3/10/20

"You can't front on Long Island; we put too much into the game." An oral history of I.G.T., the Ill Got Team.

Left to right: Lagato Shine, Belly Valentine and O'Hatch
I.G.T. (Ill Gotten Team, Ill Got Team, In God we Trust) was a Nassau County rap crew that released several singles and street samplers with Loud Records before the label folded in 2001, leaving the group's finished debut album, Alpha & Omega, to languish unreleased.


Their story could've ended there, but it didn't and hasn't. After Loud closed shop, I.G.T. released several albums independently as well as mixtapes under the auspices of the group offshoots L.I.P.A.A. and Last Run Entertainment. Roosevelt's Lagato Shine has remained most active of all I.G.T. members, putting out numerous solo projects. His longtime partner and I.G.T. co-founder, rapper/producer Belly Valentine aka Belly White aka Crack Val also enjoyed an active solo career, producing songs for the likes of Ghostface Killah and Tragedy Khadafi among others before tragically passing away just three years ago on March 6, 2017 at age 41. R.I.P. Lakeywen Brown.

Left to right in I.G.T. shirts: Da Nomad Dough,
Ace Hardware and Lagato Shine
During their Loud Records days, the I.G.T. roster consisted of Lagato, Valentine, O'Hatch, and Klee Klepto aka Klee Kevlar. However, Klee was incarcerated during the bulk of the recording sessions that would form Alpha & Omega, so he appears only on a few interludes culled from demo takes, as well as on album closer, "The Ritual," the song that landed I.G.T. its Loud deal. Da Nomad Dough aka Bloody Dough (of Freeport) also made appearances during this period and would later front the L.I.P.A.A. offshoot along with rappers Blaze and Fly Gee. Other MCs from the area, such as Sol Ace fka Ace Hardware (of Hempstead), also count themselves among the extended I.G.T. family. (In addition to Ill Got Team and In God we Trust, the I.G.T. acronym has also been said to stand for Illgotten or Ill Got Ten, perhaps suggesting there may have been as many as 10 members at some point.)

The following "oral history" consists of quotes that have been attributed to I.G.T. members and their label mates in numerous interviews and articles that have been written about them over the years. A complete list of sources and incomplete discography appear at the end of the post.



"The Ritual"

Val: Me & La was rhymin' together for a while, and O and Klee always rocked together. We hooked up to do a joint called "The Ritual." It was spontaenous. We clicked and it just happened.

Lagato: We were the nicest cats in town. It only made sense that we combine it into I.G.T.

Anonymous Ex-Loud Records Source (ELRS): They were signed by Schott Free, the legendary A&R who brought groups like Mobb Deep to Loud.

Schott "Free" Jacobs, A&R, Loud Records: They just pressed play and it was like straight-up steak and potatoes. It's not often that you catch a group and everybody gels. I remember listening to the demo alongside Inspectah Deck. Deck was like, "What a brother gotta do to get a deal?" So we had to get Deck on the album.



"L.I.F.E. (Long Island Forever)"

Lagato: Roosevelt, Long Island in NY is a rough urban town where we scratch and pull to make ends meet, but it’s love amongst the neighbors.

Val: You can't front on Long Island; we put too much into the game. We got legends that everyone knows.

Lagato: We're tryin' to start a movement.

O'Hatch: We all got our own style. We just listen to the beat and let the beat move us. We try to break the rules too.

Val: We rap for ordinary people. I know the music we make is good, but it doesn't mean anything if no one's listening. We gotta get that plaque.

Pete Rock: "Word to Life" is a record that everyone can relate to. It's a song by regular people, for regular people.

Lagato: When they hear us, I just want niggas to respect us, like "Yo, them niggas is nice and they be spittin'. 'Cause I would be doing this regardless. It's a business and we want to be paid, but it's really a respect thing for us.

O'Hatch: We just want to show people that there's more out there than what they hear on the radio. If they listen to it for 30 seconds, they'll realize what they were missing.




Alpha & Omega

ELRS: [Schott Free] largely had a different view of how they should sound. During the making of the album group member Klee Klepto unfortunately went to jail and his only salvageable vocals from their demos were used as interludes. As the album was being finished up, Loud Records was nearing the end of its lifespan and there was a lot of pressure to deliver hit records from Sony ... but the album was made in the vein of classic Loud albums and Schott’s influence meant that the album was largely void of a single for the changing commercial times. The group felt that they had other strong tracks but they were blocked from putting them on the album because they didn’t fit the vibe of the album. So a great album that featured production by Large Professor, Alchemist, Sean Cane, Mahogany, Buckwild, EZ Elpee and group member Belly White never saw the light of day.

Reek da Villian: I remember being in I.G.T.’s first studio session at the legendary Chung King Studio In Manhattan, New York. I freestyled for A&R’s Schott Free, Matty C, and Shawn C. After rapping for them for hours, they all fell in love with my flow and spoke of signing me.

Dino Brave, The U.N.: Even the way we got on was sort of a fluke. Schott Free, we met up with him off the strength of another rap group – a dude that we was doing demos with around the way – he mistakenly played our stuff trying to cue up their stuff. It was I.G.T., it was their session. They were one of the last groups to sign with Loud Records before they folded, and my man G. Gary was up in the studio playing some beats for them and he played a song that The UN did, and Schott Free was like, “Yo, who’s that?” That’s how is started. Schott Free and Matty [C] had signed [I.G.T.], but they didn’t drop. They recorded the album and everything, but by the time they were gonna come out Loud Records had closed their doors. Those were some good brothers though.



Incomplete Discography
G.I.T. Live 12"/CDS, Loud Records RPROLP 4350, 2000
Word to Life 12", Loud Records CAS 32682, 2001
Class By Emself 12"/CDS, Loud Records RPROLP 4486, 2001
Street Music 12", Loud Records, CAS 16843,
Street Music - The Preview, CD Sampler, Loud Records, LOUD9059-1, 2001
Illgotten, CD Sampler, Loud Records, 2001
Eat 2 Live, CD, Ill Gotten Inc., 2002
The 4 Fathers, CD, Ill Gotten Inc., 2006
I.G.T & Drama Squad - Bad News, 2007
Alpha & Omega, CD, Last Run Entertainment, 2015
Lagato Shine & I.G.T. - Ill Gott Till We Rott, Last Run Entertainment, 2017
Lagato Shine & Nomad Dough - Red Zone Ridin', Last Run Entertainment, 2018



Sources
"Everyday People,"Vibe, December 2001;  "One team of MCs Attempts to Reignite their Hometown Torch and Carry the Legacy into the Next Generration," Unknown Magazine; "Shelved Albums #1: I.G.T.," Fat Lace Magazine, January 2008; Reek da Villian Biography, FlipmodeFans.com, January 2009; "Dino Brave [The UN] - The Unkut Interview," Unkut.com, May 2014; "Lagato Shine Takes All Responsibility on His Own Shoulders," Skilly Magazine, August 2016.


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