The son of Motown composer Jerry Long, Sr., Kokane is known for his legendary work with the classic group Above The Law, and featuring on Dr. Dre’s masterpieces, aka The Chronic and 2001, he is the industry’s most featured artist.
This is made even more clear when you scroll through the man’s catalog and you see appearances listed with Ice Cube, Snoop Dogg, Tha Eastsidaz, Eazy-E, Xzibit, Too $hort, Young Buck, and the list goes on.
Dubcnn recently caught back up with the legendary Kokane to talk about what he’s been up to, what new projects we can expect from him, working with the original funk masters George Clinton and Bootsy Collins, and about the possiblity of seeing him feature once again with Dr. Dre on the mega-producer’s final opus, Detox. We touch a lil' bit on the upcoming presidential election, more specifically Barack Obama, and we get Kokane’s deep, insightful look into the west coast’s status in the industry.
Koka is also finishing up the new project with Meech Wells titled The New West World Order Four dropping in November, as well as his solo album, Back To The Future due out early next year.
Here is Kokane – Raw & UnKut!!
DubCNN; Kokane interview. September 08
Stay tuned to dubcnn for more on updates on Kokane and as always we encourage you drop your feedback and comments on the forum or by dropping me an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dubcnn: Koka, what’s been going on with you, homie?
Man, been working like a chicken with my head cut off man; got a lot on my plate now. I just finished an album called Back To The Future. I got cameos on there from Bootsy Collins, Cameo, George Clinton, Tina Marie, Rakim, Above the Law, Crooked I, Redman, Daz, Kurupt and a couple more surprises. Back to the essence we call ourselves the new Parliament. We about to hit’em hard, man, especially from the west coast!
Dubcnn: Who do you have producing on this Back To The Future record?
We went with these cats in Seattle called High Powered. We have the album together, but we are shopping it around trying to get the right deal. I am working with this kid named John Silva, and a couple of more people like definitely Meech [Wells], Knucklehead, Baldy and LayLaw It is one of them heaters, it’s a finger banger.
Dubcnn: So you’re still a part of the High Powered Entertainment group then?
Yes! Besides that, me and Meech [Wells] done hooked up and we’re bringing it back to the essence. You know, we’re fixing to do a lot of stuff like Parliament did. They started out with Parliament, then they did the Funkadelics; we’re going to do all kinds of stuff like that. It feels real good to do all this and hook back up with that brother because at one time over at the Dogghouse it was really magic, and Meech was a part of that, so big up to that dude.
Dubcnn: In the last interview you did with Dubcnn you were talking about a group called Toe Jam, so all of that is still full steam ahead?
Oh yeah! That is actually the name of my band like Kokane and Toe Jam, like Parliament and the Funkadelics. It’s a 10-piece setup, just minimized from the Parliament thing, but it’s hitting just as hard. But yeah, it’s a beautiful thing; the funk is back! That’s what I’m telling everybody. Coming out here from the west coast, sometimes we kind of drift away and everybody’s got a season to go ahead and have the flag; like the South got it, like east coast got it, but now it’s coming back to the essence from the west coast because getting tired of just getting nit picked on. The radio stations are disrespecting artists out here that really have talent. So, we’re like no more! There is a big campaign going on out here. The big wigs are going to have to start embracing the ones from the new west. We’re supposed to be one big family; ain’t no kings out here. And if you look at everybody else, the reason why they treat us like that is because of the way we treat each other out here. So all of that monotony is getting ready to go out the window, homie.
Dubcnn: You talk about the funk is back and you talk about that toe jam I am interested well wondering if it is going to be like a modern day Parliament can you expand a lil' bit more on that I know you said it is made up of 10 people but can you tell us a little bit more about it?
I mean, when I said we had Cameo, George Clinton, Bootsy Collins and Tina Marie that shows you where we are trying to take it, you know what I am saying? We ain’t playing with it. I don't down grade nobody’s music, but we are really taking it there. For the first time in rap history, with Kokane being put into the Guinness Book of World Records for being the most featured rap artist, I was the one that could do that. I put together an old album with the old that sounds like it came from the 70’s. That’s what the game needs right now; it needs to get back to doing that real music, period! To me there are a lot of cats out here that are getting back to the essence. I’m not dissing nobody, but right now music sounds horrible nowadays! I can't knock their hustle, but from the old school point of view you got to keep it funky, jack, regardless. Across the world people want to hear the funk. So that is what we are bringing back to the people, that real sound, where black music can be respected
Dubcnn: Working with cats like Bootsy Collins, George Clinton, Larry Blackmond, etc., what’s it like to get in the studio with them cats and work with them?
Man, it is mind blowing! No disrespect to the Snoop’s and Dre’s or anybody, but it ain’t nothing like working with them cats. When I first came in there and met George, I am not even going to lie; I got street credit and all that, but I kind of clammed up homie. Because it was like, man, this is the dream come true. Then when you see these guys actually work it has never left them. It’s amazing! That’s when I say O Lord, thank you Jesus; I’m on the right track because this is what I was made to do. My dad was a writer he wrote Just My Imagination, Still Waters Run Deep, Smiling Faces; so it was in the blood already. Seeing George Clinton in the L.A. Coliseum long before most people were even born, I mean it grabbed me. I was trying to sing like him and everything and then to finally meet and work with him was nice. It’s like the old funk landed with the Mothership and the new funk landed with the Mothership and it’s off the Richter scale, trust me.
Dubcnn: See fans, not just of rap music, but all kinds of music get stuck in different era’s; like for me I like the whole 88' through 96' rap era because I feel that is when rap was at its funkiest. I feel like music has lost it’s creativity, and it’s missing that originality that came before and during that time.
Yeah, that is what we are trying to apply to the game with a lot of other people. When you listen to the Funkadelic and Parliament they had a message in all of their songs, you know what I am saying? Chocolate City was talking about the social breakdown of society, and being from a suppressed environment, growing up in the hood. It is like we done lost our damn minds. I am basically saying this: get your ass out the camera shop cause I got something to say to people. It was like a tsunami wave of people just bamboozled! Life just don’t consist of diamonds and bitches and bars and hanging out all the time; it is real folks just going through real pain then it starts to be a problem. That’s what funk music is and I am trying to express it in our music man. It is a problem when 10,000 kids know 10,000 hooks before they know two sentences of scripture, before they know how to apply the intelligence in everything. It’s talking about that, but at the same time incorporating the music and messages with the sound; and talking about how most blacks cannot even go to college out here, get in trouble with their credit and have to sell dope in the streets. How jails become big business for cooperate people and different other situations. It is like people are scared to go there, but it’s gotta be back to that old mentality each one teach one. That is what the Funkdelic’s and Parliament’s represents. It’s like the bottom of the soul done dropped out for a minute, but you got people that is getting back on that roll.
Dubcnn: Why do you think people are scared of speaking their minds and standing up, unlike what we’re seeing with Killer Mike, Ice Cube and Nas?
It is a fear factor thing. it’s like we speak our minds, but the media played it out like African medallion chains; that it is wrong to go ahead to go head and talk something positive and helping your brother out. That is why I love Public Enemy a lot because they were so gangster and yet they talked about a positive thing. That is the one thing and reason why they shut that out because the biggest thing in order to get you off that focus is to discredit you. They didn't discredit talking about positive music and bringing it back to the funk for a long time. So, when it starts getting out there like that it spreads like a cancer and then it starts reaching out demographically to the masses. That is why you have people that are not interested because it is like it is wrong to talk about something. It’s like, you can shake your ass to it, but it seems like it is wrong to talk about God or why Brenda still has a baby and different things like that. It is like Pac really was the last of the Mohicans talking like that. We have to get back to that because we are, to a certain extent, responsible for everything we do. The homie’s are lying when they say they don't.
It is like I said before, how are you not responsible when five of them homie’s know five thousand rap songs before they even how to finish SAT scores? Man, this rap music and rap culture is deeper than all that, but we have to get back to the soul music. I am a firm believer in making raw funk, but I believe that God is back in soul and because of that we can turn this thing around, and start doing live tours. It’s like all these people we have out here on the west coast and none of them really embrace each other because it’s a ‘me’ situation, when we should get together and start doing tours, you know what I mean? The younger generations look up to you, so let’s go ahead and embrace the youth and put aside about what a dude want to do for me and about who is the big wig, who is the king and things like that. We have to get back to the realness of it and keep it one hundred.
There was a time and era, when we were coming out with these records in the 90's like Black Superman, Uncle Sam’s Curse, Funk Upon A Rhyme, No Pain No Gain and people were like ‘ah, I feel that because I’m going through that’. It’s like the whole game has been bamboozled! Twenty years in the game and still it is a blessing to be alive and play this post. Most people who are in the game this long are like ‘I am in the game this long and blah, blah’. No! It is a honor to be in the game this long to play that post, and some people mis-use their influence and that’s going to catch up to them because the people on the west coast are hungry for getting their break again. From where they come from there are families behind this. In the west coast culture that says it all in a nut shell: there are families behind us. So, anybody out there, I am not going to say no names, but anybody, they need to come down off that high ladder that they are on and come down and try to embrace these young brothers.
Dubcnn: That’s real talk! Now, you’ve worked with a who’s who of people like Big Hutch, Dr. Dre, Eazy-E, Xzibit, Snoop, Bootsy, George Clinton, Young Buck, Spice 1, Too Short, Ice Cube, and more! I mean, the list goes on. You’ve been featured on so many platinum, classic and influential albums, more than anyone can count. Being the most featured artist out there, is there anyone left for you to work with in this industry?
Man, just God's work and that is coming soon *laughs* That is it, man, to use my influence and talk to these brothers. Traditional is traditional, but then God is waking up the soldiers to go ahead to use their influence and help these kids. We have to start pumping out positivity, upliftment, and encouragement. That is where I am going with it; modern day Curtis Mayfield with a Bootsy twist and George Clinton.
Dubcnn: Talk about hooking back up with Meech, and what that means to you.
I am glad I hooked back up with Meech because we have fun doing what we do. Looking at all them cats like Rick James, Stone City Band, Zapp, I mean there is something about that dude, man. He’s incredible! I am glad to see him getting his opportunity to get his chance again because for a time it was real pure over at the Dogghouse at one time. For good or for bad I am going to say cause the situation was wrong because we are past that, but it was beautiful. When Tha Eastsidaz were out and Meech was over there, Cat and all of them; it was beautiful over there, I swear to God! It was like we were going everywhere and you could feel it. It was the same intensity when NWA was doing their thing. For better or for worse, the same thing the devil is designed to take away, is the same things that God helps me on, you know what I am saying? I bump into the homies every now and then; there is not no love lost, but at the same time I know where we came from Above the Law. We were the originators of G-Funk, period. And if you do your home work, we have not been saying nothing for a long time about where a lot of stuff came from, we felt at that time people did concepts. Now it is time for people to know the truth about everything. Like the Lord says, ‘the truth shall set you free!’
Dubcnn: My partner, Jonathan Hay & I, interviewed Hutch a few weeks ago and I asked him this question about G-Funk: Twenty years later, is there a place for G-Funk in today’s era?
Ah yeah, because George Clinton’s stuff that he made back then people are paying a hundred to a hundred-fifty dollars on Amazon for those records! If you hear some of them beats that Hutch did back on Uncle Sam’s Curse was amazing homie! We were the blueprint out here on the west coast for a lot of brothers to get that sound because we were touching on it. Eazy exposed it, it did what it could do with the controversy of him passing, but it was amazing, man. I run into everybody, man, from Outkast, Dungeon Family, and they’re like, ‘what was you all doing back then? It’s like you all was on a Mothership for real!’ I said, ‘we were just funky.’ That was that era, we was wet in the funk. That is all we did was study records: the music theory, concepts, beats, funk. and then you know inadvertently people like it. Now we’re right back together: Above the Law and Kokane we back.
Dubcnn: Are you all working on anything right now?
Yeah, we’re working right now! I live out in Seattle now and I chopped it up with those guys and it was beautiful, man, beautiful. From the fan perspective all across the map that’s what they want to see. When you water down stuff for so long, people finally wake up and start saying ‘I am tired of hearing that rinky-dink m mess!.’ So, we come with that fire and, you know, strength through unity and if the west coast embrace each other its going to come back much stronger.
Dubcnn: That’s where I respect Snoop because he was instrumental in bringing out Tha Eastsidaz, and now Dubb Union and WarZone. He’s been upfront about keeping the west united, you know so it’s a good look to that.
Yeah, man it’s cool. That brother is definitely doing his part, but instrumentally each person has to do their own part not just Snoop, but it has to be Meech, Dre, Snoop, Cube, and guys like Glasses Malone and other up and coming people. It has to be everybody. There is no reason why the west coast does not have their own hip-hop award show and the whole word done nitpicked. We got to move through intelligence right now, it can’t just be a one-man band; we all have to get in together because it just can’t just be Snoop doing his thing with the Western Union over there. That is tight that they're doing their thing, we just can’t hear one person on the radio, you have to start hearing west coast artists. As far as the radio is concerned I am going to put this out here on the limb: they have never catered to me, but they had to play me because I was on so many songs, but it is time to go in there and they are going to be forced to play our music, guaranteed!
Dubcnn: Are you working with Snoop?
I am not working with him currently, but I bumped into him not too long ago. We talked and went on our ways. It is all good you know we have to keep it comfortable like that. We both are doing our thing.
Dubcnn: You mentioned back in April that you and Snoop were going to be doing a song called The L-Code. is that still in the works?
I wanted to put him on that, but at the time I guess he is in a situation where he couldn't get back. Hopefully we can get back in there again. I love him to death, but we got to keep it pushing.
Dubcnn: You were on Dre's Chronic album, and you were on his 2001 album as well. In the last interview with Dubcnn you had mentioned that you guys have rekindled everything, so does that mean that we will see you on Detox?
Man, who knows? That man has a million and one songs! I sent him some stuff, and we briefly talked about it, but there is nothing locked in like that. I sent him some stuff and I hope to be one of them songs that he likes on there. You know, our peoples have been talking and so who knows? But it would make since.
Dubcnn: Talking about Dre and bringing things back to an essence. What is the possibility of not so much of an NWA reunion, but about getting Dre, and Hutch producing again and then having Kokane on there what are your thoughts about that?
Man, it is time consuming you know. Everybody has their own schedule. Those are two very great black men and they showed each other a lot of stuff and it is sad sometimes when we can’t put away some stuff. The odds of them doing it is pride, but not saying that Hutch is right or wrong because that is my cousin. And not saying that Dre is right or wrong, but if they come together and can put their pride aside then you know it would have to be for the love because Dre is filthy stinking rich and Hutch is well off. So if the money is thrown out, the pride put in the back pocket, and the love is there then we can do some great things, man.
Dubcnn: Yeah it just got me thinking because one thing I heard Dre talking about on his Detox album is that he said he was trying to work with all the people that he has ever worked with before. I was wondering how far back he was willing to go with that.
Man, you know how this game is where things just be changing and keeps on changing. Through all the nonsense, man we come together as brothers and the unity, but some people on the west coast want to treat a brother like he is a flea or something. God really does not like ugly and it will catch up to you. I think God for humbling me because that arrogant stuff is out the window. A lot of these people are in the closet this and in the closet that. Man, drop the issues and embrace the love for your brother! Some people are not going to listen to that because they are stuck with their insecurities. I mean some of the biggest stars out there are rapping and don’t want to embrace their insecurities. It isn’t no use in talking about mirror, mirror on the wall who is the fairest of them all? What happens when you die broke and by yourself? You can have all them chips and then when a whole coast turns on you because you've been faking everybody out for all them years, making broken promises. It will catch up to you. What I am telling you is 100% true! When brothers hear this they are going to be like ‘he’s telling the truth!’
Dubcnn: You said the word campaign earlier and it got me to thinking: what are your thoughts on Obama?
Oh man! Your mama if you’re not for Obama! *laughs* That is a good brother and a beautiful thing that is going on right there, man. For so long we’ve been conditioned to think that things can’t happen for us. To see Obama up there has my family talking, my aunties and uncles are talking saying “we never did think that in this lifetime that it would be a black man having a chance to be president.’ The same thing I told you about making a difference doing the live tours, man yes we can! We can do the live tours to make a difference, homie that is why I love that dude. Us as a culture we need a break and something new to look at because for a time all we had to look at is the systems way of doing things; setting us up for big business making beds and couches in jails, not thinking about how they are taking away all your education and everything. Big ups to Obama because everyday, as a black man I wake up and I got on an Obama shirt, pants, hats, pins, and even wrote on my shoes Obama! That is good for us. If God is with you who can stand against you? So all the little stuff that we are used to doing we have to start thinking to ourselves let me get with this dude and get on television and politics to show them that we are not a bunch of dummies. Let me show them how we are not a bunch of stereotypes. Look how we are getting together.
Dubcnn: It’s been great to be seeing all your changes and maturity throughout the years in the game. It’s truly an inspiration.
Thank you! God bless you!
Dubcnn: I think that about does it on this on Koka. Is there anything else you want to say before I let you go?
To all the people out there, do not concentrate on who or what people think. Like I said if God is with you, yeah I know I might cuss and then turn around and say God bless you but God and I are working on that you know keep your head up and keep believing in the sound. Anybody out there rapping black, white, Latino, or whoever tell you nothing because you can do it if you put your mind to it you know what I am saying. The odds are not against you that is what I keep telling the whole world and public.
Mad love to Dubcnn and much love for life. Every two weeks we are going to be slapping them upside the head! Me and Meech are going to be hitting them with thumpers, we already have over 60 beats and songs done exclusive on Dubcnn much love homies.