Outlawz After selling over 60 million records, former Tupac affiliates The Outlawz are back with their first full studio album on a major label called “We Want In”. Now down with Young Buck’s Cashville Records, The Outlawz are ready to bring the heat! Check out this exclusive interview where The Outlawz get in depth and personal about Tupac, Death Row Records, and Snoop Dog.
By William Hernandez
WHO?MAG: Tell me about the new album “We Want In”? YOUNG NOBLE: It’s our new street album. Basically, a call to the industry to refresh these peoples memories as far as the Outlawz. We’re the only group who has been on over 60 million records and did over a 100 songs with 2pac and we did songs with Biggie, Eminem, Scarface, TI, Game, Young Buck, 8ball and MJG. We’re the only dudes who’s been on that many records and got this much history and never put out an album on a major label. We feel as far as the streets are concerned, the streets will always ride with us. I wouldn’t say blackballed, but the industry is trying to keep us on the outside, even making it bigger than us. “We Want In” is basically representing the underdog. We represent the underdog. It’s time to let us in. As far the streets in concerned, it’s hard out here. Brothers are struggling. There’s a recession going on. “We Want In” man! It’s time to get our piece of the pie.
WHO?MAG: Who do you have on the album as far as producers and cameo appearances? YOUNG NOBLE: As far as cameos, we have our artist Stormy, J Bo of the Youngbloods, C Bo, and our homie Nutso from Oakland who is Keysha Cole’s brother. It’s basically just us the Outlawz riding the whole thing out. As far as production, I got Cosmo from the Bay Area, Lex Lucasi, Actual, J Bo from the Youngbloods did a beat on there and a few other up and coming cats.
WHO?MAG: How is it working with Johnny J? YOUNG NOBLE: Johnny J is a great producer. Shout out to Johnny J. I spoke with him a couple of months ago. Johnny J is a great guy and he’s like family. He makes excellent music. We’ll be working with him again. We have great chemistry with Johnny in the studio. We haven’t done anything in a few years. He’s not a beatmaker, he’s a great producer. We just got to get back in the lab and cook something new up.
WHO?MAG: How did you guys hook up with Young Buck and sign to his label Cashville? YOUNG NOBLE: We hooked up with Young Buck through C Bo when he signed to Young Buck. C Bo is an OG for the longest. When he got over there, he was like “you need to f*ck with the Outlawz”. C Bo knows our work ethic. He knows we’re some of the n*ggas that deserve where we need to be. Young Buck came to Atlanta and shot a video. We chopped it up with and it’s been on ever since. It’s more than a business relationship with us and Young Buck. That’s our actual family. That’s our brother. We’re going to be doing a lot of music with Young Buck.
WHO?MAG: When is the album on Cashville coming out? YOUNG NOBLE: I’m not sure yet. That’s going to be the “Ghetto Gospel” album. We’re going to have Fatal Hussein all over that album with us. We’re in the lab cooking all that sh*t up right now. Also EDI and I are working on our solo albums. We’re going to drop it as a double disc.
WHO?MAG: What are your thoughts on Young Buck getting kicked out of G Unit? YOUNG NOBLE: My thought on that is that everything happens how God wants it to happen. That’s my whole thought on that. I hope phone conversations being tapped are not the new trend in hip-hop.
WHO?MAG: Why did Fatal and Napoleon leave the group? YOUNG NOBLE: Fatal let the group after Kadafi died. He didn’t want to be in Cali anymore. Napoleon’s cousin killed Kadafi. I grew up with Fatal and Kaddafi and they were both real close to each other. I guess it was just a conflict of interest. We were all real hurt behind the Kadafi situation. He chose to go solo but now he’s back on it. We dropped a Noble/Fatal album not to long ago. As far as Napoleon, we had some brotherly conflict going on and it was time to move on and do what he had to do. He got real into his religion and he actually just stopped rapping all together. Napoleon’s our brother. I just spoke with him not to long ago. It’s still all love and he’s still an Outlaw. It is what it is.
WHO?MAG: What happened with the whole situation when you guys were on Death Row records? Why was the album never released? YOUNG NOBLE: We did sign to Death Row records. We actually released some of the material not to long ago as album called “Retribution”. We signed to Death Row back in ’97 after 2pac passed. We were stuck on Death Row for 2 years and we basically had to sue to get off the label. That’s just what happened. After 2pac passed and we signed to Death Row. We though it would be a good thing for us to do to carry the torch, but that was probably the worst decision we made thus far in our music career. It’s all a learning experience. We are men and we take full responsibility for it. It is what it is. That was years ago and we’re still here. Death Row doesn’t even exist anymore.
WHO?MAG: I remember seeing you guys in video with Yukmouth. Did you guys ever sign to Rap A Lot records? YOUNG NOBLE: We never signed to Rap A Lot. Shout out to Lil J [Prince]. We actually just down there and Lil J always supported us. In that time, when he reached out to us, he had flown us down there [Houston] for 2 months and put a whole bunch of money in our pockets. We were writing songs for his artists and doing songs out there. We were like on two Geto Boys albums and a whole bunch of different projects we were featured on. Fatal’s manager was hollering at them so we told Lil J to sign Fatal. He signed Fatal and he dropped one album with them.
WHO?MAG: It’s been 12 years since 2pac’s death. How do you feel about his legacy? YOUNG NOBLE: I feel like we’re still building on it. If we stop today, we definitely left our mark in the game. Outlawz will be the history books for doing this real music. I feel like the legacy is us. I feel the more successful we are, the bigger the legacy is going to be. We’re a direct reflection of 2pac and what he left as far as his music on this earth. I feel like nobody makes music like us. We make that ghetto gospel. When you listen to a 2pac/Outlawz CD, it’s a feeling you get that nobody in the world will ever give you. I love our legacy. We’ve been on a major label and we’ve still been real successful as far as this independent game. We’re still here. You know how many rappers you can count that have been on a major label and had hit records that ain’t here anymore that came and went in the last 12 years. Outlawz are better than we’ve ever been. We’re actually getting started. I feel like everything happened how God planned it to. This Outlawz sh*t, I wouldn’t trade it for the world.
EDI: He’s an icon. His movies still play on cable and his music is still selling. People still appreciate it. His legacy is still strong.
WHO?MAG: How do you feel about how they put 2pac’s vocals with other artists and producers he never worked with? YOUNG NOBLE: At the end of the day 2pac is not here anymore. We don’t have control over the music. A lot of that sh*t I don’t like. Some of it is cool. Some of the artists have nothing but love, admiration, and respect for 2pac. That’s some of these dudes dreams to do a record with 2pac, even though he ain’t here anymore. I can’t knock it. A lot of that sh*t I don’t like, but if I paid attention to it like that it would drive us crazy. We do right by 2pac everyday.
EDI: I feel it’s unfortunate he’s not here with us no more. He’s not able to do his own music as he would do. Sometimes some of these albums that came out; people haven’t put the right production behind the music and behind the words. He’s not here to control his whole show and other people are in control and they’re able to do what they think is right. It’s just not always the right decisions.
WHO?MAG: How is your relationship with Snoop Dogg, The Dogg Pound, and your other former Death Row label mates? Are you still cool with them? YOUNG NOBLE: Absolutely! We have nothing but love for them dudes. Snoop actually jumped on a song for us a couple months ago, the “Driving Down the Freeway” remix. He was out in Nashville shooting a video. He came through. He only had 30 minutes break and came to Young Buck’s house and laid down the verse for us real quick. We came and hopped in the video later on that night with him, Kurupt, and Daz were all there. They’re our homeboys. EDI is in a new Daz movie called “Make it Rain”. I actually talked to Kurupt about us doing a Thug Pound album which was supposed to take place when 2pac was alive;. It was going to be 2pac and the Outlawz and Snoop Dogg and the Dogg Pound. We were all going to be one big group called the Thug Pound. I actually talked to them about EDI, myself, Daz, and Kurupt doing a whole Thug Pound album.
WHO?MAG: How did you guys hook up with 2pac? YOUNG NOBLE: To make a long story short. Kadafi was 2pac’s half brother. Kastro and EDI, they grew up with 2pac. They are family for real. Castro is 2pac’s blood cousin. I grew up with Kadafi in New Jersey and I had moved back to Cali when I was about 17. A few months before 2pac got out of jail, Fatal and Kadafi came to Cali. They called me as soon as they got off the plane and the rest is history.
WHO?MAG: Who are some of your influences as an emcee? YOUNG NOBLE: Nas, Kool G Rap, Big Daddy Kane, Run DMC, EPMD those are the main ones and definitely 2pac he was big influence. LL Cool J and Geto Boys as well.
WHO?MAG: Talk about the “Still I Rise” album? EDI: It was great! “Still I Rise” is a classic. I still got people that run up on me in the street and tell that’s one of their favorite albums ever. It was wonderful putting that album together there were a lot of memories doing that album.
WHO?MAG: Tell me the story behind the picture in the “All Eyez on Me” album that’s the Outlawz and 2pac laying beside some cars and some palm trees? EDI:We were out in Hollywood and 2pac had to take pictures for the album. 2pac was like “let’s go over here”. He wanted to capture the palm trees and all that and let everybody know this is the West Coast and we were out on the West Coast at that time. We just took that picture man. I remember that picture like it was yesterday. We had a lot of fun doing that. That was right in Beverly Hills.