The Grind Family/ interview by Matt Sonzala

The Grind Family/ interview & photos by Matt Sonzala


Can you tell me a little about The Grind Family? How'd you come together?


C.O.B.: The Grind Family is Soope, Phil-Mo, C-Ghetto, Ova-dose, Will $krilla, and me, Mr. C.O.B. We been doing this since, we all got together like February of 1999. Ever since then we been the hottest group in Northwest Indiana ever since then. We done dropped 2 full albums and an EP, and we working on the next EP coming out in October of 2001, "So Many Problems, So Much Pain."


Soope: Back in '98 I was just walking down the street and I saw my nigga C.O.B. Started talking, just real niggaz talking together about coming together making this Grind Family CD. So we did that, a couple other niggaz came and it just grew from there.


A lot of people recognize y'all as pioneers on the Gary Rap scene, but you say you've really only been together as a group since February of 1999. Is that pretty much when it started out here?


C.O.B.: No I think CCA started the underground thug scene. And we came along and we just came with some hot shit and it just overwhelmed people how we was coming on the mic. How our beats was sounding, it just overwhelmed them and that's why they give it to us like we the pioneers now. Cause we just came and put it down man and wasn't playin' when it came down to business. You know what I mean?


musically man, we got lyrics and shit, but really it all just come from the struggle. How you let your flows go is on you. Our music is really like soul music. You can feel our pain. You can feel the struggle. We ain't talking about no jewelry, no fancy cars, none of that, we just talking about how hard it is to survive out here and people that ain't out here come out here and they'll understand the way we make the music the way we make it.


Did every member of The Grind Family have a history in music before getting down together?


C.O.B.: Yeah you know everybody used to rap. Everybody had they background on music. Everybody used to rap. It started out in the group with me, Soope, and C-Ghetto, and then I met $krilla, and then I met Phil-Mo. And there's 6 of us all together. So that's how it was.


Why does Vizion call you the Midwest Suge Knight?


C.O.B.: I don't know man. I tell it like it is man. That's all that is. Vizion crazy. I'm real with it man. Loyalty is the most important thing to me. You know it ain't about no money, it ain't about none of that. It's about me keeping my family tight and being real with my potnas and them being real with me. Everybody just trip on me cause I just tell it like it is. I don't play around with no fake dudes. I just try to keep it real with all my homies. Everybody that love me, I love 'em back, if you don't like me I don't like you. And that's just the way I do it.


Your album is pretty dark. Right now a lot of artists are making party records or radio records, but your album for the most part paints a really bleak picture of the world, and Gary in particular. Can you tell me a little about Gary and is it that bad?


C.O.B.: it's wild out here in Gary. You ain't gonna find too many clubs out here. Ain't no dancin', ain't no laughin', ain't none of that here in Gary man. It's dark. They done shot up all the clubs out here. At one point they had this club called The Savoy which had Twista coming through there, Lil Kim, 112, they was gonna start bringing all the national acts. As soon as they started getting all the national acts they shot the club up and that was the end of it right there.


Soope: I think it's bad everywhere. It's just real shit going on. I don't even see it as a whole lot of bad shit, it's just reality. I can't spit nothing else but reality.


I always hear about shows out here in Indiana though. The local groups out here seem to stay busy.



I don't even know. The music we doing just coming from the heart, it's coming from the soul. Everything that we do, it's like we been through it for real and we feel it in our heart. And I think when it come out on the CD they can feel that emotion that we put into it because it's really a part of our life.


C.O.B.: Yeah cause we be performing like, we opened up for Ja Rule, we opened up for Kid Capri, we opened up for Coo Coo Cal. But the Ja Rule show was in Indianapolis, Indiana, the Kid Capri show was in Indianapolis, and the Coo Coo Cal show was in Terre Haute, Indiana. We ain't opened up for no nationwide act around here. When we do shows around here we be the headliners cause we got the fan base.


I feel like you have one of the strongest reputations in the Midwest period as far as underground rap goes. People seem to know about y'all all over the place out here. You guys are in a fairly small city, right next to the 3rd largest city in the country. How do you feel the response is say right in your closest neighboring city? How does Chicago accept The Grind Family?


C.O.B.: Chicago don't even accept they own artists you know what I mean? You got some people over there. Real music listeners, they like us, but they really like if you ain't on the radio, if you ain't on the videos, if you ain't on 106 and Park, The Basement, none of that, they ain't really trying to hear you until you make it to that stature. But we find some people everywhere that just like music no matter if you on TV or not and those the ones that we concentrate on.


Soope: I feel it's love. Every rapper I ever see that I meet from Chicago, female, nigga or whatever. They feelin' that shit. I feel they feelin' the Grind.


What's some of your best markets outside of Gary?


C.O.B.: Indianapolis, South Bend, Michigan City. We go down south too, but we roll out the trunk with it down south. They love us. We get good response wherever we put out material. So we got it in Texas, Minnesota, Detroit, but it's all out of the trunk.


Soope: Best markets? Indianapolis. South Bend. Me and Phil Mo did a freestyle on the radio out there. Shut that shit down quick.




Where does the major influence come from with your music?


Soope: Life.


C.O.B.: Musically man, we got lyrics and shit, but really it all just come from the struggle. How you let your flows go is on you. Our music is really like soul music. You can feel our pain. You can feel the struggle. We ain't talking about no jewelry, no fancy cars, none of that, we just talking about how hard it is to survive out here and people that ain't out here come out here and they'll understand the way we make the music the way we make it. We just trying to take ours on another level.


What sets The Grind Family apart?


C.O.B.: I don't even know. The music we doing just coming from the heart, it's coming from the soul. Everything that we do, it's like we been through it for real and we feel it in our heart. And I think when it come out on the CD they can feel that emotion that we put into it because it's really a part of our life. We ain't just saying it. It's really a part of our life, cause they going through the same thing we going through.


Soope: I feel it's experiences. Experiences that different people are a part of. If you don't know too much or whatever, you can only flow about a certain thing. But if you experience different kind of things then you can talk about all kind of shit.


but if they want to do all us like that, why don't they follow Arnold Schwartzennager around? DeNiro? Look at DeNiro, look how they did in Heat. Al Pacino, they don't follow him around. We doing artistic things through the music. And they make theirs through acting and we do ours through music. It's the same thing. Everybody that say this and that about drugs, guns and this and that don't mean they actually doing it. And Arnold Schwartezzenager, I don't think he actually going out killing people. He did a movie. We do songs, the same thing.



What makes Gary so rough?


C.O.B.: Ignorant ass mahfuckers. That's what make Gary so rough. It's rough everywhere, but when you in a small place like where we at and there's so much murder and dope, it's going to be terrible because its small as it is. Everybody know everybody so if you do something to somebody you can't have but too long. That's what make it so fucked up cause you got a lot of crazy motherfuckers in the city and the city is too damn small. You know what I mean?


Why do you think that is? Is it the closing of the steel mills in your city? Is it the economy in general? What is it that makes your city what it is? You guys talk about the struggle more than a lot of people do on record right now.


Soope: I don't know. Cause I been out to the east coast, you know, Midwest, and it's really a struggle everywhere. That's how I'm looking at it like that. Nothings really different from my standpoint, nowhere. From my standpoint right now.


Well do you see things getting better? You city is minutes away from one of the biggest and richest cities in the country, Chicago. It just seems to me that it's easy to say that it's the same everywhere, but I don't think that every city is as economically depressed as what I see in Gary.


Soope: Well you got the steel mills like you say out here. Pollution from the steel mills. But what make the struggle is the kids out struggling. That's what make the struggle. If you talking about the economy, I don't know too much to get deep into the money coming out of Gary and stuff like that.


Ain't nothing to do but get in trouble man. See, what we do to chill is go to the studio now. That's what everybody try to do to chill out now is go to the studio. What the police don't understand is the studio keeping you out of trouble. Not getting you in trouble. The studio is occupying your time. No longer is people on the street selling drugs. They trying to go in the studio and make they money like that. So what do the police rather you do? Sell drugs or sell CD's and Tapes? You tell me, they on us for selling CD's and Tapes, so they must want us to sell drugs. That's how I look at it.


What would you say is next for The Grind Family?


C.O.B.: Hopefully we'll get some nationwide distribution. That's what we aiming for right now. People say they feeling us. Lady from Taurus Records, her name is Ms. Virginia Hicks. She called and let me know that Def Jam called inquiring about us. So that got us a little happy. We got our dude Myke Diesel, he out of the Grind camp. He did 14 out of 18 songs for Lil Romeo new album, and he's still dropping beats for us. He down there dropping thangs for Lil Romeo, Master P and they whole camp. And at the same time he still coming back and forth doing little things for us too. So we got a lot of good things cookin'.


What can you do coming from Gary, Indiana to secure that distribution and take it to the next level?


C.O.B.: Man, the right person just need to hear it. Money, all that. If we get the right finances behind us, we can be a major force in this rap game. I think we one of the tightest groups in the rap game right now, but a lot of people just ain't heard us yet. Once they do hear us, they gonna understand. We coming for the crown, I don't think we can be stopped. We keep comin' with power shots. Every time we come it's power shots. Can't nobody stop us. Nobody.


People have told me that the police out here in Gary listen to the rap CD's and then try to follow the trails from the lyrics to try and come down on the artists. Do you think that's true?


C.O.B.: Yeah, that's true, but if they want to do all us like that, why don't they follow Arnold Schwartzennager around? DeNiro? Look at DeNiro, look how they did in Heat. Al Pacino, they don't follow him around. We doing artistic things through the music. And they make theirs through acting and we do ours through music. It's the same thing. Everybody that say this and that about drugs, guns and this and that don't mean they actually doing it. And Arnold Schwartezzenager, I don't think he actually going out killing people. He did a movie. We do songs, the same thing. They think all this music that we do out here that we gang niggaz, which is not true. They think that if you came from the street game, and you smart enough to run a record label, but they still trying to affiliate the music with the street gangs, which it ain't got nothing to do with no street gangs.


it's wild out here in Gary. You ain't gonna find too many clubs out here. Ain't no dancin', ain't no laughin', ain't none of that here in Gary man. It's dark. They done shot up all the clubs out here. At one point they had this club called The Savoy, they was gonna start bringing all the national acts. As soon as they started getting all the national acts they shot the club up and that was the end of it right there.



You guys just had your studio raided by police. What happened with that?


Soope: Yeah we had the door kicked down. They thought you know, whatever they think every black male is doing. They see some positive shit, they think there's drug selling going on in there. But nothing but legal shit, they didn't find nothing. We fixed the door up and continued with our music.


What do people do in Gary just to chill?


C.O.B.: Ain't nothing to do but get in trouble man. See, what we do to chill is go to the studio now. That's what everybody try to do to chill out now is go to the studio. What the police don't understand is the studio keeping you out of trouble. Not getting you in trouble. The studio is occupying your time. No longer is people on the street selling drugs. They trying to go in the studio and make they money like that. So what do the police rather you do? Sell drugs or sell CD's and Tapes? You tell me, they on us for selling CD's and Tapes, so they must want us to sell drugs. That's how I look at it. If they trying to take us to jail for selling CD's and Tapes, I ain't never heard no shit like that. They must want us to sell drugs. That's what people do around Gary, East Chicago, and Hammond, they go to the studio and stay out of trouble. We be in the studio 24 hours and 7 days a week. Try to keep my boys out of trouble and we try to get this music thang right. Keep our heads right and I know one day we gonna be a force in this rap game.


Soope: I mean there's a few positive places. Me personally though I like to hoop. That's my getaway. If I ain't in no studio booth, I'm on the court.


What's the concept behind your song "Happy/"


Soope: It's like what would make us happy. It ain't no song like we jumping around for joy. It's just what can we do to make shit happy. What would make me happy? What would make my niggaz happy? You know things like that. So at the end of the road when we finish this little trip we going through, will we be happy then? Time will tell.


I don't know man. I tell it like it is man. That's all that is. Vizion crazy. I'm real with it man. Loyalty is the most important thing to me. You know it ain't about no money, it ain't about none of that. It's about me keeping my family tight and being real with my potnas and them being real with me. Everybody just trip on me cause I just tell it like it is. I don't play around with no fake dudes.


Is there anything else you want to talk about?


C.O.B.: Yeah, we can holler about my guy Will $krilla. He the underground king of this whole Lake County, Gary, Indiana, Hammond, Indiana, East Chicago, Indiana, he the whole underground king of this shit. He the one that started this whole Grind Family shit. He came to me and he already had a little name from a little single that he put out and he came to me and we joined and made the Grind Family. From then it's just been chaos. Everybody loved us every time we dropped. Every time we drop it gets better and better. But you know he in jail right now for Federal gun charges. He locked up for right now, and he got a little murder trial coming up in September of 2001, and he in a Federal penitentiary for violation of weapons you know what I mean? He was the Michael Jordan of the Grind. But we got a whole lot of Scottie Pippens cause we keep it rollin'. Also, we on this "Eyes on Hip Hop" VHS Tape from my guy Tape Man Incorporated. They out of New Jersey. It's featuring Ludacris, The Grind Family, Eightball & MJG, Fat Joe, Noriega, Luke and the Luke Dancers and a lot more signed acts. We the only act on the tape that ain't signed yet so I figure that tape gonna help us out.


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