With his journey from being an independent artist to landing a deal with Atlantic Records that still allows him to hustle on his own, Slim Thug has made a career of making the music industry work for him, not the other way around. Recently, the Houston MC has expanded his hustle with Serve and Collect, an album with his group Bo$$ Hogg Outlawz that’s jointly released on KOCH and his Boss Hogg label. In an interview with HipHopCrack, Slim Thug schools readers on the politics of working with a group, the independent hustle, and weighing in on The Apphiliates’ court case.
HHC: Tell me about how the group came together.
Slim Thug: We’ve all been rapping together since Swishahouse, you know what I’m saying. It was through Big Pokey, you know what I’m saying, we was all doing underground shit and he saw what we was doing. We exchanged game, became cool and it became a family thing. We started doing records together. Killa came through and Young Black, shit started to fall in place. Rob Smallz is an R&B. We weren’t even looking for an R&B dude. He made it fit in with what we were doing. The music was good. He had gangsta hooks, party shit, so we just made it happen.
HHC: On your last album, Already Platinum, was largely a solo album. This album is almost like a group album/compilation. So, how was it to record with a group, as opposed to doing it solo?
Slim Thug: It was much easier. When you work with a lot of different dudes, you have different minds working. Whereas, if you’re solo, you’re doing the majority of the work by yourself. So, it’s easier to work with a group. Everyone sounds different, no one sounds like me. That’s why I kind of wanted to put them on a CD and do solo songs, so they can get their own standout shine. I don’t want it to where people say, “Boss Hogg Outlawz,” and just think about me. I don’t want that. I want my artists to be able to do their own shows. Because if these dudes don’t have the same talent that I got, they got more. I’m just trying to display the shit.
HHC: On the single, you guys have a lot of chemistry. How difficult is it to have people to be on the same page for a song, much less a whole album?
Slim Thug: It ain’t new to us. We’ve been doing underground and independent albums together. We’ve been doing this for years. As long as I’ve been rapping, they’ve been rapping with me. So, we like a group already. At the end of day, regardless of the public, people know us.
HHC: You’re only on twelve songs on the album. Five of the album songs don’t have you on them. So, the songs that you weren’t on, did you personally oversee those songs or did you let them do you their thing?
Slim Thug: How I did it was I did my records and if I loved the beat, I’d get on it. Or when they called me to feature on a track, then I’d hop on it, too. But when people were doing their solo record, it wasn’t like I had to be on there. But if they felt better with me on there, then I was definitely going to do that. But being on twelve songs is being a major part of the album. It’s not like I just wrote “Slim Thug Presents…” and have the artist rapping on the album. I’m rapping on every song, damn near, so it’s a real project for me.
HHC: Were you there in the studio during the recording process of the other artists?
Slim Thug: I seen everything. I saw all the songs. I watched over the whole shit. A lot of times, they’d feel like I need to be on the song, but I feel like that I’m getting in they lane, that I’m jammin’ like a muhfucka. So, I don’t want to get on there. It’s an everyday thing. Just like you do what you do, this is my job. I come to the studio, so, when they rapping, I’m watching. At the end of the day, I’ll see what’s going on.
HHC: In a lot of groups, the most popular rapper who brought the group in ends up being the only one really known. So, how do you plan on changing that?
Slim Thug: I really think that that’s going to be out of the question. These dudes are talented, these dudes are undeniable. I’m not as serious about this as they are, honestly. They in the studio rapping more than me. They take this shit more serious. I don’t know, maybe it’s because I done got paid off of this, that makes me move slower now. But these dudes are still as hungry as they ever been. Especially, since they have the opportunity to use me to get through the door. I’m just trying to let them do it; if I have to fall back to let them shine, whatever. … I don’t think what happens with other groups is going to happen with us. It’s like when P was doing his shit and Mystikal came through and got his shine. He had a lot of talent. I think a lot of the problem is that a lot of the different artists that bring their artists through, they artists don’t have much talent. Like Lloyd Banks and Young Buck, they shine too. They may not sell like 50, but they still have a big name out there.
HHC: What would you say sets each member apart from one another?
Slim Thug: Killa Kyleon is lyrical. He’s going to say some shit that you won’t believe, some shit that’s crazy. J-Dawg is more a hood dude. He’s going to tell you some real good hood shit. PJ is going to keep it simple, but fly. He’s going to talk his shit. Chris Ward is the fly guy from the South Side. He got the fly slang. He’s going to say that new fly word. Rob Smallz is the R&B guy. He writes all of his shit. He can get on his gangsta shit. Or he can do it up for the ladies. Young Black is lyrical, straight out the hood, grimy dude. Sir Daily got that drawl. It’s kind of like a Pimp C accent. Everyone have their own quality that they bring to the table.
HHC: That’s dope how you didn’t have to think it through to decide which artist had what qualities, that really shows how seriously you’re taking this.
Slim Thug: It ain’t new though. This isn’t a gang of Slim Thugs. You sometimes have a group who comes out sounding alike. When you hear us together, that’s not what you hear. I can admit when they’ve gone harder than me on a song. That’s why I really want to put them out and let them shine; maybe they can take me farther.
HHC: Your album had a lot of all-star features, but this album doesn’t have those names. So, how do you think the group handled that?
Slim Thug: It wasn’t a Slim decision to do that, it was their decision to do that. On this album, they have solo songs. They had a decision to make. If they really wanted to get some show money, they either had to feature all these guys or get they own shine. We’re trying to showcase talent amongst eight dudes. So, we gave everyone a good song, then we got ones together, so there wasn’t any room for any other features. It wasn’t a Slim Thug call, this is more so the set-up record. Just let everyone shine by themselves and make it work from there. I think that sometimes it handicaps a ma’fucka when they get so many features on the shit. Even with myself… I didn’t want my album to turn out like that. But my shit was to the fucked up point, these were the records that were cleared, so that’s how it all turned out.
HHC: What made you go with Koch instead of going through a major label?
Slim Thug: We do have a major label deal with Geffen. But when I signed the deal, I made sure that I could still do independent. I had this plan from the jump… to let Interscope market me around the country, to make me a star. Then use what they do over here to make me some more money independent. It wouldn’t make sense to go through a collect-o hits at this point, when there’s KOCH out there. They have chart topping songs at Koch. “Walk It Out” and “Ballin’” are some chart topping songs, so it ain’t like they can’t do it. So, I’m using Geffen/Interscope to make money and still work with them. After Serve & Collect, comes my album, Boss of All Bosses, then we’ll drop this Boyz ‘N Blue” album. Then Killa’s album or whoever else is ready will come next.
HHC: You’ve made most of your reputation independently. Why do you think the independent hustle is getting more respect these days?
Slim Thug: Really, it just makes more sense right now. I’m glad I worked that out before I signed that deal. It ain’t nothing like being independent. Mothafuckas try to say that KOCH ain’t a good look, but at the end of the day, if you can really sell a lot of records on KOCH, you’re gonna get a whole lot of paper. And with how the sales are dropping nowadays, it makes more sense. So that’s what I’m looking at it like.
HHC: What’s been the most difficult part of running your own label?
Slim Thug: You’re new to it, just like any business. It’s taking chances. You win some, you lose some, and that’s just how it go. You’re the head dude, that makes people look at you and depend on you, and me being who I am, and the success I get, it kind of confuses people. It’s just a lot of shit with it. But it’s just like any other business.
HHC: You’ve done a lot of work in the mixtape scene. What do you think of the situation with the RIAA and The Apphiliates?
Slim Thug: That’s fucked up. I think they did what they wanted to. They got news involved—that wasn’t important, they ain’t have to do all that, it’s just CDs. Trying to make it look real serious, with racketeering and all this other bullshit, trying to make it look like they’re on organized crime shit, when really it’s just music. Really, they’re just trying to shake up the industry. They know they can’t go out and get everybody, so they try to scare the motherfuckers who buy ‘em. They did a good job with that.