RESPECT. Interview: E.D.I. Mean Talks ‘All Eyez On Me’ Biopic and What’s Next as a Solo Artist

E.D.I. Mean

Photo Credit: E.D.I. Mean and AEOMPR

E.D.I. Mean hails from the Bronx, NYC, during the same time a cultural movement was being born in the same streets that he would call home. Hip-hop became E.D.I.’s first love and by the time he reached his teen years, he was already composing and producing his own demos. One of these demos made it into the hand of a childhood acquaintance who was on his way to superstardom. Tupac Shakur and E.D.I. grew up together along with Yafeu ‘Kadafi’ Fula and Katari ‘Kastro’ Cox; their parents were all close friends since the early 70’s.  When Tupac heard E.D.I.’s demo, he decided to help take his career off the ground…as a result, E.D.I., Kastro, and Kadafi began traveling the globe and recording with Tupac Shakur.

E.D.I.’s dynamic rap style made its debut on a disc called “FLEX” which featured Treach of Naughty By Nature and was the b-side to Tupac’s “Holla if you Hear Me” single. After that, he performed on Tupac’s breakthrough album Me Against The World. E.D.I.’s vocals can be found on the title track and the very last song “OUTLAW.” Around the same time, Tupac became friends with another Hip-Hop legend named The Notorious B.I.G.; unfortunately, these two greats only recorded two songs together — one of them was called “Runnin From the Police” and it featured E.D.I. as well. Tupac’s third LP (Me Against The World) was finished, but still needed to be mixed and sequenced; knowing that his protégé was always paying attention, he entrusted E.D.I. to “oversee” the merging process in L.A. He even allowed E.D.I. to pick the sequence of the strains. This album finally went platinum and is widely thought to be Shakur’s best.

While Shakur was incarcerated, he decided to re-form the group, which at the time was called Dramacydal. They would now be known as The Outlawz; this is when Tupac gave E.D.I. the E.D.I. Mean moniker. In February of 1995, the seminal double album All Eyes On Me was released and went on to sell over 10 million copies. E.D.I. can be heard on that project, rapping on 4 songs. That same year, Tupac dropped his Killuminati album under the assumed name Makaveli. E.D.I. is featured on 3 of the 12 tracks that would be the last Mr. Shakur recorded before his death. In 1996, The Outlawz experienced the devastating and untimely loss of both Tupac and group member Kadafi. Shakur left over 200 tracks behind and E.D.I.’s vocals were set up throughout. Tupac’s mother, Afeni Shakur, fought for the ascendancy of her son’s music and won. A revolutionary, Ms. Shakur had no substantial knowledge of the music industry; she entrusted the ears of E.D.I. and allowed him to rap, produce and executive produce Are You Still Down album. Released December 1997, Pac’s second posthumous album would eventually sell 4 million albums worldwide.

In 1999, E.D.I. — along with the rest of The Outlawz — helped put together the classic album 2Pac and Outlawz collaborative release Still I Rise. This album also went Platinum-plus. E.D.I. and the Outlawz eventually went on to form their own label, and to this day continue to drop top-notch material to their loyal fanbase.

Most recently, E.D.I. released his highly anticipated album Edidon Presents: The Hope Dealer, which is currently available for download on iTunes as well as all digital retailers. E.D.I. also hosts “The Dinner Club” which airs weekly on Wednesday nights via DASH Radio (presented by XXL) and can also be found writing and producing for other artists. He is the Co-CEO of 1Nation Music and 1Nation Digital. A mogul in the making, E.D.I. has plans to write novels, manage other acts and has already started Outlaw Culture Clothing. 2015 marked the 20th anniversary of The Outlawz, and the group is currently touring various venues across the U.S. and abroad. E.D.I. also worked on the upcoming Tupac biopic All Eyez On Me as an executive consultant and music supervisor. The movie was produced and directed by L.T. Hutton and Benny Boom. With all his many years of experience and knowledge, E.D.I. now wants to share his wisdom with younger artists and help them avoid some of the many pitfalls of the music industry.

RESPECT. was able to catch up with “The Dinner Club” host to discuss upcoming projects from a possible new Outlawz project being released this Summer, the All Eyez On Me biopic, and his take on Tupac’s induction into the Rock N Roll Hall of Fame as it pertains to Hip-Hop culture.

RESPECT.: Can you describe your experience as an executive consultant on the All Eyez On Me biopic?

Being an executive consultant on All Eyez On Me was a labor of love and obviously, a biopic about someone who was a very close friend of mine. So, with that being said, it was very important for me to be on the set every day to make sure this movie was done properly and the best possible way to represent who Tupac was. Movies last for a generation at a time and it is very important that the story is told correctly. Benny Boom, L.T. Hutt and everyone that has been a part of it did a great job with it.

RESPECT.: Can talk about Johnny J and his contributions to the “All Eyez On Me” Album and Me Against the World?

Johnny was unique in the sense of he was mostly a sampler and created a lot of his beats on SP 1200, but his and Pac’s energy worked well together in the studio and made so many records. Pac’s lyrics and the emotion came first, Tupac would draw you in with his personality and Johnny would try to find a track that would compliment it. The production had to be a backdrop because Pac’s message was so strong. Johnny J was able to provide that for Pac on those records.

RESPECT.: What do you want the public to know about Tupac that will not be shown in the film?

It is very hard to replicate someone’s energy and unfortunately, you would have had to be in the same room with Tupac to know the passion and the love he had for not only his love ones but for people in general. So, it is hard to replicate that, but in music, you can recreate that energy and fortunately his music will live on forever.

RESPECT.: Can you tell us about your weekly show “The Dinner Club” on Dash Radio?

I have a weekly radio show every Wednesday from 9pm to 11pm Pacific Standard time and 12am to 2am Eastern standard times. My show is called “The Dinner Club” and it is a play off of “The Breakfast Club”, we are a trio featuring a DJ, my fiancé and myself as hosts of the program. We talk about a little bit of everything from trending topics, personal topics, but we put a focus on the musical content with the independent artists, mainstream, and the old-school hits. We are a program that gives a lot of positive energy and plays music that the people want to hear.

RESPECT.: If you could single out any of the Pac records that you worked on which one of them are your favorite?

Most of the production that I was a part of was after Tupac passed away, but it allowed me to reconnect with a dear friend of mine and our connection was through the music. So, it was very fitting that I had an opportunity to be a part of it.  All the projects that I worked on were fun, but my favorite would have to be “Catching Feelings” on The Better Days Album.

RESPECT.: If Pac was alive today, what would the music industry look like in your opinion?

The music industry would probably be the same because no one artist is bigger than the industry. If the industry can move post-Michael Jackson that goes for all the other legends as well. One artist can shift the game for a while, but the waves come and go all the time. The wave can’t be stopped, it will go on with or without you.

RESPECT.: What do you think Pac would say about the impact that Eminem has had on the hip-hop culture?

Pac liked unique artists and music and we know how creative Eminem is as an artist. Pac would have appreciated that in my opinion.

RESPECT.: Apart from “All Eyez On Me”, what are some of the things you have planned for the rest of 2017?

Touring and creating a lot of content. We have some things in the works and when they become finalized we will let the public know more. There is a possibility that we will drop another Outlaws album this summer. It may or may not be the last one and I will be releasing a follow up to my “The Hope Dealer Part 1” and I appreciate everyone that supported the first one and I will be stepping my game up on Part 2.

RESPECT.: What are your thoughts on Tupac being the first solo Hip Hop Artist to be inducted into the Rock N Roll Hall of Fame as a culture?

Great Question, and I am glad you asked that way. For the culture of Hip Hop, it’s another stamp of approval and not like we need someone’s approval, but it validates the culture. Let’s be clear and honest it is the number one form of music in the world. It shapes the culture of the world, especially through the youth. By listening to hip hop they are taking it into their adulthood. Hopefully, they can use it to break down some of the barriers that are currently in their way to bring change. With Pac being inducted it will help a kid that does not listen to hip-hop want to go look him up and this is the biggest honor an artist can achieve in my opinion especially since he was not able to win a Grammy.

RESPECT.: You released The Hope Dealer Part one last year. When can we expect the second installment and who will be a part of this project?

If we can work out things behind the scenes, fans can look for a special track that I have been holding onto with Ceelo Green.

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About Landon Buford

Washington State Graduate Past Interviews include Grammy Award Winner Kenny G, David Banner, WNBA President Lisa Borders, Whats Trendings CEO Shira Lazar, Ice Cube, NBC's Chicago PD LaRoyce Hawkins, Family Matters Darius McCrary, En Vogues Maxine Jones, Team USA Track & Field Member Norris Frederick, James Kyson, WNBA Great Lauren Jackson, and more.