Eldorado Red: Black Gangster

A s more and more rappers claim they’re in it to “get money,” how many really understand the origins of Hip-Hop? While Eldorado Red isn’t bashful in his pursuits to prosperity, this Harlem street dude began his career around Jazzy Jay and Afrika Bambaataa. Equally unique, the Uptown spitter is backed by a producer widely […]

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s more and more rappers claim they’re in it to “get money,” how many really understand the origins of Hip-Hop? While Eldorado Red isn’t bashful in his pursuits to prosperity, this Harlem street dude began his career around Jazzy Jay and Afrika Bambaataa. Equally unique, the Uptown spitter is backed by a producer widely revered for his work on the West, Rick Rock. The producer cosigned Red in saying, “He’s versatile, he can do a lot of things. Eldorado Red is a star.”

Though his star-status may be a work in progress, Eldorado Red’s EP East Side Ryda Volume 1 is catching on with some. Still, the man who’s name derives from a Donald Goines novel currently searches for a bigger deal than his current Liquor Barrel/SMC/Fontana backer. As his Rock-produced single, “Da Champ is Here” spreads, Eldorado’s sense of market worth is increasing every minute. The lyrical commodity matures as Red compares the rap game to his street past, and gives convincing defense to the claims that New Yorkers can’t bang. Another rapper from Harlem is reppin’ that “new money,” but Eldorado Red may have old soul.

AllHipHop.com: Eldorado Red, comes from a Donald Goines novel. Is that something you’re pulling from, or what?

Eldorado Red: Yeah, that’s what I’m pullin’ from. Somebody slipped me the book when I was in jail. I never really knew who Donald Goines was or none of that, but when somebody slipped the book, I just liked the name. My nickname already was “Red” on the streets. That’s why my man slipped me the book on some, “Yo, you should check this out.” The title just hit me off the top. After I read that book, I read Black Gangster and a couple more of [Goines’] books. I’m originally from Harlem. All we know is the black gangsters. That’s where they come from – Nicki Barnes, Bumpy Johnson, etc. etc. Instead of taking of an Italian mob name like a lot of rap dudes did in the past, I wanted to go with a black gangster name.

AllHipHop.com: Are there other things in the book that you identified with or seemed to parallel?

Eldorado Red: Yeah, of course. The fact that in a book, his son wanted to come up and be a boss, I didn’t agree with that. I didn’t like the way his son got down. As far as me bein’ the young gun on the roster, tryin’ to come, I definitely related. That’s been my whole s**t. I always been the youngest in my crew, goin’ the hardest, with the most ambition. I liked the dude Eldorado Red ‘cause he was a boss and he real wise, and he handled his s**t in a certain way. That’s how I’m tryin’ to do my same s**t – street s**t and music s**t. There’s a time for and a place for everything.

AllHipHop.com: Do you call New York or Alabama home?

Eldorado Red: New York. Throughout my trials in life… like, I met Rick Rock through a mutual friend. I came home from jail, and I’m nothing. I didn’t even have nothin’ – no hope for the rap s**t. I went out there with Rick. He had just finished doing “Change the Game” for Jay-Z. So just me knowin’ him personally, and watchin’ him go higher and higher, it gave me motivation while I was in jail. Next thing you know, I was out in Cali, grindin’. He had his situation with Virgin, and he put me on. I’m on “What is it” on The Federation album. From there, I got my first industry check. I seen that I could lay off the street s**t for a while and get some of this rap money. I just been beastin’ up.

AllHipHop.com: It’s interesting that you mention “Change the Game.” Your EP has a record that almost feels like a remix to that track…

Eldorado Red: Yeah, my first single, “El Dog.” That’s what I wanted; that’s what it does. I wanted the world to say, “Here’s a dude with a universal sound and a universal producer.” I got a joint on there too called “Cold Hand Tailz” where I took Too Short’s “Freaky Tales” and did it over, and did it my way. I’m just tryin’ to make that universal sound out. Right now, in Hip-Hop, we at time where every city’s comin’ up. It ain’t just ‘bout New York no more. You gotta move with the masses. You gotta sell to the masses.

AllHipHop.com: You make it sound like you could be just out for checks. But correct me if I’m wrong, you recorded work in Jazzy Jay’s studio in the early ‘90s. That’s true Hip-Hop, right there…

Eldorado Red: Yeah, big shout out to Jazzy Jay. He’s a real good dude. I was gonna continue to work with him too, but one of his studios in the Bronx like bumped up. I come from this culture, man. I’m not no random dude. I watched my uncles as break-dancers, then turn to DJs – I got two twin uncles that’s legendary in Harlem. They in Wild Style; they battled Rocksteady. Through them, I met Afrika Bambaataa and Jazzy Jay and other people. I’m from this culture. I been a part of this s**t for a while.

AllHipHop.com: On “The Champ is Here” you said, “I’m tired of writing in this notebook, ‘cause I ain’t making a dime / Robbin’ cats outside of the check-cashing line.” Is that a written-verse from different times?

Eldorado Red: Nah. That was a state of mind after I got out. This s**t is such a grind, such a hustle. When you from the streets, you’re used to gettin’ money one way. But in your mind, you wanna straighten up. You know you got talent, but you seein’ other n***as with talent gettin’ money, you wanna pursue it. You can’t do it. You can’t go real hard in the streets and go real hard in the music, ‘cause it won’t work. When I wrote “The Champ is Here,” The Federation had just gotten they deal with Virgin. Everybody in the group had money. I had a little money from doin’ features and s**t, but I was frustrated. I knew I was gonna big once I got my shot, but I was still po’. I’m runnin’ around to these studios, just being poor. Everything you hear in the track is real. That’s why it’s so passionate.

AllHipHop.com: I gotta play devil’s advocate then. If it’s real, you were at The Source Awards givin’ it to cats?

Eldorado Red: Nah, nah, nah. In The Source Awards, I was lettin’ n***as know, when I was out there, that’s how I was feelin’. We wasn’t out there, wylin’, smackin’ n***as up. In the song, I said, “All at The Source Awards, ready to smack n***as.” That’s how we was walkin’ through. I went down there with about 50 dudes, 50 goons – everybody had on Eldorado Red shirts. That’s just how I was feelin’ at the time. “I don’t give a f**k if you five times Platinum, I’m that new hungry n***a, I’m that new fresh money.” That’s how I was feelin’, so I put it in the rhyme.

AllHipHop.com: Harlem has a lot of collaborative unity. It’s not always peace, but you see a lot of support on projects. What would you say is your role in the Harlem rap community? What’s your interactions like with the people listeners probably follow?

Eldorado Red: I f**k with everybody! I f**k with Jim Jones; I f**k with Purple City. I f**k with upcoming dudes, and dudes that that’s already on. At the end of the day, you got street n***as that’s tryin’ to be artists. That’s what I am. My ties is already well known.

AllHipHop.com: You spent a lot time in California. A lot of artists out there are critical of New York rappers repping gangs on albums, covers, etc. As somebody who rhymes about the color of your rag, how do you react to that?

Eldorado Red: N***as know what it is with me. I don’t wanna say too much, because I’m already under investigation. But if you wanna know if a Eldorado Red is a real n***a as far as this Blood s**t go, check out my video on Bloods that I shot in Compton, with real G’s. I’m not one of these rap n***as that’s runnin’ around on TV with a red flag on or a red bandana…I really f**k with n***as, for real! Fifty percent of the n***as in New York that’s claimin’ a West Coast set, and you don’t know nobody on the West, or they ain’t put you on, n***as ain’t gettin’ the right clearance. Me, I’m good. When I chill in Cali like I chill in New York. At the end of the day, it’s about being a real n***a.

AllHipHop.com: The EP’s been out a second. What’s your reaction so far?

Eldorado Red: The album’s a bangin’ ass album. Rick Rock produced it from front to back, so you know the quality is good. I got Rob “Reef” Teflow, who produced “What Up Gangsta?” for 50 Cent, he got the street single which is “Soldier to the End” and Rick Rock got the second single which is called “Hustler’s Life.” The album is crazy, but the promotion ain’t there. That’s what happens when you f**kin’ with the small, independent labels. I could see if I turned in a wack album, that promotion would be wack. But the album is bangin’. Everybody that got it already feels that it’s a street classic. We movin’, we pushin’. The only reason I did that album was because the streets wanted somethin’ from me so bad from doin’ mixtapes.

AllHipHop.com: So you’re trying to get the majors to holler?

Eldorado Red: Oh, yeah. Of course. We got three or four labels. I just left a label meeting, right now. I’m not gonna put it on the table. I’m not gonna say no names til’ it’s solid. I’m trying to get this bidding war poppin’. I’m tryin’ to get what I want. I’m tryin’ to get the cake, man.