Tuesday, 11 October 2016

Updates in lieu of a website update

Doing too much writing to focus on a new site right now, here's some of it....

Trap transcendence: My journey to see Kevin Gates live. 

"I might get killed for being black and wearing a seatbelt" - An Interview With Maxo Kream

I interviewed Enya for Forbes. 

That's How I Get Down - The Ultimate Ginuwine Mix

Wednesday, 3 February 2016

New stuff

I really need to update my website, but here's a few new things I've done:

OG Ron C for Forbes

Hurricane Chris for Noisey

Friday, 27 November 2015

N.O Joe Interview (UGK, Scarface)

ugk producer

The potent knock of Scarface’s 187 raps. The blues inspired swang and bang of UGK. Though his name might not be immediately recognizable, N.O Joe helped shape Southern hip-hop. As Rap-A-Lot’s former in-house producer, the man born Joseph Jackson spread his “Gumbo Funk” sound across the globe. Like Organized Noize in their Georgia basement, Joe was inspired by his country upbringing to mix West/East Coast flavor with the influence of soul music and church instruments. The underrated Louisianan is considered among the first to add organs to rap and counts Dr Dre, Jay Z, Biggie and 2pac as fans.

Weeks after producing Scarface’s latest album Deeply Rooted with help from Spuf Don, whom Joe mentored along with Travis Scott, the production savant gave one of his most in-depth interviews. Jackson spoke beforehand of his photographic memory and said he can recall every instrument played on The Diary. But, he’s only half-joking. For almost two hours, he retold working with LL Cool J, his initial chance encounter with Scarface, meeting Mike Dean and his feelings towards J. Prince. Joe also does one of the best Pimp C impressions ever and shared memories of his close friend as well as tales of his decades behind the boards with UGK. This ain’t no 2015 listicle containing nothing but disappointment, settle in for a wealth of rap history.

Read my interview with N.O Joe over here or the super long extended version here.

Thursday, 17 September 2015

Warren G Interview

Originally published at Passionweiss

The G Funk era is eternal. Dre, Snoop, 2Pac, Nate and Warren G are the holy quintet. “Smoke weed everyday” is their sacred mantra. Thirty years after Above The Law and Dre conceived Gangsta Funk, the influence continues through DJ Mustard’s minimal bounce. Kendrick and YG tried their hand at it. Quik never stopped. Rap fans recite the “California Love” chorus quicker than their national anthem. You can be anywhere in the world and theoretically know how it feels to roll through Long Beach in a Dickies suit with a bottle of Malt Liquor. I could Crip Walk before I really knew what a Crip was. My fingers involuntarily twist into W’s anytime Doggystyle plays. I still miss Nate Dogg.

In the late 80s, a teenaged Warren Griffith III, Nathaniel “Nate Dogg” Hale and Calvin “Snoop Doggy Dogg” Broadus formed 213. The trio connected through church, Pop Warner, and high school. As football scholarships faded further out of reach, they performed at clubs for free and earned a reputation for battling other crews. During one of the verbal clashes, Snoop, then known as Snoop Rock, took on DPG partner Kurupt and they almost came to blows. 213 were hood famous, but struggled for label support and criminal enterprise became increasingly tempting. The group even considered robbing a store for production equipment before Warren convinced them otherwise.

NWA had solidified Griffith’s half brother Dr. Dre as a star, and after hearing 213’s demo at a bachelor party he invited them to his studio. During the recordings for The Chronic, Warren supplied record samples, beat drafts and called a girl for the “Deez Nutz” skit. When it came time to create Snoop’s debut Doggystyle, he produced and rapped on the anti-monogamy classic, “Ain’t No Fun If The Homies Can’t Have None.” Warren infused a sterling ear into Suge Knight’s empire and helped record two of Death Row’s biggest albums, yet he was never fully included in the crew. The former DJ wasn’t given team merch, missed royalties, and was left stranded at the airport before a tour.

Roughly a year later, Warren G’s fortunes changed and his multi-platinum debut, Regulate…G Funk Era, saved Def Jam from bankruptcy in 1994. He went on to record three popular tracks with 2Pac and put together the underrated Twinz debut, Conversation. Despite his success, G’s work was overshadowed by the Death Row powerhouse; there’s a strong argument he’d be a greater part of the rap canon if label rivalry hadn’t intervened. Fitting to his wicked reputation, Suge retroactively claimed Warren was his artist and argued Def Jam owed him money. Nate was the only affiliate to appear on Warren’s debut, Snoop was removed from “This D.J.,” and Warren has still never worked with Dre. When I asked the otherwise smooth spoken G about the rumor that Knight tried to change or remove his verse on “Ain’t No Fun,” he gave his only terse answer of the interview “Suge never made me do nothing.”

Regardless of what could have been, Warren remains appreciative of his career and on good terms with his lifelong friends. He continued to work with Nate Dogg until the latter’s death five years ago, collaborating with him on well over 60 official releases. After Nate died at 41, Warren released a tribute with proceeds going to the Hale family. G released a new EP this month called Regulate… G Funk Era Part 2 featuring Nate on all five tracks and reportedly has several albums worth of unreleased music. I interviewed Warren about his connection to the Bay Area, working with Roger Troutman, visiting Crip founder Tookie Williams on Death Row, and The D.O.C’s unrealized potential. We kept the “Regulate” conversation to a minimum as he’s answered every question you can think of, elsewhere.

Wednesday, 9 September 2015

Gunplay Interview

gunplay rapper

Originally published at Passionweiss

Gunplay is volatile, likeable and mildly insane. He’s also a hell of a rapper. Among his polished MMG label mates, Gunplay is the half Puerto Rican, half Jamaican wildcard, rapping like he’s throwing evidence out of the car mid-chase. And sometimes he just might be. The stories of Richard Morales Jr. are the stuff of rap legend and often eclipse the music. Gunplay robbed his accountant at gunpoint. Gunplay’s been knocked out twice on camera. Gunplay loves cocaine and fishing. Like his precursor ODB, the mythos of Morales is unparalleled.

When Gunplay told reporters between sniffs that he could quit coke any time he wanted, no one believed him. After all, this guy publicly admitted to spending £1500 a week and was filmed traveling to Columbia just to partake in the purest China White he could find. But so far, he’s kept his word. Gunplay assures me multiple times during our interview that his focus is now entirely on his career. Wrongly perceived as a Rick Ross weed carrier, he sprung into profile after the collapse of their group Triple C’s in 2009. On the strength of potent guest verses and unrestrained mixtapes, Gunplay signed a solo deal three years later with Def Jam. That same year, his aforementioned bookkeeper robbery case almost derailed any chance of a career as Morales faced life in prison. Gunplay narrowly avoided the charge due to the witness refusing to testify and has spent the last few years rebuilding his momentum.

With the long delayed release of his debut album Living Legend set for the end of the month, I spoke to the determined Miamian about his new outlook. Like Gunplay’s persona, the interview was unpredictable with his phone line and concentration frequently dropping out as he shopped with his girl for $300 Chanel perfume. We chatted about the time Gunplay pulled Rick Ross from a car wreckage, the longest he’s gone without sleeping and learning to write while sober. He also rapped for me, recalled seeing Biggie live and discussed why fans still love him.