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Nearly thirty years removed since the, then, quartet, now known globally as Onyx, and originally comprised of Fredro Starr, Suavé (or Sonny Seeza), Big DS [RIP] and later Sticky Fingaz, hit the ground running. Largely due in part to their affiliation with deejay/producer, the late, great Jam Master Jay, the South Jamaica, Queens’ birthed crew literally hit pay dirt with the release of their multi-platinum – not to mention now classic – 1993 debut, “Bacdafucup.” Da Mad Face Invasion had officially begun.

Fresh off their “Fight Night Music” face-off VERZUZ battle against Cypress Hill, and with a brand new ten songs strong studio LP,  “Onyx Versus Everybody” [Mad Money/MNRK Music Group], in tow, Fredro Starr and Sticky Fingaz have launched a full-on assault – Atak of Da Bal-Hedz – on the entire industry as we, the masses, know it.

You did the big VERZUZ show “ONYX vs. Cypress Hill” titled “Fight Night Music.” I know since then B-Real has been kind of vocal about his dissatisfaction with both Triller and VERZUZ. But I just want to kind of get your guys’ take on everything. It seemed like the event itself went smoothly and it was definitely a nice thing for Hip-Hop. But what do you feel about it overall?

Fredro Starr: That shit was monumental, man! That was the biggest VERZUZ of them all, and this one actually had boxing with it. So, it was something different that they have never seen before. Unfortunately, it wasn’t free! A lot of people didn’t see it, but hey, man, it is what it is. Thanks to Triller, they did a great job! Prices are going up right now for Onyx. You know, when you do VERZUZ, it just means that you solidify yourself as an artist in the game, who has tested the test of time like you know I’m saying. We’ve stood the test of time to even do a VERZUZ 30 years in the game and Cypress Hill’s 30 years in the game. So, it’s just a blessing, man! Unfortunately…but Triller is gonna release it soon so everybody can check it out. We did our thing. Cypress Hill did they thing. And yo, it’s just dope, man. We got mad respect for Triller!

Yeah, I was actually on vacation with my family out at Disneyland so I didn’t get a chance to catch it. So, I was hoping they’d re-release it at some point so I can watch it. It’s definitely something to see I’m sure. Now, also just prior to the VERZUZ battle you guys released your new album titled “Onyx Versus Everybody,” so let’s talk about your first single “Shoot Wit.” Tell me how that track came to be, came together, and all that stuff.

Fredro Starr: The first track for the Onyx album, “Onyx Versus Everybody,” the grimiest album out there on the street right now, the hardest fucking album out there right now! “Shoot Wit,” the first single, lemme tell you about “Shoot Wit,” right? I did the beat. We had to actually do this album in fucking like two weeks. Sticky was filming a TV show titled “Flatbush Misdemeanors”…

Sticky Fingaz: Misdemeanors!

Fredro Starr: For Showtime, so we didn’t really have a lot of time with Stick in the studio. So that beat, man, that beat was originally for Termanology, the rapper Termanology, because I was working on a beat pack for him. So, I was putting some things together for Termanology and that beat was named ‘Termanology,’ when I made the beat it was especially for him. But we were crafting the album and I said, “Yo, we need something that’s going to be Hip-Hop, for the streets, a good feel record” and that was the beat right there. And that fucking beat…

Sticky Fingaz: …luckily he didn’t give it to him!

Fredro Starr: I know, right? That would’ve been fucked up!

I heard that! Well, you mentioned it being the first single from what is it now your 10th album Onyx Versus Everybody, which is pretty self-explanatory, but still tell me conceptually, why is it important to title the record this?

Sticky Fingaz: Because basically when we going up against Cypress Hill from the VERZUZ battle it’s not just us against Cypress Hill this is us against the whole entire industry when we’re on that stage and it’s a great opportunity to take advantage of the platform that we’re on. So, we just named it “Onyx Versus Everybody.”

Would you say that you guys have gotten your just due, do you feel like you get the respect you deserve as the groundbreaking Hip-Hop act that you were and still are?

Sticky Fingaz: I would say yes and no. I would say maybe no on the super commercial scale. But I would say yes on the individual scale, where we meet certain people individually and they tell us how we…how Onyx saved their life or changed their life. How we the illest that they’ve ever heard, ever! So yes and no, ya know! 

You mentioned it being the grimiest Hip-Hop album out there, and I have to agree it’s definitely a dope piece of work! How does it differ and / or compare to previous Onyx efforts?

Fredro Starr: This album, like I said, we didn’t have a lot of time to get this album done…but Sticky was in rare form as far as rhymes; he was coming with the illest shit…and it was just like, “Okay, I’m doing the beats, I ain’t fucking around, I got the illest shit going on!” It was natural, man, it was nothing. The difference between this album… this album is kind of like “All We Got Iz Us,” which was the second Onyx album. This album is kind of like part two to that as far as the true Onyx sound; as far as production, as far as rapping, it’s just all us! It’s like coming from our minds, nobody else. Nobody’s giving us beats. We’re not working with this producer, that producer, this is Onyx. Everything from the music…

Sticky Fingaz: In house!

Fredro Starr: …everything, it’s all us. We work with a lot of different producers, so this one was just…this had to be grimy! Ain’t no producer in Hip-Hop grimier than me, I don’t give a fuck who they are!

Sticky Fingaz: Word up!

That’s actually where my next question was going. Dro, I know you’re not brand new to production, but what made y’all decide or opt to use your beats versus other producers that you’ve been known to work with in the past?

Sticky Fingaz: Because he was coming with that heat! He would come with that heat every time.

Can’t deny the heat!

Fredro Starr: I took a break from doing beats, man. Hip-Hop went fucking Trap and it went Down South, I just wasn’t really feeling like doing beats at the time, but I just fucking got back into doing beats about a year ago, man. It’s just like riding a bike you know I’m saying. You could have been the illest BMX rider doing tricks back in the days and then you stop, and when you get back on the bike it’s hard to do tricks again. You know how to ride a bike, but you don’t know how to do the tricks until you’re back on that bike. So it took me a while to get back to where I thought, “Okay, this is the time to start rockin’,” you know what I’m saying. Like once you produce one of the hottest beats in Hip-Hop, “Last Dayz” one of the hottest beats in Hip-Hop till this day. 8 Mile, Eminem rhyming on the beat, countless other rappers rhymed to my “Last Dayz.” Shout to Tierra Whack, 38 Spesh, like hopped on “Last Dayz.” Any freestyle session you go to “Last Dayz” is on, so that right there always makes me feel like, “Yo, you got one of the illest beats in Hip-Hop, keep doing what you’re fucking doing. N*ggas ain’t fucking with you, straight up!” I look up to the Premiers, I look up to the  Alchemists, you know, those are the producers that I like, you know what I’m saying? And you know, so I’m following in that direction you know what I’m saying, grimy shit.

Where do you both draw your inspiration from lyrically? And, when it comes down to the studio process, how does that whole creative thing kind of happen and the magic that comes together in the final product?

Sticky Fingaz: Everything is organic. Sometimes I might go first or he might go first.

Fredro Starr: Well, most of the time, Sticky’s gonna go last; that’s just the way Jam Master Jay set us up…he was like, “You go first, you go last!” Most of the time, that’s the basic Jam Master Jay formula. But sometimes, like he said, Sticky set the shit off ‘cause I felt like, “Yo, that verse had to set the record off!” Because it was just the verse that set the record off. And as far as me like producing it, as far as lyrics, like I said Sticky wasn’t here he did his verses and bounced. I had to make sure everything was straight; the mixes…it’s just, more like he said, organic, man, just organic.

Sticky Fingaz: And where we pull stuff from me personally, specifically, is I want to impress myself; that’s not to say I’m trying to impress the world because you can’t. You don’t know what anyone else thinks. So, you want to just be better than your last better self. If I can’t impress myself then who am I going to impress, so that’s what we aim for.

Well, switching gears for me a little bit here and you guys have probably had many – probably too many to name – and obviously many more to come, but what would you say is like your biggest career moment or career highlight? The first thing that comes to mind that sticks out for you all in your lengthy music career…

Fredro Starr: The biggest career moment…whew?! Ah, man…

Sticky Fingaz: The biggest career moment is signing to Jam Master Jay, word up! That was 30 years ago, but, hey, that was the biggest career moment. You know, there’s been other heightened moments after that, don’t get me wrong, but that’s the seed that started the whole tree, really.

In having said that, what do you attribute that longevity to? What has been the key to that longstanding success?

Fredro Starr: The key to longevity is staying alive, first of all.

Sticky Fingaz: [Laughs maniacally] Right? Gotta start there.

Fredro Starr: You gotta stay alive. There’s a lot of ways to go, man, a lot of ways to leave this earth, so that’s just number one. Staying fucking alive!  Once you can do that, everything else is just a part of fucking life, man, that’s it.

Sticky Fingaz: Right? Everything else just falls into place.

Now, what’s a typical day like for y’all? I know right now you’re in album mode and it’s probably a lot of business to be done. But what’s a typical day like in the life of Onyx?

Sticky Fingaz: Well, every day is different. Right now, I’m going swimming with my son.

Okay, nice family outing, that’s cool.

Fredro Starr: It’s crazy because Sticky got young kids and I got young kids, and they’re all like a year apart; all of them. They’re the new generation. They’re coming up…we’re raising our sons, we got three sons, too. Three young sons, both of us.

Sticky Fingaz: 3 Kings! 6 Kings!

Fredro Starr: We had sons back to back, then we chilled for like two or three years and then we had another son. He had another son, and I had another son. It’s crazy. But a typical day starts off with a nice fucking joint…

Sticky Fingaz: [Laughs] There you go!

Fredro Starr: When that shit pops off…because once you smoke your little joint in the morning, the stress is gone, a little creative mode and you can just play with your kids, man, that’s it.

Sticky Fingaz: And, also, no days are typical for us, there ain’t no typical days.

Speaking of those children, do you guys see any musical aspirations in any of your sons?

Fredro Starr: Yeah, hell yeah! My sons, they be playing with the beat machine, they got instruments but they’re more into Minecraft, but they ain’t fucking around.

I know you guys have fans all around the world so how do you both interact and kind of respond to the fanfare? How does that go these days? I know social media made it really easy on that aspect but how do you guys interact with the fans?

Fredro Starr: Fans are like family, man! You know, fans keep us going. So fans are everything to us. They keep us alive.

Being in the business as long as y’all have, what would you say is your favorite part about this line of work and your least favorite and why?

Fredro Starr: My favorite part is touring. But it’s a catch 22, because when I’m touring I’m away from my kids. That’s what I hate the most. I love touring, I love being on stage, I love connecting with my fans but that’s the time I’m away from my kids so it’s like a tug of war.

What advice would you offer for someone that’s wanting to follow in your footsteps in music or in entertainment in general?

Fredro Starr: If someone wants to follow in my footsteps, get some black Timbs and be ready to step in some bullshit, if you wanna follow in my footsteps!

Both of you have had great careers in Hollywood as well on the small screen as well as the big screen. You mentioned earlier that Sticky was actually filming when the album was being put together. So what is coming up for you guys in terms of the Hollywood world?

Sticky Fingaz: Well, like I said “Flatbush Misdemeanors,” we just finished the second season, over the last three or four episodes, so when that comes out definitely check that. It probably will most definitely be a third season hopefully, and we are about to do an Onyx movie!

Dope, like an autobiographical thing?

Fredro Starr: Yeah, we got a full script. The script is crazy; the script is actually too long. We got 140-page script. Onyx biopic. It covers like not before Onyx, but when we first meet Jam Master Jay, that’s how it starts. When we’re young, and it goes up until we win Best Rap Album for Soul Train Awards because I didn’t want to make a movie on our lives – the whole 30 years – you would need fucking five parts and shit.

Well, that’s definitely something to look out for, for sure…

Fredro Starr: Very detailed, very detailed. Rest in Peace Big DS! Rest in Peace Chyskillz! Rest in Peace Jam Master Jay! All those guys, they’re not here now, so we got to get it made this year, for real.

Sticky Fingaz: …and it’s our 30th anniversary, so it’s the perfect time with the launch.

Fredro Starr: 30th anniversary, we are talking to the investors right now. It’s looking good, man!

That’s exciting! I definitely can speak for the rest of the Hip-Hop world that would love to see the story unfold. Now, I didn’t want to get into anything negative, but I know back in 2009 your other group member Sonny Seeza kind of left the group to pursue a solo career and kind of quit recording and touring with the group. I know he’s stepped back in from time to time. You guys care to like touch on that at all for the fans that are just kind of wondering what’s the deal with that?

Fredro Starr: That’s not negative! It is what it is. Sonsee will always have a place in Onyx. There was never a time when he said, “Yo, I’m leaving the group!” He just went on to do his thing. I was doing my thing, Sticky with movies…whatever….everybody was going their separate ways. The good news is Sonsee brother, his name is Love Supreme. He went to jail in 1993 and they gave him 75 years. Love Supreme is home now! He just came home this year. He did 29 years, so he just came home, Sonsee is with his brother, Love. That’s all in the Oynx movie.

Sticky Fingaz: Shout out Live and Direct for helping us get him out…

Fredro Starr: Yeah, yeah, shout to Live and Direct, these guys get guys out of prison, we were part of helping Love get his freedom. At the end of the day, his brother’s home after 29 years. So Sonsee is in a good place right now. I just spoke to Sonsee. Ain’t no beef. He just doesn’t want to rap. Rap is not for him at this moment he’s doing other things and shit so you got to respect that and it is what it is. It’s not negative!

Thanks for clarifying.

Fredro Starr: It’s like you break up with a girl, but y’all still on good terms and shit.

Being locked up for so long, what a beautiful ending to that chapter. But with that being said, I want to thank you all for taking your time out with me today. Is there anything I left out or forgot to mention that you kind of want to leave us with?

Fredro Starr: Nah, man, the name of the album is “Onyx Versus Everybody”…

Sticky Fingaz: Everybody!

Fredro Starr: Yeah, we are about to go on a world tour right now. We starting with Croatia, then we gonna do some dates in Europe. Go on Onyxhq.com. Then we go to South America, do all of that over there and then…Yo, we just moving, man, everything is good. Just trying to stay alive, that’s it.

Thanks again! Continued success. Keep doing what you’re doing. We’re gonna keep listening. We’re gonna keep watching. We’re gonna keep supporting. So, thanks again for the legacy and just keep doing your thing. We appreciate it and we salute you for it!

Fredro Starr: Alright, thank you, man!

Sticky Fingaz: Thank you.

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