Notorious B.I.G. used to smoke blunts and drink liquor with The Lox.
They met when Mary J. Blige delivered the group's Styles P, Sheek Louch, and Jadakiss from the streets of Yonkers to Puff Daddy's Bad Boy headquarters, where they helped make hits like "It's All About the Benjamins."
Later, they blew up with DMX and the Ruff Ryders. And then they started their own damn shit, D-Block Records. Today, they are a still vital force in New York hip-hop. And tonight, they're gonna rock downtown Miami's Grand Central, thanks to DJ Heron.
Here's what founding member Sheek Louch had to say about Scarface, guns, and the Versace Mansion.
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Crossfade: How did The Lox all meet?
Sheek Louch: Childhood friends living in the same area, same apartment buildings. Then when my mom moved, his mom moved, so it was like we was following each other. Same high school. Same junior high school, same football teams. Our parents are actually still close.
How'd you get together musically?
When we started making and selling our own tapes in high school. People were buying our cassettes. First, we were called the Bomb Squad, and then we were called The Warlocks. That was another generation, and those were the tapes.
What artists got you into rap?
Aww, man, I wanna say Run-D.M.C., Public Enemy, EPMD, Big Daddy Kane, and Rakim. That's what it was for me.
Were you into skating rinks growing up, and what music did they play there?
Yeah, definitely. We had the Skate Key in the Bronx that we used to always go to. Skating was big back then, and all the girls used to go there. So it was a big party. There was also The Rink in Jersey, and that was like all the hip-hop and the latest R&B, and all the girls would be there. It was dope. So that's where all the fellas would be at too. They played all that freestyle music and all that Luke and 2 Live Crew, all that "Don't Stop" was all up there. It was crazy.
What is your history with Miami?
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I remember Puff used to be in Miami all the time and we'd come down with him. Before he moved there, he would rent a house and throw a big party, pool parties and all that. We shot some stuff there for Puff Daddy & The Family album. And I remember when we actually stayed in the Versace Mansion. It was crazy. So yeah, we been coming to Miami.
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Do you think it's important for people to live what they rap?
I mean, don't get too caught up. As an OG, I can say, it's entertainment. Be true to your craft, but don't go out there trying to kill these kids. It's like when you see De Niro. Or Al Pacino, it's a movie, he's not really Scarface. At the end of the day, he goes home to his family. Be true to your art, but don't go out and do dumb shit. Just remember, at the end of the movie, Scarface dies.
How is the tour life and what do you have coming up?
That's all I do is tour! The Lox are going back on the road, from here to L.A. and everywhere in October. We're killin' it and having a great time and just touring like crazy. It's beautiful.
When I'm not with my brothers in The Lox, I'm out there with the Wu, going all over the world. I stay in Europe. It's like two forces joining together, making major moves.
How did you meet DJ Khaled?
A long time ago, let me think where at ... I'm thinking somewhere around Fat Joe and Macho and him being around the scene at the time. Khaled's still around, we try and get tracks from him when we with Swizz, or play him what we workin' on to see what he thinks of it. I'm not just sayin' that, Khaled's my dude.
Do you watch battle rap?
A little bit. Ghostface be really watching it on the tour bus and shit. I'm cool with Murda Mook and Loaded Lux, but I gotta catch up. It's so many of them now. It's a lot of them motherfuckers.
To what do you attribute the longevity of your group?
I wanna say our longevity and being still relevant is due to loyalty and respect to one another. And paying attention to everything around us. We don't become the people on the street, but we keep our ear to the street.
What is your recording process like?
I got like some immediate people around me who I trust the opinions of. No yes men. No yeah yeah yeah that shits hot to whatever I do. I need genuine people around me on the regular.
What's next for D Block?
A lot is happening. We all have solo projects. We're doing a mixtape for Christmas, and an album for February. Then we got a compilation coming on all the artists that we're dealing with.
What do you think about the idea of auctioning off an album to the highest bidder like Wu Tang and Bone Thugs are doing?
That's crazy. I heard RZA talking about that. As long as it's good music, why not. New ideas keep hip hop fresh.
Any movie roles in your future?
Not yet. I tried out for a couple roles but I didn't get the part. People see me and automatically think I'm trying to do some gangster shit, but really, I'm into comedy. It ain't no problem with laughing. My favorite comedians are Richard Pryor, Redd Foxx, of course right now Kevin Hart, and you can't forget the Fridays with Chris Tucker.
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What do you think about gun laws?
I don't think people care about them too much. People are wilin' out there. There was just that little girl, a 9-year-old girl who shot the gun instructor in the head with an Uzi. I heard he switched it to fully automatic for her and she just couldn't control it. That shit is crazy.
What do you think about police having military-style weapons?
That's ridiculous. The whole Ferguson situation, putting the dogs on people, it's like back in the '60s. I don't like it one bit.
What do you think of "trap music" and techno-style hip-hop?
It's cool in the club. Big DJs are doing that shit. You hear a lot of that in Europe. They just take your vocals and do all that shit to it. Why not? I would do it. In Europe, that shit be crazy.
What are you gonna do for The Lox set in Miami?
We gonna kill it. We gonna study the crowd and play all that fly shit and do our thing.
What was it like smoking with Biggie Smalls?
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Great. Drinking, chopping it up about real shit, seeing his work ethic. Wish he could have got to be on stage more. That's my dude. He embraced us immediately.
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The Lox's Styles P, Sheek Louch, and Jadakiss. With DJ Heron. Presented by Addictive Affairs. Friday, August 29. Grand Central, 697 N. Miami Ave., Miami. The show starts at 10 p.m. and tickets cost $30 to $50 plus fees via wantickets.com. Ages 21 and up. Call 305-377-2277 or visit grandcentralmiami.com.