Lost Boyz: Pounds Up

It has been ten years since the Lost Boyz stormed on the scene with Legal Drug Money. With Mr. Cheeks and Freaky Tah leading the way, the LB Fam carved their own niche with their creative party jams and energetic street anthems. Utilizing the formula that Naughty By Nature made popular, the Lost Boyz’ run during the mid 90’s was impressive to say the least. They were a staple in the rich Jamaica, Queens Rap tradition we see today. With nine singles/remixes off Legal Drug Money getting rotation in form or another, the Lost Boyz made their impact on the Hip-Hop game. Love, Peace, & Nappiness followed, and continue to grant the Jamericans airplay on feel-good street music.

However, since the tragic passing of Freaky Tah, the LB Fam has never been the same. While Cheeks went on to have solo success, the Hip-Hop public has seemingly forgotten about what the Lost Boyz have accomplished. Now with their ten-year anniversary album, Lost Boyz Forever, Mr. Cheeks and Pretty Lou are here to tell you that the crew is far from dead. With the duo intent on preserving the Lost Boyz legacy, and how making music still keeps them high.

AllHipHop.com: Take us back to when you were recording Legal Drug Money. What was your guys mindset going into the album?

Mr. Cheeks: We went into the album trying to vent our frustrations and problems. At the time we were making records, we were having wars in the streets and all of that, so it was a crazy time. We didn’t think we were going to be able to make music or be around long enough to do anything. But at that time, we were smoking mad weed and just trying to figure out how we were going to hit the world with our music. Legal Drug Money was a great album. We were in the studio having fun together and we didn’t think it would ever stop. We were making those party joints, feeding off the Naughty By Nature type of vibe.

AllHipHop.com: You mentioned Naughty By Nature. Historically, they are credited with the biggest entourage, but it seemed like LB Fam was right there…

Pretty Lou: I can’t say the city – I’ll say Queens – especially South Jamaica. We repped. We was like the biggest thing in the hood. We couldn’t even get a record deal up here, ‘cause our reputation proceeded us. We had a reputation for being these hard-headed knuckleheads. We started in like ’92 – didn’t get signed till ’95 – album came out [same year]. We moved to Virginia. We moved with some people from the Bronx or whateva. They were plugged in with Puffy and them. [“Butt-naked”] Tim Dawg was like at the time, right-hand-man at Uptown. That’s what pulled us in. The rest is history. It took a change of scenery for us to get on.

AllHipHop.com: VH1 or MTV said that rappers basically need to pay off members of the entourage…

Pretty Lou: We didn’t do it that way. We a family. At first, we was real local. It grew. I’d be the last one coming in the club, ‘cause I gotta get everybody else in.

AllHipHop.com: In the 90’s, it seemed you could have a street song and still get recognition. But now if you come out with a street joint, unless you have that big label and machine behind you, you are definitely not getting heard.

Mr. Cheeks: Oh, no doubt about it. Its like 50 is the only street n***a getting airplay. He makes good music and all of that, but there are other n***as out there making good music that deserve to be heard. They are just putting stuff out to sell. I remember those good days when n***as was putting out that good Rap music.

AllHipHop.com: Tell me about your perception of G-Unit, being that you’re from the same ‘hood. I know Bang ‘Em Smurf expressed feelings that they aren’t paying respect…

Pretty Lou: We known half them G-Unit cats all our lives. Half of them G-Unit cats crossed out they Lost Boyz tattoos. I’m not saying the major rappers. But the cats they got runnin’ ‘round in they crew.

AllHipHop.com: Why is that?

Pretty Lou: People go through different movements. LB Fam is a movement. We not some group some A&R put together, we known each other all our lives.

AllHipHop.com: One song everybody remembers from that album is “Beasts From The East” and Canibus’ verse. So tell us the story of how you hooked up with him?

Mr. Cheeks: We hooked up in Atlanta and used to come around with Tiz and Charles Suit. Freaky Tah really put that n***a on and getting him to rap and all that. From there, he started putting his pen to the paper and started working. So that’s how we hooked up with Cani – him driving around in his mom’s little Toyota Tercel, which you couldn’t smoke in.

AllHipHop.com: On LL’s “Back Where I Belong” off his G.O.A.T. album, he said that Bis was from Canada and he piggybacked you guys for a ticket out to Jersey? What did you think about that?

Mr. Cheeks: I ain’t know about that, I never heard that track. That was there little thing they had. That is what it was. He went after LL.

AllHipHop.com: I was just asking to see if ‘Bis was really from Canada and you guys helped him get to Jersey.

Mr. Cheeks: Oh na. [Laughter] I ain’t never heard that shit, word up. I didn’t know he said that s**t.

AllHipHop.com: Cheeks, did you ever feel like, “I’m doing all the rapping, I should get paid more?” A lot of people firmly believed that because you did the bulk of the rapping, that you were the group, so to speak.

Mr. Cheeks: Na, I just felt that everybody gets their fair share. I never thought about it like that, I just wanted everybody to eat. When we sat down with my man Tim Dawg, he said, “Do you want this 60/40 contract? Because there is going to be problems, and cats aren’t going to want the 40.” And that s**t sort of was, because n***as came into the game eyes wide open and ready to do things. It was never about the money to us, we just wanted to make it. When the money came, the money came, but it was never our main concern.

AllHipHop.com: With the release of Forever, this year, was your goal to keep the memory of Tah alive?

Mr. Cheeks: Yeah, we have to continue on for his family and our family. We had to bring out that Lost Boyz Forever album and try to take it back to what it used to be. But it will never be the same as when my n***a was backing me up with that hard ass voice he had. But just like how Biggie and 2pac are still living, that is how we are going to do for Tah and keep his memory alive. We have to let everybody know that LB is still here and Tah is still doing it with us. That’s where I’m at with it.

AllHipHop.com: I don’t really want to get into the tragic passing of Freakie Tah and stir up bad memories, but after he passed, did you think that the Lost Boyz were done and they could never be the same again? What were your thoughts on the group’s future?

Mr. Cheeks: Man, when my man died it was crazy, because we didn’t know what to do at the time. We didn’t know who bodied our man and there was a bunch of s**t swirling through our heads. And we knew it was never going to be the same when Tah passed, because me and him were the LB. Without that n***a, the music will never be the same. Without his voice the music isn’t the same. His voice is crazy and the fans definitely recognized that. He had his fans and I had my fans. But I know Tah touched a lot of people with his music and he definitely touched me while we were in the studio together. It’s hard when you are not rocking with your n***a anymore. I knew the Lost Boyz would still be around, but it was never going to be the same.

AllHipHop.com: What did you think of Super Head mentioning you in her new book?

Mr. Cheeks: Who?

AllHipHop.com: That girl Super Head, she mentioned you in her new book.

Mr. Cheeks: Oh word?

AllHipHop.com: Did you know about that?

Mr. Cheeks: Na. [Laughter] You know what she said about me?

AllHipHop.com: Big no homo, but she said you’re something to the effect of well-endowed…

Mr. Cheeks: What the hell is that about? That is crazy. These chicks are crazy these days. I heard about the book, but I didn’t know I was in it. But that is what they are doing nowadays. But I ain’t read that book, that’s another situation. Now I got to hear that from somebody, so now it’s going down. [Laughter]

AllHipHop.com: It’s rumored that you’re actually on the run, sorta…

Pretty Lou: Kinda, sorta. I don’t talk about it too much. It’ll be resolved soon. Somebody did somethin’ that had nothin’ to do with me. I was living in Virginia at the time. I was coming home late one night – I watched the cops kick in the door. They was like, “Do you stay here?” I said, “Yeah, I’m stuck down here putting together this album.” This was around the time Cheeks had “Lights Camera Action,” that was the number one song in the country. They was trying to walk me to jail. I’m not going to jail – not for somethin’ I didn’t do. It should be resolved soon.

AllHipHop.com: When you decided to focus on your solo career for awhile, did you feel like you had to step up and keep the group afloat so you could put out another album like Forever in the future?

Mr. Cheeks: Yeah, plus, people were always coming up to me asking for a solo album. So I felt it was time and it helped keep my name out there. That is the path I had to go at the time. But now we are trying to make it bigger. We should have capitalize on everything long before, but now we are here to do what we have to do to bring it back. We are bringing that new fire and it’s a whole new thing. Destroy and rebuild.

AllHipHop.com: Is there anything your fans can do to hold you down?

Mr. Cheeks: Cop that new album Lost Boyz Forever, its in stores now. Shout out to everybody who supported the Lost Boyz over the years.

Pretty Lou: Just pray for me, man. I’m doing everything I can to fight this. ‘Cause I’m not, what they thinkin’ I am. I’m waiting for certain people to come to my defense. I’m not a drug dealer. Let me fans know that, I know that!

AllHipHop.com: The name of the classic album and the label is Legal Drug Money. That says it right there…

Pretty Lou: Music is a drug. Music is in every culture. Drugs can change your state of mind. That’s what music does. It can get you up and dancing, down and crying. That’s what we are. We sell legal drugs – music. There’s no drug money fundin’ this.

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