RAW, UNCENSORED WEST COAST RAP SHIT
D-LO DOWN AKA AKA KILO TERRACE MARTIN SHORT STORIES RESPECT RESPECTTHE THEPIMPIN’ PIMPIN’
DOIN’ DOIN’IT ITIN INAAMAJOR MAJORWAY WAY
editor’s note I’m Just Sayin’tho by D-Ray
et’s talk about the perception of the media. I’m usually the one who has a “who gives a shit?” attitude towards what people think, but the misconceptions always bother me, for some reason. Maybe it’s because whenever people think of you as “media,” they pass judgment, thinking that you’re only into gossip and drama. But that’s where I draw the line with my media coverage.
Every time I’m in LA the city screams for me to stay. I just haven’t been able to bring myself to leave my home, the BAY AREA!
Yes, I read the gossip. I watch it and I hear it! I just don’t speak on it. It’s one of those things about being where I’m from. Besides, I don’t like confrontation, so I’d rather just stay far away from it. I’m “media” because I love the stories my pictures help tell. I have love for Hip Hop and I have love for people making their dreams come true. I have respect for the artists that stay working every day on their dreams. That’s why I do it. It’s my passion to capture all of those special moments.
I know I keep saying this, but it’s the truth: a lot of artists need to quit relying on their music and step their promotion game up big time! Hustlers never stop hustlin’. This business is all about your visual AND your music. You need to create a fanbase, don’t sit around waiting for a fanbase!
I know many careers have been ruined by negative media attention. How fair is that? So when I am thought of as “media” in a negative sense, I take it personally. I try to be a part of the solution (good media) not the problem (bad media). This might be the reason my birthday party was so big to me. I had a crazy time. I want to thank everyone that came out to celebrate with me on my birthday! If you haven’t seen the pictures from the party you can go to OZONE Magazine’s website ozonemag.com and look under D-Ray’s Birthday Party in Beverly Hills! Please go see what all the talk is about! I also have to thank Ballyhoo PR; she did her thing. Big Mike of UGMX, thanks for taking care of all my last-minute needs! You came through BIG TIME! We had a great turnout, with people from Alaska all the way to France! We had pimps, hoes, hustlers, goons, gangstas, OGs, rappers, and did I mention Suge Knight? Yeah, Suge Knight came through! We had gangs and all areas in the house with NO DRAMA. It truly meant a lot. Look out for all the crazy Hustle 101 footage from that night. Another special thanks goes out to London for singing Happy Birthday to me.
Everybody came through my birthday ...you already know J party at Gonapchi in Beverly Hills! Diggs was there... Here’s me and Shorty Mack...
Glasses Malone f/ T-Pain & Birdman “Sun Come Up” Crooked I f/ Snoop Dogg “I Look Good” Snoop Dogg f/ The Dream “Gangsta Luv” Nipsey Hussle “Hussle Is My Last Name” Nipsey Hussle f/ Snoop Dogg & Poo-Bear “Gangsta’s Life” Glasses Malone f/ Slim Tha Mobster “Mutha Fuckin Streets” Bishop Lamont f/ Suga Free, Chevy Jones, Bokey, & Butch Cassidy “Nothing Could Be Better”
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The Bay is my first love, and it’s where I’m from. I will always go hard for the home team! I just feel like it’s time for change. But remember, it’s straight up West Coast all day!
Take Tech N9ne, for instance. He’s one of my favorite artists and he put in the time and the work to build his fanbase. I knew who Tech N9ne was before I even heard his music. His visual and hype were on point! He’s everywhere! He stays on the road, I’d guess, at least 200 days out of the year. Tech, if you’re reading this and I’m wrong with my guesstimation, let me know! You’re a perfect example of how to get it in! Artists need to try to stay on the road as much as possible. It’ll help you create a fanbase with a crazy promotional campaign and music to match. You have to be willing to make certain sacrifices if you’re serious and passionate about your goals. You need to live everyday going for your goals; that’s definitely not happening at your house or just in your city. You have to get hot there first, but after you’ve done that, YOU MUST TAKE THE SHOW ON THE ROAD! Sometimes I’m so disappointed by certain movements and certain artists because they get so big in their region but fail to travel and bring that momentum to other areas so the movement can spread. I know nothing is EASY and nothing is FREE in life. Start by investing in yourself if you want others to invest in you! - D-Ray, OZONE West Editor-At-Large firstname.lastname@example.org
...and of course some of LA’s finest were in the building, like Problem....
...and Jay Rock!
Nipsey Hussle “The Hussle Way” Koolade f/ J-Ro “Get Addicted” Snoop Dogg f/ Nate Dogg “OG” Mack 10 f/ J Holiday “Hood Famous”
(above L-R): San Quinn & Keak Da Sneak on the set of Keak da Sneak’s video shoot in East Oakland, CA; J Diggs & Dirty Girl on the set of J Diggs’ ‘I’m In The Hood’ video shoot in Vallejo, CA; Warren G signing autographs @ Arcata Community Center in Arcata, CA (Photos: D-Ray)
01 // Gary Archer, The Jacka, Sam, & Husalah @ 17Hertz (Hayward, CA) 02 // Shad Gee, Fillmore Rich & Dame Fame @ Toons for Bay Day (San Jose, CA) 03 // Bizarre of D12 @ Arcata Community Center (Arcata, CA) 04 // Jamal & Amon @ Bay Area Producers Conference (Bay Area, CA) 05 // Thizz Kids on the set of J Diggs’ “I’m In The Hood” video shoot (Vallejo, CA) 06 // BOB, Kid Cudi, & Asher Roth @ Regency Ballroom for the Great Hangover Tour (San Francisco, CA) 07 // Soulja Boy & D-Ray @ America’s Most Wanted Tour (Concord, CA) 08 // Remembering Mac Dre @ Crest Park (Vallejo, CA) 09 // Too Short, Black, & E-40 @ America’s Most Wanted Tour (Concord, CA) 10 // Extreme & Warren G (Hayward, CA) 11 // Demolition Men & Rob E @ Bay Area Producers Conference (Bay Area, CA) 12 // Chuckee Valentino & Cee-Lo @ America’s Most Wanted Tour (Concord, CA) 13 // Network & D-Lo @ Gonapchi for D-Ray’s birthday party (Beverly Hills, CA) 14 // Bambino, D-Ray, Jay Rock, Jen, & Punch @ Gonapchi for D-Ray’s birthday party (Beverly Hills, CA) 15 // Warren G & DJ 069 @ Club Underground (Reno, NV) 16 // Miami Mike & E-40 @ America’s Most Wanted Tour (Concord, CA) 17 // Lil Chuckee & Tyga (Los Angeles, CA) 18 // E-40 & ProHoeZak on the set of “Don’t Give A Fuck About No Hoe” video shoot (San Jose, CA) 19 // Willie Joe & Sanchez @ Bay Area Producers Conference (Bay Area, CA) Photo Credits: all photos by D-Ray
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used to daydream a lot when I was a teenager catching the bus and walking around the streets of Oakland. I had dreams of driving the best cars and fucking the finest women, just like any other aspiring player. I practiced on the lil girls in the hood and rapped about it on homemade cassette tapes I used to make with my rap partner Freddy B. I used to see the ballplayers, the big time drug dealers, the pimps, and the successful businessmen, and there was no doubt in my mind that I wanted to be a pimp. I wanted a new Caddy every year and a bunch of long-haired bitches calling me Daddy.
Somehow in the midst of selling tapes all over the Bay Area and daydreaming about being a major pimp from East Oakland, California, the rap game made me so famous, so fast, that I never had a moment to stop and pimp some actual hoes. But I didn’t let that shit stop me from being a pimp. If you’re daydreaming yourself and feeling like a pimp but you don’t have any hoes or dough, that’s not the end of the world. My point is, the most important thing is that you have some game; some real pimp game. You gotta respect the pimpin’, cause it’s something you can apply to your lifestyle even if it has nothing to do with a woman selling her body for money. Pimpin’ is a frame of mind. It’s like yoga or martial arts. If you possess the game, you’ll find yourself much more in control of your emotions. You’ll also find that it’s much easier to control almost every situation you find yourself in, and many of the people you deal with. If you ask me, “How do I get this game, Shortdog?” my answer would be, talk to some pimps and hoes. Read some old books like Iceberg Slim and listen to every Too $hort album ever made. Just do some research and you’re on your way. It’s not about money and it’s not about sex. It’s about respect. Muthafuckers respect the game, especially if they have it and recognize that you have it too. That shit goes a lot way in this society. I know high level executives that have street game and I believe that’s part of the reason they’re so powerful in the business world. There’s even some people who have never lived in the hood or been exposed to the culture of pimps and hoes, but they’ve still managed to possess the game on their own terms.
“[pimpin’] isn’t about money and it’s not about sex. it’s about respect... i know high level executives that have street game AND that’s part of the reason they’re so powerful in the business world.”
The bottom line is, it’s all about controlling your emotions and manipulating situations to favor you. What do you want to do with your life? What are your real dreams about? I’m not trying to encourage you to literally be a pimp and put your hoes to work on the strip. For one, it’s illegal, and there’s a very ugly, negative side to real pimpin’. I’m just saying that the pimp mentality can be applied to your life in many different ways. They say it ain’t trickin’ if you got it. I say, without tricks, pimps wouldn’t exist. So which one are you: the pimp, the hoe, or the trick? Ask yourself. Biiiiiitch!!!!! Hit me up on my crackberry at ShortStories@ozonemag.com
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(above L-R): Droop-E & E-40 on the set of ‘Don’t Give A Fuck About No Hoe’ video shoot in San Jose, CA; Nio Tha Gift & Big Rich @ Toons for Bay Day in San Jose, CA; Traxamillion @ Zen Lounge for We The West launch party in Mountain View, CA (Photos by D-Ray)
01 // Big Mike, E-40, & D-Lo on the set of “Don’t Give A Fuck About No Hoe” video shoot (San Jose, CA) 02 // Keak da Sneak & pa’tnas on the set of Keak da Sneak’s video shoot (East Oakland, CA) 03 // E-40 & Zoe da Roasta on the set of “Don’t Give A Fuck About No Hoe” video shoot (San Jose, CA) 04 // EvenOdd @ Toons for Bay Day (San Jose, CA) 05 // Kuzzo Fly & Haji Springer @ Gonapchi for D-Ray’s birthday party (Beverly Hills, CA) 06 // Warren G & Bad Lucc (Humbolt County, CA) 07 // J Diggs on the set of J Diggs’ “I’m In The Hood” video shoot (Vallejo, CA) 08 // Jae Millz & Bueno @ America’s Most Wanted Tour (Concord, CA) 09 // Lil Twist, E-40, & Lil Chuckee @ America’s Most Wanted Tour (Concord, CA) 10 // Too Short & One Tyme (Oakland, CA) 11 // Rico, J Diggs, & Rock Jacobs on the set of J Diggs’ ‘I’m In The Hood’ video shoot (Vallejo, CA) 12 // Tito Bell, Skinhead Rob, & Gary Archer @ The Fast Life Store (Los Angeles, CA) 13 // Dre & Furious @ Bay Area Producers Conference (Bay Area, CA) 14 // Mohawk Marlon & Cellski @ Zen Lounge for We The West launch party (Mountain View, CA) 15 // Willie Joe & Kuzzo Fly @ Zen Lounge for We The West launch party (Mountain View, CA) 16 // The Jacka, D-Ray, & Husalah @ 17Hertz (Hayward, CA) 17 // Nio Tha Gift & Traxamillion @ Zen Lounge for We The West launch party (Mountain View, CA) 18 // BOB & TJ Chapman @ Regency Ballroom for the Great Hangover Tour (San Francisco 19 // Gary Archer, Yukmouth, D-Ray, & guest @ Gonapchi for D-Ray’s birthday party (Beverly Hills, CA) Photo Credits: all photos by D-Ray
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hroughout the years, countless rap artists have created mega hits. Unfortunately, many fail to follow through with a solid album and maintain a successful career. 20-year-old D-Lo is well aware of the usual pattern and hopes to become one of the hitmakers that moves above and beyond the realm of the one-hit wonders. To date, the biggest song of D-Lo’s career is the fiery “No Ho” from his mixtape The Tonight Show with D-Lo. And from there, the East Oakland native just kind of fell into his current position. “It just came from nowhere,” says the rapper born D-Angelo Porter. “I was never the type, like [to have] been rapping since I was young. [We were] just fucking around in the studio, playing around. I wasn’t thinking about being a rapper. The way the song took off, that’s what made me take rap seriously.” When Porter was seventeen, he started experimenting with rap as he knew it. “I listened to a
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lot of mainstream artists, but I grew up on Bay area music,” like his favorite artist, Mac Dre. One evening in the studio he was inspired to create “No Ho” over a track that had the signature hyphy sound. The record was enough to gain the approval of everyone in his trusted circle and the response motivated him to start marketing the track on his own. “I just ended up getting hella CDs and burning that one song off on them, passing them out wherever I went—bus stations, schools—wherever I was. I always had them on me.” D-Lo also followed the route of many self-promoters and created a Myspace page for himself, generating even more buzz for “No Ho.” It was a busy year for him, both on the music front and on a personal level, “I ended up having to go to jail for like a year,” he says somberly. While he was trying rap on for size, he still meddled in street business and caught a charge for armed robbery, among other things, which
he declined to discuss. “I had been giving [my CDs] to the DJs after everyone started picking up on it,” D-Lo remembers. “Then I ended up having to turn myself in. By the time I got out in a year, it was smacking. Everyone knew the song.” The day he got out, he had a show. Two weeks after that, his daughter, (“my inspiration,” he says) was born. Since then he’s been on the move, consistently getting show money. His next steps? Touring from Alaska to Nevada, promoting his newest single “She Played Me” and prepping his upcoming album with DJ Fresh, Undeniable Talent, slated for an early 2010 release. “I wanna be known, and seriously, as far as my rapping, I want the world to see and hear a real nigga,” he says with force, in his Bay Area twang. “It’s finally taking off like it’s supposed to.” Words by Nadine Graham Photo by D-Ray
(above L-R): Keak da Sneak & his mama on the set of Keak da Sneak’s video shoot in East Oakland, CA; BOB & Kid Cudi @ Regency Ballroom for the Great Hangover Tour in San Francisco, CA; Suge Knight & D-Ray @ Gonapchi for D-Ray’s birthday party in Beverly Hills, CA (Photos: D-Ray)
01 // D-Lo, Zoe da Roasta, Mac Russ, Droop-E, & E-40 on the set of “Don’t Give A Fuck About No Hoe” video shoot (San Jose, CA) 02 // Miami Mike, EI, & Lil Chuckee @ America’s Most Wanted Tour (Concord, CA) 03 // Big Dant, Yukmouth, D-Ray, Chop Black, & Kuzzo Fly @ Gonapchi for D-Ray’s birthday party (Beverly Hills, CA) 04 // Bless & Lil Chuckee @ America’s Most Wanted Tour (Concord, CA) 05 // Ghazi & Cellski @ Bay Area Producers Conference (Bay Area, CA) 06 // Vanessa Monet on the set of J Diggs’ ‘I’m In The Hood’ video shoot (Vallejo, CA) 07 // Mack Maine, guest, & Too Short @ America’s Most Wanted Tour (Concord, CA) 08 // 211, Ice B, Smurf, & D-Ray @ Gonapchi for D-Ray’s birthday party (Beverly Hills, CA) 09 // E-40 & Lil Chuckee @ America’s Most Wanted Tour (Concord, CA) 10 // Ro, Michael Denton, & Nick Ngo @ Bay Area Producers Conference (Bay Area, CA) 11 // Gary Archer, Big Will, DJ Devro, Lil Quinn, & Bennie B @ Bay Area Producers Conference (Bay Area, CA) 12 // K-Max & Erk Tha Jerk @ Bay Area Producers Conference (Bay Area, CA) 13 // Lil Chuckee & Streetz (Los Angeles, CA) 14 // Klypso & his girl @ Bay Area Producers Conference (Bay Area, CA) 15 // Noni Spitz, Taje, Bangloose, G.Malone, D-Ray, Problem, & Bad Lucc @ Gonapchi for D-Ray’s birthday party (Beverly Hills, CA) 16 // J Valentine, Dutch, Big Rich, & Chuck @ Toons for Bay Day (San Jose, CA) 17 // Gary Archer & Cellski @ Zen Lounge for We The West launch party (Mountain View, CA) 18 // D-Lo, Sleepy D, E-40, & Beeda Weeda on the set of “Don’t Give A Fuck About No Hoe” video shoot (San Jose, CA) Photo Credits: all photos by D-Ray
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Words by Ms. Rivercity
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WORDS By Maurice G. Garland PHOTOS BY D-RAY
If you’re old enough to remember, the name Lee Majors should ring a bell. He was a widely popular actor in the 70s and 80s mainly known for his characters Steve Austin the Six Million Dollar Man and Colt Seavers the Fall Guy. If you don’t remember, no worrieS. Bay Area rapper Lee Majors is about to re-introduce the name to you in a major way. With his upcoming album Music For The Mob hitting stores this fall, Majors is poised to cash in on a career that he’s spent nearly 15 years building. Having worked with everyone from Tha Jacka to E-40 to Daz Dillinger as both a rapper and producer, Lee Majors has a resume that many artists drool over. But the Oakland hustler spirit in him won’t allow him to rest on his laurels. He recently sat down with OZONE to talk about his beginnings in the rap game, how he literally got on making “dope fiend beats” and why he doesn’t pay artists to hop on his records, but rather gets
them paid in other ways. Are you from Oakland originally? Tell us what it was like growing up there for you. Yes, I’m from West Oakland. I came up in the late 80s, early 90s, during the D-Boy era. It was crazy; a lot of dope being sold. The old school, when they were riding in Mustangs on gold thangs, that era, when cats was really kicking it. The game has totally changed now. Too $hort Born to Mack was the only thing we had to listen to when I was coming up. What else did you grow up on? Lately there’s been a stigma that Bay Area cats don’t listen to anything but their own music. I grew up on East Coast music. Run-DMC, LL Cool J, Biz Markie, Just Ice, Eric B. and Rakim. My mom collected records. So I had the Sugar Hill Gang, Earth, Wind and Fire, Bootsy Collins, Parliament Funkadelic, stuff like that. When did you start making music on your own? I really started going to the studio in 94-95, something like that. I made my first album in ‘96, right before tapes disappeared. There was a group called APG, Action Pack Gangsters,
and the guy who put that out, put me and my brother Rahmean’s first tape out. It was an underground hit in the Bay. That time period is what many refer to as the Golden Era of Bay Area Hip Hop. What was it like entering the game at that time? Yeah, I was getting my feet wet around that time. Dru Down, who is actually my blood cousin, was big, 3XKrazy was doing their thing, 2Pac had just put out All Eyez on Me and had a lot of the Bay Area on there. It was cool just to have that experience and be getting in the music game around that time. We were still young though. I was 15, my brother was 13, and we were just having fun. Were you considered a “kid group”? What kind of music where you making? Around that time you were either pop like Kris Kross or edgy like Illegal. Yeah, I remember both of those groups. Illegal was pretty hard. We were rapping about some gangster shit at the time. Weed, girls, cars. We were hanging around the older dope boys, so that’s what we rapped about. I was into sports real heavy too, but when I dropped out I focused on rap. When we dropped that first album it was right when CD were talking over for real, the
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tapes were disappearing. We were still in high school, but we were basically known in high schools. We didn’t get on as a group until ‘99 when we put out our first album. I was in a group called Side Industry. We came up under the guys that used to put out Andre Nickatina.
Yukmouth and them, I had to switch it up. I’ve always made real mob music, but when I heard people telling their life story, I figured it’s time for me to start doing that too. I wanted to talk about my struggle, my dope game stories; living in the projects with no lights on.
Your resume boasts that you produce as well. I was always producing, even since I was rapping. We would come up on studio equipment in the street. Dope fiends would sells us keyboards and beat machines, so we had a whole studio built in the back of my mom’s house. This was before ProTools. It was all 4-tracks doing everything the whole way through, no punching in. But I really got established by doing beats for Tha Jacka, Yukmouth and Husalah’s albums. I’ve veered away lately, though.
That seems to be a familiar theme in Oakland. It is, but Oakland has strong roots out here. There are a lot of other things going on out here. When you think of Oakland you have to talk about the Panthers, Too $hort and MC Hammer. For me Oakland is a place that sets trends. Once we do it, someone else comes along and takes it. We were saying “fo’ sheezy” in high school, We don’t even do that anymore.
Where were dope fiends finding beat machines? (laughs) I don’t know. They were probably stealing from somebody else. We ain’t even know how to work the stuff, we just would get it and just build a little studio and make beats. When did your career as a solo artist really start to take off? In 2005, I made a project called Scraper Music, right before the Hyphy stuff blew up, I had my own Scraper movement going. I dropped four albums, including Scrape Thirsty and Scrape King. I had my own Scraper thing going on. This was when I was running with Husalah and he gave me the idea. You say you did this before hyphy, which is interesting. People always assume that “hyphy” started in 2005. But Digital Underground was getting “hyphy,” so to speak, almost twenty years ago. I’m glad you noticed that. Hyphy was never a movement, people just caught onto it slow. Then once they caught on to it they called it a “movement,” but this had been going on. Once they called it a “movement,” it killed it because it didn’t get to a certain level that people thought it would. It pretty much moved down to L.A. Jerk music is the new hyphy. Well, you obviously got out of the “scraper” phase. What made you leave it alone? I started messing with cats who made real music, and it rubs off on you. Back then I was doing my own thing and sticking with that, but when I started hanging around Tha Jacka and
Was it a difficult transition? Once I started doing it, it came easy to me. It was kinda hard to switch from what I was doing to telling stories. I had the producers to make it work, but at the time I was into uptempo music. But I figured I’m getting older, so I need to start making real music. I should have been doing that from the beginning. It’s interesting how you spoke about being around other artists and working with them, that it rubbed off on you. From the outside looking in, you’d be led to think that Bay Area artists don’t have much unity, hence the Area not getting back to the national stage. Everybody messes with each other out here, they just don’t stick together. They only come together to make a song, but don’t work as a unit. It’s not like in the South where they move as a unit. That’s why people have a hard time doing their thing, because they don’t stick together. Not to say that the Bay Area didn’t have plenty of rappers back in the 90s, but do you think the influx of rappers now has anything to do with the lack of support? The thing is that all these cats back then in the Golden Era, those are actually fans. They all bought records. But now, everybody’s rapping or they’re the son, nephew or cousin of a rapper, so it’s hard for them to embrace something new. They want people to embrace their folks. There were a lot of rappers back then, but there’s way more now. You can see who’s out here doing their thing for real, but they made it so easy for you to make music now. People didn’t know about mixing and mastering, photo shoots, printing and all that stuff. Back then it wasn’t in our face how to do it. Even when you look at
an artist like Keak Da Sneak. Back then he was always coming out under someone else. It wasn’t until recently that he started putting his own stuff out. Cats didn’t know the formula [before]. Let’s talk about your upcoming album Music From The Mob. What should people expect? You’re going to see how much I’ve grown, from beginning to end. I’ve got Yukmouth and The Regime on there, Messy Marv, Tha Jacka, Husalah, AP9, and San Quinn. When I do songs, I want features that people will remember. You have a lot of videos out with these artists as well. Do you direct them yourself? Everybody I do videos with, they’re my guy. I really fuck with them on a daily basis. I’m not doing songs with people I don’t really fuck with. Every time someone like Daz is here in the Bay, he hits me up. Everyone else is the same way. I’m with these guys every day. I direct all of my videos too. I scout the locations and everything. I got a half of a movie script written right now. I really want to do movie scores, but right now I’m focusing on the visual side. I saw an interview where you said that you don’t pay artists for features, but instead, you help get them paid. What does that mean? I remember going into this one studio where the guy didn’t have anything in there. He just had a computer, a keyboard and a microphone and was calling it a studio. That’s what I mean when I was talking about how people have access to technology and anyone can record. That wasn’t shit. So when I saw that, I decided to open my own studio. After that, everyone started coming to me to record. At one point everyone was in my building, everyone from JT the Bigga Figga to Bushwick Bill. From there, I started engineering, so I’d be like, “Let’s do a favor for a favor.” But I did pay one person, and that was E-40. I broke bread with him because I grew up on 40 and he respected me. He knew who I was. He didn’t try to break my pockets either. Is there anything else you want to say? Yeah, free Dru Down. They caught him with a burner and they beat him up too. Right now we’re suing the Oakland Police. They already got hella lawsuits against them, but we’re still going at them. He was just about to sign to this new situation with the people who used to run Koch. He’s coming with a new album too Chronicles of A Pimp which is real hot. When you listen you’re going to say, “Dru Down is back!” //
”We CAME up on studio equipment in the street. Dope fiends would sells us keyboards and beat machines, so we had a whole studio built in the back of my mom’s house... before ProTools.“ 12 // OZONE WEST
f you thought African American rappers have a hard time breaking through stereotypes in Hip Hop, imagine what it’s like to be a Mexican American rapper. Without wearing blue bandana or red flannel, people see the color of their skin and just assume you’re just gangbanger looking for trouble. Chicano rap vet Down aka Kilo hopes to dispel this idea. “A ‘Cholo’ is Mexican American growing up in the ‘hood,” explains the man behind the radio smash “Put Your Locs On.” “It’s not gang member, it’s a tradition of how we dress and look. People think it means [gang member], but it’s not like that anymore.” Coming from a culture where family comes first, outsiders often assume that music from Latin America only for them and by them. But with
Down building a rapidly growing buzz, he is both building acceptance and welcoming others into his world. Far from a newcomer to rap, his latest project Definition of an Ese is actually his tenth album to date. Toiling in the underground for years, Down made a name for himself selling his music out of the trunk at the local swap meets. Though the music made an immediate connection with his peers, the world at large wasn’t quite ready for it. Down also admits that he might not have been ready for the world either. “We were selling records and making money, but labels weren’t trying to hear us,” he says. “But our talent was still growing too. We were still in garages rapping making beats out of nothing. It wasn’t the time for us then, but now is the time,
because we’ve shown that we can sell records.” Now that Down has conquered music as a platform, he now has plans to use movies to push his agenda. His first film borrows its name his 2007 hit, “Lean Like A Cholo,” and will be a Latino comedy. It is set to star former world champion boxer Fernando Vargas, John Amos (Good Times, Coming To America) and Tiny Lister, Jr. (Friday). The movie stays in line with the vibe and messages he tries to put forth in his music. “It’s just about chilling on a Sunday and getting into trouble, but we ain’t robbing or stealing,” he urges. “I just want to make people have fun and break stereotypes along the way.” Words by Maurice G. Garland
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He’s touted as one of most talented up-and-coming producers/rappers on the West Coast. After producing tracks for Snoop Dogg and playing saxophone in the Dogg Father’s Snoopadelics band, Terrace Martin is ready to PrOPEL his sound FAR beyond the city of angels. You’re known as a producer and rapper, but a lot of people don’t know that you also play instruments like the saxophone and piano. I was introduced to music through my parents. My mother is a pianist, a singer, and a songwriter. And my father is a drummer. I got introduced to music at a very young age cause around my house there was a lot of different music being played throughout the day. My father played a lot of John Coltrane and Woody Shaw, and my mother would play a lot of Luther [Vandross], a lot of Anita Baker. I grew up with studios in my house, so when I hit fifth grade I told my mom I wanted a drum machine. At that time Hip Hop was so big, my mom bought me a Casio. So I started making beats on that little keyboard. My mom saw that I was real serious with making beats, so she bought me this keyboard called Ensonic EPS that a lot of cats used back in the day. You gotta think, I’m in 6th grade and my mom is buying me a $4,000 keyboard. When did you learn to play the saxophone? 9th grade is when I started playing the saxophone. I went to visit my father in New York, where he was playing at a nightclub. I wasn’t into jazz, I was just doing beats. One night my uncle Richie Love was playing the saxophone, and I was like, “That’s a fly instrument.” This older woman with these huge breasts came up to me and said, “Do you play drummers like your daddy?” I said, “Nah.” She said, “What do you play?” I said, “I don’t play nothing, ma’am.” She said, “Well, I’ma tell you like this, if you play the saxophone, you can make love to your woman without even touching her.” So in 9th grade, (laughs), “Mom, I need to learn how to play the saxophone.” I took a break from Hip Hop cause I really wanted to get that saxophone down. Once
I got the horn down, I fell right back into the drum machine. Where I grew up, there weren’t a lot of good role models. There was a lot of gangbangin’, a lot of things going on that wasn’t positive, and it wasn’t what I wanted to do. But there was another cat that grew up in my neighborhood named Kevin Gilliam a.k.a. Battlecat. I locked in with Battlecat and he taught me how to really get down with the drum machine and MPC. And I met Kurupt and a ton of other people through him. You’ve done a lot of work with Snoop Dogg. How’d you meet him? I met Snoop and Kurupt together when I was 16. Out in L.A. we grew up on Snoop Dogg records. Not only that, but Kurupt showed us we could do it, coming from this area. And this was my first time seeing stars. And it’s not starstuck, it’s like, “Oh my God, he’s tall.” (Laughs) And the thing that makes me remember them is that there was like 30 people in the hallway, and before Snoop left, he walked from the bottom of the hallway to the top and shook everyone’s hand. He looked them all in the eyes and said, “Aight, cuz. Aight, cuz. Aight, cuz.” I was like, this man is Snoop Dogg, he can just leave. And I said, “Lord, I wanna work with Snoop Dogg. That would be a dream come true.” So, when I was like 19 or 20, through Battlecat and a good friend of mine named Marlon Williams, I got the opportunity to play sax in Snoop’s band. Before Snoop had even heard my beats, Soopafly heard my beats, and he gave me my first check. I waited for the opportunity to let Snoop know I had music. I pressed play, he was excited about my music, and he’s been there ever since for me. What was your first placement on a Snoop Dogg album? I played [saxophone] on some songs on Pay tha Cost to Be da Boss, but my first placement was “Joysticc” on the 213 album. A month after that R&G: The Masterpiece came out, and [I produced] “Fresh Pair of Panties On.” Since you have a saxophone and jazz background, how would you define your production sound as a rapper and producer? My production sound has grown now. I used to be concentrated on the whole West Coast [sound]. Now I’m more concentrated on observing music, but still keeping it innovative and interesting. I’m adapting to is this whole new
movement. At one point I wouldn’t have accepted it because I was so close-minded and stuck in that West Coast shell. I did so much work for Snoop Dogg to the point that people thought all I would wanna do is Snoop Dogg records, and that’s not the case. I’ma always ride with Snoop Dogg, but I’m not gonna always do Snoop Dogg [style] music. I wanna expand; I wanna work with everybody. I’m not that interested in working with anyone on the West Coast, no disrespect, but I just need my music to go farther. Is that the main reason you did a mixtape with DJ Drama? It’s funny you say that, cause that is the main reason I did the mixtape with DJ Drama. Drama’s been supporting me since I started. Drama’s another one of my dudes. I was gonna do it with Green Lantern, but Drama’s so accessible to me and he’s such a real good dude and he cares about the music. You know, for minute I was gonna live in Atlanta. Come on to the A, shawty. Yeah, but y’all don’t got no Slauson Swapmeet. Y’all ain’t got no Roscoe’s. Y’all got Gladys Knight’s chicken out there, and her chicken is okay. And kudos to Gucci Mane. What would Gucci Mane sound like on a Dr. Dre beat? I don’t know. I’m used to hearing him over Zaytoven beats. That’s why I need to get with Gucci Mane. So, send a kite to Gucci Mane, make sure he reads this article. Get at me, nigga. Who else are you working with right now? I just completed an album called Melrose with a good friend of mine, Murs. Murs is one of the biggest independent artists in the game right now. He does things like Rock The Bells and he has his own festival called Paid Dues. He does [shows] where nobody’s fighting in the crowd, and everybody’s there to just love music. And there are different colors in the crowd. I don’t just wanna do music for blacks or Hispanics. I wanna make music for blacks, Hispanics, Latinos, Asians, greens, yellows, anybody. If you love music, I wanna rock out with you. And I don’t wanna promote violence, I wanna promote peace. Make love, not war. That’s what Murs is about, and that’s what I’m about right now. And the music is like nothing I’ve ever done; it’s like “ghettoelectro.” Watch when you print this article, somebody’s gonna bite that. “Ghetto-electro.” //
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Nipsey Hussle, DJ Whoo Kid, Johnny Shipes & The Empire Bullets Ain’t Got No Names Vol. 3 Out West, Nipsey Hussle’s Bullets Ain’t Go No Names has his name on the tip of everyone’s tongue, and the much-anticipated Vol. 3 in this popular series further makes Nipsey a name to know out of the Golden State. “Strapped” is the aggressive Nipsey that fans know, whereas the introspective “Tha Hustle Way” and “Shed a Tear” feature Nipsey rhyming on less combative beats but still with assailing lyrical content. And on “Speak My Language” Nipsey lyrically stands tough alongside Lloyd Banks and Cory Gunz. Bullets ain’t got no name, but Nipsey has a name that’s rightfully gaining rap fame. - Randy Roper Snoop Dogg/Bacc To The Chuuch Vol. 1 Doggstyle Snoop Dogg is without question a household name, so it’s only right for Uncle Snoopy to put his nephews on whenever he gets an opportunity. And that’s what Bacc To The Chuuch is all about. As it goes from mixtape to album form, this 16-song compilation sets a platform for artists like Tha Twinz, the Raw Doggz, Hustle Boyz, Chris Starr and Uncle Chucc to take center stage. Snoop appears on a good number of tracks, and Dogg Pound vets Kurupt and Daz make appearances. Although this album would have been better if Snoop jumped on every song, that’s just wishful thinking. Bacc To The Chuuch still has a good mix of music, artists and Snoop verses to be worth a listen. - Randy Roper Berner/Weekend At Bernie’s Bern One Entertainment Weekend At Bernie’s was a great movie, but the same can’t be said for Berner’s album. Problem is Berner isn’t much of a rapper, and every time he raps, it’s as if someone is forcing him to rhyme against his will. Luckily for him, good production and a long list of guest appearances—Bun B, B.G., The Jacka, Slim Thugg, Kneak Da Sneak and many more—mask the stink Berner leaves from his lack of enthusiasm on the mic. Actually, if you fast forward past Berner’s parts, this album isn’t half bad. - Randy Roper
Don Changolini 4000/President of The Game You shouldn’t judge a book, or a CD for that matter, by its cover. But in this case, the bad artwork on Don Changolini’s President of the Game should be a red flag. The beat for “We be Smoking” isn’t bad (even though the hook is offbeat), and guest appearances like Jimmy Roses, Bueno, and San Quinn help easy the pain of listening to Don Changolini. Other than that, there isn’t anything good to say about this album (believe me, I tried). There’s only one excuse for an album to sound this bad: Changolini must be tone deaf. - Randy Roper New Boyz/SKINNY JEANZ AND A MIC If you combined the sparse production of D4L, the dance vibes of the Hyphy movement, and the content and rhyme schemes of The Cool Kids, the result would be the New Boyz’ debut Skinny Jeanz And A Mic. With roughly 60% of the album produced by group member Legacy and producer Talent, the CD doesn’t has much range. But playfully realistic rhymes on songs like “Way 2 Many Chicks” almost make you forget that production-wise, the CD sounds like one long song. While the New Boyz are far from lyrical geniuses, they do put some effort into their rhymes and exhibit decent storytelling skills. In a time when “for the kids” is often code for “whack and mindnumbing,” the New Boyz actually do the term some justice by supplying a soundtrack for teenagers simply wanting to have a good time and stay out of trouble. - Maurice G. Garland Fashawn & The Alchemist/The Antidote On The Antidote, Fresno newcomer Fashawn connects with Cali producer The Alchemist for an 11-track mixtape, solely produced by Alchemist. The sound of this release is much more grittier than some of Fashawn’s previous mixtapes. Alchemist’s influence is evident, and most of the beats sound like tracks that didn’t make Prodigy or Evidence’s last albums. Not that that’s a bad thing, as Fashawn is lyrically sharp over the production. “What’s Your World” and “Fash Plays It Cool” are a lot more enjoyable listens than the rest of the mixtape. Still, this tape shows what Fash can do when paired with one of Hip Hop’s best producers. And his Exile-produced debut album Boy Meets World shouldn’t have as many drab moments as Antidote. - Randy Roper
Patiently Waiting G
rowing up in the same neighborhood in Long Beach, CA, Terry Kennedy and Fuzzy Felix’s history goes way back. So it only made sense that when business came their way, they’d become partners. The crew’s third member, H.I.T., is T.K.’s cousin. “Fuzzy and I have been doing music together for a long time,” adds H.I.T. “The initial grind started with a record called ‘Drama’ that drove T.K. to take things to a new level.” After recording “Drama,” T.K., who is also a well-known professional skateboarder, was immediately excited about the song’s potential. The group tested the record on Myspace, and according to H.I.T., it drew in over a hundred thousand plays in less than a month. It was clear the group stood out from the average sound in their region. Coming from an environment where it’s typical to rock a red or blue flag by a certain age, Fly Society had a heavy burden to carry, but they
weren’t going to let it weigh them down. As upcoming Cali artists, it was normal for people to expect gangbangin’ records from them. “Coming from the West Coast people are like, ‘Okay, we know what y’all are about to come out with,’” says T.K., who in 2005 was shot twice while leaving a party in Long Beach. “But Fly Society is musically taking things to another level that nobody over here is even doing.” On the positive side, T.K. knows that Fly Society is one of a kind, and with their movement they see the hearts of people are being felt. T.K. continues, “We overcame so much and are still overcoming so much. A lot of people tell us they’ve been touched when they see our movement.” Fly Society understands what it means to hustle, and collectively they’ve learned the importance of branding. Alongside their music ventures, the trio got their feet wet in the marketing side with their self-titled clothing line Fly Society. Applying the concept of endorsements, they got rappers,
singers, athletes, and other celebrities to rep their shoe line, The Supras, which became widely popular. “We haven’t even made a big run on the music side of things yet,” T.K. says. “We were already killing it with our fashion. Look at a lot of these videos; a lot of artists have our shoes on.” Not only did Fly Society expand nationally, enlisting the representation of former Young Money affiliate Curren$y, but they are also locally revered. When listing some of the group’s famed Long Beach supporters, Felix proudly names Crooked I and Snoop Dogg as people who have recognized their work. As for the countless everyday listeners checking for the group, Felix says, “Musically a lot of people can relate to it because it’s real.” He adds, “When the label sees us, they see so much hope, and we’re gonna make sure we live up to it.” Words by Quinton Hatfield Photo by Kenny Ong
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Kid Cudi Event: Great Hangover Tour Venue: Regency Ballroom City: San Francisco, CA Date: July 24th, 2009 Photo: D-Ray
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