Über Sheek Louch
In New York's hip-hop scene, the line between the streets and the studio is continually blurred. Shots are fired, rhymes are written, and listeners are held rapt, awaiting the next outpost from this century's equivalent of the Wild West. Sheek Louch has consistently proven himself as one of the foremost ambassadors of N.Y.'s mean streets. On "Street Music," the first song from his 2005 disc, After Taxes, the Brooklyn rapper shouts out street gangs the Bloods, Crips and the Latin Kings. Along with childhood friends Jadakiss and Styles P, Sheek got his start with the Lox, later renamed D-Block. Success came fast and easy for the mid-'90s group; P. Diddy heard one of their early demos and signed them to his then-thriving Bad Boy label. The Lox (an acronym for Living Without Experience) appeared on hits alongside Biggie Smalls, Mariah Carey and Mary J. Blige. After the buzz they created both on the airwaves and the streets, their 1998 debut, Money, Power and Respect, was one of the most highly anticipated albums of 1998. Commercially, the album did not disappoint: it went platinum and was a cornerstone in Bad Boy's late-'90s domination of the hip-hop market. But artistically, the group felt that it was being forced into a more commercial and accessible direction and soon left the label and joined the more street-savvy Ruff Riders camp. When Sheek released his solo debut, Walk Witt Me, in 2003, many D-Block fans were pleasantly surprised by the results. Louch had always been viewed as the low man on the D-Block totem pole, oftentimes obscured by the more charismatic rhymes of Jada and Styles. But Walk With Me proved that Sheek could stand on his own. His gruff delivery and hardcore rhymes may have been short on bling and slick stylization, but "I Ain't Forget" and the album's title track displayed both wit and a narrative deftness that had previously been overlooked. On After Taxes, Sheek cemented his status as one of the grimiest rappers in the industry.