8Ball - Still Ridin´ High

With over a decade of experience in the rap game, 8Ball and MJG are unlike most rappers. Despite their unique and original style, they have accomplished feats that most brand new artists would dream of – being fresh, consistent, and most important of all, maintaining relevancy.

The rap game has changed greatly since 8Ball and MJG's premier album, Comin' Out Hard, debuted in 1993. The Dirty South runs hip-hop. Rap artists function as CEOs and manage multi-million dollar record labels.

However, in the early 90s, many rappers didn't know how to evade the pitfalls of signing bogus recording contracts and were perpetually “jerked” by labels. This is the era that 8Ball came from; nevertheless, 8Ball seems to have great foresight and has become adept at changing with the game.

As well as being featured on one of the biggest records of 2005, “Stay Fly”, 8Ball can add another great accomplishment to his resume, the launch of his own label, 8Ways Entertainment. As his counterpart, MJG, launches MJG Muzik, 8Ball has grandiose visions for his new company.

8Ball hopes to “have an artist on [his] label that could be the next Alicia Keys or Wu-Tang Clan.” Yo! Raps Magazine recently had the opportunity to sit down with 8Ball to discuss his upcoming film, what it's like to work with Diddy, and why it took so long for the Dirty South to gain popularity. Life may be hard out here for a pimp, but 8Ball is still ridin' high.

Living Legends indeed…recently, I've been hearing great things about you and MJG. Tell me more about 8 Ways Entertainment and MJG Muzik.

We gotta a lot of things that 8ways is trying to do. We're working on a movie that me and MJG are going to star in. My artist Devious' album is going to come out in February, it's called Dirty Dollar. We also have a mixtape coming out with me and him together called, Fatboy and Fed DeBiase. Basically, I'm really just trying to start from the ground up and build my brand in this game. I'm definitely interested in doing more than just rap music…more than just hip hop…I want to get into all kinds of music with 8Ways Entertainment.

What kind of music?

Just everything man…whatever I can dip my hands into. I love all kinds of music Rock, Punk, a lil' Soul music, Reggae, just all kinds of music. There ain't know telling what you'll see coming from 8Ways Entertainment because I want to have a wide spectrum of music because I plan to be here.

Why did 8Ball and MJG decide to launch to separate labels while staying together as a rap group? Won't you be in a position to compete against one another?

MJ focuses more on trying to produce records whereas I want to focus on marketing music. I want to have an artist on my label that could be the next Alicia Keys or Wu Tang Clan.

Your album, Light Up The Bomb already dropped. For those who don't know, tell us about the album and what we can expect from the project.

It's not a solo project. It's an 8ways Entertainment album. It's kind of like Jay-Z's Dynasty LP. It was his album, but he premiered his artists who were all new at the time. Light Up The Bomb is on that level. It's my album, but has features from Gipp, MJG…Dirt Bag from Florida…it's a good album.

You're also on Bad Boy Records and have been there for over four years now. You and MJG's last album, Living Legends was very successful and went gold. How did you link together with Diddy?

We've known Diddy for some years since we was back at Suave House. We did some work with Bad Boy on Mase's album and all that stuff. We decided to do something different when we were trying to go to a new label.

Also, considering your recent experience on Bad Boy Records, what do you have to say to those that believe Diddy only focuses on promoting himself, not his artists?

Well, it is his label. He is the biggest artist on his label. So usually the biggest artist gets all the attention or at least most of the attention. That's the way I look at it….me and MJG…[laughs]. We're not moving in with him. We're just doing our business trying to make good music and put our stuff out there. I don't know, maybe we don't get everything that we should get at Bad Boy but I think sometimes the blame lies on us too because there's a lot we could do sometimes to make that happen. For people who have bullshit and bad shit to say about Diddy…I wasn't there for their experiences and I can only speak from my experiences at Bad Boy. I'm not trying to be politically correct with my answer or none of that bullshit. I'm just trying to say what I feel without cluttering or clouding shit. We focus on 8ball and MJG and Diddy is just another artist on Bad Boy to us. There isn't much more I can say about it.

Speaking of Bad Boy, the streets are waiting for your upcoming LP, Ridin' High, which is to be released in 2007. What can we expect from the new album?

Well, as far as features we got Pimp C, Bun B,.Jazzy Pha, Juvenile, Killer Mike, 112, Project Pat, DJ Nasty, Three 6 Mafia…Montana Tracks production. It's just a real tight 8ball and MJG album. This album is a big mixture of everything that we are…from the beginning to end.

Apparently, you guys are staying busy and have a move in the works. Please divulge more details about the project and also, what made you decide to get into film?

We've been wanting to do something like that. We really got to where we felt comfortable doing it. We are not Hollywood, school trained, Broadway actors. We´re just trying to make a feel good movie and hopefully, people will like it.

Currently, the South has a very tight grip on Hip Hop, but you and MJG have been doing your thing for over a decade. In your opinion, why did it take so long for the rest of the world to catch up to Down South music?

I don't know. It's just one of them thangs…You know how motherfu*kers grow up in a neighborhood and there's a motherfu*ker that lives down the block from you or whatever…and you always seen them, but you never said nothing to them or none of that shit and everybody thinks they're weird or crazy because they don't speak to nobody or don't know nobody or whatever. But there's this person…you see him all the time…but know nothing about him and then finally you see him at a bus stop and speak to him and then you just find out that person might fu*k around and be a cool motherfuc*er. This nigga got all the weed and [laughs] he's a cool motherfuc*er and this guy's be staying down the street for me all this time and I just find this out. That's the South's shit. People been seeing us since Scarface was on Kool G Rap CDs…since back then…Rap-A-Lot was the Rocafella of the South. People are getting to know the South and people are really exploring the South and our music.

Historically, African-Americans used the Blues as a form of expression to voice their trials and tribulations as they faced oppression. Memphis, TN spawned Blues music as well. How has growing up on the Blues influenced your music?

Me and MJG...more than any other group in Memphis…have that Blues influence because we put it on every album we've ever done had the Blues on it. The Blues influence in 8Ball and MJG has been there since the Bobby Womack sample in Pimps on the first album. Space Age Pimpin' and almost every song on Top Of The World was really bluesy. If you listen to our music, we always included live instrumentation, soulful guitars, soulful singing. That's always been a part of 8Ball and MJG...more than any other group from Memphis.

Next year, you'll be releasing your 9th 8Ball and MJG album and you've been in the game for over a decade. How have you seen the rap game change and how have you changed with the game?

It's an ever changing game. You know…Hip Hop, the culture, the industry and everything else…it's like life, it's forever changing. When we first got in the game Rap and Hip Hop in general…from the CEOs down to the artists…there was a lot of lack of knowledge when I first got in the game. Nowadays, it's a game of knowledge. You can't be the stupid rapper [laughs] you know what I'm saying [laughs]. The stupid rapper used to fail. You can't be the stupid rapper nomore. The ignorant cat is not happening any more in Hip Hop.

Do you mean [stupid] in terms of what they're saying or the knowledge about record deals and labels…

Yeah, knowing the knowledge of what we do. Back then, it wasn't a big deal…in 92' all a motherfucker wanted to do was get signed. It wasn't about nothing else than signing your name on a paper [laughs]. Now, there's so much more motherfuc*ers like T.I. and Jeezy have trail blazed shit for people coming after them. You know Lil Jon and cats of that nature have a strong work ethic in what they do. They have a strong knowledge of what they do and that's changed the way everybody, especially [artists] in the U.S look at what they do. Because now it's more than just getting a song on the radio or signing a contract, or performing. It's more than that now and has to be all of that. In this industry you gotta be good at what you do first, then you gotta be good at knowing what you do brings and the doors that it can open. We feed so many families on all levels, from the reporters that do the reporting to the engineers in the studio that record the music that we make. People weren't so conscious of that in 92'. It was like fuck the engineer in 92', the engineer was the nigga that you kick in the butt and make him go to the store and get shit for you.

So like I mentioned before, how have you changed since then?

Shit, I was the motherfu*ker back in 92´ [laughs]. You know what I'm saying [laughs]. Shit, I wanted to get signed and that was me. I think that me and MJG have been us, but we're trying to be more cautious of what we do and the things that we should be doing. Plus we older now and it's about time we get it. But, it doesn't make any sense for the younger cats not to already have it because cats like us [8Ball and MJG] have already slipped in plain view, so they shouldn't do it.

Last year, you were featured on Three 6 Mafia's smash single, Stay Fly. What exactly went in to making that single?

It was a normal recording session. Juicy and Paul hit me over the phone and said they have a song with Young Buck on it and we want y'all to get on it. We went to the studio and wrote our part and left…that was it. Everyone just did their thing and it just turned out to be one of those songs [laughs].

Last words for all of your 8Ball fans?

Go and buy Light Up The Bomb and go buy Riding High. You will definitely not be disappointed….that's the real.

- By Eric Adisa

Support

Featured album

Hustlenomics

Second album from Yung Joc! Includes the mash hit Coffee Shop...
Read more »