Indie musicians, much like independent politicians used to have it pretty hard. As most of us already know, that’s all changed in the music industry with artists controlling their own destiny (we see you Ron Paul). Shoot a viral, upload it, tweet and repeat. However, G-Side comprised of ST 2 Lettaz and Yung Clova, have recently employed that strategy haling from Alabama, where harnessing the internet’s promotional tools was a new phenomenon. The duo is signed to Slow Motion Soundz—of which they’re also partners—ranked last summer at #5 on Billboard’s “Top 50 D.I.Y Indie Labels.” G-Side’s homegrown label even out-ranked Fools Gold, known for breaking artists like KiD CuDi and Danny Brown.
The past three years have changed things dramatically for G-side. “Two years ago we had one show at South by South West. Last year we had two. This year we have ten shows,” he said at press time. Despite the name, Slow Motion Soundz doesn’t seem to be taking it easy. With bookings all over the country and Europe, G-side plans to make Slow Motion Soundz the next big record label on the independent circuit. ST chops it up with Mass Appeal about how he’s trying to turn Slow Motion Soundz into the next apple, with a twist of Wu-Tang. Connect. Politic. Ditto.
Mass Appeal: Slow Motion Soundz is not only independent but also based out of Huntsville Alabama, an area not well known for its hip-hop, but on the come-up nonetheless. Has that hurt or helped G-side?
ST 2 Lettaz: With me, it always tryn’na build it from the ground up. I was in Texas when I graduated high school. I’m from Alabama but I was in Texas, and I felt they were in the middle of its time while I was in high school. So I felt I needed to leave and go back to Alabama where it hadn’t been tapped yet, and really start something from the ground up. Slow Motion Soundz had kinda been up and running and I hit up CP from Block Beataz, and just told him what I wanted to do. He took me in and we ended up destroying and rebuilding the Slow from the ground up and getting into the new age game of the internet and all that. So it’s ill to be from Alabama cause there’s not a voice yet. It gives us an advantage of being an untapped hub of hip-hop.
“In Huntsville alone, there’s so much talent I swear there’s something in the water here, and we have our own sound with us and the Block Beataz which gives us an edge on the competition.” – ST 2 Lettaz
Speaking of Texas, I kind of feel like SMS is to Alabama, what Swisha House was to Texas, or it’s becoming that.
ST: Yeah, it’s that same thing, like the Rap-A-Lot’s, Cash Money, No Limit shit. Those are the guys I studied since I was little and I just took what I learned from them and tried to apply it here. And it’s working real well. There are a whole slew of artists that people haven’t heard, that we have plans of putting out.
So you’re involved in the business side of SMS?
ST: Most definitely. G-Side has a partnership in the company which we did after our first album, and we decided to just build this whole shit together. I’m the head A&R, I handle the other artists and kind of develop them and help get them to where they need to be so when they go out to the world they’re ahead of their competitors. But yeah me personally I’m more about the business end than the artistry end, the artist side is where I started but I always knew I wanted to be Master P or Diddy or whatever.
So from the business point of view what do you see for SMS in the future? Would you ever see yourselves linking up with a major or on some YMCMB tip?
ST: Well we won’t sign to any rappers, I’m sure about that. But as a label you’re going to have to seek distribution eventually. I mean it has to be the right type of relationship, it’d be a partnership type of situation, and we’d have to be in control of the same shit we been in control of thus far. All you doing is adding cash, so you can make it look bigger brighter or whatever. But I want us to be like the apple of the music industry. Just innovative with new shit, new ideas. It’s all about quality, and once we get that quality product set and ready, then we put that out there to the people because there’s always gonna be a place for good music. That’s what we’re on, I want us to be the apple of this and come out with a new dope sound that nobody else is doing, that people can’t duplicate or compete with.
You might not be too far away from that. I saw a list Billboard put together of the top 50 independent labels in the country and SMS was number five.
ST: Yeah that was a good look.
You’re pretty lyrical. Are there any New York or East Coast influences you had?
ST: I was just in here listening to 36 Chambers. I’m gonna actually try to emulate the Wu-Tang model for this new project that’s featuring a lot of the artists that are under the umbrella, just a bunch of different characters on one track going hard. That’s kind of why I was listening to it today. Wu was a big influence. Mobb Deep was always super dope to me. Mos Def, his shit is always ill. Talib, “Get By” was probably one of my favorite songs of all time. Before I did my very first record in high school, my cousin who was a military brat living all over the world told me I had to study Nas’ Illmatic and Jay-Z’s Reasonable Doubt. This was the type of shit he listened to. I was 17, and I at that point never heard these albums, ‘cause I was raised in Alabama.
With music being so easily accessible, how have you guys used the internet or social media to connect and reach new fans?
ST: Funny thing about it is the internet kind of found us. Alabama wasn’t internet savvy especially in ‘06. I didn’t know what a blog site was until my manager printed one out and showed it to me like, “These people are writing about y’all”. We saw they [blogs] were writing about us and we just appealed to them on the human side. It’s just people who happen to be fans and they liked the music and happened to be writers so they would write about us and that’s how we pushed our agenda.
So what are the goals for SMS and G-Side within the next yr or so?
ST: In the next year we’re gonna put out another G-Side album, and a Block Beataz album. Next album we gonna take ‘em to the G-Side, all the way back like from the beginning and tell the story, and let people know who we are. We just gonna take ‘em and show the real raw elements of who we are, ST and Clova. We just working, bro.