name says it all, Hoodfellaz, no need to ponder the meaning of that one.
The Brooklyn based trio composed of Freddy Blassy, Don Barak, and Poppa
Sim are trying to rep and remain hood while navigating through the corporate
bullshit that is the industry. Is such a feat possible? The confident
and charming group members seem to think so.
They came up together with members Blassy and Barak being blood cousins
who also share the same origin for their monikers; an older cousin seeing
the flamboyant wrestler Blassy and laid back wrestler Don Morock and being
reminded of his younger relatives. Poppa Sim was named after his mother’s
uncle who passed away the same day he was born. Yeah these brothers have
a lot on their back besides living up to their names. Consequently, it
hasn’t been an easy ride for HF. The group started taking rap seriously
in ‘98. According to Blassy he got the inspiration to do so from
school, “I saw a kid in special ed that was rapping and I couldn’t
have that. If he could do it I could do it.” Good a reason as any.
The group started making noise and landed a development deal with Sony
from which they created a few songs that Diddy heard and the rest is history
as they say. Well not quite. They have been signed for two years and have
yet to drop their debut album. However, they have been staying on the
grind by sparking mix tape buzz and ghostwriting. Remember the line on
“Bad Boy For Life” when Diddy rapped, “Don’t worry
if I write rhymes/I write checks”? Well, he wrote a nice check to
HF for that one.
HF has gotten a slew of recent attention for “Taking Da Band”
or better known as “Cheesecake” about, you guessed it, Da
Band and their infamous walk over the Brooklyn Bridge to Juniors. And
don’t front you know that shit was funny and exactly what you and
your homies thought when watching the show. Unlike the majority of the
industry’s mainstreams Hoodfellaz aren’t claiming a life of
crime they never lived, they’re hood because they say what they
want and mean that shit.
Over the phone they spoke candidly and openly about their current status
with Bad Boy and just about anything I could think to ask. Even over the
airways their chemistry is obvious. They’re not vying for the most
quotes and cutting each other off. On the contrary they compliment what
each other are saying, oftentimes finishing each other’s sentences.
But its not modesty that makes HF stand out. According to Don Morock, “Hoodfellaz
is really things regular people from the hood would do; like women, like
to party, you use to physical altercations; everything people from the
hood would do. That’s what you hear in our records.” Their
manager, T, a former Bad Boy staffer described them as “pretty businessmen”
and they readily agreed to the description, “Hoodfellaz probably
the most gorgeous thing out there,” Blassy quipped. Hey I said confident
didn’t I? But they still manage to relate to everybody. When asked
about groupies Sim said, “I don’t like the word groupie. I
don’t think nobody’s a groupie. They just want to be a part
of something.” “And we happy to get the gifts they give,”
Don Morock added. Hey, I said charming didn’t I? And with musical influences
such as Big Daddy Kane, Q-Tip, Biggie, Black Sheep, Pumba, Jay-Z, and
Mase the youngsters also seem well rounded.
The inevitable question that comes to mind is, are the Hoodfellaz too
hood for Bad Boy? They have an uncompromisingly street mentality that
inspires a Brooklyn crew about 30 deep equipped with HF tats and also
could make a certain ceo… a little nervous. So why then would a
group like the HF sign to Bad Boy? “Who wouldn’t want to work
with Puff? We was definitely excited, it was exciting to be wanted by
somebody that has been around the greatest,” Blassy said.
But like many other artists who put their John Hancock on the line, things
change after you sign. That irritating announcer on L.O.X. CDs said it
best, “no matter how hard you try, after you sign, you cannot escape
the rape.” Don Morock went on to explain “It’s like a marriage,
you know, before you actually go take your vows and put on a ring and
say I do everything is so perfect and then you get married and there’s
no sex no more. She don’t wear thongs no more. That’s exactly
how it happened. As soon as we signed everything went to shambles. The
preliminary before hand we went on trips all the time it was beautiful.”
With over 50% of American marriages ending in divorce you have to wonder
will HF try to split from Bad Boy a la the L.O.X.? “I think for
the group Dr. Dre would be a better pick for us in my opinion. He seems
like he’s a real studio head. He doesn’t go to parties. He’s
not trying to be in the cameras and all that. He’s an artist, any
project that he puts his all into makes a lot of noise,” Blassy
said. Yet, HF contends that they get along with all of their label mates
and have no ill feelings towards Da Band. They just want the same push.
Ironically, even Da Band with a hit television show and endless promotion
only went gold. So then question then becomes is the industry too hood
for Bad Boy? Yet, the golden days of Bad Boy are not forgotten. And no
matter what you think of Diddy he did introduce the world to our beloved
B.I.G. But that was then and this is now. “It’s not the same
label that it use to be”, Blassy said. “No Way Out”,
(Diddy’s first solo venture) it made Puff think he was a real artist.
He became a star so it put the rest of the real talent in the background.
You can never be as big as him.”
Poppa Sim in line with his name gives some fatherly advice to new artists
coming into the game, “You start to realize who is who and what
is what when money’s involved. That’s when their true colors
come out. Watch the company you keep. Don’t so much determine how
a person acts by the way they act around you, see how they act around
It’s going to take more than disses towards Da Band (which XXL called
one of the worst beefs in 2003) to make Hoodfellaz stand out from the
countless amount of rappers who are trying to get their name out there.
But with lines like, “The gloves or the gun/Pick a round/And I’m
picking dimes up/Put the nickels down/I don’t need pick up lines/I
just put ‘em down,” maybe it won’t take much. Perhaps
we need to start a let the Hoodfellaz Go campaign.