REAL, RAW, & UNCENSORED WEST COAST RAP SHIT
N O I T A R E D THE FE LAMONT BISHOP TOON MR. CAR SLICK MITCHY MISTAH F DJ STRONAB BIG FASE G & MORE
O O T ORT
house tha in back
OZONE WEST // 1
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Publisher Julia Beverly Editor-In-Chief N. Ali Early Art Director Tene Gooden Music Editor Randy Roper ADVERTISING SALES Che Johnson Isaiah Campbell Contributors D-Ray DJ BackSide Joey Colombo Regi Mentle Wendy Day Street Reps Anthony Deavers Bigg P-Wee Dee1 Demolition Men DJ E-Z Cutt DJ Jam-X DJ K-Tone DJ Quote DJ Strong & DJ Warrior John Costen Kewan Lewis Lisa Coleman Maroy Rob J Official Rob Reyes Sherita Saulsberry William Major
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THE WEST IS BACKSIDE CALIFORNIA LOVE HOW THE WEST WAS WON SXSW Review RELEASE THERAPY: MISTAH FAB WHO’S READING OZONE BANGIN’ 101: BIG FASE PATIENTLY WAITING: JUICE PATIENTLY WAITING: MITCHY SLICK PATIENTLY WAITING: ROCCETT DJ PROFILE: DJ STRONG MR. CARTOON THE FIXXERS TOO $HORT CD REVIEWS END ZONE
and my ninja finally caught Tyler Perry’s latest flick Daddy’s Little Girls and I must say I was pleasantly surprised. I remember him talking on the radio about how America didn’t want to accept the idea of a single Black father raising children… and wanting to do it. So I got to thinking – because I do that – and it struck a chord. A week prior to taking in that movie I watched a disturbing video on the news. The next day there were endless Internet streams of the same video, which I’m sure most of conscious America has been made aware of: two babies smoking weed in the presence of their uncle and his friend. They knew how to hold it, pass it and yes, smoke it. Subsequent reports revealed that the uncle and friend are both from “dysfunctional households,” ones where mothers sleep in the very next room while her toddlers are toking marijuana. Maybe she was high herself. Who knows? This same household is responsible for producing multiple family members who are either currently in jail, on their way or were recently released.
men whose destiny is to go to jail? Meanwhile, their female counterparts find their way through college, graduate school and then the corporate world, if they so choose.
A couple weeks later I come to find out that these same babies, who have since been turned over to the state of Texas, had cocaine in their innocent systems as well. Judging from the way the uncle and his friend were acting it was just weed. But to think that they could have had the indecency to lace it with ‘caine or worse, give the babies that shit straight up, was disheartening to say the least.
Take AMG and DJ Quik for instance, now known as The Fixxers (pg. 20). Their whole mission in coming back into the Hip Hop fold (congrats on the Interscope deal) they say, is to abandon the identity that people already have of them and come anew. Knowing that they’ve been in the thick of it and are able to identify a need for change, it makes all the more sense for their offspring extended to follow. Much the same is the case with Mr. Cartoon (pg. 18), who’s seen his fair share of struggles and poverty stricken circumstances, only to become the most sought after tattoo artist in the country. And then there’s our cover subject, Too $hort (22). Perhaps the most consistent artist in Hip Hop’s illustrious existence, he’s still at it. Survived five years with Jive when all they wanted to promote was popcorn, bubblegum bullshit like it was nothin’. Count how many albums he’s dropped and then add another one to it. Act like you know beeeyatch!!
So I mulled over growing up and how hard it has to be in this day and age. I’m sure we had problems back in the ‘70’s, but we didn’t have disruptive forces like crack rock ravishing our communities across the country. We didn’t have the threat of AIDS at every sexual turn and we didn’t have Hip Hop. As it’s become the most celebrated musical genre ever, our culture has taken its hits and deservedly so. As reporters from the hoods of the United States our prophets/artists are obligated to discuss what pops off in the streets. Be it drugs, the police force, sex or any other matter of importance, it’s their duty to report the news. It is what it is. If the news is 85% negative, we are committed to telling it without reservation and/or prejudice. However, there has to come a time when we begin to glorify something other than the same rhetoric bullshit that’s clouded our vision for more than two decades. Cold thing about it is we love weed on the West Coast. It’s to the point where you can damn near do it legally in California. The case with the boys in Texas was rare in that they were dumb enough to tape the shit, but I’m sure it happens in other parts of the country. So at what point do we stop? When do we start teaching our seeds instead of rearing
We talk about Hip Hop being grown with the button down shirts and all the materialistic bullshit that comes with it, but it doesn’t mean anything if we don’t look out for each other. Perry addressed it in the movie when Gabrielle Union’s character bellowed that if she saw “another 30 year old brotha wearing a throwback” she was going to scream… and then she did (both). By no means is this an attempt to point the finger at the dude who carries his own bottle of hot sauce to Red Lobster (to keep it all the way one hunned, I had a throwback on when I was watching the movie – Jerry Rice, #88, Mississippi Valley State – you know I stay Bay’d out!). I think Hip Hop means to keep us young and vibrant, but not ignorant. We have to grow with our circumstances and realize that as the world changes, so does our culture.
See, we may not think we have leaders because their names don’t end in King, Shabazz or Ali, but we do. They’re in our CD collections, in studios and in the thick of the hood holding down anonymous storefronts. And we have a duty to identify who they are and what message it is we are supposed to get from their speak. Peace 2 fingers. *Our deepest sympathies go out to the family and friends of Johnny “Ca$h” Castaneda – a promising rapper from the city of Richmond whose life was taken away by a gunshot wound to the head. Thizz In Peace.
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The West is Back…Side: The Bay Area’s DJ BackSide links up with the Best of the West to see what’s really goin’ on in their heads!
Bishop Lamont T
he Bay Area’s DJ BackSide links up with the Best of the West to see what’s really goin’ on in their heads!
Keepin’ it lowridin’ and rather Hollywood, I kept it in L.A. for this one. I just had to, because perhaps Bishop Lamont might have insight on Anna Nicole Smith’s happenings, Britney Spears’ shaved head, this Black President thing, and even an idea of his Boss’ Detox album finally coming out AND not to mention if Dre makes his own beats! During this interview (which took place at 3 AM) I was surrounded by not only upcoming Aftermath artist Bishop Lamont, but also rappers Warren G, Ohwee, DJ Skee and other bystanders in a mini gym located in the back of their state-of-the-art studio in L.A. An interesting melting pot, to say the least. DJ BackSide: I read up about you, lightweight, and everyone I talk to in the L.A. area has your name in their mouth. Bishop Lamont: It was all lies. (Warren G and Ohwee laugh) You’re signed to Aftermath? Yeah, well, it’s actually Delicious Vinyl Records, but yeah, Aftermath. What is that like being signed to such a legendary label as Aftermath? It’s churchurry! That’s Dre, that’s the boss, I love him, I love it. We got Warren Gizzle liftin’ weights in the back. (literally Warren G is lifting weights in the background) It’s great workin’ with them. It’s churchurry. Before we go on, what is the churchurry business? Churchurry, it’s like waving the magic wand of the tabernacle, ya know? It’s a whole wand that just waves goodness, feel me? Use it in a sentence: The way you was spittin’ that charisma, that was churchurry. The way the bitch was movin;’ her ass that was churchurry. So does Dr. Dre really make his beats? Hell yeah, shit. Ask his bank account. All you niggas wanna be him, wanna sound like him. His Black Card is hella heavy, nigga, you know what it is. Y’all niggas know what the fuck it is, y’all niggas gonna buy Detox, and y’all still buyin’ Chronic 2001 tryin’ to figure this nigga out. I’m just askin’. People sayin he just got ghost peoples. So Detox is really comin’ out this year? Man, all I know is, God is good, Jesus Christ is our Lord and Savior. I mean, that’s like askin’ who killed JFK. I don’t know. That’s Area 51. So you have this song produced by Scott Storch with Stacy Adams, yes? 4 // OZONE WEST
Yeah, I love Scott Storch. He’s my white chocolate. And Scotty boy dissed Timbaland. Yeah, it will blow over though. They need to realize they are both producer rockstars and cut that shit out. It’s like singers - that shit that happened with Justin and Prince. You can’t step to Prince, man. International lover. Scandalous. Sexy never left, shit. I feel sexier than a muthafucka. Are we ready for a black President? We are ready for A PRESIDENT. It’s not about being black or white. So we’re not ready? I don’t know. Stop callin’ shit black or white. Does the ABC Channel call themselves the white network? We keep puttin’ color in front. If the people are just ready to let go of these color lines and respect the man for the man. The President is a job. It has no color or ethnicity in it. It’s a position. So what’s the craziest white girl story out there? We’ve got “Anna Nicole Smith: Who’s the Father” and “Britney Spears: Shaved.” I don’t see either one of them being crazy looking at the circumstances that these people lived under. Its said that muthafuckas are fightin’ over a dead woman’s body. It’s sad that muthafuckers are fighting over money she was fighting over. And Britney, she’s been under pressure from Mickey Mouse ‘til now. But really, the craziest white woman is Patty Hearst. Do your homework on that white chick! Your thoughts on the Brandy/Ray J Norwood family right now? Bless them. And bless Sonja Norwood, their mother. She just had a dinner with my mother, Dre’s momma, and Game’s momma. All the Mothers of Rappers, just had dinner together. Mothers of Rappers. “M.O.R.”? Is that a cult? Fa shizzle. That’s Churchurry right there. You came wit it. Well, Ray J is a porn star now. Yup. And he’s the shit. Do that shit well, my nigga. I got a porno comin out called Smackula. I’mma just wear a cape with Timbalands on. I was gonna be a porn star before I started to rap, cause I got a big dick. But anyways, shouts out to Ray J. And Brandy? I mean, it was an accident. And to prosecute someone for that - you should just pray for her.
Life is fucked up a lot of times. And we pray for them. IPod, IPhone? Nah, I’m a caveman, I don’t like none of that shit. Even Bluetooth, what the fuck is that? Got shit comin’ outta your ear like a microwave and shit. I ain’t fuckin’ wit that shit. But I mean, do what you do, people. I’m gonna keep it caveman. Which Jennifer: Jennifer Hudson? Jennifer Lopez? Or Jennifer Aniston? Man, I’ll take the one De La Soul was talkin’ about in that song. Jennifer O Jenny, ‘cause she sound sexier than a muthafucka. But those other Jennifers are doin’ their thang, so bless them too. This mixtape called Nigga Noize you have out right now is pretty dope! And you’re on the cover in a Klu Klux Klan ‘fit. Bold, don’t you think? Shit, the KKK stole the white outfits from a Christian sector. So I just did the opposite of that and turned it back, turned a negative thing and made it positive. And make it funny, because that’s what these KKK niggas are. Comical. They take perfectly good white sheets that you can lay and fuck bitches on, and cut them up. I mean, with the mixtape I just wanted to give niggas a home-cooked meal. They been dealin’ wit fast food out there in Hip Hop. It was meant for Black History Month, really. Listen to it and you’ll see. I can attest to that!
For more on Bishop Lamont, make sure you check out his website at www.myspace.com/bishoplamont and look out for his album to be released on Aftermath in 2007!
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he Westside of Compton did it again, twice! Young Hootie has been making a buzz in the streets with a couple mixtapes, his label Larceny Entertainment and various other projects in the works. I mentioned dude’s cameo on El Dorado Red’s “On Bloodz” last issue, but he more than deserves his own spotlight. Sillk Calone and City Boy round out Larceny’s first phase of attack on the area’s rap scene. From the same neighborhood comes a legend-inthe-making, Six Million. Six is no newcomer to the game, having produced part of the late, great Mausberg’s solo album Non Fiction, and I gotta say there is no artist out there who I’d cosign quicker. I wore out three copies of his mixtape The Subway Vol. 1, which had him collaborating with the Young Hoggs and the Black Tek Rangers, Six’s click that features Peenutt the Weasel, Slimm Ruger and whole slew of other dudes. Six was locked up for a minute, but he’s preparing to drop his solo album California Sunshine. Go East on Rosecrans and take a left on Bullis and you’re sure to find LBG on the block making a name for himself. Lil Bob Gotti mixes West Coast gangster shit with gritty New York realism. “Get Your Shit Together” is fuckin’ the streets up for real right now and that’s on the hood! Watts native Jay Rock just finished a tour with The Game. I caught one of the shows and dude had the crowd feelin it fo’ sho’! If “Lift Me Up” doesn’t make this guy a household name, then people are brazy! Coincidently, Jay Rock’s flow and style reminds me a lot of his tourmate who lives about 10 minutes south of the infamous Nickerson Garden Projects, where Jay was raised. Anyone from the area knows that place is no joke with a reputation for murders, dope dealing and one of the deepest, most vicious gangs banging in the hoods of Los Angeles. His Watts Finest mixtapes are hittin the streets hard and his Warner Bros debut should reduce the city to shambles. A few legends are getting active again. DJ Quik has dropped the DJ and formed The Fixxers with long-time partner-in-crime AMG. They just signed to Interscope and have a single called “Can You Werk Wit’ Dat” that’s sure to be a monster. Tha Dogg Pound got a new album that just dropped called Dog Chit, but Snoop’s second wave of popularity over the past couple years has pushed them out of the shadows right in time for the new west takeover. 40 Glocc, despite not having an album dropping anytime soon, seems to be as active as ever thanks to his affiliation with G-Unit. He recently jumped on the hyphy craze with his video “So Hyphy” that’s a trip. No word on Spider Loc or Lil Eazy E’s debut albums. I really thought both of these would have dropped sooner but they keep getting pushed back. I have no insight on this but hopefully they’ll hit before people forget they was even coming. Big Wy from The Relativez is doing his solo thing now, but it’s still love with his partner and cousin Suga Buga. His second Hood Hitchcock mixtape is comin real soon and he just inked a deal with Byrd Gang West, which was okay’d by Jim Jones of Harlem, New York’s Dipset movement. El Dorado Red is working in the mix too and it’s sure to be fire if the tracks on Wy’s Myspace say anything. It’s a beautiful thing when a legend like Big Wy who has been with this shit since the Bangin’ on Wax days can still get money and open up doors for other young rappers from the hood. Plenty of people will hate on this deal due to hood politics, but y’all just hating so you need to sit down. 6 // OZONE WEST
S treets ) the in ( W hat ’s G ood Props to Bad Lucc, Damani and Soopafly for coming together under the name Western Union. It’s great that not everyone feels like they gotta be a solo artist and realizes how few opportunities there are for rappers to get money out here. There is no shame in linking up and sharing that cheese. Don’t let pride or jealousy get in the way of you getting up in the world. And I don’t even get what’s with the hate. It seems like everybody has something to say about somebody. It wasn’t always like that. People used to be able to get money and keep their mouths shut, but too many rappers think it’s in their best interest to speak on other artists like it’s their duty. Most of these rappers don’t even really know each other. They chop it up for a minute at an awards show or some shit and put one another on blast a week later over assumptions made. Beef ain’t nothing new, but I don’t see why people aren’t working harder to make it something old. Keeping your mouth shut day to day but only speaking on certain people for personal gain in this rap business is hypocritical. These should not be considered two different worlds. How you act on a record and how you act in real life should go hand in hand. If they don’t, you got some thinking to do because you are not being real to yourself or anyone you fuck with. And on top of all that, unless someone says your name on a track or in an interview, you got no reason to think he talking about you. That shit is plain foolish! How much of this drama was over some beef shit? And no one gets away from all this like it doesn’t apply to ‘em. Both coasts lost a ryder over some stupid shit. I know none of y’all forgot about Tupac or Biggie. Didn’t think so. I know this is a music magazine but I gotta get political for a second with y’all. For those that don’t know, the streets of L.A. have taken a turn for the worst with a heavy war between Mexican and black gangs taking place every day. Now usually I’d just charge that shit to the game, but it’s getting a bit too out of hand with innocent civilians getting gunned down over skin tone and racial slurs getting hit up on the walls alongside the set names. Depending on what story is airing on the news, the picture is painted as one side or the other starting this drama, but there really ain’t no one to blame but the people who keep the shit going and add fuel to the fire. I won’t say names, because no one needs to be shouted out or get recognition off this shit, but there has been a few uncalled for disses coming from dudes trying to get stardom off going at a big name over some hood shit. This is NOT what Hip Hop, the West Coast or the streets in general needs. Is a check worth that shit? I hope y’all can’t convince yourselves of that, because it’s gonna get to a point where I won’t have anything left to write about. Get money together and influence the hood. Snoop Dogg’s “Vato” with B Real was a nice attempt at bringing blacks and browns together, but a lot of people put that shit on blast like it wasn’t legit because B Real aint from a Sureno hood. Who gives a fuck!? It’s time to squash this shit for real because there is no reason to drag this out any further. Fruit Town, Jungle Stones, Tree Top, Tortilla Flats, Compton Varrio 70, Lueders Park, 18 Street, South Los, Hoover… the list is endless. Y’all need to end the drama and we need to make this money, point blank period. I hope I can bounce through next month and open some more eyes to shit I don’t think gets enough love. Don’t give up on SoCal. For real, don’t do it. You gonna regret that shit if you do. // Words by Regi Mentle (firstname.lastname@example.org)
d, CA) 03 // Too Club 17 (Oaklan est, & Loc @ & Mistah FAB @ Qu ki, h, lls da Ce Ry t, y gi Ra Le t, B@ gas, NV) 02 // d, CA) 05 // Scoo slot machines weekend (Las Ve Juice’s birthday party (Oaklan Trina share a moment at the r Sta l Al r fo ) 10 // Gucci ge CA & DJ un y o, r Lo te fo ing e Ma Ch 17 us n b // ho (Sa & Sweets @ Ice 04 // Killa Squad & Chuy @ Clu t City (San Francisco, CA) 07 Import Nights Hot Import o of The Pack, Rick Lee @ Hot Talk & E-40 @ @ Fa 01 // Kafani, Un Youth UpRising (Oakland, CA) ) 09 // J-Bo & Lo & The Jacka o, CA) 12 // Turf Pack @ Hot Import NV te bs, Ro Ma ga n // Ve s (Sa 06 (La ) ts @ t e ) 17 rty (Oakland, CA BET’s All Star Weekend even Hot Import Nigh $hort & Copper & Stunna of Th d (Las Vegas, NV ice’s birthday pa DJ Quest & SK @ Francisco, CA) 14 // The A’z ul @ All Star weeken 17 for gas, NV) 11 // n Club 17 for DJ Ju gas, NV) 08 // Tigger & DJ Pa b Ve @ (Sa s Clu w (La me @ cre d h ga & en ll ss iva ek ba Dr Ro et a we k s Ve s Amen & PSD Th rtel @ All Star Done Deal bask y, CA) 16 // Ric Ca re (La PF Chang’s (La DJ vs t y te // izz en Cit on l 19 Th ev (M ro ) d @ Ca CA ow en , e ke sh ek co e Mi car of th City (San Francis aine Dupri @ BET’s All Star We EL’s streetlow h FAB & Fillmor t Poochie & Torch KM Fa sta Mi @ @ s v // Lu Pit 13 Bla ) teo, CA , & Goril Jacka & e & Jerm Nights (San Ma zzo Fly, B-Love land, CA) 18 // ) 21 // Debra Le teo, CA) 15 // Ku DJ Juice’s birthday party (Oak All Star game (Las Vegas, NV e Nights (San Ma r th fo @ 17 b oon @ Clu J Lash & ladies // Bavgate & Sp land, CA) 20 // day party (Oak DJ Juice’s birth Tamarra (08,21) 7,10,16,20); Ray Vegas, NV) 8,19); J Lash (0 7,1 5,1 4,1 3,1 1,12,1 3,04,05,06,09,1 D-Ray (01,02,0 Photo Credits:
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South By Southwest
The Pack & the Federation The night began slowly in Austin, TX as the vibe was seemingly more Open Mic Night than a South by Southwest Bay Area
Showcase as Saafir and Kirby Dominant struggled to connect with the Beauty Bar Patio crowd. But things changed quickly as soon as The Pack (above) took the stage. The youngsters from Cali headed straight for the end of the stage while the crowd inched closer in anticipation. The Pack jumped into their single “I’m Shinin’,” raising the show’s intensity almost instantaneously. Next, the group went into “Candy” which had the ladies shaking and popping, and when the group switched into “Oh Go” the crowded responded by going dummy retarded. The Pack’s live show warmed up the crowd for The Federation (below) who raised the hyphy levels even higher as they went into “Go Dumb.” The Federation paused for a brief second for Stresmatic to take a picture of the crowd for his Myspace gallery but jumped back into their set with “18 Dummy” as The Pack joined them onstage. The Federation kept it going by breaking out their shades for “I Wear My Stunna Glasses At Night” and ended the evening with “Get You Naked You Beezy,” which had some audience members taking off their shirts and waving them around like a helicopter as if Petey Pablo was in the building. At the night’s end, the Pack and Federation had represented hyphy and showed SXSW goers what it meant to go dumb by Bay standards. // Words by Randy Roper // Photos by Eric N. Perrin
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t to, & Jonas @ Fa 03 // Vital, Equip ) // CA 06 d, lan ge or ak (O Ge gas, NV) - Dior Youth UpRising h FAB, & Unk @ weekend (Las Ve , CA) 08 // Bow Wow & KD @ 02 // Rico, Mista DJ’s staff hit it bit at All Star co ) cis CA an d, Fr n lan ak for DJ Juice’s (Sa sketball game Juice @ Club 17 weekend al @ The Grill (O (San Jose, CA) 05 // The TJ’s vs Done Deal ba ) 10 // SK & DJ r b , Trac, & Treal Re NV izz Clu Sta op s, l t Th Ch Al ga gh @ r ia Ni a Ve ol fo s s ed gn ge on (La We un ty 01 // Geezy, Ma Rich & Beeda Loc & Kid @ To e Foxx afterpar co, Ice-T, & Ken @ Icehouse Lo terparty (Las Vegas, NV) co, CA) 04 // Kteo, CA) 07 // Big af Shooter @ Jami Co Ma & xx n n, x, Fo (Sa rlo e oje ts mi Ma Pr Ja gh City (San Francis wk Ni die @ & DJ 09 // Kuzzo, Ed , CA) 12 // Moha e @ Hot Import Rich Boy & Fizzo (Oakland, CA) 17 // Killa Keise // Tuff E-40 & Slowpok s Vegas, NV) - Karen Douglas Fedx @ Fat City (San Francisco Palace (Las Vegas, NV) 14 // 20 17 ) b CA Clu d, @ lan Bo ak J(O s (La Lo, & acs @ Ceasar’s // Dru Down & Rich @ Club 17 car Johnny Rocket 11 // Tone, Rob ige, & Kendu Isa ancisco, CA) 16 EL’s streetlow ) 19 // J-Bo & (Oakland, CA) Diddy, Mary J Bl Deal basketball game (San Fr ing (Oakland, CA ) 22 // Kafani & Rick Lee @ KM ll, birthday party Ris rre Up Ha h e ut dr Yo An Done 13 // tthew @ cisco, CA (Las Vegas, NV) y Luv, & Lil Ray Luv @ Thizz vs // Mac Mall & Ma DJ Juice @ Fat City (San Fran Ra akland, CA) 18 DJ Quest & // 15 // Mac Mall, r DJ Juice’s birthday party (O 21 ) CA d, (Oaklan fo Juice @ Club 17 17 for DJ Juice’s birthday party (08) b Karen Douglas & Bavgate @ Clu ) 2); J Lash (13); 1,2 0,2 9,2 CA 8,1 y, 7,1 6,1 show (Montere 0,11,12,14,15,1 3,04,06,07,09,1 ; D-Ray (01,02,0 5) (0 ge or Ge Dior Photo Credits:
OZONEWEST WEST////99 OZONE
fter months of preparation for the heavily anticipated video for his regional smash, “Ghost Ride The Whip,” Oakland’s own Mistah FAB was given the go ahead to film. Because cable networks considered ghostriding itself “public endangerment,” FAB was forced to go with Plan B for the video concept and used the original Ghostbusters car. With MTV, BET and a host of other cable networks on deck to push the video he was accosted by Ghostbusters fanatics, who deemed his street interpretation of the ‘80’s movie “inappropriate.” Thousands of dollars later, for a project he personally financed, the Freestyle King was forced to answer to Columbia Pictures, Atlantic Records and “Hannity & Colmes,” the latter to explain antics that some claim have inspired reckless and even fatal behavior across the nation. OZONE caught up with Fabby in an effort to allow him to “air it out.” It’s kinda crazy for me cause I spent a lot of time and a lot of hard effort in the movement that I’ve been tryna create. I did the “Ghost Ride the Whip” video. I spent my own money, put a lot of time and focus into it and at first they really wasn’t tryna put it on. Then they finally came around after about seven edits of the video and let it go. We got “Jam of the Week,” got added to MTV University and a lot of other stuff was in motion. We were finna do 106th & Park, the whole shindig. You know how they got the Star Wars, the Trekkies, Star Trek diehard fans? A lot of Ghostbusters diehard fans had started this website really tryna knock me for what I was doin’. Then it was, “Man that’s not right. He’s not representin’ the Bay right,” and I didn’t even understand it. So I kinda lashed out at them and they just took it to the fullest extreme that they could take it to. I guess they got Columbia Pictures behind them and Columbia hit us up talkin’ bout I wasn’t representin’ the movie right. They got to talkin’ all type of crazy shit about what they want the movie to be remembered for. All types of shit. So they hit MTV up, hit Atlantic and told them they if they didn’t pull the video they’re going to sue the corporation. So after everything, I’m just sittin’ there like, “Wow!! Damn, I just spent this amount of thousands, went through this amount of bullshit, did this, did that, had preparations for this, for that and you just pull the video like that?” So they pull the video and they even try to pull it from YouTube. They really wanted to kill my whole momentum. But I’ve been through so much negative stuff in life that something like that could never stop me from going to the next level. We can take a negative and turn it into a positive. So I hit up all my friends that I have in high places. The media outlets, the Internet and people who got the moms and pops videos. They gon’ still keep it lit and all my MySpace friends is still gon’ keep it on they page. At the end of the day my main objective is to turn this negative into a positive and continue to reap the benefits from it and laugh at ‘em in they face. If you’ve overcome certain things in life, that’s what makes you appreciate it more. A lot of people get overnight stardom and overnight credibility and they don’t really appreciate the hard effort that you gotta put into it. In this industry and whatever else you do in life you have to put the time in and try to overcome things. I just appreciate it because I realize it’s just another obstacle in life that I have to overcome. And when we overcome it I’ll laugh at the success rate knowing there was so much opposition. I’ll be able to tell them years later that I’m still a success story. It’s wild cause the day that I found out it was funny. It was funny in a scandalous way though. It was like hysteria. You’re so in disbelief and so in awe that you can’t believe that it just happened. But people that get banned eventually became huge: N.W.A, Luke, ‘Pac, Too $hort, so that just put me in a list amongst legends. Those are all-time greats and I got banned just like they did. That’s great. It’s huge. I got a mixtape comin’ out called Can’t Ban the Ghostrider. It’s basically just 10 // OZONE WEST
me telling them that whatever they try to do they can’t ban me. I’m still gon’ be live in the streets and it’s still gon’ be people in the streets talkin’ about it. So I’m doin’ that with Dow Jones and DJ Skee and that’ll blow up and we’ll use the momentum from that until my album The Baydestrian drops May 15th. I’m really not that mad when I think about it. It motivates me and my only recourse is to do it again. If I did it then I can do it again. It ain’t like I’m one of them dudes who’s on his last leg. This whole music game is at the beginning for me. I did the independent thing. I look at it like it’s high school. High school is my graduation. When I first got at it I was in high school and I graduated and went to college. College was my second album and my senior year is my senior project and that’s The Baydestrian and then I go on into the pros. I mean, I’m only 25 years old and I’ve done a lot of stuff that people twice my age haven’t done yet. But at the same time some of those same people have done stuff that I can’t even imagine doing. So I just look at it as a learning experience. I look at the time and money I spent, but that’s promotion. Look at all the promotion I got from it!! I been on Hannity and Colmes! That’s crazy!! Just from doin’ that that’s promotion in and of itself. So the money that I spent I just look at it like it’s promotion money. It ain’t like my money is about to stop. I’m a hustler so I’ma always be able to create an avenue for myself to get money. I’ma keep workin’. I love competition and challenges. They’re always amusing to me because there’s so many critics and so many speculations as to what I’ma be able to do and whether I’ma be able to deal with the adversity. Once you face adversity that defines the character of a person. What are you going to do when you go through something? Are you gon’ curl up and tuck tail or are you gon’ come back strong. I choose to come back strong. When I went on Hannity and Comes I wanted to show that anytime somebody infiltrates a suburban area, it’s all of a sudden a problem. When N.W.A. was doin’ they thang and little white kids was wearin’ baggy clothes and tryna get jheri curls and sportin’ black on black, white America went crazy. The only reason they came down on it was because they was showin’ clips of ghostridin’ and it was all white kids in suburban areas. When it crossed over it was a problem because you’re no longer affecting your community. You’re affecting their community. They try to point the finger at people and say that ghostridin’ is dangerous, but there has to be a point in our lives when we become responsible for our own actions. If I go out in the middle of the street in the middle of traffic and get hit by a car, how can I blame you if you had a song called “In the Middle of the Street?” Shouldn’t I be wise enough to know what’s good for me and what’s not good for me? Unfortunately some lives have been lost due to some people tryna carry out this stunna ghostridin’ and that’s nuthin’ you wanna brag about. That’s on your soul. But at the same time, these were adults. They don’t need someone to hold their hand. They are grown and they should know right from wrong and they should be held accountable for their actions. Ghostridin’ is not something that’s easy to do. It is dangerous, but if you were able to put ghostridin’ in a controlled environment, it would be one of the biggest things to do. For those that don’t know the Bay Area culture, a sideshow is like a big car show and people would love to see it. When cowboys first started ridin’ bulls it was dangerous too, but when they put them in a controlled environment, they called it the “rodeo.” That’s one of America’s favorite pastimes. I study the greats. I study Muhammad Ali, Michael Jordan, all the greats and I realize that they all went through challenges in their lives. This is only a challenge that was meant for me to get over. If I wanna claim greatness, then I gotta overcome this, and that’s what I’m going to do. // As told to N. Ali Early Photo by D-Ray
eas?t n o z o g n i ho’sread westco w
w KMEL’s streetlo 01 // J-Diggs @ ey, CA) 02 // Pit ter on (M ow sh car Club (Sunnyvale a lon rce Ba @ bull & e Bigga Figga CA) 03 // JT Th b 17 (Oakland, Clu @ ck Bu g Youn nna signing CA) 04 // Shaw Youth UpRising @ hs ap gr auto 05 // Grown Up ) CA d, lan (Oak Ver weekend (Las Sta All @ i dd Go Flip Side @ Youth // 06 ) NV s, ga o d, CA) 07 // Tit UpRising (Oaklan Import Nights Hot @ Bo J& ll Be & ) 08 // Rick Lee (San Mateo, CA car EL’s streetlow KM @ k or tw Ne l , CA) 09 // Darry show (Monterey Thizz All Star for in dd Ala e Th @ s, NV) 10 // Kid party (Las Vega Club (San Jose, ht Nig s on To @ st @ Booker’s (Ea CA) 11 // Lil Al // DJ Jam-X 12 ) CA , nd kla Oa geles, CA) 13 & Persia (Los An photo shoot his @ ate vg Ba // CA) 14 // Cup, nd kla Oa st (Ea uth UpRising cake & Boo @ Yo Gary Archer, 15 // ) CA d, lan ak (O @ Toons Ryan, & DJ Amen , CA) 16 // Jose n (Sa b clu ht Nig EL’s streetlow Goldtoes @ KM terey, CA) 17 car show (Mon e Aladdin for // Sean G @ Th s Vegas, NV) 18 Thizz Party (La ez @ KMEL’s // Gizmo & Sque ow (Monterey, streetlow car sh ris @ y Ch CA) 19 // Hyph (Oakland, CA) Youth UpRising known 15 @ 20 // T-Mo & Un (Oakland, Youth UpRising h @ Toons CA) 21 // Stretc Jose, CA) 22 Nightclub (San t & friends // J Stalin, Habit ing (Oakland, @ Youth UpRis Dank @ CA) 23 // Sleep llejo, CA) 24 Thizz Picnic (Va Squeez @ // Stackman & w car show KMEL’s streetlo 25 // Angel (Monterey, CA) Club Raw of Wild 94.9 @ 26 // DJ (San Jose, CA) Love (Los Jam-X & Monie // MagAngeles, CA) 27 Dante @ nolia Chop & Big d, CA) 28 Club 17 (Oaklan his photo // Little Bruce @ 29 // CA) shoot (Vallejo, Shawnna @ Pretty Black & (Oakland, Youth UpRising hn @ Hot CA) 30 // St Jo (San MaImport Nights mskull teo, CA) 31 // Nu car tlow @ KMEL’s stree , CA) 32 show (Monterey ’s street// Tone @ KMEL terey, on low car show (M & Joe ana CA) 33 // Mont end (Las @ All Star week // Lil Al & Vegas, NV) 34 s (East crew @ Booker’ // Tito Oakland, CA) 35 EL’s B & Bugsy @ KM ow streetlow car sh // 36 (Monterey, CA) Import Furious @ Hot teo, Nights (San Ma Archer CA) 37 // Gary KMEL’s & Lil Corner @ ow streetlow car sh // 38 (Monterey, CA) Rising Unk @ Youth Up (Oakland, CA) All Photo Credits: y photos by D-Ra by except #12 & 26 DJ Jam-X
OZONE WEST // 11
12 // OZONE WEST
WORDS BY Regi Mentle // PHOTO BY KING BIZZY
know you had a lot of attention come your way due to some drama that took place on the set of a Spider Loc video in Cedar Block hood. To keep it all the way real and one hunned, Game introduced me to Spider a few years back as a friend of his. When him and Spider clashed for whatever reason I made sure Spider knew I had my brothers back 100% and from there lines were drawn. Fast forward - The Game goes Glendale on me and my day one niggas who were his backbone, and Fase100 is left to figure it out or start from scratch, so to speak. The Ain’t No Game DVD tells that story in full, so cop that. One of my day one niggas named G-Ride lost his Father and was left with the burden of putting his dad to rest. The Game didn’t come to his rescue in a time of need but Spider of all people heard about it and came to Brazil Street solo and dropped a donation on him. Were good from that point. Fast forward - Spider asked me to get flamed up in all red to be in his video. I thought it would be a good look so I agreed. The shoot went good and just before it wrapped up, this guy from my hood shows up on the corner loud talkin on his phone. As Spider backed off the block nothing was said to him. The guy came up right after Spider left, trying to tell me who I could and couldn’t have on my street. As soon as he got close enough he took a swing and connected, all to my surprise. I got up and thought about retaliation in the worst way but I kept my sanity and shook it off. Dude’s life was in no way worth mine so I let him live. Then a day later I found out it was all on tape and aired on YouTube. Wow! It’s been said that the whole Game/Fase situation has really torn your neighborhood apart. Some could guess that the root of all that funk is money. Obviously there is more to that, but do you wish you could rewind time and give up the spotlight to have the hood the same as it used to be? Are the opportunities that have become available worth it in the grand scheme of things? I accept whatever God puts in front of me, man. Everything is written, so I’m just livin’ it. That dude on YouTube and the other ones that run behind my lil’ brother need they ass whooped. They don’t know him at all, they just know it’s possibly a couple hunned dollars to make, if that, standin’ around lookin’ tough. Me and Mr. YouTube had a few arguments about how he suckin’ my lil’ brother dick before the one that the internet world saw. Old ass loser ain’t no go getta. They been hatin on Fase in the hood just for being a man! I take it and smile. What is the history of Cedar Block? You have two Piru neighborhoods right by you that we hear a lot about: Fruit Town and Tree Top, but not much about the Cedars. Fruit Town is a hood that has always been big in numbers because it’s a big neighborhood land-wise. And Tree Top got its popularity with DJ Quik just as Cedar Block did with The Game and BigFase100. But Cedar Block was always here just like the rest of ’em. Started by OGs like Gangsta Blood, Big Hen, McKinley, LP & Mad Man Rodney, Cedar Block didn’t allow walk ons, you had to really be from this hood. I was ground rooted from the time my grandpa arrived in the 50s; been here since birth. Growing up in Compton, did you feel like you were in a world of your own seperated from Inglewood, Watts, South Central, Gardena, Long Beach, etc? A lot of outsiders don’t understand that these are all separate areas and like to just consider it Los Angeles. Did you stick to your block or were you all over growing up? I’m a Compton nigga, dawg, through and through. I stayed in my own circle mostly but I’m proud of the fact that I was part of that era where niggas could kick it in other Piru/Blood hoods with no drama. Them was the days. Now it’s any and everybody’s a killer. What do you think of the gangbanging craze that has stretched to cities on the East Coast? It seems like a lot of people think that a rapper from L.A. fucking with a rapper from N.Y. who is involved with gang shit over there means they are cosigning that shit. It’s flattering but young dudes out here don’t even know the code or the rules anymore so I don’t think they got the right understanding in other states. It’s all twisted up now anyway, its just self-segregation now and maybe has always been. Anything you’d like to say about the future of Brazil Street Records? Grab that DVD when it drops! Ain’t No Game. Brazil Street Records baby, I’m sittin’ on a gold mine. My young Compton duo The Lost Soulz got next! Then my lil’ sis B Fly, That Bitch! I’m going to stay grindin’ so keep hatin’, it’s fuel! //
OZONE WEST // 13
PARTS & LABOR
here is a big differ ence between a loc al rapper and a glo cee. While the local bal emdawg just hangs on street corners like on bad teeth, the glo plaque ba l cat is a performer with car seeking worldwide eer recognition. There is purpose in his pre ambitions on his mind, seven sence, issues -figu emcee. No doubt. An re contracts seeking his signature. Juice is an d as they say on his that twisted or misco West side of things – don’t get nstrued, my dude. “I’m the heir to Th dynasty. And I had e Black Wall to earn it. It wasn’t given to me,” Juice blank aiming his dis says, point cussion. “So stay tun over here.” ed. Don’t miss it. We in business Just recently return ing from Europe an d later Canada on tour with the homi a promotional e Game, Juice – kn owing he had the support and respe national fan ct from the hood – turned his focus to Wall’s gangsta rap expanding The brand across the glo be the West Coast and having full support . “Being that new breath off of my label, it’s jus ation and I’m makin t a good situg a lot of noise aro und the world,” Jui a break from his pa ce perchase route to chop it up with a pe says, taking bringing the origin n pusher. “I’m al West Coast back. Th gangsta.” at true music. That original Juice signed with Bla ck Wall Street in 20 06, a year in which ful of Hip Hop acts only a handhung platinum pla ques in their billia his arrival to the Int rd rooms. Upon erscope-distribute d BWS, Juice was ea ger to drop his
14 // OZONE WEST
debut and let every mu’fucka know ho w hot the streets are AZ. But label head The Game, fresh off in Phoenix, the five-time-plat now classic The Do success of his cumentary, and jus t prior to the relea platinum Doctor’s se of the now Advo a classic Hip Hop alb cate, had a clearer idea of what it tak es to craft um – time. “The wa y that the industry you can’t drop and is right now, just do a million un its. Computer piracy of excellence in mu and the lack sic “Game was like, ‘Yo are the primary reasons for that,” Jui u got the ability an ce theorizes. d the intelligence, your time and put now just take a classic together’ ,” Juice remembers. respect that. We’re “And I had to here to put togeth er classics. There’s no rush.” If you have yet to hear Juice spit over a J.R. Rotem track, one of the great pu you’re missing re UpRisings in mo dern Hip Hop. Rotem clarity with the pia ’s classical no rides shotgun be side to hear Juice and Ga me exchange cue sti Juice’s driven lyricism. And market is reminisce ck stock on Wall Str nt of Ren and Cube eet’s Black sh to understand the truth Juice spits fro ooting pool on a Dre track. But m the booth, you mu stand the soldier sto st first underry 22 years in the milita young homie was raised in. Juice’s father served ry, active duty, so urban warfare ato battlefields is nothi p these industry ng new. Battle blo od streams through on his mind, flows his veins, stays in his raps, hangs on the industries Bla J.U.I.C.E. – Just Un ckest Wall. derstand I Could Ex plode. At any minu te, my dude. // Words by Tone Swep
GUNS AND BUTTER
San Diego, CA
end in your u are already a leg daunting, but if yo Slick (whose y ch Mit is me na udden fame can be ur nding area and yo od thing. hood and its surrou by an entire state), fame can be a go d a major deal t cke go ba is He y. tus lon hood sta n Diego is Jayo Fe Sa in from Hip big its it fru ne do have not seen the “The only one who . Other than that we hadowed. If you look at the map ord rec hit a t ou t and pu en overs ange. “We always have be that is about to ch Hop,” Mitchy says. in the corner. But all ay aw d ke tuc r rde we are at the bo ck.” the state on my ba I’m about to carry me state San Diego as the ho llam. But, ll enthusiasts know Sa tba an sh foo d Ra d an an als en du All Most indivi Slick. ggie Bush, Marcus y Re ch ers Mit nn wi ask t y ph Jus for Heisman tro ole lot different. wh a runs are air s sp ng de d thi an e, on the southeast sid of southeast San Diego, where crime ir the to d be land peers who succum Raised in the gang tions, howmirrored that of his op life y’s s ch ck’ Mit Sli . y ng ch ba Mit rampant, ng or gang where you either sla matter environment – one s just a wa It le. ab ail av ever minimal, were of seeing them. m Up Records homie LT start Botto existed “I watched my big ies nit lize that opportu I began to and it made me rea life,” he recalls. “So ng ga the of de o was outsi wh , mu Da e ad my comr get it cracking with the time.” already rhyming at s in the er a demo Mitchy wa After putting togeth week later mingling with a heart of Los Angeles Snoop, Dre and DJ Quik like al radio West Coast legends e a mainstay on loc and his record becam ’t long before intersn wa Z90 and 98.9 FM. It Dub C was one from Xzibit to est grew and every ises and features. pra honoring him with Romey my own album with d Yuk“In 2000, I put out an 40 Ets, ee str in the Rome. I did 50,000 mies. and the rest was ho mouth was features t is where my tha d an ts ee str We smashed the me,” he as far as the rap ga to the credibility came in It’s r. ste ng ga straight tentells. “My music is lis is it Un n Suppressio point that the Gang ing on in the go is at wh ne mi ing to it to deter tabs on me.” streets and to keep ng on streets and appeari Braving the rough ent albums, ist ns co d an s pe a slew of mixta with when he hooked up it was no surprise Arm g on Str up er gro Xzibit to join the sup ned to DJ Muggs’ sig Steady. Mitchy later dent release his indepen Angeles Records to tion with his label nc solo efforts in conju cords. Tha Wrong Kind Re ck Syndrome, Mitchy Sli On Urban Survival in le sty life led fue yspeaks on the mone t as gratifying as it a seductive way. Bu us lifestyle is full rio glo the d, may soun tence and death, sen l jai of pitfalls with id details with viv in which he explains // s. rap d ase -b lity his rea abazz
Words by Raheim Sh
OZONE WEST // 15
or many inner city males, either you sla ng crack rocks or yo got a wicked jump shot. When Jermone u Rockett realized his crossover wouldn’t be breaking any NB year-old focused his A ankles, the then attention on anoth 16er everybody’s into sp orts when you’re yo hustle: rapping. “You know, ung,” the rapper no Roccett remembers. w known as “After I saw that I wa to be in school, on the bench just bang sn’t Jordan or Kobe, I used in’ on the tables an rhymes together.” d putting In hindsight, Rocce tt, now 22, made the doned the hardwoo right choice when he aband and picked up a microphone. After mixtape grinding, years of heavy the Carson, CA reside nt’s impromptu pe caught the attentio rformance n of ATL’s favorite Snowman. “[Jeezy] folks that I used to knew some get at,” Roccett ex plains. “We went do function he had. Th wn to this ey had a freestyle session outside. So I went out
cARSON, CA there and did my thi ng. He was like ‘Ni gg you in the booth.’ Since then it’s been a, you’re nice. We need to get CTE Entertainment’s ne west acquisition, Ro .” Now, as Corporate Thugz ccett Inglewood, CA emcee 211 as the group Ro has been paired with ccett & 211. We all know Jeezy is one for thug mo tivation. But by pa artists who are me iring two mbers of the coun try’s most notoriou (Roccett is a Crip an s gang rivalry d 211 is a Blood), has Jeezy lost his mind? Roccett insist crack-cooking s it’s not an issue for the new CTE du o. But gang affiliatio ns aren’t Roccett’s on ly questionable cir in joining the CTE cumstance regime. He’s found himself fending ag throwing rocks du ainst critics e to Roccett joinin g a Southern label izing from A-Town and capitalaffiliations which inc lude an appearanc upcoming USDA alb e on the um and a track with Atlanta’s Killer Mik e entitled “LA 2 ATL” which ha s caught the atten tion of Hip Hop pu rists from coast to coast. “A lot of peop le gonna go to the So ask me, ‘How you uth and get a deal? ’,” Roccett says. “The South got so much love for music, perio d. Jeezy embraced me with open arm s.” Regardless of Jeezy’ s southern hospita lity, Roccett has co ntinued to grind on his own. His new Co lors mixtape with DJ Warrior has kept his name buzzing in the streets and his face is more recog nizable by the day as a sponsored art ist for Makaveli Brand Clothing. “Jeezy’s an artist before he ’s anything else, he ’s got to take care of his music,” Roccett says. “Being signe d to an artist, you’v e gotta be patient an d wait until it’s yo ur turn to make it do what it do. But I als o know how to work too.” When his work finall y reaches the masses, Roccett ho pes people will relate to his music and understand his message. “If you’r e from the hood, yo u got dead homies, you getting up going to work, your baby ma or maybe you’re ha ma trippin’, vin and everything’s gra g a good day vy. I done been through all of that, my nigga, so I relate to however you’re feeling,” he says. “And I’m [ab out] to put it on tra ck so you can feel me , and the world can feel me.” // Words by Randy Ro
16 // OZONE WEST
hat does the union of DJ Strong and DJ Warrior mean to the West Coast? Well, we came together around 2001 and formed Cali Untouchables, which was a collective of not just DJs, but anything that has to do with entertainment and music. It’s a collection of professional individuals, but me and him built it off our love for DJs and the mixtape hustle we saw that was untapped and that’s L.A.. There really was no West Coast mixtape scene. Generally if you were gonna go find mixtapes you would have gone to the swapmeets or something like that and you’d find radio mixes. At the time the radio DJs were getting songs from the labels and they were getting the exclusives and they would go and put out there little radio jam mixes and shit like that. So it wasn’t like New York where it was an exclusive and they were producing and making albums basically. So we got with a bunch of artists (Boo Ya Tribe, Crooked I, Outlaws, Kurupt, etc.) and started getting them mixtape beats. So we basically started doing our own shit. We always looked out for the West Coast. We always DJ. We know how to mix and we took that with all our freestyles and started making concepts, Cali Untouchable Radio, the Palm Trees and Gangsters series and just started building a whole scene for the West. Keep in mind there’s never been a mixtape culture over here and we did it our way. What brought the two of you together initially? I knew him through doing work with Stronghouse Records, which was my record company that I had. I was putting out singles of people that were around me or that I just knew. Turns out I met some underground rappers so I just started putting out vinyl singles. He was doing a record pool and at the time he was trying to get me to join. I was like, “Nah, I’m cool,” but we just started building a relationship and started running with the Cali Untouchables and started grinding and promoting. We’ve always been real [serious] about getting our promotions out through emails, clubs, networking and knowing people. He’d been hollering at a lot of people in the industry more than me and I was just doing my thing starting my company. We generally have a lot of fans that are consumer based and they just started recognizing us. We put out several hundred mixtapes a day.
The more that you wear this CEO hat do you step further away from DJing or does your creative energy still call you? I’ve been going in that direction more. Right now I’m just trying to find the time to do a little bit of both because I’m still an artist myself. I still like to be creative and work with [different kinds] of music. But Hip Hop West and the business end of it is taking up a lot of my time. I’ve been wearing the CEO hat a lot and it’s cool and it feels comfortable to me. That’s what I’m good at. Then we do the radio show, the Sirius Satellite Cali Untouchable Radio Show and work with new artists like Tri Star. We’ve always supported artists like Game and Omar Cruz and Glasses Malone, all the people before they got deals. We put a lot of their singles on mixtapes before anyone. Some people know that. A lot of people don’t. What’s the most memorable mixtape you’ve done? Palm Trees and Gangstas. It’s the first one that Kurupt hosted, one that I really took my time with. It just kinda made itself. You can play it all the way through. It doesn’t get boring. 40 Glocc, Kurupt, Jayo Felony and Prodigy from Mobb Deep, so I got a lotta exclusives from them. But yeah, people still hit me up to the day about that. Now they’re more on the Lil Eazy E tapes, the Cali Untouchable tapes and stuff like that, but that was my best one. Eventually I wanna turn it into an album – Palm Trees and Gangstas: The Album. You moved to the Jersey for a minute before things cracked off for you. Did that have anything to do with you wanting to DJ? My big influence was my brother. He was four, five years older than me. He always came home with Parliament, Funkadelic, introduced me to Too $hort, Run-DMC. I lived over in Australia in Sydney for a year and that’s actually where I got introduced to Three 6 Mafia. It was fuckin’ crazy. The only dude I ever met out there was a local cat who was holding down a lot of shit. I befriended him because he was the only guy that was listening to underground rap. Everybody else was listening to Techno. But most of my influence came from Southern California – the gangster culture, N.W.A. – shit that I was listening to while I was riding the bus. But I also listen to classic rock and hard rock, Metallica and shit like that. I’m pretty diverse. OZONE WEST // 17
Words by Wendy Day Photos by EstevanOriol.com
artoon holds a secure place in Hip Hop history without ever having dropped a rhyme or mixed a record. Cartoon is an artist — a tattoo artist, to be exact. And while he could name drop Eminem, 50 Cent, Fat Joe, C-Murder, Method Man, Redman, Slim Thug, David Banner, Paul Wall, Nas, Pharrell, The Clipse, and many others as his walking canvases, he never would. That’s just not his style. He’s the kind of guy you can share a secret with and know it’ll stay with him to the death. A Hip Hop O.G., he’s also a walking success story. The first time I met Cartoon was with David Banner in February 2003. We were in Los Angeles shopping his deal with Steve Rifkind (SRC/Universal). When shopping a deal, labels try to find out what’s important to the artist and the negotiator, and they try to fill those needs to build a quick bond of trust and friendship that will give them additional leverage to secure the deal. It’s hard for labels to impress me because I’m not swayed by the usual trappings: money, cars, jewelry, scantily clad hoes (or in my case, half naked buff men), etc. But Gaby, the President of SRC, threw Banner, his manager, and me in a van, and took us into a barren industrial district in downtown Los Angeles. The neighborhood was deserted and I briefly wondered if the plan was to put a gun to our heads to get us to sign the deal, because this would have been the perfect surroundings for that. Much to our delight, we pulled up to a building next to a Gun Club and walked through double doors with no markings of any kind on the outside. Once inside, the walls were covered with artistic photos of tattooed clients showing off their skin. Sitting there in what looked like a barber’s chair was Cartoon. He was one of the people I’d been dying to meet. I’d seen his work for years on various body parts of my favorite rappers and old school album covers. I had been wearing the gear from his clothing line, Joker Brand, for years. Cartoon’s graffiti had even adorned the walls in the background of a Michael Jackson video. David 18 // OZONE WEST
Banner was already dreaming of the tattoo he’d get whenever his deal was finalized and he was on his way to becoming a star. Cartoon was the only artist he had in mind. Four years later, almost to the day, I pulled up to the same deserted industrial area in downtown Los Angeles. There were still no markings or signs on the outside of the building and although it looked familiar, I wondered if I was in the right place. A door with no handle cracked open and I saw Paul Wall and Michael “5000” Watts just inside. I was in the right place. A new generation of rappers has found Cartoon. Cartoon’s operation has grown since the last time I was there. He’s still in the same complex, but has a much larger space next door. Paul Wall, who has been tattooed numerous times in the past by Cartoon, was there to fit him for a new grill. How appropriate! “Coming to Cartoon’s is an experience that you never forget,” Paul explained Cartoon’s value while making the mold for his mouth. “I have other tattoos from other artists that I had before, but as soon as I got the Cartoon tattoos, I was like a member of an elite club — an elite underground organization. So when people see it they ask, ‘Did Cartoon do that?’ I’m like the cool kid in school with the new shoes. It’s low key - there’s not a million people in here, so when I’m in here screaming and squirming, we’ll joke around about it and laugh about what’s going on. “The tattoos mean something. He makes them FOR me. I give him an idea of what I want and then we sit around and talk and kick it. We hang out and discuss it and then he makes suggestions like, ‘How about if we do this and then we change this around.’ That evolves into a piece of art on me. It’s not a picture from a book where I said, ‘Gimme that one,’ and it’s the same one that everyone else has. It’s an experience!”
I look at the most recent tattoo on Paul’s forearm, which sits just above the flag of Texas that he has on the back of his hand. It’s a signature Cartoon clown, only an exact likeness of Paul, his grill exposed and all. “Yeah,” Paul continues, “I get some, then I come back two weeks later right when they’re healing and I get another one, and then another one...” Cartoon has inked up more than just brave rappers. He’s done street dudes, homies from around the way, actors, rock stars, musicians and just about anyone willing to wait. His schedule is five months out. But his business is founded on the day-to-day people who see the value of Mr Cartoon. “The artists get me these interviews,” he notes. “Nobody wants to interview me about the soccer mom I just tattooed or the stripper or the homie that works at FedEx. We tattoo muthafuckers on the street. They aren’t a platinum rapper, they are just the right dude on the street that needs to get tattooed. They might just be someone I vibe with.” Cartoon’s spirituality and the beautiful human being that he is, is what gets the attention from most of the people who know him. David Banner told me that what made him decide to get his tattoo was a “spiritual connection. We vibed on GOD first and he told me that I carried Mississippi on my back and I should do it literally.” So he did. Banner was not a platinum rapper when Cartoon tattooed him. The Mississippi across his upper back stretching from shoulder to shoulder is also his one and only tattoo. Cartoon started on the streets of L.A. and is proud to be giving back to the community. He enjoys speaking to young people and feels the biggest problem with kids is that they don’t know what they want to do when they grow up. He reaches out to kids regularly because he feels sharing that passion and his blueprint to success is important. “Money is important, because I have 4 kids to
support,” Cartoon shares, “but money is a way for me to implement programs for kids and to help people.” Cartoon started as an artist at 8 years old and feels lucky to have found his life’s calling so early. But he doesn’t use ‘luck’ in the conventional sense of the word. “Labor, Using, Correct Knowledge, Yearly,” he explains his self-made motto. “Labor: busting your ass; Using: putting the work to use; Correct Knowledge: learning what works in your life and putting action behind it; and putting action behind it and doing it every year consistently, which is Yearly.” A true inspiration, Cartoon has a clothing company, a film deal and a shoe deal with Nike. He also designed a limited edition T-Mobile sidekick, has a major motion picture coming about his life, a retail store coming soon and a graphic novel that will be in stores soon. But he didn’t start out saying he wanted to do licensing deals. He started by drawing stick figures on paper at 8 years old with parents who supported him by telling him he had talent and could be anything he wanted to be. “When I was younger, I thought my street life was payback for my talent,” he tells. “I felt I had to suffer to pay for this gift I had.” And suffer he did, embracing drugs and street life before he got back on track. At the age of 12, Cartoon got paid for his first art job, lettering on store windows. At 16, he started air brushing t-shirts at Swap Meets. By the time he was 18, he felt he was getting a lot better as an artist and started going to car shows and airbrushing cars. He did Kid Frost’s album cover in 1990 or 1991, and he got to see a giant billboard of his work with the album cover on Sunset Blvd. This led to more business from record labels and television studios. This constant reinforcement showed him he was on the right career track, but success was hard for him because he felt like his friends would look at him differently and that he might have to become shrewd and evil to be successful in business. He began to blow opportunities because of his negative mental associations with money. Finally, he was able to resolve the issue by realizing how much good he could do with money. He realized that money was not evil and he had the choice to be righteous and fair, regardless of the money. Cartoon’s vision is incredible. When sharing his ideas he makes it a point to say “I will,” instead of “I’d like to.” It’s the difference between him just being a dreamer and putting things into action. He expects to make things happen instead of hoping that they will. For example, when I asked if, at 37 years old, he’s training the next Cartoon, he talks about starting a university eventually, where he will teach the lost art of pin striping and airbrushing cars.
I noticed he was wearing a gorgeous Breitling watch and realized that people would pay big money to have a Cartoon-designed watch (hell, I would). He discussed how he will have watches that he designs to sell in the store he will open down the street. His “can do” attitude is infectious. Just the same is his focus is on the importance of keeping artistic integrity. One of his secrets to success is focusing on the “artistic integrity by keeping up the quality level and not coming off corny. A good artist worries about selling out. Once you jeopardize your artwork, and start getting lazy and corny and your artwork comes off as half-assed, or once you start listening to people who don’t know what it’s about and you start tailoring it to them, that’s selling out.” Selling out means losing authenticity and fans ultimately. Cartoon explains how he designed a limited edition T-Mobile Sidekick (a six-figure deal) without losing his integrity. “I did work on a cell phone, a Sidekick that is so hardcore in terms of the imagery that it’s never been seen on something that big.” They only made 13,000 of them, but he kept control of what artwork would be on the sidekick. He kept the meaning of the design personal: “an Aztec pyramid to symbolize my heritage, a Low Rider, a home boy with a Pendleton brim hat, a chainlink fence to represent the fence around our city that keep homeboys from never traveling out of the neighborhood.” That’s authentic. At this stage Cartoon realizes he has to be careful about which opportunities he accepts. “They’ll throw checks at you all the time,” he shares. “I want to do deals with the best of the best, like Nike. I look at the next 10 years and what I want to do. I gotta do it the right way. I gotta put the right quality out there. I could have 4 shops out there: a shop in NY, Miami, Frisco, and LA - Houston if I wanted to, with neon and pictures of all the rappers on the wall and 2 for 1 specials, put a stripper pole in there and I might get a check off of that. But my thing is that when fools see the artwork there’s a buzz about it. They know how hard it is to go to get an appointment. There’s a one on one - I’m building with customers one on one about what the artwork is gonna be. It’s a slow process. The business comes down to originality. We get so much support from the streets. We keep doing what we are doing and eventually they’ll get it.” Eventually the corporations do get it and the fortunate ones get to do the Cartoon deals. Right now, that limited edition Mr Cartoondesigned Sidekick, which is no longer available through T-Mobile, sells on eBay for upwards of $300, new in the box. Cartoon came up in an era of Hip Hop when “keep it real” actually meant something. He doesn’t take ideas from anyone else no matter how hot they are and focuses on what means something to him. He has evolved from an artist into a business man. He feels the business comes down to originality and not biting other people’s shit. He expands on
his theory by sharing some of the things that have led to his success. “Loyalty. Don’t cut the next man’s throat over dough. Let people know the real. Be honest. They don’t teach morals and ethics in high school. That’s maybe one of the benefits from being from a gang. You learn that type of thinking. Paint a picture of yourself in your ultimate life—see yourself doing it, surround yourself with winners who think like you. If you want to get there ten times faster, don’t be smoking weed and getting high and drinking every day. That’s what they want us to do. They want us to be half there and half retarded and not achieve our goals. Take direction from older people. Don’t waste time judging and hating on others, critiquing everything you see on TV. Go out there and do something. You can sit there all day and talk shit about rappers but what have you done this week? What have you accomplished? People critique so much that they aren’t getting anything done. Do you have a skill? Are you needed? If I lose everything, I can go back to painting store windows because I have a skill. If you are dope, you’ll get there.” Cartoon’s interest was the business side of tattooing, not just the artistic side. He realized that he was building a brand, not just inking skin. He’s changing the perception that tattoo artists are not business minded. He’s also changing the perception that tattooing is not a valuable art form. He locked down a three picture deal with Brian Glazer (8 Mile, Davinci Code, Beautiful Mind) because he felt they excel at telling personal stories. He worked on this process three years. His idea started years ago as an idea for a documentary about tattooing and grew into his life story at Imagine Films. He says it won’t be “a Mexican 8 Mile, though.” For three years he had doors slammed in his face about making the movie, until Brian Glazer saw the vision. “It’s about my life in my early 20s, but it’s really about my family and my team. I say ‘I’ in my interviews, but it’s really ‘we.’ It’s about my life which involves everyone.” With a graphic novel about to drop through Time Warner books, Cartoon says “it’ll be hard to follow the company’s last release, Sin City, but I’m looking forward to getting our story out there.” It’s the story of a young Japanese kid who comes to America because he’s in love with our culture, but he witnesses a murder and his dream kinda becomes a nightmare. Cartoon also has an action figure coming that was replicated from one of his tattoo characters. It’s a collector’s item. As I am leaving his tattoo shop, I can’t help but think to myself that everything Cartoon creates is a collector’s item, especially those unique stylized Cartoon tattoos. Unique to each collector, whether a soccer mom or a huge international Superstar. //
To hear pieces of the actual Cartoon interview, go to www.22LBS.com or www.ozonemag.com OZONE WEST // 19
ime flies. A little over fifteen years ago DJ Quik and AMG were youngsters in a genre that was growing before their very eyes. Fourteen albums later, between them, they’ve amassed production and album credits that have come to define them as both artists and men. Fittingly, they’ve found good reason to reunite for the world to see and more importantly, hear. In so doing, their indigenous connection has found its way right back into not only the West Coast Hip Hop panorama, but the industry as a whole. In the midst of serving five months in jail for a heavily publicized family dispute with his sister (where he allegedly brandished a weapon and assaulted her), Quik’s partner in rhyme came to the rescue. His brainchild was a welcome one and has since grown into a label that the two claim with a renewed sense of energy. As the Fixxers, which is also the name of their new label, Quik and AMG are expectedly making noise. Their lead single, “Can You Werk Wit Dat?” is in heavy rotation on the West Coast and is gaining momentum across the country, which is intentional. Says Quik, who’s permanently dropped the “DJ” from his name, “It’s not like it’s just a West Coast record, cause who can really define what the West Coast sound is outside of just categorizing it as some common gangster shit or some angry shit? We doin’ some other shit.” So don’t expect a “Quik’s Groove X,” because as AMG eloquently puts it, “This is a Fixxers album.” In that, the funk era that Quik all but perfected, is over – at least for The Fixxers. What you can expect is the same camaraderie that produced hits like “Bitch Better Have My Money,” “The Vertical Joyride” and classic albums like Quik Is The Name and Give A Dog A Bone. Fuck what you heard. This is The Midnight Life. This project is a welcome surprise. You’ve both been busy over the years and obviously haven’t lost that magic touch. How did the Fixxers come about? AMG: Well, it’s a new concept and it’s a new idea. We’ve always worked together. It’s not a big deal. But just to do something else [was fun]. It woulda been whack to call it Quik and AMG. It’s a concept that we’re branding. Quik: I had to go sit down, man. I had to really rethink everything, because I got to a point where it really just wasn’t fun. Wasn’t nuthin’ fun, like, “What kinda shit is this?” Well, we’re musicians and we’ve had some success and now I get into family fights and shit and end up in jail. Something had to change. So I started talkin’ to G when I was locked up and my nigga had some ideas and I’m listening. I’m like, “That’s a good idea… that’s a great idea,” and when I got out we just sat down. Then we looked at the state of us. Fuck Hip Hop for a minute. I hate answering that question. We looked at the state of where we are and just tried to make sense of it. When you say the state of you two do you mean you as artists or the West Coast? Quik: Well, as friends. We were friends before we were this. We were just trying to make sense of where we stand and how relevant we are to the business or if we’re even relevant. So is this album about proving that relevancy? Quik: We know where we are with that. This record is more about doing something new and fun for our coast, for this side here, for everybody. It’s not like it’s just a West Coast record, cause who can really define what the West Coast sound is outside of just categorizing it as some common gangster shit or some angry shit? We doin’ some other shit. People talk about the West Coast and say it was dead before the Hyphy movement and it seems to be losing some steam. Does the name the Fixxers have anything to do with keeping the West Coast afloat? AMG: You can make it into what you want to, but the underlying concept is, it was a jazzy name when we came up with it. When we started building more into it we came up with some concepts, but not building the West, cause we didn’t build it single-handedly anyway. We tryna get mu’fuckin’ money. We gon’ fix our pockets. Do you buy into the concept that the West Coast is dead or was dead before the Hyphy movement? AMG: Ah nah. It’s not dead. It’s just takin’ a break. It’s ten years. Everybody got there ten year run. Our shit just expanded into everybody else’s shit. Nobody tryna rap like Run and shit. Nobody tryna rap like Nas. They tryna rap like us and make a record like us. U gotta remember, we from ’91. Niggas didn’t even cuss back then til we started cussin’. Quik: Biggie? That shit was all West Coast. That shit was all gangsta rap. That shit was all West Coast and they never denied it. Quik, why’d you drop the DJ from your name? 20 // OZONE WEST
Quik: (To AMG) Last night I was fuckin’ it up, G. Did you hear me last night on vinyl nigga, playin’ King T bass and cut that shit up perfectly? I thought I was DJ Joe Cooley last night. I might pick it back up. I might put DJ back in my name… Real talk though, I been watchin’ these youngsters just clown like, “Wow, I can’t do that shit.” So why even disrespect the title, cause DJ is a title. So tell me about the album. Quik: It’s a concept album. It’s kinda different. It’s a different direction for me. We strayin’ away from the big deep musician shit… the funk, cause funk is passé and boring to death now. That era has seen its heyday and it’s a wrap for that. You gotta give people what they want and we’ve been striking a chord lately because five year olds dance to our music as well as fifty year olds. That’s where we kinda wanna stay. It’s more marketable now. It’s not so underground and so misogynistic and hateful and diss driven. It’s more community driven. It’s more social. We’re socializing and having fun. We got gangsters in there rockin’ their colors no matter what color it is and that’s just something you don’t get anymore. Given that The Midnight Life is about you all putting your sound out there, I know there aren’t any other producers to speak of, but what about collaborations? Did you reach beyond the West Coast? AMG: It’s gon’ be a few. We don’t really have anything set in stone right now, but there’s a few guys we’ve been workin’ with. Yung Joc, Rick Ross, Jim Jones and Tierra Marie. // Words by N. Ali Early
Everybody got their ten year run. Our shit just expanded into everybody else’s shit. Nobody tryna rap like Run and shit. Nobody tryna rap like Nas. They tryna rap like us and make a record like us.
OZONE WEST // 21
T R O H $ O TO N. Ali Early by Words D-Ray Photos by
Sometime during the height of Freaknikâ€™s success, Too $hort admitted to being turned out by the city of Atlanta. Shortly thereafter he made it official and bolted from the Town in favor of Southern Hospitality. Now, find out why Shorty the Pimp felt the need to restore order in the beloved Bay. 22 // OZONE WEST
You definitely have more of a presence in the Bay than in years past, and you’re kinda back and forth between there and Atlanta. Why do you feel it’s necessary to be home more now? I just went back to record some music. They need a little guidance so I went back to help. A lot of people talk about how the hyphy movement has led so many youngsters astray. Is you going back as much about the music as it is the community, or do the two work in hand from where you stand? Well, you know, it’s always been the independent thing goin’ on where a lot of folks wanna put a project together and put it out independent and try to sell 50,000 copies. A handful of groups got signed by major labels from out here last year. That got the morale up a little bit as far as gettin’ on the national arena. Everybody’s content with the local success and the regional success, but we still watch TV and they wanna be in the big leagues. So that’s what’s goin’ on. You got some folks that recognize that if all these millions of people on this end of the world love what’s comin’ from the Bay… if they could just get it on a national arena, a lot more people might like it. So that’s the struggle right now. From day one, the opportunities were never there for us as Bay artists to be on MTV and BET. It was never really there for me or E-40. We slipped through the cracks every now and then, but as far as the majority of the Bay Area music scene, we had huge success. We sold a lot of records and made a lot of money, but BET and MTV would never ever check for an artist here that does the same thing as an artist from another area. If another artist from another area was doin’ it year in and year out the labels would rush to sign them, but it just doesn’t happen here. Why has that always been the case? Is it because the Bay has always stood on its own and maintained that independent mindset? Yeah, because we really don’t pursue the deals and then if you got somebody who makes a hundred, two, three hundred thousand a year independently and you come and tell them, “Man I’ll sign you. I’ll give you $100,000 to sign and you get 10% off all your stuff,” the answer is “No.” Once you get the person in a position to earn a deal and you run the numbers to them and what you’re offering, it’s an insult.
Would you say “hyphy” is dead or alive? I think that the word doesn’t mean much to people out here. It does not define what’s going on. If you say that to the wrong lil youngsters you might get a sour reaction. If you ask them if they “go hyphy” they might laugh. It’s not like anybody is on the daily coming to the table talking about how we gotta preserve “hyphy.” It’s actually just a way of life. It might have a new name by the time the summer comes around. They might get tired of that word and come up with something else. But when you step back and look at it it’s still the same thing. It looks identical to the same things that we was doin’ when I was a youngster but it’s just new and improved. It’s just a different style. It’s the same behavior. We did the cars. We stood around the intersection and had a party in the parking lot somewhere. We did all that stuff. All they doin’ is doin’ what they supposed to do and they doin’ it they own way and now they got a soundtrack to go with it. Back in the day you had Richie Rich, Too $hort and some E-40. Now they got Keak Da Sneak and Mistah FAB. They just a little more hyper. Are you droppin’ another album? I just got out of the studio and it should be mixed and mastered by next week. I’m releasing a farewell album with Jive. No more albums with them. We outta there. The relationship is over. It’s not going to be a whole album – just like ten songs – something to commemorate the fact that I’ve been on Jive for twenty years. Fourteen albums with Jive and it’s the end of the relationship. Also on my Up All Nite label I’m releasing two compilations and probably whoever gets the nod, whoever gets the hot song first is the first group to go. I got like three groups with albums ready to go. And of course The Pack is coming out on Jive. I got them a deal on Jive and they’re part of the Up All Nite crew. So it’s The Pack and two other groups? I got three groups in the cut on the independent side. They don’t have major deals. I’m just cultivating them right now. They got a little momentum but it’s about whoever got that hot single. We got the albums ready to go, but nowadays you can’t just be like, “I’m puttin’ you out next. You next, you after them…” You gotta time it with a hot record and if your record ain’t in rotation right now, you just ain’t ready yet. You get that weight up and get a record crackin’. In the meantime rap everywhere you can rap. Do any verse you can do on anybody’s stuff you can, mixtapes. Be active. If you can’t shine in your own spot right now, what makes you think you’re going to shine anywhere else in the world? It’s whoever got that hustle; whoever got that spark. What I’m doing in the Bay right now is the same thing that I’m doing in Atlanta. In Atlanta I had been on a whole different agenda the whole time I had been there. I wasn’t really tryna find somebody with the hot hand and help them get on. I was more or less working with artists who were up and coming and getting them in the studio and get them on their way. But now, I’m just tryna see who is the hottest artist and who needs some help. I’m not really into artist development anymore. I wasn’t really too good at that. My good natured heart makes me good at artist development, but as for the skill that it takes to develop an artist, it’s not my forte. I’d prefer to just take super talented people and give them a couple steps and help them elevate their game.
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Everybody readily acknowledges you as the godfather of the Bay and you’ve seen everything transcend from two or three generations before you. Now, this generation seems to have everybody up in arms. Do you see it that way or is the Bay the same as it’s always been? The youngsters right now, the 25 and under generation is wilder right now in every city than any generation at that age. They grew up with the TV violence, the movie violence, the street violence and the music is violent, so it’s just a different world. Just imagine being a little kid and you grow up around crack and you live in the hood. People in your house on crack. It’s just a different pace in the streets as far as the tolerance level of just “violating my space” or whatever. It ain’t about fightin’ no more and I just feel like the combination of how bad it is with all the killin’. There’s so many teenagers gettin’ killed, high school kids killin’ each other for real. Add that in with the music and the music is being made by a lot of youngsters, but a lot of the artists that the kids are into are in their 20’s. At the same time, the kids are the ones that are driving the sound and that’s what’s inspiring the artists to make the music that they’re making. So it’s still all about the youngsters any way you look at it. It’s the whole lil movement. It’s not just the hyphy and the “shake ya dreads” stuff. They do the turf dancin’ and it’s a whole bunch of different [sides] to what they’re callin’ “The Movement.” It’s not just “hyphy, get dumb, go stupid.” It’s a bunch of stuff out here. We got a car culture and that’s very much a part of it. And it has a lot to do with the swagger. Everybody says I got the game. I’m laced with the game. I’m not just like no lil thug. I actually know the game. It’s a lot of little things that add to the Bay Area swagger and to make a long story short, I’m here to kinda deaden the whole idea that a youngster has no choice, like, “I have to be a gangsta. I have to do this killin’ or stealin’ or whatever.” I’m just sayin’, “Look at this right here; this music thing. As many of y’all that jump into this, you have an opportunity to make some real money.” I ain’t talkin’ about savin’ you from the street or sayin’ what a preacher or a counselor or somebody would say. I’m just like, let’s make some music and you can make some money.
What was it about The Pack that brought y’all together and made things stick? Over the years I’ve seen all the people who I knew who were talented and all the people that I helped out, knowing that they were talented producers, singers, musicians and actually knowing that the few that rose to the top, they had a quality about them. It wasn’t a certain rhyme skill, or a look or any kind of sound. Sometimes you just get a package and you just know it will fit. Like, “Damn, this is what people will like.” It’s like them Aunt Jemima pancakes. You just add water. You ain’t gotta add the eggs and the oil and all that stuff. You just add water and it’s perfect. So I tend to favor those types of situations over the years and I look back and say, “Who did I enjoy dealing with the best?” And that goes for musicians, singers and people I just found trying to get in it and they ended up having nice careers. Who all you workin’ with on your album? I’m actually debuting the Up All Nite crew. It’s not about name brand producers. I might get one single, cause it’s prolly going to be a one single album. The guys that I got on the list of giving me that one single are Lil Jon, Jazze OZONE WEST // 23
Pha and maybe Polow da Don – one of those three. Outside of that everything is in house. I wanna put me together a whole lil click of people that I work with in Atlanta and people that I work with in the Bay and I just fly back and forth. I hate to predict the future and tell people what I’m about to do, but we got a lotta music in the can. It’s a lotta activity jumpin’ off on the Internet and different ways to sell music as far as iTunes and ringtones and stuff. It’s a lot more beneficial these days to be independent because it’s so much less stressful in the digital world. So I’m bringing my futuristic life to the surface. We goin’ digital all the way. Are you enjoying the idea of managing the label, so to speak, as opposed to being an artist at this point? I mean, dawg, realistically man, I’ve long overstayed my welcome as an artist. I’m just still doin’ it cause they keep lettin’ me do it. It’s not like it’s a necessity. I love doin’ it. I’ve had so much success and the whole world said, “WHY??” Radio stations and magazines like, “Why did he do another one?” Too $hort fans like, “Oh my God, he finally lost it,” I’d take the criticism like, “Well you know I had to hit a brick one day.” But I’ve survived something that I know recording artists can’t survive. I survived a label that put out a string of albums without promoting. I survived that shit. I worked year round and everything’s cool, man. I don’t know how an artist could survive five albums without a single, without ads, without a video and he still got the whole world goin’ on. Is there a similar feeling in your gut with respect to the first time you “announced” your retirement? Well, I can say now that there was never an intention for retirement and it was a point of me psyching myself up to where I couldn’t be a 30 something year old rapper. As fast as we did the press release I was already negotiating the paperwork to move forward with a new contract with Jive. Now that word is not even going to get entertained by me. Regardless of any rapper who ever stepped up and said, “I quit rappin’,” I don’t know anyone who ever did it. It’s Hip Hop. It’s like drugs. Not to say that that’s the only reference I could come up with for Hip Hop, but it is very, very, very addictive. I don’t know anybody of any age who actually retired the microphone. Everybody who said it has already made an album since they said it. You endorsed J Stalin’ on the intro of a recent mixtape. Is he in your camp?
He soon will be if I keep seein’ him do his thing and if he needs some help. It’s about three cats out here that I would love to work with but I can’t jump the gun. I don’t wanna tell you, “You down with me,” and then I got a whole full schedule and I can’t handle you. But he’s definitely one of the ones who I know has that “it.” I’m down widit. He was just on stage with us the other night in Vegas. Who are the other artists in the Up All Nite crew? I’m working with the Hoodstarz right now. They got a major movement goin’ on in the Bay. I got another guy named Dolla Will. But the Hoodstarz, they from East Palo Alto. They got that good momentum and they were major candidates out here for just needing a little push in the right direction. I been takin’ them way outta town, like way outta their market, just throwin’ em on stage and they battin’ a thousand no matter what crowd they step to. No matter if they ever heard of ‘em or if they never heard any of their songs, they got about a fifteen minute show that’ll rock any crowd. So who do you see being the face of the Bay? Who’s that dude right now? I mean definitely, if you wanna see who got the weight out here, it’s undeniable that Short Dog and E-40 are the OGs. But if you talkin’ bout who’s the heavyweight out here on the scene, it’s Keak and FAB. FAB likes to get around and make sure that the Bay gets represented. He’s tryna be the face of the Bay. Keak Da Sneak, he got his lil lovely world. He gettin’ his money on, but he not really tryna truly be the face of it. He more into the streets. He’s like the street favorite. Then it’s a whole bunch of cats that’s right there with them that’s the supporting cast. You got the Hoodstarz. You got the new kids on the block, The Pack. You got the Team. They definitely heavyweights out here. EA Ski and his group Frontline, they definitely stay on the radio. Youngstas love The Federation and Turf Talk. So it’s a whole click of ‘em out there. Then you got the Messy Marvs and the San Quinns; the youngstas love them. Speaking of youngstas, the term is a little outdated, but what do you think about the New Bay, considering your legacy and how you’ve ushered most, if not all of the talent that you just mentioned? I think it’s something that needed to be said to distinguish a change. It’s not like it really picked up like it was picked as a movement. I mean, I use it. I say it. It’s the uptempo, the hyphy sound, the go stupid, turf dancin’… That’s the new thing. The dreads. It’s the New Bay. It’s lovely. //
The Pack, signed to Too $hort’s label Up All Nite/Jive Records
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Location: Oakland, CA Venue: 2232 MLK Event: Oakland vs. Memphis dance battle Date: March 11th, 2007 Photo: D-Ray
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Ozone West #56 - May 2007