On July 30, West Coast emcee Crooked I released his latest independent album Apex Predator via iTunes and digital outlets everywhere. What makes Apex Predator a unique project from past Crooked I releases is the focus, energy, and development that the veteran rhyme-slayer dedicates to this new album. AllHipHop.com took a trip out to the Treacherous Records studio in Glendale, CA to get the story behind Crooked I’s new aggressive attitude towards the music industry in a two-part interview. Watch out! The Apex Predator is on the loose!
AllHipHop.com: That song with Tech N9ne “Let Me Get It” is like two monsters going at it, unleashing their fury over a city, knocking down buildings and destroying everything in their paths.
Crooked I: Just like Godzilla vs. King Kong. When I heard the beat, there’s an excerpt in that song from the Scarface movie and I thought that sh*t was hard. I recorded a verse to it and I sent it to Joe Budden and he was like, “Yo! I got to get on this song.” So I told him that I would hold it for him so we could rock out on it. I told him that I was going to put Tech on it too. Joe thought that was a dope idea but then he started doing the Love and Hip-Hop thing and became real busy. I turned to Tech and asked him to bless the track real quick. Me personally, I feel like if you make music, then you need to put it out. Don’t sit on a lot of music. If you’ve got music - put that sh*t out. Tech came in and did it. There will be a Joe Budden remix.
AllHipHop.com: Joey is dope no doubt, but anybody who jumps on that song has their work cut out for them.
Crooked I: Tech is the master of double time rapping. He’s mastered that rapid flow. To me, he is up there in the Top 3 of all-time of those that have the rapid flow. There’s Twista of course. I’ll probably have an argument over which Bone Thugs member belongs there too. I always shout out Tech. Whenever I’m in Kansas City, I’ll go by the Strange Music compound. I’ve done a lot of stuff with Strange Music artists because I just vibe with them other there. I love their independent spirit. It’s a blessing to rap with people that you respect. A lot of these n*ggas out there just send songs to each other and never even share the same studio. They might not even give a f*ck about each others music. The first time that me and Tech got down, my dude King Tech put us on song together. Snoop was on that record too. I was kid – that was 10 years ago. It’s dope to see how far he has come since then. He’s the independent King. There is nobody bigger than Tech N9ne that’s independent. You can name me anybody. I know there’s a lot of big dudes and I’m not sh*tting on anybody but I think that Tech is the King.
AllHipHop.com: You know that you have to bring your A-Game when Tech is on that track.
Crooked I: I didn’t even know at first that he was going to be on it. I had already laid my verse down. I let Joey hear it and he wanted to get down on it too. I also originally wanted Hopsin on it. The remix should be me, Tech, Joey and Hopsin. I think that’ll be nasty. I always have a vision for every song.
AllHipHop.com: I noticed that your songs are becoming more structured. I remember when you would just hop on a beat and just go wild. The song concepts and layouts are more structured. You’ve got some beats on this album too!
Crooked I: Thank you, bro. I need some beats that I can just ride to. I’m going to personally drop off this album in areas like South Central, Watts, Compton, Gardena, Hawthorne and of course Long Beach. I’m going to the hoods and barbershops. I’m pulling up unannounced and dropping it off. That’s how strongly that I feel about it. I wanted something to introduce myself to a new generation. I’ve been in this game for a long time and you often have to re-introduce yourself. I wanted something for my n*ggas in Cali and worldwide to just ride to.
AllHipHop.com: The Apex Predator ¬- you’re making a statement with that title.
Crooked I: My whole sh*t behind that was, “Hunt, Kill, Eat.” That’s what an Apex Predator does. I’m going to hunt for opportunity, kill the competition and my whole family is going to eat. A lot of people don’t know what an Apex Predator is and ask why I named my album that and tell me that they don’t like the name. Well, the name is about everything that I’m trying to set in Hip-Hop. This is just the beginning. It’s nowhere near the end. We’re about to hunt mother*ckers down, kill them and eat.
AllHipHop.com: A hungry Crooked I is a dangerous Crooked I.
Crooked I: I’m very hungry. A lot of rappers can’t be hungry anymore. They are so comfortable that they don’t know how to be. I’m starving. If my family doesn’t have it, then I am as hungry as they are. You are right. I am trouble when I’m hungry and I’m like that right now. I’m pressing re-set on my whole career. I don’t even know what I’ve done before Apex.
AllHipHop.com: What lit this fire under you?
Crooked I: It’s the state of Hip-Hop. On a positive “the glass is half full” note, there are a lot of good lyricists out there. But on the “glass is half empty” side, there’s a lot of bullsh*t rappers and they need to step to the side. I want all people to get money and follow their dreams but at the same time we’re not going to pretend that they are the Kings of the Jungle. You’re some n*ggas that are Gazelles running away. Y’all crossed that river and the Crocs and Alligators didn’t eat you – congratulations. Don’t ever think that you’re a Lion though. We’re the Lions out here and we aren’t letting this die for no American Corporate bullsh*t. Hip-Hop is going to always live and lyricism is never going to die. I’m making sure of that. I’m the Apex Predator, man.
AllHipHop.com: You did say the glass is half full though.
Crooked I: That was on some positive sh*t.
AllHipHop.com: This is a time where lyricists have been able to shine.
Crooked I: J. Cole, Kendrick Lamar. Magna Carta dropped. I can’t just sit here and say that there’s only f*cked up sh*t is going on, because there’s good sh*t going on. It would be phony for me to say that Hip-Hop is only in a f*cked up position. There are lyricists out there. Eminem is about to drop – the supreme lyricist.
Then again, you’ve got n*ggas cashing seven figure checks that can’t wrap a Christmas gift. I’ve got to represent for the n*ggas on the corner that are rapping their hearts out, who can’t even get a meeting with an executive because the executive is in to telling artists what kind of Hip-Pop songs to make.
When I went on tour, I met a lot of people in different cities that are talented as f*ck. These people make good music but don’t have the first clue to getting a major record deal. And when they finally do meet somebody in power, they are told to dumb down their music.
AllHipHop.com: That’s something that you’ve heard your entire career.
Crooked I: If I would have dumbed down a long time ago, we wouldn’t be sitting in this studio. We’d be talking on top of the world somewhere. I’d probably have my studio built on top of a sky-scraper (laughs). But seriously, I wouldn’t have it any other way. My thing is what do you stand for? Do you stand for Hip-Hop? Do you stand for lyricism? Do you stand for the culture? If you stand for this real Hip-Hop sh*t, then you stand what I stand for.