'Hip-hop legend' is an overused and overstated phrase that gets tossed around way too lightly, landing on the heads of anyone in the rap game who's been lucky enough to have a couple of solid singles, or has put out more than one record without fading into obscurity. But in truth, the legends of the rap world are made through hard work, individuality, and success for over a decade (while making it look easy)...and hip-hop's original drunken party crew, Tha Alkaholiks, are definitely legends.
Comprised of rappers J-Ro & Tash with Producer/MC/DJ E-Swift, Tha Liks first came together in the early 90's under the guise of West Coast rapper and 'king of the 40oz' King Tee, who'd been looking for a new hip-hop group to bring up with him. 'It was King Tee's idea to name us Tha Alkaholiks,' says J-Ro from his new homebase of Malmo, Sweden. 'And he just came up with the whole concept for the group while we were sitting at a table drinking some 40s. If you look at King Tee's early stuff, it was kind of hard edged but clownin' at the same time, so that's pretty much always been our style.'
From the beginning, Tha Liks' hard partyin' & hard drinkin' image didn't exactly fit into a hip-hop universe mainly focused on MC Hammer/Vanilla Ice pop style rhymes or on gangsta rap, which was at the height of its popularity. 'There was no hip-hop comin' out of the West Coast at that time that was like us, everybody just thought we were doin thug shit out here,' says J-Ro. ' When we first came out, we were a rebellion directed at what was going on then. We were anti-establishment and I think a lot of people gravitated towards us because of that. We kind of started the whole backpack movement out in LA.'
Tha Alkaholiks also quickly began developing another career aspect that was uncommon to hip-hop at the time, the idea of a touring group. 'We're kind of like an old rock band. Some people even compare us to the Grateful Dead,' says J-Ro. 'We've got that following that never ends. I don't care if we don't put an album out for five years, we'll still be able to do shows.' Cris-crossing the country and hitting Europe twice a year began to truly perk up ears, while the hard-partying image made Tha Liks very attractive to a massive cross section of people who around the world. Their shows became just as notorious for the drunken heads throwing up in the venue's bathroom over intoxicated from the beats and rhymes coming from the stage.
Pressing through the 90's, Tha Alkaholiks followed hard working & hard drinking schedule of touring and releasing an album every other year until 2001's X.O. Experience, which brought about an official name change to 'Tha Liks' for political purposes, and a over-publicized 3 year 'hiatus' in which no new material came out…yet the worldwide tour duty was still as heavy as ever. 'To us we've really had no time off just because we haven't put out an album. We would talk about that too,' says J-Ro. 'Sometimes we'd be stuck in an airport or a nasty motel somewhere, and say like 'Yeah, people think we aint doin' shit right now.'...but we were always grindin'.'
As for the controversial, misunderstood announced split itself, it was merely an amicable and well-deserved rest from three talented, hard-working artists.' When you're in a group, everything in your life comes second to the group. It don't matter what you got goin' on in your life - you've got to put it forward. We've been doin it 15 years+, and I dare anybody to give me five groups that have been together in hip-hop that long,' says J-Ro. 'It's just been a constant grind. It's not like we're selling platinum records and can afford to take a year off in some island somewhere. But, we're still here and I believe our bets work is still yet to come.'