With the resurgence of West Coast Hip-Hop in full swing, several spectacular events have taken place. One is the West coast Peace Summit, another being the reunion of Tha Dogg Pound and the third the “How the West Was Won” tour with Snoop, Game and other notable West Coast all-stars. However, if you really want to know the secrets of how the west was won, you gotta look to the hit makers, so we caught up with on of L.A.’s most prolific OG’s, as he reunited with his long lost homies, on the How the West was Won tour to recreate the magic all over again. Whether you know him by name or not, you’re sure to know his music because Battlecat has been around since 213 was only one of two area codes in the city and, long before the group of the same name even had a dial tone.
From his days with WC and the Bangin’ On Wax records by the Crips and Bloods, to more recently, Tha Eastsidaz “G’D Up, Kurupt’s “We Can Freak It” or his personal favorite Daz’ “It Might Sound Crazy” to name a few from his incredible catalog. It’s that feel good music that has made Battlecat a G amongst his peers and it’s his wealth of knowledge, passion and commitment to music that makes him a phenomenal producer. Listen as he let’s the record play on everything West Coast…and then some.
AllHipHop.com: I know you were a part of the Peace Conference that Snoop called last month and I want to talk to you about that, but first I want to address the situation with you suing Snoop last year for using your music with out permission, did you all resolve that?
Battlecat: That’s been resolved.
AllHipHop.com: So when legal disputes come up, is it a matter of your people going after his people, or is it something you yourself have to initiate?
Battlecat: I mean like I said it was just clearly a misunderstanding and the importance of the misunderstanding was merely the fact that I had to do what I had to do to get their attention, and it was something that happened to go in my favor but nonetheless we got it resolved. We actually talked a couple of days before the suit was won and the fact that we talked is what made this relationship that we have now even better.
AllHipHop.com: Over the years I’ve been able to interview Snoop several times and he’s always talked about the way things were and wanting the West to come together, so I’m happy to see it finally coming to fruition, but why did it take so long? Why was it so easy for people to put the beefs aside and come together now?
Battlecat: I think everybody just wanted to see what it was and they have a right to see what is was. Some came because they wanted to be about it beyond what it was or just coming out to see if it was true or not, or they wanted to understand the reason behind the calling. It had to happen and it was an awareness conference for us to recognize all the things from the political side that wouldn’t be in the West coasts favor. Some things that I thing a lot of people in the crowd didn’t know especially about the FCC and how Al Sharpton and people like him have taken such a great interest for some reason in policing or refereeing the Rap game with penalties for artists who come with derogatory lyrics or subject matter. But everybody ain’t gonna be with this walk because it has a lot to do with if a person’s heart or mind or spirit is someplace else. Some people wanna just have it their way and with this movement it’s not about having it your way it’s how we’re gonna do it collectively and whose mind and heart is open with an abundance of knowledge and people skills. Who knows how to collaborate and communicate with people who do business because that’s another thing with Snoopy blazing us with information is how the gangsta street mentality doesn’t fit into the corporate world and everybody’s really got to get into that world and when we don’t show the corporate world the creative and innovative side with a corporate state of mind it really hurts the chance of anything being appreciated or appointed to the West Coast.
AllHipHop.com: No disrespect to Snoop because I know he’s built his own brand over the years, but do you really think he’s an adequate representative to be the spokesperson if the intent is to leave the street mentality out of the corporate sector?
Battlecat: If you’re talking about songs like “Pop It Like It’s Hot” where he says the left side is where the [Crip bandana] is, really – what he’s doing is educating. If you look at the visual, this is a brother that comes from that walk of life in Long Beach and all its obstacles, and he’s giving a description saying this is me that came from all of this too. This is how you identify a real street soldier that came from the blue rag side of California. See that’s another thing with him, his whole record wasn’t based on no gangsta s**t, but he kept it gangsta by bringing the true codes of Crippin’ into the mainstream. I’m not saying that’s what you should do now but that’s what works for Snoopy because that is naturally him, it’s not a gimmick or something he had to use to capitalize off of. I live in my own neighborhood and I understand the body language of the ghetto as well as the mainstream and both worlds do have their place, that’s why I’m really pleased with where he comes from because he does what he has to do to let people know that he does still identify with that life.
AllHipHop.com: I guess something like this had to come from a Snoop or a Dre, but do you feel it’s really real or is it about publicity, or generating money? What was brought up in the conference and is it something that will boil over into the streets to the young people that emulate all their hood heroes?
Battlecat: That’s already happening because every member of West coast Hip-Hop is connected to the streets in some capacity, and we’re all from different neighborhoods so that’s going to be a natural progression. That’s why I’m glad he came and broke it down and said this is gonna be this type of meeting, an Awareness and Unification Western Conference to let everybody know that we can do it individually or collectively when we’re making these records but in the mean time focus on being independent because that really where it’s at. I can’t really speak on the things that people do, that’s out of character. But everybody’s entitled to grow, so I can’t throw rocks and stones like I’ve never been superior acting my damn self, but nobody is superior. We’re more concerned with who’s really gonna be there for each other when we finally see the light. That’s why this tour is so important. I’m so blessed to be back on tour with these dudes man, to have someone like Snoopy and Daz both say man we need you, do you know how hard that is for someone to say but we all humbled ourselves and came together.
AllHipHip.com: Who would you like to work with that you haven’t yet?
Battlecat: Jay-Z. It’s not a dream, it’s just something I know I gotta be consistent enough to attract somebody the same way Quik did. Jay was like this is my last album let me just see what I can come up with through my various relationships. For Jay-Z to perform like he did lyrically over “Justify My Thug.” it led me to know that he wasn’t looking for just the typical Quik, it let me know that he was looking for something that Quik probably didn’t even know he was capable of.
AllHipHop.com: Who do you respect as a producer?
Battlecat: Out of New York, I still miss Diamond D, I still miss Premier, and I still miss Large Professor from Main Source, The Bomb Squad’s Hank Shockley, Herbie Luv Bug, Marley Marl and Vance Wright. They all had their own identity as a producer or DJ. They might have used the same instruments but each one made them perform differently. Just like I’ve used “More Bounce” [by Zapp], but the homey Easy Mo Bee who is another producer who touched me, but the way he used it I had to throw my hands up and leave it alone, because dude performed “Going Back to Cali” for Biggie and he did it such a universal way that took it to the extreme in such a simple way, that the West coast loved it too. As a producer to come with such a bi-coastal appeal that you don’t know who the producer is, is the type of producer I am as well. As far as producers of today, Just Blaze is the tightest to me overall because he doesn’t just produce one style of music. When you can easily navigate from producing for Joe Buddens and Jay-Z to Usher and Carl Thomas, then that’s a producer. Like me, I can get down with the rappers and then go get down with Kenny Latimore or Debra Cox or Brian McKnight or even Stanley Clarke and George Duke.
AllHipHop.com: So what’s on Battlecat’s plate right now?
Battlecat: Well outside of this tour, the new regime of entertainment through Hip-Hop, R&B and Gospel. Why Gospel? Because that’s where the soul comes from and I strayed away from the background that I started with, playing drums at church. Straying away so far had an effect on my business and the way I conducted my business and how I chose to be in this nasty Hip-Hop industry. I’m a soulful spiritual cat, so when I let go and got back on track, the soul found its way back. As far as new music coming out of South Central, I got my brother Myke-Stro, Glasses Malone out of Watts, Bishop Lamont from South Central, who Dre has some interest in, and a group from my neighborhood called 6-Pack. The ladies of the West have also appointed me to be a part of their movement which is going down as well so look out for Yo-Yo, [Lady of] Rage, Big Chan of Doggie’s Angels and Ms. Toi to be making their way back, it’s not a game.