You may or may not recognize his name, but DJ Speed was intimately involved in the development of the west coast’s first powerhouse Hip Hop label, Ruthless Records.
Speaking to HipHopDX on Friday (March 4th), the former deejay for The D.O.C. responded to his late ‘80s performance partner’s recent comments to the media, saying Doc sounded “bitter” during his jaw-dropping discussion with DX and that many of his “broad statements” regarding his role at Ruthless are egotistical exaggerations.
Additionally, the Compton, California native, and neighborhood friend of future N.W.A. member MC Ren, revealed just what The Villain thinks of The D.O.C.’s comments to DX, which included Doc insinuating he wrote all of N.W.A.’s rhymes save for Ice Cube’s.
While currently preparing a mixtape entitled The MastaPiece for a June release, (which he hopes to have Ren and Cube make appearances on, along with industry friends Too Short and Tash from Tha Alkaholiks), Speed went back to the future with DX by revealing his history within the Ruthless/N.W.A. camp, (as well as with Bud Bundy), before offering his insider analysis of The D.O.C.’s controversial commentary.
And finally, with a speaking tone eerily similar to that of the late founder of Ruthless Records and N.W.A., Eazy-E, the CEO of Deeps Music Group (home to S Well, former MC Ren and Ice Cube producer Tootie, and Speed’s cousin, K9, among others) provided some rare insight into the relationships between Ren, Cube, Dre and DJ Yella, including revelations of which two of the four surviving N.W.A. members have been hanging out together again of late, and that, contrary to what The D.O.C. told DX, there is no beef between members of “The World’s Most Dangerous Group” and the N.W.A. biopic due in theatres next year from New Line Cinema (the same studio that produced The Notorious B.I.G. biopic Notorious) is moving forward with or without The D.O.C.
HipHopDX: I gotta start off by asking if you ever got back at them girls that clowned you on Eazy-E’s “Radio?” [Laughs]
DJ Speed: One of ‘em was one of Eric’s son’s mother, and I still talk to her almost on the daily. She’s like one of my closest friends.
DX: Is that Lil Eazy-E’s mom?
DJ Speed: Nah, [she’s the mother of] his son Derrick.
DX: For the uninformed, can you give a quick breakdown of your history in the Rap game?
DJ Speed: [I] started as a deejay, from watching [Dr.] Dre deejay in the garage, when he was with High Powered Productions – before the World Class Wreckin’ Cru. [I] went from that to being … basically Joe Cooley’s protégé. He took me under his wing, taught me almost everything I learned about the deejay game. Then one day, just randomly [MC] Ren pulled me around the corner to Eazy’s house – met Eazy, we hit it off right then. I think like the next week I was on tour with him. That was at the beginning of when N.W.A. started. I started off [as] a roadie, and pretty much running the stage, and started working the boards, until D.O.C. came into the picture and I became his deejay. I deejayed for N.W.A. sometimes on tour. It was sporadic things, but I was definitely involved with pretty much everything that went on during the whole [Ruthless Records] period up to ’93. From maybe ’87 to ’93, so I was definitely … part of everything. [Laughs]
DX: Which Ruthless releases did you do the cuts on?
DJ Speed: On any N.W.A. stuff? No scratches on the record, it was more of like with the shows and live stuff like that. I helped out with The D.O.C. album, [No One Can Do It Better], helped out on the … I think it was the 100 Miles and Runnin’ [by N.W.A.] album. Back then it was just like, I was that dude that didn’t really know a lot, but I was trying to be around a lot.
DX: Did you do any actual beats for Ruthless or any other in-studio stuff …?
DJ Speed: With Kokane’s first album, [Addictive Hip Hop Muzick], he had a song called “Nickel Slick Nigga” [that also appeared on the Deep Cover soundtrack], I did that. For [a] song on the 100 Miles and Runnin’ album, I did a loop and Dre liked it, so he used it for … what song was that on that fuckin’ album? … Damn! I forgot the name of the song, but it was just a basic drum loop that Dre used. [I didn’t do any] real actual production, [I was] just like … learning. ‘Cause I was more in the deejay phase back then.
DX: Yeah, you’re mentioned at the end of “Let The Bass Go” by The D.O.C. Were you just cuttin’ on that joint?
DJ Speed: Yeah, I was just in the studio with him. And then on “The Grand Finale” too, they shouted me out. … Nobody [who was around] from the start of [Ruthless], nobody knew it would be what it was. So I kinda was still like just in chill mode pretty much. Nobody knew it would grow to be this. If I knew it would grow to be this, I woulda been involved in everything. [Laughs]
DX: Since you deejayed for The D.O.C., do you care to weigh in on anything Doc told me during his DX interview regarding Eazy-E or Dr. Dre?
DJ Speed: I don’t know what went on between him and Dre, but me personally from knowing him, [I can tell] something went on. Because, it just seems like he [sounded] real bitter about something. And it’s like, you throwing out too much stuff. I’ve read interviews where he’s said he built Ruthless, he built Aftermath [Entertainment], he built Death Row [Records]. And that’s a broad statement, when there were so many people involved with all of those projects. I mean, he was a big part of Ruthless, but I don’t think he was as big as he’s trying to make himself sound. He’s a good dude, but I just think Dre doing the Detox with a bunch of younger, hungrier writers around, he might just be feeling the squeeze and, I don't know, maybe he’s just venting about that. But I mean, Doc is a very talented person regardless of what happened.
It’s just a lot of stuff he’s saying that, to me, it don’t sit right. I spoke with Ren [about The D.O.C.’s interview with DX]. Ren, he just brushed it off. Ren’s words were basically, “What happened is written in stone and can’t nobody really change that, so he can say whatever he wants.”
DX: D.O.C. was talking about that the N.W.A. movie, the Straight Outta Compton movie, wouldn’t happen because [the members of N.W.A.] don’t get along, and he’s not in the movie. Can you speak on that at all?
DJ Speed: As far as the movie goes, it’s basically at the beginning stages. … Like I said, he makes a lot of broad statements. N.W.A. was basically a family. It was five members – it was started with six, [and then] Arabian [Prince] dropped out. So it was five members, but everybody [in the Ruthless posse] was family. We were all really close. … [There’s] a lot of people that they are kinda excluding right now, that need to be involved in the movie to really, really make it happen. Honestly, without [D.O.C.’s] involvement in it, the movie could still happen. It’s not like it couldn’t. For me, it starts with Dre. Dre, he just gave his blessing [to the movie], but he needs to be involved [with the film more directly]. ‘Cause that’s where it all started, because him and Eric were friends way before all this N.W.A. stuff came about. … As far as Doc making big broad statements, they just don’t really seem called for. He was a part of the family. What is he bitter about now? I have no idea.
DX: I don’t have the exact quote in front of me, but he was saying something to the effect of the movie could never even happen because the various members of the group don’t even get along.
DJ Speed: That’s not true to my knowledge. It’s like, everyone … they’re doing their thing. … Dre is doing his Detox, he’s doing the Beats By Dre [headphones], he’s doing the [HP] computer [endorsement]; he’s doing a lot of things. He has a lot of things going on. But, from my knowledge, he doesn’t have any problems with anybody. I spoke with [Ice] Cube. And Cube always asks about Ren. When he’s not busy they keep in touch. I mean, Ren is just … he’s real reserved now. … But, to my knowledge, I don’t know of any beef between any of those [guys]. I mean, Dre and [DJ] Yella been kickin’ it lately, like a lot. That’s something a lot of people don’t know, they been hangin’ out a lot. This last year they went to the [Los Angeles] Laker playoff games. … So, to my knowledge, I don’t think anybody has beef, I just think everyone is doing their thing.
DX: Was it reported correctly that Ice Cube is actually gonna be one of the producers for the movie?
DJ Speed: As far as my knowledge goes it’s Ice Cube and Tomica [Woods-Wright], who’s [Eazy-E’s widow and CEO of Ruthless Records]. When I first heard about it I heard Dre was involved, but from what I keep hearing so far he’s just given his blessing. He hasn’t had a chance to do anything else. So I don’t know his direct involvement with it. I think it would only be right if everybody, all the surviving members, are a part of it. Like, a big part of it. Everybody that’s around: The D.O.C., me, everybody that played a part, we should all be involved in some way. But, I think the members should be directly involved. It shouldn’t just be maybe one or two. I mean, if anybody has a problem with anybody, it’s gonna be with [Tomica]. That’s where any problems may come about.
DX: Do you have any involvement so far with the film?
DJ Speed: I sat down with the screenwriter, and I talked to her for like three hours. And I’m gonna meet up with her again. [So], I have involvement. I don’t know what kind of involvement they would consider it, but I’ve talked to the screen writer, I’ve talked to Cube, I’ve talked to Ren so … I’m a part of it. Will I be in the movie? I don’t know. [Laughs]
DX: How long ago was that meeting with the screenwriter?
DJ Speed: This was … probably like three weeks ago. It’s in the beginning stages. Me personally, I think it should be a few more people involved, a few more people that sit down with the screenwriter and meet with her. Because, everyone has their stories; we all have our stories. We all did stuff together, but it was like a few people that had more intimate involvement with certain people. Like me, I lived with [Eazy]. I’ve seen pretty much almost everything. But a few other peoples, bodyguards he lived with, [they also] seen a lot. We’ve all seen a lot.
DX: What years did you live with [Eazy]?
DJ Speed: From ’88 to December ’92. I lived at – [Eazy] had a house in Norwalk, had a house in the [San Fernando] Valley, had a house in Calabasas.
DX: So after The D.O.C.’s accident, what then did you start to do within the Ruthless camp?
DJ Speed: I started messing with the drum machine, trying to get into production a little bit. But at that point I was still deejaying a lot. Like, I did a club in Hollywood called Ballistics with David Faustino from Married with Children. We had a club out there. That was going real good, and that was paying real good. So like every week I would have – Eric would be there, or Ren would be there, everybody would come down and support [me]. I had the Rap crowd, and David Faustino had the acting crowd, so it went together really well for like a year-and-a-half.
When D.O.C. got in that accident, it happened the day before just me and him were gonna go on tour and [perform] with EPMD for like … I forgot how many city tour. But that was [supposed to be] the first tour without N.W.A. Like, [D.O.C.] headlining the bill …. [So] when I heard about the accident I thought Dre was kidding. I was like, “Man!”
DX: And you said you stayed with Ruthless for a few more years. Why’d you leave after that?
DJ Speed: Me and Eric just wasn’t really getting along too great. But it was still good. Like, I’ve never lost love for Eric; he never lost love for me. … It was many times I coulda been like everybody else and said, “You know what? I don’t have your back.” But Eric had my back from day one, and [so] I had nothing but respect for that guy. And I still do, to this day. That’s why … [in the years since] he passed, people approached me and asking do I wanna do a book? I would never disrespect that dude like that. So it’s like, I’ve never really put myself out there like that. But now I just keep seeing D.O.C. talk, and see other people talk, and I’m like, C’mon now, people.
DX: Speaking of [Eazy], any thoughts on Dre going to Eazy’s grave at the end of the “I Need A Doctor” video?
DJ Speed: I thought that was like … I thought it was good. ‘Cause, him and Eric got history, regardless of their little beef. I mean, I can understand Eric being mad [when Dre left Ruthless], but in time that [passed] because they had history as friends way before all of this. Dre just felt he had to do what he had to do at the time. And it was a lot of people in Eric’s ear just hyping him up [like], “Oh, well fuck Dre.” So, when you bitter with somebody that you close to, it happens. But yeah, I thought him going to the grave [was good]. I thought the whole video just in general [was good]. The video’s gonna get received [how] it gets received by people, but for me, it was real cool because of all the photos and all of that stuff. It’s the last chapter for Dre as far as his music, as far as his solo thing. And I think that video just kinda spoke for that. Basically he said I got love for my N.W.A. brothers.
DX: And I guess lastly, are you gonna be working on your own book like The D.O.C.’s working on his?
DJ Speed: I wanna do a book now, ‘cause I have – like the last week I went through all my photos. ‘Cause Cube asked me did I have any photos, and I was like, “Yeah, I got some photos of you.” And I went through my photos and I was just like, “Man, I got a lot of photos.” And I was talking to some people, seeing if Eric’s mother [had any photos], and I’m kinda the only person with photos. So I’m like, Damn, I should put [a photo book] out. My thing is I’m not trying to exploit anybody; I’m not trying to make any kind of money off of Eric’s death or anything like that. If I make money off of the book, I’m more than willing to give half of my money to his kids. ‘Cause all his kids I watched grow up. From [Lil Eazy E], to Derrick, I been knowing ‘em since they were born. And from what I hear personally … I don’t think that [Tomica] does anything really for them. It’s not like they’re deprived or anything, but just – Eric did so much for me that [if there was] something that I got paid off of [featuring] him or N.W.A. that’s what I would definitely do: give half to a charity or something. I’m not really out for a dollar; I’m not trying to be that dude that exploits something to get to the money. I’ve never been that dude. I’m just that dude that likes having fun and being out and around shit.
DX: Well let’s end on that note. I just had a handful of questions there, basically wanted to get some sort of information on the movie because information on that’s been extremely limited so far.
DJ Speed: Yeah, I don’t know why, ‘cause they’ve been kinda working on it for awhile. I don't know, I guess it started off with just Tomica, and then she started involving everybody else and that’s when it really started spinning. I hope that it happens, and I hope it turns out really good. Regardless of if I’m in it or not, I just want it to be good. I want people to know the story of N.W.A. and just everything that went on around that time. It was like a crazy time. [Laughs]
DX: Yeah, according to The D.O.C. it was really crazy. [Laughs]
DJ Speed: It was crazy. When we met that dude it was crazy. We were in Texas, and I think we were outside of this record store – we did the in store – and [D.O.C.] just spit. And Dre was like, “Man! I’m flying you to California.” We got back home, and I’m in the studio and [Dre’s like], “Hey, go pick up that dude Doc from the airport.” I was like, “What? Fuck, you flew him out that fast?” They brought him out quick. And, like I said, I don’t take anything away from Doc. I know he wrote a lot of the stuff. But he tries to make it seem like he wrote everything, and everybody’s stuff. And all anybody has to do is look at credits on [those] albums, and that speaks for itself. But, I know when I picked him up on the way to the studio he was writing me one of these [songs]. So, he definitely – with the pen, he’s deadly. But I just think all that bitterness he doing right now, it’s just uncalled for.