IIts been ten long years since Tupac Shakurs untimely death, but his group, the Outlawz, continue to tear through the rap game at a same grueling pace. They started off as seven members but after Tupacs death fate would downsize them, and now three remain: E.D.I., Kastro and Young Noble. Theyve consistently released solid albums and have been around the world, but to the mainstream eye, they remain highly underrated.
While this may normally be seen as a roadblock for other artists, for the Outlawz, its motivation. And to the remaining members of Tupacs one-time entourage, its their duty to carry out the legacy of one of the most iconic rappers of all time. Remembering Tupac Shakur is not only to recognize what we cant have back, but to also appreciate what remains.
AllHipHop.com: Your album Can't Sell Dope Forever it's a collaboration with dead prez. And I think it's gonna be big because dead prez has been able to contribute so much to the Hip-Hop community in terms of just being voice that mainstream radio does not want to be heard
Young Noble: As far as us doin' the project with dead prez, like you said, the mainstream media don't want to hear the truth. [There is] not too much really substance that the radio, even the video channels is even supporting, you know what I mean? Dead prez, they're considered the underdogs, but at the end of the day, Outlawz, we represent the same thing. We represent the struggles cause we came in the game with Pac, we been doing nothing but real s**t, representing the voice of the voiceless, the hope for the hopeless, and just representing the struggles period. I be on my grind; I don't sell drugs no more, I hustle rap. So I'm like, We should do a project together, I think that would be hot. And everybody was like, Hell yeah. It's a mutual respect for each other and at the end of the day, just puttin' our movement together just makes it even bigger. Dead prez got a hell of a fanbase and so do the Outlawz, so just puttin' it together and puttin' a solid message out there it makes the movement even bigger.
AllHipHop.com: Is there a particular song with a strong political message that you want listeners to pay particular attention to?
Young Noble: As far as the album is concerned, it's like ten-11 songs on there and its nothing but substance from the beginning to the end. Its not just one song to me that's like overwhelming [with information] you have to listen to it. But my favorite two songs on the album are I Believe I Can, that's the song with Stic.man he did a solo, he actually got his mother on there with him. Then there's a song we got on there called "Fork in the Road" featuring Malachi a hot artist in Atlanta on the rise. Its self-explanatory - everybody in their life will come to a fork in the road [asking themselves], Which way am I gon go, which way is the right way? Am I gon go this way or that way? You don't know which way is the right way but you gon try to make the decision that will put you in a better situation. That's what we on, man, we just tryin' to put the message out there, the whole Cant Sell Dope Forever. The concept [came from] a clothing company based out of Atlanta called Miseducated Society and they make the cant sell dope forever shirts. Like you see all the people in the hood wearin' them and s**t, and one day I was like, Damn, I want to do a song called Cant Sell Dope Forever. So I wind up doin' the song and I played it for my artist Stormy the day after I did it. He couldn't believe it. He was like, I was at Stic.man's house yesterday and Stic.man was sayin' we need to do a project called Cant Sell Dope Forever. They heard the song and was like this is bananas, and we wind up doin' the remix and putting Stic.man on it and E.D.I., Kastro and that's basically where the project comes from. A lot of us just trying to put a nice message out there. There's a lot of dudes in the game right now you know what I mean, there's a lot of dope boys a lot of music about the dope game almost kinda glorifying it. All these young n***as wanna be dope boys and get money and s**t, but this game is serious. Ain't nothing wrong with hustling, cause we all gotta eat. I used to [sell dope], you know what I mean? I used to sell crack 24/7 but I had got up out that s**t. And at the end of the day, we just tryin' to tell n***as, Yo, if you gon do it, we ain't sayin' don't do it but if you gon do it then you better be tryin to stack your money and roll over. Open you up a barbershop or open up a laundromat or something different, cause you ain't gon' be able to do that s**t forever and it's only gonna lead you to two places, you know what I mean?
AllHipHop.com: So you're born in California, raised in New Jersey, and living in Atlanta, so you can connect with young hustlers from across America. The collaboration with dead prez is important, but do you feel that the message would have even more effective on a mainstream scale if you had collaborated with, say The Game?
Young Noble: I think it was meant for [Outlawz and dead prez to do the project]. I don't think to many rappers even take that approach to doin' music. When you pop the CD in, it's from beginning to end nothing but substance. I think collaboration perfect for us 'cause the Outlawz; we're known for doing nothing but real s**t. My brother locked up now from that s**t, you know what I mean; my mom was a fiend until I was basically six or seven years old; I started hustling when I was like 12 years old, you know what I'm saying? I don't think there's too many artists' that are even willing to take that risk and put it out there like that you know what I mean like. Dead prez, they some stand up dudes, and we some stand up dudes, I think the combination is perfect. I couldn't see us doing it with nobody else. I don't think any of them other dudes would even be interested in doing a project called Cant Sell Dope Forever.
AllHipHop.com: I guess I just thought that because a lot of artists, especially from the West Coast, put a lot of emphasis on Tupac inspiring them. So considering that their careers are somewhat derivative from Tupac, there is nothing but respect there. So I would assume that you would have that same level of respect from these other artists' to be able to
Young Noble: That's a good thing that you sayin that, cause a lot of dudes be kinda fake love. Like when Pac was alive, a lot of dudes was scared of Pac so its like [since] he ain't here no more, dudes will be like, We love Tupac to death, we a reflection of Pac, we was little homies. The same brothers saying We love Tupac to death, motherf**kas will close the door right in our face. When it comes to the family, when it comes to the love, n***as don't reach they hand out to us. I done seen a lot of dudes come up. I done seen a lot of these n***as before they really got they shine. But them n***as don't talk to us. You know who talks to us? The streets, the independent n***as. We do songs with independent n***as all across the country. We don't even reach out to none of them n***as for support no more cause that s**t be real fake. I'm telling you from the horse's mouth. Don't get me wrong, n***as show us nothing but love and respect, but as far as in this music s**t thats what it be like, I love y'all n***as, man, I been bumping y'all s**t for years, but it don't be no support there like that.
AllHipHop.com: Thats not what Tupac wouldve wanted
Young Noble: I mean, if Pac was alive, you already know, Pac wasn't [claiming] nothing but the Outlawz. He took care of us like his motheraf**kin' family. I mean E.D.I, Kastro and Kadafi was his real family. At the end of the day, we ain't asking for nobody's support, we doin this on our own, we ten years strong in that s**t. We just got back from Moscow [and we've] tour the world. A lot of rappers that's hot out here, they don't give a f**k about Moscow.
AllHipHop.com: Are you going to look to MTV and BET for more publicity, or do you know you can get your message out either way?
Young Noble: No question. I mean don't even get it confused, we would love to have a company behind us you know what I mean, but ain't nobody really came with it yet. We not gone sit around and beg a lot of dudes they don't really know how to s**t like that. This game is a mutherf**kin' hustle nothing more, nothing less. I'm not gon sit around and wait for some motherf**ker to write me a check to feed my family, hell no! We got our own studio, we do beats, we do music, we do our own s**t. We invest in ourself, that's how we get that comeback like that.
AllHipHop.com: You were pretty young when you joined Outlawz. What was it like working with Tupac?
Young Noble: We would get up six o'clock in the morning and go to a movie set with Pac. We might be at a movie set with Pac until about three o'clock. We would leave and go to the studio. Would be there form like four [pm] until about two [am] or something, pop four or five songs out. Get to the crib at about two [am], and guess what, back up at six [am] all over again. We did Makaveli in literally like three days. It's the seven-day theory, but that s**t should really be the three-day theory with songs over. There was a few songs that ain't even go on the album that we did in a little bit of time.
AllHipHop.com: There is a lot of talk when it comes to the quantity of songs that Tupac put out...
Young Noble: Call me back if you can find someone who put out more albums than us. I doubt theres anyone out there with more songs then us. Our work ethic is phenomenal, that's something that Pac told us. Go in there and do quality s**t and move on to the next thing. That's just want he told us; its just second nature. Just like how Tupac will do California Love, then I Aint Mad at Ya, then Dear Mama, we do the same kinda music, real life from the heart s**t.