Discovered by the late, great, and arguably best to ever do it, Tupac Shakur, the Outlawz were the ride or die collective that featured heavily on the multi-platinum selling albums All Eyez On Me and The Don Killuminati: The 7 Day Theory. Also known as Outlaw Immortals as well as Dramacydal, both with slightly different line-ups, the group have never stopped representing for 2Pac’s legacy. Featured on one of the most infamous diss records in history – ‘Hit ‘Em Up’, they’ve been through the highs and the lows before and after their big homie’s untimely passing.
Switching up record labels, losing another member to gunfire – Yaki Kadafi died in 1996, and disgruntled members leaving and then returning to the group, the name is now carried on by just three members – E.D.I. Mean, Fatal Hussein, and Young Noble. Back with a much talked about new album, Perfect Timing, coincidentally released on the 15th anniversary of 2Pac’s death, which contrary to public belief was not actually intentional, the group have announced it will be their last album together.
Talking to TaleTela, member Young Noble explains why it’s their last album, clears up the 2Pac ash smoking controversy that many media outlets have focused upon as of late, and thanks the fans for riding with them for such a long time.
What have you guys been up to as of late being that we haven’t heard much from you on the commercial side of things?
We’ve actually been consistently putting out mixtapes and independent projects. So those who stay in tune to what the Outlawz have been doing know that we haven’t gone nowhere. We’ve got a new album out, which we’re very excited about.
Before we get in to the new album, how long has it been since your last album and why has it taken so long to release this new one?
Our last Outlawz album came out in 2005. However, as I mentioned we’ve been putting out numerous other projects since then. There was the ‘We Can’t Sell Dope Forever’ project with Dead Prez, me and Stic.Man from Dead Prez put out an album, me and Fatal put out an album. So every year we’ve been putting out independent projects and crew mixtapes. So since 2005 we might have put out seven or eight different albums. We haven’t been sat around not putting out any music. All the Outlawz fans have been tuning in to what we’ve been doing and have been supporting everything we put out and our old stuff too. It’s just the perfect time now, just like the name of the album. It’s time for a change in music. We feel like we’re some of those dudes that represent real music and represent the truth.
Tell us about the new album…
It’s our best album to date. It’s classic from beginning to end. We definitely got some good features on there. We got Young Buck, Scarface, Bun B, Lloyd, Tech N9ne, Krayzie Bone, Trae Tha Truth, Z-Ro, Kastro, and a lot more. It’s our reunion album with Hussein Fatal, and as I said I think it’s our best album to date, hands down. From lyric-wise to production-wise we’ve stepped it up a whole lot. I’m so excited for people to finally hear it.
Being that you are highly respected within the industry, is this how you were able to get so many features?
Well everybody on the album are friends of ours. They’re dudes whose music we respect, and at the same time they also respect ours. That’s pretty much how we work as far as the rap game goes. There’s also a lot of independent producers on the album and there’s also a few unknown singers on the album too. We just like working with talented people that respect us and we respect them.
The album was released in the US on September 13th, which is a very special date in the rap calendar. Please explain for those that might not know…
Well September 13th is the day that 2Pac passed away 15 years ago. So it marked the 15th year anniversary of ‘Pac passing. We didn’t pick that date on purpose. It just so happened that the album was supposed to be out earlier than that but we had to push it back to September. So we was like, “Well albums only get released on Tuesdays (in the US),” and that so happened to be a Tuesday. So it all goes back to it being on God’s time. So it’s perfect timing and that’s why it’s the title of the album.
We hear that it’s also your last album as a group. Is this true, and whose decision was this?
It was a collective decision. We are considering this to be our final Outlawz album. I don’t know if we’re ever gonna make anymore. The reason being is I know we’re gonna continue to do solo albums, different ventures, and stuff like that. We’ll probably reach out to some new dudes in the game. It’s really gonna depend on the fans and the people who support real music. Because honestly, we’re the only group in the world who’ve been on over 60 million records (sales-wise) but have never been signed to a major record label, never had major radio play, or even TV play, but here we are 15 years later and we’re making the best music of our life and still travelling and touring the world every year. I feel like as far as the music industry is concerned, real music like ours is highly unappreciated. We keep our ear to the street and listen to the industry, and it seems like everybody is screaming that there’s a lack of real music being played and supported.
So me personally I think we represent the epitome of truth music. You know? From the music we did with 2Pac to the music we’re doing now. We always try to cater to the voiceless, the hopeless people, the lost souls, you know? The people who actually listen to music for inspiration, and it’s like our music is highly unappreciated. So we’re now thinking at this point that if you’re screaming for something that’s real, here it is! It’s right here in your face. It’s the realest shit you’re probably gonna get in the game. So if the world and the consumers don’t go out and support this album, and when I say support I mean go out and purchase it, listen to it and then tell a friend to go and get it, then we’re not gonna give it to them. They’ve been telling us for years that we’re the truth and that we’re probably not gonna get the credit or recognition until we’re gone. So we’re figuring at this point we’re still young and we’ve still got a lot we want to accomplish. So when they open up the history books, and the 2Pac books, and they have to do their research, and they get to the Outlawz chapter we want to make sure that it finishes off strong. We’re gonna make people respect and appreciate good music. So if y’all gonna wait for us to die to do that then we ain’t gonna let you wait until then, we’re gonna make you do that now. We ain’t gonna give it to you no more. I really don’t want this to be our last album. If it’s supported the way it needs to be supported and the fans react to it the way they need to react to it then we’ll give them more Outlawz albums.
Name three of your favourite tracks on it?
One of them is ‘Perfect Timing’. It’s the first record on the album. It’s a great record first and foremost. I just think it’s the perfect time for a real message with a real history. My second, I would have to say is ‘Pushin’ On’, which features Scarface and Lloyd. It’s another classic record. I love the message on it. No matter what you got going on in your life don’t give up. You’ve gotta keep pushing on. There’s so many classics man. Every time I listen to it I have a new favourite. I would say the other one, right now, is ‘Don’t Wait’ featuring Krayzie Bone. It’s a record for the females but it takes a different approach. It’s not your typical shake-your-ass song. We’re actually telling a female that because we’re so focused on getting this money right now we don’t want her to wait for us. We love each other but it’s better if she finds someone who will take the time to treat her how she should be. It’s like the hustler song that both the males and females are going to be able to relate to. If you’re all about getting any kind of money right now and you’re busy all the time then you’ll be able to relate to this song. Overall the album is classic from start to finish and every other day I really do have new favourites. I just can’t wait for everybody else to hear it so people can start telling us which tracks are their favourites.
You’ve moved around various different labels, including Rap-A-Lot, and more recently Young Buck’s Cashville Records. Does your relationship with Young Buck and Cashville still stand?
Well Cashville Records is a movement and Young Buck and C-Bo are our brothers. Our relationship with both of those guys is way deeper than just rap music. We were actually gonna sign to Cashville Records but then Buck had his situation with 50 Cent, which basically put Buck in an uncomfortable position in his life. So the whole Cashville situation didn’t take off like it should have. Buck is still our brother and we continue to do business with him. We do concerts with him all the time, in fact I spoke to him just yesterday. So we never actually signed and it never quite popped off like it should have. At first he was still signed to G-Unit and 50 was behind Cashville as well. 50 thought that Cashville was gonna be bigger than G-Unit, which he was probably right. Buck had us, he had C-Bo, and he had himself. So Cashville was gonna be something huge and 50 was 100% behind us at the time. However, when 50 and Buck got in to their situation it put Buck’s life on hold for a second. So we had to continue to do what we had to do as businessmen and family men. But that takes nothing away from our relationship with Buck. It’s never been based on a dollar. We’re loyal dudes and honorary dudes, so while Buck was going through his downtime and down period we were all there and all supportive. Young Buck is our comrade. That’s the homie right there.
You guys came to fame under the wing of 2Pac. Where exactly did you come from, because you sort of just popped up?
I mean, we come from 2Pac. He started the Outlawz. He was the first Outlaw. We weren’t just his group members, he was in the group. We were in a group together. All of us are pretty much family. I came to the group through Kadafi and Fatal, It wasn’t just a group 2Pac put together. We’re all family. We were then a creation from the mind of 2Pac. So if anybody doesn’t know who the Outlawz are then they need to do their research. If they’ve heard any 2Pac albums then they’ve heard us on them. We’ve got a catalogue of classic records. When we do concerts we rap for two hours straight and the audience know every single song we perform. We’ve been doing this for 15 years, so if anybody hasn’t heard of us then I feel sorry for them because they’re missing out on some great music.
What do you think 2Pac would have thought to today’s rap game?
That’s really hard to answer. If ‘Pac was still living it would be a totally different rap game. That pretty much answers the question right there. If 2Pac was still here today he still would have been the biggest rapper in the world and the Outlawz would be the biggest group in the world. Music would be totally different. You’d be able to hear real music on the radio everyday.
Do you think he would have stepped away from music a little bit to do movies being that he was appearing in more and more movies as time went on?
Yeah. When ‘Pac was alive he was already in motion to start his own film company, and he wanted to write and direct movies. Now 15 years on he probably would have had 10 movies out that he would have written and produced with him also starring in them, as well as us maybe starring in them. I mean who knows? The guy was so ahead of his time at 25-years-old that me even speaking on it wouldn’t do him any justice. He was so ahead of his time I can’t imagine what he would be on right now. He’d probably be running somebody’s city. He probably would have messed around and become the mayor of California or some s**t. ‘Pac was crazy.
Do you have any exclusive stories about 2Pac you might not have told anyone before that you can share with us now?
I got a funny one for you. I remember one day we all woke up, it was me, Kadafi and Napoleon, and we ended up heading out. We all lived with ‘Pac but he wasn’t up yet. We all had somewhere to go so we had gotten up and got dressed, but he hadn’t yet. In the meantime we were all hungry so we decided to get some food in the truck that he had bought us. When we got back he was dressed and ready to go and I guessed he was pi**ed at us because he was saying, “Y’all left without saying s**t. Don’t take the truck no more.” He was seriously pi**ed at us. He was having one of them days. So we got back with food and this guy snatches it out of our hands and throws it in the garbage. So we’re like, “What the f**k?” We wanted something to eat and this dude does this. But he’s the General so we’re like whatever we ain’t gonna argue with this dude.
Obviously he was taking care of us, we’re living with him, and he was like, “Yeah man, you should have said something,” and he threw our s**t in the garbage. We ended up scattering about the house and not even leaving. We had somewhere to go and didn’t even end up going. So I guess he ended up feeling bad that he actually did this because maybe an hour or two later he cooks for us. He ended up cooking all this shrimp and all other types of crazy s**t. That was a really funny story to me. He got so pi**ed at us that he snatched the food right outta our hands and threw it away and was ready to fight us about leaving and not saying nothing, and then an hour later he turns around and cooks us a great meal. Instead of being apologetic and saying that he was sorry he just cooked for us. That was just a sign of his character. He knows that he didn’t have to go that far but he made it up to us by cooking us a great meal. That’s one of the many crazy ‘Pac stories.
What’s your favourite 2Pac song?
‘Shed So Many Tears’. It’s just one of those records that touches my heart when I hear it. We always perform that song at our concerts. We have a segment during our concerts where we play a melody so ‘Pac can be heard. The people go crazy and that’s one of the songs that they play. I rap the lyrics and then I usually have to ask them to cut the song off early because I get choked up. I be damn near about to cry on stage. It’s just one of my favourite songs. I relate to it. You know? It’s a serious record.
You guys made headlines recently when it was reported that you all smoked some of 2Pac’s ashes many years ago. Is this true?
I’m not gonna get too deep in to that but what I can say is the media took what we said and flipped it to create their own headlines. First and foremost I’m gonna say that ‘Pac’s mother, Afeni Shakur, had no knowledge of it. She wasn’t around us when we did it. She wasn’t there. She had absolutely nothing to do with it. I can say that it was something that we did with the upmost respect and honour for our big homie. It wasn’t something that we came up with. It was something that ‘Pac came up with as part of his last wishes. At the end of the day it was what it was. You know what I’m saying? Our intentions for doing it 15 years ago was to honour our fallen General. It was our way of honouring him. It was one of his last wishes and we fulfilled it.
It wasn’t too long ago either that you guys settled your differences with Biggie’s right-hand man Lil’ Cease. How did that go and how did it come about?
It went great. We got the record out together on the new (DJ) Kay Slay album. It’s called ‘Bury The Hatchet’. It’s one of the hottest records out right now in the streets. About eight years ago Cease called someone on the phone while I was stood next to this person. Thinking about it, I guess it was meant to be. So I was like, “Let me get on the phone with this guy.” When we got on the phone initially we actually started beefing with one another. It was damn near about to be World War III. However at some point during the call we ended up just talking like men and getting to the bottom of everything that had happened in the past. I really feel like that if Biggie and ‘Pac had had that conversation while they were still living everything would have been different and they would have been making music together today. So we’ve actually been chopping it up with Cease from about eight years ago. Every year we’ll call each other up just to check on each other, but it was actually Kay Slay who called us and asked us if we would think about doing a record together for his last album. It seemed like the perfect time. We had always talked about doing a song together but we felt like it had to be the right time. We wanted to let the world know that it was time to bury the hatchet. To this day people can’t mention Biggie or ‘Pac in the same breath without comparing them to one another, talking about which one is better, or it’s like fuck the other one or whatever the case may be. These guys are legends. You need to honour both of them. You know what I’m saying? We just felt like if we could show the world that we’ve gotten past it, with us being ‘Pac’s brothers and Cease being B.I.G.’s brother, then the hip-hop community should be able to as well.
With ‘Perfect Timing’ essentially being the Outlawz swan song, what message do you have for the fans who have been with you since day one?
I wanna tell them that we’ve been around this long because of them. I wanna thank them whole heartedly for recognising us as individuals and respecting the kind of music we make by connecting to it. That’s where a lot of artists today get it confused. A lot of artists sell a bunch of records, get a big head, and then they think it’s all about them. Whereas it’s really all about the people that support you. If you didn’t have any supporters you wouldn’t sell any records. We never lost sight of who we were, who we are, and why we do this. So I just wanna let the fans know that the Outlawz 15 years later are around because all of them supported us, bought our records, and came to our shows. We exist because of them. They’re a part of this. We don’t say we have fans, we say we have fam, because we do. We feel 2Pac and the Outlawz supporters are different than any other rapper’s supporters. They really ride with us until the third power. I just wanna salute them and tell them that we appreciate them whole heartedly for all of the years of support.
Source: Tale Tela