The hip-hop world is a less than sensible place - lots of times, you're even required to clarify when bad means bad and when bad means good - so once a week we're going to get with a rapper and ask them to explain things. Have something you always wanted to ask a rapper? Email it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
This Week's Rapper: Thugz of Normandy
This Week's Subject(s): Straight thuggin'
Ask A Rapper: So, it's immediately clear that you all are the thugginest rappers to ever participate in the Ask A Rapper segment. We mean, you all spell "thugs" with a Z instead of an S. That's pretty insane. Let's talk a bit about that. Cool?
Thugz of Normandy: Yeah, that's chill. You know it's nothing really too significant as to why we drop the "s" for a "z" other than the fact that we just got it. There's a lot of people running around these days with their mouths open and hands up like they're trying to say something important, but you can just see the chump in their eyes. These people speak chump, breathe chump, eat chump. Then they make chump babies who chump even more.
But a "z" can say one of two things: First, "we tryin' to be Thugz of Normandy," or much less commonly, "we are the Thugz of Normandy." You can always know a chump if they're sporting a "z" but they ain't the Thugz.
Also, back in the day the Semitic symbol for "Z" was "Zayin," which meant "weapon." So essentially, everyone has to know that we are weapons. People may not get that right away, but sooner or later they inevitably realize the unmistakable evidence of our destruction. Everything we touch could turn to gold if we really wanted it to, but that's not what defines us.
Heartless, raw brutality doesn't always appear as golden bricks. In fact, it looks more like a pitbull. That's something we want to help people understand for themselves. It's never been about the music for us. Music is just one avenue to show what is ultimately harvesting in us and around us everywhere we choose to go.
AAR: What was it like growing up in the harrowing streets of suburban Magnolia?
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TON: Yeah, I don't know. I wouldn't say you could truly portray it in its rawest sense by comparing it to anything minus itself in other eras. People don't know much about Magnolia and there is undoubtedly good reason why: It's on another plane.
People are looking where they have been taught to look. They wouldn't even know how to see the truth of what's going down in the Mag if they tried. Think of the people of Magnolian society as dogs, whose natural instincts to kill and survive at any cost are revived if they're isolated or abandoned.
We were born and raised with these instincts playing a huge role in our everyday lives. Accordingly, I have been known as Thorn-dawg ever since I can remember. But that's just what we've always known as real.
Where we come from, things happen daily that the world could never handle. That's why there is no media coverage of this place. That's why I can't throw you any words to make you understand. That's why a GPS will take you on an hour detour to avoid these death-stricken streets. You just can't know if you don't already know.
AAR: When you all were in school, were you always getting into a thuggian level of trouble? Like, how many times a week were you all in lunch detention, or given stern talkings-to after class by your pre-AP teachers?
TON: Well, first off we all taught ourselves everything there is to know. We knew there was no way some school teacher was going to teach us how to do us. But it ain't always been how it is with the Thugz now.
Like anywhere else, there are multiple sects within Magnolia; namely, the East and West sides. With four of us raised in the East, and the other three in the West, were dropped into a gang [rivalry] without ever having a choice. It was like Puff Dank and P-Drizzle back in the '80s.
We had seen each other around here and there at the usual Brookshire Brothers throwdown or in Juvie sometimes, but we would have never been allowed to form any sort of coalition. As time went on, however, we all sort of simultaneously realized that everyone was always sticking with their gangs for whatever reasons. So we decided to rebel against standardized gangster life and take things to a new level.
Ever since then, we've been killin' it on the daily as the Thugz. Some kids back home may say we committed treason or whatnot, but I guarantee they got our disc in their stereo spinning nonstop. Chumps.
AAR: We heard that Trae, Z-Ro and J-Dawg all asked you guys for advice on how to cultivate a true gangster-in-the-streets image. What type of things did you all tell them?
TON: Give up.
AAR: When someone acts out line in M-Town - not brushing their teeth for the full two minutes, ending sentences with prepositions, things like that - what type of repercussions do they face?
TON: As far as we're concerned, anything less than being us is out of line. It's not discrimination; it's obvious supremacy. We got a couple homies - like Cinco and A.K. - but those guys are rare exceptions (plus they're from Guam). That's why we don't waste time with people unless they have something real to say, which is yet to occur.
Capitalism. We do what we want when we want because we can. And concerning ending sentences with prepositions, in the words of Winston Churchill, "that is the sort of thing up with which I will not put!"
AAR: How many homies have you lost this year? Of course, by "lost" we mean "had move to the Heights or River Oaks after their dads got promoted to be the head of the oncology department at M.D. Anderson."
TON: This year has definitely been one of the hardest for the Thugz. Not that we lost anyone on the outside, but among us. Deciding to further pursue our obvious musical talents, we've split up in order to corrupt multiple cities all over the state. It's a sacrifice, but we know it will ultimately grow us stronger than the world has seen thus far.
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However, our separation has been made more bearable by our new connection with iTunes and cdbaby.com. After finally allowing iTunes to put our music up and selling over 11,000 copies of "Bringin' Jaw" in the first hour online, we all feel pretty good about where this is going.
Our newest single, "Miles" - not yet released - is quite a different feel from "Bringin' Jaw," but we got many others for all the "Jaw" lovers out there. Just be ready to throw those pinkies up, kids.
And if you're reading this, K. Clark, this is just the beginning.
Keep up with the Thugz online at www.myspace.com/thugzofnormandy. That is, if your computer will even allow you to visit the site, chump.