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Runnin With The Big Doggs (Pt. 1)
© Vibe

By Gregory L Johnson

Snoop (talking to Bad Azz) : See how Priority did their thing [promoting] this album right here [singling out an NWA album on a plaque of the label's groundbreaking albums hanging on the wall], man? They came out doin' this kinda shit: NWA, Geto Boys …

Bad Azz: Well, they fucked my first record up! If they woulda did that to Tha Last Meal, I was really gon' kill somebody!

Well, they fucked my first record up! If they woulda did that to Tha Last Meal, I was really gon' kill somebody!

Snoop: Well, don't feel bad. They fucked Top Dogg off. Remember, "Bitch Please" was the song that brought the West Coast back. They managed to fuck that album up! But we gon' leave it alone. We on another record right now. (Turning his attention to the staff) All bullshit aside, Priority don't know how to put no Bad Azz record out. That's why I'm steppin' in here, cause I love my lil' nigga and I don't wanna see him go out backwards twice. He's a part of me. If he look bad, I look worse. If he look good, I look great. I'm trying to put him in the situation where he can learn how to put together a solid record. The key to longevity is to put together a solid record. It can't be no one-hit wonder. It's got to be meat and potatoes. From top to bottom, we gotta concept it. What is this record about? What are you about? What do niggas know about you? What do they wanna know about you? You gotta put all that shit on wax. And once you get them wantin' to know about you, you gotta keep 'em hooked.

VIBE: Wasn't there an album a while ago, a song on a soundtrack, that both of you were involved in?

Snoop: LBC Crew, "Beware of My Crew." It was on the Martin Lawrence movie [A Thin Line Between Love and Hate ] soundtrack.

Bad Azz: That's what set us off. [Snoop] used to tell me when he slid through the Eastside, "Man, I'mma start this little group, you know I gotta get my shit right." And me, personally, I was like the last rapper that he recruited, so it's like, Tray Dee was there, Lil' Style, Technique, Soopafly, Cyntrell, LT - we was doin' a lot of music, but that song? Snoop was like, "this what y'all need to bust on." And I bust on the shit, and the shit was real mega. That's where I learned to trust his judgement. This nigga got a silly ear for music! Retarded!

Snoop: Actually, where I got the idea to do that song, I was in the hood rapping. [In] '87, '88, we used to make beats and Domino - his name was Gigolo back then - Gigolo had a song off the "Heartbreaker" beat, and it was harder than a muthafucka. I was like, "If I had the right rappers…" When I added all the right pieces, the LBC crew, I was like, I wanna do a song with my group, and I'm not on the song. I want them to stand on their own two feet and I'mma produce the song so I can be a part of it. That's where I came in as far as just producing it with LT [Hutton], laid a few keys and let them niggas rap their ass off. [I] gave them the concept, DJ Pooh put the talkbox on it, then we got Roger Troutman to do the remix, rest in peace. It was off the hook.

VIBE: What was it like working with Roger Troutman?

This nigga got a silly ear for music! Retarded! - Bad Azz On Snoop's Taste In Music

Snoop: [Inhaling smoke] That was my dog, man. Roger Troutman was like a big ass kid, man. I mean, when you called him on the phone, he talkin' like Daffy Duck, man. He talkin' on the [Vocoder], "Ay yaay yaaay, Nnn-Yaay yaay yaa-ay!" He was not like an old man. He did not smoke no weed, none of that shit, but he was like, so energetic and so fun. I remember the last time I talked to him was after 'Pac died. We was at Larabee Studios West, and he was just comforting me like, "You know Dogg, you gotta be strong," just being there for me like a real uncle should because I was kinda confused right then.

VIBE: Was he the first member of the Funk Mob that you met?

Snoop: I met James Brown , Bootsie Collins, Bernie Worrell Parker Jr. Cuz, I'm fonkay (funky)! I go out and look for 'em. And then yesterday, just on some ol' school shit, I went and found Special Ed. I'm finna put Special Ed back in the game. I really liked his shit growin' up. And I feel like he's a missing piece in the rap game right now.

VIBE: Might there be one of those famous Snoop remakes in store?

Snoop(smiles): "Still Got It Made"? "We on a Mission"?

Bad Azz: I'm like "damn, [I'm] in the presence of muthafuckas that's legendary to me," if [Special Ed] wasn't legendary to nobody else. I done met Flavor Flav dealing with Snoop, and met Biz Markie. Snoop, he always been famous to me, but it was more of like a local fame though. I heard his tapes before they really even surfaced. When you got someone that close to you and then they become a rap icon? And superstars I thought I'd never see, they like this fool. Special Ed didn't do five solo albums. I'm really starting to see as an artist on my second record, what it takes to be a superstar and make five records. It's hard work! It ain't something that's easy.

VIBE: You've stolen the show on a lot of guest appearances. What are your favorites?

Bad Azz: I feel like I've been blessed to do some nice things in the rap game [but] I haven't done the "nicest" thing yet. I did a duet with the late great Tupac on that [Makaveli] album [entitled "Krazy"]. The song wasn't all the way planned. I fell into the studio one day. Him and the Outlawz was working, and he was like "What's up?" like he was rushing them. "Somebody got something? Drop something!" And he had two verses [of "Krazy"] playing, and I said "I got something for it." He was like, "Go drop it!" I vibed off that song. It was crazy because … that rap I wrote two days before that. It was just a feeling. You know how you be in touch with yourself a certain way? It was just one of those down days.

VIBE: I heard a rumor that you had to get some lawyers involved to make sure you got paid for "Krazy." Care to talk about that?

Bad Azz: Yeah. Everyone keeps sayin' that I'm suing Tupac's mom. I ain't never took his mom to court, and I would never take no money out his mom's pocket. Me and him had a relationship that was friends and music. If there was any money exchanged, it was because of the love. Snoop (talking to Bad Azz): But you know what though? If 'Pac was alive, you wouldn'tna went through that bullshit. But since bullshit muthafuckas running his [estate], they felt like, "Nigga, 'Pac gave you a chance on this record, nigga - you don't deserve no money! You oughta be thankful." And that's what be the fucked-up mentality a lot of times. [Turning his attention to] If 'Pac respected [Bad Azz] enough to let him rap on this shit, goddamnit, break bread with him, even if you give a nigga 50 cent! [They] wanna act like a nigga ain't got nothing coming. A nigga got to eat! [He] gave his all up on that song, and true indeed it was with 'Pac, but goddamn, [Bad Azz] did his damn thang too! That's how the game go, but me personally, when I get down with muthafuckas, I don't do it like that. I break bread. Everybody that fuck with me done got chipped off. You'll never hear nothin' about Snoop Dogg not payin' a nigga! I pay muthafuckas - up front, behind the wall, under the table, it don't matter.

VIBE: On the East Coast you have open mics, rapping in a circle [on the streets], different ways for an underground artist to get their buzz going. I wonder whether it's like that out in L.A. or on the West Coast?

You'll never hear nothin' about Snoop Dogg not payin' a nigga! I pay muthafuckas - up front, behind the wall, under the table, it don't matter.

Snoop: It's hard on the West Coast. You got record labels that just put out hate music. Then you got a label like mine that's putting out positive music and giving back opportunity. There's so much hate out there, and there's confusion and money and everybody seeing what's going down and a lot of people don't like to take directions. First of all, when you on Dogghouse Records, the first thing you gotta do is take directions. From Tray Dee on down to the littlest artist we got, they all respect and take direction from me. Cause I feel like, I've been in the game long enough to direct you to not make those mistakes. So what I try to do is make the West Coast like the East Coast, where it's open, there's a lot of rappers, a lot of new, fresh talent - street shit, R&B shit, just open up them airwaves. The West Coast, we feel like we get cheated because we don't get no airplay on the East Coast. But if you come to the West Coast, the East Coast niggas get played seven days a week. It's not fair, but who are we to blame? The artists, the program directors, or the muthafuckin' DJs? We should blame the whole rap community because the East Coast artists should stand up and say something as a unit, "We respect [West Coast rappers] individually, now we gonna make the radio respect them." [East Coast] niggas don't know who Mixmaster Spade is, who our legends and Gs is, but here we is respecting their Gs, and Marley Marl suing me for 150 muthafuckin' thousand dollars for borrowing the "Ghetto Symphony"! I'm a real nigga from hip hop; I'm giving you love for re-doin' this shit!

VIBE: Y'all got Rakim coming over to deal with y'all.

Snoop: Rakim with Dre right now in the lab. I'm sayin', "Why didn't none of these niggas out here hook him up? Why I got to go find Special Ed?"

VIBE: Is time healing some of the wounds, the disagreements? For example, you and Daz. Is the Dogg Pound come back together?]

Snoop: DPG gon' be on Dogghouse. You can make that official like a referee with a whistle!

VIBE: What about 213?

Snoop: We in the same boat. If it ain't Dogghouse, I ain't fuckin' with it. And they already know what's happenin'. That's the shit that's movin' right now.

VIBE: No matter what big record label …

Snoop: Fuck 'em. It's gotta be Dogghouse first. You know what I'm sayin'? Go through my channels. That way, I can make sure it's gonna be handled right. Cause I know how to get in there and articulate and talk and make these muthafuckas give up bread and do what they 'sposed to be doin'. If I depend on your peoples, it might not happen.

VIBE: What about the NWA project?

Marley Marl suing me for 150 muthafuckin' thousand dollars for borrowing the "Ghetto Symphony"! I'm a real nigga from hip hop; I'm giving you love for re-doin' this shit!

Snoop: I'll let Dr. Dre handle his business on that cause I'm takin' a backseat to a bigger power than me.

VIBE: When is it coming out?

Snoop [pauses]: 2002, being honest - 'cause niggas' schedules is hectic right now. [If] that record gon' come together, we gon' need to have nothin' to do for two months but be in the studio and create this NWA record. Other than that, shit ain't gonna happen.