SHEEK LOUCH PREPARES FOR “GORILLA” WARFARE
By Khalid Strickland a.k.a. Dirty Angel
Not just “the third member of The LOX”…
Rapper Sheek Louch, along with exceptional street poets Jadakiss and Styles P, is a founding member of Yonkers-based rap trio The LOX. Entering the music industry signed to Sean “Puffy” Combs’ Bad Boy label in 1998, The LOX have collectively sold 1.7 million albums to date. Although they frequently record together and remain as tight as brothers, all three LOX members have launched successful solo careers. Sheek Louch’s 2003 debut album, “Walk Witt Me” and his 2005 sophomore LP, “After Taxes”, have sold a combined 400,000 units without major label backing. Creatively and financially, the independent route has worked well for Sheek and the shrewd, business-minded rapper has decided not to tamper with success. Therefore Sheek Louch’s new album, “Silverback Gorilla”, will be released on March 18th, 2008 by red-hot indie label Koch Records (in conjunction with The LOX’s own D-Block Records). The new LP features appearances by Jim Jones, The Game, Fat Joe, Bun B of UGK and of course, Jadakiss and Styles. Although the lead single is a radio/female-friendly number called “Good Love”, the album is filled to the brim with the material that The LOX are known and loved for: hard-as-hell street music to make the thugs “wild out”.
In a recent interview with Insomniac Magazine, Sheek Louch discussed his new project and the benefits of working without major label restrictions. Sheek also had some choice words for former D-Block signee J-Hood, who has been hurling insults and dis records at The LOX since his unfriendly departure from the label. Needless to say, Sheek really went in on dude.
Dirty Angel: Explain the title of your album, “Silverback Gorilla”.
Sheek Louch: “Silverback Gorilla”… it’s a metaphor. It ain’t no disgrace to my race or no monkey… it’s strictly like, they call this concrete jungle out there and I just feel like I’m one of the fiercest motherf****rs in this game, man; in this jungle. I would say you watch National Geographic channel and Discovery and all that… you see the Silverback, he’s a mean motherf****r; he’s got his kids all around him, jumping on him. He ain’t bothering nobody but when it’s on, it’s on. You know what I mean? I’m comparing that to this whole game and whoever and whatever.
Angel: So what’s this album going to bring to your nice lil’ discography?
Sheek: Definitely it’s going to show growth… lyrically, one-hundred percent. My swagger is all the way up. Ain’t no, “Sheek, your s**t (just) got hot”. Nah, I’m that motherf****n’ n***a right now, you know what I’m sayin’? I’m on fire. Anything I’m getting on, I’m mashin’. I don’t care who’s on it. And I reflect that on my new project; like, the swagger’s up, production is crazy, concepts is crazy and just how I’m delivering everything, bringing what I do to these records. You look at the first album, the people was just like, “Let me see what this dude from The LOX got”. Second album, I crushed them with the “You Can Kiss Your A** Goodbye” joint. Now it’s just like, “Wow, he keeps coming and coming”; and both (albums), the people loved. So you’re definitely gonna love this one.
Angel: So what are your goals with this album?
Sheek: As far as sales?
Angel: Sales, artistically…
Sheek: Sales, I would love to clear big numbers the first week. I don’t know what’s big these days ‘cause motherf*****s ain’t doing s**t. You got major labels… not to down no major labels… but like, to the consumer, you would swear they’re at two million sold or something. ‘Cause they got the big hit out, the number one joint on the radio. You look, they at one-hundred-something-thousand after months. And it’s sad. It’s not that people don’t love your music, (but) they’re not going into stores to buy it. They can get it off of these, what you say… Limewires and anything else to get your whole album. And the kids know that well, you know what I mean? So I would love to come out and clear one-hundred (thousand) first week or whatever, man. But you know, it is what it is and I just want the people to know I got quality music. You’re gonna push play and every (song) is that s**t. It ain’t just for one ringtone.
Angel: So what are the advantages of being independent, because most of your albums have been pushed the indie route.
Sheek: I love Koch right now. I love it. I love the whole indie game right now. It’s ‘cause these guys, they’re not just saying, “Here, put that out. I don’t care”. They’re really going in these clubs and feeling it out. The people that’s working your record know of your music. They know about it. They ain’t Joe Schmoe with the suit and tie on, that’s just working it there for the day, punch out and he’s going to put classical music in his car on the way home. He ain’t listening to your s**t, you know what I mean? It’s some whole other s**t with these guys. Not to mention, I could drop now… I could drop six or seven months from now again… BOOM! I could come could out with another (album). At a major you have to wait for it because they’ve got a line-up of twelve different artists and groups, so you’ve got to wait for this and that. It’s just ridiculous. These people know your s**t, man. I love it.
Angel: Ghostface Killah just posted a video scolding his fans for not buying his album and downloading his s**t for free.
Sheek: Oh yeah?
Angel: Yeah, you just mentioned that too. He posted the video on MySpace and said he’s got all these MySpace fans, like 100,000 of them, but his album only pushed X amount of copies. How do you feel about that and is there any way to combat that?
Sheek: I don’t know, man. I mean, the internet thing and bootlegging and all that been happening since The Temptations, man (laughs). Somebody else asked me that, man. I said, “Yo, if you know the secret please tell me. I got some money for you then”… if somebody tells me the secret to stopping the internet thing. But once it hits there… you can have one song on the internet and everybody’s getting it. The DJs know to go there for it. They ain’t even got to call you no more to ask you for an exclusive; once it gets out, it’s on the internet.
Angel: So how do n****s continue to make a living off this music business?
Sheek: Oh nah… of course, you hit the road. You hit the shows. You drop your music indie instead of getting that fifteen cents for one record, or less sometimes for these artists. I don’t know how your deal is structured, but you could come over here and get six, seven dollars off of each unit sold, easy. So when we go 300,000 records sold you got some paper. And everybody structure their s**t different, but I know how we rollin’. It’s hard, man, ‘cause sales are down on a whole. And like I said, that don’t mean that people don’t love your record.
Angel: I like your new single, the s**t is definitely tight… the “Good Love” joint. That’s kind of a different sound for you in my opinion, though. I’m used to that punch-you-in-the-face music, straight up and down. Why’d you choose to roll with this single?
Sheek: ‘Cause I leaked that record… I was on the road with Styles on this promo run and from London to everywhere else… and it came all the way back. It just came back, like… everybody was talking about this one song that I got. I’m like, “Damn, what is it?” When I found out it was that I just said, “Let’s follow this lead, man”. And like you said, all that drug talking and gun talking, I got it on the album still; don’t get it twisted. But I feel I ain’t got nothing more to prove as far as that. So I can come out with that kind of record. Like the last one, I can drop a Carl Thomas record for the chicks, ‘cause they’re there and they’re on me (laughs).
Angel: Unlike a lot of other artists, The LOX can walk through your hood with no problem. You get a lot of love.
Sheek: All day.
Angel: You can also walk through other people’s hood and also get respect. What separates you from the rapper that has to walk around with 10,000 bodyguards with him all the time?
Sheek: ‘Cause he set himself up that way. He set himself up to where he got to, whoever the person is… him or her. ‘Cause from the jump they figured, “I got to have people with headphones on looking important. I got to be behind all these big bodyguards”. And from the jump, no you didn’t. If you came out more and mingled with the people and let them see you more, it ain’t like a big shock when they finally see you. There’s love; they give you a pound, they know you’re there for real. You got to politic. A n***a say, “Yo, I was pollyin’” (but) they really don’t know the meaning. You really got to politic; hug and kiss these babies and let them know and let them know I’m really here for ya’all people. I’m not just doing a commercial, I ain’t fronting for ya’all. I’m in the hood; I’m coming to check you. I know some people get to that status where they can’t be in the hood no more, but c’mon man. There’s no way you could never come. C’mon, B… them same dudes that you used to drink beer with and run around with, they may be right there but still… if they not with you on the road, go back and check ‘em; even if it’s to drop off some liquor for them and then bounce. Show some love.
Angel: There’s a lot of ringtone rappers out there right now; a lot of records that come with their own dance and s**t. Do you feel like your product is competing against theirs or do you have your own lane?
Sheek: I think I got my own lane, point blank. At the end of the day… like, say I do a show with them… and I know what you talking about; I was at shows where they was doing all that dances on stage and all that. I’m like, “Wow, what the f**k is going on?” But when I get on stage and we hit that “Wild Out” or any music, they losing their minds, ready to shut the club down. So it’s like, we got our own lane with the youth and that, but it’s definitely a young boy’s game… as far as the new concept of it and this and that. All they care about is one song and one ringtone. That’s it. They don’t care about the rest of the album at all.
Angel: The south is putting out a lot of good music; it’s only right that every region has its time to shine. Do you think that New York artists, especially the good ones, are getting a fair shake? Do you think there’s bias against New York now, the way there was against other regions at one time?
Sheek: Nah, I think we getting a fair shake, man. But at the same time, and I’m speaking to New York artists: You got to make some fire, man. You can’t just sit there and complain about who’s doing better than you right there, you got to put out some fire. I feel I’m putting out heat right now and I’m going to keep putting out heat throughout this whole album. You can’t just sit back and talk about it. Where’s the music when you’re talking about it?
Angel: From the songs I’ve heard so far and the collaborations you’ve got, this is shaping up to be one of your best albums ever. Did you approach the making of this album any differently? The other albums were tight too, don’t get me wrong, but did you approach the making of this album differently than the others?
Sheek: Nah, I reached out top some people that I speak to… like, the people I got on there, it’s because I respect these guys and I like what they’re doing right now. I like Fat Joe’s growth right now and his swagger and all that. My man Bun B, I just thought he was incredible…. (I like) Dipset. In New York they either want you to beef with somebody or do a song together. I’d rather do a song with us and let’s go get some money, you know what I mean? Everybody else on my album, (like) UNK, just to show some love; I like your work and bring your ATL element, I’m gonna bring my New York s**t and we gonna do what we do. I got a LOX joint on the album that’s strong called “Getting’ Stronger”. That’s definitely gonna heat up, and just a bunch of stuff, man. My swagger’s just all the way up and it ain’t, “He’s just that third dude from The LOX”. Nah, I’m Sheek Louch and I’m destroying everything I’m getting on.
Angel: You’ve always given me the impression that you’re the type of n**a that motherf*****s don’t want to provoke. So how have you been as patient as you’ve been with (disgruntled former D-Block member) J-Hood taking as many shots as he’s been taking at you?
Sheek: Ai-ight. For one, he don’t show his face in Yonkers at all. Trust me. For one, J-Hood don’t ever in his life… He sit there and say, “I be all over! I still be (in Yonkers)”. He’s lying. It’s like… say you got a little brother and he’s talking tough and you know what it is already. Like, c’mon, man. Stop it. You ain’t gonna do nothing; go in the room and go tell mommy or something, you know what I mean? It’s like that, that’s how I’m looking at it. Like, when I see him on the DVDs and he’s like, “Them n****s know my guns bust, they know my guns go off”… all of us over here… I don’t know who else is listening and believing that… but us? We’re like, “Oh God. When? Who?” You know what I mean? So that’s how I go about it, that’s why I’m not so… it ain’t a dude, some rapper we don’t know and he’s talking crazy. We know you, fam, from when you was a young boy. Rightfully so, I got to say this, he’s been with us for a while. And us learning the business… you know, I’mma say me, ‘cause he’s coming at me… it was times to where, I could’ve put his shit out and said fuck it, it do what it do. (But) I wanted an impact for lil’ homie, ‘cause songs that I thought was amazing, a lot of these deejays didn’t. And you know… he got his friends in the video saying he should’ve sold ten million records already and this and that. And I’m pretty sure that got to him and didn’t understand it no more. But he don’t know that… man, you got Papoose, you got a lot of rappers, man… Saigon… a lot of people that their albums ain’t out. And I think they grinded way longer than him; way longer. C’mon, B, there’s n****s on the grind still right now that ain’t drop yet; that’s hotter than you and putting out a better effort. (J-Hood) was more or less sitting back and (saying), “Yeah, this is hot” and “We know it’s hot, it’s gonna do this and that”. And he’s so stupid ‘cause after a while, all these questions about Hood and D-Block is gonna stop. You’re going to have to put up some music. What’s going to happen? It ain’t going to be no more dis records. Now you’re off (the label), where’s the hotness? Motherf*****s gonna see like, “Damn, all right. This s**t is wack”. But God bless him, that’s the way I’m going. Just stop the tough talk if you ever hear this interview. Please chill out with that. You’re going to do this and that, c’mon now. And it’s so crazy ‘cause you don’t even hear us talking like that to Hood.
Angel: I don’t want to throw gasoline on the fire, but you put this out there, man. And n****s want to know. You said in one interview that J-Hood’s step-pops “touched on his body”….
(Sheek laughs his a** off)
Angel: I mean, you want to go into specifics on that or you just want to leave that alone?
Sheek: You know at the time, when Hood kept coming back like, “Yo, my father, man… he keeps putting his hands on me”. And I’m like, “What’s he doing?” (Hood would say), “Nothing, man. He keeps doing this and that”. You’re telling me, but you don’t want to tell me. So me, I clip up, go over there. Boom boom… knock on the door like, “Yo, Dog”. I get at (his stepfather). Get at him. Hood hiding behind there, his mom screaming. That’s how that happened. I’m like, fam, anybody who put that work in for you, how you go that route and jump out the window like that? Even if ya’all ain’t getting along musically… You know what a n**a could’ve said? “You know what, things ain’t happening for me (at D-Block). They’re moving at a different pace that’s not for me. Them is still my n****s, though, but I’m doing my own thing.” Everything would’ve been great. He would’ve been off (the label) and you got to respect that. If you know n****s put it work, fam, that situation and a thousand more… c’mon, B. Ain’t nobody getting nobody off you now. I ain’t making no phone calls for these little wolves that want you. He left out a whole bunch of stuff; but rightfully so, him being with us and not putting it out… I just wanted a major impact for him… I guess he couldn’t withstand that, and following our lead he just tried to do what we did with Puff. But he just went about it wrong, got on stage with (D-Block enemy) 50 (Cent). You know how many people don’t respect that? What are you doing? I thought you was cut from a whole other cloth. I got no problem with 50, but it was more or less like, “(J-Hood), you’re hanging yourself”. Look, 50 got no problem saying, “Yeah, you get up here and you dis Fat Joe and them… you dis D-Block”. C’mon, you got to know when you’re being (used).
For music & information on Sheek Louch visit www.myspace.com/sheeklouchlox.
For more stories & work by Dirty Angel visit www.supremearsenal.com or www.myspace.com/blackpacino.