It’s been 50 years since civil rights pioneer Rosa Parks changed the social landscape of the entire nation, but ironically the perception of her hometown has remained the same. Montgomery, Ala., natives Keith and Kennie Buchanan, collectively known as 334 MO.B.B., are determined to change their city’s worldview. “A lot of people get it misconstrued, thinking everybody a farmer,” laments 19-year-old Keith. “We don’t milk no muthafuckin’ cows,” adds his older brother by three years, Kennie. “Montgomery is just like where you at.”The Buchanan brothers’ upbringing in “Da Gump” was somewhat different than most, though. Raised in an anomalous two-parent household, Keith and Kennie’s music career began in the choir led by their father, who’s a Baptist minister. “A lot of niggas try to avoid saying that they parents done took ’em to church,” scoffs Keith, a.k.a. Sawed-off. “God is nothing to be ashamed of,” adds Ken, a.k.a. Supa Star.
But even with faith and family, poverty led the boys to street pursuits and a less saintly direction. This dual reality is reflected in the group’s area code–inspired moniker. “334 MO.B.B. stands for ‘10 Mo’ Brothers Buried,’” explains Ken. “Three plus three plus four equals 10, then you got the MO.B.B. We representing for the people who don’t have a voice.”
With their music touching on topics ranging from church corruption to the traditional tear-the-club-up fare, Keith and Ken dismiss any comparison to the current crop of crunk rappers. 334 insist their hook harmonizing and studio skills simply don’t compare. “We rap, sing and produce,” explains Ken. “If you just rap, you’re not in our realm.”
After a brief stint on Atlanta’s Tight 2 Def Records in 2004, 334 took their self-contained operation to label showcases in New York. “Every label up there wanted to sign us,” says Ken, “But LA Reid was like, ‘Y’all ain’t leaving until y’all go ahead and sign [with us].’” With the stunnas’ anthem “Take a Picture” paving the way for their Def Jam debut, these ’Bama boys are sure to shed the dated perception of life in Montgomery. “This whole shit has changed,” says Ken. “Niggas is not on the back of the bus no more.”