Do or Die Biography
The current success of fellow Chicagoans Kanye West, Twista, R. Kelly, and Syleena Johnson, and NO I.D. the traxster set the stage for D.O.D.’s triumphant return. “We felt that it’s a Do or Die situation right now,” Belo says. “So we’ve got to really do it or die. And we ain’t here to die.”
Indeed, D.O.D. features mind-blowing beats from Kanye West (R.Kelly, Twista, Jay-Z, Alicia Keys), DJ Quik (2Pac, Talib Kweli), Scott Storch (Beyonce, Dr. Dre, The Roots) N.O. Joe (Scarface, The Geto Boys) and The Legendary Traxster (Twista, Mystikal).
One of the many strong songs on the new album is the Kanye West – produced “Latest Greatest,” which features a choice Teddy Pendergrass sample. Known for its smooth yet gangster sound, D.O.D. expands its sonic reach on this irresistible song.
“It’s feel-good music,” A.K. explains. “Sometimes you gotta give people what they’re not expecting and that’s what we want to do.” “We’re both from Chicago, so we both know the vibe and the style,” Belo adds. “We’ve been around for a long time and Kanye respects us and we respect what he’s accomplished. By him being hot right now and what we’re bringing to the table, it’s just going to be another nuclear explosive song. I know it’s going to blow.
The same can be said for the DJ Quik-produced “Pimp Like This.” Over a dance-ready clap track, elegant piano and funky keyboards, D.O.D. shows that the marriage between the Midwest trio and this legendary West Coast producer was long overdue. “We were always fans of the cat anyway,” Belo says. “He was down to earth, consistent, stayed focused and was loyal to the project. It was history in the making. You’ve got a West Coast producer and rapper with a Midwest group. That right there is going to bring a lot of excitement.”
D.O.D. remain in the streets with “Keep It Pimpin’,” a subtly forceful Scott Storch-produced track, while they get gangster on the confrontational, N.O. Joe-produced “Legions Here.”
The latter refers to D.O.D.’s new recording home, The Legion Records. Launched in 2003 by Chicago real estate magnate, CEO Rudolph Acosta, the young, aggressive label will put Chicago on the Hip-hop recording list.
Indeed, since DO OR DIE broke through with “Po Pimp” it has been a musical force. Belo’s laid-back style, A.K.’s smooth, fast, flipping approach and N.A.R.D.’s aggressive delivery provided explosive results. Thanks to “Po Pimp,” the group’s first national album, 1996’s PictureThis, went platinum and established the elegant yet edgy gangster sound most normally known as the Chicago sound.
“It was the Chicago slang mixed with that Southern stuff, which was very different at the time,” N.A.R.D. says. “Being from Chicago, we had never been able to get that sound out. But by having that chance to get it out, people loved it and made it a success.”
Do or Die’s subsequent albums – 1998’s gold-certified Headz or Tailz, 2000’s Victory, 2002’s Back 2 the Game and 2003’s Pimpin’ Ain’t Dead – established the trio as one of the Midwest’s most respected and prolific groups.
Fans from New York to Chicago to Houston to LA respect D.O.D. because it always keeps its music authentic and impactful, with hard-core, heartfelt songs that always appeal to people in hoods across the country. “We’re making music for the streets,” Belo explains. “People can look up each and every one of our files and it’s going to read street on it.”
With D.O.D. Belo, A.K. and N.A.R.D. return with their most polished, well-rounded album, one the group feels lives up to their own lofty expectations. “Now we’re challenging ourselves to go to the next level,” A.K. says. “It’s not about competing with anybody else.” “That’s one thing Scarface told us: just don’t change you,” N.A.R.D. says. “Be you.”