as emotionally involved in it as we are, but I just hope cats really appreciate the shit and really doin it cuz its an honor and not just cuz its hot and you can get free promotion and shit. And if you got verses that you tryin to use, make sure his mother eats, go about it the right way, be a man about it.

But is it corny to yall? Im not tryin to start nuthin, but overall, is the concept of these dudes that never even knew him doin tracks with him
Castro: It is what it is. Pac was a powerful dude in the music business, so people wanna work with him. On top of that, his family got a mission, mainly his mother and shes building a center in Stone Mountain, GA. Part of those proceeds go to that. Its just giving people what they want. I understand why people like, why is he on a song with him, they didnt get along and whoptie-woo man just enjoy the song.
EDI: Or dont enjoy it, you aint gotta listen. Some songs come out hot some come out horrible
Castro: A lot of people be getting all emotionally attached, shit. But they be jealous though cuz they be wantin it to be them.

What do you see yourselves doin in the next 5 years?
Castro: Puttin out alotta albums, establishing this 1 Nation brand, and hopefully branching off into some other things in the entertainment field.

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