Our interview series The Whole 9 takes a trip over to the west coast, where he chop it up with L.A.’s Horseshoe Gang. The 4-man crew of lyricist are the little brothers of KXNG Crooked, member of Slaughterhouse and one of the illest emcees L.A. has ever heard. Members Demetrius, Julius, Kenny and Dice are making sure that lyrics won’t ever die. From their debut album Gangsta M.C. back in 2009, the quartet has released 3 projects since, and are prepping the release of their 5th, titled Anti-Trap Music on April 29th, 12-tracks of in your face BARS. During our interview, we talk about the album, having so many dope emcees in one family, having KXNG Crooked for an older brother, the state of Hip Hop battles, namely Joey Bada$$ versus Troy Ave. We also spoke on drug dealing emcees, the state of this country from a social sense, the indie hustle and their future endeavors. For more on the group check them out on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and their website. Check out the interview below.
the9elements: You guys have an album set top drop this year titled Anti-Trap Music. What’s the motivation behind this album?
Julius: We grew up in the slums so naturally we’re fully aware of how hopeless and desperate a person becomes when he/she needs money. So we’re not knocking the hustle but we want the youth to see that there’s a better way. This album is a result of us being sick of hearing the same bull shit message being spread throughout this Hip Hop culture we love. Our album isn’t a concept album full of songs preaching though. It’s simple dop -ass Hip Hop music without overly glorifying the life of selling drugs.
T9E: All four of you guys are brothers who can all rip a dude’s head off lyrically. But on top of that, your big brother is KXNG Crooked, who is one of the coldest spitters the Fresh Coast has ever heard. Does having a brother like Crooked who’s lyrical, but also a true student of Hip Hop motivate y’all, or is it intimidating to know how high that bar has been set?
Demetrius: We appreciate you for recognizing our head-chopping lyrical abilities. We’ve handed bill collectors a bag full of rappers’ severed heads many times (laughs). Skills don’t pay bills generally speaking, but we’ve paid bills a few times with these bars. And having KXNG Crooked on our team gives us an edge. It has been a huge blessing for us. KXNG Crooked motivates us in the same way Tupac motivated The Outlawz.
T9E: Also, what was it like to kinda be the Hip Hop Jackson 5?
Julius: We’re lucky to have been brought up by a supportive mother and older siblings. Our older bros Mad Man and KXNG Crooked used to explain rap lyrics to us like they were math tutors teaching us to solve math problems. They would let us listen to Public Enemy and N.W.A. no matter how explicit the songs were. And our mother did her best to supply us with tape recorders, camcorders or whatever she felt would encourage us. And it worked. We owe her a lot.
T9E: Last year y’all accepted a $500,000 open challenge from Funk Volume, a crew of lyrical miracles in their own right, dropping Half a Meal which led to the response Free Meal, and y’all then dropped Same Day. This was done out of the spirit of competition (and of course a bag of cash!). No hatred, just bars. Nowadays however, thanks to the monster that is social media, mems, Twitter and IG posts have been added to the mix. Drake owed a big assist in his victory over Meek Mill to his fans and internet trolls. Now we have the latest beef between Joey Bada$$ and Troy Ave which has gotten pretty damn personal. Troy dropped his diss track and it looks like Joey won’t respond with one of his own. Some are shocked because Joey has the skills to not have to resort to social media. I guess he has his reasons, but what’s you guys’ take on that beef in particular, and Hip Hop battles in general?
Dice: Well, we can’t really speak on Joey’s approach, as of now, cause he may be planning a massive attack. He definitely has the skills. Troy is dope too. But we feel like Hip Hop as a whole has lost some of its edge. Maybe it’s simply cause rappers don’t want a repeat of Pac and Big’s tragic ending. But we feel like Hip Hop could still be a competitive industry without people dying as a result. Maybe that’s wishful thinking cause these rappers are soft as K. Michelle’s ass! We’re trying to keep the competitive nature alive though. That’s why we accepted FV’s challenge without receiving a dime cause we rap in our sleep.
T9E: When describing the vibe of your forthcoming album, you guys say “If you’re tired of hearing your kids singing songs around the house that’s talking about pushing crack, then get our new album!” Not like I’m trying to condone selling drugs, but some of the dopest emcees who have ever touched the mic rapped about drugs, yet it seems like people wanna condemn the rapper of today. Kool G Rap and Pusha T have made a career of pushing keys on wax. Are they obvious condemnation because they can spit?
Kenny: You’re definitely right about there being a bunch of dope emcees who made rap careers out of being drug dealers. Jay Z is the illest D-Boy rapper to ever spit. And one of the illest rappers period. But rappers like Jigga are more aware of their influence. That’s why most of his hit songs have nothing to do with selling drugs. You had to buy his album to hear graphic stories of hustling. And that’s our point. It’s easier to control what albums our children buy than to control what songs they hear on the radio. Especially when that song gets played hundreds of times daily by different radio stations. We’re just saying record labels and rappers need to be a bit more responsible.
T9E: I wanted to pick y’all brains on what’s going on in the country right now. 2016 we will have to pick a new president. The Democratic side has Hillary Clinton going up against Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, who seems to be gaining a lot of support from the younger generation, despite being damn near 70. The Republican side…..well it seems they want to turn the clock back to the 1930’s, with the likes of Donald Trump, Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio. As y’all witness what’s going on, I wanted to know what’s y’all take on it?
Julius: The way things are now gives us hope for the future but also highlights some horrible facts about this country. On the positive side, we’re seeing different ethnicities and women gain support as presidential candidates and more diversity in politics in general. But on the negative side, we’re seeing how fame, wealth and the social media era could turn an ignorant fuck like Trump into a legitimate contender in this race to crown a new president.
T9E: Hip Hop right now seems to be wide open as ever. Artists like Kendrick Lamar and Future have dominated the consciousness, two artists at the opposite ends of the spectrum. Streaming has replaced even buying CD’s or even mp3’s, and mixtapes sites like Datpiff and Livemixtapes have become important players in Hip Hop, which some would say gives a lot more to the fan, and allows artists to stay indie. Where do you guys stand in regards to the direction Hip Hop has taken?
Kenny: It definitely works in our favor. Our indie grind allows us to maintain a buzz without having to wait on some record label ran by people who wouldn’t know shit about Hip Hop if they lived in a house full of XXL Magazine wallpaper (lauighs).
T9E: With you guys dropping Anti-Trap Music this year, what else can we expect from the Horseshoe Gang?
Dice: Our supporters can expect the Shoes to hit the road performing, a bunch of music videos, and maybe a dope-ass cypher. Probably an EP, mixtape or another album at the end of the year as well.
T9E: Thanks a lot for taking the time to do this. Any last words?
Demetrius: Go buy KXNG Crooked’s album Statik KXNG. It’s fire! Go hit up Mad Man’s @ungradiostation if you’re a new artiist and want your music heard. And support the album Space Time by C.O.B’s Karelezz dropping soon. Shout out to the9elements for helping us push our project. Lastly, Fuck trap houses and God bless!