Tonight, the League of Extraordinary Gz will headline a Red Bull Sound Select Show at Republic Live that also features Yung Nation, A.Dd+, Kydd Jones, the LNS Crew and DJ Hella Yella. It’s a great lineup of Texas hip-hop, and we’re pretty excited about it. RSVP for $3 tickets. We got a chance to ask some questions of the League, and talked about their new album, what it was like to work with some of their idols, and the State of Austin Hip-Hop.
OVRLD: How has the reception to #LeagueShit affected you guys? You have the Austin Chronicle referring to it as, “The finest hip-hop record this city’s ever seen,” and the city of Austin seemingly ready to hand over the keys of hip-hop to you all. Does that affect how you go about performing/recording/touring at all?
LoEGz: The reception has been great so far. We’ve been getting lots of positive feedback, especially from our core fan base. The album was something that took us over 4 years to complete. We wanted to make sure we delivered on our promise of giving the city a classic hip hop album. In those 4 years, we have been through a lot of ups and downs and that is one of the underlying themes you’ll hear throughout the diversity of the album’s music. It was an honor to receive the praise it did from the Chronicle as it attested to the quality of the work we put in and that we delivered what we initially promised. This all has only motivated us to even go harder. One of our goals in 2014 is to introduce each of the individual members that make up the LOEGz, so expect to see a number of projects this year coming for the LOEGz individual artists. We have Slick Talk’s deathbeDreams album produced entirely by Eric Dingus set for release next week on 2/18. As far as reception and the praise, this hasn’t affected us any when it comes to performing/recording/touring much. Our main focus with the LOEGz is to build a brand that is centered on delivering a quality product. #LEAGUESHIT is our initial attempt at delivering a quality product and we can only continue to capitalize on it and our brand with further releases.
OVRLD: We all know about you here in town, but how has the reception been outside of Austin? Is everyone else seeing the League light as well?
LoEGz: Nationally, we have been receiving some great feedback. Our brand is starting to resonate more and more as we continue to be consistent with our delivery of press. In July, we began working with Audible Treats in Brooklyn, NY for our publicity and they have done an excellent job in having #LEAGUESHIT gain visibility on a broader scale through a number of premieres and features on much larger nationally known sites. This has helped tremendously in allowing folks outside of Austin to get hip to the League and listen to our music. In addition, we have had an opportunity in the four years it took to complete the album to also do a few national tours as a supporting act. This has allowed for us to build fan bases in cities outside of Texas and we continue to engage with these fans through our social media outlets. As far as “everyone” seeing it, I think we still have a ways to go to be in front of all the masses but we know this takes time and patience. It’s the big tree, small axe mantra that we are following as independent artists.
OVRLD: What was it like to work with legends like Dead Prez on the latest record? How did that come about?
LoEGz: Man, it was not only an honor but also a memorable experience that we will never forget. Just to be in the presence of legends alone, it was hard not to fan out. Dead Prez has had a large influence in the music we make today and to be able to work with them and get the cosign from those brothers was just amazing. We recorded the track “Still Bigger” back in 2010 as it was a track that was actually slated for the next Dred Skott album. We were able to get in touch with their management and secure a feature after they listened to the track. They happened to be down in Austin for a show a couple weeks after shooting them the track and right when they got into town linked up with us and headed to the studio. When we got to the studio we started with the instrumental that was produced from Reggie Coby and just started creating and building from there.
We can’t reiterate enough how great of an experience that was to be a part of that whole session. Dead Prez finished recording their verses during that session and then essentially the record got shelved as we continued to work on #LEAGUESHIT. Through that time, we lost our brother Esbe and when it came time to finalize the #LEAGUESHIT album, we decided to add that track to the album as it was just a powerful hip-hop joint we knew people would gravitate towards. From there Tuk-da-Gat and Reggie Coby recorded their verses and the rest is history. The song was just the beginning of our relationship with Dead Prez as the following year after recording that track we were able to go on tour with them as a supporting act.
OVRLD: This is your third performance will Red Bull Sound Select, right? Why is it that you’re fans of that organization? What are they doing for up-and-coming artists?
LoEGz: Correct, we had the opportunity to do our first Sound Select show with the legendary band Grupo Fantasma back in September. In October, we headed out to Atlanta for the A3C Hip Hop Music Festival. There, we had the opportunity to perform at the A3C Sound Select showcase, which featured a few Atlanta Sound Select artists and was ultimately headlined by Bun B. So that definitely was an honor to rock that stage outside of Texas and during A3C. Sound Select has just been a great organization and platform for emerging artists, which is why we are fans of working with them. They provide a number of tools that not only help broadcast our music to the masses but also allow for us to connect with them. In addition, they also support us by empowering us with the analytics on the engagement of our social media sites. The Sound Select showcases deliver a great quality of music and to have the opportunity to be a part of the program and the showcases is truly an honor.
OVRLD: Austin isn’t widely known for its hip-hop; I would guess the casual music fan probably thinks of a place like Houston for hip-hop before they think of Austin. What is the state of the local hip-hop scene from your perspectives? How have you all benefited (or not) from staying here, as opposed to moving to Houston? What do you think needs to happen for hip-hop to gain a stronger foothold in Austin?
LoEGz: I guess you saved the best question for last. Honestly, we’ve had the opportunity to travel across the nation and see the hip-hop landscape other cities have to offer and Austin is killing them with talent. There is some great music being made in this city. I think that when it comes to hip-hop in Austin there just isn’t a true identity of what you would label “Austin Hip Hop.” There is just a large melting pot of sound that not one thing sticks out that suggests “Austin Hip Hop.”
But from the bigger picture perspective with the digital age, hip hop itself isn’t regional anymore. For the most part, I mean you’ve lost that regional characteristic of a certain sound that’s tied to a specific region. It’s just a different time. I will say this much, though, it’s definitely going to be much more difficult (not impossible) to try to make it in this industry if you are in Austin 365 days a year. Being in other large cities is beneficial in that you are able to expand your network and work with other artists and connect with more industry folks. I think residing in the larger city you will still face some of the challenges of trying to emerge in any city establishing yourself but once again you have the opportunity to connect with a much larger network in these bigger cities that may help you get there faster than say one would in Austin.
So for us, its not about whether we benefited from being here but more about if we have benefited by being present in other much larger cities and the answer is yes without a doubt. You have to get out on the road outside of your local arena and touch people if you want to make it in this industry. Personally, we feel that for hip-hop to gain a stronger foothold in Austin, there has to be an act that breaks the national barriers and represents for the city. Once that act gains national notoriety, then I think locally the city itself can get behind that act to further represent the city on a much more national level and open doors for other talented acts to emerge from this city once the spotlight is on it. That’s how it essentially happened for these other bigger cities known for their hip-hop.