The Illest: Q & A with Young Lox

The Northern California city known as Oakland seems to be a breeding ground for some of the world’s most talented rhyme spitters. From Yukmouth to Balance to Joe Blow, many of the rap artists that hail from the area possess a solid pen game.

However, many of these same artists seem to fall under the radar in the national spotlight. But despite failing to receive the recognition they’re unquestionably entitled to, it’s safe to say that they’re respected by many of the mainstream rap artists dominating the charts.

A clever wordsmith by the name of Young Lox is another lyricist hailing from Oakland. Although a product of the 90s, with one earful of his music, listeners can easily determine that Lox has seen and did a lot over his short span on the turf. Boasting a witty delivery and fairly smooth flow, he’s managed to obtain a significant amount of exposure thus far and develop a decent fanbase in the process.

Lox released his debut album, Loxycotin, in 2012. The 17-song project helped him generate a considerable amount of buzz within the underground rap scene. It also placed his name among the list of up-and-coming California artists that people should keep an eye out for.

He gained additional notoriety for being a part of Artist Records, a record label founded by Bay Area rap heavyweight The Jacka. After exiting the label due to business differences, Lox dropped a handful of projects: Straight Paperz, Writing Slapz, Bakc 2 The Baysics with Kansas City spitter F.A., and his I’m So Fresh mixtape in conjunction with So Fresh Clothing.

Presently, a part of fellow Oakland artist Lil Rue’s label So True Music Group, Lox is putting the finishing touches on his long-awaited album, The Illest, as well as a couple of mixtapes.

Lox talked about his East Oakland upbringing, what caused him to leave Artist Records, the cons of sipping “syrup”, his favorite shoes, what he thinks about the Bay Area not receiving the recognition it deserves, and much more.

Follow Lox on Twitter: @LOXYCOTIN

How was it for you growing up in East Oakland?

It was cool. I’m from 55th. The east side. The Maxwell Park area. I had a good upbringing, as far as family wise. I ain’t never really had to worry about where my next meal was coming from or nothing like that. My pop’s kept a good job and did whatever else he did on the side, ya know? I always had what I wanted and more. It wasn’t never no real super struggles like that but it was maynee, fasho.

There are a lot of artists who come from Oakland: J. Stalin, Joe Blow, Richie Rich, Yukmouth, and the list goes on. Would you say that Oakland is home to some of the Bay Area’s best rappers?

I would say some of the world’s best artists, really. I wouldn’t just say the Bay Area.

What makes you say that?

There’s a whole lotta different styles. You’ve got your street rappers. You’ve got your conscious rappers. You’ve got your hip-hop rappers. It’s all different styles, ya feel me? It ain’t no just saying, ‘oh, you’re from Oakland, you rap like this.’ You’ll never know how a nigga rap coming from Oakland.

Do you think Oakland artists get the recognition they deserve?

Naw, not really. We’re big on the underground scene. I know everybody knows about us. I feel we get the respect we deserve but not the recognition.
When did you start penning your first rhymes and taking it seriously?

Taking it seriously? It’s goin’ on like four years, taking it seriously. I always been a kid rapping, write some rhymes or something. I always did that, but I wasn’t taking it seriously and thinking I could make some money off it and survive off it.

You have a pretty distinctive style. Who are some of the artists that kind of influenced your flow?

At a young age, when I was coming up, I was listening to artists like C-Bo. I was young. I was born in 1990, so I was like six years old listening to C-Bo, 2pac, of course the Mobb Figaz. I listen to a variety of shit, ya feel me? I listen to artists like Snoop Dogg, Seagram, Too Short, shit like that. I always tended to listen to older music that mu’fuckas wasn’t listening to my age. I listen to a lot of Bay Area-based music. I also listen to other shit like Reggae, some of that gangsta R&B shit from the old school, ya feel me?

Who are some Reggae artists you listen to?

I listen to artists like Midnite. A lot of the Marleys. Barrington Levy. It’s a few artists.

On another note, I was curious to know how you got the name Young Lox?

I ain’t gonna lie, me and some of my niggas, we had hit a weed house and my nigga just started calling me Lox. It was like a joke and I just started calling myself that.

I initially became aware of you through The Jacka and Joe Blow. How’d you link up with them?

Just in traffic, ya feel me? I was hangin’ out with them a lot at the time. I was coming up back then, started getting on the rap shit. I used to go to the same studio as Jack, so he put me on, fareal. He put me on a couple of his songs. We did some songs that was big. I was on some songs with Jack and Blow. When Blow was puttin’ his first shit out, we were goin’ to the same lab and shit and I was around him a lot. They put me on they shit and that’s how a lot of mu’fuckas heard about me fareal.

I was doing my thing with them. Some shit happened and mu’fuckas just didn’t see eye-to-eye on certain things. But them my niggas. Ain’t no love lost, ya feel me? It ain’t like I don’t fuck wit them niggas or nothin’ like that. Mu’fuckas just went our separate ways with the business, music side.

Are you signed or affiliated with any label right now?

I’m with So True Music Group. That’s Lil Rue’s record label. I’m gonna put out a couple projects out under that shit and keep it pumpin’. The artists on there is me, Lil’ Rue and Lil’ Tay. We dope young niggas. We gonna have a lil’ label compilation coming out real soon, I believe. It’s almost done. It’s dope as shit.

I noticed in a decent portion of your music, you talk about being a “syrup sipper.” What are your thoughts on how it’s become popular to sip “syrup” over the last few years?

It’s crazy. Me personally, I’ve been sippin’ syrup since ’03. I was about 13, 12 years old when I first started doing that shit a lot. That shit ain’t cool. It can lead to you doing it every day. It’s just like smoking weed. It’s crazy how that shit has become a fad and everybody is doing that shit now. And the street price is maynee on that shit, ya feel me?

From what I understand, sipping it can bring forth a variety of side effects and can possibly lead to death. Have you ever experienced any health issues from it?I done slowed down a lot. I don’t drink it like I used to. That shit’s heavy. I used to drink it a lot. When I didn’t have any, I’d be sick. A nigga stomach hurting and shit. No appetite. That shit’s crazy.

Getting back to the music, how did the Bakc 2 The Baysics project come about with you and F.A.?

Really, that’s just my dog. I met him through [Joe] Blow or whatnot. And I was just going to K.C. to fuck around, and he had the lab and shit set up. I was knocking out a verse for his new shit. We were really just fuckin’ around. That was my first time in K.C. He was like, ‘man, we should just do an album. Let’s start working on a project.’ I was like ‘fuck it. Let’s do it.’ We got the beats and did that shit in about 10 hours.

You guys did the entire project in 10 hours?

Yeah, about 10 hours. The first night I was there, we went in [the lab] for about seven hours and the next day we went in for about three hours. We had about 20-something songs. It’s some songs we didn’t even use for that shit. It was cool. That shit was easy. It really wasn’t nothing. That’s just my nig. We were just coolin’. He was like ‘let’s knock it out,’ and we just did it.

On a couple of your other projects, such as Writing Slapz and Straight Paperz, you worked with one particular producer. Do you prefer working like that rather than with a variety of producers?

What it is to me, to be honest, it’s a lot easier if a producer just hits me with like 50 beats and I’ll pick all the ones that I want to use. Recently, I’ll say about a year ago, I stopped writing on paper. I’m not like freestyling or nothing, but I’m writing it in my head and remembering it. It’s a lot faster. Like the I’m So Fresh project and all the ones I did with one producer, I probably did those in one or two studio sessions.

So if you can create music so quick, what causes you to wait in-between your releases for so long instead of just putting music out to your fans?

A lot of times, I’ll do some shit [and] then I’ll make some new shit, and I won’t feel like the old shit, I’m not gonna say it’s not dope, but [I won’t feel like] it’s as good as the new shit. I don’t want to put nothin’ out that’s not as dope as this new shit that’s about to come out. I really should just put all the shit out, but I’m real picky. I’m meticulous about what I put out. Once I drop another real CD like Loxycotin, be expecting me to drop like every month after that. Right now, I’m just trying to get together one album. It’s already really together, but just as far as all the mixing and mastering and making sure which songs I wanna put on there.

The shit that I got for this The Illest project is so fuckin’ dope, ya feel me? But I’ma put out some of them online-only joints before I put out this next album. I’ll probably drop the street album in January or February. It’ll be in stores everywhere and online everywhere.

Besides music, what has Young Lox been up to lately?I just been traveling, fareal. I’ve been in about five states this last two months. I’ve been gone. I was in Kansas City for about two months. I came back home for about a week, then I went back to Kansas City, [Kansas, then] Ohio, North Carolina…just a few places. Kansas City, Missouri. Topeka, Kansas. A whole bunch of cities that I been fuckin’ wit that’s been fuckin’ wit me. I’m going out there, showin’ up and fuckin’ around on a real level. It’s more than the music shit.

I definitely got a big presence in the Midwest. Like Kansas City, Missouri. Kansas City, Kansas. Topeka, Kansas. Akron, Ohio. Seattle. The nig get a lot of love.
You come from the Bay, an area that’s become known as one of the country’s hubs for trendsetting with regard to fashion, music and slang. But you rarely hear about the Bay area getting its credit. How do you feel about that?

You gotta take it and keep pushin’, because at the end of the day, we trendsetters and we know that. Like mu’fuckas copy the style but when they take it somewhere, it’s like they wanna be the ones that show how it go. They wanna be the one that come with that, ya feel me? We just take it and run wit it. It is what it is. They know, we know. We’re trendsetters, so we take it how it come. It make us feel good to see mu’fuckas wanna be like us. Not to talk no shit or nothin’ but that’s what it is. It don’t make a nigga feel no type of way.

In your song “Sneakerheads,” you talk about your love for kicks. What’s some of your favorite shoes?

My favorite shoes? Man, I don’t know. I been wearing a lot of Adidas lately, ol’ school Filas and shit like that. But my favorite shoe is probably the Jordan 3s. The True Blue 3s. Them were my favorite shoes when I was coming up and probably still are my favorite shoes.

Anything else you would like your fans to know?

Just tell mu’fuckas to keep an eye out on this new shit I’m fin’ to drop. I really just been sitting back and stacking up on music, so when I do drop I can keep ‘em coming. Just keep an eye out. I got some real dope shit coming.

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