“Da Graveyard”: Squad Up
AllHipHop.com: “Da Graveyard” is probably the hardest Big L moment ever recorded. Tell me about the making of it?
Grand Daddy I.U.: We did that s**t at Powerplay [Studios]. Buckwild had did the track. The n***a just called me. I did it on the strength of, that was my dude. There was no money involved. No sales. If I’m cool with you, if you want me to get on the joint – I just do it.
AllHipHop.com: Out of the blue, or were y’all friends?
Grand Daddy I.U.: I met him ‘cause he was on Columbia in the Sony building. That’s when Cold Chillin’ had distribution through Epic. We all went on a promo tour. Nas, Big L, MC Eiht, me, Supercat – all the motherf**kas that was under the Sony umbrella at the time. That’s how we got cool and s**t. Then, I used to check him in Harlem sometimes. He called me like, “Yo, come get on this joint.” I didn’t even know what it was, I just went, heard the beat, he had like eight motherf**kas in there rhymin’ and s**t, Party Artie and them n***as.
AllHipHop.com: Was Jay-Z there?
Grand Daddy I.U.: Nah, he wasn’t even there. He had already did his verse. A.G. was supposed to get on it. He came through, but was like, “I ain’t even gonna f**k with this s**t, it’s ripped already.”
AllHipHop.com: Did you and L remain close after?
Grand Daddy I.U.: Nah. Actually, when he got killed, I hadn’t seen the n***a in a minute. He wasn’t in the same circle. We wasn’t in the industry the way we was [then]. That was my man though. We wasn’t on no everyday s**t though.
Children of the Corn: Myth or Super-Group?
AllHipHop.com: Who was really in Children of the Corn? There’s a lot of speculation, why?
Digga: Well, Big L created the name Children of the Corn, and he added the members. From what I [believe], C.O.C was Big L, Cam’Ron, Mase, McGruff, Bloodshed, Terror, Party Artie, Budda Bless, TWAN, Mike Boogie, and me as the producer. I think there is a lot of speculation because there were members from the Bronx and Harlem, that didn’t know each other. Also, when everyone split up. [Then,] me, Cam’Ron, and Bloodshed became professionally known as "C.O.C" when we signed with Freeze/Priority.
AllHipHop.com: How did you come into the fold?
Digga: I got down from working with Cam’Ron. Me, Cam, Bloodshed and Mase used to do songs and ask Big L to feature. Eventually, we became a crew because Big L was showing love by taking us to the radio stations.
AllHipHop.com: How did Harlem treat y’all? Were there many shows, mixtapes?
Digga: Back then, it was all love. C.O.C. was always the main crew, but were all members of smaller crews from different blocks. We would come together and do our thing. We did shows in little ‘hole in the wall’ sports-bars, Maria Davis Wednesdays, and school talent shows. The best part was going around to battle n from other blocks. The mixtapes just started to get hot at that time. We got it poppin’ on S&S and Clue tapes.
AllHipHop.com: What were those studio sessions like?
Digga: I think we only had one real studio session with everyone all together and that was to record a song called "American Dream.” Actually, that song was originally recorded by just me, Mase, Bloodshed and Cam’Ron. We later added Big L and McGruff because Columbia Records liked the song with the intentions on releasing it as a single.
AllHipHop.com: What is misconceived about L?
Digga: That he wanted to be an underground rapper. Of course I think he wanted to known as the nicest MC, but I think he wanted to be commercially known as well. When he came out, Biggie and Nas was becoming hot, and I think people never really looked at him as the competition.
AllHipHop.com: Why did the group disband?
Digga: We had the plan to be like the Harlem version of D.I.T.C. or Wu-Tang. At the time, Big L got dropped from Columbia, which left all the members still trying to get on. Mcgruff got a deal with Uptown Records, and Mase got a deal with Bad Boy and me, Cam’Ron and Blood signed with Freeze/Priority records. After everybody got deals, our concern was more with our solo deals that the original plan. Mase started to blow up with Bad Boy, and [was] leaning towards rolling with that whole situation. So, everyone started going pretty much for themselves.
AllHipHop.com: Who owns the rights to the C.O.C. material?
Digga: I guess I do, right? I released a mixtape of some material available on www.sixfigga.com. I think it’s not to late for us to make some music again. If the fans want it, they need to start a petition.
AllHipHop.com: What most valuable moment to you in those days?
Digga: For me, it was the first time I saw a day and the life a rapper with a major label deal. To see how real it was in the business. L use to live in the same place, and stand on the same corner, while being signed to Columbia. Nas, Jay-Z and DMX use to all come to the block to rhyme with L – all for the music.
The Aftermath: Personal, Never Business
AllHipHop.com: How soon and on what label will we see a Big L album, because Rawkus folded, and Tommy Boy isn’t in good shape…
Renata Lowenbraun: It’s very upsetting. We have spoken certain distributors who have expressed interest. I anticipate that we’ll know who we’re working with in the next several months, for sure.
AllHipHop.com: Has bootlegging been a big an issue?
Renata Lowenbraun: I think everybody in music has a problem with bootlegging. Big L didn’t really get the opportunity to reach the height of his career. He was on his way up. There’s only so many things that he’s done by way of freestyles, interviews, live performances. We’re not dealing with an infinite amount of tracks. I wish we were. I do have a unique problem. I’ve got to figure out how to go about dealing with the bootlegging issue. I think it’s hurt [Big L’s mother’s] interests. I find it utterly despicable as human being that someone would take advantage who has died. As the attorney, I’ve been working with the probate court dealing with issues going into the future.
AllHipHop.com: Big L always spoke of Flamboyant Entertainment. Will that company exist or live on in his death?
Renata Lowenbraun: We intend on doing exactly what Big L wanted. Flamboyant Entertainment is the company that’s going to be doing [this album].
AllHipHop.com: Who, creatively handles this stuff?
Renata Lowenbraun: On the creative side, Lord Finesse is very involved in the estate – with good reason. He’s the one who discovered Big L. From my perspective, I can’t think of anybody in a better position to do material consistent with what Big L would have done.
AllHipHop.com: The Hip-Hop community was largely appalled with the creative mishandlings of Tupac and Biggie’s work. Their material ends up being auctioned off to Pop stars. Is Big L’s work safe from being compromised?
Renata Lowenbraun: I think it’s a combination of both. His mother has the right to make any decision, and has entrusted Lord Finesse and myself to make those decisions. Finesse knows what was appropriate to who Big L was. Me as the lawyer, I’m interested in maximizing the value of the estate. But certainly, I don’t feel it would be appropriate to him on a Nelly album, say. I doubt we would do that. We’ve certainly gotten a lot of support from Fat Joe and his camp, and those people who’ve worked with Big L before. Eminem goes out of his way to give shout-outs.
AllHipHop.com: Is there material out there, that labels have or otherwise, that you’re still seeking?
Renata Lowenbraun: There’s material that he did as a member of Children of the Corn, as a member of Diggin’ In The Crates, and we’re looking to locate the things he worked on that never went anywhere.