RAW, UNCENSORED WEST COAST RAP SHIT
NEW BOYZ THE JACKA J-RICH
LMFAO SHORT STORIES
QUIT HATIN’THE WEST
WILLY NORTHPOLE OZONE MAG // 1
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OZONE MAG // 3
editor’s note I’m Just Sayin’tho by D-Ray
s hundreds of millions of people around the world mourn the death of Michael Jackson, the King of Pop, so do I. In my mind and in my heart, the King of Pop will never die, even though I never got the chance to see, touch, or freeze a moment with him! Man, that was a concert I’ve always wanted to experience since I was a child. I would run through the house laughing, dancing, and singing without a care no matter what Michael record was playing. He brought life into households around the world in an amazing way. Every since he was a child, Michael had a gift that you normally don’t find in such a young person. He had soul for real, not the fake “soul” people talk about. When he sang, he got so caught up in the emotion of the record. I think that’s what made the world such huge fans of his! He came with real music! I didn’t want to believe it when I heard that he was rushed to the hospital. I was so devastated, believe it, and I’m not one to get all emotionally caught up and cry over a celebrity, especially one I’ve never even met! But, you have to understand that when I was a child, he brought so many happy times into my single parent home during hard times. I recall that when my mom played Michael Jackson, Smokey Robinson, and Lionel Richie she would just glow! So the memory of MJ has always been a great feeling. He just made everything better through his music! Ever since I was very young, my auntie promised she would take me to a Michael Jackson concert, but it just never worked out. There was hope when I heard he was planning his London tour. I thought, damn, I should just take a vacation and go out to London so I could see him during his last tour! WOW! I procrastinated myself right out of that idea and didn’t get tickets in time.
ing strange about your daddy. What was strange was what he had to deal with!” Brooke Shields was also very touching, with her memory of MJ. I cracked up when she said, “Aye, so what’s up with the glove?” I just thought as his friend, she’d seen a lot and been through a lot with him! Usher also touched me with his song. Magic, yeah, he’s too much with the story he told about the cook asking him what he wanted to eat and he said “grilled chicken.” That’s what he got, as MJ had a bucket of KFC. Magic said, “Man, Michael, you eat KFC?” Too funny to have such memories. My heart goes out to his children. Paris killed me when she spoke and said her final goodbyes to her father. “My daddy was the best daddy! I love him!” That’s something that’s very hard to do. I know when my granddaddy passed, I couldn’t even talk at his funeral. I can honestly say that I regret not being able to say my final goodbye to him at the funeral out loud, but I guess I did say my goodbyes when he took his final breath. It just felt like he waited for me to come in his room to say he loved me before taking that last breath. I’m grown, and I know how hard that was to deal with, so I can’t imagine being eleven years old and dealing with death. We shouldn’t take our everyday lives for granted, nor the lives of the family we have around us. Tomorrow is not promised! We are all on borrowed time, and when God calls for us, it’s time to go home! Only God can judge us, so love life and live it with no regrets. Make sure you tell your people you love them. I know it’s a task with the stressful lives we live, but always try to show it. Make the effort to let them know it! With that being said, I love you mom, for never turning your back on your kids and putting us first over everything in your life. Being a single parent is a struggle, and you did a great job!
The day he died, I was at DJ Backside’s house in Los Angeles. I told her, “I bet you anything the kid that accused him of the child molestation charges will come clean and say he was lying! He won’t be able to live with the lie any longer.” Right after that, I heard that he did come forward to clear up the allegations.
R.I.P. The King of Pop Michael Jackson! Thank you for bringing such great memories to my hard times as a child.
Michael Jackson will live on through his music forever. His funeral was very touching. He had an amazing support team that came out to show everlasting love and respect for him. The speakers had some great and touching things to say to him. It was great when Al Sharpton turned to Michael Jackson’s three children and said, “There was noth-
P.S.: I feel that the BET Awards sold all their viewers short without a Chris Brown MJ Tribute. Chris Brown would’ve shut it down, hands down! Much love, Chris! The world needs to learn how to forgive, especially when it’s not their business. If you didn’t see it yourself, please don’t tell me what it looks like! Again, only God can judge us!
DJ Quik & me in L.A.
Me & Terrace Martin in L.A.
Ya Boy f/ Dr. Hollywood “Run LA” Willie Joe f/ Traxamillion “Giggin’” Juice f/ Bun B “Crush My Cool” Mistah FAB “Hit Me On Twitter” DJ Quik f/ Kurupt “9 Times Outta 10” Glasses Malone f/ Rick Ross, Baby, & T-Pain “Sun Come Up” The Jacka f/ Andre Nickatina “Glamorous Lifestyle”
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- D-Ray, OZONE West Editor-At-Large email@example.com
Andre Nickatina & me @ Club Me & Felecia @ Cinco de Suede in San Francisco, CA Mayo in San Jose, CA
TOP 10 SLAPS
Big Rich “Something Special” Damani “You The One” E-40 “On Oil”
(above L-R): Shawnna & Ludacris @ K 107 Summer Jam in Denver, CO; G Malone & Jay Rock in Los Angeles, CA (Photos: D-Ray); Hurricane Chris & Soulja Boy @ Hot 103 Summer Jam in Kansas City, MO (Photo: Ms Rivercity)
01 // DJ Quik, guest, & Jay Rock on the set of DJ Quik & Kurupt’s ‘9x Out Of 10’ video shoot (Los Angeles, CA) 02 // DJ D-Wrek, DJ Backside, & Pizo @ Tatou’s (Los Angeles, CA) 03 // Cellski & Dame Fame @ The Room for The Jacka’s ”Tear Gas” listening session (San Francisco, CA) 04 // Damani reppin’ his Adidas shoe @ Tatou’s (Los Angeles, CA) 05 // Kafani, Gary Archer, Laroo, DJ Juice, Gold Toes, Matt Blaque, & guests @ San Jose Civic Auditorium (San Jose, CA) 06 // Raekwon, Bad Lucc, DJ Quik, & Warren G @ West Lake Studios (Los Angeles, CA) 07 // Nio Tha Gift & Willy Northpole @ The Room for The Jacka’s “Tear Gas” listening session (San Francisco, CA) 08 // Trae & J Prince (Los Angeles, CA) 09 // Gorilla Zoe & P-Nut @ Club Elixir (Anchorage, AK) 10 // Kuzzo Fly, T. Woods, Mistah FAB, Kilo Kurt, & Big Dant @ Mistah FAB’s “Hit Me On Twitter” video shoot (East Oakland, CA) 11 // Tito Bell & Willie Joe @ Fahrenheit for Nio Tha Gift’s album release (San Jose, CA) 12 // Mitchy Slick & D-Lo @ Mistah FAB’s “Hit Me On Twitter” video shoot (East Oakland, CA) 13 // Terrace Martin & Roscoe @ West Lake Studios (Los Angeles, CA) 14 // Willy Northpole,The Jacka & FedX @ The Room for The Jacka’s ”Tear Gas” listening session (San Francisco, CA) 15 // Gary Archer, Furious, & Balance @ Bay Area Music Conference (Berkeley, CA) 16 // Erk Tha Jerk & Nio Tha Gift @ Mistah FAB’s “Hit Me On Twitter” video shoot (East Oakland, CA) 17 // DJ Moe1, DJ Drama, & DJ Juice @ Icon Lounge for DJ Drama’s meet & greet (San Francisco, CA) 18 // AP9 & Rahmean @ The Room for The Jacka’s ”Tear Gas” listening session (San Francisco, CA) 19 // DJ KTone & DJ Mars @ K 107 Summer Jam (Denver, CO) Photo Credits: Bad Lucc (13); D-Ray (01,02,03,04,05,06,07,08,10,11,12,14,15,16,17,18,19); Julia Beverly (09)
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s much as I love hanging out in New York or D.C., partying all night in Miami, ATL, or H-Town, and as much as I love Midwest women and all my Detroit, Chicago, and Milwaukee homies, I’m still a 100% Cali Nigga. I love being from the West Coast. It’s been over ten years since the nation’s love for West Coast Hip Hop transformed into a hatred that has been analyzed and explained in a million different ways. The most popular version I’ve heard is that the West Coast is just plain whack and we don’t have skills, but I’ve even heard people claim that because we killed Tupac and Biggie there’s a curse on West Coast rap music. But, whatever reasons people have for hating on the West, that isn’t what I want to talk about. I believe if the right artist comes out with the right music, it doesn’t matter where you’re from. The music will speak for itself. Speaking for myself and quite a few other West Coast rappers, we have been eating and continue to eat good off Hip Hop. I’d rather have a long career than one huge hit record and then your career is over. It’s cool with me if you say fuck the West Coast or if you feel that the Dirty South or the East Coast is whack. I don’t have a problem with your opinion because I love Hip Hop period and in my world, there is no regional dominance. I love rap music from everywhere. I’m into the beats, the rhythms, and the subjects, not just whoever the media says is hot. I love originality as well as the same old everyday shit that seems to work over and over again. I just want all of us to acknowledge the fact that the West Coast made some very significant contributions to Hip Hop. Too Short’s pimpin’, Tupac’s tattoos and his swag, Dr. Dre’s production, Snoop’s silky smooth delivery, E-40’s slang and the overall West Coast street game and our dedication to the funk have all influenced Hip Hop. The East Coast gave us Hip Hop, no doubt about that. I heard the Jamaicans invented the whole deejaying and emceeing concepts that Hip Hop was born from. Right now I feel like the Dirty South is making sure Hip Hop stays fun and making sure that we don’t let go of the importance of dancing and rap music. I think the Midwest is making sure the originality and integrity of Hip Hop isn’t lost in the monotony of lately. In the meantime, the East and West Coast artists are attempting to maintain careers and bring fresh new artists to the forefront. Wherever this Hip Hop journey takes us, you can never come to the conclusion that the West Coast was never relevant or the West Coast didn’t contribute to the culture. When and if it’s ever all said and done, I believe every region will be recognized for their advancements and contributions to the Hip Hop culture. So, do me a favor and quit hating on everybody that’s not your homie or your favorite rapper or from your region, and learn to appreciate the good things in our world that aren’t promoted by Corporate America a.k.a. Major Labels. Hit me up on my crackberry at ShortStories@ozonemag.com
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“the West Coast HAS made some very significant contributions to Hip Hop: Too Short’s pimpin’, Tupac’s tattoos and his swag, Dr. Dre’s production, Snoop’s silky smooth delivery, E-40’s slang and the overall West Coast street game.”
(above L-R): Gary Payton & Too Short @ the Palms for Too Short & DJ Franzen’s private TV show launch party in Las Vegas, NV; Memphitz remembering Michael Jackson on the red carpet @ the BET Awards in Los Angeles, CA; Bow Wow & Baby Bash @ K 107 Summer Jam in Denver, CO (Photos: D-Ray)
01 // JT Tha Bigga Figga & Cellski @ The Room for The Jacka’s ”Tear Gas” listening session (San Francisco, CA) 02 // GoldToes & DJ Amen @ Club Suede (San Francisco, CA) 03 // DJ KTone, Stooie Bros, Baby Bash, & Cory @ K 107 Summer Jam (Denver, CO) 04 // Bad Lucc & Krondon of Strong Arm Steady @ SAS Studio (Los Angeles, CA) 05 // Matt Blaque, Shady Nate, 211, & DJ Devro @ Street Symphony Studios (Fremont, CA) 06 // Soulja Boy signing autographs @ San Jose Civic Auditorium (San Jose, CA) 07 // Baydilla, the boat captain, & Gorilla Zoe on the Portage Glacier cruise (Anchorage, AK) 08 // DJ Drama & JT Tha Bigga Figga @ Icon Lounge for DJ Drama’s meet & greet (San Francisco, CA) 09 // Kurupt & Gail Gotti @ G1 Studio (Los Angeles, CA) 10 // Jamal, Gary Archer, Laroo, & Amon @ Icon Lounge for DJ Drama’s meet & greet (San Francisco, CA) 11 // DJ Chonz & DJ KTone @ K 107 Summer Jam (Denver, CO) 12 // Bad Lucc & We Da West reps on the set of DJ Quik & Kurupt’s “9x Out Of 10” video shoot (Los Angeles, CA) 13 // DJ Crook & Big Rich @ The Room for The Jacka’s ”Tear Gas” listening session (San Francisco, CA) 14 // Odd & Even @ Bay Area Music Conference (Berkeley, CA) 15 // Nio Tha Gift & The Jacka @ The Room for The Jacka’s ”Tear Gas” listening session (San Francisco, CA) 16 // DJ Smallz & Pookie from Urban South @ Ms Honey Siccle’s release party (Oklahoma City, OK) 17 // DJ Quik, Richie Abbott, & Kurupt @ G1 Studios (Los Angeles, CA) 18 // Baydilla & Megga @ Club Elixir (Anchorage, AK) 19 // Jimmy Roses, Goldtoes, & Serg Knight @ Cinco de Mayo (San Jose, CA) Photo Credits: D-Ray (01,02,03,04,05,06,08,09,10,11,12,13,14,15,17,19); Edward Hall (16); Julia Beverly (07,18)
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imilar to the basketball player who shares his moniker, Bay Area rapper J Rich has been traveling a lot over the last couple of years. Though he still calls the Bay home, Rich had to do some jet setting to get his career going the way he wanted it to. He’d been soaking up game from the area’s well known independent scene for years before he even put his first project out, but it took a move to New York to get things going. “I moved to NYC in 2006, just me on my own,” he recalls, mentioning being the studio with everyone from The Game to Fabolous and sharing studio time at Sony Studios with both 50 Cent and Beyonce. “My nigga Sky Balla moved with me and he got a small deal. I was piggy-backing off him while I was out there and ran into everyone in the industry. I put together three projects in one year, a DVD and everything. I came back to the West Coast in 2007 with wrapped vans and everything, dropping all four of my projects.” Unfortunately, upon his return, J Rich saw a number of his friends and associates caught up in a deadly crime wave. Figuring that sticking around would be bad for business, he made another move, this time to Miami. “Niggas is used to what they’re used to,” sighs Rich, of his peers who are regional superstars, but national unknowns. “I’ve begged niggas to come with me, but they can’t leave home. They’re in love with their comfort zone. If they leave their comfort zone, they think they can’t succeed.” Dedicating the entire year of 2008 to networking (“I didn’t make any music,” says Rich), the 28-year old rapper forged a relationship with Young Money Records, among others, and says he was recently invited to open up on this summer’s Young Money tour. In addition, J Rich is currently promoting his new single “I’m A Trapper,” which uses the familiar hustler’s theme of comparing the studio to the trap. But, the sound of the song is something that you may not expect from a Bay Area artist as it sounds like something more suited for a Southern artist. “I’m diverse,” insists J Rich, the younger brother of Coleone, the man accused of killing the man who murdered Mac Dre. “I’ve lived in New York, Miami and Texas. I’m trying to please everybody. My block loves me for who I am so they know what it is.” Words by Maurice G. Garland Photo by Hiltron Bailey
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(above L-R): Erk Tha Jerk & Traxamillion @ Club Suede in San Francisco, CA; Roscoe & Kurupt @ G1 Studio in Los Angeles, CA (Photos: D-Ray); Gorilla Zoe rockin some native furs in Anchorage, AK (Photo: Julia Beverly)
01 // Willie Joe & Don P @ Club G3 (Los Angeles, CA) 02 // Ena Jade, D-Ray, Dru Down, & DJ Backside @ Club G3 (Los Angeles, CA) 03 // Big Rich loves the kids @ San Jose Civic Auditorium (San Jose, CA) 04 // Baydilla & P-Nut @ Club Elixir (Anchorage, AK) 05 // DJ Devro, Willy Northpole, & Tiffany J @ The Room for The Jacka’s “Tear Gas” listening session (San Francisco, CA) 06 // DJ Quik & Kurupt @ Ruby Sky (San Francisco, CA) 07 // Jay-Z, DJ Franzen, & Lupe Fiasco @ The Palms (Las Vegas, NV) 08 // Keri Hilson & DJ Mars @ K 107 Summer Jam (Denver, CO) 09 // Laroo & Paul Wall @ Club Suede (San Francisco, CA) 10 // Nio Tha Gift & CoCo @ Bay Area Music Conference (Berkeley, CA) 11 // G-Stack, Gary Archer, Paul Wall, Mistah FAB, & Diesal @ Club Suede (San Francisco, CA) 12 // Danny Dee & DJ Impereal @ The Room for The Jacka’s “Tear Gas” listening session (San Francisco, CA) 13 // Gold Toes & his wife @ San Jose Civic Auditorium (San Jose, CA) 14 // Roccett & crew on the set of Roccett’s “Bang” video shoot (Los Angeles, CA) 15 // Guest, Kurupt, Bad Lucc, Damani, Roscoe, DJ Quik, & guest on the set of DJ Quik & Kurupt’s ‘9x Out Of 10’ video shoot (Los Angeles, CA) 16 // DJ Rick Lee, DJ Juice, & ladies @ Club Suede (San Francisco, CA) 17 // Nio Tha Gift & his family @ Fahrenheit for Nio Tha Gift’s album release (San Jose, CA) 18 // Gorilla Zoe & Megga @ Club Elixir (Anchorage, AK) 19 // Brannon Scales & Jay Rock (Los Angeles, CA) Photo Credits: D-Ray (01,02,03,05,06,08,09,10,11,12,13,14,15,16,17,19); DJ Franzen (07); Julia Beverly (04,18)
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ver the last few months you’ve probably heard the term “new west” getting thrown around. Typically it’s been used to describe the offerings of artists such as Nipsey Hussle, Jay Rock and Glasses Malone—artists who may be new, but are obviously cut from the traditional West Coast bandana cloth. But just as the early-90s “gangsta rap” era also came with groups like the Pharcyde, this “new west” movement also has act like Pac Div trailing alongside it. And in the coming months, expect an even “newer” west to come along thanks to Los Angeles-based teenagers Ben J and Legacy, appropriately named the New Boyz. “Everything is becoming positive out here. People are growing out of that old mentality,” says Ben J. “Rapping about gangs ain’t really what it’s about out here now. Everybody is having fun.” Legacy adds, “I think music like ours is coming from people being tried of the same ol’ thing. People thought they had to bang to be the cool kid but now the smart kid is the cool kid. People being creative are the people coming up right now.” Their hit song “You’re A Jerk” has teens from coastto-coast doing the accompanying dance and since their appearance at the 2009 BET Awards, a couple grown folks might get caught doing the dance too. The nimble dance step originated from the L.A. club scene, hugely inspired by the bassline from D4L’s “Beam Me Up Scotty,” hense the scratching of Fabo’s voice at the end of the song. “‘[You’re A] Jerk’ is the least lyrical song we have,” insists Ben J. “We were already making fun songs, but with ‘You’re A Jerk’ we just wanted to bring it outside of L.A.” Currently prepping their debut album Skinny Jeans & A Mic, the New Boyz are poised to take both their music and image beyond La La Land. Judging from the straight-to-the-point title of the album, people should know what to expect. “We don’t care about who’s talking about us. It gets old after while,” says Legacy, of those who criticize their style. “It’s like the bully in school. They talk and talk, but after a while they look stupid.” Electing to shy away from getting big name features on the album, the New Boyz vow to put on for their city by recruiting peers emerging from the same scene. Will they be able to usher in their own variation of the “new west?” We shall see. Words by Maurice G. Garland
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(above L-R): Paul Wall & Traxamillion @ Club Suede in San Francisco, CA; E-40 & Omeezy @ Tatou’s in Los Angeles, CA (Photos: D-Ray); Gorilla Zoe & Baydilla @ Club Elixir in Anchorage, AK (Photo: Julia Beverly)
01 // Amon, Gary Archer, Portia, & Big Rich @ Bay Area Music Conference (Berkeley, CA) 02 // DOT, DJ Imperial & John Brown @ Street Symphony Studios (Fremont, CA) 03 // DJ Quik, Russ, & Kurupt @ Ruby Sky (San Francisco, CA) 04 // Erk Tha Jerk, Big Rich, & Drew Gooden @ Fahrenheit for Nio Tha Gift’s album release (San Jose, CA) 05 // 211 & K-Boy (Los Angeles, CA) 06 // DJ D-Wrek & E-40 @ Tatou’s (Los Angeles, CA) 07 // JT Tha Bigga Figga, The Jacka, AP9, & FedX @ The Room for The Jacka’s ”Tear Gas” listening session (San Francisco, CA) 08 // Andre Nickatina & Paul Wall @ Club Suede (San Francisco, CA) 09 // Julia Beverly & Gorilla Zoe @ Club Elixir (Anchorage, AK) 10 // Boo, Kilo Kurt, Mitchy Slick, & Willie Joe @ Mistah FAB’s “Hit Me On Twitter” video shoot (East Oakland, CA) 11 // Gary Archer, DJ Rick Lee, & The Jacka @ The Room for The Jacka’s ”Tear Gas” listening session (San Francisco, CA) 12 // Beat Roc, Nio Tha Gift, & Walt @ Mistah FAB’s “Hit Me On Twitter” video shoot (East Oakland, CA) 13 // DJ Maniakal & DJ Juice @ San Jose Civic Auditorium (San Jose, CA) 14 // Nio Tha Gift & Bad Lucc @ Street Symphony Studios (Fremont, CA) 15 // Kurupt, DJ Quik, & their band backstage @ Ruby Sky (San Francisco, CA) 16 // Traxamillion & Bad Lucc @ Street Symphony Studios (Fremont, CA) 17 // Devi Dev, guest, Guerilla Black, & Hot Dollar @ Tatou’s (Los Angeles, CA) 18 // DJ Drama, Willie the Kid, & LA the Darkman @ Icon Lounge for DJ Drama’s meet & greet (San Francisco, CA) Photo Credits: D-Ray (01,02,03,04,05,06,07,08,10,11,12,13,14,15,16,17,18); Julia Beverly (09)
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WORDS BY MAURICE G. GARLAND PHOTO BY TY WATKINS
It’s 113 degrees in Phoenix, AZ, but Willy Northpole isn’t sweating a thing. He’s the coolest he’s been in a long time. His long-awaited debut album Tha Connect is finally in stores.
“It feels good,” he says via telephone, with the smile on his face evident from the joy in his voice. “I know what I did. I know how important this was for me and my city. Word of mouth is the best promotion I can have now. I have a product that I can actually sell. I have something on the shelf. I’m in grind mode now.” Willy burst onto the scene in 2007 with a Disturbing Tha Peace record deal and an OZONE West cover. From there he found himself answering two questions: “People rap in Phoenix?” and “Who the hell is Willy Northpole?” “That’s why I named my album Tha Connect,” says Northpole, who spent time as a G-Unit affiliate before joining DTP. “Everybody was asking what happens in Phoenix. I’m going to be the connect that tells everyone about what goes on here.” So tell us, because we’d hate to assume, what did you listen to growing up in Phoenix? When I was growing up I listened to Geto Boys, a lot of the West Coast and Death Row stuff, N.W.A. Then we got to into Pac. Then I got on Redman, he was one of the first artists that I kinda crossed over and listened to from the East Coast. Then I got incarcerated and when I got out I was listening to Biggie and Jay-Z. Since we’re between the South and the West, it depends on what catches out here. A lot of people from Phoenix are not from here. They come from Chicago, the South, some East coast people too, but there’s a lot of Chicago guys out here. The release of your debut album has been a two-year process. Would you say you’ve grown through the process? A lot of niggas can’t walk these shoes. As a new artist you gotta restrain yourself from running up in people’s office with baseball bats [laughs] but I love doing what I do. I just l love what I do. I definitely accomplished growth in the music and accomplished things like landing videos on TV. At the end of the day, we’re still human, I have to go through a lot of BS to get shit done. Radio is scared to play new artists. Radio used to play stuff because it was good, but now it’s so many politics. I just came in at a time when it’s fucked up. So far the reviews on your album have been pretty favorable. People are saying it’s an actual “album.” Is that what you set out to do? I come from an era where I loved albums. That’s the format I laid out on
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the album, instead of focusing on singles. I started off with the intro and showed them my lyrical side, no hooks, damn near a freestyle. It’s 3 minutes of me spitting all the way through. Then we went to “Hood Shit.” I’m starting from the bottom, it’s a story in the album. That was the grimier side, going from banging and stupid shit and jail. Then we get to “Hood Dreamer” where I’m looking for a way out. From there it leads up to “The Life” with Ne-Yo. I have “My Beliefs” where I’m showing what went on in the Bible days and comparing it to what’s going on now. Then I have “The Story” and my dead homie tribute. I have some Slick Rick-like storytelling on there too. Nothing talking about rims and money. I really wanted to show me on this album. “The Life” could’ve been my single, but I couldn’t do that yet. I wanted to do that after the album was out, so that way I could go back to songs like “Body Marked Up” if I wanted to. I wanted to start from the bottom to the top. You see how Jay-Z started with Reasonable Doubt? He blew up and did Kingdom Come later on. Niggas hated on that, so he came back with American Gangster. He can go back to that when needs too. But cats that come out with their “lady records” first can’t do that. Many times when an artist signs to a label run by an artist, they get overshadowed by the bigger artist. We can’t necessarily say that’s the case with you. It’s easy to forget you’re even affiliated with Ludacris. I always told myself that I didn’t want to be like [DTP’s] other artists. I just wanted to be signed to the label and let me do what I do. He’s not on my album or my singles, but everybody knows who I’m signed to. I wanted to establish myself by getting my music out. It’s gonna be a process but I think it’s a plus. When you think of me you don’t just think of Ludacris. But we’ve done stuff together, I can call him and he’ll do whatever I ask. Do you think music is getting back to being homogenous, where it doesn’t always matter where you are from? You know, getting back to being strictly about the music? Because you haven’t shoved “I’m from Phoenix” down our throats. I’m not gonna rep my hood all the time and shove it down your throat. That’s like a Puerto Rican putting all Puerto Rican stuff on their album and not appealing to the Dominicans, but they’re Latin too. All I have to do is make music and just rep where I’m from. Music was fucked up for a minute. I think it’s coming back out the way it’s supposed to. If people let these new guys come out it will be good. Don’t get me wrong, some of these new niggas are weird as fuck, but they’re making good music though. We’ve got niggas rapping again. All we’ve got to do is keep that base. //
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or years, the Hollywood, California duo now known as LMFAO would kick it at The Coffee Bean on Sunset and Fairfax, where a then unknown Perez Hilton would blog from his office, the corner table. “Perez and I didn’t have too much to talk about, because I’m obviously a straight man, but we were actually friends,” says Redfoo. “We even watched them film the pilot to his reality show. They filmed it on our street,” adds Sky Blu. And though Sky and Foo may not share the same sexual preference as Perez, the experimental DJs-turned-emcees definitely fit in amongst a similar crowd - a coffee shop convergence of loud and colorful people whose style summarizes the current Southern California scene. LMFAO describes their music and style simply as fun, stating, “We put the F.U. in FUN, and if you don’t like it, F.U.’N ya mama.” Redfoo is actually Sky Blu’s biological uncle, but the two are only a few years apart. They began making music together 4 years ago in various nightclubs throughout LA and quickly earned a reputation as raucous DJs, recognized for their energy and ability to effectively mix electro, pop, and Hip Hop genres. Eventually, the pair began to produce their own tracks, and adopted the name LMFAO (“Laughin’ My Fuckin’ Ass Off” in internet terminology, for the few who don’t already know). “Our name was originally gonna be Sexy Dudes, because that was the name that best suited us,” says Red Foo, completely serious. “Our friends thought the name was kinda lame, but we thought they were just jealous, so Sky jumped on iChat and asked his grandma what she thought of it. She simply replied, “LMFAO, are you seri-
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ous, my nigga?” And that instantly became our name—the entire question: “LMFAO, Are You Serious My Nigga?” But then we went to the swap meet to get shirts made with our group’s new name and the dude said [in a Korean accent] “5 dolla a letta.” So at that moment we cut it down to just ‘LMFAO’ and it was 25 bucks a shirt instead of $120.” And while LMFAO’s sound is completely Hollywood, it wasn’t until the SoCal kids discovered South Florida that the world began to appreciate their music. The DJing duet actually wrote their definitive anthem to Miami nights while planning a trip there in 2007, before ever visiting the city. “We were just imagining how it would be. You know how when you go on vacation, you do research on where you’re going before you actually go? That’s what we did before we went to Miami,” remembers Red Foo. “We asked our friends what Miami was like and they all hyped us up. We were so excited to go that we wrote a song before we had ever even been there.” Sky Blu adds. “We wanted to make a song for tourists to sing and brag to their friends back home like, “What you doin’? I’m in Miami, bitch!’” Within two years Sky and Foo bragged “I’m in Miami, Bitch,” all the way to a contract with Interscope Records and a debut album, Party Rock, which was released earlier this summer. To this day, the group has mixed and mastered every song they’ve ever recorded, including the almost 100 versions of “I’m In Miami, Bitch” that cater to different cities throughout the world. Though the group has yet to convert many of their critics, they have certainly amassed a huge following. And for those who still don’t take them seriously, LMFAO promises to have the last laugh. Words by Eric Perrin
y (above L-R): DJ Drama @ Icon Lounge for DJ Drama’s meet & greet in San Francisco, CA; DJ Quik & Kurupt on the set of their video shoot for “Bees To The Flowers” in Los Angeles, CA; Julia Beverly & Soulja Boy @ Club Bash for JB’s Denver Bday Bash in Denver, CO (Photos: D-Ray)
01 // Jazze Pha @ Union Station for BET Awards afterparty (Los Angeles, CA) 02 // Mistah FAB @ The Room for The Jacka’s “Tear Gas” listening session (San Francisco, CA) 03 // KT & DJ Franzen @ the Palms for Too Short & DJ Franzen’s private TV show launch party (Las Vegas, NV) 04 // Kafani the Ice King & his daughter Sparkle @ San Jose Civic Auditorium (San Jose, CA) 05 // Mac Mall @ San Jose Civic Auditorium (San Jose, CA) 06 // Paul Wall @ Club Suede (San Francisco, CA) 07 // T-Pain @ K 107 Summer Jam (Denver, CO) 08 // Roccett @ AllHipHop Mansion Party (Los Angeles, CA) 09 // Dah Dah on the set of DJ Quik & Kurupt’s video shoot for “Bees To The Flowers” (Los Angeles, CA) 10 // Willy Northpole, DJ Jaycee, I-20, & Ludacris @ K 107 Summer Jam (Denver, CO) 11 // JBar & Arab @ K 107 Summer Jam (Denver, CO) 12 // Devi Dev @ Union Station for BET Awards afterparty (Los Angeles, CA) 13 // Baydilla @ Club Elixir (Anchorage, AK) 14 // Shawnna @ K 107 Summer Jam (Denver, CO) 15 // Baby Bash @ K 107 Summer Jam (Denver, CO) 16 // John Costen & Big Rich @ The Room Ultra Lounge for OZONE’s Get Famous showcase (San Francisco, CA) 17 // Uncle Hush @ The Room Ultra Lounge for OZONE Get Famous showcase (San Francisco, CA) 18 // Laroo @ Icon Lounge for DJ Drama’s meet & greet (San Francisco, CA) 19 // Prime (Los Angeles, CA) 20 // Furious @ Icon Lounge for DJ Drama’s meet & greet (San Francisco, CA) 21 // Soulja Boy @ San Jose Civic Auditorium (San Jose, CA) 22 // DJ Juice @ Icon Lounge for DJ Drama’s meet & greet (San Francisco, CA) 23 // The Dragons @ Street Symphony Studio (Fremont, CA) 24 // Smurf, Dr Teeth, & Rick Edwards @ AllHipHop Mansion Party (Los Angeles, CA) 25 // Honest Bob @ The Room Ultra Lounge for OZONE Get Famous showcase (San Francisco, CA) 26 // Even Odd @ The Room Ultra Lounge for OZONE Get Famous showcase (San Francisco, CA) 27 // DJ SlowPoke @ The Room for The Jacka’s “Tear Gas” listening session (San Francisco, CA) 28 // Big Body Gotti @ Club Suede (San Francisco, CA) 29 // DJ Quote @ K 107 Summer Jam (Denver, CO) 30 // DJ KTone, Nikki Swarn, & Curtis @ K 107 Summer Jam (Denver, CO) 31 // DJ Bobby Black @ Club Elixir (Anchorage, AK) 32 // DJ B-Eazy @ the Palms for Too Short & DJ Franzen’s private TV show launch party (Las Vegas, NV) 33 // Dre Dae @ Poetry for JB’s Vegas Bday party (Las Vegas, NV) 34 // CoCo @ Bay Area Music Conference (Berkeley, CA) 35 // Bad Lucc @ Street Symphony Studios (Fremont, CA) Photo Credits: D-Ray (02,03,04,05,06,07,08,09,11,15,18,19,20,21,22,23,24,27,28,29,30,32,33,34,35); Julia Beverly (01,10,12,13,14,16,17,25,26,31)
OZONE MAG // 15
THA JACKA OF ALL TRADES
Words by Maurice G. Garland
It’s been a long time since the Bay had an artist who put out an album that could appeal to everyone. With his latest album, Tear Gas, Tha Jacka made every attempt, phone call and song that he could to let the world know an artist from the Bay can reach past the Mountain Time Zone. So far the album has been lauded as both a great piece of work and a blatant effort to get more fans. As he sat at an airport waiting to catch a flight to Portland, Oregon for a show, Tha Jacka spoke with us about the inspiration and actions behind Tear Gas, his Muslim faith and the reason major labels are afraid to sign independent Bay Area artists. Now that the album is out, what kind of feedback have you been getting? The first response is that the people loved it, but then after that people didn’t know what they were listening to. After weeks went past I started getting a lot of great responses. People have been telling me it’s really quality material. I didn’t get any real input at first when it came out, but now after it’s been out for a while people are speaking up. As good as people are saying the album is, some are saying that the only flaw is that you have too many features. Do you still feel comfortable with your decision to go that route? Yeah, and it’s an independent album and it did real good, that what makes it special. So I think it was a good decision. The people I got on there, most people do a radio song with them. But I let them do what they felt like doing. We gotta do what we feel sometimes. It’s about making good music. I think people appreciated that. Your first single “All On Me” isn’t something that people would expect from you, based off your past catalog. What went into your decision to make that song? When I did that song, I ain’t know it was gonna be on the album. I did that just to promote me or what I had out at the time. I didn’t expect it to make the album. It wasn’t a song for Tear Gas off top. Yeah, that song seemed to be on the other end of the spectrum of the message your album cover and art puts out. The images were very alarming. Why did you choose to go that direction? At the time we did that, even now, there was like a war between the police and the minorities. It was like the youth against the police. Out here in the Bay Area when the police mistreat someone, we really go out and protest, we really go hard. The Oscar Grant situation might have triggered all of that. Then someone in Oakland knocked down five police officers, that’s what the inside cover was taken from. We’re just tired of this shit, we’re not going out like that. When something happens, we’re going to riot for what’s right. We’re used to this out here. And the reason why I’m on the cover with nothing on my face is that I’m saying I’m immune to the gas. I don’t need a mask. Rioting, activism, independence, and survival are all things that come to mind when you think of people from Oakland. All the way from the Black Panther Party up to the Too $horts and E-40s. Do you think such strong traits are what has kept the Bay from getting back on the radar of major companies and labels? Yeah, I think it’s kind of scary to some labels to have artists like “us.” A lot of us are independent, and you gotta do whatever it takes to get your album out, if you know what I mean. So yeah, it scares them away sometimes. We don’t have a major label here [in the Bay] but people love the music. They don’t mind that it’s independent. But I can see why labels don’t rush to do something with Bay artists. It’s been said that wanting to stay so close to home cripples some Bay Area artists and the movement in general. Do you agree? What is your approach? I like going out. I think it’s better going out. An artist like myself, my music doesn’t even appeal to the Bay sometimes. I don’t get the majority of my sales from the Bay. I prefer to be gone and getting known and building relationships, following the footsteps E-40, Too $hort and C-Bo laid out for
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us. They go to Detroit, Denver, Oklahoma City, Kansas City. We’re trying to piggyback off that. We hit Arizona, the whole West Coast and the Midwest. But we don’t go to the South a lot. I know C-Bo used to go to the South all the time and that’s why he had a fanbase there. But the South has come up and [created] their own identity and they’ve been supporting their own. You gotta let them do their thing. You can’t force feed niggas your music. When you get something they like, cool. That’s why I did the song with Devin the Dude and Paul Wall. Throughout your music, you make it known that you are Muslim. Some may find that hard to swallow, given some of the material that you rap about. Well, I talk about that to wake the youth up, or people that don’t have a faith. We were all raised in the church, except for the people who missed out because of the crack era. I talk about my faith because it’s more than just rap now. I do get a lot of compliments for adding that into my music. Some people have even told me they’ve become Muslim from listening to my music. I don’t even hit them with the bars as much as I want to. Sometimes I want to do more of that. I don’t just want to leave my listeners out there lost. I remember Beanie Sigel told me one time, “You don’t want to be Haram,” which pretty much means “bad” in Islam. You want your music to leave a good legacy. Your fellow Mob Figa Husalah is out of prison now. I’m sure a lot of people want to know if they will be getting some more Mob Figaz music. We’re working on that right now. Hus got a new single out. It’s a good start to getting us back together, because the people really want it. I want things to get to back to how they were, but he can only get out 2 hours a day and he’s got a family. We’ve all got kids now. It sucks that we can’t be around him the way we want to. Just getting caught up in the lifestyle, it messes me up a little bit. But I’m happy that we at least have him home now. //
Tha Jacka/Tear Gas With high expectations for this album, Tha Jacka does not disappoint. Perhaps the most commercially viable album in his catalog, if not the most mainstream-ready album out of the Bay in years, Jacka finds that balance between his graphic street novels and radio-friendly jams. The only drawback to this album could be Jacka’s anxiousness to work with everybody within email’s reach. While the flooding of cameos rarely overshadows his presence, it would be nice to hear how he sounds by himself. - Maurice G. Garland
Willy Northpole/Tha Connect Disturbing Tha Peace/Def Jam Although he hails from scorching Phoenix, Arizona, Disturbing Tha Peace/Def Jam artist Willy Northpole is seriously cold on the mic. Mixing his “Hood Dreamer” mentality with an obvious appreciation for lyricism, it is clear to see throughout this effort why Willy has gotten the buzz he has in such a short time. With 15 tracks featuring artists like B.O.B., Sean Kingston, and of course Ludacris, Northpole heats up the game on his debut Tha Connect. This album gives a taste of what Arizona has to offer, and shows the West Coast is bigger than L.A. and the Bay. - Tony Burgos
Spider Loc/Land Of The Lost Spider Loc is somewhat of a forgotten soul on G-Unit’s roster, so this Land Of The Lost mixtape/street album is properly titled for the West Coast MC lost in 50 Cent’s mix. This 16-track street album has standouts cuts like the knuckle-up joint “Knocc Out Kid,” and “When I’m Gone,” where Loc takes a minute to clear his thoughts. But there are songs like the out-of-place Los Angeles Lakers tribute song, “Lake Show,” and the sloppy flow on “Get Fucced Up,” which sounds like Loc had one too many drinks before he recorded this track, that would have been better off unheard. Still, a few throwaways tracks aside, this release deserves more from 50 Cent than just a promo post on ThisIs50. com. - Randy Roper
DJ Quik & Kurupt/BlaQKout Mad Science/Fontana Distribution Kurupt’s opening commentary on BlaQKout perfectly sums up this collaborative effort from these two West Coast legends: “This is one of those things that when you put it together, you make gumbo. How can you go wrong?” DJ Quik on the beats, along with Kurupt’s lyricism and Quik’s energetic flow, makes for an imposing tandem. From the first track on, Quik’s production is top-notch, with beats like “Ohh,” “Whatcha Wan Do,” and “Hey Playa!” showing his versatility for both West Coast G-funk and Neptunes-esque quality. Most of the content is in the vein of “it ain’t fun if the homies can’t have none.” In the end, the one question left after hearing this album is why didn’t Kurupt and Quik think of this sooner? - Randy Roper Tha Realest/Witness Tha Realest RBC/Team Dime/E1 Music This long-awaited debut album from former Death Row artist The Realest lives up to its title with songs full of aggressive content (“Mind of Ah Madman”), cold-hearted tales (“IceKold”) and gun-toting realities (“Y I Keep My Burna On Me”). And artists like Fat Joe, C-Bo, Crooked I, Devin The Dude, Sean Paul, Ray J, Yukmouth, and WC, give this album constant breaks from Tha Realest’s abrasive bars and vocal tone reminiscent of 2Pac. Witness Tha Realest is a decently put together album, but for most listeners it may be too difficult to overlook Pac’s heavy influence on Tha Realest’s music. - Randy Roper Yukmouth/The West Coast Don Smoke-a-Lot/Asylum The West Coast Don is Yukmouth’s fifth solo album, but from top to bottom, he approaches the mic with hunger as if it’s his first go round. This album has tons of guest appearances, like “I’m a Gangsta” with Crooked I, Ray J and Dyson, and “All Night” with Glasses Malone and Tha Jacka, that will have you pressing the rewind button. But there are collaborations that look better on paper then they actually sound, like the T-Pain assisted “44.” Still, Cali representers Mistah FAB, Keak Da Sneak, Tha Realest, C-Bo and a host of others help give West Coast Don more material to praise than to criticize. - Randy Roper
OZONE MAG // 17
DJ Quik & Kurupt Venue: Ruby Sky City: San Francisco, CA Date: June 11th, 2009 Photo: D-Ray
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