Friday, September 24, 2010

Ice Cube interview with DubCNN September 2010

Dubcnn is right here in Los Angeles with Ice Cube at his video shoot. You're shooting a couple of videos right now…

Ice Cube: Yeah we shot one yesterday and we're shooting two today. We shot "She Couldn't Make It On Her Own" featuring OMG and Doughboy, now we're shooting "Too West Coast" with WC and Young Maylay and then other song I did with my sons (OMG & Doughboy), WC and Maylay called "Ya'll Know How I Am".

Dubcnn: How different was your approach for this album compared to "Raw Footage"?

Ice Cube: With "Raw Footage" I felt that we were in a critical year. This was before Obama was elected, so we didn't really know where the country was going, Bush had fucked everything up, we didn't know if McCain was about to come in and continue it. So that record to me was trying to get us to recognize where we're at and how we can change some of the conditions that we're in, here in America. So it was a record that to me was trying to go back to the old formula of trying to use the records as street knowledge, to get across messages that I thought people needed to hear. So that was the focus on "Raw Footage". This record is just fun, it's just Hip-Hop, B-Boy shit. It ain't big on political commentary or nothing, it's just big on rhymes, dope beats and celebrating who we are.

Dubcnn: You were a superstar in the old analog music world and you're doing it now in the digital world. Something that's changed is that artists are in direct contact with their fans. You've been doing that through your website, talking to your people and blogging. How has that changed the way you market your music?

Ice Cube: It's good. I'm just now getting into it full force. Artists of my era resisted to computers for a while because it changed the game. No doubt, the computer definitely changed the game. But since Hip-Hop is more underground now, like it was when I first came out - it was underground before N.W.A. came out - and that's kind of where it's returned. So what's cool now is, it's not just underground but we can talk to the fans. You can hear from them, the good and the bad on what they think of what you're doing, which is cool. I listen to them sometimes - most of them times I'm on my own page. But for the most, it's good to hear some feedback, positive and negative, from fans.

Dubcnn: So you do feel that you should be accessible as an artist in 2010 for your fans to reach out to?

Ice Cube: Somewhat. I don't think you should be too accessible… It might take away from why people like you. My friend got a saying "no matter how good somebody looks, it's somebody in the world that's tired of they ass." A woman, no matter how fine she is, it's somebody in the world that's tired of her ass. It's kind of that scenario. I think too much access ain't good, because fans sometimes wanna participate in your decision making and that to me takes out the surprise in what you're doing and it takes out the anticipation of what you're doing. Some people have been waiting for this record "I Am The West" and when they hear it they're going to love it! Some people when they hear it they're gonna be like "Damn, I wish it was something else." But all that is a part of it, to me. If they know what they're going to get every time and they know everything about every move as I make it, how excited are they going to be to get it?

Dubcnn: It also makes it harder to adapt to change. Like I remember on one of your blogs you had announced that Dr. Dre would be on the album and later you said that he wouldn't be. People were like "What's going on? Why isn't Dre on there?"

Ice Cube: Well you know, when you first start working on music, you feel like some of it is going to make it here and some of it is going to make it there. We never got a chance to finish the music, and if we didn't get a chance to finish it, then it's just a track that's sitting there, half done. So we've got 2 or 3 tracks that's sitting there like half done! When he calls, I'll finish it. It won't make my record, not this one, but you know… I think people will take a Ice Cube and Dr. Dre record any chance that they get.

Dubcnn: What was the last one, "Hello"?

Ice Cube: Yeah the last one was "Hello".

Dubcnn: That's 10 years ago!

Ice Cube: I'd take it when I can get it, but that is one thing about being accessible. You let the fans know something and then it don't come to fruition. But that's part of it, welcome to Hip-Hop! What you thought was going to happen in January might not be popping in June or in September, that's the kind of way that we ride.

Dubcnn: We posted the album sampler on the site a few days ago and people were wondering what had happened to the DJ Quik and E-A Ski beats that you were supposed to get?

Ice Cube: Yeah I got stuff from them too. The songs really didn't fit this album. E-A Ski's track is going to be released on iTunes, it's called "Pros vs Joes" and that's going to be released as a bonus track on iTunes. I put together albums, I don't put together producer lists. I wouldn't care if I did get a beat from Dre or any of the top producers, if it didn't fit the album it's not going on the album! That don't mean it ain't never going to come out, but it just didn't fit this record.

Dubcnn: Last time we talked, we had a conversation about up and coming West Coast artist. At that time I mentioned Young Maylay to you and you said you were feeling him. Now he's on your new record on two songs I believe. What made you want to have him on there?

Ice Cube: He's dope. He's been paying his dues in a lot of ways, he's been with Dub as his right hand man in a lot of ways. It's just his time, to me. He's right, he's seasoned enough, lyrics are right, he's got one of the bombest verses on the record, so to me it was only smart to put him on. He's going to become a West Coast staple like all the other people that you're hearing when you think of straight West Coast.

Dubcnn: You also feature your sons on the album, OMG and Doughboy. Did you ever try to convince them not to rap?

Ice Cube: Nah, cause they have fun with it, it's cool. What I like about my sons is, they don't need me to make a record. They're going to make their own records and mixtapes. They're having fun with it like I used to when I first came out. It ain't all serious, it ain't no pressure on them at all to make a lot of money. The only pressure on them is to be hot, to be dope, spit, have fun with it and be ferocious. As long as they do that, they can be in the game! If they feel that they don't wanna do that, then they'll probably just stay fans.

Dubcnn: You've been in the game for over two decades, you've accomplished everything there is to accomplish in the music industry. What's your personal goal when you put out this new album? Are you looking for commercial success, are you looking to just satisfy your own drive to make music?

Ice Cube: Just doing the record satisfies my drive to make music, which is THE drive, that's the only drive. I have no expectations of this record, I just hope that my fans, Ice Cube West Coast hard core music lovers, love the record. If they don't, I'll be a little disappointed, but right now I don't expect no commercial success because we're independent and we're just not playing their game. I'm not about to pay people to play my music or none of that bullshit. My shit is going to be like either you find it or you don't. That's the beauty of it because to me it's pure Hip-Hop.

Dubcnn: Apart from music, what's next for you career wise?

Ice Cube: Me, I ain't thinking bout nothing but music man. I've got a record coming out September 28th, so to me that's all that matters right now. We're in awareness mode so we just want the fans to know it's coming, it's there. When you're done with dubcnn, go to see what else I got going on, then you can come back to dubcnn, you know what I mean? *laughs*

Dubcnn: Alright man before we go is there anything else you want to let everybody know?

Ice Cube: Much love to dubcnn, always putting the West Coast first. We're on an island out here when it comes to Hip-Hop. It's good to see that somebody recognizes and throws out some smoke signals every now and then. That's some cool shit.


Thursday, September 23, 2010

Bishop Lamont Interview With The Source magazine 2010

With people still awaiting Dr. Dre’s Detox and the label shrinking by the day, Aftermath survivor and latest escapee Bishop Lamont sheds some light on his experience in the house that Andre built and his run-ins with industry rule #4080 on the way to his latest project The Shawshank Redemption

So Bishop, what's going on with the new project Shawshank Redemption?
Where did that title come from?

It started out as a joke really. That's what I would compare my label stint at aftermath at times! I felt like an innocent man being punished for some shit I didn't do!

Lets talk about it. What makes you say that?

I was there for almost five years with no release date! That's a bid nigga! (Laughs) But at the same time like the movie, it made me smarter, stronger, and more resourceful! And it never could break me!

Speaking of which, you dropped some pretty strong hints in your first single “Hollow Eyes” about some of the things that went on behind the scenes at Afterrmath. Care to elaborate?

Cut throat fellow artists for one! You’re busy helping them, feeding them on your food budget, and recording budget! You cut a record, come back the next day and they done re-recorded your joint (stole your idea) but kept the hook and turn it into Dre like they did it! Two, no A&R! You’re booking your own studio time and reaching out to the producers yourself! But with no front end funding for securing records, how you gonna get shit done? And all the hits you do get first you never get paid for, so records like the Nottz joint Scarface did, or the Jake One track that ended up the Hot Rod/Mary J. Blige, are just a few! Oh yeah! And the “Conglomerate” record! But Bussa Buss is the big homie so it’s all good! And it was a great look for one of the illest, most amazing producers, that nigga focus!

So you’re saying, you’d record records and they'd be given to other artists with no credit for you? What Did Dr Dre has to say about all this? Couldn’t you go to him and fix things?

Ah! Remember I tell any more and I'll ruin the ending! But just cause you're a wonderful guy I'll say this. In the case of the Nottz record, Dre was ready to go in, but by then it was too late! We heard it on the radio!

But you weren’t without your own hits I'm sure. What stopped you from putting out your own records? "Making yourself hot" as they say?

I tried! Hence all the street albums! Three singles on the radio back to back! “Do It” and “Up And Down” produced by Scott Storch, “Feel On It” produced by Focus, and finally “Grow Up!” That was a number one record on Power! Came back from research one hundred percent but the label issued a cease and desist against the station! Even threatened to sue them! Hilarious! Who does that? Thank you to all the DJ's who supported the record still, against orders even! Bless you especially Mr. Chock!

Did Dre respond to you asking why his label would put out a cease and desist to an artist on his label?

Lmao! You don't quit do you sir? Yes and no! Without giving away the movie. We even went back in the studio to discuss how to make it all work! Obviously it didn't! And at that point you gotta pull the parachute some time, or you're gonna go splat! It was an eye opening experience! But I must say Dre tried the best he could to a certain degree! Again with out giving away the movie, he would always say to me at a dinner or some engagement, or the studio "You came into my life at a weird time, a hard time, but just be patient with me!” So I will always have love for him and we will remain family. But business is business as I soon learned the hardest way!

I believe in "live and let live." Karma can handle her own business! So I should handle mine! I'm just thankful to still have an opportunity to have a career finally! To still be relevant and have more fans now and notoriety, when I signed back in 2005! A true blessing! Remember all that while, I never got to grace any magazine covers, no major features, and I'm still here! It was like sitting in a cell and watching life go by! I use to see Ne-Yo in the studio with my boy Six John way before he got signed, out of here now popping! I saw Rick Ross while I was living in Miami before he took off I met Drake working on Detoxrecords. Luckily he didn't sign, and look at him go! (Laughs) I think you get my point!

I guess what makes this so crazy is that with all the behind the scenes insanity you’re alluding to, you were always in your interviews repping Aftermath and making it seem all good.

Well there's two points of Bishop Lamont when you look at the interviews. The fresh start happy, completely focused, didn't ever drink or smoke, green and young to the bull shit bishop! Then there's the drinking, hella-swole cause he was so angry and couldn't beat up the people doing this shit to him at the office, so all he could do was lift weights, Bishop. In the midst of beefs with niggas who he had helped get they deals, fed and clothed, or walked into a radio station for airplay! Stabbed in the back by damn near every one he put on! My grandmother died! The guilty will remain nameless, but they were playing with my checks! I take care of my whole family basically; my granny needed and deserved certain medical attention I couldn't provide for financially! And she died! I feel directly responsible even though I shouldn't! I remember holding her hand in that hospital and feeling like I had failed her! I've just barely come to terms with that and found peace as best I could! Lord have mercy! That was confession like a muthafucka right there!

So where are you now?

The full circle Bishop Lamont! The Andy at the end of Shawshank finally experiencing his dream! The no drinking, no drugs, MMA training, “Ram Dass” reading, Man vs. Food watching, retarded ass life loving nigga I was always meant to be! I have no regrets and I'm not angry or frustrated! I'm not running round beating niggas up outside clubs no more, or shaking down punk ass DJs for disrespecting! I'm working with the United Nations! Doing records with the Wailers proceeds going to the hungry all over the world! Real grown man shit! After school programs, prison outreach, and youth center projects! I'm doing and moving as God truly desired and intended for me to! Fuck these small minded, insecure, egotistical, make believe, godless, industry bitch ass niggas! U fighting over crumbs and destroying the art form, destroying the west coast, and holding up traffic! Hop yo fossilized old Asses in La Brea Tar-pits and let all these new artist in! That goes for the entire country! West coast, East coast! Where ever niggas got the runway backed up!

‘Grand Taxonomy of Rap Names’ by @PopChartLab

‘Grand Taxonomy of Rap Names’ by @PopChartLab Cop it here.


Monday, September 20, 2010

EA-Ski: The Legacy, Dr. Dre and His New "Maschine"

By Dynasty Williams

Few figures in Hip-Hop can boast a career that spans over a couple of generations. With one hit wonders and trendy gimmicks in and out faster than a car wash, it’s hard to maintain a resemblance of any career.

Such is not the case with E.A. Ski. Ski has been a staple in Oakland, California for over 20 years. He has produced hits for artist such as Too Short, Spice 1, Ice-T, Ice Cube, and a host of others. Ski’s production talents are not limited to Hip-Hop. He recently teamed up with actor Danny Glover and won an award for his short film “No Problems” at the 13th Okanagan International Film Festival.

With Business booming and a packed schedule, Ski took the time out with to discuss his secret to longevity, fighting the shadow of Dr. Dre, and the "Maschine" by Native Instruments (click here for more info), his new choice in production equipment. What’s going on out there on the West Coast?

EA Ski: It's a nice day out here in Cali man. The sun is shining bright so you know it's lookin' real good. My first experience with your music came through the early Spice 1 albums. I'm from the East Coast though. So how does it feel to know your music influenced many people on the other coast?

EA Ski: That's always been the goal. Being from the West Coast we looked up to the East Coast. I grew up on East Coast music and I'm a fan of East Coast music. Being in the music game, that was always my goal to be able to make something that could move everywhere. You've been in the game about two decades. What do you attribute to your success and longevity?

EA Ski: Not being stubborn, and always knowing that you can be better. You can reinvent and make new stuff. A lot of older producers and rappers get stuck in a time zone. They feel like older is better. I'm not saying that I didn't like a lot of the older stuff because I do. But as times change, what are you still going to record on ADAT when you got Pro Tools, and Logic, and Reason? You have to adapt. You can learn from the youngsters as well as learn from the older generation. I'm always learning, listening, and staying relevant to what's going on. Even though you have decades under your belt, you've still managed to stay under the radar. Is that by design?

EA Ski: For me it's kind of both. When I was going to put out full products, I got caught in transitions with labels. I was signed to Columbia, I was signed to Priority, I was signed to a lot of labels that merged. It allowed me to go into the lab and put out stuff here and there and go under the radar. I figured that, until I'm able to drop a full length project the way I want to, on a scale that I would do it, I would do it that way instead of over-saturating the market. Sometimes I feel that Dr. Dre's dominance put a shadow over many West Coast producers. Do you feel that you may have gotten caught up in that?

EA Ski: That's a real interesting question. I think Dre was so instrumental in being able to make a record that was so powerful on the West coast that it did overshadow a lot of people. I don't necessarily think that was a bad thing. I just think that it raised the bar so high that it made you have to go into the lab and figure out what your thing was. A lot of people tried to follow Dre's format and by the time they followed it, it was old. You can't keep on having the high pitched sound and he's already done that. People have to understand that Dre had a great team around him. He has a label and a lot of West Coast cats are independent. When you think about independent you have to work a little harder. Dre programmed so many people, and had so many people, and he had so much dope music, you had to be on point for people to say you were a dope producer. To get on that radar like Dre, you gotta come with it, and I like that. Music is constantly evolving and so is the equipment producers use. I hear you're using the "Maschine" by Native Instruments now.

EA Ski: That done changed the whole game again. I'm hearing a lot of noise about some of the top named producers switching over to this sequencer. What is it that makes it special for you?

EA Ski: To be honest with you I didn't know what to think about it until I got it. The way the work flow is allows it to convert from hardware to software. The way the pads swing give you that MPC feel but it's next level. Words can't even describe how incredible this machine is. The sounds in there are incredible. It's a small machine that you can take with you. You can't take a MPC with you. You can't carry that big thing with you like that. You can take this machine, put it in your backpack, take it on a plane and make some of the coldest records. What records have you done using this?

EA Ski: My last almost 20 records I've done using this. I just won an award for my video "No Problems" I did on the Maschine. I've been going crazy. I did the new Ice Cube and it's like the Maschine is just incredible. When you mention that it can switch from hardware to software, explain to people what you mean by that.

EA Ski: The hardware of it is that you can hit the pads, but you can still see it in your software if you go into Logic or Pro Tools or whatever. But for those who like to hit the pads, you have the hardware. It allows you to do both things at once. I work in "stand alone." That’s when you run the machine by itself. But they have a feature called the "Drag and Drop" where once you finish that track, you can drag that right into your Pro Tools or Logic session. Then boom, the track is right in there with no delay. It's the most incredible thing that I've seen being in Hip-Hop. They (Native Instruments) really were thinking about how to make producers be able work in a comfortable fashion without losing a step. Well since you’re cranking out all this material with the Maschine, what can people keep their ears open for from you?

EA Ski: Well right now I have an artist named Locksmith and this kid is incredible. I'm working on Ice Cube's new album called I Am The West that's dope. I'm working on my solo album The Fifth Of Skithoven and I got a lot of great features with Tech Nine, Ice Cube, and B-Real from Cypress Hill.


Big Daddy Kane: Rap Like No Equal

Author Paul Edwards sat down with one of Hip Hop's most respected emcees to discuss his influences, writing process, and an inside look at how to rap like Kane.

Big Daddy Kane was one of the 104 emcees interviewed exclusively for the book How to Rap: The Art and Science of the Hip-Hop MC. The following is the full, previously unreleased interview.

As well as breaking down his process, Big Daddy Kane also gives his thoughts on Notorious B.I.G., 2Pac, and why some rappers claim to write lyrics in their heads or never punch-in vocals. He also suggests how Hip Hop can get back to being more lyrical again and drops a ton of tips on performing live.

Interview by Paul Edwards

How to Rap: How did you learn how to rap?

Big Daddy Kane: It was something that I just started doing, I had an older cousin that was doing it, he was rapping. It was just something I wanted to do because I was a kid and I looked up to him, so I started just trying to write rhymes and just do what he was doing.

How to Rap: Did you memorize a lot of other people’s lyrics?

Big Daddy Kane: Yeah, I knew how to sing [The Fatback Band's] "King Tim III" and [Sugarhill Gang's] "Rapper’s Delight," you know, all that stuff.

How to Rap: Did you mainly write a lot or freestyle a lot?

Big Daddy Kane: Okay… what do you mean by "freestyle"?

How to Rap: Improvised, rather than written down on paper…

Big Daddy Kane: I always wrote things down on paper… but see that term "freestyle" is like a new term, because in the ‘80s when we said we wrote a freestyle rap that meant that it was a rhyme that you wrote that was free of style, meaning that it’s not a subject matter – it’s not a story about a woman, it’s not a story about poverty, it’s basically a rhyme just bragging about yourself, so it’s basically free of style. That’s really what a freestyle is.

You know, off the top of the head, we just called that off the dome, when you don’t write it and just say whatever comes to mind. But freestyle is really a written rhyme. Has anybody ever told you that before?

How to Rap: Yeah, though people often also use the other definition of it…

Big Daddy Kane: Yeah, that’s like some new term, but really a freestyle is a rhyme that you write basically that’s free of style.

How to Rap: So you always wrote everything down?

Big Daddy Kane: Yeah, I mean when we went off the top of the head that’d be something that we’d do just playing around like on the corner, just playing to see who mess up first.

How to Rap: Was that ever a good way of learning?

Big Daddy Kane: Not really, because to me, this here Rap thing is an art form, and with art, you paint a picture, and I mean when you look at the list of the greatest lyricists that did they thing, they wrote their rhymes.

How to Rap: Was it harder learning back then, because people today can go back and study you or study Kool G Rap or Rakim, but back then you didn’t have as many people to build on?

Big Daddy Kane: There were great lyricists before us - I don’t know if you’ve heard any of the early Kool Moe Dee stuff when he was with the Treacherous 3, but Kool Moe Dee was an incredible emcee, early ‘80s, late ‘70s.

[Grandmaster] Melle Mel - that third verse on "Beat Street Breakdown," from that movie Beat Street, that third verse is one of the most incredible Hip Hop verses ever. And Grandmaster Caz is pretty much who I developed my style from, like my whole rap style once I started really developing it in the mid ‘80s was really based around what I heard from Grandmaster Caz. So we all had people we looked at, it’s like when you listen to Rakim, you can hear a heavy Kool Moe Dee influence.

How to Rap: Though you guys put in a lot of the work to keep it growing from there…

Big Daddy Kane: Yeah, I mean, as you come into something and you start doing it, there’s predecessors that basically set the stage that you’re following and I guess Caz was mine, I’m sure that Moe Dee was Rakim’s, and Melle Mel was the man because he had the biggest career.

How to Rap: When you sit down to write lyrics, is there a set process you go through?

Big Daddy Kane: Honestly, it differs, depending on the mood. There’s the type of thing where I’m really trying to target a certain subject, I might sit down and just think of all the types of twists and turns and different events that can happen in the situation, and I might just jot those down and then put it into rap form.

And then there’s sometimes where I’m just trying to write a rhyme, a regular rhyme and I’m just jotting down little hot, little slick lines that I thought of and then I just put it in the rap until a whole verse forms.

How to Rap: So sometimes you’ll have a concept beforehand and sometimes you’ll just write…

Big Daddy Kane: Yeah, sometimes I have a concept beforehand, sometimes I might just be laying in bed and something just comes to me and I just start building off of it.

How to Rap: Where do you normally write?

Big Daddy Kane: I guess it really depends on the situation. If someone gives me a track, then I sit at home and write to it. If it’s the type of thing where I have a studio session to do with another artist then, you know, it’s crunch-time so you gotta make it happen right then.

How to Rap: Do you ever write on a phone or laptop?

Big Daddy Kane: Nah, I’ve never done that, because when I started rapping there wasn’t no phones! There’s nothing wrong with that, that’s cool too, it’s all documenting an idea, so you know, whatever works for you.

How to Rap: Have you ever written lyrics in you head?

Big Daddy Kane: Write in my head? No, I do what works for me, because I’ve been a nice motherfucker since I started up until now, so there’s no need for me to change my gameplan.

How to Rap: Where do most of the ideas come from?

Big Daddy Kane: Ideas can come from anything. I mean this conversation we’re having can turn into an idea for a song. I could say, you know what, because of this here, I think I want to make a song about really explaining what a freestyle rhyme is. That comes from what we just got through talking about. So an idea can come from anywhere.

How to Rap: Do you find it helps to have a large vocabulary?

Big Daddy Kane: I do, and that’s my personal opinion. Now, you take someone like [Notorious B.I.G.], I think that he was a great rapper, but he didn’t use a large vocabulary, his word play was really simple, he just put his words together a slick way and it worked real good for him. But in my opinion, I think it is good to have a large vocabulary, but that’s just for me, I can’t really say that for everybody. Because you have other artists, like I just mentioned Biggie, who didn’t have to use a large vocabulary and still got his point across and was recognized as being a hot emcee.

How to Rap: Do you think you can go over listeners’ heads if you get too complex with it?

Big Daddy Kane: Yeah, if you go too far, like there’s some rappers that use words that just be a little too out there, it makes it where someone doesn’t really know what you’re talking about and don’t really have the time to sit and try to understand. Especially now – in the ‘80s there was a handful of rappers, now there’s a million rappers, so if you go over somebody’s head then it’s not like, “I’m curious about what he said,” it’s more or less about, “I ain’t got no time for that shit, let me listen to another rapper.”

How to Rap: Do you ever go and research any of the information?

Big Daddy Kane: Yeah, you want to make sure you’re saying the right thing and you’re not saying something that don’t make no sense, because I’ve made that mistake before, so I try to make sure that I don’t do it again.

How to Rap: How do you come up with the flow and the rhythms you’re going to use?

Big Daddy Kane: The flow that I use, I really developed my rap style in the mid ‘80s based on Grandmaster Caz from the Cold Crush Brothers, from listening to him. That’s like really who I pretty much patterned my style from and I just really took it to another level once I had the opportunity to get out amongst the world myself.

How to Rap: Do you write to the beat to help you pattern the rhythms?

Big Daddy Kane: Sometimes, especially if I want to go with a specific style, like sometimes you want your flow to go in the same rhythm as the beat, so you’re writing to the beat. In all honesty, I think that is something very important to do, that is something like that the generation after me started doing. Those cats that was coming out in the ‘90s, they’re the ones who really started making it where they sat and wrote to the beat and their style matched that beat perfectly. It was something that was created a generation after me, but I think was a beautiful thing that was brought to the game, because I think it makes a song more whole.

Because as an emcee from the ‘80s, really your mentality is battle format, so when you’re writing a rhyme the majority of the time, you’re writing a bragging and boasting rhyme about yourself being the nicest emcee and you just basically write that, you don’t really have to have a beat. Or just maybe play something on a cassette and write it to any particular beat and then when you say it, you say it over anything, you can say it over a hand clap or someone banging on the lunch room table. Because really what your focus was, was to have a hot rhyme in case you gotta battle someone. So that was your main focus, not really making a rhyme for a song.

How to Rap: So would you say it’s a very different process, writing a song to writing a battle rhyme?

Big Daddy Kane: Yeah, I would definitely say that because one thing is basically discussing a specific category, the other one is making a rhyme that’s gonna be better than what the next cat gonna say that you gonna battle.

How to Rap: Do you think it makes for better rhymes if you’re writing to battle someone, rather than writing a song?

Big Daddy Kane: It depends on what you’re looking for. If you’re looking to be accepted as the nicest emcee, then I guess your battle rhymes are gonna make you come across that way, because they’re like, “Yo, did you hear what he said? Oh my goodness,” because they’re listening to the rhymes that you’re saying like as far as how nice you are or the incredible stuff you’re saying.

Or if it’s where you’re really trying to create a song that someone’s going to feel, like take for example a Tupac Shakur or a Chuck D, these are cats that wrote songs that you felt. It wasn’t like the type of thing where they were trying to be recognized as the nicest emcee, like you don’t really hear cats saying like, “Yo, 2Pac was the illest emcee,” or “Chuck D was the illest emcee,” you respect them like, “Yo, I felt what they said… yo, that’s my jam right there… yo, he know what I’m going through.” So it can touch a person in a different way depending on where you’re trying to go with it.

How to Rap: Do you think that has to do with the flow?

Big Daddy Kane: Nah, I think when you look at artists like Melle Mel, Chuck D, Tupac Shakur, when you look at artists like these cats, it’s the type of thing where what they’re talking about is something that you’ve experienced, something that you’re probably having a problem with. A bad part of your life, something that you hate having to deal with and they just touched upon it in song and you felt it because this is something that’s been messing with you mentally. And you felt it and it touched you that way, it hits your heart.

How to Rap: Do you have any way of writing down the flow, where to pause, etc?

Big Daddy Kane: Yeah, the method I always used was commas, like I’d put a comma there. If someone else read it, it may not make no sense because you’d see a comma where it doesn’t go, but I would understand it because I know that that means there is a pause.

How to Rap: Have you ever forgotten the flow to anything you’ve written?

Big Daddy Kane: Not for me, something that I wrote for Biz [Markie], but he remembered it!

How to Rap: Is it ever hard to rhyme words together and also get your meaning across effectively at the same time?

Big Daddy Kane: Sometimes certain things I say might go a little over someone’s head, like to me it’s sounding real simple, but to someone else, they didn’t see it, like it went over their head.

How to Rap: Do you ever write rhymes to just practice rhyming words together?

Big Daddy Kane: If I do, I would say that it’s times when I’m really just playing with poetry, really maybe just writing a poem.

How to Rap: How long does it take to write a verse?

Big Daddy Kane: It differs, if you’re in your zone, you might bang it out in 15-20 minutes, you might bang it out in half an hour. Then sometimes it’s like somewhere I’m trying to go with this song, I’m trying to go somewhere and I’m creating it and now I’m almost finished and I’m realizing, nah, this ain’t right. And I end up just scratching lines out and I might just sit it down and come back the next day.

How to Rap: Do you find if it comes out quickly, it comes out better?

Big Daddy Kane: Me personally, I think that when I take my time with something, it comes out a lot better, because I can really, really get my point across, and if I see that like, this might be a little too deep, I figure out a way to dumb it down so that everybody can understand where I’m going.

How to Rap: Do you prefer to write hooks first or verses?

Big Daddy Kane: You know for some strange reason I like to write the verse first. I mean I know the majority of people do the chorus first and when I think about it, I guess it does make more sense to do the chorus first, but I just like to write the verses first, I don’t know why.

But then again, you know what, I never really been a dude who was good with hooks. Like lots of times back in the days, one of my dancers, Scoob [Lover], he might come up with a hook, or sometimes my deejay, Mister Cee. That’s never really been my forte, like I’ve never really been good at coming up with hooks. My brother even sometimes would help me with hooks, because I just wasn’t that creative with hooks.

How to Rap: How do you decide how many verses there will be and how long they’ll be?

Big Daddy Kane: I never really paid attention to the length of verses until probably the late ‘90s – I’d just write until it felt good. When I feel like I wanna end the verse there, sometimes it might be a 16, sometimes it might be a 32 – it just felt good. Some songs I’ve done through my career where it’s probably just one long hundred and eight bar verse, something like that.

How to Rap: Do you use most of the rhymes that you write?

Big Daddy Kane: Yeah, I think I use most of the rhymes that I write. Sometimes I’ve thrown stuff away, sometimes I’ve misplaced rhymes

How to Rap: Do you ever go back to rhymes you’ve written in the past?

Big Daddy Kane: There have been situations where I’ve used rhymes from the past. Sometimes you do a song with someone and you get this feeling like it’s just business, like it’s not fun, like there’s no love there, there’s no respect there and it’s just basically business and I look at it that way – “Aight, let me get to see a check.”

So therefore, if I’m not really feeling like you’re communicating with me or you’re being difficult in the session because it’s your song, then there have been times where I’ll just say, “well, fuck it,” and take a rhyme I may have written two years ago and just put that down, keep it moving - grab my check and keep it moving.

But when I’m in the studio with somebody and they’re showing a lot of love and we’re vibing real good – then I want it to be perfect for them.

How to Rap: Do you find it easier working on solo work or when you guest on someone else’s song?

Big Daddy Kane: I think the most fun I have is when I’m working with someone that’s a nice emcee, because it’s inspirational. I come from where you’re hearing cats like Kool G Rap, KRS-One, Rakim, you’re hearing a lot of rappers that’s spitting hard so it’s like you gotta stay on top of your toes, because there’s a lot of competition. Right now I don’t really hear no competition, I don’t really hear no nice emcees, so if I’m in the studio with someone who’s a nice emcee, it inspires me to really write.

Like for example I was on UGK's [Underground Kingz] album and you know I respect G Rap as a nice emcee and I respect Bun B as a nice emcee, so knowing I was going to be on a song with the two of those dudes was like I really had to step my pen game up, because I respect those dudes as emcees. I did something with Game, and when I came to the studio, I’ll be honest with you, I was pissy drunk and then KRS-One put his verse down and when I heard KRS’s verse, I sobered up real quick! And started really writing, because he wasn’t playing and I respect KRS as an emcee.

How to Rap: Do you ever lay a verse, then hear someone else’s verse on the same song and then re-write your verse?

Big Daddy Kane: Nah, that’s cheating!

How to Rap: So you think friendly competition helps everyone to step up their game?

Big Daddy Kane: Well with me, that’s all it is, it’s friendly competition. Like back in the ‘80s, me and Kool G Rap, we would be on the phone, like one, two o’clock in the morning… and I’m like, “Yo, check this verse out I just wrote,” and I spit the verse to G, and you know, he’s like, “Okay, that’s hot, that’s hot, that’s hot,” and it’d make him do his thing. The next night, G might call me and he’s like, “Yo, check this verse out,” and he spit his verse and I’m like, “Yeah, that’s fire, that’s fire,” and it’d make me step my game up. That’s the friendly competition that we had.

How to Rap: So do you think that it helps that you came up in a crew with so many talented people?

Big Daddy Kane: Oh yeah, definitely, when you surrounded by talent, it’s gonna keep you on your toes and also it makes the whole thing fun.

How to Rap: What do you think is more important, the subject matter or the flow?

Big Daddy Kane: Well, what I think is more important, is the subject matter, what I think is more important to today’s consumer, is the flow. Because really people just want to be able to dance and have something they can sing along to, today, it’s not like too many people are really listening to lyrics like they did back in the day, but to me, I think the subject matter.

How to Rap: Do you think it will get back to where people will respect that more, Hip Hop with more complex lyrics?

Big Daddy Kane: I think that the only way that it can get back to where people respect the lyrical art form is that if there were real hot lyricists as stars. Like if there were some real, real hot lyricists that was on the level of some of these other big rappers, then I think that it would get back to that.

How to Rap: Is ghost-writing for someone else harder?

Big Daddy Kane: For me, ghost-writing for someone else wasn’t hard, because if I did it in my style that’s pretty much something good for you, and doing it in someone else’s style, if they have a more simpler style then it makes my job easier, because now I ain’t got to think too complicated. For example, writing for Biz, it wasn’t really about having hot rhymes, it was about having something funny, Biz just wanted something funny to say. And with [Roxanne] Shanté I could try to pretty much put it in her flow, but really with Shanté she wanted to do what I liked doing, just basically being sarcastic and she is like the master of sarcasm. So basically I’d be sarcastic like I normally would, but just make it to fit a woman.

How to Rap: What was it like writing "Set It Off"?

Big Daddy Kane: With "Set It Off," it was like I really wanted to create that James Brown feel like on "Sex Machine" or "Pass The Peas" like, “can I count it off? One, two, three…” like on "Pass The Peas" my favorite part is when The JB's are screaming "Pass the peas, like we used to say," and James just sound like he can’t even take it no more and he’s just going, “Pass ‘em then!” And the beat drop – it’s like I wanted that feel so I started off with the lyrics first before the beat even dropped, like I was trying to really go after that James Brown feel. And "Set It Off," by the way, is like my favorite song I’ve ever done in my whole career and that was the feel we was trying to go and just keep the energy flowing, like I just wanted it to be a real energetic song, like a workout song.

How to Rap: Did you write it to the beat?

Big Daddy Kane: "Set It Off" was already a verse, the first verse ends before it actually does. When I had the beat, I added more on - some of that first verse I already had before I had the beat.

How to Rap: So you wrote it in different parts?

Big Daddy Kane: Yeah.

How to Rap: Did it take a long time to do?

Big Daddy Kane: Nah, what happened - Mark the 45 King, he played a beat for Biz, he said, “Biz, I got a beat that I think will be perfect for you.” Biz heard it and Biz said that it’s aight, it’s okay. Then when Biz got through, I said, “Yo, that first beat that you wanted Biz to rap on, can I hear it again?” And he played it, I was like, “Yo, is there any way that beat can go faster?” And he said, “It’s funny you say that, because it’s actually a 45 [RPM record] and I slowed it down,” then he played it at the real pace, which is the pace you hear on "Set It Off," and I was like, “I’ll take it…” I was like, “Give it to me, I’ll take it!”

I always wanted that sound, that James Brown sound. And I was like, “Yeah, I want this in it…” and he was like, “Alright, give me a few days, let me play with it and I’ma put something else with it too, for the hook.” And he put that, I don’t know whatever that other sound is, that thing, and when he brought it back I was like, “Yes sir!”

I already knew what verse I was going to put with it, I just had to figure out what else I was going to put. I ended up writing a second verse, never got around to writing a third one and then Marley [Marl] told me that I could have some time and I knew that I was dying to do that song, so I just said, “Fuck the third verse,” and just went in and just did two. Then for a third verse I basically did shout-outs.

How to Rap: Is it a difficult track to perform live because it’s fast?

Big Daddy Kane: Nah, that song is so imbedded in my head, that it’s like a walk through the park, and I mean I have faster songs. "Warm It Up Kane" and "Set It Off" are the same tempo, they both 113 [BPM] and "Wrath Of Kane" I think is like 120-125.

How to Rap: When you record the lyrics, do you have them memorized?

Big Daddy Kane: Sometimes I have lyrics memorized, sometimes I read them off the paper.

How to Rap: Do you think it turns out better when you have them memorized?

Big Daddy Kane: I think that when you have the lyrics memorized it’s a little better because it’s like now you’re not concentrating on reading the words and you can basically concentrate on the cadence, so it makes it a lot easier… like if you just want to play with it and deliver the words a little differently.

How to Rap: If you do have it memorized, do you still take the paper in with you?

Big Daddy Kane: If I have it memorized, yeah, sometimes I do take the paper in with me, just in case, you never know. You might be like, “Damn, what was that line again?” Yeah, you might forget.

How to Rap: Do you decide where you’re going to breathe within a track so you don’t run out of breath?

Big Daddy Kane: Yeah, I try to get those little spots where I can catch a breath, because I have asthma, so I try to catch those little spots where I can catch a breath. Because my whole thing is like, I’ve seen a lot of people try to do fast songs and then when they perform live they can’t even say their own lyrics and I think that’s embarrassing. So I try to make it where I have those spots where I can catch a breath here – I might slow up the flow for two bars or say something real sarcastic real fast so I can take a deep breath, so that it can run through because I’m not gonna look like that, like I’m on stage and can’t perform my own songs.

How to Rap: So have you practiced the verse a lot before you record it to find those breathing spots?

Big Daddy Kane: Nah, lots of times it’ll be like where I’m going with it and I found that I run out of breath right here, so right there on the spot I’ll figure out a different way to deliver that line, so that it’ll work.

How to Rap: How did you learn to say everything so quickly and clearly?

Big Daddy Kane: If you say the rhyme to the track and when you listen back, you’re listening and it sounds like something is mumbled to you – if it sounds like that to you then imagine how it’s going to sound to everybody else if you can’t recognize your own shit. So, I’ll just say it again.

How to Rap: Do you prefer to do verses all in one take or do you punch-in?

Big Daddy Kane: I’ll punch-in, if it’s the type of situation where because you messed up you’re going to say the entire verse over, you’re gonna mess around and be there all night. So if this is gonna make it move it faster, then I’ll punch it in. I don’t even worry about that, because I know on stage I’ll be able to say the whole thing.

You see lots of times, people try to blow certain things out of proportion just to make themselves sound good, but it’s not even that serious. Like you’ll hear sometimes a person say, “Yo, I did that verse in one take,” but it’s like, “Yeah, okay, but the verse was wack, so who gives a fuck!” It wasn’t even a hot verse, the verse was wack, so who really gives a shit.

How to Rap: Do you think there is a lot of that in Hip Hop?

Big Daddy Kane: Well yeah, it’s like this here - if you don’t have the skills to do something, you’ll find a way to make up for it in something else. Like, “This verse was wack, but yo, I did it in one take… yeah, but I didn’t write this, all that I said off the top of the head, I don’t even need no pen.” Well if that’s what you come up with off the top of the head then obviously you do need a pen. People come up with all types of stuff.

There are situations now, where it’s like, someone’s beaten somebody in a battle, the other cat wants to punch the dude in the face. So it’s like you come up with other things to make up for where you lack.

How to Rap: Do you prefer performing live or recording in the studio?

Big Daddy Kane: Right now, I prefer performing live, I like that more.

How to Rap: Why do you find that better?

Big Daddy Kane: Because back in the days it was the type of thing where when you were in the studio, you’re putting this together, it’s like in your mind you could just see the picture – “Aw, when they hear this! I can’t wait for them to hear this.” So you enjoyed that whole thing, just the anticipation. It’s like you’re waiting for your woman to give birth and you’re trying to figure out if it’s a boy or a girl, that type of thing, it used to be that type of feel. But like what we said earlier, it’s not as if people really care about lyrics anymore. As long as they can sing the hook and dance, they’re good.

So therefore I like the performances because it’s like when you’re on stage, the crowd is into what you’re doing, you’re creating an energy and making everybody feel good, and that’s fun to me. But to me, you know this whole thing is a job, to entertain my public.

How to Rap: What do you think makes a good live performance?

Big Daddy Kane: First of all, no lip-syncing, second – general stage movement, like you know how to work the stage. You understand that there is a stage left and a stage right, you understand that you have to interact with the crowd, making eye contact with a chick in the audience, snatch somebody’s hat off, put it on your head, stuff like that where they know that you recognize them, you’re not just performing like, “whatever, let me get up out of here.” You recognize them.

People on the right side don’t feel cheated because you stood on the center of the stage the whole show. You didn’t bring a whole entourage of motherfuckers that’s trying to get shine and they can’t even see the person that’s singing the song. And then also I feel like you have to give somebody something extra, you shouldn’t just come to a show and perform your hit songs and bounce, because if that’s the case then they could have just stayed at home and listened to the album.

Give them something extra, give them a freestyle or two, maybe some dancing if you want to take it there, I don’t know how B-boy you get. Your deejay got a solo where he doing some fancy scratching, whatever the case may be, throwing some t-shirts in the crowd, just something extra other than what they hear on the song all the time. Even if you’re doing a song, you take the last four lines of a verse and switch it to something else, just something extra where there was some type of twist where they felt like they got something different than what they got on the album.

How to Rap: What do you think about today’s emcees compared to older emcees?

Big Daddy Kane: There’s some skillful emcees out there, I’ve heard a lot of emcees with skills. I feel bad that they don’t get the exposure, but I hear a lot of emcees who got skills. I like that kid Saigon.

How to Rap: Though do you think back in the late ‘80s, early ‘90s there were more lyrical emcees?

Big Daddy Kane: Yeah. Well, before I say that, hold up. I know that the lyrical emcees got the exposure, from the late ‘70s to the early ‘90s - the lyrical emcees got the exposure. I’m sure that there are a lot of lyrical emcees out there right now, but they don’t receive the exposure.

How to Rap: So what do you think changed?

Big Daddy Kane: Well I mean pretty much with anything else - once quantity comes in, quality goes out.

How to Rap: What advice would you give to people who want to be better at emceeing?

Big Daddy Kane: Basically just try being original, just be original. Throughout the years I’ve seen a lot of people that people have said, “Yo, he’s nice! Yo, he’s ill!” and it’s like in my mind I’m like, “Yeah, but he sound just like this motherfucker.” And it’s like as soon as this motherfucker ain’t hot then nobody is talking about them anymore, they’re not even relevant anymore, they’re not a relevant factor in the game anymore, that’s it, because you sounded like somebody else – he’s over, so you’re over.

[On the opposite side,] you take Big Pun, Big Pun had a kind of G Rap kind of flow, but it was like during a time when no one else was trying to have that faster flow, everybody else was either trying to sound like Jay-Z or Jadakiss. And Pun came with that fast G Rap kind of flow and he won! He was different, he stood out.


Related links;
Purchase How to Rap: The Art and Science of the Hip-Hop MC by Paul Edwards
Purchase Music by Big Daddy Kane

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Dr. Dre Vibe interview 2010

After almost a decade of false starts,
super-producer Dr. Dre
is finally in the lab bringing Detox to life.
But does the Good Doctor have the prescription
Hip Hop has been waiting for?

Jerry L. Barrow II
Photos: Scott Council

JIMMY IOVINE’S GOT his game face on.
The Interscope Records co-founder
has had a long and prosperous relationship with
Andre Young, better known as Dr. Dre,
Hip Hop’s foremost sonic architect.
From Ruthless and Death Row to the Aftermath,
Shady and G Unit imprints,
Jimmy and Dre have left an indelible mark
on the last two decades of popular music,
moving more than 50 million albums together.
But time is running short, and it’s clear in Iovine’s expression.
He has been waiting for more than a decade for
Dr. Dre to turn in his near-mythical album
Detox—the follow-up to Chronic 2001,
which dropped in late 1999.

Andre Young —a founding member of N.W.A
and the sonic mastermind who introduced the world to
-Ice Cube,MC Ren and Eazy-E aka N.W.A
-The D.O.C
-Above The Law
-Snoop Doggy Dogg
-50 Cent
-The Game
has never done things the usual way.
Between rumors, missed release dates and side projects
(Beats By Dr. Dre headphones
are reportedly up to a million units sold,
with estimated revenues of $50 million
in the fourth quarter of 2009 alone),
his fans have had their loyalty tested time and again.
“You can’t rush Dre,” says fellow N.W.A alum Ice Cube.
“He’s changed music twice already.”

But that is small consolation for folks
who haven’t had a new Dr. Dre album
since President Clinton was in office.

Relief may finally be on the way.
Several days after being honored at
the 2010 ASCAP Rhythm & Soul Music Awards
by his artist and friend Eminem,
a smile is etched across Dr. Dre’s
chiseled 45-year-old face.
On an unseasonably cold June day in Santa Monica,
he’s dressed in a long-sleeved white T-shirt and jeans,
and his 215 pounds of muscle have him looking
more like a superhero than a record producer.
A mini-vacation with his wife of 14 years,
Nicole, and the news that Eminem’s Recovery
has debuted with more than 700,000 copies sold
have the Aftermath CEO “feeling better than most days.”

It’s quiet in the sanctuary of his
studio/nightclub across the street from the Interscope offices.
This is where Dre tests out new music
during private parties for friends.
But today it’s all business.

An unfinished leak of the Jay-Z collab
“Under Pressure”
has lived up to its namesake,
and the man who once rhymed “fuck rap, you can have it back”
knows that it’s time to make his impression felt again.
Sit back, relax and strap on your seatbelt.

You were dismantling component systems as a kid.
What’s it like having your own brand of headphones?

Dr. Dre:
It felt so organic.
It’s not something I just put my name on.
We designed this thing from the ground up.
It took like two years to put this together.
We were tweaking it the entire time ‘til
we got the sound exactly the way we want it.
I got to do a side-by-side comparison
between the Beats and Bose . . .
I feel like hands down we got ’em beat
as far as style and fashion goes and as far as the sound.
We got ‘em beat because guys that actually
make music get the sound on these.
Nobody’s gonna be able to compete with us as far as headphones.

Diddy has Diddybeats and Lady Gaga has
Heartbeats—both of which you helped set up—then
Jay-Z’s Roc Nation has a headphone deal with Skull Candy,
which also did a line with Snoop.
How do you feel about the competition?

It’ a compliment on the one hand but on
the other hand it’s like
“Yo, this is my thing here.
What’s going on?”
It’s all good.
I’m not trying to knock anybody’s hustle.
But like I said, nobody is going to be able to beat us at this game.

You also have a laptop complement to the headphones, correct?

The HP Envy.
We’re trying to improve the sound in computers and laptops.
These guys aren’t thinking about sound
when they build these computers and the majority
of people are listening to music on computers.
So you might as well hear it the right way.

Why headphones as opposed to, say, a beat-making program?

That’s something I want to get into and the headphones were a good start.
I want to get into putting out my own drum sounds and maybe a beat machine.
We’re talking about iPod docks, car stereos and an entire line.
We’re also doing a headphone with LeBron James called PowerBeats.
They’re earbuds but they wrap around the ear.
Each bud has two drivers so it sounds a little louder.
You can hear the 808 in these.
I’ve been wearing the prototype every day to work out.

So will Detox be streamed wirelessly into the Beats headphones?

In a perfect word, yes.
Me and Jimmy talk about this all the time.
It was supposed to be my album promoting the headphones,
but it’s gonna be the other way around now.
It’s gonna be a two-for-one thing.
As soon as we finish this interview
I’m going into the studio and get it on.
I know it’s taking a long time but
it’s not 100 percent work on my album that I’m doing every day.
That’s why it’s taking so long.
It’s been almost ten years since my last album
[It’s actually been more than 10 years. —Ed.]
but I haven’t been sitting on my hands.
Keeping it real with you,
I just started really getting involved in it
and really feeling it this year.
Around January or February.
Before now I was kind of doing it more out of obligation,
but now I really feel it inside and it’s pouring out right now.
Music comes out much better when you’re in that frame of mind.

Eight years passed between Chronic and Chronic 2001, so you’re not that late yet.

And I’ve got a few classic albums
in between that with Em and 50.

When you first announced Detox
did you think it would take this long?

Absolutely not.
I thought it would take at worst case a couple of years.
For example, actual work time on
The Chronic was nine months and
actual work time on my last album,
Chronic 2001, was about 10 months.
The actual work time on this album
is about half of that,
where I’m seriously focusing on it.
There is always something coming up.
Like signing talent, old and new.

Looking at your signings of artists like
-Marsha Ambrosius,
are you just a hard boss or did it just not work out?

I’d say it’s a little bit of both.
I’m a perfectionist on one hand.
I always say talent gets you in
the building but whether our personalities mesh,
that’s an entire different thing.
I have fun when I’m working.
It’s not a job for me.
And I’m in a position where
I really don’t have to do it if I don’t want to.
So it has to feel right.
When you get in the studio with an artist,
the personalities have to mesh.
I’m not saying there’s anything wrong
with my personality or theirs, it’s just:
Do they work together or not?
That seems to be a factor.
All of the artists that I started working with
and we didn’t finish, we’re still cool.
It’s just a matter of this thing doesn’t work together.
The ones that do work together, ka-boom.
You see the results.

What did you think of the final product of
Only Built 4 Cuban Linx . . . Pt. II?

I loved that “House of Flying Daggers.”
[Laughs.] It came out good.
I thought it could have been promoted
a little better and I think there may have been too many songs.
But that’s my opinion.
Raekwon is one of the greatest.

J Dilla produced “House of Flying Daggers.”
Did you get to meet him before he died?

Yeah, I met him at a studio out here
and we chopped it up for about half an hour.
Coolest dude. Talented.
I just wish I’d had a chance to work with him.

Is there anyone else out there you
haven’t worked with yet that you’d like to?

Of course, the next new artist
I can get in the studio with and make something great.
I don’t necessarily have an urge to work
with established artists.
Like working with Mary J. Blige,
that was returning a favor.

Other than that,
I only want to work with new talent, new producers.
People that want to learn and I can learn from.

Speaking of new talent,
a young lady saying she was your daughter
went on YouTube with a song called “Daddy’s Shadow”
saying that you won’t help her with her recording career.

I’m not gonna get into that.
Not gonna talk about the family.

Talk about the relationship you have with
50 Cent and some of your other artists.

Everything is cool.
I haven’t spoken to 50 in a long time.
He’s doing his own thing right now.
Hopefully we’ll get to work together
again in the future but I think he’s working on movies.
As far as everybody else goes, I’m here.
Everybody knows I’m working on my own thing.
Once that’s done, holla at me.

At the ASCAP Awards did you have any idea
Eminem was going to be presenting?

No idea.
They told me it was going to be a surprise guest
to present me with the award but
I didn’t even waste any brain power trying to figure it out.
That was incredible and the thing that
he said was incredible.
Being around guys like Em,
I know how they feel about about me and
they know how I feel about them,
but hearing it in that forum feels incredible.
It’s inspiring and it lets me know
that everything that I’ve done is appreciated.

It looked kind of like a reunion on stage.
Do you guys see each other much?

We’d actually just saw each other an
hour before for the VIBE photo shoot.
Before that it had been a few months or so.
We don’t get to talk that often,
but when we do see each other
it’s just like we saw each other yesterday.

How do you feel about winning
VIBE’s Greatest Hip Hop Producer of All Time tournament?

It was crazy because I just happened
to be in New York promoting the Diddy beats
and they approached me at Best Buy and
I didn’t know anything about the contest or that
I’d won and I was like, “Really?”
I went home and saw who I was up against.
I was like “whoa.”
These are some of my favorite producers.
I never looked at it like my shit
don’t stink or I’m the best at what I do.
I just go in and do my thing.
I have my favorites out there also,
but don’t get me wrong—I’m glad it went to me.
It’s always an incredible feeling,
especially to be considered No. 1.
The best that ever did it?
What the fuck!

You were up against
DJ Premier in the finals.

Preemo is definitely one of my favorites.
I got a chance to chill with
him and Guru out here one time.
We sat and talked for like an hour
and they were cool as hell.
I’m a fan.

Do you think the
VIBE tournament
helped to elevate the stature of the producer?

The producer definitely needs
to get a lot more credit than we do.
No producer—no artist.
Not many artists can go in the studio
and make their own records.
But a lot of producers can.

In the photos for this cover
you have music notes in the syringes.
Is there a science to Hip Hop?

That’s a good question.
You know what?
I don’t know.
Anybody that says that they know is crazy.
You just come in and do what you feel.
The way Hip Hop is going and
the way it sounds can change tomorrow.
I think everybody has their own method and approach
so there is no direct science for it.
You can do a Hip Hop record with no rapping.
Hip Hop is so dope because
it’s the only music that you can
mix with other forms of music.
You can mix rock, Hip Hop, jazz—it’s spread out.

So there is no Dr. Dre formula?

There is no direct formula because
I like collaborating and whoever
I’m collaborating with,
I’m absorbing their energy and
they’re absorbing mine and that’s
how the record is going to sound.
To me there is no Dre sound.

But if you listen to
50 Cent’s “In da Club”
Mary J. Blige’s “Family Affair,”
there are similarities.

Okay, but that’s not what
I’m thinking when I go in to make it.
I don’t go in saying it has to sound like “this.”
Each record has its own personality.
I think,
“Is this record wearing Timberlands
or is it wearing earrings?”
If it comes out sounding similar
to the last record, then so be it.

When did you first put your hands on a pair of turntables?

Damn, that’s a good one.
Probably when I was 14 years old.
I heard
“[The Adventures of] Grandmaster Flash on the Wheels of Steel,”
and that made me want to DJ.
It made me want to know what Hip Hop was.
That was the song that did it.
I immediately went home and called
some friends and we were taking apart
one of my friend’s mother’s stereo sets.
They called them component systems back then.
We figured out how to make a mixer from
the balance button and got it cracking—started making tapes.
Not too long after that, my mom got me
a Numark mixer for Christmas
and I was off and running from there.
I still had the raggedy turntables,
but it made it a lot easier.

What happened with those piano lessons with Burt Bacharach?

I’m still going.
I have a different piano teacher now
and I’m learning a lot about theory
and hopefully I can get my Quincy Jones on later,
score some movies.

What’s your relationship like with Quincy Jones?

He’s one of my mentors and people
I’ve looked up to in this business.
I hung out with Quincy on his 70th birthday.

Has he bestowed any musical gems on you?

You know what?
All we’ve ever talked about is life and personal shit.
We’ve never talked technical or about music.


I’m just talking about whatever
Quincy wants to talk about.
The door is open for me to go to his house
and talk to him anytime I want.
He gave me that invitation.
I just want to absorb it,
because everything he talks about is useful to me.
It doesn’t matter when I get it, as long as I get it.
You know, I’m sitting there and I want to ask him about
Body Heat
, but I’ll get to that.
I’m actually supposed to be going to his house next week.

You mentioned a Hip Hop album without rapping.
Will we ever hear a Dr. Dre instrumental album?

Oh yeah, that’s in the works.
An instrumental album is something
I’ve been wanting to do for a long time.
I have the ideas for it.
I want to call it The Planets.
I don’t even know if I should be saying this, but fuck it.
It’s just my interpretation of
what each planet sounds like.
I’m gonna go off on that.
Just all instrumental.
I’ve been studying the planets
and learning the personalities of each planet.
I’ve been doing this for about two years
now just in my spare time so to speak.
I wanna do it in surround sound.
It’ll have to be in surround sound for Saturn to work.


Because Saturn has the rings and
you’ll have to hear the sound going around
you the entire time the instrumental is playing.
You make Jupiter big.
Earth of course has to [sound] wet.
You really get into the actual
personality of each planet and you go with that.

That’s an exciting concept.
That’s why leaked music kind of cheats you.
Because it’s not in the package it was meant to be in.

Without a concept it’s just another song . . .

Because it’s out of sequence.

That’s big! Absolutely.
That can make or break a record,
the way you sequence it.
That is 100 percent a job in itself
and that happens throughout the entire process
of recording an album with me.
I might take a CD home and listen
to a few songs back to back and say,
“Okay, those two songs have to play together on a record.”
Then you wait for that to happen again and
then you have a partial sequence.
That’s an art in itself.

Knowing how passionate you are
about sequencing an album,
how does it feel when a song
like “Crack a Bottle”?

It’s like a stab in the stomach.
First of all we weren’t even going
to release the song.
We won a Grammy for it,
but I’m not even considering putting the Grammy up.
My wife has a problem with that because
she wants all of my achievements to be up in the house.
But the way it came, it doesn’t mean the same to me.
We didn’t get a chance to do
the song with our heart in it because
we had to go in and rush it out.
We went in one day and finished
it at least so people could hear a
proper version but we didn’t
get to put our heart and soul in it . . .

So “Under Pressure” leaking was a killer.

It was a little bit more frustrating
because at least “Crack a Bottle” had a hook on it.
I wouldn’t be as mad at a leak if the song was done.

Can you blame the fans for wanting to hear something after all this time?

Absolutely not.
I’m not mad at the fans.
I’m mad at the person that leaked the shit.
I have no idea how it got out.
It’s not even worth looking to see who did it.
It happens.
The most painful part about it is that
I’m passionate about what I do,
so people should hear it in the right form.

There were some other reference tracks
that leaked with T.I.
and Ludacris lyrics.
Were those legit?

Two (1 & 2) of them were.
Somebody actually hacked into our emails,
so that made our red flags go up.
We’re in a new age and that’s a sign:
Wake up motherfucker.
You have to be more careful with your shit.
That’s all there is to it.
I know what’s up now.

Was “In Da Club” for Detox?

That track was done for D12.
We were in the studio and D12 was in the studio.
Em was there.
It didn’t happen with D12
and Em took the track with him,
and he is the one that handed the track to 50.

Knowing the personal nature of your music,
will there be a part two of
“The Message” for your late son, Andre Young, Jr.?

I’m actually back and forth about that.
I’m leaning towards no because
I don’t know if I want to put myself
or my family through that.
I kind of want the record to stay fun.
Right now as we speak I’m leaning towards a no.
Though I do have a couple of
things that I’ve done [for him].
I don’t think so.

Have you heard a beat in the last five years that you thought was hot?

Damn, that’s a good question.
When was “The Benjamins” made?
[Diddy’s “It’s All About] the Benjamins”
was one of my favorite beats.
I just want to hear something
that makes me make the ugly face.

There’s nothing else since
“Benjamins” that did that for you?

I know there is,
but nothing is hitting me off the top
As soon as you leave I bet I’ll think of one.
I’ve been listening to a lot of old shit.
Most of the time when I’m listening to Hip Hop,
it’s old-school Wu-Tang or Mobb Deep.

What is it about the old shit that keeps you going back?

It was an exciting period of Hip Hop.
Hip Hop isn’t as exciting anymore
and it motivates me to do what I do.

You’ve seen so much in your time—good and bad.
You had a chance to reconcile with

Eazy-E before he died.
With everything that has been going on with
Suge Knight in the last year,
is there any side of you that feels that one day you might . . .?

I haven’t even thought about him.
This is my first time hearing his name in
. . . a long time.

So nobody told you when he got knocked out at a party?

Oh, of course I heard that.
But it doesn’t even cross my mind.
I’m not gonna get anything out of that,
so I don’t even think about it.
That’s not going to help me.

It was reported that you were trying
to tie up some loose ends with the people
who bought the Death Row catalog.

Was basically trying to go back and get
what I was owed if possible.
This was more my attorneys than me.
I’m more like eh, whatever.
But if you can make it happen, it’s all good.

You’ve had so much fun doing Chronic and Chronic 2001.
So why would you want to detox?
What is there to “detox” from?

You have to see it.
It’s not really detoxing.
What I’m doing is gonna say “Detox”
but it’s gonna have that red circle with that line through it.
Hearing it and seeing it are two different things.
Once you see it, it’s like “Oh.”

So the idea is not detoxing?


Years ago you recorded a song called
“Forgot About Dre,”
but in 2010 it seems impossible to forget about Dre.

I hope not, at least not until this record is out.
I’m definitely in a different place now.
I’m a lot smarter and hopefully
getting smarter in years to come.
I’m just cool right now, chilling and doing my work.
Before it was ripping and running
and I’m in a really calm place in my life,
using my time wisely.
That’s the most valuable thing we own.

Unreleased portions of Dre interview from Vibe magazine A few years ago there was an article in The Times Of London where it said that labels were over-compressing music in the mastering because people are listening to music in little earbuds now.
Dr. Dre: That means they’re doing it absolutely the wrong way. You should improve the source of the sound, the thing that people are playing it on. Not the end result. That’s ridiculous.
You mentioned drum kits earlier. How do you feel when you go on line and see “Dr. Dre drum kits”?
I think it’s the biggest compliment. Of course I have my problems when people use my music and they water it down and make it sound corny. But for the most part when I see that it’s a big compliment. If somebody is taking the time out to take a dre kick it makes me feel like what I’m doing is really valuable.
I watched a funny interview with Rockwilder where he talked about sampling your Lolos for Xzibit’s “Front 2 Back.”

Dre: Yeah, yeah. I remember that. What was funny about that is that I loved it so much it made me go “why didn’t I think of that s**t?” It was really dope. I was like “damn, that was supposed to me be. That was my s**t.” But Rockwilder beat me to that one.
Someone posted one of your Roadium Swap meet mixtapes on Youtube. It had Eazy E rhyming over Dana Dane beat. Do you remember it?
Back then I think I did about 60 different mixtapes. I had a radio show on KDAY. I was on the traffic jam everyday at 5 o clock and a lot of those mixes went on tape for sale. That was a fun period. That eventually developed into me getting curious about engineering.
When did that curiosity become practice?
When I found a facility to practice. There was a radio show called Radio Scope with this guy named Lee Bailey out here. He had an 8-track studio in his garage and he would let me come over and toy with it. I started out learning to engineer and I think that’s why my mixes come out so well because that was my thing. Getting really involved in the technical part of it and then I just started touching the drum machine and so on.
How do you feel about software vs. drum machines?
I have a love/hate relationship with software. I love the quickness of it but the sound is a little transparent. It’s a little difficult to get the sound out of software that I would out of a module or a regular keyboard. That’s the only thing, getting it to sound as warm as it used to.
Snoop’s “Boss’s Life” had the same sample as Buster’s “Everybody Rise” produced by Nottz. You knew Busta had already done it at that point, right?
Yeah! We listened to the Busta record to replay the music! It’s just a track that I loved for a long time and I played it for Snoop and went yeah! We just twisted it up right there.
I guess you’ve elevated yourself to this level to why would Dre use the same sample as someone else?
I understand. It’s something that I liked. That’s one of the tracks I’ve really enjoyed. What’s wrong with that? Do I really need to prove myself anymore? Come on.
You replayed Isaac Hayes “Bumpy’s Lament” for “XXplosive.” Talk about your replay process. What do you say to musicians to get them to sound right?
It doesn’t work all the time. I would say 80 to 90% of the time it doesn’t work. It’s just first finding the right musicians that understand it and they have to be excited about what they’re doing. Some musicians want to sit there and play something they wrote to get money instead of getting the song done. So it’s about the musicians understanding and being able to do what they’re asked to do. There’s no big science behind that too.
“Some L.A Niggas” is one of my favorite Dre Beats because…
The stops and starts…
Yeah! What made you program it that way?
The reason that it was programmed that way was the air in it. I wanted all of the MCs to have that stop. That was the trick, to have the rhyme stop with the beat. I thought if we could get the MCs to stop that way it could be interesting. I know it was no hit record, but it was something we were trying that’s why it comes so late in the record. It was just us having fun. It was funny watching everybody trying to write a rhyme to that stop and it still make sense. They got it off though.
Do you still have a record collection or is it all in a warehouse somewhere?
The record collection is gone now. I had a warehouse full of albums and I contemplated getting rid of it for at least two years before I did it. I wasn’t really using it anymore. It was just sitting there as another bill for storage. 80,000 albums.
Sold or gave away?
Both. What I did was just went through and jotted down everything I was in love with so I could order it [later]
What are three of those records you wrote down?
I didn’t keep em for sampling purposes. Curtis Mayfield’s “Superfly” a Barry White’s Greatest Hits… a gray album and everything else on it was black. [thinks] It might be f**king Nirvana. That’s one of my favorite albums ever made. I still listen to that s**t to work out.
On “Next Episode” you took that David McCallum sample and just did something else with it.
Now it’s funny that you say that. The Isaac Hayes song was a slow song and I knew nobody was gonna sample that. I try to go for those obscure samples or something people aren’t gonna think about recreating.
In producer circles there is a lot of talk about the team that you’ve assembled. What is it about those producers like Khalil and Mr. Porter that you like to work with them?
I love their personalities and I love their talent. Khalil is one of the coolest guys you ever want to meet and one of the most talented guys you’d ever want to meet. It’s really crazy because I’ve known Khalil’s sister for at least 20 years now and I was at a pool party that she threw and there was this kid that came up and said he wanted to learn about production. I don’t know how long ago this was but he was 11 or 12 years old. I sat and talked to him for about an hour or two and it was Khalil. Next thing you know he’s out doing his thing and he’s got a song on my album. Which is the craziest s**t! And he’s on Eminem’s record sounding real good. He did his thing.
I’m branching out using some other producers on my record and it’s just people that I like. It’s not necessarily a team but it’s just me branching out to other producers that are new and up coming. It does nothing for me to work with somebody who is already established. It means more to me to build something from the ground up.
9th Wonder told me that he wants to ask you how you manage to do so much but not be seen. How do you do that?
I’m really protective of my family, myself and my image. It’s one of the reasons for my longevity in the business. I’m not a person that really gives a f**k about being on camera or people taking pictures of me. I like being to myself. I have my designated events, I do like to party and have fun but in controlled environments, like the room you’re sitting in right now.
RZA has an equally fabled album he’s working on called The Cure and he told me that Detox has to come out before The Cure. “You gotta detox before you get the cure…”
Ha! That’s funny. RZA is my man. He’s dope as f**k too. But there’s really no detoxing. f**k detoxing. But like I said, hearing it and seeing it is two different things.


Related links;
Video: Ice Cube Explains Dr. Dre’s I Am The West Absence
Bishop Lamont; The Reformation (“God Damn N!gga, It’s About Fucking Time!”)
Dr. Dre & Timbaland Co-Sign: Earl Hayes Interview
Vibe magazine interview with Dr. Dre