The city of Long Beach, California has blessed the world of music with many talented artists. From Snoop Dogg, to Sublime, Nate Dogg, and Jenni Rivera, the artists have spread across genres. Within the genre of Hip Hop, the artists from the coastal Los Angeles County city are just as varied. While Snoop introduced Hip Hop to the city of Long Beach, currently carrying the torch for the city across the world is Crooked I.

Without following any formulas or attempting to fit in the mold of those before him, Crooked has remained relevant in the game since the end of the Death Row era, using nothing but lyrics and his own money as his marketing tool.

“My shit is super independent,” he explained from the confines of DJ Skee’s eponymous headquarters, the Skee Lodge. “I’ll shoot a video off money I make from shows. When I’m by myself—when I’m just doing my shit—it’s all independent. Ain’t nobody gonna jump out no closet with a fat ass check.”

On this particular evening, Crooked I is hosting his weekly radio show, going over the finer points of the Los Angeles Lakers roster with a caller. At what could probably be viewed as one of the higher points of his career, Crooked has released what he deems his debut album, Apex Predator. Before hopping on a plane to tour Europe with his Slaughterhouse brethren, Crook took some time out of his busy schedule to discuss his newest project, Apex Predator, The Horseshoe Gang and COB, being independent, and of course, the state of West Coast Hip Hop, Slaughterhouse, and the Kendrick Lamar “Control” verse.

Crooked I Explains His “Apex Predator” Album Concept & Mentality

HipHopDX: Apex Predator is in stores now, so how do you feel about the reception you’ve been getting?

Crooked I: I actually love it. I think that’s the best part of the whole shit. The fans are hitting me up like a mothafucka. Last night, I was trying to be on my late night shit, and I went to this drop box where you drop off clothes and shoes and shit for the homeless. I had a bunch of shit, I’m in my truck, and I’m trying to creep ‘cause it’s kinda in the hood, and I’m solo bolo. I’m good everywhere, but at the same time, I’m not foolish. Anything can happen at any time; anybody can get it. So I’m putting all these bags and shit in, and this dude walks by like, “Hey, that Apex shit is hard.” I’m like, “Damn,” it’s late at night and shit, and I got a tan, so it ain’t easy to spot me on a dark street. That’s the type of shit that makes me feel like, “You know what? That’s dope.” That’s what I do it for.

DX: You’ve got a lot of stuff you’re involved in—besides your solo projects, you’ve got Circle Of Bosses and Slaughterhouse. How long did it take you to record this album?

Crooked I: I’ve definitely been busy this year. I think this particular project took me about 30 days. On the road, you eat a lot of fast food…a lot of bullshit. And a mothafucka don’t want to just have a heart attack out of nowhere. So I was on a juice diet, but it wasn’t even a real juice diet…I was just trying to clean my system out. So I was on a juice cleanse for like 30 days, but at the same time, I was drinking liquor. I used to call it “Ying and Yang,” because it was good versus evil. It was just crazy, because it took me somewhere else mentally, just to be juicin’ and shit. It took me somewhere else, but we did that in like 30 days. I was just really getting in touch with what I felt, giving the people probably what they expected from me, and also letting them hear some shit I wanted them to hear personally. It’s a lot of leftovers too, because there’s only like 11 tracks on there, and I recorded about 30 tracks.

DX: With you being involved in all those projects, do you just shut down and go into solo mode, or do you do everything separately?

Crooked I:  Nah, I’m Jamaican with it…

DX: You do all of them at the same time…90 jobs?

Crooked I: Yeah, I’m definitely 90 jobs with it. It’s like, “What? I gotta do what? Alright, cool.” I’m pushing the Horseshoe Gang, and that’s one of my focuses right now. Them dudes—that’s my group and they crazy—they’ve got a new mixtape hosted by DJ Skee called Rap & Bitches. I’m pushing them, the whole COB movement including Coniyac, The Doobie Brothers, and everybody under the umbrella. I’m featuring on they shit, and I’m popping up if they got a performance and they need me to. At the same time, I’m doing Apex Predator, I’m performing around the world, and I’ve done about 30 shows this year just strictly off Apex shit in Canada and out here in the States. Then I’m doing my Slaughterhouse shit. I’m just working, man. My whole career has been “You work, you eat,” so I just work.

Why Crooked I Avoided Features & Called This His Debut Album

DX: You’ve stated that this is your debut album, but you’re definitely no newcomer to this. How did you approach this album differently?

Crooked I: I got so many bodies of music out there that it’s more music for the people. I hate that music has to have a price tag on it. To me, it’s just like drinking water…we charging all these mothafuckas for water when we got oceans. The world is covered by three-fourths of water, and we still charging niggas to drink it? Pretty soon, they gonna be charging niggas to breathe air. Music is a gift to me. It’s a God-given talent, and it just feels like it should be free to the people. I really don’t like putting a price tag on music. I think that’s one thing that has, so called, “held me back” in the industry…because they love putting price tags on music.

DX: The music business…

Crooked I: I’m not mad at that. You gotta eat, you gotta feed your family and do all of that. But I really don’t like putting price tags on music. I put out a lot of free shit in my career, and I’ve been blessed to be able to maintain myself and stay relevant. With the Apex shit, it’s been a while since I’ve been in the store and had my own bin. It’s definitely a little different from the other projects. But musically, it’s the same old thing, and I’m just trying to give the people good music and create more awareness about what we doing over here.

DX: Given that Slaughterhouse is collectively signed to Shady Records, this is probably the biggest machine you’ve had behind you in your whole career. Why specifically did you choose to cut back on features with your solo album?

Crooked I: I just wanted mothafuckas to get to know me. I know I gained a lot of new fans with Slaugherhouse, being with Em and all that. So I’m just reintroducing myself to the new people who just started getting into my music. I really wanted to be intimate with the listener. I’m tired of all these big ass collabos and shit. Niggas have never even been in the studio with each other, it’s just mothafuckas emailing verses from here, there, and there—and never even slapped hands with the mothafucka before. You met the mothafucka at the Grammys, and y’all got six songs together? That’s not organic to me; that’s just the industry saying that there’s a formula you need to follow to be successful. Then the listeners think that’s the way it’s supposed to be like, “I guess a nigga gotta have seven niggas on his album and seven or eight big features on the album.”

People ask you “Well, who do you got featured on the album?” I don’t want to hear that shit. What the fuck you talking about? If you fuck with me for what I do, then listen to what I’m doing. Illmatic didn’t have 20 features on it, and Blueprint didn’t have 20 features on it. Why the fuck are we in this feature game? Then I hear these albums, and it’s niggas rappin with niggas on songs that don’t sound right from a producer standpoint. As artists, we gotta be producers too. So you listen to a song, and think, “This aggressive ass nigga should have been on track two and not track 10 that’s all laid back.”

It’s just mayhem. So I was like, “I’m not gonna have nobody on my album but Tech N9ne.” I chose Tech N9ne because he’s always supported everything I’ve done. And this is a real independent album for me; Tech N9ne is the independent guru—the king. He’s somebody who motivates me as an independent businessman in Hip Hop, to do better, be better and to be greater. So I was like, “Yo, that’s the perfect nigga for this mothafuckin’ album, because I need somebody who is a predator…somebody who is gonna fucking tear some shit up. I need someone that represents this independent shit, because that’s all we got out here.” My shit is super independent. I’ll shoot a video off money I make from shows. When I’m by myself—when I’m just doing my shit—it’s all independent. Ain’t nobody gonna jump out no closet with a fat ass check. It’s a nigga coming out of his own pocket and making music to give to the people. That’s why I put Tech on there, ‘cause he definitely is the man when it comes to that.

Crooked I Says Kendrick Approached “Control” Like A Predator

DX: Did you already have the title Apex Predator planned, or did you work on the album and pick that theme after you heard the music? For those that don’t know, explain what an apex predator is.

Crooked I: I already had that title; I already have the titles to my next 10 projects. I don’t know why that is, but I already know the title of my next project. The apex, I definitely felt like—and it’s funny that the stuff happened with Kendrick and the whole “Control” song. I feel like he was feeling like an apex predator on that track. It was just like, “I’m about to hunt, I’m about to kill and I’m about to eat.” That’s what apex predators do. You hunt, you kill and you eat.

I was just like, “I’m tired of niggas dressing too fancy.” I look at the fucking “BET Awards,” and niggas look like when they let Django pick his first clothes out. I’m looking at mothafuckas on videos and shit trying to act like a long t-shirt is not a dress. This ain’t the Hip Hop I fell in love with. I’m not knocking you for what you do, but this is what the fuck I do. This is what I represent, so don’t knock me. I’m not gonna knock you, but that ain’t where we came from. It was just a mixture of that type of shit. I was like, “I’m just gonna be a predator and hunt for opportunities…kill the competition so my family can eat. We just gonna terrorize beats and stages, and we just gonna go hard the whole time.” It was definitely a mindset when I came with the title to match some of the music.

DX: You mentioned the predator mindset and how Kendrick’s bars from “Control” factor into that. How does all of that play into West Coast emcees being acknowledged for their lyricism? What impact does the fact that Joell Ortiz—a member of Slaughterhouse—was one of the first emcees to respond?

Crooked I: On the West Coast, there’s always been this urban legend that we don’t got bars. All the spitters do everyday is fight that fight to show, “Nah, we got bars over here.” A lot of people think that we’re just only good gangster storytellers. [The perception is that] nobody could get in a gladiator arena and fuck somebody up lyrically, but they might tell a dope ass “gangster story.” Well, we got gangster rappers, gangster stories, we got niggas who strictly backpack, and then we got the mixture of both in one fucking artist. I’m happy for what Kendrick did. What he did is, he went and annihilated a track on a mainstream level that made people pay attention. He called out that group of his peers…those are his peers. He said, “We all good, and we can make music together. We can do all this together, but when this mic turn on, I gotta be the victor.” Kobe and them, they shake hands with everybody they play against, but they want to win that game though. It’s just friendly competition. It’s somebody speaking out loud, saying something that a lot of rappers think anyway. I salute what he did.

On the flip side, I salute what Joell did [with “Outta Control”]. He’s like, “Okay, you say you the king of New York? I’m from New York; I’m from Brooklyn. I gotta hold down this Big Daddy Kane legacy, this Jay Z legacy, this Notorious B.I.G. legacy. I gotta hold this down. Okay, let’s compete.” So I understood where Joell came from, and him being my brother, I salute you too. You stood up for your coast, for what you believe, and for everything you rap for. Kendrick, I respect you too, ‘cause you went out there and showed them mothafuckas that the West Coast do have bars. I’m not even torn. On this hand, I salute [Kendrick], on that hand, I salute [Joell].

DX: While Joell’s response was mostly bars, you have other cats who are making reference to guns, and things of that nature. With Kendrick being from out here—and I think specifically cats are taking more notice to the King of New York reference—do you think it could turn into something else?

Crooked I: I seen something, but I’m not really hip to it…what did they say?

DX: Specifically, cats they said they’d gun down ScHoolboy Q, and Ab-Soul, and they don’t respect Jay Rock…

Crooked I: Some cats made that in one of they responses? Or they just talking?

DX: Mickey Factz in his response…

Crooked I: It depends on who says it. That’s what I’m gonna say. Right now, I don’t think it’s no need to worry. It just depends on who says it, where you gotta say, “Okay, this might go further. This person has a reputation of taking things to the street and getting physical.” If somebody who don’t have that reputation just start talking like that, he just talking. That’s just notebooks, rhymes, and pieces of paper that you can rip. Ain’t nothing else gonna happen. It all just depends on what rapper says what. So far, from who you named, I don’t think nothing is gonna go down like that.

Crooked I’s On Lyricists & A Slaughterhouse/Black Hippy Collaboration

DX: Would this even be a big deal back in the day? People like Kane and Rakim used to have a friendly competition. They weren’t all buddy-buddy with each other.

Crooked I: It depends. There was always friendly competition. Even when you talk about going back, and a lot of the young niggas need to go back and do their research. Big Daddy Kane told me himself, that Kool G Rap’s verse on “The Symphony” was so long, that they had to cut it. Kool G was like, “I ain’t cutting it.” He was like, “I’ll just do another verse.” That was the sense of the competition, like, “I’m doing a song with these heavy hitters? I’m coming!” That was just the spirit of competition. I think the thing that stung the most, was the “King of New York” line. Outside of that, I don’t even see anything that could warrant this type of reaction from other people.

DX: We’ve heard other artists say pretty reckless stuff about rappers. It seems as if, when Kendrick says it, now it’s an issue. Do you think it’s because of the King of New York line, or do you think that it could be some other reason why?

Crooked I: I think it’s the King of New York line along with the fact that he’s dope, and he can probably back up what he’s talking about. Then it’s also him challenging some of the mainstream’s lyricists. You’ve got mainstream artists, and then you got mainstream lyricists, and he’s calling them out by name—even people he’s done songs with. I think that’s where the controversy comes in. They’re not even taking it like that. It’s the people who haven’t been named in that verse are taking it personally. The people who haven’t been named are going the most reckless right now. The people who have been named haven’t really said anything. It’s exciting for Hip Hop, ‘cause I get on Twitter like, “Who got a response? Oh shit, let me hear this.” It’s exciting. I thank Kendrick for that excitement. Whether it’s a 48-hour excitement, a 72-hour excitement…whatever it is. But I don’t know man, I think somebody that he named needs to come out and speak on how they feel on a beat. Until that happens, I’m just gonna sit back and listen to the other guys. It’s gonna get real interesting if someone he named says something.

DX: Meek said he’s gonna respond.

Crooked I: Uh oh. Here we go Philly. Y’all gotta get ready. I’m telling everybody, even with the New York shit, you gotta be ready for this man. This man knows how to fucking rap, he has a powerful voice in the industry, and he’s not afraid to say what’s on his mind. So if you’re gonna come on some strictly competition shit, be ready. It’s gonna look real wild if he keeps racking up points on you, and he ain’t even said nothing else but that one verse. If he’s undefeated after several attempts, and he still ain’t even came with another verse, that’s gonna make your coast look wild. It’s gonna make your city look wild. So be careful when you put together your response…put some shit out.

DX: Slaughterhouse is no stranger to controversy, and you guys have had issues. Even before the group was formed, there was the issue with Joe and Royce. There was the issue with Method Man, and there was the issue with Saigon. With these situations, is there a conversation about that? If Saigon gets into it with Budden, do you get involved…how does that go down?

Crooked I: We talk about it. It’s usually, like, “How you feel about that? What do you want to do?” We have a conversation. At the end of the day, we’re all men and we all make our individual decisions. We don’t have no, “Let’s vote” and three people say, “Hey, don’t get at that dude.” We’re all men. Do what you feel.

DX: Do you guys have to worry that it’ll mess with money?

Crooked I: Beef always messes with money. Any kind of controversy can either help your money or hurt it. It’s always a gamble. If you beefing with somebody, it could definitely mess up the money. That’s where it’s like the streets. If you’ve got a bunch of beef on your block and you’re trying to move work but niggas is shooting at each other all the time, that shit is all shut down. Now you got police patrolling all around, and you can’t really get your bread. It’s the same thing with this Rap shit. If you got too many beefs going on, too many problems with different artists, then maybe a venue doesn’t want to book you with those artists under the same roof. They’ll feel like y’all might tear that bitch up or fuck up the show. So you’re not getting that check. Maybe, if you look at it objectively, like, “I’m not gonna beef with that dude. I’m gonna make a song with him on the album, and we gonna sell this shit on iTunes,” now you not getting that check. It definitely fucks with money.

DX: So is there ever a conversation, like—let’s use Joell since he doesn’t have any issues—is there a conversation like, “No, Joell, we don’t need that right now?”

Crooked I: That’s the thing about it; I think Kendrick opened the door for competitors to step through and it not be so negative. It’s not really a diss song, it’s more a response. I’m liking the fact they’re using the word “response,” ‘cause it takes some of the negativity off the whole shit. If it was diss, now that’s where things start getting crazy. It’s just a response. Kendrick opened the door in a smart way. He did it like, “I just want to compete.” It ain’t about guns, but let’s just compete on some lyrical shit—on the sport of Hip Hop and taking your fan base. If your fan base thinks you doper than me, then I’m gonna take your fan base. The way he created that whole moment, it’s just like, “Okay, it’s just a response.” In my mind at least, there can still be a Black Hippy/Slaughterhouse track—which I think is what the fans would rather see than motherfuckers in Slaughterhouse individually responding or whatever. I would rather see that. But that’s my opinion, and we all got individual opinions. I would rather see the Black Hippy/Slaughterhouse track.

How Crooked I’s Diversity Manifests Itself On “Apex Predator”

DX: I think pretty much everyone would agree. You mentioned having your own bin and people getting to know you. What songs do you think kind of paint you in a different light than people are used to?

Crooked I: I like “A Lady Fell In Love,” because I think it catches people off guard. People just think, “Aw, Crooked I is about to come in here, destroy a mic, and leave.” I live my life like everybody else, and I express myself musically like everybody else. I think that song right there touches a nerve on the Rap life and dealing with all these chicks that we deal with. We’re just human. We might be chilling with a chick, and this is our woman for like six months. Then we go out of town, feel the vibe, and fuck another bitch. Now you come back, and this bitch is on Instagram. She took a picture of you sleeping and shit, and now you in trouble at home…it’s so much. It’s levels to this shit.

I just wanted to express that shit, and tell the chicks I was dealing with personally that it ain’t that a nigga was just a cold hearted, brutal mothafucka dealing with you. It’s just that I got caught slipping out there as a man in this world where it’s beautiful women everywhere. It’s not an excuse; it’s just my testimony on that subject. So I fuck with that one, “Vegas on Biz” and that “Apex” joint—especially since punk ass George Zimmerman got off. Just to be able to speak on those type of topics—I think Hip Hop needs that.

DX: Do you feel like you get the credit you deserve for bringing content? Nobody would ever question you as far as being a bar-for-bar emcee, but what does a song like “Does Anybody Care” do in regard to that?

Crooked I: Yeah, cats don’t [give me that credit], but I been doing it since the beginning. Even when I did the “Hip Hop Weekly” series, I touched on many issues. I don’t know why they don’t get it. Maybe it’s because I don’t have a smash hit like “Dear Mama.” Being in Chicago and watching all these young dudes die over nothing influenced “Does Anybody Care.” It’s not nothing to them; it’s something. But from the outside looking in, something needs to be done about these teenagers killing each other at the rate they killing each other. I’m in Mexico a lot, and to see the degree of poverty out there is just crazy. It’s just seems like everybody goes on about their business and nobody gives a fuck. I shot a video for that.

Crooked I Talks Class Warfare, Trayvon Martin & Oscar Grant

DX: With you mentioning all of the killing in Chicago as well as the George Zimmerman verdict, do you feel a situation like Zimmerman’s verdict takes away from what’s going on Chicago?

Crooked I: No I don’t, because I don’t think that we’re gonna get everything that we want. I think it’s gonna take certain situations to bring justice to the urban and the black communities. I feel like if the Trayvon Martin thing can get national attention… Yeah, we know, Trayvon Martin isn’t the only young, black man to be racially profiled and murdered. We know that a lot of other people out there have fallen victim to similar crimes. But if we get national attention on a Trayvon Martin, maybe it helps to better the situation as a whole. Oscar Grant, with the Fruitvale Station movie—that’s dope, because it creates awareness about what’s going on with this profiling shit, and what’s going on with the psyche with the motherfuckers that are being put in power to become policeman and politicians. Some of these people are still racist, prejudiced motherfuckers, and they don’t deserve a fucking job.

If you’re gonna say that this society is equal—now we know better; there ain’t no fucking equality—but, if you’re gonna say that we are an equal society, then don’t give a motherfucka a job who’s gonna kill a man in handcuffs for no fucking reason. Then he says, “Hey, I thought I was pulling out my taser.” You’ve been trained to pull out your pistol your whole fuckin’ life, and you can’t tell a taser from a pistol? And you squeezed the trigger; you didn’t push a button on the side of a fucking taser! Then you only do 11 months, and you come out? It’s so many injustices when it comes to the black community.

Then, I like to tell white people, Mexicans, Asians, that a lot of times, it’s a class war. If you’re lower class, then you a nigga to the upper class. It don’t matter what color your skin is. You still a nigga. You a white trash nigga. You a Mexican nigga. They want us to be down here, dividing and conquering and fighting each other, and not seeing the bigger picture. You supposed to be on my side! I don’t know what you doing. You a poor white motherfucka talking about, “Fuck Trayvon,” and the upper class is like, “Fuck you, you are Trayvon.” And they don’t even understand. We’re all supposed to be united against that type of shit, but they don’t get it. When something like Trayvon comes to the national media level, I love that shit, because we need awareness. I’m not gonna be mad. I see niggas on Twitter like, “Man, my homie got shot, and nobody even care.” Well, guess what? Somebody cares this time, so let’s try to make the best out of it and change some shit.

Why Crooked I Praises Drake But Feels “YODO” Shows Both Sides

DX: That’s real. How much does a track like “YODO” play into that thinking? How much do you just enjoy going against the grain and doing that when 99% of the industry seems like they’re saying, “YOLO?”

Crooked I: As far as coming out with “YODO,” I definitely like going against the grain. I think that there needs to be a balance. I don’t think one side of the opinion should be expressed if the other side is not. It’s like glorifying selling drugs in every rap but not talking about spending time in that fed bunk. A lot of niggas will rap about all the spoils of dope dealing. But they not gonna rap about when they get caught and let the kids know you might lose your freedom for 25 or more years. Dope dealers go to jail for longer periods of time than murderers. When you fuck with America’s money, your ass is going up the river. They care about they money way more than they care about human lives. I think you gotta show both sides.

When I hear certain shit—and like I said—I salute Drake. I always say this, it’s a little off subject, but I always say this because a lot of mothafuckas like to debate Drake’s place in Hip Hop. Drake is a genius. I don’t care if you don’t like his lifestyle and think, “Oh, he didn’t grow up in the Eastside of Watts.” He’s a mothafuckin’ musical genius. Give him his fuckin’ credit…that’s it. We’re not here to analyze niggas’ lives and shit. We here to listen to music. And he makes some of the best music in the fuckin’ world right now. So when he did the “YOLO” shit, I said, “That shit is fly,” especially with him shouting out Mac Dre and shit. Rest in peace. Then I saw an up and coming kid, and he tweeted some shit like, “I’m driving drunk, doing 90 on the freeway, YOLO,” so that kind influenced me. I was like, “Damn, yeah YOLO, but it’s also, YODO—you only die once too.”

I need niggas to be aware with what they doing out here. I feel like it’s all our jobs to have a voice and speak on shit. We all turn up, dog. When I say “we,” I’m talking about lyricists. We love strip clubs, bitches twerking, spending money, hanging out and riding whips too. All them old school niggas like Rakim had Rolls Royces on the cover of their albums. When Jay Z came out, he was the first one in every fuckin’ car that ever came out in his videos. Spitters like nice things too, and we like bitches too—we fuck around. But that’s not the only thing we rap about. So “YODO” was just on some shit like we need to put some other shit in these niggas heads, because you can be gone tomorrow.

Crooked I Says He Feels He “Carries The Torch” For Long Beach

DX: Let’s switch things up for a minute. In New York, there seems to be a very clear divide between artists and boroughs. People differentiate between a Brooklyn artist, a Queens artist and so froth. It doesn’t really seem like that in California, with Compton and LA being the focal point. Do you feel like you’re looked at differently being from Long Beach?

Crooked I: It’s crazy, because you’re right—the lines get kind of blurred out here. Somebody might say, “That nigga Crooked I, you mean that nigga from Inglewood? Yeah, I fuck with him.” But it’s very clear out there in New York what borough a nigga is repping and all that type of shit. Compton is hot right now because of Kendrick and what he’s trailblazing. Me being from Long Beach, it’s a torch you gotta carry, ‘cause Snoop and them put the city on the map. They did it in a way where it’s in the Hip Hop history hall of fame. It ain’t just, “Nigga I’m from Long Beach, and I’m Snoop.” He put the city on the map to the point to where it was him, Daz, Warren G and Nate Dogg—rest in peace. They put it on the map to where it’s in the hall of fame.

So when you come out, and you like, “I’m from Long Beach,” a lot of people are now saying, “Oh shit. What you got to say?” Because it’s been awhile, in the minds of certain fans, that people have come out of Long Beach. Long Beach is one of the most talented cities in LA County. I can really just name off so many Long Beach artists: Tiny C Syle, Dynamic Certified, Tay F 3rd, and the list just goes on and on. There are dudes that’s out there putting they shit in. It’s something different when you’re from Long Beach, because the people know that’s where Snoop is from. Then, my style is nothing like his. So it’s like, “Okay, this is something different.” I’ve had ups and downs from it, and I’ve had people say, “I don’t want to hear that Long Beach shit.” It’s like anything else, but I’m repping the city to the fullest.

Why Crooked I Feels West Coast DJs Don’t Support Him

DX: Aside from just the Long Beach aspect, how do you feel about the West Coast scene in general?

Crooked I: I wish this feeling that this song “Control” put on the whole Hip Hop world would stick around. But I know how the Internet works, and I know how Hip Hop works. In 48 hours…72 hours, it’ll be something different going on. I wish that feeling could stick around for a minute, ‘cause I always say, “Imagine if 50% of the radio sounded like that Kendrick Lamar verse—just half.” What if every time you turned on the radio, a nigga was spitting like that? That would be Hip Hop heaven. But I already know that once a couple cycles go past, niggas gone be right back on the bullshit. Radio gonna be soft as a motherfucka again. Radio DJs are gonna be doing parties in Hollywood, sucking somebody’s dick that don’t know how to rap. That’s just what’s gonna happen.

DX: How do you feel about the support from the West Coast radio, as far as West Coast music goes?

Crooked I: I don’t get the support I’m supposed to get. A lot of people are scared to speak on it, ‘cause they feel like if they speak on it, they’re never gonna get the support. They like, “Man, I’m just gonna be quiet, but they ain’t playing my shit.” My whole thing is, I’m just being real. The DJ’s know they ain’t playing my shit. I see DJ’s all the time. They say, “Hey, what’s up Crook?” I’m chilling, and we might even have a drink. I don’t get the support I’m supposed to get on the West Coast for the work that I put in over these years? Hell nah. One of my first times being on some big shit was with Kurupt on Tha Streetz Iz A Mutha, and I’m still here, being relevant, and you don’t play my shit? How do you call yourself a West Coast DJ?

DX: True. So since you’re headed out of the country in the morning, what’s the plan for promoting the project?

Crooked I: I’m probably dropping a video for every song, and I’m just getting mine off. It ain’t about the sales or if it gets bootlegged a hundred thousand times. Those are still people in markets I can stand on stage and get paid from, because they know the music. If you get 200,000 downloads or bootlegs or whatever you want to call them, cool. When I come out to your city, you’re gonna come out, rock with me, and I’ll get my money off the stage. I work for mine. No problem.

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