By its nature, hip-hop has always been a collaborative effort. While most of today’s top rap artists are solo acts, groups like The Homies are redefining what it means to be a cohesive unit. Made up of four close friends, most of whom have known each other since childhood, Ace Pro, Shloob, Quiiso, and 2forwOyNE have been making music together since 2015.
When listening to The Homies, it’s impossible to ignore their chemistry. Ace Pro, the creative mastermind behind one of Jack Harlow’s biggest hits, grew up playing ball with 2forwOyNE – who played for a rival team. 2fo’ (who produced Harlow’s breakthrough track “Dark Knight”) and Shloob are twin brothers, with Quiiso as the final addition to complete their quartet.
In many ways, the group’s dynamic, boundary-pushing sound is simply a reflection of their friendship. As they explore common themes like failed relationships and living in a fast-paced world, it’s a lot going on at times, but their love for music (and Indi’s fried chicken) is an adhesive that keeps the party going. But, above all, their respect for each other is the driving force behind The Homies’ synergy. “We all have this sense of community within each other,” Quiiso explains to Dirty Glove Bastard.
It’s A Lot Going On, the group’s sophomore project, is a window into their meticulous approach to songwriting. The album is a major turning point in The Homies’ career – underscored by 14 tracks that showcase their unbridled confidence and intentionality.
Although IALGO was just released last month (despite being years in the making), 2fo’ believes that the best is yet to come: “I’d expect the next project to outdo this one.” And by the looks of their newly announced 26-date tour alongside Jack Harlow and the City Girls, it’s gonna be a lot going on for quite some time.
What’s a telltale sign of someone who’s from Kentucky?
Ace Pro: It can be a lot of things. I think it’s the same with any place. Whether you’re from New York, California or wherever, it just depends on the city: there’s different flavors in different cities. I’m sure in North Carolina, there’s Charlotte and Durham… there’s two different types of people, so you can relate. Coming through Kentucky, there’s a sense of individualism amongst all of us. Whether you’re from Louisville, Lexington, E Town or somewhere, there’s a lot of different walks of life here. It’s a lot of individuals here. I think it’s pretty notable once you come here and get to experience the people as a whole. Everytime we have friends who come from different places, people always cling onto something like, “You guys are kind of different.” Not in a good or bad way but a unique way.
Quiiso: One thing I always say about Kentucky people, with being an outsider and coming in – I came to Kentucky from Chicago – but the first thing I noticed was a lot of people are good people, and they embrace people and welcome you into what the culture is here. I was probably friends with all of these guys maybe one or two years before I felt like I was damn near from here.
What’s that bonding agent that allows four individuals to mesh so well? The group’s chemistry is undeniable.
Ace Pro: First, I think it stems from us being from Louisville. Being from Louisville, when you’re chasing a dream, a lot of people don’t understand where you’re coming from. We have to stick together and come together as one to become who we want to be. Two, we have actual brothers in the group – Shloob and 2fo’, they’re actual twins.
Quiiso: Yeah, they been locked in [laughs].
Shloob: We locked in, feel me.
Ace Pro: Outside of music, me and 2fo’ grew up playing basketball together – kinda on rival teams in a way but we always had respect for each other. And then Quiis coming in from Chicago… he stayed in the same dorm as 2fo’ and Shloob. As a brother, a friend, and another music lover. I think those three things: being brothers, basketball, and being from Louisville – and having this appreciation for where you’re from. Not everyone can share that same story and I think that helps us become closer than most people.
Chicago is known for Harold’s Chicken, the West Coast has Roscoe’s and North Carolina has Bojangles. Is it sacrilegious to eat from any fried chicken spot other than KFC in Louisville?
Shloob: First off, ain’t nobody eating no goddamn KFC. Mufuckas don’t eat KFC at all here. Of course, KFC is all over the place, it’s cool or whatever, but there’s like ten other chicken spots I’ma go to before I stop at KFC. The KFC logo is a white man, a colonel, and I don’t know if he knows how to fry chicken like somebody’s mama do.
2forwOyNE: I thought you was gon’ say Indi’s or something.
Shloob: It’s still fast food, though.
2forwOyNE: I’ll definitely go (to KFC) for a famous bowl once every three months but it’s just something we don’t really crave like that.
Quiiso: I ain’t gon’ lie, I ain’t been rocking with KFC like that until Jack (Harlow) started doing his thing wit ‘em and now I done had more KFC this year than I had in the last six years to be all the way honest.
2forwOyNE: Don’t get me wrong, it’s good but we just prefer other things.
Shloob: It’s way too many other places.
2forwOyNE: We pride our local facilities here.
Ace Pro: Put it this way, when you come to Louisville, you needa tap in with Indi’s or Kings’. Obviously, I have a little bit bias, but I’ve been all over the states and even out the country, there’s not too many places that rival us. That’s including Atlanta.
Is it important for The Homies to have a sense of community?
Ace Pro: It definitely plays a big part. Community is one of the pillars that makes us who we are, being together as one. And again, no one can really understand what it’s like to be from Louisville unless you’re from Louisville, or what it’s like to be from Kentucky unless you’re from Kentucky. So when you champion local businesses or entrepreneurs, or an everyday person from Kentucky, when you make them feel important, when you make them feel seen or heard, or valued, then that adds more to you because they’re going to pour that same energy back into you. That makes us feel like we can go all over the world and bring all these experiences back to our people, showing them that they can do the same thing.
What was the timeline for The (Homies Celebrity) Kickball Tournament? Getting sponsors, sourcing talent, venue selection and everything in between — all of that can be a hassle.
Ace Pro: (The Kickball Tournament) started off three years ago in 2020. The world was fractured at this point. Juneteenth is when we had our first kickball game. If you remember, at that time we had the George Floyd incident, Breonna Taylor – which is from a situation here in Louisville – and all over the states it was a lot of…
Quiiso: Turmoil, yup.
Ace Pro: …turmoil. We felt like there was something we needed to do to shed light on something to look forward to while also enriching our community and do something that makes people wake up with a sense of pride and joy. That started in 2020 and then we followed it up again last year and we got a little bigger and better with adding some people on. The first year, it was one weeks notice – we put together fliers and was like, “Pull up to this park,” which we didn’t get a permit for. Any donations that people brought forth were going towards a foundation that one of our beneficiaries, AMPED – which is a local organization built around funneling young minds into the creative world. Each year, it’s getting bigger and better, and this year we involved UofL (The University of Louisville). That gave us the platform to get a lot of sponsors involved to the point where people all over are reaching out. Bringing on more partners, celebrities and brands makes it exciting because that’s something that everyone gets to look forward to every year. From here, you have The (Kentucky) Derby and that’s kinda it. Now, if we can bring this element into the mix, it makes something dope, and it’s for a good cause.
What’s the best part about making music with friends?
Shloob: The best part about making music with the homies is that everyone is super talented. Ion know, I won’t say it’s a cheat code but it don’t feel like hard work. I don’t have to be in the studio every day. I can come in one day and my man Ace could be cookin’ up something and I’m like, “Damn, whatchu doing wit that. You need a second verse or something,” and that’s it. I ain’t have nothing to do with that – just woke up and it was a banger being made. It’s fun. It doesn’t seem like it’s forced.
2forwOyNE: It definitely makes it easier. If two of us don’t have a verse and the other two do or if I don’t have a beat, I know that Ace might have an idea that can spark something. If I don’t have anything, I know one of these people can probably play a song or have something in their head that I like – whether that’s a style or a sound we should try, and then boom…we probably laid five different concepts and maybe all five of ‘em are decent enough to sharpen up and have it delivered to wherever we need to play it to.
Quiiso: Also, you don’t have to deal with the part about trying to create chemistry with somebody. A lot of people come into these situations and sit down with people that they don’t really know like that – producers and artists alike, and even engineers, but we have all of that in-house so it’s easier to come in there and get started. We know how everyone works. We know how everyone’s going to operate, and it’s a smooth process across the board.
2forwOyNE: And we’re comfortable with telling mufuckas, “Yeah, this isn’t it. Let’s try something else.”
Shloob: We can definitely call some shit wack.
How many official members are a part of the group? I see four of you here today on Zoom, but the album artwork for 2018’s Umbrellas LP reveals a different story.
Ace Pro: There’s a lot of us in this fuckin’ group [laughs]. The Homies started out as a friend group, essentially. Right out of college, 2012. Obviously, not all of us are involved in music but that’s where the name came from. In the very beginning, we were going by another name and when we got serious with (music), around 2015, we dropped out first song called “Fuck It Up.” It was doing decent around the local circuit and everything like that. There were five members putting in the work music wise and that was the case up until last year. It’s mainly us four (Quiiso, Shloob, Ace Pro, 2forwOyNE), the only four vocals that you’ll ever hear on a track. It’s never anything like pushing someone out – we’re always family. Right now, we’re just trying to sharpen each other’s skills and focus on getting the best product to our listeners, making sure everything is palatable.
Does “Floridaman” partake in the shenanigans as well, or is that presence more so reserved for video treatments, Ace?
Ace Pro: That was for “First Class,” [laughs]. That was literally just a one-off type thing for that video and “Churchill Downs.”
Let’s talk about the inspiration behind It’s A Lot Going On. I feel like this project parallels the effortless cool and vibey soundscapes the collective is known for.
Ace Pro: A lot of times (the inspiration) comes from a place where, in all sense of the term, “It’s a lot going on.” This project was composed over years of work. With Honest Living, how long was it before we put that out?
2forwOyNE: Two years.
Quiiso: Yeah, something like that.
Ace Pro: From two years all the way up until we released that project, we’ve created so much music. Like 2fo’ said, we can create five concepts in a day no problem. Concepts can go as far as a complete song with just needing extra production or mixing, or it can be literally an idea or just a hook, or a verse. Up until this project, we were just piecing songs together and calling it a project. But this time, we knew for a fact that we were gon’ give these mufuckas an experience. With all the experimentation that we put into our music and all the influences that Shloob provides to us, Quiis provides to us, 2fo’ and myself – once they hear us, they know we’re different. They know they can’t put us in a box so we wanted to say that out loud, “It’s a lot going on.” When you listen to this (album), it’s a lot going on. At the same time, if we preface it that way, then it’s all going to feel cohesive.
Do you consider the project your most polished body of work to date?
2forwOyNE: I’d say sonically, as far as the knowledge of mixing, as far as the subject, verbiage and experience that we put in the lyrics, I’d say (It’s A Lot Going On) is our most cohesive and the most appealing, to me. And I’d expect the next project to outdo this one.
Shloob: It’s definitely the most cohesive one because a lot of these songs were made this year – up until the most recent one (“Trouble”), we made in Australia. Most of the songs on here, we were all on the same page. It was a lot going on this year but we made it a thing to make sure we take time to get the music right. Even though it’s a lot of songs on here, it all sounds intentional.
Quiiso: And there’s definitely more intentional effort to make sure that when we put this project out that everything was in step with each other. The previous project was more of a compilation of different styles of music that we can tap into, and people have come to know us by that – but this time around we wanted to make sure that we presented something that felt like one big story from beginning to end. And this is our best work in that regard.
Did you come into this release with a specific sound in mind or were you surprised by what was created?
Ace Pro: Probably the song that started all of this was “Yours.” I’d like to say, and you can put this on the record, Drake and Beyonce might have our IP address tapped in or something like that ‘cause nobody was thinking about doing any bounce house type music until we started putting our shit out there. If you look back to 2018 when we released “Leaf Wraps,” which is probably our most streamed song right now, I think we influenced a lot of people. We know a lot of our fans ask for that when we’re performing and that does have Jack on it, but we wanted to give our fans that same flavor, just more polished, more sophisticated, on different waves… so you get “Yours,” you get “Love On the Brain,” you get “Situational” from the project, and then there’s a little more left field songs such as “Topic” and even songs like “Trouble” that have a more ethnic bounce but you still get the feel of something you don’t just scan across every other day. This is something that’s noticeable, it sticks out, and it’s us. Our intention was to make sure that when we people hear it, they gotta take note of it, and when we perform it people can dance, groove and sing along to it – all in the same.
Is there a system in place that helps with deciding on which songs to perform?
Quiiso: I think we really just wanna go with what feels good for people and what’s going to ring out when we go out here and do these shows. We want people to be able to connect with us and I feel like our project is a very good barometer of that. The main thing is we want people to have a good experience when they hear our stuff.
Are there any locations you look forward to visiting as touring artists?
Ace Pro: Me personally, I’m excited to do The Forum in LA because that’s a legendary arena. I think all that stuff is part of the reason why we do what we do because we get to travel so many different places and intercept so many different cultures. There’s places like Phoenix or Boston where most people don’t think of when they’re traveling, but those at the places that give it up the most. Whether it’s a college show or whatever, people are going crazy. Their appreciation is second to none.
Quiiso: I’m excited for Houston and Miami, honestly. I have never been to Houston, I think it’s going to be lit. For Miami and Tampa, I’ll be able to get some of my family to come out and see me perform. They haven’t seen me perform on stage, live, since I started my career.
Quiiso: And it’s a lot of definitions to what family is ‘cause you make a family outside of blood. You can make a family out of whatever regular constructs you can think of. Family is an important part for us because we all have this sense of community within each other and we all know each other’s families pretty well. I can go to wOyNE and Shloob’s mama’s house and go get a plate right now even though I’ve never been over there. Same thing with Ace’s mom (laughs) – I be kicking it with everybody’s family.
Historically, it’s rare to see a rap group reach this level of success without ego and personality clashes. Has The Homies ever considered releasing music as individuals?
Ace Pro: There’s already a project with 2fo,’ solo; there’s already songs with Quiiso and Shloob individually, so it’s all by design. We’re all a group and push each other forward ‘cause iron sharpens iron and we want all of us to win. When we come together, we’re crazy experimental, but we also have the individuality where Shloob might hop on somebody’s beat just ‘cause he fuck with this kid or this producer. Same thing with 2fo’, whether he’s on someone’s song or playing the background and trying to mentor someone. You kind of get that faction from all four of us in so many ways.
There’s strength in numbers, but you guys are like The Avengers.
2forwOyNE: Facts. That’s why we’re cohesive – we don’t collide with each other, it’s talent. We all have a certain strength and capability in each specific situation.
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