Young Gunz Becoming The Big Shots Of State Property

Teen duo climb charts while clique deals with legal problems.

NEW YORK — They can't stop, they won't stop, and it was showing a couple of weeks ago when Philadelphia's Young Gunz came to the Big Apple during a day off from the Rock the Mic tour.

The usually energetic Chris Ries was pressed for time because he had to catch a jet with Jay-Z, and he could barely keep his eyes open because of his early morning wakeup call. It was all good, though, because his usually quieter half, Hanif "Neef" Muhammad, stepped to the plate and explained how their "Can't Stop, Won't Stop" went from being a mixtape cut six months ago to being a radio hit now.

"As soon as we put it out, a lot of DJs was playing it," Neef said. "[New York radio DJ] Enuff was probably the first one playing it, then it just spread and got crazy. They was picking up early on this one. We was doing shows out there real early, just off of that song."

The teenage duo, who have known each other since middle school, will continue to do shows the next few weeks even though their stint on Rock the Mic is done. They're staying on the road to spread the word for both the just released State Property Presents: The Chain Gang Vol. II and their own upcoming debut LP.

"When we get off this [tour], we gotta go back to work and finish our little album," Neef explained. "We got a couple more joints to do. They're rushing to put our album out right now. We already have two albums [worth of material done] but we feel like doing some new sh--. We'll bang out like six or seven more records and we're on our way.

"It's gonna be crazy, we might name it Tough Love," he continued. "There's a lot of tough love on the album as far as coming at the girls, us talking to each other. We got a joint called 'Tough Love' where we be coming at each other. We got a joint coming at our older brothers. So it's some young'uns that's before their time, talking, that's all."

As the youngest members of State Property, Chris and Neef, both 19, along with Freeway, have had to carry most of the weight for their rhyme family on tour and on the airwaves. Their teammates Peedi Crakk and Oschino have only recently been released from jail, and the collective's captain, Beanie Sigel, remains incarcerated without bail (see "Beanie Sigel Denied Bail"). Before Beans got arrested in July, he and Crakk were scheduled to shoot the video for SP's "When You Hear That" with ODB. Oshino's partner Sparks has also not been able to tour for personal reasons.

"We don't feel no pressure," said Neef, who had his own problems with the law after being arrested for gun possession in May. "This is our job. It's a lot of stuff going on, but we gotta keep it moving. That's how we gonna feed our families and that's how we gonna get them out of those situations."

It almost seems a miracle that all of State Property were together long enough to knock out their second album as a collective. On "G.A.M.E." the team demands reverence as Chris raps in a sing-songy flow, "Y'all n---as is our pets/You mutts, you ain't a boss, you young'uns go play fetch/ You gonna R-E-S-P-E-C-T me now."

The call for deference carries over to the next track, "Just Another N---a," on which Sigel, Oschino and Sparks rhyme about beating the odds. Newcomer J.I. sings State Property's blues on the chorus. "People used to tell that I'll be just another n---a," the impassioned guest star croons. "Understand y'all don't know me, because I'm not gonna be just another n---a."

Sigel chimes in with some defiant food for thought: "People said I'll be dead in the streets/ I'm getting bread trying to spread with my peeps/ Sit behind a desk and scraper, I know I'm destined for greatness/ Y'all thought y'all read about my death in the paper."

Against the soulful funk track of "Want Me Back," the crew reminisces about people who couldn't see State Property's potential before they became rappers. "Blow" also tells about the 'hood old days, before everybody blew up. Meanwhile, "Still in Effect" finds Free and Neef dropping braggadocio raps.

State Property Presents: The Chain Gang Vol. II is in stores now. The Young Gunz said that if they don't finish their LP in time for an October release, they'll drop it early next year.