interview Tarek And Luss  (February 2009) | Interview By: Jonathan Hay

   Blood brothers, Tarek and Luss, have lived a hard-knock life that even Annie wouldn’t want to sing about. But the Felony assaults, homelessness, and violence has given them an unstoppable determination and drive - - and that desire lays the blueprint for their deep undertone and intense debut album, The Suicide Note -- produced entirely by Shady Record’s producer Rikanatti.

Tarek and Luss’ suffering runs through their veins and it has placed an even higher importance on their persistent need to succeed through their music, and as Tarek puts it in this Dubcnn exclusive interview, “if I don't make it, I'll bite a f--kin shotgun.” If it is true that success is built from hardships, then this is their redemption.

Also, make sure you check out the Rikanatti produced single “Fire” – a flawless track that was originally intended for Murs, but ended up being the ideal soundscape for the banging first single by Tarek and Luss.

As ever, be sure to leave your feedback in our forums or email them to haywire@dubcnn.com.

Interview was done in February 2009

Questions Asked By: Jonathan Hay

Dubcnn Exclusive – Rikanatti Presents A Suicide Note From Tarek And Luss
By: Jonathan Hay

Dubcnn: Being that you two are brothers, born only 15 months apart, does the Cain and Able syndrome ever affect you – meaning, do you get competitive or feel jealousy if one gets more attention than the other?

Honestly, I'm proud of how far Luss has come. Lyrically he is better than most the people I hear on TV and the radio. I'm proud to be his partner in this, we’ve come a long way, and I think we got a long way to go, but Luss is a force to be f--ked with.

Luss: In the end, Tarek and I are a team, so when he's successful, that means I am. Tarek is extremely talented when it comes to music, period. As an emcee he's very dominate and he has a lot of potential to become a superstar. I would say overall Tarek is the structure to "Tarek & Luss" …he taught me how to freestyle and he has been more of a mentor to me as an artist.

Dubcnn: Tell us in detail about your unfortunate and ill-fated arrests…

I was caught up in a lot of sh-- in 2004. I got arrested and ended up being charged with two felony assaults because of some sh-- with my Mom's boyfriend and some sh-- that happened with our lil brother. Looking back, I don't regret or take back sh-- as family is more important than anything. I got lucky, got a plea deal for those two counts, and got the two felony assaults on my record. I also was on probation for it and was unsuccessfully discharged for it. I also got into some more sh-- while me and Luss were recording “The Suicide Note.” I was out with some friends, some sh-- happened, and to make a long story short, me and my two homeboyz were charged with felonious assault with intent to create great bodily harm less than murder. Since I was already convicted with violent felonies, the prosecutor wanted to hit me with a max of 15 years in prison. I ended up taking the plea deal they offered me, got a felony assault with a deadly weapon charge, and had to be locked up in county jail over this past summer. It pissed me off, but when I got out, I just wanted to go hard with my music and Rikanatti was real cool throughout that whole experience.

Luss: Back in 2004, I was arrested and hit with two assault and battery charges for something that went down with my lil brother and my Mom's ex-husband. I ended up going to court and receiving a plea deal that left me with some probation time and that situation ended up getting both Tarek and I locked up, but I would do anything for my family, just like they would do for me. To this day I remain as loyal to my loved ones as I can and I don't take back anything that was said or done that day and my Mom and I had a falling out for a few years because of that situation, but these days we remain closer than ever… it was a f--ked up situation but it all worked out in the end, I guess.

Dubcnn: Did you find it to be easier or more difficult to focus on your music and songwriting after going through all that legal trouble?

At that time, I don't think I took sh-- as serious as I do now. I felt untouchable, and that was wrong. I f--ked up a lot and I loved to do music, but back then, I just did it to f--- around. I appreciate the blessing God gave us and I use all my negative and positive choices in life for an example for everybody who's listening. I got lucky as f--- that I only got charged with felonies and [received] some county jail time, considering what it could’ve been. However, at the end of the day, it really was in a way a turning point, even if we didn't see that at that time. It made our music stronger because of our real life experiences.

Dubcnn: Your album is called Suicide Note, so I just have to ask…has either of you ever been on the verge of suicide?

I've been on the point where I been really stressed and depressed about what was going on in my life. I don't think I've been suicidal, but I've been to the point where I thought I was hopeless and things wouldn't be better. I feel like, without rap, I'm living in Hell. Without rap, I'd have no outlet to benefit or express how I feel… I know now that this is what me and Luss have to do to succeed, but it has not been an easy road. I joke with my homeboy Chase and say if I don't make it, I'll bite a f--ing shotgun. It's do or die for me and Luss because who wants to hire a Felon with all these violent offenses? I pray to God this sh-- works out… Cuz if not, I'm f--ked.

Luss: I feel like in certain situations in my past, I've been pretty close to rock bottom. Growing up, we had our ups and downs, but some of those downs were tough. I remember our heat getting cut off and looking at my lil brother and sister wearing as many hoodies as they could find. It's tough out there for a single Mom and in our album, you'll hear about our past situations -- including my Mom's point of view. So I think our album title, "The Suicide Note" fits perfect because at times you really get to thinking about some crazy sh-- when you feel completely hopeless… I'm not saying my childhood was the worst sh-- to go though, because we definitely had some good times, but it's tough to see your Mom struggling everyday to try to pay the bills and put food on the table. Up until rap, I felt like I was f--ked. [I felt] like I had no idea how to provide for myself or for my family. I gotta make it in the game, Tarek and I have no other choice.

Dubcnn: How did you all get hooked up with RIKANATTI?

Man, we got lucky f--king with Rikanatti. We almost signed with an indie label, but the President got indicted for money laundering. It was a major setback because we thought we had something poppin, but it turned out it was far from that. Things happen for a reason though. Rikanatti saw our MySpace page and thought what we had up was good -- not dope, but good. He called me and was like "Ya'll dope, but I think I can take you to the next level.” I called him back and the rest is history. If it wasn't for Rikanatti, I probably wouldn't be doing this interview because his guidance and advice made me and Luss get to that next level. He's a genius with what he does and we both feel blessed and fortunate to be lucky enough to have the opportunity to f--k wit him.

Luss: I feel truly blessed to be able to f--k with Rikanatti. He's a major producer over at Shady Records, so for him to reach out to us is unforgettable. [Rikanatti] ended up finding us on MySpace and decided to take the chance to work with Tarek and I. I feel like his beats and his advice really took us to the next level.

Dubcnn: How many songs did RIKANATTI produce on Suicide Note?

Rikanatti produced all 13 tracks on The Suicide Note.

Tarek: Rikanatti killed it on the production tip. We're fortunate we got the opportunity to have him produce our entire record. His sh-- is crazy…

Dubcnn: How long were you two working on the album?

We started working on this demo in March of 2007. It was called The Book of Rhymes but we scrapped that [title] and changed it to The Suicide Note when I got outta jail last year. We went through all types of sh-- personally and the record’s feel changed. I'm proud of what we accomplished with this album because it’s very personal, direct and in your face.

Luss: We been working on this album for almost two years. We started out calling the album, The Book of Rhymes but with all the sh-- that went on in our lives at that time, we decided to go in a different direction and rename the album. We put all our experiences into this album.

Dubcnn: What is RIKANATTI like in the studio?

Rikanatti and I talk daily… He ain’t just my producer -- we're friends. He gave me a lot of advice on how to record a song and if a record wasn't where it needed to be, we'd go back and fix it. Without [Rikanatti], it'd be a lot harder for us to be where we are at and we appreciate him for all his hard work and going out of his way to help us out.

Luss: Rikanatti has given us advice and coached us through this entire process. Without him, we wouldn't be where we at today…and that's just something you never forget.

Dubcnn: So why did you decide to change the name of this album from The Book of Rhymes to The Suicide Note?

Our album went from a Hip Hop album to something else. We just got personal and talked about real sh-- that everybody could relate to. Everybody, in my opinion, has got to the point when you feel like everything is sh--. When I got outta jail, I had a different mentality than what I had when we were recording this album. It just went from a lyrical Hip Hop album to some real sh--. I feel everybody can relate to this because it’s real. I think a lot of people will be able to connect with this album, there’s something for everybody on it.

Luss: When we started recording The Book of Rhymes, we had a totally different feel at that time; when we got about halfway through the album, Tarek and I started experiencing some f--ked up situations, so we decided to talk about what we truly are about and what type of sh-- we've been through so our fans could relate to something. In the end, I think that the material we came up with for The Suicide Note is more real and it's an outline of what we've gone through in life.

Dubcnn: You said there’s a “darker feel” to this album -- what exactly do you mean by that?

The album title pretty much speaks for itself. I mean, during the recording process of The Book of Rhymes I most definitely felt like I was hitting rock bottom. Tarek and I went through a lot at that time, so we wanted to express our feelings and emotions the best way we could, and changing the album title was definitely the right feeling. When I say it has a "darker feel”, I mean that the content is more grimy and aggressive due to the situations we were going through. We pretty much spill our guts on the album, trying to express how life really is with the average person trying to succeed. I think the people are really gonna be able to vibe with what we put together.

Tarek: Luss pretty much summarizes exactly what we were trying to do with this album. It is real, we just want [it] to relate to any and everybody that has went through our similar situations…

Dubcnn: Your song “Fire” lives up to its title, as it definitely is. Tell us how that song came about…

Thanks homie, we got lucky with this beat. Murs was supposed to have this one and it didn't work out, and we got it and killed it. Rikanatti came hard as f--k on this one, and it is a perfect single. We didn't wanna do what everyone else was doing. We just wanted to take Hip Hop back to the competitive level it was at and put our own touch on it. It's a hard single, no doubt.

Luss: We were definitely lucky to come across this beat. Murs was gonna do something with the track, but it didn't work out so Rikanatti shot us the beat and it was a done deal after that. The beat alone is sick, so Tarek and I really had to come up with a creative way to record the single. I think the track turned out pretty dope and I've never seen a producer come as hard and as creative as Rikanatti does on a beat -- so again, good looking out, Natti!

Dubcnn: Is it true that Ca$his makes an appearance on the The Suicide Note too? Can you let us in on that experience?

If there is anybody that deserves to have a major deal, it’s Ca$his. We spoke on the phone a few times and he's cool as f--k. He was gonna be on a song called "How We Do This" but he did a song called "Life Of A Rider" and Rikanatti and him killed it…Rik got us on that song and Ca$his let us use it for our demo. Shout out to Ca$his -- he's not only the future of the west coast, but he's the future of Hip Hop and nobody deserves it more than him.

Luss: First off, I gotta say that Ca$his is the future of rap, hands down. Every time he hits the booth, it's just straight fire! I been a fan for a minute, so to be able to jump on a track with him was absolutely crazy. But yeah, we did a track called "Life Of A Rider"; the track was produced by Rikanatti so, again, the beat's sick! Shout out to Ca$his and Rik though; those two are on the verge of making history, so Tarek and I are truly grateful for all the guidance they both have given us.

Dubcnn: With RIKANATTI being a Shady Records producer, is he also shopping you to Eminem?

We're shopping our demo to every major label. Shady Records is one of the best, so obviously they will have one of the first opportunities to sign us. Whatever happens with that is whatever…we just wanna get signed to a label that will push our record and help bring us to the potential that we feel we have. We're keeping all of our options open at this point. Shady Records is an extremely talented label though. We will see what happens with anybody interested in us…

Dubcnn: Another Shady Records affiliate, producer C Major, shows up on the Suicide Note; tell us about his involvement with the album…

C Major mastered our album. He's a cool ass mother f—ker. We ain’t just business, but we friends; I think C is talented as f--- and I think he's an up and coming dude. Shout out to C Major!

Luss: C Major did all the mastering on our album; he's definitely a humble dude. C Major is laid back and easy to work with, so Tarek and I clicked with him right off the bat. Shout out to C Major, thanks for all the support, Homie!

Dubcnn: Would you say your ultimate goal is to be a group signed to Shady Records?

Our goal is to get a major deal, period. If it’s Shady or whoever, we wanna be on a label that will push our music and believe in us like we always have. I think Shady Records is a powerhouse; I just wanna do what can benefit us and our family.

Luss: I'm just hoping Tarek and I can land a major record deal. Our ultimate goal is to sign with a major label that can back Tarek and I as artists and mold us into better musicians than what we are now. Shady is definitely one of the hottest labels out there, so being able to work with some of their people is a blessing in its own. We're looking for the deal that benefits ourselves and family the most…so we'll see what happens.

Dubcnn: What do you all think of Eminem as an emcee?

I think there should be no debate where Eminem stands as an emcee. He's literally one of the best that ever blessed Hip Hop with touching a mic. He's crazy with what he does with every song. Em can make you laugh, cry and just have fun. It's like how Pac was; Pac was my favorite ever ‘cause you could feel his music -- I think Em brings that same feel. Eminem is one of the best we ever got the opportunity to listen to. Shout out to Eminem!

Luss: Eminem is one of the greatest to ever grace the mic. His talent is unbelievable and I think that most people would agree. I grew up listening to a lot of east coast music, one artist being Biggie. I love his work ‘cause Big can paint a picture in your mind with every track he does…I think Em has the ability to do the same. I like artists that are real lyrical but also have the ability to tell a story with certain creativity. Eminem is hands down the most talented artist alive! No disrespect to the rest of the artists out there, I'm a fan of a lot of sh-- out there right now but Em is definitely my favorite artist out there right now.

Dubcnn: When people mention the greatest rappers of all time, commonly, two names are at the top of the list: Jay-Z and Eminem. On the song “Renegade” [Jay-Z featuring Eminem, from The Blueprint] you get to hear the two of them on the same track. So I would like to hear both of your opinions of this topic of debate, who do you think outshined who on that track?

This is a hard question to answer. I think they both came crazy, but at the end of the day, Eminem got Jay a lil bit. That ain’t taking sh-- away from Jay though, both their lyrics were crazy! "Renegade" is a Hip Hop classic, hands down; I think it’s unfair to say who got who ‘cause that sh-- is timeless. But they both killed it, no doubt. I wish, as a fan, I could hear another Em and Jay song.

Luss: This is definitely a hard question to cover…I'm a big fan of both Jay and Eminem so that's a tough decision, but in the end, I think Eminem got the upper hand. His verse was just so lyrically out cold that I gotta go with him, but Jay did his thing! I'm never disappointed with a Jay verse, especially these days.

Dubcnn: As you know, the world is eagerly anticipating the release of Detox -- do you know if RIKANATTI will appear on Detox, or if he will be appearing on Eminem’s upcoming album?

I talk to Rikanatti every day, that's my dude. I know for a fact he's submitted songs for Detox and Relapse…I hope that he gets the opportunity to shine on both or either of those projects. Rikanatti brings a very vibrant and creative flow to any project, so he deserves it. I can't wait for both those albums ‘cause, from what I hear, they both will be classics!

Dubcnn: Who are some West Coast emcees that you are feeling – both past and present?

I grew up on 2pac, Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, The Dogg Pound, Ice Cube and everybody else that killed it for the West coast…I can't even name everybody else that influenced me on the west coast. The new dudes coming up though: I like Ca$his, Ya Boy, Jay Rock, Young De, Crooked I and some other cats. The West got a lot of talent and I think it’s a matter of time before they blow again like ya'll deserve. Shout out to the whole west coast!

Luss: I'm a huge fan of 2pac and Dr. Dre. I also like Snoop, Ice Cube, Kurupt…and I'm definitely a fan of Ya Boy and Crooked I. There's a lot of talent out there right now and I know the west is gonna straight blow! Ca$his is straight killing it though. Shout out to Ca$his again!

Dubcnn: Where can people find you and follow your rapidly rising career?

You can find us for now on MySpace.com/TarekLuss and on Dubcnn! We appreciate everything, Homie. This sh--'s a blessing ‘cause, without rap, I'd be sh--…literally, I'd be sh--.
Luss: You can steadily see what's going on with Tarek and I by checking out our MySpace at MySpace.com/TarekLuss…you can also find us f—kin’ with Dubcnn. Shout out to Dubcnn!

Dubcnn: Any final thoughts or statements for the readers at Dubcnn?

Shout out to Dubcnn and the whole West coast! I feel blessed to be able to f--- with ya'll since I'm from Michigan and I got a west coast producer. Good looking out to everybody that ever f--ked with me, and to everybody that ever said we wouldn't be sh--, we need ya'll, both equally!

Luss: Shout out to Dubcnn and everybody out on the West coast! Shout out to Rikanatti, Ca$his, C Major, DJ Arkane and to everybody else that held us down! We about get it poppin’ in 2009, y'all! We appreciate all the love and support and we ain't stopping until we on top! Shout out to my man Rick holding down ATX!



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