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.
Denzel Curry’s psychotropic world is a fluid concoction of 90s rap, Adult Swim cartoons, and illicit activity. The 20-year-old flows effortlessly over multi-coloured production ranging from Yeezus era beats to murky lo-fi. Within the same breath, he’ll recall experimenting with LSD, eulogise fallen comrades and shout-out Super Mario Bros. Raised in Miami’s infamous Zone 3, Curry’s music reflects an upbringing peppered with the innocence of a good home and the eye-opening violence that surrounded it.
The self-styled “Aquarius Killa” posted his debut mixtape on SpaceGhostPurrp’s website in 2011 and was invited to join Raider Klan while still in high school. His confident double-time raps and retro Memphis Horrorcore aesthetic quickly gained attention, but his parents insisted he focus on school. Curry released three projects before leaving the Klan to pursue a solo career and in 2013 dropped his debut Nostalgic 64. This year, Curry followed up with double EP 32Zel/Planet Shrooms, which bangs front to back. The projects also serve as a dedication to Denzel’s brother who was killed by a policeman’s taser and his friend Tiara Grant who was fatally shot during recording.
We caught up with Denzel before he tore shit down at his London show last week. The undeniably passionate MC discussed getting a million plays on Soundcloud, mixing art with music, why he keeps his collaborations in-house and how personal tragedy impacts his content.
Your family is from the Bahamas. Did you grow up with that culture?
I grew up in South Florida. It’s like a cultural melting pot where I come from, but my people’s are of Bahamian descent and I have cousins in Nassau on the other side that stays in the Bahamas. It’s both Bahamian on my mom and dad’s side.
You’ve been open about not being a gangsta. Your lyrics are based on your environment as well as people you know. What kept you away from the streets growing up?
My parents. Even though they had disputes and they had their problems, I would say yeah, they’re good parents. Like my moms is very independent, my father is very independent and that’s pretty much where I get it from. They always stress that you should make something [of yourself]. You don’t want to stay in the same crib until you’re like 23. I’m not trying to do that.
If Thugga continues to spit, mumble, and stutter artful raps at this pace, the staff at Passionweiss might get twin lip piercings to celebrate. With “I Need Chickens,” Young Thug throws out his second freely inventive single alongside Mike Will Made It in four days. Much to the annoyance of the U.S Marshals Office and Conservative Rap Coalition, the persistent rise of the skinny jeaned martian continues.
Young Thug doesn’t need extended metaphors and multi-syllabic wordplay; he barely needs English. The tropes might not change, but the vibe is on a thousand. For a joyous three minutes, Jeffrey Williams harmonizes with himself, ad-libs bird calls and slings a few rhymes about moolah. Being near incomprehensible doesn’t make it any less vital. This is music for distorting how you think rap should sound. What Thugga does in five words is more exciting than what many rappers do with an entire song.
Human megaphone Meek Mill takes a break from sobbing like a broken-up boss to offer more adrenaline in MP3 form. “Check” is Meek’s fifth single from Dreams Worth More Than Money and if you’ve been counting, his fiftieth “I’m a Boss” sequel. The thin-voiced rat-a-tat is more music for extreme sports, face-punching and seven figure bank deposits. Essentially, it’s the same as last year’s “FYM” only this time without a hungry Boosie verse. “Check” is a formulaic hustlers ode for those with an insatiable thirst for thumping drums, menacing pianos and minimal ambition. Meek and his cohorts are in the building, counting money and some other stuff he’s told you about before. But it doesn’t matter, Meek Mill is the human Monster Energy Drink. I can’t take it in large doses, but he’s not about to put you to sleep. (Presumably).
Dave Meyers’ frenetic imagination has conjured some of this era’s most recognizable music videos. Active since the 90s, his resume consists of over 200 projects with a genre-spanning list of artists from Jay-Z to Mick Jagger.
A chance meeting with Good Will Hunting filmmaker Gus Van Sant inspired Meyers to pursue videos and he landed his first MTV slot in 1997 with underground Oakland duo The Whoridas. The Californian director’s most iconic work includes eleven of Missy Elliot’s career defining videos as well as visuals for Outkast’s “Bombs Over Baghdad” and “So Fresh, So Clean.” He won a best video Grammy Award in 2005 for Elliot’s “Lose Control” and has also received eleven MTV Awards.
Meyers recently took a three-year sabbatical to pursue film and advertising, but is now diving back into capturing music. During more than an hour of conversation, we discussed a fraction of his filmography and thoughts on industry issues such as lower budgets and product placement. He discussed early interactions with Kanye West, shooting with Nas, making 44 videos in one year and a whole lot more.
Do you think music videos have worth in 2015 or are they in danger of becoming content for content’s sake?
They certainly have regained value for me. I took a three or four year break there and focused on commercials. What I’ve learned with the reach of a music video, especially to it’s fans, is there’s nothing quite like it other than maybe Jurassic Park [laughs]. It’s a very strong connection that artists still maintain with their fans, even more so than ever, because of the way the Internet is. To be part of that and to be a creative entity associated with that is kind of the purpose of filmmaking, or my particular passion. I’ve reached out to all of the folks you’d expect me to reach out to and we’re brewing some cool stuff that is coming our way. You’ll hopefully see some collaboration later this year with Missy [Elliot], Janet [Jackson] and there are a variety of things that might be coming. My passion for videos is alive and well and as I think the artists have sort of gotten used to the lower budgets, the resulting climate is a push for creativity.
The Dream can’t sing like
Usher or dance like Chris Brown, but the music is better. In a genre harvested
for disposable singles where performers adopt electronica-lite to crossover,
Terius Nash is one of the few doing it differently. His songs are at times
lewd, bitter and self-reflective.
On the Mobb Deep sampling “Cold” from last
year’s Royalty: The Prequel EP,
Nash’s lover dances to his contemporaries and he’s jealous of their audio
seduction. During “Turnt Out,” Dream mentions forgetting to sing in falsetto
and throughout “Lake Michigan” admits to being a jaded ex-romantic. Even
lighter work like “I Luv Your Girl” and “That’s My Shit” aren’t innocent love
songs, but transparent references to Lil Wayne’s relationships with his ex partners.
Among the assembly line ten-packs, The Dream conveys more than cliché. We’re
not talking Shakespearean wordplay, but as 90% of mainstream R&B is more
worried about consuming a refined carb than music, Dream’s imperfect
personality is necessary.
Production is another of the
self-proclaimed Radio Killa’s strengths. When Beyoncé and fellow hit syndicates
aren’t tapping Nash's song writing with partner Tricky Stewart, his most
interesting work stays in house. The majority of Dream's tracks aren't audio
throwaways for a tweenage audience, but compelling finger-snappers.
catalogue is an instrumental master class with drums that knock and synths that
trigger your internal dancing machine. Terius’ first three albums
twisted the influence of R&B demigods with simple romantic themes. Later
work is darker and experimental as he hardened his subject matter after two
Not shy of exhibiting his influences, Nash is a music student. He’s
paid tribute to R Kelly (“12 Play”), reworked lyrics from Ginuwine (“Ghetto”),
channelled Prince (many tracks) and mimicked MJ (“Michael.”) Dream's also used
enough of the "AY!" ad-lib to make even the most dedicated
regionalist wish they were from Hotlanta.
Although his own influence is yet to
be properly acknowledged, fellow singers undoubtedly pay attention and he's hinted
The Weeknd listened to "Fancy" a bit too closely. Six track EP Crown was released earlier this month
ahead of his July full length Crown Jewel.
As with all Dream projects, there’s some tracks I’ll be listening to in a few
months and some I’ll only return to occasionally. The aforementioned Royalty is the closest he’s come to a
perfectly cohesive project with dynamic production, personal references, no
unnecessary features and the most tasteful Outkast reference in recent memory.
There have been concessions for radio and IV
Play suffered from forced guest spots, but there’s rarely a release that
doesn’t have a baby-making masterpiece.
As someone with a PhD in The Dream's
music, I've listened to his full catalogue and made the below playlist with my
favourite songs. You might want to leave a comment about how a song you like
isn’t featured or turn your nose up at R&B, otherwise you can two step with
the rest of us. Download Link
While entrenched in Southern rap heritage, Big Krit aims to chisel his own path through the polished grill wearers and double-cup sippers. Too smart to be ignorant, too worldly to be preachy, he embraces the challenge of pleasing fickle fans, carrying tradition and promoting the culture of his oft-ignored state Mississippi. The 28 year old is a veteran of the digital era’s exhausting release culture with six mixtapes, two albums and two EPs released since 2010.
Producing and rapping across 200 songs in four years, a sub-plot developed around Krit’s talent. Was he creatively burnt out? Would he make concessions to chase the elusive hit single? Krit’s 2012 Def Jam debut Live From The Underground was decent, but not quite the grand reveal fans expected.
Last November, he finally silenced speculative fears with his sophomore album Cadillactica. Krit outsourced collaborators including Dj Dahi, Raphael Saadiq and Jim Jonsin to share his vision as well as working on expanding his own production universe. The concept record about a planet created by 808 drums showcased a reinvigorated Krit cultivating his introspective lyrics while dabbling further in storytelling, singing and contemporary flows.
Now taking a deserved breather to consider his next move, I asked Krit about his early records, if he’s still chasing commercial success, what draws people to country rap and why he decided to take this album off-planet.
What was your first local hit in Mississippi?
Man, the first record that I did in Mississippi that got played on a radio station was called… ha, “Adidas 1’s in the Club.” It was basically a remake of Crime Mob’s “Stilettos (Pumps),” but we did our own version.
Did you start with a cliché street sound on your very early records before you found your own style?
Oh yeah, definitely, because I was a hardcore Three 6 Mafia fan too. Just a lot of the instrumentation and a lot of the content was extremely aggressive, so it was like more of a shock value thing of just how aggressive and how violent you could be on a song. I was probably like 13 or 14, man, and you grow out of that pretty fast because you grow to the point where you start playing your records for a lot of people that actually know you, older people, and they know damn well that you ain’t living that kind of lifestyle. In the beginning it was just your imagination ran wild on a record, and you could pretty much rap about anything and everything under the sun just to kind of build this superhero character of yourself on record.
Kevin Gates' sexcapades are a double-edged sword, or other phallic object. While shock at his bedroom activities generates publicity, gossip around his personal life often conceals he's among the best rappers working. As I've stated here, here and here, few combine lyrical proficiency and remarkable life-experience like Gates. "Pourin The Syrup" from 2014's Luca Brasi 2 mixtape references his sexual interests in full clarify, providing instant gratification for Chatty Patty’s in your chosen comments section. The Louisianan’s retellings of an unconventional sex life are just a fraction of his audio confessions made of compelling, autobiographical raps.
"Syrup" is filled with enough detail for a full season of The Wire. Gates killed someone at 13. Before fame, drug money ensured he could ride through Baton Rouge's infamous Highland Road with the same Monte Carlo his rap precursor Boosie had. Gates was selling cocaine under roofs equipped with security cameras. He wouldn't give his product to a thief and was shot while attempting to grab the gun. The tear-dropped sex fiend caught an STD and a friend laughed behind his back while he was sleeping with their sister. Over the course of four minutes, Gates has given you more of himself than a dozen Datpiff trap fakers.
The hallucinatory video was released last week and doesn’t glorify drank as an easy crutch for A$AP-inspired cool points. Gate’s purple tinted face appears while he traverses difficult memories with an intense black-eyed stare. It’s probable the tortured rapper uses drank as a therapeutic device rather than a fun accessory. Feverish visuals switch between a vehicle speeding through twilight roads, Gates as a blurred lavender entity and of course, him spilling explicit raps about the dirtiest of sex acts next to a woman he’s rumoured to be seeing in real life.
Gates is smart enough to know how to work the media. If you were looking for lyrics to be shocked by, you’ll find them here. But you’re also witnessing the ascent of singular storyteller putting all of himself on the record.
Organized Noize emerged from a dirt floor studio with underclass tales that resonate in every neighbourhood from Bankhead to Brisbane. Sleepy Brown, Rico Wade and Ray Murray fused hip-hop, soul and funk to produce records for Outkast and Goodie Mob that are divine rap canon. Proudly Southern at a time when many Atlanta artists mimicked Miami bass for commercial ends, the trio were among the first to shift attention below the Dixie. Dubbing their collective “The Dungeon Family” as a tribute to their dank beginnings, Organized Noize’s run surpasses two decades and their contribution to quality music can’t be overstated. With credits including TLC, Future, Killer Mike, Bubba Sparxxx and Janelle Monáe, it’s fair to assume if you enjoy rap, you’ve heard a Dungeon track.
Characterized by a scintillating grin, oversized sunglasses and Superfly persona, Sleepy Brown is the trio’s retro futurist. The 45 year old’s musical ambitions were inspired by a childhood spent watching his father Jimmy perform in Atlanta funk-staple Brick, and he’s always paid tribute to the 70s. Aside from production and writing, Sleepy sung falsetto on Outkast’s No. 1 hit “The Way You Move, ” their universal player’s theme “So Fresh So Clean” and “Saturday Ooh Ooh” with Ludacris. He also maintains a solo career, which is four albums deep and includes lover’s decree “I Can’t Wait.”
A friendly and open interviewee, Sleepy didn’t exhibit signs of being jaded or arrogant despite his lengthy achievement list. He laughed while describing how Busta Rhymes influenced the conscious side of Organized Noize and shared Future’s nickname when he was still a “knucklehead.” The Isaac Hayes lookalike also described working with Curtis Mayfield as well as Pimp C, why Outkast’s 2014 tour is their last and almost every other Dungeon Fam query I had.
As per usual, modern funk
authority B. Bravo combines old and new to form a potent dance elixir that
makes involuntary toe-tapping a certainty. The L.A. beat architect appeared on
Salva’s Peacemaker project along with partner Teeko last year and welds the
vocoder like few other boogie cyborgs can.
“Nights (Feel Like Getting
Down)” is a tribute to Billy Ocean’s classic disco floor filler and keeps the
vibe going over thirty years after the original. During my interview with B.
Bravo last year, he co-opted Dam Funk’s mission to uplift people with funk
rather than chase success and this track doesn’t deviate from the game-plan.
Synths, talk-box and drums, B. Bravo keeps it simple because when you’ve got
interplanetary vibes this strong you don’t dare mess with the groove. A free
download to celebrate his upcoming Europe mini-tour, this belongs in your
playlist next to Zapp’s finest.
step to this ‘cause I got a live crew / You might be kinda big but they make
coffins your size too / I was taught wise / I’m known to extort guys / This
ain’t Cali, it’s Harlem nigga, we do walk-by’s.”
Spite incarnate, Big L’s music was forever shadowed by death. Every other line
was a blast of threats aimed at enemies, doubters, competitors and anyone who
had something to lose. Lamont Coleman was undermining parent’s attempts to
raise well-adjusted children, years before Shady gripped a chainsaw. L
splattered his bars with an encyclopedia of offensive content and spat them
with enough malice to traumatize a Juggalo. Who else would end a song by
shouting out murderers, thieves and people with AIDS?
Coleman’s debut was the only full-length album recorded during his short life
and he named it in direct opposition to television showLifestyles of the Rich
and Famous. As someone who had no time for caviar dreams, Big L was the
quintessential disaffected youth. He was too poor to afford a conscience and
rarely paused between dome cracking bars to reflect on social issues. Cold
angst permeates throughout the record and as a fan of horror films, L relished
playing the villain and shocking the listener. While other emcees claimed the
means justified the ends, Lamont laughed off constraint and poisoned eardrums
with comparisons to the devil.
The power of Lifestylez doesn’t just lie in dark imagery though. Big L was a
paradigm of technical ability with internal rhyme schemes and caustic wit. “I
got styles you can’t copy bitch, it’s the triple six, In the mix, straight from
H-E-double-hockey sticks.” Coleman’s lyrical bloodbath was also backed by
D.I.T.C’s production and the album knocks front to back. Unfortunately,
Columbia couldn’t predict suburbanites enjoying jokes about killing nuns and
found Illmatic’s conscious spin on street-life was easier to market. Big L was
dropped a year later and gunned down before he could record a proper follow-up
making this project a haunting reminder of the realities of Harlem in 1995.
Hit Boy went from his mom’s house to working with Lil Wayne, Eminem, Kanye West and Jay-Z in the space of two years. He released the quadruple platinum “Drop the World” and “Niggas In Paris” almost back to back and was on the stage with Watch The Throne when they performed the track 11 times. But, for him, it’s not enough. The 27 year old, real name Chauncey Hollis, spends every day thinking about the producer he’s working to become.
In 2013, Hit Boy left Kanye’s GOOD Music label and broke out on his own. Details on the split are murky and naysayers claim he shouldn’t have left Yeezy’s side, but Hollis doesn’t care. More focused than ever, he’s launched the Hits Since ‘87 imprint and modelled his career after Timbaland’s history of working with hand-picked talent. Hit Boy has since formed a collective including long term friends Audio Push, started a solo rap career and released music with his formerly incarcerated father Big Hit. While preparing to release new tracks “Automatically” and “Show Me Something,” he talked about producing for Kendrick Lamar, Dr. Dre, and life after GOOD Music.
Was last year your quietest production-wise in some time?
As far as producing for a bunch of people, yes, because I took time to focus on my label. I put out We the Plug and I produced a bunch of songs on there, that if you go listen to those beats, there aren’t really a lot of urban beats that match that. But it’s just that we’re a growing label and we’re a growing situation so not as many people are paying attention to us right now, but we’re on the radar and we’ve been dropping just as much music as everybody else. It’s just that people aren’t paying as much attention because it’s a new situation, you know.
Other than the obvious choices like your squad or Jay/Kanye, is there someone particularly hands-on you’ve worked with?
Honestly, I mean there’s Bey[once] you know. She’s part of the whole Jay-Z/Kanye level, but she definitely knows what she wants when you’re working with her. I might do a drum pattern and she’ll tell me it needs to sound more “futuristic” or it needs to have different textures, so I like working with her a lot too. She knows exactly what she wants.
With razor sharp wordplay and luxury slanguage, few rappers in their 40s have enjoyed the same prolonged relevance as Raekwon. In the summer of 1995, Corey Woods released Only Built For Cuban Linx and ushered in a new era of Mafioso rap along with his Wu Tang Clan co-star Ghostface Killah. A masterpiece in criminology, the album heavily influenced the early careers of Jay-Z, Biggie and countless others as well as furthering the Wu Tang’s unparalleled rise.
Raekwon pulled off a rare feat by following it up with a quality sequel in 2009 and has continued to earn a reputation as one of the most consistent and digitally savvy members of the Wu. While the group celebrates their 20th anniversary, Rae remains focused on his solo career and is preparing for the April 28th release of his sixth album Fly International Luxurious Art as well as a documentary about the making of his classic debut.
Let’s talk about your new album Fly International Luxurious Art. You’ve said previously that it’s going to be “for all rap fans.” How do you cater to a wider audience without diluting your individual style?
I just try to be open-minded about creating music and also give them [the fans] an opportunity to see growth as well. Even though I’m a ‘90s artist, I still know every now and then, I have to give it a little shine in certain pieces of the music instead of just giving them that raw ‘90s sound. I just go with the determination – “this is what you do, this is your job, you’re supposed to know how to do this.” I collaborate with the right producers who understand the music that we are going after and we just go into it with a strong will and make it happen.
Russell Jones was a
unique soul, never destined to fit within society’s constrictions. He was
unpredictable, often unreliable and always genuine. As Ol’ Dirty Bastard, he
warped the definition of a rapper. With his missing teeth, crazed expression
and half slurred, half shouted rhyme style, Jones was never anything other than
ODB’s best friend
Buddah Monk was there on and off camera. They spent more time together than
anyone besides their parents. Since they were 10 and 11 year’s old, Buddha had
Dirty’s back. They laughed, made music, fought, travelled and partied
together. Monk acted as security, co-produced songs, took ODB to
interviews, watched his money and helped in family matters.
Buddha and writer Micky
Hess released novel The
Dirty Version to commemorate the 10th anniversary of Ol’ Dirty
Bastard’s death, late last year.
several unauthorised books exist, The Dirty Version is the
first in-depth biography on ODB from someone who actually knew him.
Below is an excerpt
from the first chapter of the book.
“Most of the major
events in his life that people remember, I was there. You’ve heard the stories.
Dirty once picked up his food stamps in a limousine, Dirty lifted a burning car
off a four year old girl in Brooklyn, Dirty was kicked out of rehab for getting
drunk, Dirty stole a fifty dollar pair of sneakers while on tour – and he had
five hundred dollars in his pocket. It seems like everybody’s telling a story
instead of telling the true story. Dirty was a loving brother, a caring friend,
and a very supportive father to his children. Even on his bad days, no matter
how bad he was, tomorrow would come and it was hard to stay mad at him, because
that’s just who he was. It wasn’t a character. It was him.”
I talked to Buddha for
over an hour discussing the book and Dirty’s life. We covered ODB’s time
growing up in Brooklyn, his relationship with RZA, how he parented 13 children
and the tragedy of his death, partly caused by ODB’s
heart-breaking stint in jail where he was given sedatives and under constant
In The Dirty Version, you described
ODB’s family as hard working, educated and musically talented. They would play
records outside of their building and party. His uncles were dancers and his
mother, Miss Cherry, was an amazing singer.
Right. There used to be a time when he didn’t even want to
do music, he just loved hearing it and singing with his family. When he got
with RZA and everybody, when his cousins and little nephews and everybody
started talking, they got him more interested in becoming an entertainer. At
first him and me used to rap and DJ, and we didn’t think we were going to do
something big like this.
ODB’s whole family can sing. He was a comedy fan and he
developed his unhinged style because he wasn’t the best singer, but he wanted
to create a sound incorporating his sense of humor.
It actually became one of the monstrous things in hip-hop,
making something sound so good, but at the same time funny. It became like he
was one of the best entertainers and on top of that he made you laugh, you
never know what he was capable of doing next.
What was Dirty like as a kid?
We were the type of kids who would hang around the block,
sing, take 40s out of the store and sit on the stoop watching uncle Freddy and
everyone dance and party. He had a loving family, see he didn’t come from
a broken home. He came from a home where everybody was considered family
whether you were real family or not. If you sat on the same stoop as me you
were considered my family. If I ate an ice cream or ate pizza with you, you
were considered my family. He didn’t discriminate or hate anyone. He
had love for everybody.
Even when ODB was earning a lot of money, he didn’t want
to be a fake celebrity and he wasn’t always comfortable in the spotlight. Do
you think that’s why he didn’t like doing videos and interviews?
I don’t think it’s that he didn’t want to do any interviews
or anything like that, I think Dirty felt like he was being used by the
industry. It’s like they give you this little bit of money, but they want you
to do so much work to make them millions and you only make scraps. You go home
with maybe $250,000 while they go home with $10 million. In that sense, he made
up this word “pupperize.” He didn’t want to be “pupperized” by the industry.
Was there ever a racist element to the way he was
portrayed in the media?
I wouldn’t say racist. I would say a disturbing force in the
chain of command, in how this world works. They thought – what he does, nobody
will have control of it and if we don’t lock his ass up then everybody in the
world is going to think they are able to do anything that he can do. They
couldn’t let one person show “Hey I’m free. No matter what you do to me. No
matter what you do to my heart, my soul or the way I move my feet, I’m free at
heart and I won’t let nobody chain me down.” So the only thing they could do is
poison his thoughts and stop him from being this great entertainer that
everybody loves so much.
In the book, you said ODB taking a limo to pick
up food stamps was misunderstood. Dirty didn’t do it to brag that he was still
receiving money from the government and getting away with it. He did that to
show he was proud of where he came from and there was no shame in collecting
welfare, but politicians used him as a scapegoat for welfare reform.
Yeah and everybody else took it like he was trying to take
from the government and didn’t care. When he actually did that, he had just got
the [record] deal. The deal wasn’t even finalised, he didn’t even receive
checks. They were already doing video drops and stuff on Dirty before he
had even got any money or signed the ink for the deal, but it was just to get
the hype ready to show he was about to become a major artist and that he was
going to be travelling all over the world. So he was like “for the time
being and until all this happens, I’m going to take my family in this limousine
and show them how we are living until I become a successful star.” So he showed
himself taking food stamps.
ODB’s time in prison broke his spirit and he was never
the same since. He was afraid of going in and received death threats before
even being locked away.
Dirty wasn’t a scaredy cat. If Dirty told you somebody was
trying to do something to him, I would believe him. I would not take it for
granted for one second that nobody was trying to kill him or hurt him, because
if I go to see you in jail and you have a broken arm or a bruised face or your
leg is bruised and you got something wrapped around your finger, then obviously
somebody in the jail did it. He didn’t do it to himself. In the newspaper they
never said that he inflicted any injuries on himself and yet he was always
found with injuries.
He feared the correctional officers and said they were
The correctional officers were the main ones doing stuff to
him, because they felt like “oh, you’re ODB so you think you’re going to get
special privileges here. We’re going to show you how we treat people here. You
are just like everybody else, you are our fucking dog.”
He felt betrayed his own cousins rarely came to see him,
RZA only visited a few times and the rest of the Wu Tang never came except
Because he realised that if one of them went to jail or got
in trouble, Dirty would have been there every day for them. They know that. So
why if Dirty’s gunna be there every day for ya’ll, how come ya’ll isn’t going
there every day for him? There’s no way in the world that you’re RZA and people
have seen you on TV making a million dollars, you get in every club with no
problem, that the jail system is not going to realise that. If it was Mariah
Carey going to see Dirty they would make sure they got Mariah Carey in to see
him as fast as possible. So if they would do that for Mariah Carey, why
couldn’t they do that for fucking RZA, see what I’m saying? If Damon Dash went
to see him, why couldn’t RZA? Why would RZA claim they went and nobody would
ever let them in? You’re just as known as Damon Dash and Mariah Carey, if not
more RZA? You got albums that went platinum and nobody going to know that
you’re the RZA and that you’re coming to see Ol’ Dirty Bastard? It’s bullshit,
so that’s why he felt bad about it.
Did you ever say anything to RZA?
Nope, the only concern for me was to keep making sure that
Dirty was okay, that’s all that mattered. That’s how I wound up talking to
Jarred and getting Jarred to help get Dirty out.
In The Dirty Version, Buddha says that before prison, ODB
was abusing cocaine and suffering from PTSD as a result of the various attacks
on his life. Instead of rehabilitating him, prison doctors forced Dirty to take
anti-psychotics that made him gain about 35 pounds. One of the medications was
Haldol, which is known for severe side effects and rarely prescribed in private
practice, but still used in prisons because it’s cheap. Dirty claimed he was so
sedated that inmates would punch him and his reflexes were too slow to protect
ODB was severely affected by medicine he was being
prescribed and struggled to record music once he left prison. During his post-jail press
conference he seems dazed.
When me and Jarred would go see him, we’d be having a
conversation then all of sudden he’d say something to the left and I’m like
“Dirty what happened man? This wasn’t you before you went to jail?” And he’s
like “I know nigga, it’s that shit that they are putting in me man. That’s why
ya’ll niggaz gotta get me the fuck out of here. Listen Jarred, Buddah, you both
have to get me the fuck out of here.” We were the ones that helped get him out,
but when it came to the world knowing, they made it like Damon Dash, Jarred,
Dirty, Moms and everybody else. Buddha was just somebody sitting in the car
like everybody else, making it look like I was happy to see him like I didn’t
have nothing to do with him getting out.
ODB’s manager Jarred Weisfeld has been painted negatively
in the press, but you said he was one of the few people that looked out for him
in his last years.
Jarred was the best person for Dirty. Let me tell you
something just to take it further, it was me telling Jarred what not to do. Do
not let them change your mind, do not listen to what they think is best. You do
it Jarred and trust me. If they try to make him go a certain way and do a
certain thing, do not have him connected with them because they are going to
try to tell him to do it differently from what you are doing Jarred so just
stay on your agenda. Do not listen to anybody.
The reality show was like I had a couple of girls, that
would do anything. We would be having girls come through the crib. You would
see girls walking around naked. You would be seeing us doing music, chilling,
getting with entertainers, hanging out. We had one of the DeBarge brothers singing
with me and Dirty in the park. We was doing that, we were also doing his every
day life. Getting up, going to the studios, hanging out with his family. There
was stuff at his mother’s house. Everybody else is doing [reality show] stuff
right now, I’m talking about like husbands or housewives with Kevin Hart and
everybody else. Dirty and me were first. We got the first deal and was already
doing that, but once he passed, Jarred never put it out. We still got all the
footage from that show. Spike TV still got the footage they just never put it
What about “Stuck On Dirty” where a guy was literally
chained to ODB?
Whoever won this contest, they would be chained Dirty for
the whole day, do everything that Dirty did. They would go to the studio, rap
together. The only time this thing would really come off was when they would
take a shower, Dirty would take his shower then he would take his shower. They
put their clothes on, but when they get to the mirror they finish their hair,
they brush their teeth together, walk around the city and shit, chained. You
would be chained to Dirt Dog for a day to see what his life was about. No
matter how bad it got, you couldn’t escape because you were in handcuffs. Spike
TV still has the footage.
How did Dirty handle having a rumoured 13 children from
When he wasn’t working, he always wanted to be with all of
his kids. He would take them to the movies. Days when we were supposed to be
working we would have to stop at his different baby mother’s houses from
here to Jersey. He would take them food. Take them sneakers and clothes. Take
them out and make the mother’s feel good. He was always trying to figure out a
way to make all of the baby mother’s understand that he had different kids with
them. He wasn’t trying to play them. He would still want to be in their lives
as well as being in the other baby mother’s lives. It wasn’t like he would be
having sex with one girl and would tell the other girl he wasn’t having sex. He
would tell them “you know I’m Ol’ Dirty Bastard. You know other girls are going
to be with me. So you just need to accept how this is going down or you can
leave me alone. But at the same time, I don’t want you to take my kids away.”
So when the girls can’t get what they want out of it, they would try get money.
They would see him on TV with a lot of money and would try get child support.
Did a lot of the women accept the situation?
Most of them, yeah. I think the only one that it hurt was
his wife because I don’t think Shaquita would sign up for something like that.
She’s a great woman, regardless of how anybody else looked at her. She fed me.
I had a lot of complications with my cribs and I would move and live with them.
She looked at me like her brother. She knew I was always there for Dirty and
his best interests. So she didn’t like [the other relationships], she knew and
had her little disagreements with him. At the same time, she was an earth
[Mother of his children] and that’s something in our [Five Percent Nation]
lessons and everything. She knew that he was capable of being that way, but she
still stuck around. It wasn’t like she left him. They started breaking up after
I think he got locked up.
ODB was paranoid about his women being taken away from
him, He was quite protective of them.
Well, let me tell you something about the “paranoid” situation.
You would get paranoid if someone is trying to kill you all the time. You’re
getting shot at. You know you haven’t done nothing to nobody. You know you
ain’t robbed nobody. You know it’s nothing from your childhood. This is
something new and you didn’t have nothing to do with it. It’s not really
paranoia. It’s being fearful when someone is trying to take your life for no
reason. It makes you upset and makes you stay on point to make sure nobody is
taking a shot at you. You would look paranoid, but of course I would look
paranoid if someone is shooting at me for no reason. Now the situation with his
wives, him being paranoid about that, he wasn’t paranoid. That was just Dirty.
I would consider that more insecure of the fact that somebody might try talk to
his girl behind his back, but he was willing to talk to everybody else’s girl
behind their back. Not our girlfriends, but like other dudes. You don’t know if
that girl has a man, so you’ll try kick it to this girl and she might still
come out with you to spend time. So what you do unto others, you have to be
careful it might be done back to you. He didn’t personally try to mess with
other people’s women, but he told me one thing that I’ve always remembered,
“Never let your woman go.” Even if they aren’t yours anymore or whatever the
case may be “Never let your woman go.”
In the book, you mention how you were constantly keeping
track of Dirty. From making sure he made appointments to keeping him out of
prison, it was a full time job. Did anyone ever thank you? RZA, or even Busta
Rhymes, the latter who you helped collaborate with ODB?
Never. To this day I still see them and neither one of them,
nobody has ever said “You know what Buddha? I appreciate all that you have
done. I appreciate everything you did for Dirty. Thank you. I appreciate
everything that you did for me, Buddha.” Not Busta Rhymes, none of them. You
know when you go around it’s not like they won’t offer me to come sit down and
drink Champagne with them at the table, but that’s not like a thank you, you
You put a lot of work into co-producing ODB’s albums and
never received credit. RZA was being sued at one point over royalties?
Yeah, because there was a lot of stuff that I helped with
and that I should have got my royalties from and Elektra would wind up giving
them to RZA. RZA, he moved the vocal, he didn’t produce the track, putting
Dirty’s vocals on the track is not producing the music. That’s producing a
vocal. So he would take money out of my royalties for producing the music.
Money management wasn’t Dirty’s strong point. Did you
feel like people were using him?
Of course. 100%. Always. You know we live in a world where
there’s always someone trying to use somebody. Unfortunately, Dirty had a heart
of gold and people tried to use him every day. I think that’s a reason he kept
me around because I wouldn’t allow it. I would watch his back, make sure he
didn’t lose his money. Make sure people don’t steal his stuff. People didn’t
really like the fact that I was always with him, but his mother and every body
was happy that I was with him because she knew I would keep her son safe.
It sounds like he spent so much money on other people. He
let members of Brooklyn Zu take his cars and they would crash them.
Well, they all share each other’s stuff. They did a lot
of sharing, but at the same time, there was stuff he did say “hey, don’t touch
it” and then when he was gone they would touch it anyway and he would come back
like “hey, why do you all have my stuff?” He would say a lot “yeah, my family
steals from me all the time.” For him, he didn’t really go too crazy about
people taking stuff from him because you know why? It was his family taking it
from him and they were wearing it and not trying to hide it from him or
something like that. He just felt like “yo, that’s something I wanted to wear.
I wanted to keep it personal for myself and now ya’ll niggas has got it.” He
didn’t really like that, but I guess he settled for it.
Dirty never held back from showing appreciation to other
Yeah, Dirty was always the type to show love to artists. Even when he did the song
with Pras and Mya, he just walked up into the station. They were
already in the studio recording and he walked up in there by accident and when
he saw them he was like “Nah man I want to get on this song, I’m not leaving
until I get on it” and they wound putting him on the song. That was just him.
He showed love to everybody. There wasn’t nobody he didn’t like in the
industry, there were some people he couldn’t rap with. He loved LL Cool J, but
he just couldn’t do a song with LL Cool J.
Did he turn down a song with LL?
Yeah, he actually turned the song down and they wound up
putting Method Man and Redman on the song. The one where LL had the whole
symphony of different rappers on it. Dirty was the first one that LL asked to
be on it, but we stayed in the studio for two days and Dirty was like “I don’t
know what it is man, I can’t do a song with LL, I just can’t.” So Dirty
wouldn’t do it. [The song is “4, 3, 2, 1” from
the album Phenomenon]
How did ODB feel about Puff Daddy? I don’t think he
disliked him, but he frequently mentions him in interviews as someone he could
never be like.
Puff Daddy was considered an entertainer. He’s not really a
rapper or professional artist. Everybody knew that about Puffy. We thought he
was just being a businessman. Dirty is more loved by the people because he’s a
true artist. He’d be in the streets, he’d hang out with people, he would go
places. He’d be in the ghetto and while everyone else was at the awards or
something, he’d be in the hood just hanging around with people standing around
on the block having 40s. There were times that he should have been in the
studio where he just wanted to show love to the people in the streets. He was
the type of person where he knew he was big, but you know what, he figured out
something different from everybody else. If the president was walking through
every hood and every city and every block all year round, then when the
elections come he would probably have unlimited votes for him as the president.
Because he doesn’t really come out and has to be protected all the time, he
can’t do that. Dirty didn’t want that kind of life, he wanted to be able to
reach out to masses and hang out in the hood. That’s how he wound up being
in the hood when that little girl was under that car that was on fire and he
helped lift the car off her, understand what I’m saying? His notoriety was
about taking it to the streets. That’s what he did, he got his ideas from being
in the streets and talking to the people and hearing “”hey Dirty you should do
this on a song” “Yo, you know what me and my homie were talking about? How
about if you were walking around with a pamper on or something like that?” You
know he would think about it and you would see it on a show or
awards, should he decide to put out that little thought
that someone in the streets gave him. That helped create the Ol’
Dirty Bastard that people loved and it worked for him.
Do you feel like part of Wu Tang died with ODB?
I think so. Dirty kept it together because no matter what,
even when everybody was always fighting, Dirty was the voice of opinion and the
reason for everybody to continue to stay together and to make it right. RZA and
GZA valued Dirty’s opinion on the music industry a lot. Dirty was giving them
the ideas that would make it so big, more than everyone else and once they lost
that element, it meant the music lost that element and if your music loses that
element then you lose what could have been even a better album. Certain songs
that were on this album, I don’t think Dirty would have ever let them put those
songs out. He probably would have cursed them niggas out until they changed it,
that’s what Dirty did or he didn’t show up.
Everybody loved Dirty. Wu Tang Clan had a problem with
always fighting on stage and in the streets and shit, but the funny parts of
what would happen at the fights was when Dirty was there when it was taking
place and then everybody would be like “man, no matter what, I love Dirty. No
matter how that shit went down or what happened, I still love that nigga
Dirty.” I think with him still being alive, they would have been at a higher
plateau than they are now.
In Dirty’s final days he told people including his mother
Cherry that he would die soon.
Yeah, well you know how much your body, mind and soul can
take as a person and as a human being. I can tell certain days when my body is
starting to hurt more than usual. If I feel heavier than I normally do because
I have a burden on my heart or my thoughts. You try to cope with it, but after
a while you just feel like you’re just tired. You don’t want to be bothered no
more. Your heart and soul have a tendency to give up and don’t want
to do things and that’s the worst time to give up because that means
you’re slipping into a state of unawareness. You have to be man enough to be
able to fight that and to keep fighting. Dirty did that and I was one of the
reasons why because I would stay on him. I would ask him questions like “How
long are we going to keep doing this for?” and he would be like “Yo, we going
to keep doing this until we’re like 70. I said “word, like 70?” He would be
like “yeah man, let’s do it.” Nobody expected the things to happen the way they
happened and everybody would say “it’s just an overdose.” It was actually a
mixture of things. It was him taking a pill [tramadol] and him having a bag
[cocaine] inside his stomach. Both of those chemicals caused a reaction that
made him die. He didn’t deliberately try to take an overdose. It wasn’t
like he was sitting at a table and started to sniff his life away in the last
moment and couldn’t stop. It was a freak accident.
What made him stop taking the medication he was being
Dirty went cold turkey. They wanted to him to continue to
take his paranoid medication and all that shit when he got out and Dirty was
like “that shit isn’t doing anything but making me fatter. It’s slowing me down
and making me not be able to function the way I want to function with doing
music and everything.” So when Dirty went cold turkey, everybody started seeing
the real him come back. Here’s a drug that would make you feel like relaxing
and feel like you’re high all the time. Who wants to be high all the damn time
like yo, there’s gotta be some days in your life that you’ve got to be able to
be in society without feeling like you’re high. This was some shit that they
were trying to give him to the rest of his life to try and make him seem like
he’s paranoid and they tried to make him really believe that he needed these
pills, but check it out he never needed them fucking shits before he went in
there so why the fuck does he need them when he get’s out?
Many of those prescription drugs are illegal now?
Some are legal. Some are illegal. Again it’s the
government setting the rules because too many of their kids are getting caught
with those same fucking drugs that were the killers of us and now it’s killing
their own fucking kids.
How is Dirty’s mother Cherry Jones?
She’s doing good. I talked to her yesterday. She lives in
Florida now. She has a nice big crib and she’s living good out there. She’s
happy. She told me any time I’m in town to just come. I’ve got a bedroom. I’ve
got food. I don’t need to worry about going anywhere to do no work, no cooking,
no nothing. Just come home whenever I’m ready. Even I need a break from music
or anything I can just come to her house, no matter what.
Do you still keep in touch with Jarred?
Of course, Jarred was the first one to congratulate me about
the book and the first person to buy a copy.
Are you involved in the ODB movie?
Well, there’s two different ones. There’s one that Jarred’s
doing about when he became his manager and I’m supposed to be in that one.
Raison who is doing this new movie, he actually reached out to me two days ago
and said that he wants me to be in the movie. I saw a couple pieces of the
trailer and it’s got Young Dirty Bastard in it. It’s coming together pretty
good and by the grace of god, I hope everything turns out to be successful with
it. I know once it does come out the world is going to be very surprised
because it’s totally different from everything you’ve seen on television.
What happened with the shooting incident in 1999? Two
officers fired eight shots at ODB after stopping his car. He was later cleared
by a grand jury and they found no shell casings or weapons belonging to him.
What happened was him and 60 Second Assassin were in the car
driving. They were on their way to the studio and they ran past this light.
They didn’t run a red light, the light just went green as they were driving
through. The cops saw a car that identified as one that apparently was shooting
at the cops before. So seeing as they thought it was the car, they started
shooting for the simple fact that in their minds this was the car that just
shot at the cops. So instead of pulling the car over and asking questions they
just started firing on Dirty. So Dirty gave them a high-speed chase, they
finally were caught by some cops that didn’t shoot and locked up. The cops came
to find out that they weren’t the ones that actually did the shooting. So the
case got dismissed, they [ODB etc] tried to sue them, but the cops claimed they
were fired immediately after shooting at them, so they couldn’t even get the
lawsuit. But I heard it’s still in court for him to get money for that situation,
which I think will go to the kids.
The police in that era were well known for harassing
Of course. Every time we turned around whether we were in
the street or we were doing shows. There would be police standing inside our
shows. They would say things like “I’m telling you, if he takes his shirt off,
we’re locking him up.” “Or if these girls get up there and start trying to grab
on him and everything, we’re locking you up because you should have more
control.” But why would you lock us up when the security is supposed to be
keeping kids off stage? They have nothing to do with us. One time we were
performing and Dirty had taken both his pants and shirt off and started dancing
and rapping and the police shut all of the power off.
That must have been a pretty frightening time, were you
Nah, I was more the guy who kept him [ODB] thinking
positive. I would keep his head level about situations. I wasn’t just his
producer. I was his brother. I was the one person who he looked up to for questions
and answers for his music. I was also the person that if he wasn’t talking to
Popa Wu or RZA and them, he would talk with me. Like we would take the cars
from the venues after the show and leave the rest of the Clan, and me and him
would ride back to New York while the Clan would take the truck if Dirty got
tired of waiting for them. We would be on the bus, riding at the back talking
about what we wanted to do in this industry with the music and the things we
wanted to do. I never feared it because you know what, it comes with the turf
of changes in life. Basically when I saw the Michael Jackson movie and The
Temptations movie, how people were rushing them, I figured okay this could be
happening to us at any moment and I was already prepared for it.