Until The Casket Drops: USDA

May 28, 2007 at 5:22 pm | Posted in Found At Other Sites | Leave a comment

Aaron Frank

When Atlanta rapper Young Jeezy first came on the scene around 2004, he was nearly impossible to avoid. With guest appearances on numerous albums and a mixtape catalog larger than most rappers’ discography, Jeezy finally managed to cultivate his street buzz in to a deal with Def Jam records. However, some fans might not even know he’s signed to Def Jam, as a result of the constant promotion of his own label CTE through his songs and music videos. The hardcore Jeezy fans also became familiar with his capo, Slick Pulla, through his mixtapes with DJ Drama and his countless appearances alongside the boss on different songs.

The seeds of a group project were planted early on, however it wasn’t until Bloodraw came along that USDA became official and work on the album would begin. Bloodraw, a Florida native, was the final piece to the puzzle and after he and Slick Pulla generously decided to put their solo careers on hold, USDA became a “family,” as he describes it. The album, Cold Summer, only took a few weeks to make and after the first two singles, “Check” and “White Girl” hit the streets, the buzz started to build immediately. I had a chance to speak with USDA members, Bloodraw and Slick Pulla, to get their take on the controversy surrounding their second single “White Girl”, as well as what sets them apart from other southern groups, and what it takes to record a solid group effort.

AF: How was it being on the Street Dreams Tour? Was that your first time doing the arenas and stuff like that?

Bloodraw: Actually, not really because I’ve been here for a minute. We did the Georgia Power tour before that and that was a big thing. A lot of artists that were on that tour ended up being on the Street Dreams tour. We switched it up a little bit. We had new people like Jim Jones and Rich Boy, but that wasn’t my first time around. The tour was crazy though man. It ended up being very successful. Everything was good.

Slick Pulla: I couldn’t make the Georgia Power Tour, because I was on some intense probation at the time. Let me tell you something though. It feels good to walk out there and get that same love like you’re in your hood. Everywhere we’ve been, they’ve accepted us and it’s been a hell of an experience. It’s definitely one of the highlights of my whole life. We’re on a tight schedule so we don’t have much time to reflect on it until we get off stage. They tried to shut down some shows, because of that gang shit, but we also had people from all sets and all hoods at the show. The media don’t talk about that. I can’t wait to go back out again though man.

AF: “White Girl” and “Check” started blowing up for you towards the end of the tour.

BR: “White Girl” is still buzzin, you know. That song is real controversial and right now it’s the Jam of the Week on MTV. And what cats do you know that drop two hot videos before the album even come out? So, the label is really excited about the project and everything is a go. It’s a big team.

AF: I know you’re from Florida, but Slick and Jeezy are from Atlanta. How did you all originally get together and start working?

BR: Well I was on the road doing my thing, doing shows, and I had a tremendous buzz in the state of Florida. Everybody knows how big Florida is, so it’s tough to get that buzz, but I was doing shows in some parts of Georgia and Alabama. Jeezy had heard about me in the streets and on the music. Me and him were on the ticket at a show in Alabama and I opened the show and he couldn’t believe the performance. Him and Kinky B came on stage and the crowd went wild. They were telling me how they heard that I was getting calls from all different people, but they wanted me over there. You know, at the same time, I was getting calls from a lot of different people like Asylum, Warner, people like Trick Daddy and T.I. So, we exchanged numbers and everything and Kink called me the next morning asking me to fly out to Atlanta and kick it with them. Three days after I got there, there was nothing else to talk about. The deal was done in about a week.

AF: So, having that buzz and all those labels trying to get a hold of you as a solo artist, what made you want to get involved with USDA and the whole group situation?

BR: Well, the thing about it is that me and Slick already have solo deals. People don’t know that we got a solo deal and a group deal, so that’s just more money man.

SP: From day one we had planned on doing USDA, because that’s just going to rock the whole label. My solo coming ASAP, but I figured this would be a better way to get ready for everything. I’m trying to get exposed to those people that didn’t know about 4th Ward Day. They also got the mixtape, Slick 4 Prez at [url]Datpiff.com[/url] . Somebody got a hold of it and put it on the internet, but I felt like this was the best move. Once people hear this, even the ones that was already fuckin with me and Bloodraw, everybody’s gonna want to fuck with us.

AF: When can we expect to hear those solo projects?

BR: Well, we’re already working on ‘em right now but hopefully somewhere around the fourth quarter.

SP: The Trapublican, man. Hopefully that’s coming around late summer. When we’re wrapping up the USDA stuff, we’re going to be hittin’ you with the first single.

AF: Did you ever have any doubts about trying to stand out from the pack when you all were recording?

BR: Nah, I wouldn’t say it was difficult, because at the end of the day we’re like three brothers. You know, we’ve been together everyday all day on the road and lived together and everything, so when you’re used to being around people then you know how to react to what they do. So, it’s almost like having a biological brother.

AF: On the promo for the album, there were a couple tracks with just you or just Slick Pulla. Is the album going to have more tracks like that or are all of you going to be on most of the songs?

BR: Man, all three of us are on every track except for like two tracks that me and Slick did together. Other than that though, all of us are on every song.

SP: We did the shit in three weeks. After we heard the beats, we would go and lay the hook. The shit was fate. I can’t explain how it went down. Once we got in the studio, we just knocked it out and it was history. Now it’s going crazy. It’s Chewbacca. This is some new slang for you, but you gotta say Slick said it. Chewbacca. That means you have gone fuckin crazy. Like whatever you do, you can say you went Chewbacca with this interview. That means you went in for real. That’s how it was. There was no point when we were stuck or felt like something wasn’t possible. Every song we did is on the album. I’ll put it to you like that. That’s how focused we were.

AF: What do you think sets you apart from some of these other groups we’ve been seeing in the south lately like Boss Hogg Outlawz and the Chopper City Boyz?

BR: You know, no disrespect, but we’re out to just make good music and good songs, and we’re us. We don’t change for nothing. We’re trendsetters. We don’t follow no fads or none of that. Our music is something that you’ll still be able to listen to 10 years from now. One thing about all three of us, is that me, slick, and Jeezy, we always tell the truth. Whatever we bring to the table, it’s going to be the truth and I think everybody’s gonna find that out by the end of the day.

SP: Chopper City been doin it for a minute, but we’re a group that’s almost like family. It took us 3 weeks to record this album. We all had our own situations going on at the time and right before it, we weren’t even sure it was about to happen. So, once we got the green light we went ahead and knocked that shit out. They’re my big brothers and them niggas keep me calm. I’ll be on some other shit sometimes and they tell me “Man, you can’t be like that. It’s different.” So, I listen to them and once we got our minds together collectively and everything, we cooked up a classic. We’re all on the same page, like even when we apart from each other. The big homey kind of told me to loosen up, because I’m used to not fucking with people I don’t know. It’s different now. Those moves are still in me, but at the end of the day, I’m going to walk away from this as a better general and just more of a man.

AF: With the whole “White Girl” thing, did you expect all of this controversy over it in the media?

BR: Well, the one thing about it is that whatever you do as a hip-hop artist, people are going to look back and try find out if it’s the truth. When they find out you’re the truth, then they respect it. So that’s why I say that everything adds up. The streets already know, so once people find out what it is with us, they’ll accept it because it’s real.

SP: The media is always going to do what they do. We just gotta make sure we’re in the kitchen making that music for the streets. We let the media do what they do. We in the hood every day, so the people there know what we’re about regardless of what the media’s saying. It’s different from when the media says some crazy shit about you, and people don’t know you and don’t know about you. They ain’t gonna know how to react. It’s like if you and your boy fall out and you ain’t in the hood no more and he is. If he’s in the hood talking about you and you ain’t there, then they’re gonna believe him. The media can’t tell the hood that I’m an evil person or nothing like that, because they know Slick ain’t like that. I have no control over what people take out of context. That’s USDA having a good time. We’re just trying to show the world that we know how to hit the club and kick it like anybody else.

AF: Do you ever feel like you have to tone it down at all because people are saying the lyrics are too raunchy or violent?

BR: If you don’t know what certain slang means, then you’re automatically going to take it our context and you’re not going to understand what it mean. Once you find out what it means, it’s different. That’s the whole thing about “White Girl” is that we just like to go the club and have a good time. They’re really isn’t too much negative about it. It’s like “My jewelry too loud, I can’t hear ya.” That basically just mean I don’t want to talk to you right now, because I’m shining. The whole thing about Christina Aguilera is that she’s just a bad chick. She’s beautiful. That’s what it is.

AF: I heard you all were trying to get some up-and-coming producers on this album as well. Can you talk a little bit about that?

BR: Yeah, the whole thing is that CTE is a label that is gonna be here for years to come. We’re building a dynasty like the Chicago Bulls with Michael Jordan. What other way to open that door than with your own producers? Everybody wants a new sound or a new producer. When everybody heard Cash Money, they knew that Mannie Fresh kind of created that sound. So, that’s what we’re trying to do with our up-and-coming producers. It’s a CTE sound that you’re going to be able to identify later on. Arnaz “the Nasty One” got about 4 or 5 beats on there. He’s probably got the most out of anyone on there.

AF: All of you worked with Drama in the past. Was it weird at all not doing a mixtape before the album dropped this time?

BR: To be real, Indictment Papers was pretty much an album for me. I was ready for this. I had been waiting years to do this, so this was my first break and being able to share that with one of the biggest artists in the game is cool, and I know Slick feel the same way. You can’t even really express it.

SP: Nah, it wasn’t weird, because we were still getting freestyles out on the internet and we were still serving the DJs. But shouts out to Drama, we’re about to be on his Gangsta Grillz album. I love mixtapes. They’re essential, because I think that’s what got me where I am now. If it weren’t for mixtapes, everyone would just be finding out about me now. I know the whole world don’t know me, but the streets and the trenches already know me. That’s a good look.

AF: Did you all ever figure out where the rumors of the White Girl street team originated from?

BR: Nah, I don’t know nothing about that, but it’s a good idea though.

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