Call them the Fantastic Four. Except, their superpowers were not the result of cosmic radiation but a byproduct of a appreciation for the fundamentals of Hip-Hop lyricism; wordplay and delivery. Composed of VA’s Malice and Pusha T. of The Clipse and Philly brethren Ab Liva (formerly of Major Figgas) and Sandman, this fearsome foursome call themselves The Re-Up Gang. Riding a Pyrex and powder laced pair of critically acclaimed albums Lord Willin’ (2002), Hell Hath No Fury (2006) and a rep bolstered by staggeringly potent volumes of their We Got It for Cheap Mixtaptes.The latest being Vol 3: The Spirit of Competition.
The Re-Up Gang is motivated by a love of creating dope rap music. No pun intended. Now rolling with Columbia Records in 50/50 joint venture for their Re-Up Gang Records, Pusha, Malice, Ab-Liva and Sandman spoke in depth about everything from the beef with that guy from New Orleans to being independently major to their exasperation with former home Jive on down to how they are their own greatest inspiration.
Talking About WGIFC Vol. 1 Without Malice
Malice: Let me explain that though. I can explain why I wasn’t on Volume 1. Because I wasn’t trying to hear mixtape nothing. I had just come off a high horse, album out you know what I’m sayin’? I didn’t even understand, “What you talkin’ about a mixtape?!” Get that album out and let’s rock like we been doing. So it took me a minute to digest the fact that we were pigeonheld [sic] for a minute and just to keep the buzz and keep everything rolling and to stay relevant I had to get on a mixtape.
Talking About Re-Up Gang Album (Clipse Present… The Re-Up Gang Due Spring) & Producers On The Album
Pusha-T: We got this guy named THX. He do his thang. Yeah he’s dope. Dame Grease, L.E.S., Blade, Carvin and Ivan out of Philly. Re-Up Gang album is great. I think we got a good deal of the body of the album done. You know it’s just us blacking out over records. We sit as a collective, pick beats and this is sort of new for us [at least for] The Clipse because we never went through the process of: throw a beat over there and then we go pick it up. You know, really having to pick from anywhere, out of any batch. Sitting at home with like 20 CDs, CD got 30 tracks on it and there’s one hot one and that’s number 19.
Ab-Liva: Just having beats brought to you it’s crazy, with hooks and all that. We come from the era…me and Sand, we come from the era of just getting with a bunch of producers and trying to see who had what and where and turning it into something. So when we started this album we had that mind state to get with all these producers and hear what they got. They might only got one joint, but if it’s that one joint that we’re going to turn into something so we brought all our beats, sat down, went through ’em, picked the joints that we liked and started building from there. It definitely started coming together crazy so we just kept that formula and just rolled with it.
Talking About New Clipse Album & Sony/Columbia
Malice: The Clipse album we think is going to come in the fall. “Clipse Present… The Re-Up Gang” album going to be in June. Pusha-T: Sony/Columbia showed a genuine interest man. And more so than anything it was about having an outlet for The Clipse as well as Sand and Liva’s to be able to come out as well — all at once. You know we’ve been through this whole business side of this s**t. We have been through the ups, the downs we done seen it all and they’ve been riding with us for a very long time so it was just sort of like, “Man we’re going to do this s**t our way.” I want the world to digest the crew. I want them to digest the whole…
Talking About Exclusive Audio Footage After It Got Shelved & Before Lord Willin’
Pusha-T: I mean for me personally we didn’t know no f***in’ better. I was like, “Okay, I got a video.” I got to shoot my video at home in Virginia so I’m the s**t. The album gets shelved, what that mean? got a couple of dollars from it, just from the whole breakaway. It was sweet and at the same time it was like f**k it, we’ll just make more records and we’re gonna get it again. Neptunes on the rise. We just got a deal with them before, we’ll do it again. It was no sulking, none of that s**t, man. Pusha-T: We was just so new to the game, like s**t we had just pulled it off. Back then I think we was managed by Rob Walker, The Neptunes manager.
He always reminded us that our struggle won’t like the regular rap struggle anyway. It wasn’t the 50,000 mixtapes, we ain’t do all that s**t. It was hot records, you go to an executive, you got a little opening because some other n****s do some beats, and check it out and somebody just sort of clung to it, Sylvia Rhone. At the same time she had a lot on her plate too, with Missy, Busta [Rhymes], Ol’ Dirty. All that was going on at the same time too. It sort of helped us free us out of our situation, being one of those situations where all the heavy hitters get all the attention. And back then they was spending money, like wild cash on videos and all that s**t. So they really had to focus on that type of s**t. So you know it wasn’t no big deal man.
Talking About The Play Cloths Clothing Line
Pusha-T: I don’t care what the f**k they do man. I mean I can’t really comment on that. Sandman: But you can’t blame it on the artists like. Artists always been watched. It’s the n***a wearing it you got to be mad at. You can’t be mad at dude on TV. Everybody go they own style, who told a million muthaf***as to mimic him? So it’s the a$$holes in society that feel like it’s cool to come out and be extra snug and extra medium. I mean let your nuts hang! Your balls got to breathe, it’s the rules to this s**t. N****s stop wearing tighty-whities a long time ago, so now your whole layer tighty-whitey? I’m from Philly I’magive you the khaki, if they come out with some Big and Tall Play Cloths, I’ll give you that too. Because it’s a team thing over here but I ain’t with all that s**t y’all doing man. Y’all make it hard for a n***a like me to shop. I’m going to keep it funky; that s**t got too many prints on it, all this dumb s**t on the pocket — I ain’t even trying to f**k with that s**t. Put your Play Cloths on or some khakis n***a. One or the other.
Talking About Star Trak
AllHipHop.com: Are y’all still affiliated with Star Trak? Malice: Not business wise. AllHipHop.com: And what’s y’all relationship with Pharrell and Chad like right now? Pusha-T and Malice: It’s all good. Everything is cool, they’re doing production. AllHipHop.com: Now I got to ask you, on the mixtape, there are a number of bars particularly from Malice, like on “Emotionless” when you say, “And as for P he has yet to wish me well/so there it is I pick my bone/Toast to CEO Mal, I sip alone.”
Malice: Like I was saying earlier, this thing…and in all fairness, you can’t look for one man to just save everybody. As much as we’ve been through for four years, them couple funky lines ain’t nothing. I actually went through something and even Pharrell he always…if I remember anything about Pharrell he always encouraged you, “If it’s on your mind, write about it.” And that’s what I’m going, I’m just expressing myself. And we still cool. I actually went through it for the four years, or whatever. The only thing a n***a can say to me is, “Touché,” that’s it. It ain’t no beef; obviously it’s not beef. It’s a ‘08, so you don’t want to go into ’08 and into the future with luggage and I’m just expressing myself.