Spit Gemz Eff Yoo Rikers Island Boxing School

When we caught wind of a new project in the works from two of the games dopest emcees, we wanted to check in and see what all the fuss was about. On the back of a couple of dope joints ‘Scarfaces Freestyle‘ and ‘More Murder‘ along with some intriguing Instagram posts and the like, we reached out to Spit Gemz and Eff Yoo to find out a little more about the ‘RIBS’ project and just some background to their mic crushing careers. Kick back and enjoy – Where Raw Side Meets Rikers Island!

Like we always do, we want to give readers some insight into you as an artist. Can you tell us a bit about each of your journey? How you started, career progression etc.

Spit Gemz: You know, as far as an artist, I started out as Era – my first rap name was ERA and then I switched in the 3RAH. But, as far as hip hop man and influence and all that goes, it’s something that was kinda built in. I’m from a very hip hop oriented family. My moms, pops, uncles – everything around me was hip hop – the neighbourhoods, the places, the things I seen… It was a natural trip into hip hop. And I always wrote poetry so this was like a real natural progression for me.

In 2007, I was released from an unfortunate situation, I was away for a while and I had a vast library of writings. I had a goal in my mind, that I wanted to create the illest albums I could. I was fortunate to come up in a great era for hip hop, but I could see it taking a turn. I wanted to create something that was missing or wasn’t being represented enough and to do it in a way that hadn’t been done before, through MY lens. So, in 2007 I dropped my first mixtape under the name 3RAH and it was called 3Rahnomics.

From there it was a wrap. It was everything I knew it would be. The whole process of creating the music, making it sound exactly how I want it… This is a real passion for me, it exists in me – even if there wasn’t an industry… so it was off to the races from there.

Eff Yoo: Simple, if it wasn’t for Gemz I wouldn’t be rapping today, that’s 100% a fact. Back in early 2000’s I used to dabble, be at all the shows, freestyle and battle outside of wetlands and brownies and nuyorican poets cafe, all the NYC hotspots, while still getting into shit and just being a reckless teen and young adult, however as I got older, and after many problems, I had given up the mic, to just spin the records. In about 2010 I was setting up to be the official DJ for Gemz and the opposition, when by chance they were working on a record. My mind started working, I wrote a few bars and spit them for Gemz, and from that point forward, he said, nah you have to rap now, you’re too ill and I haven’t looked back since.

You’ve both been around the game for more than a minute. How do you keep the passion for the culture burning?

Spit Gemz: I think the main reason my passion doesn’t die or fade is because I’m feeding off my own thoughts, my own emotions, my own situations in my life, hardships, joy etc. I’m not an artist who is ‘part of this game’. I play my position from outside the box mostly, so I’m not really moving with fads, and I don’t have a style that fades. The fire exists from within me, I am my passion – I don’t depend on the culture per-se to keep my own passion burning.

Eff Yoo: I’ve attempted to turn my back on it many times, but then I’ll hear a beat, or a song from somebody that re-ignites my passion and I want to write again.

Spit Gemz Eff Yoo Rikers Island Boxing School

Talk us through the name of this new joint and how you developed the concept.

Spit Gemz: RIBS. Rikers Island Boxing School. This is something that’s been around for quite some time. Along the lines of ‘Gladiator School’ before or different names for The Rock or for different spots you might land in or that are hard to be in, tough to be in – where you learn to fight y’know. That’s something I heard older cats saying when I was young, around the time I started going to Rikers Island – which unfortunately I frequented.

I said on an album on a track ‘Lo-verine‘ – “Rikers Island Boxing School / might pull out the ox and shoot”. Ox being like a sharp object and ‘shoot’ meaning in those situations like ‘shoot your shot’… I thought of Rikers Island Boxing School as an institution, I thought of New York Gem Spitters as a team…. there’s others too – things I just come up with. But Rikers Island Boxing School is definitely the name of the group now – me and Eff Yoo.

Eff Yoo: I’ll let Gemz answer this.

There are some killer names joining you on this project. Why these guys in particular?

Spit Gemz: As far as features, me and Eff Yoo thought of this project as something special for us – the whole process of putting it together…. we created this over a period of time. I’m out on the West Coast now and Eff is on the East, so a few flights back and forth you know, a lot of building, a lot of creating. We had to restrain ourselves from just releasing everything at times you know and in the end we thought this project was too special – we wanted to keep it in the family as far as features.

Eff Yoo: It’s all family. I don’t think there is anyone we feel we “have to” work with, so the features come naturally or not at all. Aye is fam and we’re on innumerable joints together, as well as Nems – he’s been fam since day one.

How has COVID changed the way you approach the craft? No shows / tours, has it impacted your writing and recording process?

Spit Gemz: As far as COVID goes it hasn’t effected my writing or my creating process. I don’t need to be anywhere other than in my castle for me to create and I’ve always been self sufficient – self recorded, self engineered and I’ve always handled my own business from the very very top to the bottom of everything you see. The only thing I don’t do, is make beats, even though I do produce In a way… You might hear a sample or a change in arrangement or something and that’ll be me, but I don’t make beats as such.
In terms of shows and touring – I’m not a big show / tour kind of guy. I’ve done a shitload of shows and tours. They’re dope when they’re dope – when the venue, the sound system, the promoter are dope… but a lot of times, shows can not be worth it and I think that’s something artists need to have a look at. And for me, I gotta see my wife and my daughter, so it’s the content that’s most important for me, not the shows.

Performing live is one of the greatest feelings in the world, it’s an energy you can’t match and I definitely feel the impact of that missing. It’s a necessity of the culture, of the artist expressing themselves and connecting with an audience. It’s crazy that we can’t do that right now, but I don’t think it should ‘stop’ anything at all.

Eff Yoo: Not being able to do shows or live radio sucks, believe me, we had a lot of plans for this album. It’s been brewing for a while, so not being able to promote it and work the project properly is gonna hinder us being able to get the music to more ears and hurt our pocket as well, but the fans are gonna help us push this through. As far as recoding, I was a strictly – go the studio, have the engineer handle the vocals and the mix, recording etc. I just write and record, let the genius flow, but now almost all my recording is done in house. I had to learn a bunch of new programs and keep my impedances in check. I built a whole vocal booth in my basement, but now whenever inspiration strikes, I can go downstairs, light a monte cristo and record a record in my very expensive bathrobe, and if I don’t like it, I can scrap the whole thing and try again. No harm no foul, except for my RAM.

Rikers Island Boxing School Track List

I notice the tracklist for the album doesn’t have the already released tracks ‘Scarfaces Freestyle‘ or ‘More Murder‘. Were they designed to be standalone joints?

Eff Yoo: Those were joints we did for fun, and to kind of introduce the world to Rikers Island Boxing School as a group, let ’em know something amazing was coming.

Can we expect more Rikers Island collabs?

Spit Gemz: I think the plainest answer to that is, me and Eff Yoo ain’t gonna stop making music together anytime soon. Anytime you see us together, that’s gonna be a Rikers Island Boxing School song.

Eff Yoo: There’s already another album locked and loaded, and if the people want it, or shit if we feel like it, there will be a third. Regardless of rap, this is my brother so we talk everyday on the phone and bullshit about life, philosophize, joke around, talk rap, talk sports, talk family, so songs will come out of that.

Talk us through the next steps for Broken Home, yourselves individually etc?

Spit Gemz: The premier focus right now and for moving forward is Rikers Island Boxing School without a doubt. But for sure, you’ve got Aye Wun who’s working on a project right now and you can look for a lot of new production from him as well. As far as myself, I’m fully committed to RIBS right now, but I’m working on things in my mind right now, making mental deposits because I’ve got some ideas I want to work out before I start to do the writing for them. But you can absolutely expect an album from me in the near future, that’s very different. I don’t even know what I would call it, I just hear certain things in my head and I just know I wanna do something that’s outside of my comfort zone. But for right now, my full focus is RIBS.

Eff Yoo: I’ve made a complete 180 from where I was before we started this project. I was ready to take it easy – I don’t put out a lot of content, I got a lot of other shit going on. I’m an astrophysicist at night, I play Mahjong professionally, I’m trying to drop my own line of tiger bone milkshakes, but this year, I’m prepping three solo EP’s and of course another RIBS album. I’d like to start working on an actual full length Eff Yoo LP too.

We’re seeing more and more artists deliver joint collabs like this. Outside of yourselves, Aye Wun, Tek Bully etc, who HAVEN’T you worked with but would like to?

Spit Gemz: You know, the longer I live, the harder this question becomes to answer because I’m fortunate and blessed man – I’ve honestly worked with most of the people I aspire to work with. It’s a feather in my cap, it’s a blessing, every time I go through the joints because all I wanted was the mutual respect of certain emcees, a certain calibre of emcee. I was able to really not only collaborate but to compete and contend on a level that’s not a charity act, they’re fucking with me because of the talent and the skills. So in that sense, I’ve already been far more than blessed.

Obviously one of the names that is always gonna stick out to me is Nas man, and as far as production it’s gonna be Preemo. And I could care less how ‘cliché’ that sound to some people but everybody is not cut from the same cloth, from the same era, of the same calibre. When your passion is as strong as mine for the actual craft of it – there’s really no replacing or getting higher than Nas and Preemo.

But as far as joints like this, like collaborations, obviously another one of my brothers who I know the people want to see and I know we’ve even ourselves tried to pick out beats, start doing songs and all of that is my brother NEMS. That’s something I wanna get done before it’s all said and done.

I think of Buckwild, he’s another one who is high up on that list. If I could get a joint directly from him or a few….. would be crazy. Another one, production wise, is Dame Grease. If I could get like 5 Dame Grease beats right now, I swear I’d write some of the dirtiest shit I ever thought of.

Eff Yoo: Nobody. If it comes naturally I’m down, as far as producers, I’d like to touch a Preemo track, Buckwild, Muggs before I hang up my spurs.

Now, as we like to do about this time, hit us with your details – socials etc and where people can cop your music, merch and stay up to date…..

Spit Gemz: Instagram and Twitter just hit up @SpitGemz

Eff Yoo: As long as you spell the name right you can find me on all socials -EFF YOO. I personally sell everything I make. As for RIBS, it’s a large endeavour so we might need some help with that, but for now, you can cop from any one of us, hand to hand.

Rikers Island Boxing School

Well, there you have it. Some killer insight into the new Rikers Island Boxing School collaborative / family project with Spit Gemz and Eff Yoo. Make sure you follow them on social media, support them and their craft and get back with us as we await the RIBS album dropping March 12, 2021.

About The Author

By Brutus Maximus

Founder of Raw Side Hip Hop. Been rocking with the hip hop culture for over 30 years. Love the creativity, authenticity of the art and the culture as a whole. Shout out to the real ones making and supporting true hip hip and the artists who make it!

2 thoughts on “Raw Side meets Rikers Island Boxing School”
  1. Great knowledge from both, thanks for this interview. My favourite rapper ever here. Cannot wait for this album to drop!
    #BrokenHomeEverything

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