Crooked I: Leader of the New School
It’s often been clichéd that a rolling
stone gathers no moss, but the same principle hardly pertains to hip-hop rhyme
styles. Tha Row’s (Death Row) hungry, battle-tested upstart Crooked I has
laid his hat in many cities, and its apparent after hearing him spit, that he
has adopted techniques from a variety of spots. Although he was transplanted
to several cities like Las Vegas, Portland and Philadelphia, the Los Angeles-born,
Long Beach-bred emcee promises a fresh era for the West Coast.
While decidedly gangsta, Crooked honed his chops
side-by-side with the likes of Daz and Chino XL through venues like the legendary
“Wake Up Show.” Now, with Suge Knight backing him and Tha Row beside
him, the underground legend surfaces to escort the Westside into a brave, new
renaissance – by all means necessary. Not one to restrain his tongue, he airs
is out about Snoop, Suge, Murder Inc and his trek to legend status.
Allhiphop: How did you first hook up with Death
Crooked I: Being in Long Beach. Long Beach is
not that big as far as the Hip Hop community, everybody knows everybody. So
we was doing our little thing on the East Side of Long Beach and I ran into
Snoop, Daz and all them when they were just trying to blow it up. To make a
long story short, one day Daz and my homeboy Big C-Style who started the Dogg
Pound knocked on my door and said "yo, we going to do a label called Dogg
Pound Records we’ll make you 20% owner and we’ll make you the first
act". I was like who’s going to distribute it, he said "Death
Row." I was like "okay." So that’s how it all happened.
Allhiphop: Was that after Dre, Snoop and them
CI: Yeah that was after they left.
Allhiphop: So when Daz left it went straight
CI: Yeah, Daz bounced out. There’s no hard
feelings homie, but I’m about to take this label to the next level if possible.
Allhiphop: Were you ever intimidated with hooking
up with Suge considering the rumors or the talk?
CI: I wanted to figure out what it was about.
I would here crazy things like everybody else. I grew up in the ghetto, kind
of f*cked up to be honest and if I can survive that then the industry should
be a walk in the park. Of course the industry is getting a little rougher but
it’s not going to show me nothing I haven’t already seen. I’m
like let’s do this and get this paper so when I met him it was all good.
Allhiphop: Did you have to impress Suge by rhyming,
there’s a lot of talk about people having to rhyme for not just Suge just
to impress him.
CI: My name was getting out there and everybody
that visited him was like you have to meet this dude. When I went up there and
met him, he was like "man."
Allhiphop: You must have a lot of faith in the
label considering you’ve been waiting for a while to come out with your
CI: Yeah, I told him like this; as long as I’m
straight financially, I can wait. What I’m going to do while waiting is
take the time out to try to perfect my craft even more, and when you touch down
we make history. He was like when I get out I’m doing you first. He stuck
to his word.
Allhiphop: The Feds seem to be messing with a
lot of people these days, ironically Irv and J Prince, but specifically Death
Row. Has that affected anybody over there?
CI: You know they raided the office and that
was ridiculous, 175 police on the corner of a Beverly Hills building and they
went up there and tore that motherf*cker up too. I’m hearing they got special
task force, they trying to organize to investigate independent black owned labels.
They going to try to shut it down ‘cause it’s a lot of millionaires
in the game and it’s a lot of millionaires that they don’t want to
be millionaires. It’s sad that you got these people in high places worrying
about what we doing when it’s a lot of other problems in the country they
could be trying to fix. It’s all good ‘cause to me it’s just
like being on the block walking to the liquor store and two cops harassing you
because you’re black. So it’s just on a bigger scale, now you got
money and you’re doing something legal and they’re still going to
harass you to let you know that you’re still a n#####.
Allhiphop: What happened at the BET Awards? In
your eyes what happened ‘cause I talked to Snoop and he had his view. I
wanted to get your view on what happened.
CI: I’m going to tell you just how it went.
We arrived at the awards, they wouldn’t allow us all in at once. They told
Suge "look Snoop is down here is there going to be any problems?"
I was standing right there and he said “I don’t know him, I’m
here to enjoy the show” so they let him in, but they wouldn’t let
none of us in. He went down there and sat down in there for 20 to 30 minutes
by himself and nobody said nothing to him. Then they was like; I guess it’s
going to be cool ‘cause he been in there for like 30 minutes and he aint
said nothing and nobody said nothing to him so we could let the other guys in."
When they let us in we were looking for Suge. When we found him we started walking
toward him. To tell you the truth I didn’t even know Snoop was sitting
that close to Suge. Nobody that was walking toward Suge even knew that Snoop
was over there. We’re walking to him like, where we going to post up at?
All of a sudden we hear “F*ck Death Row, What!!" We turn around and
it’s Snoop. Snoop thought we was coming down there to start some sh*t with
him. He didn’t even know he had just been let in and we were just trying
to go down there with Suge. He thought we was coming down there to smash him
so he jumped up quick trying to be on the defensive. Then when I was looking
at him over there Steve Harvey came over and asked if there was going to be
a problem and Suge told him "no." Suge sat back down, then we sat
down and they went by the exit and start talking more sh*t, disrupting a show
that’s broadcasting live in New York. So we tried to calm the sh*t down
before the commercial break because we already talked to Steve. He was like
"after this commercial break we on live and we don’t want to show
them no drama." Suge said, “I respect that." Steve and Suge shook
hands and Suge sat down and they over there still talking sh*t, by the exit.
We up here trying to hold an award ceremony for successful black entertainers
and you over there gang bangin’ by the exit. Leave that on the street.
I was real surprised at that ‘cause I live in Long Beach. When I got back
to Long Beach word was that Snoop checked Death Row, that’s what he spreading
around. I’m saying this to myself, yeah he checked us from the exit behind
12 bodyguards and off duty policemen. Dude be a man, go over there and holla
at who ever you got to holla at about your problem, squash it and move on. Right
now, I’m questioning your business skills ‘cause you telling the whole
world you haven’t been paid for Deep Cover. I would have been paid for
Deep Cover, no matter what label I was on. So I’m questioning the people
who are advising you that mislead youl You need to sit down and holla at what
ever you got to holla about and move on. He don’t even know that that thing
slows up other people on the West Coast. It’s a lot of independent labels
that would love to throw shows and invite Crooked down, but they don’t
know if Dogg House is going to be trippin’.
Allhiphop: Have you replied lyrically ‘cause
you kind of hard on the battle rhyme? We would like to hear that.
CI: I did I replied lyrically. I got a song on
my album called “The Slap Back” and we going to knock a pimp’s
drink down out of his pimp cup and we’re not going to get timberland up
Allhiphop: Snoop hinted at a little peace settlement
in the new issue of the Source, do you think that’s in the future if everybody
can come to those terms?
CI: I’m a real dude. My opinion may differ
from people that I’m affiliated with. Me, I rather see peace than war.
I understand that there’s always a time for war, and if it’s a war
it’s a war and your going to soldier up. But
I would rather see peace than war. I’m trying to get paper and live.
Allhiphop: Can you talk about working with Murder
CI: That was a lovely situation. Irv always call
me anytime he has an empty space for 16. That’s a rare find ‘cause
at the time, they moving through the game like giants and they like Crooked
on a roll, lets do business with them.
I got much love for that dude because he put me on some things that are real
commercial and helped our name get out there even more.
Allhiphop: Can you talk about the album and what
people can expect?
CI: People can expect a full range of things.
We got things for everybody, we got street sh*t, we got sh*t you can bang while
you rollin’, I know the club scene is poppin’ right now but n#####
still need something to roll to. The
difference between me and a lot of the cats out now on my coast isskill level
for one and I’m slightly more political than the average on some songs.
I want the consumer to know that I give a damn about the ghetto. Out here in
L.A. they trying to classify gang bangers as domestic terrorists. So once they
do that, you know a terrorist has no rights so they going to be able to roll
up on a gang banger and put him in jail and he has no right to a lawyer.
Allhiphop: Mitchy Slick said a similar thing;
him and Jayo Felony have had a little thing going on. He said they’re classifying
people as gang members even if you’re just walking with a gang member in
the street that automatically makes you one too.
CI: If I’m standing on the corner and I
get stopped by four dudes on a block that I know and I’m conversating with
them and the police roll up, if there is 2 felony’s within that five person
group, we’re a gang. I might not even know those dudes, they might have
just heard some sh*t I did on the radio and wanted to give me some props or
something. I’m a gang member and now they got the right for searching me,
right to detain me, it’s just crazy.
These are issue that need to be spoke on in the rap community because we don’t
need the kids out there bangin’ to think it’s all about doing the