RAW, UNCENSORED WEST COAST RAP SHIT
E U Q CIN IRST? F S ’ ARIZONA
PACIFIC DIVISION Countdown to Quitting Their 9-5 Jobs
PRETTY BLACK Chain Reaction: R.I.P.
OMAR CRUZ An Immigrant’s Impact
y sar k r e nivowbac n a ue! r r ss a i h t ye OZONE WEST //
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editor’s note ONE LUV
Publisher Julia Beverly Editor-in-chief Jessica “Mz Jae” Hagmaier Editor-AT-LARGE D-Ray GRAPHIC DESIGNER David KA Music EditorS Randy Roper Maurice G. Garland ADVERTISING SALES Che Johnson Isiah Campbell Contributors Big Fase 100, DJ BackSide, DJ E-Z Cutt, Jelani, Jessica Essien, Joey Colombo,Kay Newell, Keita Jones, Luvva J, Nippy Swagga, Portia Jackson, Shemp, Todd Davis, Ty Watkins Street Reps Anthony Deavers, Bigg P-Wee, Bigthangs, Big Will, Dee1, Demolition Men, DJ Jam-X, DJ Juice, DJ KTone, DJ Nik Bean, DJ Quote, DJ Skee, DJ Strong & Warrior, J Hype, Jasmine Crowe, John Costen, Juice, Kewan Lewis, Luvva J, Maroy, Rob J Official, Rob Reyes, Shauntae Hill, Sherita Saulsberry, Sly Boogy, Syd Robertson, Tonio, Twin, William Major, Zack Cimini COVER CREDITS Cinque photo by Oren J; Omar Cruz photo by Estevan Oriol.
ere we are again, my editorial notes. Already? I thought I just did the last one. I am a lagger sometimes. There’s never enough hours in a day and I always seem to be running late. If you let my grandma tell it, I’m the biggest procrastinator ever. That’s why my photography career is such a beautiful thing; I can work whatever hours I want. I think that’s why Thizz Entertainment adopted me. My camp, Thizz Entertainment - the late, great Mac Dre’s label - is “never on time, always late,” like me. So I fit in perfectly. We always show up at the same time, no matter what the original meeting time was. I have lived by that motto ever since I can recall. But now that I’m the Editor at Large for the West Coast, I’ve had to get myself together and really change up. That means I can’t just wake up whenever, and work whenever I feel like it. Now I need to work 90% of the time and sleep 10% of the time, and if you know me, you know I love (need) my sleep. I’m a Leo! The West Coast is no doubt my love. It’s where I’m from, what I’m about, and why I rep. I had a hard time getting this issue together, because I started realizing how many of my throwback pictures had dead people in them. We need to stop the violence, for real. Most of my throwback pictures are from the “hyphy movement.” Even though I grew up on Mac Dre, RBL Posse, MC Hammer, Too $hort, Richie Rich, Spice 1, and E-40, I wasn’t taking pictures back then. By the time I got serious about my photos, I was at the front door of the Bay Area movement. First, there was the New Bay movement, and then the hyphy movement, which weren’t quite the same, but both were the birth of new talent coming out of the Bay. Some of the vets, like Mac Dre, Keak da Sneak, and E-40 were already moving towards the hyphy sound. The definition of “hyphy” varies from person to person. Hyper, fly, crazy, out of control. The movement wasn’t recognized until 2003, but it began back with MC Hammer and Digital Underground with “Humpty Hump.” Then Mac Dre brought it to the forefront, describing a gangsta fun like only he could. He said, “You’re not hyphy if you can’t get out of your whip and ghostride it or dance alongside it in the hood without getting your ass whooped or your whip took.” The side show (car stunts, doughnuts, and figure 8s)
is also a big part of the movement. The side show started back during the Too $hort and Richie Rich days, in the 80s, in East Oakland. This is OZONE’s six year anniversary, and for me, the last six years have been difficult in many ways. I dedicated my time to being both the caregiver to my granddaddy (R.I.P.) and the lens behind the hyphy movement, two very important positions which I was proud to hold. At the time, I had no idea how important both would turn out to be. Those were my grandfather’s last years and I was there every day. Then, I found out that the pictures I’d been taking could help spread the visual of the movement to people outside the Bay Area. Some people say pictures are for a lifetime, and they truly understand the value of a frozen moment. I’ve seen what it takes to become a star. I’m in the lens, freezing moments. Some artists get it, and others just don’t. It’s a full time being a rock star. I’ve shot many shows all over the country, from platinum artists to the new kids off the block, and the only difference is how much they’re getting paid. Sometimes the energy is the same, but usually the kid off the block has more heart; passion. Don’t forget, it’s your attitude that determines your altitude. I do this for us; the West Coast. I like to think of it like this: any artist – or better yet, anyone – that rejects a photo must not really be happy in their life and don’t care to remember the moment. Don’t worry, I won’t take any unauthorized pictures. I’m not paparazzi. I see opportunities and go for them. Without the media and fans, there are no stars. If I see you somewhere in my travels and stop you for a brief moment to catch a flick, please take the time so we can make history together. To all you artists who act too big for a photo, I think you have a short in your system. No one is promised tomorrow, and you may have been the one to change someone’s life. Shouts out to any artist that has made a visit through East Oakland’s Youth UpRising Center (www.youthuprising.org) and made a difference in one of our young people’s lives! - D-RAY, email@example.com
ozone west 9-15 10 12 14 16
PHOTO GALLERIES CHAIN REACTION PATIENTLY WAITING: OMAR CRUZ PATIENTLY WAITING: PACIFIC DIVISION PATIENTLY WAITING: MR MIDAS
Me & Lil Wayne during my ATL trip! (Photo by JB)
Husalah & me @ Terminal Island!
Lil B, me., & Young L of The Pack in Petaluma (Photo by Young Stunna)
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SIX YEAR ANNIVERSARY THROWBACK PHOTOS CD REVIEWS END ZONE
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(above L-R): Kilo & J Diggs @ Grand Lake Theater for the Ghost Ride Your Whip Premiere in Oakland, CA; Krizz Kalico & Tech N9ne @ OZONE’s Rapquest shoot in Kansas City, MO (Photos: D-Ray); David Banner @ KMEL in San Francisco, CA (Photo: Julia Beverly)
01 // Doin It Movin & Big Dant @ Grand Lake Theater for the Ghost Ride Your Whip Premiere (Oakland, CA) 02 // P, Boo, Dollar Will, & Lil Meezy @ Phoenix Theater (Petaluma, CA) 03 // Innerstate Ike & DJ Smallz (Denver, CO) 04 // Makzilla & Paul Wall @ Uptown Theatre (Kansas City, MO) 05 // Jon Nash, Kafani, & Hub @ Mezzanine for David Banner’s birthday party (San Francisco, CA) 06 // DJ Lace & Ray J @ Fresno Convention Center for Q97’s Spring Jam (Fresno, CA) 07 // Michael Watts, DJ KTone, & DJ Strangah @ Crystal Rose for Teen Jam (Denver, CO) 08 // Dem Hoodstarz, the Jacka, & FedX on the set of Jacka’s “All Over Me” (San Francisco, CA) 09 // The Pack & Too $hort @ Phoenix Theater (Petaluma, CA) 10 // Rob Lo & K-Loc on the set of The Jacka’s “All Over Me” (San Francisco, CA) 11 // The Bay is in the house for the filming of The Jacka’s “All Over Me” (San Francisco, CA) 12 // Traxamillion, Fat Ant, & Turf Talk @ Mezzanine for David Banner’s birthday party (San Francisco, CA) 13 // David Banner & DJ Knuckles @ KMEL (San Francisco, CA) 14 // Geezy & Meezy Montana @ Grand Lake Theater for the Ghost Ride Your Whip Premiere (Oakland, CA) 15 // Young L of The Pack & his brother on the set of The Jacka’s “All Over Me” (San Francisco, CA) 16 // The Turf DJ & the Turf Wife @ Palladium (Denver, CO) 17 // Big Dante & Paul Wall @ Tech N9ne’s Fire & Ice Tour (Humboldt County, CA) 18 // Cinque & Celeste on the set of “Spiritual” (Tucson, AZ) 19 // Kilo & Keak da Sneak @ Keak Da Sneak’s release party (Mountain View, CA) Photo Credits: D-Ray (01,02,05,06,08,09,10,11,12,13,14,15,17,18,19); DJ KTone (03,07,16); Ms Rivercity (04)
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She Liked my NECKLACE and started relaxin’, that’s what the fuck I call a…
PRETTY BLACK MIGHTY MOUSE
his chain used to be Gucci Mane’s chain. Floyd The Jeweler from Atlanta made it, and it cost fifty stacks. It was made the same time Gucci made his Bart [Simpson] piece. Gucci Mane and I had a business move that we did. I traded him a Jacob watch for the Mighty Mouse chain. Yeah, I’m exposing you, Gucci Mane you pussy! Yes, my nigga, Mr. So Icey himself! It was solid. The deal was done.
the San Francisco police to report a kidnapping. As you can see, the chain is around my neck and that is where it’s going to stay. So fuck Gucci Mane, real shit! That nigga ain’t shit. That’s what I call a chain reaction!
Then Gucci came out to the Bay to do a show. I picked him up in the Lambo and took him to the hotel; we were chillin’ waiting for the show to start. He asked me to get him some bitches and some pills. I was there with some of my goons from Richmond and Oakland, and he’s there with the bitches I brought him, his cousin, his manager, and his armed security. Gucci saw that I was so iced up and I think he was a little uncomfortable because of the people I had with me. He told his security to take his Bart chain to the safe and asked me to wear the Mighty Mouse chain to the show. No problem. I already had on three chains and stupid ice.
Words and Photo by D-Ray
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[Editor’s note: In fairness, we allowed Gucci Mane to respond to the allegations in this article by telling his side of the story: “I sold my Mighty Mouse chain to a dude cause I didn’t like how it was made. I don’t want to mention his name, but he paid me more than I paid for the chain. We were friends. How did we go from being friends to you claiming that you took my chain? Now, if I had an incident at a club and he took my jewelry, I couldn’t debate that. But if me and you fall out and you got a chain that you paid me money for, we wore the chain and took pictures together, how are you going to claim that you took it? That ain’t real. You came to my house. We fed you food. You was a pa’tna of mine from Cali. I got pa’tnas from all over. I get money. You were my friend so I wasn’t tryin’ to ‘get’ you, but I sold it to you for more [than I paid] because you wanted it. You had money on you at the time, but then I found out that you really don’t have no money. You don’t have long money like the kid. The kid got several chains.”]
Gucci got on a pill and disappeared with the bitches for a little while. Then we heard that the show got cancelled [because of] some other shit. So we hit Gucci to see what’s up, and he says, “Fuck it, I’m going to stay in.” Then, I hit him about the Mighty Mouse chain, and he said he didn’t have it. So I told him something that was so serious about him and his family’s safety, and it didn’t take him very long to bring my chain quick. Next, his security tries to call
To all the OZONE readers, just know that this ain’t the movies. Everybody ain’t as real as they say they are. //
(above L-R): Richie Rich & Too $hort @ Up All Nite Studios in Oakland, CA; DJ Rah2K & Traxamillion @ Club Agenda for DJ Rah2K’s birthday party in San Jose, CA (Photos: D-Ray); Saigon & David Banner @ Mezzanine for David Banner’s birthday party in San Francisco, CA (Photo: Julia Beverly)
01 // DJ KTone, Hawkman, Kim, Analiza, BC, & Young Doe @ Blue Ice for KTone’s birthday bash (Denver, CO) 02 // DJ Vlad, Network, & Bavgate @ Grand Lake Theater for the Ghost Ride Your Whip Premiere (Oakland, CA) 03 // Skrapi & The Jacka @ Grand Lake Theater for the Ghost Ride Your Whip Premiere (Oakland, CA) 04 // Yogi & Lee Majors on the set of The Jacka’s “All Over Me” (San Francisco, CA) 05 // Traxamillion & Grinch @ Mezzanine for David Banner’s birthday party (San Francisco, CA) 06 // Kilo & Tech N9ne @ Tech N9ne’s Fire & Ice Tour (Humboldt County, CA) 07 // DJ Boriqua reppin’ Husalah on the set of The Jacka’s “All Over Me” (San Francisco, CA) 08 // Dem Hoodstarz & Nick Ngo on the set of Jacka’s “All Over Me” (San Francisco, CA) 09 // NVUS Twins & Deltrice on the set of The Jacka’s “All Over Me” (San Francisco, CA) 10 // The Jacka, guest, Willie Hen, Cellski, & guest @ Mezzanine for David Banner’s birthday party (San Francisco, CA) 11 // Roc Rolla & Goldie Gold @ Club Silk (Sacramento, CA) 12 // John Costen, Kafani The Ice King, & Bido @ Fresno Convention Center for Q97’s Spring Jam (Fresno, CA) 13 // Mile High Honeyz @ Crystal Rose for Teen Jam (Denver, CO) 14 // Hypeman P & Hawkman @ Blue Ice (Denver, CO) 15 // Gary Archer & DJ Vlad @ Grand Lake Theater for the Ghost Ride Your Whip Premiere (Oakland, CA) 16 // David Banner & Cellski @ Mezzanine for David Banner’s birthday party (San Francisco, CA) 17 // Bavgate & Gold Toes @ Grand Lake Theater for the Ghost Ride Your Whip Premiere (Oakland, CA) 18 // Cbaby & DJ Drama @ Club Crave for KTone’s birthday bash (Denver, CO) 19 // Lotto & FedX on the set of The Jacka’s “All Over Me” (San Francisco, CA) Photo Credits: D-Ray (02,03,04,05,06,07,08,09,12,15,17,19); DJ KTone (01,13,14,18); Jessica Essien (11); Julia Beverly (10,16)
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OMAR CRUZ LOS ANGELES, CA
Words by MZ. JAE & D-Ray PHOTO BY ESTEVAN ORIOL The streets of LA are the best witness to a life of struggle. The constant grind and everyday struggle to survive can either break a person, or make a person, but either way the impact of the streets is felt by anyone who has spent time in the maze of LA. The West, the struggle, both coupled with survival, can, and has, created some of the most effective and cutthroat lyrical assassins in the game. Although already acknowledged as the Latin Lyrical Assassin, for Omar Cruz, the struggle is far from over. The product of Mexican and Columbian immigrants, the pressure to get recognition in a predominately black game gnaws at Omar Cruz each and everyday he is blessed to wake up and run the streets of LA. “My testimony has not been heard in Hip Hop,” says Omar. “In the last 25 years of Hip Hop no one has heard the cry of an immigrant child from LA. I got a movement in these streets; I’m receiving love from my people. [As a Latin artist] you don’t have the automatic respect. People usually say, ‘Oh, he’s dope for a Latino.’ What the fuck? Why can’t I just be dope?! Damn. I looked up to Big Pun for paving the way and opening those doors.” Despite the constant need to prove himself not as a Latino rapper, but as an artist period, Omar Cruz has already made a solid impact on the California rap game. “If you do your research on me you will see I came strong on the mixtape scene! My first mixtape City of Gods gave me the LLA [Latin Lyrical Assassin] title!” he says. “I gave my mixtapes away [because] I believe that was the only way I would get heard. I mean, how you going to sell a mixtape? Don’t you want to be heard? I know how to market myself. But in retrospect, it allowed me to create my buzz in streets!” Giving shit away for free comes at a high price though, and to say that Omar Cruz knows all the pitfalls of living the street life would be an understatement. However, Cruz’s focus remains on the rap game. Already having had a video on MTV, and performing for tens of thousands with The Game, Omar Cruz has put the responsibility of bringing the West back to the splendor of its heyday squarely on his shoulders. “It’s going to take an excellent album [to make the West what it was],” he theorizes. “And I’m taking my time. I’ve been working on my album for a year and half now. [The West Coast] has been under the stigma that if it’s not by Dr. Dre, you’re not going to get the shine as a respected West Coast artist. A lot of people bought into that [idea], and it’s hurt us. I can’t wait to work with Dre, but we have to take the incentive to make sure we don’t get lost. The south has taken over for the past few years, and nothing is wrong with that. But they’re united, and the west is divided. We got to come and stand together!” With production from Cool & Dre and the vocals of Frankie J, Los Lonely Boys, The Game, Rome, Javie Lopez and more lending their talents to the project, Omar Cruz should be able to leave the street life forever and make a necessary impact on the current game. “[There’s] a lot of entertainers running around; ringtone rappers. I grew up on Pac, Big, Snoop, and Cube, who had substance in their lyrics,” he recalls. “When you listen to them you know who they are as a person, as men, as an individual in streets and what positive impact they were making in the community. Nowadays, it’s all about the new snap dance step! I’m not hating on no one’s hustle. Do what you do. I just think that making a great album is a lost art. I think labels are fed up right now. They are fed up with cats trying to make whack music. So they fuck you in the ass, make their money, kick you to the curb, and find their next victim.” And Omar Cruz is hardly a victim. To live and die in LA.
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y l t n e g i t n a i PWait
(above L-R): Cinque & his father on the set of “Spiritual” in Tucson, AZ; DJ Amen & Paul Wall @ Tech N9ne’s Fire & Ice Tour in Humboldt County, CA; Shorty Mac & Ray J @ Fresno Convention Center for Q97’s Spring Jam in Fresno, CA (Photos: D-Ray)
01 // John Costen & David Banner @ KMEL (San Francisco, CA) 02 // FedX, D-Ray, Laroo, Turf Talk, & Fat Ant on the set of “All Over Me” (San Francisco, CA) 03 // Keak da Sneak & The Jacka @ Grand Lake Theater for the Ghost Ride Your Whip Premiere (Oakland, CA) 04 // Raymond Red & Cinque on the set of “Spiritual” (Tucson, AZ) 05 // Homicide & Big Omeezy @ Zokkus for Sick Wid It & 916 Unified listening party (Sacrmento, CA) 06 // Mugzi, Doey Rock, & Turf Talk @ Zokkus for Sick Wid It & 916 Unified listening party (Sacrmento, CA) 07 // David Banner & a young fan @ KMEL (San Francisco, CA) 08 // Sevin @ Mandatory Business (Sacramento, CA) 09 // Skatterman, Snug Brim, Kutt Kalhoun, & Krizz Kaliko @ OZONE’s Rapquest filming (Kansas City, MO) 10 // Lil Darnel, Haji Springer, & Gary Archer @ Discovery Park for Cinco de Mayo (Sacramento, CA) 11 // Yogi & FedX @ Mezzanine for David Banner’s birthday party (San Francisco, CA) 12 // Dilagentz on the set of Jacka’s “All Over Me” (San Francisco, CA) 13 // D-Dre, Maki, & Rydah J. Klyde @ Club 6 (San Francisco, CA) 14 // Black Zeek & Doey Rock @ the 916 Factory (Sacramento, CA) 15 // DJ KTone & Lady Jae @ Blue Ice for KTone’s birthday bash (Denver, CO) 16 // Too $hort, guest, & Dewayne Wiggins @ Up All Nite Studios (Oakland, CA) 17 // Deltrice & The Jacka on the set of The Jacka’s “All Over Me” (San Francisco, CA) 18 // Bambino & Haji Springer @ Upscale Club (Orange County, CA) 19 // The Jacka, G-Stack, Dot & Yap on the set of Jacka’s “All Over Me” (San Francisco, CA) Photo Credits: D-Ray (03,04,07,10,11,12,13,16,17,18,19); DJ KTone (15); Jessica Essien (05,06,14); Julia Beverly (01,02); Ms Rivercity (09); Rebecca Knoblauch (08)
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PACIFIC DIVISION LOS ANGELES, CA Words BY MAURICE G. GARLAND Usually when rappers are late for interviews it’s either because they had too much to drink the night before, or out of sheer laziness or diva-ness. But with Cali-based trio Pacific Division, tardiness comes from a more humble place. “I just got off work. I was in a rush and I didn’t have my license or registration on me from when I got towed two weeks ago,” rattles Pac Div member Like, explaining his CP time delay. “I got pulled over and the cop gave me the whole drill. He did a search, but luckily my record is straight so nothing happened.”
“We don’t really like telling people we’re about to start a new movement in Hip Hop,” chides Mibbs at the notion that his group is leading a new audio exodus from the norm. “We just let the music speak for itself. Whatever movement comes with it will just happen on its own.” “We represent the majority of young black men,” adds Like. “A good percentage of us out here don’t bang. Not taking away from those who do, but most niggas just work regular jobs, got baby mama drama, try to go to school and make a decent living without throwing up a flag.”
Straight records are working for Pac Div in more ways than one. Since they crept on the scene in 2005 with their highly-touted Sealed For Freshness “blend tape,” the group made up of brothers Like and Mibbs and close friend BeYoung have ushered in an alternative to West Coast Hip Hop.
Originally brought together through a love for basketball, all of them gave up hoop dreams for mic fantasies when they saw that being 5’9” didn’t offer much else besides a 9-to-5. Now linked by the same office, they juggle their work schedule with tour dates but hope to see that change very soon.
Almost identical to the options acts like Del the Funky Homosapien, Hieroglyphics, Likwit Crew and others presented at the height of 1990’s gangsta rap, Pac Div are coming in with everyday tales of girl problems, money issues and just trying to look good amidst the struggle. Add that to their preference of Nike SB’s and graphic tees over khakis and flags, and you have a group that reps an oft-forgotten image of Cali Hip Hop.
“We plan on giving our two weeks notice pretty soon because we’ve got some good stuff coming up,” laughs Like, mentioning that their popular video singles “Women Problems,” “F.A.T. Boys ’08,” “Paper” and occasional radio spins affords them job perks like coming in 30 minutes late and wearing jeans on dress-up day. “We wanna bring a camera in there and document it. We’ll call it Countdown to Quitting.” //
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(above L-R): Young L of The Pack with his article @ Phoenix Theater in Petaluma, CA; Too $hort @ Phoenix Theater in Petaluma, CA; San Quinn with his article on the set of “SF Anthem” video shoot in San Francisco, CA (Photos: D-Ray)
01 // Paul Wall @ Tech N9ne’s Fire & Ice Tour (Humboldt County, CA) 02 // NVUS @ Club Mighty (San Francisco, CA) 03 // The Jacka on the set of “SF Anthem” video shoot (San Francisco, CA) 04 // Krizz Kalico, Extacy, & Hobo Tone @ OZONE’s Rapquest shoot (Kansas City, MO) 05 // Goldie Gold & Bueno @ Club Silk (Sacramento, CA) 06 // Killa Tay & Blaque Ice @ Westcoast Wednesdays (Fresno, CA) 07 // Uno & J Stalin @ Phoenix Theater (Petaluma, CA) 08 // DJ KTone, DJ Wildhairr, & Michael Watts @ Angelo’s (Denver, CO) 09 // DJ Juice & DJ Moe1 on the set of “SF Anthem” video shoot (San Francisco, CA) 10 // DJ Amen & Robert Sterlin @ Phoenix Theater (Petaluma, CA) 11 // Fields @ Tech N9ne’s Fire & Ice Tour (Humboldt County, CA) 12 // Big Rich on the set of “SF Anthem” video shoot (San Francisco, CA) 13 // Do It Movin & Liq @ Zokkus for Sick Wid It & 916 Unified listening party (Sacramento, CA) 14 // Turf Talk @ Mezzanine for David Banner’s birthday party (San Francisco, CA) 15 // Dem Hoodstarz @ Club Mighty (San Francisco, CA) 16 // Bavgate @ Grand Lake Theater for the Ghost Ride Your Whip Premiere (Oakland, CA) 17 // Big Dante on the set of The Jacka’s “All Over Me” (San Francisco, CA) 18 // DJ Oasis & Bosse of Neighborhood Watch @ The Colonial (Sacramento, CA) 19 // Reggie & Carl of Highline Jewelry (San Francisco, CA) 20 // Tone @ Tech N9ne’s Fire & Ice Tour (Humboldt County, CA) 21 // Sixteen & crew on the set of “SF Anthem” video shoot (San Francisco, CA) 22 // Ant @ Club Agenda for DJ Rah2K’s birthday party (San Jose, CA) 23 // Roc Rolla & Prohoezak @ James Elizabeth’s video shoot (San Jose, CA) 24 // DJ Slowpoke on the set of The Jacka’s “All Over Me” (San Francisco, CA) 25 // Sean G @ Discovery Park for Cinco de Mayo (Sacramento, CA) 26 // Mike Mosley @ James Elizabeth’s video shoot (San Jose, CA) 27 // Isiah, Doey Rock, & Jack Paper @ the Silk (Sacramento, CA) 28 // Shad Gee @ Toons Nightclub (San Jose, CA) 29 // Willie Hen on the set of “SF Anthem” video shoot (San Francisco, CA) 30 // Kenny Diamondz & ROB @ OZONE’s Rapquest shoot (Kansas City, MO) 31 // Errelevant @ Tech N9ne’s Fire & Ice Tour (Humboldt County, CA) 32 // Money Boss & A Plus @ Westcoast Wednesdays (Fresno, CA) 33 // Ladies reppin’ OZONE (Oakland, CA) 34 // Lil Quinn & Zakee on the set of “SF Anthem” video shoot (San Francisco, CA) 35 // Haji Springer & Danny D @ The Record House (Fremont, CA) Photo Credits: D-Ray (01,02,03,04,07,09,10,11,12,14,15,16,17,19,20,21,22,24,25,28,29,30,31,33,34,35); DJ KTone (08); Jessica Essien (05,06,13,23,26,27,32); Rebecca Knoblauch (18)
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DENVER, CO via long beach, CA Words by MZ. JAE // photo by chris vega Adversity is no stranger to the rap game. Turn on the radio, pop in a mixtape, and flip through the pages of a magazine, and one message is readily apparent: adversity and Hip Hop co-exist, in an almost parasitic manner. They feed of each other, slowly killing the other in the process, but at the same time, one can’t survive without the other. Long Beach-made and Denver-paid rapper Mr. Midas has more experience then most when it comes to overcoming, and in turn triumphing over obstacles thrown in his path. Raised on the streets of Long Beach, California, Mr. Midas is the manifestation of the “Son of the Crack Era.” Much like the parasitic relationship between Hip Hop and adversity, Mr. Midas also had a parasitic relationship with the super drug of the eighties. “The crack era was at its prime when I was coming up as a little kid,” he recalls. “It affected every community. My mom was on it, my step dad sold it. It killed my family but it also fed my family. On one hand the rent was getting paid, on the other it was destroying us.” In an effort to survive, his family packed up everything and moved, and moved, and moved. Mr. Midas went to 17 schools in three different states. The last move brought him to Colorado, where his brain tumor was discovered (and removed) in September of 2005. Two weeks later, his friend and a Colorado legend, Colfax Cac, was murdered. Bad management led to a failed record deal with the Ruff Ryders in 2007, continuing the series of hardships which shaped Mr. Midas’s life and career. Once part of the Bay Area’s native rap group, the Flo Masters, Mr. Midas has an established fan base in his home state, but a concentrated one in the home of hyphy. A collab with Clyde Carson on the Remix of “Bag Back” garnered Mr. Midas a great deal of radio play in the Bay and his continued work with the Flo Masters and the legendary DJ Juice has led to collabs with other Bay artists like Balance, Mistah FAB, and Young Winn. The “Cali-rado” native has also put in work with well-known Colorado mixtape DJs such as DJ Quote of the CORE DJs (Almost Famous) and DJ Shadoe of Black Wallstreet (Boss On Da Low). Mr. Midas’s upcoming project, The Son of the Crack Era CD and DVD, promises to showcase the controversy of his own life, and in turn also create its own. While many rappers tend to glorify the street life and the benefits of selling drugs, Mr. Midas aims to expose the other side of the street life, the inevitable consequences of the addictive hustle. “With the DVD we’re going to go from hood to hood, all over the nation to show the effects of the Crack Era and to prove the same thing went on everywhere. No one man can create such an epidemic at one time. The crack era and its rise was definitely a government-aided epidemic and you best believe the government made a lot of money off of it and is still making money off it to this day. They made money off our pain and somebody’s gotta expose it. The CD is going to show there’s a major hole in the whole rap game right now. People always talk about how they made all this money off of selling, off of pimpin’, off of robbin’ but it seems like no one ever went to jail, or no one died from that shit. So the kids gotta see both sides of the spectrum, or you’re just feeding them a fairytale.” And Mr. Midas ain’t ever been about fairytales. // www.myspace.com/mrmidas
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Words BY ERIC N. Perrin photos by d-ray & oren j
t’s been a monumental year for the state of Arizona. First, the Grand Canyon State hosted the highest rated Super Bowl in television history. Then the Phoenix Suns acquired Shaquille O’Neal in a midseason trade, and most recently, Arizona Senator John McCain became the Presidential nominee for the Republican Party for the 2008 election. Thus far in 2008, Sun Devils have had the attention of the entire county—except in the realm of rap. Arizona has been a barren dessert for all things Hip Hop for quite some time, but rapper Cinque (pronounced Sin-Q) might be the one to change all that. He presents a style that is completely unique, and promises to appeal to the masses in the same way his favorite rapper did in the 90s. You’re a big Tupac fan. Why has he been so influential to your career? He was first rapper to really inspire me overall. He had a song called “Trapped,” and that song really made sense to me. My pops was in prison at the time, and me and my sister would always go visit him; the stuff that my pops was saying to us [when we went to visit him] was the same thing ‘Pac was saying in that song. ‘Pac was in prison on that song, so it really hit hard. I ultimately started taking rap more and more seriously. Where was your pops incarcerated? He was in prison in New York. My family is from the West Indies, and I was born in Brooklyn, New York, but I was shipped all around when
I was a kid. I had some family problems, so I lived in Florida for a nice period of time, and then I moved to Arizona. I’ve been here since I was about 9 years old. Is the name Cinque a West Indian name? Actually, Cinque is a French name, but I was named after—have you ever seen the movie Amistad? That movie was about Cinque. His real name was Singhbe (pronounced Sin-K). He was a native of Sierra Leone in West Africa, and he was a real respected dude in his tribe. He was famous for killin’ Mayans and all this crazy shit, and he got caught up in the slave trade and brought to America. There was an abolitionist who stuck with him and followed his story, and helped him and his people get free. Out of all the places you’ve lived, which place do you most identify with? To be honest, it’s here, Arizona. I’ve lived in Cali, New York, Florida, and here. The thing I love about New York the most is the diversity. Florida is like a down home Southern state that’s real cool; I got a lot of family out there. But I love here because there’s something real special about Arizona. If you come out here with the right people and really see the city, you’ll love it. It’s like a millionaire’s playground. Everybody just comes out here to chill and kick back. Arizona is like a blank canvas; if you want to write on it, you’ve got room. It seems like the Hip Hop scene in Arizona hasn’t really emerged on a national scale yet, but you guys definitely have your own movement out there. Talk about your state’s progression. The scene out here is really, really flourishing. I’m one of the heads of a clique called Man Up Squad. The whole squad is some of the dopest
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lived in all these different places. It’s not just that I’ve lived all over the country, but I’ve lived in the hoods all over the country. But I know there’s more to life than just what goes on in the hood. I try to keep myself well rounded, and that shows in my music. Yeah, from talking to you it’s definitely apparent that you’re a pretty educated rapper. What kind of themes do you like to cover in your music? Me and my brother would always argue about a lot of rap because I felt a lot of what these rappers were talking about wasn’t real, and my brother would always say, “Oh, it’s just entertainment.” But I’m not the type to boast and brag about all my war stripes and cases I’ve caught or all that shit, but I’ve been there and I’ve done it all. Everything that these rappers are talking about, I’ve lived it. And I still live it. I’m a self-made boss out here and anybody will tell you that. It’s nothing fake or synthetic about anything I put in my rhymes. I don’t glorify anything negative. I might have an aggressive song here or there, but my music is reality—in it’s purest form. So if I’m talking about the dope game I’m gonna also talk about what’s gon’ happen at the end of the road, like, “These are your options.” I’m trying to steer youngsters away from the bullshit. I wish I would’ve gone to college and all that good shit. I’m here to entertain people, because music is a good thing, and there’s nothing wrong with entertainment at all because life is already hard enough to be hearing niggas rap about the struggle and how hard life is. So I don’t do all that shit. I rap about living a good life, being prosperous and all that shit. I rap about street shit, but I’m not glorifying it. I’m just reporting it. I’m a news reporter like a FOX News or CNN reporter. What are you currently working on right now? Actually, I work a lot with NO I.D. He shopped my music and had a couple deals on the table, but I know a lot of cats with deals, and deals ain’t all cracked up to be what people think. But I got distribution set up with a big label. I’m not gonna disclose anything yet until everything is finalized, but I made some power moves and got a nice little budget behind the project. niggas in this country in this one squad. Cats here are hungry. We don’t have a local view of ourselves; myself and couple of my comrades actually get out and go to other states and sell albums, and do the whole nine: shoot videos, do promotions, and get our music out there. I handle my business like I’m signed to a major label; I back myself. I’m a hundred percent independent so far, but we got cats in our squad with deals: Willy Northpole, Hot Rod, Dilo. All these people are in one squad, in a pretty much unknown city. We’re at a real interesting point, and pretty soon it’s about to just spill over into the rest of the world. I spend a lot of time going out to Atlanta, New York, and L.A., just grinding with the music, so I’m confident it’s going to all pay off. A couple years ago I read a book called “The Tipping Point,” and it really taught me a lot. The book talks about all these different products, and basically says that if you have something really good, then news of it will spread by word of mouth and become known by epic proportions. That’s how I feel about my music. What region of rap is Arizona most influenced by? I know you guys are on the West Coast, but it seems like the AZ style is really diverse. To be honest, we’re so on our own shit it’s ridiculous. A lot of people label us as the West Coast, but we’re in the Southwest, we’re not on the coast. I got love for L.A., the Bay, and all of Cali, but we’re on our own shit. Arizona has a lot of cats out here from the East, West, and South, because if you look at the history, Arizona is a fairly new state—we didn’t even get statehood until 1910, so most people you meet here are not from here. It’s a lot of rappers out here who embody more of a New York sound, and you got some cats that sound like they’re from down South, but I personally think my style is universal. I lived in New York and I lived in the South. I don’t want to just be on some West Coast shit or East Coast shit. My content and my delivery are unique to me. For instance, if you look at ‘Pac, he was West Coast all day, but he had a lot East Coast elements to him as well. That combination carried him far. My shit is similar in that I have all different elements to it. I’ve
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For people who aren’t familiar with you or your music, what would you say about your music to solicit their interest? As an artist I bring authenticity, straight up. No fabrication, nothing fake: no fake cases, no fake gun battles, it’s nothing fake at all. What I rap about is who I am, and what I live by. I’m entertaining people with reality. www.myspace.com/cinque7777
WORDS BY MAURICE G. GARLAND
rom Dr. Dre rocking a “chronic” hat to Ice Cube throwing up a “W,” West Coast Hip Hop has produced some of the longest lasting images in popular culture. To this day cameras get mesmerized by the unique lifestyles that include everything from hitting switches in lowriders to ghostriding the whip.
For some, West Coast imagery is what introduced many music listeners to not only Hip Hop at large, but fun times in life period. Remember when you thought your first cookout was going to look just like the scenes in the “Nuthin’ But A G Thing” video? Images like the Rodney King riots and random acts of gang violence also reminded you of some of the low points of society. Even though OZONE has only been actively covering West Coast Hip Hop for little over a year, we’ve been able to capture some of its history, as well as retell it. Thanks to our colleagues like J Lash and D-Ray, we’ve been able to bring you both some well-known and rarely-seen photos of some of the West’s icons and future stars. Let this collection serve as reminder of why you fell in love with music from the Left Coast and a reason to cherish it even more.
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los angeles, ca photo by j lash There’s been a lot of debate as to who was in fact the first “gangsta rapper.” Some say KRSOne and others say Schooly D, but most say Ice-T. Even though Ice himself credits Schooly as the originator, it’s Ice’s face that would become the encyclopedia entry for “gangsta.” However, while most “gangsta rappers” glorified the lifestyle, Ice always kept a political edge to his music and offered a realistic ending on his songs: death or jail. Ice-T is now an O.G. in the game, having fought battles dealing with censorship and made the transition to movies and television. The generation that didn’t grow up on his music only sees him as an actor on Law & Order who is married to a pin-up model wife. In actuality, Ice-T is as Hip Hop as they come, with history as both a breakdancer and one of rap’s most influential voices.
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Messy Marv, 2001
moses music (east oakland, ca) photo by d-ray Messy Marv’s nearly ageless face doesn’t tell an accurate story about his life or career. Having dealt with drug abuse and two broken legs after jumping out of four-story window, Mess has seen and done it all. With 30-plus projects in his catalog, Mess has probably said it all too. Never quite able to focus on his career with legal issues always looming, Mess spoke as if he’s finally ready to clean up his act in the January 2008 issue of OZONE where he went as far to say he’s changing his name to The Boy Boy Young Mess. One of the Bay’s most prolific rappers, Marv, despite having 12 years of experience under his belt, is actually just scratching the surface of his potential.
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Daz Dilinger and Ice Cube, 1995
uncle luke’s skybox at the super bowl (miami, fl) photo by j lash The N.W.A family tree has so many branches that only a small handful of rappers from L.A. can say they got into the game by their own merit without some kind of N.W.A affiliation or cosign. In this photo, you have two of the bigger names that grew from that tree. Ice Cube is the first fruit to literally fall from the N.W.A tree. He left the group in 1989 over contract disputes, claiming that he didn’t receive proper compensation for writing over half of N.W.A’s landmark album Straight Outta Compton as well as rhymes on Eazy-E’s solo debut. Daz is attached to the N.W.A tree through his work at Dr. Dre’s former company/label home Death Row records. Daz also left the label while fueding over compensation.
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photo by Al Pereira
[Six years ago when OZONE started], the album I had out was Grit and Grind. I had a hit song with Lil Jon out called “Rep Yo’ City,” with Petey Pablo, Bun B of UGK, and 8Ball. In 2003 I put out Breakin’ News. As soon as I got my legal release from Jive, I signed with BME in 2004. The single [“Tell Me When To Go”] came out in the fourth quarter of 2005, and a few months later, I dropped My Ghetto Report Card. A lot of good things have happened during the past six years. I had a club. I bought into the Wingstop franchise. I’ve got my own enhanced beverage called 40 Water. I became a franchise owner of a restaurant called Fat Burger. I’m a spokesperson for a cognac out of France called Landy; it’s the real deal. We plan on moving Hennessy and Courvoisier out of the way. Besides that, I helped put on a lot of people, like T-Pain. Don’t get it twisted, he’s always been a talented dude, but none of the rappers were fuckin’ with him like that until I put him on my album. Now all of a sudden everybody needs a T-Pain [hook]. I know I’ve contributed a lot to Hip Hop overall. My style of rap and my lingo, can’t nobody say that hasn’t been influential in rap. Also, my grind that I put in during the late 80s and early 90s selling tapes independently. Cats that used to be on major labels are saying, “We’re getting $8 an album and we’re independent now.” I been did all that. Every rapper has got a little E-40 in them, whether they know it or not. Over the next six years, I really want to run my label right. I want my label to be successful because Sick Wid It is a brand, it’s not just a regular label. When you see a Rap-A-Lot release you know it’s legendary, or a Def Jam logo, you know it’s legit. I would love to kick back and let the artists make money for me as well as make money for themselves. I want to get off into movies, me and my brother D-Shot. I just love rap. I’m old enough to know better, but young enough not to care. I’ve been in the rap game forever. I was underground for a long time. I didn’t sign with Jive Records until 1994, and that’s when people were able to see me on TV and put the music with the face. I pay homage to [other rappers] who started rapping around the same time as I did, but a lot of them have stopped rapping. I’m making it cool to be rapping at my age. When these youngstas become my age, they’re gonna be like, “E-40 was rapping when he was 40 years old and was still on top of his shit.” So I feel like I got hella time to go. No matter what the money looks like, rappin’ is my passion. - by E-40, as told to Kay Newell
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Too $hort, 1989 photo by michael ochs
When Too $hort was staking his claim in the rap game in late 80’s and early 90’s, critics rushed to judgment by lumping him in the “gangsta” category. Sure, $hort’s music was explicit, but it wasn’t just “gangsta.” He spoke on poverty, politics, drug abuse and never glorified violence in his music. But, just as he’s hinted in some of his raps, people only hear the word “biiiiiiitch!!!” A trained ear could see past $hort’s sexual songs and realize that through his actions and music, he was trying to put youngsters up on game so they wouldn’t become the suckers he’d have to rap about later. Building the blueprint for the independent scene in the Bay, $hort continues to record and release music nearing the end of his third decade in the industry. Though not every album has been his best, each one has at least a little piece of game that you can put in your back pocket.
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Dr. Dre and Snoop Doggy Dogg, 1993 CLUB WORLD (BEVERLY HILLS, CA) photo by j lash
Dr. Dre discovered Snoop Dogg when Warren G (Snoop’s friend and Dre’s stepbrother) slipped him a tape of Snoop freestyling over an instrumental of En Vogue’s “Hold On.” Impressed and looking for talent after leaving N.W.A and Ruthless Records, Dre took young Snoop under his wing. When Dre and Snoop first presented themselves as a tandem in 1992 on the title track for the Deep Cover soundtrack, it helped usher in a new era in West Coast Hip Hop that was in no way suited for radiowaves and impressionable ears, but found its way into countless homes ranging from the ‘hood to the ‘burbs. Proof of America’s new infatuation with rap music came when Dre released his debut album The Chronic. To some, it represented a change for the worst in Hip Hop and Black culture as a whole. The powerful album, with its explicit language, violent lyrics, sexual overtones and drug references had most people trading in their African medallions and Malcolm X hats for paraphernalia bearing the infamous green leaf Dre is rocking on his cap. Though Dre introduced skilled production to rap music around this time, his music also played a part in the socio-political slant in “gangsta” rap being erased, opening the door for clichéd images and content that is still imitated to this day.
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CLYDE CARSON, 2003 san leandro, ca photo by d-ray
Clyde Carson was introduced to the world as a member of The Team back in 2004. Their regional hits amassed them a little attention during the hyphy movement, but unfortunately they, like many of their peers, never really enjoyed all of the fruits of their potential. Since then, Clyde, who always stood out in the group, has become a budding solo star and businessman. The Oakland native, true to the town’s hustling nature, created his own energy drink, Hyphy Juice. He’s also signed to Capitol Records through The Game’s Black Wallstreet imprint. With enough marketable characteristics to make him a star, this image of Clyde pre-fame is bound to be a collectors’ item some day.
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Suge Knight & 2Pac, 1996
tupac’s last performance - house of blues (los angeles, ca) photo by j lash When Suge Knight posted the $1.4 million bail for 2Pac’s release it brought rap’s most powerful voice back to the forefront. Although Pac would only live and work with Death Row for 9 months until his death, the amount of drama and material that brief stint produced has lasted for 12 years. With both of them already high-profile figures before their dealings with each other, every picture of Suge and Pac together seems like an event. Every time their names came up in a sentence together it was an event. Whether it was concerts at the House Of Blues, attacks on Bad Boy Records, fights in casino lobbies or unfortunately, shootings in Las Vegas. A lot has been said about Suge’s role in ‘Pac’s death, mostly speculation, but nothing has been proven. For years conspiracy theorists claimed the intro to ‘Pac’s Makaveli album said, “Suge shot me,” though it has been proven otherwise. Either way, most ‘Pac fans view the thought of his Death Row days as just that.
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Mistah F.A.B., 2002
“He’s sick” video shoot at sweet jimmie’s (oakland, ca) photo by d-ray Before his music got Thizzed out, Mistah F.A.B. was a battle rapper mad at himself for coming in third place at the 2000 Source Unsigned Hype Battle. He was also a Bay Area outcast that didn’t roll with a crew and was considered a borderline backpacker since he didn’t dress like his attention-demanding peers. His debut album Nig-Latin was solid showing for a young artist, but no one really paid him any attention until the late Mac Dre took an interest in him and adopted him into his Thizz Records clan. Since then, F.A.B. has been able to use the endorsement to his advantage, being crowned the Prince of the Bay and leveraging his independent success into a now-defunct distribution deal with Atlantic Records. In true Bay Area fashion F.A.B. has remained entrenched in the independent hustle, not waiting for a major to tell him when to go.
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211/Product of the Block If he wasn’t shouting it out or wearing the chain that says so, you wouldn’t know that 211 was a CTE affiliate. Sounding nothing like his labelmates and using his own rolodex to get Snoop Dogg, Spider Loc and Mack 10 to bless his tracks, 211 stands on his own two feet throughout this effort. Though the subject matter doesn’t really reach beyond repping his block, he does a good job at making the clichés at least listenable with trademark West Coast production on “Product of the Block,” witty lines on “Still Fly” and slight Southern influences sprinkled throughout. — Maurice G. Garland
G.O, DJ Skee & DJ Strong/The Wessurection L.A. newcomer G.O raps his ass off on this DJ Skee and Strong mixtape. Tech Dizzle production and G.O’s rhymes are a lethal combination. The west already has a staple of new artists breathing life back into the left coast, so I wouldn’t call G.O’s introductory mixtape a Wessurection, but his name is definitely one to remember. — Randy Roper
Tyga & DJ Nice/No Introduction Tyga got help from the fam, Travis McCoy of the Gym Class Heroes, when he got the chance to open on the Young Wild Things Tour, but with No Introduction he shows that he needs no help. A unique voice and versatile delivery make Tyga a lyrical force and the occasional help from Weezy F. Baby makes this mixtape one to pop in whether you’re at the “Mexican Bar” or just “Space Joyriding.” — Rohit Loomba
Mistah F.A.B./All Star Season/Thizz Ent F.A.B. and company offer plenty of heat on All Star Season. From “Turf Music” and “Hit ‘Em” to “Slappin’ In The Trunk” and “Round The Hood,” Fabby Davis Jr. flips styles and flows that cover both the life of the party and the hardships of reality. Too $hort, Clyde Carson, E-40, Keak da Sneak and a host of others make appearances, but no matter the guest rhymer, Fab remains the master of ceremonies. All Star Season is a solid collaborative effort (with the exception of a few unfavorable tracks) but I’ll speak for most fans and say we’re ready for Da Yellow Bus Rydah album. — Randy Roper Errelevent/Redefinition/Relevent Music If one thing can be said about San Fran emcee Errelevent’s latest offering, it’s that it has balance. Unfortunately, that also means it doesn’t have a lot of high points that stand out. He proves that he can make music for radio with obvious tracks like “In The Bay” featuring San Quinn and “I Believe It” featuring Keak da Sneak, but you’ll find his sans hyphy tracks like “The Formula” featuring Terminology are his strength. While he does a great job at painting pictures with his words, his overall flow could use a little bit of improvement. One listen to this album will show that he has room for just that, and it may come sooner than you think. — Maurice G. Garland Mr. Midas and DJ Shadoe/Boss On The Low Colorado transplant Mr. Midas links up with DJ Shadoe on this solid effort to put CO on the radar. Here, listeners are introduced to Mr. Midas’s unique and refreshingly atypical voice and delivery. The mix provides a variety of eclectic beats with influences ranging from the Bay to New Orleans. “Cook it Up” and “Stuck to You” offer an intimate look into Mr. Midas’s personal struggles. Other standout tracks include “Gettin’ Ugly,” “Hold It,” “Wassa Wassa” featuring Colorado legend Innerstate Ike, and “Whole Lotta” featuring Bay Area legend Balance. Boss on The Low shows Mr. Midas’ clear potential. - Mz Jae
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snoop dogg, 1994
house of blues (los angeles, ca) photo: J lash Snoop Dogg went from being a lanky newcomer to one the most branded names in Hip Hop. When he introduced himself to the rap audience alongside Dr. Dre on an early-90s episode of YO! MTV RAPS, he came off as a too cool, almost shy guy. But now, you’re liable to see Snoop’s face on everything from talk shows to blunt wraps to porn DVDs. While most of his endeavors (such as the Doggystyle shirt seen here) didn’t always catch on outside of his immediate circle, the world always knew about it due to his extensive touring, a luxury he may lose soon if he’s not careful. Snoop has been banned from boarding British Airlines as well as entering Australia and the United Kingdom. A rare example of an entertainer who is able to use his gimmicky characteristics without coming off looking like a complete character, Snoop easily one of Hip Hop’s most popular figures.
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