Thursday, July 28, 2005

Classic Interview-Dre Dog (now known as Andre Nickatina)

Interview done by Doxx...

This interview originally appeared in the August 1995 issue of No Joke newsletter.

Dre Dog has steadily been gaining a strong base of fans since he released The New Jim Jones a few years back. Now with the release of I Hate You With A Passion, his new album on In-A-Minute Records, Dre Dog has proven again that he is not to be slept on. Speaking to him is almost like listening to his songs. He speaks his mind and doesn't seem to hold back with his answers and comments.

Tell me a little bit about your background, where you grew up, how you started rappin' and all that.
It started like sixteen, seventeen just basically in class in high school not doin' nothin'. I just started writin' little phrases and shit 'cause I used to like sit in the back of the class and not do shit. It started from there, you know, from Fillmoe in San Francisco. I live right up the street from (Rappin') 4-Tay, right around the corner from JT (The Bigga Figga). So that's basically how it started off, just me basically writin' little shit that went together, goin' around to my potnas askin' 'em if it sound good. It didn't at the time, but I stuck with it and kept at it.

Since the last album to now with I Hate You With A Passion, how would you say you've changed in music and yourself personally?
On the first album it was kinda like a rushed project. I didn't have enough time to stay in the studio and really like go over it and hear all my mistakes. This time I had like enough time to really go in and listen to what I really wanted to have and what I didn't want. It gave me enough time to concentrate on my lyrics to a point to where I wasn't tryin' to be like the first album at all. I was tryin' to have like a 180 degree turn. I didn't want it to be nothin' like the first album. That's how I've advanced, tryin' not to be like the first album. Next album I'ma try not to be like this album.

A lot of people, with the songs "Powda 4 The Hoes" and "Ike Turner", they might see those titles and label you negatively without takin' the time to sit down and listen to everything. What do you think about people who label you without takin' the time to listen?
I don't care. I ain't trippin'. Either you buy it and you listen to it and you like it or you don't. People gonna have they opinions whether or not you think you got a bomb album or not. If four million people buy your album that means probably twelve million out there sayin' they don't like it. I'm just rollin' with the people that like it. If you don't like it or if you lookin' at it in a negative way, so be it. I ain't trippin'.

In my review a few issues back I said that you have an apparent obsession with animals and bugs. Can you break down what that's all about?
You know what? Until you wrote that I never really like sat back and listened to my lyrics and dissected it like that. But after you said it, your write up even made me go back and listen to my tape, it was such a good write up. I never really tripped on how many times I said different animals and shit like that. I even went back to my first album and I had dogs and cats. What I do is I look at certain things as inspiration. When I write rhymes I like to make people see what I'm talkin' about. When I use certain bugs and shit or animals, I'm tryin' to have you see what I'm talkin' about in a sense. I'm tryin' to put it in a phrase where you can kinda like see it and it really can't happen, but you can kinda like see it.

Kinda like on "Killa Whale"?
I try not to write titles that others have. I'm tryin' to use all my advantages to make you buy the tape without sayin' Glocks and guns and shit. So in that order I gotta come with different titles and just different thangs that people wouldn't even write now. You probably seen like a title of a song and then like another three albums got that same title. That's what I try not to do.

"The Stress Factor" is probably my favorite cut. Can you explain it, like what kind of feelings it's all about?
Well, I can tell you how it jumped off. I was at the studio with this bass player and we was just kickin' the shit. I was smokin' on a joint, he was just fuckin' around on the bass. He played the chorus. He just played like three seconds of it, right? And I caught him and said,
"Play that again." Then we just expanded if from there, but the chorus was so long that the lyrics couldn't be very long. So every verse is sixteen bars, but the reason why it comes out the way it comes out because, like I said, I had sixteen bars to every verse so everything had to be straight to the point. In that sense I wouldn't say I was goin' through a lot of things at the time. I was basically tryin' to put somethin' good down to that beat. It wasn't really a rappin' beat, it was like a ballad if anything. I wanted to do those on my first one, but like I said, I didn't have enough time. I wanted to make more songs like "The Ave" and shit, but not with samples. I wanted to use like the blues and shit. That's basically the style I was lookin' for with that "Stress Factor." That everyday shit that people go through, that you can relate to. Only some people will like that song. It's like a song that either you like it a lot or you don't pay no attention to it.

What do you think about the image that San Francisco is just homosexuals and that real rappers can't come out of there?
Well shit, mothafuckas are gonna think that regardless. It's more fags out in New York than there is in San Francisco. The fact that San Francisco is known for having gays, mothafuckas tend to do that (generalize the whole city). As you know, the gays are on a whole other side. It ain't like you live next door to faggots. Gays has got their own little part of town. Mothafuckas don't go down there. I don't too much worry about that. I go and represent what I gotta represent. If nobody ain't never heard of you before, you really ain't get no love. Before Snoop came up didn't nobody think of no Long Beach. It's just about waitin' your turn. Oakland was poppin' since NWA was out and San Francisco was just a quick step across the bridge. They acted like we wasn't even there. San Francisco rappers never really tripped 'cause we all had that faith. Nowadays we're probably one of the number one spots for rappers so it's all comin' together.

How was it directing the video for "Situation Critical?" Was that your first time directing?
Yeah, that was my first directing thang. It was real... It was easy. Even though it was my first thang I already knew what I wanted and how I wanted it so that's what made it easy. It's like a reality thang so it wasn't really hard. I didn't need no special effects or nothin'. It was all about puttin' the storyline together and makin' the storyboard look tight and it came out cool.

Are you gonna be doin' more videos?
Yeah, I'ma be directing RBL's new video, "Bluebird."

Talk a little about the 1995 Bay Area Rap Calendar.
That was like a little thang I did on the side. It was basically like a little goal I had. I tried to catch the other side of rappers, just chillin'.

Is there gonna be a '96?
I'm puttin' the blueprint on that right now. It might not just be rappers this time though. It might be a little bit of everything this time, but it's still gonna be Bay Area.

What other projects do you have comin' up?
Right now I don't know which single we gonna put out. I'ma try to have a "Stress Factor" video, but I'ma be pushin' the radio version of "Powda 4 The Hoes" which is gonna be "When The Panties Come Down." If they pump it, they pump it. If they don't, they don't. It's gonna be like two songs pushin' at the same time. I got a real nice idea for the "Stress Factor" video. It's gonna be dark, but it's gonna be good. I hope.


Blogger jayo said...

i love old-school nickatina shit like killa whale. its odd, but i notice that out of all the bay area rappers, nicky t gets the most play at CSUs. i mean, socal ass whitey mcwhiteboys bump nickatina. i know he's done campus tours, but i think its probably more to do with filesharing/word of mouth.

August 02, 2005 12:32 AM  
Blogger Doxx said...

Yeah, I'm a huge Dre Dog fan, but the stuff he's done as Nickatina kinda lost me. There's always one or two songs that I really like on his Nickatina albums, but the rest are too awkward. His style changed and the quality of the prodution he used fell off.

He definitely is popular with the frat boys and skater kids now as Nickatina. As Dre Dog you didn't really see that fanbase for him, but once he recorded as Nickatina and changed his style and production, all those cats jumped on it.

August 02, 2005 11:16 AM  
Blogger Doxx said...

I have to say that I Hate You With A Passion, to me, is one of the greatest albums to come out of the Bay. Some of the tracks on there are ridiculously good.

August 02, 2005 11:18 AM  
Anonymous MDrepresentah said...

i agree, yet in the end, it'd be silly to knock him for whatever type of fans/crowds he has now...if anything hes just gained more fans. all for the better...ya know?! all the old listeners still be supporting/rocking his shit, i personally like the old stuff a lot more, but his new stuff isnt dissapointing.

and yeah of course a lot of it was through word of mouth/the internet...but that isnt really bad either, and when is it not like that

peace to Dre Dog for still doin it, and keepin it real when mad kats be on some recycled styled, candy coated shit...

anticipating his new solo, 'Kanthology' might just be on some old vibe steez, and knock kats off they feet!!!

October 05, 2005 4:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I a regular whitey ass mcwhiteboy who doesn't skate and isn't in a frat from northern california and I think his tracks as Dre Dog are his best. But his stuff on Conversation with a Devil was pretty legit.

April 11, 2008 5:27 PM  

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