There are not many rappers
that release their debut albums under a dark clouded sea of controversy. Guerilla
Black is one of those rare artists, but he is obviously not concerned by the
extra attention. In fact, it is his full intent to use the negativity and spin
it into a positive sales and marketing scheme.
Amongst other things, he
has the unfortunate task of refuting any claims that he is intentionally emulating
the style of one Hip-Hop’s greatest fallen soldiers.
him, his DNA and natural voice allows him to brush aside those claims and leave
little doubt about his pending success in this game. His debut album, Guerilla
City, displays amazing similarities to Ready To Die in many respects, but
the harsh realities of growing up in Compton is the separating factor of the
In a touching conversation
with Allhiphop.com, Guerilla Black discusses the life he lead early on, the
wife that he lost way too soon, and rediscovering the passion for Hip-Hop that
lead him to sign a major label deal.
AllHipHop.com: A lot of
people have questions about your background, so let the people know where you
come from and how things began.
Guerilla Black: I was born
June 23, 1977 at Cook County Hospital in Chicago. Most of my family is from
Joliet; my mom and dad [are from there]. My grandmother and grandfather are
from down south. I stayed out there until I was five, then I went down to the
dirty dirty for a year or two. Then from there, I ended up in Long Beach, California.
I lived in a shelter for almost two years. That’s when I bounced and hit
Compton. We bought our first house in Compton. That’s where it all really
began, walking back and forth up the way, fighting with all them little dudes
over there. Either those dudes were whipping on me or I was whipping on them.
That’s where it really got pop locking, stealing cars, robbing, just all
kinds of s**t. At a young age, me and my brother started selling that dope all
up and down Oleander, Baron, Palm, and all those streets back there. We were
running around and selling dope to keep food in our mouths. Through all of that,
my mom was always a big influence upon me with music. She was always [performing]
in the churches, playing the piano, organ, and teaching choir. By the time I
hit Compton, I thought I wanted to be a DJ. But, I started feeling this Rap
thing. At the time, the curls were prevalent, cats had [Impalas] jumping around,
and N.W.A. and MC Eiht was on the scene real hard. It was really off the chain
back then, you know?
AllHipHop.com: Did you have
any sort of gang affiliation back in those days?
GB: I would rather not speak
on all of that. N*ggas robbed me, and in the process of robbing me, they shot
me. God blessed me and it wasn’t [anything] bad. A n*gga shot me in my
hand and wrist. I tried to grab the pistol, and God blessed so that no massive
harm came my way. I was trying to get myself back together and I was still out
in the streets. I was always freestyling, and that was thing with me and my
n*ggas. We were freestyling everywhere. Even though we were hustlers, we were
trying to do our little Rap thing.
AllHipHop.com: In the midst
of all the madness, how did you wind up hooking up with Virgin?
GB: My stepfather moved
out and my mom moved with some dude. One day, she came over there and I saw
that I was doing real bad. She told me she saw Ice-T down in the lobby. She
told me to go get a job with her, and I thought it sounded cool. Plus, I thought
that I could link up with Ice-T. That’s when I first ran into my mentor,
Glorious. From there, he walked me into the back to Ice, and we were just chilling
from that moment on. Me and my man used to go record up at the Crackhouse and
that’s when I got introduced to another long time friend, Don Miles. He
was the first dude that was willing to invest his own chips on a studio. My
brother came up and he was like, “Wow”! They had sent him down south
because of some s**t that happened in Compton. He was the one that told me that
I sounded exactly like Biggie. He said I was too much like the Notorious [B.I.G.],
you know? So, I tried some other s**t, screaming on the mic, and all kinds of
s**t so I wouldn’t sound so much like him. Eventually, the s**t fell through.
AllHipHop.com: You also
got married at a pretty young age, right?
GB: I found that woman,
man, and the crazy thing is I met Ice-T before I met my wife. I was still young;
I can’t remember exactly how old I was when I got married. S**t’s
been cloudy, you know? Me and her definitely went downtown and got married.
I had to move because yay was on my spot. The D.A. was on my spot, ready to
raid my spot, but I got word. It wasn’t like I had some big weight, but
I had mad weed to sell. I moved and I was still trying to push this Rap thing.
All of a sudden, my wife got very ill. I’ll never forget it. I sat up
in the hospital with her for four months. She had spinal meningitis. Whenever
you get infected with meningitis, the fluid in your spine that’s separated
from the rest of your body is infected by a virus. Whenever she drank something,
it passed and usually your stomach acid kills bacteria. It passed and it went
straight to her brain and made it swell up. It started making her delirious
and the swelling was putting pressure on her retinas, which caused her to have
blindness. It took a heavy force and it paralyzed her from the waste down. I’ll
never forget those four months of my life, man.
AllHipHop.com: That is a
very touching story about your wife. I am a married man myself and I do not
know if I had would have the strength to move on from something like that.
GB: When she passed, I was
cool on rapping. I didn’t touch the mic for a minute. I told my brother
that I’ll just be an underground king. It just so happens that my brother
was cutting his demo with some dudes that he knew. It was his birthday, and
he asked me to go cut something for his birthday. I went up there and I heard
some crazy tracks they had. I ran through one beat and then another because
I had so much on my brain. I did three songs in like fifteen minutes. I had
my little Target security job and I was out there hustling, trying to rebuild
my life. All of a sudden, dudes started blowing up my cell phone because some
n***as I f***ed with gave my number out. N***as from different labels started
calling me. Me and my A&R chopped it up and got everything locked in.
AllHipHop.com: We have to
talk about some of the opposition that has made itself known because of your
likeness to Biggie.
GB: Yeah, yeah, yeah…what
AllHipHop.com: Well, there
have been interviews conducted with L.A. based artists and they made comments
about your sound.
GB: Haters come a dime a
motherf***ing dozen. Opinions are like motherf***ing a**holes; we all got them.
I’m going to tell you something ever so real, homie. There are two things
you are going to do by your f***ing self. One of them is you are going to come
out of the p***y alone, and the other is you are going to go into that grave
alone. At the end of the motherf***ing day, I’m going to let n***as know.
I’m going to keep it real and I’m a soldier. I’m going to
go to my death real with that, you know? The only one that can judge me is my
motherf***ing maker. I’ve heard the opposite side, so I ain’t tripping
on that s**t.
AllHipHop.com: I got to
be honest with you. When I first heard the album, I was dumbfounded by how much
you sound like Biggie. People said Shyne sounded like him when he first dropped,
but after I heard your album, that is hardly the case.
GB: I trip off of dudes,
man. This is my first album and it doesn’t matter if I was a wack dude.
It doesn’t matter if I was wack. 2Pac and Biggie were two of the biggest
dudes that ever did it in this genre, point blank. All of these n***as is chasing
that glory at the end of the day. At the end of the day, all I can be is Guerilla
Black. I can’t help it, man. My daddy is a super black n***a. I got a
big, beautiful mother, so at the end of the day, I don’t think I’ll
be the last cat compared, you know? Any one of us combined don’t equate
into that of what 2Pac and Biggie meant to us. Lyrically, hook-wise, conceptually,
ain’t none of us. So, I’m here to big up The Notorious B.I.G. and
to big up Tupac Shakur. Every time you hear their music, they are living. I
made a versatile album that’s not just for the gutter and grimy. I just
want to sell records, you know?