The Lost Tapes might not be best known as an interview site at the moment, but things are about to change with some exclusive interviews coming in a near future. You might remember my interview with Rasheed Chappell and Side Effectz; but this time it's none other than Boston's legendy OG Big Shug that's under the spotlight. The original Gang Starr Foundation member is about to release his fourth official album "I.M. 4-Eva" on July 24; so much of our conversation dealt with the upcoming album, but there's of course also some room for some exclusive news and questions as well; after all the phone call was 30+ minutes long, and I gotta give major thanx to Shug for his patience and taking the time to answering all the questions in depth. Very humble dude for sure! Another major thanks goes out to my man Mal Moe for hooking up the interview! I highly doubt Big Shug need much of any further introduction, and if you got any questions hopefuly they will be answered in the interview. One last thing though; since it's quite a long interview I decided to split it into two parts. Without any further due, here is claaa7's / The Lost Tapes interview with the one and only Big Shug. Part two will be posted very soon so stay tuned. Here Shug will shed some light on future projects, his working relationship with DJ Premier (including news on a planne full-length album soon to come), tour plans, a slight trip down memory lane, and much more. So until then, enjoy Part 1, I doubt you'll be dissapointed!
c7: Your new album is called "I.M. 4-Eva". What should we expect from the LP as far as concepts, style, guests, and so on?
Shug: "I.M. 4-Eva", as each album, is growth. You know songs gonna be a little deeper [than on previous records]; that's the evolution of me as an artist. Also, you got a couple of hardcore shit that I do, As far as guests, I have my son Trumayne on the album; a collaboration with Fat Joe and M.O.P.; and also another collaboration with Slaine, Reks, Termanology and Sinapore ["For The Real"].
c7: A lot of Boston artists represented on that cut in other words?
Shug: What it is is, I mean I'm the godfather of where I'm from you know - Boston, but I also expand worldwide so... I always try to bring along cats on that level. But I'm also good friends with New York rappers as well, so it could've just as esaily been Busta and Common you know, but everything happens for a reason at a certain time. You might hear something from me and those giuys collaborating in the future though.
c7: What producers are featured on "I.M. 4-Eva"?
Shug: Like I said the album here is about growth, and there's a lot of strong songs on it. There's three or four songs produced by DJ Premier, and then my in-house producer Kid Called Quest, also known as Jay Quest. He's an up-and-coming producer, who was on my second album and I continued to work with him and we've kept evolving together. He produced most of the album.
c7: Your two preceeding albums were in large part produced by MoSS. I was a little suprised that I didn't see him in the credits list this time. What was the reason for this?
Shug: Actually MoSS was involved in all three of my previous albums; "Who's Hard", "Street Champ" and "Otherside Of The Game". I guess it was more a decision on his behalf, on my last album I had a couple of songs from him, but after that I wasn't really dealing with him; I mean he was doing some other things and we kept it moving, so that's how that happened you know.
c7: So there was no conscious decision on your part not to include him in order to switch up your sound for the new album?
Shug: Nah, I would've loved to work with him, but like I said he was doing other things and he wasn't accessible for whatever reason.
c7: Ok, back to what's actually on the album then; what's your personal favorite record on the LP and why?
Shug: There's a lot of good ones, [the single] "Still Here" is one of them because it represents the fact that I'm still here, doing my thing and banging it up; although it's more of a new school type of beat.
Also "Blue Collar Dollar", because hip-hop, well underground artist, struggle and got real hard work, so that's more of a reality type of track, you know, how life is so to speak.
You know, there's a lot of good ones; my son rapping on "No More" was special. Because he's been like a little rapper kid in the studio with me since he was like three, so I had to get him on the project now, being eleven. He's 12 now but we recorded that right before he turned twelve. So it's great just having him on there.
c7: Another track that I want to touch on is the DJ Premier produced "Hardbody", featuring Fat Joe and M.O.P. That's definitely one of the songs people been buzzing about since the tracklist was first announced. What was that vibe like and what can we expect from that record?
Shug: "Hardbody" speaks on our lifestyle; you know, me, Fat Joe and M.O.P. all come from that hard side of life, so we represent that in the song. That's why we got those guys for the record; we're all OG's and all represent that hard side. Even though Fat Joe makes pop records or whatever, you know, I've known him since I first came to New York and I know that he's one of the realest cats out. We're all friends too, and it makes for a good song with everybody bringing it, so that's what it is, you know, hardbody!
c7: You talked about growth on the coming LP, how would you say your music has evolved with each album so far?
Shug: I mean, each album represents growth because you never stay where you at. Otherwise your music can tend to fall off or dissapear. I continue to evolve because I'm in the game, and I do verses for people all over the world; 16's for hire, you know, so I keep myself alive everywhere, and this albums reflects that growth, as do all of them, you know. Further down the road I'll probably do an album that's a singing album too. But right now, "I.M. 4-Eva" is the next power piece, and that's what it is, in the legacy of Big Shug.
c7: One of the best tribute tracks I've ever heard is yours and DJ Premier's touching letter to Keith Elam in "We Miss You", that will appear on "I.M. 4-Eva". What was that recording session like?
Shug: Well, you gotta remember that me and GURU started this whole thing together. I actually taught him how to rhyme, and we hung out and we grew into this, you know what I mean. When he passed, I heard about it, and everybody threw out these songs, and I never would have thrown a song out just like that, because I probably knew him better than anyone. That was just the way we came up.
Premier actually did the track and sent it to me, and I just went in, you know. Actually I sat in my vehicle and played it for myself, and sat and started writing which is very easy to do in a situation like that. The song could've been half an hour long, because that's how far back we go. You know, it was just real emotional because my man was gone and I know I will always miss him, You kmow when we started out together, we used to both sing and rap. Of course, I was the stronger singer but he could hold a tone too, so that was our forté.
So when I'm singing [on the song], I was able to spit stuff we went through when we came up, and when I'm singing, I'm singing to him. That's why when you listen to how it sounds, it disembodies the whole thing, because I'm singing, and I'm a pure singer as well, you know what I'm saying. And I'm also, of course, singing on the song as the pure singer i am.
c7: It's a beautiful record, and I learned a lot from it, and overall it's a huge and very important track.
Shug: Yeah, that's what it's about man!