On the latest episode of “Drink Champs,” N.O.R.E. and DJ EFN sat down with Lost Boyz, discussing their impact on hip hop, journey through the music industry, and the legacy they’ve left behind.
Formed in South Jamaica, Queens in 1993, Lost Boyz was composed of members Mr. Cheeks, Freaky Tah, DJ Spigg Nice, and Pretty Lou. The group made their mark with a distinct blend of party records and street anthems. Their debut single, “Lifestyles of the Rich and Shameless,” in 1995, quickly gained attention and set the stage for their critically acclaimed debut album, Legal Drug Money, in 1996, which peaked at No. 6 on the Billboard 200 and was certified Gold upon its release.
Following up their success, Lost Boyz released Love, Peace, and Nappiness in 1997, which was also RIAA-certified Gold and included hit singles such as “Me and My Crazy World.” Moreover, the group’s earlier track “Renee,” a heartfelt story of love and loss, became one of their most iconic songs, showcasing their versatility and narrative prowess. Unfortunately, the group faced a tragic loss when Tah was fatally shot in 1999, marking a significant turning point in their journey.
Despite the tragedy, Lost Boyz continued to make music, releasing their third album, LB IV Life, in 1999. Meanwhile, Cheeks embarked on a successful solo career, releasing several albums and winning a Grammy for his hit single “Lights, Camera, Action!” Their influence on hip hop, particularly on the East Coast scene, is undeniable with their music continuing to resonate with fans and artists alike. Most recently, the legendary rap group released their fourth project aptly titled Grand Scheme 12:26 in 2020.
To help give fans a recap, REVOLT compiled a list of nine facts we learned from the Lost Boyz “Drink Champs” episode. Check them out below and watch the full interview here.
1. On how Lost Boyz got their name
Kicking the conversation off, Cheeks and Nice revealed the origin behind their group name. After an insightful conversation with an OG from their block, they were compared to the 1987 movie The Lost Boys. Intrigued and inspired by this comparison, they embraced Lost Boyz as their emblematic name.
As recounted by Spigg, “There was a crew around called the Lost Boyz. Born King, he’s in and out in our societies sometimes, so one time he came back, and me and him seen each other on the block. He was like, ‘Every time I come back, y’all is doing y’all handshake and doing all this, and meeting in front of the Coliseum, and blah blah blah. Yo man, y’all acting like Lost Boys. Y’all got people running around like Lost Boys.’ That was one of my favorite movies. You know the movie didn’t come out too long ago.”
2. On “Lifestyles of the Rich and Shameless” being dedicated to the gone and forgotten
When discussing their iconic 1995 track “Lifestyles of the Rich and Shameless,” Lost Boyz provided insight into its creation. The song, a stark commentary on socioeconomic disparities, was born out of their personal experiences and observations of their surroundings. They further highlighted the song’s enduring relevance, emphasizing its message that continues to resonate with listeners even years after its release.
“It’s about the story of drug dealers in our neighborhood. We lost a lot of good dudes that was hustling but giving back to the hood — you know what it was,” Cheeks shared. “Some died with the name and some died nameless. You won’t hear about certain cats that died that was hustling in the hood and got killed. It was just that kind of thought. You don’t really hear about parents that got killed out in Queens.”
3. On their relationship with The Notorious B.I.G.
Both coming up in the ‘90s, Lost Boyz and The Notorious B.I.G. played a prominent role in New York’s hip hop roots. Interestingly, Biggie’s “Big Poppa” almost became an LB record because the late rapper initially refused to rap on the beat, as told by Nashiem Myrik during the “Iconic Records” podcast series. Though the group has never publicly opened up about their relationship with B.I.G., Nice offered a bit of insight into what it was like being around him.
“We had some good memories with B.I.G. Last time I seen him, he was in a wheelchair. He talking about, ‘Spigg, look what [Lil’] Cease did to me.’ I said, ‘I see you, give me that blunt,’” Nice shared.
Cheeks interjected, “He was good peoples, man. No question. We was mad at Pac, we was doing that new [‘Hit Em Up’] s**t, we was kind of revved up.” Later, Nice followed up, stating, “He used to be mad because we was party dudes back in that time.”
4. On the music video for “Jeeps, Lex Coups, Bimaz & Benz”
“Jeeps, Lex Coups, Bimaz & Benz” is a standout hit from their debut album, Legal Drug Money. The single combines a catchy, up-tempo beat with infectious lyrics about car culture and became an anthem of the ’90s scene.
“We had some fun doing that, brought the whole hood out. Shout out to Lincoln Park. All my OGs… The whole neighborhood came out,” Cheeks told N.O.R.E. and EFN. Nice added, “With the bouncing cars, the hydraulic cars, motorcycles. I arranged that.”
5. On meeting Teddy Riley and collaborating with him on “Party Ain’t A Party”
Among their several high-profile collaborations during the ’90s, Lost Boyz teamed up with Queen Pen and Teddy Riley. Sampling Earth, Wind & Fire’s “On Your Face” and executive produced by Riley himself, Cheeks revealed that he pulled up outside his studio in Virginia not expecting the joint effort “Party Ain’t A Party” to happen.
According to the rapper, “We found out where Teddy Riley’s studio was at and we just posted up outside smoking weed. I ain’t know we was even going to connect to get the record with Queen Pen.”
6. On signing to Uptown Records and Andre Harrell not understanding them
Lost Boyz found themselves as outliers when they first signed with Uptown Records in 1995. The label, known predominantly for its R&B artists like Jodeci and Mary J. Blige, took a leap of faith with the hip hop group despite Andre Harrell, the label’s head, admitting he initially struggled to understand their unique style and approach to music. While reminiscing on their first label deal, Nice talked about signing to Uptown and how the label brought the group’s vision to life.
“Tim Dawg basically got us the deal because he was already working up there. He heard him rapping and was like, ‘All right, I’ma put y’all together.’ We went to New York and he introduced us, and he was like, ‘Yo, I f**k with y’all. I want to put y’all really on. I’ma try to introduce y’all to Andre and Uptown.’ I was like, ‘All right, whatever,’” Nice explained.
He continued, “One thing led to another, he did what he said he was going to do. That’s how we got introduced to Uptown Records. Andre, rest in peace, when we signed with him, he didn’t understand us. He had mostly R&B artists. The only rapper was Father MC.”
7. On Canibus allegedly co-managing Lost Boyz
A frequent collaborator of Lost Boyz, Canibus appeared on “Beasts From The East” and the remix of “Music Makes Me High.” Midway through the episode, Nice took a brief minute to shut down rumors that the fellow New York rapper played a part in managing them.
“Canibus was like our manager’s secretary. He was the assistant. He worked with our manager, this that and the third. I remember I heard him say he was co-managing. I heard it, I seen it, I’m just shutting this s**t down because that’s not true,” Nice exclaimed. “I saw him on TV, f**k online. Some n**gas was funny out their mouth.”
8. On Spigg Nice being convicted of multiple bank robberies
Later in the conversation, Nice reflected on the time he faced a significant setback in the early 2000s after being sentenced to a hefty 37 years in federal prison for a series of bank robberies across New Jersey. Despite the harsh sentencing, he emerged after nearly two decades, using the experience as a catalyst for personal growth.
Speaking on his case, Nice shared, “I did 19 1/2 years… My [charges] was attempted bank robbery. S**t happens and s**t didn’t happen. Y’all gotta understand, the government, they vicious,” he stated. “Mine was federal. I learned a lot. It’s an experience. I got a book… I got a lot of s**t going on.”
9. On the tragic story behind their hit song “Renee”
Lost Boyz’s 1996 single “Renee” was released on their RIAA-certified Gold debut album, paying tribute to the tragic real-life story of 18-year-old Ebony Williams. In 1989, Ebony, an innocent bystander, was caught in the crossfire during a drug-related turf dispute in Queens. The young woman was fatally shot at a payphone, and her untimely death fueled the poignant narrative of the legendary track that also samples Janet Jackson’s “Funny How Time Flies (When You’re Having Fun).”
Regarding the tragic situation, Cheeks shared, “It’s real life. ‘Renee’ is a story about a shorty, we all got shorties in our town and all across America… Ebony Williams, she got hit. Basically, everybody’s at Park Jam. Rest in peace, but she took one. It was a lot of things happening.”
Nice chimed in, “You take one story out of that and basically explain it. Things happen like that — you don’t ever hear about a female getting killed, shot, or whatever. Nowadays you do, but back then, that was kind of rare.”
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