In the first half of Bud’da’s revealing conversation with HipHopDX, the producer from Pittsburgh who, thanks to fellow ‘Burgh native Sam Sneed, helped define the west coast Gangsta Rap sound of the ‘90’s discussed his history of crafting classics for Ice Cube and Dr. Dre two-thousand miles from his hometown.
Now in the second half of his discussion with DX, the man most responsible for the Westside Connection’s classic debut, who then became arguably the architect of Aftermath Entertainment’s early sound, revealed why he and fellow Pittsburghians Mel-Man and Stu-B-Doo made the “transition” to Aftermath but Dr. Dre’s good friend Sam did not. Bud’da additionally explained why his own stint working for the good doctor didn’t last past creatively flipping “California Love” to help King T “Shake Da Spot” for T’s shelved Aftermath album, (but why Dre is still selecting Bud’da beats years later).
The longtime Los Angeles transplant also discussed his impressive post-Aftermath work for Mr. X-to-the-Z and lessened, but no less powerful, productions for Ice Cube in the years since his history making contributions to Bow Down.
Remarkably pleasant and polite for someone with over 15 years logged in the at times dark and depraved business of music, the music composer (with over a dozen film and television scores to his credit) and CEO of Bout Time Entertainment (where he is overseeing the development of singer Eddie Gomez) concludes the must-read story of how one of the greatest producers you might not know about went from Dr. Dre to Disney.
HipHopDX: So on that first Aftermath compilation, [Dr. Dre Presents … The Aftermath], you were down, so was Stu-B-Doo, and Mel-Man was in the mix, but where was Sam? When I spoke to Sam, he said Dre basically ignored his inquiries about what Dre was gonna do post-Death Row [Records] and so Sam went back to Pittsburgh.
Bud’da: That was a grey area during that time. We was all out here trying to make it happen when the Death Row thing happened. It got really weird all the way around the board in regards to threats and all type of other stuff. So, Dre was playin’ it on the low…And when he decided to do what he did, the reasoning I got behind it was that Sam was still in his Death Row contract. And for the most part – I’m only assuming – Dre didn’t want to – being that he was leaving that situation – I guess he didn’t wanna put himself even more on the line to try to fight for Sam, even though they had been through a whole bunch. … So that was my [understanding] on why Sam didn’t transition [to Aftermath]. To my knowledge, they was good friends before [me, Mel and Stu] even all came out [to Los Angeles].
DX: Why didn’t you stay in-house at Aftermath [very long] past that ’96 compilation?
Bud’da: I felt it was time for me to transition, because in being in-house – I’ll put it this way, there was times that I was getting approached while I was signed there, once the Bow Down album was doing its thing, where cats was coming at me about doing some work that was like, “Man! You serious?!,” in regards to not only the money but just the different opportunities that I coulda had. And I stuck in there. Because, one of Dre’s things was in trying to basically be an apprentice to him at that time … In his career, what he knows has worked has been being exclusive to who you’re working with and what you’re doing. It creates a certain kind of mystery, and it keeps you from kinda being all over the place. Exclusivity worked for him [at Ruthless and Death Row Records]. So I’m like, if that format worked for him – I love to do music, it ain’t like I’m not getting paid here, [and so] I’ma pass up these [outside] opportunities. But down the road – not that it got rocky, but I just wanted to exercise some other [options]. When I spoke to Dre about it, he wasn’t opposed to it, but his theory was being exclusive to what Aftermath was doing at the time. I don’t know if that’s the case now, ‘cause he even does stuff outside of Aftermath, which he didn’t use to do that kinda stuff. So that was my main reason for shakin’. [But] unlike anybody else, I didn’t ruffle any feathers. We left on good terms. We both mutually respect each other. And from time to time I get a chance to holla at him, and I even submitted some stuff for Detox. I never burned that bridge and we always stayed cool.
DX: How long ago did you submit those Detox tracks?
Bud’da: It mighta been about a year-and-a-half ago. But, you know how long it’s been that he’s been working on it, so … It mighta been another year-and-a-half before that I submitted something else. He goes through so much stuff. He’s submitted so much music, and people are coming through recording. It used to be funny watching certain folks…be all pumped up – it could be a known artist, it don’t even matter – [and after they] leave the studio, Dre been done had like four other known artists get on [that same track]. And whoever fit it right for him is the one that ends up making the end product. So you might be waiting for it to come out [like], “Aw, I was on that song!” And you don’t hear yourself on the song.
DX: Did you get any personal feedback from Dre though…about those recent tracks you submitted?
Bud’da: It wasn’t even submission, I went there and actually played a couple joints for him and he picked like three. He picked three personally. And it just didn’t…nothin’ happened after that. So he may have recorded something to [them] at some other time, or not. He mighta just kept it pushin’. But, he picked three while I was there.
DX: Do those tracks sound anything like the Westside Connection era Bud’da stuff?
Bud’da: Uh … it could have a certain feel [like that stuff]. They were hard, I could tell you that. But, I can’t necessarily say that they felt like the Westside Connection thing. Although I’ve transitioned from that stage, I still instinctively keep the glue of a certain feeling together. So, it’ll have a certain feeling, but it won’t sound like 1996.
DX: A lot of people don’t know – and [so] I wanna note here – [that] beyond the gangsta shit one of your most impressive credits from that era didn’t appear on a Ice Cube or Dr. Dre project. The lucky beneficiary of that synth-less symphony were the Golden State Warriors, [Xzibit, Ras Kass and Saafir], for “3 Card Molly” [from Xzibit’s 40 Dayz & 40 Nightz]. How did you end up crafting that classic for Mr. X-to-the-Z?
Bud’da: That was one of the first things I started getting at once I made the transition from Aftermath. X and a couple of other projects, I was just taking stuff on. I love that record just in general ‘cause it kinda went back to [my] roots of sampling and freakin’ drums a certain way, and just having a good mixture of Hip Hop with live instrumentation. I think “Deeper” is another song … where I chopped up some strings. And although I did do stuff like that at Aftermath, there’s a lot of stuff that’s still in the vault that no one will ever hear [that sounds like those Xzibit tracks]. So I was glad to be able to exercise that so that I didn’t get pigeonholed like I couldn’t do my thing in regards to [music outside of Gangsta Rap].
DX: Do you still got a line to X? ‘Cause he needs those types of tracks back in his life.
Bud’da: I do not have a line to X. I haven’t talked to X in a minute. Whenever I do see X though, it’s always love, and we end up exchanging numbers. But, since I transitioned into other things, I [haven’t] necessarily been chasing down certain projects or people or nothin’.
DX: Besides the Xzibit stuff, you went on to do some more stuff for [Ice] Cube: “Ghetto Vet,” “Extradition,” etc. from War & Peace Vol. 1 in ’98. But aside from “Chrome & Paint” in ’06, you haven’t worked much with Cube over the last decade. He does remember you did “Bow Down,” right? [Laughs]
Bud’da: [Laughs] Well, over the last decade, yeah, we worked together but I missed the second Westside Connection album, [Terrorist Threats], and I missed [Raw Footage]. [After] the second Westside Connection was [Laugh Now, Cry Later], with “Chrome & Paint” and “Smoke Some Weed.” So I made that one. … Cube is one cat that I can definitely say knows what he wants. I had met with him in regards to – um … I’m trying to think if it was [for] that I Am the West album. I met with him during that time, when he was doing promotion for something else, and he played me some joints to let me know the direction. And I think what happened with that is I had committed shortly after meeting with him to doing a film [score]. And in doing films, they really require you to really…it just takes a lot. So, as much as I woulda loved to do some beats for [I Am the West], I couldn’t give him my full attention like I woulda wanted to [so] if he didn’t like this bunch [of beats], submit some more, if he ain’t like this bunch, submit some more. I have always had an open line with Cube, but in the latter years I just started transitioning into different things…
DX: And what are those different things? Why does Bud’da’s discography on Discogs.com seem to sort of trail off as the ‘90s end?
Bud’da: ‘Cause I transitioned more into film and television. [But before that], after doing certain Hip Hop and gangsta stuff, I ended up signing with this label, Blackground, and did a production deal and a label deal with them. So for about three years I was working with their artists, and doing my own artists as well…I was out of the country working with Aaliyah for a month and some change on [“Never No More” and two other songs for her final album]. And then, working with Tank. So, that was a little stint too, to where I wasn’t working with Cube and them. That’s around the time when Tank’s [Force of Nature] came out, which I had about seven joints on there…And then after that, I started doing [the music for] a cartoon called “The Proud Family” that was on Disney channel. Then that started my whole transition into wanting to do more film and television. So that’s why it seems like it trickles off on [Discogs] but on IMDB it kinda picks back up.
DX: Are you working with Cube on any of his [film and television projects]?
Bud’da: I definitely have wanted to work with him on a couple things. It’s funny, a neighbor of mine had did the [Are We Done Yet?]. He was a composer…And I’m like, “Man, Cube coulda called me for that!”
DX: [Laughs] I did “Bow Down!”
Bud’da: [Laughs] You know! But he’s such a businessman … being that side, the music scoring side, is relatively new to me, he went with someone who is more seasoned in that game. I think he kinda keeps the worlds separated. ‘Cause it’s not like you see [WC] in a movie that he’s doing. But yet, Dub will be on tour with him in Germany. So, it’s like he keeps his worlds separated and he puts on certain hats when he does. But it’s definitely been in my brain a couple times, and I hit him up a couple times. I even gave him my composer reel. He’s like, “Man, this is dope! I ain’t know you was doing this.” But I think he kinda compartmentalizes everything that he does, just so he could get the maximum benefits from everything that he’s doing.
DX: Well, we’re coming to the close of this interview, but I just have to ask before I let you go…where’s all the dirt? [Laughs] You’re still cool with everybody. When I talked to Sam there was plenty of dirt.
Bud’da: [Laughs] If you meet anybody that knows me, man, I keep it one hundred, and I pretty much…I ain’t burned no bridge with nobody. And, for the most part I just do my thing. I’m not in it for the hype. I love music – have, and always will. So I never really got into too many situations thank God that just got too crazy to where it just started mess. I’ve earned the reputation in the music industry as someone who not only does good business, but I’ll deliver in regards to what it is that we’re trying to accomplish. And go above and beyond, and work my hardest to make it happen. So, I don’t have no dirt to sling.