8 Ball & MJG - Relax & Take Notes interview

8 Ball and MJ-f*ckin'-G have been making that ride out music for over a decade now. The Tennessee duo is set to release their new album “Ridin' High”. As the spotlight resides on the South, the partners-in-rhyme continue to bring their own eclectic sound to the masses.

With a combined passion fueling their drive for continued success, these living legends are armed with more than just wordplay, but a humble sincerity that shines throughout. 8 Ball and MJG talk to NobodySmiling as they talk about their career, why hip-hop can never die, and why this East Coast vs. the South is all bullsh*t.

NobodySmiling: You guys have been together for a long time. What would you say is the key to your guys chemistry?

8 Ball: The key has really been just staying true to who we are as men. We've always been friends first. I mean, just the musical chemistry that we have is unexplainable. I can't really explain it, we're just in-tune with one another. Either way, it is what it is.

MJG: Our chemistry is pretty much organic between us. Like Ball said, we were already friends before we thought about being a group or even being involved in this music business. That, right there, is the magic to our chemistry. That and working hard for what we want in this life. We've managed to continue to keep the faith through it all and stay true to what we want.

NobodySmiling: What has been one of the most significant changes that you both have experienced over the course of your career?

8 Ball: The most significant change would be how the game has evolved. There is a lot more Southern artists that are doing it big. They're getting the exposure in the media and are able to get their music out and it being appreciated by the mainstream public. There wasn't that many when we were first out until Cash Money and No Limit came out and changed the game.

MJG: It was a simpler time when we first came out. There are alot more things you can do in hip-hop now. There are more jobs out there now for us in this music game. Business is definitely bigger. People are becoming entrepreneurs out of this and making a way for themselves and their families.

NobodySmiling: With New York trying to reclaim its dominance, or come back, the South has been taking offense to it. Ludacris, UGK, and others have been telling everyone to “quit hatin' the South”. Why do you guys think that this is ever going down?

8 Ball: It ain't that they're hatin' on us, or whatever, but it's how people are playing it [in the media]. You know what I'm saying? Like “Hip-Hop is dead,” – that phrase right there for us is an insult. I mean, everyone's definition is different, but like I had said earlier – Rock ‘N Roll has changed since Elvis Presley and Jerry Lee Lewis were doing it. Way different and you don't hear them complaining about it. You don't hear the people in Rock ‘N Roll or R&B complaining about change. You don't hear Al Green saying that Soul music and R&B is dead.

Hip-Hop is alive and breathing, it's a living thing and it's going to evolve and change with the times. The only thing is New York has never been dead, they're not just selling the records right now. They've been prevalent since day one, the West, too. They're just not selling that much records right now. That's the whole thing. Hip-Hop is flourishing in the South. That's why I think that Southern artists are taking offense to those statements. It's like you're saying what I'm doing is not hip-hop. But it is. Hip-Hop is supposed to be your free fuckin' expression. I'm one of the people who take offense to what's being said. Hip-Hop is what it should be.

NobodySmiling: For over a decade, you guys have made some of the hardest jams to ride out to, but haven't really experienced the major recording sales like some of your Southern compatriots. With this next album set for release, are you aiming to stay with those who've been true to 8 Ball & MJG? Or are you going to switch up the sound and shoot for Billboard?

MJG: Nah, we can't switch up what got us here. Our main thing is to stick to the format. We've came up with new material, but it's still in 8 Ball and MJG fashion. We just try to be good at doing us. We know already that our sound is different from everyone else in the game. We're just doing us. We're making sure that we stick to that real good music and keep it genuine.

8 Ball: We kept it real gritty and fuckin' gutter. Be sure to check out that first single, “Relax and Take Notes”.

NobodySmiling: Some would say that you're the best duo since Run-DMC and Outkast. What is it about you guys that everyone can relate to?

8 Ball: I don't know. You know what I'm saying? I couldn't sit there and say that because I don't know. I'm just doing what I think is good music and creating the stuff that I want to hear and we just happen to have a fan base that loves us. They've kept us around. It's the fan that gives us that love like that.

MJG: We got incredible fan base and the ages differ —

8 Ball: From youngsters to those who are old —

MJG: We've been blessed to be around this long to where our fans have their own kids who even like our stuff, too. Just like Ball was saying, we have some of the best fans in the world. It's really true for us because we wouldn't be having this interview with you, Kev, if it wasn't for the fans.

NobodySmiling: Branching out and establishing your own labels is a smart business move. Whereas, some would think that Ball and MJG will soon go there separate ways. What keeps you both going to continue to make that ridin' music?

8 Ball: It's what the people want. It's been tested and tested time again that that organic shit is what the people want. That straight-from-the-hip shit is what people want to hear. We're definitely going to switch it up with our businesses. [With 8Ways Entertainment] I plan on doing all types of music, every type of music that I can touch.

MJG: We're both on the same level. We're both about music and we're going to continue to push to be a force in the game. We want the people to recognize us as the individuals who were responsible for sticking to a dream and ridin' it out. You can look at us and understand that you can make it happen, too. That's the whole thing… us even being here now, after all these years is just, you know, a part of staying down and having that hard work ethic. Everyone want to sell records, we all want to be happy, but everyone can't sell all the records, all the time. As long as you work and do your thing, it's all love.

8 Ball: I really don't want to speak on the East-versus-South thing, but my question to the hip-hop industry is this: Hypothetically, If the East isn't poppin' and South wasn't rockin' anymore, but the Asian hip-hop community was on top of the whole game – would we go to war with them?

Interview by Kevin L. Clark.

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