Big Shug Interviews

Big Shug: Second Time Around Interview

Big Shugwritten by Todd Davis

MVRemix: Ever since your whole inception into this business, a whole lot has changed; Gang Starr, as a unit, has split up for good. The Foundation, as, we, the masses have known it, is no longer fully intact. And, the industry, in general, has literally been plagued by the internet and virtually destroyed with music bootlegging and illegal downloads — So, how has Big Shug withstood the test of time??

Big Shug: Not being rich. I mean, if you’re not rich, you remain hungry. So, therefore, I know that I must maintain my position, and I must grow and be relevant to what’s happening today, where people want to listen, which they do, which their support has been really crazy. So, I guess it’s just the hunger. I still grind it out, and I still have other things in my life also where it’s just not the sole focus, ’cause music is what it is. It’s entertainment. And, life is a lot more than just entertainment. So, therefore, like, I get royalty checks for things that I’ve done, (for instance, the song) ‘Militia’ and such, (and) also everywhere I go there (is) always someone waiting for (new) music to come out, or things that I’ve done over the years, here and there, they know everything about it, so it just keeps me breathing in this sh*t. As long as I stay hungry, I’m gonna continue to be there. So, that must mean until I get a million dollars!! {Shug bellows out loud}

MVRemix: In 2005 you dropped your long overdue, ‘Official’ solo debut, Who’s Hard? — Were you content with the overall success of that record?? And, do you think, commercially, it could’ve faired much better?? If so, where do you think things went awry??

Big Shug: Well, the thing is, is that the guy that put the record out, Chris Landry, from Sure Shot (Recordings), he wasn’t really into, like, pushing it to the maximum. He was more or less into making his quotas with his distributor, so therefore there (were) a lot of places that the album wasn’t available. As I went overseas, and toured a lot of places, they weren’t able to get the album like they should’ve been. And, then, he just stopped really promoting (it) at a certain point, I guess when he got to his point. So, that was disappointing but it basically set the table (for me) to do what I’m doing now.

MVRemix: You titled the project, Street Champ — What does the name of your sophomore album represent, both, to, and for, you??

Big Shug: Uh, basically it represents the fact that, yeah, I’ve been through a lot of things in my life and in the streets and what have you — Different trials and tribulations. And, the end result is I stand today as a champion because I was able to conquer a lot of things, and I still am a champion in everything that I do — So, hence the name Street Champ.

MVRemix: How do you feel that Street Champ either differs and/or compares to that of your solo debut??

Big Shug: Basically it’s a new work. On Who’s Hard?, there were a few songs that were, maybe, eight and ten years old. And, (DJ) Premier probably, more or less, spearheaded that. With this album, it was solely me, and it’s more to express Big Shug and show my different talents and my abilities. So, it’s just more of a Big Shug album.

MVRemix: Take me back to your early beginnings — When did you first become interested in music?? And, how did it all begin for Big Shug??

Big Shug: Well, basically, I always sang as a young person. I was a member of a school of fine arts where I was able to hone the craft of performing in front of large crowds, whether it be dance or song or instrument, at a young age. As I got older, I always wanted to write poetry. So then, I met someone when I was about fifteen, and they showed me how to incorporate my poetry into music, and rap. I’ve always rapped for the majority of my life, and sang. So, I met Guru (some) years down the road, actually when I was sixteen, but I ran into him again when he was in college, at Morehouse, and we talked about taking rap seriously. But, first, I had to show him how to rap, basically teach him how to get the cadence, and what this rap thing was all about, being that we both came from two opposite sides of the coin — Me being more privy street-wise, and in that sense, and then him coming from an educated family, as far as his father being a judge. So, we came together and we formed the group Gang Starr. The early group was him, my-self, and my brother, Suave D was the deejay. Being that I was entangled in things in the street and such, I tripped up a bit and I had to serve some incarceration. At that time, Guru proceeded to go on to New York and do his thing, and eventually met with (DJ) Premier. Upon my release, I had to get my-self ready for society, and to deal with society, so that was more of my focus than music itself…at that time. A year later, I was able to hook up with Guru, and then from that point on that’s how I became involved in the Foundation and Gang Starr as we knew it.

Original Article [extended]