On this day in Black History, three legendary wordsmiths from Yonkers – Jason “Jadakiss” Phillips, David “Styles P” Styles, and Sean “Sheek Louch” Jacobs – released the classic Hip-Hop album, “Money, Power, Respect.” After signing with Bad Boy, working with Puff Daddy was a smart move on their behalf. Despite the fact they wanted a more street sound and affiliation, this was a great debut album, that includes the classic single and their title track featuring the Queen B herself, Lil Kim.
Let me set the tone… Biggie died in March 1997. His posthumous album “Life After Death” was quickly followed by Puff Daddy & The Family’s “No Way Out,” and Mase’s “Harlem World,” and then on January 13, 1998, the Lox dropped their debut disc, “Money, Power & Respect,” featured production from The Hitmen, Dame Grease and Swizz Beatz.
By the time of their own full-length debut, The LOX were already a household name in Hip-Hop, having appeared on the aforementioned albums (most notably in Big’s “Last Days” and Puff’s “It’s All About the Benjamins”), one of the hottest Hip-Hop joints coming out of the 914.
The album found huge success, peaking at number three on the US Billboard 200 and number one on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums, and spawned two charting singles, “Money, Power & Respect” and “If You Think I’m Jiggy”. In 2008, the title track was ranked number 53 on Vh1’s 100 Greatest Songs of Hip Hop.
The LOX entered their mainstream career well prepared, garnering a gold album and a gold single within months (the album went platinum in ’99). Combs was instrumental in that success, from considering the endorsement by fellow Yonkers artist Mary J. Blige, to shortening the somewhat nerdy name The Warlocks to The LOX (which came to stand for Living Off Xperience), to providing the label’s production expertise. As Mase and Puff himself covered Bad Boy’s pop-rap which was in heavy rotation, The LOX, continued the gritty street rap New York was known for and like The Notorious BIG, they could combine commercial, madd microphone skills and that underground street flava.
After commercial success with Bad Boy Records, The LOX decided it was time for a change.
In the summer of 1999, the trio found themselves disappointed with the direction of Bad Boy, and the trio wanted to be released from their contract in order to join Ruff Ryders. The Ruff Ryders had always served as The Lox’s managers and the group felt like the new label could better represent the hard-core sensibilities which they expressed in their rhymes. Bad Boy was known for its radio-friendly dance hits and high priced videos, while the Lox were quickly establishing themselves as hardcore rap artists. The identities clashed — “We just needed to be with a rougher label,” said Sheek Louch. “A harder label that fits our image.”
The Lox tried all of the legal maneuvering available to be released from their contract with Bad Boy. However, the lawyers and conference calls did not work. At a New York rap concert, the trio sported “Let The LOX Go” T-shirts and sparked a grassroots movement to “Free The Lox.” Pressure resultant from the campaign ultimately caused Bad Boy and Puff Daddy to release the trio from their contract and they went on to record the sophomore album, “We Are The Streets,” containing the anthem, “Wild Out”, and several collabos with their Double-R Brethren.
“We really changed the game by doing that,” says Styles concerning the contractual drama. “It might take years from now, but other people are gonna do it. We made it so they don’t have to be scared to speak up.”
What followed was a series of solo albums, an extensive list of collaborations (individually and collectively), the opening and operating of a few juices bars, their own label D-Blok in partnership with Roc Nation, releasing their long-awaited junior effort, “Filthy America…It’s Beautiful,” in 2016 and a 4-track EP titled “4 No Reason” in 2017.
Black Westchester salutes the legendary Lox who have carve their place in Hip-Hop and represented Y-O to the fullest