In Los Angeles, a pair of 26-year-olds are making names for themselves by working hard and playing hard as they chase their Hip-Hop dreams.
Reese One and Basik of the duo Bleu Collar have been on the grind for more than five years delivering rhymes filled with drunken party raps, mack-game boasts and threats to would-be adversaries.
Basik, aka The Mayor, a native of Ladera Heights, came up with the Living Legends camp and dropped two solo albums, Apex Predator in 1998 and At the Mercy of the City in 2000, before linking up with the Compton-bred Reese One, aka Chuck Taylor, for their self-titled debut in 2003.
Since then, the crew has been performing at sold-out shows throughout Cali and making monthly appearances at two L.A. area clubs. This year, Bleu Collar put out the mixtape Los Angeles Designer Music Vol. 1 that is available for download at www.bleucollar.com.
With a new album coming next year, a reputation for ripping shows and a strong bond with the Living Legends, Reese One and Basik hope to work their way up through the L.A. indie scene to the more white-collar mainstream of bigger checks and more respect.
AllHipHop.com: The name of the group suggests a hard working attitude, but most people wouldnt consider an entertainer as a blue-collar worker. What kind of case do you make for Hip-Hop being difficult, blue-collar labor?
Reese One: Entertainers as a whole are not blue-collar workers, but within the entertainment field we would be considered the blue-collar workers. We out there blue- collar, manual labor style. Theres nobody really doin it for us. We doin the footwork. Were doin the grimy stuff. We still in the clubs — the small clubs — performing and things like that. We out there with everybody.
AllHipHop.com: Do you think it is harder being an independent artist on the West Coast than down South or in the East?
Basik: Its way harder. In particular, in Los Angeles. Its not hard being independent in like Oakland because Oakland supports their own. In Los Angeles they have a big-star, Hollywood mentality where everybodys a star. Everybodys lookin out for they self. Theyre not lookin out for the next man and all that kind of stuff. So you know in other places its easier, but yeah definitely in Los Angeles — where we from its hard as f**k.
Reese One: Yeah you never really heard about nobody comin from L.A. sellin s**t out the trunk like that. Makin real big money. They just dont do it. You would look like one of the a**holes that be standing out on Melrose trying to get everybody that walks by to buy a CD. Nobody f**ks with you.
AllHipHop.com: You guys are affiliates of the Living Legends. How has that helped you out?
Basik: It started with me. I roll with them because Eligh is my cousin, and he introduced me to those cats years and years before they really, really got bigger in the independent scene. And we all started making music together, and we all just became fast friends. So, they kind of kept me with them doing tours, and it helped me put together my solo projects and stuff like that.
AllHipHop.com: You guys performed to a lot of big crowds in California, rapped overseas and performed occasionally with a live band backing you up. How important are live shows for you guys?
Reese One: Man, thats everything for us. Especially people in our position. Thats our best form of promotion — just like come out and see us — because we got to sell you something else that youre not hearing on the radio.
Basik: Also, I think its an anomaly that a group — a Hip-Hop group in Los Angeles — has two residencies in Los Angeles at two separate clubs to perform every month. Its something thats mainly reserved for Rock bands, Soul bands and stuff like that. Were like the only Hip-Hop act in Los Angeles — signed or unsigned — that has a place you can go to every month and see us perform. Every first Friday of the month, at Little Temple in Silverlake, California, we have the Bleu Collar 99 cent special, and we have people come in before 11 for 99 cents. Its like a party vibe, and we do a short set — new s**t weve been working on. We have some of our friends that we think are tight come up and do a few songs sometimes. Its like more experimental and more a party. Then, in the middle of the month, toward the end of the month, we do Temple Bar which is in Santa Monica — same owners but at Santa Monica — and its a straight show, a long set. We just try to give you the best Hip-Hop show you could possibly ever see.
AllHipHop.com: You guys take a lot of shots at disloyal woman on the album. Do you feel like you had an uncommonly large amount of bad encounters with ladies?
Basik: I just think it was the period of time. I had a person ask me — like someone that has known me for a long time and heard that album like, Man, you used to be a little more considerate to girls that you wouldnt even call them b*tches and stuff like that. I just think its a point in your life — like maybe at that time when we were writing that album because I am mean we kind of wrote that album all in one fatal swoop — maybe at that time we was just illin with a bunch of girls. Me and Reese pretty much have the same sense of humor, so we look at things similar, and we just laugh at stuff. We get mad at some of the same stuff. Probably just in that period of time we just met a lot of no good b*tches.
Reese One: But, I did have a girlfriend for a long time that I loved and adored.
Basik: And now I am married. Of course, I love my wife, so there you have it.
AllHipHop.com: The album is practically free of any gun talk, but some of your mixtape material is more violent. Is that like you said before about being in a different vibe when you make a CD?
Basik: Yeah. You know I dont really say much cause I am not tough at all. I am pretty much like only going to fight if it needs to be a fight, but I would think Reese is harder than me. [Reese laughs] He aint a violent soul. I just think hes just harder than me.
Reese One: When we did the first album too, the other thing is that we was kind of reserved about what we was doin a little bit because we were coming in with the Living Legends. So we were almost not used to that crowd. You cant tell which songs we did on the album like toward the end, but they kind of got a little more aggressive. We got to the first mixtape, and it was funner. It was more of like I said a release to do something like that. To really talk about how I was feeling. I am not like no super-hard dude, but I do get into a lot of s**t. I rap about it. Like, if I go to a club somebody is suing me right now because of some s**t that happened at a club sometimes when youre a young dude, youre going to get drunk, youre going to be out and youre going to fight. I dont think nothins wrong with it.
AllHipHop.com: Reese, are you worried about clashing with that other West Coast MC that calls himself Chuck Taylor?
Reese One: Nah man. You know what people have asked me that. The thing is that my names Maurice. Thats my name. Neither one of our names is actually Chuck. Its a nickname. Its a moniker. Ive had it for a long time, but he put it out there first. So, he can have it.
For more info, visit www.bleucollar.com.