Today Crooked I's long lost Death Row album entitled "Hood Star" is getting released. Big Hutch produced much of that album. He discusses the album in part two. In this first part he talks about overseeing a 2Pac album. The future of g-funk and bootleggers. I was suprised at how well this interview turned out. Big thanks to Big Hutch for being so honest.
HQHipHop.net: First of all, pretty much everyone was asking what’s going on with the new above the law album?
Big Hutch: Well you know im mixing it right now so it’s definitely in effect. It’s called “Victims Of Global Politics”. So its coming out.. mixing that. That’s it so far, I don’t want to give too much up until we actually sit down with Above The Law and get it in you know.
HQH: But its definitely coming out?
BH: Most definitely, It’s definitely coming out!
HQH: When did you realize you made it in the music business?
BH:: Well umm, I guess I realized when I heard my record on KDAY. I mean as far as actually made it as far as the success part or just having a record out? I mean when Livin Like Hustlers came out, the day I seen it in the store I felt like I really made it. You know but actually the feeling of, I’m doing something that I always dreamed about doing was when I first heard murder rap on KDAY. Like I MADE IT, As far as, once you see a record in the store, you really feel like “I’m in the game now”.
HQH: What do you feel is the future of g-funk, since I mean, you pioneered it.
BH: Right, Well you know, I feel the future of G-Funk is this: Whenever we make a record, It’s definitely going to be funky from the G’s perspective. You know what I mean? That’s the whole science on g-funk - basically. I mean as long as we keep doing it there’s a great future for it. I think that other people don’t really understand what g-funk really is and don’t really get the originators and innovators of it, they may say “well if this persons not doing it or that persons not doing it, well it’s not really relevant”; But as long as Above The Law keep putting out records, G-Funk definitely has a great future.
HQH: Aight ya, I peeped out your “Fresh out The Pen” Album and it’s got the old feel with the new.
BH: Exactly! You know one thing about us is that, we always want to look – and me as a producer - Like I always want to look at the game where, you can do new things but as long as you keep, you involved in it, and you don’t get into, the industry standard of what’s going on and what’s relevant, then you will always be ok, because what may catch, it’s like say for instance right now; People know about g-funk , know g-funk from certain other projects and then we put out a record and it goes top ten and multi, triple, quadruple platinum or whatever. Then what is everybody going to do? They’re going to want G-funk, you know? And what we never want to do is – We never want to put out records that aren’t a reflection of how we feel in that point in the game. So in other words , when we did Livin Like Hustlers, we didn’t want Black Mafia Life to sound like livin like hustlers. We didn’t want Uncle Sams Curse to sound like Black Mafia Life, you know what I mean? And so on and so on. So just like now to bring up to speed, talking about Fresh Out The Pen and then we talked about the Victims of global politics that’s coming out, It’s definitely going to be flavorful like we’ve always done and its always going to have that g-funk feeling because that’s us. ut it’s definitely going to be a step into the future. Ya dig? If you want the old record – the special thing about it is going back and getting the old record . If you want the new record its’ just as special because its what we are now. You know, anything that im going to do..I’m never going to do anything that’s trendy, imma set a trend. Imma try to take it to the next level because creatively that’s what I believe that people want from a person that’s creating something.
HQH: Ya it seems a lot of the fans are stuck in the past. You know? They want the artist to keep doing what they always did and it doesn’t work out that way.
BH: Thank you! See here it is: The beautiful thing about that is that, you do have to do that; But what you have to pay attention to is – You have to always look at, what are artist’s doing? If an artist is doing something that’s an industry standard, then the fans will be turned off. If an artist is doing something new that’s them, they respect it. You know what I mean? Because I think the only reason that they buy us is because were artists I don’t think they buy us because were robots. I think that the fans really have it on point but I can’t, the thing about me is that you have to respect my growth , you have to respect where I’m trying to go to and what I’m trying to do as an artist as well. You have to realize I never had fans when I put my first record out. It was all me and my homies on the block doing records . You know what I mean? talking about what was going on. So when I got those fans from doing that, they have to understand that I’m going to continue to have the ideas that I have. Now if I change that for, say for instance I start imitating Kanye West, they’ll pull my card. You know what I mean? Because I’m not doing what I originally started doing and that’s putting a beat on a record
HQH: Aight, aight.
BH: So you can’t really knock the fans. You know people stop me in grocery stores , in the gym or wherever and be like “hey man you know, you need to do that real shit,, that real shit you know?” Make it fresh and new but keep it real you know what I mean? Keep it truly you, basically is what they’re saying because I think that’s what our fans respect, the artistry of it. I don’t really think people respect what a lot of these dudes are doing. And that’s not a dope or wack thing. You know what I mean? That’s not saying that people are wack, its just saying don’t follow other people who are successful. Do you and be successful in your own right.
HQH: Ya, where is soldier boy right now, he’s mopping floors somewhere! You know what I mean?
BH: You have to look at one thing, whatever you’re doing. Are you setting the trend? Or are you being yourself and people are respecting you for your artist integrity, you know, the integrity as an artist. Some people make records based upon whatever the time is and once that phase plays out its like an outfit. It’s like saying who wears these kinds of clothes anymore? Noone wears phat farm and bell bottoms anymore. You know what I mean? It plays out like the fashion plays out. So Vs – I might wear that type of shirt or those type of pants but my music is about the guy next door, the person that’s on the block, the person that gives a fuck about the next person and the next 10 people in line. You know what I mean?
BH: Those type of things will always last long past a dance. Now while we putting Soulja boy, no disrespect to Soulja Boy but it’s a dance, dances play out. Ya feel me? So unless he finds some type of record that makes him relevant of today, you can get in trouble being coined as an artist like that. You know when you’re more of a people… People say “2Pac, Why is he still relevant?”. Because he talked about everyday stuff . He talked about the real struggle, the pain, the drama, the fun. He talked about everything. If a new artist is able to do that, you’ll always be relevant. Its not a matter of whether you banked up, frontin or you know you may have a whole other healthy life from it but you’re going to be relevant by the content you put out there. A lot of times the essence of hiphop was brought forth in that the real diversity of everything.; When everybody starts saying ”Oh, I made a dance like Soulja Boy”, you’re kind of assassinating the culture there. In a sense he’s not doing it but the people, the executives that are telling all these artists to make up a dance like Soulja Boy’s are doing it because now Soulja Boy aint special no more; Because everyone followed them now.
HQH: It’s real disposable. Speaking on that, What is your favorite musician in the whole history of music?
BH: Ooh, that’s a deep question because I got a lot of em. Can I just say my favorite group of all time?
HQH: Ya, that’s fine.
BH: The Beatles man.
BH: Ya, Im a big Beatles fan. People don’t know that I’m a big Beatles fan.
BH: The reason I’m a big Beatles fan is because I like the diversity that they had, you know? I like how the Beatles found their lane in a time where everything was kind of experimental and they zeroed in on it and a whole bunch of things blossomed from what they did. You know what I mean? It went from this extreme to another extreme. They really was into rhythm and blues heavy and into a lot of black American artists real heavy. You know when you really study what’s behind a lot of the stuff, I really dig that. But a single musician, I don’t think there’s really a single musician who I dig a whole lot. I like Hendrix a whole lot. Of course my family; I love my uncle Willie Hutch. You know? A Phenomenal musician…. Clapton… Let me see, Miles, Miles Davis. You know, because I grew up playing the trumpet so I was a big Miles Davis follower. There’s a lot of cats with me.
HQH: I had no idea that you actually played the trumpet or were into this diverse music like that.
BH: Ya, that’s what I studied in high school. I studied trumpet and bass guitar and I studied jazz in high school. That was my thing! I also played French horn in the orchestra and then I played in the jazz ensemble. I played bass and lead flugelhorn in a jazz band.
HQH: How’d you get into rap if you were playing all these instruments?
BH: Well see that’s funny because I got into the rap game when I got out of high school. In the 80’s there wasn’t a lot of west coast rap stuff going on in the early 80’s. My grandmother used to live in Harlem so I used to go to New York a lot. So I started being a fan of that movement and it really took me. When I got out of high school I started trying to develop rapping as an art. I had a groove in high school because hiphop was starting to be that thing for the young guy, for the young cats coming up. Ya dig? So finally when I got out of high school, I went back to New York for a minute and tried to vibe it out. You know, (I) really got cultured into it. You know what I mean? Then I went back to cali and linked up with my boys from high school and we created Above The Law at that time. I really just wanted to express my music through hiphop because it was something that I knew cats our age would gravitate to, quickly. You know what I mean? I was in band and different stuff like that and dug alot of different types of music because I had studied it all my life. My dad was a writer on Motown and my uncles Willie Hutch. So I was always highly influenced with music in general. In my era hiphop was the theme. If you wasn’t rapping, people weren’t trying to check for you at the time. Cuz when bands started phasing out in the mid to late 80’s, hiphop just kind of started taking over the youth. I took to it but that’s why if you listen to Above The Law, It’s more musical, its more jazzy, its more funky, its more vibey, you know?
HQH: I noticed from record to record that there’s always a little bit of experimentation and definitely a difference.
BH: Right, That’s because of my background. It’s definitely deeper than gangsta rap. When I talk to people, I’m deeper than that, I try to tell people like… Yearly, To sit with somebody and say “Ya I know this guy because of the records that he made” But to sit with me and talk with me and to understand what I know as a body of music is that it’s a whole nother level. That’s really why I want people to respect Above The Law, because we respect music and me as a producer, I respect music. I get into a little snafu with a lot of people because I feel like rappers have a bad rap with people saying theyre not musicians but theres a few cats in this game that really respect music. You know? I think that’s why this industry has lasted as long as it has because of particular guys like myself who really love the music in general., all music. You know?
HQH: Theres definitely a lot of good music from the old days that people need to check out.
BH: Definitely! People are so caught up in the now, the microwave. They’re missing that ??? ????, Spanish Soul, Its so focused. When you go back to the old stuff like jazz, it’s so focused. I always say to guys that are creative and making music that now we are the Willie Hutch’s and the Curtis Mayfield’s and the Marvin Gaye’s. We’re the Quincy’s now.; because What we have to do now is start being passionate about the love of music like they were.
HQH: I grew up on hiphop so and I was interested in where they got some of the stuff from and now I’m into the oldies. The old funk and soul records…..
BH: Now for you, Cats like us have to make music like that because you have a greater appreciation for music in general, you know?
BH: When I studied jazz, before our session in our jazz ensemble we had to listen to cats like Coltrane and miles and all these different cats and catch a vibe, you know what I mean? To catch a vibe from cats that really played. If you want to bless the world with phenomenal music like a Parliament Funkadelic or The Ohio Players and all this great music then you got to listen. When you put yourself in a position to say “OK I’m Above The Law but I want to be respected like Isaac Hayes.” You got to appreciate that, your foundation man. You know what I mean? We have to get into it to understand that our history is our future man.
HQH: It keeps building, the hiphop is building on the old stuff and I think eventually something will build up on the hiphop
BH: It just takes us having that real heart to do it cuz its art. It takes a lot for me to put myself on a record and say “Hey, This is how I feel today!” Do I look like a clown with some funny lookin shoes or are they diggin my red hat and my purple shirt? You know what I mean? You got to put yourself out there. This following business that we’re in is terrible man.
HQH: What brought you to Death Row (Records) and how do you feel about your time spent there?
BH: Suge (Knight) wanted me to oversee a bunch of projects there when he was incarcerated. It was good because at the time I started my own company 'West World' and I wanted to do more executive things. So I went over there as being the VP (Vice President) of music, over all the music production and everything. It was cool. I mean just to just. Everything kind of fell apart with how everything ended up with myself. I got caught up in my case and I went away for a minute, then the whole label just went crazy. The time (I spent) there was wonderful because they were working for some great people. We had Crooked I there, we had that guy Eastwood, we would collaborate with Ray J, (and) different up-and-coming artists. They had a lot of talent so it was wonderful. We were trying to do an 'Above The Law' record there at one point in time. Just things got kind of crazy for us on a personal tip as far as my peoples situation and the way the label went. But it was good, it was all good. I was old friends with Suge before they started Death Row we all worked there together when we were together with Eazy-E. So, it was cool.
HQH: Wow, I was always wondering why you went there? I know you have a little bit of, I wouldn't say animosity with Dr. Dre, but we all know the history. And at the time Death Row was releasing a lot of Dr. Dre diss songs.
BH: Yeah, well they did one record, 'Too Gangsta For Radio', which I saw mixed. I came in and mixed and overseen the project but I had nothing to do with any of the drama between Dre and Suge. Honestly, I really only had one issue with the situation; when he had problems with Eric (“Eazy-E” Wright) which was (because) a lot of the stuff that would become on 'The Chronic', was on 'Black Mafia Life' which was the G-Funk conspiracy. so that's the only difference I have right now with Dre. Dre put me in it, so I could never say it's an issue to where I would have animosity to where I couldn't come in and do a job with talented young artists. That had nothing to do with me. Suge gave me the opportunity to put my expertise to work and I went over there and did that. What happened between him and Dre I had nothing to do with. I have the utmost respect for Suge, Dre, Eric, all the above. For me in the industry, the thing about me is I always learned to understand that it's a business first. We're friends by what we do together in the workplace. As far as whatever decisions that people have to make and that underhanded thing they may have done, I'm still breathing and I'm still talented with the gift that God gave me. I'm fine with it all the way, as long as people keep believing in what I'm doing and give me the opportunity to show my talent.
HQH: I know you oversaw the production of (2Pac’s) “Until The End Of Time” Having worked with 2Pac in the past. Could you tell us about that? Also as a side question, Did you agree with the remixing of his songs that a lot of fans disagreed with?
BH: I only got good reviews on the record so I didbt research t like that. I went into do a job that the label said they wanted done. Ive done it. Im a big fan of 2Pac’s too. Great friends, great friend of mine, dear friend of mine, I would never try to do anything to taint his legacy. You know what I mean? My whole thing was that when I worked on the project was that me, I needed to give it a pure effort for a friend of mine that basically, the people in the business wanted done. How that came about was me being an executive at Death Row, me having one of sharpest music focus in the circle, I was put in the front of that. To be frankly honest with you, a lot of the guys who have worked on the original stuff didn’t want no parts of it. And they can say whatever they want to say. I stepped in and it took me two weeks to do that project. It was 6 months, choosing you know, going over a bunch of songs and then it took me two weeks to mix the record. Actually like 9 days. I just did what I was hired to do bro., One thing I hate about the game now: Everybody got a whole lot to say about the gift that god gives to the world instead of sitting back and accepting it and enjoying it. I’ve never seen so many people worried about something that really, truly, people just wanted to give 2Pac something. Give another image of 2Pac out to the world and like I said, we really went in and busted our ass for that. Like I said, I don’t get into all that bro. My whole focus is to stay true to who I am, keep god first and put out some good music bro.
HQH: I definitely agree with you. “Until the end of time” was one of the best posthumous releases from 2Pac and it really came together well.
BH: I appreciate that. Like I said, I really really cared about doing that record. It wasn’t like a lot of time I have noticed, when you put other things and try to sensationalize some stuff. You know I’m going to let this person remix this up. Let this person do it. A lot of people have opinions and I’m not knocking anyone for having that opinion, but when it comes to what I was doing? I’m was putting myself into that! There was nothing going to get past me that I didn’t feel was right that I could say Pac would feel that, Pac wouldn’t feel that. He’s one, my friend 1st. You know what I mean? He’s one of the few people that I can say… He been to my house and ate at my mom’s dinner table. You get what I’m saying? I would never approach a record like that. If somebody called me and said, “Hey, work on this record?” Talking about “Oh ya, he was a fan of his”, No he was a friend of mine!
HQH: So you go into it was a sense of personal responsibility.
HQH: When you came out of prison, did you find anything different about the rap game?
BH: The only thing I found out about the rap game that was different was how we sell. That’s one thing. There were a couple of things that I found. You know? I found that you can be a biter and get respect. You can sound like somebody else and still get respect because you sound like him. That wasn’t happening for me before I left. The originality….. I found you can make the same kind of record, damn near rap the same and still get props, before I left that was biting. Then you can just make up some weird janky little thing, put it on the internet and now all of a sudden over night you’re some kind of big star. You don’t have to be a part of a click. You don’t have to pay no dues. You don’t have to do none of that. You don’t have to rap here, rap there, you know? This here is what I did discover after I got home and researched everything; You still got to be dope to last!
HQH: Or you’ll be like rich boy….
BH: You got to be dope to last. That’s the only difference. You can myspace, there space, itunes , your tunes, there tunes, we tunes, but you still got to be dope to last! At the end of the day, people still download, people still buy stuff. People still check… There’s still people that say whether you’re dope or wack. There’s still people who say whether you’re trendy or you set trends
HQH: How do you feel about people downloading your music?
BH: I think its cool if you aint stealing it. If you buy it through the right channels and download, that’s cool. To me, I think that if you don’t take time to know what the artist is going through and get the whole thing, I think if you download my whole album, that’s a good thing but if you just download one song and think that’s the whole enchilada, I think you’re depriving yourself of the true art that the artist is trying to give you. One song doesn’t embody everything that we are about as an artist. I’m with it if you guys aint stealing. I don’t believe that nothing is free. I pay the price to study, learn, get better, work hard… Why should you be able to just download my music for free? Feel me? I paid my dues for that, that’s wrong. You should be able to click your mouse and go get yourself a loaf of bread for free. That’s just real talk. I dig what goes on behind the scenes but what I’m saying is that: We have put our hard earned time in at the studio and you’re downloading my shit for free, that’s not cool, it can never be cool!
HQH: I’ve talked to a lot of artists coming up and some of them don’t like it and some of them use it as a form of promotion to get their name out there.
BH: Well you know, bullshit aint nothing but chewed up grass too. It helps you have a better lawn but it stinks like a mother fucker. I aint saying that I can’t take the bitter with the sweet. It’s a win. It is when it becomes a lose/lose situation. In some cases, when you put it into the perspective like that, it’s a win/win because now you have more fans than sales but the one thing you have to understand its not right man! The thing about a lot of people now, they try to say “ok ya, I don’t want to try and piss nobody off”,. Steal it if you have to homie, if that’s how you have to get down. You may have to pay your rent and can’t pay for an Above The Law record so steal it. Aight, cool, but don’t act like that’s cool to do because the artists bust their ass doing this shit man. I wish it was that easy. You know what I mean? I’d give you a pass to do that if it was that easy. I never was for a bootlegger but I’d never knock a bootlegger because a bootlegger keeps me out there at the price of promotion basically. I think that its wrong though! If you ask me what’s wrong I’m going to say that’s wrong for you to steal it man. That’s wrong . You know don’t do that man. I got children too man. Shit, that’s what I’m saying. When you balance it out, Ya, some of its great for promotion for people who wouldn’t of really been your fans that can get your music for free that cant really get it. Ok cool but at the end o f the day if you’re just stealing to steal, CMON MAN that can’t be cool, cmon man!
HQH: Will you ever record with any of your old ruthless label mates?
Stay tuned for part 2!
Here´s part 2;
Big Hutch: You mean like Ren? Definitely, everybody who’s still doing their thing, Cube, Ren, everybody. Dre! Whoever extends the invitation.
HQH: So you’d record with Dre?
BH: Definitely, yeah. The drama that people try to create is not with us - The difference is the fact that when we get into it, because everyone gets into it when talking about the g-funk, who took what and who did what; The thing is - everything is all-influenced. If I get on TV and say “I’m influenced by Dr. Dre so I did this type of record”, that’s all I ever wanted. I don’t want any beef. All I want is somebody to say “My little homie Hutch came up with this theory, we tried it on ‘The Chronic’. We came up with these ideas and it came out dope”. I’m not tripping off of who commercialized g-funk! I just want the world to know that Cold 187um and Above the Law are the ones who invented it and put it into the fold. That’s my only problem! My problem isn’t that Dre is wack or all this bullshit. People try to stimulate the aura of “He’s gay” or “He can’t do this”. I’m not that guy! I’m the same guy that when I came to Ruthless (Records) he campaigned for me to put out a record when I was a street hustler. I don’t forget shit like that man. So when it comes to people doing shit and doing it the right way, yeah I’ll collaborate with you because you’re doing the right thing. I tell anybody, I’m not in competition with Dr. Dre. I’m trying to bring solid music to the fold, bring some good ideas to the world and show people who I really am as an artist. I don’t have time for that other bullshit. Anyone who thinks there’s any discrepancy between 187um & Above the Law and Dr. Dre, knock it off! It’s not that.
The only thing is that when you come out and try to coin a certain style that you know wasn’t yours, you could have easily said “I was influenced by my people.” That’s when it gets wrong. It’s not that he was malicious and all. It’s not like he said "Above The Law aint shit” and “fuck him up the ass.” He never said that so I don’t have a problem with it. I don’t want people to get in that business and I don’t want people to go back and forth about me and Dre. I know who I am. I know I innovate. I want people to respect me for that. I don’t want anybody to have to knock out or drag out arguments over me. I want people to just respect those who deserve the credit, period. Don’t be a bandwagon hopper. Thank who deserves the credit and leave it at that
HQH: At the time a lot of people either went with Ruthless or Death Row because of the beef…
BH: I can respect that if it’s the Lakers vs. the Celtics, but this is just me trying to do music and Dre trying to do music. Respect it, it’s cool. We never got in the studio and said “fuck you” to each other. None of us had anything to do with what he and Eric were going through, legally or any of that. We were just two guys that worked together that at the time; I created something that he saw was dope. I used it on Black Mafia Life and he used it on The Chronic. The Chronic came out first, Black Mafia Life after so you say tomato I say tomahto but the real truth is that people make a story out of anything they want to.
HQH: Is there anyone out there that you want to work with?
BH: Hip-hop wise, I’d like to work with Jadakiss, The Game and Mary J. Blige are definitely some of the names on my list right now.
HQH: Mary J. Blige is tight. That would be a good collaboration!
BH: That’s right, put it in the air!
HQH: Do you have any regrets throughout your entire career?
BH: I regret that we don’t have Eazy here anymore. That’s kind of like the turning point of my career. I feel that when we lost Eazy, we lost a lot of momentum and morale. When you have someone who truly believes in who you are and what you’re doing, and you lose that, you’re out here doing it on your own. That’s the only thing that I can say I regret. As far as anything I have done… I’ve never regretted anything that I have made. I’ve always felt strong about my decisions because they have always been pure. It’s always been about the right and how it felt, ya know? No regrets when it comes to that. Just the fact that I think we lost a major player. Most of the things here today wouldn’t even be here if it wasn’t for him.
HQH: He had that charisma. It didn’t even matter what he said. He always came off right.
BH: When you look at business, it’s hard to understand who a person is. He did the right thing at the right time. He put his all into it and said “I don’t give a fuck what anyone thinks about me.” A lot of people have done things and reached great success but no one has done it like that. It was basically “I’m going to take these kids from a dope spot and make them artists. I’m going to take these kids from Cleveland, Ohio and make em something, or take it back even further than that; I’m taking The D.O.C. and all these other guys and create the way.” In turn it creates a phenomenal producer like Dr. Dre or a great artist like Ice Cube. Who dares to do stuff like that now at a time where everyone is so cookie-cutter? He took an idea that no one had in mind and said “This is what I’m going to do! This is what I’m going to put my money into!”
Let me tell you a funny story. We were doing ‘Uncle Sam’s Curse’ and we finished it. We listened to all the records like “Kalifornia” and the last record we played was “Black Superman”. We were in there vibing and Eazy said: “That’s the single right?” We said “Yeah!” He said, “Ok then, give it to me!” I asked, “Out of all these records you heard, you picked that to be the single?” He said that out of all these records that one record shows me everything that I just heard on one record. That’s going to tell everything that people want to hear about ‘Uncle Sam’s Curse’. That’s how sharp he was. That’s how in tune he was with what he saw about Above The Law. He said “One thing I know is that when you make a record, y’all going to give me y’all!” The funny thing about him is that he never came to the studio until I said I was finished. He said “You’re going to have me in there licking my chops and then talking about how you need to finish something up. When you’re finished call me.” That is why I always say, “Why do people always count out Eazy E’s brilliance?”
HQH: Bone thugs are still doing it today.
BH: He’s brilliant. He heard that! The funny thing about it is he would tell you “I’m not a music person. You’re a rapper. You’re a musician and that’s what you do. I’m a business man and if I hear it and feel it and have faith in it im going to put it out.” All these guys who float around from Harvard and Howard and all these schools and MA’s and PHD’s and get into the music industry to go to parties and pop extacy and champagne and act like they’re doing so much. These were regular dudes on the street. He just said if you have talent I believe in you because I don’t know what the fucks going on but I feel it when I hear it.” All these dudes with degrees and “I know everything about everything”, what do they do when they get into office? Copy what the next mother fucker doing!
HQH: A lot of the A&R’s are under pressure do go find the next act that’s just like this artist. Eazy had that ear…
BH: He had that ear to say “Ok, I’m not the expert but i feel it!” Sometimes when you come in “I’m just starting, I understand, I did these and passed these at the top of my class” and all this old crap and you forget - what does it feel like? Does it feel like something that the dude two doors down going to be playing while cleaning up his house or when he’s sitting up there playing dominos? That’s the type of vision that you’ve got to have in this. What does it feel like? Damn if WWQK is going to play it. What about lil JoJo on the block right there. Are him and his homies going to be mobbin’ too it? They’re going to keep ya rolling’. WWQK is going to move onto the next mother fucker.
HQH: I know you get asked this a lot, but how do you feel about the west coast scene right now? It seems whenever someone is about to blow they disappear, like Bishop Lamont. Crooked I is getting his due but still…
BH: If you get back to all the things we’ve done on the west coast, our movement was more of an “Us” movement. We never gave a fuck about how we sold. We didn’t really care about how the industry sells. I think that a lot of cats that are starting to make records nowadays are looking at the record industry only. They’re looking at what the industry thinks about them, but the industry is just a small part of what goes on here. You shouldn’t worry about radio, ringtones and downloads. Go into the studio and make a record that Lil JoJo and his homies are going to buy and you’re good. I try to tell people that are coming up: “Do you want to make it out here? Do what we did. Don’t give a fuck about nobody and don’t give a fuck about nothing but what you do.” Your art will tell the whole tale. Once we get back into just going in and making a record, how we feel, it’s going to feel good to the world again.
We start making records based upon the global scene. We don’t make a record that says “I’m from the west coast.” I’m from the west coast but if you listen to an Above the Law record, it can be played anywhere. I think we should stop focusing on all this regional nonsense. I’m an artist from the west coast but I want to be sold globally. That’s a flaw right now in what everybody’s doing in music - people are trying to concentrate too much on “I just want to get on!” Instead of saying “I just want my art to be sold from the artist’s perspective”. Executives who want to sell my art are going to do one thing: He’s going to sit up there and ask “How do I fit you, nigga?” instead of saying “How do I give the world this art in a productive way?”
You have to realize that when we first started out, hip-hop didn’t have a formula. Now the formula is “Make a record like this and put it on the radio”. “That’s a radio hiphop record.” What’s that?! Who does that? When have you ever head of that? In hip-hop you can rap over jazz, funk, classical, metal or whatever. There’s no box in that. It’s one of the freest forms of music that exists. As long as you rhyme and you have a hell of a style, you’re respected. As far as the west coast is concerned, we have to be about us, not about throwing up the W all the time. It’s about “This is where I’m at with it, this is where I want to get to” I was just at a show and someone said “We love that shit out there in New York.” Cats on the street love it. It might not be getting played on the radio, but I love to hear that because that’s who I make records for. I don’t make records for a program director at a radio station. I make records for cats in them projects, in them boroughs, in these hoods and in them sticks. Unless we start getting back to making records for the people, we’ll never get back to that mode man!
HQH: I’m out here in Boston right now and I told a few friends about this and they were hella excited. There are a lot of fans out here.
BH: I’ve been coming to Boston since ’89. Like I said, I do music for the world. I’m from here by way of Dallas, TX and by way of Harlem, NY. California, Texas and New York are my biggest influences because I’ve lived in those places and I’ve been highly influenced by a lot of that stuff. When I go to make records I don’t have any prejudices. I think that’s why cats respect what I’ve always done and my focus in it, because I’ve always been about the music, for the sake of the music. Much love to Boston too!
HQH: Thanks. I read a couple of years ago that you had a clothing company in the works. What’s going on with that?
BH: I’m still working on it. It’s slightly twisted right now. I had to go deeper into the fashion world and get my dream team together. Hopefully I’ll be able to launch something in the summer of ‘11.
HQH: Is that the only venture you’re dealing with at the moment?
BH: I’m getting into the fashion industry and some interior design. I’m also getting involved in the club and restaurant industry. That’s probably the next venture I’m going to deal with, an entertainment restaurant and hotel/resort. When I first got home I was doing some real estate business but then the market got stupid. By that, I met a bunch of people who are going to help me develop resorts, restaurants, and sports bars. I’m developing some stuff at the moment, but probably in the next 4 years I will have some stuff in the works.
HQH: I take it you’re doing really well then?
BH: Yeah, I’m ok. I want to get back into what I really love to do and that’s my music! That’s why doing “Victims Of Global Politics” has taken a lot from other things I wanted to do. I focused on the Above The Law record because I want you guys to understand that we’re a unit and we’re back on point.
HQH: Is there anything you can tell me about the album? It sounds highly political from the title.
BH: I don’t want to kill it. I can tell you who produced the record. Me, myself, I produced it along with the group, Battlecat, Kill from Compton’s Most Wanted and DJ Premier.
HQH: DJ Premier?
BH: Yes, Premier has a track on there too. When you hear the record it’s just like it is, victims of global politics. To sum it up, what you’re affected by in Boston, I’m affected by that as well. Shit, the price of gas is too high, its $5 for a loaf of bread, I just broke up with this chick, my brother‘s doing life in jail, me and my mama had an argument, my ex girl baby mama drama – you know, all of that. All the things that you are politically affected by, by someone else’s gain. It’s always the little man, the grinder who is affected by it. We’re all victims of global politics. It’s that people’s record again. Whether it’s being in the club or “I got drama, you know, my mama wants me to go to church but I have to be out here on this block making this money cause that ain’t working for me” - When you hear the record you’ll be like “Ok, aight.” It’s back to that.
HQH: Do you think conditions have gotten better for the youth in California? Is it the same as it was 20 years ago?
BH: It’s like the 80’s man, the educational system, the judicial system and the economy. It just reminds me a lot of the 80’s. People are survivors first. We all have to eat but we all have to stick together too. That’s how it should be but it’s crazy. When I look at the future… See, my son is 13, and when I look at how a lot of his programs are being cut out of school, it just seems terrible. I’m fortunate to be able to have my son in a fairly decent school where he has these type of programs that we pay for as far as tax payers are concerned, but the inner city schools, they cut the after school programs and the extracurricular activities. It’s pushing the kids back on the block!
HQH: I have a friend in LA right now who is a teacher and her school just got shut down because of the budget crisis.
BH: You build more penitentiaries but you shut down schools? That’s backwards. You don’t want to empower people with education but you book them because they’re uneducated, for a crime that they probably had to commit to feed their families? Wow, victims of global politics ain’t it? This doesn’t have anything to do with you not doing what you want to do, or what you’re supposed to do. Opportunity is a blessing. If you take opportunities away, expect a lot of shit to go down!
HQH: What do you think of Obama?
BH: I like the fact that we have a black president because from the perspective of him coming into the office, it shows that we do have a chance and we do have a voice as people. When I look at people I think sometimes they feel that black people aren’t as educated as white people. I think that anyone should be in a position if they’re intelligent enough to be there but one thing I don’t like is that we put too much power in the presidency and want Obama to change everything. There’s a whole different power that’s in place and we all know that. Call it conspiracy theories or whatever but the president has always been the fall guy. If things don’t get better, it’s going to get worse and its going to be blamed on that man. I think he’s doing as good a job as he can. Like we say in our camp, “It’s a thankless job.” Welcome to America. No one is going to fix that, trust me.
HQH: Bush messed things up so bad that no matter what he does…
BH Yeah, no matter what he does. No one is going to thank him for it. He got health care and no one will thank him, they’re still going to fight about it.
HQH: Does California have any kind of health care law?
BH: Everything is slim to nothing out here. This is a place where either you have something or you have nothing. There is no in-between out here. If I didn’t have a little bit of a career that I was holding onto, I don’t know where I would be right now.
HQH: Your uncle was Willie Hutch, the man who made “The Mack”, one of the best soundtracks to come out of his era. Can you tell us something about him?
BH: My father was a writer and he wrote on “The Mack” and some other Willie Hutch records. I was really young when “The Mack” was around. They were cutting a lot of other records that I was around. The thing about it is - my uncle always supported what I was trying to do. As far as my life in rap, that’s why I chose rap, because of my uncle and my father. They are my biggest influences in doing this because I always dreamed of being them. I was too young to experience “The Mack” but I was around when some of those records were recorded. The experience I had was being in the studio and I could barely see the buttons on the tape machine, it seemed like a giant. I’ve been in Motown when I was hella young. My eyes were as big as coke bottles. It’s the reason I do what I do now, because of him and my dad.
HQH: Do you use new equipment now or has it been steadily the same since you started?
BH: I use reason now. I use a lot of modules. I’m keyboard crazy. Anything I need, I can get it through there. It’s just mad efficient. I can write at any point with that. Instead of lugging around a lot of equipment, in my old studio I had a lot of powerful shit and what I did was just have them take all the modules and load them onto a hard drive. I still use an MPC3000. The Motif, that’s the master. When I really want to play big I use that. You know the big board. If I want to go all the way up the scale, I play the piano. I never studied piano but my dad taught me how to play.
Now technology has made it possible to get all those things and not need that gear anymore. My shit is funky as ever. To tell you the truth, I fought that shit for a long time. When I came home, that’s the one thing that was different, all this technology. I went to the music center and they said “You need to get into this program.” You know, re –learning everything. It took me a minute and someone that was a close friend of mine just to sell me on it. You go to a store you know and they try to sell me something new every week, if I let them.
HQH: Are you using samples or do you use the synthesizers in reason?
BH: I don’t sample. That’s not conducive with me. I either replay or I produce it myself. A couple of producers come through and they show off stuff that’s samples. I don’t know about you but me as a producer, I don’t do any sampling.
HQH: I can tell from your latest albums that they definitely have an evolved sound.
BH: I don’t do that. That’s disrespectful to my family name and my heritage. I decided not to sample.
HQH: Because you’re a musician.
BH: I decided not to do that. I hear guys chopping stuff up and that’s cool. I can dig that but me, I can’t do that.
HQH: Can you tell us something about this Crooked I album “Hood Star” that came out recently?
BH: It’s definitely a great record by Crooked I. If you like Crooked I now, it’s going to show you what he evolved from. It wasn’t one of those records that just weren’t good enough to come out. We couldn’t reach terms with the label to where they were sold on the fact. We talked about it earlier and they just didn’t feel right. “Oh how are we going to...?” “How are we going to package…” I understand all of that. In between the fact that it’s a business, all of us try to be like “Ok, I’m a musician, I’m an artist. Here goes my music. You’re the marketing expert, go market.” I think that people don’t understand that. Lyrically he’s on point and Crooked I has always been a hard worker. All that online stuff and his mixtapes, he was always like that and he was like that on Death Row (Records). He’s really a worker and he’s really sharp at what he does. Do I think he worked hard on this record? Definitely!
HQH: Did you rework any of the songs?
BH: I wasn’t fortunate enough to go back and work on things because of the legal problems that they were having. They couldn’t get in touch with everybody. They took what we had done and gave it to the world which I think is better anyways. I think the world deserves to hear what I was doing then. That’s like saying we shot this movie in 95 but nobody ever got to see it, and now you’re able to see it. Then you have to go re-film the story and remake it. That takes away from the idea of what he was doing then, not just what he’s doing now. That’s what makes it special.
HQH: Did you produce a lot of songs on it?
BH: I produced about 70% of the record and I have overseen the whole record.
HQH: Anything else you would like to say?
BH: Keep an eye out for Victims Of Global Politics, I’m mixing it right now. Much love!