Hip-Hop History Tuesdays: Mac Dre Details Police Role In His 5 Year Prison Sentence: March 1996 Rare Radio Interview from Lompoc

Posted by Billyjam, October 21, 2015 02:15am | Post a Comment

I just unearthed and uploaded a rare 1996 Mac Dre interview from Lompoc Federal Penitentiary that I conducted with the late great iconic Bay Area rap figure over the phone 19 years ago. In the interview, that was for both magazine and radio stories at the time, Mac Dre opens up about how he got a five-year sentence and how the police had a vendetta against him. The interview was done a full four years after he initially got arrested and incarcerated, and it was a little over four months from when he would finally be released (seven and half months early for good behavior) from prison on August 2, 1996.

On the topic of dealing with the police, Mac Dre, speaking from first hand experience, advised, "stay out of their way" because they present a "no win situation" in that "you can't win cos they'll send you up in here for nothin.'"

As for how he got the five year sentence? "March 26th, 1992, one of my homeboys called me up and asked me if I wanted to ride to Fresno with them," he recalled adding that it was coincidence because just two weeks prior to this he had gone to Fresno to perform in a concert with Ice Cube, WC and The Maad Circle, Big Daddy Kaneand others. While there he had met some girls that he would go back to visit upon this follow up trip with his friends. Fast forward to the drive home on the freeway from Fresno to Vallejo when the car Mac Dre and his friends were in was surrounded and pulled over by a collective of law enforcement departments. "We got pulled over by the FBI, Fresno police [and] Vallejo police, and they took us in and charged me with conspiracy to rob a bank," recalled the artist born Andre Hicks who would be 45 years-old if he were still alive today. Born on July 5, 1970, in Oakland (but raised in the North Bay town of Vallejo in the infamous Crest Side so often referenced in his music), Mac Dre was shot and killed in 2004 in Kansas City.

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Hip-Hop History Tuesdays: Saint Charles' Solar Music Group (SMG) Promoted Nephew E-40's Mr. Flamboyant on Sick Wid' It

Posted by Billyjam, October 13, 2015 11:23pm | Post a Comment

Back in '91 the above promo one sheet was mailed out to rap radio programmers like myself along with the E-40 and The Click promotional record featuring a radio version of E-40's "Mr. Flamboyant" EP. It was the introduction of radio to the "hot rap group" from Vallejo who would enjoy much success in that decade. The promo items were sent by E-40's uncle Saint Charles who, early on in his career, helped him and his family group The Click get their music out via his regional distributor / promotions company SMG (Solar Music Group). And boy did SMG have all areas of promo locked down as clearly outlined by their letterhead that boasted nationwide promotions "on the streets, in the ghettos, at the parties, in the clubs" as well "in the hood" and at college campuses, distributors, and retailers. The company had it lcovered and 40's uncle was instrumental in getting the rapper and Sick Wid' It Records on the map. In this case it was for the 12" pressing that had the radio version of "Mr. Flamboyant" (as distinct from the dirty "street" version of the song found on the cassette release). ["Mr. Flamboyant" also appeared on The Click album Down & Dirty.]

To assist in finding the song, Saint Charles circled the title on the label with a black sharpie pen - just to ensure no one would miss it. Also on the EP were the tracks "Tanji," "Club Hoppin," and "Shut It Down." Released on Sick Wid' It Records the EP was distributed by Rushforce Records who had in 1988 released the pre-Click lineup M.V.P.  By the time of this Sick WId' It release E-40 solo and the Click as a group had been releasing records and tapes on Sick Wid' It but soonafter each other member of the family crew would drop solo releases including Forty Wata's (and D-Shot's) sister Suga T who, in March 1993 on Sick Wid' It, would release her solo debut It's All Good.

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Hip-Hop History Tuesdays: Producer Johnny Z Breaks Down His Vallejo Group N2DEEP's 1992 Hit Single "Back To The Hotel"

Posted by Billyjam, July 7, 2015 12:15pm | Post a Comment

23 hip-hop summers ago back in mid-1992 the song heard everywhere across the nation (including and especially in their native Bay Area where KMEL had it on constant replay) was "Back To The Hotel" by Vallejo rap group N2DEEP. The song, which these days is heard in regular rotation on hip-hop oldies or "throwback" stations like the Bay Area's Q102, became a global hit for the Bay Area group signed to prestigious New York hip-hop label Profile Records. The album of the same name was produced by founding member Johnny Z along with the two official group members/rappers James "Jay Tee" Trujillo and Timothy "TL" Lyon. In fact the "Back To The Hotel" single (one of three from the successful album along with "Toss Up" and "The Weekend") was such a big hit for the prolific North Bay crew, that it overshadowed all their other work and hence would garner them in later years that unfortunate tag of "one-hit-wonder" status by such outlets as Complex magazine and BuzzFeed. That is too bad since N2DEEP recorded so much more equally great music (before and after) as the beloved "Back To The Hotel" song, which the average pundit mistakenly believed was their debut single. That song wasn't meant to be a single, or even initially titled "Back To The Hotel" but rather "Telly" when it was released a year earlier in 1991 on Johnny Z's Vallejo-based indie label Rated Z Recordz. Hence for this Hip-Hop History Tuesdays Amoeblog, I caught up with mastermind behind the song, Johnny "Z" Zunino, to go back in time to the early 1990's and jog his memory about N2DEEP, their recordings before their big hit single, and to find out why they changed the title and their original group name ("3DEEP"). That conversation appears immediately below the video for the 1992 Profile single.

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Hip-Hop History Tuesdays: Rare 1992 E-40 & The Click Interview

Posted by Billyjam, February 3, 2015 04:14pm | Post a Comment

For this week's hip-hop history installment, rewind back 23 years to 1992 -- a time when E-40 and The Click's careers were on the verge of blowing up majorly. Below is an audio YouTube clip of a KUSF radio interview I conducted at that time with The Click's four members E-40, B-Legit, D-Shot, and Suga T, and with their producer Studio Ton.

It was before they had gone federal (signed to the national label Jive Records), E-40 had just released his solo album entitled Federal, and when The Click as a group had released the album Down and Dirty care of their game-changing little indie label Sick Wid It Records (both later reissued by Jive Records). It was a time when B Legit was still sometimes known as Legitimate B and when D Shot was sometimes still known as Mac D Shot. As for the group's name, it was also something they changed as they had originally been known as MVP. "Now we're The Click. We needed a spicier name," explains E-40 in the interview. "Back in 87…we was doing local stuff. It is really a family thing," said E-40 at the time.

Even back then, the Bay Area rap icon, who these days is known for tirelessly cranking out triple volume albums on an annual basis, was most prolific having recorded both a group album and a solo album simultaneously. "I was putting in work," he said modestly of his impressively busy recording routine back in '92 but again stressing how even with his solo album that it was "a family thing" with his fellow group members (all related) helping out in some capacity. In fact, all of the immediate Click  members as well as the greater Sick Wid It family crew were all very busy back then. Suga T was gearing up to record her debut album, It's All Good, that would drop the following year while extended Sick Wid It crew members Lil Bruce and Rhythm X were all prepping to drop solo joints. And while it was E-40 who would become the best known member of the Click as a group - each of the other three members were talented and historically significant in their own respective rights - Suga T as among the pioneering female rappers of the Bay's history, B-Legit as an incredible wordsmith with a most distinctive flow, and D-Shot was both a strong rapper and among the original wave of Bay Area rap compilation producers (along with Herm Lewis and Master P, who was still living in Richmond in the East Bay). 

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Remembering Oakland Rapper Seagram, Exactly 18 Years After His Unsolved Murder (Includes Rare 1991 Interview Excerpt)

Posted by Billyjam, July 31, 2014 07:07pm | Post a Comment

Seagram "The Ville" (from The Dark Roads)

Today marks the eighteenth anniversary of the death of talented Oakland rapper Seagram who on July 31st, 1996 was shot and killed on the streets of East Oakland. Seagram Miller was only 26 years old with two albums to his name (his third would be released posthumously) and had not yet reached his artistic potential nor had he gotten the full level of appreciation that he deserved. A smart, intelligent, articulate wordsmith whose way ahead of its time debut album (The Dark Roads on Rap-A-Lot) addressed the realities and consequences of the gangsta life that he was unapologetically a part of right up to his tragic death - a violent shooting murder that was reported by the San Francisco Chronicle at that time as such: "Oakland police Sgt. Gordon Melera said the two men had just exited a van in the 1900 block of 24th Avenue, an area in East Oakland known for violence and drug trafficking, when they were fired upon Wednesday night." That same article also noted how three years previously Seagram had escaped an assassin's bullet writing that, "Police said Miller's song about a rival gang in 1993 angered an Oakland drug kingpin, which led to an attempt on Miller's life. Miller escaped injury in that shooting, but a San Leandro police officer was wounded" but that OPD would not speculate whether his fatal shooting, in which Seagram's rap associate Gangsta P was seriously shot but not killed, was related to the earlier 1993 attack. Even 18 years after that fatal night in East Oakland the murder is still unsolved. Also of note from a Bay Area hip-hop historical perspective is that in that same year of 1996 two other Bay rap greats were also shot and killed: Tupac Shakur in Las Vegas two months later, and Mr Cee of R.B.L. Posse who was killed in San Francisco on New Year's Day of that year.

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