Friday, January 21, 2005

Streetz Magazine......Winter Holiday Issue




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JADAKISS ....... The Becoming



By Carlito Thomas

Liberals, Minorities, and the world at large have been lobbying “F*ck Bush” darts for 4 years now. Within the walls of Hip-Hop you’d expect these slugs from Hip-Hop’s usual suspects like Dead Prez, Chuck D, Rush and KRS One. Certain voices speak during malevolent times but you might not expect a Yonkers born street chemist turned mic ripper named Jadakiss to be speaking on issues such as Iraq and voting, but the rapper is engulfed in a deep conversation with Hip-Hop mogul Russell Simmons at this years Hip-Hop Action Summit in Boston. Jada has stirred a lot of shit with his hit single “WHY” where he questions the President’s involvement in the falling of the towers on 9/11 in one eye-opening line he spits, “Why did Bush knock down the towers?” While Kanye recently leaned on Jesus, Jadakiss played his political card with his second single and then remixed it consequently raising a few eyebrows in Washington on all political fronts. Jada reasons, “It’s just asking why to a lot of things I think a lot of people all over the world might want to know...Champions make champions. You can’t be scared to try different songs. It ain’t all about just punchlines and all that now. Em, 50 and DMX, all these people, they switched it. They made the listeners really want to hear what you feel as an artist and as a person. They don’t want to hear a bunch of fantasizing and a bunch of lying.”
With his new album you can actually hear the growth and maturity of Jason Phillips as he speaks on relative issues involving his family, and community in his trademark raspy voice. He grows without abandoning the street base of his L-O-X upbringing. Jada is embracing his frontrunner status in Hip-Hop having fully moved into his position of Co-CEO of his Universal-distributed label D-Block and leader of the now somewhat fallen Double R regime. Kiss has always felt like he was the leader of the Ruff Ryder camp but his sales just couldn’t justify it barely failing to go Platinum. If you asked anyone on the streets Kiss was always the General, even when DMX was scanning plaque after platinum plaque. Today with Eve reunited with the good Doc and X claiming retirement status, Kiss has put the Double R on his back and begins to try to regain some of the momentum it had back in 98’ when the label and its roster was on top.

“Champions make champions. You can’t be scared to try different songs”- Jadakiss

It all began when the late great B.I.G predicted that Jadakiss would become one of the greats. It was never the flow or respect but the sales and lack of hit singles that have always held Kiss back from crossing over from the hood into mainstream success like most of today’s major selling artists. Jadakiss agrees by saying, “If anybody ever followed my career, I was always categorized as one of the top spitters, my rough voice, and my delivery set me aside from everyone else. It just seemed like it was always something missing…But this time I’m going to make sure all the chips are in place.” Kiss’s first solo effort was slowed down by politics. Politics as in Sean “P-Diddy” Combs his former label head. As Kiss tells it back in ‘99, on the tail end of their “Let the Lox Go” campaign, an attempt at getting off of the Bad Boy Roster. Ruff Ryders forked over 3 million dollars to provide Jadakiss, Sheek, and Styles of the Lox to get out of their Bad Boy contracts. In addition Puff added a clause in the contract release stating that he was to receive $300 G’s off of Kiss’s first solo album. Talking about a dent in your budget! If you check the credits of “Kiss tha Game Goodbye” you will see publishing credits for Puff’s publishing company Justin Combs (named after his son). It was also rumored that upon releasing the Lox from their contract they could not say Puff’s name on any tracks! Kiss holds no ill feelings towards Puff for the moves that were made calling him a “paper gangster.” But Kiss knows that Puff is a great business man, and “I respect that” says Kiss. He feels differently about DMX, both being from Yonkers you would think they would see eye to eye on a lot of things but that clearly is not the case. “Me and X used to have a lot of ups and downs, we could be cool sometimes and not be speaking one another,” he says. Ironically, Kiss and the Dark Man has since squash the beef as they seen each other at the Jones vs. Tarver fight in Las Vegas a few month back. “We kicked it and sat down on some grown man stuff and squashed it” states Kiss.
On his first album he made a bold statement claiming that he was the, “top 5, dead or alive and that’s after one LP”. But he may soon be able to back that claim as his 2nd album “Kiss of Death” debuted at number 1 on the Billboard charts and in the past year he was continually in the listener’s ears via a slew of stand out, cameo verses. Jada insists that B.I.G, Rakim, Eminem and other greats have already penned him as one of the best and that they won’t be let down. One thing is for sure he will never let the streets down.

Streetz Magazine......"Crush Of The Month"...Winter Issue


CRUSH OF THE MONTH!!


Devin The Dude....Just Being Himself



By JusBam

Being successful in the rap game is more than just high priced videos and big platinum chains with spinning emblems. For artists like Devin the Dude with 10+ years in the game, it means three highly-regarded albums and the opportunity to do what you love to do, they way you want to do it and still having your fans loving whatever you do. If you’ve ever listened to a Devin album you might feel like I do. You have to respect his ability to amaze us by continuingly being true to his music, while staying consistent and making his entire fan base feel like we’ve known him for years.
Devin first debuted with Odd Squad and the ‘94 classic “Fadanuf Fa Erybody,” followed by appearances on Scarface’s “Face Mobb” project. In ‘98 Devin eventually went solo with his own debut “The Dude”, and four years later came back with the sophomoric “Just Tryin to Live.” It’s 2004 now and the man known best for his standout hook and verse on Dr. Dre’s 2001 cut “Fuck You” hits us with “To Tha X-treme.” An album dedicated to his favorite pastimes, females and smoking weed. In his world everything is cool and as long as we keep listening he will keep being just that Dude.

Streetz (S): What’s up Devin, have you been enjoying your time here in DC?
Devin (D): It’s been lovely. I love it here.
Streetz (S):The Hip-Hop community has deemed you the poster child for underground success. You’ve been in the game for a number of years and have produced consistent classics, but you haven’t yet managed to cross into the mainstream or superstardom where a lot of us feel you should be. Are you more comfortable with where you are?
Devin (D): I’m just satisfied actually just being appreciated in the game; the music is first and foremost so when people appreciate the music and let me know about it, that’s cool. Every time I come here I meet somebody else, who enjoys the music and that’s what means a lot, that’s what’s important.
Streetz (S): Is it more important to put a CD out that you love, that you gave everything to or is all about the money?
Devin (D): Well, for me it fall back to the music again, its about putting out some good material that people can listen to at different times, in different stages in their life; from 16 to 63 (laughs). But yeah, most definitely you have to be concerned about the music not just about the numbers. That comes with good music.
Streetz (S):There was about a 2-year gap between “Tryin’ to Live” and the new project “To The Extreme” is that something you planned to do?
Devin (D): This album was going to be a double album. The title was going to be the Roman numeral “II the Extreme”. But because of the time period and it had been so long. I just wanted to give “To the Extreme” all I have for one price instead of the two for one thang.
Streetz (S): That’s a new trend in hip-hop today with the double CD’s do you think that this can hurt or help your career?
Devin (D): It can hurt, But it can help also, For a lot of people who have fans out there that don’t get a chance to hear there music as often as they want to and just give them a lump some at one time for them to absorb then about two years later you have another one for them. But it wasn’t nothing planned as for as the time between the second and third album. Between the first and second album we were going distribution changes, and a lot of things were happening so there was about a four-year gap between the two. The Dude was ’98 and Tryin to Live was 2002, and now this project so hopefully I’ll have another one next year.

“I’m just satisfied actually just being appreciated in the game”- Devin the Dude

Streetz (S): The Hip-Hop industry has change a lot since you first made an appearance in the “Up and Smoke Tour”, how has the industry changed to you?
Devin (D): When I first came out it was with the Live Squad back in 1994, but since then I have changed a lot. It is a lot faster now that technology is different. You can go and knock out a album in couple months.
Streetz (S): Do you see a change in the music? Has it become too commercial?
Devin (D): It sort of a tends to now, but it did open a lot [doors] for people, especially those tryin to do positive stuff. So you can’t complain about that. When a lot of things happen at one time and so many people are trying to get in all at once, it’s going to be cluttered with stuff that makes you think “Hey what is that?”
Streetz (S): Do you feel pressure to change your style and try to create music that is more mainstream?
Devin (D): Nah, I am just glad to be apart of something and with a group of people who feel the same way I feel. There’s no pressure to change into nothing.
Streetz (S): Do you do some of the production on your projects?
Devin (D): Yeah, a little bit. I try to do two or three tracks an album.
Streetz (S): Is production something that planned to get more into and produced for other people?
Devin (D): Yeah, I wouldn’t mind, but I’m not my favorite producer right now. (Laugh). If I come across some stuff that I have been working on and somebody else like, it would be a blessing to have them write to it.
Streetz (S): Who’s your favorite producer?
Devin (D): Well, I have quite a few; there are a lot of good ones out there. From Dre to Pete Rock to my partner Rob from the Odd Squad…it’s a lot of them.
Streetz (S): On all your albums it always seems as if you are having a good time, and your fans feel like there are chilling with you and we know you. Did you ever think it that wouldn’t be fun no more? Would you leave the game?
Devin (D): When it’s not fun no more than that will be the last album, nah I don’t think you came make a complete album without having fun with it. You have to love what you do and it doesn’t seem like a job really, it something that I am fortunate to be able to do and make a living from.
Streetz (S): “To the Extreme” is in stores now, and the Hip-Hop community has labeled it another classic. Is it your favorite album? Which one is your favorite?
Devin (D): That would be hard, because there is a different meaning with each album. I had a lot of fun doing the first album “The Dude”, it was really carefree, and not to many responsibilities you just doing what you love to do. It was my first solo album.
Streetz (S): Okay, this is our Politikz issue with the Presidential election approaching. Do you feel that Hip-Hop has a voice in politics? And is voting important to you?
Devin (D): It’s very important to vote. A lot of our ancestors, our aunts and uncles went through a lot just so we can have the opportunity to vote. And it is not necessarily just about the presidents, it starts in the community and the neighborhoods and the people. You have to straighten up your own hood. It starts there. They just put it in your face about the Presidential issue, “pick one! Him or him?” They are trying to throw your mind away from whats important. Hip-Hop and politics went hand and hand back in the day.

The People’s Radio....Freemix Radio Editorial



By Jared Ball of voxunion.com

A lot of people are now talking about politics. In the Hip-Hop world it seems like everyone has something to say. But most of the discussion is absent of honesty, history or understanding. Organized Community of United People (COUP) created FreeMix Radio: The Original Mixtape Radio Show (http://www.voxunion.com/) to address this reality. The following is an excerpt from our statement on politics which itself is an updated version of the agenda adopted in 1972 at the Gary, Indiana Black Political Convention. We offer it as a supportive challenge to those currently dominating the discussion of politics.
“A Black* political movement, indeed all progressive movements, must begin from this truth: The current system does not work for the majority of its people, and it cannot be made to work without radical fundamental change. Indeed, this system does not work in the favor of the humanity of anyone, the world over. In the light of such realities, we push for the eventual establishment of an independent, national political party, which will implement the Black* Agenda. Until that time we will continue to steadfastly assure that political leaders are challenged to vigorously represent the people and to use their positions to defend the interests of those they have been elected to represent. We must address “leaders” who sacrifice our rights and freedoms for personal gain just as we must watch for those who are sent to lead us right to our own downfall. Out of political naiveté, we have followed the path of political dependence on the white men and their systems. From the Liberty Party in the decades before the Civil War to the Republican Party of Abraham Lincoln, we trusted in white men and white politics as our deliverers. Sixty years ago, W.E.B. DuBois said he would give the democrats their “last chance” to prove their sincere commitment to equality for Black* people – and he was given white riots and official segregation in peace and in war. Nevertheless, some twenty years later we became Democrats in the name of Franklin Roosevelt, then supported his successor Harry Truman, and even tried a “non-partisan” Republican General of the Army named Eisenhower. We were wooed like many others by the superficial liberalism of John F. Kennedy and the make believe populism of Lyndon Johnson. We expressed our “Americanism” by casting a vote for the “so-called first African-American president,” William Jefferson Clinton, a white southerner, and the former governor of one of our nation’s poorest and most segregated states. Finally, we create and support “Black” candidates for office and political appointees to high level positions based solely on skin-color ignoring their political views. This blind allegiance to the current two party system in the United States has reduced the African-American vote to a state of irrelevancy. Our political acquiescence has led only to the further degradation of our communities.
Let us never forget that while the times and the names and the parties have continually changed, one truth has faced us consistently, never changing; the American political system, like all other white supremacist institutions in America, was designed to operate for the benefit of the white race: It was never meant to do anything else. That is the truth we must face. If white “liberalism” could have solved our problems, then Lincoln, Roosevelt, Kennedy and Clinton would have done so. But they did not solve our problems or the problems of rest of the nation. The “American Way” has failed. Despite claims by the current un-elected president, September 11, 2001 was not a result of “them” hating “our freedoms” but rather it was a response to the lack of freedom imposed on the rest of the world by the United States government and its' foreign policy initiatives. We must realize that Bill Clinton, under the guise of “liberalism,” represented the worst of corporate greed and public manipulation through empty rhetoric and deception. By pushing through The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), the Clinton Administration revealed their true lack of concern for working people the world over and for “nationhood.” Business before flags has always been the case in the United States of America and these latest maneuvers are but the most recent forms. We can no longer allow mere words, smiles and skin-color to confuse us into thinking that politicians concerns are the people’s concerns. If we have never faced it before, let us face it now: The profound crisis of Black* people the world over and the disaster of America are not simply caused by men and women nor will they be solved by women and men alone. These crises are the crises of flawed economics and politics, and of the cultural degradation. No candidate for political office – regardless of their vague promises to us or to their white constituencies – can solve the problems of this country without radically changing the systems by which it operates.”

*For more on our expanded definition of “Black” and our attempts at generating solutions to these problems please visit http://www.voxunion.com/.

Paid in Full....The Life of Rayful Edmond Captured




Written by Joseph Wright

His name is still whispered to this very day. If you say his name loud enough, you never know what kind of reaction would be displayed. The name Rayful Edmond III will either put a smile on your face (for many different reasons), or send a chill down your back (also for many different reasons). A movie like “New Jack City” with Nino Brown is something people watched to see how the life of a drug kingpin went. Although Nino Brown was allegedly based on events of real life drug lords, it was still just a movie that came out years after Rayful Edmond became the limelight of DC, which was a central reason for DC’s Dodge City reputation in the late 80’s and early 90’s. He has been described as one of the most notorious drug kingpins ever. He has even been referred to as the “Three hundred million dollar man,” after a special on 20/20 was done when authorities estimated Ray pulled in $2 million a week in revenue. For those who may not know, Rayful Edmond controlled 90% of the cocaine flow (imported and exported) in DC in the 1980’s, which spilled over into the early 90’s as well. At the tender age of 22, Edmond already knew what it felt like to be a financial powerhouse. The 1982 grad of Dunbar Senior high school was the cocaine liaison for other drug kingpins in New York such as Alpo and AZ. Edmond was truly a product of his environment. Granted, life is also about choices and people are the captains of their own souls. His mother, Constance Perry, introduced Edmond into the drug business. Constance sold illegal pills that were referred to as “poor people’s crack.” It was affordable and had just about the same affect on people as regular cocaine. Perry and Edmond were in inseparable and became partners. Once Edmond got older and became more established, he blew up to a level beyond belief. Although, he advanced, he never left his mother behind him. Every department of the law became hungry to close in on Edmond. During Edmond’s reign, many people died, people ate, people worked, people went to jail, and many people became addicted to cocaine.
Although Edmond’s track record may be one of praise for baby Nino Browns and wannabe head honchos, right is right and wrong is wrong. The law closed in on Edmond and his empire in 1990 when he was imprisoned in Lewisburg. Edmond’s demise did not come at his own hands however. Edmond’s mother, Constance Perry was the straw that broke the camel’s back when she was taped admitting that Edmond was everything the authorities thought he was. Before her taped conversation (a conversation in which she was also unknowingly set up), there was never any hard, cold evidence that Edmond was the drug lord he was.

“Rayful Edmond controlled 90% of the cocaine flow (imported and exported) in DC in the 1980’s”

Film director, Kirk Fraser gives new meaning to the phrase, “grabbing the bull by the horns,” with his latest film project entitled, “The Life of Rayful Edmond.” The informative DVD is slated for a November 16th release with the possibility of making it to the silver screen, or whichever comes first. Fraser decided to tackle such a sensitive, yet long overdue subject after his initial studies of the life of Rayful Edmond back in 1997. Fraser, a former Howard University student, directed and executively produced the Edmond documentary with the aide of Curtis Chambers. Although not an easy task for Fraser, his hard work and dedication to such an influential figure (Edmond) will not go un-noticed in and out of the DC area. Fraser experienced extensive research on the subject and kept the DVD as professional as any filmmaker should. Pointing fingers and calling names is an avenue that Fraser did not care to explore with such a controversial figure. It does not even matter to Fraser if people felt that Rayful Edmond was a benevolent or diabolical person. His purpose is much more abysmal. “This is the first real movie made about DC,” replies Fraser, when asked about his motives for making such a film.
Fraser is not trying to discredit any other person that may have compiled resources about Rayful Edmond. This is simply the way he chooses to tell the story. When asked what exactly the DVD will touch on, Fraser stated, “It’s about his [Edmond] rise and fall in the game. How he made it and what brought him down…it’s just so deep.” Fraser feels that it is his duty to touch bases on a story that is so much a part of DC history. The history of DC runs deeper than what schoolbooks only wish they could print. The DVD explores three major aspects of the life of Edmond. The first thing is the media. The media has always described Edmond as a cold-hearted villain who poisoned the streets of DC with drug activity. It’s only right for the media to pass judgment and point out the negative of any situation. The media is cut and dry with no in-between. They’re either your worst enemy or your best friend. The media is definitely a foe to a person like Edmond. However, the street has its own opinions as well. The street is the second aspect of what the DVD conquers. Edmond means different things to different people even to this very day. A lot of questions will always be raised when it comes to his situation. To some, he was a provider and a genuine person who could make friends with anybody. His personality was very strong and respected. He was man of morals in his own right whom deeply cared for his family and possessed an undying love for his mother. He was very giving especially to the youth of DC. A person that was very unselfish when money was literally not an object to him. On the flip side, Edmond also was a businessman. Granted, he chose an illegal source of business. To some, Edmond is a sell out, a snitch, a person that was feared because of the power he possessed over his business and even other people.
The third aspect of the DVD touches on Edmond’s life. A display of the kind of person he really was back when reigned. People on the outside will always see things differently from the person who is actually in a situation. Negative comments about his life can raise very serious questions such as: Why did he snitch on people? Did he really snitch? Did authorities and the courts trick him? What was he going to get out of cooperating with the authorities? Did he ever fear for his life? Why was he mean? Why did he continue to poison the community? You never quite know a person’s situation unless you get the opportunity to walk in their shoes.
Even today, the whereabouts of Rayful Edmond, who will be 40 this year, are unknown. Edmond is not an angle, nor is he the devil. Most importantly, he is not a fictitious character in a movie that people sit around and talk about at a campfire. Rayful Edmond is a real person. He may be a different adjective to different people, but he is definitely an urban (DC) legend whose true-life story is far from an imaginary hood myth. Be sure to log on to www.may3rdfilms.com for more information on this exclusive DVD, Kirk Fraser, and the life of Rayful Edmond.

Mobb Deep: QB’s Finest



By: Harrun Hines

Mobb Deep knows all about drama. The official Queensbridge murderers have been through it all from facing down critics, to suffering through personal problems, and even beefs with both Tupac and Jay-Z that, for most artists, would have been career ending. In the entertainment industry only the strong survive. With over 10 years in the game the duo has proven themselves to be survivors. With their highly anticipated new album, Amerikaz Nightmare, and their new label, Infamous records, Mobb Deep is going to show all the non-believers why they’re called the Infamous.
“In order to survive doing this you got to be serious about the music. It’s not a game,” said Prodigy. “You can’t just be doing this to see yourself on TV or hear yourself on the radio.”
Hailing from Queens, NY Prodigy and Havoc met while both attending Graphic Arts High School in Manhattan. They were able to form a strong bond over their similar upbringings and their love for hip-hop music. After writing rhymes together and developing their skill, they began hanging out around the Def Jam headquarters trying to get noticed. After getting the attention of Q-Tip of A Tribe Called Quest, the duo gained a record deal with 4th & Broadway and by 1993 released their debut album, Juvenile Hell. Though the album wasn't that successful in sales or critical reviews, it served as a fitting platform for the duo to launch its career.
“We started doing this in like ’92 or ’93. We were like 14 or 15 years old,” said Prodigy. “The transition between then and now has been ill.”
Not only did Mobb Deep produce its own beats; they also refined and perfected their street-smart, poetic approach centered on ‘hood life. Prodigy and Havoc's brutally honest reality rapping earned them a deal in 1995 with, then up-and-coming, Loud records. They released The Infamous, Mobb Deep's classic, second album which became a landmark for East Coast hardcore rap just as Reasonable Doubt, Enter the Wu-Tang, and Ready to Die had done when they were released. The album’s success was largely attributed to the single, “Shook Ones, Pt. 2.” A song that is still held as a ‘hood classic and a club favorite.
“We try to make music that will last forever,” said Prodigy. “Even though we might not, the music will and that’s why we been able to survive for so long.”
It was also during this year that Mobb Deep would clash with one of the greatest rappers of all time. After responding to the Doggpound’s NewYork, NY with L.A., L.A. they found themselves mentioned on Tupac’s Biggie/Bad Boy diss track, “Hit ‘em up.”
“The drama don’t ever stop. It always stay on,” said Prodigy. “We heard the Doggpound joint and was like ‘nobody saying nothing so we will’. We’ll always step up to the plate and handle our business.”
In 1996, Prodigy and Havoc released Hell on Earth. This album once again found the duo spitting cinematic rhymes over gritty tracks that communicated the dark side of life in the most notorious projects in Queens, New York.
By late ‘99, Mobb Deep released Murda Muzik. The album debuted at number three on the Billboard album chart, even though the album was heavily bootlegged. With leaked rough versions of the nearly 30 songs on the streets and the Internet the album quickly went platinum on the strength of “Quiet Storm,” another ‘hood classic and club favorite.
In late 2000, Prodigy released his long-awaited solo album, H.N.I.C., which saw collaborations with outside producers such as Alchemist and Rockwilder. On H.N.I.C. and in an interview with The Source that same year, Prodigy referenced his illness during the time following Murda Muzik. During this same time Mobb Deep, Prodigy in particular found unwillingly thrown into a battle between two of New York's biggest rappers, Jay-Z and Nas.
After being the subject of ridicule from the infamous Summer Jam incident then being the subject of an entire verse on Jay-Z’s “Takeover,” the Mobb suffered a lapse in popularity. Most people wondered if there was anyway for the duo to come back from such a powerful blow to their image and street credibility. But the Mobb proved all doubters wrong, not by going after Jay-Z but going back to the lab and concentrating on why they’re here in the first place, the music.
“The battling and beefing shit is not what we’re about. That’s not why we do this music, that’s not how we got started. Other people start, and save their careers, dissing other people but that’s not how we started,” said Prodigy. “We came into the game making good music. We just trying to make hit records. But if a situation come, we’re going to handle our business and then get back to doing what we here for.”
In the wake of the Jay-Z/ Nas beef Mobb Deep still stands strong. They’ve released more mixed tapes and the Murda Muzik movie on DVD starring Infamous clique member, Big Noyd. The new album, Amerikaz Nightmare, dropped in August. It features production by the Mobb themselves and others including Kanye West and Alchemist.
“We just started Infamous records. We’re trying to get our label situated and start getting some big paper off of this shit. This is what we been working for, doing this all these years. The Amerika’s Nightmare album is the first album on our label. We got Big Noyd’s album coming out on Infamous, Littles, he’s a new artist coming out of Queensbridge, and we got Alchemist album coming out too,” said Prodigy. “Me and Havoc are going to start dropping our solo albums together from now on. When the next solo album comes it’s going to be a double album. It’s going to be H.N.I.C. and H.A.V.O.C. album together.”