The Relativez: Let It Bang

Some Hip-Hoppers never heard of The Relativez. But they’re probably in your album collection. Still, this act has been largely responsible for the way gangs have been represented on wax. While signed to Death Row Records in the early and mid-nineties, Big Wy and Suga Booga were the leaders of the Young Soldierz, who hit […]

Some Hip-Hoppers never heard of The Relativez. But they’re probably in your album collection. Still, this act has been largely responsible for the way gangs have been represented on wax.

While signed to Death Row Records in the early and mid-nineties, Big Wy and Suga Booga were the leaders of the Young Soldierz, who hit it big with, “Eastside Westside” on the Murder Was the Case album. While they didn’t release any of their three albums on Suge Knight’s label, the duo was also key organizers in the Bangin’ on Wax series that followed. Since then, the group worked with 2Pac, Snoop Dogg, and Timbaland to craft the West Coast equivalent to Queen’s Screwball – street respected, and Hip-Hop protected. The only thing missing is the sales.

On the verge of their Ballr Records debut, Money Respect Money, Big Wy and Suga Booga speak on the West, Game’s legitimacy, and even just how two of Inglewood’s most notorious feel about Shaq’s departure from the Lakers. When this thing is over, The Relatives are likely to be your favorite new gangsters. You’ve got this track, “The Way We Do,” where you talk about everybody, even the Hilton sisters. What prompted this?

Wy: I came up with that concept. Because everybody in the game is mimicking what was hot at the time. My main thing was just to stay us. I think in trying to bring the West Coast back, it’s gonna have to be authentic. People gonna hate. They gonna say what they say. But nobody gonna do it like we do it. I think there’s this misconstrued perception that West Coast gangstas don’t really appreciate Hip-Hop. I know that’s not right. Tell ‘em.

Wy: S**t man. This is all about Hip-Hop! My major influence out here was King Tee. He reminded me of myself – a street dude, bangin’ and all that, but also in the lyrics and wordplay of rappin’, not just rhetoric. I wanted it to be tight. And you got to work with him recently too.

Wy: Man, soon as I got the chance – soon as I got the budget, I went and got him and we did, “Played Like a Piano 2003.” It came out hot! That whole album was interesting. It had one of the finest guest lists I’ve ever seen on a record. Here you are two years before that, and you take pokes at Mack 10 and Dr. Dre, and then… you working with Aftermath and Mack 10 on this. How is that?

Wy: Out here, when you say something about somebody, people take it in a literal sense. Rap was built on controversy and battle and takin’ shots at people. The shots that we took at Mack 10 and Dre, that was just, “Yo, there’s some young dudes behind you that’s fittin’ to come up and take your spot. We want it.” Respect it or move out the way. If everybody wanna do some good business, everything is negotiable. We cool now, we squashed the beef. People apply “terrorism” to street gangs. As a true gangster, how do you take that?

Suga: I’ve always been a Democrat. So I’m with Kerry. [Democrats and Republicans are] a big ole’ gang too. We like Indians. They cowboys. Somebody here get killed at the liquor store, we go to jail and do life. He bombing churches.

Wy: Any group of individuals that’s against the norm, if they appear to be slightly violent, they’re considered to be terrorists. [In Inglewood], they put an injunction out on us. [We’re] one of the most notorious street gangs in Los Angeles, and called us terrorists. Every time the spotlight is not on Bush, all of a sudden it’s all bad, they’re gonna kill us, blow buildings up again. I think the real terrorist is mothaf***in’ Bush. Because he’s doing all this stuff for his own personal gain. It’s like a smokescreen. I can’t vote anyway, because I’m a federal felon, but I really don’t give a f*** about the election. I support the Democratic party ‘cause [they] for poor people. But guess what, at the end of the day, if gas is three dollars a gallon, you gotta buy it. That felony vote removal thing has made California Republican.

Wy: If I finished my debt to society, you still punishing me. ‘Cause my voice means nothing. I think it’s racism and classicm. Those Crips and Bloods records are kind of forgotten about. But ten years ago, we used to play those til’ the tapes broke. What did those records do for the actual gang community?

Wy: It really showed that at the end of the day, that money and success stops violence. It eases the pain. It’s that way in the street. This dude’s a Crip and [I’m a Blood], but his price is better, so I’m gonna go buy from him. Even though we was dissin’ each other, it was always together. We were always on tour, in interviews, we were together. It gave dudes an opportunity. Battlecat, Domino, and we came off of it. Those that didn’t, they did things inside the music industry. Snoop and Jayo did their thing a few years ago. But you really don’t hear “Blood” called out on a record much anymore. Why is that?

Wy: Nobody really was sayin’ Blood or Cuzz til’ we did it in a song. People was scared to do that. They shied away from it. When it came out, the only people making noise was the Crips. Now, it’s like Crippin’ is mainstream. It’s a known thing. Now, all of a sudden, the spotlight is on the Bloods now. A huge part of that is The Game. What are your thoughts on him?

Wy: Aw yeah, that’s my little homeboy. Game was hosted my mixtape, he on my album. He has a respect for me because me and his brother are from the same neighborhood. Game grew up listening to us. Now, he got his chance. With Dr. Dre puttin’ his stamp of approval on it, it’s opening the doors for everybody that he’s affiliated with. Now, the ones representing the Bloods, the quality of music has upgraded. I consider myself to be a Godfather of this Blood s**t in Los Angeles. There ain’t nobody out here that can tell you differently. So I think that anything that comes in this industry now, if you a Blood, no matter what state you from, it needs to pass by me first. If not, I’m gonna say something bad about it and I got a nation that’s gonna s**t on it. I support Game.

Suga: It depends. I feel, we are the future. Look at Twista. Twista’s been rapping for twenty years and he finally gettin’ his break. You just gotta stay out for your doughnuts and true to what you believe in. Everything’ll be alright. Death Row was how a lot of people can learn they have your music in they cars, and not even know it. How’d you get down with Suge?

Wy: We was performing, “Eastside Westside” around the city. It was getting played in the hoods a lot. One thing about Suge, his ear was always to the streets. He kept a lot of dudes around him that was still in the streets. We set up a meeting at the Murder Was The Case shoot. He really took a liking to us, and gave us a whole bunch of money, and remixed the song and put it on the soundtrack. To this day, we still perform it. I learned a lot at Death Row.

Suga: We got a new song, “Like That,” which is [similar]. There’s another one in that same vein. You’ve made many Lakers references on your records. How do you feel about Shaq?

Suga: That was a stupid move. He stubborn. Let him roam. He getting’ old anyway, s**t.

Wy: F*** Shaq. Being a gangsta in Inglewood, did you have much interaction with the players? I’d think they’d need you all.

Wy: Really, truthfully, I don’t ever see ‘em. Certain ones, they come and do stuff for the kids. It’s not for me. A few of ‘em have been active. The only one I ever saw was the Eddie Jones Foundation. Shaq has his lil’ Shaq Pack. They do a few things. They not as deep into the community as like, Magic Johnson. Real recognize real. You know the streets. From a West Coast Blood. Who out here in the East, is who they say they are, on record?

Wy: Oh, that’s a good question… Jay-Z. I met a lot of dudes that said dude really got down. He did his thing. Then you got dudes from the South like U.G.K., or Eazy-E. Regardless of what people say, Eazy was bonified. I have a bad taste in my mouth about the Guerilla Black situation. You worked with Tupac, and you worked with Tha Realest. You worked with Snoop Dogg, and you worked with Top Dogg. Why’d you accept that?

Wy: I didn’t have nothing to do with that. I just accepted it and let it go. Top Dogg and Realest is my homeboys. But in actuality, in real life, if they had been on my record under my terms, they would have been presented in a different fashion. If I’m ever gonna do a song with Tha Realest, I need him to sound like Tupac because I don’t respect that. Right now, I have a bad taste in my mouth with the Guerilla Black situation. I don’t like nothing that’s imitated, especially two of the greatest artists. He supposed to be from Compton, wearing a New York jersey in the XXL ad! These people are gimmicking these teens. I don’t think this generation will ever accept imitations.