Free At Last the new album from Yukmouth contains a stellar line-up of Hip-Hop heavyweights; including, Messy Marv, Choppa Young City, Mistah F.A.B., 2Eleven, Roccett, Curren$y, Dru Down, Lee Majors, Richie Rich, Beeda Weeda, Agerman, Shady Nate, Kafani, C-Bo, Stevie Joe, Philthy Rich, Chop Black, Country Black, G Stack, Lucci, Lil Hyfe, as well as The Regime. Standout tracks are plentiful, most notably, the Jannine V assisted “The Hard Way,” “Smell It On Me,” with Young Money’s Gudda Gudda, Tity Boi from Playaz Circle & D-Gloder, and the just released “official” lead offering, “The Life,” a bangin’ collabo with Ya Boy, Jay Rock & vocalist London, which should be taking over all internet, radio, and video outlets any moment now.
Yukmouth, nee’ Jerold Dwight Ellis III, literally burst onto the music scene as one-half of the platinum-plus, Bay Area rap duo Luniz. The group is most famously known for their popular marijuana anthem, “I Got 5 on It,” which samples the Club Nouveau classic, “Why You Treat Me So Bad,” and appears on their platinum-plus, ’95 debut, Operation Stackola.
1998 saw the release of the Oakland, California, pair’s sophomore effort, Lunitik Muzik, which spawned the Raphael Saadiq assisted “Jus Mee & U,” and “Hypnotize,” a fiery duet with Redman. Shortly thereafter, Yuk split from his, then, partner-in-rhyme, Numskull, taking his Smoke-A-Lot imprint down south to J Prince’s Rap-A-Lot Empire.
Thugged Out: The Albulation, a, then, ground-breaking double CD, was the self-proclaimed “Worldwide Mobb Figga’s” first solo outing, selling over 500,000 units, and garnering favorable reviews from fans and critics alike.
Flash forward over the course of the last eleven years, and four records, later, and Yuk, who also moonlights as a member of the Thug Lordz, alongside the above mentioned C-Bo, is back with, possibly, his most well rounded project-to-date, Free At Last.
In this exclusive interview with UrbanBridgez.com as apart of our Black Music Month ‘Interview Series,’ Yukmouth speaks to Aries about his new album, his latest business ventures, his take on the Lil Kim/Niki Minaj beef, his issue with Drake, skinny jeans and alot more!
UrbanBridgez.com: Tell me about your latest release?
Yukmouth: I got that “Free At Last”, we just dropped that June 1 st! We got Curren$y, Gudda Gudda, City Boyz, Chopper City, Messy Marv, everybody on that album. More importantly, it has me! Shout out to Roccett & 2-Eleven, it goes on. The album is just hot! So that’s what I’m working, Free At Last movement going on.
UrbanBridgez.com: “East Oakland” is a dope song one of my favorites from you recently, what are your favs from the new release?
Yukmouth: Oh okay, thanks man good lookin, appreciate that. My favorite is ‘Pac Man,’ I love ‘Pac Man!’ That’s one of my favorites, as far as for the girls I love ‘She Want It,’ that lil Jamaican joint with Rankin Scroo on it. I got that playing right now in the Bay on the radio. So everybody call KMEL and request that! But really I like the whole album man, I’m my biggest fan! So I go hard and know when I did come and when I didn’t come with it. With this album I think I changed. Some songs may be album fillers, but 99.9% isn’t. So I think I did my thing and I’m where my fans want me to be, you know.
UrbanBridgez.com: What’s going with all the business and the rest of your imprints?
Yukmouth: Oh yeah man, check out my movie that’s out right now. I’m co-starring as a role of a hit man in this film called Five.K.One (BET in September). We shot it in Detroit in 7 Mile, that’s the hood for those that don’t know. It has Melvin Jackson Jr. (The Wire), Clifton Powell (Friday) and Arnez J (Comedian), Quest Mcody (Rapper) and me. Me and Quest play hitmen. It’s basically about a drug lord who gets snitched on and they hire a hit man & that’s when I come in. Go pick that up. I also got merchandise down to the clothing line. Hit up www.smokealotrecords.com, I also got my DVD collection going down United Ghettos of America. The latest one is killin it, working on the next one where we go Denmark, Sweden, Amsterdam, Germany, Australia and New Zealand. And we’re going on tour, me, Tech 9, Dru Down, Kurupt, so it’s going to show us just rockin over seas. That one is United Ghettos of America: Passport, it’s going to come with a CD and DVD all together. Then the next one is going to feature Mack Dre when he was alive, Pimp C, I even got Anna Nicole Smith when she was alive. It’s gonna be a classic DVD. What else, my artists I got coming. So I’m just focused man, now that I got my label going and I’m signed to myself. Just ready to spread my wings and do my independent thing!
UrbanBridgez.com: What’s your take on the whole Lil Kim/Nicki Minaj beef and just rap beefs period?
Yukmouth: I feel the same, you know I had beef because I felt like someone didn’t pay homage to where they took something from. With Master P, we felt he stole from us and didn’t pay homage. So that plays a big part in how people react, it’s like we ain’t got no problem rockin together but just pay homage from where you got it from! A shout out or thank you or something, don’t just take & act like you invented it, you know. So I feel Lil Kim, I was on tour with her. With BIG, Jodeci, Mary J, etc. We all came out around the same time back in 95, so I actually know Kim. And I know that was her swag, you know the whole sexy image and wearing the lingerie and all that. Kim was doing that back in 94/95! So for Nicki to come out, rocking the same type of image & not pay no homage. Just acting like she came up with the whole Barbie sh*t, the first female rapper to come with the whole Barbie shit was Lil Kim. Remember, she even had a video where she was being put together as a Barbie Doll?
UrbanBridgez.com: Oh yeah, “How Many Licks” with Sisqo!
Yukmouth: Yeah, so you feel me. Niki got all of that from Kim! Colorful wigs, to the Barbie shit & rapping and being all sexy with it. Female rappers use to be like Boss & Brat, all thugged out. So Kim switched it up and made female rappers get sexy. Then came Foxy and all them, so Kim was the leader of it all because she started it and was doing it first! So she brought a whole new thing to the game as far as female rappers went. Now every female got to be sexy, can’t be ugly, can’t be thugged out and she gotta be spittin that sh*t. So everybody is takin pages out of Lil Kim’s book, you just have to give respect period! I love Nicki Minaj, she got the whole female rapper thing wrapped up right now. Everybody wants to sign a female rapper now because of Niki. She got it on fire, she’s hot. She doesn’t sound like Kim at all, it’s just the image that she’s pushin & what she’s doing, Kim did it already. So in all I feel Kim, just give her a shout out! She’s the head bi*ch of this shit, Nicki got the patton & she’s keeping the marathon going. If she said something like that, there would be no beefs or no problems on Kim’s side and that I understand! Then you got niggas like Drake (imitating Drakes voice) “I don’t see what the problem is and I don’t agree.” It’s like Drake stop being a hater! That’s like him saying he don’t sound like Wayne and Kanye. He does and gives it up to Wayne all the time. So why can’t Niki give it up to who she got her shit from? I know she’s apart of his crew and he’s down with her, but he needs to be realistic first, you know! I don’t think it’s gonna be no rivalry or anything or beef on wax. I think they’re going to come together, do a song and a tour. Music videos and make some money off of this sh*t. They’re both big names in this industry, so if they come together it will be fuckin crazy! That’s all this is setting up to be, they’re going to get some money out of this.
UrbanBridgez.com: For Black Music Month: What was the first Hip-Hop release you remember ever buying?
Yukmouth: I have to say…it was Run-DMC. That was the first Hip-Hop album I ever bought. They were the hippest rappers ever! There was rappers like Kurtis Blow, Grandmaster Flash and all them but the first album I bought was a Run-DMC album.
UrbanBridgez.com: Oakland has always represented for Hip-Hop, what’s one of your favorite memories/eras?
Yukmouth: I gotta go with when we came in the game, 95! When we came in we brought everybody with us. We wasn’t just worried about ourselves we brought everybody. We got Richie Rich, Dru Down, Mack Mall and Three Times Crazy all deals! Everybody got big deals and got paid, so I gotta go with our era. Nobody did it like that, even when Hammer came in he didn’t bring everybody in, he had them on tour but didn’t bring anybody in. Too $hort had to get his self in, so yeah us because we brought the squad with us! 94/95, that was it!
UrbanBridgez.com: What’s something about Rap & Hip-Hop you would like to see change?
Yukmouth: The whole skinny jean movement. You got niggas lookin like females in leggings. I just ain’t feeling that, so if I could change something it would be that. Get back to jeans that ain’t huggin all on your nuts and get back to the real of it. Tight skinny jeans, get the fu*k on with that! Really that’s the only thing I got a problem with. Because music evolves, I’m not going to get on anybody’s style of music. So yeah just that, you got all these young kids lookin like a white punk rocker. It’s cool for them, because that’s their style. But when you see a black dude saggin with some tight a*s pants on, got his whole a*s out, got a camel toe in the front it’s like what type of sh*t is that? The white dudes least wear theirs up to their waste. Oh my lord that looks ridiculous and with a t-shirt that stops at your stomach. Lookin like a halter top like a female (laughs).
Yukmouth: Ain’t nothing fly about that!
UrbanBridgez.com: Will you be doing any touring or spot dates in the near future?
Yukmouth: Yeah I’m just doing spot dates right now. Like Ohio, Cleveland, New Mexico and Washington all coming up. We got a boat cruise in the Bay next month. So yeah man I’m moving and got more shows coming up. Also going over seas to do some more shows. www.smokealotrecords.com for info. Also follow me on Twitter, I’m the most hilarious nigga on there. So follow me on Twitter!
UrbanBridgez.com: Any last words for your fans?
Yukmouth: Go get that new album, thank you to my fans for holding me down for 16 years! Still relevant so thanks to my fans for still fuckin with me because without y’all I wouldn’t still be in it. So thanks for the support without you there is no me. Go get that ‘Free At Last’ and add it to your collection, ya dig!