G-Side, the Huntsville, Alabama, rap duo consisting of ST 2 Lettaz and Yung Clova have split up.
“It just felt like it was time,” ST told me over the phone yesterday, on his way to a performance in Austin, Texas. “It was time to go elsewhere creatively. We’ve been doing records since 2004. You just grow up and grow out and that’s kind of the case.” The end of G-Side felt like it was a long time coming, according to ST, though he makes it clear that there’s no bad blood: “I wish there was something juicy, but it’s like, there’s no big drama behind it, man. There was no fall-out, no fight, you know what I mean?” The break-up arrives at the moment when the group has hit something of an Internet rap ceiling after last fall’s iSLAND, a moodier, low-key release that was quite good, but also seemed to be taken for granted by fans and critics.
Their next move, it seemed, was to aim higher, but how? “We needed a fresh start or a fresh look; it had gotten stale,” ST admits about the partnership. “Though we were still working, which is the great thing about it — that we were still working — the whole hype had died down.” G-Side’s future hinged on either a major change to the group’s musical approach, or signing to a major label. And G-Side were well aware that signing to a major label would likely end in frustration. In David Peisner’s piece on the group, from last year’s November issue of SPIN, they explained how a cruel-major label deal was put in front of their faces back in 2006. They outright rejected it. In the piece, Clova seemed to foreshadow the group’s end when he told Peisner, “This might be the last album…Either this album is gonna make us or it ain’t. Struggling, trying to pay your rent — it gets old.”
Last Thursday, at their Hopscotch Music Festival performance in Raleigh, North Carolina, ST took the stage alone, accompanied only by back-up singer Joi Tiffany and producer CP of the Block Beattaz. He made no comment about Clova’s absence, and though the performance was a highlight of the festival, it did feel like something was off. “He needs a hypeman,” more than one fan in the crowd commented, seemingly unaware that G-Side’s appeal was always the interplay between ST and Clova. ST’s set also ended with two songs from his upcoming solo EP, R.E.B.E.L.. Over the past few weeks, Clova has been releasing a flurry of songs onto Twitter under the umbrella, Lambo Music Group.
ST remains with Slow Motion Soundz, the label that released all five G-Side albums: “I’m Slow Mo ’til the world blows. So, for me, the formula remains about the same: It’s still gonna be me and the Block Beattaz, that’ll be the product.” G-Side’s next album, G…Growth & Development, will now be released under ST’s name. “It will be an ST album,” he emphasizes. “It’s the real, album-album, which will drop either December or January and it’s still going to going to be Block Beattaz-produced. It will be the big event.” When it comes to G-Side getting back together at some point, ST says you shouldn’t rule it out: “Not saying it will never happen again, but right now, we’re just two grown men focusing on ourselves. As artists and as men.”
The two solo songs that ST played at Hopscotch were “This Ain’t Living,” a Marvin Gaye-sampling track produced by S.L.A.S.H., and “We Are The People,” a dance-friendly track that nods back to G-Side’s post-rock-meets-trance-party aesthetic of Starshipz & Rocketz and Huntsville International. As for R.E.B.E.L., which stands for “rethink every belief ever learned,” ST is looking at a release date of September 17, the day before a now-solo Brooklyn show at Glasslands.
Below is the ST-directed video for “Wishing Well,” a track that won’t be on the solo album, but is “the first look” at his solo career. “It’s about a lot of the jealousy in the industry and in the streets,” he explains, “because we still in the hood, and you get a lot of well-wishers who really want to see you fall in the wishing well, instead of do well.”