Aside from the internet occasionally looking like the digitized version of writing names/numbers/insults on the gas station bathroom stall, its actually a pretty enjoyable place. One of my favorite things to do is look at old magazine articles. I found a site around a year ago where they had old scans of interviews and reviews from The Source, Rap Pages, Ego Trip, etc. I’m sure you’ll recognize some of the names there.
Every so often I look at some of my old clips and wonder if any one would ever bother to want to go back look at them for nostalgia’s sake. I think I’ve done a pretty decent job in chronicling Hip Hop in the few years I’ve been writing. I get complements now from some readers and peers but I’m curious to see how people will react a decade or so from now.
Will some kid stumble across a review I did and say “the fuck was wrong with him?” the same way I do when go back and look at old reviews and frown when I’m reminded that most if not all Southern Hip Hop artists weren’t allowed to get reviews higher than 3 or 3.5…just because? Will some newbie to the culture read something I wrote and feel like they walked away with something the same way I do when I flip through old magazines and have a “damn, I forgot that” moment? I’d like to hope so, but if not, all good.
Anyways, I said all of that to say that I wanted to share something with ya’ll. I wrote a story in 2006 on one of my favorite labels growing up, Suave House. The story was for Ozone and the idea was spurned off the fact that I had just interviewed Suave House CEO/Founder Tony Draper. The interview was supposed to be about him relaunching Suave House after a long hiatus, his business dealings with Ice Cube’s Lench Mob records and him managing the Clipse. Halfway through though it kinda turned into a “I need to get some shit off my chest” type interview. I kinda felt dude because shit, it had been over half a decade sense anyone had heard from him.
I’m not gonna lie, going into the interview, I respected dude’s hustle, but I also viewed him as the man who destroyed my favorite label/crew because of shady business dealings. You know, kinda like how some folks despise Suge because they felt he played a part in 2Pac’s death.
Anyways, after actually talking with Draper, and having him breakdown the “shady” shit, I got a better understanding of what may have actually went down and saw things from his side of the table. Not saying that I agreed with everything, but I understood better.
Well, after doing that interview, I wound up interviewing 8Ball & MJG soon after. They were doing press for their Ridin’ High album, that was actually being called Pure American Pimpin’ at the time. Since I had them, I went on ahead and asked them some Suave House/Draper questions and at that point the conversation got very tight and tense. It got to point that Ball just straight up asked me not to ask anything else about that era.
Being that I was now sitting on this information, I figured it would be dope to write a piece about the old Suave House days and bring people up to speed as to what all the former artists were doing. At the time I wrote it, it was very timely. Draper was relaunching the label, ‘Ball & G were promoting an album, Tela had just signed with Koch and was touring, South Circle (Thorough and Mr. Mike) had just reunited and was working on a mixtape, Crime Boss had gotten out of jail and signed with Lil’ Flip’s label, Toni Hickman (formerly in the female groupNola) was making some noise in the Southeast and Suave’s in-house producer T-Mixx was just starting to resurface as Cash Money’s new go to guy in the post-Mannie Fresh era.
I also found that one of my friends and writing peers Jacinta Howard shared a similar passion about Suave House and was wanting to write a similar story. So we pooled our resources and made it happen to the best of our abilities.
Unfortunately, the story never ran. Nor did the Tony Draper interview. The ‘Ball & G story ran on schedule, but it focused more on their time at Bad Boy and their futures. At first I was very disappointed. One, because the stories kept getting pushed back. Two, because shit, I thought it was perfect story for the “Southern Hip Hop” magazine. I wanted to give these young whipper-snappers (literally) a history lesson on the label that made you “the label that made your ass lay it down on floors” and show some respect to these cats at the same times.
After while the story wasn’t timely any more because everybody’s activity had kinda cooled down. So I really couldn’t do any more convincing to get the story published.
Over then next couple of years I toyed with the thought of just throwing up on my myspace blog, but didn’t. Then I thought about just giving it to a blogsite that would appreciate it. I didn’t know anyone personally at the time, so I didn’t. Then I tried to sell the story to another mag last year. They loved it, but, didn’t think their readers would appreciate it, plus on top of that, just like before, everybody’s activity was kinda cold at the time.
So, fugg it, I decided to share some of it here. I mean, I think its about as timely as its ever gonna get. Draper just signed on with Koch to release a Suave House Greatest Hits album, so fugg it. Plus, the University of Memphis just had a nice little run in the NCAA tournament, so why not? Fugg it.
The first bit of info I’m going to post is a portion of the Q&A I did with Tony Draper himself. I already know I’ve taken up a bit of space already, so I’m just going to post some of it here, and then put a link at the end of it where you can read the rest.
First off, thank you for reading my long ass intro. Secondly, thanks in advance for reading what I am about to share. All of it meant alot to me and Jacinta. Too bad it couldn’t get printed, but hey, thats what the internet is for. Hope you like it.
Tony Draper Interview, March 2006
Everybody makes a face when Tony Draper’s name is mentioned. Sometimes you’ll get smile. Other times you’ll get surprised look. At times you might even get a stare and slight frown. But one thing is for sure, everybody either knows or knows of him. As the founder of pioneering Southern Hip Hop label Suave House Records, Draper introduced the world to acts like 8Ball & MJG, South Circle, Crime Boss and Tela. He was on his way to ushering in talents like Big Duke (now one-fourth of Boyz N Da Hood) and charismatic Jive Records signee Noah, but some things happened and some attitudes changed leading to Draper shutting down Suave’s operations. Since then, independent labels and imprints have popping up and prospering left and right. Now with a revamped roster and rekindled love for the game, Draper is launching Suave House II to eat off the pie he helped bake.
People are starting to see those infamous Suave House ads again, what exactly are you up to right now?
Basically I’m just re-launching Suave House and calling it Suave House II. I’m taking over from where I left off. I had a 4-year layoff and in those 4 years I ain’t seen nothing so amazing that tells me I can’t get back on top. I’ve got a very aggressive print ad campaign coming.
What brought about the 4-year layoff?
That was the result from a transition from a deal with a horrible company called JCOR and me being burned out from disloyal artists. But the passion that I have came calling me back.
What were you doing in the four years you we’re away?
I was chilling, getting my head together. Financially, I didn’t have to go find a job [laughs]. I’m a real music guy, so I can’t sign an artist that don’t have potential to stay around for 10 years or more.
Suave House was formatted by me. The only thing I’ma change is that I ain’t putting no niggas on that can’t come holla at me. We gotta connect first. If you want me to respect you, come talk to me as a man.
Talk about the artists and vision of Suave House II?
My artist is Jiggalo, he is from Georgia. He is a very talented kid. I still got Foulmouf and Bo Jangle. Plus, I’m working on something where I’m giving unsigned artists a chance to fuck with established artist.
Why do you think Suave House II can compete in this day and age?
Because I believe that half of the niggas that you see out right now got their game from me. When Suave was doing their thing there was no Cash Money or No Limit. I respect what they’ve done. But a lot of niggas ain’t real because they ain’t paying respect. I knew the movement was big, my shit was solid. Because the only one thing that consumers know is that they love the product. They don’t know that there is a nigga that’s making them make songs like that. I was a family type nigga, we used to sit in the house making the shit from scratch. When the code was violated, that’s when the music started changing…
You can peep the rest of this interview by clicking here or going to www.therezidue.com.