Murder Dog, one of Hip Hop’s longest-running magazines, released a book this month, Murder Dog The Interviews, Volume 1, that compiles the publication’s interviews, including historic ones with 50 Cent and Lil Wayne. The founder Black Dog Bone says in an exclusive interview with HipHopDX that he is planning many more books with the Murder Dog brand.
“Murder Dog has been doing this for 24 years,” Black Dog Bone says. “We are one of the oldest Hip Hop magazines. So we had material that we did that no one, no one has. Certain people who have died we have interviews with them and photos that we have that no one else has. There is a big demand for it, so we have people asking for back issues of Murder Dog and basically most of it is sold out. Sometimes we sell them for $200 for one back issue. So we just thought, ok, we should put out books so people can get it.”
“Now I know who Paul is,” Black Dog Bone says. “ I know he did so much with Delicious Vinyl and Pharcyde and so much with Over the Edge books and I said like, ‘Ooh, let’s do it.’ I like what he’s doing so I said, ‘Let’s do it together.’ And we are going to have a lot of books coming out. A lot of books. So that’s what I’m doing. There’s a lot of interviews and photos. Imagine 24 years, and Murder Dog was all interviews. And I saved all the tapes, all the interviews. It’s not like we do interviews for five minutes, normally when we do interviews it was like 90 minutes, 2 hours. Deep, deep interviews. When we do photos, it’s not like we do four or five photos and walk out. We have photos of people like, you name it, from 50 Cent to Kanye West to C-Murder.”
Murder Dog has a legacy of covering artists before any one else has the story.
“The first person to do Cash Money was Murder Dog,” Black Dog Bone says. “I knew Lil Wayne when he didn’t have no tattoos. He was just a little 13 year-old kid when I met him. I have photos of Lil Wayne, wearing a Hawaiian shirt, just a little kid. What we have, no one has, period.”
Murder Dog Profiled Wu-Tang Clan Early
Black Dog hung out with Wu-Tang Clan in the Bay Area before they were a known quantity.
“When Wu-Tang Clan were here, they were here for about a week, when they first came out with their record Enter The Wu-Tang (36 Chambers),” Black Dog Bone says. “I was with them for a whole week. No one knew Wu-Tang Clan. Because I have a feeling like they are going to be big. It’s not that I care that they are big. It’s just that I feel them.”
Black Dog Bone’s special “feeling” for whether an artist will be big also contributed to his decision-making for the Murder Dog covers.
“That’s also a very mysterious way I do it,” Black Dog Bone says. “For instance, I’ll give you an example of some artist I did, that I was feeling. One of them was I got a photo from Greg Miller at Interscope of 50 Cent. I saw the photo and I looked at his eyes and I said he is going to be star. I called them and said, ‘Look I want to do a cover.’ I had not heard anything about him. I didn’t know he got shot. I didn’t know nothing. I didn’t even hear his music. I was just, ‘He is going to be big.’ You see what I’m saying, and we did the first cover for 50 Cent.”
Murder Dog allowed the artists to do whatever they wanted on the covers.
“I had the rappers do whatever they want, a lot of time they were like, ‘Man can we bring our guns and can we throw our gang sign?’ I was like, ‘Yeah,’” Black Dog Bone says. “We had so many covers with guns or gang signs because that’s what they were about. I said, ‘Whatever you want on the cover, we’ll do it.’ If they wanted guns, I was fine. Some of the covers I really loved was like Tech N9ne with the Mohawk. I love a lot of covers. I love the covers we did with the Game, the Jacka, Three 6 Mafia, Keak Da Sneak, Xzibit, Snoop Dogg. Oh man, there are so many. Freddie Gibbs and I don’t even remember there were so many.”
He says the unknown rappers are often more engaging interviews, as they have more stories to tell.
“This is what happened, the known rappers, like the ones who already got big, sometimes they do so may interviews that they are so bored doing interviews, they don’t even care,” Black Dog Bone says. “But when you get a rapper that is like unknown, underground, you get someone like say, when I first got Insane Clown Posse, they just couldn’t stop talking because they had a story to tell and no one wanted to listen to their story, but I was like, ‘Tell me the whole story.’”
Murder Dog Says It Wasn’t About Beef
Though Murder Dog printed whatever the artists wanted, they made a point not to fan the flames of any beef.
“I want only the music, because we never took sides, like East Coast-West Coast,” Black Dog Bone says. “They all love it I mean I had all the east coast rappers in Murder Dog, and the Midwest, Chicago rappers and Kansas. I have gone to places like Seattle or Portland or Chicago or certain places with Bloods and Crips, so when I went I would do article I would say I don’t want to just do the Bloods, I don’t want to do just the Crips, I don’t want the blues versus the reds. I want to do both. I want you to organize it where I can do both or I’m not coming. They somehow organize it for me to do everyone so I went a lot of places like Seattle, these people who had problems for years the blues and the reds in Seattle. We had it in a park and they all came, blues and the reds. There was no fighting.”
The magazines were barred from many stores, such as Safeway, because of the violence and profanity on the cover. They decided to print alternative covers partially in order to accommodate some of the fans who could only purchase at their local chain store.
“Most magazine have one cover or two, every cover we did even from the very beginning we started doing like two or three covers,” Black Dog Bone says. “There were times when we did one magazines with five or six covers.”
The Sri Lanka man says his love of music and revolution led him on a path to start Murder Dog.
“I’m a musician too,” Black Dog Bone says. “I play drums. I play guitar. I sing. I do like tribal music its like Hip Hop, but it’s really Tribal. I had a band. It was more in the Punk Rock, Industrial, Noise, like what Death Grips or Big Black does. I was doing all this music then I stopped doing that and I went back to Sri Lanka to do photos of the revolution there. When I was there to do photos on the revolution, I took thousands of photos. After I took the photos, I came back here and the people in the Art Institute of San Francisco saw my photos and they gave me a scholarship…While I was going to the Art Institute, I saw like how the African people or how the third-world countries were represented in the school. Basically they did not know nothing about us. They only knew like from the surface about us.
“That’s like even with Hip Hop, they didn’t understand it,” Black Dog Bone continues. “Lot of people would go and interview some Hip Hop artist and they would like write how they feel about it. Murder Dog, everything in Murder Dog was interviews, like we would just take our tape recorder and we would just record it and transcribe it, print it. Here’s what you said. Here it is. So it was clear. It’s not my point of view, my voice. It was the voice of the people. It was like that’s why people loved Murder Dog so much, because they want to hear that. They want to hear it raw. They want to hear that voice. They want to hear C-Bo’s voice. They want to hear X-Raided talking about how it is in prison or about the murder that happened.”
Murder Dog Visits Uganda
Lately Black Dog has been traveling around the world covering international rappers whom he finds more engaging, and plans to make websites and books to encapsulate the global music movements.
“Now I’m not really interested in what’s going on here,” Black Dog says. “It’s not interesting because everything is on the Internet and you know like the Southern music sounds like East Coast, Bay Area sounds like Midwest. I’m not very interested in the music, so basically what I’m doing with Murder Dog right now is, I’m doing music that is out of America. Last year I was in East Africa, mainly in Uganda, so I was living in Uganda and I did every rapper I could get a hold of in Uganda, the biggest to the smallest I did. I did interviews, took photos, and shot videos just all on my own, just me. I was living in the slums. I know all the rappers in Uganda now. In fact one of the biggest rappers from Uganda, that is GNL Zamba is here, he is in LA. While I was in Uganda, I traveled all over Uganda, and we did a recording of many artist. We spent money, took them to the studio and I recorded like 15 songs. Its more than 30 rappers…. I’m just like focusing on Africa, the next place I really want to do is go to Congo/Kinshasa has some of the most amazing music and Nigeria, Ghana, Senegal, Sudan, all that. We are not going to do the print version of the Murder Dog, but I’m going to basically create a website for each country, so like I’m working on the Uganda website. I’m gonna have a web sight for every different country and we’re gonna have a book for each country.”
In addition to Murder Dog The Interviews, Volume 1, which includes historic interviews with 50 Cent and Lil Wayne, Black Dog Bone and Paul Stewart are working on many more books, including one on Tech N9ne and Strange Music, as well as one with ICP, Esham and the Detroit scene.