We’ve been big supporters of the 050 Boyz recently, and with good reason. The crew, made up of Riq da Kid, Tru Trilla and Prince AK, make music that is a modern interpretation of golden era hip-hop and they’re using their power and position to inspire change. With their album Everything 050 having just dropped, we spoke to Riq and Tru about classic hip-hop and keeping it Jersey.
Hi, how you guys doing?
Riq: We doing good today.
Ok so for those people that do not know who you are, can you just introduce yourselves?
Tru: We the 050 Boyz, you got Prince AK and Riq da Kid, and 050 is a numerical code for Jersey, the album is Everything 050, which means everything Jersey, so we’re bringing the state of mind of Jersey.
Riq: I’m Riq da Kid, same thing Tru said, I’m one of third of the 050 Boyz. We just trying to make everything happen, make everything come together for our town, our state and bring everything back to the forefront for Jersey sound, Jersey hip-hop, and everything 050.
So 050 stands for New Jersey, that’s your area code?
Riq: Well it’s not an area code it’s a numerical code, every state has a numerical code.
What’s life like out there like in New Jersey?
Tru: Oh man it’s beautiful out here, it’s been kinda hot, we had like a heatwave out here. It was like 98, 99 the other day, with the humidity you feeling like 103. You can’t even have a conversation outside. But on the outside of that you know we been experiencing a lot. I know you probably seen on the news it’s a lot of different struggling and violence in our cities, and just our youth, they trying to find their way, so we’re trying to create a situation where we can show them that dreams come true and follow your goals and let’s make our state better, you know what I mean.
Definitely. So tell me about your goals in life, individually and as a group? What do you want to achieve?
Tru: Our goals far as for the group, we really trying to make a statement and at the same time unleash this untapped oil well of talent and music that’s in Jersey. We just trying to bring it back, you know in the golden era in the nineties, we kinda had a lot that was coming out but then somebody closed the well off. So now we’re trying to unleash that and at the same time teach the young’uns about concepts, dreams, because it’s more than just rapping right, this is a platform for you to speak to the world, so you can’t just say anything. We wanna show them the direction of communicating and the benefits from that. So we’re really trying to make a mark, we’re not trying to go platinum, we’re trying to go history.
Riq: And what about you Tru indivually?
Tru: Individually, I want to help more. It’s the same thing for us as a group, we just wanna be those doorways that are forever revolving, you can always come through and learn something and come back out, you pass on what we gave to you, share it. They gotta share it because that’s why information dies because nobody’s sharing it no more. So we’re really trying to be an antennae for the world and for our state.
Riq: Well for me, adding on to what Tru said, because we all are on the same page as far as trying to teach everyone who comes after us, the knowledge that they would need so that they could be successful, whether it’s music, whatever it is. One of the reasons for us having 050 Entertainment is to also bring up up-coming artists, that look up to us and feel like they don’t have what it takes to get to the point where they’re trying to make it, and we wanna be able to give them a helping hand and say “I believe you have talent and come with us”. As an individual, I always worked with youth, probably for over 11 years, so I wanna create programs because I taught engineering, songwriting and recording, so I wanna create programs where I can actually teach this to the youth so that they can learn life skills and things about music.
Tru: To add onto what Riq said, it’s like look at the situation with Bobby Shmurda, if he had a mentor like me or Riq or anyone that coulda changed his direction when he first came in, he wouldn’t be in the situation he’s in now. They just gave him the mic and gave him some money and said “here”, they didn’t give him no instructions with it.
Riq: Yeah so if people get an understanding of life skills, things that they need to do to better themselves and get on a good path then they’ll be better off. We wanna give that to the youth because they don’t dream anymore. Because they don’t dream, they don’t have goals and they don’t know which direction to take, a lot of them feel like they probably not gonna make it.
Tru: When we was coming up it was like you’re not gonna reach 25, but now it’s like you’re not gonna reach 15, they took ten years off them.
Riq: Like if you really check on the news about New Jersey, and especially in our area, North New Jersey, you’ll really see the violence and the struggling that’s going on, so those are one of the things that we wanna do. But also just to be executives, where you get into a position where you don’t have to do any music anymore, and I know that’s one of things Prince AK wants to do, he wants to actually be able to get himself in a position where he sits back and he’s able to bring artists up and things like that, helping to guide people and being in the music business. And Prince AK, because he’s not here I’m just gonna answer for him, he started off acting first, he’s really always serious about acting, so I know one of the things that he really wants to do is really pursue greater positions in the acting world.
Tru: And we wanna have a rhyming school, not just teaching them how to rhyme, but to use rhymes to empower themselves. Build an infrastructure, there’s a lot of things they lack, so we wanna fill that void.
Amazing. So you guys basically said that New Jersey, especially up north, you have a lot of violence and crime, how has that influenced you in your music?
Riq: It’s crazy now because one of the things we spoke about is that golden era. I remember listening to music and when I would hear these different artists, Nas and Public Enemy, you had a certain type of substance, of course you had times where you might throw on some music to work out to or you just wanna get some energy released, but you still had a balance of music that gave you an understanding and substance and may make you go into the dictionary and see what this word means and that word means, or what is going on in your town or in your community and how you can make it better. A lot of the time the rappers were the ones who would be the reporters, who would actually tell people so many things about what was going on in the community, so when you listen to the rappers, a lot of times they were telling the truth about things that we were struggling with. So like right now, with us being in the situation, we’re bringing that to the forefront because now you hear music and it’s like the same thing, everything sounds the same and it has no substance. It may be about partying and having fun, that’s cool because everyone likes to party and have fun but is that all we gonna do? What about the struggling and what about this kid Tru just spoke about who was 14 years old that just got killed at 3 o’clock in the morning? What about the school system? It’s things like that, that are lacking in our communities that people need to know about so they can make changes. So we wanna be able to say “ok we do like to have fun but it’s a lot more than fun and partying in this world”, it’s struggling and violence that we need to stop, we need to unify and come together and stop this black on black crime. We wanna be able to put that into our music so everything that happened in the golden era, these artists that we looked up to and passed down to us, we wanna be able to pass that on down to the next generation.
Tru: And kudos to what Riq just said, I feel the same way. It makes us bring the rhymes more vivid, it’s gonna be very untainted. At the same time we all are responsible for each other. There’s no exception to accountability, especially when you talking to the masses, and that’s the thing with some of these so-called artists, they get behind the microphone and forget you got a responsibility. So when they say what they say and you check them on it, they say you hating, like it’s crazy, I’m doing something wrong but you hate it. We’re human beings first, all of us, so we have accountability and we have to be mindful of what we say, especially over to the masses, you got to.
That’s true. So you guys are trying to create a positive association with your music and are you trying to get to the masses as well?
Riq: Well I don’t wanna just say that it’s a positive, in our music we’re talking about what’s going on.
Tru: We’re not gonna just kick something out and give you that, we gonna give you a whole plate, and we gonna tell you, “if you do this, this is what’s gonna happen”. [laughs] You listen to some of these big time artists, they say stuff, they never get caught. Why? Because they are the writers of their own story, but when you tell the truth, you gotta say what happened! So that’s what we’re trying to bring, separate fiction and non-fiction.
Riq: So it’s just reality, everything we’re talking about. You know sometimes we might feel like there’s some certain actions we wanna take. We’re all from the street or the ghetto, so we still do have those different experiences that we like to express in our music but it’s all about balance. It’s all about being able to say “ok you experienced this but this is not all life is about, it’s also about this and then it’s also about this too”. We like to show that, again like it’s not just partying, it’s realistic things - your light being cut off or not having enough food in the refrigerator.
Tru: Yeah you wanna cook egg and cheese and you got one egg in there. But look, you make it work, your maintainable. People who live outside their means are unmaintainable, there’s no control. So you’re satisfied, why? Not because there’s one egg in the carton, because this one egg gonna give me something to eat. “Oh my god where the other 11 eggs at?” Nah you gonna make something with what you got [laughs]. You’re not gonna exaggerate or nothing but at least you ate, that’s the big picture of it.
That’s deep. I like the analogy of the one egg.
Tru: [laughs] You can’t say you had nothing, I got one egg and we gonna fix a sandwich, that’s how we gonna do it! Toast the bread, split it and I swear it’s gonna taste like we got a whole meal, you know why? Because we went through all that trouble to make that and we ate it together.
So tell me about your album Everything 050?
Riq: Well Everything 050, it comes from our name 050 and the numerical code so it’s saying everything Jersey. The reason why we called it that is because on our album we have probably the biggest album that consists of Jersey artists on it. We have a mixture of experienced, established Jersey artists who happen to be legends, like Treach from Naughty By Nature and DoItAll, we got different people that been out and still tour internationally, that a lot of people know about. Then we have upcoming artists that really look up to us that we wanted to say “c’mon we want y’all to be a part of this project”.
Tru: And they nice too.
Riq: Exactly. But not only that, if you listen in hip-hop a lot of times we feel like the Jersey sound and the history of Jersey has been skipped over. We brought a lot to the table, when you do your history, even just going back to the Sugarhill Gang who were from Jersey, even Naughty By Nature, Redman, Queen Latifah, when you go to all these people, people don’t realise that there was a time that it belonged to Jersey, the people in the forefront were Jersey artists. So with Everything 050 we wanna bring that sound back, and we wanna bring that identification to where we are from, because nowadays you hear a lot of different artists who sound like they’re from Chicago or down south and they may be from the east coast. Before you used to be able to identify where a person was from because of how their music sounds, but in this you gonna be able to identify this sound as the Jersey sound.
What song on the album are you most proud of?
Tru: I can’t even front, I love all of them. But for you I’m gonna pick one, I’m gonna go with ‘Let’s Talk About It’.
Riq: My favourite song, ok ‘Let’s Talk About It’ is one of my favourite songs but I’m gonna say a different one since Tru already said it. I’m gonna say ‘Hot Damn’. Have you seen any of our videos? We have ‘Hot Damn’ out right now.
I actually saw ‘Get Back’, there was one lyric that you said that made my mouth just drop – “your flow ass and your beat worse, put it on to your hood like a cheap shirt.”
Riq: I was giving you a test to see if you was a real supporter, so now I’m gonna give you a round of applause because you a real supporter. I really appreciated that just now. That is real. So know what I want you to do is, since you’ve seen ‘Get Back’, YouTube ‘Hot Damn’, it’s a mini-movie/video, in three weeks it’s at like 10,800 views.
Tru: I think it’s 11,000 now bro.
Riq: Well I really want you to go and check that video out and share it with the whole world.
100% I will do that! So you guys have been in the industry for time but you only released your first mixtape in 2013, so is now your time?
Riq: Well the thing that happened is just life. We were in different situations musically, so that’s why we never really came to a point where we are now. We kinda all crossed paths doing the Garden State Greats movement, doing their project, but everybody was working separately on their own. And about four years ago is when we came together as a group and really started to work with each other. Once we started to do that, things just really started to grow, and we started to figure out what our sound was, the direction we were going as a group and who we were as brothers, and then it just started to create itself naturally.
What about you Tru, you agree?
Tru: Yeah I agree, it was magnetic. Through those four years when we used to go to shows, they used to be scared, and you know what we did, we rocked the show and then we called them up and let them rock it with us, so we shared the energy. We didn’t get up there and get big headed. When people say “yo you dope”, nah bro, you only as good as your last compliment, that’s why you gotta give it back to the person, you gotta give that energy back because if you hold it, it’s gonna die. So I know they respect us for that because we share our energy with the people.
Riq: We could see the difference though, it feels like for me, all the experience I went through and the different changes and music, and the different people I worked with, had to end up to be in a point where I am right now. It makes me feel like now all those things I’ve learned was for a reason, to be at this point right now, because now everything is flowing the way that its supposed to be. There’s always gonna be obstacles, but before it was different things that were showing me that this is not the way you’re supposed to do it. So now being at the point where I’m with Tru Trilla and Prince AK, it’s showing me everything that I experienced in my past was for my present right now.
Tru: it’s like the saying, a man plans and God laughs, right. But I understand too that you could pick a time but then the time will pick you.
Oh you guys are so deep!
Tru: I embrace it. I could look at a tree for hours, or watch a cat for hours because they doing what they’re supposed to do. It’s human beings that get off track.
You guys represent the independent music industry, so how do you differentiate from the commercial like Drake or Kanye?
Tru: Let’s get this thing for the people to balance out, they can see the difference from mainstream to the underground, why is underground so loved, almost like a religion, but the mainstream, it just come and go. So we’re trying to show them the stability and pure hip-hop rather than trying to go mainstream, it’s not gonna last. But we trying to sharpen their knives up, we’re coming.
Riq: They need something else, the kids need something else. You listening to music nowadays that’s like “what the fuck?”
Tru: Like they’re talking through a fan, what is that?
Riq: And then you get the kids, they’re imitating what they just heard but it’s not even in English, they may be repeating the melody or whatever but it’s not giving them any kind of substance. We just trying to tell the people if y’all think that’s cool, that shit’s not cool.
Tru: You put GZA from the Wu inside a college and then you put Young Thug inside the same room, they gonna see the difference. Turn the music off and listen to them, you’ll be like “what the hell!?” [laughs] I’m telling you they can’t even have a conversation without playing their music because they put their all in that and not into themselves, they don’t know who they are.
That ‘s true. You recently said that your new album has “originality that will take you back to feel the golden era”.
Tru: That’s right, Clinton Place blessed us, he came with the mechanics and the production and it just complemented our rhymes. Like he took us to the planet, and we start growing and building on his planet, so we had the balance and harmony with the beats and the lyrics with him.
Was that sound what you were trying to achieve?
Riq: Yeah it was crazy though because we didn’t even ask him.
Tru: Remember I told you, you can pick the time but the time won’t pick you, it’s like he came to us.
Riq: That was what we was looking for but we didn’t even ask for it. It’s like Tru said, everything has been pieces of the puzzle being put together on their own, we didn’t do any of this, it just started happening on its own. Like God laughs when man plans, we didn’t try to plan that to happen, it’s something that we knew that we wanted because we knew the music that was out today just wasn’t right, and even if we got different production, we would still be able to make those kind of songs that we made. But regardless it was a marriage when he presented his production, and it just went with our sound, and because of that we had him produce the whole album.
Tru: It’s like the universe answered our cries, like we drew him to us by thinking about it subconsciously, that energy going to the universe and then Clinton Place, he’s hip-hop underground, and it’s like we just met on some spiritual plane.
Riq: The dope thing is that when you listen to the album, you gonna hear originality of 050 Boyz but you also gonna get different songs that you listen to that may remind you of a song that you really liked growing up listening to hip-hop. You’ll still hear 050 Boyz but it’s gonna put you in the frame of mind of one of those songs that you heard before, all through the whole album, and it’s a well put together album.
I can’t wait to hear it. Thank you guys!
Follow 050 Boyz on Twitter and Facebook. Stream Everything 050 here and buy it here.