In this day and age, with most of our attention spans and tastes dictated by the flow of social media and Youtube, release dates filled with “event albums” from the likes of Jay Z, Kanye, and J. Cole are considered major successes if record sales manage to break into six-digit numbers. In the 90's, however, those numbers were commonplace for artists affiliated with the Louisiana-based No Limit Records squad fronted by New Orleans rapper and entrepreneur Master P. At the very top of this southern-bred crop of artists was fellow New Orleans original Fiend, whose 1998 No Limit debut There's One in Every Family went gold within a month and shot to the top spot of Billboard's R&B/Hip-Hop albums chart. It was a success, and one that had been well-deserved and worked towards to by someone who describes himself as “addicted to music.”
From the start of his childhood, the now 37 year-old Richard Jones (known as “Fiend”) was enamored by hip-hop culture. From breakdancing to Rakim to the confidence espoused by rappers, he was hooked.
“I was seeing great emcees on TV and I was just moved by it,” Fiend says. And from there he knew he needed to be involved in hip-hop, and he began immersing himself in rap's culture. “It went from being my art — the way to express myself — to my 9-5, my 11-7, my 7-3.”
By the time the mid-to-late 90's came, Fiend was a local legend, one of his region's apostles of aggressive lyricism. Even before linking up with Master P's No Limit camp, he was on a path to becoming one of the south's strongest independent stars.
“If you had enough flow in you, say you found someone to put some money behind you, and they put some money behind you, and you were the real deal. You'd blow up. That was that,” he says.
Towards the latter part of 1997 was when Fiend's career finally catapulted to a peak and when he crossed paths with Percy Miller — A.K.A. Master P. Other local acts such as rap duo Kane N Abel were already starting to start making moves on both a national and regional scale, and with the combination of Fiend's work ethic and talent and No Limit's backing Fiend quickly became one of the next crowned kings of Louisiana rap.
“We were an alien. We were a unique object. There was nothing like us, we were one of a kind. It was like Dogg Pound and Death Row. It was a great run while it lasted,” reminisces Fiend.
Though his time with No Limit only lasted a few years, Fiend was quick to bounce back into the scene by continuing to produce new music and new albums, and in the 2000's he began collaborating with buzzing New Orleans rapper and one-time Cash Money/No Limit affiliate Currensy, and as a result opened up his music to a whole new fanbase and received a bit of a resurgence.
"A close friend of mine was managing and still is managing Currensy, and he was working on a few things here and there, and he was like 'You mind getting on a song for me?' I get on it, keep it moving. I see him again and he asked me to do something else, so I get on it. Whether he was filling up his tape or wanted me on there I did it, no questions asked. Years later, for him [Currensy] to get his bubble, I figured he was keeping it all the way G and extending that helping hand back. And, we mesh well.”
Years after his initial encounter with Currensy, both artists are still benefiting from their relationship, and Fiend's mindset remains the same. Even after decades in the game, he still remains a self-described “hip-hop baby,” with an intense admiration for the artistry and craft of hip-hop and a work ethic that constantly keeps him on his toes.
“I'm making movies to this day. I'm relevant to this day. You can't count on your hands too many people who are,” he says. “At the end of the day, you have to be more than a rapper and emcee. You have to be an entertainer, an artist, and a musician to be able to survive and do tours and have people wanting to support your music. You don't have to hustle the people, you just have to have hustle in you.”
Jet Life Presents: The Red Eye Tour with Young Roddy, Cornerboy P, and Fiend tonight at the Constellation Room, 10 P.M. For more show info, click here.