It is not easy living in the shadows of one of Hip Hop's greatest MCs, just ask the Outlawz. For almost ten years the group has scratched and clawed to remain relevant in the Hip-Hop industry after 2Pac's death. Now down to three members, EDI, Kastro, and Young Noble, the Outlawz are living proof that perseverance and hard work pays off. With their just released album, Outlaw 4 Life shaping up to be the trio's finest work, the Outlawz are hungry to prove they can succeed without Pac, while at the same time keep his legacy alive.
AllHipHop.com discussed the rumors, the past, and all the things that have been unclear on the self-proclaimed, highest selling independent group. Get an official scoop with real answers. The Lawz are back in black!
AllHipHop.com: How do you guys think you have progressed from your time with Pac, to Novakane and Ride Wit Us, to now with Outlaw 4 Life ?
EDI: We went through the evolution of becoming a man. We really started to pick and choose our steps carefully. Back in the days when we were young, we would just rush into anything without thinking about it. Half of the time, we didn't really care whether we lived or died. So a lot of our moves and decisions reflected that attitude. But now in 2005, it is imperative that we live. So our music reflects that. Plus, on the music side, we just got better at what we do. I feel like we got better at writing hooks and picking beats, which were our achilles heels back in the day. We have all gotten better at both of those things. Also, we now own our own studio in Atlanta, Georgia, called Outlawz Studio. We have had everybody in the dirty south come in to record there. But back in the days, we were just some wild ass homeless n***as with nowhere to go, and that is what our music sounded like.
Noble: When Pac was alive, he was basically the general. He came up with all the concepts for the songs and everything. We all had our little input, but its easy to just rap on a song with the greatest rapper of all time. So its a big difference between rapping on a song with Pac, and coming up with your own classic record. I just think we matured, and time heals all wounds. When Pac and Khadafi passed, we were young and traumatized. So time healed our wounds, and now we are all grown with kids. Now its time to take it to the next level, and you will hear our growth with the new album.
AllHipHop.com: Interestingly, this album does not feature any Pac vocals. Was that intended to prove you can do it on your own?
EDI: Its really not about proving anything to anybody, or ourselves. But its the fact that Pac has worked had enough. He has worked harder since '96, than when he was here. Every year there is another 2pac album. Plus, we have our own album with him Still I Rise, which was very successful. We have been on so many songs with him that we decided to give it a break. I mean, how many more songs can you do with Pac? Even though there are still more unheard tracks that we did with him, we just wanted to do this album our self and give Pac a break to rest.
AllHipHop.com: Do you feel that the market is oversaturated with Pac albums at this point? Especially considering every year we get another one.
EDI: Hell yeah!
AllHipHop.com: So what do you think about all these remix albums then? Do you guys like them?
EDI: Its a double-edged sword. I am going to be honest with you though. I like the albums because it gives Pac fans a chance to experience more of his music. But, at the same time, its kind of painful. Sometimes the s**t isn't done right, and who knows what Pac would be on right now in 2005. I seriously doubt that Pac would be on the same s**t that he was on in '96.
AllHipHop.com: I'm gonna be real with you guys. As most people do, I have all the Makaveli bootlegs 1 through 10, and so on. And to me, those original tracks are classic. I haven't liked all of these remake and remix albums. To me, all of these producers making new beats for the tracks takes away from the essence of the original. Do you agree with that?
EDI: I can feel you on that, it definitely does. I can't even argue on that. Anytime you tamper with something and change it from its original state, you are taking away from the authenticity of it. But with these new tracks, the power and emotion is only there sometimes. When a producer gets it right, it can be great. But when he goes in there looking at it like another opportunity, instead of looking at it like working with the greatest MC ever, then its going to show. The music is going to suffer because of it.
AllHipHop.com: What did you guys think of Pac's Loyal To The Game? Specifically Eminem's production and work on the album?
EDI: I wasn't necessarily crazy about everything he did on the album. There was a couple of songs on there that were cool. But at the same time, I felt Eminem was put in a precarious position, because he didn't get a chance to work on any of the late Pac tracks, or the Death Row Pac tracks. He got to work on a Pac while he was still learning in the early 90's, not the one in his prime. But the album definitely could have been better, and it definitely didn't sound like a 2Pac album. But we appreciate everybody taking their time out to get involved in the album. I also appreciate everyone who helps Pac's mother, and tries to contribute, instead of taking away. There are a lot of people that try to take advantage of her and use her sons music without her permission. So I appreciate anybody that goes about it respectfully and the right way. Yeah, the album wasn't the greatest, and some of that s**t was straight up horrible. But at the same time, he did it with respect. He got at her in a respectful manner, instead of going about it in a sneaky way. And a lot of cats do that nowadays.
AllHipHop.com: Who would you say is going about it sneaky then?
EDI: I'm not going to sit here and say names, they know who they are. If you are running around with Pac vocals, and you haven't spoken to Afeni about it, and you haven't made any arrangements with her, then you are one of the people I am talking about. And they all know who they are.
AllHipHop.com: I was reading an interview awhile ago and Daz said he was trying to sell you guys some old tracks of you and Pac, was that true?
EDI: Nah, Daz was never trying to sell us old Pac tracks. He was trying to sell us the old album we did at Deathrow, which we didn't want. We don't give a s**t about that album. But he did have some Pac vocals, and he still does. But we spoke to Daz, and we came to an understanding with him personally. I am not going to say what we talked about and what happened, I'm not going to do that through the media. I'm not no internet web banger or none of that s**t. I handle my business in the streets, for real! So when we had a problem with Daz, we got with him in person, and settled it. It's squashed. Now when I see Daz, there is no problems. We got at it respectfully, and he apologized for some of the things he had said, so its all good.
Make sure to check out part 2, up now!