New Boyz Perform for AOL Sessions, Talk New Album
New Boyz, the Cali-bred hip-hop duo comprised of Ben J and Legacy, are back with a new album, 'Too Cool to Care,' and the attitude to match. At 19 years old, the Boyz are confident that they have matured musically, shed their jerkin' crew label and put out their second studio album with help of artists like Big Sean, Tyga, YG, Dev and Chris Brown -- whose vocals are featured on the latest single, 'Better With the Lights Off.'
After giving an exclusive Sessions performance at AOL Music's New York studio, New Boyz sat down to share much of their storied career with the BoomBox. From the music industry inspiring their album title to stories of backstage debauchery with Chris Brown while on the road during his Fan Appreciation tour, the duo have a lot to talk about. There's even reminiscing over their "sexy" 10th grade biology teacher and the days they wore skinny jeans.
Check out the exclusive New Boyz Q&A and Sessions performance below.
How did you manage to go from being labeled as a jerkin' crew to now being considered a legitimate hip-hop act?
Ben J: We were never a jerkin' crew.
Legacy: Yeah, but we were definitely supporting the whole jerk movement. But we didn't want to be boxed into that, so we made sure our second single, 'Tie Me Down,' wasn't a jerk song and a bunch of other songs after that weren't jerk records. When you put out a jerk song, and when you wear pants as tight as our pants were back then, it's going to be twice as hard to be taken serious in the industry. You know what I'm saying? We try switching it up a little bit. Showing people what we was really about.
Ben J: That was our thing, you know? But we were just getting so much criticism that we wanted to prove to ourselves, not to them. We didn't really care. So this album, we just named our album 'Too Cool to Care' about that stuff. We really wanted to prove to ourselves that we can be more creative artists on this project. Which we did.
So is 'Too Cool to Care' a response to the industry then? Or, is it also a response to maybe how you guys were treated in high school?
Legacy: 'Too Cool to Care' can be considered a response to the industry, because I feel like the industry takes everything way too serious. You know what I'm saying? They are just really safe with everything they do and we like doing real out the box, just different, crazy stuff and that's just our way of life. So that could be considered a response to the industry, but also just a way of life 'cause that's how we just are in general about anything. If its something that everyone in the world is knocking, if its considered lame, if we're into it, we're gonna do it no matter who is talking to us about it. That's just how we are about everything, too cool to care.
Is that why you agreed to do the PSA video about high school bullying?
Ben J: That bullying stuff? Yeah, that's negative. You feel me? That's not the right thing. Honestly, be yourself. You know, don't care about what other people is telling you to do. I never really been bullied when I was younger but I seen people being bullied and I didn't really appreciate it. It really just intimidated people from doing what they wanted to do. And we are the type of people that do us, like he said, and so we're with that anti-bullying stuff. This is the Too Cool to Care campaign right here!
How has your music evolved since we first met you when you were both just 17 years old?
Ben J: We just basically matured in our lyrics. You know, matured as artists. We got on this project... doper artists, big-name artists and big-name producers. On the last project, we was working with local producers, our homies and stuff. Give them a chance. We still do work with our homies, but we're just trying to grow as artists. You know what I'm saying?
It's just a real different album. We got rock tracks, pop tracks, slow tracks, inspirational tracks. It's a real fun album. It's real different from the first project. We really grew up as artists. We travel a lot, we see a lot more things, we know a lot more. And our lyrics are a lot better
Legacy: If you wasn't messing with the first album, 'Skinny Jeans and a Mic,' it's all gravy. You know what I'm saying? Cause we didn't go in like that. But 'Too Cool to Care,' we went in on a lot of tracks and we still way better. We get better every song so check it out.
What was your favorite collaboration?
Legacy: I think one of my favorite collaborations was the one we did with Charlie Wilson.
Ben J: Charlie!
Legacy: Because he was actually in the studio for that one and a lot of the other artists weren't in the studio, and it was cool being in the studio with Charlie Wilson 'cause he acted just like us. You know, like an 18, 19-year-old. And the other one, my favorite record that we collaborated with someone was 'I Don't Care' featuring Big Sean.
Ben J: He did that verse for us on his birthday too, so shout out to Big Sean. That was real big for him. He could have been out there partying, getting girls and stuff, but he did the verse for us.
My favorite person we worked with on this project was the Cataracs as a producer, because the vibe they was just giving off was the same vibe we have. We're chill people. When we did 'You're a Jerk,' we was in our homebase studio and that's where we was at when we made 'Backseat,' in their studio. Honestly, every beat that they make is like the future of music. They kill every track. It's a hit automatically. Just the vibe and the impression they give off you kind of forget they make them kind of records. It was just really chill making them records with them.
Watch a Highlight From New Boyz' Sessions Interview
Do you have any stories from being on tour with Chris Brown?
Legacy: It was really just the same thing every night. We do a show, and then right after the show we round up some girls. You know what I'm saying? Throw a hotel party. Then travel to the next city. Most of the time we had to leave early though, 'cause we had to catch a early flight.
Ben J: Every show was sold out with Chris Brown. It was ridiculous. And all the girls we're really bomb. I remember we was like, "Woah! I didn't know he bring out this much girls like this!" But I mean of course, that's Chris Brown. It is what it is.
How do you guys get the crowd hyped when you're doing a live show?
Legacy: When we're doing a live show, we really go like super in with it. We be jumping in the crowd, we be stage diving. We do all that type of stuff cause we like to interact with the crowd because when I was like 8 years old I used to go to concerts and then I used to see people perform and then they'd leave. You know? And I'd have a poster ready to get an autograph from them and stuff. So I made sure that when I got on, once I got the record deal and everything... after the show was over I'd go to the crowd, I'd sign autographs and just interact as much as possible. That's how our shows usually go down. We really show love to the fans.
Ben J: We love the fans.
So you guys went to high school together, but you weren't friends at first. How did you end up starting a group together?
Ben J: In ninth grade we saw each other. We didn't really know each other. I actually got into a fight with someone else and he happened to record my fight. He was just peeking around a corner recording the fight, but it was a lot of people around that fight. I got word next day that if he got caught with the fight on his phone and I could get kicked out the school district. I was kind of hot about that. So. I just rounded up the homies and we went looking for him. They say, "Yo, he hang out at the basketball courts." I seen him walking, strolling, with his big, old, long blue shirt. He had like a 3XL tall shirt on, you little short dude. It was crazy.
I was like, "Yo, you got my fight on your phone?" He was like "Yeah, yeah yeah." And he started searching through his phone and he was like, "You know what I was with this girl last night and she deleted it on accident." And I was like, "Aww man." I wanted to see the fight. Like I wanted to see if I beat him up that bad. I did, I gave him a one hitter quitter. Bow! Dude fell on my like, he was shaking. I'm not saying go out there and beat up people. He called me a b----, and I was like "What?" "I ain't a b----!" I ain't going to get up all into that story but that's how we met.
I met him a year later in 10th grade in our biology class. Yeah, we had the same little, sexy teacher. She was hot, she had a big booty. Her name was Miss Pyle. She know what it is. I bet she's watching these videos too.
Legacy: Ms. Pyle can get the business.
If you guys didn't make it in music and you were still in high school, what do you think you would be doing right now?
Legacy: If I didn't make it with the music, I don't know because that's all that I wanted to do my whole life. I probably would be working at like at a fast food restaurant. You know what I'm saying? Because I really had no plans for nothing else. My mom was like ,"Go to school." I'm like, "Alright I'm going to go to school to do music." So that was my whole, life-long goal, since I was a kid.
Ben J: That's tight. My goal, I always played football. I've been playing football since I was 8 years old. I've been rapping, writing music since I was 8 years old, too, but my rhymes were kind of wack. But playing football, I stayed out of trouble and what not. I've been playing football for 13 years of my life. I used to get letters from colleges like San Diego State, LSU, Texas University, and that was real cool for me, but honestly, school wasn't really my thing. You know, my academics wasn't really up to par. I was just the average student.
I just wanted to do enough to play football and I was going to go to San Diego State University, but he [Legacy] was so dedicated into rapping. He said he had a studio at his house. Everyday after football practice I went to his house. I was 14, when I first got into the studio, and it was just like that. He was so dedicated and he made me so dedicated and we kept it going from there.
So one of the songs that helped you guys get famous was a song in defense of skinny jeans. How would you describe your style?
Legacy: My style changes often. I'm just not stuck on one thing too quick. Like when 'You're a Jerk' first came out, our pants were extra, extra tight. Like they were super tight. Sometimes I look back and I'm like, "Oh yeah, no wonder people used to make fun of this!"
Ben J: I hate my old videos, pictures and stuff.
Legacy: My style is real, I like going to vintage shops. Low-key stuff. I like to buy '80s clothes and just a bunch of different stuff. I wear snapbacks and just whatever I want to wear. If it's not considered cool, I wear it anyway, if I like it.
Ben J: Same thing. He [Legacy] got me onto the skinnies when we first started out. Yeah it was funny. I got the football type of body so the skinny jeans were kinda tight on me. Like it kinda looked funny, but you know, as the years went by I was like, "I can't do this no more." So I kinda loosened up a little bit. I would never go back to the super baggy jeans, that's not my thing.
My style is like West coast. Kinda keep it swagging. I like to try different things. If you look at our album cover, we got our suits on deck, but we got the old school snapbacks. I like to wear varsity jackets, because I played football, of course. Crew neck sweaters. I got the rolly chain. I don't really do too much jewelry and stuff, but here and there I like to shine, keep it cool. This is my first time ever wearing boots. That's something new for me. I usually wear Chuck Taylors. Keep it G like a jail P.O.
Watch New Boyz 'Better With the Lights Off' Sessions Performance