Recent history tells us that a successful independent
artist is a scarce commodity. C-Bo has broken the mold and is laughing all the
way to the bank. His current resume reads like the who’s-who of Hip-Hop: a true-to-form
entrepreneur, owner of all his masters and backlog, and an estimated two million
albums sold (all without the help of major label backing or marketing schemes).
The Sacramento, CA-based MC is preparing to flood the market, and he is determined
to let nothing stand in his way.
His label, West Coast Mafia, is in the final
stages of releasing two compilations: "West Coast Mafia: Chopped and Screwed"
and "C-Bo Presents: West Side Ryders;" newcomer 151 will be releasing
his debut, "Code of Tha Street," and C-Bo himself will be releasing
his latest solo banger, "The Mobfather: The Return of The Bald Headed Nut."
C-Bo sat down with Allhiphop.com to discuss his disdain for major record labels,
how he is changing the game and the lives of his artists, and how he intends
on continuing to play by his own rules.
Allhiphop.com: Let’s get into it, man. You’ve
got a lot of albums that are dropping in a minute. Talk about them and what
this could possibly mean for the independent circuit.
C-Bo: I got my artist 151 coming out June 10th,
the "West Side Ryders" and my solo joint "The Mobfather"
is coming out in July, you know what I’m saying? My solo joint is sort of different,
mature, and still grimy and streetish, you dig?
Allhiphop: I can dig it. Talk about you parting
ways with your old label and this new label you have right now.
C-Bo: We ain’t with AWOL Records no more. It’s
called West Coast Mafia now, you know? It’s in the street, you know what I’m
saying? You can’t get none of that indy sh*t if you ain’t in the street. You
got to be in the street with it, you know?
Allhiphop: Cats that are only getting a few pennies
per record do not quite get that concept.
C-Bo: Grimy n*ggas on the block leave the block
to go get it, you know what I’m saying?
Allhiphop: West Coast Mafia is your imprint,
which means you are getting all of the proceeds. Is it a little more difficult
to run the entire operation as opposed to being an artist? How much time and
effort is taken away from other things such as family and friends in order to
make this vision work?
C-Bo: It’s like, I love the game, so we was watching,
you know what I’m saying? I was an artist, and my n*gga was doing this, so I
was watching. The game just came to me, you know?
Allhiphop: Who came up with the bright idea of
forming this independent label?
C-Bo: Me and Killa Tay. The feds had raided us
in Atlanta, and we was sitting up in Cincinnati selling tapes, going that route.
We just started coming with our sh*t as West Coast Mafia; we ride for the coast.
Pac had died, and was just riding with it. I’m riding for the n*ggas that can’t
ride for this sh*t like Pac was, you know? I’m gon’ speak for this sh*t. All
these other n*ggas speaking, I’m gonna speak for this sh*t right here. This
is where my hood is at, so this is my hood, you know what I’m saying?
Allhiphop: Where in California are you originally
C-Bo: I’m from Sacramento, California. I’m a
Northern Cali n*gga. We go to Seattle, too. That’s the Mafia, homie, and we
are lockin’ it, you know what I’m saying? It’s pretty much accepted in all the
streets out here. A n*gga can hop out and run into the liquor store or whatever,
Allhiphop: So, you are still a regular cat despite
all the money you’ve made, huh?
Allhiphop: How many units have you soundscanned
independently thus far?
C-Bo: We are close to three million on paper,
you know what I’m saying?
Allhiphop: You’ve done all of this without the
help of a major record deal, and you’ve managed to score a seven-figure distribution
deal? That’s unheard of.
C-Bo: Fa sho, fa sho. I got a lot of records.
I got like 15 records out, and they are trying to get my whole catalog, you
know what I’m saying? And they want the new sh*t…the new DVD and whatever.
We are doing a movie and sh*t, trying to get into all parts of the game now.
Allhiphop: Who did you get your distribution
Allhiphop: Who normally takes care of all the
production work within your company?
C-Bo: I go around and pick my n*ggas who I want
to do work. I pick my own beats. I got a few n*ggas that I f*ck with on the
regular. Rhythm D., Black Tobin, Mark Sparks, Jellyroll, Bosco…I work with
them a lot.
Allhiphop: How many artists do you currently
have underneath you on your label?
C-Bo: Cyco, Killa Tay, Gotti Gotti, Thug Misses,
Allhiphop: You’ve got a pecking order of cats
waiting in line, huh?
C-Bo: There’s lil’ n*ggas coming. n*ggas is waiting
in line, you know what I’m saying?
Allhiphop: Let’s talk about the business structure
of West Coast Mafia. A lot of these major label artists complain about getting
screwed out of their deals.
C-Bo: n*ggas is meek with the game. Motherf*ckers
don’t want to take control of their sh*t. n*ggas want to be little boys in the
game, wanting someone to walk them around and hold their hand, you know what
I’m saying? That’s the type of n*gga that ain’t getting no money. n*ggas can’t
hold their own water. So, when you go to the independent game and switch up,
n*ggas is out their getting dirty and handling his own thing in the street,
you know what I’m saying? You got to have that mind right and say, "this
is what I want." I’m in the street and I ain’t scared to go. I pull up
in the city and go straight to the ghetto to pass out posters. They are not
going out there and doing that type of sh*t. They don’t want to take that chance;
therefore, they go to the majors and sign their life away and f*ck em!
Allhiphop: If someone was to ask you, "what
does it take to run an independent label?" what would be the best answer
you could possibly give him or her?
C-Bo: For one, it takes patience. You got to
have patience, man. You got to know what you want, and you got to know the game.
You got to pull the right strings in the game, too. Move them units and get
them soundscans, you know what I’m saying? It needs time and networking. If
you ain’t got the right strings, it ain’t going to work, you know?
Allhiphop: As far as your accounting is concerned,
are you the only one with access to the accounts or do you have someone paying
the bills for you?
C-Bo: We got a corporation, and it’s just me
and my n*gga. I got my manager that handles my other side sh*t, you know what
I’m saying? But, I’m the owner of the company and he’s my vice president.
Allhiphop: The reason I asked that is because
you have people like Toni Braxton and Billy Joel that look up one day, and millions
of dollars have come up missing due to letting people mismanage their funds.
C-Bo: You know what, I understand exactly where
you are coming from. I’m a street dude, you dig?
Allhiphop: Nuff said, man! What’s more important
to you, the performance side of the business or the business side of the business?
C-Bo: You got to have both, but without the performance,
you have no business. Somebody got to like it, you know what I’m saying? Performance
has a lot to do with it, man. n*ggas want to hear that sh*t, you know?
Allhiphop: Can you distinguish the differences
between cats from Northern and Southern California?
C-Bo: There’s more mellow minded n*ggas up north,
you feel me? All the chaos of all the close neighborhoods and sh*t that goes
on down south, it’s more spread out up north. It’s harder to come down south
and network than it is up here. n*ggas don’t give a f*ck about that sh*t. Some
n*ggas ain’t got nothing to live for because they ain’t got nothing going good
for themselves. All I had was a hood and that was it. Nothing would come through
here moving without being in the hood, you know what I’m saying? They don’t
want to get on TV; they ain’t give a f*ck about the camera or nothing. When
I first came to L.A., I went to Crenshaw and passed out free CDs. This was back
in ’92. They threw them back at me like, "n*gga, f*ck that sh*t, we don’t
give a f*ck about that sh*t." A n*gga really had to come down here and
Allhiphop: Would you ever consider going to a
major record label if, for some reason, the independent game doesn’t work out?
C-Bo: I ain’t trippin’ on doing none of that,
you know? I’m in it to get money, man. They’ll come at me like they came at
Cash Money. A n*gga ain’t retarded. They’ll have to give me $30 million up front,
you know? I’m trying to be straight for the rest of my life. I want them long
chippers, man. I want to do that black-owned sh*t, doing $6-$10 million a year,
you know what I’m saying?
Allhiphop: Who are your true allies in this rap
C-Bo: I f*ck with WC, my n*gga CJ Mack, Jayo
Felony, E40, Yukmouth, you know what I’m saying? I got a little clique of n*ggas
I f*ck with.
Allhiphop: I know you are trying to drown the
market with your product and it’s all to the good, man. What other projects
do you have coming out or in the works?
C-Bo: I got the DVD coming out on September 13th.
It’s just us doing a bunch of concerts. The first one is in Louisiana, and we
did one in Oklahoma City, Denver, all that’s chopped up on there. We’re kicking
it, riding to Cali and sh*t, you know?
Allhiphop: In your opinion, why would it be better
for an artist to go independent and deal with all the sacrifice that comes with
that as opposed to going to a major record label and attaining the lavishness
that it has afforded certain artists?
C-Bo: To be honest, you can go wherever you want
to. Don’t be on some yes-man sh*t, you know what I’m saying? Handle your business;
know what you got in line and move when you want to move.
Allhiphop: Before we conclude this, is there any last words or knowledge you
want to drop on these cats? If there anything I missed, come with it, man.
C-Bo: A real street n*gga can never leave the
streets, bruh. Period. You might be able to buy a house in the hills, but you
got to come down. When it’s all over, that’s all that maybe left.