Horseshoe Gang: 7th Boro Interview
Back in December of 2009 I happened to be driving with one of my homeboys and he had this mixed tape from some up and coming DJ, I forget who but I remember on the project there were two back to back tracks simply titled Cypher 1 and Cypher 2. I was hyped. They went off. I picked up the CD with the photocopied track list and it said Horse Shoe Gang. Prior to that I had never heard of them. About a week after that I picked up their debut album which had dropped a month back (okay fine I also borrowed his CD that day…and by borrowed I mean took forever) When I heard Gangsta MC in it’s entirety I was like yo!! These dudes bring it. From that moment on I was a fan.
For those of you unfamiliar Horseshoe Gang is comprised of members Demetrius Capone, Julius Luciano, Kenny Siegel, and Andrew Dinero, four brothers hailing from Long Beach California. The group is closely affiliated with Crooked I and The Circle Of Bosses.
I wasn’t alone in my assessment, Gangsta MC was well received by the fans and was followed up with several mixtape projects with Crooked I and the albums Firing Squad and TrueStory. Between projects the group kept themselves relevant with a weekly series and the mixtape Ambitionz A Writer, a project featuring rhymes over popular industry beats of the time. They gained major buzz from the 2011 C.O.B. cypher, which in my opinion is probably still one of the illest cyphers to date and gave them much deseved recognition. We spoke with Horseshoe Gang about their upcoming project and touched on some issues. Check it out!
Scyren: With such a great work ethic, you guys have steady been putting out music since 2009, we see a different direction and growth with every new project. How do you manage to reinvent yourself while still maintaining your style that fans have come to appreciate?
HSG: First, we’d like to thank you guys for giving us this platform. To answer your question, with today’s average Hip-Hop fan having the attention span of a five-year-old, we’re forced to keep putting out new material. All while making sure the quality of our music isn’t compromised. Working consistently keeps our swords sharp, so we can’t complain.
Scy: I was having a conversation recently about Chris Rivers and how he is always labeled as Big Pun’s son although I feel like he has earned his props in his own right. It is widely known that KXNG Crooked of Slaughterhouse is your brother. Do you feel the same, that Horseshoe Gang has somehow become eternally associated with Crooked and if so if that a hindrance or a good thing?
HSG: Being so closely associated with KXNG Crooked is like having one of our music videos be the first related YouTube video that pops up every time a person clicks on Adele’s “Hello” lol. In other words, it’s a blessing. We feel like KXNG Crooked is the GOAT so it’s dope to have him as our mentor and older bro.
Scy: Speaking of which, you’ve had many comparisons to Slaughterhouse, in fact some have dubbed you the Left Coast Slaughterhouse. Is that a compliment or do you think the comparison is trite and expected?
HSG: We definitely appreciate when people put us in the same category with the Slaughterhouse. That means we’re in good company. It’d be a problem if we were mentioned in the same breath as these suckas in this industry. If people start comparing us to these whack-ass rappers, it’s gonna force us to diss them. We’re not trouble makers but a great man once said you either die a hero or live long enough to see your self become a villain. Y’all don’t wanna see us as villains right? So keep mentioning us with groups like Slaughterhouse and N.W.A and nobody gets dissed lol.
Scy: We’ve definitely seen what happens when you activate villain mode… not sure that is such a bad thing lol. You’ve managed to stick together as a group for the long haul, where others may have gone the solo route. Does it make it easier being brothers? How does the family dynamic affect your creative dynamic?
HSG: There’s so many egotistical cats in this rap game, it makes us feel lucky to rap along side our bros. We have conversations about our plans or the direction of a song while playing Street Fighter or while at a family barbecue. So we’re able to keep things in perspective and never lose sight of the fact that we’ll always put family first.
Scy: Although you hail from the West you manage to have a unique style that is a blend of both the West and East coast sound. Who were your musical influences?
HSG: Although we’ve spent most of our lives on tha West Coast and we rep the West hard, we lived in many states across the US. Like Oklahoma, Florida, Texas and Pennsylvania, to name a few. That’s part of the reason our styles can’t be put in a box.
Scy: Tell us about the new album “Anti-Trap Music”. What’s the underlying messages you’re conveying and how long was it in the making? What are you hoping people take from it?
HSG: The message is keep creativity alive in Hip-Hop. Our albums and mixtapes are always well rounded. Since Art imitates life, an artist’s music should sound like many aspects of the human experience. So if a rapper felt he had to sell drugs at a point in life, some songs should touch on that. But not every damn song. Especially considering “Trap” has so many negative connotations. Trap Music definitely should not be the main sound in Hip-Hop. This album may influence change. If our album is one drop in the bucket, maybe one day we’ll have a full bucket to flush out lame shit in Hip-Hop.
Since Art imitates life, an artist’s music should sound like many aspects of the human experience. So if a rapper felt he had to sell drugs at a point in life, some songs should touch on that. But not every damn song.
Scy: The construct of the album is quite varied in its production. What was the thought process behind how you selected the producers and beats to work with on this project?
HSG: It’s pretty much in-house production on this album. Aktive, Pitchshifters, Komplex, Tabu, Jonathan Elkaer and D.J.E.D.D.E.H are all producers who’ve helped us record some of our greatest music. We love working with new producers, but on this one we stuck with the team.
*******Check out some ill singles from the project Anti-Trap Music which drops April 29th*********
Scy: As you continue to put out dope music there is still the consensus that hip-hop has gone commercial and that the culture is changing. Do you feel like you need to change your voice to compete with what mainstream has become and is it hard to stay true to your vision? What do you feel about the state of hip-hop now?
HSG: Hip-Hop being mainstream is super dope generally speaking. We’re in an age where Hip-Hop culture influences the whole world. Somewhere in this world there’s scholars studying Tupac’s music. But on the downside, some of this culture’s button pushers don’t know what the fuck they’re doing. Although we’ll never change who we are, that doesn’t mean other dope and original artists won’t give in to the pressures to fit in. That being said, the game is in much better hands with cats like Kendrick and Cole then it was a few years ago. So the rap game has made some nice improvements.
Scy: Agreed. With this being the digital age fans have much more access to dope music than we did in the past. Hip-hop is alive and thriving, you just have to listen. You mentioned Kendrick and Cole are there any artists that you would like to work with in the future?
HSG: All of TDE, Joey Badass, J.Cole, Wale, and Ed Sheeran. Ed on a Shoe Gang joint would be ill. The good news is we’ll be working on a Shoe Gang collab with Michael Jackson after we steal Doc’s flux capacitor lol.
Scy: An Ed Sheeran and Horseshoe Gang callabo would be bananas! So what’s up next?
HSG: We’re trying to put a tour together. We have Horseshoe Comics that will be a comic series about the dopest rap group of all time. And we’re working on a bunch of new music but not sure what exactly we’ll do with it. We’re also working on getting as many people as possible to sign our petition to get Shoe Gang on XXL Freshman cover. Are we joking?
Scy: As a fan of your music as well as a huge comic book fan I can’t wait for that to happen. For new fans who are just discovering your music, and as we have discussed the evolution of your sound, what songs would you suggest from your catalog, from the beginning, that would give them an insight into what Horseshoe Gang represents?
HSG: “Picture Of Anger” “Am I Crazy” “Trust The Shoes” “Small Pacs” or “Drum Murder pt 2” which features KXNG Crooked.
Scy: All incredibly dope songs. Anything else you’d like to say ?
HSG: GOD bless talented rappers, and FUCK whack rappers!