After a nearly four year hiatus, “The Shadiest One” has returned with a vengeance.
WC is back, armed with quite possibly the best full-length of his 20-plus year career, Revenge of the Barracuda (due March 8th on Dub’s own Big Swang Records, in conjunction with E1 Entertainment). Dub C chopped it up with DX this past Tuesday (January 25th) about the follow-up to 2007’s Guilty By Affiliation, (and trailing last month’s five-song EP/album sampler, That’s What I’m Talking About), which is set to feature Dub’s longtime Westside Connection p-n-c Ice Cube, Tha Dogg Pound, Kokane and more recently emerging left coasters Bad Lucc and Maylay.
During his detailed discussion with DX, Dub C broke down the meaning behind some of his rhymes from his latest long-player, including one ear-grabbing line inscribed with Lil Wayne’s name. The onetime member of three celebrated west coast collectives additionally broke down a little bit of his early history in the game, (which included launching the career of one of the ‘90s best-selling solo rappers, and receiving early praise – as well as one of the final phone calls – from Pimp C). And lastly, the O.G. who’s “been locin’ since the Force M.D.’s were singing ‘Tears’” responded to DJ Premier’s recollection in a recent interview with DX that in 1989 Ice Cube allegedly squared off with Suge Knight, with a young Dub-C witnessing the historic fair one.
HipHopDX: Since we’re speaking during President Obama’s State of the Union Address, I thought it would only be right if we could start off this Q&A by commander-in-chief Dub C giving his State of the West Coast Address for 2011.
WC: Independence. We gotta take our music in our own hands and quit letting radio personalities and the video stations dictate our movements and our image.
DX: [After listening to] your joint “Stickin’ To The Script,” I wanted to ask you about your feelings on the younger generation not rockin’ “khakis and Chuck Taylor’s” and ridin’ around in a “ragtop and gold Dayton’s”?
WC: I love it. I love that they’re not doing that, because they’re not supposed to. They’re supposed to do them. They ‘posed to wear the skinny jeans and the shit that they doing for their generation. It’s just that somebody who’s been around as long as I have, and cats in my lane, is not supposed to do that. That’s what that record is for. That’s what a lot of people misunderstand, is when I say, “I’m in the industry electric chair, ‘cause I don’t wear skinny jeans…,” don’t prosecute me because I’m not dressing like a muthafucka that’s 19-years-old. I’m not 19.
I been in the game for a long time, and I been blessed to be here. And a lot of these youngsters look up to me. I got a lot of youngsters that approach me that wear skinny jeans and that’s in the Jerk movement and they like, “Dub, we big fans.” I tell them to keep doing what they doing, don’t let nobody discourage them or take away their dreams or nothing like that – not even me.
I’m in my lane. It’s just like any neighborhood, when you go into any neighborhood it might be one hood, but you gon’ see the youngsters over here, clicked up doing they thang, and you gon’ see the O.G.’s in the corner over here, playing dominoes, drinking, Crip-walking, doing what they do. And you gon’ have another crew over here doing what they do. But they all one. It’s not that I’m knockin’ them, not at all.
So when you ask a question about how do I feel, what’s my take on it, I love to see them doing them, as long as they getting money and they’re being creative. Don’t follow the trend though, just because this shit is in. Just don’t fall for it and say, Okay, this is it. I’m hot because this is what’s going on. Nah, you gotta go against the grain, you gotta stand out, and you gotta be a risk taker. That’s the definition of an entrepreneur: somebody that’s gonna stand out and be different.
DX: What did you mean when you said on that track that “They tellin’ me we died / But as long as Wayne and Jeezy flame and crew’d up, I know that it’s a lie”?
WC: No, no, no, no, no, I said, “true’d up.” “Flame” is Bloods. “True’d up” is Crips. [Young] Jeezy wear a lot of blue. He stay true’d up. [Lil] Wayne wear a lot of red, for like Bloods. As long as they’re still out there, and they’re influenced by the lifestyle of the west coast, we’re not dead. We’re still living. Every time Wayne come out here, or you listen to Wayne music, Wayne represent his Blood gang. When you see Jeezy, Jeezy’s always wearing blue. And [when] you talk to Jeezy, Jeezy’s gon’ “cuzz” you. “They tellin’ me we died / But as long as Wayne and Jeezy’s flame’d and true’d up, I know that it’s a lie.” We ain’t dead, not at all. We’re still living. If y’all consider them the best right now, they’re at the top of the game, and they’re out doing what they’re doing, then we’re still living. Every time their heart beat, our heart beating as well.
That wasn’t a diss. Lil Wayne, that’s my lil’ nigga. Jeezy’s my nigga. But neither one of them can dispute what I’m saying, because it’s not a diss.
DX: I appreciate you fleshing out that quote for me. I don’t think I need you to elaborate on the quote of 2011 so far though [from “That’s What I’m Talking About”]: “I’m a nut for cheese and Chuck T’s / Addicted, to big butt cheeks and weaves.” [Laughs]
WC: Oh yeah, “I’m a nut for cheese and Chuck T’s” – Chuck Taylor’s, yeah. “Addicted, to big butt cheeks and weaves.” [Laughs] Yeah, straight up. That’s my downfall. [Laughs]
DX: [Laughs] I gotta note, Hallway Productionz, they hooked you up with a fuckin’ heatrock there.
WC: Oh yeah, Hallway [Productions] always been around, muthafuckas just ain’t been listenin’. When [DJ Crazy] Toones brought them to the table, to the Lench Mob [Records] table for me and Cube to listen to ‘em, he definitely was pushing the line. He was trying to convince us that these are the next new little cats right here. They’re hungry. You could tell it. They don’t just do beats, they’re musicians.
DX: Did they do the whole album?
WC: Nah, they didn’t do the whole album. They did about four records on the album. But they’re always there. Any of my records, they’re always there from the beginning, [and] they’re always there at the end. In the beginning they just tell me to come by…and they just open up the files, man. They real musicians. Them muthafuckas…play drums, bass guitars and all that shit. So, they just open up the files, and we just sit down and we lock ourselves up away from everybody and we just jam. They tell me to go kick some of the rhymes I got, and try this beat, try that beat. And it’s always like that. We always fuck round. [Laughs] I’ll fuck around and have 89 records from them, man. And probably only two or three will kick it off. But from them two or three right there is the direction of my album. And at the end of my album, anything that I need or whatever, they’re always there. Much love to ‘em.
DX: You mentioned your brother, Crazy Toones, did he do anything on the album?
WC: Nah, Toones just pretty much oversaw the record, made sure that my vision and everything got a chance to really be shared with the world. By this album being called Revenge of the Barracuda, which really is just another term for back to the hardcore, I got a chance to do that. But also to maintain some relevance as to where the game is now, without compromising me still bringin’ that uncut and raw to the table.
DX: Another fiya joint Hallway did was “You Know Me.” “Over here we the head banger’s like the Hit Squad.” I’m in my early thirties so I caught that reference, but you know the youngn’s don’t know what the fuck you talkin’ about. [Laughs]
WC: That’s cool, but each one teach one. I mean, everybody wanna get schooled, whether they wanna admit it or not. And that’s my job. If I was to just come out and say some shit that they can grasp onto real easy, I’m not doing my job. I’m not challenging muthafuckas. And I like to challenge them and push the line and everything. So, yeah, “Over here we the head banger’s like the Hit Squad.” If you a fan of Hip Hop, you definitely know who Redman, Erick Sermon and Parrish [Smith] was from EPMD. And you know the Hit Squad.
DX: I don’t give a fuck whether you’re 19 or 39-years-old, that “What’s Good” is un-fuckin-deniable…
WC: I mean, that’s good, and I’m glad you saying that, but at the same time too, I’ve encountered fans that say you know, “We like you, Dub. But don’t you think that was a little too west coast right there?” I mean, that’s a matter of opinion, from there point [of view], as well as yours. I’m glad that you fuckin’ wit’ it like that, because I put it out there – In my eyes, music is just an expression. It’s a statement. You just voicing your opinion, and basically that [song] right there, that’s how I feel. On “What’s Good” I talk to you about all the fucked up shit that’s going on but I’m asking you at the same time, “What’s good? What’s going on? Okay, this is what’s going on over here, but it ain’t nothin’. It’s not nothin’ that’s gonna keep us down. We gon’ party.” And I just needed a track that could take me there, and Jah Zilla came through. My partna Jah Zilla outta Detroit, he laced that muthafucka. Especially wit’ Kokane [on the track]. You know I had to go grab Koka, man.
DX: Yeah, I was just about to say he killed that hook. Too west coast, I don’t even understand that logic right there.
WC: [Laughs] Yeah. I mean, you know how it is, man. Sometimes when you can’t bounce to it, or you can’t do what’s in right now – when I say what’s in right now, it’s what’s getting played on the radio. Let me not say what’s in, because me and you could [go into] different neighborhoods and its cats that – I got peoples in New York right now [and] that’s all they fuck with is just that hard shit. They don’t give a fuck about nothin’ that’s [on the radio]. If that shit is soft, they not fuckin’ wit’ it. And I get a lot of cats that’s hardcore niggas that fuck with – they just like that commercial sounding shit. So, people say that record right there was a little too west coast for me. That’s just personal preference, but at the same time too, I like hard shit. I like hard shit muthafuckas can jam to. And I don’t care where you from, like you said, in my eyes that’s muthafucka’s a banger.
DX: So far, from the joints I heard, man, it’s sounding like you fucked around and made a classic LP 22 years in. [Laughs]
WC: [Laughs] I should hope so. I got a good record, man. I got a really good record. I got a record on there where I sampled [Eazy-E’s voice]. And I give him a shout before the record come on, telling him to rest in peace. That muthafucka is so hard. My style – ‘Cause you know I’ve always been, that’s one thing that allowed me to stand out from other Rap artists is I’ve always had a vicious delivery, but I got a million and one styles when I rhyme, whether it’s unorthodox or it’s just certain patterns. And on that record that I’m talking about, called “100% Legit,” I went in on that muthafucka. I did a style, man, that’s so cold. That shit is crazy.
DX: I wanna switch gears here and close with a couple loose questions. First off, do you and your old MAAD Circle p-n-c Coolio still cross paths?
WC: Nah, not at all. We don’t cross paths because…uh shit, we don’t live in the same area, and we’re not booked on a lot of the same shows. Is there any beef? Nah, not at all. I still love Coolio, as a brother.
DX: Yeah, it was always like whispering after he blew [with “Gangsta’s Paradise”] – if that sorta like caused a rift or anything like that?
WC: Nah. Why would that cause a rift after he blew? I’m the one that convinced him to go [solo]. He didn’t wanna leave. He wanted to stay down and do The MAAD Circle thing.
If people really review my story…people would really commend me on a lot of shit that I’ve done. And to still be standing in this game and not going out and bragging on a lot of [my] accomplishments, in regards to hooking people up with certain situations and a lot of shit. It’s a lot of shit that I don’t take credit for that I deserve the credit for, that I’ve done to build mountains.
And basically in regards to the Coolio situation, when me and [DJ] Aladdin came out with Low Profile [in 1989], I had Coolio on the road with me because Coolio to me was a Rap artist that I was a fan of. I loved to see him get down and just go, just rap. And I had just met him. We hit it off. I met him through Aladdin. He had another crew. Me and Aladdin was doing our thing, so when me and Aladdin started to blow I brought Coolio out with me to be a hype-man on the road with me. When me and Aladdin was no longer seeing eye-to-eye on the creative side, Priority Records wouldn’t let me go. And [so] I put out another album, [in 1991, Ain’t A Damn Thang Changed], and that’s when I came with the group WC and The MAAD Circle. WC and The MAAD Circle was me, Coolio, my brother DJ Crazy Toones, and we had another cat to put another body in there by the name of Big Gee. He was an extra set of eyes in the crew at the time. But he didn’t do anything but sit back and just adlib and clown with us. [So] really the group was just me, Crazy Toones and Coolio.
DX:I just did an interview with Sir Jinx not that long ago. Wasn’t he in the mix somehow too?
WC: I’ma tell you how that came about. Sir Jinx produced Amerikkka’s Most Wanted [by] Ice Cube. By me and Ice Cube and Sir Jinx going to the same elementary [school] back in the day, and then later down the line [as teenagers] finding out that we both did music – ‘cause we didn’t live on the same block, we [from] the same neighborhood, but we stayed on other sides. [So] we went to different schools [after elementary]. They went to different schools than I did. And [so] we didn’t hang out every day. But later down the line when we found out we had something in common, which was music, that’s when we started hangin’ out a little bit more.
After Cube left N.W.A., he hooked up with Chuck D [and The Bomb Squad] and he started the Lench Mob [crew] up. Well, a lot of the cats in Da Lench Mob [group] was my niggas. J-Dee and Shorty was my homies from my neighborhood. We all came up in the same neighborhood. And what was crazy about it was Cube was still on Priority Records [but] I left. Me and Aladdin wasn’t seeing eye-to-eye, [so] there wasn’t no more Low Profile. When it was time for me to do another record, I had to come out on Priority Records ‘cause they wasn’t letting me go. And [so then] I came out with a group called WC and The MAAD Circle. And when we came out with The MAAD Circle, when we was doing that [first album], by Cube and Sir Jinx having a good chemistry – I needed a producer, and Sir Jinx was somebody like I said that we knew from childhood. Sir Jinx was like, “Yo, shit man, I’d be more than honored to come in and fuck around on this album. I’m a fan.” And I was like, “Shit, I’m a fan as well.” So, we got in and went in the studio. Cube, he oversaw the record – he came in and stuck his head in a couple of times to make sure shit was going the way we wanted it to go.
That [Ain’t A Damn Thang Changed album] came out and I had Coolio – not just no longer was he a hype man, I allowed him to come in [officially to the group]. Coolio wasn’t on contract; I was the one that was under contract. I couldn’t get out. I signed a fucked up deal. I didn’t get a good liar – I mean, lawyer – at the time to come in and make sure that my paperwork was straight. Me and Aladdin was just so gung ho to get in [that] we just went out there and did what we could to get on. That contract came back and haunted me later down the line. So by me being on Priority Records still – which was a great label at the time – it was just my situation was fucked up. [But] I put out the MAAD Circle, [and] I let Coolio get his shine on the record without signing no paperwork, no nothing. I let Coolio get his shine, took him out with me on the road, [put him in] videos, all that shit. Then later down the line, it was time for another album, [but] I had enough. Because, I was still under the old contract. My shit was fucked up. And it was time for me to get out of there, but I didn’t have the finances or the lawyer power that Priority Records had, and [so] they was rotting me out. That’s why you didn’t hear another album come from ’92 to ’95 from Dub C. In the meantime in between time, me and Cube was on the road. And I remember Coolio calling me up…and he was like, “Yo Dub, we need to go on ahead and put this other MAAD Circle album out.” I said, “Coolio, shit is fucked up right now. The paperwork is fucked up; it ain’t good.” He was like, “Nah man, we got fans, we got a movement going on.” I said, “I understand that, but it’s not good, man. I can’t do it. I can’t put another record out and I already done got fucked on the Low Profile album. Then they turned around and they held me to the same contract for the MAAD Circle album. I can’t just give ‘em another record knowing that we got fans out here and that people really wanna fuck with us [while] knowing that the homebase is not taken care of.” And he was like, “Man, but…” I’m like, “Man, the music is no problem. We could do the music, but it’s not good going through there. And they not gonna let me go.” And I told him, “Dude, why don’t you go on and get you a solo deal.” And man, we [basically] got into an argument. He was like, “Fuck that! Nah, man. I wanna do this; I don’t wanna do that.” And, eventually he went out there and he [signed to Tommy Boy Records]. And that was the best thing that coulda happened to Coolio. So for the assumption to be made, or for people to say, or anybody to say, that we wasn’t cool no more when he went out and he got the commercial success off his solo career, that’s bullshit. I was all for him. I was pushing for him to go do that, because I knew my situation wasn’t right at the time.
DX: I appreciate you clarifying all that history. That’s a lot of interesting history there put in the books. I appreciate that.
WC: It’s all good.
DX: Two more loose questions that are sort of a walk down memory lane [as well]. The first one is about the late Pimp C. [On UGK’s “I Left It Wet For You” he spit], “And all the time I’m bumpin’ WC / ’Cause it seem like he the only nigga making sense to me.” What was your relationship like with Sweet James Jones?
WC: Me and Pimp C, we was real good. We wasn’t best friends. I’m not gon’ sit here and act like we used to just chill out over each other houses and talk on the phone all day, but we was good. Every time we saw each other we just embraced each other from the handshake to the hug, and [then we’d] sit up and just talk about the business, the industry, where do we see music going, and what was going on and shit like that. That’s what me and him did. We did that even when – It was just me and him; it wasn’t Bun B. And I knew Bun B from back in the days in passing, but me and [Pimp C] used to always, when we saw each other in passing, we used to slap hands and just chop it up. And we eventually started choppin’ it up on the phone, over the years here and there. And then recently before he passed, when he was out here in Los Angeles, it was kinda fucked up because we was talking on the phone everyday. He’d call me up, let me know he was out here, and different things he was doing, and what was going on. And before he died he called me up, and he was just telling me about how a lot of people was taking his words and running with ‘em the wrong way. He said he stands by what he said, about how he felt about the state of Rap music and everything. He said it just seem like you get prosecuted whenever you speak your mind. He was real cool, dude. And we was talking about getting in the studio and making shit happen and everything. And I never forget that last phone call, because the next news that I got was that he was dead.
Muthafuckas go put his name in raps and shit that he didn’t even fuck wit’ like that. And I just sit back and I look at these clown-ass niggas out here. This shit is a circus on the real, Paul. This shit is a fuckin’ circus, man. And it’s a thin line between you looking like a hater opposed to being somebody that’s just keeping it real. Whenever you get out here my nigga and you just start exposing a lot of the hypocrisy and the bullshit and the fake niggas in the game, your shit is not selling crazy or you’re an older nigga in the game and you’re shut down [like], “You’re a fuckin’ hater. You’re just mad.” Nah, dude, it’s real. I’m letting you know that this shit is not cool over here. And to me, that’s the kind of artist that [Pimp C] was. He used to speak his mind. I see a lot of myself in him. Rest in peace Pimp C. He’ll always live forever in my books.
DX: Now, the final loosie I wanna ask you about is something DJ Premier just told me for his 20th anniversary Step In The Arena retrospective. In ’89, a young Dub C, MC Eiht and Preemo apparently all witnessed Cube go toe-to-toe with Suge Knight. Was Preem pulling my leg, man? Did that shit really happen? [Laughs]
WC: [Laughs] Preem’s fuckin’ wit’chu, man. [Laughs] Get the fuck outta here wit’ that shit, Cube going toe-to-toe with Suge Knight. Nah, what he was saying was that, you remember when the beef was going on when Cube left N.W.A. And I don’t know if you remember, Above The Law was [dissin’] Cube. It was a show at the Celebrity Theatre, and I invited Ice Cube to come to my show. And I had Premier [there]. MC Eiht and [Compton’s Most Wanted] was performing, and DJ Premier and Gang Starr was performing at the same show. And Cube came back there to come see me. On his way back there, him and Above The Law had words and it got out of control. Muthafuckas started fighting. You know how that shit go.
DX: The way he phrased it was, “Ice Cube and Suge Knight got into a fight.” [Laughs]
WC: Nah, he fuckin’ wit’chu. What is was is that Suge was D.O.C.’s bodyguard, so by N.W.A. being in [the mix] – He was probably fuckin’ wit’chu like that. He was pullin’ your leg. Cube ain’t get in no fight with no God damn Suge Knight. Preem be playing; Preem be fuckin’ around.
UPDATE: The cover art to Revenge of the Barracuda has been revealed. Additionally, WC announced the following tour dates:
2/24 Aspen, CO Belly Up Aspen
2/25 Albuquerque, NM Sunshine Theatre
2/26 Boulder, CO Boulder Theatre
3/1 Dallas, TX House Of Blues
3/2 Houston, TX House Of Blues
3/3 Baton Rouge, LA Varsity Theatre
3/5 Atlanta, GA Center Stage
3/6 Asheville, NC The Orange Peel
3/7 Baltimore, MD Bourbon Street
3/8 New York, NY B.B. Kings Blues Club
3/10 South Burlington, VT Higher Ground Ballroom
3/11 Buffalo, NY Town Ballroom
3/12 Milwaukee, WI Eagles Ballroom
3/13 Chicago, IL The Mid
3/15 Minneapolis, MN First Avenue
3/25 Portland, OR Roseland Theater
3/26 Seattle, WA Showbox at the Market
3/27 Bend, OR Midtown
3/29 Chico, CA Senator Theatre
3/30 West Hollywood, CA House Of Blues
4/1 Anaheim, CA Grove Of Anaheim
4/2 Las Vegas, NV House Of Blues
4/3 Bakersfield, CA Fox Theater