After the demise of N.W.A, Eazy-E’s Ruthless Records, and Suge Knight’s then-upstart Death Row Records became embroiled in one of Hip Hop’s most famous and highly-publicized civil wars. Part of that lyrical barrage was a song on Kokane’s 1994 album, Funk Upon A Rhyme, called “Don’t Bite the Phunk,” which featured Above The Law’s Cold 187um and took aim at Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg.
In an exclusive interview with HipHopDX, Kokane talks about how he and Snoop got past their differences, and how that reconciliation eventually led to the G-Funk crooner’s deal with Snoop’s Dogghouse Records.
“In 1999 Snoop was thinking about putting his label together, called Dogghouse Records,” Kokane says. “There was some people I was with called Street Institute. Snoop’s studio was in Paramount, California. Ours was in Upland, California. Lil 1/2 Dead and Tray Dee used to record with us. We all used to record at the same place. 1/2 Dead is a good friend of Snoop’s and him and Tray Dee used to do a lot of stuff with us, so he went over to Snoop’s house and said, ‘Koke is doing his thing,’ and Snoop sent a message and said, ‘Tell Koke to come through. You know, it’s all good.’ So we squashed it and shook hands.”
Kokane, who runs his own Bud E Boy Ent., also revealed how a last-minute meeting with Eazy-E stopped both him and Above The Law from leaving Ruthless Records.
“Suge was D.O.C.’s bodyguard, and used to bodyguard for us as well, but at the time there was some type of discrepancy with the money [at Ruthless],” Kokane says. “We said, ‘Fuck this.’ We was about to leave. Dre was bout to leave. We was all gonna leave together. So Eazy pulled a meeting together. Dre was supposed to come to the meeting, but he never showed up because he already had his mind set on leaving. After the meeting, we backed out of the deal with Death Row. Above The Law and Kokane, we said, ‘Nah, we’re rekindling our business relationship with Eric.’ Had we not settled our differences, Above The Law and Kokane would’ve been the first artists signed to Death Row.”
The “Slow Burnin’ 22.5 Farenheit,” singer also said that Warren G played a pivotal role in Snoop’s eventual landing at Death Row.
“Warren G used to stay with us back in the days when Dre and Michel’le would stay together,” Kokane says. “So Warren brought Snoop and Nate Dogg to the recording studio in 1990. This was when I was working on my stuff, Above The Law’s stuff came out. [Snoop] was called Slim back then, so I was working on my album and Snoop and them couldn’t wait in line as far as Above The Law putting them on, so Warren G took Snoop and Nate Dogg over to Dr. Dre at Death Row. Dre had an album called Black Mafia Life, which later became The Chronic. If you listen, you’ll notice how much The Chronic sounds like [Above The Law’s 1992 album] Black Mafia Life. He knew the genre of music we were doing, which was a different type of style we called G-Funk, and that sound influenced and still does influence millions upon millions of people.”