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July 14, 2005


Tash, E-Swift & J-Ro in Black and White...these are Tha Liks

Original piece published in Mass Appeal Magazine circa Tha Liks' X.O. Experience LP push. If I wasn't so janky/gutter and had actual technology at my disposal, such as a scanner, I'd scan in the FUEGO images of Tha Liks at the L.A. Gun Club. I conceptualized this photo shoot and the title "Lik Shots"...and illustrious L.A. photographer Lumumba blessed us with the visuals. J-Ro with the bullet between his teeth, on the close-up, one of the greatest Hip Hop shots of all time in my opinion. If you want to see it bad enough, somebody send me a used scanner and a USB cable, and we in bizness. Fat shouts out to mi'jito DJ SOUL in this m'fucka, my music editor from my Mass Appeal days; the realest and best editor I ever worked with in the game. Leave it to a DJ moonlighting as an editor to be the best. Without further chop, I give U...

by Miranda Jane

The man. "El 'Mero-Mero," as in El Primero. Number One. When he steps into the room, all eyes are on him. El 'Mero sweeps his gaze across the room, and saunters over to the bar. It's on. Dozens of bitches claw their way toward him, clamoring to be the first one to have the distinct pleasure of buying his royal flyness a drink.

The man - Eric Brooks. The legend - E-Swift. The crew - Likwit. Los 'Meros. If you happen to be the lucky lady to reach the bar first, he'll have a Vodka Gimlet, or a Vodka with Red Bull. "I switch every few months. I'm a vodka drinker right now. I was drinking a lot of dark liquor last year, but it seems like I got immune to it so I had to switch up. Vodka and Red Bull will have you drunk as fuck, and just UP-hype - you just be a wide-awake drunk mothafucka off that shit." X.O., the new album, is clearly the fruit of many a Vodka and Red Bull binge. Never before has Alkaholism sounded so good, or been so productive.

Niggaz know E-Swift best for providing the funk that get it crunk - he's the man responsible for classic Liks material like "Make Room" and Heltah Skeltah's classic "Operation Lockdown". After moving to L.A. from the Midwest, E-Swift garnered a reputation as one of the City of Angels' illest DJs. He studied Production 101 under O.G.'s like Dr. Dre and DJ Pooh, passing the class with flying colors. Swift has remixed for obscure Euro-pop sensation Scritti Politti, held it down for his homie X-to-the-Z through three albums, and has recently shot some tracks to Method Man for some new-school Wu. E-Swift - the man with the plan.


El 'Mero. J-Ro. James Robinson. ( ** Editors note - Freeway Slick I'm Rick James Bitch Robinson, new for 2005) MC extraordinaire. Scholar. World traveler. Sportscaster. Comedian. Alkaholik. The man. This Hip Hop drunkie needs no introduction. Ladies, if you have the opportunity to purchase J-Ro a drink, he prefers a Captain Morgan's Rum and Coke. Spicy. Just don't offer him a Jack Daniels. "I was the first member of the Balcony Club. Over at King T's house. It was his birthday. Ice-T brought over a gallon of Jack Daniels. A gallon. I ended up being the only one drinking. I'm drinkin, and drinkin, but I'm not getting drunk. King T stayed up on the 5th floor, and the homeboy helped me to the balcony and I was like..." Yes, J-Ro cold hurled over the balcony. "It ended up being like five other people that threw up off that balcony, and that was the Balcony Club."

J-Ro is the introspective Lik, the one who takes time to sit back and ponder the deep questions in life. He's studious, and it reflects when he's on the mic. J-Ro is also a family man and a role model for his sons. "I don't know if I'm the only single father in rap music. I got two boys, ages 8 and 9, James Jr. and Louis Jordan. That's what I be doing - if I'm not at the studio, if I ain't doing a show - that's where I'm at." J-Ro is looking forward to the future, and after the rap life has been lived to the fullest, he plans to make a play as a sportscaster. "I used to have a sports show on 92.3 The Beat in L.A. called The Joint, with Mike Nardone and DJ Emz. I would have different athletes come on the air, different rappers read the scores, it was crazy. Then, I did a sports column in Hits Magazine. That's my second career, you might see me on the Superbowl or something."

El 'Mero. Rico. Also known as Tash, derivitave of Catashtrophe. As in mic skills. "That nigga Rico got hoes!" And they best to stay on their toes. True to his birth name, it takes a rich bitch to buy Tash his signature drink, The Catashtrophe - a quadruple Hennessey (that's four shots, ladies) with a jigga of Alize Red and a splash of Cristal. Not to worry though, should the Cris set you back too far, "You ain't gotta go and spend $300 on the mothafucken Cristal, just spend the hot $30 on the Moet, and it's good. Catashtrophe special coming right up. Better than sex on the beach." Indeed. In so much as Tash is notorious for popping bottles with models, he's also known for mutilating mics and for his entreprenuership. Tash knows better than most what it takes to keep his 8-year-long-and-counting career going strong. "Longevity is a mothafucka. Longevity is the key to this shit, 'cause it was so many groups that came out at the same time we came out. It was a whole wave of poeple that we haven't seen since '95, '96. Then there was another wave, and they fell off. And we still here, still got a record deal, still making albums. Even though the times may change, we don't really change too much, we just look forward to the next day. A lot of people trip off success as, 'Did you go gold or platinum?', this or that. But I'd rather be part of the handful that don't, and make a career out of it, than to be one of the ones who really do overnight it and go platinum, then you don't hear from them."

Tha Alkaholiks, now known as Tha Liks, are The Men. Having raised intoxication to a high art form, Tha Liks are all things to all people. Everyone can depend on them. For instance, each and every Vans Warped Tour ticket-holding, fan club membership-having skater dude depends on Tha Liks to give their all on stage. And, each backstage-creepin, video hoochi-aspiring Liks groupie depends on Tash, E-Swift and J-Ro to rap their asses off at a show, and look real good doing it, doing it, and doing it well. Furthermore, a community of young people depend on The Liks to lead by example, and homies and friends depend on them for jobs in the music business or as recording artists in their own right.

Since Tha Liks debut album 21 & Over came out in 1993, the group has been carrying out a strategy toward world domination. With their fourth opus, X.O., Tha Liks have refined their craft to perfection, inviting a who's-who of Hip Hop and Rap to join them on their inebriated journey. E-Swift breaks down the X.O. guestlist like this, "we invited a gang of people, but the only people who showed up was Busta Rhymes, Kurupt, of course Likwit O.G. King T, Xzibit, Defari...I produced 80% of the album, then we had DJ Scratch who came in and did a joint. The Neptunes, my man Pharell from the Neptunes got down, Rockwilder, DJ Twinz from Redman's camp, and Thayod Ausar - there's enough for everbody, I'm not greedy."

Show after show, album after album, Tha Liks stay on the come-up. They have the longevity and tenacity that the music industry fears the most. Tha Liks are here for the long haul, and they're out to pimp the system. Radio and television haven't backed Tha Alkaholiks, and neither has their label of release, Loud Records. (** Editor's note - Loud is now defunct...hmmmm, I wonder why!?) From RCA to Sony, and with a little Red and Relativity thrown in for good measure, Loud has juxtaposed Tha Liks beside Wu-Tang albums time and time again. Curious, in light of the fact that Tha Liks were with Loud when it was nothing but a desk and a computer. Conspiracy theories aside, there's just no conceivable reason why Tha Liks haven't blown bigger than Hiroshima.

Times are changing, and despite label politics and music biz hijinks, Tha Liks are four albums deep and they've begun to play the game in earnest. No longer will the name "Tha Alkaholiks" prevent them from performing in the bible belt, or hinder the group from appearing on Soul Train or MTV. Not this time - the label copy of X.O. will come out under the group's truncated attribute, "Tha Liks". E-Swift, Tash and J-Ro won't be pigeonholed into a "West Coast rap" category. Tha Liks won't be denied. The mission is clear - they can't stop, won't stop, don't stop.

What the true fans of Tha Liks have left is a series of questions. Where's the push? When will Tha Liks have some liquor sponsors? Why isn't J-Ro hosting shows on ESPN or Fox Sports? Why hasn't Tash been cast in a major film? When will E-Swift finally have his own label, and production deals, with major distribution? And, where can we go to find the answers to these questions? Should we email label execs a la Black Elvis? Blow up TRL's request lines when the first video hits? Inundate radio program directors' 2-ways with demands to hear Tha Liks on major radio? Basically, everyone will have to wait and see if X.O. lives up to its name, finally securing platinum status for the first time in Tha Liks history. Only time will tell if mainstream radio will spin the first single out of control, catapulting Tha Liks up the charts and off the meter. Not to worry. Time is on their side. Yes it is.

** Editor's note - Out of my 250+ pages of print clips, why am I now posting this one for the masses to enjoy anew? 'Cause last time I spoke with E-Swift he divulged the fact that KOCH, under new ownership, is involved with a joint-venture with Tha Liks similar to what we've seen with the Diplomats. Their new, INDEPENDENT, album will be dropping in the Fall, with MAJOR push to radio and video outlets. This ain't the ghost of Loud Records past. It's a new game. Time to tie up all the loose ends. For all my family in this shit, Day by Day Entertainment, 25 to Life Records, Best of the Block, Likwit Crew, Steady Gang, Hieroglyphics, Angeles Records (DJ Muggs/Cypress Hill and Chace Infinite/Self Scientific), and the new ones, the illest ones some of ya'll (n)ever heard - Trunks, Bad Luck, Montage, J-Minix, Carnage, Truth Universal, Adam 7, I-Self Divine, Thirstin Howl III, J.Sands... yeah man, the list goes on and on... U know what time it is. It's finta be 2006... It's FRUITION TIME.

LOVE YA'LL FOR LIFE, Hip Hop is the fountain of youth that keeps me lookin under-18 and getting carded for blunts, lighters and lotto tickets.


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