Crooked I: Leader of the New School: Part 2

Allhiphop: Can you speak about your background a little bit, a lot of people know your name, but not too many know about your background? Crooked I: I was born in L.A. and I spent the majority of my life in Long Beach but I have lived other places. I lived in Okalahoma for a […]

Allhiphop: Can you speak about your background

a little bit, a lot of people know your name, but not too many know about your


Crooked I: I was born in L.A. and I spent the

majority of my life in Long Beach but I have lived other places. I lived in

Okalahoma for a couple of years, I lived on the East Coast in Philly for a couple

of years, Washington, my moms moved around a lot. That gave me a versatile style

as far as picking up the different kind of vibes from the different locations.

Basically, Just like every other Ghetto kid I was raised on welfare, in the

projects, section 8, out there acting bad at a young age.

Allhiphop: As far as you as a young cat, when

did you start getting into hip-hop?

CI: when I first heard Rappers Delight as a little

kid, it had already been out for a while but when I first heard it. I was like

this is what I want to do. I think I was in Kindergarten and I learned every

word to the song. I hit the talent show, I got up there and did everybody’s

part and I was like 5 years old. Everybody was like this little dude is crazy

‘cause I’m up there talking about busting them out with my super sperm,

I didn’t know what the hell I was talking about. I’m just spitting

it and then after that the energy from the crowd, I was like I’m going

to do this. I got serious about it, I went and brought notebooks, and I was

MCing. That really helped me ‘cause I dropped out of school at a young

age, but I would always be on the street hanging out with older cats because

wasn’t nobody at my age dropped out. Rap music kept me so knowledgeable

about things because back then we had the Public Enemy’s, Rakim’s,

KRS One’s and they was speaking on more than having a good time, they was

speaking on real political issues. They had me into books trying to figure things

out. When I got 17 I was tired of being in shootouts with dudes and the whole

street life, I wanted to get my GED and go to college and all that other stuff.

I walked in a GED place with a Junior High education ‘cause I dropped out

of Junior High. I was early because poverty was kicking my ass and I couldn’t

spend any time in the classroom, I had to get my paper to help moms pay the

bills. What good is me being in this classroom if I come home and there’s

no lights on. The Education that Hip Hop gave me and the push that it gave me,

because I wanted to have ultimate writing skills I read shakespeare and things

like that.

Allhiphop: Where were you in this period of you

being educated by rap?

CI: I was all over the place. I was in L.A. and

out here we had Ice- T he was doing his thing with “6 In The Morning”

WC was in “Low Profile” Eazy E was just breaking into it. When I went

out toward the Mid-West they was big on The

Geto Boys ‘cause Scarface and them was doing they thing out there and when

I was out East they had the forefathers. I used to hate traveling; I used to

hate leaving Cali. But, when I look back on it I’m happy I did ‘cause

it gave me a different perspective.

Allhiphop: Can you speak on paying your dues

as a MC, I first noticed you on the wake up show, you used to go back and forth,

I remember this one legendary thing when you and Chino XL was on there. I thought

that was

incredible considering Chino is so ill as a battle MC.

CI: I was so hungry out there and I wanted to

get my name to spread quick, I didn’t really want to waste no time, now

was the time to hit the streets and make my name spread. The Wake Up Show extended

a hand like come up and holla. When I went up there I smashed on some MC’s,

I didn’t know who they was. Sway and Tech was like you got to come back.

I developed a relationship with them where we was just hanging out, not just

on the show we could just go kick it with each other. Chino came up and they

was like look we got a vote over here on who we would like to see go back and

forth with each other for an opportunity on BET and the listeners voted you

and Chino. I never been an underdog to myself, but I think I was the underdog

coming into that. I paid a lot of dues ‘cause I used rap as a hustle at

first before I got the deal. I used to go down south and write for people with

independent labels, go up north and hit up a few independent labels and it was

making me good money. I was leaving town and coming back like I was hitting

licks. I come back with money like the homeboys on the block slinging D and

I’m doing this and it’s legal they can’t touch me.

Allhiphop: What kind of rapper do you consider


CI: I just consider myself a ghetto MC. Gangsta

rap is a term but to me there’s only two types of rappers, Dope and whack.

I’m not going to label you a gangsta rapper because of your lyrical content

because to me listen to "9MM" by Kros or Kool G Rap “Road to

Riches.” Those are gangsta. Cats been rapping about the streets and the

ghetto, it’s just that I think that term is kind of negative because it

puts all these so called people into one group and most of the time they look

down on them.

Allhiphop: How do you feel about that balance

you have to play out right now being that rap so commercialized? How do you

feel as far as balancing that and the commercial aspects of having to sell?

CI: Having to sell is some real sh*t. Your record

company is not going to get behind you if your whole idea is to kill people

on microphone. The good thing about me is that I can honestly say that I am

still a consumer. I don’t think a strip club song may seem commercial to

a cat but when you in a strip club you want to hear that, ‘cause that’s

what’s going to make her move it. I’m a well-rounded consumer I buy

anything from M.O.P to E-40 so I make music according to my mood.

Allhiphop: If you could name one rapper or MC

that’s your favorite, which one would you say was most influential on you?

CI: Back in day, Rakim.

Allhiphop: Why?

CI: Because he was saying stuff at a time that

wasn’t being said. He was ghetto with it, that’s what really attracted

me because he was rapping about being a stick up kid but at the same time he

had science. Rakim, Big Daddy Kane, Kool G. Rap. Ice Cube is hard. I always

go back and forth, but those are the biggest influences on me.