Published on October 9th, 2019 | by Percy Crawford0
One-On-One With Legendary New Orleans Rapper, Fila Phil
During the 1990’s, New Orleans produced several local legends, Fila Phil was amongst those legends and he is still holding it down today.
When it comes to music, New Orleans have always had its own sound, especially when it comes to the rap game. Known for its catchy bounce beats and hooks, several mainstream artists have benefitted recently from the sound that projected in the early 90’s in New Orleans, Louisiana. In 1994, Fila Phil would release his debut album, “Da Hustla.” Dressed from head to toe in Fila apparel on his debut cover, Fila Phil delivered what he refers to as, “Gangsta bounce,” and it caught on immediately. His style was revolved around a catchy bounce beat with a lyrical storytelling theme wrapped around it. a product of the 9th Ward, Phil didn’t hold no punches letting you know what it was like during those days in the streets of New Orleans. Furthermore, his debut album became an instant classic amongst locals and his hit, “Hustlas” was being bumped on many car systems throughout the streets of the city. Laced with features from Mia X and Tre-8 (R.I.P.), Phil proved that he didn’t only belong, but he was here to stay and 25-years later, he remains a major figure on the scene.
I recently caught up with the iconic, Fila Phil. He explains the importance of getting his music past and present on all streaming platforms, pays homage to several New Orleans legends and hints at a new album dropping soon.
What’s good with you, man.
Fila Phil: Ah man, I’m good, bruh. Another day too. It’s about to be 2020 and I’m just glad to still be in the mix, ya heard me.
You have been in the game about 25-years now. To still be able to do what you love has to be a great feeling.
Fila Phil: It feels good, bruh. I come from an era where everything was up personal, ya know. It wasn’t behind these computers or none of that. It was up personal. To still be here and watch how the culture is growing right now, it’s a beautiful thing, man; especially from New Orleans. I feel like we are one of the originators to everything they trying to take around the world, ya heard me. Straight up!
Given the culture we are in now, how important was it for you to get all of your music on these streaming platforms?
Fila Phil: It was so important. Back then… I was young when I came out. As far as like royalty checks and all that, we never knew nothing about all that. Until I started getting a little older to learn the business, ya know. But now, I went back and got all my royalties. I got everything. I got all my rights, copyrights, my publishing and I own my masters. I went back and got all of that. That why I was able to put everything on these streaming services, Spotify, Tidal, iTunes, etcetera. Now, I’m seeing the numbers. I’m seeing people go back and listen to their old, Fila Phil, ya heard me.
What made me buy your first album, “Da Hustla,” and this is a true story, I saw you had a feature with, Mia X on it and I knew anyone with a Mia X feature on their debut, had to be serious. How did you make that happen?
Fila Phil: Mia… bless Mia, man. That’s my sister. I was with, Mia since she was in the Iberville Projects. I was with, Mia from the jump. I was there when she first hooked up with, Master P. She wanted me to go on the Tank, but we were already doing our thing with, Untouchable Records. We were over there doing our thing. Also, she was with us with, Slaughterhouse Records. Her and J’ RO ‘J kind of fell out. They went their separate ways and the last song me and Mia did together was this song called, “My Buddy,” with Tre-8. Rest in peace, Tre-8. That’s another pioneer in the game. He paved the way for a lot of them.
Your hit, “Hustla” is a New Orleans anthem and even when you perform it today, the energy you bring is crazy and the audience reciprocate it. Are you surprised at the reception you get every time you perform that joint?
Fila Phil: That’s what I be tripping out on, man. It’s like it came out yesterday. Especially with the youth. It’s embedded in they DNA. So, a lot of times when I go to these concerts, a lot of these kids are like 21-years old, that joint came out in 1994, bruh. They have some old heads mixed in, but I’m like, “How these kids know this word for word.” And now I realize, they were brought up in it traditionally. It’s in their DNA. So, when I do concerts… I just did the Lil Weezyana Fest, man. Ah man, I rocked that thing, bruh. Every concert I done did… I have done like 2,000 concerts since I done came out with, “Da Hustla.” So, to still be doing concerts, we got one coming up in November. I’ll keep you posted on that. I hope you be in there, man. As soon as I go out there, I rock it.
It’s so crazy the energy that song brings and you’re talking about some gangsta shit in there.
Fila Phil: And like I tell people, names and places are changed to protect the innocent, but that was real story events. Now, I only do it to re-celebrate the memories. That’s all it is, ya know. We not out there… now, I got kid’s and everything, man. I’m not out there, “Kidnapping babies,” none of that. Back then… shoot, that’s how it was, man coming up in New Orleans; Uptown, Downtown. Rest in peace, Soulja Slim. Another pioneer in the game that we miss. I come up under, Pimp Daddy, bruh. That’s who gave me my jewels coming up in the game. A lot of people don’t speak about, Pimp Daddy.
Back in 94-95 in New Orleans, you had to be doing something just to survive though.
Fila Phil: You had to do something to survive, bruh. Rest in peace to my people like, Grumpy, Sharyan, Butterball, Meatball. A lot of these people were really out there, man. We young, watching them come through the neighborhood. You know back then with 8-Ball jackets and animals [Bally’s] ya heard me.
I always mention, Pimp in my interviews, man. I think he would have been so big if he wasn’t killed so young.
Fila Phil: That’s right, bruh. Pimp Daddy is who I come up under.
I have been reaching out to a lot of New Orleans legends like yourself. I hate googling ya’ll legends name and the last article or interview was from 2011, 2012… I’m making it a personal challenge to let everyone know who ya’ll are.
Fila Phil: Let’s go! We gotta keep it going. This lady from, Shive Magazine just gave me a call too and she was saying the same thing. She even tried to give me the cover to her magazine, so I thought that was blessing right there. We doing it big in the city. Concert coming up. It’s a throwback roster. Every name on there, man. My boy, L.O.G. ain’t on there, man. I was trying to talk to the promoters to put, L.O.G. on there because he’s another pioneer in the game too. “Ya’ll be having G’s we be having Soldier’s.”
Most definitely! You, L.O.G., Joe Blakk and guys like that were the first ones to get away from the bounce and bring the upbeat flow to those bounce beats.
Fila Phil: Shout out to, Joe Blakk. I’m one of the first with the gangsta bounce. We switched it up like that. Everybody was talking about the females and we switched it up to the storytelling with the bounce. That’s what it is right there, man. Much love to my boy, DJ Dickey. They doing the beats right now and everything. There are a lot of pioneers out there; Mannie Fresh. I remember Mannie Fresh did a beat for me at my sister house, man. Right then and there at my sister house. Mannie, Baby, tried to come sign me. I remember Master P, he tried to come sign me back in the day too. I been around, man, since 93-94 putting it down, bruh. I got some new music coming out and I got some new artists coming out.
Do you have any regrets of not signing with one of the big labels who were pursuing you?
Fila Phil: The reason why I’m happy… a lot of people be like… man, at first, I was like, I should have been went with the Tank [No Limit], but I see how the Tank turned out, ya know. And everybody on the Tank knew of me, you know what I’m saying. I was the main one that really never went nationwide until now with the streaming. I’m one of the originals that never really went nationwide the way that they really went nationwide with my music. Some of my original music, you can’t duplicate what I put down at all. They can never duplicate it. I’m gonna make me a Saints song. A “Where My Hustla’s” Saints song and see how that go, ya heard me (laughing).
I have always been a fan of the beats you selected for your albums. Were you hands on with the production?
Fila Phil: Oh yeah-yeah! I was co-producer with some of them beats. I used to beat on the lockers at Carver [High School]. I went to Carver. Shout out to the Carver Rams if ya’ll reading this interview. I used to beat in the hallway. That hustla back then. You catch us in the hallway and we beating, man. I was rapping for the whole school back then. I took some of them beats and I put it in the keyboard and the MPC and all that. People like Tre-8 and Ice Mike duplicated a lot of these beats and we put it together just like that.
Is there anyone you wanted to collaborate with, and it just never happened and is there anyone out there now who you would like to collaborate with?
Fila Phil: Ah man, I wanted to collaborate with, Daddy Yo [R.I.P], Mystikal. That’s one of my favorite rappers and when I see him, he tell me I’m his favorite rapper, ya heard me. But Mystikal is one of my favorite rappers. I always wanted to perform with, Master P. B.G. even though back then we all were robberies, ya know. It’s all good love. But I always wanted to do something with, Master P and B.G. [Lil] Wayne, it was a lot of throwback people. Lady Red, that’s another pioneer, Miss Lady Red, DaShaRa, you see what I’m saying. There a lot of people. Conscious Daughter’s. People don’t know about them. They don’t know about, M.C. Dice. Come on, MAN. G-Slimm, rest in peace, G-Slimm. I could keep naming and naming. MC Thick. They don’t know about MC Thick. He’s one of the pioneers too; Marrero. Ruthless Juveniles, Code-6 are real originals.
Those are some classic names you are naming. It’s an honor to speak with you, my man and I can’t wait to get some new music and concert dates from you. Is there anything else you want to add?
Fila Phil: We live representin on The Hype Magazine. New Orleans, Uptown to Downtown, across the river to Kenner. That’s how we doing it straight up. I got an album that’s going to drop. I’m gonna keep ya’ll updated. Follow me on Instagram @filaphil504, follow me on Twitter and follow me on Facebook.
Be sure to download all Fila Phil’s music available on all streaming platforms.