Interview: Speedknot Mobstaz
Fri, 30 May 2008 16:19:44
Linking up with lightening-tongued Chicago rapper Twista way back in 1991, before he'd even recorded his major label debut, MCs Liffy and Mayz became fast friends with the fellow Chicago native, frequenting his studio and learning the ropes of the rap game. The three went on to release their first collaboration, Mobstability, in 1998. The album went gold, solidifying the Speedknot Mobstaz place as a legitimate force in the Chi-Town scene and earning them a spot as part of independent imprint Legit Ballin' Records.
Now, nearly a decade later, Liffy and Mayz are back, heavy with experience and ready to update their playbook with, Mobstability 2: Nation Business. Over the course of the album the two serve up a healthy dose of what they like to call "reality rap," backed by booming production and presented by squad-mate Twista. With their album dropping this week, the duo spoke to ARTISTdirect about regional divides, hustling hard in the Windy City and how you go about getting yourself a speedknot of your very own.
Tell me who I've got on the line with me.
Liffy: What's poppin, this is Liffy Stokes.
Mayz: This is your boy Mayz.
The new album is fire. But before we dig too deep into it, explain to me where you got the name Speedknot Mobstaz.
Liffy: Basically, we just put it together. When you get hit in the head real fast and a knot comes up, that's a speedknot. Then we added on the Mobstaz part, like an old school thing.
How did you hook up and get this crew together?
Liffy: It was basically just some old school rapping together on the street.
What was it like back in the day trying to get recognition in Chicago?
Liffy: Extra grimy. Everywhere else, you've got a record label down the street or a TV station where you can talk to the right person and get recognized. But here in Chicago, you can rap until your ears blow out but nobody's gonna see you. You've got to learn to get out there and get it to the right person. It's a blessing to be alongside the name Twista, who got recognized for being the fastest rapper alive. It helped us get out there.
It seems like now that you've gotten put on, you haven't forgotten about Chicago, and the other artists there.
Liffy: You can't ever forget the crib. If you listen to everything in Chicago, nobody really has a Chicago sound. Kanye has his sound. Twista has his sound. Once you listen to our music, you know there's our sound there too. You've got to dig to find all the sounds.
Who inspired you to start doing this music thing?
Mayz: Cube kind of raised me. I was about NWA. That's what made me want to rap. Plus, I have to say Rakim and Public Enemy.
Everyone's talking about how the industry is focused on the south right now. What do you think about all the back and forth going on about whether that's a good thing or not?
Liffy: To me, it's a reasonable separation. I see hip hop as a whole—growing nationwide. The boys down south figured it out. Now they've got the game covered. Everybody's had their time. The West Coast had it, then the East Coast had it, then the West Coast had it, then the East Coast got it back. Then Chicago was doing their thing, then Houston. It's just a growth for hip hop in general.
Plus, let's be honest, everybody bites off everybody else to some extent. How would you describe your particular sound?
Liffy: We've got that Wall Street sound. Everything we spill comes from the soul. It's from the heart. We ain't spaceballing, or talking about Columbians and shit. We're talking about regular, everyday hood situations.
Mayz: Everybody calls it gangsta rap, but I'd like to call it "reality rap". Everything we're talking about is straight reality. We're talking about kicking it on the streets or busting down shit. It's just regular music for regular people.