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11-07-2009, 08:40 PM

Outlawz Interview: XXL Magazine
Oct. 2000

E.D.I. and partners Napoleon, Kastro and Young Noble are situated in a lounge at Burbank, Californias Enterprise Studios. The 2Pac proteges are explaining why they've got problems with Detroit's most famous rapper. The slightly pudgy E.D.I. sits between the bald-headed Kastro and the svelte Young Noble on a U-shaped couch, while the baby-faced Napoleon posts up across the room on a stiff-backed chair. But the crew might as well be in a boxing ring the way verbal jabs are being thrown around. "You can talk about Christina Aguilera and all of them," E.D.I. continues angrily, "but keep Pac's name out of your mouth, because that's dangerous to your health."

See, the Outlawz didn't appreciate Eminem saying that he likes to, "Pop the same shit that got 2Pac killed," on "Busa Rhyme," from Missy "Misdemeanor" Elliott's 1999 album, Da Real World. And they certainly didn't appreciate "Marshall Mathers," the title cut from Eminem's new LP, where he says he's, "Leaning out a window with a cocked shotgun/Driving up the block in the car that they shot 'Pac in."

"He says some shit that makes me think he's gay, because every time I hear him, he has 'Pac's name in his mouth," Napoleon adds heatedly. "We feel like he's on some disrespectful shit, because we don't hear him doing that shit about Biggie."

Below is the rest of the interview
"He's just annoying us right now," E.D.I. adds, overstating the obvious. He's getting on our nerves." But the melanin-deprived rapper isn't the only one who has the Outlawz vexed. In fact, there's an entire list of "Pac Biters" that the crew has issues with. "Master P, he could've stole a 'Pac rap book from 1984," Kastro fumes. "He could have kicked 30 of them raps. His brother C-Murder, he took a song that was not even released, remade it on his last album and then dedicated it to 'Pac. He was like, 'I'm going to steal your song, but Im going to dedicate it to you.' I don't know what they're thinking or what it was called. I dont listen to their music."

"Ja Rule, he dont know who he wants to be," Kastro continues, sounding slightly calmer. "Ja Rule will give it up and say ''Pac influenced me', but Master P, C-Murder, they act like it's their own style. They'll say that C-Murder dont sound like 'Pac in every magazine, and now they've got Krazy, another fake 'Pac."

And the drama continues.
"We've got a hit list, people that if they dont holler at us, there's going to be problems," Napoleon decalres. "Mobb Deep can't clear that up. Eminem, we want to hear what he's got to say. A lot of people dont know we're listening. When they get on mix tapes and talk shit, our people call us."

Like when Nas said, "Thug Life is mine" on Mobb Deep's "It's Mines," from 1999's Murda Muzik. Those words, the Outlawz say, erased all the goodwill Nas established in 1999 with his shout-out to 'Pac on I Am...'s "We Will Survive."

"If You give it up and say that 'Pac is your favorite rapper, even Eminem, then it's cool," E.D.I. says. "We understand that. Everybody's got an idol. But they dont want to say it."

In an age when any friend of a superstar seems to have a record deal, the Outlawz are contractless, despite having been 2Pac's best friends. And despite the platinum success of Still I Rise, their 1999 album of tracks they laced with 'Pac. Today, the Outlawz are suing Death Row and still mourning the losses of 2Pac and group member Kadafi, both of them murdered.

For some, the Outlawz are the last link to 2Pac and his legacy. That's why their debut album is a do-or-die situation. They have to protect 'Pac's memory with a stellar album. They also need to prove that they're worthy of their affiliation with 'Pac. Like their mentor, the members of the Outlawz are associated with West Coast, even though they hail from the East. Kastro, who is 'Pac's cousin, grew up in New York with E.D.I. in the late 1970's. Kadafi was 'Pac's Godbrother. After 2Pac worked with Kastro, E.D.I. and Kadafi in 1992, developing them as artists in their own right, Kadafi's mother kept telling 'Pac how a kid she knew could rap well and that when he was there, both of his parents were murdered in front of him.

"Pac heard the story of how he came up and it brought him to tears," E.D.I recalls. "He was like, 'I've got to meet this guy. He sounds like he's got to be with us." 'Pac clicked with the rapper he later named Napoleon and invited him to join the group in 1994. Kadafi had also grown up with Fatal, whom he introduced to 'Pac and initiated into the crew in 1995. Young Noble, who had grown up around the other members in Montclair, New Jersey, joined in 1996. Other artists, including Mussolini and Kormaini, have also been associated with the Outlawz, although none of them are in the studio as the group works on it's new album on this June evening.

Fatal, who released a 1998 album, In The Line of Fire, seems to be the only non-present member who is still affiliated with them. "Nothing really happened to Fatal." E.D.I. says. "He's still family. He's doing a little time right now. He'd definitely be on our album. We're on his album, on Rap-A-Lot. He chose to do his solo thing. He's a grown man and we're not going to stop him. The core of the family is still together."

It's a family that has been recording together for more than five years. Back then, E.D.I., Napoleon and Kastro almost signed with Interscope as Dramacydal, but the deal got nixed when 2Pac was about to get out of jail in 1995. 2Pac was super-loyal to Death Row's Marion "Suge" Knight for bailing him out, and he interacted with Death Row more than Interscope once he was freed. But his loyalty to the Outlawz never wavered. He featured them on both of his 1996 albums, All Eyez On Me and The Don Killuminati: The 7 Day Theory, his set as Makaveli.

The Outlawz say that 2Pac intended to sign them to his own future imprint, MAKAVELI RECORDS before he was shot and killed in September 1996 in Las Vegas. Kadafi witnessed that murder. A passenger in the car behind Suge's that night, Kadafi, 19 at the time, was the only witness who told Las Vegas police he could identify the shooter. Two months later, he himself was shot in the face at point blank range in Irvington, New Jersey. The Outlawz won't discuss the murders, except to say how difficult it has been for them to succeed under the circumstances. "It's been hard without 'Pac and Kadafi," E.D.I says, "but we're going to do it."

After the tragic death of their leader, the Outlawz found their career in limbo. "We were in the mix and we were in the process of signing and we thought we were going to be on Death Row," KASTRO asserts. "But when he passed away, everything got ****ed up. We moved away from California for a minute. As time passed, everybody was mourning, but there was just something that brought us to Death Row. We saw 'Pac's situation with them. In our eyes, he was on Death Row, so we've got to be on Death Row. It wasnt like Death Row was banging on our door, even though a lot of labels were. We banged down Death Row's door and they were like, 'Come **** wit Us'."

Adds Napoleon: "We were confused. We were like, 'Pac rode for Death Row so we want to go back to Death Row and ride', because after 'Pac died and Suge got locked up, they were downing Death Row. We wanted to ride for them and bring them back, because basiclly that was what 'Pac was doing. But as time went by, we wanted to do our own thing. It isn't anything personal against Suge and Suge don't have nothing personal with us. We never disrespected him and he never disrespected us. But it got to a point where we wanted our own label. How could we work with someone who's locked up?"

At any rate, Rap-A-Lot Records' Lil J was the only label owner who would record the Outlawz, placing them on the Geto Boys' 1998 album, Da Good Da Bad & Da Ugly. Although it was rumored that Rap-A-Lot had signed the Outlawz, they now say they are not on the label, even though they say Death Row and Rap-A-Lot almost worked out a deal about a year ago that would have made that rumor reality.

Yukmouth, who put the Outlawz on at Rap-A-Lot, was a good friend of 'Pac and wanted to work with the Outlawz on his own music. He included them on "Do Yo Thug Thang", a street favorite from his 1998 solo album, Thugged Out: The Albulation. "Those mutha****as are 'Pac," Yuk, who stopped by the Outlawz's recording session, says emphatically. "The movement goes on. The Outlawz are the hardest shit moving. They're continuing with the 'Pac legacy. NOBLE is one of the rawest ones. NAPOLEON has that street, hard shit. E.D.I, he got that straight-to-the-point hard shit with style. KASTRO's got that lazy flow. It all comes together like a pot of gumbo."

It's a pot of gumbo that has proven to be worth millions of dollars. Interscope's Still I Rise from 2Pac+Outlawz has sold more than 1.3 million copies, even though it has been almost four years since 2Pac's death. Also, it marked the first time that the Outlawz shared top billing on an album.

The group members say that Interscope needed to offer fans a new version of 2Pac music, which is why they were featured prominently on the album. "Interscope was putting out these 'Pac albums, and they were running out of formats," KASTRO opines. "They were like, '**** it, let's put out this 'Pac/Outlawz album just to change it up and get us some sales.'"

11-07-2009, 08:40 PM
Plus, E.D.I says, the group recorded too many songs with 2Pac for them not to thrust into the spotlight. In fact, he says, the group has been an integral part of each of 2Pac's posthumous releases. "We've been involved with every project that's come out since 'Pac passed, from the beginning to the mixing and everything," E.D.I says. "[Still I Rise] was another project coming up. Afeni, 'Pac's mother, made it so that nothing would come out without our hearing it and putting our approval on it because we know how 'Pac would want it to sound."

And, largely on the strength of 'Pac's name, the album has gone platinum. "On 'The Good Die Young', you hear what he's talking about," says E.D.I. "All of the shit that he's talking about is still happening. 'Babies catching murder cases/Scared to laugh in the sun'. How many 6-year-olds are shooting other 6-year-olds? He saw that back in '96. Every time I hear that, it sends chills up my back because Im like, 'Where did that come from?'."

The same could be asked for the May lawsuit the outlawz filed against Death Row, Suge Knight and Interscope Records, seeking damages in excess of $1 million for allegedly interfering with their career. According to published reports, the lawsuit alleges that the group signed with Death Row in March 1997 and delivered an album that the imprint refused to release unless the group turned over its publishing to Knight. It also alleges that the group's affiliation with Death Row ended in May 1999 and that Death Row instructed Interscope Records not to promote Still I Rise. "All that lawsuit shit, that aint personal," Young Noble says. "It's just business. That happens everyday in the White offices. But they dont blow it up like that."

On June 23rd, the Outlawz were granted an injunction that prohibits Death Row from interfering with the Outlawz's ability to contract for or market their services, according to Outlawz Recordz CEO, Big G. A Death Row spokesman said that the Outlawz are still on the company's roster.

Adds E.D.I of the lawsuit: "It's just another thing that we've got to get over. It's been a long-ass road but aint none of us ready to stop and aint nothing going to make us stop. Whatever's in the way, it's just going to he there for the moment."

For the moment, the Outlawz are focusing on their debut album, which they promise will be released on Outlaw Recordz by the end of October. Although the group would not say who its label will be affiliated with, they did say that 2Pac will not be featured on the collection.

"Right now, we cant really ride on his shoulders too tough," Kastro says of 2Pac. "Im sure people are going to say, 'We want to hear the Outlawz with 'Pac.' But We cant put out our album with him on there because we wont be able to establish our identity. Thats what we really need."

Later at the studio, Kastro excitedly emerges from the vocal booth. He's been working on an untitled song for the album, and his partners reward him with a series of pounds after he delivers a particularly punishing verse. Completed songs such as "Blessing" and "Nobody Cares" ring the type of emotion, promise and conviction that made 2Pac a hip-hop favorite. The set's tracks, which were produced by mostly newcomers like 23 Productions, Femi, Mr.Lee, and Quimmy Quim, vary from placid and smooth to aggressive and driving.

While the Outlawz may have been schooled by 'Pac, their sound owes little to his more recent, most popular work. Where 2Pac's most famous beats and flows were smooth, radio-friendly and easily digestible, the Outlawz's album is filled unbridled intensity, on both the lyrical and production sides. It appears to be a strong collection, one that will not be confused with anything 2Pac or his estate has put out in the last five years. By the group's count, this album will be the sixth that they have recorded, even though it will be their first release.

That's WHY, after recording and touring extensively with 2Pac and being in the limelight for several years, the crew remains driven, especially since many of today's chart-topping rappers bite their mentor's style. "We havnt gotten ours yet," Young Noble says forcefully. "'Pac has been gone and we've been on albums that have sold more than 20 million copies and we havn't put out our own record yet. We're hungry. We've got a definate stop in the game.

"The more people that are against us, the more we want to do it," he continues. "We havn't put out an album yet, but we're going to take the game over. Straight up."

What's My Outlawz Name?
E.D.I, named after former Ugandan President Idi Amin: "He chose that for me because it fit my physical description, him (Idi Amin) being the size he was and me being the size I am. Also, he just a hog and if I didnt have that in me, 'Pac wanted it in me. It's not like I have his picture on the wall. But I like the fact he was a masher. I did study about him, and a lot of the things they said he did, Im not with-- having sex with little girls, raping people and cannibalism. There was a lot of wild shit he was into."

Kastro, named after Cuban President Fidel Castro:
"I dont give a damn about Castro. I never studied him. I've just seen him on TV. He's probably a good man, probably a bad man. I know America makes him look evil, but Cuba makes him look good. To me, it makes no difference. A lot of people tell me I look Cuban."

Napoleon, named after French Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte:
"Pac gave me that name. Napoleon was a short man, but he's a hard nigga. He dont take no shit. 'Pac read a lot, so I figured that when he came up with our names when he was in jail, he was the type that felt you and your personality and gave you a name that would fit. When I first came to 'Pac, I was a short, wild nigga with the temper. I read on Napoleon and I like his ways."

Young Noble:
"I've had that name before I got in the group. My alias is Marbles, though. 'Pac gave me that name because I used to mess up on the microphone when I was spitting. The whole verse would be good, but when I'd get to the end, Id start messing up."

Kadafi, named after Libyan Colonel Muammar al-Qadaafi, according to E.D.I: "Kadafi was another name that 'Pac picked. I think that there were little physical things in everybody that made 'Pac give them the names. With Kastro, it was the goatee. Kadafi, it was the head. Kadafi's hair was real wild and curly. We picked these names because they were all enemies of America."

theres more interviews at that link is posted

11-07-2009, 09:01 PM
Outlawz interview to Source Magazine

The Source Oct. 2000
Blood is thicker than water. But ink is even more powerful, especially green ink on legal tender. Money can split a family real quick. When you mix red and green with Black folk, a lotta people get painted into a corner. Loyalties get tested. The Outlawz are intimately familiar with this dysfunctional rainbow. Their familes, friendships and careers have been shaded by it's clashing colors. With tomorrow far from promised they approach life with an everyday desperation. Maybe that's why their new album is titled Ride Wit' Us or Collide Wit' Us.

The Outlawz have known eachother since childhood. Their parents were invloved in the Black Power movement together. This activist mentality was passed down through genes and dead homiez. It drives their music. "I think that all our music is political, man," 22-year-old Napoleon says. "We just do it with a ruggedness, so that the rugged street niggas gonna listen to it. That's the way Pac gave it to us."

Kastro, 23, is Tupac Shakur's first cousin. Pac's moms, Black Panther alumnus Afeni Shakur, is his aunt. E.D.I's father was a close friend of Kastro's mother. The fourth Outlaw, Young Noble, 22, has been a friend of the others since their days in New Jersey. Napoleon's little brother, Kamillon, 19, is an Outlawz label-mate. The group's manager, G, is E.D.I's uncle. You get the picture. A family affair.

Sitting in the lounge of North Hollywood's Enterprise Recording Studio, sporting a red shirt and caramel baldie, Napoleon reflects on the significance of being a family full of Outlawz: "It helps the group because we're like brothers, where we can just be honest," Napoleon says. "If we **** up, we can go to one another like, 'Yo, how this verse sound?' Everything we do is honest. We just got that relationship where we can keep it real with eachother, man. You can never go wrong when ya got some real brothers around you that's gon' pull ya coat when ya out of line, gon' tell you when something's corny."

E.D.I. (Malcolm Greenidge), 26, picks up the thought and adds his baritone to the conversation: "I feel like, us being a family, us being as tight as we are, has kept us together through a lotta shit that would've broke up another group. If we weren't this tight, niggas would've been like, '**** it, I'm going solo. I can get more money without you mutha****as.' That's how other niggas roll."

The Outlawz have stayed true despite monumental tests of family loyalty. On September 7, 1996, following a Mike Tyson fight in Las Vegas, they were in the limousine caravan riding behind Tupac when he was killed. Pac had reached back and brought along some of his oldest friends. The Outlawz recorded with him on the Me Against The World, All Eyez On Me, Supercop soundtrack and Makaveli, among many other projects. It wasn't strictly business.

Napoleon (Mutah Wasin Shabazz Beale), leaning forward on the couch, blurts a mixture of pride and hurt: "When we rolled with Pac, he didn't look at it like it was a group, he looked at it as family. He was like a father to us--and a brother and a mother at the same time. He was putting us on game. Pac would say, 'This is what we gon' do man. We gon' get somebody out the crew to become a lawyer. When we get kids, we gon' put money away for college.' Our relationship with him was way bigger than the rap game. He talked to us about investments, how you keep your family straight."

A month after Tupac's murder, Kadafi, his long-time friend ("godbrother") and an Outlawz member was accidentally shot--by Napoleon's cousin. "When Kadafi got murdered, it was by my cousin. They was both ****ed up. What I hear is that my cousin had some words with Kadafi while he was playing with a gun. The gun clicked off. To me, it's an accident; some people will say it was murder. I'm going with my cousins's theory. I flew to New Jersey, talked to my cousin and made him turn himself in. It hurt me because that's my family. I love the shit out of my cousin. I love the shit out of Kadafi. He brought me into this rap shit."

Napoleon's emotion-filled voice crackles in the suddenly shrinking lounge, then fades into silence. E.D.I looks at his friend then steps into the awkward space. "Napoleon's cousin accidentally murdered my cousin," he says, "He wasn't my blood cousin, but I grew up with him since the dirty-ass drawers. But he didnt' have nothing to do with that shit. Napoleon wasn't even there. He was sleeping next to me when the shit happened. So not even for one second did I think about, 'Damn, I can't **** with this nigga'. If it would have been anybody else, it would have been an automatic beef; it would have been, like, murder, know what I mean? It was like the worst possible situation, a ****in' nightmare... but Napoleon's still my brother."

The Outlawz circled the wagons and pushed forward. They signed with Death Row Records in March 1997. According to Outlawz attorney Steven Lowe, after the masters were delivered in January 1998, there was a "discussion" about whether the group would sign over publishing to Suge Publishing, Death Row CEO Marion "Suge" Knight's company, or retain the publishing rights themselves.

"When my clients refused to sign over their publishing, they became personas non gratis," Lowe says via phone from his Los Angeles office. "They were asked to leave the house Death Row had been renting for them. [In court documents, Death Row claims that the Outlawz were evicted because of numerous neighbor complaints and because members of the group were engaged in the selling of marijuana--calims that the collective vigorously deny.] Death Row initially refused to release the album, and when Still I Rise finally was released in December 1999, Death Row engaged in practices designed to undermine the success of the project, including refusing to promote the album and refusing to allow the Outlawz to conduct interviews to promote it themselves."

This past April, Lowe filed a $5 million federal lawsuit on behalf of the Outlawz, claiming unfair business practices and intentional interference with prospective economic advantage. On June 23, the group was granted a preliminary injunction prohibiting Death Row from interfering with their professional advancement.

Despite the legal wranglings, the Outlawz insist they have no problem with Death Row. "Ain't no beef," E.D.I says emphatically. "No beef with nobody. We handled our business face-to-face. We went to see them, sat down and talked with them. Strictly business; nothin' personal. You're not gonna hear no records with us dissing Death Row, and you're not gonna hear their artists dissing us. Strictly business."

The mythology of the gangsta rapper upsets reality in the first round every year. The real human beings never even get off the bench. There are Similac receipts, child support case numbers and light bills with 5pm deadlines inside that red or blue rag. The lumpy snot of missing fathers. We unfold its tight creases and find someone we can feel. Someone pressed by the weight of judgement in the eyes of those who love him. Someone looking for someone to show him how to be a man, to be a father. Nearly all the Outlawz, including Tupac, speak often of this void in their lives.

"I ain't have my pops," begins Noble. "My mom was there, but the first 16 years of my life, she was on drugs, know what I mean? So she wasn't really there. I loved my mom to death, but I basicly raised myself. That is the influence on my music."

Maybe it's something about late night that allows young Black men to speak this way. Self-described real niggas getting some real nigga shit off their chests. They talk into the early morning, clearing a trail through concrete childhoods. A path, not to justify ill behavior, but to understand it.

"I had my mother and father in the beginning," Napoleon slowly adds in the New York accent that surfaces when difficult subject matter comes up. "A tragedy happened when I was 3 or 4. They got murdered, know what I mean? The thing is, I didn't really trip. I grew up with my grandmother and she took me through that shit so raw."

All these Black confessions, ghetto Hail Mary's, are not meant to elicit pity. They are simply part of the process of creating bonds that can survive spilled blood and green ink on legal tender. This is how loyalty goes from slogan to way of life. And this is how one creates real family.

"I didn't look at it like I lost nobody," Napoleon continues. "The only thing that ****ed me up is I got a lot of punk-ass uncles. Never been there for me like a father. I never had a father figure until I met 'PAC.

11-07-2009, 09:40 PM
i read the hole thing and WOW.. thats was alot of reading lol

11-07-2009, 10:33 PM
Never seen this b4 nice.

11-08-2009, 08:26 AM
Was an intersting read and was new to me, so thanks.

11-08-2009, 01:47 PM
the outlawz clearly havent been too thrilled with anything lately :S
i think they took eminems shit talking a little too personally.
eminem is eminem.... thats what he does... he talks shit... LOL
the illest whiteboy to ever rape the industry if u ask me.... LOL
thx for the interview Armond!!

11-08-2009, 02:07 PM
i read the hole thing and WOW.. thats was alot of reading lol
it was a nice read to

11-09-2009, 03:57 AM
Have never seen this interview before, thanks for sharing Armond. Have printed it, will read it, when I get a minute :)