Dubcnn and Crooked I have a long history, going back all the way to 2003 when I first interviewed Crooked, who was still on Death Row at the time. Throughout the years, a great friendship developed and dubcnn witnessed his trials and tribulations leading up to become a part of the Slaughterhouse supergroup and signing with Eminem’s Shady Records.
We sat with Crooked I just in time for the release of his new EP “In None We Trust – The Prelude” EP to speak about the project.
Crooked also goes in-depth on being signed to Shady Records and having Eminem as the CEO and the chemistry between the Slaughterhouse members. We also find out more about the incredible BET Shady 2.0 Cypher that took place at this year’s BET Awards.
Crooked explains what C.O.B. really is and how the movement has helped him throughout his career. We end off the interview with a few words about his single “Game Time”, being released to digital retailers on January 17th as well as some closing words on Crooked’s career so far.
Interview was done in December 2011
Dubcnn Exclusive – Crooked I
By: Nima Etminan
On the “In None We Trust” EP:
Crooked I: In None We Trust… I’ve been through a lot in this industry, I’ve dealt with a lot of people that were real phony and fake and I’ve learned that my best bet is to trust my circle. So I’m constantly pushing my circle, C.O.B. and when it comes to this game, in none we trust. I only trust my circle, which is C.O.B. and Slaughterhouse.
On being on Shady Records and working with Eminem:
Crooked I: Here’s the deal, dogg. You walk into the studio and Eminem is in there. It’s like walking into the NBA locker room and Kobe Bryant is in there. *laughs* Or when the Bulls walked in and seen Michael Jordan. The inspiration is crazy. The competitive nature in the room is crazy, but he’s arguably the G.O.A.T. (greatest of all time), when it comes to writing lyrics. So it’s just a dope atmosphere!
And then, you also have someone who understands being a rapper, that is calling the shots. So it’s not some stuffed shirt who is telling you “don’t rap like this” or somebody who never wrote a rap in their fucking life. It’s somebody who is an expert on the subject and he feels you and knows how to market you because he is a MC as well. So it’s a great thing. Eminem is committed to the project and he reassures us all the time that he is very committed to the Slaughterhouse project.
That just feels good in itself, because you can get lost in the mix on a major. You can walk in there, sign a deal, take the picture, shake hands and everybody sees the picture and says “oh he’s on this major label!” After that, you might not be able to contact anybody from that label! Maybe just your A&R, every now and then. You’re probably never gonna be able to talk to an executive unless you start selling records. They don’t even shake your hand again! They shake your hand when you get the first check and they take the picture for press and industry insider magazines, but they won’t shake your hand again unless you sell a million records.
On competing with the other Slaughterhouse MC’s:
Crooked I: It’s crazy, because there are two ways of competing that I’ve learned. I compete with Slaugherhouse in a form that’s very friendly. I just don’t want to get my head handed to me on a platter on a song *laughs* So I make sure that I bring my A game. But when I’m leaving the studio, I don’t feel like I was really competing with them, I just feel like we were making great music. But we absolutely compete with people outside of the circle and that level of competition is “we wanna be the best”. If we gotta step on you and squash you into the ground like a bug – lyrically – we wanna do that and show the world what dope MC’s with bars are supposed to sound like. So yeah, that’s what it is. But yeah, it’s very competitive, those dudes are monsters! That’s why they call us the four-headed monster.
On The 2011 BET Cypher:
Crooked I: On the BET cypher, it was crazy, because we all have so much stuff that we do individually, that sometimes when we come together we surprise each other with what’s going to happen! I think that’s a good thing because you get the natural reaction, like “Damn, he just said that?” *laughs* It’s real! It’s not phony or rehearsed. We didn’t even know what we were going to say and nobody knew that Em was gonna do about a hundred bars of straight mayhem! But he showed you why he’s the boss. *laughs* He came and he just ended that whole cypher, dogg. They could have stopped the whole award ceremony after that rap and said “Aight, peace. It’s been fun!” *laughs*
Crooked I: Everybody has a team. Whether the team is invisible to the fan or whether the team is visible. Not too many people made it on their own, just one man. Somebody helped them along the way, somebody supported them. C.O.B. has always supported me. That’s an organization of ours that’s not all music driven, it’s more like a comradery between people that grew up with each other or are family or extended family. They’ve always supported everything that I do.
So the people from C.O.B. who happen to be in the music business or aspire to be rappers or producers, I’m going to ride with them, period. I’m gonna put them in the forefront right with me. I love it, we do all kinds of things together. The other day we all went to the bowling alley together just to have C.O.B. bowling, you know what i’m saying? That’s what we do and watching the C.O.B. cypher I just hope that the people who saw it will truly understand that we are about to bring a movement from the West Coast that’s probably only going to be in comparison to the Dogg Pound in the 90’s.
On the “Game Time” single (release date January 17th):
Crooked I: When I made “Game Time”, I just felt like “You know what? It’s time.” Em is giving us a humongous opportunity with Slaughterhouse. People are getting C.O.B. tattoos across the country, fans, all twitpicing me the C.O.B. tattoos and all that. It’s game time! Press reset on everything that you’ve ever done. Whatever you’ve done in your life, anything that you’ve done, ups, downs – it’s in the past. Just look forward, put your game face on, it’s time to go!
On his career:
When you got a career like mine, you would have stopped a long time ago if you didn’t love it. I came in as a teenager with a major deal at Virgin Records. They taught me a valuable lesson from the first part of my career when they got rid on their whole urban department. Here I am, with singles about to pop off with the Dogg Pound and Nate Dogg – rest in peace Nate – and they just come and put the axe to the whole urban department, by no fault of mine, it came from upstairs.
So I learned at a young age that the music business can be ugly. Those who follow my career know that I went to Death Row Records, went through a lot of ups and downs over there and then I had to do this independent grind, which is always full of obstacles. So it’s been a long stretch for me but I love it. So I’m not going nowhere, it’s a for life thing and when I go inside the microphone booth man, it’s like I can control my own destiny from there.
And then, when I step on stage after the product is finished and the people give me the energy from the crowd – that’s a big reward. Rappers need to start seeing the value in that. I don’t know what i feels like to win a Grammy, but I feel on top of the world, just from that energy coming back and the people’s appreciation for my music.