Lords Of Lyrics / Underground Nation
Karnage a.k.a. Keithy D. (originally from Newark, New Jersey via Chucktown, SC) and L.A.Z.
a.k.a. Big Cheif (coming out of the
original heartland of Hip Hop - South BX, New York, via San Diego, CA) together form
the Lords Of Lyrics (L.O.L.). They have a new album - 'Hostile Takeover' which
is 16 tracks deep and has been receiving a 'phenomenal' response. This is
especially amazing as it only took 7 days to record!
L.A.Z. has a history in the game, having
independently sold 20,000 copies of his debut 12" 'Make way for L.A.Z.' in
1993. This success saw him hook up with MC Hammer's label in 1994, just as
Hammer was at the top of his game to form the 'Krown Kings' Crew. But
unfortunately this relationship ended in Bankruptcy and returning to totally
independent status for the 1997 release 'Trapped in a Time-Zone'.
Check out what the Lords Of Lyrics had to say to
Are you aware of any UK Hip Hop artists or records?
K.K. "I was stationed in the U.K. in the early 90's, and lived there for three and a half years. It's a shame more U.K. Artists don't get heard. I personally rocked many clubs in Glasgow, Scotland (Tin Pan Alley, Palladium, etc...) This Emcee by the name "Overlord X" was hot to me and I bought his shit and bumped it."
What are your thoughts about the state of UK hip hop? Do you know why it is very hard for UK artists to get any exposure in the US?
K.K. "I think a lot of U.K. Emcees used to try and appease an American audience, so to speak, and it's extremely hard to do that, because we have two totally different experiences. I think, that if U.K. Cats just keep coming with new and innovative styles...The rest of the world will have to eventually take notice."
Do you have any advice for struggling artists in the UK?
B.C. "Be persistent, and don't ever give up!, if you truly have a love for hip-hop...continue to get doper, lyrically, and evolve, and I can't stress this enough...Don't Ever Give up!"
Who or what are your main influences? I understand that you rate some older school artists such as Run-DMC and Rakim, is it these artists that you most look up to or do you have influences outside Hip Hop?
B.C. "My main influences, lyrically, have been Lord Finesse, Kool G Rap, Big Daddy Kane, KRS-ONE, Brotha Lynch Hung, Notorious Big, Jay-Z and Big Pun. But, I derive Lyrical inspiration, from all types of Music, (even "Trip-Hop").
Can you tell us a bit about where you are from, who your crew are and who they are associated with?
K.K. "I'm originally from Newark, New Jersey, where I was raised until the age of 12. Then my family moved back to their roots, which was Charleston (Chuck-Town) South Carolina. Where I stayed until the age of 18, joined the Military for a couple of years, then went into the job market shortly after."
B.C. "I'm originally from the South Bronx, New York City (The Birth Place of Hip-Hop) I was turned on to hip-hop at an early age because this is what I was mostly around as a child coming up. It was almost inevitable that I started rhyming. I moved back to Charleston, South Carolina at the age of 12, as well, but by then I was a "Hip-hop junkie", and since hip-hop hadn't really caught on in South Carolina...I would go back to New York in the summer months and bring back all the newest, latest shit! (I was the man back then) Charleston is much more quiet and laid back than N.Y. or New Jersey. A lot of people down South still hold true to the "Old Ways of Thinking", especially concerning Black People." And this is not always good, it brings about separation of Races, but hip-hop tends to "Bring together" races."
Are there any other producers or MCs in your crew to look out for?
B.C." This cat named VMF, he produced "Hostile Takeover" and all of my Solo Albums. He's the absolute bomb! and can Produce in any style. He's from San Diego, California...And I'd put him right next to Dr. Dre, in terms of his producing skills, he just doesn't have the "Platinum" Awards to show for his talent yet...He will though. Definitely be on the look-out for VMF."
I understand that you hooked up with Hammer's label back in 1994, how did that come about? I understand that you had some problems in the end. What happened there and was it a big problem for you?
B.C. "Yeah, I had an exclusive recording contract with Hammer in 94. He did an MTV appearance in San Diego, at Mission beach, and Me, This guy named Cricet, and some other members of our Crew, just "Bum-rushed" the show, and made him listen to us. He signed us on the spot! Two days later we were on an Airplane to Fremont, California, to where he lived and subsequently where his record label was based, recording our group Album plus our Solo Albums...And of course VMF was the producer/Rapper as well. It's always hard starting over, and when Hammer filed for bankruptcy, California Law states that you cannot have anyone under contract...And just like that...All the Limo rides, All night Studio sessions, etc...Was gone. It was back to square one. And I've been Independent since. That was back in like 96. This is a perfect example of how extremely hard it is to get signed...Talent, sometimes play little or no role in a lot of signings...Timing does. Now with the Lords of Lyrics, we are ready to set the hip-Hop world on fire with our Album "Hostile Takeover."
Can you let off some of your production techniques? What sort of equipment are you using both to make beats and to record?
K.K. "Since VMF handles the actual on hands Production, he would be more able to answer that, un-fortunately...He's in San Diego, Ca right now, and we're on the East-Coast."
Was there a concept behind your album? Can you tell us a bit about each/some of the tracks on your LP, what they are about, what effects, moods or messages you were trying to create/pass on?
B.C. "Well, for 1, we wanted to put together an Album that was Lyrically on point, first and foremost. Plus we had to bridge the gap between what Cats in the streets want to hear, what avid "Lyric Lovers" wanna hear, what cats down South wanna hear, what heads in the Clubs wanna hear, etc...etc...And it was really hard to do, but from the response we've been getting on this Album...Apparently we did it. Each track is distinct, but Lyrically on point...We actually, make it a point to throw in "Battle Rhymes" in just about all of our songs, because "Battling" is really our Forte, and it is a part of our "Formula", but we throw in other entertaining, creative metaphors, with a story twist."
As you have been friends for years you obviously get on well, is this because you are similar people, or does each one bring specific skills? Is there a hierarchy within the group?
B.C. "Yeah, actually, we've been best friends since we were like 13 years old, and we're 27 now, but what I've found since we're grown men now, is that a lot of similarities we once shared are no longer there. For example, I still love to play Video Games (something we both used to love to do) But Keith no longer likes video games. Keith likes to go out to the Clubs, just to hang out and party...I don't, un-less its Career related. Keith is an occasional "Drinker", and i don't like to drink, maybe socially, every once in awhile. And contrary to it's popularity...Neither of us Smoke weed, or drink 40's for that matter. That's Mad wack!"
Does Big Chief running the label ever cause conflicts either personally or from a business perspective?
B.C. " No, because although Keith and I are Business "Partners", I, in reality, run the day-to-day Operation of UGN Records. I handle all Business transactions in regard to UGN...And that's normally what a "CEO" does...No conflict there."
Where can people pick up your stuff?
B.C. "The Album is doing well, and although we have National Distribution, it won't help everybody in the U.K. and abroad who want to purchase this Album, So everyone has to Order This Album from our Web-Site at http://www.ugnrecords.com and we do have Secure Ordering through CDStreet, so it's all good, plus We Ship the CD next day. We've already moved over 2000 Copies On-line so far, so...."
How do you find the scene on the West coast compared to where you originally came from on the Eastside? Where do you feel your allegiances lie?
B.C. "Ah man, good fucking question! LOL...I never really thought about that one. But being originally from the East-Coast, although I lived, and learned so much from living on the Westcoast, I would have to say...Nah, I'm not gonna even go there..LOL..I love both Coasts, and try to represent both..."
How do you feel you are positioned within the marketplace and is that through your wishes or with different circumstances, would you do it differently?
K.K. "Right now, we're being received really well, but we've still got far to go, you know? But we feel that the Lords of Lyrics are definitely in an Elite group in terms of how we've successfully bridged all the "gaps" in hip-Hop right now. Our Production is Top, and you can't argue the crispness and clarity in our Beats, plus both Coasts have been responding really well, so we just have to keep it moving, you know?"
What is going to be keeping you busy over the next few months?
B.C. "Promotional touring the U.S. that's the fun part of it all. But I can't wait to get to the U.K. though...I heard you cats are the illest!!! So, everybody definitely be looking and listening out for the Lords, because we're coming..."
What are your longer-term plans and objectives for you both as artists and as a record label?
B.C. " I've always envisioned UGN Records of being more than just a "Hip-Hop" Label. Sure that's our primary music right now, but ultimately I want to be one of the best "Music" Labels, with all different kinds and styles of music, not just Hip-Hop. No dis-respect at all, but I don't want to be the next "Motown", I want to be the next "Warner Brothers", you feel me? Besides, "Hostile Takeover" is the First Degree of the Chapter, so we have 359 more degrees of dope music to worry about putting out...UGN Records will be around for a long time..."
Is there anything else you would like to mention?
B.C. "If you haven't ordered our album "Hostile takeover", what are you waiting for? This album is sure to be a hip-hop classic, and so far our sales speak in volumes, for only haven been on-line for a month. So, support the Lords of Lyrics U.K., we got much love for all of you guys. And to all of you aspiring emcees, just keep doing what you're doing, keep that passion for hip-Hop burning, and most of all..DON'T EVER GIVE UP!...Peace."
Peep some of the tracks from the Hostile
Update Feb 2001
Since the original interview the Lords of Lyrics have had some success in the US.
Their song, "Is It Hot?" is currently at # 1 in New York City, and # 96 in the country
right now. "T.H.U.G. O.U.T." and "Treadmillers" are blowin up right now too. All
these tracks can be peeped at: www.mp3.com/lordsoflyrics
Web: www.ugnrecords.com ::