The LOX Biography
Last updated: 04/18/2000 10:58:35 PM
In the summer of 1999, the celebrated Yonkers Rap trio the LOX found themselves in a fight for freedom. Disappointed with the direction of their career on Bad Boy, the group wanted to be released from their contract in order to join the newly formed Ruff Ryders/ Interscope label. The Ruff Ryders had always served as the Lox's managers and the group felt like the new Double R label could better represent the hard-core sensibilities which they expressed in their rhymes. Bad Boy was known for its radio friendly dance hits and high priced videos, while the LOX were quickly establishing themselves as Hip-Hop's rawest group. The identities clashed, the LOX just didn't feel comfortable in the shiny suits. "We just needed to be with a rougher label" says Sheek. "A harder label that fit our image."
The LOX tried all of the legal maneuvering available to be released from their contract with Bad Boy. However, when the lawyers and conference calls didn't work, the group did what they do best. They took their story to the streets. At a New York rap concert, the defiant group sported "Let the Lox Go" T-shirts and sparked a grass roots movement to "Free the Lox." To a Hip-Hop public tired of all the flossing and commercialism which was dominating the art form, the struggle to release rap's most important trio symbolized an effort to purify the music. To return Hip-Hop back to its essence as an important form of urban expression. The streets spoke up loud and clear and the Lox were finally released to a heroes welcome. "We really changed the game by doing that.," says Styles concerning the contractual drama. "It might take years from now, but other people are gonna do it. We made it so they don't have to be scared to speak up."
"You are always better off with your people no matter what." says Jadakiss about the group's excitement about joining their Ruff Ryder family which includes Eve, Drag-ON, DMX and red hot producer Swizz Beats. "Even if we would have gone over to Bad Boy and everything was sweet and alright, you are always better off with your people and your family because they love you and you love them. That's gonna beat anything in the world."
Jayson "Jadakiss" Phillips, David Styles, and Sean "Sheek" Jacobs, began their journey as artists back in their hometown of Yonkers New York. As high school students they started a group called the Bomb Squad and began doing shows and putting out their own demos. While the local rap scene was being dominated by talented artist like Raw Rome, Lord Devon and a young DMX, the squad began to gain attention because of their fierce lyrical style and their ability to present stirring tales of urban life with pin point accuracy. The group eventually changed their name to the Warlocks and continued developing a devoted fan base by being omnipresent on underground mix tapes. One of their faithful admirers was the Queen of Hip-Hop soul and fellow Yonkers native Mary J. Blige. Mary saw something special in the group and passed their tape on to Bad Boy CEO Sean "Puffy" Combs who signed them to a deal.
The LOX gained national exposure in 1997 with their powerful multi-platinum tribute to the Notorious BIG, "We'll Always love Big Poppa". The song which celebrated the life of the slain superstar, captured Biggie's essence and thrust the LOX into the media spotlight as a group to watch out for. The trio later appeared on a multitude of hits, including Puffy's Benjamins, which the LOX wrote, Mase's 24 Hours to Live, and Mariah Carey's Honey. The group's debut album Money Power & Respect went platinum and helped establish the LOX as an important voice in Hip-Hop music.
While lauded for the commercial success of their first album, Jadakiss, Sheek and Styles were not satisfied with the project's outcome. On underground mix tapes, the LOX had developed a reputation for spitting legendary freestyles of sex, murder and mayhem However, singles from MP&R like "If You Think I'm Jiggie", didn't fully utilize the group's talents. The Lox were not the pretty boys who were being shown in the videos, they were street soldiers who preferred rhyming about real life on the block, instead of fantasy worlds of Bentley Coupes and Grammy awards. As their new album suggest, the Lox are the streets, and having joined the Ruff Ryders' lethal squadron, they finally have the chance to just be themselves.
So who are the Real LOX? The Real Lox are authentic ghetto story-tellers, whose rhymes are derived from the pain, anger, lust and love which exist in the hearts of men. The Real LOX are the embodiment of Hip-Hop's origin as the voice of a disparate people. Their current singles Wild Out and Fuck you are certified street anthems and the impending release of their sophomore album has the hip-hop world holding their collective breathe in anticipation.
Swizz Beats has saved some of his best production for the LOX's sophomore project. The producer who blazed tracks for platinum artists DMX, Jay-Z and EVE blesses the LOX with cuts like Y'all fucked Up Now, and IF U Know, which features Drag-On and Eve, that pack pure street drama. The LOX devour his frenetic beats and spit complex rhymes over his moving rhythms creating an energy which is unmatched in any genre of music today. Styles, Jadakiss, and Sheek also flex their muscles as solo performers on the album as well, proving that they are more than just a talented group, but they also possess superior skills as individual performers. Producers Premiere, Timbaland and P. Killer also contribute cuts to We Are the Streets adding their own unique flavors to the diverse mix.
We are the Streets stands to be one of the most important albums of the millenium because it was born out of a movement. A call was put out to the streets, to help give the LOX back their voice and save Hip-Hop from its downward spiral of self indulgence. The streets responded ferociously and the LOX are finally free. This album is a testament to the power of the Hip-Hop fans who supported the group through their difficult times. They are the reason that the Real LOX have returned. Music will never be the same.