Mr. Lucci – Deep Off In The Game
Interview by: Tyrone Davis (Editor)
What’s going on, bro?
Blessed man, Blessed. What you got going on?
I’ve been a fan for awhile and being that Twenty4Seven Magazine is entering the Dallas market, I figured it was perfect timing to get with you for an interview. Let’s start off from the beginning to give those who may not know you a backstory.
I’ve been writing all of my life but I actually got my break in 1998 when I was rapping in a barbershop. One of the guys there heard me and just so happened to be business partners with Kevin A. who used to own “Iconic Records”. The guy knew my father and I had got a call around midnight that night saying he had a guy from Death Row who wanted to meet me. So, I rapped 2 verses for them over the phone and the next day they came and picked me up after school. I was 15 at the time. They took me to the studio and I met Mr. Pookie. They were working on Mr. Pookie’s “Tha Rippla” album and about 2 days later, the first verse I recorded for them was on “Crook 4 Life”. That was like on a Wednesday and it was on the radio by Friday. Everything else is history.
That’s actually when I caught wind of you. I was in Tennessee at the time and we used to play “Crook for Life” a lot. I ended up buying “Tha Rippla”……Matter of fact, somebody got me for my “Diabolical” (Mr. Lucci’s debut) album.
I hear that a lot, every time I’m on the road man. Somebody saying somebody stole they’re shit.
Lol yea, I still have the case, but they got the actual cd. So, let’s talk about that time period. You were real young and still in high school. You guys moved quite a few units for an independent label. A friend of mine (Joseph Long) actually designed an ad for you and Mr. Pookie back in the day. I can’t remember what magazine it was for. What was it like for you, being that young with all of that popularity?
You have to keep in mind that we were still kids, you know? I was 15 or 16 and dropped “Diabolical” when I was 17. It was a high. A dream come true. Not thinking about nothing else but the fame. Plus, I was doing what I wanted to do and making a little money off of the shows, you know what I’m saying? I never knew how big we actually were and still till this day, I don’t know how far my fan base reaches because THAT part of the game, he (Kevin A.) kept us completely blinded. He used used to tell us that nothing was selling and we needed to work harder. So, we were always trying to do more in the studio and where ever else, you know what I’m saying?
He used to say things like, “The industry is hating on you. They’re trying to block you/don’t like you. The Dallas artists don’t like y’all, they’re jealous.” you know what I mean? At that time, we were trying to work with everybody but he never let us do any features. I never did a feature until we found out what was going on and we ended up splitting record labels. I was just going off of what I was seeing and the reaction I was getting in the streets but I never knew we were actually selling units and making money until it was too late. I thank God for it, bro because some people get that success, it goes to their heads, and it changes them as a person. He kept us humble the whole time because we never got to see how big we were. We never got that “I’m the shit” mentality because we were still struggling and trying to maintain at the time.
I think a lot of the popularity had to do with the fact that there are a lot of military bases in Texas. I grew up on a military base so I know a lot of the music came through that channel as well from the soldiers moving around and I had a lot of friends that were from Texas so they put us on Swishahouse and you all. Everybody was playing the record. We weren’t really on the internet like that so we were still actually buying cds. I actually went to the mall and bought both of them. Matter of fact, I bought “My Life” and “Texas Freestyle Massacre” as well. I’m from Indianapolis originally, so a lot of the music I got down in Tennessee, I was bringing up here and turning people on to it too. I don’t know how far it reaches now since it has been about 10 years, but I definitely kept you mind and decided to reach out since I have the power to do so now. I know the Texas movement is not as strong as it was. I don’t see a lot of cats from back in the day as much. Like Tum Tum and them.
Yea, a lot of artists that were doing it at the time, their spirits got broken. A lot of them stopped doing music. Or, they stopped pushing as hard. As far as in Texas, they still get love. I stay on the road and people are still saying they’re jamming DSR. You just have to get out there and touch them, because without the radio play and things like that, they think a lot of the people aren’t around no more. You just got to hit that road and stay gone like Lil Keke and a couple other people that’s around here. It’s to the point now that you’re getting that bread and staying on the road, radio play is really irrelevant for what we do and the type of artists that we are. Once you touch the people, it sticks and stays forever, you know? The radio can have you on there this week and the next say you’re never going to be on there again like they did Trae (tha Truth).
I read that you guys had a falling out with “Iconic Records” and the next project you and Mr. Pookie put out was called, “My Life”. Explain that to me because back when I bought the cd and was reading the credits, some things had changed. There was a diss record (called “The Interview”) on there and since we didn’t have the internet, I didn’t know what was going on. How did you guys end up on a whole new label and what happened overall?
At that time, it was “Murder” on the mind. I’m going to keep it 100, G. It was a real bad break up because we were struggling hard. I wasn’t struggling as hard as how Mr. Pookie and everybody else was because I had another source of income and wasn’t living strictly off of the record money. We weren’t getting none of the record money and how we ended up finding out we were getting screwed was from Kevin A.’s investor who was a guy from Dallas named, “Mr. Blues”. He used to own the #1 independent record store in Dallas and is the reason anybody get’s music. He is the originator. When we were doing it, we saw how things were changing. We weren’t doing shows in Dallas anymore but outside of Dallas. We saw how we couldn’t go to certain places anymore and couldn’t be around certain people.
Kevin A. was telling us one thing, but we ended up seeing that it was because he was dodging certain people that were looking for him. So, he was moving us around. When we got into it, he told me, “Your album flopped, you (pretty much) made me lose money, You only sold like 3,000 albums and now you owe me.”, you know what I’m saying? Then, Mr. Blues ended up coming to me like, “That’s a lie. You sold over 67,000 (units) just on your project alone and y’all ended up getting a deal with Time Warner for 3 mil.” Kevin A. took the bread and was supposed to pay Mr. Blues the 40 grand he initially put into him and also let him have the option of getting back into it. I remember the day they stopped K104, the #1 radio station out here and said, “Hey man, hats off to the Iconic Boys, the first black “something” entertainment group out of Dallas to sign with a major.” That’s when we had signed with “88 Music” and we thought things were going to blow up from there but thats when shit stopped because that’s when he sued Kevin.
Once he sued him, that’s when the “Diabolical” and “Tha Rippla” album stopped. You know when you have those wars when the lawyers get involved, shit get’s ceased. Everything get’s put on hold. Kevin’s bank account was frozen but we didn’t really know what was going on, still. He was telling us that Mel Gibson was suing him because Mel had a company called, “Iconic Productions” for a movie or something and he was coming after him for having, “Iconic Records”. Being young, we believed that shit but we came to find out that it was all a lie. After he told me my album flopped and created a problem is when we had to go back and do that, “Texas Freestyle Massacre” and he had me do the “Slab” song and shit like that to create revenue. Once I left, I had found out he did that to get his bills back going and shit and keep himself in the flow. Once I had found out how much I really had sold, and he had watched us struggle real bad. A lot of my friends were getting evicted and I ended up leaving, Pookie nem didn’t want to leave at first because it was their only source of income. They didn’t want to leave so I was like, “Fuck it” and left by myself.
About 8 months later, Kevin did something else to Pookie nem that made them leave so they came and started talking to me and shit and we started “Crawl 2 Ball Records” and did the “My Life” record. At the time, we had no money at all. I had money from a death settlement from when my father passed away when I was younger. You know, when I turned 18, the insurance was set up to pay me 18-21 so, I got a check those 4 birthdays. So, I was being able to do things and put money I was getting from that into our projects. We got distribution on the “My Life” project and it did real good. At the time, when we were with Kevin A., all we did was the studio. He trained us to be perfect artists. Go in the studio, lay your shit, go to these interviews, learn how to speak to these people, practice on your shows, etc. We were trained artists but we were never trained in business. You got to go talk to distribution, you got to go talk to these stores, etc. We never knew the politics. We were pushing, “I’m a Gangsta” and went up to K104 with a burned cd and they let us speak to them at the time because of our buzz but we didn’t know we were blackballed at the time. They weren’t promoting any of our stuff. They let us do the interview but they wouldn’t spin any of our stuff and it’s been like that for a long time because Kevin A. was in the pocket with Reggie D. who was one of the biggest djs at the station.
So, there was a whole lot of politics that we didn’t know about at all. That’s where the real hate for Kevin came because once we left, he started doing all types of shit to us……Perfect example, I’m sorry. It’s real emotional. So much shit is going through my head. When we were blowing up, we didn’t know everybody was calling us for features and he was telling them, “Pookie and Lucci don’t fuck with y’all.” He was telling them that he’d ask us and if we didn’t like their shit, we wouldn’t do it and the whole time he wasn’t telling us so when we get out in the streets and go reaching out to everybody, niggas was like, “Fuck ya’ll. I remember what you said and the messages you sent through Kevin.” So, he knew what he was doing. He was a manipulator. He designed it to where once we left, he knew that everybody would push us away because of all the things he already set up.
When we went to our lawyer……we never had a copy of our contract. He wouldn’t let us leave the apt with it. He used the excuse that all his bank account information was on it and they should be kept in his safe and he would make sure everybody was safe. I know my contract was like 4 or 5 pages, maybe less but when we got with our lawyer and he went after Kevin, he sent us back probably a 100 page contract (apiece) with ALL type of bullshit off up in it. He was charging us $5,000 per track on our albums, $80,000 for each album, and then I think he said we signed for like a .2% royalty rate. I’m talking about some dumb shit and he was so dumb…you know when a lawyer calls you, you have a certain amount of time to shoot that shit. He didn’t expect us to get a lawyer so when the lawyer called with the cease and desist, he only had like 24 hours.
He was scrambling so fast to put these fake contracts together that he ended up sending Pookie’s contract under my name and my name under Pookie’s contract. You know when you go to the lawyers, it costs money so the lawyer jumped on it at first, then his lawyers and he’s stretching out the case to the point where we didn’t have the money to keep up the fight, so we just moved on to something else, which was “My Life”. It was a lot of turmoil in the city. We was having shootouts, we were trying to show up where ever they were at and get them, you know what I’m saying?
You never know how people are when they’re around you. They love your spotlight and want to be in your seat. Like all of our friends that were around us, I’m talking about people who used to live with us and sleep on our floors. They were right there from the beginning, seeing that shit and they wanted to rap too. Soon as we left Kevin, he reached out to them. You know ALL them motherfuckers went over there and started fucking with him and stopped talking to us? He told them whatever he wanted to tell them and the wanted to be a Pookie and Lucci so bad that they actually became our enemies so we ended up beefing with them behind this dude. But, sure enough, not too long later he ended up fucking the shit out of them too. They came back trying to apologize but the damage had been done. Kevin was just a manipulator, his role model was Suge Knight and shit. He used to talk about how he grew up under Suge and was with Death Row. You know, I used to hate him but not any more. I actually thank him because he gave me an opportunity to let my voice be heard. That’s one thing he couldn’t take from me was my fans. That’s how I eat till this day, off of my music. It’s kind of a blessing and a curse, you know? You take the good and the bad and run with what you got, you know what I mean?
I’m more disappointed in myself for putting so much trust in someone. That’s why it’s hard for me now to put that kind of trust into a manager or a PR person to handle all of my paperwork because Kevin took all of our lyrics and submittted them to ASCAP publishing like he wrote everything we ever did. There’s no proof we can provide to them that he didn’t so it’s just a lot of bullshit in the game. My advice for artists is for them to just be patient. The devil is there and people want that spot light so bad that they miss all the signs that God is showing them. You feel them in your heart but you over look them because you put so much trust in a person. I see how record labels prey on younger artists. They don’t want to deal with them 25+ because they can’t pull that shit game that’s already been pulled on them. They prey on anything 15-21, then they take their prime years, shoot them to the side, then the artist has to go back 2 or 3 years rebuilding their brand.
After everything had died down with that situation, what happened next? I just read today online that you and Mr. Pookie had parted ways too. I didn’t know that.
Yea, Pookie and I parted ways about 5 years back, around 2007 or 2008.
Was that on good terms?
That was on MY terms. I’m going to keep it 100. It wasn’t on bad terms, it was just on my terms. Some people grow, some people don’t but you do grow apart. With bro, the problem was more so……like right till this day, he’s still trying to sue Kevin A. or fight him. It’s like, you can’t dwell on the past. Why would you waste 5 or 10 years of your future worrying about something that’s already 5 or 10 years old? We have to do us, now. I just had to focus on me. I came in the youngest. Pookie was 21 or 22 when that happened. He was 6 years older than me and I looked up to him forever so a lot of the decisions I made were with him. As I grew as a man/businessman, I realized I had to make smarter decisions. I wanted to do more business and expanding. Some people get content. I can’t let it happen. Ok, we sold 10,000 albums with this, we sold 30,000 albums of “My Life”….that’s cool. We got to do more. Bro feels like, “We’re the kings of Dallas. Nobody has sold more albums than us and I’m cool with that.” Nah, that’s cool, but that was then. Niggas are out here hotter right now. Niggas are out here working. So, your notoriety is not the same to the new generation. You have to KEEP working. Like Outkast says, “You’re only as funky as your last cut.” If you’re not out here running with these younger cats, these “Lil Wills” and “Lil Ronnies” or Migos or who ever else is out there, you’re out of there. Unless you don’t want to see no more paper, you’ll be known as the old shit. Look at Jay Z. He still keeps himself relevant. They might be outworking him on some of the music, but he’s outworking them in all of the other business shit surrounding the music. And, he’s dipping in the music sometimes like, “I’m still here”. He’s not feeling like he can quit now because he’s done a lot. He keeps going and that’s where I’m at now. I’m not satisfied and I’m never going to be satisfied. Once I do something, that’s done. I can do greater.
Over the last few years, I’ve seen your videos pop up on various websites a few times. What is the difference being by yourself vs. being with Mr. Pookie?
Right now, I’m completely by myself but back then, I wasn’t. One of my friends (Stubb-A-Lean) had just gotten out of jail and he was telling me that he wanted to rap and I was telling him I wanted to start a new label. So, we started this “Star City” shit because I felt like I wanted some artists, I wanted a team, and I wanted to run things how I thought they should go. So, I had Stubb-A-Lean and Classik Mussik, who was a producer and a singer. It worked real good, but it showed me….I’m used to this fame where people pull over and jump out the car telling me they love my music or are inspired by me. When people do that, I tell them it wasn’t me. They already had it in them and they can do what I did, plus more. So, don’t leave it all on me. I thank you for showing love but at the same time, you can do more. You’d be surprised how other people will die for that fame. How they will trade their souls for that. I thought I was starting some good by getting some cats that were humble. I started that “Star City” shit and bought a feature from Yo Gotti and we went on tour with him. I had to get a reality check again. I’m talking about the DAY we got off the road off that tour, BOTH of them disappeared. They were supposed to sign with the label but I didn’t want to sign them to a contract like Kevin A. or a contract at all until projects are done and ready to come out. I don’t want to hold nobody down. I want to keep it 100 with the people. They felt like when they came off that tour, they had met enough connections so they could do their own thing.
I haven’t talked to them since. They didn’t know that these promoters in these different cities, this is what they do. It’s a part of the game. They shake your hand but they’re really there for Yo Gotti. You may be cool enough or they may be tipsy enough to shake your hand, give you their business card, and tell you you’re going to do business, but once you leave their city, they wake up the next day looking for their next act who will bring them their bread. You get off tour like, “I got all these cards and all these contacts. I’m about to make it work.” and you call them, they’ll be like, “Now, who are you again?” I think that kind of fucked with them but it made me feel like, “Why invest in other people?” I spent MONEY on them. Fuck that shit, man. Invest in you because you’re not going anywhere. You’re going to stay here through the good and bad. I’ll never invest in someone else again until I’m taken care of. All we did was put out one album and I put out a mixtape and they felt like their whole status changed in Dallas.
Now, they have people wanting to listen to them and buy beats. They didn’t understand that a lot of people were reaching out to them because of my relationship with them. Once they left, they saw how people really felt about them and I saw how people get close just to get the shine and they’ll run off like you never helped them. You can take a homeless person, put them in a house and pay their rent a whole year, put them in the lab, change their wardrobe, get them relevant in life, and the moment they feel like you’re not doing enough for them, you’ve never helped them. Motherfuckers will open their mouth and say, “You’ve never helped me.” Some people do things out of love and some people do things because they are looking for something in return. My moms told me that’s when your feelings get hurt. When you’re expecting something in return.
What ever happened to the “Dallas shag”?
It’s like any other other fad. They come and go. Before the shag, it was the “Gumby” out here. Right now, it’s like the Southside fade. It moves with the generations, from the clothes to the drinks…Everybody used to drink Grey Goose around here, now nobody drinks Grey Goose. You can’t find anybody ordering a bottle of Grey Goose. If it’s not Ciroc or a black bottle or some extra bullshit….Dallas moves with the time.
Explain the Black and Mexican culture out that way because here in Indiana, blacks and mexicans don’t really kick it with each other on a big scale. Out that way, you see large groups of Mexicans and blacks together.
Mexicans are my biggest fans, next to white people, then the niggas. I got a lot of nigga fans, but who is going to spend that money and do all of that type of shit…my mexicans and my white folks, hands down. Also, out here in Texas you have to keep in mind that we’re right next to Mexico. Out here, they were the minority when they came. They are the majority now but before that, it was us like back in the 50’s and 60’s. They (police/government) was pressing on the niggas, and when the mexicans came, they started pressing on the esses and I think that created a bond between us because they threw us all in the same area. Anything south of the city, they threw us down there and all of the whites up north so we had to mingle with each other. Plus, the drug trade is real big out here and they are the plugs. Down here, we both felt the hate from the other races. You couldn’t tell a mexican down here he’s is not black. They have different Mexicans, the ones born over here and the ones born in Mexico and come over here and they hate niggas. They won’t even speak to us. The ones born and raised in Texas, you’d think they’re black. They’re sipping drank, they’re screwed up, you know? We’re all one. The ones that came over and don’t speak any english. They just came over the border a couple years ago and are working at a McDonald’s or something. They’re the majority man, you have to see that shit. You won’t even see a black person working any more inside of a fast food spot. There’s no room because they’re coming and working for the minimum of the minimum wage. Niggas aren’t feeling that shit no more. We’re trying to get the better jobs. They’re saturating this shit, homie.
Let’s talk about the new project.
2014….Lu Diamond is here. It’s a wake up call to let people know I’m still here. The album “Deep off in the Game” dropped May 2nd. It’s a reality check, letting people know about life out here in these streets. A lot of people outside the city think Dallas is a dancing city since the last major artists out of here have put out dance records. The younger generation thinks that’s all we are. I’m giving people real music and doing business differently this time around. It’s on livemixtapes and I’m making sure people get it. I can sell it, but I’m blessing the streets with some good music. It’s medicine for the soul and you don’t hold nobody back from medicine when they’re sick. The industry has gotten the fans sick. The fans are settling. One thing I know about life is that everybody doesn’t experience happiness, man. If you experience happiness, that’s a blessing. One thing that everyone does experience is pain so you have to talk to people like you would talk to yourself. God has blessed me in so many ways to have done everything I’ve done thus far. I have a lot of friends dead or gone to the feds. It’s my duty to give back and put some knowledge in the people and give them a dose of real music. Like I said, it’s on livemixtapes but I also pressed up like 10k to give away in every city I go to. If the fans can’t get it, they can reach out to me and I’ll mail it to them. I just want people to have good music. I’ve never focused just on me up until this point.
How can people reach you online?
@mrluccidallas. All my shit is the same.
Any last words?
Anything is possible, my nigga. Go get it. Don’t ever let someone tell you that you can’t do something. It’s bullshit. I’ve been there. From sleeping on my girl’s floor waiting to see what’s next to having a million in cash on my table. It doesn’t matter where you are. You can always get out of it and go further. Stay focused and stay prayed up. It’s God first, family second, then go grind. I appreciate all of my fans, from the biggest to the smallest. Whether you’re a record exec or just somebody who got turned on to my music for the first time yesterday, I appreciate you taking time to let my shit flow through your soul. I’m going to keep putting out real music and I ain’t selling out for nothing. I’d rather stay underground forever. I want to be great so I’m striving for greatness. Check out www.mrlucci.com.
Also, shout out to my nigga Mr. Pookie because he just dropped an album too, “Blue Flame”. Fuck with my bro’s shit. www.stoneycrook.com. He’s still out here working too. There’s no bad blood between me and bro. Some people grow apart but we’re still friends till this day. If he needs anything he can call me and get whatever and visa versa. I’m just trying to expand in my business and my thinking. Shout out to the fake and the haters. I pray for y’all too. Real deal.