Big Tray Deee Returns After 10 Years
After serving 10 years in prison, the General is back on the streets and Tha Eastsidaz have been reformed!
Big Tray Deee sat down with DubCNN to give an exclusive in-depth interview where the Long Beach legend opens up about fixing his broken relationship with his group-mates, to his conversion to Islam and what’s next for Tha Eastsidaz and himself.
Interview was done in July 2014.
Questions Asked By: Tim Sanchez for [ DubCNN ]
DubCNN: You were released from prison just a few months ago. What’s been going on with you since you’ve been out?
I’ve been out for than 90 days, so the only thing that’s been going on is reformulating Tha Eastsidaz and promoting the mixtapes that I made while I was behind the wall. I’ve also been re-establishing relationships with producers and different people in the industry. A lot changes in hip-hop every 2 to 3 years, so you can imagine the changes that I’ve had to get used to being away for the past 10 years.
DubCNN: Has there been a type of culture shock in regards to the changes you’ve seen?
I was aware of the direction that music was going while I was in prison but I didn’t follow it. My take on hip-hop is based on my own lane in it. I don’t really focus on what’s going on with the emo-rappers or the over-the-top commercial ones. I’m not hating on them or anything like that, it’s just not a realm of my interest. Motherfuckers that kick that street shit hard and rugged and are really about that life, those are the ones that attract my attention.
Born In The Bronx: A Visual Record of the Early Days of Hip Hop
A West Village art gallery called Gavin Brown’s Enterprise is playing host to a new exhibit going on through July 26th called “Born in the Bronx,” tracing the early history of hip hop. Based on the book of the same by author and curator Johan Kugelberg (who runs Boo-Hooray, a gallery/publishing house), the exhibit featured photos by Joe Conzo and original flyers from the late ’70s and early ’80s designed by Buddy Esquire (which have the DIY feel of early punk flyers from the same time period) along with a collection of memorabilia from DJ/rapper/Zulu Nation head Afrika Bambaataa, along with a sale of some of Bam’s own albums going on in the middle of everything. If that wasn’t enough, on the opening night this evening, old school crew the Cold Crush Brothers were there, spinning tunes, playing great ’70s funk/R&B/soul music which was the vital fuel of hip hop when it started out.
The gallery will be hosting other DJ sets throughout the run of the exhibit so make sure to make multiple trips there to see it- it’s worth it and you’ll get to check out an important piece of American musical and cultural history.
Straight Outta Compton Puts NWA on the Silver Screen
Original N.W.A member Ice Cube confirmed via Twitter that a biopic about the famous rap group from the late ’80s titled Straight Outta Compton is happening, but not just that—he revealed the release date and part of the cast!
“Finally found the cast for the NWA movie. Me, Gary Gray, Dre w/ Cube, Eazy & Dre#StraightOuttaCompton coming 8/14/15,” the rapper tweeted. The studio has assembled its leading threesome to tackle the roles of Ice Cube, Dr. Dre and the late Eazy-E. The three parties with approval—Cube, Dre and Eazy-E’s widow Tomica Wright—have reportedly signed off on the actors who will play the core members of the seminal rap group.
So who’s been tapped for the roles?!
Have you seen the first still from Fifty Shades of Grey?!
Cube will be played by his son, O’Shea Jackson, Jr., Marcus Callender will star as Dre, and Eazy will be played by Jason Mitchell.
Callender has appeared on TV shows like Elementary and Blue Bloods, Mitchell has scored minor roles in movies including Contraband, Broken City and Dragon Eyes. Meanwhile, Jackson does not have any previous work in film, but he can surely get some tips and tricks from his rapper-turned-actor father.
Casting is clearly not complete yet, with Cube tweeting, “Still looking for our MC Ren and DJ Yella. #straightouttacompton coming 8/14/15.”
“I’m totally involved, I’m engulfed in it,” Ice Cube recently told MTV News, saying that the film will be shot in Compton. “This is our legacy, you can’t play with this, there’s no cutting corners. I’m fully engulfed in that movie, very anal about it. It gotta be right.”
According to Universal, the F. Gary Gray-helmed film “tells the astonishing story of how these youngsters revolutionized music and pop culture forever the moment they told the world the truth about life in the hood and ignited a cultural war.”
Photos courtesy of Timothy White
Under the Influence: Michael Miller’s L.A. Hip-Hop Photography
Thumb through a stack of major Los Angeles hip-hop albums from the late 1980s through mid-1990s and you might notice one name credited on all of them: Michael Miller. During the West Coast’s hip-hop scene’s ascension into global fame, the photographer ended up being the go-to lensman for countless album covers and publicity stills. Miller’s output is staggering, and would be hard to believe if not for his recent, self-published book documenting all of it: “West Coast Hip-Hop: A History In Pictures.”
In it, Miller compiles literal portraits of California hip-hop during one of its most vibrant eras. That includes the giants of the scene such as Tupac, Cypress Hill and Snoop Dogg but also lesser-known artists such as the Whooliganz, Funkdoobiest and a group originally called the Atban Klann (better known by their later name: Black Eyed Peas).
Michael Miller | Photo by Oliver Wang.
Article by Oliver Wang (March 11, 2013)
Miller grew up on the Westside, attending Santa Monica public schools while living in Malibu, back when he says it was still “really country.” His teen years were impeccably timed; not only was he classmates with Rob Lowe and Sean Penn, but as an avid skater and surfer, Miller ended up befriending members of the Dogtown skating crew, the Z-Boys, especially Tony Alva.
Miller graduated from UCLA in the mid 1980s and decamped for Europe, first to compete in downhill skiing before ending up in Paris, where he briefly made ends meet by painting houses. His entry into photographer was a bit of a fluke, he says. He and a friend, “were after one thing and it [was] to date models and it’s where my photography first started.” Whatever his original motives, Miller quickly proved gifted for the craft and within months, was traveling across Europe to shoot campaigns for Cacharel and other major fashion houses.
When he returned home to L.A., his fashion work caught the eye of record labels such as EMI and by the late 1980s, he was shooting artists as varied as girl rockers The Go-Go’s and Heart, to jazz players such as Stan Getz and Herb Alpert. Miller, however, grew up a hip-hop fan, listening to 1580 AM, KDAY, the first 24 hour hip-hop station in the country. As a teen, he used to spin late-night shows on KBOO, literally an underground radio station housed in a Malibu basement. In 1989, he snapped his first rap-related cover, for the original N.W.A. group member, Arabian Prince and his debut solo album. That began Miller’s long history of shooting the key figures on the West Coast rap scene, thoroughly compiled in "West Coast Hip-Hop" and the subject of his in-progress documentary about the influence of this region’s hip-hop culture on the rest of the world.
"West Coast Hip-Hop" includes extensive background testimonials to almost all the photos, providing crucial personal and historical context. During the course of our interview, we asked him to expand on the backstories to a few of his most iconic images and here’s what he shared.
Miller first met Coolio through rapper WC and Warner Bros. hired him to shoot the cover for Coolio’s debut album. LP cover for Coolio’s “It Takes a Thief” (Warner Bros., 1994) | Original photo by Michael Miller.
Nas Rates His Top Ten from the Golden Era
This week’s Rolling Stone magazine (May 22 edition) some recording artists were asked to list their favourite tracks according to certain topics. Nas, one of the artists featured, revealed his favourites from hip-hop’s Golden Age, during the 1980s.
“Hip Hop has had so many golden ages, but I picked the Eighties,” said the Queens, New York legend. “That’s when it turned from rock-sounding, disco-sounding s**t to the essence of rap.”
The majority of the songs were released in 1988 - a quintessential year in the history of the culture.
Top Ten from the Golden Era
1. Public Enemy – “Rebel Without a Pause” (1988)
2. Eric B. & Rakim – “My Melody” (1987)
3. Run-DMC – “My Adidas” (1986)
4. EPMD – “It’s My Thing” (1988)
5. Doug E. Fresh & Slick Rick – “The Show” (1985)
6. Big Daddy Kane – “Ain’t No Half -Steppin’” (1988)
7. De La Soul – “Plug Tunin’” (1988)
8. Slick Rick – “Hey Young World” (1988)
9. Dana Dane – “Nightmares” (1987)
10. Queen Latifah feat. Monie Love – “Ladies First” (1989)
THREE KINGS: Dr. Dre, Eminem & Jimmy Iovine
They smashed the game with Beats By Dre headphones. Now it’s time to see if they can do it again with Beats Music.
Interview By: Vanessa Satten
Photos By: Tom Medvedich
THE THOM THOM CLUB is the perfect place for a photo shoot with music powerhouses Dr. Dre, Jimmy Iovine and Eminem. The hidden building sitting off a main drag in Santa Monica is owned by Universal Music Group and regularly serves as both a photo and recording studio for artists under the Interscope subsidiary. On this sunny day in late January, Em,Jimmy and Dre have joined forces to pose for their fi rst magazine cover together, ever. Over the past decade-plus the three music vets have garnered an immense amount of success with each other. Jimmy, the chairman of Universal Music Group’s Interscope Geffen A&M Records, linked with hip-hop superstar producer Dr. Dre over 20 years ago, and the two have been pushing the music industry forward ever since. Dre houses his label Aftermath Entertainment under Interscope, so all of Dre’s artists are also a part of the Interscope roster. This includes rap titan Eminem, who’s been signed to Dre’s label since 1998 and has sold 96 million records as an Aftermath/Interscope artist. And his label Shady Records sits under the Interscope umbrella.
Six years ago Dre and Jimmy, both former studio engineers, launched a line of headphones called Beats By Dre. The brand immediately took off , and over the past six years the headphones have become an integral part of hip-hop and music culture. This year parent company Beats Electronics—which was co-founded by Dre and Jimmy, who is the current acting CEO— began their newest endeavor, Beats Music, a music streaming service that focuses on the curation of playlists created by the most credible names per music genre. Beats Music is a huge step for Beats Electronics, which kicked off the service with a commercial spot made by Eminem and featured his hit single “Berzerk.” Although Em isn’t a co-founder of Beats, he regularly lends his megastar support to Dre, Jimmy and many Beats Electronics endeavors. XXL spoke with the hip-hop heavyweights about their continuing domination.
For Full Interview [READ HERE]
Jay Z Covers New York Magazine’s “Annual Yesteryear Issue”
Young Jay Z graces the cover of New York Magazine's “Annual Yesteryear Issue,” one of eight covers featured for NY Mag's music issue with other artists, Notorious B.I.G., Bob Dylan, and Frank Sinatra used tohighlight "100 Years of Pop Music in New York."
The photo taken of Jay is from 1997, who was around 29 years old at that time. He’s wearing a Cincinnati Reds hat to match his red t-shirt, with a leather jacket pulled over it.
In-depth essay with Jody Rosen on the topic [CLICK HERE]
Rick Rubin on Meeting Russell Simmons, Licensed to Ill, and ‘99 Problems’
As told to Jennifer Vineyard
It started with my own punk-rock band. I recorded a single and an EP. I was friends with Ed Bahlman, who ran 99 Records, and he put out like ESG, Bush Tetras, Glenn Branca, Liquid Liquid—just kind of cool, more underground records. He walked me through the process of putting out my own records independently. As my love of hip-hop grew, I felt like it would be fun to make a hip-hop record. At that time, there were no hip-hop albums, only 12-inch singles, and the 12-inch singles that were coming out weren’t really reflecting what the hip-hop scene was like. The hip-hop records that were coming out were slick, and were basically like R&B records, just with people rapping on them. The club I was going to in those days, Negril on Second Avenue, one night a week they had a hip-hop night put on by Ruza Blue of Kool Lady Blue Productions, then she moved to the Roxy. I went religiously every week. The music there was more rooted in breakbeats, and scratching, and it just had a different energy. The idea of the DJ as a musician, that wasn’t something we had really seen before. The one-man band who manipulated records to make new music, either combining sounds or making new sounds, or using a tiny little part of a song over and over and over again, to create a whole new song—it was a very exciting thing to hear. I just remember really liking it and thinking it was really important. Even the name Def Jam—the reason the D and the J are so big in the logo was that I felt that the DJ was a very important aspect of this music. The inception of Def Jam was really more to me about bringing the DJ to the forefront and the fact that it’s the DJ and the MC together that makes hip-hop. It’s not just a guy rapping over an R&B track. That’s not hip-hop culture.
A$AP Ferg - Trap’d Arti$t
PAINTING EPHEMERAL VIEWS OF AN UPBRINGING GLISTENED WITH THE STARS OF HARLEM, NEW YORK WHO FILTERED IN AND OUT OF HIS FATHER’S STORE, FOR DAROLD FERGUSON, JR. A.K.A. A$AP FERG, WHO USES ABSTRACT CREATIVITY TO BOTH PAINT AND DESIGN, RAPPING IS AN AGGRESSIVE FORM OF MUCH THE SAME EXPRESSION.
One part of the hip-hop creative, Always Strive And Prosper (A$AP) Mob, which features the notable A$AP Rocky and a slew of rappers, producers, creators and designers, Ferguson slots in nicely to his high school group as they conquer their slice of hip-hop’s history. Before their coming together Ferguson was known as a hustler, a so-called trap lord establishing a fashion label bequeathed to him by his late father, a shirt designer for many of hip-hop’s illustrious, P. Diddy and Bad Boy, Heavy D and Bell Biv Devoe. Ferguson declares, that if not for being a recording artist he would have been known as A$AP Ferg, a part of hip-hop one way or another.
Highlighting how hard he goes in the paint, Ferguson is about expressing himself through various art and finds himself following the style wars of fashion luminaries Alexander Wang, Jeremy Scott to most recently clothes shopping in the company of Ralph Lauren, to even painting the walls of his home with Ralph Lauren suede effect. But the art for which he is most admired is in his debut LP, Trap Lord released last August featuring Bone Thugs-N-Harmony, Onyx and B-Real of Cypress Hill. Trap Lord paints his Harlem, New York roots, as illustrated on the closer, ‘Cocaine Castle’ where Ferguson draws from the darker surroundings to his childhood, imagery reminiscent of New Jack City’s The Carter building set in Harlem’s Graham Court. Then just as Trap Lord climbs to an ascension it is pinched off, teasing listeners for more.
Rip Nicholson goes in on the artist that is, A$AP Ferg.
To read full interview + Q & A [READ HERE]
Crenshaw’s Hu$$le Rocks the Highline Ballroom in N.Y.
Nipsey Hussle performed in New York’s Highline Ballroom on his Crenshaw tour. Here, he flipped over several of his new joints from his recent mixtape as well as a handful of classics.
Tupac, Fist Fights & the Making of ‘Juice’
Oral History: Tupac, Fist Fights and the Making of ‘Juice’
HERE]• January 16, 2014 // Taken from [
Q. Bishop. Steel. Raheem. These iconic characters are forever part of hip-hop lore. Their quest to get a rep drove Ernest Dickerson’s directorial debut, which was a morality tale on the dangers of peer pressure. With a magnetic cast, including a young Tupac, an amazing soundtrack, on-set beatdowns and a minor gun controversy, the only logical result was an urban classic.
Ernest Dickerson was having none of it. It was 1990 when the veteran film director—who first gained notoriety as Spike Lee’s groundbreaking cinematographer on such landmark films as She’s Gotta Have It (1986), Do The Right Thing (1989) and Malcolm X (1992)—was set to finally direct his own big screen vehicle entitled Juice. With the backing of Hollywood heavyweight Richard Donner, the gritty drama about four teenage Harlem friends who get caught up in the vicious cycle of street politics, was given the green light. But Hollywood had plans for something entirely different.
“They told us, ‘Maybe you should make this more of a comedy,’” recounts Dickerson 20 years later. The 62-year-old auteur has since taken his talents to the small screen as the director of the new FOX supernatural hit Sleepy Hollow. “‘It’s too dark…make it funny full of one-liners about these kids in Harlem who get in trouble.’” Dickerson and longtime friend and Juice co-writer Gerard Brown weren’t biting. “[We] looked at each other and knew what they were suggesting was not something we wanted to have our names on.”
However, a year later, Juice would indeed be made on the duo’s own terms. Featuring a virtually unknown cast of actors, the two-fisted film was driven by the brazen attitude and chest-beating spirit of hip-hop under the musical supervision of groundbreaking Public Enemy producer Hank Shocklee. Barely out of high school, Omar Epps, Jermaine Hopkins, Khalil Kain and future rap icon Tupac Shakur—whose riveting star turn as loose canon Bishop led the way—added unfiltered authenticity to Juice’s already fast-paced morality tale of peer pressure gone tragically awry.
Cobbled together for a miniscule $3 million, the film would go on to gross more than six times that. For the fans that witnessed this unlikely triumph and snatched up Juice’s star-studded soundtrack, featuring the game-changing likes of Rakim, Big Daddy Kane, Naughty By Nature and Cypress Hill, they had no idea of the boiling drama behind the scenes. Violent brawls, a shooting death, competitive brinksmanship ignited by Shakur and creative battles with studio heads that nearly derailed the film were just some of the issues that Dickerson and crew faced. This is the story of how the whole damn thing prevailed under unforgiving circumstances. This is the oral history of Juice.
Suge Knight Reflects on ‘Doggystyle’
A recent interview by ROLLING STONE MAGAZINE awakened a slumbering beast in Suge Knight. The ex-mogul is asked to revisit the making of one of a generation’s finest albums, Doggystyle, by Snoop Doggy Dogg, the teenager who helped Suge build his empire out West in Death Row Records. This interview includes parts excluded from what went to print where Suge goes in on K.Dot and reminds us of his part in shaping B.I.G.’s Ready To Die LP.
(Photo above taken from February 1996 at Monty’s in L.A. Tupac with David Kenner, Suge Knight and Snoop Dogg)
This past weekend, Snoop Dogg's debut album Doggystyle turned 20. Back in 1993, the lanky 21-year-old from Long Beach, Calif. was riding high on his breakout performances from Dr. Dre's The Chronic, but he’d been implicated in the murder of Philip Woldemariam and had a murder trial looming. The Doggfather unquestionably had all eyes on him.
Doggystyle went on to sell millions of copies and spawned successful single like “What’s My Name,” “Gin & Juice” and “Murder Was the Case.” It was the second project released by Death Row Records, a label that Dr. Dre co-founded with Marion “Suge” Knight. It was Knight’s executive muscle that helped Snoop avoid jail a few years after its release, but following the 1996 murder of his label mate Tupac Shakur and Knight’s subsequent incarceration, their relationship soured. And it remained that way for years — until last February, when Snoop instagrammed a photo of the pair at an L.A. club. They’d finally made amends.
In a rare interview with Rolling Stone, Suge Knight looks back on the Doggystyle legacy. [READ HERE]
Kendrick Lamar: Rapper of the Year
Every member of rap’s Mount Rushmore dropped new albums in 2013—Kanye, Jay Z, Drake, Eminem—but it was another MC altogether who stole the crown, and he did it with just a handful of verses: Kendrick Lamar, the latest—and possibly greatest—rapper to come straight outta Compton.
We are 10,000 feet above Compton in a private jet, and Kendrick Lamar is explaining to me what happened to him yesterday, when he vanished. We had a plan: Kendrick was going to give me a guided, cue-the-G-funk-synth Star Maps tour of his neighborhood, the one he still more or less lives in, starting at his parents’ house a couple of blocks from his old high school, Centennial High, near the corner of Piru and South Central. Instead, he went AWOL. The whole day, no one from his label, Interscope, or Top Dawg Entertainment, the baby Death Row Records that originally signed him, could track him down. Kendrick was gone.
It turned out he was sitting shivah for a murdered friend he calls his “little bro”—a kid from a neighborhood where friendship is defined primarily by neighborhood. A few weeks earlier, Chad Keaton, 23, had been wounded in a drive-by shooting very close to Kendrick’s parents’ house. He held on for a month but ultimately died of complications from the gunshot wounds.
So today, here on board this Challenger 300 seven-seater, en route to New York City’s fall Fashion Week, a destination filled with people Kendrick isn’t sure whether he wants to impress or fuck with, he’s telling me about Chad. “It all happened when I was overseas,” he says. “I had to talk to him over Skype on the hospital bed before he passed.”
Yeezus Meets Zane Lowe for BBC Interview
For one of music’s most controversial and most creative inspirators for hiphop culture, Kanye West goes to the famous Abbey Road studio and sits down with Zane Lowe who recently chopped up MCHG with big brother Jay and blows off steam on everything circumventing the artist’s life from fashion, architecture, paparazzi to finally… the Yeezus LP. He gets raw, choked up, real and combative on issues affecting the now self-proclaimed King of rock music.
Peep all 4 parts of this interview, below.