Thursday, 6 October 2011

Young Noble Interview With Yo! Raps Magazine

How’s it feel putting out an album like Perfect Timing in 2011?

Man, it feels great. It feels great putting out an album with that quality of music. The flipside of it is distribution, getting it to the fans. It’s a fucking headache.

It’s probably different from when you came up 20 year ago or so.

Yeah, not 20 years ago.


Yeah, basically.

Have you enjoyed the process?

Yeah, definitely. We love making music. To be in the game this long, you have to enjoy what you do. We’re really motivated by the fans, more than they know. When we go to shows, see people on the streets, and they don’t see us on TV everyday, or hear us on the radio everyday, but they listen to the music and they get it, that’s great. Real people across the world are rooting for us, for a minute. They inspire us to keep getting better.

I’m a junkie for Southern music. Paranoid has a Houston vibe to it. Was it a conscious decision to expand your sounds on this album?

Yeah, we tried to make it more upbeat. Our past albums were darker, focused on dark lyrics. I mean, all our albums we focus on our lyrics, but we wanted to make the music a little more feel-good. We wanted to get out of that dark mode, and give people a happier album. We wanted to cater to our female fan base a little more, which we never really did.

Who was it that said they’d never make a record for the ladies? I think Three 6 Mafia...

That’s their business.

Critics complained that some of the records on Perfect Timing didn’t quite mesh, sonically, but wouldn’t you call that diversity or progression?

Me too, man. I think when people even mention our name, they want to compare us to Tupac, or try to make us fill his shoes. We almost get downplayed because we came up under Tupac. I even read a review where the writer was bashing the whole album because it doesn’t sound like other stuff that’s out right now. Like, his favorite song on the album was So Clean, because he said it sounds like what’s going on right now. Music’s supposed to be about progression and originality. If you listen to our music from the beginning to now, we are ten times better than we’ve ever been, and our music doesn’t sound like any other music. It’s original music. We could make the greatest album ever, and they’d still be like, “The album’s super hot but it’d be a little better if there was an unreleased Pac verse on it.” It’s like, “What the fuck, man?” Pac has been dead for fifteen years. When are you going to give us some credit for being around this goddamn long, in this day and age where artists come and go every year and a half?

I enjoyed the progression.

I appreciate it, man. I mean, if you want to listen to good music, without all the ‘Pac this and that’, then it’s a great album. If someone can’t listen to this album and hear some good music on it, then you don’t have good taste in music.

You said you’re inspired by the fans. What’s your recipe for making good music?

It comes with experience. Going back to Pac, we were in the studio watching him make hit records, every single day we were in the studio. We know how to construct songs. If you listen to us, compared to any other artist, I think we might be the most versatile artists in the game. We can make something extremely deep, to where the grandmothers be like, “I love these Outlawz boys.” Or we can make something so goddamn hard, it’ll make a gangbanger ready to pop that in the CD deck and go do a drive-by. Take a song like Baby Don’t Cry, a song which touches people’s hearts, and has the ability to change people’s lives, in a positive manner. Other artists try to do it, but they don’t come across as sincere or genuine. I think Pac taught us how to make music that could actually stick to your gut. He diagnosed it as ‘ghetto gospel’. The only thing separating us from the rest of the dudes you see on TV, or on the radio everyday, is they got major labels behind them spending all this money to have them up there. We’ve been featured on over 70,000,000 records and never been signed to a major label. That’s like Guinness Book of World Records shit.

Was that your decision, to stay independent?

Both. When Pac passed, there were a whole lot of labels we could have signed to, and we decided to go with Death Row because we had all our music over there. It was a dumb decision on our part. We were young and didn’t understand the business. Once we got stuck at Death Row for two years, we decided we would go independent. A few different labels came to the table later, but they weren’t talking the kind of shit we wanted to hear. We got close to signing to Ca$h Money. We actually signed a contract. This was like 7 or 8 years ago. That deal didn’t go through. When people ask us why we aren’t on TV or the radio everyday, it’s because we don’t have that major push behind us. At the end of the day, we’re still doing this for the people who love the Outlawz’ music, and for the new cats who want to get into this Outlawz shit.

You mentioned Death Row. You’ve worked with Suge Knight. Why do people keep telling me he’s ‘tricky’? What does that mean?

I don’t even like going to the past like that. I don’t know what they mean. He’s a smart guy. That’s probably what they meant.

Do you live in L.A.?

No, we live in Atlanta.

You ever visit the West Coast?

Yeah, of course. We’re out there all the time.

How’s the city grown over the years?

L.A. is L.A.. I don’t really see too much growth. When I go out there, it’s still the same old L.A., still the bright lights of California, like it’s always been.

I’m pretty young, in my twenties. What did I miss in hip-hop during the early 90s, that you can’t really capture by buying the classics on iTunes?

Hmm, you were alive.

A baby.

Yeah, it was just the most historical, most classical era in hip-hop. It was a great time to be in the game. There was a lot of diversity. You had a lot of great artists making great music, from Pac to Snoop Dogg to The Dogg Pound to Ice Cube to Wu-Tang to Naughty by Nature to Mobb Deep to Nas to Biggie. There was an abundance of great talent being presented to the world. And all these guys were original. It wasn’t like Biggie was over there sounding like Snoop Dogg, or Tha Dogg Pound was over there sounding like Mobb Deep. Now, I live in Atlanta, and seven out of ten songs have the same tempo beat, talking about the same shit. Not to discredit anybody. I guess that’s just the nature of music today, but back then it was just a great era of music. I don’t know if there will ever be an era like that again. To me, the game’s getting worse. People claim that labels are going out of business, or you can blame it on the internet, bootlegging, downloading, but that’s really not the case. People are still buying records, yet record stores are about to go out of business because artists aren’t making the kind of records people would go and buy. I mean, hot club songs are hot for a minute, but what do you do in three months when it’s not hot anymore? A lot of these dudes never get heard again. You got the marketing guy, the A&R, they’re not even focused on music anymore, they’re focused on everything else, like your swag, the hairstyle you got, what kind of clothes you’re wearing. The A&Rs at these labels are looking at fads, instead of music that could be around for the next ten years. So they’re signing some guy out in Tennessee who’s got a hot record in the club, giving him $200,000, putting a single out, the shit does mediocre, and then they don’t get any money back from it, his album never comes out, and he’s shelved or kicked off the label. You might have Def Jam after a year or two, they may have signed twenty artists that you’ve never even heard about, and then two years go by and they’re cleaning house. They don’t want any of these artists anymore. They’re firing the people who signed them. It’s just crazy, man. People aren’t looking for real talent. They’re looking for the next fad. They’re looking for whoever comes out with the dumbest shit that might catch on, and get a million views on YouTube. They’ll sign him up, and the million views could have been an accident. They give him $400,000 and they’re not going to get any of that back. Labels are doing this consistently. One company goes under, so you got Def Jam ready to merge with Capitol.

You must be happy people are still listening to your music from the 90s.

I’m very happy about it. For us, it’s getting harder to sell records because of the distribution aspect. If you’re not on TV everyday, or on the radio everyday, you might have 30,000 people who would buy your CD in the first week, but the distribution company doesn’t see you on TV, and you don’t have a single on the radio, so they’re only ordering 2000 pieces from you. You could have done 30,000 in your first week, but now you’ve only got 2000 in the marketplace. That means you’ve got one CD in every state, or some shit like that, two or three stores in each state. I feel sorry for the next generation of artists, I really do.

Scarface has a great line on Pushin On. He says, “Here’s how to master the game, homie, surviving.” Do you think that line resonates outside of the rap game or outside the hood?

I think that line is the epitome of life. What he’s speaking about is the game of life, not the rap game. At the end of the day, surviving is the key, surviving and being free. He’s talking about surviving in life, how these young niggaz running wild getting themselves locked up, getting themselves killed, killing, just not surviving, man. Out here a lot of these young dudes have kids. I love that line though. That’s about as real as you can get.

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