By: Shirley Ju (@shirju)
Eastwood is one of the best two left standing from the notorious Death Row Records imprint (the other being Crooked I).
Hailing from Los Angeles, the West Coast spitter had the pleasure of working with Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes just days before she passed on April 25th, 2002, collaborating and penning her verse on TLC’s “Girl Talk.”
AllHipHop caught up with Eastwood to discuss his nickname Mr. Black Bandana, how he got signed to Death Row Records, and introducing The Game to Suge Knight.
AllHipHop: For those who don’t know, who is Eastwood?
Eastwood: I’ma just tell you how I got my name. I was born on the Eastside of Los Angeles, Memorial Hospital, moved to Inglewood where I played basketball. Went to Inglewood High School when I was living with my grandmother before she rest in peace. Put it together because both sides got love for me. The rose that grew from concrete, as Pac would say.
I’m one of those guys who had a rough upbringing, and it made me the man I am today. I’m a fun, serious, hustler, who wants to be successful and see my people successful.
AllHipHop: How’d you get the nickname Mr. Black Bandana?
Eastwood: I wanted to change the image of me being Eastwood for so long. I was going through so much in life that I wanted to put Eastwood aside and have a real definition to the streets, when it comes down to these gang members because it's a lot of black on black killing.
If you hold up a black bandana on the street, that’s a neutral color. It’s not red, it’s not blue — but that don’t mean I won’t do the same thing as those cats or I won’t defend myself and my family.
That’s how I grew up. I grew up with the Crips, I grew up with the Bloods. I never wanted to choose a side because if I chose to be a Blood, I got Crip homies that I’ma have to beef with. If I choose to be a Crip, I got a bunch of Blood homies I’ma have to beef with. I wanted to stand up for the kids who feel how I feel, and represent something neutral to the streets.
AllHipHop: At what point did you realize this music thing was forreal?
Eastwood: It was a house party my folks had when Snoop beat the case.
Remember “Murder was the Case”? A few buddies were rapping on the mic to certain Death Row instrumentals and Tupac came on. It was “Keep Ya Head Up” and I bodied it. Some guy there was A&R for Death Row and he was asking was I signed? Was I interested? I was like “maybe I can do this, this could change my life.”
Because I was playing basketball, I went to Fresno State. I knew it was serious because I was like “yo it’s Death Row, I better take this seriously.” That was the first day.
AllHipHop: Who was the A&R?
Eastwood: It was a guy named Corey Grant. He worked with ‘em for a few years and eventually got fired, but Suge end up hearing about me through a mutual friend named Magic. Magic is one of the guys who found me on the Eastside of LA and felt like I should rap.
AllHipHop: If you could sum it up, talk about how you got signed through Suge.
Eastwood: Magic had found me on the Eastside. We was doing a lot of shows, working with certain artists (Snoop, The Outlawz, Kurupt, his little brother Rosco). I end up getting kicked out the house I was staying, and moved with Kurupt. Suge got out of jail for the whole Tupac/Biggie s##t. When he got out, he wanted to revamp Death Row and call it the Second Dynasty.
We was doing an interview at Power 106 and Suge actually had some folks meet us to let us know he wanted to holla. We end up going back to the Death Row office ‘cause we didn’t even know that he was out.
AllHipHop: Talk about your relationship with The Game & his MOB group.
Eastwood: I introduced him to Suge. We met at one of Suge’s best friend’s funeral. I was with Suge, he was talking to all the artists.
All homies was there from Compton, from the mob. As I was walking by coming back from talking to another friend, Game stopped me in my tracks. He said “what's up Eastwood, I'm trying to get down with you and Death Row. If possible, can you hear me rap right now?” I was like s##t “it’s a funeral bro, not right now but you can take my number.”
He called me the next morning around 8am in the morning and rapped for me on the phone. I thought he was talented. I heard something in him. I immediately said “meet me at the studio.”
Now keep in mind I’m on Death Row already. Me, Crooked I, these are the facts that people know. The same people who were on that XXL, that's who on Death Row. [claps] That's who Suge was rolling with. It’s obvious, or you would have seen more faces right?
So I introduce him to Suge, they vibe for a minute. He would come to my sessions. Eventually he got introduced to Dmac and Dmac introduced him to Dr. Dre, but the whole Death Row circuit. he met that whole circle through me.
We know mutual people who f##k with Death Row, but he was introduced to that circle through me.
After that, I left Death Row and he actually started his Black Wall Street movement. He found out I left Death Row and he had Tony Martin call me, that was his manager at the time. He said Game was doing the How The West Was Won tour with Snoop. This was when he first out of Aftermath because him and 50 had broke up, kicked him out the booths and s##t.
He wanted to start a group with me and Techniec from Long Beach. I was doing Caltrans (parole) at the moment, so I was like “f##k, this a case. I gotta finish this s##t up or I’ma go to jail.” But I left. Went on tour and when I came back, I got locked the f##k up too.