Houston is home to many talented rappers, and one of the most appreciated things about local hip-hop is the unity among peers. But another great thing is that, after living in Houston for a while, the Southern hospitality engulfs you so much it becomes a second home.
Queens-born and raised Easy Yves Saint, MC of popular local crew the Niceguys, can attest to this. Recently he and Houston native Fat Tony, both of whom have new projects dropping this summer, sat down together to discuss a few things they like, a few things they don't, and what they have been working on lately.
Easy Yves Saint, "NY2PA":
Fat Tony: What's good? I heard the new track this morning, I hear you're working on a solo mixtape. Tell me a little bit about it.
Yves: You know what it is when we have The Niceguys shit going on, and you've seen us individually and we are all individuals. So when you have four individuals in a group it's only natural that we have individual pursuits.
That's going to make the team stronger anyway. I want to take my individuality a little further with this tape Clockwork and explore some topics that I wouldn't necessarily want the whole Niceguys team to take responsibility for.
Fat Tony: So it's kind of a chance to be as raw as you want to be and spit more than anything?
Yves: Yea the thing is that I'm always labeled as the voice and the rapper of the group and I'd like to cover topics that we all can relate to, that we all been through and that we all dealt with. I also want to explore more production.
Fat Tony: Who do have on there as far as production?
Yves: Right now I have S1.
Fat Tony: Awesome
Yves: Of course Free, TJ umm I got Al B Dee. I also have Rockaway, you know Chris Rockaway?
Fat Tony: Of course that's the homie. Crazy white man (laughs).
Yves (laughs): Yeah, I'm really all over the place with production and I'm loving it.
Fat Tony: What about food spots in Houston? I thought we'd talk about that. You know the first thing that came to mind was the Reggae Hut off Alameda, and the first dish that came to mind was the Jerk Chicken salad. You ever had that?
Yves: Man, I have to be real with you. I used to be really big on eating out and I know jerk chicken. It's delicious, jerk chicken has no choice but to be delicious. I used to go to Reggae Hut back in the day. Now my thing is health food, I eat My Fit Foods pretty much every day.
Fat Tony: My Fit Foods? Damn, I used to work there (laughs). I used to work there for like three years.
Yves: Yeah, that's all I eat now is fiber and health foods. It makes me feel like my energy is off the chain.
Fat Tony: Yeah, I think as a young person we're at the right age to start looking after our bodies. You know, eating right and treating ourselves better.
Yves: And you know I drink like an animal (laughs) so you know I gotta do something to balance it out.
Fat Tony: Word, you gotta balance out all that Jack Daniel's.
Yves: Yes, gotta have that balance, so I eat right and try to run as much as possible. Back to Reggae Hut: is it still delicious? Is that what you're saying?
Fat Tony: It's still delicious. It's still way too expensive and all that. I just wish I could have real Jamaican food at real Jamaican prices. I don't want to be treated like I'm some yuppie trying exotic food for the first time. I know good food and good prices, and I don't wanna be bullshitted.
Yves: Yeah, I know what you're talking about, because around the way in Queens -- like near 165th; I forget exactly where -- but right after school I used to go to this Jamaican spot.
Those prices you're talking about, this is where you're going to get it for the prices that are reasonable. I'm talking the cocoa bread and all that. You know they don't even have seats you gotta take everything to go.
Fat Tony: Yeah man, I'm looking forward to this solo project from you. I see that you're eating good and attacking tracks and shit. i can tell that your mind is totally focused for it.
Yves: Man, Tony, I'm gonna be real with you: I'm focused, man. You know what? I'm frustrated, I'm angry, I'm a lot of things. I just feel like I'm being ignored and I don't like that shit.
I'm going to be honest: if I walk in a room right now and I walk in with a $50,000 chain, $1,000 shoes, I smell good, I have a haircut and I got two bitches on my arm and if people act like they don't see me... that only means they're really acting like they don't see me.
Fat Tony: (laughs)
Yves: It's like c'mon man, stop acting like you don't see me.
Fat Tony: You know what? That's probably the hardest thing an artist or any kind of creative person faces, is just getting people to pay attention to you. No matter how good you are, if nobody's listening, it doesn't matter.
I have an album coming out in June, it's my first time doing a retail album in stores and all that shit so I'm in a whole other fight now. When my fight at first was to just get people to listen. Now I'm trying to get people to listen and pay for it.
Yves: Is this the album Smart Ass Black Boy?
Fat Tony: That's right.
Yves: Yea the thing that I've noticed about you is that people definitely pay attention to you. They are paying attention to you.
Fat Tony, "I Shine":
Fat Tony: To a certain extent, yeah.
Yves: Yeah, the thing is now people fuck with you and it's "put your money where your mouth is" type shit. It's all mental.
Fat Tony: Especially come from a world where most of the music we put out is free. Even if it is for sale, most cats are going to find a way to get it for free. Those numbers matter to certain people, like if you're not selling at least a couple thousand it's like you're nothing.
Yves: Yeah, people can always get music for free but they can't bootleg your shows they gotta go to the shows. That's why people need to get back to focusing on shows. The fans gotta be there for that and they have to pay. I want to focus more on that just getting people to come out to get something they can't get anywhere else.
Fat Tony: It's all about having a whole look, a great show, great presence and good music.
Yves: You gotta bring bitches out to the shows too. Tony, you never talk about any bitches, I seen your videos.
Fat Tony: Aw man, I'm a lover not a fighter (laughs). Lots of videos now kind of show women in a bad perspective. It's all about throwing hella money at them and pouring drinks on them, even though I poured wine on some girls in my video before. I want to try to show the more real life stuff girls do in my videos now, you know us hanging out and having fun. the real shit you know?
Yves: I'm gonna let every female decide who she is to me. I'm going to call it how I see it now.
Fat Tony: Yeah, I'm with you on that. So what do you think of the popularity of the term "trill"?
Yves: I'm from a proud place in New York and I stand by if you're from somewhere, then be from that place. When I hear the word "trill" so much I think about Port Arthur, the people, and they're very proud of where they're from.
When people refer to "trill" without even connecting and tracing it back to Port Arthur, it bothers me. Even a song like "Big Pimpin" -- that's one of the biggest rap hits ever, and people still don't know where Port Arthur is. They're singing along saying "P.A.T." and still don't know where it's at.
Fat Tony: The main thing that bothers me about the overuse of "Trill" is how corny it can become. I just can't stand corny, trendy and hype-beasty people taking good a good thing and running with it.
That's one of the most hype-beasted words in the past couple years, and it just kind of takes off the meaning of it. It makes the people using it look corny after so many people have made it famous years ago, but it really makes the original people look bad. A random kid might not know that "Trill" is a UGK thing or even a Texas thing. You know?
Yves: I'll put it this way: "Trill" is the meaning of where it all started. For something to last, like that stories will be passed along, and if you're not properly educated on it people will make up they're own meaning of it. This makes it more diluted and watered-down, which is crazy.
The fact of the matter is I've been to P.A., and I can't exactly describe the meaning but since I've been there I know what they're talking about. It's in the air in P.A. that "We don't fuck with you until we fuck with you" [feeling] and I like that. It's so many people running around saying it without knowing where it's from, and now it's becoming annoying.
Fat Tony: I feel you.
Yves: I don't know, I'm just thinking out loud.
Fat Tony: That's what we're here to do, speak our minds. That's what "trill" means standing for what we believe in.
Yves: I like how that just came to full circle.
Fat Tony: Man I'm excited about your new project Clockwork, and I'm also excited about my album dropping in June. We need to keep in touch.
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Yves: Yes, we definitely have work to do.