Musically, the trio that comprises Gary's Number 1 Playaz span generations of hip-hop when it comes to musical influence.
Playo, one third of the Playas, cited everyone from LL Cool J and Too Short to Biggie Smalls and Tupac Shakur as influences on the music they create.
Master–P and Too Short also top Playo's list of inspirations, but for more than their past creative accomplishments.
"I like the artists who made something out of nothing and doing it independently first," he said. "Master–P was selling CDs out of his trunk like we do now. Too Short was selling cassette tapes back when they had cassette tapes, and look how far it took them. The people who made smart business decisions and weren't one-hit wonders, I look up to people like that."
Celebrating their latest effort, "Put Us in the Game," with a release party at Gary's Prestige Night Club, Playaz was formed by Playo (born Jerry Haymon Jr) and his brother, O–Dogg (Orlando Haymon), more than a decade ago after crossing paths with Hammond's T–Turner (born Antonio Turner).
In 2003, Playaz put out their first effort, "Can You Relate," and in the following years have released a handful of sets, both collectively and individually. They have also shared stages with Soulja Boy, Royce Da 5'9 and Wiz Khalifa.
Controlling their own musical destiny via their P.O.T.O.T.G. Records, Playaz are set to release their latest mix tape, "Game," on Sept. 9. Additionally, the trio are working on what will be a proper collection of original material, "Go National."
According to O–Dogg, the titles of their forthcoming efforts both speak for themselves and will also, if all goes as planned, put Gary on the national hip–hop map.
"What the mainstream is missing is the truth," he said. "I think a lot of rappers in the mainstream kind of mislead their audience. They tell them, 'Go do this and this, go sell drugs' like they're actually selling drugs, and we all know they're not selling drugs. They're performing. They're doing shows. They're recording. What we'll be bringing to the game is more of the truth."
At Prestige for their release party, Playaz will be joined by the nationally renowned DJ Smalls. But following the festivities, the trio have nothing but work on their collective plate.
"For the remainder of the year, it's just work," O–Dogg said. "It's content, videos, attacking the Internet. It's about building the fan base so wide that when it is time to drop the album, it'll all work for us."