Edo G Interview: Special Teamz

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by Alex Shtaerman

If you truly know east coast Hip-Hop, you know you need to be checkin’ for Ed O.G. Reppin’ Boston since the early 90’s, the MC now also known as Edo G, has been a staple on the east coast since dropping his seminal classic Life Of A Child In The Ghetto back in 1991. Hailing straight outta Roxbury, Ed has built an iconic following in his hometown as well as around the globe. Whether collaborating with homegrown talent or working closely with golden era legends, Edo has consistently been on the grind. His last album, My Own Worst Enemy, released in 2004, was produced entirely, in largely unprecedented fashion, by legendary beatsmith Pete Rock.

More recently Edo has joined forces with longtime protégé and Boston underground menace Jaysaun as well as acclaimed south Boston MC Slaine (who also moonlights along with Ill Bill and all of the original members of House Of Pain in the group La Coka Nostra) to form the Boston super group Special Teamz. With their debut album, Stereotypez, set to be released on Duck Down Records September 25th, Ed, Jay and Slaine are ready to bring hardcore flavor back to the masses. With production from DJ Premier and Pete Rock as well as guest appearances from Sean Price, Buckshot and Ill Bill, Stereotypez has all the making of a soon to be east coast classic. Recently we got a chance to catch up with Ed and see what’s good.

Click here to listen to “Get Down”, new music from Special Teamz.
Click here to listen to “One Call”, from Special Teamz aka Edo G, Jaysaun & Slaine.
Click here to listen to “Boston To Bucktown”, produced by Pete Rock featuring Buckshot and Sean Price.

RIOTSOUND.COM: Being one of the first Hip-Hop artists out of Boston to make a national impact and gain critical acclaim, what was it like for you to break through back in 1991? I interviewed Guru a few months ago and he said that he considered Boston to be one of the most racist cities in America. Did that aspect make it difficult for Hip-Hop acts out of Boston to get heard early on?

EDO G: I mean, it’s always hard coming from a small market and I think that goes with any [city]. But being that we’re only 200 miles away from New York, [going] back and forth we pretty much got all the stuff that New York had at the time they had it. There would be tapes circulating back in the ‘80’s with stuff from New York like [Kool DJ] Red Alert’s show, the Mister Magic show and all of those things. And being that Boston was racist, I mean, Hip-Hop was new, so it was kind of a [situation] for everybody where shit wasn’t cool.

But I think from back then to now, it’s a totally different mindset, Boston is like one of the major metropolises in the whole country. We were the first everything – the first police department, you know, there’s a lot of firsts up here in Boston and [now] we have our first Black Governor [in Massachusetts]. And there’s only been two, he’s the second Black Governor ever in the whole country. So we can’t be that racist anymore [laughs] if we’re voting a brother into office.

RIOTSOUND.COM: A lot of MCs from New York often seem like they take a lot of pride in hailing from the birthplace of Hip-Hop, but you sound like you take just as much pride in being from Boston and representing your city and focusing on what it is that you’re bringing to the table.

EDO G: Yes, of course, and we have beef – I mean, we don’t have beef beef, but we have problems with New York. You know, no offense, but Boston and New York always goes at it. That’s just how it is, you know what I’m saying, we’re both vying for domination of the upper Northeast man, so that’s what it is [laughs].

RIOTSOUND.COM: Just to catch up on a bit of history, I was recently watching the video for your classic “I Got To Have It” joint, and to me, that video is so captivating because the imagery in it is so real and authentic. It was filmed in the community and the tone and feel of it is so gripping because it’s something that’s easy for the every-man to relate to. Today, all we see in videos is half-a-million dollar cars and strippers with breast implants. Do you think a rapper living in a ten million dollar home and wearing two million dollars worth of jewelry has any real chance of reaching out to the community and the underprivileged in a sincere and positive way?

EDO G: Uhmmm, I mean, everybody’s goal ultimately is to make it out of the ‘hood or the ghetto or whatever [negative] situation that you’re in. So I think by keeping a good head on your shoulders you’ll never really lose touch with that [struggle] regardless of how much money you got and regardless of your overall status financially. It’s about not losing your head with the community and staying true. I mean, there’s a lot of cats that get there and they’re out. They’re over there and that’s what they about now. There’s a lot of different levels of it I think.

RIOTSOUND.COM: Do you think that it may be almost disrespectful the way some of the new school rappers over-focus on jewelry and cars – like having twenty gold chains around your neck is really something kids should aspire to?

EDO G: It’s a part of the game, if you get money some people wanna show off or sometimes a lot of people wanna show off. So it is what it is man. And it’s not just with rappers, that’s with anybody and everybody. If you come from poverty and you get money, you want to celebrate and you want to show the world that you’re doing your thing. I don’t really have a problem with it. What I do have a problem with is you need to let the kids know that there’s more to it than just the jewelry and the cars and the flossing, you know what I’m saying.

RIOTSOUND.COM: Your latest project, Stereotypez, will be a group effort featuring yourself, Jaysaun and Slaine; the album will be released under the group name Special Teamz. Can you tell us about the record and what the fans can expect?

EDO G: We’ve been working on it for a while. [Originally] the group name actually wasn’t Special Teamz, Special Teamz is fairly new. The group used to be called The Last Word and it was me, Jayson and [another MC], and we recorded an album. [The third MC in the group] decided to do his own thing so then we ended up putting Krumbsnatcha in the group. We still kept the same group name for it, The Last Word, which is now Special Teamz. So we put Krumb in and he ended up doing the same thing. You know, we recorded an album and he ended up going to do his own thing.

RIOTSOUND.COM: Do you plan to ever release any of those tracks you recorded sometime in the future?

EDO G: Yea, yea, yea, basically. I still got the masters, I got them all in the crib. After Special Teamz blows up I’ll probably rehash that and bring it to the light. But, I mean, it was a case where dudes had ulterior motives with the group and they decided to go another direction. So me and Jay, being that we had did two albums with two different cats and nothing panned out, we said – yo, we really got like one more shot at it so let’s try to do something different and add a different element. Slaine’s name came up, he had been doing his thing out here somewhat.

We sat down and talked to him and told him what our plans were for the group and what we wanted to do. He was with it and it was magic ever since then. Once we got in the studio and did some things with him, we were like – yea, this kid’s right. [Slaine] was bringing a different element to the group being that he’s a white cat, he’s an Irish cat from south Boston. Jay is from Dorchester and I’m from Roxbury, and if it wasn’t for the music none of us would know each other ‘cause we all hang in totally different circles. So we thought long and heavy and we decided to roll with Slaine and it’s been gravy ever since man.

RIOTSOUND.COM: How did you link up with Duck Down to release the album?

EDO G: Dru [Ha] was interested in what we were doing. We had put out a mixtape and we sold like five or six thousand copies out here locally and through Traffic Distribution. So we had been making some noise and Duck Down was in town and they were at Underground Hip-Hop and they was asking – who’s doing shit out here? Underground had been selling a shitload of our mixtapes out of there, so that was it. Dru was like – yo man, let’s talk about doing something. We put it all together and now here it is. It was a fairly simple process.

RIOTSOUND.COM: As far as the tone and feel of Stereotypez, you mentioned how you, Jaysaun and Slaine are all from fairly different backgrounds. How do your three different styles mesh and come together when it comes to the actual music?

EDO G: It just meshed real good man. The style – Slaine is on some other shit, Jay is on some lyrical shit and I’m on some of what I’ve been on for forever. When you hear the album it’s just a great Hip-Hop album, we made sure that the production was top notch. The producers that we worked with, we got the best out of them. We got Pete Rock, we got Premier, we got Jake One, we got this new kid named Young Cee who did about five tracks. Production was key and as far as the guests that we did use, Buckshot, Sean Price, Devin The Dude, also this rock group named Hatebreed, we just wanted it to be people that we really liked to work with and people that we were fans of at the same time. We just put together a great Hip-Hop record in a time when east coast beats are not on the radio, you know what I mean. It’s that east coast shit, it’s head nod shit.

RIOTSOUND.COM: You worked and toured with Masta Ace a couple of years ago; any plans to work with Ace in the future? It seemed like your collaborations together and tour was a real good look for Hip-Hop and the kind of thing the fans really seemed to appreciate.

EDO G: Yea, me and Ace got an album that’s coming out in ’08. We’re about four or five songs deep into the album right now.

RIOTSOUND.COM: So the whole record is going to be yourself and Masta Ace?

EDO G: It’s just me and Ace. I’m still in the lab, I’m working on a lot of different things man [laughs]. Ace is on tour right now but when he gets back I gotta come back down that way and we’re gonna record about five more joints. So we got something dropping. I’m excited about that and I’m excited about Special Teamz and I’m also in another group called 4 Piece which is basically just a group of four different cats outta Boston where we’re just doing all positive music for you and for family and for community. So we’re doing a lot of stuff man.

RIOTSOUND.COM: In 2004 you released the album My Own Worst Enemy, which was entirely produced by Pete Rock. While it was a collaboration that sparked a lot of interest among more knowledgeable fans, it seemed like some fans also slept on the record; do you feel that was the case with that album?

EDO G: I felt it had a lot to do with Fat Beats, they weren’t really together. A lot of the people that were with the project either got fired or left. It was a great record, it did wonders for me. I mean, everyone who heard it, loved it. I think overall across the board it only got maybe one or two bad reviews. But it did slip under the radar and that happens sometimes when you’re dealing with indie labels and you’re dealing with the independent hustle.

RIOTSOUND.COM: For anyone reading this that may be planning a trip up to Boston, what five spots would you recommend they visit?

EDO G: I’ma start with food, ‘cause we gotta eat to live. If you’re a seafood fan, you gotta hit Legal Seafood, best seafood up here. I mean, they are a chain but they’re an upscale chain, you know what I mean [laughs]. Then I’m gonna say you gotta go see the Celtics since we now have K.G. and Ray Allen! Then you gotta go see the Patriots with [Tom] Brady and [Randy] Moss. And then you can go over to Fenway and see Papi and Manny and the rest of the guys do their thing. Then come to Roxbury, come to the ‘hood. Go to Dudley and soak up the sights of Roxbury, there’s a lot of things. Malcom X’s house is in Roxbury, where he grew up at – there’s a lot. So those are the spots I would recommend.

RIOTSOUND.COM: You got the Stereotypez album dropping on September 25th, what else should the fans be looking out for?

EDO G: Please look out in ’08 for the Ace & Edo collaboration album. We don’t have a date yet ‘cause we’re still recording but it will definitely be next year. Also look out for the 4 Piece record. Hit me up at www.MySpace.com/EdoGBoston. Holla at me, I’m there, I respond [laughs] to everything and everyone. So get at me and you can get all the updates on what’s going on.

For more news and info on Edo G and Special Teamz stay tuned to www.DuckDown.com and www.MySpace.com/EdoGBoston