Growing up in Bostons Murderpan sector, Cary Big Shug Guy has seen his share of struggle. At 14-years-old, Shugs mom split, leaving him and his siblings under the care of their father, who at that time cared more about drinking than raising a family. Like most teens faced with tough times, Shug hit the streets doing whatever he could to support his family. Fast forward to the late 80s, when Shug hooked up with a young Guru and started rhyming in a duo they called Gang Starr. But still heavy in the streets doing stick-ups and such, Shug caught a bid landing him in Walpole Correctional Facility and left his rap dreams shattered. Eventually Shug would be released after serving roughly three years of his sentence, and would hook up with Guru and Premier. In 94 Shug rocked a guest spot on Hard To Earn and dropped his own first single, Jig Is Up. But it wasnt until 98, with the opening verse of The Militia, that Shugs place in Hip-Hop history would be forever embedded. Now set to release the follow up to 2005s Whos Hard?, Shug is ready to prove why hes still relevant to the youth of today. He recently took some time to let AllHipHop know why Big Shug is truly for the children and how theres really no replacement for the boom-bap of DJ Premier.AllHipHop.com: Its only been a couple of years since you dropped Whos Hard?, but that was a long time coming in terms of how long youve been in the game. What made you want to get working on the follow up to it right away?Big Shug: Well, one of the main reasons is you gotta keep your music relevant and stay relevant in the game. Thats number one. And also I know I offer different music, you know a different sound from everything thats out here. And another thing on top of that is the fact that I had a few joints on Whos Hard? that was like probably eight, 10 years old. So I had a lot of growth within me that was actually on a lot of joints, but some of those songs were for that time. So when the day came, thats why we still used em.AllHipHop.com: Now youre a dude thats known in the industry for his knuckle game, and I know youre not afraid to advertise your hand skills in rhymes. You ever get dudes stepping to you on that level in the street?Big Shug: Nah, because at this stage of the game from handling myself correctly, Im respected, you know? So people dont step to me in that fashion. Its more on a respect level.AllHipHop.com: So is self-defense something youve been into your whole life?Big Shug: Mostly when I was younger, as a teenager I took Korean karate, I took some Kung-fu and incorporated that with street fighting as I grew up. So thats something Ive been pretty adept with.AllHipHop.com: How does that fit in with your everyday life? You got some type of training regiment that you try to follow and stay in shape with?Big Shug: Not really. The way I stay in shape is I play basketball in a league Ive been in for about five years. And I coach kids, you know so Im always running. I do curls, and I lead a pretty hectic energetic lifestyle in that regard so it keeps me in shape.AllHipHop.com: Youre big into youth sports, can you talk a bit about what youve doing in that realm?Big Shug: For about seven or eight years, Ive been coaching youth football and youth basketball. My nephew was also one of the kids I coached a lot, and hell be going to Boston College next year on a four-year football scholarship. So its always like a development man, you know? Im a real good motivator and teacher when it comes to sports, I play football myself so its just a drive. And some kids who havent even been that great, Ive been able to pull things out of them to make it enjoyable for them. ‘Cause sports is not just playing, theres a lot in sports that relates to your everyday lifestyle. So in the past Ive been working with kids, and Ill continue to work with kids in sports as time goes on.AllHipHop.com: No doubt. Now back to the album. This time around youve chosen to go with only a few Premier beats, and the majority of the album is being handled by up-and-comer MoSS. Howd you guys link up?Big Shug: What happened was my man Dan Green of Clockwork Music, when I was making songs for Whos Hard?, he was sending me a lot of beats. And I was like This kid here, he has some nice beats. If I was to do an album outside of Premier, Id f**k with this dude. So on the first album, he produced a song called We Gangsta, and he produced a song called Militant Soldiers. And I was always constantly getting music from him anyway, so therefore we had something planned where I was doing like two songs a week to the point where we had like 50 songs compiled, and I trimmed it down to a few, and I always had to leave that room for Preem.AllHipHop.com: I was actually talking with MoSS the other day, and he was telling me he was not only impressed with your overall understanding of music, but knowing the importance of consistency with each song and making an album. Is that something you feel you improved on?Big Shug: Well yeah. Whos Hard? was kinda like me and Premier, and a lot of stuff I let him lead on. But Street Champ was more me, like totally me really going in the direction I wanted to go in and just lining things up correctly in a way that was gonna represent Shug more. And of course, you always improve in this game. If you stay hungry youre gonna improve with growth through lyricism, showmanship, everything. Its just a natural process so to speak.AllHipHop.com: On the first single It Just Dont Stop with Preemo, youve got a few choice words for a few unnamed MCs. Is there anybody specific youre getting at with those lines?Big Shug: I mean, its pretty clear! ‘Cause what Im saying is, Premier is always known to work with Nas, Jay-Z, and of course Guru. So the thing with Jay-Z, hes a corporate dude and I respect him, everythings still love and everything. But the fact is, he went away from doing joints with Preem, for whatever reason. Even though I think they about to get back on some stuff. Anyway, he was on the radio one day, and somebody asked him You aint doing joints with Preem, you aint have no joints on the album? I think it might have been Marley Marl that asked him or somebody. And he said, Well Just Blaze is like the new Premier. So thats why I say [on that track] Some say they got the new Preem, but that aint the case, you know what Im saying? [Laughs] And then with Nas, he was supposed to do a whole album with Preem and they had a whole interview on that [in Scratch magazine] and everything. And that never took place. But as we know, Nas is mad creative, he does a lot of dope s**t. But still, he makes ill ass joints with Premier. And Guru, you know, well we know how his works been without Premier. And that speaks for itself. So aint nothing underlying really, we got a lot more of them dudes, but it is what it is.AllHipHop.com: I was reading somewhere that you mentored Guru when he first started rhyming way back in the day. Is there any particular reason you didnt get him on a cut this time out?Big Shug: Well, number one. Guru be always saying that I mentored him, but I never mentored Guru. I taught Guru how to rhyme. When I met him he was already a man who didnt know how to rhyme. So I had to nurture him. And its a fact, a lot of years I just let him roll on all that “mentor” s**t and all that, but that aint the case. So thats number one. Even though hes older than me, I still schooled him on that. Number two, he took off to do his own thing, so Premier and I havent spoken with Guru in about three years. And thats both of us, so its not Im getting him on a cut or nothing. Its about we havent spoken in like three years. Hes doing his thing with his man, umm I think his name is “Clown Solar” [Editor’s note: Guru’s present-day partner is Solar] or something. I dont know, but thats what hes doing right now, so it aint about getting him on tracks or nothing. I still got love for him, thats my man, but thats what hes choosing to do right now.AllHipHop.com: Word. So most people know you for the hard rhymes, but youve got a pretty good singing voice behind you too. How much of that can we expect from Street Champ?Big Shug: Theres more, because even when Guru and I started out, wed do rap joints and singing joints. When I was locked up and he went more straight into a hardcore mode so to speak with Premier. But we were always about singing and rhyming even though I was really the true singer. So I always could sing, from being young and being in church and all that stuff. But my albums not just a rap album, its a theme, man, its a street theme. You know, sometimes in the streets, in clubs, or in music itself, you want to hear bangin joints, hard joints, smooth joints, maybe even a song or two. Theres one total song on Street Champ thats called Lost where its a total singing song that really touches on day-to-day s**t that deals with people, men and women. You know, they gotta go to work, they gotta figure out problems they might be having, a lot of s**t like that. Its a raw Hip-Hop beat, but its a straight singing joint. Then Ive got a few joints like Spit It Real, that has a real West Coast feel, a Cali-type feel, where Im singing the hook. Theres a couple hooks in there, and everybodys gon come to appreciate it. I mean Ive always done it, on Jazzmatazz and everything Ive always sang, but now I can do it in straight Shug mode, you know what I mean? So its a good album, meaning its just not one way. I think a lot of people are gonna get caught off guard with this one. AllHipHop.com: Sure thing. So whats good with the Shug street-team, T-Wes and Singapore?Big Shug: Right now T-Wes is doing his thing, Ill probably have him on some things later, hes not on the album. But Singapores in full effect, on Spit Fire and Streets Move, and were working on his project. Also I have my sons, Lunchbox and Lil’ Shug, and those two dudes will be coming out probably within the next two years, so Im just keeping it moving, man. AllHipHop.com: Finally, I know the Internet is gonna be blowing up with haters saying Big Shug doesnt deserve the Premo beats, and blah blah blah. So you got any words to address all that?Big Shug: Ima tell you like this. Anybody that knows me, knows what Im about and knows where I came from. I came from the streets, I been rappin for years, the culture cultivated my style. Im not an MC who is dealin in fascination. My rhymes are 97% of stuff that I lived through, and the other 3% is hooks. Im true to the game, I always have been. I aint never tried to be nothing I wasnt. Ive always just tried to get the world to listen. And Premier was in the group with Guru that was basically started by me – the whole Gang Starr movement. So what happens it evolved itself, and me and Premier got chemistry. It aint even about what you deserve or whatever. Its about we grew into that. When I first went to New York, I wasnt doing songs with Premier. I sat by as he did songs with Jeru, and with [Lil’] Dap and Group Home. I was there the whole time. So if any of them deserved it, I know I did, know what I mean? [Laughs] But I had to wait my turn, and here we are. Theres gonna be haters in everything you do, but I dont subscribe to hater magazines.