Crooked I Speaks On Hip Hop's Suge ...     

Crooked I
Posted by Dave
Rap News Network
7/7/2006 10:04:54 AM
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Crooked I Speaks On Hip Hop's Suge Knight & More
Former Death Row recording artist speaks on his experiences dealing with the rap mogul and dealing with gang life.
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When some people think of Death Row Records, what comes to mind is one of the most "dangerous" record labels in music history. During the 90's Death Row Records was said to have been worth over $300 Million Dollars. The label founded by Suge Knight and Dr. Dre was the home of rap legends, which included Dr. Dre, Tupac Shakur, Snoop Dogg, M.C. Hammer, and a host of others. Well known for it's high caliber talent roster, Death Row was just as popular for it's unorthodox business dealings courtesy of Suge Knight and of course the infamous "East Coast-West Coast Beef" courtesy of Cointelpro. In 2001, after Suge's release from the Big House he announced that he renamed the label "Tha Row" and introduced the new leading artist, Crooked I. A couple of years ago hip hop fans predicted that the two rap "messiahs" for the West Coast would be The Game and Crooked I. We took it to the West Coast to politic with Crooked I who is not only a rapper but also CEO of his own label Dynasty Entertainment, as well as producer of the upcoming DVD Life After Death Row. Walk with us....

Kalonji: I understand that you have a little bit of Movement history behind you?

Crooked I: I was raised with knowledge of self. As a youngin' my mom was semi-involved with The Black Panther Movement, she wasn't real deep with it, but she was definitely attending different meetings. She would bring literature home when I was like 5 or 6 years old. It started at an early age for me. Then growing up my mentors were either political type cats or gang members. It kind of was soaked into my system to be pro-black, at a young age I knew what Afro-centricity was.

Kalonji: You mentioned some of your mentors being gang members, were you ever involved in bangin'?

Crooked I: The gangbanger scene is a culture in itself. My older brother, cousins, uncles, they were all CRIPS. When I was a youngster, like 11 years old, they gave me a blue rag for my birthday. It wasn't like I wanted to be in a gang, but it was like we didn't have nothing. We grew up on welfare, food stamps, and all that kind of shit. At the time, it was like whatever. I was just a young dude; I couldn't be active out there. So, I can't say that I was ever really a real banger on that level because once I got older around 15 or 16, I started my own clique. We were more about hustling and getting our money. I really wasn't active. My older brother was an active gang member he repped it til he was OG. There have been times when some rival gangs came through and wanted to get at my brother, uncles and cousins and I had to get down with them. Even though I wasn't really reppin'. As I got older, they kind of didn't want me down with it, because they saw I had vision to do other shit. They were like, "you straight, you ain't gotta ride with us", but I was always down to ride with them because it was more of a family thing to me. I've been in situations where we had bang outs, with enemies and rivals and all kinds of shit like that. But to me man, I always looked at it like niggas need to unite and do it on that level. Even on a hustlers level, you have to deal with Black men of all kinds, all backgrounds, and all neighborhoods. When you start chasing that paper, you're gonna see that there is a Boss, from every hood that you got to sit down with. There was a part of my life when I was out there trying to find a rep, but it didn't last long.

Kalonji: Seeing I'm from the East Coast where the phenomenon ain't that big, why do you think the "gang culture" as you put it exists in LA so heavy and so hard?

Crooked I: It's some nice lookin' spots in LA and you could be fooled by the way things look. We got some area that look kind of suburban, where it is nothing but killer gang bangers up in there, off in the little cuts and alley ways. You got some ghettos looking real bad. Back in the day the white folks used to come into LA and they had their own gangs, committing acts of violence, o
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