Words From The Lord: Lord G Speaks On Militia All-Stars, Death Row & Going SoloBy - Posted Jun 12, 2006
Rapper Lord G is a soldier. He fought in the Militia, led the Universal Brigade, and survived the war at Death Row.
The Detroit-born MC has much clout in the rap game, having fronted hit-makers Militia and a slew of other groups, having been under the tutelage of rap maestro Dr. Dre, and having appeared on albums that have sold nearly three million copies collectively. An expert lyricist, beat maker and freestyle king, Lord G has won many rap battles, but he’s about to win the war.
After moving to Los Angeles, Lord G found himself at Suge Knight’s legendary Death Row label, where under the guidance of Dr. Dre he crafted beats, ghost-wrote lyrics and appeared on the classic Above The Rim soundtrack with the hot bonus cut “My Money Right.” With his deep, gravely cadence, lyrics filled with one-two punch lines, and a vocal style that falls somewhere between Busta Rhymes and Method Man over a West Coast flow and Motor City attitude, G was one of the soon-to-be rising stars at the label. He was slated to record his debut album for tha Row, but exited just before the gun-play and drama set in.
Never one to lay low, G issued a slew of independent singles and the out-of-the-trunk album Phobia by his posse Faces of Fear (F.O.F.), which created a buzz and brought him to the attention of burgeoning label Red Ant (Salt 'N' Pepa, Wu Tang Clan’s Sunz of Man, Whoridas), who quickly signed him to a deal. While at Red Ant, G met the other rap newcomers to the label, duos Diz and Deviuz, and Ms. Toi and Mr. Tan. The five rappers got along so well they decided to form a super-group, and Militia was born. Militia’s self-titled debut album spawned the smash single “Burn,” three big-budget videos and sold over 300,000 copies. However, when the label went bankrupt the group went M.I.A.
Lord G quickly hit the studio to capitalize on the heat from “Burn” and churned out the indie album Hot Ta Def on Da Mic Chord, which was executive produced by Dr. Dre’s protégé Chris “The Glove” Taylor. Always on the hunt for new artists to groom and collaborate with, he laced the streets with a mixtape (U.B. In Ya Area) by his group Universal Brigade and a single under the name Strange Museum. Recently, Lord G recorded tracks for Supersuckers frontman Eddie Spaghetti’s upcoming remix album New No. 2 and reunited with Militia’s Mr. Tan, Ms. Toi and Diz for a reunion album titled Comin’ Atcha. G4 recently caught him on the set of the “Work Dat Thang” video and we chatted about the past, present and future of this hot ta def MC.
You’re from Detroit; tell me about how you got from Detroit to LA.
Well, you know, a series of events took place. I hooked up with my boy Billy Hearns, through one of his brothers, named Jay Mark. He got involved in listening to my music and saw there was a high level of seriousness in the music. He asked me what I thought was necessary to make it, and I told him I either had to go to California or New York, where it was really cracking. My cousin was out here and was already working for a record company that had Eric B and Rakim at the time, which is definitely one of my top groups. I came out here to California to link up with my cousin, Vince Berry and the rest is straight history.
So how did you hook up with Dr. Dre?
When I got out here, I started going to different studios and performing in different clubs, trying to promote myself on the street level. Then a friend of mine named Tony Green became the bass player for Dr. Dre and his Camp. He was up there telling them he knew the baddest rapper on the mic, “My boy from Detroit, Lord G.” So one day he took me down there with him and I met the Death Row Camp.
What was your role when you were over there?
Well, when I was over there I was under artist development. I was gonna be Death Row’s first positive artist, which I thought would have been real good as they didn’t have nobody over there with that conscience rap. They had a lot of gangsta rap, underground stuff, but I was doing positive, conscience rap. I ended up vocal coaching Bow Wow when he was very young, and I even got to write some tracks a Dr. Dre group called Warning. It was three girls. Not only did I produce the music on a song, but I got to write the lyrics. That was one of the first times that I ever wrote an R&B song in its entirety. And it went really good, but the group had some internal conflicts and never ended up coming out. But I was honored that Dre allowed me to work on them, you know?
And then you did that song “My Money Right” on the Above the Rim soundtrack. How did that come about?
I hooked up with Butch Smalls, who was a friend of Tony Green. A producer named Maestro sent that track down to me in the mail. Das from Dog Pound really liked it and encouraged Suge Knight to listen to it in front of me one day. It was the third time that he had tried to tell Suge about it and this particular day Suge listened to it and said, “You know what? Put him on there.” And I became the first artist to work with Death Row that wasn’t signed to them.
How did you get out of Death Row? ‘Cause all that bad stuff with Tupac and Dre was about to go down, right?
Death Row was going through a lot of internal stuff and I wanted to get my record out. At that particular time they had a board of operations where you had to wait in a line, which made sense that they would put out the people that were waiting before me, but I didn’t want to wait too long. Unfortunately they weren’t able to give me a release date timeframe. So it was a conflict of interest right there because I was really interested in the release timeframe. It didn’t have to be exact. If you told me between June and December, that would have been good enough for me, but they weren’t able to do that, so that ended up making me go a different direction. But it ended on a good note. There was no negative energy there whatsoever. I mean, even to this day when a friend of mine saw Suge and he asked him, “What’s up with Lord G? Is he doing all right? I want him to get at me.” I tried to talk to him about doing some production, but they want to sign me as an artist and right now I got some other stuff on the table, so I wasn’t able to do that. It just went a different way, you know?
How did you get involved with Militia?
I had a solo deal with a company called Red Ant Records and Milita was signed to Red Ant, where Mr. Tan and Ms. Toi were signed as the Phat Pack. One day the label rented out a studio and set up a meeting where we all came down there together. They wanted to see how the chemistry was and had a nice beat up and running. We all started flowing and the chemistry was just real natural. It’s almost as if it was meant to be, so we ended up making a couple of songs then. They came out so hot, that they said they wanted to put us in a studio for a week and see what we could do. We finished up that whole album and became involved in it.
We shot a video for the remix of “Burn,” with the five of us, because the first version only had the two previous members, Diz and Deviuz. We ended up doing a second video for “Who’s The Next MC To Crumble,” but unfortunately the record company went out of business right as our plant was beginning to sprout out of the ground. It was unfortunate, but it was a learning experience and definitely a blessing because we got to go on tour and got to see different parts of the world.
You guys toured with Wu Tang’s Sunz of Man, who were also on the label, right?
Yup. We shared a van. The company van was wrapped half Militia on one side, Sunz of Man on the other side, so depending on which side you passed by you’d see a Sunz of Man ad or a Militia ad. We would ride around and do shows together. We spent a lot of time together.
Then you did the Hot Ta Def solo album with Chris “The Glove” Taylor. How’d you meet him?
Chris “The Glove” Taylor was a protégé of Dr. Dre, so I was around him from that angle. Plus, some of my other partners spoke highly of Glove and his production. And at that time, The Firm’s “Phone Tap” was a really hot song, and with Chris helped produce that with Dr. Dre. He knew that I was working with Death Row, and we both had Dr. Dre in common. So it was a smooth transition. He asked me if I was interested and to listen to some tracks, see if he could get stuff on my album. Me listening to some of his tracks turned into him doing half of my album.
You were going for a different kind of sound on that record. It doesn’t sound like Militia or your later solo work. What was your point of view on that record?
We were getting tired of the monotonousness of the radio playing the same songs all day. There’s so much good music out there we’re not going to hear because of the way politics are involved in the music game, so we wanted to make something new and fresh with a new sound, you know? Something that will be fun to listen to, at the same time, be competitive. I kinda tried to become like the Prince of rap, like the artist Prince. He’s so different with his music and style. He’s so creative, and he’s fun to listen to. He’s a very good entertainer. I was kinda trying to mimic him on a rap level. Having something new, fresh, and different, man.
So when can we expect that long awaited Lord G sophomore album?
I’m in the process of working on some stuff right now, it’s coming along real good, and hopefully everything will be finished in the next couple of months. We wanted to go for a summer release, but we don’t want to come out in the last quarter so it’ll probably be the beginning of 2007. We’ll probably do an independent release and try to generate 40- 50,000 units. Then the majors will come to us and we can have more leverage when we’re negotiating with them. ‘Cause when you move about 40,000 units that’s when you’re under the microscope. They’ll come holler at you. ‘Cause 30,000 is $300,000 on the $10 retail value. That’s good money.
Damn right! You got a new video for “Work Dat Thang” as well. Tell me about that.
I didn’t even know how it was gonna happen and what was gonna happen, but one day I just had this idea of filming a video to one of my songs, just making a video as a way for a record company to make it and that way for a budget, but trying to do it on my own. So I learned a lotta stuff by doing that. I felt no artist has ever tried to get a deal with his album done and have his own video. I just thought that was a very unique approach that could draw a lot of attention and respect. You know, as far as showing a determined artist, and how you don’t wait for nothing too! You keep going, you keep on pushing towards the direction you want to go, keep pushing towards the destination: Never give up. Keep going no matter what happens. If you get ten dollars, make the ten dollars work in your favor. If you got $100, make it work in your favor. Every day I try to do something towards my goal and that video is like the cherry on top of the banana split for me because once I finished it, getting it edited and everything and seeing it, it was just such an accomplishment. And when record companies see that, they know they have an artist who’s not waiting for us to do anything for him. You put them in a position where they wanna be a part of what you’re doing, because you’re so active. People like to see people doing something they believe in what they do. It’s magnetic. I take my hat off to anybody that’s putting their own money into themselves. It only makes sense that you would invest in yourself.
How did the Militia All-Stars record come about?
You know the Militia All-Stars’ Comin’ Atcha is the second Militia album. The group transformed from five members to four on that album. The member Deviuz is not involved with this particular project, but it’s still all good with him and we still gotta lotta love for him. Even back in the day, every member of the group was working on their solo stuff and everybody did a lot of different things. We never stopped working. Toi went on tour with Ice Cube, Tan went on tour with Tyrese and Tash from Tha Alkaholiks, I was working on my Hot Ta Def album, so we were all doing stuff after that first Militia album, ‘cause we’re all from different places geography-wise. Tan is from New York, Toi is from Chicago, I’m from Detroit, Diz is from California, so a lot of the time we’re not in the same state. At this particular time, we were all back in the same state again, so we hooked up and started going through beats and different producers. We had about 16, 17 songs and they were really nice. We’re going to be able to touch the world on a level that we should, because it’s a big world, man. We live in a huge world where there’s a lotta people that you can touch if your music is properly promoted and marketed. You can touch people in Yugoslavia and Australia and places like that, you know? It’s much bigger then the USA.
So what does the future hold for Militia All-Stars? Think we’ll get another record or any more dates together? It was kinda cool seeing you and Tan on stage the other night opening for Tash and Kool Keith.
I think what’s gonna happen with Militia is that Comin’ Atcha is gonna get picked up by a major and they’re gonna re-release and repackage it, maybe with a couple of extra bonus tracks and a DVD with behind-the-scenes feature or something to give incentive to a lot of fans. We do have a nice fan base that can be built upon because “Burn” is officially gold now. But it doesn’t matter when you’re not out there in their face. But when you check Soundscan and says your record still sells a thousand copies a year, that’s a good thing. We have officially crossed the five hundred mark.
It’s gonna be big. Maybe a Militia collection. You put out the first album, the second album, AND the songs we recorded for a new album, and they can buy the trilogy. Something slick like that.
What advice would you give an up-and-coming rapper in 2006?
Well, in 2006 is a totally different world and it’s changing every day. Technology has completely changed the game, the politics are much more involved, and there’s a lotta payola involved. It’s a tough job for a talented kid to come out now and it really has nothing to do with talent anymore. It’s more about connections now, but back when I first started doing this, talent was the main ingredient. If you had talent, you could do a lot of things, and get through a lot of doors. Now those doors don’t open for talent. They open for a lot of different reasons and it’s unfair to a person that’s determined to have a quality sound and be a quality artist. But what I would tell an up-and-coming artist is, do not be fooled by whatever the radio plays and whatever you see a person doing. Don’t think you have to change what you’re doing to get through that same filter. You still gotta believe in what you’re believing in. There has to be a level of determination that’s not to be surpassed, cause if you’re easily redirected, so to speak, you won’t have a direction. You have to be confident in your direction and push towards it and don’t be discouraged by what nobody says. You gotta believe in yourself and always refer to Prince if you need somebody to refer to, because Prince was told that the thing he was doing was musically incorrect. And he’s an icon in the music industry now. He’s very well respected, and the people that told him that are as sick as a dog right now.
That’s a good example because Prince is someone who was on a major label, he was on an independent, and he went back to majors. He’s done a lot of different things.
Exactly. He’s been on both sides of the fence. And very smart. He’s very intelligent. And you know, it’s always good to try to put a lot into yourself, too, because you’re only going to get out of something what you put into it, so if you don’t put that much in, don’t expect a lot to come out of it.