Zab Judahs extensive melees as a champion should lead him to The International Boxing Hall of Fame when he decides to retire, but the celebrity fighter is equally determined to conquer another arena of entertainment. The Brooklyn native anticipates knocking the sagging music industry with a sly counter punch before he steps out of the ring.
His goals: to bring it back to the music, the talent and make people listen. His team: The Brooklyn Hit Factory. The Brooklyn native is armed with cadre of verbal sparring partners like rapper EZ $kywalker, TJ Cross, producers, executives and others. Zab is looking of his conglomerate to rise to the heights of G-Unit, Roc-A-Fella and Death Row before them.
And in this day and age, the similarities between boxing are uncanny. The musical clientele are relentlessly fighting for the top slot. Whether its in the ring or the studio, artists have to be resolute and disciplined and have to train constantly. Zab hopes that his reign can become a domineering force as Jay-Z, LL Cool J and others.
AllHipHop.com: We have a little tradition growing at AllHipHop where we list peoples Top 5 rappers. Can you put down your Top 5 Dead or Alive rappers?
Zab Judah: Number 1 is Tupac. Number 2, Ima do Biggie. Number 3, Ima put Jay-Z. Number 4, Ima put Jadakiss. Number 5, Ima put Lil Wayne and Number 6, I put 50 [Cent].
AllHipHop.com: Lets start with Jigga. What is it about Jay-Z as an artist that you like?
Zab Judah: I just like what Jay-Z stands for. My [people] joke and say, Zab think hes Jay-Z. You know, hes not a bad person to idolize. He came from nothing. He came from the bottom and turned it into a billion dollar operation. He got one of the baddest girls out here and married her. You cant knock the mans success. He did great.
Zab Judah: Jadakiss is nice. I dont care what nobody says. Jadakiss is one of the rappers that has never received his full respect as a rapper. Him and Fabolous, they my favorite underground dudes. Jadakiss is an exception. And Lil Wayne is in my Top 5.
AllHipHop.com: What about 50?
Zab Judah: 50 is nice. I like what hes become. He couldnt get a break. He had a bad tragedy [in getting shot] and he came back to show the world. Even when [life] f**ks me over, Im going to come back and be the best. Jay-Z said it best, Men lie, woman lie, but numbers dont lie. Numbers dont lie. Look at the money, man.
AllHipHop.com: The Biggie Smalls movie was recently released. Can you talk about what B.I.G. meant to you as a Brooklyn representative?
Zab Judah: B.I.G. is Brooklyn. Big is one of them dudes that first started yelling Brooklyn and was like proud of it like Brooklyn what up - what!? Biggie could be on the toilet taking a s**t [and the] s**t come out and its like, Brooklyn, n***a what!? [Laughs] Biggie made Brooklyn like its huge. If you look at Brooklyn on the map, compared to the size of Texas, the size of L.A. [its small] youre like Brooklyn? This lil a** place? Its little but its very powerful. Some very powerful people came out of this borough. Michael Jordan was born in Brooklyn. Jay-Z is from Brooklyn. B.I.G.s from Brooklyn. Zab Judahs from Brooklyn. You got a ton of guys that were from successful that are from Brooklyn.
And B.I.G. I got the chance to meet him. Undeas (Lance Un Rivera) took me in the studio and he was like Big, this is Zab, an up-and-coming Brooklyn dude. And he [Biggie) was like, Yeah, I know about him. I be reading about him in the paper and all that. Yo, dude is nice. Me and D-Roc is cool. Me and Cease is cool. Kim [Lil Kim] is like my sister. Being around the whole B.I.G. movement was fly. As a young dude, and seeing B.I.G. Coogi sweaters, Jesus pieces and Kangols. Yeah, you got Jay-Z that took it to a different level.
You got B.I.G. that was dressing up. Pac was dressing up! People dont know, Tupac Shakur is my cousin, a blood relative of mine. A lot of people dont know that. Thats why its an Outlaw movement. We outlaws til the day that we die. B.I.G. was from Brooklyn. B.I.G. was our hero. Pac was family. But its all love though.
Zab Judah's career highlights. (interview continues after video)
AllHipHop.com: I know you have Outlawz tatted on you. Can you speak on Pac a little bit?
Zab Judah: I can speak on Pac a lot. Well be here all day, all night. Pac was a poet, man. He spoke wisdom. People only look at the negativity and try to classify him as that. Pac was a very intelligent person, very intelligent. If you sit down with his mother, and you hear her speak, you understand that this kid didnt come from no dumb environment, no matter what being born in jail. His mom was a very historic person. Pac was a very smart person. His sister, thats my homey. Its all love.
AllHipHop.com: As for your label, what shining star artists are standing out?
Zab Judah: We have TL Cross, hes R&B singer. Looking for a major deal and [expect] a release date in the summer.
AllHipHop.com: What made you move to Las Vegas?
Zab Judah: Barack Obama went and made a change for America so I decided to move to the West Coast and make a change.
AllHipHop.com: How long have you been there?
Zab Judah: S**t, almost two years now.
AllHipHop.com: We only associate you with Brooklyn.
Zab Judah: Keep it like that. Thats the way it locks down. I just sleep here thats it!
AllHipHop.com: As far as getting in to the rap game, what are you doing now?
Zab Judah: Im a little more educated about the business on how the game is played now. I have my artist around me, I have my team around my, I have some good business partners. Everybody in my team has their head on straight.
Ahmed Jerome (partner in Brooklyn Hit Factory): Most of the people that are in the company and form the company, we rep Brooklyn. Like Jay said, we go hard for Brooklyn. Brooklyn is always in the house. This is the foundation where Zab comes from.
Zab Judah: We so far advanced, that our artists are starting their labels. The Brooklyn Hit Factory will have a lot of little labels under it.
AllHipHop.com: Can you talk about how Brooklyn affected you growing up?
Zab Judah: I came from Brownville, Brooklyn so you know, coming up from the whole M.O.P. movement and the Ante Up and jack em. Thats what we came up under so with what the rappers were talking, we were out there trying to live it. We really tried to live what these dude were talking about.
AllHipHop.com: I want to address a rumor too. What happened with you and Busta Rhymes? There was a rumor that you and he got into a fight.
Zab Judah: [Laughs] You know what? I like Buss. Buss is my man. We had a little misunderstanding when we were leaving the club and [pauses] its old. Its nothing. Buss is from Brooklyn. Thats my dude, you know? I got all respect for him. Hes got all respect for me. We gonna leave it at that.
AllHipHop.com: Is music actually you setting yourself up for your post-boxing career?
Zab Judah: Lets just say this what inspired me to get into the game of music Im from Brooklyn. Im a fighter. Everyday we train to music, everyday we listen to things [and] its a way of life that were brought up in. Hip-Hop is not something that you inherit; Hip-Hop is something that I grew up in - came up with. Its a part of me. I came up in the era of the B.I.G., Jay-Z and all that. Of course thats who I look up too and try to be like and be better than business speaking.
EZ $kywalker on the set of the video for "Do it"
TL Cross: Traditional National Anthem - and the "Yes We Can" remix