People who emulate
the truth are often feared. They dont hold back, they choose to say it
as they see it. Tupac was the street educator, representing the West
Coast and at the same time through his lessons he educated the world
beyond LA about the meaning of street life; he spoke nothing but the
truth. Yet since his death there hasnt been a voice to continue the
class that he was teaching.
He isnt in this game because he sees it as a way out. His
unconditional love for rapping has transgressed over a serious number
of years, having watched the game evolve and decline he is still here
because it is his life, it is his love.
worked with the best of the best and learned from the greatest, he
takes rap back to its organic form, his lyrics can sell themselves, he
doesnt need the hottest of beats to promote his wordplay, his talk can
up two companies Young Dre has his ideas in place. As talented he is in
the booth, he is just as talented in making money. Feeding his family
and preserving his legacy are on his mind right now. Speaking the truth
is paramount and maybe he is the voice that the West needs.
AllHipHop.com: Where are you from?
Dre: I mean pretty much the west coast; you know I spent four years in
New Orleans as a child. I got shuttled around a lot of place because I
was a foster kid, but you know Los Angeles, the Bay area, Seattle.
AllHipHop.com: But home to you now is LA correct?
Young Dre: Yeah South Central, most definitely since my early youth and all my roots are California region.
You were running with the legends from the early days man, I mean you
were rolling with Pac back in the early nineties so you have been on
your grind for a long time then?
Young Dre: I been grinding since my early teens, you know being around Tupac and them and then being around everyone in 92-93.
I mean people say they are tight with certain names in the game hoping
it will take them places, but you really were tight with Pac then?
Dre: Yeah I was like a young dude in the studio with them at an early
age. I met Pac on my own back in 93, I was giving him a tape and he was
like Man I got so many tapes, you know that was before CDs. But then
Leila Steinberg started managing me and I started seeing Pac all the
time as he was also managed by her. So we spent more time in the studio
and you had Mike Mosley bringing him beats you know Me Against the
World and Heavy in the Game. I was actually with Mike (Mosely) when
he went over to give Pac his first song.
AllHipHop.com: This is history right here.
Young Dre: Yeah I mean I have a song called Hip-Hop on the West Coast that
when people hear me spit they understand I really was around Pac. I
just loved Pac, but I wasnt like Pac put me on, I was just a young
one in the group soaking.
AllHipHop.com: So you learned from him and all those experiences?
Dre: Hell yeah, he was the man to me. This was previous to Me Against
the World. I knew who Tupac was and everything and we were young niggas
selling dope and I remember people not liking Tupac back then and I was
telling them Pac was the nigga. My boys started saying that when me and
Pac would do something it would be big. You know so to be around that
and be around Mike Mosely who was already doing dudes like E-40 from
the bay, who were dudes that were very influential to dudes my age. To
be around them at my age it was a dream come true. But it wasnt like
Oh my God it was just like these are my older brothers.
AllHipHop.com: Do you think as a West Coast artist, you can be a serious selling artist without really going beyond state lines?
Dre: I think that to be a star you dont need to go beyond but, I think
as a person and a man you need to go to other places to experience shit.
I havent interviewed many west coast artists and to me the Hip-Hop
culture over there is very different to anywhere else.
Dre: But see the thing is in the track I mentioned earlier I am
describing what California is like but how we need to get more Hip-Hop
on the west coast. You know I did this show and some people got killed
and I was being blamed for it and I was actually a peace maker in that
situation and that song was the last song I did before the shit popped
off and if you hear what I am saying in that hook, I am proud of where
we are from but I am saying if we dont get more Hip-Hop on the west
coast, I mean when I was a youngster we called it rap, we didnt call
AllHipHop.com: Gang culture in Los Angeles is predominant in a lot of lyrics, how influential has this been on your career?
Dre: Well for me being from a hood and being an actual gang banger in
the past, you know front line on the streets it wasnt what made me get
into gangsta rap. You know growing up around the game, being a child of
the game, being that your parents in the game I came up in this life.
You know rap didnt make me, if anything the gang life helped promote
the music. The gang life perpetuated that now you have everyone gang
banging, or allegedly gang banging.
AllHipHop.com: Well you have a track called The Rap Game Aint Gangsta to Me which
is something that you feel strongly about, you know people spitting
false lines. Does it bother you that people are allegedly saying they
are out doing the things that some people really are doing to promote a
Dre: I have a song on a mixtape that I did over Dres Watcher beat.
In that I am saying things you know like I see a g-starter kid in a
liquor store that comes in with a bandana and some khakis with a blue
hat and a jheri curl because you know kids are trying to emulate things
that they saw in Menace to Society and I dont respect that because I
have names on my body of people that have been murdered or are in their
graves that come from this gang life. So to see someone pick up a mic
and rap about it, because there was even a time before I even popped a
gun, you know when I was 12,13,14, I had homies that were shooting at
12 or 13, I didnt shoot until I was 16 and that was because I needed
to get some money, I didnt even want to shoot. I was rapping harder
about it before I lived it but that was because I was around it. I
remember my homeboy saying to me if I was saying stuff like I was, I
had to be ready to live up to that. So when I got to that age when I
did live up to it, I respected it as my right to deliver it. You know I
met so many wannabes that call themselves gangsta rappers and I am
like why would you even call yourself that in a song, you are a gangsta
rapper when you arent. You know I think it is bullshit when anyone can
put a bandana on their heads and rap about it and make a fashion out of
it and dont understand where that comes from. Because if you are going
to claim Blood or claim Crip you are putting yourself in a position.
You have to respect protocol. You know if I come to LA and it doesnt
happen just here, it happens all over Oklahoma, New York everywhere, if
you are claiming Blood and Crip you have to respect the streets. You
know you are putting yourself in a position that if I step in down this
is what Crips do. You have to follow protocol in any situation in
politics and I dont respect it and for all of us that have died and
are going through this as a lifestyle it is more so a façade for their
lives. When Allen Iverson started wearing braids he made it easier and
more acceptable to wear braids. I have been wearing braids for 14
years. But now I get people telling me I look like Allen Iverson.
AllHipHop.com: But dont celebrities set trends?
Dre: I agree because look at Snoop, you know even though I mention
Snoop in that track, I have been around Snoop lately and he is a very
humble person and I like him because you can not like a person when you
are around them. Now we havent talked about what I said in the song
but even Snoop to me I love him for representing. You know people think
that Snoop is out there doing that and they are ready to follow him.
You now have people watching BET C-walking. I remember the Bay Area you
know it was 92/93 and I was C-walking and they were like What the fuck
is that? and this is the Bay Area because they move in their own
space, I love the Bay Area; they are gangsta, they didnt want that out
there but they appreciated it and then when you got that on BET people
want to copy it. Its like in New York, you got niggas out there
claiming shit and they just a part of shit, but when I am out there
with my brother Tru Life and I see all the wannabes, nine out of ten of
them will look away. When Allen Iverson went out and got braids, how
many niggas in the NBA went out and got braids, but they give you a
false sense of gangstarism. When you wearing braids in LA they are
gangsta braids, they murder braids or they are hood braids but you knew
that they represented something, even though they came from the tribes
of Africa back in the day that was a certain look that we had that
means something. If you a real hood nigga people going to respect you
off the way you walk, off your name or who you are or what you done in
the streets, thats our reputation. You dont need to say you are with
such and such a Blood, or such and such a crip you knew who you were
because you had that color on, it was our identification. You know in
LA Crips beef more with Crips these days. We arent niggas standing on
the corners just gangbanging anymore, we are in business, we driving
jaguars, we driving 745s.
Do you think that portraying and being so vocal in your lyrics about
being a gang member is going to be an advantage to you as you try to
advance in your music career?
Dre: It is a disadvantage off the top because people dont want you to
be heard. I saw this guy called Kevin Trudeau who was telling you what
all the big businesses in American didnt want you to know when it came
to over the counter drugs. He had all these remedies showing that if
you did what he advised you wouldnt need to go and buy all these drugs
from Proctor and Gamble that isnt helping you. I made that track The
Rap Game Aint Gangsta to Me almost three years ago, you know what I
am saying, I am over it and it is just now starting to catch. But to
the real people I will be a street icon. You know I have had square
people come up to me and say Oh my god thank you for making that
song, and that touches my heart. But the powers that be they want it a
certain way. White folk, big companies and black folk are paying
attention to this and they understand that it is big business. Its like
Forty Acres and a Mule, if you was a gang member or you are a gang
member and you are legitimate or are somebody of that culture we should
be compensated. It is an advantage in the long run as I am ahead of my
time to speak on it, I think I am right on time, but then it is at a
disadvantage with corporate America until real music comes back. We are
tired of the same old bullshit; we are tired of not having a political
stand anymore. How many people after Tookie got killed have stood up
and said something about it? When I grew up it was Public Enemy, Ice
Cube was the shit, he was the Tupac, I came up on that, he was the
movement. I remember listening to that as a kid, he was the truth.
But do you think corporate America expected it to get to this point
where it is the multi-billion dollar industry that it is today?
Dre: America is a corporation, it is the biggest corporation in the
world and you have to withhold a certain image, but they didnt expect
us to get their kids, they didnt expect the white kids to love us.
That was it. There has to be white folks that had to believe in that
shit and put out the Run DMCs, so I think some people may have known it
was going to blow, but overall as big as this shit is now, in other
countries, they didnt know it was going to be that powerful, they
AllHipHop.com: Obviously, you are making money independently now, so is a major label deal something you are looking to sign?
Dre: You know what if you listen to the last line in Hood National, I
say I never wanted these companies to break or drop me, see Young
Drizzle in the movies, now get your bootleg copies. Hell no I dont
want to be signed, but I know it has been so long, its about
preservation of my family and feeding my squad and I have seen too many
people die that I feel blame for, you know if I had been signed they
would have had opportunities and they wouldnt be dead. So I feel a
burden and I have to do different things. If I go and put this mixtape
out and go hard for a month I will be self made. No I dont want some
asshole going and getting credit for breaking me and having me sign a
hoe deal when I would rather be a pimp, I would rather pimp them rather
than them thinking that they are pimping me, but if I can get the right
person to believe in me and I can go platinum and sign the right deal,
I dont want no artist deal, I want a production deal as I am signed to
KC3 Monumental which is my company. Do I want to be signed to a deal
hell no, but I know I have to sign a deal with somebody or I need to go
hard and get the business myself, but I need to make a move right now.
I am the one in my circle that needs to step up as I am the one. You
know I got to do something. Its not that I wouldnt like to be signed,
you know the industry is changing, people wont be buying CDs no more,
they will be downloading from their computers and I understand that and
want to encourage this. I know I have to be signed. But I know I will
bring the opportunities for other people when that time comes.
You have already mentioned Hi-Tek and of course Mike Mosely, you have
worked with some of the hottest producers in the game unsigned. Any
other names you can tell us about?
Dre: Recently I have this cat who is a diamond in the ruff called G,
but there is a cat out of New York called Titanic who is dope, I have
done shit with Rodney Jerkins, Rick Rock, I done shit with Dre and them
before, I have worked with Swizz a little bit. I grew up listening to
Outkast and I worked with Rico Wade of Organized Noize. I have also
worked with Cavie another hot producer. But lately all the tracks are
coming from a cat called DJ Ruckus out of Dallas Austins camp, he is a
young cat, I did about five records with him down in Atlanta, you know
I grew up listening to Outkast.
Yeah tell me about who else you look to for inspiration as on the album
I see you use India Aries He is the Truth, are you a fan of hers?
Dre: I love India Arie, I grew up at a time where my Mother listened to
everything, R & B, Marvin Gaye, from the Capris to The Emotions,
thats why I have all this is my music because I got stuck with all
that. Ray Parker Junior, Michael Jackson. You know there was a time
where Michael Jackson was 50 Cent, we wanted to be like Mike. I
remember when I was four years old and me and my cousin would sit
there, you know I could never be Michael Jackson, because I always
wanted to be Mike, the songs and the music, he was around before
rappers, you know before Ice Cube stepped up I was listening to Ice T.
I remember when I was in the foster system they would come do a little
do and give you a voucher to go buy a tape and one of the first tapes I
went and bought was the Ice T Power Tape. I remember being on that. I
listened to Tina Turner, you know whoever was dope and my Momma was
playing, they were having parties, this was the seventies and early
eighties and I remember them having parties and me not being able to
sleep because they were out there playing their music. That was back in
the day when it was records. You know it went from four track to eight
track then onto 24 track and it just emulated to where they sampled and
then there were times when we didnt sample and I remember a time when
we didnt sample and now I am at the point where if something is dope I
am fucking with it but there was a time where I wouldnt fuck with no
samples. You know you would write songs over whole records, I wrote
over Bobby Womack, I was writing songs over that music. I was
influenced by that because I was raised listening to it. I mean I
didnt listen to rock or any other music because I didnt get it. But
now I appreciate the Average White Band, Creedence Clearwater Revival,
you know stuff that I can really soak from. I listened to R and B
because that was what I was exposed to. Then you know I heard like
By making your own music dont you find that its then that you just
understand how much other peoples music has influenced you?
Dre: Yes thats right. You know I have melodies in my head that are
just there, stored in my head. I have no idea where they have come
from. Its just in my blood. I just love music. I know I am writing
from the heart but you know coming up I was one of only three people
where I was who really wanted to be a rapper as back then you had the
choice of going to play ball, getting a 9-5 or go to school or college,
now rap is part of that group. You know I feel cheated by the game
because I knew all there was to know about music, who was signed to
what label, when they got signed, who produced what, how many units
they moved. This is my life this is all I have, you know now its like
if I know I know, if I dont I dont. I know this is just a stepping
stone to the next level, I know I am a pimp and I know I am going to do
big business. I know I have potential because I am a persistent
motherfucker. You know even though I mention all the names in that song
The Rap Game Aint Gangsta to Me I love all my brothers in that song
for their success, you know I dont want someone to not be happy. I
mean every day a rapper goes to a studio and takes time out of his life
to create something that is something special. You know I can
appreciate guys like 50 Cent as a business, but as gangstas, fuck that
shit. But I love everyone for succeeding.
AllHipHop.com: Now you are tight with Tru Life, how did you hook up with him especially with him being from the East?
Dre: Oh man we were at a recording studio here in LA about six or seven
years ago when we first met and we started playing basketball as they
had a court at the studio. We just started cutting it up and we found
out we had a lot of similarities and shit. You know his birthday is two
days after mine. You know we were talking back and forth about music
and that what we liked. You know we exchanged numbers and shit. Then we
didnt speak for a year or two and then QD3 came along and told me he
had this guy from New York that really reminded him of me, you know he
said you either going to be best friends or yall are going to hate
each other. And that was Tru Life. You know and he is family now, you
know I fly out there and he flies out here that is my dog. You know it
isnt just about the rap shit that is my family right there, my Hood is
his Hood and his Hood is my Hood. We know each others families for
AllHipHop.com: So what have you got coming up?
Young Dre: The biggest thing right now is the mixtape I am doing with Green Lantern, The Hood National Cheah Bah Movement: Bigga Than Life.
That is dropping next month. I am a battery that keeps going and going,
I stay charged for everybody and when I say I get burnt on this game,
thats true, but I love this game and I have been charged since day
one, Im ready to win.
You can check Young Dre out on his website www.youngdrethetruth.com