Interviews

Published on March 31st, 2020 | by Percy Crawford

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Lil Ya from the Legendary Group UNLV Talks, New Music, a Movie and Documentary!

Don’t call it a comeback!

The dictionary definition of the word, comeback is, “A return by a well-known person, especially an entertainer or sports player, to the activity in which they have formerly been successful.” This doesn’t apply to legendary New Orleans group, UNLV. Group member, Lil Ya has held the group down for years following the tragic murder of group member, Yella Boy in 1997 and other member, Tec-9’s lengthy incarceration. The trio ran the 90’s and beyond. They actually never went anywhere, they have just been reduced in numbers… that is until Tec-9’s release which, Ya hints could be sooner rather than later. The group and its impact on the New Orleans music scene was highlighted on an episode of Netflix’s popular series, “Hip Hop Evolution.” Lil Ya is currently working on new music, a documentary as well as a movie about the group’s history all while running his 6NB record label. This isn’t a comeback, it’s a reintroduction and Ya is on the front lines to make sure it’s a successful reintroduction.

During our recent convo, Ya reveals how a Magnolia Slim/Soulja Slim feature caused a fallout with Cash Money Records, salutes bounce legend, 5th Ward Weebie and talks about his new artist, Yung Alz (Tec-9’s son)!

What’s good with you?

Lil Ya: I’ve been grinding, bruh. Trying to stay safe and keep the family safe and prayed up. But at the same time, I’ve been working like a dog, bruh. Trying to get some new music to ya’ll, trying to get this documentary done and also, we’re working on this movie.

That is one of the benefits of smart phones and the internet, although everything is on pause right now, you’re still able to work and create.

Lil Ya: Right! That is a blessing there, bruh. I try not to move around too much right now because of the virus, so it’s just been phone and internet. Using emails and stuff like that.

It also looks like you’re working on a joint project with, Diezel DaBeast.

Lil Ya: Yeah, that’s an EP that I just finished with my guy, Diezel DaBeast. He’s actually a part of, Kidd Kidd company. You know, Nut… Kidd Kidd. He roll with him a lot. A guy from Uptown. A young cat. I had a little leisure time and I wanted to work with a younger cat that wasn’t a part of my label. Someone that I wasn’t really affiliated with. I found one. We nailed it. Real unique style. He’s very original and that’s what I look at and talent. I really look for originality. So, I found that in him and I brought it to him. He was interested in doing it, so I was like, “Yeah man, let’s knock it out. We did an EP called, “Big Boy EP.” Hopefully that’ll be out this week.

That’s ironic that it’s called, “Big Boy EP” given the history you once had with Big Boy Records. This is your full circle EP. Big Boy used to be affiliated with an adversary, now it’s all love.

Lil Ya: Yeah… right. I haven’t even thought about that (laughing). I didn’t even think about that. that’s tight too.

I’m not sure I even understood the importance of UNLV, but since I have been speaking with other prominent New Orleans rappers, Mr. Serv-On in particular who thought you guys were royalty. Do you ever sit back and think of not just the importance of the group, but impact you guys had on so many?

Lil Ya: Sometimes I think about all the things that we done and the goals that we reached, but I feel like we’re underrated. People don’t give us our full credit. At the same time, I’m real humble because I feel like, I haven’t done anything yet. So, when I work, I approach the job as if my name is a nobody. That’s really how we try to stay consistent and get a lot of good work in by not looking at the name. I appreciate, Serv-On. Serv-On was one of the guys we looked up to coming up. Not for the music, but in the hood. He is a little older than us and we used to run around those guys. Him and my cousin, Ronald Bell and a few more cats. We looked up to them. They really respected us on their level even before we were rapping. Just being those guys; the women, the clothes and all that kind of stuff. You know, our reputation was always up to par. I do appreciate him for stating the fact that he respected us on the music end, but on the other end, they were those dudes, dawg. You know what I’m saying. I appreciate it.

Tell us about the label and Yung Alz.

Lil Ya: Ah man, we have several labels that are LLCed already, but I think we gonna put, Alz on 6 NB Entertainment. He’s going to be the first release on there. He’s Tec-9 biological son. The guy extraordinary, bruh. He’s real dope. He’s tight. He got the younger wave behind him. He has a following and Texas really-really love him. He’s from New Orleans and he’s got that New Orleans swagger, but I love the way Texas opened their arms up for him. He’s doing a few shows. He’s opening up for me right now. Tec on lock, but we just received some good news that he will be home real soon. Sooner than we thought. Alz gonna be a force to be reckoned with, bruh. They better watch out for him.

I know you have been in communication with, Tec. How is he holding up?

Lil Ya: Ah man, he’s doing good, bruh. He’s doing real good. He just got his GED. He was like second in the class academically. He holding it down, dawg. He’s in good spirits, he ain’t getting in no trouble he kicked the habit and everything. Everything all good with him, bruh.

For those who don’t know, on the “Mac Melph Calio” album, you guys are the ones that introduced Magnolia Slim to the world. He later became known as Soulja Slim, but his breakout was on that album on the song, “Come Up.” What was your relationship with, Slim like?

Lil Ya: That was my dude, bruh. We both from the 3rd Ward. That was somebody that we actually tried to get signed to Cash Money. We also fell out with Cash Money behind getting him on that song. We went through hell getting him on that song, simply because he wasn’t a part of the label and if you know Cash Money history back in the G, it’s like, if you wasn’t a part of Cash Money, you wasn’t doing any features or nothing like that. So, we batted for him and a whole studio session actually stopped because of that. We wanted him on a song, and they didn’t want to do it. So, we were like, “We not doing the song.” So, they stopped the studio session. A week later they called back, and they were like, “Alright dawg, ya’ll won the battle. We gonna let ya’ll do it with him.” He spit on that bitch too. That was my dude, dawg. Of course, everybody know, he was like the fucking Tupac of New Orleans. Real dude, bruh. I love that lil nigga, man.

Even though he died so young, he was a major loss to the city, but he made his imprint.

Lil Ya: Oh yeah, he definitely did. He reminds me a lot of Biggie Smalls in the sense of, he didn’t have a large body of work, but what he had was so classic and timeless, that he’s marked as one of the greatest.

We recently lost 5th Ward Weebie as well. I know you have worked with him in the past. In what ways were you guys connected?

Lil Ya: That was my dude, bruh. That was my dude from Downtown. We didn’t have a relationship like we had with, Slim. But Weebie was the type of guy, anytime he needed us we were there for him and anytime we needed him he was there for us. I can remember there was a drought time for him at one point. Nobody wasn’t really fucking with him. He didn’t have any music out or whatever. And we had a song called, “Walk Like a Model.” And we put him on the remix of, “Walk Like a Model.” We done the Teen Summit that year. We done that remix with, Weebie and we actually let him bring us on stage. Man, that dude ripped it up. So, I got nothing but respect for Weebie, bruh. I’m sorry for his loss and prayers and strength for his family. He’s definitely one of the kings of bounce.

Tell us about the documentary and the movie that you are working on.

Lil Ya: As far as the movie, it’s kind of hard right now because the guy we had playing, Mystikal was my cousin. We called him, “Trill.” He ended up getting murdered about a month ago. He played an important part in the movie. So, we have to cast another person for that character. He was playing the role of Mystikal and he also was playing my, Uncle Hardy in the movie. Of course, when the beef started with Mystikal… people wanna really know that, so that’s a part of the movie. So, we are casting another person for that role. We really didn’t put it on hold, but we said, let’s knock the doc out right quick and the trailer for the movie. As far as the documentary, it would’ve been out April 1st, but last night I got a call from my guy who is doing it, and he told me that one of the fans on his computer broke. So, hopefully today we will have another fan for it, and he can finish editing it and shit. It’s shot and everything it’s just in the phase of getting edited.

Are you satisfied with how it came out?

Lil Ya: Oh yeah! It’s dope, bruh. I won’t speak too much on it because I want people to see it, but I tell you what, if you did see, “Hip Hop Evolution” on Netflix, it’s a lot doper than that, bruh. You get a lot more in depth of a UNLV story, you know what I’m saying.

I can’t wait for it. For anyone who haven’t peeped out the New Orleans addition of, “Hip Hop Evolution” on Netflix. It’s a must see. So, I know the documentary is going to be amazing.

Lil Ya: I had a ball doing it, man. Shots out to Netflix and the guys behind it. They reached out to me and everything went good with it, bruh.

Always appreciate your time. You will forever be a legend in my eyes, and I can’t wait for all these things you have cooking up come to fruition. Give me some closing thoughts, my man.

Lil Ya: I want to remind them again about my solo album that will be out in probably another 2-months called, “Legend In My Prime.” Me and Tec keep shit in the archives, so we have new songs that we will always pop out on em. We have a single called, “True Color’s,” that’s tearing up the airways right now. Ya’ll get that, it’s on all major streaming sites right now. We will be working on a new UNLV album when Tec touchdown and look out for Yung Alz, man. Everything you hear my voice on or you see I’m featured on, fuck with it because I gave you my best, ya dig. Also, follow me on social media, on Instagram it’s lilyaunlv3, my Facebook is Ya’Phat Unlv. I ain’t hard to find, man. Just look me up. I’m sure everybody thinking that we gone or whatever. We still here and we working.



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