All this talk about potential Hip Hop biopics, and it’s hard to fathom why we haven’t heard more about one for The LOX. Since 1995, the Yonkers trio have lived a Hip Hop life fit for the silver screen, whether it was signing with Bad Boy Records at their absolute peak, or switching over to Ruff Ryders with the most opportune timing. They established their credibility immediately by maintaining and solidifying a certain stature in the game.
Something of a dark horse within the group, Sheek Louch is wise beyond his years. Along with Styles P and Jadakiss, he signed with Bad Boy Records out of high school in the ‘90s when Biggie and Craig Mack were all over MTV. That relationship didn’t last, but between touring and recording, it’s been predominantly smooth-sailing for Sheek ever since. “We’re always gonna be pioneers in this game and keep going until they tell us to get out,” Sheek declares in a recent interview with HipHopDX.
Silverback Gorilla 2 is Sheek Louch’s sixth studio album. Of course, it’s a sequel to a previous album, but less thematically so. Rather, it marks a return to that “gorilla shit” that inspired the original Silverback Gorilla: “I don’t know how to make those songs where you gotta learn how to go make a dance with it,” says Sheek while critiquing contemporary trends. “So I was like, ‘Man, I ain’t doing all that. I ain’t gonna come up with a dance, or none of that shit. I’m gonna get back to dope-ass lyrics, real soulful beats and hardcore beats, and just bring it back to that kind of sound.’”
With Sheek, or Styles and Jada, there’s always an expectation, and they always meet it. That very consistency and workmanship that have translated each of their careers.
While he’s excited about Silverback Gorilla 2, Sheek Louch doesn’t shy away from discussing The LOX’s storybook career, or his underdog status within the group: “We keep it so honest with each other and then we go out against everybody. And that’s what works with us, and that’s what gives me the confidence like, ‘Yo, I’ma go out there and body this shit, I don’t care what song I’m getting on with who, or all them ‘cause I’ma tear this shit up.’”
Sheek Louch Speaks On Silverback Gorilla 2
DX: What made Silverback Gorilla sequel worthy? You’ve got so many albums in your repertoire.
Sheek Louch: Right. Just as far as my mindstate. Just back on my gorilla shit. Mothafuckers be like, “Yo, I’m back on my bullshit,” “My beast mode.” Basically that, as far as back on my gorilla shit. It wasn’t necessarily my greatest-selling album or any of that, just my mindstate where I was at to bring it back to the streets.
DX: So what was it that brought you back to the gorilla mindset?
Sheek Louch: Really, honestly, just paying attention to what’s going on out here, and not trying to become that, as far as– I don’t know how to make those songs where you gotta learn how to go make a dance with it, you know what I mean? So I was like, “Man, I ain’t doing all that. I ain’t gonna come up with a dance, or none of that shit. I’m gonna get back to dope-ass lyrics, real soulful beats and hardcore beats, and just bring it back to that kind of sound.” Tell a story on there, this and that. I wanted to do that. And from top-to-bottom from my intro. Explaining my life and my family and everybody, all the way to the end. You gonna love it.
Sheek Louch Shares His Thoughts on the Ever-Changing East Coast Hip Hop
DX: When people think of New York Hip Hop, The LOX usually come to mind. You’ve been in the game for twenty years. You mentioned that you don’t want to make a dance record or any of that, but soundwise, what have you noticed about changes to the East Coast sound over the years?
Sheek Louch: Well right now it feels like it’s coming back this way, as far as to the East. As far as getting back to that content in Rap. Like, before, people didn’t give a fuck what they was writing about, it seemed like they wrote the song in two minutes and then they went straight to the hook and it was that catchy party kind of song. Now it feels like it’s coming back to that pure kind of Hip Hop sound. With the help of us. We’re always gonna be pioneers in this game and keep going until they tell us to get out.
But it’s changed kind of for the best. And listen, I want to say this: I don’t knock nobody that whatever their style of music is, it may not be for me, but I ain’t knockin’ you youngin’ keep doing your thing. I’m not gonna come downstairs and my son is in the basement with all his friends, and I’m not gonna tell them to, “Turn that off. I don’t want you dancin’ to that.’” Nah, I get it, I understand, I totally get it.
DX: But at the same time, twenty years, that’s a long time. Are you conscious of changes that you’re making, or do you try to switch it up now and then in any way?
Sheek Louch: Definitely, I’m conscious of everything. One of my main things, and I’ve got to speak for The LOX as well, we’ll study, we’ll pay attention to what’s going on out there. But we won’t become that. We won’t turn into that sound. I may play with flow a little bit here and there just to play with the beat, touch it up a little bit, but as artists, you’ve got to keep your sound. You lose that, you’re gonna lose all the people that was fuckin’ with you.
DX: I know there was talk of a second Wu-Block album earlier this year. What’s the status on that?
Sheek Louch: That’s the same timing as The LOX [new album]. We’ve been touring like crazy, I been touring over here with [Ghostface Killah], and ‘Kiss and Styles is running around, and this and that. So now, right now, we just had a little quick meeting that we’ve gotta get back and focus on this LOX project that [fans] have been waiting on. And the Wu-Block. [Ghost and I] were in Mexico City last week and was like, “Yo, it’s time for another project.” And what’s dope about this one that we’re doing, we had full support on the last one too, but now, this new one everybody wants in. Before it was like me and Ghost had the idea of making the album, but now it’s like everybody wants to put their knot into it.
If you liked that last Wu-Block this one is gonna be even better. Hell yeah.
DX: Obviously The LOX and Wu-Tang have an extensive collaborative history. You’ve got Ghostface on this album. But between this, and everything in your, Styles’ and Jada’s catalogs, what’s your favorite D-Block/Wu-Tang collab track?
Sheek Louch: Oh man. I like “Crackspot Stories” on the Wu-Block project. “Drivin’ Around.” It’s a bunch. I like that one with ‘Kiss and Ghost, with the “Run.” That joint right there, I mean Iron Lung, Metal Lung, whatever Ghost call it on his projects. It’s so many, it’s like you said, it’s just so many.
And I’ve gotta say this: I’m a fan of the Clan. I remember driving around and Mary J. Blige used to let us hold her car, and we was in the MPV and all that, for real listening to them. Too young, we didn’t have a record deal when we was listening. So even though we “up there,” our status and all that is the same, but I still mention all the time, “Ya’ll niggas, we stand for ya’ll to this day.” So that’s why I think the respect level and then both crews, that’s what it works so well.
DX: D-Block and Wu-Tang both have passed the test of time, you’re still as hot as you were twenty years ago.
Sheek Louch: No doubt, man. And the people love us, and their fans are crazy, from all over the world. So it’s a beautiful thing to be a part of that.
Sheek Louch Addresses His Underdog Status Within The LOX
DX: Absolutely. Switching it up here a bit, Jada and Styles have had their moments of mainstream success as solo artists, and you have too. The three of you are like brothers, but do you ever feel like you’re the underdog of the group, or that the onus is on you to outperform?
Sheek Louch: Yeah! Sometimes, and I blame that all on myself as far as like, when they decided to do solo projects, I was the only one with no interest in it. So we came out as The LOX, and then I fell back, like, “Nah, I’m good with The LOX.” I was running around still young, doing whatever, but I’m just good doing that. So when it was time for me to come and do a solo project, it was kind of like catching up, ‘cause out of sight out of mind, that’s how it goes in this industry.
So when I wasn’t doing that, they was still rockin’ it, doing songs with Mariah [Carey] and all this, I was like, “Aight, let me get back on my game.” I remember listening to my man, Hit, had told me, “Yo, dudes put some shit out, they lovin’ every little thing you do. It seems like they’d heard Style and ‘Kiss forever, so when you drop something it’s kinda like ‘brand new.’” So I did it and did it again, and eventually was like, “Yo this shit is getting crazy.” It went from that, to, “This shit is hot.” Every time you hear me, it’s kind of like a new artist, but OG at it. So that was up to me, as far as falling back at the time, on up to now. And now it’s at a point where this shit straight fire and I love it I love the growth, even this project, when you hear it, you’re gonna be like, “Damn, homie put that work in on this joint, listen to the beats, listen to the lyrics. Shit is hot.” Every freestyle I put out was like, “He on his shit right now.” And that’s that mentality I wanted to do.
DX: So speaking right to that point, do you feel, because at first, you didn’t have interest in the beginning in making a solo album and now you have a bunch of them, do you feel like that initial hesitance, and now what you’ve done so far, has only made you a better rapper?
Sheek Louch: Definitely, 100%. Definitely made me a better rapper, even on up, Even [incomprehensible] how we do in the studio, I’m hearing Styles and ‘Kiss like. “Aw, man, fuck that, I gotta kill these mutha fuckers,” you know what I mean? And then they be like, “Oh, Sheek killed that shit.”
It’ll be in-house with us, but we’re against the world. Like that, so that’s how we stay. We don’t, “Yes, man,” each other to death, we keep it so honest with each other and then we go out against everybody. And that’s what works with us, and that’s what gives me the confidence like, “Yo, I’ma go out there and body this shit, I don’t care what song I’m getting on with who, or all them mothafuckers, ‘cause I’ma tear this shit up.” And it just makes me pour that into my body of work, and especially, like, getting older and growing and seeing the world and touring, I’ve seen so much different shit to where, “Man, I want to put that shit on paper and get in the booth and do it.”
Sheek Louch Recalls The LOX Signing with Ruff Ryders and Bad Boy Records
DX: For sure. Switching it up again a little bit, I’m sure you know about this, there’re lots of different theories out there about what exactly went down between The LOX and your split from the Ruff Ryders, so I’m curious to hear your side of the story: what exactly happened? Was that strictly business or was it more than that?
Sheek Louch: Meaning what? Like us and Ruff Ryders? No, I didn’t even hear nothing. What did you hear? Not that I know of. Honestly, just as we were getting older, and doing our own thing, basically, Styles went to jail and I’d bought a recording studio at the time, I’m not sure if I told you this, but I bought a recording studio, like a beautiful joint, ‘cause my whole mentality is– that’s another thing why I wasn’t doing solo projects. I was like, “Yo, I’m never gonna record anywhere else in my life. I’m not going to Sony, none of these big recording studios, I’ma keep all that money so when I do decide to make a project I’ma keep it.”
That was my whole mindstate, so I did that. I was like, “Yo, Styles, I’ma come up with this label called D-Block, we gonna get some artists,” yadda, yadda, yadda. Then, once that movement started and people grabbed onto D-Block, it was kind of like The LOX reinvented, it just took off and we just started moving at our own pace in our own direction. Ruff Ryders is still doing them, but we kind of started our own another movement. And that was basically it. They have our full support.
But you know, how do I say it like in the streets? You can hustle for me at the beginning, but eventually you gonna save up enough money to get your own shit. That’s basically what it was.
DX: Good. I was reading something the other day, Jada was talking about how Suge Knight tried to sign ya’ll to Death Row back in the day. How close, if at all, was that to actually happening?
Sheek Louch: Well, at the time we were– ‘cause you know the whole story about Mary J. Blige bringing us to Puff and all that, but before that, I don’t know if it was before or after the Puff meeting, but anyways, she’d put us on a conference call to Suge Knight and him basically saying, “Yo, man, don’t sign over there, I need ya’ll to sign with me. We got shit poppin,’ it’s a big thing about to take place.” And that’s basically it, I don’t think it went anywhere else after that. But, it was a list of people back then as far as Mary [helped set us up with]. I mean, I don’t know if you know Eddie F, or Chubb Rock. People calling and trying to get The LOX to sign at the time.
DX: So this was after B.I.G. and ‘Pac had died?
Sheek Louch: Yeah, um, when was this? Probably before.
Sheek Louch: I wanna say before. Yeah, we were this mixtape group on the streets getting on [DJ] Clue’s projects, and this was when the mixtapes were heavy, heavy. Like albums. And Ron G and [DJ] Doo Wop and all that shit in the mixtape gang. Our buzz was getting crazy just to be some guys from Yonkers. We were like, The Bomb Squad, I think we were called back then, or The Warlocks and all that.
DX: Okay. But you get this attention from Suge Knight and you sign with Puffy and Bad Boy. Might be a stupid question, might not be, but were you trepidacious or fearful about signing on with Bad Boy because of the Death Row beef?
Sheek Louch: Nah, not at all, bro. ‘Cause it didn’t matter with us. I mean we were young, ignorant, thugged-the-fuck out, you know what I mean? It was like “whatever, whatever.” Coming from Yonkers, New York and shit like that, it was like, “Eh.” You gotta understand, that was the Dream Team over there, with B.I.G., Craig Mack, Total, it was like, “Man, shit, this is dope!” Coming off the streets fresh outta high school and all that. So we didn’t really have an intention to them, it wasn’t like that for us.
DX: Word. I just got a few more questions for you. You mentioned that you’re talking about getting back in the studio with The LOX. Is that gonna be to work on We Are The Streets 2?
Sheek Louch: Yeah, man, this year we gotta get in. Like the top of the year after the holidays, we back in the studio trying to wrap up a LOX project. We have done been offered all kinds of deals from you name it, from everybody, and we haven’t taken one yet ‘cause we’ve been moving around too much. But ready to buckle down and get that puck. We just had a show the other day in Jersey, NJPAC, and we all had kind of a meeting inside the Sprinter van talking about, “Let’s get focused.”
Speaking of Puff and all them, we about to go with him for like two months, a month and a half. See what I’m saying why we always moving around too much, so it’s hard to kinda get buckled down.
DX: How are you gonna balance Silverback Gorilla 2 promotion with this tour with Puff and The LOX reunion?
Sheek Louch: You know what? Just social media and everywhere I’m at, letting them know to order it and to go get that project and just tear down the stage and do some new songs here and there and just let them know that the merchandise is out there. Basically that’s it, and you know, move that way. Shoot videos and put them out and all that kind of stuff.
‘Cause this is like a tricky time right now, too, ‘cause people go into holiday mode right now; Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years, know what I mean? Everybody’s so laidback, and everybody just falls back, and a lot of the industry goes on vacation and they go with families, so it’s a tricky time.