Onyx: Cold Getting Dumb

In the world of crime investigation a cold case is defined as a crime or accident that has not been solved and is not the subject of current criminal investigation, but for which new information could emerge from new witness testimony or re-examined archives. As the times change it’s possible that new technology or a fresh look at the case years later can help lead to solving the mystery. Hip-Hop is all too familiar with the idea of the cold case with the notable deaths of top artists like Notorious BIG and Tupac. With that comes the release of Cold Case Files: Unsolved Murders on August 19 by Jam Master Jay protégés Onyx, a collection of unreleased tracks recorded during the mid nineties. With this release Onyx reopens a file of music to their fans that haven’t heard from the group since 1995’s Triggernometry. The group has managed to maintain a profile amongst fans with group members Sticky Fingaz and Fredro Starr having a prominent presence in the film and television world. Here the group speaks on, amongst other things, their latest tribute to Jam Master Jay, reflects on how Hip-Hop has changed since their appearance in 1993, and Fredro Starr candidly discusses the controversy surrounding recent appearance on Youtube.AllHipHop.com: You have a new album dropping in August but it’s all old material. Why are you deciding to release it now?Fredro Starr: Yeah, it’s called Cold Case Files. My brother (Whosane) and I were just sitting in the studio puffin’ on some trees and listening to a lot of old material that he had held onto. I mean he had tapes, DATs, and all types of s**t. We just sat there and listened to tapes for about three hours and I just thought the s**t sounded crazy. I thought it be good to give our fans something they would appreciate. We not trying to change the world with this album….this is Onyx collectables for Onyx fans. We have at least 60 tracks – this is just the first volume of unheard material. It gives old fans something they can hear and if we get some more fans along the way that’s cool. This is a representation of Onyx from 1993 until now. This will let them know how Hip-Hop used to be because right now…there’s still some ill n****s but it’s not being really put out there. When you look at the top ten videos all the artists are from down south. When was the last time a New York artist went platinum? New York fell off. We ain’t been the same. Sticky Fingaz: This is vintage Onyx for the Onyx fan. I don’t even know why we didn’t release….well I know one reason why. We didn’t even know a lot of these tracks existed. If it wasn’t for the brother Whosane all these tracks would have been lost. He’s the biggest Onyx fan on the planet and he had all this stuff we had forgotten about. This is old s**t that we had that was just collecting dust.

“I apologize for being absent from Hip-Hop and letting these corny ass n****s take over the game. See what happens when a n***a takes a vacation?” -Sticky Fingaz

AllHipHop.com: Even though the music was recorded around a decade ago the tracks don’t sound outdated and deal with relevant issues occurring today.Fredro Starr: Songs like the track we have with Method Man [“Evil Streets Remix”] are just soulful. That’s my favorite track and the beat sounds like it could have come out today. I mean I see what Kanye and RZA do now so the soulful sound is still relevant. It’s still relevant because we’re still relevant. Method Man is still relevant. We’re still here. The world is still going through the stuff we rapped about then. The ghetto is still feeling the same pain. The world hasn’t changed. We’re still at war—we’ve been at war for twenty years! When we came out the first time Desert Storm was over. We’re always at war. Two of my n****s got murdered two days ago so nothing is changing. Sticky Fingaz: A lot of music isn’t outdated. The music is timeless. What we’re talking about is timeless. I wouldn’t want to be conceited and say we were ahead of our time or anything, but the music we recorded is still hot right now.

Evil Streets f/ Method Man – Onyx

“New York is the start of Hip-Hop. We don’t sound like n****s from Atlanta. We don’t sound like n****s from Tennessee. All that Dirty South s**t sounds the same.” –Sonny Seeza

AllHipHop.com: Even though the times may not have changed Hip-Hop music has made drastic shifts. What do you attribute those shifts to?Sticky Fingaz: It’s regional. Every regions gets it’s time. When Onyx came out the west coast was on and the east coast was kind of soft. We had A Tribe Called Quest, and don’t get me wrong I love A Tribe Called Quest, But Dr. Dre was killing the game with the hardcore music. Then Onyx came and we started smashing s**t. Now the music is on the southern tip so each region has it’s time to shine. The south is shining, but all good things come to an end.Sonny Seeza: I think you’re looking at it from the wrong way. That’s rap. Rap is basically on some other corporate s**t. We come from the Hip-Hop standpoint. Today rap is prevalent because it’s corporate but what’s going on today is not Hip-Hop.Fredro Starr: Very true. When we came in the game we were signed to Def Jam. That meant something. Beastie Boys. Run DMC. LL Cool J. Public Enemy. The industry had integrity. People’s brands meant something. Now….it’s not the same. It went regional.Sonny Seeza: New York is the start of Hip-Hop. We don’t sound like n****s from Atlanta. We don’t sound like n****s from Tennessee. All that Dirty South s**t sounds the same. So now it’s turned into a regional game. New York is not popping so the corporate side is not looking for a rapper out of New York. Record labels and executives shut down New York. We started the 100Mad movement so we could build up the integrity and voice of the east coast. We want to build up east coast music. We want to give artist from the east coast a chance to be heard.Fredro Starr: 100Mad is short for 100 mad n****s with guns. We’re putting out compilation albums from artist in the tri-state area and the east coast that have no outlets. We’re going to put these records in the store and give these kids a chance because the rest of the industry isn’t. We’re going to be out there looking for talent.Onyx “Shiftee” Video

AllHipHop.com: Well you have been around as the music has changed so did you see the change in music coming? Was it gradual to you or all of a sudden?Sonny Seeza: That started at the start of the new millennium. It had already started with Cash Money and Master P. We saw it. We worked with it. We watched many east coast rappers become confused about who they were but we stayed the same. We calculated and planned so we could be here today.Fredro Starr: When we came up there were down south rappers out. You had artists like the Geto Boys and Luke. The South was there. When we came out they were growing and then their voice got bigger than our voice. I just never saw that coming. But everything evolves and it’s going to come back around.Sonny Seeza: It’s back around right now. Whatever the f**k that dance is…Soulja Boy….n****s ain’t trying to do that no more. Right now we are getting it together so that we can take Hip-Hop back from the corporations. It’s time to take the hood back.Fredro Starr: We going to come with an Onyx dance [laughs]. We black rock stars. We rappers but when you go to one of our shows it’s like a rock concert. You’re going to thing you’re in the wrong venue.

“We came out with ‘Slam’ and some other tracks and I’m going to keep it real, n****s in the street made comments. S**t like, ‘Why ya’ll on that white boy s**t?’” –Fredro Starr

AllHipHop.com: Aren’t you releasing an album of new material with more of a rock edge?Fredro Starr: Yeah, Black Rock. I think the Black Rock album should have been released in ‘94. It should have been our second album. We came out with “Slam” and some other tracks and I’m going to keep it real, n****s in the street made comments. S**t like, “Why ya’ll on that white boy s**t?” We made a U turn from those types of records because n****s in the hood wasn’t feeling it. But it’s not about the n****s in Brooklyn it’s about what we represent, and we represent high energy music. When we did songs like “Last Dayz” (All We Got Iz Us) we showed people that we can spit. That album proved we were ill lyricist. When we did the “Slam” record we never capitalized off it. We never did Lollapalooza or a show with the Beastie Boys. We stayed away from that lane and that was our lane. Why should we just stay in the Hip-Hop market when we can appeal to the rock crowd as well? We are Hip-Hop but we’re going to put on the mad face and Mohawk and bust n****s ass on stage. We’ve already done that in rap and our show is our strongest point. I like rock music and its energy matches our energy so that’s why we’re coming with the Black Rock album. Hopefully the Hip-Hop fans in Brooklyn will feel it but it’s really not for them. It’s Hip Rock. It’s for the Lollapalooza n****s.Sticky Fingaz: Really it’s for everyone to understand what Onyx is about. It’s for the fans that feel and love what Onyx is doing. That’s what it’s for. If you ain’t with that we’ll see you later. Sticky Fingaz: He’s right, we were scared of that lane. The president of Def Jam Lyor Cohen basically had to talk us into doing a track like “Slam.” We were so hood and so hard that we didn’t want to do that s**t. I mean our show is like a mosh pit. Overseas 90% of our audience is white. We are still going to release a street album, but don’t knock this rock s**t. This rock s**t is hard. It’s not like this is soft rock. Lil Wayne is the highest selling artist out right now and he comes out on stage with a f******g guitar. It’s not just to appease the Rock & Roll crowd. But it’s for everyone. Really it’s for everyone to understand what Onyx is about. It’s for the fans that feel and love what Onyx is doing. That’s what it’s for. If you ain’t with that, we’ll see you later. Fredro Starr: It’s the same lyrics–different beat. Same struggle—different beat.Sonny Seeza: We’re trying to be the ones that open up the doors for others to come through. Trailblazers. We’re not going to stop being who we are regardless of the media or anyone else.

“50 is a smart businessman and at the end of the day we gave him respect. We put him on records when we was at the top of the game. He didn’t even have a car. We gave him respect on the strength of Jam Master Jay. What did we get in return? Someone talking slick on mixtapes? Swinging on n****s? So now I feel like it’s a problem.” -Fredro Starr

AllHipHop.com: On that media note, Fredro there’s video of you on the Internet making a few comments about Brandy, Dipset, and 50 Cent. Care to speak on any of it?Fredro Starr: The video…I’m going to be real…I played myself. I did a video where it wasn’t the right time…it wasn’t the right place. I was feeling myself a little too much. At the end of the day everything has a justification—even the Brandy thing. I never meant to put her on blast and say she gave me head. It was a joke and the media ran with it. That’s what it was. The comments about Dipset…Dipset is doing them. I can’t judge what they’re doing. Now the comments about me and 50…that’s a problem that we have. It’s just a problem…I don’t consider it beef. He said some things out of his mouth. I started working with Bang em Smurf. I don’t know what was going through his mind. But when you try to swing on me…we have a problem. He never called my phone and tried to explain what was going on. I never got any messages. 50 is a smart businessman and at the end of the day we gave him respect. We put him on records when we was at the top of the game. He didn’t even have a car. We gave him respect on the strength of Jam Master Jay. What did we get in return? Someone talking slick on mixtapes? Swinging on n****s? So now I feel like it’s a problem. We never put it on wax. So if you want to do it that way we’re ready to entertain. We ready. I’m ready. 100 Mad is ready. This was before he said f**k Jimmy Iovine. This was when he was a big dude. But what did G-Unit sell on their last album? Good, now we’re on the same playing field. Now it’s even. You want to say something about Onyx I will be more than happy to address it. If he calls my phone and want to put it behind us my ears would be open, but I ain’t get that phone call yet. I don’t give a f**k. I mean, every interview they ask me about this n***a. I can’t get away from it. So I think he just made it so we’re always relevant. Hopefully we can entertain some people and see who is really spittin’ that s**t.Onyx f/ 50 Cent “React” Video

AllHipHop.com: You and Sticky Fingaz are also well known for being in other aspects of the entertainment industry. How is it balancing mainstream acting careers while making hardcore music?Sticky Fingaz: There’s no problem. Ice Cube puts out comedy and family [movies]. The two worlds pretty much remain separate. Fredro Starr: Hollywood don’t care. If you’re selling records the people at the movie house don’t give a f**k….they just want people in the seats. Same hustle to me.

“Now I’m not about to fall off of the movies but we are going to hit the music stronger. Ask Eminem who his favorite rapper is and see whose name comes up.” -Sticky Fingaz

AllHipHop.com: Do you feel like the acting may have taken you away from rap too much?Sticky Fingaz: The acting definitely took us away from rap. You can’t do everything at once. Some people have a good machine behind them where they can do both. Some people can’t let the music fall off because that’s how they feed their families. We’ve been lucky enough to be able to do both. Now I’m not about to fall off of the movies but we are going to hit the music stronger. Ask Eminem who his favorite rapper is and see whose name comes up. We got a lot of stuff coming out but if you ever wonder what’s going on go to onyxdomain.com.Fredro Starr: Yeah, I can say that. Sometimes I’ll walk down the street and see a white girl and she’ll say “Oh s**t, that’s Malakai from Save the Last Dance!” She doesn’t know about my music career. I think when you know how to balance it works for you. I mean, Sticky wrote a movie that will have me and Mekhi Phifer, and Bokeem Woodbine where all the dialogue is rapped. It’s just bringing both our worlds together. We have a lot of stuff that’s going to be coming out soon. Things that we’re producing and working on ourselves that I can’t even speak on yet. We do have a documentary about Jam Master Jay called Two Turntables and a Mic which just shows people more about his life. We’re going back before Russell even knocked on his door looking for a DJ. That’s one of the projects that we’re really proud about. Sticky Fingaz: I have a movie coming out under Lionsgate that I wrote produced and directed. All the dialogue is rapped. And this isn’t] rappers but A-List actors in the movie. I learned a lot from being an actor in a lot of movies. I’ve got connections, I got a crew, and I got money so I shot the beginning of the story. I showed it to Lionsgate and they told me not to show it to anyone else. We want to do this. I have another one with that same rap concept coming out with Vivica Fox, Cedric the Entertainer, Angie Stone, Joe Torre and some others.AllHipHop.com: When you’re listening to the old recordings, what’s biggest difference from the you on tape and the you listening today?Sonny Seeza: I think I was ill then and I’m ill now. It shows the relevance of what I’m doing now. It just gives me insight to my mind state and vibe. That period is now etched in stone because of those recordings. Sometimes I listen and I don’t even remember saying some things. Sometimes I’m still surprised that I feel the same way about certain things.Sticky Fingaz: That’s just the old me. Every second we change. You can’t be the same 20 years ago; you can’t be the same ten minutes ago. I’m about to release another solo album because people need to see more Onyx. I feel like people are trying to write us out the book of rap. I look at ten year reviews, or things about Hip-Hop past and I don’t see Onyx. We don’t get mentioned and that’s bulls**t. VH1 has that Hip Hop Honors…we haven’t been honored. I see 50 Cent climbing stages—I started that s**t. I see Method Man jumping into the crowd—I started that s**t. I see Busta throwing water—n***a I started that s**t. And people act like they don’t know. When Def Jam was in the hole Onyx brought them back. Not only them we brought the whole east coast back. I’m not going to let people forget that. Some of the people coming our right now are just young. They was two or three years old when we first came out but them n****s need to know their history. You know what, I don’t give a f**k if they know their history or not…they need to know their present. We’re coming back out. Jay-Z says he’s getting nicer and he’s over forty. I’m only thirty four and I’m in the prime of my life. So right now I apologize for being absent from Hip-Hop and letting these corny ass niggas take over the game. See what happens when a n***a takes a vacation?Fredro Starr: I still feel the anger in my heart. I still feel the pain we go through in the ghetto. Really nothing has changed. I honestly feel like one year has gone by. I don’t know where the years went but I still feel young. This Hip-Hop music keeps you young.

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