Exclusive: The Grouch and Eligh - The RAPstation Interview

When careless pop stars churn out singles spewing lyrics like "Ecstasy in the air/I don't care/You can't tell me nothing/I'm impaired," it's no wonder kids have the wrong idea about how to lead an honorable and productive life or what makes a person "cool." Lately, there has been a steady stream of hip-hop artists that have been outspoken about their battles with addiction and subsequent recoveries. Macklemore gets real on the track "Otherside" while Eligh of The Living Legends devotes an entire album to his recovery process, 2010's Grey Crow. Los Angeles native Eligh Nachowitz has been an integral part of the underground hip-hop collective The Living Legends since the crew emerged in the '90s. While his lyrical delivery is impeccable and always has been, most of his early career was spent wrestling the disease of addiction. It's been nearly 8 years since he made that fateful decision to get clean. He's still diligent about work, but there are a few differences between the "old" Eligh and the more polished version. "I don't think my songwriting process itself has changed. I just think the channels, so to speak, are way more wide-open. Things flow way more easily and quickly. The topics and what I'm talking about has changed," Nachowitz says. "I always talk about what's going on with me in my music, which includes being clean and that whole process." At least one other member of the eight-man collective feels the same way about writing lyrics these days. Corey Scoffern, better known as The Grouch, has been a part of the Living Legends for decades. He has a healthy solo career, but has made 8 records with Nachowitz under the name G&E. Somewhere along the journey, his playful lyrics gave way to more introspective content. "I just rap about what I know about, what I'm going through and my experiences. I'm spending a lot less bars trying to convince people that I'm cool. Be yourself, go for yours, believe, be thankful, and be a kind to others," Scoffern says. "Those are some of the messages or themes in my music today. Most of those have been around since my music started and will continue for as long as I'm making music. I feel like I'm truly creating for myself first. I'm talking to me. Reminding myself. After that, if other people can get something out of those words, that's just icing on the cake or snow on the Christmas tree." How appropriate. The Grouch Stole Christmas Tour has been an annual event for the past 6 years. It's become something hip-hop fans look forward to around the holiday season. Nachowitz has been on 5 out of the 6 and every year, the lineup grows. "I feel we do a good job of keeping the lineup interesting and different from what it was in the previous years. Obviously since it's a Grouch event, I'm going to always play a role," Scoffern explains. "There's a lot of thought that goes into choosing the songs for our sets. We always include well-established artists and artists 'on the come up.' A definite requirement is that everyone involved must have a dope stage show! This year we added a 'Battle Of The Bands/MC's' to the tour. Right before the official performances start, a few groups in each city got to perform one or two songs. I feel like everyone has a voice and the more we support each other, the faster the world will advance as a whole." Scoffern is clearly in the giving mood, a far cry from what his moniker means. Both Legends have been keeping busy. They are about to embark on a massive tour with Atmosphere and Slightly Stoopid for a summer festival run. They just did a collaboration with electronic act Pretty Lights called So Bright and they are close to finishing a new G&E record. Nachowitz put on his producer's hat for this one and while there may be a hint of doubt in his voice as he talks about doing the record, deep down he knows it's a banger. "It's a monster album. That's all I have to say. I did 90-95% of production. I took a break from producing since Amp Live did the last one and I have another solo album was produced entirely by DNAE out of San Francisco," he says. "Every day I've been making beats again so it's on, so to speak [laughs]. It's a little more pressure I guess because when the album comes out and people are like 'oh the beats are weak' then that's on me. It's my fault if it's whack. But I'm really confident that's not going to happen. Oh and if all else fails, there's definitely some good bass [laughs]." As far as Nachowitz's new path in life, it's going well. He always has a new record in the works, but they aren't always centered on recovery like Grey Crow. Any mention of his struggles will be deeply rooted in metaphor, but it is forever a part of who he is. "I am proud of that shit. I will profess it to everybody. I like to lead by example. People are inspired by it," he concludes. "I just tell my experience and live it in front of people. Hopefully it influences people in a positive way." By Kyle Eustice for RAPstation.com