Sheek Louch: Mighty Flow Young

There is usually minimal life after Bad Boy for artists who leave the label for greener pastures. But when you’re a member of a group like the Lox, you become the exception to the rule. Sheek Louch rose to national stardom as one third of the Hip-Hop supergroup. Through all the label politics, fights over […]

There is usually minimal life after Bad Boy for artists who leave the label for greener pastures. But when you’re a member of a group like the Lox, you become the exception to the rule. Sheek Louch rose to national stardom as one third of the Hip-Hop supergroup. Through all the label politics, fights over publishing and rap beefs, Sheek has built a respectable following with fans of hardcore Hip-Hop around the world with countless mixtape appearances and features. However, after dropping two solo albums, Walk Wit Me and After Taxes, the Yonkers, NY native has yet to match the solo success of the arguably more popular Lox members Styles P ad Jadakiss. With his third solo release, Silverback Gorilla, Sheek stands ready to prove to the naysayers how strong an MC he really is. You’ve been in the game for a while now. First as a ghostwriter, then as a member of the Lox, now as a solo artist. What does this new album mean to you? Sheek: This is my third masterpiece. The first album the people were like, “Okay let’s see what homie’s got, third dude of the Lox. Let’s see what he’s about.” And people were like, “He’s aight.” So I had their ear. Then I came with the “Kiss Your Ass Goodbye” joint on After Taxes. Now they’re like, “Oh, homie is a problem. He got something going on here.” Then I was releasing mixtapes and doing this and that and it went from, “Oh, homie is crazy,” to me being on fire right now. Now I feel like I’m a monster with it and I’m coming with that type of swagger on this Silverback Gorilla album. Like when I got on a verse I murdered it, I manhandled them s**ts. Concept wise, lyrically, the growth is all there. One of my favorite joints is Don’t be Them. I named mad people and it’s just basically saying we don’t need another Jada, Styles, and Sheek. We need a “you” little homie. Whoever you’re going to be when you come in the game just come in and be that. I even tell all the new artists we got the same thing; “Yo, you sound like us. I don’t want to hear that.” You’re in a group with two of the most respected lyricist in the game who have each seen their share of solo success. Do you feel like you still have something to prove?Sheek: At the beginning, definitely. I was like I got to separate myself as a lyricist. They been had their solo things going on. When I got into it I would just run in and start airing it out. Now, they can’t wait for Sheek to spit. Everybody knows what I bring to a feature or a mixtape or whatever. There’s no sound similar to what I do. You’re not known for doing the “radio friendly” songs. What made you do something like your first single, “Good Love”?Sheek: I tried something like “Good Love” because I feel like I’ve got nothing else to prove with the gritty talk. I still got that on the album of course but I just felt like I needed to get a little radio record going. A lot of times people try to pick what the singles going to be but nobody really knows. I asked Hov years ago how he picks singles and he was like “I just put it out.” No one really knows. You…the public is going to judge. So commercially, it comes. We still do songs with Mariah, we make songs like “Benjamins”. We make those and we do the gritty stuff too. Sheek could definitely get more out there and get more of a commercial status but the respect is the main thing all the way through. Now I just need the money. [laughs] With the talent that you and your other group members have, why do you feel you haven’t made it to that next level?Sheek: We been stagnated from back then when we joined the dream team with Puffy and B.I.G. and them. And due to us not looking at the paperwork, and I blame myself more than my lawyers and managers and all that. But we were young and nobody was really looking after us. So he had publishing money from back then going up to a few years ago. Thank god he let that go. Good looking Diddy for letting that off. People came in the game and within one year made mad money because their publishing was straight. Their s**t was done right so all the money from those hits went to them. Is that what led to the eventual separation from Puff and Bad Boy Records?Sheek: It got to a point where we didn’t even want to write anything anymore because all the money was going to him. That was frustrating man. When you heard Styles and them at the station talking about throwing TV’s and refrigerators on him and s**t, that’s how they was really feeling. It was like, I can’t do nothing because it’s going to this dude. And, at the time, he wasn’t letting up, but thank Hod he did. Everything is dope. Shout to Diddy again for giving us our publishing back. For those that don’t know, explain how important publishing is to an artist?Sheek: If you’re my artist and I put you out. I got you out there and the world knows you now, once you sign your publishing to me that’s that. I gave you your money for the rights to your publishing and that’s that. And that money is for life. Publishing is not like a one time thing. That money comes in every six months or so forever. Imagine you wrote everything Diddy said. All his raps from “Victory” to “Benjamins”, all the remixes and all that. We sat there and wrote them joints. Fam you know how much I’m supposed to have?!? I mean don’t get me wrong, n****s is good. We straight, got big houses and all that but, come on man. Fam, this is all the way up to Walk Wit Me and After Taxes. He just recently let that go. Some went to me, but most went to Puff. That’s f***ed up but, it is what it is. Your first artist, J-Hood, started his own version of the campaign you used to get off of Bad Boy. Knowing what you went through with Puff wouldn’t you feel the need to just let him go?Sheek: He tried to go the same formula as us but the difference between the situations is when we had the “Let the Lox Go” campaign we had to. Puff is a paperwork gangster. We didn’t have it to go to court with Diddy. We were sitting in these meetings with like 17 or 18 people like what the hell’s going on? And we’re like, “Look, I don’t know all this s**t man. We just want to move on.” The direction when B.I.G. was here was dope but when he started going in the direction he went with Ma$e there was nothing there for us. That’s not the direction for us to go. So it was that plus we just found out what we were supposed to be getting paid for writing these songs. So it wasn’t like we hated Diddy or couldn’t stand being around him. He had it popping. The parties and all that was aight. But besides the parties, it wasn’t for us. He had dudes in the sweatshop just grinding and we were just like this isn’t what it’s about. But I’m not downing him at all. But with J-Hood, we never had beef with him. He could’ve got off. We couldn’t get off for nothing. We’d have let Hood off from the jump. So how did things get to the point they did?Sheek: Styles had a meeting with him and after that he came to me and was like, “Yo Sheek, let’s just let him off so he can go on with his life.” Me I was like, “Nah, we discovered this dude, brought him along and s**t. Whoever wants him, tell them to holla at us so we can do this business.” You and Kiss don’t want to do it that way, cool. I’ll put some money in your account when whoever signs him works out the deal to sign him. That’s just me. I’ll go take that meeting immediately. But after a while I was like you know what, screw it. Let him off. Then I start seeing him talking about, “Sheek took my chain… Sheek smacked me,” and stuff like that. His homies were telling me that he was putting s**t on the Internet trying to build some kind of campaign. And they were telling him he didn’t have to do it that way. They were like, “Yo, they said they’ll let you off.” But he was like, “No. I have to make it like this.” So now I’m seeing him on DVD’s talking about his guns go off and s**t. I’m like, When Hood? I’m not even talking guns with you. What are you doing? Then he got on stage with 50 during that whole time. But what he doesn’t realize is 50 will do s**t like that for attention. “Come on Remy. Get on stage and dis Terror Squad. Come on Hood, say f**k D-Block.” And that’ll be for that moment. So there was never any interest expressed by G-Unit?Sheek: We spoke to Nelson and them and they were like “We got nothing to do with that. We can’t stop 50 from doing what he’s doing.” So they felt bad about letting him use these guys but they weren’t trying to sign J-Hood. That was never the plan. To this day he’s still signed to us. These people ain’t reach out. Where are all the people that? Nobody wants Hood. I was waiting for someone to holla at us but I’m thinking about just letting him off. I would never stagnate that man’s career. It was just a matter of him pulling all the f****t s**t he was pulling and the way he was going about things for nothing. Like we never had beef with you, why are you talking so tough? You want it that way or something? So what is the future looking like for D-Block as a label?Sheek: D-Block is looking real good. I’m loving it. We got Don D., AP, Bully a lot of dudes out of Philly and New York. And I’m kind of glad that s**t happened with Hood because I’m still learning, myself. Hood has every right to be mad that his album didn’t drop but it was because I loved you as a brother and certain songs that we thought was fire, a lot of people didn’t. People weren’t thinking s**t was hot to death like that. From the main DJ’s to the figureheads. And what most labels do they don’t care. They’ll just say put the album out like, “Here. I don’t care. Put that s**t out tomorrow.” We were like we need to go back again until we’ve got a hit. And there were probably a lot of mistakes that we made. Especially me, because he would come to me a lot. I may have made some mistakes with him. With him it was real family like. But now, I’m not going to do that. Like I knew Hood when he still had contacts and finger waves doing all that silly s**t. And it still feels funny when I down Hood because even with all the s**t he talked, it’s still like, “Fam, what are you doing?” But now when it comes to working with the artists I fall back. I used to be in the studio constantly with the artists but now it’s like, “Word, that’s what you came up with? Go see what Styles and them think about it.” As we all know there is no 401K in Hip-Hop. With that being said, what are some ventures you’d be interested in getting into? SHeek: We got gas stations, car washes, I’m reading scripts right now. We’re just trying to keep it going. I’m keeping my foot in the music. I’m going to always be involved in the music. I feel like I have so many good ideas for the new, young dudes who’re coming out. I just want that other bread man. I want to know what that side feels like. I want to work on it and put it out there so I know what that side feels like. Even if I’m not rapping on it but just to know that I was a part of that next big project. I got that popping right there. Just to go back a bit, the Lox have always been street dudes. But what was it like for you the first time Puff approached you, Styles, and Jada and said I want you to put on this shiny, green suit?Sheek: Them s**ts is shiny like a muthaf***a! [laughs] With the suits and all that s**t with Diddy, we didn’t really question it that much. Like when we got with Diddy we were like this is a guy who knows what he’s talking about. He used to be like, “Look. You might be known out in these streets and on the blocks out here but I’m telling you what’s going to knock in Texas. I’m telling you what’s hot in ATL.” And, at the time, these were places we’d never been. He was like we have to make these kinds of songs and we’re following his lead but still like, “Man, is this shiny s**t in the videos going to pop off like that?” But it was the trend. After B.I.G. died there was a whole wave of all that Ma$e s**t going on so we tried it out. We threw the shiny suits on but we’d be mugging and (simulating firing a gun at the camera) in the video. Shooting the clouds and s**t. We didn’t really f**k with the image like that but, as far as the songs, we figured he knew what he was talking about. We figured all we had to do was put our twist on it. And, once again shout to Diddy for doing what you did. But another thing that had us tight was how he’d be all over the records and s**t. All the “take that” on everything had us tight. We were like, “Damn son, let us breath.” Because we knew what we were doing. We do what we do well on these streets. And he used to say, “The streets ain’t buying your s**t. These other people are… Them and the chicks. The streets will only buy the mixtape.” And to tell you the truth, I’ve learned a lot from Diddy. He works. His work ethic from studio to his stage show is serious. I learned a lot from watching homie and his team. I can’t lie about that. So, with your past, if Puff called you tonight and said I want to work with you on a project you’d do it?Sheek: I’d get on any song he wants as far as his artists are concerned. I’d go do something with Making the Band tonight. I’d go to Spotlight and get it in then be like cut that check Diddy. The difference is now I know I should be getting one. That and some Ciroc. Now I know my business. I know what I’m doing. Diddy’s my man now. He sent a case of Ciroc to my video for “Good Love” and all that. That’s my homie. And actually, when Hov was trying to get the Lox, Diddy was trying as well. We were young and going through s**t. The whole second album, We Are The Streets, was strictly us getting at him but we’re grown now. We’ve done shows and all that. Fans have bee held over with solo material from you guys but when can fans expect another Lox album?Sheek: I apologize to all the fans waiting for that Lox album. It definitely took too long. The situation was Hov wanted the Lox and Jada as a solo act to go to DefJam/Roc-A-Fella. Then Jimmy Iovine was like, “This new Lox album is going to be a big project. We’ve got to do that over here.” So he wanted it to come out on Interscope. The album been recorded and is straight fire. At the time 50 was going through all that push Styles’ album back s**t with the so-called beef and all. There’s no problems now, it was what it was. But at the time we were like, “Damn, if he that strong over here he’s going to f**k with this Lox album too.” The fans didn’t deserve that. You’re not just hurting us. These people been waiting for a Lox album. For somebody to just push s**t back and leak songs is crazy. We’d rather not put it out. We’ll wait until we get another deal somewhere. So now that the smoke cleared and all that we’re going to move ahead. If I let you hear it right now you’d be like, “This s**t needs to go out tonight, this s**t is crazy.” If an executive came to you with a check in hand and said they wanted you to only do solo projects and never work with Jada or Styles again, would you take it?Sheek: I wouldn’t take it. That’s my fam. Those are my n****s, I love them n****s. It’s bigger than any of that with us. We’re not a put together group. My moms hangs out with his moms. I seen Kiss last night at the studio. Styles will call me up for nothing just on some, “Yo, you seen this s**t on TV?” We do it like that. We watch each other’s kids. It’s like that with us. Our manager didn’t put us together. We grew up together. No matter what the amount, even if that one check could feed my family forever, I couldn’t do it. That’s our craft, that’s our skill and you’re going to tell me I can’t do s**t with my boys no more? With Hip-Hop becoming more and more commercialized each day, do you feel there’ll still be a place for the type of music you make?Sheek: There’s definitely a place for our kind of rap. We just did a sold out show at B.B. Kings that got great reviews. And just from traveling, going to different places you see it. I walk outside or go to the supermarket and get the same screams Chris Brown or any of these muthaf***as get. I hear cars riding by bumping my Howling mixtape, radios playing the single. The love is there. But I know what you mean. I went to a club and they was doing the Aunt Jackie and all that funny, dancing s**t. No shot’s at anybody that does that music. But I’m like what the hell is going on in here? Then we took the stage and soon as “Wild Out” came on [and] the club lost their mind on some shut the club down s**t. We definitely still get it in and definitely still relevant. I’m in the best shape I been in, in my life, I’m feeling great. But the industry is ringtoned out. It’s all the same routine and a bunch of dances but I blame the labels for that. Soon as an artist comes in the first thing they say is, “Where’s your single, where’s the ringtone. All we need is one.” And they don’t care about the other 11 or 12 songs, the rest of that s**t could be trash. They don’t care. They want that one hit for the ringtone money. You have to care about making that music. A lot of people just put their energy into that one song and don’t really focus on the complete album. Sheek: Yeah. Then you get the commercial on BET running every five minutes; “Call 1-800 such and such and you can fly and snap like this.” No shots at anybody flying or snapping their fingers. You have to say that s**t now because n****s are sensitive these days.[Eat your heart out Rod Stewart]