By Percy Crawford (@MrLouis1ana)
(AllHipHop Features) After several features on Tupac’s 1996 posthumous album, “Makaveli,” the world took notice of the Tupac founded group, “The Outlawz.” The group consisted of, E.D.I. Mean (E.D.I. Don), Hussein Fatal, Yaki Kadafi, Young Noble, Napoleon and Kastro. Tupac would also feature the group on one of the most notorious diss tracks of all-time, “Hit Em Up” where shots were fired at the Bad Boy label. In 1999 a collaboration album from 2Pac & The Outlawz was released entitled, “Still I Rise.” The album debuted at #7 on the Billboard 200 and in February of 2000 it was certified platinum after selling over 1.6 million units. It was Tupac’s third posthumous album release. Much like, Bone Thugs-N-Harmony who lost their founder, Eazy E shortly after debuting, group was forced to surge forward despite losing the two men (Tupac and Kadafi) who brought the group together. As a group, The Outlawz have released 10-studio albums and several mixtapes dating from 1999- present.
I had a chance to rap with, Outlawz member, E.D.I. Don. He talks about coping with the losses of Tupac and several Outlawz members, recent Kay Slay influenced collaboration with “The Lox as well as his new album, “The Hope Dealer 2.”
AllHipHop: I read where you said recently that The Outlawz were working on a documentary that focused more on the group and not so much about, Tupac. Being that you, guys were all from different areas and walks of life. How did the group come together?
E.D.I. Don: Basically, long story short, we were all brought together by a common bond and common interest that linked us together. But the spearhead of that whole thing was of course, Pac and Kadafi. We all knew each other through them two individuals.
AllHipHop: You were a west coast guy being partnered up with guys from the east coast, during the height of the east/west thing, was there ever any awkward moments there?
E.D.I. Don: It ain’t have nothing to do with a coast with us. It was just a family thing.
AllHipHop: Everyone remembers the loss of Tupac because he was so instrumental in launching you guys, but you also loss, Hussein Fatal, Kadafi and Moozaliny in a short period of time. How did you cope with those losses?
E.D.I. Don: I’m still coping with it. I’ll let you know when I’m done.
AllHipHop: Has keeping their name alive through music been one of the coping agencies for you?
E.D.I. Don: Yeah! Music is definitely one of them, absolutely.
AllHipHop: During the movie, “All Eyez On Me,” before the shooting scene where, Pac was shot while in the car with, Suge he played an “Outlaws” song. Where can I find that song?
E.D.I. Don: It’s on the hard copy deluxe version of my album that I just put out, “The Hope Dealer pt.2.” You can only get it from me. That was produced by, L.T. Hutton. Shout out to, L.T. Hutton for letting me get that track from the movie. But I got you, just give me your address and I’ll send you one.
AllHipHop: I think because of who introduced you guys into the game, the fact that ya’ll were dope artists does get overlooked at times. Can you just speak on the fact of how serious you were about the music side and how sometimes that may have been overlooked.
E.D.I. Don: It’s definitely one of those situations where, the light that we were around was shining so bright that our contribution gets overlooked by people who only look on the surface. But that comes with the territory and it’s a gift and a curse. We were gifted to be associated with an icon and put in the game with an icon, but that icon was such a huge and bright light that we get lost in the shadows. That was kind of the idea behind it anyways. We never got in it to be as big as, Pac or bigger than, Pac. We just wanted to add on to what he had already accomplished and to what he was already doing and never make him look bad for fucking with us. We appreciate it all and we take it all either way.
AllHipHop: Young Noble has you on some tracks on his new album, but on the surface it does kind of feel like all of you guys went in different directions. Realistically, do you feel like a documentary or movie type of situation could actually go down?
E.D.I. Don: It’s an epic story that has to be told, so it will be told in some form or some medium in the future. We just gotta work out the logistics and really make up our mind up on how we want to do it. We have a couple of different options that we can go with and it’s about choosing one of the options. I think the timing has a lot to do with it as well. I think if we try to rush it or force it before it’s time, it won’t be done right, and we could miss our mark. So, we’re going to take our time with it and as so long as the people want to see it and there is an audience for it that cares about our story, it will get out there. Definitely!
AllHipHop: Do you feel that there are a lot of things that people would be surprised to learn about The Outlawz while navigating through a documentary, movie or book?
E.D.I. Don: Yeah absolutely! Each member of The Outlawz played an important position and an important role in the whole picture that is, Tupac and The Outlawz. The documentary or the movie… whatever the case may be and how it gets told, it will get told in its entirety and people will definitely get answers to a lot of questions.
AllHipHop: In one of your features on the, Young Noble album you wore a hat that said, “Make Hip Hop Great Again.” Is that hat a testament to where you feel Hip-Hop is at today?
E.D.I. Don: Let me be clear, I really just liked the hat. That was a hat that Cross Colours” made. I picked that up at my homeboy shop out there in Vegas, “The Palace.” I just liked the hat. There is a lot of great things about hip-hop right now today. I don’t want to make it seem like hip-hop ain’t great, but at the same time, there are certain aspects in the past that get lost when things evolve. I think new artist should always reach back to bring the culture forward. That’s what we did. I think we need a little bit more of that. Other than that, I think there are a lot of great things going on in hip-hop.
AllHipHop: Do you feel like artists… especially the younger guys are too comfortable saying things like, “Tupac’s music wasn’t that good,” or just taking little shots at legendary guys in the game today?
E.D.I. Don: Yeah! A few years back it wasn’t as much thirst for clout. It wasn’t that much thirst for getting headlines. There is so much competition and it’s so crowded that cats gotta find ways to separate themselves from the pack, get the views, get the likes and the followers. Pac is still the standard in hip-hop as far as greatness in concerned. He’s still top one or two in everybody’s list that matter or that counts. So, when an artist wants some attention or anybody for that matter wants some attention, you say, Pac’s name, you know what I mean. Pac name is going to get a certain amount of attention to this date and that’s just a testament of who he is and what he put down while he was here on this earth.
AllHipHop: “The Hope Dealer 2” album is out; “Dreams” is my favorite track on the album. The album feels to me, like you are geared more towards uplifting and awareness as opposed to anything else. Was that the approach for this album?
E.D.I. Don: Man, I’m not that clever, so my music is just a direct reflection of what I’m going through whenever I’m recording it. If that’s what the album sounds like to you when you listened to it, then that’s where I’m at in my life; period point blank.
AllHipHop: I see you are in the studio with DJ Quik. Anytime, Quik is involved you could expect some fire. What you got cooking with him?
E.D.I. Don: Man, stay tuned. It’s a wonderful thing to be able to work with a legend. I used to watch him when I was younger. I was always a fan of his music and his production, the whole thing. The whole, DJ Quik movement, I was a fan of. To be working with him now at this point in my career is just like another check on the bucket list. A long list of things that I never imagined as a young emcee coming into the game. For him to be like, “Yo, I want you here. I need you on this.” It’s dope and I appreciate the opportunity.
AllHipHop: When you look back at some of the things you were able to accomplish in this game, you have to be proud because you have worked with legends.
E.D.I. Don: My momma and my lady often tell me I need to stop and smell the roses because I’ve always been working. I always wanted to work and establish myself and add on to a great tree. I never wanted to be a weak branch, so I was always in work mode. At this point I’m starting to smell the roses a little bit now. I’m thankful is all I can really say. I’m just thankful for the opportunities that I continue to get, 20-plus years in the game. That in itself is quite a feat. I stayed on it like I wanted it and that’s why I’m reaping the blessings.
AllHipHop: Being that you have over 20-years under your belt and you have endured the ups as well as many losses, what keeps you motivated?
E.D.I. Don: I have highly self-motivated people in my life. Like my partner, Young Noble is a self-motivated dude. He is a hard-working cat and he never slowed down either. He’s always working hard. And my partner in my other company, Sinatra is another self-motivated dude. I think the people around you that is self-motivated will have an influence on you. It’s very important to have like-minded individuals in your circle. People that think like you and people who you share a lot of your energy with. That’s what I’m around, so it keeps me motivated as well as other things like, living, surviving, having personal goals, my children, my woman and people in my life like that adds on to the pot. It gets me out the bed in the morning.
AllHipHop: Is there anyone out there who you would like to collaborate with that you haven’t had the opportunity to work with yet?
E.D.I. Don: Man, I tell you one thing; shout out to, Kay Slay. He made one of my hip-hop bucket lists come true this year and that was the record we got with, “The Lox.” I always respected their music, respected their hustle and how they got down and to get that done was dope. Shout out to, Kay Slay for making that happen. Other than that, I really don’t have no other… I recorded with all of my favorites literally. All of my favorites in hip-hop from my generation I got to work with in some capacity. I really don’t have any desires in that area. It’s just great to still be relevant 20-something years into this game and still get these opportunities.