R.I.P. TUPAC SHAKUR 1971-1996
RIDE FOR THE COAST
BACK TO BASICS
DJ SKEE DJ REFLEX DOMINO
IN THA MONEY!!
RICK ROCK READY FOR THE WORLD GOLDIE GOES OFF A PLUS & MORE
OZONE WEST //
// OZONE WEST
Publisher Julia Beverly Editor-In-Chief N. Ali Early Art Director Tene Gooden Music Editor Randy Roper ADVERTISING SALES Che Johnson Isiah Campbell Contributors D-Ray DJ BackSide DJ E-Z Cutt Eric Johnson Joey Colombo Regi Mentle Shemp Ty Watkins Wendy Day Keita Jones Todd Davis Big Fase 100 Jessica Essien Street Reps Anthony Deavers, Bigg P-Wee, Dee1, Demolition Men, DJ Jam-X, DJ Juice, DJ KTone, DJ Quote, DJ Strong & DJ Warrior, John Costen, Juice, Kewan Lewis, Maroy, Rob J Official, Rob Reyes, Sherita Saulsberry, Sly Boogy, William Major COVER CREDITS Kafani photo by D-Ray; Mitchy Slick photo by Barry Underhill.
United We Stand The month of September marks one of the most tragic events to occur in the last fifteen years. It shook us all. Perhaps it was the possibility of what tomorrow would bring that made us tremble even more… butterflies quivered through our collective stomachs, death around the corner, closer than we could’ve ever imagined. I am talking of course about September 13, 1996 – the day Tupac Amaru Shakur died.
Not to slight September 11, 2001 – the day the world changed – but our nation seems to have moved on as the true bully it is since that catastrophic experience. I remember the reaction I got the first time I told someone the death of Pac’s anniversary was around the corner – that September 13th was near. I got the gasface. In a real way too. I mean, how could I pass off 9/11 for a foul mouthed, controversial, sex offending criminal who prompted his own death with excessive threats and attacks on unassuming emcees? My answer was short and simple. “I didn’t know that person.” My memory of Pac is varied between the person I met and the Hip Hop icon he became. When I met Pac he was attending Tamaulipas High School in Marin County. He stayed in the “Jungle” with his mother and sister and I was formally introduced to him through my cousin Shawn, with whom he’d become fast friends. We talked for a couple of hours about sports, politics and all. Then later we all agreed to kick it another weekend and go to the movies. So they made the hike to Richmond and we met at Hilltop Cinemas. After the movie was over we waited outside for Moms to pick us up and the two of them got to rappin’. Now Shawn, AKA Mahem, was a lyrical tornado. He was the best I’d ever heard in person, bar none. I’d seen him rip niggas apart for at least four years straight. Off the dome, written rhymes, it didn’t matter. He was a muthafuckin’ fool widit!! He was GOOD.
“It” factor. I know it may sound cliché, but when I heard him I knew without a shadow of a doubt that he was going to make it. His talent coupled with his living circumstances plus his obvious hunger, convinced me that he would do everything in his power to succeed as a rapper. And he did.
2pac went on to become the best selling Hip Hop artist in the world. He sold over seventy five million albums and in the process, inspired a nation. Before his untimely death he was in the process of aligning those forces on a project entitled One Nation. Oddly enough, that was the duality that he carried with him as a Gemini. To think one moment that he could spark a war with the whole East Coast and then turn around convince them that they should get down with him, was his magnetic personality in all its glory. As the son of a Black Panther Party, it was his dream and vision to pool Hip Hop’s collective talent into one powerful cog. That’s a call for togetherness, something that is still missing to the day. Which brings me to this current issue. From the cover subject, Kafani, who recently signed a three year artist deal with Koch to Goldie (“Release Therapy,” pg 6), Westurn Union (pg 12) and rap veteran Kam (“Bangin’ 101,” pg 10) there’s an undying belief that West Coast artists don’t support each other enough – that we have no unity. If we are to learn from our mistakes and move forward as a Coast and become the nation that Pac desired, we have to come together. Hatin’ on niggas is a weakness. Stay strong,
N. Ali Early West Coast Editor
All he wanted to be… 1971-1996 But that nigga Pac just had some other shit in him. That was the first time I’d seen someone with the
ozone west 04 05-9 06 10 11 12-13
THE WEST IS BACK…SIDE PHOTO GALLERIES RELEASE THERAPY: rick rock bangin’ 101: kam hustlin’ westurn union
16 17 18
DJ PROFILE: Dj skee & Dj reflex new slap END ZONE
14-15 kafani da ice king
280 in tha 5 Lounge s d a e h @S and Me , Gunna e n o T K j D OZONE WEST //
es, Hyphy’s greatest hits were made by him (“Hyphy,” by The Federation and “White T Shirt Blue Jeans and Nikes” by Keak da Sneak, for example). Rick Rock is one of the most successful producers on the West Coast, independent or major. It’s the quality he insists on that helps him weather the storm. The Federation, Pitbull, E-40, Busta Rhymes and Chamillionaire are among the artists he’s currently in the lab with. Since losing the battle for Hyphy Juice he’s got a new energy drink called Rapstar on the way. So off top, let’s talk about your group, The Federation. Is the long-awaited album ready? Yes, The Federation is comin’ out. Yes, it’s gotten pushed back twice, but it’s on its way. We just have clearances to get through, that is the only problem. Yeah, I was wonderin’, because “Stunna Glasses at Night” was a huge record you produced for them here on the West Coast. Yeah, well Warner Bros. is all about clearin’ shit now over later, you know, with licensing and all that legal stuff. So not only that record, but the current record with Snoop is the hold up this time. But the album is different. Don’t expect the hyphy shit. We got tired of it really, because everybody started doin’ it. I don’t want to hear “go” or “dumb” at all in any more songs. I mean, not in the chorus for sure. It’s a wrap for all that. The Federation album is just different. We brought in Travis Barker and some white ladies to play choir music too on this album, so it’s going to be different. Yes! Either way, music on the West Coast will be heard. Exactly. There is a pyramid of things that needs to happen here on the West Coast. The ground level of the pyramid is the music and the quality of the music. Everybody has to compete with good music. Then the next level up is people’s relationships outside of the West that need to be strong. You can’t get nothin’ played on MTV if you don’t know anyone there and just simple shit like that. Then the next level up is radio with these DJs. The DJs have to program West Coast music and that is not happening. Although, the DJs can’t program wack shit either. Wack shit though? Oh, but it is getting programmed. Case in point: “Laffy Taffy”? Yeah, I get you. The radio did program that hard, but the way I see it is that the South has had years of being oppressed. They have always had their own shit whether it was Miami bass music or other, and it’s simple and catchy, and
they push it. They have singles all day. Right. The game is ringtones all day now. Singles. Yeah, remember it used to be like that back in the day though too. Remember, it was like you could go into a music store and get a single. The game is hard right now. Do I spend $400,000 on an album, or $20,000 on a single and do crazy ringtone numbers? You feel me? People have found a new way to get money. How does that affect your production? For me it doesn’t mean anything. People will always need music, but for these artists trying to get a nice structured deal, it’s worse for them and really it hurts the game. At the end of the day, I personally like to make albums. And I like other producers that like to make albums too – Dr. Dre, Timbaland, The Neptunes, and E-40’s son Droop-E, I like him too. He’s comin’ up and has a good ear for music. Everything is going to come full circle, I think. It has to. I think people are going to get tired of this ringtone, watered-down shit, because it’s not selling albums at all. [Hip Hop] will switch up. It’s the natural progression of it. I thought the energy drink Hyphy Juice was yours, but Clyde Carson and Modoe came out with it first. Yeah. I mean, I don’t really like to say too much about it and the whole situation, but they just beat me to the punch with it. I mean, I was workin’ on my deal to put the drink out and I guess Kobe the President of Moedoe Recordswas workin’ on it too, and they just came faster with it. They worked out the deal faster. It is what it is. I’ve pretty much moved on from it. So you all are cool? Kobe hasn’t really “manned up” about it, but I don’t have any real problem with him, per se. And Clyde Carson, I know he had something to do with the drink. He’s a good dude. I mean I don’t have no problems with him. I know his album is comin’ out soon, so I wish him well with that. He’s a good artist. Good. No beefs “per se” is great. Let’s keep all the West Coast heads above water. Yeah, man. Just look out for The Federation album comin’ out – It’s Whatever. There are some slaps on there; features with Snoop, Travis Barker, Kinsmoke, Dub, Daz and it’s just a good album. Go get that. //
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!
// OZONE WEST // OZONE WEST
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e i d l o G
The year was 2003 and The Federation had next. With arguably the best producer (Rick Rock) in the Bay behind them, a powerful label in Virgin Records and a song – “Hyphy” – that ultimately launched an impending movement of the same handle, it was only a matter of time. The album that followed was supposed to put them over the top and into the mainstream as the true innovators they were. Instead, they were shelved and never got the opportunity to truly represent. After leaving Virgin, a bidding war ensued and The Federation decided to go with to Warner Brothers, who plan on releasing their heavily anticipated album It’s Whatever this fall. Goldie, the most hyphy of the three man cog relives the whole damn thing with some choice words for his Yay Area peers, the industry and Tom?
still. He was a gangsta. Don’t get me wrong. He was a gangsta, mack, and a rapper, but he made it cool for niggas to have fun. Ever since Mac Dre passed niggas is not havin’ fun out here no more. That’s real shit. I mean, we celebrate, but it’s like, “Damn, we missin’ somethin’.” We missin’ a presence out here and it got everybody fucked up. Me and Mac Dre from the same part of Vallejo, North Vallejo, so it hit me hard.
The reason why I feel the movement went wrong is that muthafuckas jumped on the bandwagon and didn’t have enough talent and know how to represent us right. By Myspace being the biggest thing in the world right now, a mu’fucka could do a song, jack a Rick Rock beat, try and steal the mojo and the sound that the Federation created, without acknowledging us, create a myspace page and call it the hyphy movement. But you ain’t put no work in as far as being a real artist.
To each his own, but we complainin’ why the Bay is fucked up and why this so called hyphy movement is dead? I wouldn’t say it’s dead. I support it 100%, but at the same time it’s hurtin’ us. There’s no unity out here. They see this man over here. He got a chance to shine in the spotlight. Encourage him. Don’t bring him down and wanna do diss records on a nigga. Push that man. You see all the Southern states are lining up. They sharin’ cars, sharin’ money, sharin’ chains and sharin’ homes. Real shit. Come get in my video and get in my song. I may not even like you, but it’s money involved. Look at Houston. Look at Miami. Look at Atlanta. They dominate the top ten countdown. If we learn from our South cousins, we might get somewhere. Unify. You ain’t gotta kick it wit’ me and be my friend. But we need to push each other. It can be saved, but the proper people got to acknowledge the proper mu’fuckas that’s in power. I’m not about to mention anyone in particular, ‘cause we’re all wrong. I’ll put the blame on me. We created this fuckin’ monster. We didn’t create the word “hyphy,” but the sound sonically, we created this monster. We created this so-called movement. So we’re all to blame. It’s no one person to blame in particular and that’s being unselfish and being a real nigga. I’ma blame myself before I blame the next mu’fucka, ‘cause I’m not a hater. I just tell the truth. The truth ain’t hatin’. San Quinn shoulda been put in the spotlight. Laroo shoulda been put in the spotlight. Dirty Mackin’ definitely shoulda been put in the spotlight. We can take it back to 2003, what was KMEL playin’? If it was Bay music, which they were rarely playin’, San Quinn was holdin’ it down. He was doin’ drops, everything. But our music sonically was mobbed out Bay shit, get a bitch to sing the hook, talkin’ bout some pimpin’ and hoein’… but mob shit and gangsta shit too tho. So we was like fuck it, let’s go to the drawing board. E-40 came to us and was like, “Let’s create a sound for us.” It was mu’fuckas that was holdin’ us down. Keak Da Sneak was holdin’ us down. He stayed doin’ his thing. It’s just a lot of people. C-Bo shoulda been acknowledged. He from Sac, but it’s still Northern California. The Team shoulda been acknowledged and Mac Dre goes without a spoken word. He was the one who made the Bay wanna party. When we were doin’ bad, when ‘Pac died and we were in a slump, Dre, sonically and the role he played in the hyphy movement, he made us have fun
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It’s a lot of artists that shoulda been recognized. When we did our hyphy shit back then it was some shit called “The New Bay.” Everybody wanted to jump on that, which was cool! But, we prevailed with our own sound sonically – handcrafted and resurrected the Bay. That’s what we did.
They need to turn it into a sport, cause you can’t control it. Go to Oakland Coliseum, rope off a big ass section of the parkin’ lot so it’s safe, fun and confined. It was like some player shit back in the day. You had Money Makin’ Mitch and them and they had the stage back then. The sideshow was some shit to where you throw on some fine linens, go up there and a bitch got at you. The dopegame was good, so the money was better. Now sideshows done turned into a mu’fucka hit they car they stomp it out, they shoot a nigga. Niggas hittin’ bitches with they cars, killin’ em and shit. The Industry
It’s really not their fault, but they blew it up. It’s like one day you the champion and the next day you washed up. The powers that be tried to sneak and have artists come in and do hyphy shit. They get at artists that ain’t from the Bay, ain’t got no ties to the Bay and ain’t paid no homage to the Bay and tell them to do a hyphy track. I know, cause I been in the studio workin’ wit em. They’re trying to push us back away like the industry’s been doing from the beginning. That’s what the industry does. The industry is a cold muthafucka. “Oh Boy!”, “Fa Sheezy,” “My Nizzle,” “H to the Izzo…” All that came from the Bay! If the Bay comes up with something, the industry is like, “Ok, that’s hot but, let’s have this region say it. Let’s pay for the spins and put them in the bright lights and all this shit.” The industry is a cold muthafucka. They be at them desk jobs ridin’ off they power and whatnot and really don’t do shit. How you gon’ break ground if you scared to work? How you gon’ make a platinum artist and get that plaque if you scared to work? It don’t work like that. ‘Cause us, The Federation, we bust our ass like we got those desk jobs on top of havin’ to rap, on top of doin’ all the technical shit that goes along with it. I be feelin’ like, fuck it, give us the corporate card. We from the Bay, our corporate cards is bitches and our muthafuckin’ mouthpiece. The Revival
It ain’t even really went nowhere. It’s just not makin’ noise to their standards, but come out here to Northern California. Go to LA. Go to Vegas. Come to the West Coast and really do your own footwork. Don’t go by what an A&R is telling you that brought an artist to you through our market on a promo run. Go see what’s goin’ on for yo’ mu’fuckin’ self. We haven’t even got started, and I’m speaking sonically for The Federation, because we are the forefront – not even of the movement, but of this Northern California takeover. Matter of fact, the whole muthafuckin’ West Coast takeover. We’re here. //
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hat’s my favorite word? Why you gotta say it like $hort? Blow the whistle! When Lil Jon gave me that beat, it already had the whistles blowing in the hook and Juelz Santana already had a huge hit with “The Whistle Song” but all I could think about was all the fake players in the game. We need referees out here to throw flags and call fouls on ‘em when they break the rules. I had to tell my story before it becomes “his story” (history). I thought that pop culture was trying to Elvis Presley my favorite word, so I took it back. I’m not gonna lie and say that everything I rapped about in every song I recorded really happened, but I have always stayed true to my character of Too $hort. Right now, I’m concerned about the next generation of emcees. Of all the different characters we’ve had throughout the history of Hip Hop, the super playboy/thug/drug dealer seems to be the most popular these days. I happen to be one of the few OGs who loves the mainstream Hip Hop that’s all over the airwaves and in the clubs. I’m not stuck in the late 80s/early 90s thinking that era is the only “real Hip Hop.” I support the new shit. I love it for the production, the swagger, the dances, the hooks, the fashion and everything else. The only thing I’m missing in Hip Hop is the variety of subjects. You can’t blame us older Hip Hop heads for missing the originality that the culture used to demand. Lately, I’ve been hearing people of all races, who come from many different places, saying the same thing: “It’s hard to find rap music that I like these days.” I will acknowledge the fact that the backpackers, the skateboarders, and the underground rappers are staying true to the #1 Hip Hop rule: originality. If you’re an emcee making money in the rap game right now and your fans love you and you love what you do, I will be the first one to tell you to keep up the good work and don’t stop hustlin’. But if you’re an up and coming emcee who’s not popular, doesn’t have a deal with a label and can’t seem to catch a break, maybe all you need is to be original. Learn more about the history of the culture. Why write rhymes about killing people and selling drugs when you know that’s so far from the reality of your life? Write about things you really know about. Tupac said he was a thug, but if you really knew him, he was so much more than that. He was a revolutionary, an actor, a hell of a songwriter and a very wise man who poured out his feelings on paper and in the vocal booth. Chuck D and Public Enemy spoke up for black people and said things loud and clear to millions of people that we couldn’t say for ourselves. Ice Cube and N.W.A. might have had gangster images and might have rapped about gangster shit, but if you go back and analyze their music, their songs spoke about social issues in the inner cities of America. Digital Underground was all about having a good time. They just wanted to get the party started so everybody could have fun. Study the culture! I could go on and on giving examples. It shouldn’t be cool for rappers to steal other rappers’ voices or images. In my opinion, the best rappers are the ones who always come original and never bite off other rappers. They’re the ones who go gold and platinum over and over and over again. Can you do that? Biiiiiiiitch!!!!!! //
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ell me about how you came to work with Snoop Dogg. Me and Snoop have known each other since the start of our careers, but we never really did any work together because of the [Death Row] camp that he was with. We both respected and admired each other’s styles and flows. But the line that he was pushin’ at that time had him and that camp in beefs with people that I was cool with, so I made it a point to distance myself from him. But we would kick it every now and then in the studio with DJ Pooh. Pooh would always campaign for me to Snoop. But it wasn’t until recently, after the Western Conference, that we finally decided that it was time for us to do some real business together. Is that how the project that you and him are doing together came together? Snoop was initially trying to secure a situation with one of the major record labels to put out West Coast artists, but found out that it was easier said than done. He thought he would be able to secure each individual artist with their own separate deal. He found out the hard way that the sad truth is: the industry is systematically hatin’ on West Coast rap and no major label would agree to give his artists separate deals. So his plan B was to re-package six of his individual artists
into two groups, one of which is now called The Warzone – me, MC Eiht and Goldie Loc. That’s how that came about. Each one of us has a different image, but we are just trying to make a statement of West Coast unity in Hip Hop with this group. This project is the main thing I’m working on right now. After that will be my solo album called Self. You represent Watts to the fullest. How it was growin’ up in Watts? I grew up in the district called Willowbrook, which is like the middle-ground between Watts and Compton. I grew up just about like everybody else in a ghetto; with a single mother, with three generations in one house – eight or nine people in one house – with crime, death, police brutality, hate, love, friends and enemies. My situation wasn’t nothin’ special. Yeah, it seemed like a curse at the time, but now I know it was a blessing, because it prepares you for anything! Explain to me how you escaped the clutches of gang life and why there are so few who make it out. I didn’t escape the clutches of gang life. Everybody is affected by injustice in one way or another. The United States Government is the biggest example of gang life on earth. I was only saved from the clutches of ignorance. I didn’t know, and most youth don’t know or understand, who is really responsible for the conditions black and poor people are forced to live in. The reason so few of us make it out is because so few of us know who the real enemy is and what they really did to us. We black, brown, red, yellow and poor-whites are all victims of the same criminals. Our real enemies are not one another! The real enemies are the ones who put us in this mental and physical condition, meaning the slavemasters. I understand your younger brother YB is makin’ moves in Hip Hop representing the New West. Were you able to keep him out of the gang life as well? A “gang” is just a group of two or more people that work, play or associate with each other. There’s nothin’ wrong with being a part of a gang. There’s just something wrong with when that gang violates the civil and human rights of other people! The military is a gang. The city fire department is a gang. Sports teams are gangs. College fraternities are gangs. Politicians are gangs. But the knowledge and information taught in the Nation Of Islam is what was and is able to pull and keep us out of the crime life – not the gang life.
Words by Big Fase 100
Many feel that the streets’ influence in Hip Hop on the West Coast was a major factor in what seemingly ended up being the demise of the popularity of gangsta rap. What is your take on this? Yeah I agree that the [negative side] of the whole “gangbangin’” image is what put a black-eye on the West Coast rap game. But I also believe that this negative “gangsta image” was/is intentionally promoted by the big corporate owners of the music industry for the purpose of spreading a mindless, animalistic mentality to our youth to make the world see us as savage and criminal. The government wants to look justified in locking all of us up and making modernday slaves out of us, or just exterminating us outright. This is what I believe their motives really are.
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In your opinion, is the resurrected Hip Hop scene on the West Coast moving in the right direction as far a unity? As far as unity, West Coast artists are working together like never before. I do believe that we are moving in the right direction. But as far as the content and subject matter of the songs that we are working together on, I still believe we have a long way to go. People still think that being a criminal is hardcore and cool, and that being a righteous soldier is soft or weak. But it’s the other way around! It’s way harder to be righteous in this world than to be a criminal, because the world is run by criminals! So you’ve really gotta be a G to go against the grain of the whole white-man’s world. In closing, what message would Brotha Kam like to leave with the OZONE readers? Don’t sell your soul for a few days of enjoyment in this world. We are all going be dead soon (within at least 80 years) and we’re gonna be dead for a lot longer than we were alive. The soul lasts way longer than these earthly bodies do, so it’s more wise to invest in that part of us that is going to last the longest! Think spiritual over physical. //
From ‘93 Til Infinity When Souls Of Mischief came out with the hit song “From ‘93 Til Infinity” fifteen years ago, they did not know how true that song title would be for them. As part of the Hieroglyphics crew, their movement has had staying power in Hip Hop that many have envied and very few have rivaled. The Hieroglyphics crew consists of Souls Of Mischief (which is Tajai, Opio, Phesto, and A Plus), Casual, Pep Love, Del Tha Funky Homosapien, Domino, and DJ Toure. The producers of the crew are Domino and A Plus. They are based in Oakland, CA and are proud of their strong roots and staying power in Hip Hop. “It’s hard to sell records these days,” Domino reminds me. “I think it’s because of a lot of different factors: the growth of the internet - but that’s not as big a factor as everyone thinks. Really, the labels have killed it. Radio isn’t selling records either. People are unhappy with what they are being presented with. They want variety in music, instead of the same thing. Yet no one is smart enough to do that. Look at the success of Gnarles Barkley and Amy Winehouse, both tremendously successful releases, and tremendously important classic records.” They spread organically and quietly went platinum. When I pressed Domino to elaborate further, he informs me, “The industry is so singles driven now that there is no more artist development. And this is catching up to the industry in lackluster sales. Fans don’t know who the artists are anymore. There is no connection to the hits. Just the same 8 records played over and over. And digital sales are the only area of the business that are growing. Ringtones are huge (and legitimate) - that’s where revenue is coming from. There’s no attachment to the artists that the people hear. No one cares, what’s the next hit?” The true fans are being alienated by the artists not being developed, and the artists are focused on making hit songs instead of great albums. Hip Hop fans are now turning off the radio and are moving on to other things. It shows in the sales every week. The industry is not giving the people what they want, so the fans are leaving in droves. This affects Hip Hop as a whole, and the entire entertainment industry. “We have a lot of short sightedness in the music industry,” quips Domino. One of the tenets of good business and a basic law of not hustling backwards is to give the people what they want. Or said in a different way, you don’t sell crack in a heroin neighborhood. Yet this is what the music industry continues to do. Not only do we not give the consumer what they want to buy musically, but we rarely give it to them in a format in which they want it. While iTunes has attempted to do that, a consumer still is not able to buy every song in existence at their store, and is then unable to download it onto any other MP3 player other than that company’s limited, yet incredibly successful, iPod. I wondered how Hiero broke out of this usual mold that industry folks usually get stuck in. Domino attributes their mentality to their life experiences. “We were fortunate to be with a major label so we could leave and then maximize our opportunities. When our Souls Of Mischief album dropped on Jive in 1993, we had the opportunity to have a major label build awareness for us. We had a website in 1995, so we were ahead of the game. We were touring heavily, but back then there was no Hip Hop circuit for touring. We established the Hip Hop tour circuit. To get the word out there, we linked to the fans directly and marketed directly.” “When we left Jive to do our own thing, we called college stations to find out who promoted the shows in their areas. We learned to promote at radio stations and walk around malls, plus we maximized the internet. Overseas was a big part of our success because they are more open to progressive music in general, and progressive Hip Hop as well. Although hustler and dope boy music is growing there now, there’s a very, very big market for soul and funk based older sounding Hip Hop,” Domino tells me. Hiero hits everybody, using the internet as an incredible outreach. Merchandising plays a very big part of their success. They have a known and noticeable logo. They pushed the logo of the crew ever since everyone was signed. “It’s a strong brand in Hip Hop,” Domino reminds me. “We often make as much off the merchandise as we do off the show guarantee.” They press up and sell the B-sides and unreleased music that is only available at their shows (like “Hiero Oldies”) and on-line (specialty stuff). In addition, they sell their releases through normal distribution channels. They don’t sell these current CDs at shows, however, to force sales through retail stores. They still want to hit the charts and support retail stores. They also push heavily through iTunes. The difference between being their own label as opposed to signed to a la-
words by Wendy Day from Rap Coalition
bel? Money comes to them directly. All of the money. While they have to spend their own money to promote themselves, they also get to say where it’s spent and how much is spent. Then, after the distributor takes their 20% share of the $10 or $11 wholesale price, a check is cut to Hiero for the remaining 80%. Plus they own all of their own masters and their own publishing. Hieroglyphics has grown into an empire instead of a crew of musical groups. The video and TV game placements have been crucial. “We started getting placements on skateboard videos, and since San Francisco is a skater and snow board community, we promoted the music and built the fan base in the skateboard community. So many people were talking about Souls Of Mischief before Jive ever signed them, because of a song Domino gave to a skateboarder video for free since it didn’t make the album. Now they hire a company to do the placements for them. They’ve been in videos and were placed on Entourage and The Wire. They were on Tony Hawk’s video plus the Del song was on the commercial. “In the beginning it was just Hiero and now again, it’s just Hiero. Placements have been a great way to promote and to make money. Since we own all the masters, we can clear stuff quickly and that’s important to these companies. We stay always ahead of the curve. You have to have multiple streams of income. Touring, merchandising, placements—placements aren’t every week, but one for $15K or 20K every now and again is good, “ Domino states emphatically. “We see more money in a year than most of the signed artists.” “You gotta ask yourself, ‘What are you in it for?’ There is a difference between being famous and making money. Many getting into this game want to be on BET and wear a fat chain. But the chain is rented. A lot of artists play the major label game to get 15 minutes of exposure.” Hiero speaks from experience. Domino asks me, “What did it mean to us to be on a major at the end of the day? After two years on the label, we were expendable—didn’t own our masters; didn’t own shit. Once we went indie, and wanted to put out a Best of Hiero CD, we decided to license all of our own music. Elektra said ‘NO!’ to Del to license his own music. So as an artist, you put out these records; you put in your own blood, sweat, and tears and at the end of the day, Elektra wouldn’t let Del license his own music for a Best of Hiero CD.” The hardest part of being indie is the attitude of the folks who don’t get it. “Once we got past the ‘I used to love you guys. What are you doing now?’ comments, we were fine. Our indie releases have scanned over 100,000 copies sold,” Domino reminisces. And they get to call their own shots, control their own releases, and make their own choices. There’s no waiting for any other release to drop…they are the release that gets the focus. They are the priority, unlike if they were at any other label. “I don’t wanna be all over the radio and then dropped when I’m told I am not hot anymore,” Domino tells me. “We bought an 8,000 square foot building in Oakland that houses our company and our recording studio. We bought it from our 2nd indie Hiero release. That sure is better than a chain or being on BET. We have ownership and something to pass down. It really just depends on what you want. Some folks just want to be noticed when they go to the liquor store.” Another problem that seems to plague Hip Hop today is the band-wagon jumping syndrome. Hiero has never jumped on the flavor of the minute. I point out that they are based in the Bay, which over the past few years has been Hyphy Central. There were no Thizz-Hiero Tours, no radio songs featuring Keak Tha Sneak or Mistah FAB-- What gives? Domino laughs at me and says, “We have an old school Hip Hop esthetic. The oldest one is me at 36. We’re not ever going to jump on the latest fad. We come from an era in Hip Hop where the rules were clearly defined: Originality; No biting. We stay original and different, not trendy. I can’t use a sample that someone else has used. That’s the era I’m from. We’re all pretty progressive ourselves, we’ve never been followers.” So, what does the Hieroglyphic Crew have coming up? This is their 10th year anniversary as a label in 2008. They just put out a “remixes and b-sides release, Hieroglyphics Over Time. It’s a compilation. A Plus has a solo album coming called My Last Good Deed. We plan to distribute a metal group called A Band Called Pain. One of the guys from Christion (an R&B group), who used to be signed to Rocafella is part of that group. It’s a metal band. We plan to put out an album by Mousab, the first non-Hiero release on our label. Then we have a new Hiero album coming, a new Souls Of Mischief album, and a Del album called 11th Hour. Oh, and of course, a tour! // OZONE WEST // 11
Words // N. Ali Early
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ince appearing on Snoop Dogg’s chart topping album Blue Carpet Treatment this past November with the hynotic “Like This,” Westurn Union has set the city of Angels on fire. “It used to be every other bitch that knew us, now all the bitches know us,” says member Damani. “I check my myspace and half of LA wanna secretly try to gimme the pussy. It’s a cold game.” So much in demand are they that Damani, Bad Lucc and veteran Soopafly all have solo albums on deck. In addition, they are putting the final touches on their heavily anticipated collective project (untitled as yet), due sometime this fall. Armed with players that represent Watts (Bad Lucc), Inglewood (Damani) and Long Beach (Fly), WU promises this is only the beginning of a unified front for the whole Coast.
So what’s the history behind the group and how y’all became the Westurn Union? Bad Lucc: Me and Damani been together since 2003. Our first mixtape came out in ’04. That’s when we put out the first Westurn Union mixtape and Fly been down since the spring of ’06. Damani: Me and Fly been homies for a long time. Fly put me on my first project, which was Kurupt’s album – Space Boogie. We was all pimpin’, cross breedin’ hoes and then – (laughter) Soopafly: Yeah, I just heard how they was puttin’ it down and how they was on the rise. I felt like I needed to get with some young [dudes] that was doin’ they thang and I just felt like it was perfect. Obviously the chemistry is good. Y’all did a track on Snoop’s album (Blue Carpet Treatment), which was one of my favorites off top! But with everyone working on solo projects, what keeps y’all together? Fly: ‘Preciate that. We know the mission. All three of us know where we’re trying to get and we know on the West Coast it’s a little harder for a solo act to break through and make it. We’ll never quit, but we also got a backup plan and not so much back up, but a cornerstone plan, which is the Westurn Union. And there’s just always strength in numbers. You ain’t never heard of a gang with one nigga in it. The more niggas the better. That’s the whole approach we take to it. We got three aspects of incredible music, from lyrics to ideas. From Damani, to Lucc’s, to mine, so we just tryna put it all together and make a whole complete package out of the situation. Part of the reason for Snoop putting the Big Squeeze together was to promote a West Coast resurgence that everybody says couldn’t happen. With you all representing the West the way you are, how do you feel about that united front? Fly: I’m not completely satisfied with it of course. It’s a struggle.
here?” I’d been knew Soopafly, but he was always on the road. He was already crackin’ to me. Soopafly was already in the game, so I didn’t really think about him at first. So I heard Lucc one time spittin’ at his studio and I was like, “Damn, that’s Westurn Union.” It’s crazy ‘cause a nigga be right up under yo nose. And then you got Fly, whose not only a dope rapper, but this nigga got some of the best beats on the West Coast! It wasn’t hard to decide to put Fly in the group. We just thought Fly was gon’ be super busy, like he wasn’t gon’ be around. But it all worked out and it’s still workin’ out. Fly, with your experience and what you’ve been able to accomplish, is there an element of coaching or a pecking order so to speak? Fly: Just a little bit. If any nigga been through something that another nigga ain’t been through and y’all cool, of course that nigga gon’ give you some advice. I don’t tell niggas what to do. I just tell niggas how it worked for me and how it might not have worked and a nigga gotta make his own choice. As far as the group, we divided by three. I put my input in. If they take it they do. If not, we can experience it together and take it from there. But these niggas ain’t new. They been on the block. They been in the streets and they know how the game go. So it ain’t that hard. Bad Lucc: I look at it like big homie, little homie. I look at everything like that. Somebody gotta listen and somebody gotta take information. And somebody gotta give it. That’s what Fly is. Fly gotta be big homie. Even if he don’t wanna be big homie, he gotta be big homie. He been in the game for years doin’ classic music. How you not gon’ listen to a nigga like that? I respect it and I always play my position. Damani, you wanna add to that or you cool? Damani: Welll… Come on, man, I thought pimps talk fast. (laughter) Damani: Yeah, but I’m a player right now. That pimpin’ was too harsh for me… Nah, but he pretty much nailed it. At what point did Snoop come on officially and back the project? Fly: I had kept in his ear all while we was on tour and I started bringin’ Damani around and he started likin’ Damani on a personal level. Same thing with Lucc. So I just persisted and was askin’ Dogg when we was on tour and when we got back we came together and did the song. So tell me about the album. Damani: Classic, next question… (laughter) Nah, somebody answer, cause I’m just gon’ ramble like a muthafucka. Lucc: I think it’s dope man, straight up. It’s nostalgic. It’s like a new classic. I ain’t tryna come up with some new term or no shit, but what dudes was lovin’ the West for, wherever they was at, it’s in there. Then there’s that new twist, which is us. We’re the new voices on top of what you fell in love with the West for. And I don’t mean that disrespectfully. But Fly is a musical dude. “Like This” is musical. It’s not a typical West Coast track. That shit’s so melodic. Everybody from my moms to my little nephew like that song. So we’re just bringin’ music with that hard shit behind it.
Bad Lucc: I’m satisfied in a way, because I see where it’s going and where it’s going to end up. I do want to be at the forefront of music and I look at it like we gotta all stick together. We gotta all be down. That’s all the up and coming cats, the new cats, the cats that’s been in the game; we all got to support each other and go hard. That way, the people in the streets will respect it more and start ridin’ like they used to ride. Like anything, when the south started poppin’, everybody started steppin’ up. They started throwin’ they A’s up and flyin’ they flag. So I feel like we’re in a good place right now. We just gotta go hard and bang on niggas and let them know we here and we fuck wit all y’all. We stayin’ down and we go hard by what we do. Unity is the key though. We gotta put all the petty shit to the side. The street shit is what sometimes splits us up. It’s still serious and it’s still very relevant today.
Some groups fall out of favor with each other because they don’t spend enough time with each other. Do you all kick it frequently?
Damani you had the idea of kind of unifying three very influential hoods (Watts – Bad Lucc; Damani- Inglewood; Fly – Long Beach) with this group. What was the original concept behind Westurn Union?
Fly: The definitive statement is Westurn Union period. Westurn Union need to be a household name, first on the West Coast and then on from there. Of course we wanna be worldwide, but my whole thing as far as what I wanna make is Westurn Union and that’s more than a group. It’s a union. Damani didn’t pick that name for nuthin’. Back in the days your uncle or whoever joined the union because he felt safe there. They take care of you. They give you sick leave or whatever. It’s the same thing with this. This is the Westurn Union. It’s safety within this union. //
Damani: It wasn’t nobody crackin’ out here and of course the whole gang shit, that’s fucks up a lotta shit, especially when you comin’ up and you new comin’ up? It’s so many reasons why a nigga don’t fuck wit a nigga. Anyways, I was just thinkin’, like, “Shit, what if we had a nigga from here, here and
Damani: Well, Fly live in Vegas. (laughter) Fly: Yeah, I’m way out here. Them two kick it way more than I do, so I’d have to get out the house and make a whole trip. A nigga workin’ on that aspect too, but when we all get together it’s all three of us. It ain’t got to be music. We can come together and talk about music or we can talk about bitches. It really don’t matter. We all compatible. Is there a definitive statement that y’all wanna make with this album?
OZONE WEST // 13
When cats talk about the hyphy movement, my name doesn’t even get mentioned. I’m like, damn, I’m doin’ all this and my name ain’t even gettin’ mentioned!! But I ain’t trippin’. I’ma stay doin’ my thing.
GRIND DON’T STOP Words by N. Ali Early // Photos by D Ray
ith all of the Bay Area consumed by his smash hit “Fast,” it was only a matter of time before Kafani Da Ice King’s movement flooded the Coast. Once an improbable force disregarded and disrespected by associated members of the hyphy movement, Kafani proved just how quickly cream rises to the top. With a new album – Money Is My Motivation – on the way (September 11th), a three year artist deal with Koch and a ringtone deal with Modtones recently secured, so you too can be “Fast like a Nascar,” this Babyface Assassin is dead set on killin’ the game. First of all, congratulations on the deal with Koch. How did it come about? Did they get at you? They basically got at us. They were checking the charts and were watching the movement. I had a lot of labels at me, tryna sign me, watching me. They were looking at the numbers tryna see how everything was going. It was Warner, Capitol, Asylum, Ruthless and a couple of other labels. But the whole thing was Dee Sonaram from Koch, he always be in the Bay and he always be lookin’ for Bay acts. I think he was in LA and he was in a club and the record really popped off and that was like the biggest record of the night. I think that’s what really convinced him. They was feelin’ my movement that I was puttin’ out there in the Bay. We had the video goin’ and we had our business straight. Then, what made me want to go with them was the turnover rate as far as gettin’ the album done and being able to put it out. I’m still independent so I’m still able to do my independent grind. So it’s like I still can do what I gotta do and I still can move and still have the freedom to do what I wanna do by myself, instead of having to go through forty different people to have to approve something. And I had the majority of the album done, so it was a good look already.
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Your song “Fast” is what got you noticed by Koch and all the other labels. You recently did a remix with DJ Unk? How you gon’ make “Fast” slow? (laughter) It’s like this. We went to Atlanta and we were working the record, right? It ain’t no other record right now that’s on the level as “Fast (Like A Nascar).” Maybe it would have been easier to work it down South when “Tell Me When To Go” and the Too $hort record was out. They woulda had more records to play. But right now, it’s like there’s no record out that’s like that as far as the tempo, that DJs can mix it in with. So it’s harder to break it on a national level with that avenue. So the reason why I did it like that, is because when I went to Atlanta, all the stuff that I was hearing in the club was like that. West Coast, whatever. So I was like, “Man, we gotta get on this hype.” So that was the reason for getting on that hype. We tryna break that down South urban market. That’s where the real record sales come in at. So it was strictly about getting spins in the South. Yeah, we tryna get some Southern exposure. Far as on a national scale, you need to break in the South. That’s a big area to break. Well, it comes off well. But I have to ask, was there intent on your part to acclimate your sound for the Southern audience? Nah, I went in there just doin’ me. I got some input, but I went in doin’ me, but at the same time I was tryna make it happen. I didn’t do anything on purpose. Anytime I do a song whatever come to mind is what I do and whateve I’m on is what I’m on. Last time we spoke we talked about the “Fast” movement. Has that taken off? Where is it now in terms of progression? Yeah, I mean, down here in the Bay, in this region everything is fast. Everybody thinks fast. At the end of every sentence all the kids sayin’ “fast.” So it’s still rockin’. It’s just it’s own movement and a slang of choice out here right now. Everybody goin’ fast right now. In terms of the vernacular and what’s good in the streets is there a transition from “hyphy” to that? I believe so. I mean, everybody goin’ fast right now. That’s what they on right now. I feel it, but in some ways they say hyphy is dead, but I don’t know. I don’t believe it. To me it’s just not being accepted right now. I think it’s before it’s time. It’s just some uptempo, cats giggin’ and cats is on that slow hype. If you listen to down South music, it’s slow, but it’s still fast at the same time. It’s still the same to me. So is the music still relevant in the Bay? Is it still goin’? It’s still goin, but you don’t really hear it on the radio as much. As far as local cats you don’t really hear it right now. How has that affected what you do? Me personally I don’t really try to make hyphy tracks. I never have. When the movement was crackin’ I did different little hyphy tracks cause that’s what the movement was. I was goin’ along with what the fad was at the time, but I do different music. I don’t want to be stuck in just one genre. I do everything. When cats check out my album they’ll see I have a whole different direction on there. I got different aspects of music on there. Musically I have different stuff on my album. It’s not just the same shit. Realistically I may have only one real, real hyphy track on there. To me personally, “Fast” wasn’t even a hyphy track. It just got branded as that cause of where I’m from. They were tryna brand any artist up out the Bay as hyphy, like that’s all we were doin’. But that ain’t the case. That ain’t true. Down South, T.I. ain’t doin’ crunk. Come on now. He doin’ him. How do you feel about being on a label after doing it on an independent level for so long? It’s been cool. To me the grind just got harder actually. I’m just doin more. I mean, I’m still doin’ the same things I was doin’ before I was signed, but now I’m playing with somebody else’s money, which is better than using my own money. But at the same time, I’m grinding harder, cause I gotta get myself out of a hole. It’s a cool little stance though. What differences do you see where the major versus independent is concerned? Being signed to a major you have less freedom cause you always got somebody tellin’ you what to do. You’ll get more exposure as far as the publicity end of it cause that machine is way bigger than an independent. At the end of the day with a major, major, you’ll really be out there, but they spend so much on you, you don’t really see anything cause they done spent so much on you. Koch is cool though. They bustin’ a lot of moves and I still got a lot of freedom. I coulda went the major route, cause we had labels at us, but I felt like that song, the way it was movin’ I wanted to do something now based on the buzz I had. And I looked at how they were doing with other artists like
Unk and stuff like that and how big they blew, so I figured they could do the same for me. I was feelin’ their movement [at Koch] and that was one of the main reasons in going there. What’s up with the Babyface Assassins? Soon as I finish workin’ on this, we’re going to start working on something. We finna put some stuff together. We been workin’ on some mixtape stuff for now though. Fa sho be lookin’ forward to the Babyface Assassins. That’s finna drop fa sho. We finna start workin’ in like September, so it’ll be out prolly the second quarter of ’08. I just got a little more mixing to do for my album and then we’ll get started… look for someone to put us out or we’ll just do it ourselves. So tell me about the album. Man, the album’s hot. I’m really proud of myself. You gotta understand, I was in a group and the solo thing kinda just happened for me. I was just used to doin’ tracks with different people, so for me to be working primarily by myself at the beginning it was different but then I started knockin’ it out. I got some heat on there, a lot of different aspects. I got some down South, some for the ladies, some club music. Right now, listening to cats in my region, I’m finna kill it right now. I’m finna surprise a lot of people with this album. Real talk. How much did you think about rappin’ when you were down? I mean I had been rappin’ before I got locked up. I was on the run, so when I was locked up that’s all I thought about. I used to look at magazines and saw hella cats, new cats comin up. Before I got locked down wasn’t really no Bay Area movement. So I was like, “I’m finna get out there and do it.” I’m a hustler already, so it ain’t nuthin’. All this is, is a hustle, networking. So I just had to make the right moves. I started gettin’ out meeting people and met all the right people in my region who had it on lock and I made my way to dealin’ with them. And that’s how it happened for me. Do you ever feel like you missed a part of the movement being locked down? Real talk, I feel like my hustle and how I get down, I feel like if I wouldn’t have been locked up and I caught the first, first wave, I feel like I would be a little bit further than I am now. To be honest, I feel like I’m overlooked a lot. I be hearin’ about little stuff and I be overlooked a little bit. But I don’t trip off of it cause the underdog will always prevail. I just look at it as being the underdog. I had a few minor setbacks, but it’s nuthin’. At the end of the day I’m a hustler. A lot of these cats depend on other people to wait to do what they gotta do. I depend on myself. But I don’t really trip on being the underdog. I feel like when we were doing the Babyface Assasins thing we were overlooked a lot. A lot of cats had already secured their positions in the movement when we were coming along and we were just trying to fit in. We was like Freshmen and cats was already juniors. So you know how it is when you a freshman. You get shitted on a lot of times. But it’s good. Are there any specific setbacks you want to mention? It ain’t really been no setbacks cause you gotta understand, I didn’t just come outta nowhere. I was already in a group and I was already on the grind. I had connections just from being in the game already and from being on the grind. I just feel like whenever there’s an articles on the hyphy movement and cats are talkin’ about it, my name don’t even get mentioned. I’m like, damn, I’m doin’ all this and my name ain’t even gettin’ mentioned? But I ain’t trippin’. I’ma stay doin’ my thing. But I really did come with a song and get hot and it was good. But at the same time I feel like my name doesn’t get mentioned in the movement and right now I’m getting national exposure and I’m a good representation of what we’re doing. Is it a blessing and a curse to have a hit song like “Fast?” That’s the thing though. The critics are going to say what they’re going to say, cause that’s all they heard was that one record. We didn’t really leak too much stuff and there’s a reason for us not leaking our stuff. The album’s hot. I’ma kill em. All the critics talkin’ bout all I could do was “Fast,” that’s nothin’. I got way more than that. “Fast” happened and it got me in a position to do what I gotta do, but I got way more than that. //
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It’s hard to look past the exterior with DJs Skee and Reflex. You see the obvious: two white boys, both tall and rather slim, spotted from a mile away in any club. But it doesn’t matter or really make any difference, because they are probably two of the most respected DJ’s on the West Coast. Chances are, you’ve heard a mixtape or two… With the radio background of DJ Reflex – who started at the age of 18 at LA’s Power 106 – with the corporate background of DJ Skee – who’s earned stints with Loud Records and top tier marketing for MTV, Nike – their potential is limitless. However, it’s their genuine and undying love for West Coast artists that truly brings them to the forefront as DJ’s.
djskee & djreflex
Recently, the two transcending DJs made their union official on LA’s Power 106. Their left coast geared show is broadcast every Wednesday night and unsurprisingly has already gained a significant buzz in the streets and among artists who deserve to be heard.
of momentum out here on the West. Reflex: There’s a lot of people with different situations, like Jay Rock over at Warner and Westurn Union messin’ with Snoop. Los Angeles has come to the conclusion that they have to do something fresh. Now the artists are ready to work with the producers so you can hear him across the country. Skee: Like Glasses Malone with Akon. It’s just crazy records with heavy weights. The streets never left the game and people want more quality in the music. I think it’s gonna balance out this year and so on because all the artists out here have stories. Guys have been goin’ through shit and havin’ these opportunities recently has us feelin’ good about [the outlook].
Your show on LA’s Power 106 is how new? Reflex: It’s only four months so far. Right now we don’t really have a name for it, but it’s pretty much “The Takeover.” It’s about breaking new artists out here on the West Coast like Glasses Malone and some of the other new guys that are coming out. Skee: Yeah, we have the freedom on this show and that’s what it’s all about. It’s a great opportunity for new artists that are trying to get on radio because we play all the new West Coast stuff.
Are there any other updates and developments with you and the West Coast that we should know about? Skee: Game’s third album is coming soon, and there are a few new things happening over at my [affiliated] label [Black Wall Street]. Reflex: And the radio show is going be syndicated in every station in this region. We are looking into label situations for us, compilations for us, and tryin’ to put out artists at our own speed. Takin’ it bigger and spreading the movement. Break new stuff.
And to have your own show, how did that come about? Skee: It was the streets, the [mixtape] grind really. It just turned out that our work in the streets got artists to radio, so when the idea of having a show on radio came about, it made sense. New York has Kay Slay and all them, and it’s the same thing out here with us. It’s the work in the streets out here on the West Coast. Reflex: And it’s West Coast, but it’s not being biased. Obviously we are goin’ to show love to the West Coast artists because we are here. I flipped through TI’s album. It was cool.
And in true DJ fashion besides this show both of you have a million other things going on like Skee TV right? Skee: Yeah, look at the online video. A lot of the content out there is lacking in interest and wack. You’ve got to make it available online and new videos all the time. I have a new show every day for people that are interested in what we are into. If we have something interesting one day, it’s on our show the next day. It officially launched three months ago and a lot of people are tryin’ to come and see what’s up with it. //
New artists coming out of the West Coast that you all play on your show are? Skee: Glasses Malone, Damani, Topic, Omar Cruz, Bad Luck, Western Union, Bishop Lamont, there are so many of the new West Coast artists. We got a lot
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Check out www.skee.tv and http://www.myspace.com/thetakeover for exclusive footage from Skee TV
Messy Marv & Mitchy Slick/Messy Slick/Siccness/Koch Records With their respective movements in full swing, independent kings Messy Marv and Mitchy Slick join forces on the appropriately dubbed Messy Slick – one of the underground’s more anticipated albums. The content follows block inspired tales up and down the Coast as Mess, a product of Filmore and Slick, and Mitchy, a known Blood, are both block tested soldiers. “Rollie On My Arm,” (Styles P and Turf Talk) “On the One” (Yukmouth) and “Cherish A Thug,” featuring Keak Da Sneak, are among a healthy group of features, which do little to diminish the relevancy of the collaboration. However, the Nor/So Cal combination proves a deadly one on its own. The Batkave produced “Click Clack,” the braggadocios “Ok” and the album’s inspiration, “Diego to the Bay” are living proof. – N. Ali Early
Willie Joe/ Bay’d Out/ Sho’Nuff Records/ Wataboy Ent. 3.5 slaps Since joining forces with Sho’nuff Records this past
summer, underground rap legend Willie Joe dropped two more mixtapes – simultaneously. The Northern California tailored Bay’d Out highlights a slept-on rapper poised to assume his rightful place in the game per the title track. “Hey Playa,” featuring Lloyd, Jody Breeze and Jazze Pha, is an official introduction via Sho’nuff’s renowned super producer and “Game Check,” is riddled with intermittent game induced lectures courtesy of Earl (from N. Oakland). In between, the self-proclaimed Wyatt Earp boy spits: “I’m not bein’ biased, but it’s the shit if I write it /…I get on CDs and nigga get the streets excited / N.W.A. shit, it don’t matter nigga, just don’t bite it.” – N. Ali Early
40 Glocc/ That New Nigga/ Dub CNN
Whether he refers to his newness as a result of a recent alliance with G-Unit, or because he’s one of So Cal’s rising emcees, 40 Glocc announces his arrival in grand fashion on That New Nigga. Hosted by Felli Fel and DJ Nik Bean, TNN is chock full of tracks (33) as well as features – 50 Cent, Prodigy, Bishop Lamont, Ras Kas and Jayo Felony among them. With genuine ties to the Colton City Crips and now the Unit, Glocc wastes no time getting personal with Curtis’ known nemesis The Game on “1 Blood” and “N.W.A.” (Game and Dipset diss). Go figure. – N. Ali Early
Innerstate Ike Applesauce 2 A Boss, Bananas 2 A Gorilla Elite Ent. Naming one rapper out of Colorado is harder than naming all original members of the Wu Tang Clan. But Innerstate Ike’s independent release Applesauce 2 A Boss, Bananas 2 A Gorilla gives reason to remember his name and Colorado’s contributions to Hip Hop. On this album Ike is the beneficiary of near perfect production from Mass Prod, Man-Man and Macho, who handle most of the album’s production. Ike is nowhere near the nicest emcee but this album deserves plenty of burn. - Randy Roper G. Malone & DJ Nik Bean Streets of L.A. 3 Newsflash: LA rapper and Cash Money/Hoo-Bangin’ signee G. Malone can rhyme. If there are any questions about that statement, Streets of L.A. 3 will erase all doubts. Malone proves his worth by trading verses with West Coast heavyweights like The Game (“They Sayin”) and Daz (“Blaze It Up”) along with Left Coast newcomers like Balance and Big Rich (“Crack Music”). Malone also debuts new music from his forthcoming album Beach Cruiser with “Certified” featuring Akon and the Mannie Fresh produced “Fuc Wit Me.” Whether it’s brand new music or exclusive freestyles, Malone makes a statement on Streets of L.A. 3. — Randy Roper Spider Loc West Kept Secret: The Prequel Even though Spider Loc is signed to Curtis’ Unit, the Compton emcee is still patiently waiting to put the West on his back and leave his mark on the game. On his latest mixtape, from “Blutiful World” to “I Like” The Prequel is rider music listeners can drop the top on the ’64 to or kick back, spark one and zone out to. Only “Big Blacc Boots” with Ice Cube can be categorized as true hardcore gangsta music. The rest of the mixtape consists of soul samples and jazz-influenced production that give Loc the chance to shine lyrically. If The Prequel is any indication of what’s to coming on Spider’s West Kept Secret debut, the West has a problem on its hands. - Randy Roper
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endzone throwback edition
R.I.P. Mac Dre Event: Mac Dreâ€™s last birthday party Venue: Golden Gate Billiards City: San Francisco, CA Date: July 2nd, 2004 Photo: D-Ray
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