Glasses Malone: What U See Is What U Get

The West Coast is about more than just gangbanging and the occasional Dr. Dre produced single. Just ask rapper Glasses Malone. The Cali rapper’s story may have begun like many young men who come from his neighborhood, but he’s taking his life lessons and following them in a new direction. Malone split his time growing up between Watts and Compton, where joining a gang and hustling in the streets was an unspoken prerequisite for respect. While his environment prepared him for the sometimes cut-throat music industry it also instilled in him a business mentality. Grinding through his neighborhood, he sold his records hand to hand gaining notoriety and ultimately getting a $1.7 million deal with Sony Records in 2006. Due to changes with the label that deal eventually fell through, turning Malone into a free agent. Yet just one week later he and his Blu Division label were under a new contract with Hoo Bangin/Cash Money/Universal records through which his debut Beach Cruiser will be released. Proudly claiming the West Coast in his lyrics and mantra, Malone is trying to add a new branch to the tree rooted in region’s rap culture. He spoke with about how he plans to change the game for West Coast music, his mother’s 25 year jail sentence and why it’s important to give back. You want to change the perception that people have about people that come out of Compton or Watts (the gang banging mentality). How are you going to do that?Glasses Malone: I try to go a lot deeper with my art than the average person. Maybe not about bars or lyrics but projects as a whole; I really work on that a lot. Not to mention the different views I share compared to a lot of people that may do a lot of music. As far as gangbanging, the position I take with drinking and smoking and doing drugs over all. I think my albums really expressed a different person than the average person out Why did you get out of gang banging?Glasses Malone: You just get older and you’re just tired of it. It’s just something that you don’t do. It’s not hard to get out of gang banging, it just like “Do you really want to get out of it?” If you’re a real man, people aren’t going to give you a hard time. They’re going to let you do what you want to A lot of rappers in Southern California portray that gang-banger mentality though, how are you working to take West Coast rap into a new direction?Glasses Malone: You can’t take that away from West Coast rapping, because that is West Coast culture. That’s Los Angeles, not even West Coast. Not the Bay, Portland, or Seattle or none of the other places on the West Coast. That’s L.A. culture. You can’t wake up one day and say “You shouldn’t gang bang.” That’s not legit. That’s not going to happen. What I do typically is I put a lot of Bloods and Crips together. That’s not on purpose, that’s just because that’s how my life is. Not to mention when I do shows in Los Angeles, a lot of time I get more Bloods at my shows then I get You get in the studio a lot and basically record when it feels good, how did you put it all together to make a cohesive album?Glasses Malone: It took me a second. I had an idea of what I wanted to do with this album. I wanted to make a story. I knew when I did my four album deal I wanted to make all four albums connected—more than just titles but material. It was like putting together a movie. You write what you want to talk about through the whole movie then you start coming up with the scenes for it. The songs are the scenes for me. When I was putting together songs the first three or four I might have nailed perfectly, but after that I couldn’t nail one. It took me four months to get another song that was going to fit. I’m very satisfied with it; I’m just making sure the transitions are real What’s behind the title Beach Cruiser?Glasses Malone: It was a metaphor. It represented the West Coast. It represented my flow, everybody says that I have the “Beach Cruiser” flow because it’s real smooth and steady. I can rap on anything and just be me on the track and not change. It represents the West Coast and also how classic a Beach Cruiser is. I want my music to be as timeless as a Beach How do you plan to create a new legacy in West Coast music?Glasses Malone: The challenge in itself is trying to earn a plaque without [Dr.] Dre’s involvement doing Gangster rap. Even if it’s not Dre it has something to do with the N.W.A. tree. I think trying to be successful without Dre pushing your project from the West Coast in gangster rap is like a legacy in itself. On a personal level, I know that your mother is currently serving a 25 year sentence for narcotics, do you correspond with her?Glasses Malone: She has 200 months left. I just got off the phone with her about an hour How has your mother being locked up affected you?Glasses Malone: It made me a savage. It made me really keep hustling. It’s in my blood to be a hustler. My mom was a registered nurse. She was already making good money, but she was addicted to the hustle. I know that you do charity work, and you have a foundation. Why is it so important to you to give back?Glasses Malone: I have a foundation called No More Car Washes that we just finished setting up. What it is, is trying to slowly cease a lot of the violence that going on in Watts. Watts is small but it’s a lot of violence compared to how small the area is. It’s these little kids under 18 who are gang banging that are getting killed. I was tired of going by people’s mom’s houses having to give them $500 to try and bury these kids. So I came up with an idea and a foundation that in Watts if you get killed in this certain area people can start getting buried in a nice setting. Also a part of it is to try and cease a lot of the killing and start providing a lot of opportunities. I’m really starting to focus a lot on the 5th graders. I think that age bracket is the perfect age to get to a kid. You can appeal to them and you can make sense to them as long as you’re willing to stick around. If you can start bringing them together on a positive vibe while they’re in school you have a lot better chance later on in life.