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Rap Pioneers, 8 Ball & MJG, Came Through In a Clutch.

Several months ago, 8 Ball & MJG released their album called Classic Pimpin Live. Literally, the LP is a time capsule that blesses listeners with resonant stories cantering over instrumentals. But, are we surprised that 8 Ball & MJG could chef us up something that’s refreshingly delicious to the ears? It’s an excellent project. There’s only one complaint—They should’ve released the album sooner.

MJG said that they mixed the old with the new to create the perfect formula for hip hop.

“It’s a full length album,” explains 8 Ball. "It’s actually like a collection of our older songs, but they are live instrumentations and remixes. These are our older songs from every album we’ve had. You can get a little piece of this and that. We went on tour with a band in Georgia. We decided to go in the studio and record the songs. We named it “Classic Pimpen,” plus the one new song “Take a Picture.” We had a song called Classic Pimpen that was only a video. It was never released. We released the entire album with the same title on January 1st."

Hip hop— It circled back like acid wash jeans, fannie packs and biker shorts, thanks to the Memphis duo. Their compilation is a collection of principal tracks from older recordings, marked by generations past as the best of the crop. These are their breakout buzzers like “Lay it Down,” and “ You Don’t Want Drama,” but remixed with impossible impressions, which means that it doesn’t get any better than this. They included a few new releases like “Take a Picture”.

“This is us, and this is life, right now,” says MJG when asked about their cerebral mindset behind the track, “Take a Picture.”  

“If you haven’t heard or you haven’t seen it before, you can take a look at it, snap shots, and  pictures. This is us. This is hip hop.”

8 Ball (Premero Smith & MJG (Marlon Jermaine Goodwin) met at Ridgewood Middle School circa 1984. From there, the two found a mutual reverence and talent for rhyming and writing gritty odes .

“Back in those days, just to hear our music on the radio, it made you feel like “This is it. I have arrived,” said MJG.

“You gotta think about it. We’re talking about a whole other time period, but that’s definitely that feeling [MJG] talked about] that people tell you, “Man, I just heard your song last night.” That’s when you get the feeling, this might be the thing for me to do.”

Although the pioneers featured on a underground  album in 1991 called “Listen to the Lyrics,” the rappers wouldn’t release their first album until 1993 called Comin Out Hard. The versifiers released On The Outside Looking In as the junior project.  They continued to dispel hits like On Top of the World (1995), In Our Lifetime (1999), Space Age 4 Eva (2000), Living Legends (2004), Ridin' High (2007) and Ten Toes Down (2010).

With a strongbox filled to the brim with hits, the hip hop legends were inducted into the Memphis Music Hall of Fame November, 2018. “It’s love in Memphis,” both lyricist acknowledged the drove of support from their home town.

8 Ball & MJG have a skill-set for delivering distinguished bangers. Since they’ve been at it for a while, it seemed reasonable to ask about their thoughts on the direction of hip hop today.

“It’s hip hop. It’s still what it is, but it’s forever changing, too,” says 8 Ball

The forerunners said that younger artist that’s making music now should do it long and good, by creating the space for longevity.

If they could pull rappers to the side like Takashi 69 and Kodak Black, to school them and breathe life into them...  “He [Kodak Black] should just do his thing. Don’t worry about the mistakes he’s made. Just try to do better and move forward. Everybody was young at one time and made mistakes, but don’t let that deter you from your future. Go full speed ahead. Do better tomorrow than you did yesterday,” MJG responded.

“It’s too late for Takashi,” chimed 8 Ball just like that uncle in every family, that’s going to be painfully honest regardless of the conversation.

I say it’s too late for Takashi. It ain’t nothing you can say to him that’s going to make his day better,” 8 Ball replied frankly. “It’s nothing that anyone can say. It was his path. Nobody in life didn’t keep him from where he is now. There wasn’t a thing that a rapper from Memphis could’ve said that would’ve changed [his route].”

If they could give advice to their younger selves, 8 Ball said in a comical tone, “I’d pop up like a cartoon, and say, “Save, some of that money, boy!”

“I’d say, don’t buy nothing,” exclaimed MJG with a chuckle. “Don’t buy nothing.”

Both poetasters says that it’s easier to get a deal this day and age. However, as far as signing to a record label, 8 Ball stresses that indie artist shouldn’t do it. “These days, there’s a lot of things that up-and-coming rappers and producers can do to be well known and make money without signing to a record label. Do that to your fullest ability before you take that route. That’s what I would tell a young Cat.”

8 Ball & MJG kept that same doggedness from back in the day, when they released their first album. They eat, sleep, bleed music. It could be far-fetched to say that, but just seeing their cadence after all these years, that should employ listeners to really get into the new album, Classic Pimpen Live. In fact, the performers are always on social media looking for that next big thing. They aren’t too high strung. Basically, as long as the talent is where it needs to be, your song,  it could be the next banger spinning on airwaves.

“We would have to hear it. The same way a producer hears an instrument on the track when they need to add horns or bass. We need to hear it. That’s kind of how we pick people most of the time. If we think that someone will sound dope on a song, we contact them and see if we can get them on the song,” says 8 Ball.

8 Ball & MJG have catalogs of music, that they did with other affluent artist. If they could name one dope session, they couldn’t put a finger on it because they were all consequential. “Each one has its own story and its own time. I think we got a lot of fire studio moments,” shares 8 Ball.

Of course, their favorite songs to perform if they had to narrow it down, would be “Space Age Pimpen,  Sho nuff  and Lay it Down.

“We just love making music,” says 8 Ball. “That’s something we’ve always loved doing. We loved making music since way back. We aren’t too political. We make our records about stuff that we go through and things of that nature. We don’t get into all that. It’s more about the music with us. Today, I was out. A lady told me that some of our music got her through her tough times. There’s always two sides of the coin. You got to find what you like with our music. Some people enjoy all of it.”

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Couple favorites from 8 Ball & MJG:

"Look At The Grillz" ft T.I. and Twista

 "You Don't Want Drama"

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