It is clear that each MC can hold his own on the mic, but then again; when they team up they form a super group. So why change a winning team? Standing together as the VA Union, Mr Ripley and Kallihan, are not only uniting MC’s but childhood friends who grew up like brothers. The chemistry of this duo has attracted some of the hottest producers in the game including Focus (AFAM/Aftermath), Stic (Dead Prez) and Needlz (G-Unit) who have or are contributing heat to there current project Separate But Equal. This project is the first of six albums completed that are locked, loaded and ready to hit the streets. Read on as the duo reveals more about Separate But Equal, their affiliation with Aftermath and main goals in the industry.
For those who don’t know you, who are Kallihan and Mr Ripley?
Mr Ripley: Kallihan and Mr Ripley are two emcees out of a clique called 7th Day from Virginia. We’re the forefront of the new VA movement called VA Union. We want to make that specifically clear up front that VA Union is not just the two of us…it’s the whole VA movement as a whole, the streets as well as the music.
You’re in ATL, did the local music scene encourage you to pursue a professional hip hop career?
Mr Ripley: We are currently based in ATL doing our thing. As most people know ATL is running the charts and the industry is only but SO big…so you can make contact with just about every major figure in the game here. The industry at this point is really made up of NY, LA, and ATL so here we are. The local scene here is already “industry” referring to the hustle and grind of pumping your music and creating that buzz. Artists here go at it like major labels, I mean it’s like a gazillion independent labels here, so I guess in a way there’s a strong inspiration to go get it…I mean you even see “clowns” out here with garbage music, making moves because their hustle and grind…so it’s like damn, if they doing it we got to get this paper, big up to dame dash for that inspirational quote, ha!
Okay…so what’s your opinion on the ATL sound, crunk music?
Kallihan: Okay it’s not all crunk, it’s like ATL is bass crunk music, but it’s lyricists as well…big up TI, Ludacris, Lil Jon, Outkast and Young Jeezy. Crunk music is like hard dance music that in my opinion originated in Miami, it’s like the South version of slam dance music. it’s cool, I love it!
Okay so you’re currently in ATL, are you working on your music career fulltime?
Mr Ripley: Oh yeah most definitely.
Kallihan: Matter fact we working overtime!!
Mr Ripley: I heard you in Amsterdam wassup on some shows over there, I know they’ll love this new movement we got poppin’ now, plus I know I’ll love the greenery!(laughs)
Yeah I’m from Holland, you should definitely do a show over here guys. Holland loves hip hop, a lot of US artists come here to perform, Em, Common…Anyway, tell me more about your current project Separate But Equal.
Mr Ripley: The concept of Seperate But Equal started with the fact that me and Kallihan have been creating a buzz on the solo tip, with him working over with the Aftermath camp and me under the umbrella of So So Def with Da Brat. Basically we grew up together and always grinded together so it made sense to do a project together with our separate buzz and make it one…the same thing we’re doing with the VA union as a whole, making it not just about us but all of the new and upcoming artists out of VA coming together as one.
Kallihan: When me and Mister Dot come together it’s like two blends…He’s a lyricist and I’m that street nigga. Together we bring each other to our own respective crowds. So you getting true emcees from the streets providing lyricism and hardcore-from the curb-in yo face-raw energy!
Okay so you joined forces. what are the most important things you learned from each other along the way?
Kallihan: I’ve learned from Ripley how to be patient and to read a lot. A lot of things that he touches on in his lyrics, I’ve learned how to understand a lot of why we do certain things to each other as people…he’s a lil’ thinker type of nigga. (laughs)
Mr Ripley: A lot of street shit I know came from running with this nigga and the rest of the goons that was around growing up since lil’ younginz. As far as music, I’ve learned how to spit more aggressive and bring that shit from the gut…let your soul speak no matter what. I’m the type to hold back a little to avoid misunderstandings, but from him it’s like “F— it” sometimes things call for a little confrontation! He’s good now though I think he’s learned a lot from me as far as controlling your emotions and turning it into organization as far as planning when to act a fool…so don’t sleep on neither one of us…ever! (laughs)
You were introduced to Sway by Aftermath producer Focus, who has been working with Dr Dre on Detox. You contributed to the new material as well by penning some verses for Dre. Can you reveal anything about the content of those verses and your Aftermath affiliation?
Kallihan: Yeah I was introduced to Sway by way of Focus who I’m currently still working with. Sway heard the joint I did on Focus’ track with a couple of other artists and he liked my verse, had me redo the track solo and put me on the Back 2 Basics album, which is out now so go get that joint! But actually Ripley did the verses for Dre.
Mr Ripley: Yeah basically I was doing some work with Focus out in LA at the studio while he was doing a track for the “doctor”. Focus just basically said “Look I got this track I’m doing for Dre, put a verse to it and see what happens” so I recorded the joint and he sent it to him. From what I understand, Dre liked the joint and actually recorded it. BUT that was BEFORE Dre changed his mind and changed his mind again to do it, feel me, so I don’t even think that will get placed being that it was done before he changed his mind the first time, but ya never know…If so, I’m coming to Amsterdam to stay…live off the land ya heard?!! But as far as us being ‘Aftermath’ artists, we are not signed to the label…yet! Keep an ear out, we have a few labels nibbling at us, we just keep the streets calling for us right now though so we patient for the right deal and situation.
Kallihan: Go get that Back 2 Basics too niggaz, big up to Royce 5, Chino, Kam from Watts, Crooked…y’all know what it is.
Mr Ripley: Yeah and big up to Focus, as well as Verb and Rock. Verb also helped pen some verses on that Dre track too, what up niggaz…South Central waddup?!
As you just said, you are on Sway and King Tech’s Back To Basics, as well as several other mixtapes. How did that help your career so far?
Kallihan: It’s helped getting me and this movement a bigger buzz. It’s a stepping stone as far as adding to my resume. It got me in magazines, radio, TV, shoes, and it’s helping me and my clique get known worldwide. Even my nigga in the pen in North Carolina heard about the album behind the walls so that was big for me, for my nigga to know that we on the way to break him the f— out, big up my nigga Crook, the big homie…also my nigga Gimmie, Lou Don, J “Wildman”, and my nigga JJ just came home after 10 years, so understand this is big for us to make this shit happen…so yeah, go get that Back 2 Basics album again, big up Sway and Tech!
What is the basic idea behind the track “We Don’t Give A
Kallihan: It’s like “We don’t give a f—” about anything or anybody that’s trying to subdue us from getting our money or our just due, we don’t care who you are, you could be a midget to a giant, streets or getting you through your bank account, we don’t give a f—!! We don’t need any negative shit trying to stop us from doing us…we don’t give a f— by any means we getting this paper and if you try to f—- us over we’ll pop your face off! (laughs)
Ripley, I understood that you are Da Brat’s hypeman. What’s up with that?
Mr Ripley: It’s just this simple, I’m in the streets tearing niggaz out the frame on the mic and she happened to bear witness to one of my exhibitions of lyrical onslaught and devastation of my opponents. (laughs) We exchanged numbers…she called me like 3 months later. Put me in the studio with her and J.D. to check my work ethic, saw that I was for real and invited me to hit the road with her to get some worldwide recognition as well as experience…my first show was on the line-up right before 50 Cent, rocking a crowd of close to 50,000 a capella…no joke! I went from a few hundred to thousands of people to perform in front of all over the country. I’ve learned a lot from the “lady homie”! Big up to Brat, that’s the home girl right there! She’s working on that new album under this new Virgin situation so prepare for some brand new reinvented hardcore Brat shit and look out for ya boy on there too, we’ve done a few tracks together, so I’m working on a placement to make it on that project too, shout to J.D., and the whole So So Def!
You grew up with G-Unit producer Needlz. Does he have any influence on your music?
Mr Ripley: Yeah, me and Needlz went to school together down South. I would say that he does influence me a little with the tracks that he presents to me, because the guy is major now and on the come up, for real, so it’s definitely an influence to come my hardest as to maintain the same energy as the track…plus I got to admit that there’s competition with every other artist that he’s given a track to…I have to show him that the songs we do are just as good and just as deserving of the honor to bless that heat he throwing out, big up to Needlz and Dry Rain Entertainment, they’re next…along with VA Union! (laughs)
In an industry that is controlled by the big budgets, the little people often get overlooked. Majors are being overloaded with artists looking for a record deal. In what way does VA Union differ from the other MC’s out there, why should they sign you?
Kallihan: Because we’re better than your top ranked artists at the top of the charts right now, and we make good quality music with substance that the streets and even white America loves. The powers that be know this and don’t want their spots taken and their record sales of their favorite artists to decline, but there is nothing they can do, because what’s in the books is already written…this has to happen, these things must happen take place!
Mr Ripley: Basically, with or without the majors…we major already so know it or get to know it! VA Union is what it is…just watch and listen!
What’s next for you, separate and as a group?
Kalliahan: What’s next for us? A major label opportunity in the works, independent label movement with this VA Union shit, so as long as the money is right we going to continue to give a 100 percent, which is what we’ve been doing from day 1, even without the paper that we trying to get!
Mr Ripley: Plus shows, shows, and more shows…starting out on the East coast to the South coast to the West coast, Midwest and back home to the middle!
Okay guys, any last words to our visitors?
Kallihan: To all the readers and the staff at the site itself, big up for showing love and giving some hungry niggaz like us a chance to show the world what’s coming. Also, I’d like to give a shout out to the whole VA union, 7th Day, my brother Gimmie II, Crook, Lou Don, my nigga Ripley, Solar (welcome home), Petersburg, Ebo Smallz, Trey Songz, Tyra, Illyaas, Chesterfield, BRP, Richmond, Seven Cities, 757, 804, the whole VA movement man…also Sway and Tech for giving me my first shine on the album (go get that), my nigga Hellraiza on the joint with me out of Brooklyn, Focus, Fess Taylor and Norm Beats out of stat…I can’t name a lot of names but y’all know who y’all are and my nigga Wells for putting this whole thing together!
Mr Ripley: yeah, yeah, everything he said… plus big shout out to you, Anne, for the love and for hooking our first show up in Amsterdam! (laughs) But to all the readers and artists that want to get at us for shows, collabos, whatever…get at us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also I can’t forget big up to the Kohortz out of that middle GA in the ATL right now, HARDKO, Skitz from VA, Wegotnow.com, that’s the family right there, Daniels Design Group, Black Elephant out of Miltown…RIP to my nigga Rog McBride and my homie and friend that just left us in July, Chris “Black” Wright. Look out for Vonda Wright, mark my words, she’s crazy on the vocals and big up to my nigga Swaggz and Wells for the hook up…Look out world, VA Union is here! I have to add that not only the poverty crisis in America is bad, but so is the crisis that is going on in South Sudan right now, support and uplift ALL our peoples, shout out to Neal Kelly…
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