I was introduced to hip-hop/r&b collective Turquoise Jeep a couple of weeks before Christmas, when a fellow SOTC contributor recommended Yung Humma’s breakout “Lemme Smang It.” I expected to listen once or twice and then move on, but a month later, Humma’s trademark “Mmm” is still stuck in my head, and his decision to rhyme “smash/bang fusion” with “cooch contusion” continues to astound. Thankfully, I’m not alone. The song’s accompanying music video has tallied more than 1,350,000 YouTube plays, while dozens of fan videos line the sidebar. In December, they released their debut album, Keep the Jeep Ridin’ (aside from “Lemme Smang It,” our favorite cuts include “Fried or Fertilized,” “Cavities,” and “Sex Syrup”), and tonight they open for Big Boi at Atlanta’s Center Stage. In an email exchange, we talked to Turquoise Jeep founding member and “Lemme Smang It”-featured rapper Flynt Flossy about the Jeep’s history and direction.
I’ve had trouble finding almost any information about you guys, so let’s start with some basic stuff: Where are you from, and how and when did the Jeep come together?
We’re from different places, ranging from New York to North Carolina. Whatchyamcallit and myself have always worked together in business; we’ve been partners in crime since day one of the grind, feel me baby? So when I came to him with the idea of Turquoise Jeep Records, it only made sense to him that we start our own label. We had all the means of making it happen. Yung Humma was also a close homie as well, but it wasn’t until we formed the label and signed him as an artist that Humma and Whatchyamacallit really became cool, so that’s how that happened. Pretty Raheem was actually between labels when I approached him. We have always seen each other around, and I heard his work so I knew he had an amazing voice, but we never worked together. So one day I just stepped to him like, “Yo, you need to sign with the Jeep, plain and simple.” It took some negotiation, but he knew it would be the best move for his career.
What about Slick Mahony?
As far as Slick, I won’t lie to you: When I first met him, I had no idea he had any kind of talent. I pretty much looked past him. No offense to my dawg Slick, but we joke about this all the time. I thought he was just a dude that fixed computers or something. Then something told me, “Give this guy a shot in front of the camera.” I’m glad I listened to my gut, because that man completely transforms when the director says, “Action!” Slick never ceases to amaze me. Now Tummiscratch and I have always been really tight too, but I never knew he produced. I knew he made beats here and there, but I didn’t know that’s what he was really trying to do. Then one day he approached me and told me he wanted to be a part of Turquoise Jeep. He sent some tracks, and I was like, “Yo, this dude is the IT for real.” So we have been keeping the Jeep riding since.
How did the album come about? Did you want to make an album from the beginning, or did it start with a couple songs and grow into enough for a full length?
We’re constantly making tracks: Creating music is our addiction. It was to the point where we had so many songs that making an album soon followed. So you can say it was a growth type of thing.
On the tour bus video, you talk about it all happening so fast. When did you realize that Turquoise Jeep would become or had become popular across the country?
Well, we were always blessed with supporters everywhere we went, but I would say it really started to hit us when we began getting a ton of emails from fans explaining how much we affected their lives. Every day our publicist would send us a different fan video. It was such an honor to be in the position to get so much love from all different types of people. Finally hearing our tracks on the radio was the icing on the cake — that just confirmed it was imperative that we keep the Jeep ridin’.
How did you end up opening for Big Boi?
Throughout our journey, we’ve met a lot of cool people that just wanted to see us keep succeeding because they believed in the movement. Opening for Big Boi was simply a result of a promoter who happened to be a fan of the Jeep contacting our manager requesting us to perform. So that was something we couldn’t pass up. Outkast is personally one of my favorite groups, so it was definitely an honor. I’ve always admired their unique style since I was a youngling.
What does Tummiscratch produce on? How does he make beats as diverse as “Did I Mention I’d Like to Dance” and “Stretchy Pants”?
Honestly, I wouldn’t be able to tell you off the bat. I’m sure it has something to with Protools and Proteus 2000. But I do know one thing for sure: That man can make a masterpiece with a Playskool piano. It’s ridiculous. He amazes us every single time. Whenever I have any kind of melody in my head that I think will be close to another smanger, I hit him up immediately, and he will just build on it. He is a genius. It could be four in the morning, it doesn’t matter, because he is that dedicated to his craft. I think what makes Tummi so versatile is the fact that he is very open-minded, he never thinks inside the box. Whenever we are in a session, he goes out his way to get our opinions, and that’s one of the many things I respect about him. He’s a team player baby, and that’s what makes us so tight, you know? Whatchyamacallit actually produced “Stretchy Pants,” along with “Fried or Fertilized” and “Shuyamouf.” He is also very talented behind the boards. Our whole team is full of talent, feel me baby?
What’s the label’s plans for 2011 and beyond? Are you working on any new songs or videos?
Well, for 2011 we’ve got even more live shows, a clothing line in the works, and a simple plan just to keep doing what we do. Creating — that is what the Jeep is about. Every day we wake up is a blessing, so that is inspiration enough to keep creating. So as long as we’re breathing, we will always practice our craft, and that’s real chat. So yeah, the Jeep definitely has some new stuff in store for 2011, so you’re just gonna have to stay tuned.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Our music is made for all people. There’s no discrimination over here at Turquoise Jeep Records — nothing but love, feel me baby? So on behalf of TJR, we want to say thank you to all our fans from everywhere that have been keeping the Jeep ridin’. Our fans are a major part of the reason we keep going. Also, just to set the record straight, none of us have a personal Twitter or Facebook account. If you want to reach us on Twitter, it’s @turquoisejeep and Facebook is Turquoise Jeep Records (fan page). There are impostors out there claiming to be us. We love y’all! KEEP THE JEEP RIDIN’.