8 BALL & MJG LIFE BIOGRAPHY:
8 Ball and MJG are genuine rap giants, and if the South were it’s own country, they would be national treasures. For starters, they were the first rap act from Memphis to go platinum and one of the first in the region to attain nationwide success. In their hometown of Memphis, TN, they have successfully accelerated the pace at which rap fans breathe, injecting their faces and trademark style into the veins of America’s heartland. The magnitude of their sound is so far reaching it has rocked the block in cities as far North as Brooklyn, NY and as far West as Compton, making artists like Mobb Deep and DJ Quick, Nelly and Ludacris not only stand up and take notice of the duo, but also become fans for life. In fact, if you ask the average rapper or the average fan, most of them will tell you the same thing: The first Southern rap records that captivated them and changed their lives forever were 8 Ball and MJG. To put it blunt, 8 Ball and MJG are THE rap group of the south.
8 Ball puts it to us this way, “The difference between us and the other groups people would compare us with is that those groups grew up on us,”
In the early years 8ball (Premro Smith) and MJG (Marlon Jermaine Goodwin) grew up in the rough Orange Mound area of Memphis and met at Ridgeway Junior High in 1984. They shared a passion for hip-hop, which hadn't yet made a strong impact in the South, and soon formed a partnership.
8ball & MJG may have never made a significant impact nationally during their rise to fame in the 1990s, yet they indeed made an incredible impact throughout the South, where the Memphis-bred duo pioneered what countless Dirty South rappers would emulate years later. The two began on the Southern underground circuit, where they peddled their tapes in such major markets as Memphis, Houston, and Atlanta. After a few years of this, 8ball & MJG helped launch Suave House Records with savvy 20-year-old CEO Tony Draper in 1993, and attract a pair of national distribution deals soon afterward. The label released 8ball & MJG's debut full-length, Comin' Out Hard (1993), a cult classic produced entirely by the duo and popularized by the song "Armed Robbery".
By the end of the '90s, just as the Dirty South movement broke nationally, the duo issued their final Suave House album, the classic 'In Our Lifetime, Vol. 1', which declared the duo as pioneers for Southern rap. Few argued, as the two, and particularly 8ball, made countless cameo appearances for an array of fellow Southern rappers, earning the duo respect for their work ethic and diplomacy as well as their mature perspective and street-smart wits.
Each year the duo were together brought with it a new successive album: 'On the Outside Looking In', released in 1994, and 'On Top of the World', released in 1995, which was distributed nationally by Relativity. These releases continued to expand the duo's reach throughout the South, so much so that Universal Records offered Suave House Records CEO, Tony Draper, a lucrative distribution deal in 1997. 8ball & MJG afterward released a pair of solo albums. 8ball took to the stand first with his release 'Lost' in 1997, and was duely followed by his partner MJG with his release, 'No More Glory' in 1998.
8 Ball & MJG then went on to record their crowning achievement, 'In Our Lifetime Vol. 1' in 1999. The album elevated the duo to nationally recognized status and earned universal acclaim, ultimately standing as one of the definitive Dirty South albums of the era, alongside Goodie Mob's Soul Food, and all of OutKast's late-'90s work.
After the success of their 'In Our Lifetime Vol. 1' album, 8ball & MJG finally began flirting with crossover success, and parted ways with Suave House in 1999 and maintained a relatively low profile for a few years, until they notably signed to P Diddy's Bad Boy label in 2002. They then began recording an album for Jcor (Space Age 4 Eva) in 2000, and scoring a widespread club hit ("Buck Bounce") in the meantime. After signing 8 Ball & MJG, an Executive at Bad Boy explained, "8 Ball and MJG are to down South what Biggie was to New York and what Tupac was to the West Coast."
A new track, "Don't Make", started to appear on mixtapes in 2003 and was followed by the duo's first album for Bad Boy, Living Legends, in May of 2004. The album will forever remain firmly planted in Southern soil thanks to premier producers work on the album, like Lil’ Jon, Jazze Pha, David Banner and Bad Boy beat-maker Stevie J, as well as guest rappers like Ludacris and UGK’s Bun B. The album was then followed up by 'The video Street Heat: Live' and 'Ghettoville: The Soundtracks' which both landed in 2005.
Together, 8 Ball and MJG are the necessary symmetry of two eyes, two arms--a unit born of the same hood. “We grew up in a few blocks from each other. That weighs more than anything that could come between us. The friendship will be first,” 8 Ball explains. “At the end of the day if I ain’t got nothing in the world but my underwear I know that’s my friend…that’s what keeps us together, where we come from.”
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