Styles Of Beyond is one of those groups that have been around for a long time. What began as a group of friends became much more and those friendships have turned into other group bonds as well. S.O.B. member Ryu is currently a member of numerous collaboratives and ironically it was perhaps his mother that would change his music career forever.
During the L.A. Riots in the early '90s Ryu’s mother requested that he live with her, moving him from Long Beach to the Valley, which would be the place where he would later meet and become long-time friends with Linkin Park member Mike Shinoda (a/k/a Fort Minor).
“I didn’t know anybody out there so he introduced me to Shinoda and Mike had all the equipment in his room so naturally we started rapping together cause I guess in the area I lived at there weren’t many rappers who knew what the hell they were doing and since I was from a neighborhood where you really had to rap good I guess people started to gravitate towards me because of that,” Ryu said.
Perhaps the biggest news regarding the Styles Of Beyond camp is the lack of news surrounding the group. On hiatus the past few years, S.O.B. is now back at it and releasing work together. HipHopDX recently talked with Ryu about why they came back together and finally release Reseda Beach and how they originally met Grammy-winning singer Michael Buble.
Ryu Updates On Styles Of Beyond's Status, Recording
HipHopDX: Man what’s been up with Ryu and/or Styles of Beyond recently?
Ryu: As far as the group goes, we really haven’t done anything musically. We’ve kind of worked on separate projects. I just finished up the new Demigodz record, which is going to come out this year. I’ve been working on other things aside from S.O.B. but me and my partner Todd have been working so we’re gonna have projects we just don’t have names yet that we’re working on as well but S.O.B. hasn’t really done much of anything aside from putting this record out.
DX: Yeah, Reseda Beach is coming out after fans knowing about it for a long time. What does it mean to finally put this out and what do you think fans can expect?
Ryu: I mean I wouldn’t expect anything, should they expect another S.O.B. record? I guess it depends if this record gets any attention. We’ll keep rapping as long as people give a shit, you know? But, I mean we didn’t really care about putting out this record anyways, it’s just like the fans wanted it so we kind of felt that we were being selfish by not giving it to them so that was the reason we did this in the first place and if they want us to continue on then we will.
Ryu Explains Styles Of Beyond Making Friends With Michael Buble
DX: Everyone’s been able to hear your song “Damn” featuring Michael Buble. I was wondering in the first few seconds of the song how this would work but it comes together nicely. How did this track all come together?
Ryu: It’s kind of a funny story. We actually met him at a Grammy party a few years ago. We would go to the Grammy’s and kind of like not know anybody so we would hide in the corner by the free booze and just sit there and drink and smoke cigarettes and it turns out that Buble liked doing the same thing so he came up and kind of was by our table and kind of felt at home around us and we started chopping it up and we ended up exchanging e-mail addresses and we asked him to do a record with us and he did it and he actually did it live. We went to New York and did it with him and I was surprised he did it but he did. We actually did it twice because he did it once in Vancouver and we wanted him to make some revisions so we wanted him again in New York. So that’s how that came about and plus we were label mates anyway, we were both on Warner so it wasn’t that big of a deal.
DX: Yeah that’s interesting. You guys are also working with Mike Shinoda for this album, someone you guys are used to putting in work with. Was it only natural to get him back in on this? What has his producing touch done to this project?
Ryu: Yeah, well pretty much we’ve been working with Mike [Shinoda] as long as S.O.B. has been together and putting out music. We all started together, we used to do demos in his bedroom. Mike produced even on the first Styles Of Beyond record [2000 Fold], so us working together was such a natural thing and as far as what his role was on the album, we kind of just trust his direction on things. What we do is he’s the executive producer on the record and what that entails is us just doing a bunch of songs and listening back to them and him telling us which ones are good and which ones aren’t, what we should do with certain ones and just giving us a gang of notes. He was totally involved with it and then he also provided beats for us too. I forget all the ones he did on there but I know he did “Second To None.” He polished this record for us because we were on a major label when we did this, we couldn’t just necessarily go in there and do 68-bar verses on every song and no hooks and stuff like that so it had to be somewhat acceptable for the label so he helped polish our sound a little bit.
DX: Yeah speaking of Mike too, you guys started working with him before he went on to Linkin Park. Did you ever see a change in his attitude or musical style before and after?
Ryu: For the first question, yeah definitely, I mean as far as how he as a person, he’s always been the same, he hasn’t changed a bit since we were kids, he’s the same in that aspect. Musically, I’ve seen him do a night and day change. I guess that kind of goes with anybody when they get older and realize what sucks and what’s cool, he’s the same way, musically he’s in a really good direction right now. When he first started off he was like, it was a lot of heavy guitars and he was rapping his ass off and shit like that but now he’s getting into like the art of making music. He’s in a good position where he can do that, where he’s in a part where he can afford to experiment and stuff now, they’ve been around long enough where they can do that.
DX: How did Mike Shinoda and Styles Of Beyond meet originally?
Ryu: Well as it turns out I used to live in Long Beech when I was a kid and during the riots, my mom had ended up being engaged to a sergeant at Englewood Police Department, he lives up there in the Valley so when the riots popped off, my mom was like, “You gotta get outta Long Beach,” so she came and picked me up because I didn’t live with my mom when I was a teenager, she came and picked me up and moved me out there to go to school in the Valley. My man Chris 007, he ended up being Styles Of Beyond’s manager, I met him and he was best friends with Shinoda. I didn’t know anybody out there so he introduced me to Shinoda and Mike had all the equipment in his room so naturally we started rapping together 'cause I guess in the area I lived at there weren’t many rappers who knew what the hell they were doing and since I was from a neighborhood where you really had to rap good I guess people started to gravitate towards me because of that. So Mike had equipment in his room and we just started working, making demos and stuff like that and we just ended up being friends. He knew how to do artwork so, he designed the S.O.B. logo, he was the first one to come up with the S.O.B. logo. He would do graphic design for us and he would do Linkin Park at the same time and the rest is history really. We went on to sell zero records and he went on to sell 30,000 million records. [Laughs]
Ryu Talks Styles Of Beyond's Reseda Beach
DX: [Laughs] People were waiting for this Reseda Beach album for a long time and you all were on hiatus for a while, which helped put a delay on this one. What made you guys come back together and get this one done and out there?
Ryu: Well the reason we were on hiatus was because when we actually left Warner Bros. [Records] and after doing this record it just kind of like everyone was burned out and everything just kind of went through the ringer so we didn’t really have any plans on doing Styles Of Beyond shit, so we didn’t really have any interest in doing anything Styles Of Beyond and it had nothing to do with each other as group members, we’ve always been friends but I think it was just we were tired of the whole situation so everybody kind of pursued their own things after we got out of the record deal and then I think as time went on and everyone kind of healed from that situation and we kind of got to look back on the album with fresh ears and just being on Twitter and Facebook and every single day somebody would ask me about the record and when’s it coming out and all this kind of shit and I didn’t even really have the energy to put it out, we didn’t care, that’s what it came down to, we just didn’t care. We could have been put the record out five years ago but we just didn’t have the energy to do it and so many people kept on asking about it and it was actually my man Celph Titled who kind of forced us to do it. He was like, “Yo man let’s put out this record. I’ll do the physicals and put out the dirty version.” Celph Titled was kind of the catalyst for putting this one out so we agreed to do it and that’s it.
DX: If people are feeling this one would you guys consider doing another S.O.B. record after this one and establishing a future?
Ryu: Yeah, absolutely, I wouldn’t mind. I’d like to tour with S.O.B., we never tour that often, we’ve never toured that often. I’d like to do a tour, maybe hit South By Southwest and do all the regular shit that other groups do, I’d be down to do that and then put together another record. Like I said, if the demand’s there for it, I’d love to do it. It’s not like we’re not working on shit anyways, like me and Tak are working on some shit right now but it’s for a collaborative project that we’re doing. My man Gravity Christ, we’re working with him too and that project is absolutely bizarre, it’s just crazy, fucking robotic shit. [Laughs] I think the problem with Styles Of Beyond is we’re never consistently sticking to one style of shit that we do and I guess that’s why we’re Styles Of Beyond. I think if we consistently made the same shit for years, we’d have a bigger following but I think we lose people on albums and gain people on albums…
DX: Right, 'cause you lose people that aren’t feeling the new stuff but gain people who like this different style…
Ryu: Right we have the most bizarre kind of fan base because we also did the Fort Minor record [The Rising Tied] with Mike Shinoda, which was commercial and we sold like a million records on that thing so we kind of have a lot of fans that come from Linkin Park’s fan base and then we got underground fans and then I got fans from Get Busy Committee, Tak has his own fans so it’s kind of hard to cater to all those people at the same time so I can’t really call what people would expect from an album like this. I guess just expect what you usually do, which is you’re going to get a record that ain’t like the last one.
DX: Yeah, expect the unexpected. Also something kind of outside of music that involves your music, a lot of S.O.B. material has been involved in other commercial endeavors. I remember when I played the hell out of Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2, your song “Subculture” was on it and I remember that being one of my songs on that soundtrack. And your music has been featured on a lot of other non-musically related ventures. Why do you think your music has always been perfect accompanying music?
Ryu: I don’t know, I feel like we just get lucky I guess, somebody hears it and wants to put it out. I also think we have a universal sound even though sometimes is can be left of center, I think that we’re conscious enough as rappers that we like to make stuff that is pleasing to the ear and we don’t just go off on crazy tangents and stuff. We’ve always been kind of hook-minded people like make sure there’s good choruses and we like band beats and I think that appeals to every age group and every genre. People just like the music and we’re always conscious about the product that we put out and a lot of it has to do with being lucky too.
DX: What’s next for you specifically and what’s next for the group?
Ryu: Well for me the next thing on the table is the Demigodz record, which for people that don’t know is me, Apathy, Celph Titled, Motive, Esoteric and Blacastan so that’s definitely the next thing on the table and that’s coming in out in I think January, I’m going to Connecticut in November to shoot the videos for it and everything and we’re gonna tour behind it heavily as well so that’s the main thing that’s coming out next so you’ll be hearing the singles in the next couple months, they’ll be coming out and that’s it, hopefully we can put this Get Busy Committee record out, that’s been waiting there for a minute too to come out and that’s pretty much it and as far as Styles Of Beyond, I guess we have this thing at the moment that we’re calling War Machine Prototype, which is me, Tak, Divine Styler and Gravity Christ and we’ve got about eight songs done for that. I’m doing some work with Crystal Method, I’ve been working with them for a while, I did a track with my man DJ Vice, I just did something for Bishop Lamont’s Layover mixtape so that’s it you know? Just staying busy, working, I make beats too, I produce for other people. I mean I do weird shit dude. I produced this song that was on WorldStarHipHop and it had 500,000 views, I did this track for this dude Count Mackula this song called “Theme Music,” which is funny because people wouldn’t expect me to do something like that, that was the first record I ever produced and it’s getting a lot of good play so I’m staying busy and I’ve always got my hand in something.