Friday, 26 August 2011

The Outlawz: All Eyez On Them

Every step an Outlaw takes is a tribute to their fallen founder, bigger-than-hip-hop icon Tupac Shakur. As Young Noble chops it up by phone on behalf of his reformed group, which includes fellow OG mem­bers E.D.I. Mean and Hussein Fatal, pride in their past and passion for their future are recurring themes. “I grew up with (late Outlawz member and close friend to Shakur) Kadafi and Fatal. They were the ones that basically brought me into the midst of it. I wasn’t even around on no rappin’ shit, I was just around on some young soldier shit, just ridin’ with the homies, man,” Noble recalls. The rapper featured prominently on what would be Shakur’s final work on this plane, the classic Don Killumanti record.

“It just so happened I was writin’ all these raps before Pac got outta jail. So when I got with the homies when Pac got out, I had a whole bunch of raps and shit, but I was around for a minute before Pac even heard me rap. When I just started putting it out there, he was like ‘Man, you’ve been rapping all this time and you didn’t say nothin’?’ It just happened how it happened, and I was the last official member to be in the group.”

The Outlawz have seen members come, watched them go, and even seen some return. Perfect Timing, their first official release with this established line-up, drops September 13—fifteen years to the day of Shakur’s passing. Discussing the upcoming Pac tribute show at Theatre Telus this Saturday, August 27 (where several local MCs will perform their own tributes to a hero), Noble clarifies that as much as it is an homage to their brothers, Outlawz stage a well-oiled show that mixes classics and new material.

“A lot of promoters like doing (tributes), and they pretty much draw the connection, basically saying ‘Everybody in this city who got love for Tupac and the Outlawz, you need to be at this concert, period.’ So it isn’t like something we came up with,” Noble explains. “(Shows) just be us comin’ and rockin’, and everything we do is in the memory and the honour of Tupac and Kadafi. That’s how we carry ourselves as men every day, in honour of them dudes and carryin’ the torch, so as far as I’m concerned, everything we do is for them. Even when we don’t say their names, it don’t make a differ­ence. They brothers, we gonna honour them.”

Last year, the group released no fewer than five volumes of “lost” material in a single day on iTunes. With a hot new mixtape to back it up, Killuminati 2K11, Noble convincingly offers that the new album is their best ever, and that despite the talent of guests such as Scarface, Bun B and Tech9ne, the three official Outlawz won’t be outshined.

“We walk with the people, we don’t walk above the people,” Noble says, describing their relationship to their Pac-worshipping audience, with whom they interact at shows, online and wherever they may find them. “Of course it gets repetitive. At the end of the day, we ain’t never be able to escape that. Pac was the greatest rapper ever to do this, and he’s gonna continue to be the greatest proba­bly ‘til there is no more rap. Us being affiliated, it comes with that.”

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