big tray deee screen shot

Big Tray Deee: Still Staying G’d Up

big tray deeeUsing his own unique style of flow and voice, Big Tray Deee has been putting it down on songs going all of the way back to the Murder Was The Case soundtrack on Death Row Records as he was first introduced on Snoop Dogg’s “21 Jump Street.” The two Long Beach natives continued that successful chemistry on Snoop’s sophomore album, Tha Dogg Father, and later as The Eastsidaz group with Goldie Loc joining the mix.

After two platinum albums together, things started getting shaky for the group as disputes over money and royalties started to arise. To make matters worse, Big Tray Deee caught a case in 2003 and as the result of an attempted murder conviction, began serving a 12 year sentence in 2005.  AllHipHop stayed in touch with Tray during that time as we conducted several interviews with the OG through letter correspondences with the assistance of Tray’s wife Coniyac of the group Doggy’s Angels.

Released in 2014 – having served 9 years of a 12 year sentence – Tray Deee has been quietly working and doing shows sporadically with Goldie Loc. The result of that work is a new solo album released in September called The 3rd Coming and another on the way in October as part of a group with Kurupt, Tha Chill, Weazel Loc, and Kokane called The Diirty OGz. We caught up with the Long Beach General for the first time since his release to talk about his new album and return to the music scene. Read on, lil gangsta. The last time we interviewed you, you were in prison and I had to submit questions in writing because we couldn’t talk on the phone. You were finally released in 2014 after serving 9 years behind bars. What have you been up to since your release?

Big Tray Deee: When I landed two and a half years ago, I had a plan to launch my own label. I put together a talented team of former executives and artists to form the Supreme Circle Music Group. That was my number one focus when I touched down. In the interim, I put together two mixtapes that I had created while I was still in prison; Long Beach State Of Mind Volumes 1 and 2. That made my transition back into being an artist a lot easier since I was gone for so long. I served my time and walked the mainline and my reputation stayed solid the entire time but those mixtapes put my name back in the streets and reminded people that I was still to be respected as a true MC. After I got out, I re-connected with Snoop Dogg and Goldie Loc.

Was the plan to launch your own label formulated while you were in prison?

Oh yeah, I actually recorded those two mixtapes while I was on the tier with a few of my homeboys – shout out to my homeboy Lil Iceberg for helping me to orchestrate it. He was an engineer for Dogg House Records before he got arrested. He knew how to work a smart phone and what apps to use for recording. From there, I got in touch with a few producers including one named Big Beatz who is now on my label. In two and a half months time I had fifty one songs recorded.

I’m curious. How hard is recording a song in prison considering the guards being around and stuff?

You have to have a passion and be willing to risk it all just to do it. If you’re an artist in the music world, you always want to be heard and felt. It’s not so much for the attention but just to let people know that you do this very well – and that is the drive of a true artist. So I managed to record two albums worth of material despite the situation I was in. Out of those fifty one songs, I used about thirty six for the projects.

After I touched down, I got together with Snoop Dogg and Goldie Loc and we put out That’s My Work Volume 4. A lot of people said that should have been an official Eastsidaz album but we used a lot of old songs on that one. If we had invested more time into it we could have made it an Eastsidaz album but we wanted to just re-unify and get that feel back from working with each other again – it came out pretty good.

After that, I was waiting to see if we were going to record another Eastsidaz album but everybody had their diverging interests, which was alright by me because then I could go ahead with my own plans. It was time for me to put my solo project together because people have been asking that of me since my release. It’s funny because you would think that on this new album I would talk about my experiences on the tier, but nah, this isn’t an album about the trials and tribulations of Tray Deee – this is a real hip-hop album.

Do you think that the Eastsidaz will ever get back together and record another album?

We’ve discussed the possibility of it but to be honest, I think that Snoop is in another place as far as music is concerned. It’s not like he couldn’t do it but to revisit that mind-state and to re-display that to the public – I don’t think that is who he is. Plus, I don’t think that the chemistry is there to go in and get it done. A lot of things have gone on and been said since I was away. We are all friends, don’t get me wrong. We communicate, but there isn’t that same solidarity like there once was. Dogg House was a family and that’s the same structure that I’m building over at Supreme Circle – a place where everybody makes and is dedicated to making great music. My dream came true in just being able to put together this company and to complete an album of this magnitude with these features and different types of production. From the first song to the mastering of the album, I’ve invested about sixteen months into it and I’m overjoyed with the product.

What’s that “one hitter quitter” song off of the album that will floor you the first time you hear it?  

That would probably be the song with Crooked I and Problem called “Tell Me About It!” DJ Battlecat produced it and the energy on that song is ridiculous. Everybody is on point on the microphone and you already know that Battlecat doesn’t play. As soon as you hear it you know the heat is coming and that’s the reaction that I’ve gotten from those who have already heard the song.

It looks like you’ve got a good mix of veterans and newer artists like Problem who are relevant on the radio.

It wasn’t so much of reaching out to newer artists due to their radio relevance. It was about who makes the kind of music that I respect. I’ve been a fan of real spitters and definitely Problem has his flavor. Smokey Lane also has a nice smooth G-style. My artist Big Beatz is dope and we’ve got a nice upcoming lineup at Supreme Circle. My wife Coniyac is up next and people haven’t really heard from her since her time with Doggy’s Angels. I kind of interrupted her career as she sacrificed it to hold me down while I was locked up. We’re doing this Supreme Circle thing together as executives but I told her that I needed her back on that microphone as well.

The 3rd Coming is the first launch from the label and it’s a major one because it happens to be my first major solo project. The General’s List from 2002 was more like a compilation album that I put together. There were songs that I wasn’t even featured on but I put it on the album because they were songs that I was feeling. The 3rd Coming is all me with my special guests.