Three men from different walks of life have come together to merge their distinct sounds to form what has become the 050 Boyz. Hailing from Newark, Nj – Riq Da Kid, Tru Trilla and Prince AK are fighting to preserve Jersey’s historic Hip-Hop sound while simultaneously leaving their own mark on the community. Growing up in the “Golden Era” of Hip-Hop, they have witnessed the roller coaster ride that the Hip-Hop industry has taken over the years, but still have hope for its present and future state.
They are here to leave an example and legacy of what it means to be original, real and true hustlers.
Interview by Michelle Locke (@mishtheishh)
GFM: How do you feel that the city of Newark has influenced your music and grind?
Tru: I feel like it has influenced me a whole lot; we reflect the part of Newark that’s real, the foundation of Newark, and even its role in the civil rights movement. So many life-changing people have come out of Newark that have really inspired me. Nowadays, most people just talk about all of the bad things in music and neglect all of the experiences, history, hustle, and grind. Hip-Hop used to be where everyone expressed their life stories and growing up in Newark taught me how to always express mine.
Riq: I’m originally from East Orange and grew up not too far from Naughty by Nature who always inspired me. They made me wanna be successful, seeing them get through the violence and struggle and still figure out a way to become successful really motivated me. There was also a real community feel where I grew up. I got a lot of good advice from the elders on my block, they really helped mold me.
Tru: Lakim Shabazz brought all of those people into the area, and it was great! Everyone always used to come through to the studios in Newark and just make music together. It was beautiful to watch, all the energy sharing that was going on.
Riq: We had a sound of our own, Raekwon said a lot of things Wu Tang picked up early on was from seeing how Jersey used to do it and that’s just a great complement to receive because of how legendary the Wu Tang Clan is.
What kind of music did you listen to growing up?
Tru: I remember we all used to listen to the one big speaker on the block, all listening to one sound instead of everyone listening to different things in all these iPhone’s now. We were all having the same experience, it was beautiful.
Riq: That boombap Hip-Hop! Everybody talked about what was really going on, live neighborhood events used to be rapped about. Jersey has also always been known for club, I grew up listening to a lot of it.
What makes the 050 Boyz different from other groups?
Tru: We can do true life stuff and mainstream stuff as well, but we always stick to our roots. We’re trying to leave a mark. We’re just trying to be remembered.
Riq: We are each original even though we’re group. We don’t all sound the same. We have meshed our sounds into one sound. There aren’t a lot of groups out there like there used to be, that’s kind of missing in the Hip-Hop world.
How did each of you get started in music?
Tru: I grew up listening to jazz and gospel a lot; I just latched on to it and added it to the Hip-Hop that was all around me. I remember my uncle teaching me how to play songs on a whistle and he was big into boxing so he’d just hit me with a body shot when I’d mess up a song *laughs*.
Riq: I remember my mom cleaning and playing Patty Labelle and The Whispers and I believe us as Black people already have music in us anyways. Music just does something to your soul. When I was 9, I began watching ‘Rap City’ and ‘Yo! MTV Raps’ and said, “I can do that!” Shortly after that, at age 11 I wrote my first raps.
How did yall meet and come together to form the 050 Boyz?
Riq: Prince Ak was really the medium that brought us all together since he grew up with Tru Trilla. When the Garden State Greats album dropped in ’04 me, Prince Ak and Tru were just able to build a great relationship.
How would you describe the journey leading up to and the feeling after the release of your debut album, “Everything 050”?
Tru: We have embraced all of the hard work that it took to get here and feel great about how far we have come. This process made us a lot more business savvy, we didn’t have any handouts so we had to just grind for the music, business and promotion of the album.
Riq: Yeah, music is way more than just the recording process, that’s the easy part! I am very proud of what we have made, one of the biggest Jersey filled albums ever! “Everything 050” features both established and upcoming Jersey artists, we’re showing love to all of Jersey!
Tru: It’s been getting a whole lot of love but you know with love comes hate. We take the hate because you know in the end people are still taking notice!
I think it’s amazing that you guys collaborated with all Jersey artists, there really is so much talent here. How would you classify the Jersey Hip-Hop sound?
Tru: Our lingo and slang is so different from everyone else, that’s what connects us. You can just tell when someone is from Jersey; we have a special type of energy.
Riq: The boombap type of sound was always very unique to us, as well as our distinct house and club sound.
Who are your biggest inspirations?
Who are you currently listening to?
Tru: I don’t discriminate when it comes to artists, if its dope I give them their props but I have been listening to some Papoose and Kadafi lately.
Tru: Yeah I really agree. I salute artists like Kendrick, Cole and Joey Badass who aren’t just doing the mainstream thing. They are young warriors in this industry. Everybody nowadays just wants to make dancing music. They wanna dance Monday through Sunday even on a leap year *laughs*, we need some balance to have different things to choose from.
The Fun Part…
Name one thing people don’t know about each of you that you wish they did.
Tru: I read a lot! I think books are like a mental currency. I’m also just a fun guy that’s a real jokester!
Riq: My 2nd passion after music is working with the youth. I have been doing so for the past 13 years and for the last 3 years I have been working with them and music. I also am a pretty good visual artist that loves amusement parks and traveling.
Your ultimate Celebrity WCW Award goes tooooo…
Tru: I gotta give it to Janet Jackson! Who could postpone their tour for a year and still sell it out?!
Riq: I can’t go with Janet because of her attitude, you know our man Pac warned us in Poetic Justice! But Ashanti… she’s toned and soft with a great personality! Lauren London and Meagan Good come in as close runner-ups though!
Tru: It feels like we got invited to somebodies phone call… they really could have just settled this on the phone *laughs*.
Riq: Yeah they’re definitely not the same thing, not even close. Before you used to hear the artists’ energy and emotion through their music but this one seems fickle, it doesn’t even seem genuine. Everything was on twitter and social media like who does that?!
Finish the sentence: One of the greatest moments in Hip Hop was when…
Tru: When Public Enemy’s “Fight the Power” joint dropped for Spike Lee’s ‘Do the Right Thing.’ Artists were role models back then and the news since we didn’t have any social media. They brought guidance and direction to the youth.
If you could pick any artist, dead or alive, to do a collab with who would it be?
Riq: I would collab with The Lox, Faith Evans and Chris Brown. Faith and Chris are just some people whose voices project a lot of emotion which I really admire.
An unarmed 14 year old boy, Radazz Hearns, was shot 7 times by Trenton police two days ago. What are your thoughts regarding the abundance of police brutality towards Black Americans today?
Tru: I just watched a video of an ex-cop that said that this problem is STRUCTURAL and he’s right! It’s deep, we can’t just fix this overnight. We need to acknowledge that it’s an institutionalized issue and treat it like an illness. We have to always point the finger and expose it.
What’s a piece of advice that you would give to other young New Jersey artists trying to make it?
Tru: Think it and it shall come. Don’t give up, you know what you’ve got. You have to believe in yourself first. Be your own critic and think big.
Riq: It may sound cliché but just keep pushing for whatever your dreams and goals are. What you don’t know ask people who you think do know and don’t ever quit. Don’t be afraid to be yourself.
The 050 Boyz Next Performance
The B Fest
August 16, 2015
Location: Beast of Bourbon
710 Myrtle Ave, Brooklyn NY 11205
Doors Open @ 4 PM