Wednesday, September 21, 2005


Hey, that last Mac Dre interview is it for now as far as the classic shit.

Also, I'm leaving tonight for a 10 day trip to the Northeast and will be hitting Maine, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut and New Hampshire so I won't have anything new up for a minute.

Once I get back though I'm scheduling all new interviews with tons of cats so check back in a few weeks and I'll have lots of new content for ya.


Monday, September 19, 2005

The Final Classic Interview - Mac Dre (RIP)

By Doxx...

This interview originally appeared in Issue 2 of Strivin' magazine (1997).

Ask most Bay Area rap fans who was one of the first Bay Area rappers that really put it down and most likely they will say, "Mac Dre."

In the late '80s and early '90s, Mac Dre was on top of the Bay Area rap scene. His first release, 1989's Young Black Brotha, was a maxi-single which featured "2 Hard 4 The Fuckin' Radio" and "Young Black Brotha." He then put out his second maxi, California Livin', which featured the now classic song of the same name. Following that was his first EP, What's Really Goin' On?. On March 26th, 1992 (eight days after that EP's release) Mac Dre was arrested for conspiracy to commit armed bank robbery in Fresno. While in Fresno County Jail he recorded (over the phone) his fourth release, the four song, Back N Da Hood.

While many felt the evidence against him was weak and that he was set up, Mac Dre was sent to Lompoc Federal Penitentiary on March 12th, 1993, right when he was on the verge of blowing up big time. Shortly after he began serving his sentence, Young Black Brotha-The Album was released featuring a mix of his old songs and some newer material. This album first introduced the public to Mac Mall who guested on the song, "My Chevy."

Mac Dre was released from Lompoc Federal Penitentiary on August 2nd, 1996 after serving four years and four months and is back to drop some game on all his fans who've been eagerly awaiting his return. He's got a compilation (The Rompalation) out now and in '97 he's putting out a full-length solo album.

Let everyone know what's up with Mac Dre now?
What's up? This is young Mac Dre, fresh out the Feds, handlin' business. This is my second week out. I'm already startin' my own record label, Romp Records. We puttin' together like a sixteen song compilation that will be out on December 10th. It's called Mac Dre Presents The Rompalation with the 187 Fac, Mac Mall, Da 5 Footaz, JT The Bigga Figga, Dangerous Dame, Jay Tee from N2Deep, Beesh, San Quinn, Seff Da Gaffla, Messy Marv, Dubee aka Sugawolf Pimp, Coolio Da Unda Dogg, Young Lay, me and various artists that's gonna be on my label like Stevie D (PSD), Doscha and Young Web. So I'm just in here workin' immediately, tryin' to get back out in the mix.

I heard you're also workin' on a solo album to come after that.
In early '97 I'm gonna drop a solo album on Romp Records and that's just gonna be the bomb. Both of 'em gonna be the bomb, but this is just a taste to let you know what you're in store for. The first one is just like a icebreaker. I'm just lettin' people know that I'm back and the things that's on my mind and where I'm gonna take my corner of the rap game to.

Are you talkin' at all about the case that sent you to the Feds?
I'm not gonna talk too much about the case because one thing I found out while bein' locked up is that when you fuckin' with the Feds it's a no win situation. I can do all the rappin' and talkin' about mothafuckas I want and the end result is I'll be back behind bars hopin' to be out again. I'ma concentrate on makin' money and doin' what I gotta do to keep my pockets extra fat.

You were down for four and a half years, right?
Four years, four months.

Most of your time you spent writin'? That's what you told me last time.
I did a lot of writin' and a lot of game soakin'. A lot of watchin' and a lot of listenin'.

Who's workin' on the compilation as far as production?
We got K-Lou, Khayree, Ferg, Johnny Z. We tryin' to get (Mike) Mosley to do some thangs and that's about it.

Now that you're out are you doing things a little different as far as your own personal behavior?
Well, I'm doin' things a lot different because before I went to jail I was like in the hood 24-7, didn't wanna leave the hood and was just a straight hood person, a straight hood nigga. Now I'm concentratin' more on handlin' my business as far as the rap thang and stayin' shaded and out people's way.

So you saw what you were doin' before is not the thing to do anymore?
I wasn't doin' nothin' wrong really, but just hangin' out. Everybody hang out, but you get caught up hangin' out. And then when you on celebrity status... See, I wasn't thinkin' about me bein' on celebrity status. I was just thinkin', "Man, I'm just a regular nigga. I just rap. I can be out here just like everybody else." But now I see when you on celebrity status the attitude that people have towards you change differently. You just can't be out like every other ordinary dude.

So you saw that the more you came up, the more other people were tryin' to bring you down?
It's a lot of jealous, envious people out there that hate to see the next person doin' good. I was lookin' at it like I'm not gonna change because I'm from here and this is what I do. I'm not thinkin' I'm better than nobody. This is just what I do and what I do has got me successful, but some people can't take it for that. And I'm not just talkin' about dudes from the neighborhood. I'm talkin' about police, city hall representatives, people in the music industry.

Now while you were gone a lot of bad things happened as far as people with your label: DJ Cee got killed, (Young) Lay got shot and then what happened with his baby and girlfriend. How did that affect you while you were in there when you heard about it?
Well, it hurt me. Especially DJ Cee 'cause he was with me from day one and I hate to hear what happened to Young Lay too 'cause that's my folks. I watched him grow up and all that hurted me. But the end result was it motivated me to take this thing to the next level, to a higher level and be successful for my folks that's not here right now like DJ Cee and The Mac.

He (DJ Cee) was one of the original DJ's from Vallejo, right?

Was he the one who got you started?
Naw, The Mac got me started rappin'.

How did he influence you when you first started off rappin'?
I was in the boy's ranch. I got released from the boy's ranch and when I came out he had a maxi-single out and I was like, "Man, you makin' records? I'ma try to start rappin'." So I started rappin', makin' demos. Studio Ton had a little four-track studio downtown and I was fuckin' with him and when my partner The Mac heard my shit he took it to Khayree and when Khayree heard it he said, "We got to have him on wax."

Last time I interviewed you we talked about how things were before between the Crestside, Southside, Hillside and all that. Now that you're out have you associated with any of those people that you used to have beef with?
I talked to a few of 'em. The only one I haven't talked to I think is 40. He probably on celeb status somewhere chillin'. But now it's no animosity. The only conflict I got is with my bankroll. I'm tryin' to have my bank as fat as possible.

So your label, Romp Records, who are you gonna put out on that?
Romp Records, I'm the president. My partner right there is D-Con, that's my executive. A female by the name of Pam, she runnin' A&R and my cousin Los is doin' promotion. We got artists from here to New York, Compton, but we gonna start at home in the Crestside.

Who's gonna be first?
Remember Coolio that rapped on "California Livin'" with me? That's my first artist. He changed his name to Da Unda Dogg. After that we got two artists that's comin' out at the same time, Doscha and Stevie D (PSD).

Can you talk about a few of the things that are gonna be on your first album?
I might come with some stuff I wrote while I was in the pen, but I'm thinkin' about just lockin' up with a Khayree DAT and just writin' all new shit.

What's some of the stuff you're talkin' about?
It's just like I'm a good storyteller. I got a lot of story raps and I could take you to the hood and put you on a all night money mission, grindin' from eight o'clock at night to four o'clock in the mornin'. I got raps about that. I got raps about takin' you to a party where suckas is playa hatin' on you and you have to handle your business. I take you in different atmospheres and then I let people know that the end result of doin' the things that I did is the penitentiary. That's cool if you choose to do it, but just remember the consequences. You gonna be in the pen or, like my homeboy The Mac, be in the casket.

Since you left and now you're back and you've had a few weeks to circulate and talk to people, how do you see people's attitudes?
Since I been back I've seen nothin' but love. From people from my neighborhood to Bay Area artists, everywhere I go they greet me with open arms. Everybody thinks I'm gonna be real successful so I can't let nobody down.

Do you see how times have changed a little bit?
Times have changed and people have changed because when I left it was more of a bond between Bay Area artists. Now you got these people over here, you got people that moved up out of the Bay that don't mess with the people they used to mess with and that kinda tripped me out.

How else have you seen the Bay Area rap scene change as far as more artists and different areas comin' up?
Yeah, everybody rappin' now. When I left, people was just buyin' tapes. Now everybody makin' tapes.

Do you see that as good?
Naw, I don't see that as good because some of that stuff be bullshit and it be cloudin' up the industry. If somebody go to a record store and they got a hundred tapes up there and you might overlook somethin' that's good because you might see somethin' that has a good album cover on it and think that's the bomb and you really lookin' over the bomb. I think people who don't know how to rap should try somethin' else. And if you friends with somebody that's tryin' to rap and they don't know how to rap, tell 'em man, "You don't know how to rap! Give it up!"

I heard you had a little BBQ party, a surprise thing that happened (upon your release).
Yeah, they threw me a little surprise party. Warren G came up, Dru Down, the Luniz. It was cool.

Did you know them before?
Nope. They came just to show. They remember me from back in the day.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Classic Interview - Lateef The Truth Speaker and Lyrics Born

Interview by Doxx...

This interview originally appeared in Issue 2 of Strivin' magazine (1997).

How did the collaboration come together?
Lyrics Born: Everybody on SoleSides works as a group at some point or another. Back in '95 Lateef was working on his twelve inch, "The Quickening," and we did the song "Latyrx" together and it worked out so well we decided to go ahead and do a full length project. Thus the Latyrx album.

I remember I was talkin' to Lateef on the last interview and you said you were gonna do the same kind of album, but with Chief Xcel.
Lateef: The Lateef and The Chief record will probably be out some time next year.

Let's talk about some of the songs on the Latyrx album. "Latyrx" is an interesting song with the doubled vocals, both rapping at the same time is something unique. Why did you choose to do that? LB: Essentially we wanted to do something that was, one: that we hadn't ever done before and two: that we hadn't really heard nobody do before. We had kinda been bouncing around the idea before. The way that the music moves in that song... We liked the way it moved so much that we used that as another element. We both used our own vocals as instruments and then the beat that Shadow had arranged, we used that as an instrument as well.

Could you kind of explain your verses?
LB: We both purposely took different angles so that you could listen to each verse into and of itself, however there were themes that we touched upon in both of our verses that allow you to... The content is kinda similar in certain points and the word use kind of plays off of each other so you can follow it over and across the vocals.
L: It's the same theme sort of, but just different approaches.
LB: So stylistically we touched the same bases at certain points like on "privately" we both say that at the same time. The momentum slows down for a moment and then we build together again. The way that the content is, your ear can travel in between the concepts that we're talking about even though we're both completely on different lines.

The whole SoleSides organization is done real independent, but is known worldwide. How do you feel that with the amount of fans you guys have most of 'em are the more "hip hop" fans and a lot of people who listen to other styles aren't really recognizing you yet? Why do you think it is that you're not getting the all-around recognition?
LB: I think it's just a matter of promotion really. It's like with anything, you can't deny the fact that in the music business you need to have certain pieces in place in order to get your tunes across. So for the most part, all we ever had the money to do was press vinyl. So if that's all you have money for, that's the only crowd you're gonna reach. Undoubtedly, if I had Columbia or somebody behind us we could go out there and put snipes up, we could go out there and do a promo tour which are things that after four years of puttin' out records we're just starting to do now with our own money. And SoleSides, we're making big giant steps everyday. We're working with singers now, we're working with live bands now, we're touring now and on the business end we're doing a lot of new things as well. Going back to your question, it just has to do with a lot of economic issues.

"Balcony Beach." That's an interesting one too. What's the whole idea behind it?
LB: I finished writing it about a year ago, but I started it about two years ago. The whole concept of "Balcony Beach" is basically just that everybody hits that time in their life where you're not a kid anymore. You don't know what's what. You've been using a certain set of values and a certain way of thinking about things and all of a sudden you wake up one day and they don't work for you anymore. Nothing is as simple as it used to be. You gotta take care of yourself, et cetera, et cetera. You start making your own decisions and it's like, "Whoa, which direction am I gonna take?"

You gotta get out there and be a man.
LB: Exactly. That's the whole point.

Now the whole SoleSides crew came together at UC Davis, right? Was it all because there was a radio show and you guys all hooked up there?
L: Essentially it was KDVS radio shows. We heard each other on the radio. That was kinda our haven away from bullshit that exists on the campus itself. That was where we all kind of gravitated towards. We just met up and all had kinda the same ideas about hip hop and where we thought hip hop should go and we were able to share our own experiences and interpretations as well as history that we had gained along the way. That's kinda how it all came together.

I know Lateef is from Oakland. Where were you (Lyrics Born) from originally before you went up to school?
LB: I'm from Berkeley. In one way or another most of us are from the Bay and we all ended up in Davis somehow.

What was it like livin' up in Davis 'cause I've been there and there isn't really nothin' up there?

L: That shit is just school man. It was good in a lot of ways because down here you're exposed to a lot of bullshit opinions about music in general. You're exposed to the propaganda. We were lucky to be shielded from a lot of that and kinda foster our own viewpoint of music and life in general.

You hear about people touring in England and Japan and they say that they seem to appreciate the music more over there than in the US. Do you think that's true?
L: I think that they appreciate music a lot more over there. It's kind of a different value system. Over there they're really into the music. That's not always enough out here anymore. People in America are a little bit more on their own dicks. They don't fuckin' jock nobody. You gotta make sure that they hear your shit. They're not gonna go out lookin' for your shit. So that's a big difference 'cause out there they're lookin' for the new shit. Out here they want you to impress them. America is a real consumer driven exonomy so a lot of times people are defined by what they have materialwise. You could work at fuckin' McDonald's, but if you got a Lexus you're still the man.
LB: I've been to Europe and Japan and they're both very similar in the way that they consume American music. Typically we've been the creators for the world so we have the luxury of being able to take our music for granted. They've typically been the recipient in the relationship. That's not the case, but that's the attitude that we take. There's a lot of good groups in other parts of the world, but typically the United States is looked to as the end all, be all authority.
L: Particularly by Americans.
LB: The way that American culture is, we're in a fast food culture to where we just use something up and then throw it away. Since we're so used to creating it, we're used to having it put on a plate and having it handed to us. In England they've traditionally had to search for it, in Japan they've traditionally had to search for it. I think that comes into play a lot. In America you've got to spoon feed it to people whereas in England or Japan they're out there actively searching for your shit. L: Some shit that we'll throw away, they'll buy for $200.
LB: You go to Japan and Common Sense's first album which came out two years ago goes for $120!

What's next for SoleSides?
L: We have a Muzappers EP coming out which is gonna kind of be like the versatility you see in "Latyrx" superimposed on a "Muzappers" theme. It's gonna have a few new songs on there, a few mixes of "Muzappers." That'll be out like around May. Blackalicious is comin' out with they record which is fat. Then we have a record which is all of us, all of the artists within SoleSides. It's called Quannum. We're all looking forward to that one.
LB: That's only the stuff that's scheduled. You never know what's gonna happen. That's all stuff that's definitely gonna come out, but we're always working on other things. We're going out on tour with Jeru and De La, we got the video coming for "Say That" and "Balcony Beach." When we get back we're gonna be working on whole new records. DJ Shadow just shot his video. His album is out. A lot of stuff is happening right now, you just gotta be on the lookout. Definitely you gotta be on the lookout for the album, the Latyrx album and then the Blackalicious album.

Monday, September 05, 2005

RIP Cougnut

September 4th marked the four year anniversary of Cougnut's death in a car accident. He was a solid dude and I'm proud to have had a chance to interact with him while he was here.