1) Tell is a bit about yourself; where you're from, when did you
start rapping and how'd you become part of Darkroom Familia?
I'm from the Bay Area-the East Bay-510. Northern California. Reppin'
the Stack since day one. NSH, Northside Hayward, Cali. I started
rapping in 1988. I'm one of the founders of DRF, the original
line-up. Started by rapping over instrumentals, to reel-to-reels, to
4-tracks, to digital. From black-&-white cassette tapes to vinyl to
CDs to DVDs. Still doin' this shit hella strong.
2) Describe your style/sound.
True stories from the hood. I rap about true life shit. I rap about
things that I personally experienced, seen and lived through on the
turf. From poverty to drugs to police corruption to crime and
anything and everything that goes on in life. Our sound is dark, but
it's honest. It's true life situations put to music.
3) What influenced/inspired you to start rapping?
The streets of the Bay Area and all the madness that comes with it
is what influenced me to rap. Growing up poor on welfare with food
stamps and second-hand clothes, government cheese, ghetto
situations, being a youngster doing dumb shit, pulling crimes with
my older brother and my homies, seeing my brother Duke going in and
out of jail, seeing homies die or go to prison. Ya know, just a lot
of fucked up shit that goes on in the hood.
As far as artists that inspired me to rap, I'd say Too $hort and
4) Darkroom Familia has released an unbelievable amount of albums
over the years and have been making music for so long. What inspires
Darkroom Familia to keep making music?
Just knowing that we have the skills to keep making dope music that
shits on everyone around. The fans that love what we do and ask us
for new music all the time. They inspire us. Every time we hear some
wack rapper sounding like a retarded dickhead on the radio or a
video or in a magazine. That shit fuels us to want to make another
song. This is one of our hustles, along with movies.
5) What is your all-time favorite Darkroom album?
have a lot of favorites and they change through the years, but I'd
say that The Bay Team of Darkroom Familia "It's Cold In These
Streets" and Darkroom Vets "The Evil That Men Do" are the tightest
albums we've made so far.
6) What is your opinion of rap/hip-hop currently?
Total shit. I stopped listening to the majority of rap years ago.
It's painful. Every time I try to listen to the latest shit, I have
to turn it off 'cause it's like getting hit in the head with a
hammer to me. It actually amazes me to hear the garbage that passes
as "good" these days.
7) What artists, aside from Darkroom Familia, do you listen to?
No one really. I only listen to the artists I've always listened to
and supported. There's hardly anything new that I can truly fuck
with all the way through without skipping a song and throwing it out
the window. The first good Bay Area album I heard in years was Turf
Talk's "West Coast Vaccine."
8) How do you feel about fans outside of the U.S. listening to
It's an honor to know that fans all over the world really feel our
music. We get so many e-mails from foreign fans it trips me out
sometimes. There are fans who can hardly speak English that tell us
they love us. There are foreign fans that have learned Spanish just
to listen to the Spanish "Los Traficantes De Darkroom Familia"
albums. It's crazy and dope at the same time. We sell great here in
Northern Cali but have always sold even better outside of California
and for the last several years have been gaining many, many, fans
outside of the U.S. We've gotten e-mails from All over Europe, Latin
America, Africa, all over Asia, Australia, Canada, and more. It
really feels great to get praise from all of these countries. That's
why we did those collabos with Germany's Hirntot Records and our
homies Blokkmonsta and Schwartz. I listen to their music and it's
dope. They got sick beats and concepts and you can hear their flows
even if you don't understand what they're saying. Also why we did
collabos with Jason Porter from Detroit. Homeboy spits dope shit and
we actually have quite a few "Juggalos" (fans of ICP) that have love
for us. They hit us up on e-mails and shit. So it's a trip that our
music is felt by so many different types of fans.
9) What are your thoughts on major labels still not recognizing
independent rap from the Bay/Northern Cali?
It goes back to what I was saying earlier about how shitty rap has
been for years now and all the current bullshit that floods the
stores, radio and TV. Major labels don't give a fuck about true
rap/hip-hop. They just want to make money, which is fine, it's all a
business and I understand. We've been doing this long enough to know
how the business works. But the reality is that they have the power
to make anyone they choose blow up and they can make the same amount
of money, if not more, if they would sign and push real artists. But
it's all a formula and their formula is to keep pushing the pop
bullshit. To them, if it ain't broke, don't fix it. Radio stations
are bought all the time. They act like they play what people want to
hear, but it's all an act. Major labels use their money and power to
force their shit on the public. If a radio station plays some wack
shit all day and night, like they do, if you hear it enough times,
it'll get stuck in your head and you'll end up liking it. That's how
they do it. I guarantee if they truly supported the Bay and Northern
Cali, we'd blow the fuck up and major labels would come running. But
it's all a cycle and they're all in bed with each other. That's just
the nature of the business and that's the way it is. We've managed
to make our business work and in the end, that's all that matters.
10) How do you feel about the Bay Area/Central Valley/Northern Cali
I'm proud of our scene because we're innovators and pioneers and
every part of the rap world has copied so much of our sound, style
and slang. That's the truth. We've influenced the rap world, but
hardly anyone at all gives our region any props. In all honesty
though, I'd feel a lot better about our scene if there was more
support. But because of the lack of love and support from radio,
major labels and unfortunately a lot of fans who illegally download
independent rap, my opinion has changed. And the fact is that when
fans download our music, and independent artists like us, they are
literally stealing from us and taking food out of our kids' mouths.
This shit is our job. Go download some major label millionaire
rappers, not independent rappers. I've seen soundscan sales with my
own eyes and have seen how bad illegal downloads are hurting
independent rappers like us. It is killing our music and I can't say
this enough, but if it keeps going the way it's going, it will be
all over for independent Bay Area/Northern Cali rap. Completely
over. No matter how anyone justifies illegally downloading our
music, it does not "help" us by "promoting" us. We've already
established Darkroom as a brand over the last two decades. People
know what they're getting when they're buying our music. Plus there
are music samples available everywhere so illegal downloads do
nothing but steal from us and hurt us. We work hard making music and
movies for people to enjoy but if we're not compensated for it, then
why even bother making music at all? All you gotta do is take a good
look around, the only people still making music are the ones that
have been making music before the internet blew up like it did. I
just don't see how any one new trying to get into music now can make
it. We got much, much love for our diehard fans that support us and
love our music, but it's unfortunate that some fans choose to
illegally download our shit and still call themselves fans.
11) Any upcoming projects?
Yeah. We got Young D "Northern Cali Lifestyle," K.I.D.-solo
untitled, I might start working on another solo if I get the time to
put into it. I have a lot of things on my plate right now, so we'll
see. But right now we're working on Young D's solo and K.I.D.'s
solo, taking our time with them so we can give the diehard fans some
amazing albums that they will love.