As babies of the late 80s, we were a bit too young to understand the 90s rap world to the fullest. Our immaturity made it difficult for us to piece the verses of a track together. We also think it had a lot to do with the speed at which we were analyzing the tune. If our parents caught us listening to artists like Tupac and Biggie, at such a tender age, we would probably have had a few more punishments under our belts. Nowadays, the music restriction rule no longer applies, so we have only recently unearthed the authenticity and rawness of the generation’s music. The lyrical arrangements of the 90s rap tunes, for the most part, come straight from the streets. These tracks do not get blindly tossed onto just any singer’s lap. To give these tunes the justice they deserve, the artist must feel or relate to the agony expressed in the tune. With these words, the rapper duo of O.F.T.B comes into play.
Kevin “Flipside” White and Ronald “Low M.B.” are the men of O.F.T.B and if anyone could describe the rap world of the 90s intricately, it would be the two of them. Releasing their debut album, ‘Straight Up Watts’, back in 1992, O.F.T.B began their careers amongst the East Coast vs. West Coast craze. As with us, you may not have had the opportunity to check this album out, but O.F.T.B has given us another shot with their latest album, ‘Damn Near Dead’, which will drop July 12th via Death Row Records/ WideAwake. A significant point to make about ‘Damn Near Dead’ is that the album was completed in the 90s, but due to internal conflict, the album will not be dropped until this July. Disregarding the album’s release date, ‘Damn Near Dead’ highlights the essence of the 90s rap world with tracks featuring artists like, Snoop Dogg, Kurupt and MC Hammer.
Travel through time with O.F.T.B and check out our interview below as the rapper duo “Flipside” and “Low M.B.” recount the 90s as if it were yesterday. We would like to just reiterate how lucky you music fans are to have ‘Damn Near Dead’ drop in 2011. The album is a piece of rap history and it would be foolish not to purchase it.
What’s the meaning behind the band name, O.F.T.B?
Well we all grew up in Watts Nickerson Garden Project, which most people would consider the bottom. We were all lookin’ for a legal way out and since hip hop and gangster rap was on the rise we decided that it would be our way out. In order for us to make it, we had to have a real movement, which lead us to come up with operation from the bottom.
What was it like being in the rap world during the whole East Coast vs. West Coast situation?
To us it really wasn’t a situation cause New York was always known for battle rappin, but the west coast was a different beast. As far as east coast vs the west coast that was a lot of media hype.
How do you think this battle influenced rap music of the 90s?
Well it had a lot of people believing the hype and jumpin’ on the band wagon, choosing sides and repin’ their coast, which separated a lot of artists in the industry. So a lot of artists didn’t want to work with other artists on a different coast and missed out on a lot of what could have been some of the greatest songs and albums in the world. At that time, we didn’t really get to caught up in that mess. We still liked a lot of music and artists from all coasts.
Do you like the course rap music has taken since the 90s?
I wouldn’t go as far as sayin’ I like where it’s going, but I would say that we like the fact that it’s still going and we still have the power and the talent to send it in the direction we think it should be.
What were some of your musical influences?
Just to name a few Michael Jackson, Steve Wonder, Public Enemy, KRS One, Run DMC, and NWA. We could go on and on.
What artists do you enjoy listening to on the radio now?
Jay Rock, CUBE, NateDogg, Snoop, Lil Wayne Kanye West, Geese, Jay Z and a lot more.
Does ‘Damn Near Dead’ hold a different meaning now than when you guys first made the album in the 90s?
Yeah, it means the same. The album hasn’t been altered in any form or fashion. That’s just the way we felt back then. We gave it to you raw and uncut.
What was the reasoning for the album taking more than a decade to drop?
Politics and all the turmoil that was going on back then. Along with a lot of f**ked up decisions Shuge and David Kenner made.
How do you think ‘Damn Near Dead’ will situate itself in the current rap world?
It will situate itself real well because it’s not the same music everybody is listening to today. So it can take you there and bring you back more educated about O.F.T.B. and life on Deathrow. Bottom line, after you listen to that album you will know a lot of hip hop history and at the same time rock with it.
How was it collaborating with MC Hammer and Snoop Dogg?
It was a lot of fun and educational workin’ with those guys because we were all very professional and passionate about our work. We all knew it was a job at that time in our life, so we were going to work when we came to the studio. We had good jobs and could get high on the job smokin’, drinkin’, clownin’, and wouldn’t be fired!
What are the future plans for O.F.T.B?
We have a new label called Tha Payroll Entertainment and we are ready to drop the new album, ‘Hostile Environment’, on 9/11/2011, which celebrates the death of Osama bin Laden. We have a host of albums droppin’ almost every few months with groups like Lyrical Flynn, DEVEY2G, Bad Habbit, Lil Louie, L.A. Tonya, Kenyatta, Lil PJ, Marnieside, Yam Bam, RickRock and many others. Check out the website oftbmusic.com.
by Lonnie Nemiroff