Alkaholiks: Last Call

posted January 04, 2006 12:00:00 AM CST | 0 comments

"Well, we haven't really taken a hiatus, we just haven't put an album out," E-Swift, the resident beat-miner of the crew, admits. Further expounding, "After Loud Records, we were on Loud Records for almost ten years, (so) after they closed the doors over there, we've been in two different record deals, so that took a lot of time to get situated on all the legal stuff. Then, we were touring a lot -- extensive touring, even without our album out. So, that took a lot of time. And then, we were in the studio working on this Firewater album, which if you add all (this) stuff up it takes a minute. But, we ain't missed a beat. We just been doing our thing, and now the world's gonna get to hear the songs that (we've been) working on (for) this album."

E-Swift, J-Ro, and (Ca)Tash(trophe) collectively known as The Alkaholiks, they later shortened their moniker to the less negative sounding Tha Liks, assembled under the tutelage of West Coast rap pioneer King Tee. Their debut appearance came courtesy of Tee's The Triflin' Album on the posse cut, Got It Bad Y'All, which garnered the trio a recording contract with the now defunct Loud Records. Tha Liks went on to record and release four solid group efforts, 21 & Over [1993], Coast II Coast ['95] 1999's Likwidation, and X.O. Experience in 2001, before quietly disappearing from the land of beats & rhymes.

Fast forward nearly 5 years later, and the self procalimed Hip Hop Drunkies have finally returned to reclaim their spot. Armed with a brand new magnum opus, Firewater, their first for Waxploitation/Koch Records, Tha Liks recently sat down with HHDX to discuss where they've been, where they're going, and why they are -WTF-calling it quits?!?!?

"Well, the reason being, I mean, we've been together really since about 1988. We've been a group ever since then," J-Ro solemnly reflects while attempting to explain the reason behind the group disbanding. Continuing, "When you're in a group, everything else in your life comes second to the group. We've been having a good time, and doing a lot of albums, making some classic songs, doing tours, rocking crowds all over the world, but it's just to do something different. It's just to the point (that) all three of us we kinda want to do something different, (we) want to do some different projects and stuff. So, we basically came to a mutual agreement to make this the last album. We didn't go into (this project) with that in our minds, but it pretty much came out to be like, 'Let's just make this the last album.' We still gonna be working together, doing different projects and stuff like that, but just the whole group thing we gonna put it on pause for awhile."

Before diehards begin to weep, keep in mind that before they're going to bow out for good, Tha Liks have one last HURRAH to bless the masses with. "(Firewater is) pretty much an extension of what we've been doing all these years. Every album we made we were always hungry, and wanted to please the people, but this album (we) took (it) like a step beyond that because of the break. It's Alkaholiks at their finest," E-Swift announces with great excitement in his voice. J-Ro concurs, "It's really like when you listen to our music, whether you drink or not, you're gonna feel like you're drunk. That's exactly why we were given that name by King Tee. When we used to perform, I'm talking about before we had a record contract or anything, we used to get people into a certain mood. They used to go crazy, into a frenzy, so he was like, 'Y'all should be called the Alkaholiks -- not because Y'All drink a lot, (it's) because your music gets people drunk."

On why Tha Liks opted on titling the new record, Firewater, all three members jump in and shout in unison, "'Cause it burns going down!!" This is Tha Liks' fifth studio set, and it's being introduced by its' hypnotic premier offering, 'La La {Flute Song}.' E-Swift handled the majority of the production with a little help from his fellow industry peers and friends, Danger Mouse and Evidence [from Dilated Peoples].

"Here's (our) story in a nutshell," J-Ro begins, retracing the groups' early history. "I was in a group, with King Tee, back in the day, (and) DJ Pooh. We had a group called Total Control. We were doing shows, opening up for Ice T, Ice T was a big influence in our career, but we just started doing a lot of stuff like that." Recollecting, "When King Tee came out with his solo career, a friend of mine from high school took me over to E-Swift's house 'cause I told him I was looking for a deejay. We just really started kicking it. He (Swift) already knew Tash, they had both moved to Cali from Ohio, I was a native Californian, so we just really started hooking up. Just, really, just chillin' out as friends, hanging out, playing basketball, going to parties. And then, we end up start doing shows, making demos -- it went from there. We had a group called ESP at first, then King Tee changed our name, and it's history from there."

On the heels of Firewater, and once Tha Liks have taken their much needed group hiatus, E-Swift, J-Ro, and Tash have several ventures that have already been green-lighted. "Yeah, we all doing different projects," J-Ro mentions. Adding, "I got an album coming out that I'm releasing overseas called, Rare Earth B-Boy Funk. We just all, like I said, we want to do different things. Swift is working on an album his self, and doing some stuff. Tash got a new (sophomore solo) album, Rap Life: Expensive Habits. So, we all gonna still be in the game. We gonna branch out and do a lot of different things. Some things you might know about, other things you might not even know about."

To some, the once famous Likwit Crew, home to group mentor, King Tee, Xzibit (to whom Tha Liks had a well publicized beef just a few short years ago) and underground fave Defari, to name a few, as an entity have seem to fallen by the wayside, or has it?? J-Ro clears the air, "Likwit Crew is definitely still in the game. We (are) actually introducing two new emcees on our album. We don't have a lot of guest appearances, but we're introducing Bishop Lamont, out of Los Angeles, and also Stylistik Jones, (also) out of Los Angeles, the newest member of the Likwit Crew. We introduced a lot emcees that people respect, and that's where we're (still) at with it."

"(Looking ahead, I see myself) richer than an muthaf!@#$%!!" Tash shouts laughing, cracking himself up. "Naw, I'm just playing, but I think everybody has different goals. Like I've been doing a lot of investing, bought some houses and everything down in {Las}Vegas. (We'll) still be doing music and everything, (plus) capitalizing on every opportunity (that presents itself). (We'll) be starting some businesses, and making sure that the people around us are taken care of, and just (still) having fun with life -- that's about it."

"I would say our key to success has been not following trends, and pretty much setting trends," E-Swift believes wholeheartedly. "That's how we've established our longevity. Not following trends, but staying current at the same time with the music, and being humble. We take advantage of every moment, but we don't take it for granted. We've pretty much tried to stay consistent, and give the fans what they want. I think our whole career in general is pretty unique. We are one of those groups, it's not too many groups anyway that stuck around, that been together as long as us. We've stuck together so long, and kept it consistent throughout our whole career."

"I'm kinda pissed off at the current state of Hip-Hop music," J-Ro blurts out angrily. Swift interjects passionately, "We're trying to do something to change it with this album right here, 'cause Hip-Hop music has fallen very far from where it started. There's nothing wrong with diversity and change, but I think a lot of people forgot what Hip-Hop music is all about. It was made to bring people together, to create peace, but we've fallen way far from that. Maybe we can get back to that, and this Firewater album is gonna give you a little bit of that."

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