by: Concord Jones
What do you do when, as an artist you have done it all and seen it all? When you have put out one of the most recognizable songs to come out of Hip-Hop, gone platinum and been labeled a super-star worldwide, yet been plagued with management and label politics to the point you felt you had to pull yourself out the game for awhile and regroup? If you are Numskull; one half of the infamous group The Luniz, you drop a solo album and tell the world all about it.
Let’s go back to 1992 and a young rap duo called Luni Tunz made up of Garrick Husbands (Numskull) and Jerrold Ellis (Yukmouth), both Oakland born. The two had gone to high school together and Garrick was making a name for himself with the group Brothaz With Potential whilst Ellis did the same in the crack game. It was Ellis’ talent for artwork that brought them together creatively but it soon became apparent that he had a natural gift for music. A stint in jail made Ellis decide to elevate his focus on the music game and so it began.
Securing a management deal with connected local baller Chris Hicks aka C&H got them a slot on Dru Down’s album Explicit Game with collaborations like 911 and Ice Cream Man; instant street classics. The album went on to sell 50,000 copies and The Luniz, and 2 stars, were born. They recorded 5 On It, their first song together as a duo in the studio and knew instantly it was a hit. They were right; but no one, them included, had any idea what was in store.
Taking the Dru Down collabos and 5 On It, manager Chris began shopping The Luniz who were now officially known as Numskull and Yukmouth, to major labels, landing them a deal with Noo-Trybe Records, the black division at Virgin headed by Eric Brooks. The two recorded their first album, Operation Stackola and with the radio success of 5 On It, the album went platinum. The Luniz were on the road as opening acts for Notorious B.I.G., Jodeci, Mary J Blige, Junior Mafia and Naughty By Nature and it looked as if their future was set.
As so often happens though when things seem too good to be true, everything started to unravel quickly. The group began to discover that all was not well with their Noo-Trybe deal and as the label began to pit artist against manager and Yuk and Num against each other, the two began to go their separate ways in other ways, making the recording of a second album difficult. That trend continued and it was soon brought to light that Yukmouth planned a solo career; one that took him over to Houston-based Rap-A-Lot Records. Lawyer troubles, management issues, money problems and a huge rift with-in all contributed to the final collapse of The Luniz as a group with only a brief reunion to drop the Rap-A-Lot released The Silver and Black; a project that dropped with little fanfare, through no fault of the group’s.
It is now 2007 and a more mature, more focused Numskull is once again ready to jump back into the music fray, backed this time by independent label Ball or Fall Records. Num is ready now to answer the many questions his fans worldwide have for him, such as, where he has been all this time and have Yukmouth and him set aside their differences. The features on his upcoming album , Numworld, which drops May 29th on Ball or Fall Records will answer that particular question quickly as Numskull and Yukmouth can be heard bringing back that Luniz sound they became famous for. The old chemistry is there and without the other trials and tribulations to face, each can do what they do best; create.
Right now, it is indeed a Numworld and despite everything, after all is said and done, Numskull still drinks 40’s out the brown bag, he still reps The Bay and he still holds a place in the hearts and CD players of Hip-Hop fans everywhere.
For the people that ain’t knowing..How did you form the Luniz? How did you get together with Yuk?
We started off with a group called B.W.P. that I had by myself with some of my other boys, when Yuk came to west lake jr. high I heard him rap and instantly put him in the group and we were the only ones who stuck to the script.
You guys are pretty much set in stone for the classic joint “I Got 5 On It”…Any stories you wanna touch on from that era that stand out in your mind? I was like going 0-150mph in 2 seconds from having nothing to having everything.. then back down again like a C-saw. Every real dude in the game can understand that analogy. I got a song on my album called C-saw that’s bonkers!
What happened with you and Yuk? How did things start to unravel at Noo Trybe Records?..What made you and Yuk go seperate ways? You know whenever a group is real successful, outsiders are going to try and separate them for their own gain, and Yuk bit.
So you got this project droppin- “NUMWORLD” It sounds weird to say..but this is actually your first solo album.. What’s been the hold up on getting out a solo album? Well, with any Rockstar you create your own world that’s yours and only yours.. I created mines– Numworld. I was comfortable with that but now all you hear is the same ole crap and these dudes wonder why they’re not selling. They’re not going outside the box. Well me, I’m already outside the box… well, to cut it short, Im back to give the game what it’s been lacking….. welcome to “NumWorld”
What will the content of this new album be about?
This album is answering all the questions that’s been unanswered all these years.
Who you got doing production? Any guest appearances?
On production I got A.D. future hot producer from New Orleans, Sean T, Stephen King. As far as guest appearances- I got Sean Paul and J Bo of the YoungBloodz. It’s a real Family orientated album.. all label mates you know. Family, I don’t wanna do what every body else is doing. I didn’t want any features really because I, Numskull has a lot to tell by myself!
Ball or Fall Records..speak on it..
It speaks for itself, either we gon have it all or have nothing… reaching for the top!
Who’s all on the roster?..Talk about the label. How did it form? What’s it consist of?
Well, you got J Bo of the Young Bloodz, we have a album on Sean Paul of YGBZ.There’s Da Fam Gang, Prince Bugsy, Louie the 14th, Young Fell. I’m actually the only West coast based artist.
Alot of fans wonder if their will ever be another Luniz album..Will we see one?
Well, actually Ball or Fall is working on that right now ..so I’m sure the fans will get another Luniz album again.
What’s it like to see the spotlight go full-circle on the Bay with this Hyphy shit?
The spotlight may have come to the bay as far as media tryin to show the world how to ghost ride their whip but it’s not equaling record sells. See, the bay is home of the game– straight trend setters. Most of the time it’s somebody from somewhere else who gets credit for it because, other than E-40, no one else has been getting national exposure.
Is it always gonna be Hyphy for the Bay? What do you think the next trend for the Bay will be?
No. It will not always be hyphy for the bay. As far as next trend whatever, it is.. you gon’ to catch Num to the same shizzy.. that’s being me and keeping it real.
Looking back on all the touring, the fame, etc at an early age, how has it shaped you into today?
It showed me you can achieve what ever you dream!
If you could go back in time, or the future, pick 1 person on this earth who you’d like to be for a week and what would you do? It’d be GOD. I’d give everyone eternal life wipe away AIDS so we can go back to having raw sex and make drugs free… because if you made drugs free and legal there’d be no killings over it without the evil of money.. and these kids would have their fathers that the war on drugs have taken captive!!
So what else is on your plate?
As you know the Luniz project is shaping itself …there’s still politics involved.
What’s your take on the hip hop scene these days? You like the way hip hop is right now?
The rap scene these days needs me. Of course I don’t like the hip hop scene these days when it’s becoming harder to sell records because of all the piracy, but all I can say is…don’t be on the west coast bootlegging Numskull!!
Any last words? Yeah. It’s a Numworld!!