Aug 19, 2008 - 3:19 PM
Its no secret, the west has been black balled from the popular mainstream of radio and television video play, except for the likes of Snoop and The Game. However, tucked away underneath the L.A. gravel, the new west coast movement is emerging with a nostalgic sound of old school awareness blended with a splash of new school swag and rhyming prowess.
Enters Pacific Division aka Pac Div. Hailing from the West Coast, the So Cal rap trio comprised of brothers Mibbs, Like and high school friend BeYoung are looking to rattle listeners’ heads a bit with what they call "honesty rap."
"It’s just us telling things from what we see through our eyes, trying to manage going to school, having a job, (and) trying to survive … from our point of view,” says BeYoung. “We are not afraid to show people our imperfections and our struggles, and we just express it through our music."
And it seems like more and more listeners are becoming fans of the group’s approach to making music for the common folk. Their subject matter ranges from expressing the daily headaches with women to budgeting and finding a way to get paid—a changeup from the gangsta rap the west is synonymous with. Their videos for "F.A.T. Boys 08" (Fashionable Artistic Trendsetters) and "Women Problems" built the group a strong underground buzz and fan support, catapulting them into stardom. And of course, with the love came hate.
Like Biggie said: “ Mo money, mo problems.”
Critics, naysayers, or just plan ol’ haters always have something slick to say and get off on being that negative cloud of gloom when you‘re doing something good for yourself. Despite getting signed to Universal Records, being endorsed by DJ Khalil, Pharrell, Sway from The Wake Up Show, Snoop and ?uestlove, and—most of all—having lyrics for days, the rap trio is already hearing the whispers of selling out, without having put out a proper full-length release.
A MySpace McDonalds commercial the group participated in gave bloggers something to bitch about.
“I mean, aye, we did it, no regrets,” says BeYoung. “Still, no one can deny us on the mic.” And a YouTube reply shows some of that rhyming prowess by BeYoung, while Mibbs flashes a big stack, boasting, “Doing the commercial got us some cheese.”
"Business has really been picking up man," says Mibbs, the younger of the brothers. "This is something we always wanted to do and now it's really happening, so it's like damn! Let's just grab it by the throat."
Before the gossip, additional revenue, and posing for street couture brand Too Black Guys, the group was a 10 member crew, but that number soon dwindled down to three when members left because of personal reasons. And of course, the money would start looking funny—how in the hell do you feed ten rhyme slayers? “We was like a West Coast Wu Tang,” Mibbs jokingly explained. “It was a gang of us!”
In 2005, Pac Div got its first break, when Like and Mibbs’ cousin from the group Bleu Collar let them rock at a show and they spazzed out. Soon after, they were performing more and more shows, and they built a considerable buzz on MySpace and YouTube.
The buzz eventually blew by the ears of Self Scientific’s DJ Khalil. “Our manager actually introduced us to him and he told us we were his favorite group, period,” explains Mibbs.
And that is the goal for young talented group: be the favorite of many listeners and receive the respect from the hip hop community without forgetting who they are.
“You can’t deny the truth,” says Mibbs. “When cats spit the truth, it’s going to be heard.”
“We got something to offer everybody,’’ says BeYoung. “No one can tell us that we are not good rappers and we don’t bring something new to the game … We just want to open up a new lane and let people know it’s ok to be yourself, you don't have go all extra out to be something you are not.”
Jamaal Johnson, aka InkHustla, J Squared or Scrooge McDuck, is a bonafide consumer currently in the process of saving the world, one child at a time. What can he say, he loves the kids.