In the early ‘90s, hip-hop took a decisive turn west. Led by Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg, rap in the West Coast got funky and hard, fast. A rivalry developed between East and West Coasts, and music became a deadly business.
Thankfully, Tha Alkaholiks were around to ease up that tension. Formed by DJ E-Swift (Eric Brooks), and MC’s J-Ro (James Robinson) and Tash (Rico Smith), Tha Liks found their niche in the sounds of upbeat hedonism with a hardcore edge that earned them a large underground following in alternative hip-hop.
Their debut album, 21 & Over (1993) featured quintessential party jams like “I Got It Bad Y’All,” “Likwit” and “Only When I’m Drunk.” Tha Liks then toured with KRS-One, Ice Cube and Too Short, released a few more albums, teamed up with mega-hit producers The Neptunes and Rockwilder, and formed an extended family called “the Likwit Crew,” which featured players like Xzibit, Defari, King Tee and Lootpack.
This year, Tha Liks have released Firewater, a back-to-the-roots thirst-quencher for their fans with tracks like “Party Ya Ass Off,” “Turn It Up” and “Chaos.” Also, the group has announced that it’s their last album, with extensive touring to follow.
I talked to E-Swift by phone recently from his home in L.A.
MAUI TIME WEEKLY: Hi E! Sorry it took me so long to get back to you—this week’s been kinda crazy…
E-SWIFT: Yeah, it’s been kinda crazy for me, too. I just moved to Vegas.
Whoa. Why’d you do that? Tash is out there right? Or is it J-Ro?
No, J-Ro’s in Sweden. Tash has been hanging out there for a couple years. The prices of houses out here are ridiculous. Plus, I just wanted a change. I’m real spontaneous. Once I get an idea in my head, I do it.
Yeah, you don’t seem like you have a problem with change, what with all this touring you’re doing.
Our official tour is in August. Right now we’re pretty much in and out of different places—we’re hitting Hawai’i, Australia, Japan and we’re hooking up some spots in the U.S.
How much time do you get here? Have you been to Hawai’i before?
We’re going to a different island every day. We’ll hang out in the daytime and do our shows at night. I’ve been to Hawai’i a few times but it’s been awhile. The last time I was there was two years ago for vacation. It was a week in Honolulu. What’s the main island—I get confused?
Oh, well, Oahu is the city island. Hawai’i is the big island. But you know, Maui’s the best.
Yeah, I haven’t been there yet.
So have you played any shows since releasing Firewater earlier this year?
We’ve played in Canada and a few in the states. The response has been great for it. Of course, we mix it up with older stuff. But you know, we’re known for touring and our live stage shows.
Are you getting sad that this is the big farewell tour? C’mon, E—are you gonna cry or what?
Actually, it’s giving me a chance to do some other stuff. In a group, you’re always on call—it’s hard to do outside projects. But we’re always doing shows. This tour’s gonna last us a while. MTW