The L.A.-based hip-hop trio, Pac Div, have carved out their own niche in the blossoming Los Angeles rap scene, interestingly distinguishing themselves by sticking to their West Coast roots. While carrying a recognizable LA feel, their music also holds elements of the Bay Area hip-hop scene making for a unique, yet encompassing, portrait of California. On Tuesday, the Div released their highly anticipated second album, titled GMB, which stands for the members’ first names–Gabe, aka Like, Michael, aka Mibbs and Bryan, aka Be Young.
Through out GMB, the three emcees emerge with their most confident, and creatively boastful, project to date. Although the old-school influence remains in tact, the Div continue to progress bridging the classic and future of West Coast hip-hop. With several notable features including Mac Miller and fellow LA natives Kendrick Lamar and Blu, they also branched out more on this project, which added to the diverse underlying influences. From start to finish, GMB makes for an extremely enjoyable, and entertaining, experience delivering some west coast sunshine through your speakers.
I was lucky enough to get a chance to shoot Mibbs a few questions and he had some pretty insightful and interesting responses. In the interview, he touches on the group’s origins, their vision for the album and his thoughts about the Los Angeles rap scene among other topics. Check out what he had to say along with a few of our favorites tracks from GMB below, out now on iTunes. Big ups to Mibbs, and the Div, for taking the time to answer our questions.
The Return (feat. Ty$)
TMN: I know the three of you go way back, but when and how did you get into writing raps? How did the Div come about?
Mibbs: Like and myself were in different raps groups with each other growing up. We wrote raps since we were about 7 and 8 years old. Fast forwarding to when we created Pac Division (which was a much larger group from 03-05) we just pretty much gained chemistry with BeYoung and were always around each other, like everyday. So with us 3 being inseperable we created the sound and the whole swagger that you see today.
TMN:It is clear in your music that you guys are influenced by the old school west coast legends. Who else within hip-hop, current and in the past, do you think has influenced your style?
Mibbs: Theres so many rappers, singers, and musical groups that influenced Pac Div’s style and continue to. Just to name a few, Wu-tang, Ras Kass, Redman, Dogg Pound, Pharcyde, Slum Village (huge influence), Jay of course, Nas, Biggie, NWA (for sure), Above the Law, E-40, Outkast, Comptons Most Wanted.
TMN: Although there is a throwback and classic element to your music, I feel like GMB really showed a lot of progression in the sound creating a sort of past-meets-present-and-future sound to it. Tell us a little about your artistic growth and the process behind the album. What was your collective vision for this project?
Mibbs: I’ve always felt that we have a very throwback/futuristic style. I could point to our many influences as the motor that keeps us running our operation the way we do. With GMB, we definitely wanted to give the fans an aggressive, westcoast heavy sound thats also universal. As far as the rhymes go, I believe we spit a bit more arrogant than in our previous projects. We always want to make the albums classic in our own minds before we put it out. This time, we used more features than we ever have. Some new, and some familiar but in all, the album I feel is the best effort to date. Pretty much, the concept of GMB is Gabe, Mike and Bryan were so mad at the music industry that we decided to rob it, then after we robbed it we rubbed it in everyone’s faces.
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TMN: As of late, you guys have been collaborating a little more than in the past with some pretty awesome results. Tell us a bit about the feature, and production, selection on GMB and some of your favorite artists to work with.
Mibbs: The features on the project are some really good guest spots with guys that we’ve always had a mutual respect for. Mac Miller is our friend who we’ve toured with, Kurupt and Battlecat are like our big brothers, Ty$ is an amazing song writer, Kendrick Lamar is a good friend of ours, so is Blu, Big Sik and Edbone are our immediate pac div fam, so is Elway (the guy who’s been there from the start) so it was easy to get all of these collabs to work.
TMN: Is there anyone you wish you could have gotten on GMB or hope to work with in the future?
Mibbs: Curren$y sent over a verse for the album too, just waiting on the files lol. Other features in the future of course will always be with artist who all share the same mutual respect. Oh yeah, we’re gonna give the fans another Dom Kennedy feature pretty soon.
TMN: You guys have been all over the world touring. I was lucky enough to catch you back in 2009 in Vegas at the House of Blues and saw firsthand the kind of energy that goes into your shows. I’m sure the performances have only gotten better since then. What can fans expect from your post-GMB shows?
Mibbs: We take pride in giving the crowds the crazy energy every time out. The show is 50% of the industry and we understand that you build a bigger fan base from just rocking hard. We also apprciate the love.
TMN: You guys are part of a Los Angeles hip-hop scene that is absolutely blowing up right now. What are your thoughts on the direction of LA hip-hop, and more generally the whole genre? How do you feel the Div fits into both of these?
Mibbs: It feels great to see that the LA hip hop scene is getting the recognition that we worked so hard for. Things were tough in the industry for LA rap acts i would say 6,7,8 years ago. With the help of the internet, the community just continues to grow and artist are definitely getting chances to blow. We just want to continue on and gain mre fans because for us, it still feels like the beginning. Pac Div is, and will always be known as a key focal group that help bring the title back and keep the torch burning for many years to come. I want stop till im touching billions.
P.S. Check out the dope video for the Mac Miller assisted joint on the album, “Black Acura,” below.