LOCAL PRODUCT: Freddie Gibbs & Will Scrilla (Gary, IN)
Freddie Gibbs (Photo courtesy of Clayton Woodley)
Local Product is a new and hopefully reoccurring series where current day artists from smaller market hip hop scenes break down the untold histories of their cities. Freddie Gibbs, of Gary, Indiana seemed like a good place to start. His Miseducation Of Freddie Gibbs is one of the stronger mixtapes to drop in recent months, but the community that birthed him has been taking form since the mid to late 90s with groups like The Grind Family, CCA and the MCG’z. Here Freddie tells their story and introduces you to some of their classic records. He even gets Grind Family’s incarcerated founder Will Scrilla in on the conversation.
C.O.B., Shorty Grind & Big Cheese of The Grind Family
Grind Family – “The Devil’s Advocate”
Grind Family f/ Ric Jilla – “Studio 2 The Ghetto“
from In The Grind We Trust Vol. 1 (Mixtape, 1999)
Freddie Gibbs: The Grind Family were a group started by Will Scrilla. He’s from my neighborhood on the East Side of Gary on 17th Avenue. It was Will Scrilla and a guy named COB. COB wasn’t from Gary, though, he was from East Chicago that’s a city right next to Gary. They started the Grind Family which consisted of eight guys. It was pretty much a mid-west Wu-Tang type thing. And then they made a lot of noise. They was pretty much the first rap group ever out of Gary and Will Scrilla was at the helm of that. He was from Gary and the rest of the guys were from neighboring cities like Hammond, East Chicago. But Will Scrilla was really the focal point of the group, he was the guy who really made the wheels turn and in ’99 he caught a murder charge and he went to jail and that was pretty much the end of the group. A lot of the guys in Gary that was rapping and doing their thing really got swallowed up by the streets.
CCA (Concord Affiliated) – “We All Gotta Die”
CCA (Concord Affiliated) – “Street Life“
from One Life 2 Live (Laidback, 1998)
FG: Another case is CCA, they got hit with a charge for controlling a criminal enterprise. They had a big drug ring and the guy that was the main rapper of the group, C-Mack, I think he got 45 years and a couple of other guys in the group got life. So that was their demise. They had it popping between ’98 and 2000, and then around 2000 that’s when they got arrested, everybody caught their cases.
MCG’z – “Club 1337″
MCG’z – “Great Lakes (Remix)“
MCG’z – “Dollaz & Sense“
rom 53 Chambers Of Danger (Skrewface, 1999)
FG: MCG’z, that’s short for Murder Capital Gangsters and that consists of my homeboy Hit, my homeboy Daz and Mr. Lo. They was another pioneering group from Gary. They pretty much was at the helm of the whole thing. They started it out. They were really the first cats I knew to have a CD out in the city, everybody else was getting tapes.
It’s funny that we having this conversation because Will Scrill just called me from jail right now. He’s on the other line. I could click him in on the conversation if you want… [Will Scrilla gets on the line]
Will Scrilla f/ Ric Jilla – “My Identity”
from Live & Die In GI Soundtrack (?, 1998)
Freddie Gibbs f/ Will Scrilla & Sani G – “We Does This“
from Live From Gary, Indiana Pt. 2 (Mixtape, 2008)
Noz: So Will, was it difficult coming out from such a small city?
Will Scrilla: Going back from the late 80s onto the 90s we were basically just viewed as consumers, but then there’s always been a big underground music scene going back to guys that called themselves the Lee Boys [?] and [Stuntman Records] then going up into the late 90s with myself and guys like CCA and other local groups – the Gatekeepers. But there’s always been a big underground scene it’s just that the city is so small in population it doesn’t bring a lot of notoriety.
Did you guys ever feel like you were getting overshadowed by bigger cities like Chicago?
WS: Chicago basically has a superiority complex. They don’t reach out to network with Gary Indiana. So our music has to demand the respect of other localities, particularly Chicago. Being so close they were really not interested in networking with us until we created a buzz for ourselves. Then they’re willing to network with us.
What do you think of Freddie as a rapper? Is he doing a good job carrying the torch for the city.
WS: Freddie’s got the freshest style that’s out right now. His style is phenomenal, he’s able to go across the board with his topics and he’s also got the appeal to go along with it. I think he’s highly capable of being a big mainstream artist.
So how did you guys link up in the first place? Fred, you came up listening to him?
FG: Yeah, definitely. Will was the first nigga from neighborhood definitely putting it down. Like Will said earlier, we were basically viewed as a consumers market. So we was consuming whatever was on BET and MTV. Will really solidified the Gary Rapper. When you thought about the status quo of a Gary rapper, you thought about Will because he put niggas in position to be from Gary and be able to rap and compete on the same level as cats from New York and LA and down south. So he was like our hero. And he was right from my neighborhood so it was definite.
What’s the future for Gary?
FG: When I started rapping I looked at it as me picking up where Will left off and just bring this Gary shit to the forefront. The midwest really hasn’t had that standout talent to solidify our area. The cats from Chicago don’t really rep it hard enough. Even with the Kanyes and the Twistas, they midwest all day but I think it’s a little too much of them on the cusp of other areas and other coasts. They’re making the south or the west stronger, nobody’s really solidifying the midwest as a whole. You got cats like Tech N9ne, cats like that still keeping it strong in the midwest, but for the most part I think that we more underground.
WS: We haven’t reached that point. We have a lot of local success and some regional success but there really hasn’t been an artist to create a ten city or even a five or six state buzz. My mindstate has always been an international mindstate as far as the music scene coming out of Gary, with brothers like Gibbs and myself. But he need my help right now. I’m in a situation where 10 or 20,000 dollars could remove from incarceration and create the movement. I’m really the nucleus to the movement that’s needed out there. That brother Freddie Gibbs is the energy, he really needs me by his side out there. But we limited on the finances to get me out there. 10 or 20,000 would remove me from these walls of bondage. It would put me out there to be side by side with him to create the movement that’s needed because I can network with so many people. We truly are the street, we are the voice and we need to be heard. And my guy [Freddie], he’s ready now.