NYG’z – Street Level
Monday December 17th 2007,
Filed under: Bronx Bombers,Features,Interviews,Steady Bootleggin',Video Clips
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Here’s a drop from Bill Zimmerman, who originally penned this feature for another mag we worked at which is currently “on hiatus”:

The NYG’z have little to show in the way of musical output after years on DJ Premier‘s Year Round label, but they’re about to be rewarded for their patience. After a few 12-inch singles and a “street” album, Shabeeno and Panchi are working on a proper debut that will be entirely produced by their legendary boss. Only a few MC’s have had the privilege to rap over a full-length collection of Premo beats, and when any rumors of all-Premier produced projects emerge, the topic usually sets off a frenzy of speculation among underground rap fans. (Remember the prospect of a Nas/Premo album?) Soon the Bronx duo will join the likes of Guru, Group Home and Jeru The Damaja in an exclusive group of artists who have worked on entire albums with Premier.

Even the gruff-voiced Panchi, real name Andre Davis, admitted that the pressure to deliver can be intimidating. “It’s dope though because it’s going to generate interest,” he said. “I don’t care if they say it’s dope. I don’t care if they say it’s wack. I just care that they say.” In October the NYG’z released Welcome to G-Dom, a collection of new and previously-released material featuring a handful of producers – including DJ Premier – and a slew of guest rappers. It’s a quality introduction, but the NYG’z prefer to think of it as a “street” album, an introduction of what’s to come with their official debut, Pros & Cons. According them, that disc will be short on guests and big on originality. “They (listeners) can expect a brand new sound from a brand new group,” Panchi said. “And Premier is going get the most of that sound we need. So after you hear the static on the record, when you hear the beat drop, you’ll know that’s NYGz without all the music sounding exactly the same.”

Despite Panchi’s quote, the NYG’z are hardly a brand new group. They’ve been friends since the ’80s and they’re connection to Premier and Guru goes back to when Gang Starr released their debut, No More Mr. Nice Guy. Listeners first heard Panchi in 1997 on a skit from O.C.‘s second album, Jewelz. Shortly after that, a three-year prison stint would put his rap dreams on hold. According to Panchi, authorities found $60,000 in his possession during a search at an airport in St. Louis and became suspicious. “The DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration) said it was drug money,” he said. “They seized my money. The FBI let me go because it wasn’t a federal offense. They didn’t find any federal offenses, but the DEA seized my money and Missouri took up a case. They gave me a stealing charge, said I stole the money.” Through a phone call from prison in 1998, he would provide the intro for the Gang Starr track “Betrayal” from Moment of Truth, an album that also featured Shabeeno on the “The Mall.” They joined forces with Gang Starr in 2003 on “Same Team, No Games” from the group’s final album, The Ownerz. Since the early ’00s, they’ve been signed to Year Round. When asked to explain the lapse between their signing date and a full-length release, Panchi responded “That’s a Premier question.” All Shabeeno offered was “Premier had too much on his plate.”

Panchi is by far the more talkative of the two, but both men are friendly. However, on the mic they can be as brutal as any of the most hardened MC’s. Take for example the Premier-produced “N.H.B.”, a scathing rant against censorship in hip-hop with their label mate Blaq Poet that targets Don Imus, Al Sharpton and New York City police officers among others. “Al you’re buggin’, concentrate on the trial/Make sure they rot in a cell for what they did to Sean Bell,” Sha raps. “I feel like it starts at home,” Panchi said about censorship. “Like as soon as the song comes on and it says, ‘Fuck you bitch, suck my dick.’ You should know that you don’t want your 7-year-old to hear that. When we were children, our parents didn’t play Richard Pryor albums while they cleaned the house. They played them while we were sleeping at night.”

For a crew that has designated themselves giants in the birth place of hip-hop, it’s no surprise that they also carry strong views about the city’s diminished presence in rap. “New York turned into a bunch of followers opposed to being trendsetters,” Panchi said. “That’s why you hear New York songs sounding like down-south songs…I’m going to go out on a limb and say it. It’s going to be hard to get that 1993 Bad Boy-quality music out again. Until Premier focuses and locks in with us, and we get it poppin’ again.”
When asked how they would set themselves apart from their peers, Sha, real name Eric Jackson, got hype for the first time in the interview. “We’re going to be us,” he said. “We ain’t going to be like nobody. We don’t sound like nobody. We gonna set a path.”
Panchi said he hoped the NYG’z become a movement. “We’re planning to have a whole lot of NYG’z following us real soon,” Sha added. And what does it take to be an NYG? “It takes being real,” Panchi said. “Being honest and keeping your word and being good to your family and your friends.”

NYG’z @ MySpace

NYG’z – “Strength”

“Ya Dayz R#’D” video:

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7 Comments so far
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Great piece, Bill. “Pros & Cons” could be dope, I don’t see how they could be worse than Group Home at rapping.

Comment by AaronM 12.17.07 @

We already heard them on the Ill Kid compilation, way before 97.

Anyway props to Year Round for pressing up vinyl for “Welcome To G-Dom”.

Comment by Krisch 12.17.07 @

NYG’z = dopeness

nothing fancy, nothing too complicated, or over the top…just hardcore hip hop


Comment by AFFECKS 12.18.07 @

They’re far better rappers than Group Home and they have better voices too.

If you want some uncomplicated hard aggressive NY rap then these guys are currently your best best since Screwball are dead, M.O.P are caught in label-limbo and newer people like Uncle Murda are just silly.

Welcome 2 G-Dom could’ve been perfect had it been 12 – 13 tracks.

Comment by Brian Beck From Wisconsin 12.18.07 @

I’d like to see them work with Pete Rock again as well as Premo.

Comment by dragondude_r 12.18.07 @

NYG’z are the bizness, Pros and Cons will be dope – My favorite group since M.O.P.

Comment by Backtrack 12.19.07 @

NYGz baby!!!

Comment by werd 01.12.08 @

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