On the latest episode of “Drink Champs,” N.O.R.E. and DJ EFN sat down with Tash and DJ E-Swift of Tha Alkaholiks to discuss their career, memorable collaborations, and more.
The Los Angeles-based trio, which also featured J-Ro, emerged in the early ‘90s. They built a buzz on the West Coast after they signed with Loud Records and released their debut album, 21 & Over. As time moved on, Tha Liks continued to drop new projects and they got the opportunity to collaborate with a list of reputable artists including Xzibit, Q-Tip, and Pharrell. Almost a decade after their first project dropped, their 2001 Neptunes-produced track “Best U Can” became a minor hit and peaked at No. 64 on Billboard’s R&B/Hip Hop charts.
Although Tha Liks never fully achieved mainstream success, the group has built a sizable global fanbase over the years. Their unique blend of party music and hardcore hip hop also served as a blueprint for later acts to follow.
To help give fans a recap, REVOLT compiled a list of nine facts that we learned from Tha Alkaholiks interview. Check them out below.
1. On King T Being One of The Notorious B.I.G.’s Inspirations
King T, who was one of Compton’s earliest hip hop artists, mentored Tha Liks early on in their career. Then, after the group became famous, they received the opportunity to tour alongside The Notorious B.I.G. On “Drink Champs,” Tash revealed that B.I.G. once told them that he was inspired by their mentor. “Biggie used to tell us daily that [King T] was his favorite rapper,” he said. “Go back to King T’s Act a Fool album and think of Biggie in your head. You’re going to think it’s the same person.”
2. On the Origin of Their Name
It shouldn’t be a surprise that their love for drinking inspired the group’s name. But E-Swift also told N.O.R.E. and EFN that the idea to adopt the moniker originally came from King T.
“We were known for drinking, don’t get it twisted. We were drunks,” he said. But me and J-Ro was sitting at King T’s house and he had an idea to have a group called Tha Alkaholiks where it was going to be him, myself, J-Ro, and we needed another member. Which was obviously Tash because he was the illest nigga.”
3. On The East Coast Showing Love
During their rise to fame, Tha Liks received love from both the East Coast and West Coast. E-Swift explained that he believes that their unique sound, which was unlike most of the West Coast hip hop music being created at the time, was the reason why. “We spent a lot of time in New York,” he said. “It was to the point that when our music started getting out there, people didn’t realize that we were from the West Coast [because of our sound].”
4. On Sobriety
After years of heavy drinking, Tash’s rockstar lifestyle caught up with him. He said that he experienced a series of breakthrough moments and finally decided to officially adopt sobriety. “I don’t think it was one moment, I think there was an accumulation of a whole bunch of moments,” Tash said. “I met a girl and I realized that I was fucking up a lot. I partied for like 12 years straight. Every day, I was waking up not serious about shit. So, my sweetheart pulled me aside and told me, ‘You’re better than that.’ I checked myself into a program.”
5. On Never Getting a Chance to Work With J Dilla
Although E-Swift produced most of Tha Liks’ tracks, they also rhymed off beats from other producers. E-Swift revealed on “Drink Champs” that the group was once lined up to work with J Dilla, but they never got the opportunity because the late Detroit producer got sick. “I talked to him,” he said. “We had so much shit going on that it just never happened. We would have loved to work with him, of course. He’s one of my favorites.”
6. On Helping Wu-Tang Get Signed to Loud Records
In the ‘90s, Loud had an impressive roster that included artists such as Tha Liks, Mobb Deep, and Wu-Tang Clan, among many artists. During the interview, E-Swift told a story about how he encouraged Loud exec Steve Rifkind to sign the Clan after witnessing their skills. “They were buzzing in the streets and I had a meeting with Steve Rifkind and RZA came in and bum-rushed our meeting,” he said. “And one by one, they just started rapping. So, they came in there and they just bounced. And [Steve] was like, ‘What just happened?’ I was like, ‘I don’t know what the fuck that was, but you better not let them get out this building without signing them motherfuckers.’ Next thing you know, they had a record deal.”
7. On Trying to Get Eminem a Record Deal
In addition to pushing Rifkind to sign Wu-Tang, E-Swift also said that he once brought Eminem to Loud while the Detroit emcee was still on the rise. However, the exec wasn’t sold on the idea. “I tried to take a few people to Steve,” he said. “Eminem was one of them. He passed on him, though. When [Eminem] got to Dre’s hands, King T was signed to aftermath at that time. Dr. Dre had to roll the dice [between the two] and Eminem took off.”
8. On Working With The Neptunes
In the early aughts, The Neptunes were on fire after they produced a laundry list of successful records for N.O.R.E., Mystikal, JAY-Z, and more. According to E-Swift, he randomly bumped into Pharrell in Los Angeles during that time and the moment led to the creation of “Best U Can,” which ultimately became one of their biggest hits. “It kind of organically happened,” he said. “We didn’t go looking for Pharrell. I was like our budget [wasn’t] that deep. I ran into him at Dublin’s [Pub] in L.A. He was like, ‘I got some records I want to play you.’ So, he came to my crib and played me the two records. I was like it’s not really our sound. We were at a point where we were trying to do bigger shit. Pharrell was doing bigger shit. He had the vision. We went with it, and it worked.”
9. On Having Creative Control at Loud Records
The stories of battles between artists and their labels over their material are endless in the music industry. But E-Swift told the “Drink Champs” hosts that Loud permitted them to have full creative control during the days that they were signed to the label. “Loud let us do what we wanted, period,” he said. “That was one of the key things that kept us there for years. We turned in an album and that was the album. It wasn’t no ‘Go back and fix this’ or ‘We need one of these kinds of songs.’”
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