Outlawz: Kick In The Door

It hasn't been a smooth road for the Outlawz. Early in their career they lost Tupac Shakur, who was both their mentor and the founder of the Outlawz, and experienced the death of another member, Kadafi, the same year. Add in a lack of mainstream recognition with a revolving door of members and you the makings of a perennial underdog title. However, being under-noticed in the rap game isn't something that stunted the Outlawz’ reputation for delivering raw street music they call “ghetto gospel,” a term originated by their mentor. Nor, did it stop the members from working alongside big names in Hip-Hop and releasing several solo projects and mixtapes and earning a flock of devoted fans.Ready to ignite fire under the industry, EDI, Young Noble, Kastro and the newest member, Stormey, prepare for an August 5th release of their street LP, We Want In. Attempting to set the record straight, the last Outlawz standing EDI and Young Noble [minus Kastro] discuss their place in Hip-Hop, the Outlaw legacy, and what we want in really means. AllHipHop.com: People are talking about “We Want In” [co-directed by Young Noble], butthe album title seems more than just a title, it seems more like a statement.EDI: Well We Want In is a statement and basically it's our way of speaking for the underground and all the cats that wanna get in this game, keep knocking on these doors and for whatever reason this whole Hip-Hop industry is like the cool kids in high school. If you ain't dressing like the cool kids or if you ain't doing what the cool kids is doing sometimes you get fronted on, you're knocking on that door.It's kinda cliquish in the Hip-Hop industry so when I was coming up with the hook and all that, I was just thinking like an underground, like what a n***a want to say to all the top n****s in the game that's getting it. And in no way, shape or fashion are n****s trying to spark something where we dissing n****s and s**t and most of them n****s I named in the song are n****s I know personally and got a lot of love and respect for. Young Noble: It's like we want in basically. EDI had come up with the hook and everything and we was gonna drop a street album before we dropped the Ghetto Gospel album, which is our next album that we're working on and it's basically the concept you know we want in, we're just about to get a little more aggressive. It feels as music we're not really getting our just due or even had a fair shot. The streets been holdin’ us down for the longest, our peers, our rap comrades they always show us love and the utmost respect it's more so the motherf***ers who's in charge of cutting them checks really. AllHipHop.com: Within the record industry like you said y'all are recognized, but not as much with the bigger picture, what do you think is the cause of that?EDI: Again, I don't want to make it sound like we're knocking on somebody's door begging to get in because we've been in and all through this industry. And so it’s not really we’re knocking to get in. It's more like a metaphor like I said speaking for the underground but if it's a personal thing about the Outlawz; I would have to say when my homeboy 'Pac left he pissed a lot of people off and some of those people are still in a position of power where they can make a phone call and say not today… "The Outlawz what? Nah, we ain't havin it". AllHipHop.com: You guys have had a lot of solo projects and mixtapes. How hard was it or how easy was it to re-up again for this new album?Young Noble: It was really simple, we got like tons and tons of songs in the stash and we constantly working so it really wouldn’t take nothing but a few days to put an album together better than 90% of these albums that's out. That's just what we do. That’s what 'Pac taught us, the work ethic. We gotta work at something. I got like a chest in my house full of tapes and s**t so it was really simple. Our last album that came out was in 2005, we've been dropping a lot of collaboration projects. So since '05 we pretty much been dropping collaboration projects instead of Outlawz projects so it was just time for us to drop something.AllHipHop.com: Most groups seem to experience a lot of ups and downs with members leaving. As far as the consistency, last album was 2005 [Outlaw 4 Life: 2005 A.P.], what has kept you together to keep making music together in this industry?EDI: That's a good question, 'cause a lot of times this industry is definitely good at breaking groups up. Our group, I wouldn't even say was broken up by the industry, like certain members just decided to take different paths in their life, it didn't really have nothing to do with music. The Outlawz, the group was really the young dudes, Outlawz Immortalz included Outlawz together along with Tupac, but Outlawz itself was the young dudes. It's me, Kastro, Noble and our homeboy Stormey that's the newest member of the Outlawz and us together we're still doing our thing. AllHipHop.com: Where would you say in Hip-Hop do the Outlawz fit in, or do you feel you fit in?Young Noble: I feel like we fit in where if you wanna hear some real music, inspiring thug s**t, this is what you come to. I'm telling you from what the perspective of the streets tell me all the years I've been doing this that's what dudes hear from us when motherf***ers having them days and they need to feel inspired and they're feeling like, "f**k life", "f**k everything, “the bills is due,” “my baby mama trippin," f***ers just need some inspiration to feel better about themself to get to the next day. They pop in 'Pac and the Outlawz and this is from dudes sending letters to our P.O box, dudes locked up, doing life in prison, real n****s, like killers, n***as ain't no groupie n****s, n****s is taking their time out to write us a letter to let us know how our music inspire them to be better men and just get 'em through the day. When I first started doing music I didn't think people really listened and paid attention like that. I really really didn't until n****s started giving the feedback like motherf***ers really look at us like that so I feel that's our position in the Hip-Hop, if you wanna hear some real s**t, not no extra hype bulls**t, n****s on some rapper s**t, n****s that spit real s**t.

“They do specials on 'Pac on whatever channels, they never call us. It's just like all around the board forgetting about the Outlawz... The streets love us, wherever we go they f**k with us, coast to coast, state to state, overseas…” –Young Noble

AllHipHop.com: What would it take for the group to finally feel like they've gotten credit?Young Noble: I couldn't even just say one thing, but it's just all around the board. We're starting to feel it. I'm starting to feel like I just heard the other day someone said you heard Jay-Z is shouting y'all out he was on the "A Milli" beat, Lil Wayne's s**t and he was saying something, "bumping 'Pac and the Outlawz," like that s**t made me feel good. Jay-Z shouting us out right now, but it's like I don't know, we done been on over 60 million records, we never been on a major label, we never had no radio support, we never really had no video support. Like they do specials on 'Pac on whatever channels, they never call us. It's just like all around the board forgetting about the Outlawz. They must not know how much influence we got, how, because the streets love us, wherever we go they f**k with us, coast to coast, state to state, overseas they f**k with us. Talking about the corporate light just open up some doors we ain't really had no doors open up for us for all the work we done put in for Hip-Hop and the losses we done took to be able to survive the storm and still be here and our music is better then it's ever been as far as the Outlawz is concerned.EDI: To me it's like the money has to match the respect. We got all the respect in the world honestly. In the industry and amongst our peers the respect is there. I don't think we would of been able to record and do music with as many people outside of 'Pac that we have done if the respect wasn't there. N****s ain't going around throwing anybody on their records and we ain't doing that neither so the respect is there. It's just the paper ain't matching the respect. We got a couple hundred million dollars worth of respect, but I don't got a couple hundred million in the bank.

“We're not 'Pac and we're not going to try to do our best 'Pac edition, we're the Outlawz and 'Pac ain't here, we gotta do us.” –E.D.I. Mean

AllHipHop.com: You’ve mentioned Tupac a few times, have you ever felt pressure because of the affiliation and with the comparisons from people?Young Noble: I think that the main thing is with that is sometimes we'll put something up and the fans will f**k with it like damn these n****s is cold, they're way better than when they was with 'Pac. Then you got the other people who wanna hear the Outlawz from '96. We ain't the same as back then. How the f**k can we be the same? Listen to an Outlawz song and expect to hear Tupac on the motherf***er, hear 'Pac on it without him being on it. It's like 'Pac ain't here no more...Kadafi, our group was seven members we down to three. That's like imagine Wu-Tang [Clan] still here 15 years from now and they only down to Ghosface, Raekwon and Method Man, like everybody dismembered and them three is the last Wu-Tang members together as Wu-Tang. Fifteen years from now they still here making probably better music than they did at this time, motherf***ers would be only hearing them from when it was all the members or whatever the case may be. Well this is life man, two n****s died, one n***a is a Muslim [Napoleon], he don't even rap no more, one dude went solo [Hussein Fatal], it's like this is the Outlawz that's left, this is God's plan, this is how it was meant to be, it sets up for the Outlawz left now, we can’t rewind time.I guess us being under him there's always gonna be that comparison or whatever the case may be but we're not 'Pac, we don't wanna be 'Pac, we're the Outlawz, that is what he always told us, You ain't competing with nobody but y’allself.EDI: I definitely think that an easy argument for people to have that didn't necessarily want to see the Outlawz be successful—Oh them n***as ain't s**t without 'Pac—is an easy one but I really feel like for the true fans and the real motherf***ers that's really getting into this Hip-Hop music, you can't go through our history and say we ain't put it down for ourselves. It’s been 12 years since 'Pac been gone and yeah he was the biggest rapper of his generation, and probably the biggest selling rapper of all time, but that alone can't keep us in the game for 12 years.It was something else that kept us in the game besides the fact that we was associated with 'Pac, so the pressure is there when it comes to the fact that people won't listen to your music objectively without wanting to hear a 'Pac verse or wanting us to talk about the same things 'Pac talked about or wanting us to keep those same beefs that 'Pac had when he left. That's the pressure, but it's not really pressure, it's like come on man give us a break. We're not 'Pac and we're not going to try to do our best 'Pac edition, we're the Outlawz and 'Pac ain't here, we gotta do us.