By Percy Crawford (@MrLouis1ana)
Fiend has been through it all. The Louisiana native talks about surviving the New Orleans streets, his 24-year career and time spent on No Limit Records.
(AllHipHop Features) Although the early 90’s New Orleans rap scene was predominantly held down by Cash Money Records, another locally owned record label by the name of Big Boy Records slowly created an exceptional roster headlined by Mystikal. Along with the, then “braided up pimp” was a raspy voiced self-proclaimed, “Baddest Motherfucker Alive,” Fiend. That would be the single that burst, Fiend (New Orleans native) onto the scene. His first album, “I Won’t Be Denied,” released in 1995 was a local classic. Fiend, would find national success 3-years later after signing with Master P’s, No Limit Records. After appearances on several No Limit projects he released his first studio album on the label in 1998 entitled, “There’s One In Every Family,” which peaked at No. 8 on the Billboard 200 and No. 1 on the Top R&B-Hip Hop Albums chart. Fiend would go on to enjoy much success under the No Limit banner and had hit collaborations with the likes of Mystikal, Master P, Snoop Dogg, Mac and Mia X. During a brief stint on the Ruff Ryders label, he collaborated with the legendary Memphis group, Three Six Mafia on a track titled, “Touched Wit It.” With more than 10-studio albums to his credit and a 24-year career under his belt, Fiend, much like his popular track with now deceased, Mr. Magic, has been through it all. He’s seen the peaks and valleys of being an artist/producer and much like the No Limit Tank in the 90’s, he continues to march on and soldier through the good and the bad that this industry has to offer.
I had a chance to speak with “Mr. Whomp Whomp,” to discuss his first interaction with Master P, KLC, Mia X and Kane and Abel’s influence on getting him TO No Limit Records and holding his own lyrically on great rosters.
AllHipHop.com: In the early 90’s, when you hit the scene, being called a fiend was an insult, but you made it work. Where did the name, Fiend come from?
Fiend: I looked up to the greats that came before me like, Rakim. He called himself “The Microphone Fiend.” Fiend just seemed to stick, and I made it more about fiending to take care of my family, fiending to better myself or fiending to bust rhymes. I was fiending to battle cats and annihilate them on the microphone.
AllHipHop.com: You are 24-years into your career. How did you stick around this game for so long?
Fiend: How I have stayed in this business for so long and kept my head high is I stayed “fuck boy” free. I stayed “fuck boy” and “fuck girl” free. You don’t have to be running with the in-crowd just because they are the in-crowd. Sometimes you have to be in the in-crowd even if you’re dolo. I’m well-grounded and that’s what works for me. I move around, I’m the type of dude that’s always moved without any kind of security. Not so much that I didn’t need it to maneuver a lil bit at certain heights of my career, but I just thought it was crazy to hire somebody that is ready to die for me at a certain wage. It’s like, how is this going to go? I’ve always had great parents, great family and great friendships. I never jeopardized anything for the in-crowd.
AllHipHop.com: The title of your debut album was, “Won’t Be Denied.” Was that the mentality coming into this game?
Fiend: Yeah, I was going through a real unique time. I went through a lot of losses and that was just my goal. I didn’t know what could have been before me but being a cat from Louisiana… we’re just not scared of a lot of things. I felt like I had survived the warzone. I survived this neighborhood; I survived school and my teachers being on strike. I done sat at bus stops hoping and praying that I make it home. I had been through so much I just felt like, as long as I can block out all of that noise and keep going, with nothing on the other side of fear, I could get there. I have a song with the late, Mr. Magic called, “Been Through It All.” I was a kid in the passenger seat, so it allowed me to be able to talk about a lot of things. I seen a lot of things and experienced a lot of things, so “Been Through It All” with the late, Magic is a title than can describe then up until now. It’s relatable.
AllHipHop.com: Most will remember you from your days with No Limit, but I go back to the Big Boy Records days with, Mystikal, The Ghetto Twiinz, Black Menace, Partners N Crime and that was a hell of a lineup as well. You have always been able to hold your own lyrically while being a part of some great lineups; whether with Big Boy or No Limit.
Fiend: Right! I think iron sharpens iron and steel sharpens steel. I think the creative ancestors were just with me the whole time. At one point and time, it was like, “Son, I want you to be great and by all means you’re going to have to get there. You’re going to be able to predict the time it takes to get there, but I had to continue pushing.” I had a passion that ran so deeply I never monitored the time. I was just doing what I was doing. I firmly believe that, when you tap into something, this super power that I feel like everybody from Louisiana possess, I think it attracts that other type of light. That other type of great energy for whatever attribute you need to help push you to the next level.
AllHipHop.com: Most, if not all of No Limits albums started with the all-star cast spitting a verse for the intro of the album. With the talent there, you, Mia X, Mystikal once again, Silkk The Shocker, P, C-Murder, Mac, how did you guys keep the egos in check and the jealousy down?
Fiend: How do you keep the egos down when you have all of these great artists and everyone wants their turn and their look? We genuinely all cared for each other. Outside of music we were pretty much familiar with each other. That played a very very big part. Of course, there were times where you wanted to be promoted more or get more exposure or pay and things like that; not so much compared to anyone else, but to grow as an artist. I can’t speak for everybody, but I will say it really helps when everyone has a genuine type of love for each other. I think that made it that much more easy for us all to stand and cross over that bridge together as far as all of these artists chasing their dream and pursuing their dream. I believe that everyone gets their turn depending on the type of work they put in when it’s your turn.
AllHipHop.com: When you have 10 artists on one track, was there a process to the order in which you appeared on that intro? Take for instance, ‘Make Em Say Ugh,” how was that order selected?
Fiend: There were times where we got together and it was like, “This-this-this and this.” But, most of the time we just was gelling. That just was that.
AllHipHop.com: Do you remember the first time you met, Master P?
Fiend: Believe it or not, I saw him… my buddy Damian had took me to a concert at the Riverboat Hallelujah. Funny- funny- funny, P was in there selling their music and performing. I was like, “That’s dope!” My buddy, Damian liked this, Master P dude. I didn’t get into the music like that. I couldn’t recall so many songs and this that or the other. Damian was my dawg, so I was just going with him. I knew Mia. I go to it like any other concert. We get up in that thang, you know what I’m saying. And, I’m like, ‘This is cool. This is who Mia with right now.” I go to support and buy a CD or cassette, I bought it from, Percy Miller. He was behind the table selling his stuff. He got these high socks up to his knees and I’m like, “This dude must be from somewhere else.” I wasn’t dissing him or nothing I just thought the cat was from somewhere else. I didn’t know he was from home, ya heard me. I bought his stuff I bought Mia stuff. I’m just supporting because I think this is dope. These people out here selling their own music; this is the era I’m from. That’s when I first met him. He probably don’t even remember that. My buddy, Damian was trippin that I ended up getting with people who he had been supporting since “99 Ways To Die,” you know what I mean?
AllHipHop.com: That’s crazy. Okay, that was your first time meeting, Master P, but how did you become a, No Limit Soldier?”
Fiend: What happened was, I was working with Kane and Abel, I was working with KLC and I was working with Mia. Mia had brought me to get on one of her projects. She had wanted me and Mac on one of her projects. What we did was we ended up working that out. This guy by the name of Corey Bush, a good friend of ours was like, “I go to school with him. I’m in college with him.” He had just started going to college at SUNO. So, Corey… we fresh out of high school or still in high school like 12thgrade. He came and got me and was like, “Mia want to sit down with you and get you on something.” I’m like, “That’s dope.” So, I met Mia at like Schwegmann’s [grocery store] or something (laughing). We walking through Schwegmann’s getting her groceries. She was like, “Yeah baby, I want to get you on my album. I think you dope. I got a song I want to get you and Mac on.” And I’m like, this is cool. I’m walking through Schwegmann’s grocery shopping with Mia right now. It was so ill. It was too cool, bruh. She said she was going to get me out there to the studio. She came to my house, I guess to vibe with me or for me to run my verse to her or something. She came to my mom’s house and I remember me and Mac getting up even more so after she put us together. So that was dope, next thing you know, Kane and Abel wanted to work, and I started working with them a lot. I went out there and I was on a song with them.
KL was like, “Forget that, bruh. I’m about to take you out there with me.” So, he took me and when you walk in, you walk straight and there is an office to your left and an office to your right and in the middle was a conference table. So, we were recording… well, KL was in there making beats. I’m up in there chillin with him while he’s working on songs. He got headphones on and next thing you know, P opens the door and sticks his head in. I turn around and he was real dry like, “What’s up.” I said what’s up back, and KL got headphones on, so I tell him, “Ya man saying what’s up.” So, KL say what’s up and P was like, “Say KL, let me holla atcha.” He pull, KL in his office and I hear them having a disagreement. P wasn’t too keen on meeting new people in that manner. They talking amongst themselves and I hear, P like, “Man, who this dude is you bringing up in here,” and KL is like, “Man, I’m telling you, we need this dude, bruh. He wasn’t too mad on that type of level, but it caught him off guard or whatever. They were in there for a few minutes or whatever and he walked in and it got quiet again, but I remember them going in that room. KL opened the door and they walked up in there and he said, “Yeah, everything cool, bruh.” He went back to making beats. I remember him bringing me up there every chance he could get. It was never like, “Hey KL, can you bring me up there.” It was always him, “Say bruh, I think you need to be over here.” Mia, Kane and Abel and KL, made it official for me to go around. I never stopped going in. I used to get up with KL in his blue Suburban. His Dallas Cowboys blue Suburban, he was a die-hard Dallas Cowboys fan ya heard me. I don’t know how, but that’s his thing. We used to drive out there, bruh and it used to be like magic. I was there to see him produce “Watcha Think.” I was there for all of these situations. I was there for the finishing of the “Bout It Bout It” soundtrack. It was just sick, man to know how dirty and grimy you can make music to represent the picture of our culture. It just threw me, bruh. “I gotta get a meal ticket.” I got to see that first hand, bruh. That’s the process that I didn’t mind waiting for when it came to time. That was the process because in between those times of waiting for whatever, I was able to record me an album, “There’s One In Every Family,” piece by piece by piece.
AllHipHop.com: I think your debut cut, was one of the most arrogant debut singles ever and we loved it; “I’m The Baddest Motherfucker Alive!”
Fiend: Bruh… now that you say that, I never looked at it like… those words. I never looked at it like, “Me, yeah, me, I’m the baddest.” It was just a phrase that was stuck in my head. I promise you, it was just a vibe and I’m happy I stuck to it and I’m happy DJ Precise didn’t hinder me because of the track. I’m happy that the people was around to say, “Let’s make this happen.” I didn’t hinder myself. I just kept pushing. I didn’t hear the naysayers. I couldn’t hear nobody, but the sounds of me wanting to murder a track. That song happened on “Big Boy Records” and you can say the rest is history. I had a lot of ups and downs, but in the city, that one song… it was no looking back, bruh. At the end of the day, bruh, I wanted to represent us so bad. I was going to be whatever I was going to be and I had it on my mind not to care about the judgement and just go. I had so much on my mind. I wish I could tell you I had this perfect blueprint, but I didn’t. All I knew was to work. Do the work, do the work, do the work. I never left the studio. That’s why I was on so much stuff. I’m just grateful. If my career was over with tomorrow or whatever the case may be I could be grateful knowing that I accomplished a lot of dope things, reached a lot of dope fans, met a lot of great new people, traveled the world and left an imprint.
AllHipHop.com: I’m sure the opportunity to work with Snoop Dogg when he was signed to No Limit ranks high up there as well.
Fiend: It was dope. Snoop is just an all-around dude and I am grateful for somebody like him. Not only being a fan at one time and growing to be friends, but I was able to see what it was like to have Love and Hip Hop before there was Love and Hip Hop.
AllHipHop.com: When you see, C-Murder go do a bid, Mac, go do a bid, the unfortunate passing of, Mr. Magic, and you’re still here, you’re still doing what you love, one of the last Mohicans, so to speak. What is that feeling like?
Fiend: You don’t know when it’s going to be your number. I’ve seen some real close friends pass away and you just scratch your head. I’ve been able to avoid a lot of things. Maybe I had a different right of passage something bigger for me to do. I don’t look at my life more greater than theirs, I just look at it like, I’ve been preserved and it was on me to do something with it. I got low for a minute from a lot of things just being paranoid. People following you, special agents following you trying to take you down because of your success and your color. I don’t know why it was the agenda to focus on us like that, but it’s just real, man. Of course a lot of people are going to get it in my book and my documentary. It wasn’t an easy path. I never thought I would be here to be talking about, I’m still here. You get past 25 and you doing big business. That’s just really what it is. I’m just more in shock. I never thought I would be the dude saying, “Back in my day.” To still be in the heart of what’s poppin and the movement, ya know… I’m grateful.
AllHipHop.com: It was a pleasure speaking with you and I wish you continued success moving forward. Is there anything else to add before I let you go?
Fiend: I appreciate your time, Mr. Crawford. I really appreciate your time. I want to be able to utilize the company and the outlet that you are working for more often. I would like to go about it using the correct procedure, so that I could be more consistent. I know that there are no promises behind it, but I have a lot of music and a lot of vibes and I want to be able to put it out there. I’m appreciative for all blogs and websites who show me support and follow me on social media. I think it helps to have great young writers that know the story and know how to get great stories out. If people can tune-in to me and follow me on Instagram @504fiend, Twitter @FIEND4DAMONEY, Facebook is 504Fiend or Richard Jones and Snap Chat is Fiend Whomp Whomp. If you got Pandora or Spotify, those type of outlets that you are streaming, visit me. I want you to look up my new brand, which is “International Jones.” That’s where we are going and that’s where we are headed and that’s where I want to be able to give people great music for the next how many years, I’ll be able to do it.