#SquadUp… All-new fire from Far Rockaway, Queens
Tha Riot Squad was created by four young rappers from the same neighborhood, who linked up in the early 2000s to form a hip-hop supergroup the likes of which could never be duplicated. Unfortunately, the loss of Rayquan “Stack Bundles” Elliot, who was shot and killed in 2007 by an unknown assailant outside of his apartment building, and Lionel “Chinx Drugz” Pickens, who was shot and killed just three months prior to his 2015 debut album, Welcome to JFK, was scheduled to be released, further delayed the group’s plans to release a full-length posthumous record that would pay proper tribute to both Stack and Chinx.
Nevertheless, two of the co-founding members of the group — Bynoe and Cau2G$ — have continued to work towards finishing a full-length posthumous Stack Bundles album and were previously featured on the track “All Good” from Chinx’s 2016 album, Legends Never Die.
Salute Magazine recently caught up with Bynoe to discuss his brand new EP, I Never Met A Nice Guy Who Won, a seven-song taste of what we can expect from the Far Rockaway rap veteran. He also discusses the origins of the title, recent releases from Tha Riot Squad, and the upcoming Stack Bundles project.
SALUTE: Just to start things off… you’re coming out with a brand new EP called ‘I Never Met A Nice Guy Who Won.’ Where did that title come from?
BYNOE: I got the idea from Kevin Garnett. He’s a real competitive basketball player. I liked him as a kid growing up, watching him play. Even in his high school stages straight into the league. This a guy that was no-nonsense, and was tough, and played with his heart as well as his mind. When I heard him say it, I really put thought into. I was like “you know, he’s kinda right with that.” I just built the whole theme around what he was saying. That where the “Find God” track came from. I just let it all out… what I was going through at the time, what I was feeling at the time. So I just started with that track and ended up with 14 Records off that concept and just pieced together what I had. The best seven joints.
SALUTE: What made you decide to do this project as an EP?
BYNOE: Sometimes less is more. When we first started doing mixtapes, me and Stack [Bundles] used to get into deep conversations. He said something like “sometimes I want to do less music so the consumer can consume it a lot. They can go back to it. It’s got replay value. If you put 20 something songs… they don’t catch the gems in it. There will be little sweeper joints on it that they get in tune with because they’re stuck with 6-7 songs that they love. He’d be like “I’m tired of putting out mixtapes with so much music on it. I want it compact to 10 joints and tell a story.” Like a letter with an intro, a body, and a conclusion.
When we started doing music we looked at how Nas did it with Illmatic and Jay-Z did it with Blueprint. They would have fire intros and then the body of the work in the middle, the meat and potatoes told everything. And then you have the conclusion, which is basically what you got out of the project. So that’s basically what I wanted to do. That’s why ended it off with “P.S.to my Haters,” like a letter.
SALUTE: When did you start making music?
BYNOE: Probably when I was 6-7 years old. I got an older brother and he was deep into hip-hop. He always used to play that music. I used to bop to it… I couldn’t really understand it but he always played it.
Audio Two. “Milk is Chillin.” Biz Markie and Big Daddy Kane and all those records. I remember he used to put tissue on top of the tapes and tape the music off the radio. I found myself listening to a lot of records like Nas and Mobb Deep and I started writing their raps over like it was mine and replacing stuff saying things how I thought they should say it and learning their music and that’s how I started being a rapper.
Tha Riot Squad recently released two singles featuring verses from the late Stack Bundles and Chinx Drugz. The first things fans want to know if there is any new music from Riot Squad on its way?
BYNOE: We got a ton of Riot Squad music…. A ton of stack songs. Everything is being put in proper order. Everything is being consolidated because a lot of Stack’s music was just all over the place. His father and everybody that’s in charge are getting things in order… getting everything under one umbrella so we can push forward and release a proper Stack album and a proper Riot Squad album. The music is there, we just gotta get everything in order so it could be done right.
SALUTE: What was it like to work with Stack Bundles and Chinx Drugz?
BYNOE: Stack was a freak of nature. They only make him like every 15 to 20 years. I’m not just saying this because he’s my man and I did music with him and we grew up together. Lightning doesn’t strike twice in the same spot. He was just different. He wasn’t a crazy hip-hop head. He grew into hip-hop like the average person, but he really had this shit. There are just some people who have it and some people who don’t. It wasn’t taught to him. He just woke up one day and it was God-given talent. We used to go to the studio, he would lead by example and we would feed off his energy and he’d make everybody else better around him. So we’d bump him around with verses and he’d bump us around. Steel sharpens steel. We all felt we were our own competition, so when you got around other rappers it was like a walk in the park.
SALUTE: How has Far Rockaway played a role in your music?
BYNOE: It defines everything… The culture. Growing up. The way we talk. The way we dress. Just everything. The hardships we went through. The good times, the bad times. It’s just a complete parallel with what takes place with the music and what I go through.
I just try to bring you to Far Rockaway, if you’ve never been there, with music. It’s a big inspiration to what I do. It motivates me to get up and do what I do every day because a lot of people don’t make it out here.
SALUTE: Do you feel your sound has evolved?
BYNOE: It has definitely grown. I’m still working on that sign. Still trying to find that niche. Everybody is trying to find different things that motivate them and try different sounds. But I don’t want to get away from what the core people know me from.
Like on Luke 11:23 there is a different flow, I play with different beat selections that I normally don’t do. I usually pick darker beats. I usually do a lot of street music. Even a joint on this [new project] produced by Flexx, sounding different and the way I was rapping. I never did that with too many of the songs I put out. I’m just out here trying to find that lane and take it to the top. Keep it riot.
SALUTE: Who are the Top 5 artists out today you would want to work with?
BYNOE: I definitely want to work with Rae Sremmurd. I like their music. I like their first album. I actually liked when they first came out. We were at SXSW with them and I like their energy. Always a fan of what they’re doing.
SALUTE: What’s next for Bynoe?
BYNOE: My next project is probably going to be a Blood of Gold project. I’m not sure if I am going to make that an LP or an EP, depending on how I’m feeling right now. I’m going to probably start working on that next month. Probably fly to L.A., fly to Atlanta, go to Kentucky and get with a couple of my dudes from Louisville and tap in with them. Just get my mindframe out of New York for a minute. Travel out of this space and really get the best music out of me.
LISTEN: BYNOE – ‘I NEVER MET A NICE GUY WHO WON’