For the relatives who call themselves, Generalz, their music and their lives represent every aspect of West Coast living. For Pro Styles the streets was the beat that he marched to, leaving home at the young age of 14 sleeping in the g-rides he used to steal. Whereas life in the suburbs for Tee Money was more mischief than malice for the playboy who prefers wearing Vans instead of Chucks. One point of contention for the two however is the appreciation for the value of life, which they live to the fullest as they prepare to release their debut album Luxury Living on the independent label ICCE Records.
As two young minorities who had to take on early leadership roles in their households, the Generalz reflects the rewards of playing your position in life and living to reap the rewards thereof. Although neither have ever laced up the government issued combat boots given to registered soldiers, these two MCs could empathize with the young guns going off to do battle for their country. Watching the CNN news and hearing the anchor read letters of fallen soldiers struck a chord with Pro. The thought of the soldiers who would never see their families again brought to mind the countless number of homies he had lost to the streets. Unfortunately his friends who died on the street never got to say their last goodbyes and as someone who survived the mayhem of street life it really hit home.
AllHipHop.com: Describe your album Luxury Living. What sub-genre within hip-hop and rap do you think it fits?
Tee Money: We have something for the street, something for you and your lady, something for the soldiers out there, something for pretty much any situation out there that happens in life. We dont just make music for ourselves, we make music that for people that are gonna purchase our album. Were trying to really break the ice for Latin rappers. When you put on our album, you dont know who we are more or less. Like a Fat Joe, hes not considered a Mexican nor black. When you hear him - he is an artist.
Pro: We have something that a 10-year-old girl would listen to, and Last Letter, something an 80- year-old woman would listen to. Its versatile.
AllHipHop.com: How long has this CD Luxury Living, been in the making?
Pro: Since 04. We started doing a couple of songs at the end of 2004, and we didnt really know we were going to do an album. We went in and knocked out a couple of songs because we wanted to do music. Eventually, we sat down and talked with [a business partner and said,] "If were going to spend on studio time on three songs, why not [spend] it on 20." We grew from producers, to studios, from working in low budget to messing with the big boys.
AllHipHop.com: Okay, lets talk about Last Letter. How did you come up with the concept and how did you execute it?
Tee Money: I thought we needed a soldier song, because we we were going to call our album Boot Camp. We needed something that could actually be [a soundtrack to a] movie. We came down and listened to it, and were like Damn. We woke up early the next morning, sat down and the song just came out. The minute we heard the song, we thought about who [to have] on the hook and Kokane came up. He is dramatic, has a raspy voice. When Kokane spits on a verse, you automatically start thinking Damn, this dudes been through a lot.
AllHipHop.com: Whats your background and what were your experiences growing up?
ee money: I am from West Covina. My mom and [Pros] mom are twins. I grew up without a dad, single parent, with my sister. I grew up skateboarding, just doing my thing. I had a cool life, but it was weird knowing my dad lived two blocks away and not seeing him.
Pro: Mine was the hood life. My mom left my dad when I was like two. I was born in East LA., hung out in South Central, got in a gang just the rough-and-rugged life.
AllHipHop.com: What are your influences as far as rap goes? What did you listen to growing up?
Tee Money: From the time I was born, it was nothing but Oldies like Santana, Tower of Power, Al Green, Marvin Gaye. When my parents split up, when I was seven years old, I moved out with my mom so I didnt have a dad tell me what to do. I was doing what I wanted to do, hanging out with who I wanted to hang out to, and listening to what I wanted to. At that time it was more or less it was Too Short, I fell in love with rap because of Too Short. From that point on, thats what I listened to and thats it. And then I had boys who liked Nirvana. I didnt realize I was musically inclined until high school when I started writing poetry. I looked up to big cousin, he was already doing rap, he hooked up with Iceberg Slim, with Real McCoy. I ran along with it.
Pro: I also listened to all the oldies N.W.A., Too Short. How I started rapping was I was at my boys house, he played for the Portland Trailblazers at that time, Stacey Augmon. I was over at his house and a couple of dudes from Tha Dogg Pound [came through.] I ended up getting on [a song with them.]
AllHipHop.com: Why did you go the independent route instead of shopping your demo?
Tee Money: We had that option. We were going to shop our album. Until this big Latin market really hit, [so] why go get signed when we had the money to back it up?
Pro: The money [the record labels] were going to put into us - artists without buzz - I think they were going to give us like $175,000. Were at like over $800,000. When my partner said, Lets go all the way in, from that point on it was just, Lets do it right.
AllHipHop.com: What does your record labels name, ICCE, stand for?
Pro: We went with ICCE Records because we had a wheel company called ICCE wheels and we just thought we would piggyback off of it because we were in all the magazines with the rims.
Tee Money: So now [the rim company is] doing half-million dollars in marketing anything it does is incorporating us.
AllHipHop.com: So whats the first single going to be?
Pro: The song is called Pull Up, it is just about pulling up in front of the club, jumping out [of the car.]
Tee Money: Its something that knocks, not specifically has a concept or meaning.
AllHipHop.com: How do you put your spin on it?
Tee Money: The hook is a lot different than whats out right now. The way its written, once you hear it youll be singing it on your way home.
AllHipHop.com: Whats the deal on your record label? What you trying to build with it?
Tee Money: We are trying to build a dynasty. We have a family, [Pro] has two kids, I have my mom and my sister. I want to give my family something I never had so our families, our kids, can grow up living nice. It all goes about how you want to see your family living.
Pro: First, we have us. Second is Milano an artist from the Bay. Then, a female R&B singer, Cecy B. Then we got Iceberg Slim, a West Coast club singer.