Family Business: Horshoe Gang

Written by

Lyricism has become as extinct as the mid-range jump shot in basketball. It’s all about catchy hooks over 808 drums with the no real substance. I personally blame the record labels more so than the artist with lack of artist development most artist only have motivation to chase the quick check. I never thought that lyricism would become an afterthought in the creation of hip hop. Don’t get me wrong there are still artist out here “carrying the flag” for lyricism but not nearly enough. I was watching Sway in the morning when this group caught my eye. They were like no other group I have seen especially in this generation of music. They had a full arsenal of flows and punch lines but most importantly they had a real message behind the bars they were spitting. This group I speak of is the long beach collective “Horseshoe Gang”. Horseshoe Gang are the younger brothers of KXNG Crooked from Slaughterhouse. The group comprised of Demetrius, Julius, Kenny and Andrew “Dice” is a refreshing look into what the essence of hip-hop and emceeing is. These four brothers have honed their skills from years of tutelage under older brother Crooked I. True students of the art of lyricism, patterns, punch lines, melodies and emceeing they are being looked to as the new saviors of true West Coast rap.

What is the message and meaning behind the name "Horseshoe Gang"?
Our group used to be called Untouchable Gang. We would wear Indianapolis Colts gear cause the horseshoe was positioned like a U, then eventually we started calling ourselves Horseshoe Gang. The "Gang" is actually an acronym for Grind And Never Give-up.

What are the advantages of working with family and the disadvantages?
There's many advantages being a group comprised of family members. We never lose sight of the fact that we'll always put family first. We have disagreements, but we never worry about egos or lack of loyalty, cause we all want to see each other succeed. We grew up having to share everything whether it was toys or shoes. So sharing the mic or the stage comes natural. There aren't any disadvantages.

Outside of your big brother Crooked. Who were some of your lyrical influences coming up?
Outside of our elder bros Mad Man and KXNG Crooked, we grew up listening to the legends. Like Rakim, N.W.A, Ice T, 2Pac, Eminem, Twista, and Bone Thugs-N-Harmony. Most rappers our age, started rapping around 2005, or 2000 at the earliest. So they were influenced by the rappers of that era... We started rapping before we were old enough to tie our shoes.

What made you guys want to stick together and go the group route?
Family over everything! We took the saying "two heads are better than one" and doubled it to create a four-headed monster.

I know that you guys have overcome some trying times and hardships. What kept you guys positive and motivated during the rough times?
God! We're not religious but extremely spiritual. We believe in positive energy and speaking things into existence. So our positive attitudes produce positive outcomes.

The group has been putting in work for quite sometime. Do you think people are finally getting hip to the movement?
We're extremely blessed to have many supporters and our impact expands every year, but we've only scratched the surface. We're like 2Pac during his Strictly 4 My N.i.g.g.a.z days. He gained a lot of attention during that period and people knew he had a gift. But using the full scope of his career for the sake of context, we see he became something much greater.

Each member brings a unique element to the collective. What does each member bring to the table?
Dice is the backbone of the group, Demetrius is the heart of the group, Julius is the soul of the group, and Kenny is the spirit of the group.

West coast hip hop is back at the forefront of hip hop again. How does it feel to be a part of that resurgence?
It feels great! There was a point where the West Coast Sound was emulated by other regions but not properly represented by artist on the left side of the map. There was a lot of talent on the West, but it got overlooked for years. Now West Coast Hip-Hop is back in full swing.

For somebody that has never heard your music before how would you describe the sound of the group?
Aggressive, lyrical, controversial, thought-provoking, soulful, authentic, and comical at times. Our music touches on everything from hardship, like our song "Falling", to comedy, like our song "Poverty Slogans".

The group can do it all man. From song making, storytelling, freestyling, and battle rapping. What made you guys want to master every aspect of your craft?
We feel like an artist's music should represent the sound of Hip-Hop culture. Every artist may not fully embody every aspect of the culture, but should at least display a bit of every facet. Our music is reminiscent of freestyles in the hallways of project apartments and neighborhood block parties. And everything in between.

HG puts their life, emotions and real experiences in the music. Authenticity is rare in today’s game. Does it frustrate you to see all these gimmicks and propaganda in today’s music?
"Frustrate" isn't the word... More like pissed-the-fuck-off haha. These lame-ass record execs and new age Hip-Hop fans are part of the problem too. If we're blaming the restaurant cook for making bad food, we have to also blame the restaurant owner as well as the customers who keep buying the shit haha.

How competitive does it get when you guys are writing your verses? Do you each try to out die each other?
Aaawww, man!! It gets real haha. Sometimes we interrupt our entire studio session just to have a debate about who had the better verse on any given song we've recorded. It's all in good fun though.

What is the groups recording process like? Do you guys write to beats or do you have beats tailored for a specific concept or vision?
It usually depends on which of us gets a vibe from the track first. Sometimes one of us will get an idea and completely quarterback the whole song. From hook, to song concept, to length of verses everyone will need to write. Other times it's a collaborative effort. Sometimes a producer will make a certain type of track to fit our idea, other times we hear something dope and immediately put verses on it.

Your music has several layers to it. You guys speak on everything from social injustice to self betterment. What has inspired you guys to deliver such a versatile and conscious message in your music?
Our elder bros Mad Man and KXNG Crooked. They used to be in a rap group and they would touch on everything, from current events to personal pain. We're just following in that same tradition.

What was it like being on tour with Crooked and Rittz? What kind of game and experience were you guys able to soak up?
A workout haha. Jumping on stage night after night with those two lyrical monsters literally whipped us into shape. We've opened up for KXNG Crooked many years, but never been on a 50-plus city tour. It was a lot of fun and taught us a lot. Shout out to Rittz, Strange Music, J Hornay and our people from AZ who rocked with us on The Southwest Kings Tour.

What inspired the name "Anti-Trap Music"?
We're sick of these untalented suckas making Hip-Hop seem gimmicky. Trap Music doesn't sound bad sonically. And some Trap rappers have talent. But the message that's being overly glorified has to change at some point. Our music is about life; the good, the bad and the ugly. Most Trap rappers are too one-dimensional.

How has the sound grown from the"Gangster Mc" project to the current "Anti Trap music album"?
We feel our skill has improved. Our song-making ability has gotten much better. And we've opened up a lot more as far as subject matter goes. To sum it up, we give less of a fuck about what people are going to say or think about what we record.

I got a chance to preview the album. Let me tell you guys its incredible man! You guys put together a dope cohesive project. You have dope production on the album. What aspect did each producer bring to the album?
Thanks, fam. Means a lot. Pitchshifters, Jonathan Elkaer and D.J.E.D.D.E.H brought the trunk-knocking tracks. Komplex, Tabu and Serious Beats gave us those tracks with soul/feeling. And Aktive, who's only 19 years old, gave us the dope track "Broke Ass Niggas". Which is a lot of people's favorite song. Also, KXNG Crooked blessed us with the classic Hip-Hop feel for our song "Who’s The Best Rapper"

Most artist or groups start of lyrical than slowly dumb down their content. What inspired you guys to continuously keep that lyrical sword sharp?
We inspire each other to stay sharp. Steel sharpens steel.

Is there any other artist or producers that you want to collaborate with one day?
We're big fans of music as a whole. So if we could work with artists like Adele, Smokey Robinson, or Usher. That'd be super dope.

As a group what tips and tricks have you learned from Slaughter house?
We learned that it's okay to be different and unique individuals, but still form a unified group. Slaughterhouse members are cut from the same cloth we're cut from, so we look up to them.

Do you guys ever see yourselves singing to a major or is the indie grind where it’s at for now?
If a major label situation presented itself that we absolutely couldn't turn down, then we would rock with it. But we're on a fuck a major label page at the moment.

What songs do your fans react to the most?
Our hardcore, aggressive tracks. When we perform songs like "Shoe-icide Squad" or "Crooked I Robot", we get the best reaction.

What are some of your favorite tracks to perform?
We love preforming the type of songs that allows us to interact with each other. Like our Cypher 2012 verses. That's when we get in Run DMC mode haha.

I really enjoyed the battle you guys had with Funk Volume. It took me back to my childhood when crews had to be lyrically sharp. Did you ever imagined that your diss records would blow up the way they did?
We weren't sure how people would respond to it, but we didn't give a fuck. But it turned out to go exactly the way we hoped it would. It gave us the opportunity to have a competitive diss record and display our skills. But it was all in good fun.

KXNG Crooked is one of the best lyricist we have seen in rap. Do you guys ever feel a sense of responsibility to carry on the lyrical tradition?
Absolutely! We studied KXNG Crooked religiously. In fact, we have a song called "Crook Class" speaking on how we're students of Crooked's. He taught us that's it's basically a sin to be whack. In that case, a lot of these rappers are major sinners and need to be in Hip-Hop Hell haha.

How does Crooked feel about your rising success?
He feels the same way Professor X feels about the X Men haha.

The Sway in the Morning Cypher has become an instant classic. What has the reaction been after you guys killed it?
Being on Sway's show was a dream come true. Sway is one of the realest dudes in this industry and the platform he gave us with his 5 Fingers Of Death, and Friday Fire Cypher, gave us a much-needed boost. Shout out to Sway and King Tech. And Heather B.

Will you guys be going back on tour anytime soon?
Let's hope so. Better yet, let's pray that we do. We're working on it.

When it’s all said and done. How would you want the Horseshoe Gang to be remembered?
We want to be remembered as the best rap group, nay music group of all time.

Are their any other projects we should be on the look out for?
We're always working, so look out for anything with the Horseshoe Gang logo on it. We have many things in the works. Not just music. We have Horseshoe Gang comics that our supporters can pre-order if they go to Kenny's Facebook page. Keith Wickliffe.

How can the fans keep up with you guys?
@Horseshoegang on Twitter and Instagram. Horseshoe Gang COB is our YouTube channel and also our Facebook fan page. And we can be found on any random corner in Long Beach, Cali.

Do you guys have any words for the upcoming artist and producers trying to break in the game?
Stay motivated, stay humble and be resilient. Be sure to ask your close circle to critique your material. It's always good to get feedback from those who know you and want to see you succeed. Also, have a plan B. Chasing a dream may include sleeping in your car or in a park, so try to have other means to support your self.

Any final thoughts or shout outs?
Go buy KXNG Crooked's album Statik Kxng. Go follow our bro Mad Man @ungradiostation on Twitter/IG if you're an up-and-coming artists. And look out for Karelezz album Space Time when it drops. Shout our to Nine5Four for showing us love. God bless!

Thanks for the time fellas!

Current Issue Previous Issue All Digital Issues
D. Francis PhotoImagery: See My World! Showcase Your Talent Nine5Four Magazine: Got Talent? Get Featured