As one-half of the East Oakland, California, multi-platinum Hip-Hop duo, Luniz, Jerold Dwight Ellis, professionally known as Yukmouth, is definitely a legend in his own right.
Luniz initially hit pay dirt thanks to their, still-to-this-day, popular weed anthem, “I Got 5 on It, an interpolation of the Club Nouveau classic, “Why You Treat Me So Bad,” which appeared on their 1995 million-plus selling group debut, Operation Stackola [Noo Trybe/Virgin]. Nearly two and a half years later, the rap two-some returned with their gold certified sophomore set, Lunitik Muzik. Following their second release as a collective, Yuk inexplicably split from his, then, partner-in-rhyme, Numskull, taking his burgeoning Smoke-A-Lot imprint down south to Mr. J Prince’s Rap-A-Lot Empire.
“I think when I signed with J Prince, it started the beef between me and Numskull,” Yuk believes wholeheartedly. Re-assessing the situation, he recalls, “I don’t know why, but Num started dissin’ me outta nowhere and I was feelin’ funny about the contract when I left C-Note Records saying they can get a new member of the Luniz, and I’m kicked out the group. […] But, shit squashed [now] […] me, Numskull and C&H did another Luniz album on Rap-A-Lot called Silver & Black.”
Yukmouth’s first solo outing,Thugged Out: The Albulation, at that particular time, a ground-breaking double CD, emerged in November of ’98, moving well-over 500,000 units, and garnering favorable reviews from fans and critics alike.
Flash forward…Over the course of the last eleven years, and four hit records, later, and Yuk, who also moonlights as a member of the Thug Lordz, alongside Sac-town’s own, C-Bo, returned this past summer with, arguably, his most well rounded project-to-date, the aptly named, Free At Last.
On the nineteen-track entry, the, now, 36-year-old, Grammy-nominated emcee is joined by a plethora of peers and friends in the biz; including, Ya Boy, Jay Rock, Young Money’s Gudda Gudda, Tity Boi from Playaz Circle, Messy Marv, Choppa City, Roccett, 2Eleven, Mistah F.A.B., Chop Black formerly of The Whoridas, Dru Down, Curren$y, Richie Rich, Beeda Weeda, 3X Krazy’s Agerman, L.E.P./Bogus Boys, Kafani, Shade Nate, Lee Majors and up ‘n’ coming singer Jannine V. Free At Last, the follow-up to last year’s star-studded The West Coast Don, is his second solo collection sans Rap-A-Lot, a partnership that had been in place since his premiere solo offering more than a decade ago.
“I’m no longer on Rap-A-Lot Records, I’m signed to my own label, Smoke-A-Lot Records. It’s no problem with me and Rap-A-Lot Records, we just decided to part ways,” Yuk clarifies, when asked about the sudden dissolution from his, former, parent company. Re-iterating, the self-proclaimed “Worldwide Mobb Figga” is humbled, “[…] I grew up on Rap-A-Lot music, so to be signed was a dream come true. Shout out to J Prince for lettin’ me do my thang and supporting my solo career through all the years — One hunid!”
Free At Last is only a small example of all that Yuk has in store for the coming months. With immediate plans to continue building his Smoke-A-Lot brand, 2010, ’11 and beyond, is looking more-than promising for the self-made musical millionaire. There’s his impressive roster of talent–Thuglordz (him & BO), whose just launched Thug Money is now available at all major digital and retail outlets, The Regime, Dru Down, Kuzzo Fly, Chop Back, T-Lew & Lil Hyfe–continuations of the popular compilation series United Ghettos of America, entited Passport and Eye Candy Volume 2, and his next solo body of work, tentatively titled Thug’n & Mob’n. And, of course God willing, another Luniz LP may also be on deck. “[Numskull’s] locked up in jail, so when he gets out we doin’ another Luniz album. […] FREE NUMSKULL!” Yuk loudly shouts.
“In the future, I’m droppin’ more movies. My DVD game about to step back up to an all-time high. Also, look out for the movies I’m starring in, like, FIVE-K-ONE, starring Clifton Powell and Melvin Jackson Jr. from HBO’s THE WIRE — The future lookin’ real bright for da kid!” Yukmouth announces excitedly, and then, sounding very grateful, reflects on his storied history, “I wouldn’t change nothin’ because the shit I went through as an artist made me and gave me the game I needed to start and run my own record label.
In closing, Yukmouth, who has nothing but love for those millions of devoted followers who have had his back, literally, from his whole inception into music, graciously concludes, “Shout out to all my fanz dats been holdin’ a ni99a down since day one, without Y’all I’m nothin’! So, keep supportin’ me, and I’ll keep droppin’ HEAT ROCKS 4 Y’all! Check me out on twitter.com/tharealyukmouth, myspace.com/yukmouth, and www.smokealotrecords.com — The game is to be SOLD not TOLD…INDEPENDENT iz the way to GO!”