Militia Claim Victory Thanks To Debut Single

Hip-hop quintet introduces itself to the rap world via its first hit song, 'Burn.'

Rapper Diz and his hip-hop soldiers in Militia have been marching forward this

year, largely on the strength of their hit single,

HREF="http://www.addict.com/music/Militia/Burn.ram">"Burn"

(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

marijuana.

"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

Island, N.Y.

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" (RealAudio excerpt), performed by all five Militia members in a

give-and-take attack.

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

date.

"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."