Following their 2007 debut, Sumthin 2 Hate, G-Side, a duo consisting of members Stephen “ST 2 Lettaz” Harris and Yung “David Williams” Clova, are hoping to bring something new and refreshing to hip-hop. Their production is eclectic: Some songs are filled with laid-back, spellbinding chord progressions, while others ooze with Dirty South energy and abrasiveness. Harris and Clova compliment each other well with their contrasting delivery. Harris is more lyrical, while Clova maintains a more mainstream, relaxed flow, resulting in a near-flawless union between the two.
The two rappers spoke with The Daily Texan about how they originally met, their latest release, iSLAND, and performing at festivals such as Fun Fun Fun Fest and the Pitchfork Music Festival.
The Daily Texan: You guys are originally from Hunstville, Ala., and you often touch upon your experiences in your songs. Was hip-hop at first an escape from those bad experiences, or was it always a goal to become a group?
Stephen Harris: It definitely started as just a thing, and then when I saw Master P and what he did with it, I felt I could [do] that or something similar. I wanted to make something for my people.
Yung Clova: I was pretty much the same way, man. At first, I wasn’t really focused on the music until I graduated, and that’s when I really got focused on music. I’m trying to do something positive: I’ve got little brothers and sisters, so I’m just trying to lead by example.
DT: How did you two meet each other at the Boys and Girls Club of Athens?
Clova: It was probably basketball. [Lettaz’s] team would always kick my team’s ass.
DT: You both provide a little friendly competition for each other although you both have different styles of rhyming. Do you feel that contributes a lot to your growth as rappers?
Harris: There would be times when [Clova] would kill me, and I would have to go back and write a new verse. There’s definitely competition, but it helps in making the music better.
DT: How was working with producer Block Beattaz on your latest release, iSLAND?
Harris: We’ve basically been working with Block Beattaz exclusively. I think on this one we had a little bit more fun. Sometimes the albums come across as being too serious, or us being bitter at the industry. This time I think we just tried to have fun with it. We know our fans are going to stick with us, and we’re just trying to give them a high quality product.
DT: How do you feel you guys have improved since your earlier releases?
Clova: I’ve really been trying to just step it up. I’m trying to get more lyrical. You don’t just want to say anything on the mic you know?
Harris: I’ve been trying to step my hook game up, just doing them myself instead of always depending on other people.
DT: You all performed at Fun Fun Fun Fest and the Pitchfork Music Festival this past year, and now you’re performing at South By Southwest. Do you see these festivals as a challenge, considering the diverse selection of artists they offer?
Harris: That’s kind of our lane; we’re not so urban. We get love from Pitchfork and stuff like that. So it’s not that we choose the festivals, but that these festivals chose us.
Clova: I think it has a lot to do with the beats too. We might take a Madonna sample, put some 808s in there and slow it down a little bit, and it’ll be the same song that everybody listens to, but we do it in our own way.