Anyone familiar with the Alabama rap scene has heard Henny, he’s the stylish rhymeflipper next to Yelawolf and Pill on “I’m A Freek,” he’s worked alongside Jackie Chain, Bentley, G Mane, and with Slow Motion Soundz. On his own, Henny has created a trio called I.B.I. with his cohorts Ziploc Moe and Icey Mike Shawty. I think these must be three of the best rap names out there. And these guys are stoked rappers. Henny’s got some amazing mixtapes, including Black Superman and I Make Alabama Look Good. Kind of the best thing going, I.B.I. has released an independent record titled S.D.M. (Sex. Drugs. Money.) that’s a loud pack of great tunes, including ‘Passport’ and the single ‘Bandz.’ I really listen to these tracks a lot. Enough to write and ask if I could ask them some questions, as a fan. I really don’t know how to interview rappers. I am still am not sure how exactly what questions to ask, but I conducted this one over email, which was easier than when I interviewed Bun B over the phone. I think what happened is I sent the questions and Henny read them aloud in the studio and transcribed the answers. First, here’s their video:
Henny, you’ve been rapping with Yelawolf and Pill and other MCs for a
few years now — how did you click together with I.B.I.?
H: I.B.I was always a label I wanted to start while I was a member of the rap group Greedy Money. When the group split due to legal troubles and moving me and the remaining members decided to start up the group again but wit a new attitude and new approach and Icy Mike
Henny, how do you describe your group’s approach to lyricism and flow?
H: we just get in the studio and vibe…we’ver known each other for a while so the chemistry is there. All we need is some exotic weed and a hot beat
Icey Mike Shawty, when did you start rapping and when did you acquire
such a hype alias?
I.M.: I started rapping the day I was born. And I came up wit my alias to describe my persona. I’m icy cause I’m cold I’m mike cause that’s what’s on my government and I’m shawty cause that’s how I hustle
IMS, how did you know you wanted to make music as part of I.B.I.?
I.M.S.: Just the energy every time we be in a session together the chemistry was perfect
Ziploc Moe, with the unbelievable rap name and the nasty rasp — when did you start writing rhymes?
Z: Shit around the beginning of 2009
Ziploc aka Maury Gator, you have a serious, funny and unstoppable style. Describe for readers how you came to rock it so fucking hard:
Z: Aww man you know I just put my heart in everything I writeand I try not to be a one dimensional rapper. I got many styles wait til ya meet Mauri Gator
How does a track like “Bandz” get made — do you go to the studio
together with lyrics prepared or do you sit down and work it out while
the beat is getting made?
I.M.S.: I don’t even remember I rolled up and wrote my verse
Z: Klassik produced a funky track and God sent it to us
H: I don’t really remember but we just went in and did what the beat said do
Do tracks start from a chorus or hook and work out from there or off
the first 16 bars?
H: it don’t really matter to me
Z: sometimes we do the hook first or sometimes we do the verses
You just put out a really tight mixtape — did those tracks come out
of a big recording session, or do publish your tracks almost as fast
as you can make them?
Are there other members of I.B.I. behind-the-scenes besides the three
I.M.S.: Yeah ibi is a nation. We the faces
Z: We the faces. But we got members we aint even found yet
H: and don’t forget the in house production team. Klassik Keys, Joe Air, and Tech beats
Who are some of your favorite producers to work with?
Z: myself, Klassik Keys, Grade A
I.M.S.: Klassik Keys, Beat Champ, Joe Air, Lbo Keys, Dr Fangaz, Mellow Rich, & JB
H: Block Beataz, Grade A, JPlymp, Lbo keys, Klassik Keys, man I got a lot of em
What do you like to hear in the recipe of the sounds on the drumkit,
the speed, the samples, for I.B.I. to want to jump on a beat?
Z: I like a nice drum track. The synths gotta be there
I.M.S.: Tracks that speak to ya. Tracls that already got direction
H: just make a hot & timeless track and we on it.
I’ve been listening to Alabama rap for five or six years now, I guess,
especially the guys in Paper Route, Slow Motion, and Small Tyme Ballaz
— are you affiliated closely with any producers or labels in Alabama?
H: I’m affiliated wit a couple people from the Slo like Mali Boy, Kristmas, & Codie G. I got BGM fam shout out Eldorado Red. And my selma fam DBD
I.M.S.: yeah BSB, King South
What’s your take on the Alabama music scene? What was it like to grow
up there? Did you grow up going to shows by Last Mr Bigg when he was
just diamond-eye Bigg? Is Alabama on the map now in a way it wasn’t
when you were a kid?
H: Nah Bigg from Mobile we never grew up on him like that
IMS: but yeah we on in a major way now. Wit artist like Yela
Is there a place you go in town to drop a new track and see it play
out in the club?
IMS: the whole city. We plugged in wit the djs in the city. when we drop something the whole city know
Do you go to a lot of rap shows? Who have you seen live that you
thought put on a great show?
IMS: not being bias but Yelawolf. Even tho he reached new barriers he still displays that “still trying to get on” in each of his performances
H: yea Yela. Cyhi, Gside, & Malachi from the Dungeon Family his live show is remarkable
There’s something innovative in the countrified rhythm of the Alabama
scene, with all the different rappers and producers something connects
the sound, makes it homegrown. I don’t know if you can describe how
you like to represent your home in your sound or if that’s even
important to you?
IMS: its definetly important cuz our sound is a sound that aint been displayed yet. and its Alabama soul
Z: its very important wit us being from Alabama cause we the underdog
H: I like to rep my hometown just by telling true southern stories and if I do that right I know I did my job
Are there some local legends in the scene who inspired you growing up
to strike out on your own and become an artist and part of the music
Z: Rick rock, the commodores
IMS: Big Pimp, King South, Henny, & Leon Carmichael
H: PeeWeeDee, Icy, Killa Kat, man its too many to name for real. My city been packed wit talent for over 10 years now
Ziploc, I get the impression you have a thing for women’s shoes — do
you guys hope to grow I.B.I. into an accessories and apparel business?
Are there fashion items that you are each really focused on, lyrically
IMS: first off I been said fuck rap let’s sell clothes. Women buy more clothes than music
Z: yeah I love making women beautiful cause they the ones doin g all the shopping. But yeah in thf future we wanna do that we already selling shirts and hats
H: Big Krit, 9th Wonder, Sha Money
Z: Scott Storch & Dr. Dre
Who is a really under-rated rapper you feel deserves more attention?
H: Slimm Calhoun, Sean Paul (young bloods), my whole team
What is your favorite rap lyric — is there a lyric you listen to and
it reminds you to make your style loose and original?
H: I got too many to name
Z:I aint got no favorite I’m a chameleon to all genres
Can you quote a few lyrics from I.B.I. you want to make sure people
take a moment to listen carefully to?
H: all the verses from every song for real…but “Heaven Help Us” hook is a good one
& maybe you could explain why you chose those lyrics?
H: I say “Heaven Help Us” cause it just sums up the whole cd…Sex Drugs Money
Your lyrics make a lot of wordplay around money and earning good pay
— but there’s also this sense of independence and uncompromising
attitude in what you write…can you talk about what are some of the
dangerous pitfalls you hope to avoid in the business side of things,
and the creative side?
IBI: we don’t wanna not be consistent. Longevity is the key. And just staying out of the everyday troubles of the world like our previous legal problems
Speaking of: The crime life has always been a great source for
metaphor in rap, and all I.B.I. lyrics keep it very real, very fresh,
funny, hard as hell, and you drop tons of common 2011 slang as well as
plenty of your own personal touches to your lines — and what I want
to ask about is the music industry. Have you observed, and is true,
that the music industry is truly full of criminals?
IBI: most definitely. They say the rap game remind em of the crack game.
Alabama seems like a more peaceful place, at least there aren’t any
tragic stories in the news like what’s going on around Lil Boosie and
what’s always playing out with rappers elsewhere getting shit on by
police, and what seems like a very complicated thing Alabama seems
like it’s not a part of?
IBI: well we don’t have hip hop police but a lot of rappers from Bama have legal issues. More so because most if not all are from the streets
You guys all plan on releasing solo albums and then another group
album? When can we start hearing tracks from the solo albums?
H: well ICY’s got his solo coming first its called “Plug Luv” so you should start hearing songs from that soon. I’ve got 2 cds I’m working on now and I’ve got 2 online “Black Superman” & “I Make Alabama Look Good”. And Zip’s got “Liquor & Loud” coming soon. So be on the look out
Will we see you guys working with. other rappers on features for these
albums andleading up to the solo albums?
I.B.I: well we already got the song wit Yung Ralph “Demonstr8” bubbling but future features will include Kristmas, Bentley, King South, Attitude and a lot of other people from Alabama too many to name
What the hell happened to D4L that you can be sure to avoid? Damn,
what a tragedy. That whole show fell apart. Maybe it was just internal
struggles. You guys have a harder, more of a RUN/DMC vibe in that I
imagine your live shows are almost like rock shows. It’s a very
different vibe what you’re doing, even if a lot of the sex themes are
there in both.
H: well we got a homie that’s signed to D4L that’s from Montgomery Alabama named Jurrari. But D4L is still kickin they just got a deal wit G-Unit too I think…but yeah as with any family you gonna have disputes and setbacks you just gotta keep it moving Ànd stay prayed up ya know
Describe a day in the life of I.B.I.
H: just studio all day really
IMS: Loud…music loud weed loud
What’s your favorite music to listen to outside of rap? Do you listen
to any of that UK stuff or kwaito from South Africa or kuduro from
Angola or whatever?
IBI: we all listen to a lot of other genres from R&B to Reggae to Blues and even Jazz and Rock
Outside Juice and Scarface, what’s your favorite rap-related movie?
Z: Belly or Shottas
Who is the most famous rap video starlet today?
Z: Lola Luv
IMS: Amber Rose
Aren’t you making a video for every track? You guys look like
billionaire beasts on film.
H: yeah were trying to finish the year out by shooting a video to the whole cd as well as solo project vids
You see the Lil B Youtube grind and he’s blown up in a silly way — do
you think the video style is working for him? Would you keep up that
ridiculous tempo? I think people could handle it if you guys were
dropping tons of Youtubes but some of those 500 B tracks cause
migraines. I like his stuff.
H:yeah I think the consumers of today are more about visuals than anything so we do feel obligated to give them that “look” but we prolly won’t do it to the annoying level of Lil B but there will be a lot more videos and video blogs
What do you spend most of your money on besides your home and food?
Was there a time in your life when you were crazy like me and a lot of
your money went to buying music?
H: yeah most def bought a lot of music at one pooint wÉ all have really but now I just spend it on sneakers
Z: I take a lot of trips
IMS: Loud…you know Keshia Cole?
If you could put someone’s face on a new American dollar bill
currency, who would it be?
Have you guys ever thought of doing a track sampling Betty Davis
(Miles Davis’s hot as funk wife)?
H: bro we’d sample you if it sound good lol