First things first, how did you guys come together?
TheRealFocus…: We came together through the a.Fam Ent. label. I’ve been trying to brand and promote Kida and Gator so one while I was sitting around working on this song for Gator’s album called “Bonafied” which featured Kida, I stuck a verse on it and we all sounded good together. I thought it would be a really good launching pad to get their names out there because everybody’s looking at us sideways. They’re not looking at us direct. So we’re just trying to give them more to look at as far as the label is concerned.
Why do you think that is?
TheRealFocus…: I don’t know. It’s probably because we’re not like everybody else. We don’t put out kiddie records or tell people to do the Stanky Leg and we know how to put our pants on and they don’t hug our balls. At the end of the day, when you don’t look like them, or sound like them, they don’t want to look your direction.
No tight jeans for The FEW?
Kida: Look, man, we don’t have to succumb to what they doing. That’s what you call a fad and that will come and go. We’re going to stay doing what we’re doing and we don’t have to do it wearing tight pants.
Tight pants are here to stay because once you get them on, you can’t get ‘em off.
I appreciate that you guys don’t sound like what everyone is trying to sound like and most lyricists are not getting as much attention. Is this a good time to be doing what you’re doing?
Al Gator: I feel like this is the best time. Everything is so oversaturated with all the dance records. Right now it’s not very inspiring. The difference in all of what we are doing is that we got niggas representing from the West, the East and the South. The South is hot right now and we got something that they’re kind of missing. We’re representing for everybody.
Gator, all you need now is a decent producer with some beats.
Al Gator: (Laughs) That’s why we go in!
Focus…, you’ve done so many big-time beats that it seems like you could put your attention on landing big placements. What makes you want to work with two young MCs instead?
TheRealFocus…: First of all, they’re my brothers. We don’t call ourselves a.Fam for nothing. Kida and Gator have been riding with me and when it comes down to it, I want to work with people that I respect as artists and have loyalty. I would love to work with the Jay-Z’s and the Jadakiss’ and a lot of those guys, but a lot of these young cats aren’t bringing nothing to the table. It’s not doing it for me. When Kida and Gator hit a track, they’re so hungry that they do it with substance. They don’t do it because they’re trying to make a million dollars right now. We’re just making great music.
As a producer, is it hard getting a big paycheck these days?
TheRealFocus…: Hell yeah! (Laughs) Straight up and down, man, the checks are not coming like they used to. If you’re a producer right now and you’re not plugged into a situation, you’re on the GRIND! I know a lot of producers that are on the grind. I know I’m on the grind right now like back when I just went by my name, Bernard Edwards, Jr., like it’s my first day. I’m back in the trenches and I’m loving it. It’s not bothering me at all.
You’ve had some time to gain some perspective on your decision to leave Aftermath. Are you still happy with that decision?
TheRealFocus…: I’m going to be honest. I’m very happy with it. I’m blessed and honored to have been working with Dre and he’s my mentor, but at the end of the day, I need my music to be heard. I’m bumping my head against my family and they tell me what they want to do and we go. I don’t have to sit down and think about how it might change. Nah. I’m getting older and the guys about to take my place are getting younger and the music is getting dumber. I have to make a statement now.
Kida and Gator, how do you guys work with Focus…?
Kida: First of all, for me, it’s never hard to rock with Focus… because the music is so pure and the music is so crazy. It’s never a hard moment with this guy. It’s fun first and it’s family first. Everything else falls in place.
TheRealFocus…: And I didn’t even have to pay him to say this! It’s amazing.
TheRealFocus…: The truth is priceless, man!
Kida: It’s beautiful.
Al Gator: It’s the easiest situation I could ever be involved in. Like Kida just said, the shit flows so naturally. The first song that we did in the studio, when we first met, there wasn’t a whole bunch of internet outlets at that time and the buzz just caught on so fast. It wasn’t fake. It was just natural. To this day it’s still like that. It’s easy.
TheRealFocus…: I feel like I’m dead and these guys are talking at my eulogy. This is beautiful! Honestly, I need everybody to understand that these guys are the truth, both of them, and I’m blessed to have them under my umbrella and with a.Fam. They’ve been helping me get my vehicle out there. I’m not sitting here teaching them how to rap and ain’t nobody ghostwriting or doing nothing like that. It’s a beautiful situation for all of us.
So far you’ve released a couple tracks to the public. What are you going to have to do to make sure the FEW really catch on?
Kida: I feel like if we keep on doing what we’re doing, they’re going to catch on. The quality is there and it’s going to make noise and people are going to start wondering who these guys are and who’s that making the great music.
TheRealFocus…: What HipHopGame has done for us, we really appreciate it and we really try to hit people with some real music and create that lane again and not fall in line with everyone else. There’s going to be a project coming soon called FEWnification. I’ll definitely let you hear that first so you could give us an advance approval. But right now we’re all laying the groundwork for all of our careers. This is the first interview we’ve had together.
That’s awesome. Kida and Gator, how have you been adapting to the slowly growing a.Fam and how important is family when it comes to the label?
Kida: It’s real easy to walk on the floor when the man has already laid marble floors down. You just slide right in and I couldn’t ask for a better situation, personally.
Al Gator: Even before I was under the a.Fam umbrella, I was working with Focus… and when we really inked it, we were really brothers. You know how you get a house full of brothers, it’s real easy to work together. It’s family and it’s real.
“Looky, Looky” featuring Chino XL is a great early look into the potential of this group. What was it like approaching your verses with a lyrical monster like Chino XL?
Kida: You know you gotta do your job! He’s going to do his job.
Al Gator: I never really feel no pressure when it comes to what I do and this is what I do as an MC. I love it. It made me step my game up. I like the pressure moments.
Gator, I used to get songs from you back in ’05 and then you disappeared for awhile. What happened?
Al Gator: Man, I had a lot of personal issues going on and had to get the team around me right. I got everything right now and sometimes you have to take a step back. There’s a lot of shit that was going on that we needed to get under control and the homie Focus… got it right.
Do you have a lot of work to do to get the buzz back that was slowly building back then?
Al Gator: Nah, not really, because I never fell off. There’s a lot of niggas that come out that are one-hit wonders and they try to make it to a certain point again. I never came out. I never had a single come out. This is all off of buzz and word of mouth. Me and Kida, we’re in a position to take the world by storm and I love it.
How far along are you guys on the FEWnification project?
TheRealFocus…: I’m going to tell you this much – these guys have been very dedicated. Kida is coming out with a new street album called The Endemic. And it’s going to be 14-16 songs that he’s doing. Gator is about to put out a mixtape called Chronicles of the Underboss. That’s going to be 12-14 songs and then FEWnification, as it stands right now, is about 7-8 songs deep and I think we’re going to cap it at 12-14. What we’re going to do is we’re not going to cheat anybody. When I put out Dedicated, I didn’t want to cheat anybody. We’re just making music and placing it.
Focus…, when you put these guys together, what sound did you envision for the group?
TheRealFocus…: It’s actually pretty beautiful because Kida has his sound with the producers that he works with, Mel and D, and I have helped formulate his sound and then with Al Gator, we formulate our sound together. We like to rhyme deep so we love BIG sounding tracks. We can’t rhyme on any pussy-ass beats and it’s just been really easy. We wanted to go hip-hop and we’re not really caring about the radio. We got a song for the DJs, just giving our love for the DJs and we got a song with Marsha Ambrosius that’s dedicated to the chicks. The album sounds crazy right now and this is probably one of my most favorite projects that I’ve ever done in my life. I love it.
Are you more excited about this than placing major singles?
TheRealFocus…: I love working with people like Chino XL, Bishop and Bussa Buss but when it comes down to laying your own path and creating your own legacy and you’re standing next to two kings like Kida and Gator, I got dudes that know what they’re doing and I could look eye-to-eye with them. Yeah, I’m excited. I’m not making beats and telling them how I need them to rhyme on it. I send them the beats and they send me the verse and that’s what it is. We’ve all been talking about what songs we feel the most and it’s been amazing.
Kida and Gator, how are happy with how your solo projects are coming?
Kida: I’m very excited. I’m 14-16 songs on The Endemic and I’m getting a great response so far from what people are hearing from me. Focus… is behind me and we’re just making some great music. It’s coming out beautifully.
Al Gator: Oh, man, I’m loving it too. Everything we’re doing, everything’s coming out so perfect. Just bear with us. I’m telling you, I got you. All those fans will be right back.
TheRealFocus…: When it comes down to what we’re doing, we don’t have to force-feed them because everyone is used to getting force-fed the same crap. I’m not going to front and say that the FEW wasn’t lyrically inspired by Slaughterhouse. I did “Lyrical Murderers” for them and I got love for them and when it comes down to it, I would love to do a FEW and Slaughterhouse song. I’m putting that out there right now! What it comes down to, is if we keep giving them music like this, they’re going to have to fall in line. No one’s going to want to go to a concert and hear the same songs all the time. Kida performs with a real band and when Gator performs, he has something new artists lack sometimes and that’s breath control. He’s a real artist. We’re going to change the industry and we’re going to change the game.
When you look at the trends in the game and the rise of the free download and new blogs popping up every day, do you think this will all last?
TheRealFocus…: The reason we have to do this is because people don’t know me as a rapper and they don’t know Kida all the way across the board from West to East so he has to build his path like that and Gator has been dormant for two years. So we’re building it back to where we were. By giving the people something for free, we’re really trying to get the fans behind us and get that camaraderie going. We’re doing it from the heart and we’re showing them that we’re giving them real good music for free.
When should we expect The FEWnification?
TheRealFocus…: Hey, don’t rush us! (Laughs) Nah, I’m only playing. We’re trying to finish The Endemic and I’m working on taking some of the weight off of Kida’s shoulders because he’s a father and he’s working hard and it’s the same with Gator. He’s a father and he’s going in real hard. It’s more important to give them the light and then give us the light. The FEWnification will probably come after their albums unless someone turns around and hits me with a brick.
Do you get assaulted with bricks on the reg?
TheRealFocus…: I call them bricks because it’s a little bit hard being the C.E.O., and this is a family so im like the big brother and I’m also the producer and the engineer. When I make a decision, not everybody understands where I’m coming from. I try to get them to understand but we’re all family and we’ll disagree on some things. Sometimes people won’t be with something and they’re all right to say that. But at the end of the day we all get to a common denominator and we’re cool. The bricks don’t hurt that bad nowadays! (Laughs)
Did you guys see Jay-Z’s The Blueprint 3 tracklist?
Kida: It is what it is.
TheRealFocus…: I love Jay-Z. I’m going to say it. I love Jay-Z a lot as an ambassador to New York City. I think he kept our swagger in tact but I don’t think he’s doing Reasonable Doubt like he thinks he is. That ain’t Reasonable Doubt.
Digga said on Twitter, and I feel lame referencing Twitter…
Kida: And you are! (Laughs)
I deserved that.
TheRealFocus…: We coined the phrase: “I’m not a Twidiot.” We can’t do it. I don’t get it. People are like, “I’m sitting here eating cereal.” Man, just call me and tell me that. We can’t even get artists and producers into the studio like they used to because people want to sit on the internet all day.
Anyway, Digga was saying that artists like Kid Cudi, J Cole and Drake didn’t pay enough dues to be on a Jay album while Memphis Bleek is absent. How do you feel about that?
Al Gator: I fuck with all of them but there’s this fear of how it’s going to turn out. He’s gotta realize his position, that’s all. He’s gotta stay the trendsetter and not be bending to the trends. That’s what it is.
TheRealFocus…: He turned around in the midst of Autotuning and pussy beats and he did “Death of Autotune.” That’s Hov! Hov can do that. I was excited when I seen that. I was excited as hell. And then he came out with “Run the Town” and that record fell right back into what everyone is doing. I think he should have stayed with the boom-bap. Get the crown back and stay that dude. Keep that sound from the projects. That was beautiful to me. He blew up the ice and the Cristal and we all knew that he had a problem with Cristal. That’s Hov! Hov is in your face. This “We Run the Town” shit, nuh uh. What town are you running? We don’t even live in a town, homie.
I hate that song.
TheRealFocus…: I didn’t feel it, man. Hov can’t put out nothing I won’t buy. Hov is the artist I want to work with most outside of a.Fam. He could call me right now and I would have to go to New York and explain it to Kida and Gator that it’s Hov maaan. I’ve worked with Dre, 50 Cent and Em to an extent even though I never got on his album. Me and Hov getting on a track, it would be a wrap. I’ma go hard. But I don’t feel like he’s going hard for New York. I think he’s trying to make a statement that nobody’s getting. Hov is a chess player in his mind and I don’t know what move he’s trying to make right now. I didn’t even get the three lines he was trying to break down. And, Hov, don’t try to diss me in no song. If he does, he does. I have respect for my elders but at the end of the day, you all be taking opinions too personal. We all have opinions. They’re like assholes. Don’t take it personally.
Do you think the music will get better soon?
TheRealFocus…: I think it’s going to take someone to do it, and not an artist but an executive. I think it’s going to take an A&R, exec, vice president, it’s going to take them to sit down and say they’re not afraid to go against the grain. If they could just say, “I don’t want another….,” then music can change. We don’t care because we’re going to grind and we’re going to make our gwap, but give us the outlet to get out there.