Young Dre: The Truth

People who emulate the truth are often feared. They don’t 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 […]

People who emulate

the truth are often feared. They don’t 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 hasn’t been a voice to continue the

class that he was teaching.

South Central representative Young Dre lives by the code of the streets and his lyrics, similar to his song, overflow with nothing more than “Real Talk.”

He isn’t 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

doesn’t need the hottest of beats to promote his wordplay, his talk can

sell itself.


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. 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. 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 day’s 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. 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 wasn’t like “Pac put me on,” I was just a young

one in the group soaking. 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 n#####

selling dope and I remember people not liking Tupac back then and I was

telling them Pac was the n####. 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 wasn’t like

‘Oh my God’ it was just like these are my older brothers. 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 don’t need to go beyond but, I think

as a person and a man you need to go to other places to experience s###.

I haven’t 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 s### 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 don’t get more Hip-Hop on the west

coast, I mean when I was a youngster we called it rap, we didn’t call

it Hip-Hop. 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 wasn’t 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 didn’t 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. Well you have a track called “The Rap Game Ain’t 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

false image?


Dre: I have a song on a mixtape that I did over Dre’s “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 don’t 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 didn’t shoot until I was 16 and that was because I needed

to get some money, I didn’t 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 aren’t. You know I think it is b####### when anyone can

put a bandana on their heads and rap about it and make a fashion out of

it and don’t 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 doesn’t

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 don’t 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. But don’t 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 haven’t 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 f###

is that?’ and this is the Bay Area because they move in their own

space, I love the Bay Area; they are gangsta, they didn’t 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 n##### out there

claiming s### and they just a part of s###, 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 n##### 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 n#### people going to respect you

off the way you walk, off your name or who you are or what you done in

the streets, that’s our reputation. You don’t 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 aren’t n##### standing on

the corners just gangbanging anymore, we are in business, we driving

jaguars, we driving 745’s.

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 don’t want you to

be heard. I saw this guy called Kevin Trudeau who was telling you what

all the big businesses in American didn’t 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 wouldn’t need to go and buy all these drugs

from Proctor and Gamble that isn’t helping you. I made that track “The

Rap Game Ain’t 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 b#######; 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 s###, 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 didn’t expect

us to get their kids, they didn’t expect the white kids to love us.

That was it. There has to be white folks that had to believe in that

s### 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 s### is now, in other

countries, they didn’t know it was going to be that powerful, they

really didn’t. 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 don’t

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 wouldn’t 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 don’t want some

a###### 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 don’t 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 wouldn’t like to be signed,

you know the industry is changing, people won’t 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 s### with Rodney Jerkins, Rick Rock, I done s### 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 Austin’s 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 Arie’s “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,

that’s 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 didn’t sample and I remember a time when

we didn’t sample and now I am at the point where if something is dope I

am f###### with it but there was a time where I wouldn’t f### 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

didn’t listen to rock or any other music because I didn’t 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

Duran Duran.

By making your own music don’t you find that it’s then that you just

understand how much other people’s music has influenced you?


Dre: Yes that’s 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. It’s 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 it’s like

if I know I know, if I don’t I don’t. 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

m###########. You know even though I mention all the names in that song

“The Rap Game Ain’t Gangsta to Me” I love all my brothers in that song

for their success, you know I don’t 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, f### that

s###. But I love everyone for succeeding. 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 s###. 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 s###. Then we

didn’t 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 y’all 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

isn’t just about the rap s### that is my family right there, my Hood is

his Hood and his Hood is my Hood. We know each others families for

real. 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,

that’s true, but I love this game and I have been charged since day

one, I’m ready to win.

You can check Young Dre out on his website