While some youngsters may have seen him on Comedy Central's Reno 911 and just laughed it up at the show's slightly off centered humor, those who know Chino XL, know he's no joke when it comes to the mic. When he was younger than Lil Bow Wow, Rick Rubin took what he saw as the next L.L. Cool J and brought a new energy to the West. His lyrical content and his swagger were way beyond his young years, but was it too much for the young superstar, or was it too much too soon for Hip-Hop? Whatever the case was then, Chino strikes again with upcoming release Poison Pen on Activate Records.
Chino XL carries himself like a superstar. Like his tough rhymes, he has a tough exterior, and plethora of interesting stories to tell. AllHipHop.com shows the Hollywood by way of New Jersey star in candid light, and you?ll be wowed by Chino for a whole new set of reasons. Believe it.
AllHipHop.com: You've been away for five years, what's been going on in your world since we last heard from you?
Chino XL: I'm supposed to talk about getting into trouble and all that tough guy s**t ? [mimicking other rappers] I got into trouble with the law, and went back to the streets, and all that type of s**t that happened, but you know what - I just took some time off to spend with my babies too, we made it out the hood and we moved to Miami, then we moved to California, and I had enough money to put them in school and take them to Disneyland and get to do all of the s**t I didn't get to do when I was a kid. And you know also, I wasn't ready to be recognized everywhere I went, and I cant really hide cause I don't look like anybody else, so I stand out like, ?There go that n***a, right there,? and I really wasn't ready for that, I didn't really count on that.
AllHipHop.com: How can you want to be a rapper and not count on that?
Chino XL: When I first started rappin?, I was a little ass kid, it wasn't no videos except for [Run-DMC?s] ?Rock Box?. I'm still a young mothaf**ka, but Rick [Rubin] used to get me fake ID's so I could rent cars and all that to make me look older than what I was. It was crazy, but even so I still perceived myself as being like everyone else form my hood but then when videos came out ? instantly, it was like, ?What's up, Chino??
AllHipHop.com: Speaking of crazy situations, I know one thing that prompted you getting back in the studio, was the illness of your two-year old daughter who was diagnosed with a rare type of cancer, can you talk about that a little?
Chino XL: We essentially were told that she was diagnosed with a rare neuroplast seratoma which is like so rare that one in two million people get it. They don't know if it's ecological, it's not genetic because neither her mother or I have anything like that in our family. I had thought the worst thing that happened to me in my life was when mothaf**kas put a gun to my head and that type of stuff, and I'm you know I'm like a superhero type mothaf**ka, nothing can happen to me. So when that happened, it was the first time that something happened that was out of my control. That's the first time I ever had to do that, and believe in the doctors, and basically shut the hell up and be receptive to all these people who wanted to help me. It was the first time I ever got to see life crystal clear, there some issues that I've never had to deal with that other people have to deal with.
AllHipHop.com: Since you?re being so open, tell me something about Chino XL that would surprise anyone to know about you.
Chino XL: I sleep in character pajamas. Not when I'm trying to be sexy, but the reason I do that is because I am so serious and that whole Chino XL thing is so intense that I need to completely take that s**t off, and you can't be but so tough in Sponge Bob pajamas. Plus, my baby loves it. See that's the difference in being a grown man now and being secure in who I am cause I woulda never let that s**t go before, but I don't give a s**t ?cause if a n***a break into my house, he'll just get his ass whipped by a n***a wearing Sponge Bob Square Pants pajamas.
AllHipHop.com: You seem to carry yourself like a superstar ? as someone on a Black Eyed Peas or Kanye West level. That said, why do you think a lot of people out there might not be so familiar with Chino XL?
Chino XL: I guess essentially, I never really changed how I do things since the very beginning. I never tried to meet commercial listeners halfway, I?ve always done things the rawest way humanly possible.
AllHipHop.com: So you think that limits you? You can?t be who you are and still be mainstream or commercial?
Chino XL: I mean, you can be. I just refuse to really let that side out. I think I thought it either happens or it doesn?t, it?s not really a strategy if people find you, they find you, you don?t really go after them.
Allhiphop.com- Since you?re pretty much a West Coast MC, a lot of people may not know that you were a member of the Zulu Nation.
Chino XL: Yeah, my uncle Barry Worrell from Parliament/Funkadelic and George Clinton and Bambaataa were real cool, and George brought me around the Nation for the first time when I was about ten years old. So I started going to the meetings and all that. I was on a table of five in Jersey, so that was I used to carry crates for Bambaataa and the whole s**t. It used to f**k people up they?d be like, ?Wow, Ice-T is picking Chino up from school.? [laughing]
AllHipHop.com: Tell me about you and Ice?s relationship.
Chino XL: Ice was probably my first mentor, because he was the first person to say, ?Maybe you should think of doing things like this,? or ?the way you do this is hot dog, don?t let anybody change the way you do that.? I?ve done music with him I did the movie, Crime Partners with him. Ice is a smart dude.
AllHipHop.com: Speaking of good smart dudes, Rick Rubin was responsible for your first deal with American, what happened with that?
Chino XL: You know, I don?t have nothing bad to say about Rick. I mean he got me off the streets when I was 15. I was in a group, Art of Origin, and he said he signed me because my energy reminded him of LL when he was young. he?s a genius when it comes to song structure, but I?m gonna see him soon, I?m working on some rock projects so I?m gonna see him soon.
AllHipHop.com: When I personally first met you you were on Warner Brothers. Talk about some of the things that were going on over there behind the scenes?
Chino XL: When Rick went to Columbia with American, believe it or not, one of the deal breakers with him leaving the label was they wanted me and Johnny Cash - especially since I had a pretty good hit with that song ?Creep?, so I decided to stay. I was signed to the Pop department though, but they really didn?t know what they wanted to do, and I didn?t know what I wanted to do either, so that didn?t really work. I had been in the Warner system at that point for eight years, with only one album release and a couple of twelve-inches.
AllHipHop.com: I don?t know if this is murky waters for you but it?s been said that you can be temperamental and were hard to work with back then, is that true?
Chino XL: Well I was younger, you have to understand. I was a young guy that stayed drunk and stayed high. I had money for the first time, I was getting a little f**kin? crazy. I?m an Aries and I?m a perfectionist, who wants things the way I want them. And people weren?t trying to hear an artist who wasn?t gold or platinum, who knew it all before you even have a proven hit and my problem was where my arrogance came from.
AllHipHop.com: Were you ever resentful of Eminem as a result of all the early comparisons and where he is now in his career?
Chino XL: Absolutely not, first of all, what he did with a lot of the style that we share is something that I would?ve never done with it. I would never have made it funny. I never was willing to laugh at myself. So what he did with the bag of tools that we share is, he built a completely different house.