Today we would like to introduce you to a two man group out of Inglewood, CA that’s been making a nice name for themselves on the underground scene as of late. U-N-I is comprised of members Y-O and Thurzday, and although they hail from one of Southern California’s most dangerous and notorious cities, don’t expect to hear any tales about banging in the hood or dope dealing from this group. Instead, the duo has chosen to relay their music from what they describe as a “regular” person’s point of view. With no street-cred gimmicks or gangsta personas to fall back on, the group is placing a high emphasis on their music in their attempt to build a strong fanbase. But after pushing their Fried Chicken & Watermelon project for nearly a year, will that be enough to propel them into stardom? That question remains to be answered; however, the group has been attracting attention from MTV and magazines such as The Source and XXL. Now they are ready for their proper AllHipHop.com debut as the group took the time to talk to us about their music, Mohawks, hipsters, their A Love Supreme project and possibly being bitten by a certain pair of rap superstars. AllHipHop.com: Let’s start off with your name, U-N-I, what’s the whole meaning behind that?Thurzday: We derived that name from The Roots album, Illadelph Halflife, a song featuring Common called “UNIverse At War.” We are making it our mission to make a statement for good music in Hip-Hop. The U is for Y-O and the I is for myself and it’s U-N-I versus all opposition, contenders, haters and whoever is in our path. It also stands for being Universal and having no limits musically. Music is about expression and we never want to be known for just one type of thing. Soul Hop – Y-O & THURZDAYAllHipHop.com: When I think of rappers from Inglewood, gangster rappers like Mack 10 and The Relativez come to mind. Had you all not informed me that you were from Inglewood, I never would have guessed it. Y-O: I’m originally from Seattle, WA and I made my way out to Inglewood in 1996. I met Thurzday in my freshman year in high school there. I can understand where you are coming from when you say that. When you do hear of an up-and-coming group out of Inglewood, the first thing that will pop in to your head is someone wearing khakis or Dickies – and rapping about the gangsta lifestyle. I have nothing against it but that is not the lifestyle that we represent. We are more like the regular people with the 9 to 5’s that grind daily with five dollars in their pocket. We really like to base our music off of our lifestyle. We don’t want to glorify the gangster rap story that California is known for. Gangster rap put California on the map but we just want to step outside and separate ourselves from all of the other West Coast artists. It’s actually a compliment to hear you think that we don’t fit that category because that’s what we strive for – to not box ourselves in with the L.A. gangster rap. AllHipHop.com: I imagine though that this is a common reaction when fans find out that you dudes are from Inglewood. Thurz: We get that surprised reaction a lot when fans find that out, especially from people that live outside of Cali. All they see on TV are the Friday and Boyz N the Hood movies. You don’t really see the other people that represent L.A. which are like us. The movement has been going on for a while out here. We often get compared to the Souls of Mischief, Hieroglyphics and The Pharcyde. Those guys are the pioneers of music outside of the gangsta-rap lane in Cali.
“We like to dress comfortably for ourselves. Our music is substance over style, though we are stylish. We are not hipsters nor do we make music for just that type of crowd. We are just regular people.”
AllHipHop.com: What category do you guys fall under? Are you hipsters?Y-O: Naw, we are not hipsters. We like to dress comfortably for ourselves. Our music is substance over style, though we are stylish. We are not hipsters nor do we make music for just that type of crowd. We are just regular people. We are regular people that puts out good music that the world can relate to. Nothing against the hipster crowd or the gangster movement – we are all for it. We listen to everything in Hip-Hop. U-N-I represents the regular people in our music – and we just happen to be from Inglewood, CA. Image wise people do want to put us in that hipster category but our music speaks for itself. AllHipHop.com: One of you dudes is rocking a Mohawk. What’s up with that?Y-O: That’s me – and going on five years now. I see that Chris Brown is growing a Mohawk and I don’t like that [laughs]. I love Chris Brown’s music but I don’t like his Mohawk. The reaction that I get from it is split. One half asks me when am I going to get it cut. And the other half tells me to keep it. Thurzday tells me to keep it because every time we go out it gets recognized. People are like, “You are from that group U-N-I, right?” It catches a lot of attention. I didn’t do it for that either, it was just something that I did one day. I just decided that I wanted a Mohawk. AllHipHop.com: Did that ever work against you in Hip-Hop? Mohawks until recently haven’t been associated with Rap music. [Ed’s Note: No disrespect to Afrika Bambaataa.]Y-O: I’ve never had any problems with it. Thurzday: Sometimes you get statements from people before they hear the music and they are automatically biased against us saying things like, “They are hipsters, they’ve got Mohawks and their jeans are fitted.”Y-O: When I hear stuff like that I won’t even respond. I just laugh. The only question that I ask is, “Have you listened to us?” When they say “no”, I usually give it about a month and those same people will come back and tell us that our music has substance. When I hear those types of statements, I just let the music back us up. Let the music speak for itself. I am not the type of person that will get in your face and just brag, brag and brag. I’m quiet. I’ll give you the music and in two weeks I will come back to you and ask you if you felt it. If you do, then we have another fan.
“They [the label] will take your mechanicals, your merchandising and your tour money. That doesn’t sound ideal for what we want. We feel that we have worked hard and are building up our own buzz without tagging along under anybody else.”
AllHipHop.com: Do you think that you guys can fit in well with a major rap label?Thurzday: The way the game is going right now, I see a lot of artists get 360 deals. They [the label] will take your mechanicals, your merchandising and your tour money. That doesn’t sound ideal for what we want. We feel that we have worked hard and are building up our own buzz without tagging along under anybody else. We’ve done our own work so we don’t want to be under a slate contract. But if a situation comes up with a label wants to distribute and market us correctly – then let’s do it! AllHipHop.com: Major labels often look for those radio hits. Is that something that you guys can deliver too?Y-O: We do that but in different ways, like our song “Beautiful Day.” That song is on MTV – it’s getting played on Sucka Free. We didn’t’ do that on purpose like, “Yo! We have to do a mainstream record.” It comes off naturally. We know how to make good music. It’s not just laying hot verse after hot verse. We know how to make a complete record. U-N-I “Beautiful Day” VideoAllHipHop.com: What releases are on the horizon that we can look forward to from the group?Y-O: Before we move on to our next project, which is A Love Supreme, we are releasing our last video that we just shot for Fried Chicken & Watermelon. The song is called “Soul Hop.” That video is going to set us apart from everyone. I believe that all of the people that talk down on us or don’t really big us up, will have their eyes opened up. It’s going to show that U-N-I is not here to play and that we are here for the long run. Thurzday: Then after that we will have A Love Supreme. We are looking to drop that in the first quarter of next year. We might leak a few tracks from it later on this year. AllHipHop.com: Anything that you want to leave us with as we end this?Y-O: [laughs] I just want to ask Nelly, “Why did you bite our video?” Why did you have to have J.D. on top of the rim with his Atlanta hat and J.D. chain? Why? Thurzday: Our first video was K.R.E.A.M. and we paid homage to Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing. I was playing the Mars Blackmon role and I was on the rim with Inglewood spelled out on my hat sitting with a chain that said “Thurz.” Next thing you know, Nelly has a video like that [for the “Steppin’ On My J’s” song]. We did that over a year ago – almost 2 years. Nelly and J.D. bit our video [laughs]. We aren’t salty about it because we know that happens. I just don’t like it when an artist has a creative idea bitten by a major artist with more resources. I’m not salty about it because it lets us know that we are in the right lane. What y’all think?U-N-I “K.R.E.A.M.” VideoNelly “Stepped On My J’s” Video