Although Tha Liks are focused on duplicating their homie Xzibit's fan base expansion with the June 26 release of the X.O. Experience, they've already been developing new projects that will keep them busy at least through the end of the year.
The group's J-Ro is executive producing a tribute album to murdered funk pioneer Roger Troutman. Troutman, the leader of his family's band Zapp, has had endless influence on the hip-hop community artists such as Heavy D, EPMD, Dr. Dre, Tupac and DJ Quik have all sampled his records for their songs. Troutman was shot to death in April of 1999 by his brother Larry in a murder/suicide (see "Zapp's Roger And Larry Troutman Killed In Apparent Murder-Suicide").
One of those deeply affected was J-Ro, who said he was inspired to start the compilation two days after he heard about the tragedy. He got on the phone to his peers, who also felt the loss. Ro said that "just about every rapper on the West Coast" has already contributed tracks, with Snoop Dogg and Kurupt among them. Ro also said Erick Sermon has reached out to him to be down with the project. The LP, tentatively tiled A Tribute to Roger, will feature the MCs doing their renditions of Troutman's songs. Ro wants to release it independently before the end of the year.
Meanwhile, DJ E-Swift is spearheading a project that will bring together hip-hop producers, who, like himself, also rock the mic. "Everybody's down," said Swift, who's reached out to the likes of Pete Rock, Diamond and Prince Paul. "We're hoping to start on that real soon." E-Swift isn't sure whether the album will be a supergroup project or a compilation. He plans to put it out on his label, Street Soul Music.
Tash, the only member of the group who has dropped a solo project, has lately been moonlighting as the group's PR man. He dismissed the industry rumor that Tha Liks and their Likwit Crew clique member Xzibit have been having a jealousy-fueled beef. One person who has been fanning those flames of innuendo a bit is LL Cool J. On his new song "Put Your Hands Up" from the Violator the Album: V2.0 LP, LL raps "I split like Xzibit from Tha Liks."
"Yeah, I heard that song," Tash said. "I don't know what he was smoking when he wrote that. X is still down. He's always going to be down. We're working on Tha Likwit Crew album right now. When people don't see you hangin' around a person you always been with, they try to start stuff."