Our Exclusive Interview with The Eastside Boyz

When Lil Jon and the Eastside Boyz first debuted in 1997, it was not expected for them to change the sound of rap. But, that’s exactly what happened. The “crunk” style of music was hip-hop with the energy of rock and it was unlike anything that most audiences had ever seen.

After The Eastside Boyz and their success, the sound of Atlanta changed forever. There was the emergence of the “snap music” sound and culture, which spawned dozens of popular groups and artists. The sound didn’t just change in Atlanta, it changed across the country. The Eastside Boyz are still touring and seeing mosh pits in the crowd when they perform as well as putting out great new music. We talked to the Eastside Boyz about their legacy in hip-hop as well as their future.

TRUE MAGAZINE: So, the first question I have to ask is what have you guys been up to?

ESB: Ah man, working. We just been in the studio workin’. Doin’ shows here and there. Gettin’ this new music ready for everybody.

TRUE:  Ok, ok. So you doing shows, what’s the audience response when you guys are out there?

ESB: Straight! They be off the chain!

TRUE:  That’s what’s up! What’s your most popular song in your opinion?

ESB: My opinion? Uhh Get Low. Get low because it crossed over and became the most popular songs that everybody know from lil’ kids to the grandparents.

TRUE:  So, let’s talk about that. What do you think it was that made your music so popular that it can crossed over all the audiences?

ESB: Umm…I just think because it was different at the time. Even though you have different music now, some of it sound the same. Our music was different from any music that was out at the time…and it was more like partying type, good workout music. I had a lot of people come back from like the Army and stuff said they used to listen to it over there in the jungles and stuff (laughs).

TRUE:  Yea I think that’s really cool, that’s something I haven’t really thought about. Like the crossover appeal, and it was something like anybody had ever heard.

ESB: When “Get Low” crossed over, we start seeing mosh pits at the shows. Mosh pits, and white women lifting their shirts! That’s when you know you really crossed over.

TRUE:  When you think back on the origins of that sound, what shaped the direction that you all took the music in?

ESB: Man, we was basically just doin’ us! Like, we didn’t have no format, no rules. We was just doin’ it how we wanted…and the people accepted it you know? We got to the point where we had mainstream artists saying they wanted to go before us on shows. It’s so much energy in our music that by the time it’s over with, I’m like I need s breather, a intermission or somethin’!

TRUE:  Are y’all going to bring that same energy into y’all new music?

ESB: Oh yeah most definitely. If it ain’t broke don’t fix it.

TRUE:  Can you tell me a little bit more about what you’re working on right now?

ESB: Ummm we got a lil’ crunk EDM that’s out right now. You know…we still doin’ our core music that everybody know us from. We’re still advancing with the times. Even though it’s not all about crunk, it’s a lot of thing going on. You got EDM, you got this, you got that, we dabblin’ in all of it. One day I see the whole symphony doing a tribute to us, playin’ all our music.

TRUE:  Yea I just watched the Symphony performance with Nas for Illmatic and I thought it was super dope to see hip hop in that format.

ESB: Yeah they did Outkast like that here in Atlanta. I thought that was hot. We gotta be next.

TRUE:  Speaking of Outkast, your style of music really impacted Atlanta hip hop sound and took it in a different direction. Do you think you get enough credit for that?

ESB: Uhh nope. I’ll be straight up honest with you, nope. I mean it was a lot of people that had something to do with it too like Outkast, and the Goodie Mob , but we was the group that came out just telling you to get crunk. Showing you what crunk was, showing you the club scene in Atlanta at that time. Any club we went to, we took that Atlanta club scene with us. Like, when we got through, you would feel like you just left Atlanta.

TRUE:  Atlanta is still so powerful in the music industry. Why do you think the city has that crown and still holding on to it?

ESB: Well if you think about it, everybody that’s coming out now they got an Atlanta sound to them. The kids that’s coming out now, they grew up basically on Lil Jon and the East Side Boyz and those groups like that. Even if you from New York, you still grew up off that sound. So if you start doin’ music, it’s in you. ASAP Mob. They sound how we sound. They got that crunkness and that energy to ‘em know what I’m sayin’? Even Migos, we still got some kind of influence in them, because we came out with a record called “Who you with?”. Nobody wanted to pay this record because they thought it was stupid. I wrote this record in ‘93. Me and Bo met Jon in ‘95, and we recorded in ‘97. That’s four years later, and when people heard this record they was like “Man what is this?”. We felt like this was a good record, so we stuck with it, stuck with it, stuck with it, about six months later, everybody wanted that record. We was goin’ around doin’ 30 minute shows off one record. You name me one artist that can do that til’ this day.

TRUE:  That’s deep. I haven’t thought about it but I can definitely hear it. So tell me more about what you guys are working on now?

ESB: Well right now we got uhh, I got a couple of TV things in the works right now. /Uhh a couple of reality spots I’m working on. We got some new music coming. Ummm a biopic. I think that’ll be dope, you know? Everybody else doin’ one. I think that’ll be a good look. A Lil Jon and the East Side Boyz story would be a good story.

TRUE:  What advice do you have for younger artists?

ESB: Read all your paperwork. Make sure somebody else read it, shoot if you need to, get a lawyer for that lawyer. That’s just for the business side, but the music side, don’t let nobody tell you what song to put out. If you feel in you heart that, that song is a good song, don’t let nobody tell you it’s wack. They told us “Who you with” was wack and if we had listened, we probably wouldn’t be here today. That was the time back then where you had to follow a rule to be accepted and all that type of stuff. Now, it’s good to go against the grain now. It’s good to challenge the consumer now. So, don’t let nobody tell you no.


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