By Lauren Wise
By New Times
By Amanda Savage
By Jason P. Woodbury
By Troy Farah
By New Times
By Derek Askey
"Fuck that, we're positive!" a dissenting number of voices shouts back as Erel interjects. "We're positive. We're also grimy, hardcore and intelligent. All that stuff . . ."
"But we were totally on the other side of the spectrum," Veteran Virus says. "Talking about smoking crack, smoking weed, killing people, burning the Bible, all this crazy shit, so people were like 'oooh' and nobody was giving us two seconds to hear what we had. Even gangsta hip-hop [doesn't] talk about any of those subjects."
"The things we speak about, we don't necessarily do, but it's on our minds," Joey Baggz explains. "In our everyday lives, everyone here is a responsible member of the community with the exception of Gutta. He's a hooligan."
Everyone laughs. As for the FAQ of being a role model, Baggz maintains, "I think we are role models. If a kid came up to us for guidance, we'd give them the right answers. But we're entertainers, too, and sometimes you have to push a couple of envelopes. That's what gets people to listen."
In the whole crew, there's probably no one who's pushing more reams of envelopes than Sun Sun Slaughterhouse. On the new video for "The Hack Pack," a comedic takeoff on the smarmy Frank-Dean-Sammy axis of Vegas schmooze, Gutta reiterates the brutality he will inflict in gangsta matter-of-fact terms, and Indrid breaks down the violence in surgical detail, but it's Sun who derives the greatest glee in reminding the audience "it's time for y'all to die" and then starts to riff on cannibalism, necrophilia and Christianity. In that order.
"He says shit the average person might think but is afraid to say," Erel says. "We got a song on the record called 'Down' that says . . ." at this point, a half-dozen of the crew chime in "I'm down with the Ku Klux Klan, down with the Satanists, I'm down with the Black Panthers, down with rapists."
"It was done right after 9/11 and everyone was uptight about everything," Judgment says. "When we did 'Down' at the release party and said 'I'm down with the Twin Towers,' people got really offended and walked out."
Far removed from his blood-splattering second self, Sun thoughtfully allows, "It's just stating the fact that it's up to the person to decide what's good and what's not. So basically I'm just saying, 'I'm down with it all, the good and the bad.'"
Judgment adds, "Just because everybody might be afraid to touch a 9/11 topic, Sun's gonna do it. Jack Spairo's gonna do it."
Spairo's one of the few crew members not present today. "He just got his green card," Erel says. "He's an actual refugee from Iraq and one of the dopest MCs in the world. He'll kill Bush in one verse, Saddam the next."
Armed with all this talent, the Society set out to make sure people heard of them. "From 8 o'clock to 2 in the morning, we were putting up 800 posters a night," Erel says. They've also done something unheard of in band marketing promotion tours where all they do is go into a city they're not even playing in and totally bombard it with fliers. They managed to sell more than 6,000 copies of that first CD through the Internet, guerrilla promotion and word of mouth. "A lot of people have been in the AZ scene for years and still don't have that respect. We gained that respect by taking that respect," Erel says.
The Babygrande four-record deal allows for this first record to come out as a "buzz-getter," letting people know who they are. "This record we're releasing now is a lazy record, to be honest with you," Erel says. "We didn't even try, that's how good it is. I know it might sound conceited, but we were just getting drunk, high, partying and said, 'Let's put down a verse.' The next album (Episode 19, due out in March 2007), we're gonna put our whole heart into it. The next album will go down as one of the 20 best hip-hop albums. That's on the record."
Even before that happens, you're gonna hear a Dead Beats instrumental album and a Rok spoken-word album. Sneaky Pete has two albums completed, but he's in prison now, so you may hear a bootleg release of one of them, but they will all be released through Babygrande in conjunction with Geist Audio Records.
Without any intended irony, Erel promises, "You're gonna see a lot of the Invisibles."