Rodney O & Joe Cooleys You Dont Hear Me Tho was the groups energetic opus to being snubbed by radio DJs, and became their biggest hit. With other animosity-driven records like, F**k New York, its easy to understand why the Riverside, California duo may be misunderstood.
Before the tumultuous early 90s, which saw many rappers fight for recognition, Rodney O was a rapper known throughout for his feel-good music. With 808 drums, lots of samples, and simplistic party music, the duo helped lay the groundwork for Los Angeles Hip-Hop in the 80s. As a result of the latter records, few people outside of California may even know.
Recently reunited, and consistently performing sold out shows, Rodney O speaks to AllHipHop.com on behalf of the group. We discuss the recognition that Rodney wants from the East, South, and even in his own region. We look at the evolution of the groups sound, and youll also hear an interesting perspective on Vanilla Ice. Are these legends being overlooked? Read, and decide for yourself
AllHipHop.com: What are you up to right now?
Rodney O: We just in the studio right now, working on our new album. What has happened is just a resurgence of the old school, and people paying more attention, especially in the West Coast, its given us a perfect opportunity to take advantage of it.
AllHipHop.com: In the late 90s, you were both actively releasing small-run indie albums. When was the last time you did this?
Rodney O: Um, we havent been in the studio in years, actually. I just been producing making beats. Mainly, we just been travelin and doin shows. Now, we gotta go out there and get some of this new money. It done swung back around to where the sound we was doing in the beginning is the new sound, now.
AllHipHop.com: Game seems to have been very instrumental in educating young people on Eazy-E and others. What let you know that your timing was right?
Rodney O: Ill be honest with you: to me, the timing still isnt right. For one, nobody on the West Coast thats on a stature is putting anybody out thats from that era. It aint like the talent is gone, its just that when we were blowin up and on the radio, people werent doing features and soundtracks. MTV wasnt giving us no love. It still hasnt swung all the way back around. VH1 has Hip-Hop Honors and they dont mention nothin bout Egyptian Lover or Rodney O & Joe Cooley, [World Class Wreckin] Crew, nobody like that. They just base it on straight Sugar Hill Gang and DJ Kool Herc. They dont say nothin bout the West Coast. When they do, they [usually] wanna start off with Eazy, or Snoop, or Dr. Dre was there though. But it goes way beyond. In New York, they honor they legends. Out here, they dont. Its like were not a factor. Props is cool, but props dont pay rent.
AllHipHop.com: What about radio stations? Red Alert has his lunch thing in New York, Doc B in Philly and you rarely hear West Coast old school records in the mix
Rodney O: I feel the East Coast only puts up with Snoop, Dre, and Ice Cube cause they have to. And they are an important part of Hip-Hop. But they dont wanna go no further than that. Theres Above The Law, theres us, theres Too Short, theres Tone-Loc, Digital Underground, a lot of people they should be playin. But we roll out the red carpet for East Coast artists whos been in a factor. We barely even get love out here the way we should. Why should we expect love out there.
AllHipHop.com: I think theres something to be said for the fact youre still in the lab too. A lot of the artists featured on last years Hip-Hop Honors moved away from recording and working, and to speaking and educating
Rodney O: We just want our proper shot if we do come out again, just like anyone else. We can still put on a better show than any of these young cats. They cant f**k with us. Weve probably done more shows than 50 and Eminem put together, man. There is a story untold. Just like people think that the Down South sound is from Down South. In reality, me and Mr. Mixx and Marquis [from 2 Live Crew] grew up in Riverside. The big record for 2 Live Crew was made right there in Riverside. We came with that 808 sound. Its just that the record took off in Florida, and Luke was a promoter who promoted 2 Live Crew. The Miami sound is from the West Coast. I helped put 2 Live Crew together back in the day. Everlasting Bass [proves] that we were doing that stuff [early].
AllHipHop.com: Afrika Bambaataa is a creator of Hip-Hop. Your early records really seem influenced by his early singles with that bass and percussion
Rodney O: We got that from Egyptian Lover. 808s, our whole album was 808s, and a Linn drum. Thats why our records did so good Down South. On this new record, we goin there. I got Mr. Mixx, Blaqtoven, we just really gettin back to that fun, sub music. I wouldnt say Crunk, Id say 808.
AllHipHop.com: What keeps you and Joe together after twenty plus years?
Rodney O: Understanding each other, and knowin what we done. For a long time, me and Joe didnt mess around. For three years, we didnt do nothin. Everything comes back around full circle. For whatever reason though, we just could not crack that nut. In a way, I think New York did that to us, which is why we came out with the record, F**k New York. We had a nice video that MTV just wouldnt play. But theyd play Kwame and Special Ed, they put them dudes on a pedestal, and gave them dudes face time and air-time they needed.
AllHipHop.com: I always believed that was an answer record to Tim Dogs F**k Compton,
Rodney O: Yeah it was just the whole thing. We came from an independent, selling 250,000 records back in the day, to Atlantic. [With] Atlantic, youre dealing with New York, and all the promotions people who didnt know who the Hell we was. They didnt have no type of respect for us. We put one record out on Atlantic and didnt get the support left that label. That was our answer. Ey, if you not gonna like us let us give you a reason. We was sayin F**k New York and the East Coast, before Pac or anybody else was sayin it. It wasnt towards the people listening to the radio, it was more towards the media and business people.
AllHipHop.com: A dozen years later, do you think that song was taken the wrong way?
Rodney O: [laughs] Definitely. At that point, we didnt care. We was puttin the record out independently, I knew that it would at least, raise some eyebrows. It was a good thing.
AllHipHop.com: What was your reaction to when The Chronic and Doggystyle dropped and got the East Coast love you never did?
Rodney O: Well, it was good. They were good records. It brought that whole element of what L.A. was about to people who didnt know. We were sellin records to White people and Mexicans. The Blacks liked that harder stuff. We were about feel-good music.
AllHipHop.com: I like that feel-good music. You guys perform a lot. Do people watch the performance, or are they more of dance parties?
Rodney O: They really party and really get into it. Even if they dont remember the songs, they act like they do when it comes through the speakers. Joes not just a prop DJ either, hes cuttin through the songs. We get down, man! Its wicked. [laughs] Theres not too many DJs and MCs that get down like me and Joe. The closest is probably Jazzy Jeff and The Fresh Prince and Cash Money and Marvelous Marv. We the only West Coast DJ and MC group that can really bring it back.
AllHipHop.com: Okay, there was word that you were present for the Suge Knight and Vanilla Ice balcony incident. What really happened?
Rodney O: [Laughs heartily] Aw naw, man. I wasnt there. I was [however] involved with Vanilla Ice on his second album though, and helped him do his thing. I felt sorry for that cat. You talkin bout a cat who went platinum overnight. The record companies put him out like that. When you dont have no money, have no vision, what do you expect? The thing with Suge, I dont know too much bout that. But if somebody wrote some stuff on your record and it blew up and you got somebody to go collect it, you aint gonna say no, you gonna say, Get my money. Ill give you this if you get it.
AllHipHop.com: Hip-Hop has torn apart Vanilla Ice. Hes an easy-target. MC Shan worked with Snow, and they put you with him. Did you feel being used for your credibility?
Rodney O: How many people out now got a single and cant rap? It aint about thing. Think of all the freestyle artists at the New York seminars that was winning contests and never had hit records. Its all about that hit record. You can say whatever you want about Vanilla Ice, but hell never be broke. Theres a lot of people way tighter than him thats broke.
AllHipHop.com: No regret with that?
Rodney O: Nah, not at all. It aint like there was a bunch of people knockin on my door to do stuff. Id do it again! He was done before we had that record together. Nobody couldve survived that.
AllHipHop.com: 3rd Bass was one thing, but sampling really hurt Vanilla Ice too. Your biggest hits are sample-based. As times have changed, has your formula had to?
Rodney O: Nah. If theres a tight loop today, that I know will make a hit record and the sampler wants 100% of the publishing, Ill still do it. A hit is a hit.
AllHipHop.com: Addressing the Hip-Hop community going into your next record, what can be said?
Rodney O: Im not saying me and Joe was the best - not by a long shot. But we did something before anybody else did. I just want that credit. Im not satisfied. I want one more run. Im not saying MTV or BET or any of that s**t. I just want a fair chance. We got a hit record. My first single is called Post Up Man, its coming out for first of the year. Im talkin to a few record companies right now. But I know Im going into a war. I cant go into a war with a switchblade when everybody else got uzis and rocket-launchers. I know theres certain things that need to happen. If I can get those things in place, were gonna get our good run, man.