Towards the end of last month, fast-rising Oakland rappers ALLBLACK and Offset Jim revealed plans for a collaborative project titled 22nd Ways. Introduced alongside the debut of its Capolow-assisted lead single “Fees,” 22nd Ways is set to deliver ten new tracks from the aforementioned pairing, with the entirety of its production coming from the duo of P-Lo and Cal-A. Now, adding to the 22nd Ways rollout, ALLBLACK and Offset Jim are following up their recent “Demon” single with ShooterGang Kony by sharing another new single in support of their upcoming full-length. Reconnecting with Stacking Memories, the Bay Area hometown-heroes are unveiling a visual for the 22nd Ways cut “Got That Fire.”
“We’ve known each other since second or third grade,” ALLBLACK shares with us, opening up about the origins of his close relationship with his 22nd Ways collaborator Offset Jim. “His mom and my mom were friends since the 80s, early 90s.”
“My mom and his mom are from the same neighborhood, and me and him are from the same neighborhood,” Offset Jim adds.
You can take a look at ALLBLACK and Offset Jim’s new, Stacking Memories-directed video for “Got That Fire” above, and read our exclusive interview with the Bay Area duo below. ALLBLACK and Offset Jim’s forthcoming joint project 22nd Ways is scheduled for release on Tuesday, October 22 via Play Runners Association/EMPIRE, and is currently available for pre-order.
Growing up, did you two have the same taste in music?
Offset Jim: We definitely had the same taste in music, from the old school music to the new school music we listened to.
ALLBLACK: We were huge Hot Boys fans … more than anything we were big, big Hot Boys fan. We f*cked with hella other people too, but Hot Boys were everything. BG, Turk, everybody was hard! We had a lot more too, but the Hot Boys era was everything. I used to go to school with bandanas on.
Regarding PRA, how did your group come to be?
ALLBLACK: We’ve been knowing Prada and Geechie. Geechie’s my brother, blood wouldn’t make us closer; Prada’s my cousin, blood wouldn’t make us closer — it wouldn’t mean nothing. It’s always been me and Jim; Jim is the frontline, he’s like the muscle and puts the force behind it. Rolla is the brain. The whole team plays a part.
What motivated you guys to link up for this specific project?
Offset Jim: Chemistry — just how easy it is for us to get in there. He does him and I do me and it just came together like that. It’s just easy for us to come together.
ALLBLACK: We’ve been saying we were gonna make a 22nd Ways project — way, way before this came out. The shit he’s going through and the shit I’m going through, it just meshed. All of that shit just meshed.
Why do you think you two have such good chemistry as rappers?
Offset Jim: We were already cool before we started rapping. We were already around each other for years and years. Rap is sort of secondary to all the other shit we’ve been through.
ALLBLACK: We talk every single f*cking day, literally. Literally, we talk to each other every single day; he calls to check on me to make sure I’m breathing; we check on each other’s kids; all of that. We’ve been doing this; everything you all see, it’s times five, times ten. Everything you see with us being together, it’s way more than that; we do that times five, we do that shit all the time. I got off the road last night from San Diego, from the Rams game, and as soon as I pull up, he’s right behind me. We talk to each other all the time, all day, and it don’t be about music; the shit we talking about really don’t be about music a lot of the times.
Has the relationship between you guys changed at all since getting into rap?
Offset Jim: It ain’t changed. It just made more opportunities for both of us. It really made us stronger and made a way for everyone around us too.
ALLBLACK: We have a big impact on the streets. The people around us, we thought they were influenced before the music, but now, it’s f*cking crazy. Oakland’s the trendsetter for a lot of shit. We’re well-respected, we can pull up in anyone’s hood and do whatever the f*ck we want, whenever. It’s all love, good vibes. Now with the music, it’s more. It brought us closer and made us more on-point and tapped in with each other.
Do you guys have the same ear for beats?
ALLBLACK: (laughs) It’s a lot of shit that he don’t f*ck with (laughs). It could be clown shit to him, it could be corny as f*ck. There’s certain shit that is corny as f*ck to him, but he’s a team player. I ain’t gonna make him do nothing that’s gonna go against his religion or make him look crazy. There’s just shit that he does not like at all — like corny ass shit. He probably thinks that like 75% of the beats that are on here are corny as f*ck (laughs). Jim, tell me if I’m wrong.
Offset Jim: Hell nah. It’s true too! I’m kind of difficult with the beats. I can say everything that I don’t like, but I don’t really know what kind of beats I do like (laughs).
ALLBLACK: The producer could be in there playing a beat like, “I wanna show Offset Jim some shit!” I’m very excited, I’m very nice about things like that — and he’s cool too — but we could be in the studio and someone could be trying to show him beats, and he’ll be on his phone and he won’t talk. He literally won’t talk. We will not say nothing. Me, I’ll try to put some input on it … he will not say nothing, he will sit there. IF the beat gets loaded up of if they gas it up too much, he’ll text my phone like, “this shit trash, this shit corny.” This motherf*cker is crazy (laughs). He don’t know when to put his filter on. Good person though.
I was picky as f*ck too, but my manager … there were things that I thought were corny as f*ck, but he was like, “Dust, I got you.” So, it made me more open. That’s the least I can do for Jim, but if he don’t like it, he don’t like it.
Does being an artist for a living now make you more open-minded when it comes to beats and music in general?
Offset Jim: Yeah, the last few months it’s been making me like that. Eventually, we’re gonna get bigger than we are, and sometiems you got to step outside your comfort ozne and challenge yourself on certain beats. That’s what we been doing lately.
ALLBLACK: I agree fully. That’s exactly what it is. I listen to a lot of different shit, like that classic shit. Me and Jim, we listen to a lot of oldies — hella oldies. Me, I like to listen to that classic rock shit; I could sing Journey to you, I could sing Cyndi Lauper to you with no problem. I’ve always been open to music.
When you guys record and make music as a duo, do you rap together in-person or separately and just add verses to the songs?
Offset Jim: We been doing it together for the most part.
ALLBLACK: We do this together. I ain’t never did a song with him where it was some “add your verse” type shit. Especially on 22nd Ways; we flew out to LA to sit down with P-Lo and Cal-A and do all that together. If I did something and he wasn’t there, I would be back in the studio with him while he did his shit.
We’re gonna run what’s on our minds, P-Lo gives us the party vibes regardless; P-Lo beats gonna give you that homestyle turnt-up shit that we can turn into some street shit and some new shit. Cal-A got the trippy, out-of-body urban vibes. He got that urban feel.
After 22nd Ways, are you guys planning on releasing more collaborative projects like this?
ALLBLACK: Hell yeah.
Offset Jim: Hell yeah, got to give the people what they want — especially if it’s original, and we already got a relationship for music. Why not?
ALLBLACK: I know it’s gonna inspire other motherf*ckers to do the same. We the only ones from our section or the West period that’s really doing this shit; there ain’t no group break-ups or any of that little square-ass shit. I wanna put that on record: all that little square-ass breaking up, “I’m not talking to you” shit, that shit is some square shit — that’s like industry shit to us. It ain’t just, “we cool because we come together when there’s music” — none of that shit; or, “we’re staying together because this is what the people want” — that’s weird, that’s some weird ass relationship. I just never got it, I never understood how somebody can claim they grew up with someone and came in the game with someone; you can’t outgrow someone you day-by-day with. I don’t get it. I’m different, I wouldn’t leave my n***a behind. I wouldn’t give a f*ck about the season or reason.
Offset Jim: That’s definitely true.
ALLBLACK: These n***as be cornballs for real. Soul for the money type shit. A group got a song and one artist not on it; one artist didn’t make the hook; one artist stops working for a minute and one popping and got that momentum right then and there. Of course, the fans and the media love to divide people, they love to compare. That gets to the artist’s head, then he all pumped up … looking like a souped-up, on-steroid weirdo. I just never respected it.
That’s that steroids, that’s what it be. I call it steroids: you not naturally yoked; you not naturally buff; you not naturally running n***as over and accomplishing shit; you not really lifting those weights naturally off hard work and dedication. Hard work and dedication is when you hitting them weights; when you working out with push-ups; running tracks; staying in shape. All of that shit is natural when you do it, when you put your leg work in personally, on your own. That’s not steroids. When you got the people juicing you or you’re getting handouts, I count all of that as steroids. There’s backlash to steroids. When you’re on steroids, it shows; you got to keep taking it to keep that image up, to survive … weird shit, cornball shit.
All of this is us. It’s always the same energy.
As far as solo projects, what specifically are you guys working on right now?
Offset Jim: Nothing really confirmed all the way yet, but No Pressure 2 for sure. I don’t got a date or nothing, but I’m definitely working on No Pressure 2.
ALLBLACK: I’m just albuming up, that’s it. It’s about time for me to get on that album shit. I pulled that old-school YG shit; YG used to drop saucy-ass mixtapes, old-school projects that you swore were albums — Just Re’d Up, Just Re’d Up 2, all of the old-school shit. You would swear it was a ’90s album the way he was dropping them mixtapes and doing all of that. Then he came with the album and the album was just crazy. It was the same exact message and same shit, and when he turned to album mode, they bought it and the fans appreciated him for it. When the album came, it was a no-brainer, you knew it was gonna be a f*cking hit. When he was doing that, that was the rawest shit ever. Literally, you would have swore those were albums. The way they say albums were supposed to be, that’s how he was dropping mixtapes. That’s what I’m on now; I’m on that THank You For F*cking With Me shit.