Hate it or love it, “Teach Me How To Dougie” was one of the biggest Hip Hop songs of 2010. The now platinum smash may in fact outlast this year and prove to be the “Humpty Dance” of its era. At the very least, “The Dougie” should stand as the most memorable of the multitude of “Crank That” body rockers that have come to dominate dance floors over the last few years.
And accept it or reject it, Cali Swag District are doing what many of their contemporaries have not done with their dance tutorial tracks by paying homage to the history of the culture, (that has from its inception recognized itself as one-fourth dance), by paying tribute to one of Hip Hop’s earliest showman, Doug E. Fresh, and his now nearly quarter-century old fly-guy dance move.
Recently, “Da General” of Cali Swag District, C-Smoove, revealed to HipHopDX the advice he, Yung, JayAre and M-Bone recently received from the inspiration for the dance craze of 2010. CSD’s front-man also spoke about the surprising support the too-often criticized quartet have received from their left coast forefathers in the game.
And just a matter of weeks removed from the release of Cali Swag District’s kick-drum-driven debut LP, the aptly-titled The Kickback (due February 15th from Checkmate Entertainment/Capitol Records), C-Smoove explained to DX why a group organized by a former Death Row Records inmate (incarcerated as one-half of the Young Soldierz), who was once openly Bangin’ On Wax, has chosen to create a path for themselves that leads away from the gang culture dominating the streets of their native Los Angeles.
HipHopDX: I’m seeing Doug E. Fresh all over again ‘cause of y’all. I was just curious, did y’all know about Dough E. Fresh before your friend went to school in Dallas and saw the “D-Town Boogie” [n.k.a. “The Dougie”]?
C-Smoove: Oh yeah, you know we know about Doug E. Fresh! You see our skin color? [Laughs] We know who Doug E. Fresh is.
DX: I just didn’t know – I don’t know y’all ages, [so] I didn’t know if you was hip to his music at that point.
C-Smoove: Yeah, we pretty aware of Doug E.
DX: I saw that first meeting of y’all and Doug E. Fresh on YouTube, along with a couple of the performances y’all’ve done together. I can’t understand how y’all still have some old school haters though when y’all ain’t done nothin’ but show love to the old school.
C-Smoove: Yeah, I don’t understand it either. But, that’s just how it is. I don’t get what goes through people’s heads. I don’t get why you would even hate on somebody period, but we don’t really pay no mind to that.
DX: I remember a wise young man once said “Old school, new school, no school rule.”
DX: Has the world’s greatest entertainer given y’all any pointers on your performances – how to make y’alls live show even liver?
C-Smoove: Yeah, he said, “Just go out and have fun with it. Always have fun.” [In Los Angeles] we use the term “turnt down.” [A show] can’t be turnt down if you having fun. So, he told us to just go up there and have fun with it, just do us and express ourselves in the best way possible, and have fun. And at the end of every show, always say “Thank you.” That’s one thing he told us, to always say thank you to the crowd because it just shows your appreciation to the people. That’s the little tips that he gave us.
DX: Another tip would be to bring John Wall out on the road with y’all. [Laughs]
C-Smoove: I wish we could. We actually got a chance to go on the [Washington] Wizards court one day at one of they home games and give ‘em a little show… We met John Wall that day too. We met a few of the players: Gilbert [Arenas] and some [of the other players].
DX: Is his the defining “Dougie?” Is that the best one you seen so far?
C-Smoove: One of, yeah. John Wall’s dougie, he just need to slow down a little bit, but he got it. [Laughs]
DX: [Laughs] You know you could also bring out Wolf Blitzer from CNN for a few shows. [Laughs]
C-Smoove: Oh yeah, that’d be good too, we could get all the grandma’s on our team. Nah, I’m just playing. [Laughs]
DX: [Laughs] Did they explain why they didn’t bring y’all out for the Soul Train Awards [in addition to Doug E. Fresh]?
C-Smoove: Uh, we were – I think we were busy that day. I think we had something to do… Before [the show] actually aired they kept saying, “Oh, well Wolf Blitzer did the dougie at the show.” But, I think we were out of town.
DX: Okay, I was thinking maybe they was frontin’ on y’all a little bit.
C-Smoove: Nah. I hope not.
DX: That older audience of the Soul Train Awards, they should love a song like “Where You Are,” but let’s see if y’all get the invite next year… How did y’all get that [Michael Jackson] sample cleared…?
C-Smoove: That was something that our manager, Louis Brail, hooked up. He had the track. He had the song in his archives [and] he let us hear it. It was actually supposed to be for somebody else [originally]. Thank God he let us get it. We did our thing, and he was pleased with the verses, so he was like, “We gonna try to get it on the album.” And in no time we had the sample cleared. And they put the actual vocals [from “I Wanna Be Where You Are”] on the song, so it sounds real good. I really don’t know who he contacted, or what he did, but he made it happen…
DX: “Where You Are” is obviously aimed at the females. And from the few joints I’ve heard off The Kickback it’s clear y’all are focused more on the chick-chasin’ and rockin’ the party in y’alls music. But I gotta ask, given Big Wy’s history in the game, dating back to the Bloods & Crips’ Bangin’ On Wax projects, why did y’all decide to not talk about the street side of life in Inglewood?
C-Smoove: Because, I mean, it’s been done already. Everybody coming out the west coast really talk about – it’s kinda the same, but they just talk about it in their way, how growing up in the streets was for them. So we decided like, “Let’s not do that.” We like, “Man, forget that! We gonna go in and do this music thing in a different direction.” You got the New West coming up with “The Jerk,” you got my man YG doing his thing, and the New Boyz doing their thing. We didn’t wanna sound like either of them, nor did we wanna sound like the old west coast Hip Hop rappers. So, we was just like, “Man, we just gon’ try to make our own lane and come with something different.” As you can see, our name is so different. Like the name of our group is something different as well. We just wanted to come out and be different. We went out on a limb and tried to be different. It’s nothing wrong with being different.
DX: Have you guys run into any of the O.G. west coast cats: the Ice Cube’s, the Ice-T’s…? You get any feedback from any of those cats yet?
C-Smoove: We spoke to Snoop [Dogg], of course. But we haven’t spoke to Ice Cube. We ran into him at a couple of – we done a show with him, and we had this little Nick Cannon “NightLife” show we did [with him]. He was there at that, but we never really got to sit down and talk. But, for the most part we get a lot of love from the people in the game that’s still doing it. Like, [Tha Dogg Pound], we had a show with them in Utah [and] they showed us a lot of love. They was talking to us like, “Y’all doing y’all thing.” And they respect the fact that we come out doing something different. So as far as DPG, we all good with them… And we spoke to DJ Quik before too. He real supportive… Warren G was real supportive. We did a show at Skeetox with him. He was headlining it. And he was like, “Y’all music is good. My kids love y’all music.” That’s one thing we get a lot [from] other artists, they tell us that they kids really love us. Like, Kurupt [told us] his kids [love us]. Daz [said the same about] his kids.