by Tony D'Souza
St. Louis's hip hop super group BlockNButta has been opening for the recent string of huge acts hosted at North County's The Ambassador, including T.I., 8Ball & MJG, and Bun B. This Friday, they'll be headlining Jaam Star Entertainment's Spring Jam Fest at Premier Lounge (8 p.m.-1:30 a.m., all proceeds go to Hope in Christ Ministries, which works with the homeless).
Though their infectious single, 'Dolla Afta Dolla,' not to mention the $1,000,000 check from Sony posted on their website and dated April Fool's Day, might give the impression they're just chasing paper like everybody else, it's safe to say that the members of BlockNButta have a greater, social purpose for their art. After all, everything has two meaning for these former members of various rival street gangs. 'B-u-t-t-a,' for example, not only translates as 'Back up talk to us all,' but also as, 'Building unity to teach another.'
Having performed all over the country, including at Chicago's Hard Rock, BlockNButta has recently been climbing local hip hop radio charts in Memphis. RFT Music caught up last week with GuisayButta backstage at the 8Ball & MJG show to find out more about this group comprised of many long-time St. Louis hip hop artists. Questions and answers have been edited for clarity and length.
Tony D'Souza: Everything stands for something with you guys. What does 'GuisayButta' mean?
GuisayButta: 'Give Us Inspiration/Attitude Saving Youth.'
I'm calling you guys a 'super group' since you're really two groups blended into one. But everybody in the game knows that, right?
We've always been together the past 15 years as the BlockBoyz and the ButtaBoyz, but the past four years we been together as BlockNButta and we're together on everything here on out. Everybody knows about BlockNButta in St. Louis. If they say they don't know us, they hating.
You guys are stars on the underground hip hop scene, you have a 'never give up' attitude. How do you make it work with so many guys in the group (9), and support yourselves?
We all need each other. We're real brothers wanting to get up out of the struggle. We're all from different gangs, Crips, Bloods, GDs--from the north, south, east, and west of St. Louis--coming together to do what we love. We have a carwash at 3400 Goodfellow, $10 for cars and trucks, we have a website, blocknbutta.com. It supports our music and our travels. We mostly tour down south, Memphis, Atlanta. In New York, we sat down with Def Jam. They said they never heard stuff like us before, but at that time, they couldn't find us on the internet.
You guys are like a big family. What are some of the names of the members of your group?
There's SafeButta, SmileButta, SnugDButta, DreMoney, J-Blizz...
8Ball noticed the Trayvon Martin T-shirts you guys printed up and were wearing on stage and he gave y'all a heartfelt shout out for that. What inspired you to make the T-shirts?
We're just doing it out of respect. Trayvon was a child. [Zimmerman] wasn't no police. It's still a problem.
What's your music like for someone who hasn't heard it?
It's fun, gangsta, party, serious. It's brand new. It's a whole other level of music. It's a planet they never found before!
You guys make your own beats?
We do everything ourselves. The only thing we didn't do ourselves is give ourselves a deal.