RAW, UNCENSORED WEST COAST RAP SHIT
THE GAME AUDIO SRH PU WAR EN G
editor’s note I’m Just Sayin’tho by D-Ray
t was a wild night cuddy! You missed out! (in my Mac Dre voice) Really, it was more like three nights. Let’s start with how I ended my hear in 2009 with Snoop Dogg. Snoop and his West Coast family DJ Quik, Nipsey Hussle, and the Hustle Boyz hit the Nokia Theater in Los Angeles, CA, and the name of the tour was When the West Was One. So you know I had to be in the building, and oooohhweeee, was that a show! DaeOne thanks for the ride! Did I mention that I’m a real West Coast kid? Chuck Taylors always on my feet? This show definitely did not disappoint. The Hustle Boyz and Nipsey Hussle had it jumpin’. Then there was a surprise performance by Problem. He brought out West Coast legend DJ Quik. If that wasn’t enough, Quik brought out 2nd To None. I love that classic West Coast Hip Hop. Their performances were dope but the Snoop part of the show was straight crazy! During Snoop’s set he brought out Butch Cassidy and one of my all-time favorite Bay Area legends, Too $hort. “What’s my favorite word?” He had the crowd going crazy. Then Snoop brought out The Doggpound (Kurupt and Daz), Xzibit, and Lady of Rage. The show was bananas. Snoop shut L.A. down that night! Snoop shuts L.A. down every time he does an event. In December he shut Hollywood down when he did an event at the Vanguard with Travis Barker. It was a joint Malice N Wonderland release party and Famous Stars & Straps 10 Year Anniversary. As we got closer to the venue, traffic was stopped on every street. The police were out pulling cars over everywhere you looked (the police are always much thicker when it’s a Snoop show, SMH) . We parked and headed towards the Black Carpet entrance. I know I said the streets were packed, but not as packed as the black carpet! This was a 100% star-studded event. It was so crazy I just had to get my wiggle on. I learned from the best, JT Tha Bigga Figga a.k.a. Wiggler. Vanguard holds close to 3,000 people, and it was filled to the max. No one was moving and I thought I was gonna go bonkers. No moving around that night. I’ve been there before and have NEVER seen it so packed! I’m surprised the Fire Marshall didn’t shut it down, on some real shit. I gotta thank everyone who helped me accomplish my mission that night! S. Chung, you’re the best. Thanks for sharing your space with me. It was just too packed to move! I saw a lot of my people in the building: Rick Thorne (BMX), Boss Lady, SkinHead Rob, Freeway Rick Ross, Ray J, DJ DWrek, DJ Paul (Three 6 Mafia), Kelly Osbourne, Lamar Odom, Krondon,
Phil The Agony and so many more. Octavia and MiMi I see you! This was another historic Snoop show: he had Warren G, Butch Cassidy, The Game, Bad Lucc, Kurupt, Nipsey Hussle, Problem, Pharrell, Hustle Boyz, Soopa Fly, and Damani on stage with him. He had a live band who has been rocking with him a lot lately; crazy! He had one of my favorites, Terrace Martin, on the sax gettin’ it in doing his thang like always! Travis Barker was going so mainey on the drums. Travis always does a dope show! This show was so outta here! I love the WEST COAST! This is my home! My New Years Eve was so low-key and relaxed. I brought 2010 in at the house reflecting and really hanging with the family enjoying tamales! I have a lot of things in store for 2010. I’m gonna have my very first photo exhibit on April 10th, 2010 in Northern California. This will be an inviteonly event, so I can keep it close and very personal with my family and friends. I will also save some limited space for anyone else that appreciates my photography (if this is you hit me at firstname.lastname@example.org). Something else is brand new for 2010: Husalah is home! Welcome home cuddy! I just went to the Catalyst in Santa Cruz to see Husalah perform for the first time since he’s been home. It was a surprise performance; nobody in the crowd knew he was there. The Jacka already had the place lit. It was crazy; one second The Jacka was telling the crowd to put their H’s in the air for HUS and had them all chanting “Free Hus!” The lights were off and DJ Quest played the Husalah single “Pray For You” while the crowd started chanting even louder. Hus was singing the hook backstage and nobody even knew. Then out of nowhere, a spotlight guided HUS to the front of the stage and everyone just lost it. The crowd’s reaction was amazing. The performance was crazy; he did two separate stage dives. He was straight crowd-surfing. It was bananas! I definitely got chills from all the excitement in the room. Did I mention that all five Mob Figaz were in the house? The Jacka, Rydah J Klyde, FedX, AP9, and Husalah were all in the building. Lately I’ve been seeing a lot of people trying to get in where I get in and do what I do. I must make it look easy! It may look fun, but you should take it seriously (I see your groupie side!). At the end of the day, it’s a hard-ass JOB and I respect it like a job. That’s why I receive the respect I deserve. There are a lot of folks who carry cameras and try to take pictures they don’t need to be taking (those shots can get you caught up). I’m a hood photographer and I follow the street codes. I’m not one to look for a shot that gets you caught up! I carry passion with my hustle. Being a female I’ve had my share of doors slammed in my face, but, through my heard in this game there are just as many doors that have been opened. I’m playing chess while the rest of you are playing checkers. You can’t be taught the game, it has to be in your blood to get the trophy. Welcome home Dubee! Free P.S.D. Tha Drivah and Band Aide of Dem Hoodstarz. Shout outs to all those locked down who follow my photojournalism! I’ve tried to accept your email requests and sometimes for some reason it doesn’t work, but one love!
Lil Chuckee & me in Miami for his Young Money video shoot
Matt Kemp & me in Los Angeles @ Power 106’s Cali Christmas
“Rock N Roll” DJ Pizo f/ Muggs Money & Spice 1 “Get Off” Krizz Kaliko f/ Tech N9ne ““Gangsta Niggas” Ludacris f/ Spice 1 & Mopreme “Glamorous Lifestyle” The Jacka f/ Andre Nickatina “Baby Come Home” Spice 1 f/ Tony Toni Tone “So Far to Go” Common f/ D’Angelo “Fuck Me Thru the Phone” Spice 1 f/ Michelob & E-Note
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HUS a.k.a. Tito, I’m glad you’re home. Let’s get it! 80% of success is showing up! Lead, don’t follow (unless you’re on Twitter, lol - @dray_ozonemag). - D-Ray, OZONE West Editor-At-Large email@example.com
“Give Me Luv” E-40 f/ Cataracs “Why I Hustle” Hot Rod “Top Spot” Laroo f/ E-40 “Hi Way” DJ Paul
(above L-R): Beenie Man & Nuch @ Club Vinyl in Denver, CO; Royce Da 5’9 & Crooked I @ House of Blues for the KOD Tour with Tech N9ne in Los Angeles, CA; Kafani & The Jacka @ Boardwalk Orangevale, CA (Photos: D-Ray)
01 // Starbuks & Lil Fats @ the Blueprint for OZONE’s Halloween Bash (Eugene, OR) 02 // Omar Cruz & Jay Rock @ Azusa Celebrity Baseball game (Asuza, CA) 03 // New Boyz & Richie Abbott @ Crenshaw High (Los Angeles, CA) 04 // FedX, The Jacka, & Dub 20 @ Boardwalk (Orangevale, CA) 05 // Scoot of Dem Hoodstarz, B-Legit, Droop-E, & E-40 on the set of E-40’s mini movie (San Francisco, CA) 06 // Audio Push & DJ Baby Chino @ UGMX Back 2 School Jerk Off (San Jose, CA) 07 // Keak da Sneak & J Stalin @ Senator Theater for Giants & Elephants Tour (Chico, CA) 08 // Davey D, Julia Beverly, & Gary Archer (Oakland, CA) 09 // Lee Majors, Guce, & The Jacka @ Boardwalk (Orangevale, CA) 10 // Willie Joe, Big Rich, Erk Tha Jerk & Freddy Hot Sauce on the set of E-40’s mini movie (San Francisco, CA) 11 // Guest, Guce, Dame Fame, & Keak da Sneak @ Giants & Elephants Tour (Stockton, CA) 12 // Curbside & Nuch @ Club Vinyl (Denver, CO) 13 // FastLane, Problem, & Bird (Compton, CA) 14 // K-Loc, E-40, & Extreme @ Nump’s listening party (San Jose, CA) 15 // San Quinn & Killa Kiese @ Giants & Elephants Tour (Stockton, CA) 16 // Too Short & ladies @ O’Neal McKnight’s video shoot (Los Angeles, CA) 17 // A Halloween pimp & Dame Fame @ Boardwalk (Orangevale, CA) 18 // AngerMan & Keak da Sneak @ Giants & Elephants Tour (Stockton, CA) 19 // Big Rich, Network, Guce, guest, Dame Fame, & guest @ Boardwalk (Orangevale, CA) Photo Credits: D-Ray (02,03,04,05,06,07,08,09,10,11,12,13,14,15,16,17,18,19); Julia Beverly (01)
OZONE WEST // 5
Originally AN ASPIRING baseball player, the South Bend, Indiana native moved to Los Angeles after graduating from Ball State University. Making ends meet as a bartender, he wound up getting a shot at DJing when his venue’s in-house DJ quit. Since then he has evolved into a mixtape DJ responsible for breaking records like Jeremih “Birthday Sex” and Jay Rock “All My Life” featuring Lil Wayne. Ozone caught up with the recent nominee for the Justo Mixtape awards’ West Coast DJ of the Year to talk about his origins in the music game, and his bright future. Start off by telling us how you broke into the music industry. The very first artist I started working with, Hot Dollar, got signed to Island Def Jam about 4 months after I started working full time with him. After he got signed that quick, a lot of people started taking me more seriously. Also, my man Terry “TK” Kennedy, who’s a professional skateboarder and rapper helped me garner a lot of attention early on in my career by co-signing me. I owe a lot to him for all the things he has done for me. TK is not only very talented, but a great friend and confidant. We’re sure there are plenty of perks to being a DJ. What are some of the gifts that stand out to you. Have you taken money? I think being a DJ is the in-thing lately. Girls love DJ’s. Other than that, we get to hear all the hot music way before the mass public does. That in itself is the biggest perk to me. Technically, yes, I’ve taken money. As a mixtape DJ sometimes we have unsigned artists purchase slots to lower the costs of pressing up mixtapes. And, a set of rims sticks out as the best gift. It’s been said that blogs are the new DJ. What are the positives of blogs posting music before DJs get it? The positive is that artists’ songs can go from the studio to millions of people in just hours, which is an amazing marketing tool. Plus careers can be started through the internet - Soulja Boy, Kid Cudi, or Asher Roth, for example. The negative is there is so much garbage to filter through to find the good music because anyone with a computer and internet access is a rapper nowadays, even if they have zero talent. We hear a lot of DJs complain about promoters. How do you deal with shady promoters? I insist on being paid upfront. A lot of them are funny with the money so I try to make myself a hot enough commodity that they are willing to pay me upfront. That’s the best way to avoid being played in this industry. Did the recession affect DJs too? What recession? (laughs) Nah, it affects us all at least a little bit, but it forces you to separate yourself from the competition by outworking them and by making smarter, more calculated moves so that your brand continues to stand out. Who are the best artists to work with and why? Any artist that is willing to bust his or her ass and that consistently stays in the studio recording new material fits this category. Jay Rock, Ya Boy and Tyga are perfect examples. It’s easy to flood the internet and the streets with their material because they’re always working on new shit.
“Your Wifey’s Favorite DJ” may be a cocky nickname, but DJ Ill Will is living up to it. Dropping over 60 mixtapes, most notably ones with female favorites like Drake, Trey Songz and Tyga, Will is definitely carving a niche out for himself in the HEAVILY-POPULATED DJ game.
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And the worst? There’s a lot of artists that I work with that are dope to me and I will do a lot of work for them because I believe in their talent. But they always want me to do all their lil’ homies and friends projects “off the strength” which annoys me because I prefer to only work with artists that are dope to me or at the very least have a strong movement. Not because they know someone who knows me already. Also, the artists that are in it for the fame and the women and not the actual music; those artists are the worst. // As told to Ms. Rivercity
(above L-R): Pooh & Eva Pigford @ Tatou in Los Angeles, CA; Jay Rock & DJ Eque @ Styles P’s afterparty in Los Angeles, CA; Andre Nickatina & Julia Beverly @ The Blueprint for OZONE’s Halloween Bash in Eugene, OR (Photos: D-Ray)
01 // Lil Fats, Illaj, & guest @ the Blueprint for OZONE’s Halloween Bash (Eugene, OR) 02 // Rusty with the Strange Music merchandise stand @ House of Blues for the KOD Tour with Tech N9ne (Los Angeles, CA) 03 // Big Dan, Kilo, J Diggs, Rich The Factor @ Fat City Clothing Store (Vallejo, CA) 04 // The Jacka, Gary Archer, Big Rich, & Julia Beverly @ Boardwalk (Orangevale, CA) 05 // T Woods & Shad Gee @ Senator Theater for Giants & Elephants Tour (Chico, CA) 06 // Nick Ngo & Kafani @ the DUB Car Show (San Jose, CA) 07 // J Valentine & JayRock @ Mason Studio (Hollywood, CA) 08 // Guce, San Quinn, & T Woods @ Giants & Elephants Tour (Stockton, CA) 09 // Scoot of Dem HoodStarz & his daughter on the set of Kafani’s “Get That Dough” video shoot (San Francisco, CA) 10 // Starbuks & Bishop @ the Blueprint for OZONE’s Halloween Bash (Eugene, OR) 11 // Bad Lucc, Meezy Montana, Big Dant, Warren G, Kilo, & Quez @ Arcata Community Center (Arcata, CA) 12 // Trajik, Sluggz, & Marvelous Mac @ The Blueprint for OZONE’s Halloween Bash (Eugene, OR) 13 // YG & K-Boy @ Tatou (Los Angeles, CA) 14 // D-Lo & Audio Push @ UGMX Back 2 School Jerk Off (San Jose, CA) 15 // Keak da Sneak & ladies @ Giants & Elephants Tour (Stockton, CA) 16 // Haji Springer & Kuzzo Fly @ Rockit for Yukmouth’s album release party (San Francisco, CA) 17 // Dame Fame & Tito Bell @ Senator Theater for Giants & Elephants Tour (Chico, CA) 18 // Big Rich & guest @ Club Illusions for Big Rich’s birthday party (Palo Alto, CA) 19 // KL, Vanessa, & Starbuks @ the Blueprint for OZONE’s Halloween Bash (Eugene, OR) Photo Credits: D-Ray (02,03,04,05,06,07,08,09,11,12,13,14,15,16,17,18); Julia Beverly (01,10,19)
OZONE WEST // 7
hawn Chrystopher’s tale is far from the typical rap story. While many rappers glorify stories of crime, Chrystopher’s chronicle is the exact opposite. “I was always the kid on the honor roll, so when I told people I was rapping, they’d be like, ‘What?!?’ I could never go to the hood niggas and get beats,” laughs the rookie rapper/producer. Chrystopher was raised by a single mother in Inglewood, California. His love for music began when his mom placed him in an afterschool program where he learned to play the drums. From there, Chrystopher’s passion for music only grew. He added the piano, trumpet, and saxophone to his repertoire and joined the school band. Influenced by groups like Kris Kross and Bone Thugs N Harmony, he also began rapping. He graduated from high school in 2003 at the age of 16, earning a full scholarship to the University of Southern California. And on the music side, he taught himself how to produce, mix and master his own music. He soon found that being a full-time student and an aspiring rap artist were tough acts to juggle. “My schoolwork became mediocre because I was focusing on
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music so much,” he remembers. “I had to make a decision.” Needless to say, Chrystopher choose rhyme books over textbooks. He spent the next two years crafting his sound and studying the success of artists he admired. “I sat back and watched who got hot,” he begins to explain. “I studied [rap] like I did my school work and tried to figure out where I could fit in. I went to school in 2004, and that’s when 50 [Cent] was hot. I’m like the exact opposite of 50. So, I had to sit back and wait for music to change. And once it started to shift, you started seeing everybody going the Lupe [Fiasco], Pharrell way; people on TV started to look like me. And I’m like, ‘Okay, now I’m ready.” He began leaking music on the internet and was soon contacted by Elitaste, Inc., (the management team that reps Interscope artist Wale), who expressed interest in the Inglewood rapper/ producer. Chrystopher signed with Elitaste
Management, who linked the artist with Lifted Research Group. And in 2008, he released his LRG presented debut mixtape, I Wear Glasses. His follow-up mixtape I Wear Glasses 2: I Told You So! came in May of 2009 and gained appreciation from blogs and admiration from fans. Still unsigned, Chrystopher released his debut album, A City With No Seasons, through iTunes in November of 2009. And as he ponders the possibilities of signing with a major, Shawn Chrystopher is confident in a future filled with continued success. “2009 was a great year for me, but 2010 and beyond is about to be something ridiculous,” he boasts. “And I know everybody says that, but I really have a great feeling of what’s about to happen because of what has already happened. This won’t be the last time you hear from me.” Words by Randy Roper Photos by Brian Tampol
Patiently Waiting C
alifornia has had its share of dance movements over the last few years. First, there was Krump in Los Angeles. Shortly after that, Hyphy exploded out of the Bay Area. Now, a new Hip Hop dance frenzy has emerged out of L.A. called the Jerk. At the forefront of this new movement is Audio Push, a rap duo consisting of 20-year-old Oktane and 19-year-old Pricetag. “The Jerk’s been out forever,” says Pricetag, of the origins of Audio Push’s breakthrough single “Teach Me How To Jerk.” “It was a dance that gangbangers did. They thought they were too cool to do any other dance, but they never did it as energetic as everyone does now. The teenage and party crowd saw it, took it, and turned it into a big movement.” Oktane and Pricetag were raised in Inland Empire, just east of L.A., where they met in middle school. Their mutual love for Hip Hop led to them joining forces in Krump battles and rap cyphers. They went on to record “Teach Me How To Jerk,” an ode to the area’s burgeoning Hip Hop movement. As the Jerk movement started to grow, so did the song, which caught the attention of production duo Kadis and Sean. They soon signed Audio Push to their production company, RozMusic Entertainment. Under Kadis and Sean, Audio Push remixed “Teach Me How To Jerk.” The song landed on local radio, and numerous major labels began offering deals. In the end, the Jerk duo inked a deal with Interscope Records, through RozMusic. Audio Push wasn’t the first Cali rap group to break their Jerk record on a national level; before them came Asylum’s New Boyz, whose single “You’re a Jerk” topped charts months before “Teach Me How To Jerk” broke nationwide. Still, Oktane and Pricetag insist they came out with their Jerk song first. “A lot of people that did their research on Jerk [music] know that we came out with [our] jerking song first,” Oktane says. “But what separates us from [the New Boyz] is we really rap. A lot of people put the New Boyz and this whole Jerking thing in a box. We’re not in that box.” Audio Push insists that they want to be respected as bonafide emcees, and in the process, lead a new generation of rappers into Hip Hop’s limelight. The duo hopes their latest mixtape, Soundcheck, and debut album in 2010 will prove their skills. “[Soundcheck] shows that we really make good music. We really spit,” Pricetag says, continuing, “This is a new generation. The style has changed, the music has changed, everything has changed.” “A lot of people think this new generation is a group of little dancing kids that wanna Jerk for a couple months, and then we’re just gonna fade out,” Oktane adds. “But we actually have something to say.” Words by Randy Roper Photo by Meeno
OZONE WEST // 9
G R O W Warren G GN oes
Words by Photo by DM-Raurice G. Garland ay 10 // OZONE WEST
As the West Coast continues tRYING TO find a new identity that isn’t somehow connected to the extended N.W.A family tree, Warren G finds himself trying to slide back in. Although he’s been active, a lot of people aren’t aware OF HIS NEW PROJECTS. With The G Files (his second independent album since 2005) out right now, Warren IS FACED WITH SEVERAL CHOICES: rapper or producer, independent or major. But if there’s one thing that isn’t up for debate, iT’s his loyalty to the west coast and good music. Ozone caught up with Warren to get his thoughtS on the new direction he’s taking his career, the state of West Coast Hip Hop, and why people forget that he helped save Def Jam in the 90s. Let us know what you’re up to nowadays. I have an independent album called The G Files out right now. I’m just testing the independent game, seeing how it is, and how I can work in it. It’s got a lot of great people on there like Snoop, Travis Barker, Nate Dogg, and Raekwon. I’ve got a bunch of new artist on the bubble too, so I’m just working on that. Other than that I’m doing my production, getting my beats stacked up so I can press play on the industry and get people back into Warren G the producer as well as the artist. Are you doing that to clear up the perception of you? Some people looked at you as producer first and rapper second. I did it all from the gate. As far as people thinking I’m more of a rapper than producer, I’m cool with it. I’m happy with people looking at me like that. But I’m a multiple artist, so I produce, rap and write. That’s just what happened when I started doing my thing. I’m trying to re-establish myself as a producer right now, that’s my main focus. That’s what the industry has wanted from me. I never stopped though. I’ve been in the studio grinding out beats for people to pick up. What direction are you going with your production? Everything I do is G-Funk. I’m just into producing great music. I try to make singles. I just do good music. Music that’s hood, but still appeals to the world. I want the world to love the sound. I try to make hit records, constantly. What made you want to go the independent route? Because a lot of guys I know that are independent were like, “The independent’s get all the money.” You get what you work for. With a major, you get 35 cents [per record]. Independent you can get $5 to $8 a record. I was trying it out. It’s cool, but you have to surround yourself with the right people to push yourself independently. I’m thinking if I do another record, I might do it on a major so people know it’s out there. Independently I’ve done all the promo I can do, but the world doesn’t know it’s there. I’m getting back into my production. I like scoring and music supervision. I did the music for this TV show on BET called Harlem Heights. That was my tester, and they loved it. As far as film, most of the records you’ve heard from me were made for movies I had in mind. So beyond that, I’m trying to get into sounds. If they need a fart, I’m trying to put the fart in. I’m a DJ, so I know how to place and blend things so they sound right. How do you feel about the current soundscape of West Coast music? We ain’t really got nobody besides Snoop out right now. It ain’t really nothing out from the West right now. I can’t really speak on it. I couldn’t tell you right now. But I do know when Dre drops Detox it’s gonna open up the new talent. It’s just hard to make the West like it was before because we don’t have any outlets. Snoop is the head of Priority Records now, so we’ll see how that goes. I’m trying to get a position too, so I can let this West Coast talent be heard.
Why do you think that is? It’s the industry. You got a lot of people here that’s heads of the company who ain’t from here and don’t understand what we do. I was told by a person that my record was too West Coast. How the fuck am I too West Coast? I do me. I make Warren G songs for everybody. So when you got people thinking like that, of course you ain’t gonna get no talent out here. These people can’t speak for the fans, and the fans actually want that. They want that old West Coast sound because the shit that’s coming out these days sounds like some electro shit. We need this real shit back cracking. How can we get music from everywhere heard everywhere though? A lot of it has to do with the DJs. The music was controlled by radio and DJs, so we have to start supporting. People are getting paid for playing records. We should get back to the love and the paycheck is gonna come. Radio and DJs have to understand, when you don’t play the records, we don’t get paid. This is how we survive and send [our] kids to college. This is our job. So when you tell an artist you can’t play their record, you’re crushing their whole world. People need to get back to doing it for the love. I get major love in Atlanta and New York, but when I come back home to L.A., we’ve only got West Coast Wednesday. How come the West Coast only gets Wednesdays in L.A.? When I went to NYC to let people know I was in town they wouldn’t let me get on the radio station to tell people. And I’m a guy that brought you tons of music. I’ve done a lot for Def Jam and New York, working with Russell Simmons, Lyor Cohen and Kevin Liles. When Def Jam was down, I saved the day. There should always be love there. They should never tell me I can’t get on [the radio]. And the Program Director was from California, that’s what made it even crazier. Now that I’m independent, I see what the process is. A lot of the people I helped get into positions with major companies are like, “Fuck you Warren, thank you, we cool. I don’t owe you nothing.” And that’s fucked up. I’ve busted my ass, told companies that if you fire so-and-so, you might as well drop me. That’s fucked up. That’s why I’m not mad at dudes like Suge loc’ing up on these industry people. Despite your affiliations, we’ve never heard you do a lot of banging on wax like some of your peers. Why is that? I’ve got kids, so I can’t be on record talking about I’m cripping. I don’t want my kids saying I was a gangbanger. I want them saying, “My dad has been around the world and made great records.” I’m grown and sexy now. I still appeal to people, I ain’t old and shabby-faced. I ain’t in my 40s yet, but the ladies still like me. I just can’t do the gangbang thing on my music. I’ve got two daughters and three boys. We know you’ve been doing a lot for the community lately. Do they still have Warren G Week in Long Beach? I was just named as the face for all the Boys & Girls Clubs in Long Beach. I got a certificate from the district for the good I’ve done. That was big for me. They still have Warren G Week in the summer, but in the winter I go to the homeless shelters and pass out stuff to the homeless. They’re good people, they just get in bad positions when nobody wants to hire them. How is Nate Dogg doing these days? I’m going to see him this week. He’s in therapy. We’re trying to get him back up. He had two strokes; a lot of people don’t survive from that. We’re keeping him in our prayers and trying to get him back right, and that’s all we can do. It hurts because that’s my dawg. I do a dedication to him every time I perform to let my good vibes and prayers get out to the Lord for him to get better. But it’s a part of life we have to deal with. So I have to keep myself up and healthy. Lastly, since Dr. Dre is your brother, are you privy to any Detox information? The stuff I’ve heard was dope. When he drops it, he’s gonna change the game as far as the music. I couldn’t tell you how far along he is or if it’s finished. I really don’t know what he’s doing right this minute, but I know he’s gonna put the record out. I do know it’s coming out this year. //
OZONE WEST // 11
THE GAME HAS NEVER BEEN ONE TO HOLD HIS TONGUE, AND THIS OZONE EXCLUSIVE IS NO EXCEPTION. Words by Tone Swep
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ment. Wasn’t no convincing the nigga otherwise. But I love that nigga, man.
Gangsta rap is dead! At least that’s what Hip Hop’s reclusive legion of Facebook bangers, Twitter hipsters and blog’d out skinny jean b-boys would have us believe. And, on some level, they do have a valid argument. With the global economy tilted like your local pool hall’s pinball machine and Cali penitentiaries hella crowded like public housing, things just ain’t the same for gangstas. Consequently, it’s back to bangin’ for way too real estate and slangin’ rocks for rims in a dope spot nowhere near you. Knowing his golden state is a little bang’d up, THE GAME g-rides through rap’s OZONE layer leaking crimson R.E.D. comments. Chilled out in a so-Cal burger joint, we rapped about why he’s so much smarter at 30, why he and 50 never should have dismantled the “Black Beatles,” and why his R.E.D. Album is his most street of all. Get The Game str8 from Chuck Taylor’s bloody mouth. They say gangsta gap is dead, G! Is that true? That’s obviously somebody’s opinion. It ain’t mine. But I will say that what niggas consider “gangsta” is changing. Like, the hardest niggas I’d ever seen in the hood are wearing suits now. Dressing it up. Being more professional about themselves and aiming more at money than each other. Niggas in the hood are taking better care of their families and shit now, at least more than before. But as far as gangsta rap, as long as I got Eazy Duz It and Doggystyle spinnin’ in my changer, gangsta rap will never die. Is society safer now that these youngsters are tryin’ to be Drake and Wale instead of Game and Snoop? Especially on the West Coast? I’m loving the West Coast right now. Most niggas out here are on chill and, like I said, focused more on money than mayhem. Don’t get it twisted though. You can still turn the wrong corner and get your melon split, but everyone is on that cool shit. I call it the “Drake Era,” and you can print that in bold. I fuck with Drake because he is leading this sort of cool movement that is contagious right now in Hip Hop. I wish ‘Pac had lived to see Cali on cool like this. When you arrived in Hip Hop, around ’02, you were grinding to get you and the homies out of the hood. You were driven to build Black Wall Street. You’re rich now and established. What’s the motivation today? Two boys, my sons. One is six years old and the other is two. Harlem and Justice, man. You could put me on the Lakers and I’d score more than Kobe with how I’m feeling right now. I can tell, man. I hear it. I see it. The enthusiasm. The energy. I haven’t seen you this amped since The Documentary sessions. My sons advance my thinking. Fatherhood has forced me to think ahead and be smarter about things. I’m even more motivated to take shit over. We’ve followed your career from the gate. And in doing so we’ve been exposed to different people in your life. I’m going to ask you about a few of those people and see where you are, today, with those people. Let’s start with George Ausborne Taylor, Jr. Man… (pause)… Right now, man… (longer pause)… I ain’t seen that dude in a minute. That’s my pops. I’ve always had real mixed feeling about that dude. I haven’t really fucked with him in a minute because of different shit that’s going on in the family that I don’t really wanna talk about right now, but I recorded a song about it for the R.E.D. Album. You listen to that joint and it’s gonna bring tears to everybody eyes. Billboard. That’s my Beanie Sigel if I’m Jay-Z, not the [recent] beef but the unstoppable Roc empire days. If I’m Jadakiss that’s my Styles P. That’s my nigga for life, best friend ever. But you think I’m hardheaded (laughs)! That nigga wouldn’t listen to nobody. I’d be like, “Let’s not go out tonight. Let’s stay in and record.” And he’d be like “Nah, I’m riding. Serving this nigga. That nigga.” But to be honest, and that is my nigga for life when I say this, I think the way Billboard went out, being murdered in the streets of L.A., is how that nigga wanted to go out. He’d already accepted that as his will and testa-
Carol Edith Zeigler. Aw, man. You spinning me around the room right now. That’s my grandmother. That woman right there was a special woman. That’s my Lena Horne. My Oprah Winfrey. My Angela Bassett. She is another person that I lost way too soon. My grandmother is the person who called me Game. I wish she’d lived to see where I made it to, not necessarily all the negative shit I had to do to reach this point, but the pinnacle I’m at now. Lastly, I have to ask you about that little dude that was crawling around The Documentary photo shoot in chucks and a diaper. Harlem Caron. (laughs)… Harlem is good. That dude is Tiger Woods, man. He don’t know nothing about no hood. He doesn’t even know that I’m a rapper. He just has fun at school. Plays soccer, baseball, little league stuff. Plays with his toys. Harlem is all innocent and I’m grateful that I’m able to provide that for him. But my two year old, Justice, that dude knows my songs and shit (laughs). He knows all my business. He’s like,”‘You goin’ to tha dudio?” (laughs) You’ve obviously enjoyed tremendous success without 50. And, in turn, he has done well without you. But deep down, real talk, is there any part of that creative business relationship you miss? Any regrets? I made some of the biggest songs of my career with that dude. And it’s not about he wrote this or I wrote that, but it was just the collaborative effort. No different from Swizz working with Cass or Jay working with Beans or Puff working with Bigg. I miss us being the Voltron of Hip Hop. Em, D12, Dre, Nate, me. All of that power and creative energy and good music. I bet Iovine misses it too. To this day, every time I see Jimmy he says, ‘Why’d you guys have to go and break up the Black Beatles?” And, honestly man, that relationship didn’t have to spoil. But I’m principled. Things weren’t headed in a direction I was comfortable with and you know me. I’m not one to hold my tongue. I’ma tell a muthafucker when shit ain’t right. Back in the studio with the good Doctor. He and Pharrell are executive producers on this album. How’d that reunion happen? I wouldn’t say it’s a reunion. It’s more… (pauses)… Dre was kicking it with Snoop one day and called me to ask if I wanted to come in and work. We should all be happy Dr. Dre ain’t God, because the world never would have been created in seven days. It would have taken three years like my album… but yeah, they called me and asked if I wanted to work. One thing led to another and we’ve been working on my album ever since. There is so much energy in your sessions right now. Skateboard P and Dre, Snoop. And to think that you were threatening us all with your retirement after L.A.X. went platinum. What changed? I ain’t going nowhere. What happened is Hip Hop changed. And I told people that it would on my last album. You can hear how everybody is just having a good time. Gucci Mane, Soulja Boy, Wayne. These cats are just having a good time and that is where Hip Hop needs to be. I would be remiss if I didn’t talk to you about Compton. Everything from public education to public transportation to teen pregnancy rates, murder rates, violent crimes, gang-related crimes, are through the roof. What’s it going to take for shit to change in the CPT? 50 years of dedication to changing things. See, Compton is rotten to the core. Like you said, all the way down to the kindergarten level. By junior high you already know that you don’t really have a good shot at making it out. I don’t know what else I can do that I haven’t already done. We did a lot for the hood with Black Wall Street but shit hasn’t really improved except for a few people we helped directly. Do you think President Obama is going to cop the R.E.D. Album? I don’t know about cop it, but he’ll definitely have a couple songs in his iTunes workout (laughs). Because if he cops the entire album and listens to it his war strategy is gonna change. He’s gonna take all the soldiers out of Iraq and send the prisoners over there instead. What’s the biggest difference between Chuck Taylor at 20 and Chuck Taylor now, at 30? I was a dumb, dangerous muthafucker ten years ago. Walking around with loaded weapons and no brain. I understand life more now. I know how things are going to end. Not when, but I know how. When is up to God’s will. Only he knows that. Safe to say you’re a lot richer now too, huh? Yeah, that too (laughs). //
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KAFANI S A MILLION HUSTLE BEVERLY Words by JULIAOR TRAYNOR PHOTO BY TREV
You’ve got a couple videos circulating now on the internet and MTV Jams. Is the video with Dorrough the main one you’re pushing right now? Or is the Bobby Valentino song the newest? The one with Dorrough is the newest video I’m pushin’. It just got added to MTV Jams and hopefully to BET soon. This is my third or fourth video on MTV Jams. I still work with a lot of Bay Area artists but single-wise, I’ve been working with southern artists because I’m trying to get that nationwide look. My records are getting a better, different look with Southern artists. I’m basically trying to take my sound beyond the Bay Area. I think the whole hyphy sound has kinda died down. I think artists are doing them right now and creating their own sound. When you had the hyphy movement it seemed like everybody was doing the same thing, but now everybody is developing their own lane. The Bay Area sound has always been universal. When you hunt around for beats or you’re looking for hooks, what kind of sound are you looking for? Or what attracts you to a particular record? Single-wise, generally speaking, you wanna go towards the females. On “Need Ya Body” that’s why I hit up Bobby V and got him on the hook. That’s where the industry is going right now – R&B/Hip Hop. That’s the direction I’m going in right now. The new record with Gucci and Dorrough is like a street record. My main focus is the R&B/Hip Hop direction. I think the majority of the fan base is females, from what I see at my shows. Generally speaking, for a lot of artists, females re the biggest fans in the game anyway. Once you got the ladies, it’ll crack. When these cats be throwing parties and they whole fan base is dudes, it don’t be crackin’ like that.
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You gotta have the females, they the ones that come out and party and dance. A lot of artists claim, “I’m not a rapper, I’m a hustler.” Which are you? Honestly, I’m a hustler. I got in the game dealing with other artists. I’ve always been a hustler no matter what I do. It’s a grind. I be makin’ music for fun, but at the same time, by me being a good hustler, I’m able to network, make connections, and get it out there. When you say you got in the game working with other artists, you mean you were putting money behind them and it didn’t work out? Nah, it wasn’t necessarily that. My family members who were aspiring to be artists, I started off working with them in the beginning and going off they vibe. Then I took it to a whole other level really. When I was first getting studio equipment, I was just experimenting, but they was really taking it seriously. But then I was like, damn I can do it too. It seemed like every year I was taking it to a whole other level in the game. My game would elevate. I know you put the album out through Koch/E1. Did that situation work out well for you? Are you looking to go another route? The last project went aight. I mean, I had the “Fast (Like a NASCAR)” song and it was a big thing about it being marketing for NASCAR. We had a remix with Bubba Sparxxx and DJ Unk and there was a big situation about it. I feel like my whole album [release] was based around Nascar getting it hot and blowing it up to their fans, and then at the last minute it kinda fell through. The day my album
was supposed to drop, instead of me having record release parties and autograph signings in the Bay Area, they set me up to go do the video in Greensboro, NC at the NASCAR stadium. The day before, NASCAR cancelled it. I don’t even know why. It seemed like after that they never really worked a second single for me.
I try to make music I think people wanna hear that’ll take ‘em away from what they’re going through. As we know, it’s a recession and a lot of people ain’t doing too good. Why would you want to hear about that? Maybe you wanna hear something positive, that you can make it out the hood and become something else.
Did you record that song with the intention of getting NASCAR involved? Nah, that happened after the fact. I think that was more of the label’s idea. Everybody was saying I could get NASCAR behind and it’d be big. When I was having meetings with the label we were talking about making that happen, but it ended up falling through. It was some type of politics, I don’t know exactly why. You know how it is, they throw everything against the wall and if it sticks, it sticks. I guess that didn’t really come through all the way. But as far as me getting national attention, it was a good look ‘cause I was able to release a national album.
If you look at Hip Hop, you’ve got artists wearing skinny jeans now, and trends that are constantly coming and going. Do you think it’s ever gonna get to a point where the ice and jewelry and all that is played out? Kinda like grills? I think it’s gonna play itself out. To me, once you get famous and you got money, you don’t really need to show it. In the beginning, when you coming up, you may go crazy with the jewelry ‘cause you wanna be seen. It’s a statement. But once you make that statement and everybody knows you got it, ain’t no need to show it no more. If you look at bigger name artists, they don’t even really have to wear jewelry no more. You know who they are when you see ‘em. A lot of up-and-coming artists probably wear jewelry just to show that they’re somebody. Eventually, jewelry is getting so crazy with designs, and as technology grows they startin’ to go crazy with it, so eventually it’ll come to an end. Nothing lasts forever so I don’t think it’ll stay in Hip Hop forever.
Next time around, are you gonna take things into your own hands a little more? I know now you gotta make sure everything’s situated before you drop an album. Just ‘cause you have a label putting you out, you still gotta do the same footwork you did to get there. You can’t depend on the label to do anything for you. You gotta still do everything on your own. The label is only gonna go so far. They’ll only go off the hype for so long; after that, you’re on your own. It seems like a lot of Bay artists would rather put out a project themselves than sign with any label. Do you share that mentality? Or are you looking for more of a major label situation? At the end of the day, I can do a lot of the stuff that the major labels can do. I’ve developed the contacts for people behind the scenes that run a lot of the industry. The only difference in having a label deal is having that name and money behind you. If you got the connections and the money you can do it yourself. The difference in being independent and being with a label is them putting that money up and having a stamp on it. It’s really about how much money you’re gonna spend marketing yourself. You mentioned that off the ads and some of the previous stuff you’ve done with OZONE, a lot of people think you sell jewelry. Have you thought about going that route? Nah, I researched the jewelry game. It’s not a real good game to get into unless you’ve been in the game for like 20 years and you bought the gold when prices were real cheap. That’s the whole game – these jewelers have a reserve of gold. They’re selling you a piece for whatever the market value of gold is at the time, that’s how they eat. If you bought some gold bars 10 years ago when gold was $10 a gram, and now it’s at $30 a gram, you make $20 off every gram. Have you researched any other types of businesses you think would be good to get into outside of the music game? I invested in a bail bond company in the Bay Area and I had a trucking company at one point, but when I got my record deal and all that, I was on the road so much I kinda let that falter a little bit. You were dealing with gun charges at one point. Were you able to get that cleared up or are you still looking at possible legal consequences? Nah, I’m still dealing with that. That’s been 2 years almost, but I should be straight. That’s all I can really say. I’ll probably end up going to trial, but it’s looking good. If I was looking at any time, it shouldn’t be too long. I’m innocent. Gucci Mane was featured on your single, but he isn’t in the video. What happened with that? Yeah, that was a clearance issue we had with Warner Bros. They [wouldn’t clear the record] in the 4th quarter because it was around the time they was droppin’ his album. You paid him under the table to do the record? Yeah we got it hooked up. It was done a while ago and you know how it is when a buzz goes crazy and the label gets behind it – it’s a whole different story. You’ve got a lot of expensive toys in the video. Is there anything you want to buy that you haven’t been able to get yet? Nah, I got a lot of toys already. I just copped a Maserati a couple months ago so I’m kinda content right now, but you never know. Your last album was called Money is My Motivation. Money can only take you so far, though, you’ve gotta have the passion for it. What else motivates you? Taking care of my family and friends, and just having fun. Just trying to live, and stay out of jail. That’s basically it. The music takes you away from all the stuff you’re dealing with, that’s why I like doing it. Doing music takes me away from whatever problems I may be having at the time. Not saying I have a lot of problems, but if I’m going through something I can go in studio and vent. With a lot of people going through hard economic times, do you think they’re more or less likely to listen to ballin’ music? Sometimes music is motivation. Hearing somebody else talk about what they’re doing may motivate them. But sometimes it’s depressing. If you’re going through the struggle and you’re only hearing about the struggle, people dying, and you’re really in the streets living that, that might not be something you wanna listen to.
How do you view the West Coast movement right now? There are a lot of upand-coming artists from California. Do you see a whole wave of artists ready to take over, or do you view yourself more solo? The West Coast needs to come together. I think that’s the reason why the west coast isn’t what it was before. I feel like a lot of the veterans artists ain’t put on the newer artists. It’s a lot of stuff in the west coast. Me personally, in the Bay, we’re tryin’ to come together. We startin’ to do a lot of stuff together, put tours together, and different things – tryin’ to make something from nothing. On a national level, I’m just tryin’ to get my name out there and take it beyond the region. You got a lot of cats just tryin’ to break the region and I already did that, so now I’m trying to take it further. Whatever artists that are trying to do the same thing, get on the boat with me and let’s do it. A lot of West Coast artists mention that lack of unity as something that’s holding them back. What do you think the problem is? I think it’s just the mentality of the people in this area. The South is more welcoming. It ain’t like that in the West Coast –the hospitality of welcoming someone into your house, so to speak. I don’t think cats on the West Coast are like that. What about the relationship between Bay artists and L.A. artists? Do you feel like that’s getting better or worse? I ain’t really worked with any L.A. artists. A couple of cats reached out to me and I’ve reached out to them. We gotta put it together and get it in. But I haven’t actually done a record with anyone from Southern California yet. I know a few cats out there, we just haven’t had the opportunity to get it in. I gotta make an effort to do that. In the South you feel like you get more support from the artists? Nah, I’m not even really saying that. I’m just saying us West Coast artists as a whole need to start reaching out to each other and doing it. There’s no west coast artist that’s really on, besides older cats like Snoop or maybe somebody like The Game. There’s no new West Coast national artists that are real superstars. But there’s new artists from the South every year that go national. Maybe it’s the DJs. Maybe the DJs need to step it up and break more records from the West Coast, instead of just South records. Do you think part of the problem is the records aren’t commercial enough? Prime example is my record with Bobby Valentino. The same producer that did that for me, did “Trickin’ If You Got It.” If you listen to the two songs, they sound similar. Originally, the dude from the Mullage hook sang my hook. I released it on the West Coast with him on the hook first. I didn’t get the response I was lookin’ for, so I took him off and put Bobby Valentino on the hook. Three months later, they do a similar record and it comes out in Atlanta and it blew up. My record touched the South, but it didn’t really blow up on the West Coast. Do you feel radio is supportive of your projects? Yeah, the radio supports me for the most part. Every record I come out with I get support from radio. Of course you wanna blow up and go everywhere with it, but I guess I need to have the right people working my records. I don’t know – I’m just putting out records and if it happens, it happens. Every 3 months I’m dropping a new record and shooting a video. Something’s bound to happen. I’m just really putting out singles till I get that right buzz. It’s really nothing to do an album, you just need a single to sell your album. I’m making my money doing shows, selling ringtones and digital downloads. I’m still eating off putting out singles – I don’t necessarily have to put out an album to make money. If people want to buy a ringtone or check out your music, where’s the best place for them to go? Search Kafani on iTunes and it’ll pull up all the mixtapes and singles I got out right now. I be on Twitter – @Kafani. If you wanna check out my videos you can hit me up on KafaniDaIceKing on YouTube. I think you can buy music off Myspace too. I’m about to release my street album. It’s called My Daily Bread. I’m still working on my album I.C.E. – I Create Envy. I’m waiting to get a big record and get that buzz right, then I’ll drop an album. //
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Snoop Dogg Malice In Wonderland Priority Though Snoop Dogg has become more known as a character and celebrity in recent years, the man still knows how to make dope music. Recreating himself once again, Snoop blends in with just about every beat thrown at him. Although this album features more cameos than Snoop albums of the past, he still remains the star. – Maurice G. Garland A.R. of H2 Hardheadz The IntroducTion of… H2 Ent. Carrying on the legacy of his Bay Area forefathers RBL Posse, A.R. comes with a fresh but familiar sound on his introductory mixtape. Providing street raps with a perspective that offers both reality and celebration, you can tell that A.R. is out to remind people why you fell in love with Bay Area rap to begin with. His choice to use production (provided mostly by Rome aka Slapadelic) that leans more towards mid-90’s funk ala Sam Bostic and Ant Banks immediately sets him apart from his many peers who are struggling to find a musical identity post-Hyphy. If you’re looking for some vintage Bay Area rap with a new school appeal, you can’t lose with this CD. - Maurice G. Garland Young Shaad of H2 Hardheadz Cold Game Official Business/H2 Ent. Falling from the same family tree as A.R., Young Shaad does a good job in blending his Bay Area roots with a national appealing sound. However, the “young” part of his moniker definitely shows at times. While he obviously puts forth effort in each song on this mixtape, his heavy accent and decision to use the same cadence on many of the songs will have the listener struggling to identify him from the average Bay Area rapper. To his credit though, Shaad is able to approach everyday themes with a different angle. Surely not an artist to sleep on, Shaad at least interests you to the point that you’d want to hear what he has to offer next time around. - Maurice G. Garland
Balance & Big Rich Good A$ Money Ayinde Music/Bang Bang III Story Gang
Picking up where their 2007 effort Unda Dogg Kingz left off, Balance and Big Rich continue to show why they’re two of the more universal artists in the Bay Area. While both have unique styles and perspectives, here they’re able to tone down their respective personalities just enough to make sure teamwork is the priority. With all but one track, “I’m Back,” not featuring a cameo, this album actually comes off more like a compilation in disguise. Fortunately the solid performances from allies like Glasses Malone, Allen Anthony, Messy Marv, The Jacka, Clyde Carson, Yukmouth, Freeway and Jay Rock make this a good problem to have. - Maurice G. Garland 40 Glocc Concrete Jungle Zoo Life Ent.
Mostly known for checking your favorite rapper’s gangsta whenever they set foot in Los Angeles, 40 Glocc has finally decided to prove that he is actually a rapper, and a pretty decent one at that. He holds his own on “Another Angel Dies” with Ras Kass and shows traces of vulnerability on “Hell On Earth,” where he ponders some of the decisions he’s made in his volatile past and questions if there’s a spot in heaven for him. Backed by adequate production that gives him and his Zoo Life cronies enough space to get their point across, 40 Glocc proves that he can actually make some good music when he’s not busy terrorizing other rappers. - Maurice G. Garland Roccett & DJ Drama Free Agent After departing CTE, Roccett recruited DJ Drama to announce his independence. Roccett stays true to form when it comes to punch lines, metaphors, and tales of West Coast living on songs like “City I Love,” “How We Roll,” and “Bang That.” However, there’s an appreciated upgrade on some of his hooks (“I Do That” ft. Bobby Valentino and “I Don’t Think So” ft. Primo). Other than awkward female-oriented records like “All a Woman Needs,” this may be Roccett’s best work, or pretty close. Being on the free agent list has obviously upped Young Roccett’s stats. - Ms. Rivercity
Tech N9ne Event: K.O.D. Tour Venue: House of Blues City: Los Angeles, CA Date: October 22nd, 2009 Photo: D-Ray
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