Two’s company, and three’s a crowd. But when you’ve been performing as a trio for most of your life, it just seems natural. Case in point: The LOX, or better yet, Sean “Sheek Louch” Jacobs. The big man from D-Block and Yonkers native sat around idly for years while the power current from his spot light was transferred over to his more known brethren. As of late, the New York lyricist with the in-your-face-flow has been getting his just due as The LOX continue their group hiatus in order to pursue solo endeavors. With Jadakiss’ highly anticipated album, The Last Kiss [Click to read review] scheduled for an ’09 release, (hopefully) the man once considered as the odd ball can take credit for playing a big part in keeping the entire movement afloat. With three studio albums under his belt, (that’s right, one more than “J To The Muah”) he decided to further his catalog by releasing Extinction (Last Of A Dying Breed), [Click to read review] a mixtape with is a collection of songs that didn’t make his Silverback Gorilla project back in March. Further capitalizing on his momentum, he also plans to drop another full-length album during the summer. So with all that going on, will the Hip-Hop community ever hear another LOX album again? You’re just going to have to read, and find out. iHipHop.com: So were you happy with how Silverback Gorilla was received? Sheek Louch: Hell yeah, I loved everything about Silverback Gorilla, no lie to you. I loved my single, and it was a Top 10 record. Just seeing it on the number four and three spots on 106 & Park, it was just crazy! That was a whole ‘nother lane for me to be added on pop stations, so it was dope. iHipHop.com: What made you release Extinction (Last Of A Dying Breed) [Click to read review] as a mixtape, instead putting some more songs on it, and dropping it as an album? Sheek Louch: That wasn’t my intension. It was more like me just hollering at KOCH and telling them I had some joints that didn’t make the album, and lets put something out as a mixtape and hit the streets with it, you know what I mean? It wasn’t like having the whole concentration of an album; it was more fun. Instead of holding on to these songs and not letting people hear them, I wanted to put them out. iHipHop.com: With it being called Extinction (Last Of Dying Breed), [Click to read review] is that how you view yourself? Is the title a little personal? Sheek Louch: It is… That’s how I view myself, and my two brothers; you know what I mean? Plus a handful of other people. I came up the in era with the mixtapes, like the DJ Clue’s, the Ron G’s, and all these people. You had to be NICE to be on those! It was a real honor to get on those. As for now, not discredit to anybody, but there is a lot of garbage mixtapes out, and it seems like everybody just drops every two days. They come out with a mixtape, and put anything on it, you know what I mean? I’m from the era of the B.I.G.’s the Craig Mack’s, and the Total’s, and there’s only a handful left that are cut from that cloth. iHipHop.com: With that being said, about dropping all the time; Silverback Gorilla was released back in March, and now you have this new project. You’re not worried about over saturating yourself? Sheek Louch: Nah, and that’s why I wanted to make it clear: This is not an album; this is straight fun. This is a time where we can drop a lot of music. One of the complaints that I hear just from my research alone—and actually Fabolous talked about this not too long ago on the radio. He was like, “Yo, D-Block/The LOX them n*ggas are crazy, they’re hot!” “They just don’t put out a lot of music.” Besides Fab saying that, it’s true. People always say we don’t drop as much as other people, and people would love for us to put more stuff out. iHipHop.com: So is that more strategy-wise? Like waiting a little bit longer than anyone else? Sheek Louch: Before it was like that because Kiss was dropping his album, now I came out with mine because his wasn’t coming for another month. So it was more like that. Then everybody heard the songs, and they were like, “Just let them go.” So I just put this out to feed the streets, then we have a compilation album coming out that’s CRAZY! But definitely go support that Jada album that’s coming out. Then I’m coming out around May with my real album. iHipHop.com: Speaking of Jada dropping, Styles [P] has Gangster Chronicles out on top of The Last Kiss, [Click to read review] and your project. So when is everybody going to hear The LOX as one whole unit again? Are you guys too busy? Sheek Louch: [Laughing]… I hope not, damn I hope not. EVERYBODY wants that project man, and it feels dope. But we’re definitely going to bang that out, and as far as I know Jimmy [Iovine] and everybody at Interscope wants it. But like you said, we just been busy man. But we’ve been teasing people, like with the Pete Rock joint we had out, ‘It’s Like That Y’all.’ So we’re keeping them hungry, because when they hear us all together, it’s like, “Oh my God!” Plus we been killing these big arenas like the Summer Jam’s and the Power Jam’s. iHipHop.com: Right now it seems that a lot of fans are obsessed with SoundScan numbers. Are first week sales something you think about? Sheek Louch: Nah, especially not right now, HELL NO! [Laughs] NOBODY is selling, with the exception of Lil Wayne, and that never happens. Look at the statistics. Me and Ed Lover was talking about how somebody will come out, and sold about 200,000 in their first week; then you check months later and they’re only at three-something… [Laughs] It’s a crazy game right now as far as sales and the whole Internet. A lot of the Mom & Pop stores are going down. iHipHop.com: So what does the 2008 “Sheek Louch” know that the 1997 “Sheek Louch” didn’t know? Sheek Louch: Ah man! You know my main one, I’m not going to give up on that one, and it’s to read your paper work. That was too much money I lost, you dig? But I would have jumped into the game a little earlier. Like when you were only hearing Styles [P] and Kiss; I should’ve really been thinking about getting a studio and getting our own sh*t popping. iHipHop.com: With you basically being the epitome of East Coast Hip-Hop, do you think that’s hindered you a little bit from reaching larger audiences? Sheek Louch: I think so, but I f*ck with all of the West Coast and the South; everybody. I f*ck with all of them. I think it was because I was younger back then, but as you get older, it’s okay to do that record with Snoop [Dogg] it’s okay to do some Southern records. I had a joint on Silverback Gorilla that had [DJ] Unk on it. As I got older, no one was beefing, so it was okay to do those records with [them] dudes. iHipHop.com: I want to go back to how you said it took you a while to jump in the game: When you first started doing solo material, was it difficult to create knowing that all 16’s would be fall on your shoulders? Sheek Louch: At the beginning I know everybody was like, “Let me see what this n*gga got” because at first all you heard was Kiss and Styles [P]. They would hear records with just them two, and they were wondering where I was at. So I know I had something to prove, and not to be that third wheel, and I knew I had to hit them and hit them. So I came out with “Everywhere we goooo” then it was “You can kiss your ass goodbye,” and I just kept dropping mixtapes. So when I came in with my third album, people were like, “Homie is hot!” iHipHop.com: Also, you’ve been on the independent circuit for a while, but would you align yourself with another major, if the opportunity presented itself? Or are you content with what you’re doing now? Sheek Louch: My only concern with a major is the traffic. There’s traffic at KOCH, and all these independent labels but I can drop three albums if I want to this year or the next year coming up. I wouldn’t do it, but I can if I wanted to because I have creative control. Over [there] you just get caught up in all of these long-term contracts and it’s all political and you have to wait because [Young] Jeezy is dropping, or this person or that person is dropping. At an independent, it’s hands-on and I meet with the people I need to meet with. At majors, they don’t even know who each other is, and they’re emailing each other when their offices are right next to each other… [Laughs] At least when you’re dealing with an independent, some coin comes back to you. So when you get that check, you’re like, “Damn, that’s another house!” You know what I mean? iHipHop.com: [Laughs]… So how do Sheek Louch and The LOX stay relevant in a fickle industry, especially surviving all the red tape drama you’ve all been through? Sheek Louch: You want to know why? I keep my ear to the streets man… I’m really out there, and I go to these clubs, and I’m not on none of that bullsh*t. I hear the music, and I go out there and see that sh*t changed. A lot of it has to do with changing with the times, and changing yourself as a person. A lot of people get into the game and they’re like, “Damn, now I have to become this other person.” On my last album I had a song on there called ‘Don’t Be Them,‘ and I meant that. iHipHop.com: So you’ve never felt pressure to change? Sheek Louch: Nah, hell no… If I did, it’s still going to be that music that you love. I can’t do any dance routines, I’m not going to lie to you fam, I can’t do none of that sh*t. I ain’t got a dance step for you, I ain’t got none of that! You know what I mean? [Laughs] I’m not trying to be none of that at all, I’m “Sheek Louch” and it’s D-Block ALL DAY!
By: Serge Fleury Just as Eminem proclaimed in his song, “Lose Yourself”; “you only have one shot, do not miss your time to blow; this opportunity comes once in a lifetime.” Those are the words that every artist lives by when they fanaticize of making it to the big time. Every unknown MC trying to break into the world of Hip-Hop, wants a taste of the glamorous life. Whether they want to publicly admit it, or not. They all want segments on MTV Cribs, to being the headliner for tours, and to be adored by millions of screaming fans. Some are just a lot more modest than others, when speaking about their personal goals. History has shown us that in the entertainment business, its not about what you know; its about who you know. Sad, but very true. You can be the most talented person in the world, and get the door shut in your face; because you lack the necessary connections. Or you can be one of the lucky few that has connections; and the talent needed gain the spot light, that everyone craves. This is the case for West Philadelphia native, Kenneth Johnson; better known as Omillio Sparks. The kid from Philly, and formerly of Roc-A-Fella’s State Property fame; has grown into a wise businessman over the past eight years. After being signed to Roc-A-Fella Records in 1999 through Beanie Sigel, the future looked bright for the young star. When he, along with fellow State Property cohorts invaded the Funk Master Flex Show on Hot 97 and took it over; the fire was already lit. And it seemed that it would be a very long time before it fizzled out. But with only two group albums in eight years, one movie, Beanie Sigel’s incarceration (since has been released), and the break up of Roc-A-Fella; O. Sparks looked more like an outsider looking in. Now as he sets forth to debut his solo project, “The Payback” through his own imprint Colossal Entertainment; Omillio Sparks lets the world know that all that glitters; isn’t gold. CrackSpace.com: Talk about Philadelphia. How was it like growing up there? Omillio Sparks: Man, it was cool growing up there. We had Schooly D, and we had a couple of other big artists coming out of there. So it was cool coming up in Philly. CrackSpace.com: So what have you been up to lately? What new projects are you working on? Omillio Sparks: Well my project is called “The Payback”, and that’s about to drop. I also have another movie in the works called “Expendable”, and I got another movie coming out called “What We Do.” I’m just movie central right now. [smiles] Its just popping off right now; there’s a lot of things that I’m working on. CrackSpace.com: Is there any particular reason you named your album The Payback? Omillio Sparks: Well yeah, there were a bunch of reasons man. Like when that whole thing happened with the Roc; I didn’t know where my next step was coming from. Then, when the Roc was going over to Def Jam, they didn’t take me, know what I’m saying. They left me hanging in the wind, and besides that, I had some other personal problems too. Like my money was low, my lady was trippin’ on me, and I couldn’t get distribution. But I was still in grind-mode, and now I got my own company. We are in full effect now. [smiles] CrackSpace.com: Was it hard to make a solo album, after being involved in just group projects? Omillio Sparks: Nah, not at all. Even with all that other stuff going on, it wasn’t hard for me to do that. Because I was starving; and I was hungry, know what I’m saying. The more things I go through, the better I write. So every time something hit me, and I’d recover from it. It was like; “BOOM!” I’d make a rhyme. So it wasn’t hard at all. Man, it made me strong actually. CrackSpace.com: Do you still keep in contact with all the members of State Property? Omillio Sparks: No doubt, I’m in contact with everybody except for Freeway. I done talked to Mac [Beanie], and Oschino is on my new mixtape. I still talk to the Gunnas, I just don’t talk to Freeway that much. But I’m still in contact with the boys. CrackSpace.com: So everything is still cool between you and Beanie? Omillio Sparks: Yeah, ain’t nothing bad between us. CrackSpace.com: What did you learn from your experience at Roc-A-Fella and working with Jay-Z? Omillio Sparks: Just to handle your business, keep your mind on your money, man. Keep your folks tight, and keep your business tight. And I’ll tell you that and that everything is not what its cracked up to be. I want to see everything in writing, and after that; my lawyer has to see it in writing. That’s what l learned man, straight up. CrackSpace.com: How was your mind set during that time when The Roc was going through turmoil? Omillio Sparks: It was crazy man, I never knew why we didn’t come out. [long pause] Listen man, we had State Property. Me and Oschino was a group, Crakk [Peedi] was a solo artist, Beanie, was a solo artist, Freeway was a solo, artist, and The Young Gunnas was a group. Then we got to Hot 97, and we was all in one building. CrackSpace.com: Yeah, I remember that night. Y’all took over the station. Omillio Sparks: Yeah that night was CRAZY! You feel me? Then everybody was like; “damn these n***as are hot!” “so what’s up with them?” So that was a buzz for us, and then here comes the State Property album. But we was still all broke. And there wasn’t anything before someone came; and actually worked out the deal for us to promote State Property. We was like; “if we’re State Property, and we doing all this, then where’s our cash at?” So that’s how that was going down. Then me and Oschino couldn’t come out, because he was going to jail and I was working. I was under contract with Oschino, so I couldn’t sign without him. Then Freeway did a song with Puffy and them, so he was about to drop his record; and we still got pushed back some more. Omillio Sparks: So meanwhile back at the ranch, [laughs] we still kept it popping, because we did “State Property: The movie”, and we hit the road. But we was like; “hold up!” Because we’re working but, everybody ain’t eating. So that’s how it went down, and we never came out. But we was still riding. We were like; “Jay you’re our man you’re the boss, so we’re riding with you.” “If anybody comes at ya neck, you ain’t got to say nothing we got you, just fall back.” So when [they] did the break-up of Roc-A-Fella, and Jay took the rest of them and left us, that’s when we was like; “WHOA!”, “HOLD UP!” But this is a business know what I’m saying, it was all business. But now I got my own company, Colossal Entertainment. CrackSpace.com: So during all that down time, were you still making music? Omillio Sparks: Well, I wasn’t chilling. But before I started making music; I had to handle my business. I had got with my business partner, then we had formed the company, know what I’m saying. So first I had to get comfortable, before anything else. CrackSpace.com: So how did the situation come about with you writing the hook for “I Just Wanna Luv You (Give It 2 Me)” for Jay-Z? Omillio Sparks: I was just in the studio, I was in the B Room, and they were in the A Room. Then Mac came into the B Room, and he heard me laying the song down. Then he went back into the A Room to tell Hov what was going on. Then Hov came back into the B Room, know what I’m saying. [smiling] Then Hov heard the hook, and he wanted it. Next thing you know, I’m flying to go meet Pharrell, and shoot the video out in L.A. CrackSpace.com: What other material have you written? Omillio Sparks: Well I wrote seven songs off the first State Property album, and six off the second State Property album. I had something on “The Blueprint 2: The Gift & The Curse” album too. I did a lot of writing, thank God for the publishing companies. [laughing] CrackSpace.com: So that ASCAP money must be looking real good right now? [smiles] Omillio Sparks: Oh right! Now its good! We get about $8.00 per record, we just chilling man. I’m just feeling good, and going shopping. [smiles] CrackSpace.com: Would you say it’s hard switching from artist to CEO? Or do you wear both hats equally? Omillio Sparks: You would think that, but with all the crap I went through; it already made me a CEO. Because my brain thinks big business first; that’s just second nature right now. Everything I do, I plan it out first. I figure out in which direction I’m moving, in and I execute, know what I’m saying. CrackSpace.com: So what’s one of the toughest lessons you’ve learned in the music business so far? Omillio Sparks: [long pause] This is what I’ve learned. I learned that it doesn’t matter who you are; whether you’re Puffy, Jay-Z, or just anybody with a sh*t load of cash, always know who you are. That’s the biggest thing I’ve learned. When I got up [there], I was riding with the people who had the money, so I thought everything was going to be right. And that ain’t always what its cracked up to be. Just make sure you handle your own business; because if you don’t see no results, then you’re working for nothing.
iHipHop Blog Team