Exclusive: "Dr. Dre's understudy" shares his thoughts on "Kush" and the freedom he feels as "the architect of G-Funk" to take the sound wherever he wants to.
Twenty years after the release of Above The Law’s celebrated debut, Livin’ Like Hustlers, A.T.L. front-man Big Hutch, (a.k.a. Cold 187um), is still going strong with two new solo efforts set to drop: Only God Can Judge Me (due January 18th) and O.G. Since 1967 (due summer 2011).
On Tuesday, (November 30th), the Ruthless, Tommy Boy and Death Row Records alum will be providing a preview of his upcoming offerings via a 3-song digital EP, Ef U Hutch.
The producer/rapper recently spoke to HipHopDX to talk about the diverse direction of his new recordings, (“eventful” music that he explains was inspired by his mentors Eazy-E and Dr. Dre). Kokane’s cousin, (and nephew of the late Soul singer Willie Hutch), also explained why he thinks Dre’s “Kush” could have done without the “crossbreeding,” why as the subgenre’s inventor no one can tell him what G-Funk is, and lastly Hutch broke down why he feels those who are O.G. since 1987 have yet to match his generation’s contribution to the game.
HipHopDX: …I gotta ask why I’m still in love with the fly-ass “Untouchable” video 20 years after first seeing it as a little kid?
Big Hutch: [Laughs]…we was the first cats pushing Cigarette boats and driving big-body [Mercedes] Benz’s on a video. That wasn’t even the climate back then, and we kinda took it upon ourselves to introduce that to the game. On a whole ‘nother level, baby.
DX: Plus, your voice was like the flyest shit I had heard at that point. [Laughs]
Big Hutch: Well I appreciate that, man. [Laughs] I kinda [pride] myself on trying to be a fly muthafucka. [Laughs]
DX: …Who produced that remix of “Untouchable” for the video?
Big Hutch: Me and [Dr.] Dre. I came up with the elements, and then me and him took it in the studio and did it. ‘Cause I did it [initially] at the house on a little four-track [recorder]… Big labels wasn’t really fuckin’ wit’ cats out they mama bedroom, so I always had to channel it through Dre, any idea I had. So basically, it’s conceived by me but it’s actually all put together and developed by me and Dre, on a technical level.
DX: Was it the same process for “Murder Rap”?
Big Hutch: No, [and] it’s a trip because I produced “Murder Rap” on a 16-track and we just bumped it up to a 24-track. Me and Dre, we just took all the files that I did – all the samples and everything – and re-put ‘em into a bigger board…just sonically so it would sound better.
DX: And you played those synths yourself?
Big Hutch: Yeah.
DX: Those synths proved to be the start of a musical revolution.
Big Hutch: And that’s what I’m talkin’ about. [Laughs]
DX: Since [you] mentioned Dre, just curious to get your thoughts on “Kush”? I can’t help but feel like Dre’s about to pull an Axl Rose comeback and drop a Chinese Democracy dud with Detox.
Big Hutch: Well, I like his record. My whole thing about it is that when you doing records I don’t really think that we need to add any of the elements that are not from our element if we created the element. Ya dig what I’m saying? A lot of this crossbreeding stuff is…I won’t say it’s a cheap-shot, because I’m Dr. Dre’s understudy so I know he knows what he’s doing. My difference in that is that I don’t really think we need cats from other regions to sell records as west coast artists. I think that we’ve done enough work for people to respect us everywhere based upon what we’re capable of doing on our own. But I like the record… It’s dope. I felt it when I first heard it, and that’s cool. I just think those elements – When I hear him and Snoop [Dogg] doing a record, I know it’s the right shit… But when you add those other elements – No disrespect to Akon. I love Akon, when he does Akon with whoever he does it with. [But] when we start adding those [elements] I think that starts being the political…fake little Hollywood game.
And don’t get me wrong, I’m not knocking nobody for what they do. But, no one’s calling us who made a record hot out here to make their record hot.
But I love [Dr. Dre’s] approach… Dre’s always been a producer that always was like…he’s eventful. Like, when you see what I’m doing, I’m like that because of what Dre and Eazy [E] taught me: how to make your music eventful.
DX: And what’s gonna be the eventful direction of Only God Can Judge Me?
Big Hutch: I don’t know if nobody know it [yet], but “Lord Have Mercy” is the record that’s that record, that’s fin to knock muthafuckas heads off they shoulders… I think people try to put too much on the event part of it and not really check for the music, and I’m making the music that I’m making an event.
DX: We put “Electric Lady” up to our audio section and the people who commented on it didn’t judge very…pleasantly.
Big Hutch: That’s cool.
DX: What was the inspiration for that record, or why that direction for that song?
Big Hutch: Well see, one thing you gotta realize is this, there’s not a direction when I make a record. If I wake up in the morning and say I wanna rap to a Rock track, I rap to it. I’m not in a box. You gotta understand this, I’m the architect of G-Funk. You can’t tell me what G-Funk is. If I want G-Funk to be blowing on a whistle and beating on a box, that’s G-Funk, because I invented it. I am the architect.
DX: I thought Warren Griffin, [Warren G], was the architect?
Big Hutch: I am the architect of that. Warren Griffin used to sleep on my floor. I am the architect of G-Funk. So when people tell me what I should do and what I should not do, I tell ‘em shut up. I go to the studio and I make records based upon how I feel… And one thing that Eazy taught me while I was at Ruthless [Records], he said, “Look at it like this, Hutch: one day you walked in here and you didn’t have one fan. What did you come in here to do it for? Because of what you felt like doing. Keep doing that and you’ll always be good with yourself.” …I’ll keep it real with you, homie. I went in and cut “Electric Lady” from my heart, not to trick nobody, not because people is on my shit, but because I heard the beat - I heard it in my head, wanted to cut it, and did it and put it out there to the world. I feel comfortable with you saying I don’t like it, Hutch, because I did what I wanna do from my heart.
DX: But am I wrong as a fan for wanting some throwback sounds, some “Black Superman” slinky synths?
Big Hutch: You’re not, because that’s what I give you on “Lord Have Mercy.” But you gotta understand where he’s coming from. You can’t just say, “Oh I just want that,” and not give a artist [creative space]… I agree with you on this level - and this is why I do it like I do it - if you do something different you gotta do the old shit too. You can’t just do something different and stay different.
[That’s] the difference between the Kanye West’s and all these other muthafuckas. That’s what we do wrong [as west coast artists]. We stay one way. We don’t never try to be different. But when they rap over funky shit, and they rap over real shit, they’re cool. But [people are telling me] I should go back to doing [“Black Superman”], and not even giving me a chance to say I got other records y’all, relax, it’s cool…
DX: How is O.G. Since 1967 gonna be different from Only God Can Judge Me?
Big Hutch: O.G. Since 1967 is like a live album, but it’s more like a…how can I put it to you? …Only God Can Judge Me is more personal, and this is more like…raw sounding [and] soulful. I had written a series of songs that were kinda like Soul records but [still] Rap shit. And that’s what I’m doing on O.G. Since 1967. It’s like a lot of different fusion of soulful music, but with [rappin’] on it… I wouldn’t say it’s like Eazy-E-meets-The Roots or Above The Law-meets this, ‘cause I don’t like to get into [comparisons]. It’s just a different organic experience.
DX: I just wanna note that I think that’s pretty brave putting your real birth year in the title. You know cats who are O.G. since 1987 might front on it.
Big Hutch: That’s cool. I’m a music guy, dog. I don’t care about that [other stuff]. I’ma do what God tell me… People can look at it how they wanna look at it… I’m not too old to get up and write a hit song. I don’t see ‘em doing too much anyway. I don’t see the guys from ’87 doing a lot of shit anyway but the same shit that every one of ‘em is doing. It’s a great world of copycats… It’s funny [though], I was having a conversation [recently] about new guys…and believe it or not, I respect what they doing. So [if they] knock me, you put yourself in a bad position. Because hey, when I was your age, I wish somebody understood what I was doing. Because you gotta realize, when we first came out all these people didn’t support what we did… So if we woulda had that kind of support, we don’t know where Rap woulda been. [So]…if you gonna disrespect a person like Big Hutch, Cold 187um from Above The Law, you don’t really have a broad perspective of where you at as an artist anyway if you O.G. since 1987.