Interview: Young Bleed
Young Bleed is a rapper and producer from Baton Rouge, Louisiana. He’s best known for “How Ya Do Dat," from his debut My Balls and My Word, as well as his earlier work with C-Loc’s Concentration Camp clique and later run of independent releases via his labels Da'Tention Home and Trap Door Entertainment.
Man, you’ve got the whole setup in here.
Ah yeah, the studio shit. This is actually my son’s spot; I’ve lived in Detroit for about the last seven or so years, so I’ve just really been back and forth to Baton Rouge within the last two years. I’ve got a little kid up there and all that kind of shit; I went up there on a tour, ended up staying for seven years.
What’d you like about it?
It was beautiful. The money was one thing, the people was cool, and just the whole historic thing about Detroit. It’s one of the most broke cities nowadays - the economy shit is up there, the east side looks like a fuckin’ bomb hit it. That part of it, you know, ghetto to ghetto… I always try to just link with the locals, make some music and hopefully we can accumulate something in the process. I try and do that in every state I go in, I’ve lived in probably ‘bout forty, forty-one states for at least a small portion of time. Really just within the last twenty years with all the touring and shit; I’ll go somewhere, and if it’s crackin’ I’ll stay a while.
There’s a whole scene going on up there right now.
Oh absolutely, the Tee Grizzleys and all that type of shit. I’m cool with Bizarre and all them guys up there too. So, you know, six degrees of separation.
Do you find that one way or another, your music’s made it to the younger generation?
Yeah, and startin’ right there - my name being Young Bleed, I always say I’m the bridge between the young and the old. I’m getting a little up there now, in my forties, so passing the torch on to the Boosie, the Gates, the Webbie that come out my section, you know what I mean? I was really the jump off boy, far as the overall commercial success. The first to go gold and platinum from here, and probably still to this day. Not saying anything negative toward ‘em, but by the books and statistically, I put it on the map.
I used to pray here, man, I used to pray over basketball courts and over at LSU Lakes and pray that something happen different here. I had been rappin’ myself since ‘82, ‘83, none of them guys wasn’t really born, so I always prayed that this would be like Brooklyn and the Bronx and hip-hop would come here. It’s officially here now, it’s funny to see. I watch a lot of that Baton Rouge Effect shit; I remember we didn’t have documentaries. Nobody was interested in here. And now shit number one murder capital, some of these guys are number one rappers. Really family ties, Boosie to some degree, I wanna say NBA Youngboy’s family is kin to my baby mother. I think I went to school with his mother and we was real cool back in the day. I hadn’t seen her, you know, in these new days, she might have had him while I was movin’ around. So to come back home, it’s like coming home from the pen and city changed, you know what I mean? Or Simba in the fuckin’ Lion King, the jungle is the same but different.
Someone in New Orleans was telling me that Baton Rouge is the only city that never seems to change.
For me, it’s something old, something new. It’s a few new buildings and different things that used to wasn’t down here - the Whataburgers and Jack-in-the-Box - I’m a 70s, 80s baby, so I go back to that portion of Baton Rouge. So you have that type of change, but as far as mentality, it’s a lot worse with all these murders, senseless fucking killings. But the kids that wasn’t here, a lot of shit in they world start with them. They don’t know things of the past, other than a few landmarks that you hear in the records and can pinpoint, LSU and Southern University. But yeah, pretty much the same thing; those two colleges, the Saints is in New Orleans, we don’t have a pro team.
Coming up rapping in ‘82, ‘83, ‘84, it must have been New York stuff that was making its way down here.
Absolutely. I had family ties as far as music, but in that era I had a cousin who used to go to New York all the time, and he’d record Kiss FM for me. He knew I was aspiring to be a young rapper. Louisiana’s coined the Dream State, we’re always the last to get everything off the trains and planes, so even the music and fashion and all that, you’d see shit on TV that we’d wish we could get. But he’ll bring me those tapes, and I was able to absorb Eric B. & Rakim, the Juice Crew, MC Shan, Marley Marl and all those guys. So my lyrical training was way outside of this box, I didn’t study the guys here. I’d battle crews, three, five guys at a time and it wasn’t equal. I ate lunch anywhere you put me off that New York heritage and that emcee training.
I was a young guy, not necessarily aspiring to be a world-renowned DJ, but I also had some turntables. I was the first guy at the record store when I was a kid, with five hundred pennies and the tax money to buy that new 12" single. My pops, my step-pops, my uncles and shit had all the old-school Parliaments, Curtis Mayfields, so I came up under that schooling. I had that whole chemistry from being a lab rat; al the elements of hip-hop I was starting to perfect young, all but graffiti. I love graffiti, but my artistry come with more of my penmanship than bein’ able to draw you anything more than a stickman, know what I mean? I always wished like I could draw like that - I had uncles that used to paint J.J. pictures and shit, so I always loved art but never had that steady a hand.
And then you ended up getting painted for the My Own cover.
It’s just like I did the first cover, it’s a picture I took in an office room. Every album I do, I try to continue my life chapters, so when you look at that cover you see the poster on the wall to remind people of My Balls and My Word. But here I am now, coming from off of those stairs to inside the building, inside that mini-mansion in the sky. Then I come back down the stairs for Vintage, that was supposed to be… if you look at that office desk and think what you might put in a picture frame, you know what I mean?
What had you liked about that suit and hat that you had on the first two album covers?
My pops used to always tell me this: you ain’t really no man ‘til you learn to wear a suit and tie. So that’s my pop’s suit, my god-brother gave me that Godfather hat, different things like that. I probably had my own shoes, my mother’s Bible. I took those family heirlooms and constructed myself as a young man, twenty-two years old and a businessman. And a Mafia Don, that was the combination.
I give credit to C-Loc and Master P for what they did once I left the photography studio; it was Pen & Pixel in Texas, and before we was on the green screen it was a white screen that you used for taking pictures. My whole aim for that cover was to do, if you remember the ‘80s movie Crossroads, Ralph Macchio, it was the story of the old blues great Robert Johnson. So I really wanted to take the Crossroads picture, but a lot of guys wasn’t up on the blues like that. We was coming out of the East-West war, the South tryin’ to rise - standin’ in the middle of it, am I finna go East, West, or up North? Kind of like the old Eightball picture, if you remember his album Lost from back in the day. So that was my original thought - I took that picture like I was walking up the road, and by the time they sent it to me it was the mini-mansion in the sky, the stairway to heaven and so on, so forth. I was a more spiritual-based guy, and a lot of people used to call me the meditation man or the Method Man of the South, that type of thing, as far as that lyricism and New York hip-hop training. So they gave me that spiritual, from the wilderness to the heavens kind of display.
Did you see yourself as belonging more to that New York hip-hop tradition or the blues stuff that was closer to home?
You know, it go back to this: when you looking at the movie Hustle & Flow, the little white guy on there say “from ‘Back Door Man’ to ‘Back That Ass Up.’" And you know the history of that, Howlin’ Wolf to The Doors, I’m a heavy Doors fan, and all the way to “Back That Ass Up," it’s the same shit but just a different interpretation. So I was just trying to complete that whole circle, make the same travel as a blues man. Hip-hop is one of the few music genres, almost like pimpin’, that you can sell on the street corner. So I wanted to reset hip-hop, but from the South - from my section, you know what I mean? I relate to a lot of places, but I always stick to my roots, and that comes from a lot of bluesmen.
Every interview I’ve read with blues musicians seems focused on getting them to share some kind of private, inner conception of “the blues" - do you have that?
Hard times, trouble. Howlin’ Wolf described it like this: when you don’t have nothin’ else in the world, you got the blues. You prayin’ to God, your heart is purple, black, blue. To be able to sing like the blues, wail like the wailers, and come up out of a ghetto environment like that is triumphant at the end. But in order to get you correct, you gotta go through a whole lot of shit. That’s the travel of the blues.
It’s easy to imagine how you’d pick that up being down here, but I’m curious about your interest in The Doors - it seems like Los Angeles would’ve been so foreign.
It’s the same elements - if you know the story and the life of Jim Morrison, he was a bluesman. He slept on the roof, went through a whole lot of different troubles. When he used to first come out, he performed with his back to the crowd, and I was doing that same type of thing before I was heavy into The Doors like that. But I always studied all genres of music - way before The Doors I’m a Van Halen, AC/DC, Def Leppard, Quiet Riot fan since the ‘80s. I remember when MTV first came on, for a while it was no black artists on MTV. It was all rock boys, and I would sit at the TV like this all day. My mother used to think I was crazy. “Go outside and get some air, do something! How can you just sit and watch this shit all day?" I’m a guitar fanatic, I listen to Beethoven, Mozart, you name’ em. If I hear the rain and the cars outside and I like that, I’m gonna record it. But I was always lookin’ at a whole lot of documentaries, and I fell in love with the Doors movie they did with Val Kilmer. The life and death of Jim is as mysterious as the life and death of Robert Johnson.
Putting all these influences together, when would you say you started to develop a rap style of your own?
I used to battle guys like this, and shouts out to MC Shan - I was approachin’ the battle like a fight. You know, you don’t walk around all day braced up, but you prepared if you have to. In our lunch period at Kenilworth Middle, we had a middle school that didn’t have windows. So unless you had P.E. outside, it’s like being a fuckin’ vampire when you checked outta school at 2:15. I’d barely eat lunch, because I’d have a battle with someone by lunchtime. You’d see the whole school gathered around like the average fight - the guys I grew up with in the neighborhood, we all come from dysfunctional families and that’d display on the playground. I was small of stature, so you couldn’t see what was taking place - all you could see was the crowd. So the principal would come through the crowd, and by the time they see I’m just rhymin’ they was ready to suspend me anyway.
For years I didn’t like my voice, I started recording about eleven years old. I started writing at nine, I had a poetry teacher - my mother starting reading me Dr. Seuss since before I was born, by the time I was about eight months to a year or somethin’ she had taught me to read Dr. Seuss. I had a uncle that was a drummer, so I’ve been playing congas and bongos and sets since I was four and five years old, just sittin’ on his lap. Later in life Rakim would say r.a.p. Stands for “rhythm and poetry," so I was born that way. My real daddy was a truck driver, all over the country from here to Tijuana, Mexico, so he know all the streets in America like the back of his hand. So he raised me on the walkie talkie, CB shit. At home, that shit sat on his desk at the crib, and when he was out of town we could talk.
So when I finally got it, I was nine years old. Poetry class, our teacher taught us how to write haiku poems. It was like three sentences, or three lines. They didn’t necessarily rhyme, but I learned to formulate my writing skills off of that. I started doing my own thing that I call broken english, how the words sound - I write in those terms, though it’s not politically correct, due to the fact that in middle school somebody broke in my locker and stole my notebook of rhymes. I vowed to never let that happen again, so when people look at my rhymes now they say that shit look like Arabic or hieroglyphics or something. I write in a certain way that I can leave that motherfucker there for you and you can’t do shit with it, you know what I mean?
So when I look back at it, we all learn from each other, bits and pieces, but I always had my own style - that’s what made me seem so odd to myself, because I wanted to sound like the guys on the radio. Rakim bein’ my favorite rapper of all time and LL, those kind of guys, by the time I’d think I got it they would drop an album and it’d be a million more miles away from me. I’m like “Fuck! I’m not where I wanna be." So I had to look at it like hey, Rakim’s a few years older than me, I’m a freshman trying to be a senior. I had to learn my lane, my place in time, and start to get comfortable in that zone. It’s more like a people thing - my family, from the community, the school, and anybody that inspired me to keep goin’ on. Keep in mind, it’s a long way from New York, it’s a long way from California; the only black-owned labels that we had for an outlet comin’ out of Louisiana is Texas, Rap-A-Lot, and along the opposite way Luke Skyywalker Records, the home of The 2 Live Crew and Uncle Luke and all those guys. So anybody comin’ out this southern section, we was hopin’ that we’d get picked up by one of them versus the chance of sending a demo tape to any major company.
Who were you making those early recordings with?
It’s funny you mention that man, rest in peace to my big cousin right here. He was def, we did a song sampling old school “Larry Love." He really taught me how to plug turntables, scratch and mix. He was my first DJ, DJ A.D. He was one of the big cousins that was there for my first show, first recording, all that. I had a show on my mother’s birthday, July 5th this year, in Shaw, Mississippi when I got the call that he had passed away. I had to get myself together and still do the show, come back the next morning. I miss him much - I keep that picture right there, and when I wake up that’s my inspiration to keep going.
We started on four tracks and reel-to-reels, you know what I mean? Keep in mind, I was eleven years old, so it was kinda ABC rhymin’. I could freestyle in ‘82; on the elementary school yard I could be all over the place, grabbin’ shit from here and there. What people don’t know is that in the studio, it’s like running on a treadmill. Your head gotta be dead into that fuckin’ mic, six inches away from the microphone. You can’t bob and dance too much and get a proper recording. And too much recording on the tapes back then, it wasn’t like now where you can record and erase a million times on Pro Tools. Back then, you had a few times that you could do that before the tape started doublin’ or flipped over backwards.
Rest in peace to Tommy Jefferson, he was murdered some years ago, he was one of the OGs here that had a neighborhood studio that the kids could come to and record demo tapes and shit. That was my first recording, my homie Black from the project - he was about light-skinned as me, with hazel fuckin’ eyes, but we called him “Black" - he told me “yo, there’s a studio in Glen Oaks area, dude named Tommy Jefferson, here’s the number, woop woop woop." My mother spent $20 for an hour and I did a seven-hour session; he was so cool with my family that to this day I never paid for them other six hours. That was my very first recording; it was just a tape, we might’ve copied it on a Maxell or some shit like that but it wasn’t DATs and all that shit.
I’d say my first physical recording was a song called “Much Love" that I had on the radio. It used this Bar-Kays sample called “You Can’t Run Away," talkin’ about the struggle, dice shooting, police killings in the city. They would sell ‘em at the corner stores, the mom and pop record stores, high schools, we probably pressed up about five hundred. On the flip side of that, I had a friend that was killed out here about sixteen years old, the sheriff killed him.Whatever he was doin’ in the neighborhood, he got seen with a gun, and someone picked up the phone and sent the sheriff to the neighborhood to hunt him down. Naturally he was a scared kid, runnin’ and hiding in one of those bando apartments - when the sheriff found him, he was hidin’ behind a door. He shot through the fuckin’ door, blew his fuckin’ heart out. So that offended me - I don’t know if you remember that movie “When Harry Met Sally…," but I did a song called “When Dirty Harry Meet Sally," talkin’ about dirty cops and a pistol that I had, a .22 that I used to call “Sally." I used to have my run-ins with the laws and all that kind of shit, I remember a lot of days like that, kinda tryin’ to hold your breath while you believin’ in something that’s got no guarantees.
For most of the ‘90s, everything was kind of radiating out of New Orleans, right? When do you see things starting to shift over to Baton Rouge?
I give a lot of credit to those guys from New Orleans, especially in particular my big bro Big Mike of the Geto Boys. Big Mike was from Gert Town, New Orleans - him, rest in peace to my guy Tim Smooth, and Bust Down. Mannie Fresh was on a label called D&D - I still remember the record ‘cause I had the 12". It had a song called “Freddie’s Dead" or something that used the Freddy Krueger shit, a few other records like “We Destroy." They was on D&D, and I forget what major eventually picked them up, and after that Big Mike and Tim Smooth went to Rap-A-Lot. Bust Down went to Luke Skyywalker. So from what we was talkin’ about earlier, I was able to watch those guys and see what chances we had coming out of Louisiana. A plethora of rappers out of New Orleans, all the way up until Lil Wayne and them, guys you never heard and female rappers that was murdered and different shit like that.
We watched them being the bigger city - they always called us the country, and they were more the city boys. Rest in peace to my guy Mr. Magic from No Limit, he was working on an album before he passed away called Country Boys and City Slickers. We the hustlers and they was the ballers, you can go to New Orleans and there’s a Rolex building on Claiborne, you didn’t have to necessarily go to the mall and order some shit from out of town. Even with the gold teeth epidemic way back in the ‘80s, if you wanted to get gold you had to go to New Orleans. It was that type of thing, being second city to New Orleans. Dallas, Houston, same shit, you know? Rest in peace to MC Nero, he was one of the founding fathers here. Had a song called “I Gotta Lotta Respect" or “A Lotta the Dank," I think he had two different versions.
Reality was a group, shouts out to my guy Greg Dukes, he had a company called 360 Degrees and the first rap record that was on the radio in ‘85 was a song called “Missing Kids." I think that even went worldwide, ‘cause at the time you had all those kid killings in Atlanta. That had us so spooked in the South, and I’m sure the whole nation, that we had to be inside before the street light came on. Instead of walking down either sidewalk, we used to walk down the middle of the street, take a chance of a car hittin’ you before you walked down a alleyway. That’s how paranoid we was as kids, and that song became a hit for ‘em due to what was taking place.
So I remember those guys, The Much Fresh Crew… it was a lot of rappers in the country towns, so I don’t take credit. And of course the Wrecking Crew in our neighborhood, my big cousin Silky Slim and those guys. Right out The Bottom - you see the fours me and Boosie throw up, they the founding fathers. The fours are for the four horsemen and the four words of the clique: south, side, wrecking, crew, the four guys that ran that crew. I looked up to those guys on a street level, and Silky Slim on some God MC. To this day, he the type of guy that can really walk in that booth and don’t touch a pen and pad. So there were a lot of great guys here who didn’t get the commercial credit, but who I looked up to and who helped catapult me.
It was “A Fool" that first got traction outside of BR, right?
Yeah, the world know it as the song that grabbed the overall attention of Master P, but the truth be known it was certain things that we was able to do in Baton Rouge and certain things that we needed to go to New Orleans to do. Cox Cable was one of the places that we used to have to go edit our commercials and videos and different things. C-Loc had been the CEO of the company, and him and Master P had connected some kind of way. I’d go with Loc a lot of the times to New Orleans, and in the midst of that we were trying to do a compilation for the whole clique. Everything before that, we had supported Loc on his records but nobody really had a solo song. My first solo joint was “A Fool" - I knew how I wanted to lay it out, but I only give overall credit for that record to Happy Perez. Me and Hap’, Lay-Lo and all us would spend the night at each others’ parents’ cribs when they was younger than me. We had a ASR-10 or an Ensoniq 16+, one of those. We didn’t even have a keyboard stand; my friend was moving out of his apartment so they took all the furniture and shit out. I said I could make a hit song, they did me like DJ Yella in N.W.A. - “Hey, I could play the drums!" “Bullshit!" I said man look, I been doin’ this shit since woop woop woop.
So I really articulated that song - the breaks, sound effect, I wrote that shit down on paper. I kept hearing that melody, a Parliament groove from my uncle and my pops and them. That bassline became one of the most famous in hip-hop history. A lot of people don’t recognize it, but there’s a Ruff Ryders song with the same groove - it’s “One of Those Funky Things" by Parliament. That bassline was in my head with some old-school drums, it was kind of like a gumbo chemistry because I could hear King Tee “Act a Fool." When I listen back to that now, it’s King T, Steve Miller Band, the bassline is Parliament, there’s an Aretha Franklin sample and an Earth, Wind & Fire sample in it. Mixed all that together on top of some Public Enemy drums, “Miuzi Weighs a Ton." I used two drum tracks, the second was like some “Roxanne, Roxanne" or something like that and I went back and forth.
My focus was to be just the best artist I could be, so I didn’t really talk to P on the business end - the way I got it, he liked that record, pitched it to Beats By The Pound, and they re-enhanced it. I’d turned in fourteen joints that didn’t consist of no Beats By The Pound, no No Limit artists - nothing against those guys, but we didn’t know each other at the time. By the time the record came out, there were three or four tracks that had been substituted off it. But I couldn’t let anything stop me - sittin’ in a corner, taking the beats that Happy give me, scratching to get my record out and get out these streets before I ended up in jail for a long, long time or ended up killed out here. The last record on there, “We Don’t Stop," a lot of people are like “man, Max Minelli was all over your record man, woop woop woop, you must love him." Yeah, that was my little homie, ever since he was about eleven years old. But on that last song, he do the outro, I do my verses and maybe some of the hook but for the rest he more on it than me. I didn’t even finish that last record, we’d already started to fall apart as a clique. But we had to keep that out of the tabloids, because we were at the table with the company and they wanted to know if they were going to get these guys or not. If it hadn’t happened at that exact time, who knows?
I wanted to talk a bit about Vintage, which is my personal favorite of your records. What was going on that made it so distinct among all your other releases?
Like I say, I respect the commercial game but I come from that underground. It’s just like a tree with no roots. So I always come back to the underground if I’m doin’ anything - if I’m reading a book, I don’t want to start it from the middle. It’s the same way with creating - Vintage was my first time having a chance to get out from under the umbrella of Priority Records, they folded when we was recording. So that forced me back underground and independent, it was the first time that I had a label that I launched myself. I was starting all over, trying to separate that past portion of No Limit, C-Loc, and Priority Records and focus on the future. When I first started out with that record I was still on Priority, so I had that infinite sample list, infinite artist list. Whatever I wanted to do, I could. I really was ‘posed to re-do the Jimi Hendrix “Hey Baby" song featuring OutKast and Goodie Mob, shoot a video with James Earl Jones, Max Julien, do the heavens and angels fallin’ down. Chariots… we had some other shit goin’ on, then all of a sudden that was taken. I had to take all the samples I had, remove them, and go back to original music.
My guys, we were still coming out of the old school in the sense of having old machinery. XP-50s and 60s and shit like that, beat machines. When I created Da Carleone Family, I had let everybody bring a dinner plate to the table kind of like a junkyard band. We gon’ plug up and just jam out, find our own kind of samplin’ thing. I was the kind of guy if I heard a James Brown record, I wanted to rap to that record how I felt it the first time. For a long time, I wouldn’t let nobody re-make a sample, because it ain’t the same for me. It ain’t got the album poppin’ and cracklin’, you know what I mean? I come out the crates, so that genuine-ness of it… it’ll lose something for me.
So we’d have a couple of DJs, I’d play the live set, an old-timer Mr. Harold Cowart, rest in peace, used to play for the Bee Gees and Andy Gibb. But here, he had a forty-acre studio out here off of Bluff Road, and after me and the old man became real tight I used to go and sleep over there many days, any day, you know what I mean? I knew his wife, an Italian lady, and they family owned a corner store called Caruso’s off of one of the blocks in the hood that I grew up on, McKinley Street. So I been knowin’ they family since a kid.
They loved me, I called him my white granddaddy, you know what I mean? He’d give me whatever in the world I needed, live guitar or $10,000 Neumann mics, whatever. He had gold and platinum 45s on the wall, you know what I mean? So it was a vintage studio, the forty acres, like wood cabins and shit like that. So everything in that era and time was vintage - I was a wine connoisseur, you’d come to my house and I had the wine vines with Ernest and Gallo, this, that, you know what I mean? That time in my life, developing and growing with my family and clique, it was some real-life baby Mob kinda shit, in a music way. We would get in there and just vibe out - shit like “Murderous," that’s all it was. Technical shit, and then live players on top of all that. Turntables scratching, I was learnin’ how to combine everything in that sense. Everything was vintage, and most so the equipment.
My whole key to that was provin’ that it ain’t what you have, it’s how you use the shit. Whether it’s new equipment, old equipment. I learned from one of the greatest musician artists in the world to me, Bobby McFerrin - “Don’t Worry Be Happy." You know, I come from listening from The Skinny Boys to The Fat Boys, The Human Beat Box, Doug E. Fresh, motherfuckers make the music with they mouth. This guy got one of the greatest happy feelin’ songs in the world for all people, just beating on his chest and humming, one man and one mic. A good idea, right soundtrack to it and the right words will always play out.
Maybe it’s just “Born Kings," but it does seem like that spiritual component you’ve been mentioning is a lot more apparent.
That go a lot of ways - it was kind of like a homecoming album. I wasn’t going to California, running with Priority, No Limit. Coming back here and starting to record at that forty-acre studio, I’d got a house not too far from the old man and my manager Paul stayed not too far in Gonzales. So we’d all meet every Monday, cook, do whatever we want to - the man had Canadian geese that would fly in, alligators in the swamp, bass this fuckin’ big, so we livin’ like country kings. I’m in my early 20s, you know what I mean? I was able to re-tap into myself and take my time. That old man filled that void, and replicated what my grandfather would’ve wanted to give to me if he was still alive after ‘84. He was able to do everything from a financial standpoint when I needed that, when Priority kind of fell apart.
It’s a funny thing, it’s like bankers: as long as you go some money, everybody’ll give you some money, loan you some money. But if you go in like Rick Rubin and Russell Simmons on Krush Groove, with just a notebook saying you got an idea and you know it’s gon’ work, everybody not gonna believe in your dream and they ain’t gonna give you no up front money. The only people that really opened the door for me after leaving Priority was Select-O-Hits, shouts out to the old man Mr. John Phillips, his sons and nephews there. They reached out and gave me a nice little chunk of money to help my independent label, then became my distributor. They took that chance, and then me and C-Bo came in contact with each other. I felt like that’d be a better and a bigger look from what I had. It’s like giving a dog steak, you know what I mean? I’ll go back to eatin’ pork chops and wieners, but I’ve had that steak taste in my mouth.
A lot of people I’ve met down here say they can hardly imagine living anywhere else - what’s kept you moving around so much?
God, life, and spirit, and interest, you know what I mean? My grandmother, Ms. Ora Johnson, rest in peace and God bless her soul… I was always a kid that was scared of heights. She was a maid, the people she worked for was a good white family that treated us like family. One of my best friends lived right across the street from where she worked, a white guy named Jim. I would go with her on weekends and help cut the grass or whatever, and me and Jim would play together. I remember Jim got sick in third grade - he was a little more fortunate than me, he would send me all his Girbauds and polos because there was some shit with one of his lungs, he would lose weight and different shit like that. Anything his mother bought, he would do for me.
She lived to see me make my first tape - she probably still had it in her purse when she passed away - so she saw me on my way. That same family was the Grants, anybody out here know about Grant Chemical. Mr. Ed Grant and his whole family. They used to fly her to Maine once a year, get her the fuck up outta here. And she’d bring back imported lobsters and shit. I’m trying to do an album with my brother Lucky Knuckles, and I want to use this childhood picture of us holding real live lobsters in pajamas as little baby boys. We would ride to the airport and see her leave, get up outta here. So I started to focus on things that would help me get up out of here when I was a kid.
I’m well and street, ruthless as anybody else that come up from where we come from, but my thought process was shit like Loch Ness. Believin’ in Greek gods and dinosaurs. So when I encountered that with my granddad, watching TV and it looked like it was ESPN - seeing this speedboat come across this great mass of water, haulin’ ass and it was talking about this man named John Cobb that was the fastest speedboat racer in the world. He was trying to break one of his records on this lake called Loch Ness, but I didn’t know shit about the monster or none of that. It looked like it was live to me as a kid, and all of a sudden on this calm water he bump into whatever the fuck and the boat flips, he gets tossed out, and the boat disintegrates. They start goin’ into the mystery of this dinosaur that must’ve been surfacing at the time. And shit click with you certain ways at certain times - what if we got live dinosaurs, still on the planet? So I know that one day I wanna go to Loch Ness and see this shit myself, but where I’m comin’ from my family can’t afford to send me to Loch Ness, so how can I make that money?
I admired the guys that would come here - LL, he was between sixteen and eighteen years old and he was a millionaire. Later on, Special Ed “I Got It Made." Sittin’ down, figuring out what they made for a show. Guys in New York probably gettin’ twenty grand a show, and this in the ‘80s. So I know that when he comin’ to my little simple state, he gonna hit at least four to five major cities. He goin’ to New Orleans, they gon’ do the Superdome; he probably gonna do Lafayette, Baton Rouge at the Centroplex, Shreveport, and maybe Lake Charles. So, damn - that’s a hundred grand he just made in my state! So that put me on that rap hustle thought real young. That’s how I could be able to take care of what I needed to take care of family-wise, live some life. Maybe even go to Loch Ness one day.