As Hip Hop has progressed in the last few years, so has the talent at the forefront of its future. DXnext alums Pacific Division [click to read], consisting of Mibbs, BeYoung, and Like, has been a part of this movement, emerging from Palmdale, California with the skills and confidence necessary to make the leap from underground lyricists to regionally-acclaimed artists. Signing a deal with Universal Motown Records last summer, this trio sealed the notion that they were on track to begin a Pacific takeover. HipHopDX got a chance to catch up with the trio, who spoke on their major label debut, performing live, the state of internet Hip Hop, and why they’re competing with The Cool Kids.
While the title by their name says Universal, Pac Div member Mibbs adamantly explained that going to a major record label hasn’t hindered their work ethic. “It’s pretty much the same because our level of work always stays the same. Now it’s just bigger business moves and meeting important people that can change your life everyday all the time. That’s the best part; building relationships and meeting new people. It’s exciting. This is what we’re supposed to be doing with our lives.”
With their Pac Div EP recently released on iTunes, the trio has their energy now focused on two projects; their mixtape Church League Champions and their debut album Grown Kid Syndrome.
Gauging Church League Champions at about 80% done, Mibbs insists the project is much bigger than a “mixtape” title allows. “We would like to call it a body of work, because it’s coming along with videos, and were trying to do some different stuff so people can look at us in a whole different light…The bigger you get in notoriety, the bigger the stuff you have to put out, you know? You can’t be like, ‘the homie picked up the camera and we just started filming.’ Everything has to be quality, and that’s the best thing [for us]. Our level of quality has gotten way bigger. Church League Champions sounds dope as hell. It sounds better than a lot of people’s albums.”
Despite other artists attempt to flood the Internet with music, Pac Div have released records from Church League Champions very sparingly, aware that building a steady fan base shouldn’t equal quantity over quality. “We don’t put too much stuff on the 'net because we want people to appreciate the little bit that we put out so they can get to know it,” Mibbs added.
Switching to Grown Kid Syndrome, Pac Div let DX know that in-house producer Swiff D will act as the official beat smith behind the rhymes. “The only [other] production on Grown Kid Syndrome is Swiff D and DJ Khalil on 'Taste.' But 'Taste' may not make the album because it’s already on the [Pac Div] EP, so it’s gonna be a bonus track. Basically then it’s just Swiff, but that’s one thing the label allowed us to do. We get to do everything how we’ve been doing it,” Mibbs stated.
Currently finishing up a three-show stint with The Roots, Pac Div expressed their gratitude in sharing the same stage with the Philadelphian septet. “It’s a pleasure man; you gotta recognize them for the foundation they laid down. They made it possible for groups like us to even be able to do tours and be welcomed as a rap group people wanna see. They can do shows for the rest of their lives without putting out a new record based off the reputation of doing good shows. To share the stage with them, you gotta tilt your hat to that,” BeYoung said.
Honing their performance skills likewise, he continued, “We figured out how to get people into this energy we got that we create through the music. So every time we come out to a show or put out a new song, it’s that energy that people pick up. We want our music to feel like that energy when you listen to it. It doesn’t feel bogus or corny; it feels like BeYoung, Mibbs and Like.”
While this genuine style has pegged Pac Div as one of the major up-and-coming acts to look out for, Like mentioned his concerns with the overwhelming online presence of artists who aim to get their 15 minutes of fame at the cost of the music. “It’s not only hindered [Hip Hop], but it’s taken away from the authenticity. It’s like when you have too many chefs in the kitchen, or when you have too much of something. Somebody told me, ‘Do everything in moderation,’ because once you start to over-saturate things, it loses its appeal…People don’t even know the difference between what’s good and what’s not good.”
Continuing, Like explained that Pac Div arrived at their current position through paid dues and honest music. “We didn’t come up off the Internet. We earned our stripes rapping at the Wake Up show with Sway and Tech, with very harsh critics. We worked really hard, doing shows with everyone from Ludacris to The Roots to Nas; that right there, you can’t create that from the Internet. Everything that people are beginning to see bubble has definitely been off the strength of word of mouth. It’s a pure, organic and non-generic movement that we’re doing, solely off of our passion for music.”
With various beat contributions from a wide array of west coast producers, it was only fitting that Pac Div received some love from Jake One, who reportedly has the group in competition for a particular beat in his catalog. “[Jake One] has this one beat we fighting over with The Cool Kids for that uses the [Zapp] ‘Computer Love’ sample. He played it for me in L.A, at the Red Bull studio, and me and Swiff were wildin’ like, 'oh my god, we need that,’” Like said.
Sending out a PSA announcement to the Seattle producer, Pac Div pleaded, “Jake, we’re still trying to work out how we want to do that joint, but please, don’t sell it yet!”
Pacific Division’s Church League Champions will be dropping soon as a precursor to their debut album Grown Kid Syndrome, which is scheduled for release in the fall.