B-Legit is a hell of a lot more than E-40s brother. After a decade plus, B has led by quiet example for his community, both as an artist signed to Jive and today, as an independent. His hemp-themed albums sat lovely with red-eyed cruisers everywhere, but in 2005, B-Legit brings it back to the block.
In a conversation with AllHipHop.com, B-Legit waxes Bay politics, beat-downs, touches on South and West ridas, and reveals just how gangsta his buddy Jadakiss is out East. For everybody that ever admired the curves on a 72 Cutlass or kept it extra Clickalicious, this ones for yall!
AllHipHop.com: What is the Block Movement?
B-Legit: The Block Movement is this: When I first got in the game the core audience was the block. Thats who we made this music for. As time moved on, the music changed and took a couple of twists. After the death of Tupac and Biggie, a lot of people were not too hip on listening to gangster music. The radio began to dictate which type of music got played. So, if you had a gangster song, there wasnt anyway it was going to get on the radio. They tended to play more Ja Rule stuff- tryin to keep everybody at peace. That thing kinda took over. I was like Man, thats not what this was about. It was about the block. So, Im trying to bring the block back. If I did anything else, Id be outta my zone, trying to imitate something that I dont really do.
AllHipHop.com: I think proof of this lies in Knock His Ass Out. Its also proof that you are an O.G. All the young cats now are so afraid to squabble and scuffle like we did way back. Today everybody is reaching for the AK to spray. What made you do that song?
B-Legit: Back in the day, me and my cousins, we were pretty big guys. We were raised country style. If you had a problem with a cat, you take it to the field and get em up. You dont have to kill a n***a [laughs]. Just beat his ass. If you get yo ass beat its all good. Theres another day. You can come back. Thats what it was really about. Other people forced the other s***t into it. I guess they cowards. So, if they dont wanna get em up, they bring a gun into it. Whats wrong with a good old fashioned ass whoopin?
Theres always somebody in the club. They see you in the club tryin to be in your own zone. Tryin to get your groove on. But they just keep on talkin and keep messin with ya. Then they spill their drink on you. You aint got to kill him. Just knock him out, drag him out and let the party go on.
AllHipHop.com: Do you have a personal favorite knock out story for me?
B-Legit: I got one. But it was way back though. We used to drink a lot of 40s back in the day. They used to turn us into the Incredible Hulk. Have us thinkin we was real strong. We used to do real stupid s**t like walking into bars and stealin [giving big punches to the jaw] on people.
We used to do that at this place called the wharf. Its a military bar. Military people liked to drink to. Wed be outside drinkin 40s. Theyd be inside drinking shots or whatever. Somehow, we met out in the parking lot. We tried to shake their hand. They thought they were too good. We just started poundin on them [chuckles]. It was stupid. But you live to tell about that- ya know what I mean?
AllHipHop.com: On most of your previous LPs you busted over mid to down tempo beats- cause thats very Bay-ish. But on this one you have a lot of club bangers with strong hooks. Was that a conscious move, or just the evolution of B-Legit?
B-Legit: It was a conscious move. Im in the club a lot. I wanna hear my joints in the club. Back in the day, theyd play my joint, but they had to break the mix Like slow it down, start talkin then play it. I wanted to make this album mix-friendly. Those beats that they call Southern beats - are regular West Coast beats but they appear faster because the symbol is moving faster. So, it has that bounce to it.
AllHipHop.com: A lot of people in the Bay have criticized the Southern Hip-Hop. The Ying Yang Twins specifically, have been in question. Whats your take on all this?
B-Legit: When I first came in the game, we did a compilation called, South West Ryders. We were letting people know that the South and the West are riding together. The East, sometimes, they are not interested in what we have to say. But the South, they supported us from the gate. When I first came out and was not getting played out here, the South was the ones that took us in. They were buyin our CDs at first. They adopted our sound and our language at first, but then they put their own twist on it. They had the fast moving high hats. Now, instead of having to buy a West Coast tape, they can buy their own artists. But they have to understand that our people, migrated from the South to [the West]. But were not getting the promotional dollars, and being incorporated into the machine to advertise big. Its not that they dont like us. They dont know about the CD. But we are not getting pushed in those markets so its not sellin out there.
AllHipHop.com: Thats a fair assessment.
B-Legit: If there was a major label pushing Bay Area acts hard out there, it would sell. But cats are independent. So, its not reaching out there.
AllHipHop.com: So they cant support what they dont know?
B-Legit: Exactly. I also think some people here focus on being locally accepted. Some of them need to broaden their horizons. Do songs for the South. Do songs for back East. You cant be one-dimensional in life.
AllHipHop.com: You mentioned your songs being in the club. Recently E-40s club The Ambassadors Lounge got shut down by a city council woman [allegedly Cindy Chavez] who was in cahoots with the San Jose Police Department. A lot of people on the avenue said the SJPD was very oppressive in the way they treated the patrons of The Ambassadors Lounge. How do you feel about the way that went down?
B-Legit: San Jose is a city that wants to be known as one of the safest citys in the Bay. In order for them to do that, they have to keep the hoodlums, thugs, prostitutes knowing that, Were gonna be on your back. They want to make it like I dont wanna be there [in San Jose] because they sweat me too hard.
So, by the club being there and by 40 being who he was- it attracted a lot of young Latinos and Blacks. Like any other gathering, sometimes thing happen, people fight, there was a shooting. They did not want that in their city. So they allowed the same club to be open called, The Bee Hive. But they did not want 40s name on it [the club]. When the major concerts come, they come to San Jose. They dont go to Oakland or San Francisco. They go to San Jose and Sacramento. This is a city thats ran by the police. A long time ago they used to have lowriders cruising. They [SJPD] shut that down. They harassed anybody they thought was even trying to have a good time. They did the same thing to the club. But they allowed the club to open back up as long as 40s name was not on it. But I think they are violating a lot of peoples rights.
AllHipHop.com: Moving onto bigger and better, long before Nate Dogg, the Bay had the vocal tones of Levitti over Hip-Hop beats. That brother is featured on this album as well. When are we gonna see an album from Levitti? Enquiring minds wanna know!
B-Legit: I been recently having him in the studio. Hes my personal favorite. I tried to shop a deal for him. But I think he was ahead of his time. He had a gangster twist to him. But now they got Akon and Lyfe [Jennings] out. But Levitti was doing that a long time ago. At the same time, I know Nate Dogg did well with the Dogg Pound and Dr. Dre, but I dont know how he did as a solo artist. Because its a different approach and marketing technique to putting out a rapper than a vocalist over Hip-Hop beats.
AllHipHop.com: Speaking of Tha Dogg Pound, I loved Playa Potnas from Dazs Retaliation, Revenge and Get Back LP. Thats a good jam to work-out to. When yall gonna team back up and make some more heat for the streets?
B-Legit: I gotta line in on Daz. He be moving around a lot, so its hard to get hold of him sometimes. But that was a combo between him and Soopafly. If we can get them back in the studio and hook it up again- wow.
AllHipHop.com: I was surprised to hear the collaboration with Styles P and Jadakiss. I loved it, but I was surprised. How did that happen?
B-Legit: Im an international type guy. I travel lot. Super Bowls, All Star Games, award shows and stuff. I see Jada everywhere. We have some mutual friends too. Im tellin him You gotta come out to the Bay more often. You got love, but they dont see you. Hes like, I do need to get out there more. I got some 16s [16 bar raps] for you whenever you want them. So I was up in Denver at the All-Star game, and we chopped it up. When I started working on this album, I waited till I got towards the end of it. I called him and told him about it. He was like, Send it to me. He took it and did something with it. He got Styles on it. He did that on the love. It worked out. The name of my album is Block Movement, they D-Block. It was the perfect time for something like that.
AllHipHop.com: A lot of people across The Bay, across the West, across the country are fighting to save the life to Stanley Tookie Williams. Can you tell me any of your thoughts on that?
B-Legit: I think so many people in Hip-Hop have love for him with the Crip and Blood thing. In the beginning, it showed brotherhood. Now you got Bloods and Crips all over the world. It started out as a brotherhood. Like, These are my homeboys and were looking out for each other. Over time, of course the wars came. By him being a triple OG he has had time to live, learn and examine what he did. What hes doing now is trying to give back. To let the people know, by using himself as an example of where he went bad. Hes trying to keep them out of being in the same things so they are not facing what hes facing. Sometimes, if you a preacher and you try to talk to a thug- the thug aint trying to hear what you have to say. Because he feels like you have not been through what he has been through. But lookin at Tookie, they gonna listen. Hes the start. He the founder of this. All hes trying to do now is rebuild from his mistakes and give back. I dont think they should kill him.
Adisa Banjoko is the controversial author of Lyrical Swords Vol. 2: Westside Rebellion. For more info visit www.lyricalswords.com !