Crooked I: Death Row, Snoop and The Album, Pt. 2

In case you missed Part 1 of AllHipHop’s convo with Crooked to the I, click HERE. Now, read For a moment it looked like you were going to blow up; you and Suge were on The Jimmy Kimmel Show and people were talking about your Death Row release, Say Hi To The Bad Guy. […]

In case you missed Part 1 of AllHipHop’s convo with Crooked to the I, click HERE. Now, read For a moment it looked like you were going to blow up; you and Suge were on The Jimmy Kimmel Show and people were talking about your Death Row release, Say Hi To The Bad Guy.  Crooked I: From an insider’s point of view I am going to tell you what it was. Suge is a competitive guy. Koch was a different company back then. When 50 Cent said that it was an artists graveyard – that’s how a lot of executives looked at Koch. I never looked at Koch like that. I always thought that Koch was great because you are getting five to six dollars an album. But a lot of people were looking at Koch like that back then. Suge was used to selling six to seven million records at a time. It would have been hard for him to match his level of sales on Koch – which was his distribution channel when he got out of jail. So once he figured that out, he decided that he needed to put the Crooked I project on a different label to be distributed by a major – or else people were going to think that he lost it as an executive. If Crooked I does 400,000 on Koch, I am celebrating, but for a dude that sells six to seven million records at time that doesn’t look good. To the fan that doesn’t understand that we are making five to six dollars an album, it looks like we fell off. Suge didn’t want to chance it. He started to look for different homes for my record, but it was clear that nobody was going to f**k with him. Once that became very clear, I started to plan my exit strategy. You had to tell Suge Knight that you were leaving. How did that meeting go?Crooked I: What happened was he violated his parole and went back in. I went to visit him numerous times when he was in Chino and other spots. When I was planning to leave, some of the staff members knew already. When they found that out, they didn’t want me to visit Suge and they were the ones responsible for setting up the visits. They set up the visits and Suge ok’s who is going to see him. They would never set up the visits and kept giving me the run-around. So one day I asked just to have a phone call with Suge and they finally got me on the phone with him. I told him that I wanted to leave and it was a business decision. I had a four year contract and it was up – and I didn’t want to extend it. There were no hard feelings and I told him that – it was just time for me to bounce out. He was like, “Ok. Cool. Follow your heart.”

“I ended up following my heart and left, was about to release an

independent joint when I received a cease and desist letter from Death

Row Records… It shocked me because I was loyal for

four years.” So he was initially cool with it?Crooked I: That’s what he said. I ended up following my heart and left, was about to release an independent joint when I received a cease and desist letter from Death Row Records. That meant we had to go to court and they weren’t going to allow me to just do my thing. It shocked me because I was loyal for four years. Plus I went through a lot on that label. I was in beefs – not with rappers – but I’m talking about street beefs due to my affiliation with Suge. For him to know that I’ve been one hundred percent thorough and to put my project on hold for four years, he should have just given me his blessings at that time. I can see why he didn’t want me to leave on one hand because I am walking in the studio and knocking records like 2Pac. I could do four or five songs in a day. That’s something valuable in an artist that he didn’t want to lose. So we had to go to court and once again my album was on hold. It took me 12 months to get free. Did you have any conversations with Suge asking why this has to be resolved in court?Crooked I: No. At that point I had cut off all communication. I felt that there was nothing that I could say to sway him. I worked through my lawyer. It cost me $60,000 and 12 months to fight him. That kind of money hit me in the gut. At the end it was worth it because nobody from Death Row can lay claim to me and my work. Before the ruling, all it took was somebody from Death Row to call a place like Universal and say, “Don’t deal with Crooked. He’s still with Death Row,” and they wouldn’t touch me. With the ruling I now had the paperwork that stated that I had an injunction against any claim by Death Row stating that I owed them projects. I was happy that I got out of there and I went straight back to work. How have your post-court dealings with Suge been? Have you seen him at all?Crooked I: Yeah, I saw him on Sunset Blvd. and pulled my car over to see where his head was at. There was one another person with me and he had seven or eight dudes with him. I approached him and asked him, “What’s good? Are there problems between us over the court issue?” We spoke on some man-to-man sh*t. He expressed a few things to me that he was disappointed about and I did the same. We shook hands like men and I bounced out. At least you guys were able to deal face to face. Crooked I: That’s the reason why I think that a lot of these other artists have a problem with him in the past. They didn’t want to take the man approach with it. They wanted to hide behind a bunch of security guards and talk s**t – instead of dealing man to man and talking everything out. I think that a lot of people that left Death Row in the past are scared to do that – and that’s why there are bad terms. How surprised were you at the pictures that surfaced of Suge laid out on the floor?Crooked I: It took me by surprise – a couple of things took me by surprise actually. The first being that he had an altercation at a club where there are cameras all around, especially after getting caught up like that in Las Vegas with Pac. That was one of the things that surprised me because I know that he’s at the level to where he doesn’t have to be in the trenches like that if he has a problem with somebody. To see him laid out like that too was very surprising because somebody must have got him with a good one! When I saw the pictures, I was like, “Wait a minute” because you know how people doctor pictures with Photoshop. Me being formally affiliated with Death Row, people started calling me, even though I haven’t spoken to Suge in two years since I saw him on Sunset. Those things can happen to anybody that’s out there – and he’s out there. That dude is not at the house. He’s in the clubs, restaurants, malls, pumping gas by himself. He’s very visible and doing a lot of things. Those things can happen to anybody and we are now in the YouTube and TMZ era, so you just have to watch how you move. Do situations ever get sticky for you being here in the wild West? Do people try to test Crooked I?Crooked I: I used to get tested a lot when I was on Death Row. I don’t get tested a lot right now though. Back on Death Row it happened quite a bit. I remember one time some dudes followed me through the mall, so I led them in to a trap. Once I led them in to a trap, I turned around. They thought that they had me trapped but I took them to a part in Robinsons/Mays where there were no cameras. Once there were no cameras, I showed them why I had them there. They backed up and were like, “Yo. Please, please.” Ever since I’ve been over here at Treacherous Records, I don’t get in to fights. People walk up to me and get to know me for who I am before they decide to make a judgment on me. On Death Row, they had a pre-judgment in their minds already. Right now, it’s all good. There is another legendary figure in and out of your life by the name of Snoop Dogg. It’s common knowledge that you guys don’t see eye to eye. Care to give us the run down?Crooked I: Even when he used that crumbs on the table line from “Pimp Slapp’d”, I didn’t really go at him. By the time I dropped the “Quit Snitching” diss at him, he had already thrown two shots at me. He was saying s**t to people that we know mutually and then he comes out with a mixtape and mentions me by name–twice in a bad way. So I pulled his coat-tail because he went on KCOP Channel 13 snitching. They had the footage right there on the news. He was trying to talk his way out of a small weed charge and they started asking him questions that didn’t have anything to do with the weed. They were trying to implicate people and he told on those people. It was live on the news. To me, that was something that there is no excuse for. So I told him in that song to quit snitching. Have you two had any personal conversations to try and settle your differences?Crooked I: I saw him at Russell Simmons Hip-Hop Summit at USC. He came back there and I was by myself. He shook my hand and was like, “It’s all good. How are you doing?” So I thought that everything was cool. Then I saw him again at the West Coast Conference in 2005. I thought that maybe this dude had got passed all of the bulls**t. So I went to the conference with the hope that he was trying to unite the West Coast. I stood front and center of the stage with Spider Loc and he saw me there. Snoop was sitting next to The Game and Game even shouted me out. The Dogg Pound was also on the panel. Then they went out of the back door before we could even start talking. After they all said what they wanted to say, they all left! They promoted the concert and spoke about The Dogg Pound reunion. Snoop showed his new shoe The Doggy Biscuit. Then he went out the back door and nobody was able to talk to him about past problems or issues. None of that was covered, so to me, the conference was bulls**t. It wasn’t really meant for West Coast unity. It was just to promote a concert, a brand new shoe and to announce that Daz and Kurupt had settled their beef. Then he did an internet interview and went at me again. It really let me know that I was an important person to his life, because the interviewer only asked him one question about me. That question was if he would do a song with Crooked I? He went in for five minutes spewing negativity about me. That just let me know that I am on this dude’s mind. He said things about me that weren’t true and he tried to bait me to diss Bad Azz, RBX and other rappers. He could have just answered the question, “No. I am not doing a song with him.” Instead, he spews all of this craziness about me. I’m that much of a threat to the dude. I don’t even have a record out and he’s worried about me. He also had some slick words for artists like Bishop Lamont and Spider Loc. Then he dissed his own artists! He once said that Dr. Dre only deals with artists that are 100 percent ready to go and that his own artists are like at 30 percent! He’s saying that his artists are only 30 percent of a star. He sh*t on me, other West Coast artists and his own artists. And since then there has been not real conversation between you two?Crooked I: There has been no conversation between me and him since then. I reached out a few times because I knew a few people on his security team. I tried to reach to get a sit down, so we can talk man to man and to find out what is his real problem with me. He doesn’t have any real grounds to have a problem with me. He never got back so I feel that he doesn’t want to talk. I’m at the point now where if he wants to ever settle this, he has to come to me. He has to come to me and make a public statement against the statements that he made. If he doesn’t do that, then it’s see you when I see you.     

“A real person from the streets ain’t trying to run into the beefs. They try to settle it and if it’s the last thing they got to resort to, then they do what they got to do.” Ultimately, you are willing to settle all of this, if you can?Crooked I: I’m always willing to settle things. That’s what you are supposed to do. A real person from the streets ain’t trying to run into the beefs. They try to settle it and if it’s the last thing they got to resort to, then they do what they got to do. These fake people from the streets act like they are running to every little beef. You’ve got to run in with your eyes opened. These are the terms; Snoop Dogg has to say, “Crooked I, my bad, I was wrong. I shouldn’t have said that s**t about you. You never said anything about me. I don’t know what I was thinking – my bad.” He has to say those things to me first. Then [he] has to go out in public like he went out in public and spoke negatively about me, and retract those statements. If he doesn’t do those two things then we will never settle it, because I reached out to him already and I took the high road. So now if he doesn’t do that, it won’t be settled. I don’t have any rap beef with him, because nobody wants to see me and Snoop Dogg battle each other. Everybody knows that he can’t rap better than me. What do you think is causing all of this on his part about you, if you have to guess?Crooked I: Snoop Doggy Dogg, sat in a cipher with me in Long Beach at my studio. He grabbed my homeboy Big C-Style and said, “If you want to do something in this industry, you have to do something with Crooked I. Because Crooked I is the dopest rapper I have heard in a long time.” This is what Snoop said and that’s what made me and Big C-Style start riding with each other. So for a dude to turn around and say that I don’t belong on the court and that I am not better than this guy or that guy, now you sound funny Snoop Dogg! You are the same Snoop Dogg that was at the Sound Castle studio when we were recording the 19th Street Compilation who said, “Get out of the booth and let Crooked I go in there because you guys keep f**king up and he’s the only one that can go in there and do the song right.” This is the same Snoop Dogg that now says that he never liked me – so you’ve got a motive behind the lying. What is it? Are you afraid that I am going to take Long Beach? My whole thing is, Long Beach is big enough for all of the citizens that live in it. He doesn’t have to fear that. He’s already a legend with a legacy and nobody can say they put Long Beach on the map before him. So why are you so afraid of me being the new boss of the city?  That’s a question that you need to ask him. The only thing that I can see is causing this is fear. So what’s going on with you being on the Treacherous Records label for the past three years? Because we are still waiting for the album… Crooked I: When I signed to Treacherous, we didn’t have a bunch of contracts that were like 50 pages long. It was a three or four page agreement and it’s in layman’s terms that say, “If you do this, then we will do that.” I like that because in the tradition of Hollywood and all of these record companies, they have contracts that will tie you up in the long run. They are going to run circles around you with all of the words that they are using. Then your attorney might be a friend of the person who wrote the contract – so you still can get stuck. It was refreshing to walk in the building and sign a three page contract which stated everything that you needed to know and move forward. We were about to put out the album, Boss Music. We had the single, “Boom Boom Clap”, going for our street buzz and video lead single. That’s when Death Row hit us with the Cease and Desist letter. It took a year to fight that. So think of this; it took me six months to get an album that I am comfortable with. It took three months to put out a couple of street songs – so that’s nine months right there. Then you turn around and fight someone for 12 months and you’ve lost two years. After that, we used 2007 to rebuild. If you ask me, I think we did good rebuilding on the West Coast in 2007. When I go to the East Coast and the South, they knew all about Treacherous and what we are doing. It was a rebuilding process. We have no lawsuit to stop us, we are in an independent position, we are putting out this new record, we are doing things to get attention in the media – and here I am talking to right now! I think we are in a good position. You had an incredible run with 52 weeks of freestyles with your Hip-Hop Weekly series. Did you know that you were going to do 52 weeks  when you started?Crooked I: I didn’t. I thought that if I did this for like three months, then people would feel me. When I got to 10 weeks, I started to see that people loved it. On the flipside, there were naysayers saying that I couldn’t go to 15 and that I would run out of rhymes. Then I got to week 20 and even more naysayers came out. I love proving them wrong so I did it to week 40. Then I said, “Naw. I am going to 52. I’m going hard with this.” I went a whole year because I’ve never seen anybody give a whole year of free downloads to the fans with quality music. Quality rhymes every single time from 1 to 52. I didn’t fall off. Plus I took requests from people on Myspace to see what beats they wanted to hear me rock on. I did shout outs and got the fans involved with the series. So the series was more interactive with fans than any other thing in the history of Hip-Hop, so far. It was like a drive-thru request, “Can you rap over a 2Pac beat and shout me out? I’m over here in Germany.” Boom – next week on Wednesday, you hear yourself being shouted out and it’s on a 2Pac beat. How many times can people tell a rapper, “I want to hear you do this or that” and see it really happen? Now that the Hip-Hop Weekly’s are out of the way, you announced that you were going to drop a song with Akon. When is that coming?Crooked I: By the time you read this on, it should be available. The song is called “Dream Big.” The reason why that’s the title because there is a recession out here. Gas prices are high as f**k and food prices are up 17 percent. The nation is struggling right now. The working people are struggling to pay their bills. The people that are living like how I grew up, they don’t have a lot of hope. We’ve got to hold on to our dreams. We’ve got to dream big no matter what. No matter who says that we can’t make it, we can if we believe we can. That’s what kind of song it is. It’s not really about doing a certain type of dance or going in the club. It’s still a hot track – don’t get me wrong – but the message is something that I think we need to start pushing out there a little more. Dream Big – Crooked Since you are dropping the single, do you now have an idea when the album is finally going to drop?Crooked I: When it comes to these release dates, you have to make sure that the market is ready for you. We are an independent company, so we don’t know. We’ve got to push this single as hard as we can. We need all of our supporters online to get behind this and push this. When it gets to a certain level, then I can say that we need to drop this album. You have many supporters but you also have people that criticize you for not releasing your album yet. What do you have to say to them?Crooked I: I understand it but I also know that they don’t understand the business fully. They think that I am trying to get some gazillion dollar deal and that’s why I am holding out. Some of my fans are frustrated because they are telling people that Crooked I is the best rapper in the world and they have people telling them, “No he’s not, because he hasn’t sold as many records as this rapper.” So it makes it frustrating for them. It’s like trading baseball cards. They can’t put their money on Crooked because he hasn’t done some of the other things that it takes to be called one of the greats. So they get mad and go online and say, “Man! Just drop the f**king album already!” To that person this is what I say; What if I just drop the album to make you happy? And since it wasn’t set up correctly, it only sold 10 copies. Now you really can’t say that Crooked I is the best rapper in the world. Because the critics will say, “That dude didn’t even go wood.” There is a flip-side to everything and you’ve got to set things up properly. Plus, I am on the West Coast. A lot of the industry has to be re-introduced to people who want to make good music out here and not wanna-be thugs who want to f**k up the industry. For everybody who is saying that about me and the album, I think they should be happy because 53 weeks of free music is better than buying an album to me. And I say 53 weeks because some of those weeks I had a  18 ½, 51 ½ and a 52 ½. When somebody still complains after they received a whole year of free stuff, then I am in a good position because they are mad that they can’t pay for something.