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From the streets of Compton L.A. the Samoan-American gangster rappers the Boo Yaa T.R.I.B.E. return with a new album featuring Eminem and produced by Battlecat.

L.A. based Boo Yaa T.R.I.B.E. are one of the early influential acts from the West Coast rap scene. Emerging from the same Era of some of Hip Hop Greats including Cypress Hill and Ice Cube, the Boo Yaa T.R.I.B.E. Are a name perhaps only serious Hip Hop heads are familiar with. The Situation caught up with two of the five members of the T.R.I.B.E. – Godfather and Gawtti - to talk about their criminal past, their anticipated album and production collaboration with Eminem.

The T.R.I.B.E. (Too Rough International Boo-Yaa Empire) consists of Godfather, Gawtti, Ganxsta Ridd, Monster O and Kobra who are Samoan-American brothers, the youngest being 25. Introduced to music via the church, Gawtti the youngest, explained, "My father was a minister of a church and we had to learn instruments to play at his services. We’d go in the morning and set up the instruments and play a lot of funk before folk came in."

Despite their religious upbringing, growing up in Compton, Los Angeles, the brothers fell into the west coast gang lifestyle and each spent time in prison. It was the death of their younger brother Robert ‘Youngman’ Devoux in 1987 that became the turning point in their lives. Godfather explained, "The gangsta way of life came at a high price. At the time me and family was at war with different enemies and he got caught up in the cross fire……y’know you gotta understand you grow up in life with your brothers, and even though you’re in a war zone you don’t think about losing someone, and when it happens to you can do two things you can get more madder or you gotta run with it.” This changed all the brothers lives, Gawtti explained "It made us choose whether we wanted to go war or to music. We chose the music because that’s what he would have wanted."

When Ganxsta Ridd was released from prison the brothers decided to leave LA to escape the gang culture and head for Japan. Godfather explained “My second youngest brother Rid had gone through junior prison and didn’t want to end up going through the whole system. One of my brothers had been to Japan before and told us that’d it would be a fresh start and good place to work and establish ourselves as musicians. It was kinda hard going to a place we’d never been and didn't know the language, but in the end we coped with it.”

Once in Japan, the brothers performed as a rapping and dancing group called the Blue City Crew. Godfather recalled, “When we first started performing at that club, only the cooks were there. Within a few weeks, people were coming from as far as Osaka and people couldn’t even get in. Everyone was trying to get a glimpse of us."

After establishing a name for themselves in Japan, the brothers decided it was time to return back to their home country and attempt to break into the U.S market. Changing their name from the, 'Blue City Crew' to 'Boo Yaa T.R.I.B.E. Gawtti explained, "Boo Yaa, at that time was slang in the neighbourhood for the sound of a shotgun, so we used the term to describe the impact of us on stage, blowing people away.”

The T.R.I.B.E. began recording and released the 12”, ‘Coming Hard To America’ in 1988. In 1989 the group signed to Island Records. "That made us more focused, explained Gawtti..."Island Records, that’s where Bob Marley came from, we we’re signed with a major label." Their 1989 debut album ‘New Funky Nation’ was recorded and sold over 100,000. The album was pioneering as Godfather explained, “I think the first album was before its time. I think that when the album first came out people weren’t ready for it. Like what’s going on today in the music business we were doing it back then with the harmonies and stuff.” Unfortunately the Tribes relationship with Island Records was cut short in 1992. “We came out of nowhere and made some noise”, Godfather, says proudly, "At the time they [Island] were the hottest management at the time. It’s like this, it ended up being cutthroat because of the business stuff. We didn’t know about power of attorney, we ended up getting bills from record companies for money that was never seen!” Many artists disappear into the shadows after leaving a large label like Island, Godfather continued; “It was a low point in our career but a learning point for us going out on our own. Finding out about the business….We ended up making our own company and then we went on to independents”

Since then the T.R.I.B.E. have worked on albums including the unreleased ‘Good Times Bad Times’ which featured artists such as Ice Cube and George Clinton. They released their 1997 album, entitled ‘Angry Samoans’ – a blend of rap and heavy metal – a sound Godfather said they hope to work with more in the future. Their last album ‘Mafia Lifestyle’ was released in 2000 but now The T.R.I.B.E. are back with their anticipated album ‘West Koasta Nostra’. The album brings together artists such as Eminem, Mack 10, WC, Kurupt, Knoc-Turn'al.

"October 7th it’s coming out. We’re hoping that people will accept it and feel the story that we’re portraying about the reality of life…” Gawtti continued to describe the sound of the new album; "This album is more hip hop with different flavours in the mix of the music, this is young generation music, even though we’re old school. Battlecat was our producer he brings the flava’ of a new era. Just like with Eminem, he brought his style... if you hear Em’s track, you know the kids are gonna rock to it. Kids wanna hear this.”

Speaking further of Eminems production contribution, Gawtti, added, "It’s about respect. Eminem, he’s real. He likes real people. He’d never work with a guy unless they’re safe. He's seen it in our eyes like ‘man these muthaf***ers are real’. He told my brother ‘man, y’know the world gotta see your passion, see it through the eyes of a gangster. They gotta hear all this pain, tears blood, scars’, and they gotta hear all that... People say he [Eminem] ain’t wired or he ain’t from the hood, nah he’s real believe me!"

According to God Father, alongside the album, the T.R.I.B.E. are busy with other ventures, “It’s like this, I got a new clothing line called Gawtti… it’s blowing up all over Japan – it’s like twice a year we go over there. We just started our campaign for our clothesline out in Europe…We’re also working on our heavy metal stuff. We’re creating jobs for my family… keep it so my family, my neighborhood, have jobs. Half of my people are on parole, they can’t go into good jobs with tattoos and long hair.”

The Boo Yaa T.R.I.B.E. have a past shaded by a criminal way of life, however Godfather insists they do not aim to portray their past crimes in good light. “We don’t put it out there – we don’t want to praise it. Instead we talk about the circumstances surrounding our lives, the how and the why? The detail, well that's just that part of our lives.

You can currently see Gawtti alongside Mark Wahlberg and Mos Def in the remake of the Italian Job.

WEST KOSTA NOSTRA” - ALBUM OUT - OCTOBER 7, 03

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