With the whole trap music era rapidly evolving and becoming more & more popular, it’s almost a rarity to find a group that displays different levels of individual lyricism and creativity like Long Beach rapper KXNG CROOKED‘s brothers, Demetrius, Julius, Kenny and Andrew or “Dice”, aka Horseshoe Gang. I talked to them about their upbringing, comics, trap music itself, and West Coast unity. Check it out below!
Tell us a little bit about how you first started out as a group and who your early influences were.
Well, our Mother is a singer so she was a strong musical influence. Also, our two older bros Mad Man and KXNG Crooked who would blast music from rappers like N.W.A, Ice T, and Rakim every morning. There’s pics of us posing in a B-Boy stance at age 3. Growing up in a house like that, we couldn’t help but want to be rappers.
What would you say were stand out moments that have been key for you making big steps forward since your debut album Gangsta MC?
Opening up for Slaughterhouse a few times. Featuring on KXNG Crooked’s projects. Linking up with Tony Bucher (head of Seven13Music) which allowed us to release an album with physical copies titled Firing Squad. And we believe a major boost to our industry buzz was our Cyphers, particularly our 2012 C.O.B Cypher which has over two million youtube views. Not to mention our mixtape series which included a full year of dropping a mixtape every month.
How would you say it’s been having your brother KXNG Crooked as your mentor in the music business, and what do you feel have been the most important things you’ve learned from him?
Having Kxng Crooked in our corner is like Shaq and Kobe having Phil Jackson. He couches us through this game. And the fact that he’s the best rapper of all time (including the deceased legends), it’s almost an unfair advantage that we have him as a mentor. It’s a tremendous blessing having Kxng Crooked lend us a helping hand, but we don’t consider it nepotism since this is an industry where artists have to put in the work themselves.
You have a large back catalogue of mixtapes, EPs and albums, so how would you compare the new album “Anti-Trap Music” to them in terms of what your fans have come to expect?
The vibe and sound of this album is similar to Firing Squad. It has a broad range of topics but still sticks to our traditional ‘Shoe Gang sound. For example, we have a song called “Stress Relief” which is us four venting about our individual stressful lives. Then we have a song called “Poverty Slogans” which is a light-hearted song about the stuff poor people say on a daily basis.
So how did you guys come up with the theme of your new album? There’s a lot of production from overseas and only one feature, so what was the thinking behind that?
Perfect opportunity for me to say FUCK THE TRAP, FUCK TRAP HOUSES AND FUCK THE POWERS THAT BE WHO PUT HARSH DRUGS IN OUR COMMUNITY IN THE FIRST PLACE. That being said, we don’t hate trap music sonically. Some of it actually sounds dope. But the message is whack as hell. We still haven’t recovered from the affects drugs had on our community in the ’80’s. These are the reasons we wanted to name our album Anti Trap Music. As far as production goes, we’ve done some of our best work with cats like Aktive and Tabu so we feel like it’s one of those if-it-ain’t-broke-don’t-fix-it kind of things.
And we’re too broke to pay rappers to feature on our album so fuck ’em!
As someone who also is in the LBC, I feel it affects the subject matter and style of your music. Do you guys think there is a certain style attached to Long Beach artists?
Definitely! Kxng Crooked and Snoop are the reasons Long Beach rappers sound the way they do. It’s a lot of Swag, charisma, hunger, and dope lyrical content coming out of what we call Live Bossy City.
What do you think of LA’s growing hip-hop scene? Is it changing for better or for worse? And especially given your album’s name, what your take on ‘trap’ music?
There’s a dope wave of Cali rappers and it’s great for Hip-Hop. There’s Kxng Crooked, The Game, Kendrick Lamar and TDE, Ty Dolla $ign, Kid Ink, YG, Problem, Odd Future, O.T Genasis, Vince Staples, Casey Veggies, and Compton AV just to name a few. These are all cats with either radio hits or strong movements and the West Coast hasn’t been this strong since the early ’90’s. But to answer your question on Trap music, we feel it needs to be turned down a notch. If Hip-Hop was a buffet, Trap music would be dessert; Cool in moderation. We need more meat, vegetables and fruits.
Are we going to see a Horseshoe Gang cypher in 2016?
If we get enough people to suggest we make a Shoe Gang Cypher, then we will drop that shit ASAP!
What can we expect from the Horseshoe Comics?
Expect Marvel Comics to kick themselves in the ass for not partnering up with us. We used to read comics religiously and we would’ve loved to read some real-ass shit like our Shoe Gang comics will be. For the people who watched our Walk In Our Shoes series, our comic books will be like that times ten.
You toured last year with your brother and Rittz. Do you have plans for more dates either locally or on tour and how do you compare the experience of performing live with the studio process and environment?
Hitting the road separates real artists from mere rappers. Recording in the studio is one thing, but performing night after night after night is a whole different animal. Shout out to Rittz and Strange Music, we had fun. And we’re definitely trying to hit the road soon. We have a few things in the works.
Have you heard of Snoop Dogg’s upcoming LBC Movement? Any thoughts?
Absolutely! We think it’s dope and long overdue what Snoop and those cats are doing. We salute them and wish each and every one of those dudes much success.
Any shootouts you guys wanted to give?
Shout out to Kxng Crooked, Mad Man, UNG Radio Station, Tony Bucher, Sauce Tha Boss, Ice Man, Treacherous Records, G Dot, Karelezz, Tim West, Jay Kleiner and the whole COB movement. Special thanks to Rosecransave.com. Thanks for taking the time to speak with us !