Allhiphop: Can you speak about your background
a little bit, a lot of people know your name, but not too many know about your
Crooked I: I was born in L.A. and I spent the
majority of my life in Long Beach but I have lived other places. I lived in
Okalahoma for a couple of years, I lived on the East Coast in Philly for a couple
of years, Washington, my moms moved around a lot. That gave me a versatile style
as far as picking up the different kind of vibes from the different locations.
Basically, Just like every other Ghetto kid I was raised on welfare, in the
projects, section 8, out there acting bad at a young age.
Allhiphop: As far as you as a young cat, when
did you start getting into hip-hop?
CI: when I first heard Rappers Delight as a little
kid, it had already been out for a while but when I first heard it. I was like
this is what I want to do. I think I was in Kindergarten and I learned every
word to the song. I hit the talent show, I got up there and did everybody’s
part and I was like 5 years old. Everybody was like this little dude is crazy
‘cause I’m up there talking about busting them out with my super sperm,
I didn’t know what the hell I was talking about. I’m just spitting
it and then after that the energy from the crowd, I was like I’m going
to do this. I got serious about it, I went and brought notebooks, and I was
MCing. That really helped me ‘cause I dropped out of school at a young
age, but I would always be on the street hanging out with older cats because
wasn’t nobody at my age dropped out. Rap music kept me so knowledgeable
about things because back then we had the Public Enemy’s, Rakim’s,
KRS One’s and they was speaking on more than having a good time, they was
speaking on real political issues. They had me into books trying to figure things
out. When I got 17 I was tired of being in shootouts with dudes and the whole
street life, I wanted to get my GED and go to college and all that other stuff.
I walked in a GED place with a Junior High education ‘cause I dropped out
of Junior High. I was early because poverty was kicking my ass and I couldn’t
spend any time in the classroom, I had to get my paper to help moms pay the
bills. What good is me being in this classroom if I come home and there’s
no lights on. The Education that Hip Hop gave me and the push that it gave me,
because I wanted to have ultimate writing skills I read shakespeare and things
Allhiphop: Where were you in this period of you
being educated by rap?
CI: I was all over the place. I was in L.A. and
out here we had Ice- T he was doing his thing with “6 In The Morning”
WC was in “Low Profile” Eazy E was just breaking into it. When I went
out toward the Mid-West they was big on The
Geto Boys ‘cause Scarface and them was doing they thing out there and when
I was out East they had the forefathers. I used to hate traveling; I used to
hate leaving Cali. But, when I look back on it I’m happy I did ‘cause
it gave me a different perspective.
Allhiphop: Can you speak on paying your dues
as a MC, I first noticed you on the wake up show, you used to go back and forth,
I remember this one legendary thing when you and Chino XL was on there. I thought
incredible considering Chino is so ill as a battle MC.
CI: I was so hungry out there and I wanted to
get my name to spread quick, I didn’t really want to waste no time, now
was the time to hit the streets and make my name spread. The Wake Up Show extended
a hand like come up and holla. When I went up there I smashed on some MC’s,
I didn’t know who they was. Sway and Tech was like you got to come back.
I developed a relationship with them where we was just hanging out, not just
on the show we could just go kick it with each other. Chino came up and they
was like look we got a vote over here on who we would like to see go back and
forth with each other for an opportunity on BET and the listeners voted you
and Chino. I never been an underdog to myself, but I think I was the underdog
coming into that. I paid a lot of dues ‘cause I used rap as a hustle at
first before I got the deal. I used to go down south and write for people with
independent labels, go up north and hit up a few independent labels and it was
making me good money. I was leaving town and coming back like I was hitting
licks. I come back with money like the homeboys on the block slinging D and
I’m doing this and it’s legal they can’t touch me.
Allhiphop: What kind of rapper do you consider
CI: I just consider myself a ghetto MC. Gangsta
rap is a term but to me there’s only two types of rappers, Dope and whack.
I’m not going to label you a gangsta rapper because of your lyrical content
because to me listen to "9MM" by Kros or Kool G Rap “Road to
Riches.” Those are gangsta. Cats been rapping about the streets and the
ghetto, it’s just that I think that term is kind of negative because it
puts all these so called people into one group and most of the time they look
down on them.
Allhiphop: How do you feel about that balance
you have to play out right now being that rap so commercialized? How do you
feel as far as balancing that and the commercial aspects of having to sell?
CI: Having to sell is some real sh*t. Your record
company is not going to get behind you if your whole idea is to kill people
on microphone. The good thing about me is that I can honestly say that I am
still a consumer. I don’t think a strip club song may seem commercial to
a cat but when you in a strip club you want to hear that, ‘cause that’s
what’s going to make her move it. I’m a well-rounded consumer I buy
anything from M.O.P to E-40 so I make music according to my mood.
Allhiphop: If you could name one rapper or MC
that’s your favorite, which one would you say was most influential on you?
CI: Back in day, Rakim.
CI: Because he was saying stuff at a time that
wasn’t being said. He was ghetto with it, that’s what really attracted
me because he was rapping about being a stick up kid but at the same time he
had science. Rakim, Big Daddy Kane, Kool G. Rap. Ice Cube is hard. I always
go back and forth, but those are the biggest influences on me.