Where The Hell Have You Been?: Crucial Conflict
Chicago is best known for three things: R. Kelly, Chicago-style pizza and fast rappers with style. Oh yeahG.O.O.D. soulful music provided by Kanye West and Common. Aside from that, the Windy City is a place packed with tons of urban culture and essential history.
Black socialites and historical icons indulge in this place to enjoy the great sceneries, the unforgettable streets and timeless music. Don Magic Juan, the legendary Chicago Bulls and the annual Taste of Chicago festival also adds a little sugar to the cookies. With that said, Chicago is a great depiction of Hip Hop culture embodied in tall sky scrapers, street corner stories, all tied up in a pair of Air Jordans.
Back in 1996, Crucial Conflict brought something different to the media, representing the Chi-state of Mind and captured the Hip Hop nation with their debut single, Hay. Most people born after 1987 can remember the countless video spins on The Box (a music network) of four men jumping around a barn while their ponytails were swinging in the air, fitted in their stylish overalls. Crucial Conflict had the whole nation dreaming about smoking Hay, in Black Cowboy attire.
During a time of Bone Thugs-N-Harmony, Do or Die, Infamous Syndicate and Twista, Crucial Conflict brought the more hype side to the mellowed out rapid flow and conquered the attention of many. After their debut album The Final Tic the group dropped another album, Good Side, Bad Side featuring R. Kelly and the hit single Scummy. Unfortunately the release didnt do that well and the rest is history.
So, HipHopDX caught up with Wildstyle from Crucial Conflict to ask him Where da hell yall been at? Shout out to Kilo, Coldhard and Never.
HHDX: So can you tell me what Crucial Conflict has been doing lately?
WS: We've been traveling and doing shows cutting new music for the upcoming album (as well as) collaborating with a lot of people and just getting our independent record label established. We also have been shooting a movie, shooting videos working with international artists just getting prepared for our new project.
HHDX: On the new album are there going to be any collaborations with any Chicago artists like Lupe?
WS: Oh no. Unfortunately, the only Chicago collabs we've done was with Da Brat. It's basically a Crucial album because we got so much material. The fans have been waiting on a whole Crucial album so we gonna give them the whole Crucial album.
HHDX: How do you see Chicago's impact on hip hop? Do you think it's represented right?
WS: Yeah, I think it's represented right. It's a lot of states that don't have artists (period) that ever came out. We have artists like Lupe, [Crucial Conflict] and Twista. I just think that it could be a bigger impact to whereas the spotlight stays more on the city for a longer period of time. They kind of respect Chicago for having some real hip hop people. Do or Die people came up from here and also a lot of Chicago music people leave Chicago and blow up. I know that everybody can't collab with everybody and do one big song. It's just one little city within the state and I think really it's about the Midwest. Chicago is only so big. We try to sell records and compete with Texas, which got three major cities in it and they use their whole state. New York use their whole state and Chicago kind of stays up in the little Lake Michigan area. So I think it's cool, but I think that we could make a bigger impact in the whole Midwest by we being the Midwest's biggest city.
HHDX: So how should we go about making a bigger impact?
WS: By using the surrounding areas to make one big movement. In Chicago its segregated by gangs and race. People just ain't traveling and using all the resources that we could within Illinois. We ain't using the suburban areas like we suppose to. We ain't using Aurora or Joliet. We suppose to expand to make a mark so we can sell music and it's not being utilize the right way.
HHDX: As far as Chicago underground artists who are you listening to right now?
WS: Well, I'm big into (artists) like Triple Dark & Bump J. It's so many people because I'm supporting all Chicago music up and coming but I've been peeping a lot of them. They just been hanging with us because you know Crucial (is) still here and we support everybody. So everybody bring their music to us and we know what's happening out here. So it's a collective but I really can't just name them.
HHDX: Ok, so let's take it back to 96. The group had the "Hay" single, how did that come about?
WS: We came up with it in Chicago but we used to have artists on Death Row when Snoop and them were in their prime. Back when they were blowin up before 'Pac came over there. We used to travel from Chicago to LA and we were just vibing and we were already playing with our style that we had. We was on the road and we startin sayin different stuff. We started making acronyms for different stuff to mean different things because we try to make our own language. We went with that vibe right there in Death Row's parking lot. We had the vibe we knew what we wanted to do. Everybody said that by us being from Chicago, the Westside and other states (thought) we sounded country so we just played on us having ties in the south and we kinda got that accent (and) ran with it. We came up with the idea and said that we wanted to do something different and we stuck with it. It was funny at first but as we kept on making songs to make it fit where we come from we just didn't want to rap straight out about what was going on. We just wanted to change it. Everybody (was) doing the same thing, everybody want to have a chance to represent their city or talk about weed or talk about drinking or talk about banging and all that. We just wanted to flip it in a another way (and) just give people a different twist of how they see it. Everybody's really talkin about the same thing so we just said it in a different way. That's how we came up with "Hay" and "Showdown." We took everything that was southern, we took everything that was from Indian and cowboy movies and we just made the comparison on how it is still the same as it is now.
HHDX: The sound of Hip Hop has changed from 96 to now so how would you say the group fits into that sound to make people buy your records?
WS: Well to me the game done got simplified and to me its easy. We know what's going on out here. We listen to how everybody's loyal to the south and everybody wants to dance again. They're selling music to the new generation. The new generation is just going with the flow because they don't understand where it come from. I mean, we got new tracks with what they are doing and also we trying to bring them back to our world because we was ahead of our time. Right now we're current to what's going on and we got a lot of fans all over the world, all over the country, all through the south and overseas. We just want to bridge the gap once we put the new songs in that make people dance. We let little shorties hear the music and they get to dancing all of the current dances of the day. We know that we right on time. We're right up in the middle of things. We try to stay current and keep our ear to the street. Also, as long as we believe in our sound and our music then we'll be blessed and everybody else will appreciate it to.
HHDX: The single had a big impact the album sold like 3 million but after that you didn't really see too much of the group why was that?
WS: We was going into other avenues of business and transition with record labels. We were going to do a direct deal with Universal outside of the production company that we used to be with. It was just a long process of getting all the legal stuff together. We didn't see eye to eye with the company that we were with. We then froze a lot of our assets to get everything straight. After that battle, we were released out of all our contractrual obligations. It took a long time getting established with the right sitaution. We are a group still though, we're still together because a lot of groups break up. Crucial Conflict - we still the original four members through our trials and trivilations.
HHDX: On the second album you had the song "Ghetto Queen" how was it like to work with R. Kelly?
WS: It was cool working with R. Kelly. We called him to get on the album with us, he agreed to do it and we just went in the studio for an half and hour and got all our parts done. He was plaing basketball at Hoops so he stopped playing ball and came up there. He heard the song and was charged up. He got in there and finished doing his part and it was a hit song.
HHDX: The group is releasing a new album and Bone Thugs N Harmony just released an album was it really any beef between the two of you?
WS: It really never was no beef. It was some things said because everybody compared them to us and they took a little shot as us on a record as well as some other Chicago acts. But I had wanted to find out if it was real beef so I had went down to Cleveland and I had some guys that knew them. We went to confront them and see if there was any real beef. Me and Bizzy Bone had got together and talked about it. He said there was a whole bunch of misunderstandings and since then me and him have been real cool with each other he like a brother know. We all have talked on the phone. It was just that we had friends and they tried to instigate the situation and make it into something. We had never even met each other (up to that point).
HHDX: How would you say Chicago has impacted your music?
WS: Chicago is a southern gangster city and we just kept it gutta. We grew up on the Westside of Chicago. All four of us had to go through different gang stuff. It's like we captured all that spirit of it and brought it to the forefront because that's what we were living in at the time. The poverty and the struggle and everything comin from the ghetto - we just put that pain up on the paper. The world can relate to it because it's going on all over the world and if you real, the real gonna recognize real. It's different nowadays, you have some artists that you kinda can relate to for going through your struggle. But right now it's just going through a transitional period where people bashing. It's not really about the lyrics, it's about everybody just wanting a beat to listen to so it can get them through whatever day they're going through.
HHDX: You said all four of the group members grew up on the Westside is that how you all met?
WS: Yeah all of us grew up on the Westside. We all stayed in the same area and always bumped heads with each other. Everybody went through different groups but it was a point of time when we all just came together. We just sounded good together and we said that we was gonna make a group. I always done production and actually Never was my first artist that I was trying to bring up. Me and Kilo always had done songs together and Coldheart used to be with one of my other artists that I was puttin together. So we were kinda always together anyway. We had just got out the different groups that we were previously in and decided to just form one group.
HHDX: So do any of the members have plans on going solo?
WS: I mean we all want to make records and we support that we'll be apart of each record if we do decide to do a solo record but right now it's all Crucial. We got tons of music! We got archives that I think the world would wanna hear because it's good music. So right now we focusing on Crucial. In the future we'll see what happens.
HHDX: So why should people go get the album?
WS: Because we gonna take them on another adventure. We got some real music that you can play everywhere. Everybody said that this ain't no rap album. A lot of people feel that the album is a classic. Our sound matured and we got some good music. The album is called Planet CruCon. We having fun with the album. We're taking you to our planet.
HHDX: Any last words?
WS: We just want everybody to watch out for this new Crucial Conflict album and sorry for making people wait so long. But we've just been gettin it right. We give love to the hip hop followers that's in Chicago and outside of Chicago that support Crucial Conflict and we just hope everybody enjoys our music. It's all love! We gonna keep makin hits for the world. Thanks Chicago for giving us support throughout the years and still believing in us 10 years later.