The music industry is universally known as a business that can make or break partnerships, as well as family ties and life-long friendships. One of the West Coast’s most influential groups, Da Lench Mob, knows this theory to be a fact. As an upstart three-man team of politically biased militants, founded by post-N.W.A. Ice Cube, their debut album, Guerillas In Tha Mist, skyrocketed to the top of the charts in 1992, attaining gold status in just three weeks. But as quickly as the hype and success came, it was swept away.
The subsequent arrests of member J-Dee and T-Bone, rumors of sabotage within the ranks, and terrible mismanagement of group finances ultimately led to the untimely demise of Da Lench Mob. Group member Shorty has stood strong and kept his feet firm to the ground in the years since their parting. Shorty took time out of his surprisingly busy schedule to tell Allhiphop.com the real story about the events that led up to the group’s disbandment, the rumored beef with Ice Cube, and the many projects he is working on that he feels will shock this entire industry.
Allhiphop.com: Tell us what is going on in your life right now. You are being labeled as the “Hip-Hop Hannibal,” and you have a new album you are releasing.
Shorty: I’ve been putting it down for a good 13 or 14 years in this industry, man. We started out with our boy Ice Cube, and of course, from back then to now, a brother has learned the game inside and out. We’re not slaves to the industry anymore. Brothers got wise and started their own companies and production teams, and started taking it to that next level. Right now, I’ve got my hands in a few projects, man. My recent project is this thing called “Say Something,” a DVD-movie. The whole concept behind “Say Something” is that 100,000 Man March that’s coming up in October.
Allhiphop.com: Where is that going to be?
Shorty: At The Coliseum in Los Angeles. Basically, it’s a cry in the street trying to get brothers to cease-fire and come together in unity, man. It’s a gang intervention type of thing. All the different gang factions in L.A. will attend, and I was able to pull together some heavy hitters in the industry that actually partook in the gang life. Myself, KAM, RBX, Boo-Yaa Tribe, WC, Tray-Deee of the Eastsidaz, and Kid Frost. I basically just pulled everybody from different Blood and Crip sets, and even got Kid Frost to represent our Chicano brothers. The actual song we all made is off the hook, man.
Allhiphop.com: Does the song parlay the same message as “Self Destruction?”
Shorty: You know, it’s similar to that, but it’s more along the lines of “We’re All In The Same Gang.” I think it’s one of the hardest singles that has come from L.A. in a long time.
Allhiphop.com: Does the DVD-movie have an entire soundtrack that comes with it?
Shorty: Well, it doesn’t have a whole soundtrack. Me and my partner Hakeem went in and did it as a single. Then, at the same time, we all came up with an idea like, “man, let’s just make it a documentary.” Everybody that partook in the song actually was gang-affiliated. So, I thought it would be tight to get brothers on there, busting lyrics, but at the same time, get them to speak on how they came up. The DVD-movie is about 1 hour and 20 minutes long. It’s a hot project, man. Plus, we are about to go to Japan to lockdown a distribution deal so we can release it in October out here.
Allhiphop.com: Will the project only be available in California, or are you doing nationwide distribution?
Shorty: It’s going to be worldwide, man. Check for it on the website, http://www.dalenchmob.com, and we’ll keep everybody updated.
Allhiphop.com: Talk about your other projects that you are currently working on. I know that your hands are in so many different pots right now.
Shorty: I’m halfway through my second solo album. I released my album, Short Story,in 2001. My release date for that album was September 10th, one day before 9/11 happened. In the midst of all that going on, we went ahead and put the brakes on that because we didn’t know what the world was going through. So, we changed the date and released it last year. I did that on my own label, Bow Tie Entertainment. I had nationwide distribution on that as well. Of course, you can go to my site and get it like that, but it is in stores. I haven’t thought of a title for my new album. I had a title, but I threw it in the air, man. I think I may call my new album, The Hip-Hop Hannibal.
Allhiphop.com: Sounds good to me. Let’s get into another topic of interest. What’s going on with Da Lench Mob these days? No one seems to know what’s going with those brothers, man.
Shorty: As you know, one of our comrades has been down. J-Dee just made ten years last month. In ’95, everything went kind of sour and everybody started doing their thing independently. I haven’t talked to Ice Cube since ’97, and I haven’t talked to T-Bone since ’99.
Allhiphop.com: I want to get into the situation with you and Cube. I read in a previous interview that you and him left on bad terms. Do you mind elaborating on that?
Shorty: I don’t mind speaking on it at all…it ain’t nothing but the truth. We never got paid for Guerillas In Tha Mist. That became a serious issue with us, man. We put in a lot of work with that album. We went gold in three weeks! To make a long story short, Cube picked Pat Charbonnet to be his partner for the business. This woman was shrewd! She was his manager and Vice President of his company. We thought that Cube was running the company, but it was Pat that was running the company. In the mist of us signing a deal, we basically got a package deal, which consisted of us, KAM, and Yo-Yo. He got us a package deal that was a cross-collateral type of deal. Out of us, KAM, and Yo-Yo, if only one group does well, and the other two don’t do so well, the group that does well has to pay the company back.
Allhiphop.com: Are you serious?
Shorty: Da Lench Mob blew up, Yo-Yo sold about 400,000 units, and KAM sold about 200,000 units, which means they didn’t hit their mark. Because of that, we had to pay back their debt. Now, keep in mind that we didn’t know any of this. All Cube told us was he was going to get us a deal, and everything was going to be gravy. Once our album went gold, we were told it would take about a year for us to see our money. When the year came up and it was time to get paid, our lawyer told us we wasn’t fittin’ to get no money. I snapped, brother…I couldn’t understand that. East-West Records was bragging about how Da Lench Mob and En Vogue had made them $22 million in the 1st quarter. Out of that $22 million, we made them $6 million. Back then, I didn’t understand the business side of the industry. I was hurt from that. J-Dee just went to jail a year before that, and everything just crumbled. I’m trying to figure all of this out, so I go to Cube’s office. I asked him, “What’s all this I’m hearing about we ain’t going to get paid?” He made it seem like East-West Records was tripping. He would never tell me exactly what the problem was. I’m thinking it maybe the lyrics, because we were talking about killing White folks and maybe they just got spooked. Cube couldn’t tell me what the hell the problem was, and I thought it wouldn’t be wise for them to drop us from the label if we are making them all this money. It just didn’t add up. Later on down the line, East-West dropped us from the label and Cube got us signed to Priority Records. We got halfway through the 2nd album, and at this time, we were messing with QD3, who is Quincy Jones’s son. He pulled me to the side and schooled me on some things. He said, “Shorty, I seen your contract and I know why you got dropped.” Sylvia Rhone, (the president of East-West Records) had given Pat an additional $75,000 for each group. She gave Da Lench Mob, Yo-Yo, and KAM $75,000 apiece. Pat didn’t tell Ice Cube this. Cube doesn’t know that any of this is going down. Once QD3 told me, I argued with him because I didn’t understand how Cube didn’t know this. It’s his company, he’s the President, but he doesn’t know that his Vice President got all this money and did something with it? He said, “Shorty, I swear, man, Cube don’t even know this.” So, I went to Cube’s office and told him to tear my contract up. I said, “I can’t be a part of this weak s###, man!” Cube got real nervous. I was sitting across the desk from him with the captain of the Nation of Islam of Los Angeles and two other people. He got so nervous that he started to stutter. That’s when we broke all ties with the brother. We hold him accountable for all of this.
Allhiphop.com: So, what happened in the aftermath of all of this?
Shorty: While I’m speaking on him like this, I got to kick in the good. He taught us well in this industry. Cube taught us how to make a bomb ass album. He taught us how to get on stage and give a bomb ass stage show and stage presence. Really, it helped change my life around. I g######### all my life, so when I linked up with Cube and them, that basically changed my whole life around. So now, I can go all over the world and I’m known as a well-known recording artist. I haven’t spoken with Cube since ’97, when we tried to bring all of this beef to an end with the help of Minister Farrakhan. Cube had put it out there that he was going to kick us down what he owed us. I haven’t seen the brother since. I look at it like there’s going to come a day where we all sit at the table. Hopefully, time will heal our wounds and we can come together as brothers and kick a hole in their ass in this industry. I thank God for letting it go down like that because it taught me to humble myself. If everything was gravy back in the days, I’d probably be an arrogant ass rapper right now.
Allhiphop.com: What’s the story behind what the industry has labeled you? “The Hip-Hop Hannibal” seems to be a strong message you are sending to your listeners.
Shorty: As far as warfare, Hannibal was a soldier. He laid in the cut, contemplated, and strategized a way of attacking his enemy in a way that they weren’t prepared for. That’s why I liken myself to him, because I got things I’m doing that I’m about to shock the whole industry with. To be honest with you, the things I’m doing have never been done. It’s like the element of surprise. Being that Hannibal came into Rome on the backs of elephants, they weren’t expecting that. He came with extra strength, and that’s exactly what I’m coming to the table with. I’m praying that I can put this album out by the end of the year, but if not, it’ll come out in the first quarter of next year. I also got a project I’m working on with KAM. We’re working on an album together, and I’m pulling together some heavy hitters from a couple of areas. I’m about to reach out to Paris to do something…
Allhiphop.com: Man, a lot of people are reaching out to Paris these days.
Shorty: Keep in mind, brother, that these are soldiers that ain’t went nowhere. They just laid in the trenches, regrouped, and got wiser on how to attack this industry and get our paper. The revolution will not be televised, man. We are the brothers that are going to offset a lot of the foolishness that’s going on right now.
Allhiphop.com: Do you have a tentative date or some sort of idea when that album will be released?
Shorty: That’s coming out next year, for sure. Of course, I’m reaching out to my brother Chuck (D.). He’s like my mentor. He was supposed to get down with me on my Short Story album, but things happened and I didn’t get a chance to shoot him the music to go ahead and lay his vocals, man. But, it’s mandatory that I work with Chuck. Another thing I’m about to shock the world with is the TV show I’m about come out with.
Allhiphop.com: You have a television network deal, or are you in negotiations with certain networks?
Shorty: We are putting it in the mix right now. We got a few deals on the table, but we are shopping it to see who’s talking the best. The show is called “Celebrity Chef.” It’s a cooking show that me and my partner produced.
Allhiphop.com: So, you are into the culinary arts, huh?
Shorty: Not really. I think I can get down, but I’m not the one that’s going to be doing the cooking. There are different celebrities we are going to holler at, man.
Allhiphop.com: Are you talking about celebrity chefs like Emeril?
Shorty: No, I’m talking about getting down and dirty with those people you see on the big screen, those people you hear on the radio, people like that. The show itself is similar to the TV show “Cribs.” I got (R&B singer) Tank as the host of the show. What Tank does is go to celebrities’ homes and interview them. At the same time, they are celebrities giving you recipes, cooking something that they feel they want to let the world see or get a taste of.