If one were to peruse Billboard’s hip-hop singles charts, they’d probably think West Coast hip-hop was extinct. The fact that the Left has only a handful of consistent chart-toppers that keep the West alive might have some under the impression that West coast mc’s have nothing to offer but regurgitated gangstaism. Those who listen to radio in any region other than where the sun sets, could easily succumb to these misconceptions thanks to radio programmers whose “California Love died” with Tupac (RIP). Although major artists like Dre, Snoop, Warren G, and Nate Dogg keep worldwide fans Westside connected, mix tapes keep the streets connected to the hottest rhyme slayers from city to city.
In the streets of Los Angeles, the familiar sound of sirens blaring is usually the result of a high-speed car chase, or Power 106 air personality, Felli Fel, hitting the airwaves with another official premier. His infectious energy and impeccable mixes, has over 1.6 million listeners tuning in daily and producing some of the most sought after mix tapes in the West. He produced Tupac and the Outlaws’ “Worldwide” and recently even Jessica Simpson tapped him to remix of her remake “Take My Breath Away.” Now, he and Ghetto Heisman homeboy WC collaborate to offer “WC The Westside Heavy Hitter.”
The mix tape is in the streets and has WC, dubbed The Shadiest One, bing bing bangin his usual venomous reality bites. AllHipHop.com got some real talk from some real players.
AllHipHop.com: I often hear people complain about hearing the same music and artists on the radio, do you like what you hear on the air?
Felli Fel: Radio is just like any other business. It’s about relationships. If a record label has a good relationship with the station then I think radio is going to be a little more prone to want to play those records. Part of building relationships is taking care of the radio station by making sure they have exclusive artist interviews first and things of that nature. Speaking for myself if a label can take care of me in regards of respect you know I’m gonna look out as much as I can. As far as do I like what I hear on the radio, it’s kinda like if you worked at Foot Action and you might get tired of seeing the same damn shoes on the shelf everyday but they’re still hot shoes, it’s the same thing here, sometimes I might get tired of hearing the same music, although it’s a hot song.
WC: A radio station has the power to program or de-program whatever they want. You ever hear a record you didn’t really like but when you listen to the radio and hear the song one million and one times your like damn that shit is bangin? You gotta realize the label is a vehicle; they got the power to drive a record where they want to drive a record.
AllHipHop.com: How has commercialism affected the authenticity of hip-hop and why are mix-tapes such a successful vehicle nowadays?
Felli Fel: I think it’s helped it because there’s a lot of people that would’ve never known hip-hop if it hadn’t crossed over commercially. You got your MTV’s, BET’s and Allhiphop.com’s that show another side to the music. It also made it possible for people like me to get jobs doing jingles for companies like Starburst using hip-hop, so I’m glad about it.
WC: There’s a lot of cats that’s not on, that wanna get on but you never really get a chance to hear from them unless somebody who’s already established puts them down. But mix tapes showcase a lot of artists that you might have never heard and too it gives the artists that are already out there a chance to hear these cats on a whole other level as well, other than records we hear on the radio. Me and Felli just wanted to get together and do something different that hasn’t really been done out here, that’s an established artist doing a full mix tape. I try to keep feeding my fans when I can.
AllHipHop.com: How do you stay so connected to the streets spending all of your time at the station or in the studio so much:
Felli Fel: I eat live and breath music, even though I’m here at the studio a lot, it’s not hard to be here all the time because I love the people I work with. I love doing radio and interacting with the callers, and I love getting behind the turntables and in a nutshell that’s what my show is. Actually when I get on the air at 7 it’s almost like the first time of the day I have to relax.
WC: I hit the block, I’m one of the few artists who you can catch bailing through the swap meet with no security. The contributions I give to the kids is I give them me, anybody who runs across WC on the street already knows you can just walk up to me and it’s gonna be nothing but just real convo back and forth; and if they choose to take it to another level and everything they know WC is there on that level as well, but for the most part it’s always open arms because I keep it real and never disrespect I don’t disrespect nobody’s set, nationality nothing like that, I just do me and for me that’s as gangsta as it gets.
AllHipHop.com: What are some things you see messing up the game right now?
WC: There’s A LOT of disrespect in hip-hop. If I disrespected you right now then what’s gonna make you want to continue talking to me or even continue to support WC? If you disrespect me why would I want to support you? That disrespect is something you really gotta take into consideration when your dealing with people. No matter how cocky you are or whatever ego you may have, sometimes you just gotta put some things to the side. You gotta say there’s a time and place for all this, when I go into my alter ego or whatever that’s on record but when I’m gellin with cat’s in real life, I gotta keep it real with em. Also a lot of these label’s disrespect the art form and these artists by putting these whack ass A&R’s on top of these albums. A lot of these labels disrespect artist by deciding what type of record they want to put out there. As co-owner of my label with CJ Mack (Swang Records) I sign my artists because I respect their talent and that’s how it should be.
AllHipHop.com: Hey, lets just break and speak to some of the brothers on lock down.
Felli Fel: Man just keep ya head up, Actually about 5 months ago my best friend Sean Robinson got sent away for 13 years. He’s been my best friend since we we’re kids and all I can say is keep your prayers alive because sometimes hope is all you got. You just gotta keep your nose clean while your in there and keep hangin’ in there.
WC: The majority of my homeboys are level four and in the penitentiary and that means you’re a lifer- I ain’t gonna front. So all I can say to them is keep your head up you in my prayers and hopefully we’ll find a way to get you up out of there.