Could you imagine being introduced to the music industry through an affiliation to one of the top brands at the height of their dominance only to be cast out and blackballed by that same entity? What would you do if you were enticed into the world of rap with the promise of fame and fortune only to be pushed aside out of fear for what the potential of your shine meant to those running the situation? The 1st law of the 48 Laws of Power states that one should never "outshine the master" but the story of Sqad Up proves that we should never underestimate the power and effect that realness has on the masses. In comparison to the endless deluge of young rappers that are cosigned by industry "heavyweights", mostly for publishing purposes, the four man group consisting of Supa Blanco, Gudda Gudda, Nutt Da Kidd and Young Yo have written their own script which has been certified by the streets across America. The Sqad Up saga began in the late 90's when Yo met Lil Wayne in school and a bond of friendship was developed. Yo and Wayne's mutual interest in Hip Hop culture and fashion was evident early on, "I was always fly and fresh when I was younger and thats how me and Wayne got jam tight" explains Yo. "He was already rappin but his sh*t wasn't really poppin …It was B.G.'s time then," says Yo. "When Juve came on board and they got the Cash Money/Universal deal Wayne had to go on the road and he asked me to go on tour with him," he says. Yo, realizing the opportunity in front of him, decided to call his brother Supa Blanco, who at the time was playing college ball in Arizona, and ask him to join them on the road. From the beginning the response to Yo's image and Supa's business savvy combined with the effect of their presence made people take notice. It wasn't long before music industry players such as Dino Delvaille, who at the time was the Universal A&R widely credited with bringing the Cash Money situation to the table, began urging Yo and Supa to take a crack at the rap side of the game. As Supa explains, "Everybody was always sayin "ya'll look like rappers" and "ya'll should be rappin." When they returned off tour Supa and Yo decided to start Sqad Up with Wayne and some of their runnin crew from the streets of New Orleans East. From the beginning the Sqad touched a nerve in the N.O. and their impact throughout the entire Gulf Coast was tremendous. "We went playin in the studio one time and burned 100 cds… next thing you know you were seeing the Best of Sqad Up mixtapes" says Supa, and apparently that was no coincidence. Due to the respect and reputation of Sqad members Gudda, Nutt and at the time T-Streets, the Sqad represented the most official rap crew off the streets of the N.O. As Gudda explains, " Yo and Wayne approached me while I was at a dice game and Wayne was like "you should be rappin, you been through alot". Gudda knew that the rap game was a hustle so he started putting the pen to the pad and it wasn't long before the Sqad Up mixtapes were in high demand. The N.O. mixtape game was officially on and poppin and the Sqad found themselves right at the forefront of the phenomenon. "We were the 1st people to start doing mixtapes in the N.O.. People looked at those mixtapes like they were albums and the buzz got out of hand" says Nutt, who joined the group as a 9th ward resident and a N.O. lyrical heavyweight. With the success of the SQ mixtape series it wasn't long before the Cash Money brain-trust realized that the Sqad was for real. Now when the Sqad went on the road with Cash Money Records they garnered the respect and admiration of the fans similar to artists who were constantly in the media spotlight. As the shine of the spotlight grew so did the tension between Wayne, Cash Money and the rest of the Sqad Up crew. After several suspect business moves by the Cash Money principals the Sqad knew they had better think twice about signing to the label…so they prepared a plan to found Money Yung'n Records with several influential industry players and awaited the inevitable backlash. For a while Sqad Up found themselves locked in a heated mixtape battle with Cash Money artists Lil Wayne and B.G., however their ability to hold their own on the street circuit only served to grow their legend. As the Sqad Up fan base grew so did the support for their cause and while Cash Money entered an era of turmoil and rebuilding many people began to view the moves made by Supa, Nutt, Gudda and Yo as prophetic and wise beyond their years. The group understood fully that severing their ties with Cash Money would set them on a path that would require patience and determination, but they knew they had no choice as Supa Blanco put it, "Thats probably why it took us so long to get here…cause were not kissing a**, were not telling you that you're something you're not you feel me. We paid for it dearly but it's all good … no grind no shine, I still got my dudes and a lot of people I thought was my dudes are out of the picture ya dig. It was rough…but it ain't nothing to a boss" Sqad Up's rise to prominence through the independent circuit has been born from the struggle associated with industry politics and the deterioration of personal bonds, but their star power shouldn't be viewed as a transgression of the laws of power, instead it should serve as a notice to anyone that thinks these young g's won't ride.
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