Glasses Malone has seen an incredible run since he emerged on the rap scene in 2005. He’s a self-made man who relentlessly works to keep his name in the streets as well as in the Hip Hop community, and he isn’t stopping anytime soon. Even though he can’t see well without his signature Cazal glasses, the author and emcee appropriately titled two albums: Glass House and Glass House 2. After he left the drug game and being a full-time Crip gang member in his Watts neighborhood, he envisioned his life as a leader in the L.A. Hip Hop community.
Today, the Blu Division rapper gives thanks by sharing his being galvanized by Dr. Dre to take rapping seriously as a full-time profession. In this exclusive interview, Glasses Malone details his gratitude for the new generation of L.A. Hip Hop artists such as Kendrick Lamar, YG, Ty Dolla $ign, DJ Mustard, Nipsey Hussle, and RJ who revitalized the West Coast sound and put Los Angeles’ stamp of authority back on the Hip Hop landscape. Also, he speaks with conviction in an iconoclastic tone attacking Michael Jordan and sports media, in the same way, Public Enemy did against icons like John Wayne and Elvis Presley in their classic song “Fight The Power.”
Dr. Dre Gave Glasses Malone Reason To Rap
DX: What was the turning point from life before rap to making it into a serious full-time craft?
Glasses Malone: Basically, Dr. Dre told me that I should be doing this for a living.
DX: Take me back to the moment in which he discovered you and felt compelled to say that to you.
Glasses Malone: Dr. Dre was having this dope ass July 4th pool party where I was invited as a guest. He had a large house in Malibu out on PCH (Pacific Coast Highway). My older brother, Pooh’s wife, and Dr. Dre’s sister Shamika were really close friends, and they invited us over. The first time I met him, he told me to bring back some music (my homeboy Guido The Nose and I started making music in 2004). Dre deejayed the party, and he had a barge pulled by a boat into the middle of the ocean. [Then] he had a fireworks show that was scored to music. It was like a good ten or fifteen minutes of music going along with the fireworks explosions. It was the coldest shit I’ve ever seen. But, we had just enjoyed the whole kickback, the whole nine.
Toward the end of the party, he asked if I’d brought any of my music. And, yeah, I had brought something. He told me, “We can play it now in front of the whole party.” My older brother was scared. He was like, “Nah, don’t give it to him until you get that out.” I said, “Yeah, play my shit right now!” It just didn’t matter to me at all. So, he started playing it. The first three or four songs, he was really upset within the first ten seconds. I was amped. At that time, I didn’t understand it but now I do. Being that he’s a deejay, I understand how he listens to music. We get to the fifth song, and it was one of the songs that ended up on one of my first mixtapes White Lightnin…Sticks called, “All Wrong.” He let it play a little bit. But they were like, “That ain’t it.” So he said, “Look, play your record.” I had a song called, “Dinero.” He played that song and fell in love with it. He was like, “Yo, this is the shit! This is it! You need to be doing this for a living.” All I ever wanted to do was work with him. He told me at that point, “If you make another song that I fuck with, I’ll work with you.” I’ve been doing it for a living ever since.
Talking “Conscious Rap” and Politics With Glasses Malone
DX: I’ve heard you’ve been dubbed a conscious emcee. Would you agree with that?
Glasses Malone: When I hear the word “conscious,” you know, all that means is I’m aware. When I hear people saying “conscious rap…” I don’t smoke and don’t drink so I’m always conscious. So when y’all begin labeling people that be getting high and shit while calling them conscious rappers, how are they even “aware?” They don’t know what’s going on. They’re loaded. They don’t want to accept society. They want to alter their stand. At that point, they don’t want to deal with reality straight on. I don’t know if I’d label myself. People already have their own definition of a conscious rapper. The streets are conscious.
DX: So it’s basically the same thing.
Glasses Malone: Exactly. And the streets are black. And a main part of the black experience is poverty. Oppression is a part of it, and poverty is another big part. If somebody is really not that street, how can you be truly conscious as a black person? How can they really be aware of what’s going on in black society if you’re not aware of poor people? They make up the majority of black people.
DX: With the recent attacks in Paris and America having its own version of Paris every day in Chicago, how do you feel about media coverage about people of color versus whites?
Glasses Malone: You know what’s funny? I don’t know if it’s necessarily that idea at work. Black people have a nation-less stance, and I understand that France is a nation. Whether people give a fuck or not about France, it’s not just important, it’s also the cool thing to be a part of. It’s a flag. They have a nation. But if you look at it, it’s got a catchy appeal. It’s a pop culture thing now.
So the problem with blacks, and I always felt like was it’s a culture, but it’s a nation-less culture. Even for the ones that support blacks. It’s all pop culture. People don’t even care about anybody but themselves. You know, Africans wear a flag from whatever nation they’re from. They express themselves with their tribe, their country or state. Like Kenya or Nigeria. They don’t have “African” medallions on. That would be like an Asian person wearing something “Asian.” That’s a generalized concept. They have ideas and structures from a culture that they’re attached to.
DX: Denominationally is what you mean, then.
Glasses Malone: Yeah, they have a plot of land with their nation and culture. I don’t think that people don’t care about black lives. “Black lives” is just a general concept, until it becomes more nominal or direct. People will always have situations in which everybody don’t have the same thing.
DX: We just had a forty-second Universal Zulu Nation anniversary earlier this month. Hip Hop is heading into fifty years of existence. Are you saying that Hip Hop should have its own nation and flag officially someday?
Glasses Malone: No, because we’ve allowed the culture to be taken over. The culture is not controlled by urban America. They don’t direct the culture. It’s run by people who aren’t part of the hood. Whoever you see at the top is not an urban person. I’m not just talking about corporate America. I see people saying all the time that we’re losing Hip Hop. Nah, we lost it. We trying to kick our way in just to stay in it, but we’ve lost control of it.
Reflecting on the Rise of L.A. Hip Hop Since The Mid-2000s
DX: You have a single out with B.O.B. out called “Knock It Out,” plus you hear Kendrick Lamar all over the radio now. You and Kendrick rep Compton and other parts of Los Angeles where a lot of the new breed of artists like YG, Nipsey Hussle, and Ty Dolla $ign resides. What do you see as the biggest change from when you entered the game to now?
Glasses Malone: When we first started, there was none. The Game was the West Coast. That’s it, period. The Game represented the West Coast to the world. Straight up. It wasn’t nothing else going on for a long time. Until the Pu$haz movement came around. We all got our feet wet, and we all kinda pushed open the door. And whether or not it helped, the Pu$haz with YG, Mustard, and Ty Dolla $ign, they came and busted the door open. They are the reason why today there is a West Coast sound. YG, Ty Dolla $ign, and Mustard. They are the reason. Everybody owes them. Like we originally owe N.W.A. and Dr. Dre. You know what I’m sayin’? Everybody owes Ty Dolla $ign, DJ Mustard, and YG. They literally did it. Between the evolution of jerk music and hyphy, they created what we consider the Los Angeles, West Coast sound today. They finalized everything and brought it to a national level. They had their ideas, got it right, and brought it to the next level. They commercialized West Coast rap. Now you have Tyga. Now you have artists that shock you. You have me that gets recognized because of that great idea. You have Problem. And he may kill me for saying this: Problem has always been that nigga that he’s rapping about, but his sounds are shaped by DJ Mustard and Ty Dolla $ign. They were where hyphy ended and where jerk music started.
DX: We go back to the days of the late 90s and early 2000s and we’ve talked before about artists like Suga Free. You mentioned how Kendrick was heavily influenced by him, which not many people mention.
Glasses Malone: The funny part is that when you listen to YG, or when you listen to RJ, and even that sound on “King Kunta,” even Game’s album, you hear Suga Free. He’s like our Kool G. Rap. He’s really so influential. But, he didn’t really get his respect like he should’ve. Like when you hear Nas, Big Pun, you know, you hear a lot of Kool G. And Kool G. never really got his kudos. The same goes for Suga Free. You hear a lot of him in Game’s new album. You hear RJ or YG, and you hear Suga Free. As far as us, we were like kids trying to really create our lane. But, we didn’t know about music to that degree. Ty Dolla $ign is just so influential and so important. Of course, Mustard gets his kudos, but Ty Dolla $ign, from a production level, is also so important for what’s going on today. He was the one.
DX: Right, because the melody is what permeates into the mainstream faster than hardcore rap without a melodic sound.
Glasses Malone: Ty produced “Toot It and Boot It.” He made the sound with a lot of the bass with drums and the feel that we use today. He established it, and he did the hook for it. That’s our generation’s “Ain’t Nuttin But a ‘G’ Thang.” Not with the level of intricacy, but when you listen to it, that’s how it is, which should be considered the holy grail of modern West Coast Hip Hop.
Glasses Malone Talks Michael Jordan & Ronda Rousey
DX: Michael Jordan said recently, “Republicans buy sneakers, too.” You recently sided with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s criticism about Jordan “choosing commerce over conscience.” Do you feel that black athletes like Jordan who makes millions are more susceptible to becoming aloof to the urban community that they came up in?
Glasses Malone: Man, fuck Michael Jordan. Really. I go after LeBron a lot as far as a basketball player with his skill set. But LeBron is also so black with what he stands for. So, honestly, I may be dealing with the greatest athlete in sports, and I’m harsh on him. But as far as being a brother, that dude is the realest brother. But fuck Michael Jordan. You know what I’m sayin’? Straight up. And anybody’s stupid ass is blind if they don’t see that he’s not for the evolution of blacks as a culture. He’s out for himself, personally. He’s all about his pockets. Like urban culture made Michael Jordan so hot. Suburban culture, now, is what’s keeping it crackin’. So they don’t give a fuck. They have no attachments to urban situations. Even, to go back in history, with the word “hipster,” that was a word that black jazz artists like Miles Davis used to describe white people who were into urban culture. And now you have “black hipsters?” It’s like, what the fuck? How did you become the hipster? At the end of the day, I know what my job is in this music business, and I take it seriously. Right now I’m eight years deep on a pro level. I believe in my skill. I don’t worry about it if people get my understanding or get me in the street thing.
DX: You’re a huge boxing aficionado. We all witnessed Ronda Rousey’s loss to Holly Holm recently at UFC 193 after she was the first female on the cover of Ring magazine. Do you think she has no leg to stand on anymore versus Floyd Mayweather?
Glasses Malone: They are trying to cross her over into the mainstream, so they want to put the biggest name up against her. And the biggest combat fighter in sports right now is Floyd Mayweather. I mean, they attack the man for slapping his kid’s woman. That’s their business. But then you actually want to make a match in which you ridicule him using this woman? That’s what I talking about: the sickness of the world. They reprimand and disrespect him, and they don’t think about him being great and making it out of his life. He didn’t graduate high school. And still he’s maintaining a level of intellect. You know, his mom was on drugs, his dad was in and out of jail. But, they come after him for what happened between him and his wife. Like I don’t give a fuck what happens in people’s own household. That’s why they have a door: to do whatever you do in your house.