When looking out for the new generation of hip hop bastions, we at Sampleface have an eye for the unusual. So when a crowd of 8 promising musicians calling themselves ‘The League of Extraordinary Gz’ dropped a record that made our ears sing a few months ago, we sat up and listened. Hailing from Austin, TX, this talented collective have been honing their craft on the underground scene until the release of #LEAGUESHIT in October, a riot of a record which harks back to the beats and rhymes of underground hip hop that many of us grew up on. We caught up with Greezo and Reggie Coby to get the lowdown on their past, present and future.
Have you heard the one about the three rap groups that walk into a bar? No? Well you’re about to…
Sampleface: For our readers unfamiliar with the group, can you give us a brief rundown of each of LOEGz’s musical resumes?
Greezo: The League of Extraordinary Gz is comprised of three separate rap groups: Dred Skott, Southbound, and Da C.O.D. Each of the groups had their hand in creating a strong local following in the Austin hip hop scene. Dred Skott (Reggie Coby and Octavis “Esbe Da Bully” Berry) was known for its reality charged rhymes over their soulful sound. Their Dred Skott 4 President mixtape which was released in late 2008 had gained them a lot of notoriety. Southbound (Lowkey and Slick Talk) are twin brothers that had created a name for themselves throughout the city with their rhyming skills. Their 2009 Seasons Change project had received a good response with the local media outlets. Da C.O.D. (Mr Greezo, S.Dot, Tuk-da-Gat, Lil J) was the group known for our raw and gritty music about street life. We had released a mixtape series called Ova Da Stove that had gained us a lot of recognition within Austin. All three groups individually did their part in creating a name for themselves by consistently opening up for major touring acts and performing annually at South by Southwest.
SF: How did you congregate the collective to form LOEGz?
Reggie Coby: Esbe had always talked about putting together a group called The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. There were a couple of attempts that just never ended up working out. Then in 2009, at my birthday party we had decided to try again by collaborating with Southbound and Da C.O.D. to do a mixtape called The League of Extraordinary Gz. We recorded in the same studio with Southbound and had a close relationship with those dudes and Southbound knew Da C.O.D. because they were both from the southside. That’s pretty much how it came together between the three groups. We all knew of each other and there was a mutual sense of musical respect. We knew that doing this project would benefit all three groups as it would allow us to share our music across all of our core fanbases. Once we started making music though, all of the focus moved away from the three individual groups and to The League and what started out as a mixtape evolved into what it is today, a big family. We all have been through so much together in the past few years that we’ve become brothers in the process.
SF: What do you think each member of the group brings to your sound that makes it unique?
Greezo: If you look at the three individual groups and the music, you will notice how they each had their own unique sound. On one end of the spectrum you had Dred Skott who’s just soulful with their sound and on the other end you had Da C.O.D. which was on that street tip. Southbound fell somewhere in the middle of that spectrum with a mix of street and soul. That within itself gave the League a unique melting pot of sound. But even at an individual level, each member has their own style of rapping and delivery which I think contributes to the overall music. Reggie produces, sings, and raps. S.Dot has bars for days.I mean, you can ask our core fans who their favorite member out of the League is and you’ll get a different answer from each person. Each member plays their role and that’s what I think gives us our unique sound.
SF: Describe the process of recording the album with so much input from the different members?
Reggie Coby: We often get asked this because it’s like damn you have 8 artists, like how does everything come together. Honestly, it’s a pretty organic process. Sometimes I’ll produce a beat and already have an idea as to who would fit on the record. Often times, someone might have some bars they wrote to a beat and a few of us write to it and we just take what we feels sounds best for the song. We have done this long enough to where there are no hard feelings if you don’t make the track. Everyone plays their role and provides their input as the music comes together. We’re family and been doing this for 4 years now, we respect each other’s honest opinion.
SF: Did you find it hard to bring together the ideas that you each had individually to form the album, or did you find that they just fit together to create the record?
Greezo: Not really. I mean there were times we had to debate some final decisions. You have to understand that we started this album back in 2009 when we first came up with the mixtape idea. This album evolved so much in those 4 years. I look back sometimes and just think what it would have been like if we released it in one of its earlier forms. We collectively knew how we wanted this album to be put together, so there really wasn’t a challenge there. Probably the most difficult part was putting together the final tracklisting. We had a total of 17 songs that we eventually trimmed down to 14 because we just felt that a few of the songs took away from the overall project. They just felt forced and didn’t seem like they fit with the rest of the music. We wanted this album to be solid with no sense of a “filler” track. With the diversity of our music too, we wanted to make sure we sequenced the songs in way that made sense and gave the album a continuous flow from start to finish. In the end, we were all happy with how the final product came together.
SF: How did you feel about the way the album was received?
Reggie Coby: Man, so far it’s been great. Been receiving a lot of good feedback on our social media sites. I know our core fans have been enjoying the release. We’ve kept them waiting for this for a couple years now. The local media outlets have labeled it a “local landmark” and the best rap album to come out of Austin. That alone, just gives us the reassurance that we delivered a quality project like we intended. I think as the projects gets shared more and more globally we’ll start to see more and more feedback trickle down.
SF: Do any of you have a particular track on the album that you are proud of above the others? And if so, why?
Greezo: This is tough one. I’m sure every member has their favorite, but if I had to pick one song collectively that represents us and the album then I would have to say “I’m Alive”. There’s a lot of meaning behind that track. It was the last beat the Reggie Coby made while Esbe was still with us. It was one of the more recent tracks we added to the album and one of our last decisions on the album was to make it the first track. It speaks to who we are and really sets one of the underlying themes to the album that focuses on our fallen brother Esbe. During post production of the song we got to work with Grammy award winning Latin funk band Grupo Fantasma which was a dope addition. There so much life in that song that you just can’t help yourself but sing that hook screaming “I’m Alive.” Anyone that has lost someone close in their life can relate to the song.
SF: After the album’s release, have you started to consider your individual projects again, or are you focusing on making music in the future with LOEGz?
Greezo: Yeah, we are now in the process of working on a number of solo projects. We would often have others folks debate about how we as a group should try to focus on one individual to get the group’s name out but we just never saw that model working with The League. Every member is talented and has their own individual sound and we wanted to put out the League album to introduce people to the collective first. Now that you know who The League is, we are going to show each of the individual components that make up the League. Slick Talk is finalizing an EP project that is produced entirely by and up and coming producer from Austin named Eric Dingus. Reggie Coby will be completing his W420 project. Lowkey is recording his The Low Life project. Dowrong has an EP project in the works. Lil J is finishing up his Reality Rap project. Tuk and S.Dot are working with DJ Burn One on their follow up to The White Boy Mixtape. We got a lot of #LEAGUESHIT on deck.
SF: Who would you like to collaborate with in the future?
Reggie Coby: Honestly, there’s really not a list of people that we would love to collab with. I just want to work with anyone that is dope and putting out quality music across all genres. We’ve had the opportunity to work with some legends already. So really, we’ll just take it as it comes but there’s so much we have to work on individually that the wish list is just an afterthought.
SF: Who is setting the benchmark for hip hop in Texas at the moment, aside from yourselves?
Greezo: There’s a lot of talent in both Austin and Texas man. I think people outside of the region when they hear the term “Texas Rap” often place it in a box that equates to the southern screw sound. But if you’re into the scene then you know that there’s more depth to Texas rap than that. Not everything is dumbed down about swangas, drank, and slabs. I know I’m probably forgetting some names here but off the top of my head I think A.Dd+, Doughbeezy, Kydd, and Worldwide are all doing some great things for Texas hip hop.
SF: Who are your musical idols?
Greezo: UGK, Scarface, Nas, Mike Dean, Erykah Badu
Reggie Coby: Outkast, Dungeon Family, Goodie Mob, UGK, Erykah Badu, Fishbone, Stevie Wonder, and way too many more to list. I’m into a lot of different genres of music.
SF: What do you think makes LOEGz stand out from other rap groups emerging at the moment?
Reggie Coby: Easy! There are 8 of us and we can all rap our asses off. We take pride in being good technical rappers. Also, I just think the quality of music we are putting out stands up to everything else out there being played. We are big on adding live instrumentation to our music. We can’t rep “The Live Music Capital of The World” and not incorporate that into our music. We label our music as “reality rap” because everything we touch on is real life experiences. Nothing is fabricated and with music today, sometimes that authenticity is lost. Not with us, because we’re Gz. Also we put on a great live show that just filled with energy. It took us some time going out on the road to figure out the formula but we now know what it takes to put on a dope show. We’re not just going to go through the motions of rapping and standing on stage, especially with 8 of us. We’re going to take you on a rollercoaster ride that will have you jumping and sweating by the end of the show.
SF: What are your plans as a group for the next 12 months?
Greezo: We’re going to focus on finishing up on all the music. We’ll continue our campaign to promote the #LEAGUESHIT album with some new music videos and some other surprises we have in store. There might be an opportunity for us to hit the road soon and tour. But really our main focus right now is to hit ya’ll upside the head with these new projects we are working on.
So there you have it…the lowdown on one of the hottest emerging rap collectives that Austin…née the world has to offer, from the horse’s mouth. We’ll be producing a retrospective look at #LEAGUESHIT as part of our ‘How Did I Miss That’ series next week. For now, you can check out single ‘Attitude’ here: