Rapper Diz and his hip-hop soldiers in Militia have been marching forward this
year, largely on the strength of their hit single,
(RealAudio excerpt), ironically a song that was inspired by the crew's futile
search for a hit of marijuana.
The tune, off the quintet's self-titled debut album, tells the story of a rap crew
with its mind set on one thing and one thing only -- getting stoned.
"We were in the studio and we were trying to burn something, and we couldn't
get our hands on it and that was the focus," said 22-year-old Diz, a.k.a. Jamaal
Smith, on a break from a video shoot in Los Angeles. Diz and his partner
Deviuz, a.k.a. Donald Silas, 23, founded the group and set its tone.
"Burn" was the first song that Diz and Deviuz wrote together, and to hear Diz tell
it, it will probably be the last penned without the creative assistance of
"The beat was playing, and [Deviuz and I] were writing lyrics," Diz recalled.
"[But finding some weed] was all that was on his mind. That was all that was on
my mind. No lies, no mystery. We are a couple fiends, right? We burn
continuously. This is not a song, this is a way of life."
Initially formed as a duo in Oakland, Calif., Militia's ranks swelled to five MCs --
Diz, Deviuz, Ms. Toi, Lord G and Mr. Tan -- as their latest album, released Feb.
24, came together in Los Angeles. The group's expansion was all part of the
larger vision that Diz and Deviuz had for themselves.
"It all played into the picture of what me and Diviuz were trying to do," Diz said,
"which was ... to be able to break out different artists. [We wanted] an outlet
where people wouldn't have to be worried about being in with the Westside
Connection or Tha Dogg Pound or trying to get with a clique of people to make
it on the West Coast.
"We were going to make our own family tree ... plant the seed, lay the
foundations and let it grow."
The five Militia MCs enlisted from points all across the U.S.; Diz was raised in
Oklahoma City, Deviuz and Ms. Toi are Los Angeles natives and Lord G cut his
teeth in Detroit, while Mr. Tan honed his rapping skills in his hometown of Long
Although most tracks on Militia showcase the skills of three or four of the
rappers, the crew gives fans a taste of what's to come for the crew on
HREF="http://www.addict.com/music/Militia/Who's_The_Next.ram">"Who's The Next"
Next"(RealAudio excerpt), performed by all five Militia members in a
But "Burn" is Militia's calling card. Written as a jaunty ode to the joys of
continuously smoking pot, it bounces along, driven by giddy keyboard riffs. The
lyrics express the group's blunt pro-marijuana philosophy: "Let's burn, until the
sun burns your eyes/ keep burnin' til it sets on the Westside/ let's ride and stay
high all night/ let's just ride and stay high all night."
Producer Emanuel Dean (Dr. Dre, Snoop Doggy Dogg, Daz) expressed some
surprise at the success of the single "Burn," which has sold 119,000 copies to
"I was happy that was the single," Dean said. "I hear it when I go to clubs.
They've been playing it a lot. I appreciate the [message]. I think it was a good
song to put out, but I didn't expect it to come together the way it has."