Everybody has a favorite Tupac record. For the rider who blasted the street anthem “Hit’ Em Up,” ‘Pac’s lyrical assaults against the Notorious B.I.G. with some of the realest members from his crew Outlawz adding more collective insults, painted a vivid picture of ‘Thug Life’ for generations to come. Outlawz have disbanded since ‘Pac’s death, but kept in contact to honor their loyalty to the legendary rapper who touched millions of fans and artists worldwide with his Makaveli movement.
In light of ‘Pac 15th anniversary of his tragic passing on Tuesday, the once 11-member Outlawz has dwindled to three last men standing – Hussein Fatal, Young Noble and E.D.I. Mean – who released their final album Perfect Timing, on the same day. Turning the time of ‘Pac’s absence to a celebration of Outlawz’ fifteen year reunion, the trio has gathered for an album that pays homage to his unmatched toughness, while spreading their message of ‘Ghetto Gospel.’
At the Park Central Hotel in the heart of Manhattan, where Outlawz have wrapped up a busy media blitz with RESPECT., they still acknowledge ‘Pac’s ear for talent that went coast to coast, recalling a time of the One Nation joint with Boot Camp Clik and similarities within the crews, and labeling them their comrades from the East. Fans will appreciate the possibly of a collaboration, as Noble says, “It’s long overdue.”
Take note of their readiness in offering the hip-hop game another Outlawz classic. Because in the words of ‘Pac – “Its Outlawz motherfuckers till we die” – and they’re ready to keep running and gunning on Perfect Timing.
Check out the interview after the jump.
Tuesday marked the 15th anniversary of Tupac Shakur’s death. How has he impacted the game that is incomparable to other rappers?
E.D.I. – I think he has impacted the game massively. You can hear his influences from an array of different artists. From top to bottom. His music definitely impacted the industry, as well as the world.
Noble – I think ‘Pac … the reason why he is still the utmost relevancy 15 years later because of his message. He rapped about real-life, and real-life issues. Its issues that never get old – it’s timeless. 20 years from now, the messages are still going to have relevancy.
Was it a dedication to have the release of Perfect Timing on the same day?
E.D.I. – It wasn’t really a dedication, it just so happen that our album was going to drop early in 2011. But it got pushed back because of industry issues, clearances. So September was the best date, and we was like: ‘Why not September 13?’ Turn a negative day into a positive day and drop our album on the 13th. Anything we do is pretty much a dedication; it ain’t like we chose the album dropping on that day as a dedication. The music is obviously inspired by him. So it’s all a dedication to him as a whole.
You mentioned that Tupac has timeless messages. Do the Outlawz follow the same thing?
E.D.I. – Absolutely. Definitely. All through Perfect Timing you can hear that. We got a song on there called “Pushin’ On” featuring Lloyd and Scarface and that’s definitely in that vein. It’s called ‘Ghetto Gospel.’ That’s what we do.
You guys have an Outlawz G-Mix of Ross and Meek Mill’s “Tupac Back.” Was the motivation behind this record like a stamp of approval from veterans?
Noble – We did that because the streets begged us to do it. On Twitter, Facebook, and e-mails every day, the fans were like: ‘Yo you should have been on that record.’ Or whatever the case may be, they basically begged us to do it. If they didn’t beg us to do it, then we probably wouldn’t do it. That was just the ode to the streets – us responding to the people.
You guys say that you’re messengers of the ‘Ghetto Gospel.’ Is that throughout Perfect Timing and all your previous records too?
E.D.I. – It’s definitely throughout all our previous records, and Perfect Timing got that on there, but that’s not what Perfect Timing is about. Perfect Timing got music on there for every emotion in life. Whatever is up or down, left or right. Perfect Timing got that all on there.
Noble – You know, Ghetto Gospel is our main thing, but we just try to make great music.
E.D.I. – Absolutely.
Noble – Some days we want to party. Some days we just want – you know – fuck with the ladies. Some days we just want to be on our gangsta shit. We pretty much do it all, but at the end of the day – overall – we try to give ‘em some substance to our music. 80 percent substance, the rest is entertainment, lyricism all that stuff.
There are a bunch of different emotions on the album. ‘Thug Life’ has always been associated with the Outlawz and ‘Pac. Are fans going to see some heavy representations of the lifestyle on the album? Or is it progression?
E.D.I. – Its progression man. It’s all about moving forward. You can’t keep doing the same record over and over again. So, of course, we are not gonna do stuff that was before, but it all comes from the same place. It all comes from the love the music, the art, the lyricism. Delivering a message to the people and having a good time at the same time.
Are there any personal favorites you would like to mention to RESPECT.?
Fatal – We got this one joint with Tupac on there, it’s something new. Nah, I’m fuckin’ with ya. [laughs]
I like the joint “Perfect Timing.” It’s based on perfect timing. You know black diamonds. You know shining out of nothing and all that.
Noble – I be having a different one every other day man. The album, every song has a different feel to it. So every other day I got a different favorite.
What’s your favorite today?
Noble – I would say, “Keep It Lit.” We keeping it lit right now. We got it turned up to the third power. We gonna keep it lit.
This is sort of a reunion for you Fatal. You did some work on the mixtapes and now you are on Perfect Timing. What was your decision to come back to the Outlawz?
Fatal – I mean it wasn’t really a decision. It was really the perfect time. It was the perfect time to hook this shit back up. Get back to the flow of things, and dedicate this 15 years of lost time back to who we owe it to, the man ‘Pac upstairs.
Noble – Really, it’s a reunion as far as the album is concerned, but in life it ain’t a reunion. I grew up with Fatal. That’s my big brother, and I love him and honor him. Prior to this, we’ve been doing music together. We did a whole Noble and Fatal album that came out in 2008, called Thug in Thug Out. When Fatal was doing his solo stuff, we was featured on it. Rap a lot on different projects and different stuff. We just now doing stuff together, but yes it is our first full-fledged Outlawz album together. It’s crazy that it took us this long to do it. We should be kicking ourselves in our ass for even putting ourselves through that all these years.
I’ve noticed you guys didn’t reach out to the new generation of artists. Did you want to strictly keep it with the old school artists?
Noble – Actually, we fuck with a lot of the new producers on the album. The majority of the producers you’ve never heard of. Everything we do, we work with new artists. Every mixtape we introduce – new artists. Like from the beginning to our career, you listen to everything we drop, we always introduce somebody new. That’s just what we do. We fuck with the streets. We fuck with the underdogs. As for the album, we fuck with people who have mutual respect for us.
E.D.I. – Just because an artist isn’t hot on the radio every day. He just dropped his hottest album. That don’t mean he still relevant, he ain’t still got what it takes to bring something extra to the album. Scarface, Krayzie Bone, Tech N9NE – those are all vets in the game, but they’re still raw. They’re still snappin’. They’re still on top of the game, but they don’t got the “like” of the industry right now. We still wanted to reach out to them and the new artists like Lloyd. Lloyd is a new artist. We definitely got him on their twice.
You also got a production credit by Focus …?
Noble – He did one of our classic tracks.
E.D.I. – That’s your favorite track, right there! “Keep It Lit.”
Noble – He did a track for our 2005 album called “Real Talk.” That’s one of the classic Outlawz record that the fans love. They love that “Real Talk” so we had to bring Focus … back on board for the new one.
So who is the Outlawz co-signing besides Lloyd?
Noble – There’s a lot of young, up-and-coming talent.
Fatal – When you’re a fan of hip-hop as a whole, it’s harder to point out who’s hot, or who’s hotter than who. We’re not here to speak on who’s hot and who’s not. We just enjoy music as a whole.
E.D.I. – We definitely enjoy some of everything from the newer generation. I don’t feel like all is lost with hip-hop. I just think it got to add a little bit more diversity to it. But other than that, there’s a lot of young cats spitting, trying to take it to the next level and salute to all of them.
Noble – We salute the young dudes coming into the game and making a name for themselves. Making some money, feeding they families, doing what they got to do.
Rap music has changed a lot since the Outlawz were in full effect. Is rap heading in the right direction?
Noble – We trying to make it head into the right direction. We leaders. We got a whole Outlawz culture, nationwide that pretty much look to us to lead the way. We trying to bring a change to the game. It’s the perfect time for some real soldiers with real history, with a real message to set into the forefront of this game and think we represent the epitome of that. We been putting work for a long time, and we here and we are at our best right now.
So with two mixtapes [Killuminati 2k10 and Killuminati 2k11] currently circulating the web, the album dropping on Tuesday and now you guys are on Twitter, I heard that this is your last official album. Is this the time to pass the torch down to the younger generation?
E.D.I. – We pass the torch every time; we rock with one of ‘em, or see one of ‘em. A lot of cats in the game right now we knew before they got “famous” or “big.” We always pass the proverbial torch to them on that level. As far as this Outlawz torch, we are going to hold that forever. It ain’t about no passing the torch. ‘Pac gave it to us to hold on and represent it until it is no more. So we gonna always do that – whether as the group, the Outlawz – or whether you see one of us.
When you see one of us, you really see all of us anyway. It might not necessary be an Outlawz album, but there will always be Outlawz music, the family, the vibe will be there. I’m sure we will be doing different stuff on each other’s projects.
But as far as this being the last album, it really depends on the fans and how they go out there and support the album. We feel we got an audience that’s listening to us, that we can talk to and we’ll keep doing music. But if they want to move on and listen to this newer generation, then this will be the last Outlawz album.
Noble – Yeah, the game is so fucked up right now. It’s crazy. At the end of the day, we puttin’ the realest shit out there. And the game is screamin’ for something real.
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