In 1988, hip-hop purists criticized Kid ‘N Play for their colorfully confounding wardrobe, fun loving music and signature dances. However, it was those same quirks that solidified their place as hip-hop icons with platinum sales and a movie franchise. In 2010, L.A. duo The New Boyz face similar scrutiny for wearing skinny jeans and spreading a catchy dance craze called “jerkin,” but they’re following in the footsteps of the 2 Hype duo whom they say they admire.
With their singles “Cricketz” and “Tie Me Down” (off their debut album, Skinny Jeanz and a Mic) still climbing charts, the 18-year-old teenie boppers have solidified their place in a climate where it’s hard to be remembered. Here, the New Boyz talk to VIBE about their summer sophomore LP, the new direction of their music and respecting their elders. ⎯Starrene Rhett
VIBE: You guys get a lot of hate for wearing skinny jeans and even defend your fashion sense in “Cricketz.” Is it that serious?
Legacy: With skinny jeans, we’re not trippin’ on it. We made that song “Cricketz” and we just put it out there. There’s a lot of people like, “They wear skinny jeans, I don’t mess with them like that,” but we didn’t come into the game saying we wear skinny jeans so you have to wear skinny jeans. We came into the game saying this is our swag and if you don’t like it, you don’t have to like it but don’t hate on it. And of course people gonna hate on it anyway and talk down on it. But I’m like why you worried about what another dude is wearing? Worry about your own swag.
Ben J: It’s like crickets make all that noise at night but when you go up to one it shuts up. That’s what everybody does to us, especially on the Internet. That’s why we call them crickets. But it is what it is and we gonna keep saying what we gonna have to say and they cant do nothing about it.
You guys represent a 180 from the stereotype of what West Coast rappers used to be. Do you consider yourselves part of the new rap movement coming out of that region?
Ben J: No. We’re West Coast artists but we’re not really labeled anything. Hip-hop wise⎯I mean⎯if hip-hop was only that lyrical Talib Kweli type stuff⎯no disrespect⎯but if it was all that it would only have a select amount of listeners. Hip-hop is so cool because it has so much different types. They got hyphe, they got that down south stuff, they got what we do with the jerkin movement, they got the lyrical stuff so it makes hip-hop even bigger because you got more to listen to.
Legacy: All it is, is we’re not labeled as gangsta rap but we still rep the west to the fullest.
Ben J: You ain’t gotta rap about guns and killing people to be the realest rapper out there, you can rap about ice cream and be real.
Legacy: Word, you have people that rap about ice cream who are realer than the people who rap about guns and killing people but never did it in their life.
Ice Cube recently made some comments about how newer West Coast artists need to respect the OGs more, which angered some of the newer cats in the game. What’s your response?
Legacy: We’d never consider disrespecting a legend. We got the most respect for Ice Cube, Game, everybody.
Even though you don’t necessarily consider yourselves traditional rappers, did you look up to Ice Cube?
Ben J: Yeah. Everybody looked up to him. It’s not like I listened to all his music and had all his albums but it was Ice Cube and he was the most talked about on the west so we looked up to him.
Speaking of legends, Snoop Dogg seems to like you guys.
Legacy: Snoop Dogg shows a lot of love to the movement and that’s real because a lot of people in the west are like, “I don’t mess with them because they wear skinny jeans” but it don’t matter what you wear, it just matters if you’re putting on. And Snoop Dogg realized if he sees you working hard, if he’s seen everybody working hard, everybody who was doing the whole jerk music and making their own money working hard, he respects that. And that’s love right there. So, shout out to Snoop Dogg!
Your next album is scheduled to drop this summer. Will it have the same jerky vibe as the first?
Ben J: This one is more for the ladies because on our first album we was more trying to express ourselves like this is what we do and don’t care. All the girls were like, “Y’all was mean to the girls on the first album.” So this time we want to show the girls that we love them, we know how to be gentlemen.
Legacy: We’ve been in the studio for the past two months working on it. We’re 30 songs in. We’re relaxed with it this time. The first one we did, we had to rush and put it out fast but with this one, we actually had time to do what we want to do. I think a lot of people that wasn’t feeling us on the first album is gonna start changing what they feel because this album is gonna be really dope.
Why are artists like you and Souljah boy becoming increasingly more popular?
Legacy: Because we’re bringing the fun back to hip-hop. Before, they had the whole break dancing thing, they used to make dance tracks and they was partying but then they started getting into gangster rap and people was taking each other too serious. And I think the listeners are realizing that. Now they’re having more fun too and are supporting it even harder. So we’re bringing the fun back.
Almost like a new age Kid ‘N Play?
Ben J: Shout out to Kid ‘N Play those are the brothers. They were talking about trying to do a movie with us too. Stay tuned.