As I sit here at this round table, joined by my 7 brothers, we all look down at the city we've just conquered. I can't help but think to myself how it all started...
Imagine a city desolate, wasteland stretching for miles where life once flourished, and the only thing dimmer than its sky was its future. Crack had left behind a trail of poverty and misery, and by the mid-90's, a good percent of fiends and dealers were either dead or in jail. The only way a man with no education or job skills could make a living was through rap music. "Urban radio" soon took advantage of the situation, forcing local artists to pay for airtime. Integrity and originality raced towards extinction, and quality hip-hop was forced under the radar. As if that weren't enough, "urban radio" went on a campaign to rid the city of its last remaining free thinkers, not only facilitating but also encouraging artists to be more repetitive and thoughtless. I was one of the survivors. In 1997, my group Quotable and I went on a pursuit to make some original New Orleans hip-hop, but ran into nothing but roadblocks. People we rhymed for were only interested in hearing one style of rap, and producers were only concerned with making one type of beat; urban radio was winning. Though we were oblivious to it at the time, there were several other hip-hop acts around the city with the same goal. The Senate (another trio of dope emcees) and S.K.S (a young & hungry duo) were among the few survivors of the brainwash movement.
As coincidence would have it, 1997 was also the year that the spotlight fell upon New Orleans. Due to the national success of No Limit Records, hip-hop fans around the globe quickly began to associate a "New Orleans sound" with the music coming from one record label. The N.O. rapper became synonymous with images of the gold tooth thug, rolling on chrome rims, proudly purchased with drug money. A year later, No Limit paved the way for fellow local conglomerate, Cash Money Records. As their success grew, the world was realizing that New Orleans had a lot to offer in terms of diversity. Not only could we kill you, but your bitch could not resist the opportunity to ride in our Hummer. Fans now had two alternatives for the New Orleans sound, both eager to educate audiences on stuntin' and thugery. Hustlers had music to chop up their drugs to, and the hoes had all they needed to back up their asses.
As a fellow artist from the Crescent City, I always found myself asking, "what's next?" New Orleans has always been one of the most culturally rich cities in the world, so I refused to believe that was all we had to offer. It was time for a change, and just as Sam Cooke predicted, one was about to come. The Y2K marked the alignment of the stars. S.K.S. began work on their debut album, and enlisted the help of the city's top emcees for a posse cut, "Lethal Combination." The Senate's DonJuan and Rhymesees kicked off the song nicely, followed by promising verses from S.K.S., and Quotable ended the song with a bang. Though most of us had yet to meet, we gained a mutual respect for each other's talent through hearing the critically acclaimed song. Soon after, various members continued to build, and it became obvious what had to be done. I ran the idea of forming a super-group by a few members, and there wasn't any hesitation. We're all committed to making the best hip-hop New Orleans has to offer, and the rest is history... or better yet, future.