Tuesday, 13 September 2011

E.D.I Interview With Vibe

In remembrance of Tupac, fifteen-years after his passing, his original group The Outlawz released a brand new project today, dubbed Perfect Timing. VIBE caught up with ringleader E.D.I. Mean to discuss the new album, Pac’s legacy and his influence on the hip-hop generation.

VIBE: What do you guys have in store for us with this new album?

E.D.I. Mean: The album is called Perfect Timing. We got about 15 songs on there, just high-level Outlawz music. We got features on there from everybody from Lloyd, Scarface, Krayzie Bone, Trae da Truth, and Z-Ro –we got them on the same record (:52-:54). We also got production from a lot of exciting, new up and coming producers. We also got one on there from Focus, who used to be down with Aftermath, who still is. It's our best work to date.

Seems like this album was a long time in the making, the group is all back together.
This project actually took us some months to do and it also marks the return of Hussein Fatal back into the group format. He was the first to go solo pack in '96, after Pac passed so this is 15-years in the making for him being back in the group and it's just perfect timing for some real music and some honesty to come back.
Rap music has changed so much since Pac left us, are we getting some of his warrior spirit with this project?
Absolutely and our album is going to take you through the gamut of emotions that we go through even in a day, like the ups and downs, the highs and lows, the goods and bads. This album reflects all of that. You're going to be album to party on this album and reflect. You're going to be able to reminisce about the people you've lost or any emotion as all that you might go through.

So are we going to hear any totally unreleased Tupac verses?
Nah, nah we don't do that anymore. Pac has put in enough work and then some. He's the hardest working dead man in the history of music. We're putting it to rest right now. In this album you're going to get 100% Outlawz along with features of the people that we vibe with musically and that we respect in the game and that's why they're all a part of this project. You want some more Pac go back to that old stuff; it still sounds new.

Can you tell us about one of your most personal or one of your favorite tracks on the album we should look out for?
I got a few, man, but right off the top of my head I would say the title track. "Perfect Timing" is the first song on the album. It's quintessential Outlawz music. It's what people come to know and love from us post-Pac. That's one of my favorites. Also the one Focus did for us called "Keep it Lit." It takes it back to the 90s era. The album kind of gives you a 90s vibe mixed with what's going on nowadays.

It's like an updated perspective from the Outlawz about what's going on today?

Were there any “Dear Pac” letters or tracks dedicated to him?
Being that our work is heavily inspired by Tupac, you get that vibe on every song. Like on "Perfect Timing," I can almost hear Pac on this track. We got a song on there called "Remember Me" and I think a lot of people, when they hear it it's going to remind them of a Tupac song. So I'll point to that one as far as being a somewhat dedication to him or something like that.

Do you see his influence in young rappers today?
It's all through the rap game. It's definitely going to be all through us because we were the ones that knew him for real. Of course Pac's spirit is going to loom over this industry for many more years to come. So people probably didn't think it would last this long and we see they were wrong about that.

How hard was it for you guys to actually put the album out on Tupac's 15 year anniversary? Was that something you guys planned for a while or did it kind of come up recently?
It kind of came together like that. Actually we were planning on putting this album out in early 2011, but you know how the music industry goes –clearances and paperwork kind of delays projects sometimes, so it delayed our project and our label was like "September looks like the ideal month," and we were like "Damn the 13 falls on a Tuesday, so why not." Let's turn a negative into a positive for us and everybody else.

So this album is like a celebration of his life?
We never had an album that dropped around that anniversary or his birthday. We never wanted to play to that kind of thing, but this year it just felt right to put it out on September 13. Like I said the loyal listeners and the diehard Outlawz fans are all anxiously waiting and they're ready to celebrate on September 13.

This year Pac’s name was everywhere in hip-hop with Meek Mill and Ross' "Tupac Back” record. How do feel about it?
It's one of the hottest records out right now. We did own special G-mix for it and put it on our last mixtape Killuminati 2K11. That's all over the streets and all over the internet. That record did a lot for it. You got Pac popping up in everybody's verses, lines. People trying to remake his movies and turn them into videos. Soulja Boy was talking about doing Juice over. Pac is just one of those figures in music, not just rap, but in music period, that’s his legacy, his spirit, just won't die, no matter how hard people try. The more you try to stop it the bigger it grows. I think Meek Millz' "Tupac Back" record helped it, but it was kind of already going in that direction and I think they just picked up on the energy and did it themselves.

Did you have a chance to meet up with Meek?
Nah, nah, we never had a chance to meet up with Meek, but we ran into Ross on Pac's 40th birthday party that we do every year down in Atlanta, hosted by my homeboy Mike Epps and he came to the show and we showed appreciation for him for doing what they do to keep my homebody's name. They helping keep it alive in these streets and Rick Ross sent the love back. It's all love. We appreciate the gesture. If I know Pac like I know him, he would appreciate the fact that his name is still beating out of everybody's car, on the radio every day. I think he would appreciate that.

Even with Soulja Boy, he must've been like five years old when 2pac was popping. What were your initial thoughts when you heard he wanted to remake Juice?
You know what's crazy? I heard Justin Bieber say Tupac was his favorite rapper because his mom used to play Tupac when he was a little boy so it's no surprise to me man because when you make music for the people and you got a message in your music, it's going to impress generations to come. We've already seen it with Bob Marley and how people that love Bob Marley weren't even alive when he was alive and doing his thing When you're a great artist and you write music for the people and there is a message in it, your message is going to endure for decades to come and if these up and coming rappers want to learn anything through Pac–learn that from Pac, don't learn all the bravado, all the shit you've seen on TV, don't take that and emulate that; emulate the fact that this man cared enough about the people. He wanted you to dance half of the time, but for the most part he wanted you to learn something and take something from his music at the end of the day that could enrich your life.

He had so many sides to him I think a lot of the times some of the younger kids get caught up in the Thug Life imagery and not even get into his whole story and everything that he stood for.
Absolutely and that's the mistake being made. I guess Pac's charisma and his in your face attitude kind of blinds people to the fact of what was really going on under the surface and that's unfortunate. I also feel people should dig a little digger and don't just go for what you see on the screen, dig a little deeper into the man and really get to know him and what he was about.
Is there a story that you would want to share with people about Pac that would surprise people?
Pac literally saved lives. He never did it for press or for media. I've seen this man pay people's rent when they were about to get evicted. He'd go to the desolate part of downtown LA and hand out hundred dollar bills. His heart was as big as a house, literally. I don't think people really know that about Pac. I wouldn't even call it charity because he felt like it was his responsibility. He did it because it was because it had to be done. I also don't think people know the comedian side of Pac. Pac was a comedian. He loved to laugh and loved to have a good time. He wasn't just always serious and militant and ready for war.

I heard that behind the scenes, Pac was like a jokester, playing pranks on everybody, trying to get people to laugh all the time.
Absolutely, if the mood was down in the room he would absolutely pick it up. That's one of the things that I miss about him, probably top two or three, is the fact that he loved to laugh. He wanted to make everybody else laugh and have a good time.

I wished more people would have saw his other side.
Unfortunately, he had to get up out of here too soon.

Do you think Pac would still be rapping if he was still here or do you think he would have shifted into doing more charity work or movies?
It's hard to say. We've gotten that question a lot over the years and one thing I never try to do is speculate what Pac would be doing right now because he was an ever evolving person. We're always evolving, but Pac kind of evolved a little bit faster than some of the rest of us. The stuff he did and had to go through at 22, 23, 24, most people don't really have to go through that shit until later on in their life, so it's hard what he would be doing right now or where he would be at. I know one of the things he was talking about before he passed was getting into politics. You could definitely maybe say that would be one of the things that he would be doing at 40, but like I said it's hard to say and I don't like to speculate.

All of us at VIBE are really looking forward to the next Outlawz project and see how hot you guys grow because you guys are really like his students, his soldiers...
Absolutely and we went from soldiers to generals and now we're trying to lead another generation of people. That's what we're here for. We're not just about taking money from the game and taking fame from the game. It's really about giving back at this point in our career because honestly we've gotten everything that we've ever wanted out of the game already; Pac made sure of that, so now it's up to us to give it back.

Is there anywhere where fans can see Outlawz on tour?
We're definitely going to be in a ghetto near you, touching the people. We're not going to be up in VIP away from the people; we're going to be with the people, so look for us after this album drop. We've been doing shows up in Canada all year because they've really been showing a lot of Outlawz love to us. Definitely look for us on the road. We're going to do a promo tour and we'll make sure everybody have the dates.

Is there anything else you want to let the people know?
Follow us on Twitter @TheOutlawz, get the mixtapes Killuminati 2K10 and 2K11 and pick up Perfect Timing September 13.

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