You guys are releasing your unreleased tracks on your upcoming album Cold Cases. What made you want to do that?
Fredro Starr: The Cold Cases album, man, is basically for our Onyx fans. It’s for the Onyx fan that needs some new shit, but it’s some old shit but some new shit you never heard before. We had a lot of music on DATs and went and transformed it to the digital age and it was like, ‘Wow, we’re back in the ‘90s.’
Sonee Seeza: It’s like it was never old. It’s fresh.
Does this material span your whole career or is there a lot of material from one time period?
Sticky Fingaz: Most of it is from the earlier time period, but shit is timeless. We must have been ahead of our time when we made it because it’s still popping and it’s still hitting today. All the shit that we’re talking about is very relevant and very current. You would think that we made it last week as opposed to 10 years ago.
The most recent Onyx track to be released was “Never Going Back”. Is that an older track?
Fredro Starr: “Never Going Back” wasn’t supposed to be released. That’s for the Black Rock album we’re doing. We’re doing a hybrid rock/rap album. We came out with “Slam” back in the days and we never really went back down that lane. We kind of got away from that. We never really went back down that lane again and that’s really our lane. At our shows people will slamdance and do all that. That’s why we titled our album Black Rock. That’s what we are. We are the Black rock stars. It’s about our music. We got that rock and roll energy, man, and at all our shows, all the kids are slamdancing and doing mosh pits. “Never Going Back” is the first leak for the Black Rock album just to get people really trying to go with this.
Sticky Fingaz: The shit that we’re going to have on Black Rock is fucking groundbreaking. It’s incredible. We’re going to raise the bar on everybody.
Do you guys still have a strong rock following?
Fredro Starr: Hell yeah. Every show we do, everybody is slamdancing crazy, yo. They might be rock heads. I don’t know what’s in their iPods. But when we came out with “Slam” and when we were coming up, it’s so crazy because we never did a show with the Beastie Boys. We have never been on Lollapalooza. We never did a rock show. We’ve never been on that circuit. That’s really our market. We need to get on that market and just keep rocking. And they need us. I heard Limp Bizkit used to play “Slam” at every show. That record was very effective for that genre coming up because the rock and rap hybrid mix has always been there. You had “Body Count” by Ice T and you had Run DMC doing things with Aerosmith in “Walk This Way.” And this is the next step that we’re taking back. We are the original Def Jam kids that were the Black Beastie Boys. We’re going back into that mold like we never left. We never really capitalized off of our fanbase.
Has the rap/rock genre become a novelty today?
Sticky Fingaz: Nobody’s doing it! It’s nonexistent right now. Hardcore rappers aren’t doing no rock shit. It’s nonexistent. And if somebody’s going to do it, it’s gotta be us because we already did it and we’re going to keep doing it.
Sonee Seeza: The way I feel the game is right now, it’s a major give and take. The rock side and hip-hop side, everybody is kind of, like, trading off. If you look at rock shows, most of them have a DJ on the stage with them. Rappers have guitar players at their shows. Lil’ Wayne comes onstage with a guitar now. It’s more like a trend. Everybody’s trying something different but everybody’s trying what Onyx been doing. Right now imitators to the side and originators to the front. And that’s going to be the look for the Black Rock album. It’s going to be us doing us and everybody seeing where it came from and why we are who we are – Onyx.
Is a new Onyx album overdue as it’s been five years since Triggernometry came out?
Fredro Starr: Yeah, and that wasn’t really even a real studio album that we wanted to put out. But I’m going to keep it real with you. The Black Rock album is something that we’re doing because it had to be done. We’re also working on a street album too. You’re going to be hearing street albums and we all got solo albums coming out. The Black Rock album is us finally starting to get our recognition. We’re going to finally start going on tour with people in our genre. We’ve been going on tour with regular rap artists and when I say “regular” rap artists, I mean artists that are like, ‘Put your hands in the air’ and say, “Ohhh.” No. When we do shows, it’s slamdancing the whole show and there’s mosh pits. Even though it’s a hip-hop show, it’s rock energy. This is where we're supposed to be. We’re supposed to be with Linkin Park. We’re supposed to be with the Beastie Boys. We’re supposed to be with P.O.D. We’re supposed to be on those stages and this is where we’re going to be with this record. HipHopGame is a real hip-hop website and it’s a real hip-hop thing and we will give you the real hip-hop songs but then you got these other websites who are capitalizing and marketing rock and roll. It’s two different markets and we’re going to separate the two.
Has the chemistry changed creatively as a group as you’ve all grown and matured?
Sticky Fingaz: Ain’t nothing changed, man. It’s all the same shit. You gotta understand, your soul doesn’t know anything about time. The last time I seen Fredro is the last time I seen him. It’s the same thing with Sonee. Nah. Our chemistry is still the same. We’re still brothers. We still argue. We still fight. We still love one another. It’s the same shit. Ain’t nothing changed. Ain’t nothing gonna change.
Fredro Starr: When you talk about chemistry and how we make records, Jam Master Jay was kind of like our mentor. He showed us how to make records. He always said, “Fredro, you go first. Son Seeza, you go second and Sticky, you go last.” We saw how that chemistry worked and it’s always working for us and it works for us in life too. I’m a subtle dude, Son Ceez is the gorilla and Sticky’s the anchorman with the knockout punch. That’s how our chemistry is and that’s how we’re always going to make records as a group.
Sonee Seeza: That’s our blueprint. We’re picking up like we never left. I might be all the way in Brooklyn and Fredro is all the way over there and we’ll connect and vibe like that. We got that same chemistry over the years.
Does Jam Master Jay’s legacy get the respect it deserves today?
Fredro Starr: I’m going to put it to you like that. Stephon Wagford, Jam Master Jay’s cousin, he looks just like Jam Master Jay. It’s crazy…He came to me and wanted to do a DVD about Jam Master Jay. Five years later we have Two Turntables and a Microphone, which is a DVD of Jam Master Jay’s lifetime, back when he was Jazzy Jay all the way up to his murder in the studio where they still don’t have anything. That will give you a full description of who Jam Master Jay was. Out of sight out of mind and I do think people kind of forgot about my man and my mentor Jam Master Jay. You have us on the DVD with Swizz Beats and Snoop and all these great artists talking about the effect Jay had on their life. I think Jay is forgotten and I think when this DVD comes out it will give a piece of Jay that was not remembered. Hopefully people are going to check that out. It’s called Two Turntables and a Microphone.
Because of your relationship with Jam Master Jay and how he was a mentor to Onyx, was it ever difficult talking about him in the documentary?
Sticky Fingaz: For me, it was difficult for me talking about it. His killer is still walking around and that’s a hard thing to have stick with you, especially when it’s your dude. That nigga put a lot of love in my heart and a lot of money in my pocket and if I ever ran across the nigga that did that…
Fredro Starr: Me being one of the producers on the film with Stephon, Jam Master Jay was his cousin and he was his big brother. He was everything to him. And he was living in L.A. for three years. So every day that we woke up, I heard Jam Master Jay’s name. It was very emotional form e because I was so close to Stephon and I felt the things that he was going through and the loss that he was going through and I let him know, ‘Yo, don’t fall. I’m going to pull you up so you can become a producer and you can help Jam Master Jay’s legacy keep growing.’ It’s very emotional talking about somebody that put you in the game that passed away. Every time we speak about it it’s going to be emotional, at least for me, because I’m a very real dude. It’s real for me. It’s very emotional. But when you see the movie you’ll cry and when you leave, you’ll smile because you’ll feel like you went through everything and you can breathe now. It was very emotional but we got it done and it came out great.
Looking at Cold Cases, there are a lot of artists that don’t want their unreleased older material seeing the light of day. It doesn’t seem like that’s the case with you guys.
Fredro Starr: Yeah. I feel confident about our music. I think music is timeless and I think this music marks history. I think when these kids listen to it, they’ll go back in history and they’ll be like, ‘That beat was ill.’ We’re from Queens and this music business is very going towards the South so a lot of East Coast rappers are not doing the proper things. Hopefully this will be the setoff and you’ll get a Naughty by Nature Cold Cases. Hopefully other artists that were popping in the ‘90s will put out their tracks and bring the East Coast back to where it needs to be so we can let the young kids on the East Coast do what they need to be doing. That’s why I’m starting 100 Mad. That’s 100 Mad Niggas With Guns, but 100 Mad for short. That’s a compilation that I’m doing. We’re going to put out all East Coast artists on this compilation and give them all outlets so they can all shine and bring the hip-hop back to the East Coast. That's where it started and it has to go back to that. We can’t keep on doing this down South thing. It’s not right. The labels are not signing artists from the East Coast and the radio is not playing them. All the outlets are shutting down all these artists from the East Coast. It’s fucked up. Look at Def Jam. When we were at Def Jam, the label meant something. It meant you can go to Def Jam and get street music. That’s what the brand was. The brand is not the same anymore. You know what I’m saying/ It’s just not. I think Koch is great with what they’re doing. 100 Mad will be the next step like a Def Jam to bring these hardcore artists from the East Coast and give them their proper dues. So when you see 100 Mad, you’re going to say, “That’s that street music and that’s what they’re doing.” The East Coast is fucked up right now.
Where do you want to take 100 Mad?
Fredro: It’s something that me and Son Seez created. Nobody from the East Coast has record deals. Nobody. The only times you hear an East Coast artist is in a mixtape situation. I said if we can get a deal with Koch for distribution and there’s no one holding our hands with what we do, it’s cool. Koch is not holding our hands telling us we need to have a commercial single. This is a situation for artists to do what they need to do and hopefully we can bring the East Coast back with this shit.
Sonee Seeza: I’m going to give you something real right now because I’m real ill with the acronyms. 100 Mad stands for “100 Major Artists Determined Niggas With Guns.” You know what I mean? Our guns is our skills and our determination and our will. We’re determined to do what we’ll do. 100 Mad is not a negative thing. It’s a hundred niggas that’s determined.
Sticky Fingaz: Hey, yo. I got something to say. I’m saying this shit is a negative thing. I’m saying fuck everybody. It’s time to start slapping niggas. The game is fucked up. They’re not signing New York niggas. We’re treating the game like it’s a drought. I don’t give a fuck about nobody’s feelings or none of that shit. 100 Mad is what we’re doing and niggas are getting shot. ’08, nigga. Fuck that.
Fredro Starr: 100 Major Artists. And these artists are all artists that we’re fucking with from different areas. I’m fucking with your man Ox P. And, you know, too, we’re going to have all the younger dudes. We’re coming through. You already know that we got a whole lot of artists. We got Steven King over here in Brooklyn. We got a whole lot of new, young artists that are hungry. Onyx is history. This album and everything we’re doing and this whole movement, everything we’re doing with 100 Mad…We’re doing 100 Mad clothing and all of that. It’s a whole movement. We’re not no flash in the pan. We’re not no fly-by-nighters. We’ve been in this hip-hop shit forever and that’s how it’s going to be. That’s how we’re putting out imprint down. That’s going to be our movement. There are people that are young who were 5 or 6 years-old when Onyx was at the helm. They’re going to understand everything and they’re going to show those other kids coming up under them what’s popular.
Are we going to see some solo albums from you guys soon?
Sticky Fingaz: My solo album will be out in three months. It’s called StickyFingaz.com and the first single is called “Debo the Game”. And the video will be out in, like, a month. It’s already shot. It’s in the can. It’s popping.
Fredro Starr: My shit is called Still Relevant because I’m still relevant. Fuck that. I’m going to give you that Firestarr album, which to me was classic shit. This is just some new shit of what I’m going through. My solo album is going to be centered around what’s going on with me and what I’m doing. That’s what a solo album is supposed to do. And I’m sure Ceez’s album is going to do the same thing. Even though we’re a group we’re all going through our own situations. I think 2009 is going to be a good year for Onyx and the mad face and the goal is to break the mad face into corporate America. The mad face, to me, is the best logo in hip-hop. I mean, not being conceited or cocky, I just think that the Mad Face represents a feeling inside. You might have a fight with your wife or you might have a fight with your friend. So everybody has a mad face in their life so it represents everybody. I do think the Mad Face is the best logo in hip-hop and putting out these records, the whole thing is getting to corporate American and the whole thing is to become a great marketing tool and to get in movies and stuff like that. Some things happened in the past where we started away from our brand and we know that if we keep building that brand in the next five to ten years, somebody’s going to come along with that big check and our kids will be setup. That’s what we’re planning to do. We’re bringing the Mad Face to corporate America.
Sonee Seeza: I got various albums coming out but I’m doing a mixtape circuit with The Brooklyn Movement. The first one is going to be called No More Candy and it’s going to have a picture of a candy bubblegum machine on the side and on top of it is going to be “No Lollypop Rappers” and “No Bubblegum Rap”. No More Candy. Sonee Ceeza is going on right now. It’s titanium Onyx right now. Titanium Onyx! It’s the Brooklyn Movement. No More Candy. That’s the first mixtape. And we got more coming. So look for that coming on your shelves in a minute. It’s the Onyx brand, baby. I got my killer Steven King on there. He’s about to hit real quick right now. We’re about to put things in a major perspective.
Sticky Fingaz: I also want to let the people know that we have an Onyx DVD in stores right now. It’s called 15 Years of Videos, History and Violence and it’s in stores right now and it’s hot. It just came out last month.
Are you guys still acting as well?
Fredro Starr: We got a lot of TV and videos coming out. In interviews you can’t talk about everything, but I’m going to let you know what’s in the can. There’s A Day In The Life, a video Sticky wrote and produced. Mekhi Phifer is in the movie and countless people in the industry are in there. This is the first rap movie and when I say “rap movie” that means everybody is rapping their dialogue. Look out for A Day in the Life. That’s going out through Lions Gate. That right there is the start of the new revelation as far as our movies. Our movies are going to get done. So we’re still acting and directing and doing all of that. I just wanted to let people know about A Day in the Life because that’s the first thing coming out.