by Alex Shtaerman
As Hip-Hop continues to evolve in the new millennium it often feels like different artists rise to prominence or fall off on almost a daily basis. With too many crews and clicks to name, much less keep track of, sometimes, as a fan, it’s nice to know there are MCs out there who’ve actually been around for more than six months and have a catalog of music that extends beyond the sound you hear when your little sister’s phone rings. Likewise, if you’ve been a fan of Hip-Hop for six months or longer, you should have definitely heard of The Lox aka D-Block, a trio of MCs who’ve been holding down hardcore lyricism and club joints for over a decade. From the Bad Boy era to the Ruff Ryders era to the D-Block era, Jadakiss, Styles P and Sheek Louch have always had the one thing Hip-Hop fans wanted most: music. Whether working as a team, dropping solo projects or street albums, the crew has remained a tight knit unit and continues to command an extremely loyal global fan base.
Following on the heels of a recent release by his partner-in-rhyme Styles P, Sheek Louch is set to drop his latest solo album, Silverback Gorilla, on March 4th. With two well received LPs already under his belt, Sheek aims to push the boundaries of the lyricism and creativity offered up on Walk Witt Me and After Taxes even further. With a brand new Lox album also in the works, it seems like things are shifting into high gear for those same three cats from Yonkers who set the rap world ablaze with “It’s All About The Benjamins” back in ’97. Recently we had a chance to catch up with Sheek to talk about his new record, the sold out Lox reunion show in NYC, ringtone rappers and some other things too. One thing I know for sure is Sheek in probably the last dude I would want to face in a one-on-one street fight. Read the interview and see why! Sheek ain’t playin’.
RIOTSOUND.COM: The Lox recently reunited on stage at BB King’s in New York City; the show was sold out and the response from fans and critics alike has been overwhelmingly positive. Now the question I have for you is, I personally had never seen the The Lox perform live prior to the show at BB King’s and I never knew the three of you could rock a stage like that and were such high level performers; with a stage show so good, how can you not be doing more shows? That night it seemed like The Lox were ready to kick off a world tour not just do a one-off reunion.
SHEEK LOUCH: First of all, thank you, we crushed that…
SHEEK LOUCH: I read the reviews, and MTV and everybody, they said that was one of the biggest shows in ’07 and all that, you know what I mean. And immediately after that – as we speak we should have answers [about more shows] – this month coming up we’re trying to set up a Lox / D-Block House Of Blues tour, [we’re trying to set up future shows] in those kind of arenas. So we’ll have answers on all that ASAP.
RIOTSOUND.COM: You got your new album, Silverback Gorilla, dropping March 4. What’s the vibe going to be like on this record? What can the fans expect when they cop the album?
SHEEK LOUCH: You know what, it’s like I always tell people, with my first album, it was like a “walk with me”. It was like – alright, here’s this dude, he’s the third member of The Lox – but once I put out that first album people was like, alright homie, you got some shit, lemme see what’s good. Then with the next joint, After Taxes, I started hearing more and more! At the same time I was still proving that I ain’t just that third dude in The Lox. Now, after putting out those two albums, people be like – yo, them joints is hot, this shit you got is crazy! It ain’t no more like, “oh, your flow is hot” or “you got better” or none of that; now I’m a monster! It’s straight up – you retarded with your lyrics, your songs, everything. So I come with that swagger on this new album.
And now I ain’t [considered] just that third member, I mean, I am one of the members of The Lox but I’m Sheek Louch. Silverback Gorilla, that’s what it is, you know what I mean. So on this album I bring that energy, I got Hip-Hop tracks on there like “Two Turntables And A Mic” as well as concept joints. One of my favorite joints on the album is called “Don’t Be Them” and it’s fire man. [With Silverback Gorilla] I stepped it up lyrically as well as with the concepts on there and also the party joints too. My first single is called “Good Love”, my man Red Spyda did the track and it’s a Betty Wright sample and it’s picking up and getting real big, that’s like my radio record right there. So I’m grinding man. Silverback Gorilla, it’s tight!
RIOTSOUND.COM: When you work with different concepts and experiment with new things as an MC, what kind of approach do you use?
SHEEK LOUCH: I try to do all kinds of different things, like even with my first single. Most people wouldn’t have come with “Good Love”, they would have come with the shoot ‘em up record or club record. Even on my last album I did the joint “One Name” with Carl Thomas. I was speaking to my man Fat Man Scoop about that last album and he said “I expected you to come with the ‘Kiss Your Ass Goodbye’ record”. When we did the Carl Thomas joint, I was like, ok, yea!
With “Good Love”, I actually leaked the record first in London, I was on the road with Styles. And when we made our way back [to the States] everyone was talking about this new Sheek record, and I was like, wow, what record is this? I finally found out and I seen the spins it got and how people were reacting to it and I said, alright, we gotta move on that. And [going that route] was definitely taking a chance because I feel at this point I don’t got nothing else to prove as far as that gun talk and that drug talk and what we do lyrically as far as our shit. So I switch it up and I try to do [different and innovative] things. When you hear the album you’ll definitely see it.
RIOTSOUND.COM: Now, speaking of your home town of Yonkers; we know The Lox came up in Yonkers, DMX came up outta Yonkers, Pete Rock grew up in Mount Vernon, also you got Mary J. Blige coming outta there. Now I know you’re always biggin’ up Y.O. but a lot of people just tend to kind of group you in with NYC artists. Do you feel sometimes like, hey, Yonkers in itself is a hotbed for talent but not enough people realize or recognize that whole legacy?
SHEEK LOUCH: Well, the people that you named, we had to put Yonkers on the map. At that time, back on the radio, there wasn’t no shoutouts from here, from Yonkers. It was more just like Brooklyn, Queens, you know Staten Island was big at the time with the Wu, shit like that. And I definitely feel that we’re pioneers and veterans of this. Good looking to Mary J. Blige for even bringing us to Puff. And you know, I think we get our fair share, but definitely these other boroughs is a lot bigger and all that, but we definitely get our fair share of love.
RIOTSOUND.COM: As far as personal satisfaction goes, what has been the most important thing for you in creating music?
SHEEK LOUCH: The people understanding my growth lyrically and people understanding my music is the biggest thing. I love where I’m at right now, the state I’m in right now, I really love it. I got future plans and stuff that I ain’t even get to yet and things that I have to do. But as far as people understanding me and being like – wow, homie’s on fire right now! That’s what feels great, especially after ten years in the game. And also just my fans being there with me, and not to sound so generic, but [it’s great] just to have your fans rocking with you. When you come out and you see these young boys, I walk off stage and I get the same love as a Chris Brown, easy! When I’m at the supermarket fans and chicks be running up, you name it. I got a lot of love for my fans and all the people that have supported me.
RIOTSOUND.COM: With all the young rappers trying to make a name for themselves these days, many of them end up being here today and gone tomorrow; what do you think is the biggest thing that some of these artists are missing out on when it comes to putting together a long and credible career in music, as you have been able to do?
SHEEK LOUCH: You know, right now it’s crazy because they’re so… a lot of it has to do with the labels, I blame some of the labels myself too. They’re brainwashing these young people coming out and old people and whoever, they brainwashing them. They’re coming at them talking about – yo, all we need is a ringtone. All we need is one ringtone and we don’t care about the rest of your album. That’s what it seems like. So people are going and trying to make their album for that one ringtone and the rest of the album is garbage. You can’t do that! Because you got brothers such as yourself and us and niggas in the street who are listening to your shit; they throwing that shit away after that one song. But they’re not going to do that if you let them feel like they actually bought some quality music, not just that one song. I’m not saying don’t get your money with your ringtone, but don’t go about it in that way like – yo, all I gotta make is one joint and I’m good and I don’t care what else I say on the record. Nah man, you can’t do that, and I would hope that the people around you wouldn’t let you do that.
RIOTSOUND.COM: I spoke with Styles for an interview about a month and a half ago and he was saying how the new Lox album is progressing and moving forward, can you give us an update on that, what’s the current status?
SHEEK LOUCH: For one, I want to say sorry to the fans for even having ya’ll wait so long. The situation with that back then was when we was trying to get off of Interscope Records and [Jadakiss] made his move to Def Jam with Jaz-Z over there. Hov was trying to get The Lox over to Def Jam also, you know what I mean. And Jimmy Iovine at the time, who runs Interscope, was like – nah, this Lox album has to come out over here. So that stagnated the project because of [50 Cent also being on Interscope]. We have no problem with him now and none of that, but at the time he was talking about pushing Styles’ album back and this and that, and we was like – man, the fans have waited mad long and for him to mess with [the album coming out] and push the record back or fuck with it – that’s the reason we didn’t drop it over [at Interscope].
We said we’d rather not because if he can push it back or leak it and all of that, that ain’t fair. You ain’t just getting at The Lox, you getting at everybody, all the fans that have wanted this album. So that’s why we didn’t drop it back then. But now it seems like we’re going to go forward with the Interscope thing and [as far as the music], we have been making fire! If I brought you to the studio and you listened to this, you’d say this needs to come out TODAY! So it’s like that, we grinding fam.
RIOTSOUND.COM: The record industry has been going sideways for some time now. If we go back to say ’96 or ’97, if your album didn’t go gold or platinum back then it was considered, at least business wise, a flop. Today, even the highest selling artists are struggling to reach those numbers. Realistically speaking, what does the future hold?
SHEEK LOUCH: Yea, its crazy man, sales are at an all time low, down like 45-50%. That’s why I love the indie [labels]. I love being indie right now, I been have. See, I was one of the first ones to make that move and that’s the way I wanna go. Like you said, I don’t care who you are, I don’t care what your name is, you look at the sales and the charts and all that, you’ll be like – man, this album’s been out for months, and he’s only at 100 and something thousand?! And it’s not that the people don’t love your music, it’s not that they don’t love the product you put out, they’re just not going into the store to buy that product. [Why would they] if they could go online and download it or get it from whoever, so that’s what’s going on right now. So now they’re cutting down on retail, they’re cutting down on videos, so it’s crazy man. You just gotta stay on your grind, you got to keep your core fan base, try to pick up new [fans] here and there but don’t lose yourself.
RIOTSOUND.COM: People obviously know you for your music, are there any projects that you have outside of music that are in the works that you would like the fans to be aware of and keep in mind for the future?
SHEEK LOUCH: Yea, I’m reading some scripts man. I’m going to try and test my hand, I’m gonna go out to L.A. and try some things man. Also we own a carwash together and we about to open up a second carwash, that’s as far as D-Block that I’m talking about. As far as Sheek, I’m trying my hand with a lot of new artists, we’re moving in that direction, and that’s as far as musically.
RIOTSOUND.COM: This is a stupid question but I can’t resist asking it since I’ve seen this topic debated at length on an online forum recently. Putting your personal feelings for the man aside and just looking at it objectively, who do you think would win in a street fight, you or Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson?
SHEEK LOUCH: I’ll fuck him up, I’ll fuck him up easy, all day long, you know what I mean [laughs]. Sheek is different man, and don’t get it twisted, as far as the weights and the gym and all that shit, my shit is right! But that goes for any man, you make sure you quote that, any man! I’ll fuck up any man, and that’s what it is. Any man ever ask you if you could beat whoever, you better say yea! If you in my circle, in my camp, I don’t ever wanna hear a motherfucker say – nah, I don’t know, he may get me. What?!!! Fuck that! I’ll fuck that nigga up. And I just want to make that clear that it was asked of me that way and I’m saying it that way. You know, if you got a kid or you got your son, you better tell him to say yea [to a question like that].
For more news and info on Sheek Louch stay tuned to www.MySpace.com/SheekLouchLox