Interview by Jared B. Ware
It's an awkward time in hip hop history when two street lyricists from the Mecca of rap music, and culture,
have the opportunity to drop a full-length album entirely produced by DJ Premier, and the buzz
isn't strong. So as the NYG'z get set to drop their "street album," and begin work on DJ Premier's first
production full-length since The Ownerz, their upcoming album Pros & Cons, they seem optimistic, but slightly
pensive. But like all acts DJ Premier associates with, the New York Giantz are dedicated to their craft and
the music they love above all else. While some may not know too much about Shabeeno and Panchi, they've
been doing their thing on the New York scene for year's now, and are finally getting their chance to drop
their first official project with Welcome To G-Dom with guest shots from Lil' Fame, Blaq Poet, Royal Flush,
and others and production from DJ Premier and other up and coming New York producers. Recently I got the chance
to sit down and speak with the two artists on the cusp of big things, to talk about the past, the present, and
the future of their music.
Philaflava.com: Was “Giantz Ta This,” your first 12”?
Shabeeno: Our first 12”?… No, actually our first 12” was umm… Tray Pound God (circa 95). That's takin' it
back to when we was Operation Ratification affiliated with Illkid, Guru's sampler.
PF: So how did you guys originally meet up?
Panchi: We grew up together.
PF: So did you guys always rhyme growin’ up together?
Panchi: No, no, no, no, no. I started rapping about maybe ten years ago. Shakim was rapping for awhile.
Shabeeno: Yeah I’ve rapped forever… like right after I started walking. But, what happened was Panch
affiliated with Guru and them at the time. And Guru was amazed by his style, he was like “Yo, you
should rhyme man. You’re crazy as a rapper.” And Panch was like “Word?”
Shabeeno: And he wrote Guru a couple of rhymes. And Guru was like he’s gonna put him on. He didn’t wanna do
it by himself though, so he hollered at me. And you know we formed a group.
PF: So is that how you guys got linked up with Primo, through Guru?
Shabeeno: Right. We was working with Guru first on Ill Kid (Guru’s defunct 90’s label). That move was
never really goin’ no where. So I guess Premier asked for permission like, “Yo,
let me work with them, you know, I could probably do something with them.” You
know. So Guru gave us his blessing, and we started rockin’ with Preem. And
“Giantz Ta This,” was our first single with Premier.
PF: What’s it like working with Primo in the studio. Is he real demanding and does he give a lot of input?
Panchi: He’s wild demanding and he gives us a whole bunch of input. Working with Premier is ill, you know?
He’s like a perfectionist, so he wants us to make sure we nail it every single
time. For us to be in his group, you know, he can’t except nothing less.
PF: So you got two projects coming together right. You got the Welcome to G-Dom joint… and when’s
that supposed to drop?
Shabeeno: Umm… late September. Maybe September 26th, yeah.
PF: OK, and then you got the Pros & Cons joints which is all Primo beats right?
PF: And when is that one supposed to come out?
Shabeeno: I would say three months after… It depends how the street album do. If it does kind of well and
we can run with it, we’ll probably run with it for a minute.
PF: So are you guys gonna go out on tour after G-Dom drops?
Shabeeno: It depends on the response. Hopefully, I mean that’s our intention.
Panchi: We’re looking for somebody to snatch us up on a tour, take us out, let us open up for them. Get
some dates under our belts, get some seasoning, yaknawhatimsayin?
Panchi: We’re not ready to head no tours right now.
PF: Who else is on Year Round (Premier’s new label) right now?
Panchi: Blaq Poet… Queensbridge finest.
PF: Definitely… PHD.
Panchi: Word up.
PF: What was it like getting into the studio with cats like Lil’ Fame, and Blaq Poet, and Royal Flush?
Panchi: That was ill how that went about, because uhh… I don’t really know how we got Royal Flush out, but I
know he was down with Sam from Thorotracks. And what we had was like an old school jam session. Ya feel me?
Like we didn’t have no holds barred. Everybody could come in, and everybody went in the beat room, the old
infamous beat room. We all chilled out, we through the beat up, yaknawhatimsayin’, on the big speakers. If
five people screamed “Oooh,” they was feelin’ that beat, then those five people would take that beat and
go right to it. That’s why we got so many collabos, cuz when we spreaded the word that we was gonna go head
in the studio and start working on stuff, everybody wanted to fuck with us, yaknawhatimsayin’. Everybody
wanted to come work with us. Like havin’ Lil’ Fame to come workin’ with us, is like us workin’ with Premier,
yaknawhatimsayin. Like that shit is crazy, to work with Lil’ Fame. And then when Royal Flush came
through like, Flush wasn’t even like… Like we was all blowin’ trees and just chillin’ like. It wasn’t like
niggas was really gonna rhyme like, ya feel me? Then when that “Bullseye” beat came up niggas was really
feelin’ that. So we went ahead made a tape of that, everybody went in the other room, we played the tape,
then niggas wrote they lyrics. And it was real quick, yaknawhatimsayin? Niggas nailed that, knocked that
out. And I’ma hold Flush to his promise too. He promised us do some more joints together too. I’ma hold him to that.
Shabeeno: Also that Welcome to G-Dom album, we went in we did like fourteen songs like in three days.
Something like that? A weekend right, like Friday to Sunday.
Panchi: Yeah, from like Friday to Monday.
PF: That’s ill. So how far along are you guys in recording the Pros & Cons joint?
Shabeeno: Umm… we not into it yet. We need to sit down and start and see how we gonna do that. We just gotta
put our heads together right. I can tell you what we’re gonna do different
though. Like you heard Welcome to G-Dom, we got a lot of collaborations
on that album. Cuz we was originally doin’ that for a mixtape, but the songs
were so good, they was like we just can’t mixtape this. So that’ll be the
PF: So what about that joint “N.H.B. (Nigga Hoe Bitch)” that you did with Blaq Poet. Is that going to be on
any of the albums or is that just a response single?
Shabeeno: Yeah it’s a response single. It’s gonna be on the flipside of our single “Your Days Are Numbered.”
That’ll just be a flipside, but it won’t be on the album.
PF: What inspired you guys to make that track?
Shabeeno: You don’t know? I mean given all the controversy you should know about that dawg.
PF: Yeah, but I mean did you feel like there was a side of the argument that wasn’t being heard there?
Panchi: I just felt like, “How dare you?” That was my feeling. “How dare you?” Ya feel me? If you listen to
my rhyme, I’m sayin’ like “A strong black woman raised me.” So me sayin’ “Nigga, hoe, bitch,” I should be
exempt from that. Yaknawhatimean? From any rule barring that word. You know? That shit is asinine.
PF: I agree. I think it’s funny how whenever an older white man, like Michael Richards and now Don Imus,
goes off and says some racist shit hip hop gets the blame.
Shabeeno: Yeah, definitely.
Panchi: Yeah, but I was even looking at it like as kind of a middle-class black versus working class black
argument. Like Al Sharpton is only saying this shit, because it’s an election year and he wants some
more publicity or whatever. I mean Al Sharpton was supposedly raised by James Brown right? And
James Brown is the Godfather and sold all those records. So you know what Al was doin’ growin’ up with him and
goin’ out on tour and all that. Come on man, get outta here with that bullshit.
PF: How does it feel, given where the industry is at right now, to come out in 2007 on some raw authentic
New York street shit?
Shabeeno: We’re bringin’ back those hard New York beats and rhymes. I mean, we didn’t go into it tryin’ to
bring New York back or nothin’ like that. We just wanted to make an album, and do what we do, and it just
is some hard New York beats and rhymes. Ya feel me?
PF: What was your favorite comic book growin’ up?
Panchi: I didn’t really read any comic books. Matter fact Thor. Cuz that was like the only comic book I
read growin’ up.
PF: Who’s the most overrated rapper out?
Panchi: Nobody’s really overrated, at least in my opinion. They just appeal to whoever they appeal to,
build their audience. Like my man and me got into an argument who was nicer Jadakiss or Eminem. He said ‘Em
and I said Jadakiss. He said Em cuz he sold more records. But if that’s the case Vanilla Ice is like the greatest of all
Shabeeno: (Laughs) Word.
PF: What do you guys think about the Michael Vick case?
Shabeeno: I don’t really know man we haven’t really paid that much attention to it.
Panchi: You wanna talk about some real shit? Ask us about Sean Bell or ask us about healthcare in America,
or poverty in America. I mean if you’re not gonna ask us questions about hip hop and about the NYG’z, then
I got a question for you. A question for Sharpton really. Why when the cops shot at Sean Bell fifty plus
times, why did they violate his civil rights, and not his constitutional rights? You live in New
PF: Yeah, I live in Harlem.
Panchi: Everytime you interview a rapper from New York ask them “why Bloomberg, a billionaire, would
take on the stressful job of becoming New York’s mayor during the turbulent time of post 9/11 for one
dollar a year?” Why wouldn’t someone, obviously a tycoon type, want at least a regular salary? But
I’m gonna get back off my political shit now. (Laughs)
PF: So who are some artists you guys would like to collaborate with?
Panchi: M.O.P., UGK, there’s lots of cats we’d like to collab with. But honestly, I’d like to work on my own
craft first, really establish myself. And then we can do that. Or some big band shit like Earth, Wind, & Fire. That’d be crazy.
Shabeeno: Yeah, that’d be hot.
PF: Who are your main influences?
Panchi: Shakim is mine.
Shabeeno: Other cats in my hood growin’ up were mine. RUN-DMC and LL too, cuz they taught me I could make
a living with this rap shit.
Panchi: Yeah, and as far as what motivates me. Two things motivate me, hunger and freedom. Hunger, because
everyday I gotta eat, and freedom, because I don't ever want to go back to prison.
Check out NYG’z @ http://www.myspace.com/nygz or