The Merchant Boyz - Merchandise II: The Restock

The Merchant Boyz - Merchandise II: The Restock
Interviewed and written by Aaron Robinson -Editor                                                                                       

Taking a 6 year hiatus from the music industry, The Merchant Boyz, which consist of the talented and gifted rappers, Cochise and Nez is back in the studio to record their second album Merchandise II: The Restock. The two brothers who have always had a passion for the art recently set down with Consciousness Magazine to talk about their career, life and the challenges in which they overcame in the music industry.

Here is what they have to share with the readers.

Aaron Robinson: What inspired you guys to want to come back together with the group?
Cochise: I think it was timing. We just missed doing music.
Nez: We wanted to get back to what we loved. We’re reppin’ for the essence of hip hop because it’s not too much going on. When I seen the Lox, they got me going again. Then, there isn’t too many artists raising the flag for Kankakee, Illinois.

Aaron: What was the cause for the 6 year hiatus?
Nez: Me personally, I felt like no one was going to do anything for us. The music and the industry moved another way. I got my kids to worry about; I can record records all day. You don’t want to be a 40 year old person saying, “I can still try to get the record deal so that I can get the house.” You should have the house already!
Cochise: I was inspired by some of the music that was out. I was like, ‘I can’t be a part of that wave!’ I started growing up; I started to be more responsible.    
Nez: I just needed to take a break. Also, [there was] a lack of funds too! Now, we don’t have to ask anyone to do anything for us; we’re doing it ourselves. If you try to help us, we don’t even want you to do it for free, because that’s business.

Aaron: Going back into the studio, do you feel like you guys had to change your craft a little bit, to per se compete?
Cochise: For me, [it was] getting back in the studio. It felt like it was just back to business. We’re not going to compromise who we are just to fit in. That doesn’t work. If it does work, it’s not going to last for long.
Nez: I was rusty a little bit. No, we are not in competition. In a way we are, because we are a brand and a business. We got our own lane. I think the people that hear us and know how we write; they don’t want to hear us to hear Future. They want to hear you and what you’ve done - that Merchant Boyz and Committee rap.

Aaron: That’s real! What can fans expect from the upcoming project?     
Cochise: Now, what we rap about is different. We’re comfortable if the record don’t pop. If no one buys it, we’re okay with it. So it’s back to the beginning. [Our fans and listeners] can still expect that.
Nez: You can also expect bars, punch lines, soul music, conscious music, money talking, and elevation. We are also talking about the mistakes we made. We’re talking about business. Cochise got his clothing line Handsome Fashion that we’re going to launch real soon. Now in this age, you have to start thinking outside of rapping. You can get into bigger positions, such as mayors and so on.
Cochise: If you’ve followed us or supported us, you’re going to see the growth, from the wild times, to the decision making. You are going to see the now - a grown man.
Nez: We’re having fun. That’s what hip hop is missing. I was always told, once you stop having fun, quit. It wasn’t becoming fun anymore.

Aaron: With a lot of this mainstream music going on, you can barely understand what some of these artists are saying. I know you all bring the lyrics and the bars while a lot of these guys are spitting half of a bar. What separates you from this new generation or from these artist coming back trying to do there thing, but are not what they once were?
Cochise: What they call it now is that mumble rap. I don’t like to give it a title; I don’t like to separate it because it’s still a part of hip hop. As far as integrity of your music, we came up in an era where you have to say something. You have to prove yourself because you want the next person to be like, ‘hey, he nice! He go hard!’ I listen to the new music because I have a 15, 13 and 10 year old. I be joking like, ‘man that dude wack! He ain’t saying nothing!’ But the music be jamming though! When we were growing up, my uncles were like, ‘man them dudes aren’t doing nothing but cursing and talking.’ My mom calls it boom bap music. We just keep the integrity of it and keep it as we know it.
Nez: I’m living in the Phoenix area. On the West-Coast, the Phoenix area, they are hip hop. You have a lot of West-Coast artist with their own style, but they like to hear you say something.
Cochise: We’re bridging the gap of underground music and mainstream music. We’re just going to be us. We’re not going to try to squeeze in those skinny jeans.
Nez: When has a rapper made it to become a dope fiend? You made it to become a junkie and your whole rap check goes to drugs! Boy, you silly! That’s the only thing I got against the youngsters.

Aaron: Do you feel like the industry is more saturated now?
Cochise: Yes! Everybody sounds the same.
Nez: When we grew up and your name was Slick Dawg and my name was Slick Dawg, we have to battle rap for this name, because there isn’t any copycatting. Dudes use to come to your house and be like, ‘step outside son,’ whether if it was break-dancing or whatever. It was different when it was Jay-Z, Nas, 2pac, Dr. Dre and Wu-tang. When Nas heard something from Biggie, he was like, “Biggie isn’t playing; I have to get to the studio!” Not [to go to the studio] to make another Juicy song.
Cochise: See, that’s how they do it now. If it’s hot, they ride that wave instead of doing the opposite.
Nez: That’s where you stand out…with originality. Just because you can Auto-Tune doesn’t mean that it’s going to be good. [The industry is] definitely saturated.
Cochise: There’s no ying and yang anymore. When we came up…the late 80’s and 90’s, we had [artist such as] Snoop Dogg. He’s from the West-Coast. You had Hammer and he’s from the West-Coast. It’s like he did what he did and he did what he did. And it worked!
Nez: You have E-40 also. They didn’t sound alike and they’re from the West-Coast. DJ Quick didn’t sound like Snoop. Future had an interview. He said, “They don’t want any originality, they just want to take your check and move on.”

Aaron: Being Black men, fathers, and Cochise, a husband, with a lot of new music, and I know your music is going in a totally different direction - with a lot of the new rap music of today, do you see it affecting your families, your children and other youth? What are your thoughts on this?
Cochise: Yes, that goes deep. That’s a good question!
Nez: Yes! That’s a good question!
Cochise: I have older kids. You just have to tell them what they are listening to, in order to make sure what they are paying attention to. With a lot of messages the music is sending now, they are making a lot of stuff look super cool. It’s really driving you in the wrong direction.
Nez: The radio is going to play whoever pays them. Most conscious brothers don’t have the bag  (money) to get their message across. When Nas was talking about hip hop was dead, he was talking about the thought. He wasn’t talking about the culture of the rap. Back then, radio disc jockeys was like, “I will risk my job to play The Merchant Boyz because this rocking!!! So what with what the PD is talking about.” About time the PD says something, the record has already impacted. Now it’s pay to play. They say it’s not, but we know it is. And it’s in your kid’s mind…manipulating them.
Cochise: Yes it is, because they are going to hear it over and over and it is what they are seeing. It was like that in our generation. Music is very very very instrumental in your life. It’s like “monkey see, monkey do!”
Nez: It affects Black families.
Cochise: Yes, it affects Black families. Back in our day we had gangster music. No one wanted you to play that gangster music and didn’t want your kids to listen to it. That’s what they told us.
Nez: And guess what? If a man thinks, he does it. And if you repeat it to yourself so much, you’re going to do it. Just think if you told yourself every day that ‘you’re beautiful.
Cochise: You’re fascinated as if he made it through selling all of those drugs. And you keep listening to it and be like, “Man! That man sold all of those drugs!” He didn’t tell you the risk and the consequence.
Nez: He didn’t tell you the people he crossed out in the beginning or who he hurt. Nine times out of ten, he isn’t going to tell you who he told on. Something that I remember Lupe saying was, “Turn their whole culture to a mockery/ give them coca cola for their property.” It’s called America is the Terrorist. He just said it….make it a mockery! They turned our whole hip hop into a mockery. And it destroys your family. What you call your women…disrespectful names!
Cochise: See, in our days, [that’s what they were] if they called them that. We had people like 2pac. 2pac explained it. He would say it in his lyrics, but he would go back and explain why he called you that. And if you are doing that, he felt that he had a right to call you that, because you’re acting ignorant and so forth. Any other time when a female was acting right, he was going to call you a queen. See, that’s just what it was. Now-a-days, they don’t even explain it.
Nez: Listen. A Black woman is the strongest thing on earth, period. The mother holds it down and we know this. The bible says, ‘a good father would leave inheritance to his son.’ Well rap has produced some men to become better fathers. As my brother said, “the music was different back in the day.” Wu-tang had a song called A Better Tomorrow. It goes, “You can’t party your life away/ drink your life away/ smoke your life away/ f--- your life away/ dream your life away/ scheme your life away/ cause your seeds grow up the same way.” I have yet to hear an inspirational song from Young Thug. They asked him at the BET Hip Hop Awards how he feels about the cops killing everybody? He said, “Leave that up to the critics and the laws. We’re making money and iced out.” See, that’s where their mind is at! They don’t even care about their culture. Lil Wayne never grew up to me. Out of every artist in the world, Wayne is a kid. He doesn’t grow up. T.I. grew up. Lil Wayne is my age and riding a skate board.

Aaron: Everyone can’t work together. How do you all keep your chemistry when creating music?
Cochise: It’s natural.
Nez: My brother and I write fast. Sometimes I’m rapping my verse and he is writing his. Sometimes I will say, ‘I got it,’ but I don’t have it…I’m thinking of it. Sometimes my brother would have his ad-libs done and I will have my verse done.
Cochise: As far as chemistry, we’re brothers, we grew up together, and we have the same views on a lot of stuff.
Nez: We’re going for the same flag.
Cochise: For hip hop, it’s hard to work together because everybody wants to be the man. They want to be the man instead of being a man. You can be a group of men and you will be strong, but everybody wants to be the top dog. That’s why the genre of our music still gets capitalized off of.
Nez: You have to go after your target market. I’m sure you’re pretty sure of Brother Polight and all of them. They got a following for consciousness. Even though they burnt it up by doing dumb stuff. This is another thing too. Why do conscious people listen to and buy dumb music? The smartest people in Harvard are listening to stupid stuff. They’d rather kick it and party. I like rappers who explain their neighborhood. I can go to Shaolin or Harlem and be like, ‘that’s that house Wu-Tang was talking about! Okay, I’m up on it.’ And don’t go over there, that’s that one street. A lot of these new artist don’t give me enough of them. They don’t give me any person, unless they just tell me they’re rich. My brother and I just talk about basketball and godly things. Our chemistry has always been like that. The Committee chemistry, that’s why that album “Growing Pains” was so special because we were with each other every day. It kept us out of trouble. 

Aaron: With the project you are working on now, what’s the album title of it and when are you looking to release it? 
Nez: Merchandise II: The Restock.
Cochise: We’re going to take our time with it. We’re not going to rush it. Once you start forcing the music, it’s over.
Nez: We’re going to have a documentary with it and launch the clothing line also.
We’re representing Kankakee. We have to give our hometown something so that people can say, “Those rappers are from Kankakee!” We don’t have that. It’s a shame we see our people get on and they get gone! They leave!  

Aaron: Where can people get your music?
Nez: It’s going to be on I-tunes and on all the digital outlets. We’re going to go more digital this time. Physical copies can also be ordered. 

Aaron: Would you all like to add anything else before we end the interview that we didn’t discuss?
Nez: I think Donald Trump would be the reason that Black folks will start doing for each other again. Also, we have to start accommodating people for their time. Black folks have to start doing that again. And long live hip hop in Kankakee. Love yawl! And the whole world of Hip Hop, we love yawl!!!  

Cochise: Look out for the album, the couple of singles, videos and the clothing line Handsome Fashion and also Handsome Tots. It’s for all ages. It’s for girls, boys, women and men. We’re looking to expand that. Other than that, we just got to get it together as a people. We have to hurry up and get it together because it’s almost over. It’s being shown to us every day.

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