Danny Boy: Life After Death Row
and bravado of Suge Knight, the co-founder and former CEO of Death Row Records caused
a great deal of controversy in the early 90s. Knight and his entourage of
cronies were often spotted in their trademark blood red attire, partying and
living the good life.
After all, the
labels marquee artists were ruling the airwaves and Billboard charts while taking
gangsta rap to all new mainstream heights. Times were
good for the label until the violent inclinations of its
CEO began to make more news headlines than its artist.
Signed to the
label at the age of 15, Danny Boy witnessed first hand the miraculous rise of the
West Coast based label and its ultimate demise. This is the former Death Row
signees first exclusive interview since leaving the label. Danny Boy talks
about his admiration for
2Pac, the death of Pacs in-house producer Johnny J , the legal struggles he's
endured with Afeni Shakur and also, why he would never record for Suge Knight,
AllHipHop.com: Many people do not know
you were signed to Death Row at the age of 15, how did that come about?
Danny Boy: I was with an independent
label out of Chicago that was shopping for a deal. There were several record companies interested such as
Warner Brothers, Motown and Scotty Bros, which is owned by the Whispers. Interscope beat us out for a group that
signed over there. Then my boy walked in the room and told Suge about the meeting,
Suge heard me sing and wanted to know if he could sign me.
AllHipHop.com: So, there is no truth to
the rumors you are Suges nephew?
Danny Boy: No, Suge
adopted me. In California, you cannot be signed to a record label at my age
without the signature of a guardian. My mother was ill and my father was in his
60s and did not want to relocate to California, in his words, for some damn
music. Nevertheless, Suge just
made the move and made it possible for me to able to stay in California and
work under their strenuous recording contract laws. Therefore, he adopted me.
AllHipHop.com: There is no denying the
facts; Suge has been instrumental in catapulting the careers of Snoop, Tupac,
Dr.Dre and you, among others. However, you seem to be the only one who has not
come out publically to discredit his business practices or ethics. Why is that?
Danny Boy: In the beginning, we were that label no one could beat.
We had records out that everybody knew; Death Row was a household name in terms
of music. There were artists signed over there such as myself, that never had a
record out, no one knew and I was living just as well as any artist who was out
during that time. I must say at that time he took care of his peoples. He made
sure we were all right as artists; we looked like artists and were treated like
artists. One thing I respect again at that time, Death Row was one of the
biggest record labels around as far as Hip-Hop is concerned. I feel he was
trying to break into the R&B thing, but did not know enough about it. What
I do regret, is trusting Suge too much. I have grown
from the things I learned, from the places I been with him.
AllHipHop.com: So there was no loyalty
to his artists?
Danny Boy: I do not think he ever had
loyalty for any of his artist. I think he was manipulative and he did what he
wanted to do. If he liked you at that time, he treated you as such.
AllHipHop.com: Hip-Hop has been rocked
with another sudden loss with the passing of producer, Johnny J. You personally
recorded with him. How did you hear about his death and what was the brother
Danny Boy: I heard about it on MySpace.
I am always on MySpace checking my messages and someone had hit me with a
message and had a banner saying rest in peace Johnny J so I clicked on it and
his picture came up with the R.I.P. and the next morning my phone was just
ringing off the hook.
what producer was in the studio working on Pacs album, Johnny J was a producer
2Pac took into his own heart as a friend, so he was always around and was
instrumental in making the All Eyez On Me album.
Ive had a chance personally to record songs with Johnny J. Just a great
producer, great producer, very energetic, we always had a joke like, Dude
dont ever get sleep. Johnny J was just a great talent man, innocent brother. You know, another innocent brother just
gone for no reason.
AllHipHop.com: If you had one fond
memory of Johnny J, what would it be?
Danny Boy: In the studio when they were
recording one of those dissing records, I think Pac was doing one of his Bad
Boy disses yeah it I think it was Hit Em Up, he was
having his little fun in the studio. He would say Junior Mafia we gonna get you muthaf**kas or something like that and it was a real rowdy time
and Death Row was so close. You
know the artists well I shouldnt say the artists but whatever side
they were on, they were real close.
You know, the blue side or the red side... Snoop and Suges people you
know they were so close man and you know we always had good times just in the
studio because that was where we lived everyday. You know you couldnt catch us
in the streets, we didnt party in the streets, we didnt party in the clubs,
we partied in the studio, we did things together.
AllHipHop.com: What was the feeling
like when the songs were just coming out and the videos were blowing up where
were you in life then?
Danny Boy: At that time
I was recording my record from my forthcoming album with Death Row and that was
the A studio in Cam-AM studios in Tarzana, California. I am in the A
studio and Pac was in the B studio and you could just Pac would just come
running in the room and I would be in the booth recording one of my songs. He
would come in the booth saying, Come on D lace this part, I got something for
you man. There were times of us being drunk and tired as I do not know what
and we would go in there and record them records.
One song that
really sticks with me is I Aint Mad
At Cha. We shot a video to that song
and it was not really coming across the way Pac or the executives from the
labels wanted it to come across. It was going to be slated and was not going to
be a single; I was somewhat upset because this was my opportunity to be in the
video with Pac. I had the chance to see that video after Pac passed away. The
director sent the reel to Suges house and I was there. To just sit there and
watch that video, to see us in the heaven scene when Red Foxx tells Pac, You
got to earn your wings to get in heaven. It was kind of emotional for me
because I was the only one in that scene who was still living, everyone one
else was legends or either passed away... Pac just passed a couple of days
AllHipHop.com: When was the last time
you spoke to Suge Knight?
Danny Boy: The week after he got
knocked the f**k out, I spoke with him.
AllHipHop.com: What did he say to you?
Danny Boy: He said, Ooh Im straight. Ive always told myself see I was
brought up in church and knowing God, when I care about somebody my Lord, hes
liable to see that. I was just calling to make sure he was good because the one
thing I dont take for granted is life regardless of what somebody has done to me or how they make me feel. I just took everything I
learned from Suge as a great learning experience and Ill always reach out to him
and Ill always let him know some words that probably nobody else will tell
Im praying for you I was thinking that maybe this dude got hit he was that
close to being killed at that moment.
A shot is just as easy as a punch if a person can get up on you
and hit you they can get up on you and kill you. I had to reach out to him and make sure that he was cool. And, we talked for a minute. He said to keep doing the music and that
I should come out there to California, so we can get some things cracking
which I wasnt listening to that but - just to know he was alright was
good enough for me.
Do you think in your opinion after all you been through and with you being
more mature, that there will ever be a chance of you working with Suge Knight
Danny Boy: Never. I wouldnt record a record on his rest
in peace album. I would be there
to watch him go away but I wont sing a song for him ever in life again, never, ever
AllHipHop.com: I heard you had the
chance to be on American Idol? I
heard you made it all the way to Hollywood?
Danny Boy: Yeah I made it to the top 22.
After I got through doing a part everybody was clapping and I was getting a lot
of love from Paula and Simon. Those guys were really treating me nice and the
lawyer came to me and shoved some papers in my face saying, What the f**k is
this? I looked at it and it was
some papers of me being on Death Row on their website saying, Danny Boy album
coming out soon. One of the rules were you could not be involved with a record
label or under any contractual agreement.
I had been off that label; I was signed at 15 and was off the label when
I turned 21 by the courts.
Did you ever try to take them to court for royalties or anything like that?
Danny Boy: This has been the hardest
trip Im still on right now filing some procedures and things like that against
Tupacs estate. I cant really
file against Suge because he filed for bankruptcy for Death Row because they were
put out of business. I know that
me and Tupacs mom had signed an agreement for me to be paid when it was all that
time I was waiting around I waited months, I waited months and I finally got in
touch with her and she told me that my payment had been sent to Suge
her company told her to send the payment to Suge Why? I dont
AllHipHop.com: Im still going through
it and the thing is when you dont have money you cant compete against these
big record companies and these moguls who have a hundred million dollar budgets.
Its kind of hard to fight against them with a lawyer that, you know my little
five thousand dollars and twenty-five hundred dollars runs out faster than that
of Tupacs mom with her two million and thats how it would work out.
AllHipHop.com: You never mentioned that
to them and asked directly wheres my royalties?
Danny Boy: To who, Pacs mom or Suge?
Danny Boy: I mentioned it to him and
hes the one that turned me on to the first lawyers saying that Pacs mother or
Pacs estate owed me. [He said]
the lawyer he used to contact them and what ever we needed to do that, Wed
make it happen. The first lawyer I talked to it gets to a certain
point where he makes me think Im about to get paid and a couple of months go
by and Im not hearing from the lawyers or a couple months go by and, We cant
do anything. Then they come with a bunch of false information to make me not
want to go after the money.
AllHipHop.com: What is your
relationship with Pacs mom now?
Danny Boy: Nothing. I wouldnt say s**t to her if I had the
opportunity shes a fake, shes a phony and I hate to say it because
Pac was my friend, Pac is my friend no disrespect to him. But I believe if Pac was
living he wouldnt have treated me like this. We didnt have this kind of relationship. I can walk up to Pac and get a hundred thousand
dollars out of his pocket at that time if he had it on him. So for me to have to go through so much
over something that it is clear in evidence is ridiculous. Something, I was a
part of, over something that Ive written. I just think its disrespectful to my
mother whos resting in peace - when Pac wasnt being paid by Death Row Records,
she was very adamant about going to Death Row Records and Interscope
to make sure he got the right portion that he deserved.
I seen Pacs
mother at the memorial held at the Tupac Shakur Peace Garden, and when I saw her it was liked a
ghost jumped in her face. She
hugged me and hugged me and she said, Oh Ive missed you and Ive been worried
about you, and Were finally through this God has finally released us and
weve made it through the storm. This
was really my first time being around his mother since Pac had died and I was
with my manager. Im crying because Im emotional, Im standing in the Tupac museum and Im feeling like Im around Pac because Im
around his mother, and Im falling into the trap of her.
My manager was
saying thats some bull because you are still going through the same thing,
youre still going through the same problems. Shes the one that made it
through the storm. She ended it by saying yeah we need to get together and you
belong here and she called over her people and said give him your numbers and
get his numbers. And thats when I
knew - Ive been in Hollywood a long time so I cant even mention the artists that
Ive met, the stars that Ive met and the legends that I met so I can tell you I know how it is when
somebody will tell you get my assistants number and thats kind of how she
played me. I havent seen her
AllHipHop.com: What kinds of projects do
you have going on now?
Danny Boy: What Im working on now is
the most famous question. Im used to being asked, How was it working with Pac
and what was it like working with Death Row? I kinda
fell a little behind the eight-ball but Im back on it.
Im working on my book to tell the story of my travels through Death Row and my
life, my relationship with Pac and were planning on putting ten songs on a CD
that will come inside the book when you purchase it. Im working on landing a deal with that. I cant even name the record labels that
Ive been to that turned me away because their being scared of I think
they call him Mr. Knight. Ive
been constantly singing and I believe that when God has something for you, its
for you and nobody can turn it down. Im just constantly singing and recording
until one of those labels is ready to step up and say theyre willing to take a
chance on me.
AllHipHop.com: What inspired you to get into the
Danny Boy: My mother inspired me into
wanting to really take it serious.
She was a singer and before I was born she sang. And all I can remember is the stories
of people saying how I sang like my mother and how youre carrying your
mothers legacy on. During her pregnancy and a little bit after she suffered
about seven strokes and it left her with a speech impediment. I was the only
person that really understood my mother out of all my eight sisters and
brothers and 12 of her sisters and brothers I was the one gifted to understand
every word that she said. My
mother through her and church because I sang in church
she would sit on the front row and every word I sang she would just cry. When I went over the first time to
Death Row we were coming out with a Christmas album and my mother was deep into
church. She didnt understand but
she walked around with that album every Sunday at church saying, Dannys on
this, not realizing that it wasnt a Christmas album, it was the Murder Was TheCase record that had just came out. So my mother inspired me to take this thing real serious.
Slip N Slide Video
AllHipHop.com: Is there anything you
remember from your time with Pac that you carry with you?
Boy: Yes, I shot my second video in Mexico for the song called Slip N Slide.
I was with Suge, his lawyer David Kenner, Michele, and my daughters mother. On
our way back, we were up about 30,000 feet in the air and our plane caught on
fire, we had to make an emergency landing. Once we hit the ground the fire
department and police was out there. Word got back to the family at Cam-Am
Studio and I remember getting on the phone with Pac and he said, Man you got
s**t to do, aint none of that dying s**t Danny. I was
crying and he was saying, You good little homie, you
good, its going to be alright. I remember that he told me you got to live you
got something to do. That stuck with me the most.