The Dangerous Crew Movement returns!
The response to our Dangerous Crew features has continued to surpass all expectations and the unprecedented interest has only fueled the desire to keep it moving forward with more interviews.
Features with other members of the Dangerous Crew over the last few years including Shorty B (Part 1 | Part 2), Pee-Wee, Spice-1 (Part 1 | Part 2), Goldy, MC Breed (Part 1 | Part 2), Ant Diddley Dog of Bad N-Fluenz (Part 1 | Part 2) and others has seen the re-emergence of many Dangerous Crew fans, as well as giving many readers of the West Coast News Network an opportunity to read and learn about the Dangerous Crew’s history and contributions to hip-hop.
This time around, we get an exclusive interview with Pooh-Man for our on-going Dangerous Crew feature series. In 1989 Pooh-Man, a.k.a. MC Pooh, released his first album, Life of A Criminal which contained the underground smash “Fuckin’ Wit Dank”. With the surge in popularity, Pooh-Man’s record accounted for more than 200,000 units sold independently. Not long after, the news began to spread of the remarkable feats Pooh-Man was accomplishing and he was soon scooped up by Too Short to join his Dangerous Music imprint on Jive Records. Ant Banks produced Pooh-Man’s first major-label record when the soundtrack to the movie Juice was released in December of 1991 and Pooh-Man’s “Sex, Money & Murder” song was featured. The record would also be the lead-single to Pooh-Man’s Dangerous Music/Jive Records 1992 release, Funky As I Wanna Be, which featured guest appearances by Too Short, Ant Banks on “Racia” and MC Breed (“Don’t Cost A Dime”). The former Too Short protégé, Dangerous Crew associate also appeared in the Hughes Brothers Menace II Society as “Doc” later that year.
In this DubCNN exclusive interview with Pooh-Man we discuss everything from his early rap career to the early days of the Dangerous Crew, the making of “Life Of A Criminal” with Ant Banks, “Funky As I Wanna Be” (including the lawsuit resulting from the song “Racia”), his side of the now infamous and legendary beef between himself and Too Short, his upcoming projects, and so much more!
A Dubcnn Exclusive Interview – Pooh-Man
Questions Asked By: Chad Kiser
DubCNN: How did Pooh-Man, MC Pooh, initially get into rapping, and where did your Pooh-Man moniker come from? How did you come up with it?
I started rapping, shit I guess back in ’83 really, 84. Me, and my cousin used to sit in the house and go at each other! We put two radios in front of each other, and recorded our voices. We used to rap and make tapes; so we started in my mother’s front room, and that’s was around the time Too Short was really just doing block parties and shit, house parties and shit. We used to go listen to him, so we said, ‘fuck it we can do this’, so we started doing it, just fucking around! One thing led to another man, and I met a dude name Geno Blacknell who had his own studio, and I started going to Richmond to record. You know who Geno Blacknell is don’t you?
DubCNN: He produced for Askari X, didn’t he?
Yea, Geno is the man behind Askari X and all of their music. I started fucking with him and the rest is history! Me and my cousin decided we was going to do it on our own after we released the Out To The Bitches EP and my cousin was like, ‘you know we’re going to push this shit’, so we pushed it! The name Pooh-man came from my momma, in actuality it used to be Pooh Bear. I changed that shit to Pooh-Man when I was about 7, or 8 because I got tired being called Pooh Bear.
DubCNN: Around 1988-1989 you had hooked up with Ant Banks and recorded Life of A Criminal. Tell me a little about the early history of you and Banks, the chemistry, and those early sessions with Banks producing on those independent projects?
Banks was fucking with MC Ant, and I had heard a lot of MC Ant shit. It all boiled down to I liked the way Banks produced, I liked his music. A couple of my folks knew him so I went and hollered at him. Me and my cousin Blue brought him in and we started going to his house. At the time, Banks lived in Hayward some damn where. We used to go up in his room, and we would just create music. Me and Banks created from scratch! He created songs for me from scratch. I would go in there with an idea, and we would start on it from scratch, we would work on it from there. Me and Banks just clicked, he understood what I wanted to do. Throughout my career that’s probably been one of the producers who just understood what I wanted to do; we always clicked. So we started off doing all of that then when we went into the studio at Blind Man Joes up in the Oakland Hills. We had finally got to a 24-track recording studio, and man it was curtains! We put all the songs down for Life of A Criminal. Right before we got through with Life of A Criminal we was like, ‘we got to do some more, we have to do a couple more songs’. That’s were Fuckin’ Wit’ Dank came from. Fuckin’ Wit’ Dank was like one of the last tracks we recorded. But like I said, it’s just the chemistry with me and bruh. If we in the studio, 9 times out of 10 we come up with some Pooh-Man shit, me and Banks just really gel together.
DubCNN: On the Life of A Criminal album, with the first hit song “Fuckin’ Wit’ Dank”, explain how that specific record “Fuckin’ Wit’ Dank” meant to you in terms of success, acceptance, and opening other opportunities for you!
Man, when we did “Fuckin’ Wit’ Dank” we knew, well when we did the Life of A Criminal album we knew we had a good album; we did “Fuckin’ Wit’ Dank”, and I let people hear it, and people were like, ‘man that’s going to be the song, that’s going to be the song’, but I didn’t feel like that. I mean I liked it, of course, it’s a weed song and I smoked a gang of bomb so of course I liked the songs. Right after I dropped the album I went on a promotional tour. When I came back, every fucking corner I hit was playing “Fuckin’ Wit’ Dank””, and “The Hit”. They was knocking the whole album, but those were the songs I kept hearing , every corner I turned in Oakland, in San Francisco, in Hayward I’m hearing this song, and being that I mention everybody on “Fuckin’ Wit’ Dank” it became a town anthem. I had no idea it was going to take off like it did. I went to Oregon and seen motherfuckers on it, when I went to Washington, and even in Texas. It solidified my place when it comes to the history of the Bay area. People will still see me and be like, ‘man, you have a copy of that album?’ You go on eBay and that motherfucker $259.00 for a copy of that album. I don’t have no copy of it, I mean I have my copy of it. I ran into somebody who had like 200 copies of it, a distribution company, and they was like, ‘they’re not ours, they belong to you’, so I took them and put them on FB and let people get them because everybody had been asking me about it. Tonight I’m on my way to the Sac, and the only thing they want me to do is walk on stage and do “Fuckin’ Wit’ Dank”. Yuk is up there tonight, he said, “you got to come in and do “Fuckin’ Wit’ Dank” at least”, and I’m a do a song or two and slide up there. So yea, it’s hard to get a copy of it now, especially the original, not the one from Jive, because when Jive got a hold of the album they took “The Hit” off of it, two songs and added 3 more.
DubCNN: You signed with Dangerous music Jive Records, and released Funky As I Wanna Be. How did you get down with Too Short, and ultimately kind of become part of the Dangerous Crew?
Dec 3, 1990 my cousin Bruce got killed so that was the man behind me. He was really my driving force, that was my big cousin, and when he got killed I sort of went on a rampage. The dudes that did it was still out there, and I said fuck rap. I had to get back to doing the shit I thought I should’ve been doing and that was resort to the shit I was used to doing; my cousin had been killed and they was out there. We’re not going to go too far into what happened, but it was kind of crazy. I went down an ugly ass road, and one of my homeboys from my neighborhood kept trying to talk to me, and they was telling me Hub was looking for me. Hub is Geno Blacknell’s nephew, and he finally called me like, “look, man, your boy wouldn’t want you out here like this, let’s get this shit right”. He was hooked up with Short and them through one of his homeboy’s Ted Bohannan, which was the owner of Dangerous Music, and I wound up signing with Dangerous through Hub.
I had always wanted to work with Short, any artist from Oakland would’ve wanted to work with Short back then. Short, that’s the Godfather, you know. He’s the Godfather of this shit, so I wound up fucking with Short and them and dropped Funky As I Wanna Be, and then went on tour. For the most part of it all of that was gravy, but I was still caught up in what I was doing. I was still on the streets, I was still doing dirt, I was still gunning and funning and I couldn’t separate either. I couldn’t stop what I was doing because I felt obligated to deal with the shit that happened with my cousin, and then the music shit I’m contracted to I’m dealing with that, too. It was me doing two things at one time; I was doing the street shit and doing the music shit and it just didn’t mix.
DubCNN: About the Funky As I Wanna Be album that ties into your time at Dangerous Music was the song “Racia”, which also featured Too Short and Ant Banks. There was a lawsuit concerning that record from Racia herself. Can you speak on that a little bit, and the history of the song?
Yea, I mean it’s a done deal. I got sued for saying some shit on a song about a female I knew, and Short and Banks got on the song with me and said what they had to say. All of us knew who she was, but I took the brunt of it, it being my album and me knowing her like I did. All that sparked attitude and tension I guess, with Dangerous; plus man I was wilding and that just added to it.
DubCNN: Shorty the Pimp comes out in 1992 and you were featured on “Something To Ride To” along with Goldy and Ant Banks. Dangerous Music, at that time, really seemed be taking off with yourself, Too Short, Ant Banks and everybody. What was the atmosphere like around there for you?
Then, it was still like a comradery back then. We was all tight and everything hadn’t hit the fan yet. You mix a bunch of kids man and I’m not going to say Short, but me, Goldy, Banks all of us but you mix us together and you giving us large amounts of money; and you have a knuckle head like me in the mix and I’m still doing dumb shit, it’s hard to really make that shit gel. I wasn’t slowing up, I told people this and I say it to you, we’re all on Short, me and his falling out. Me and Dangerous falling out wasn’t really just all on Dangerous, it was money issues, too, but the main thing was my attitude and my demeanour. I’m from east Oakland, born and raised in the village 69th. I’m a knuckle head, I’ve been that way all my life. They was trying to do something else with me, and I don’t blame Short, or Ted, or Randy or none of them for feeling how they felt. I was an investment and they put their money in me and I sort of like said, ‘Fuck y’all’. It was never ugly there until certain things happened and I walked away, then that’s when it got ugly. I felt like as a kid motherfuckers should’ve treated me a little different than what they did, but as an adult, and as I look back, I probably would’ve treated me the same way. I was walking in there with loaded guns, vests on because motherfuckers was shooting at me and I’m bringing it around them. They’re attitude towards me was founded, and I’m old enough to admit that now.
DubCNN: In the aftermath there was quite a bit of mudslinging between your camp and their camp. Without getting into all that and rehashing history, was the beef going back and forth serious or was it just more for show?
It’s like this, I had money, street money, so I had illegal money. They didn’t have the problem, I had the problem. I felt motherfuckers fucked me over and didn’t stick by me, and that wasn’t really the case. They gave me fair warning, Short sat me down a many of times and told me, ‘bruh, slow your roll. Them niggas ain’t your homeboys. You got too much going for you, them niggas are going to drag you down right along with them’. I had looked over all that shit. When I’m making my songs I was pissed because them niggas was having fun, but I was taking it 100% serious. I beat the shit out of Mhisani, pulled up on Banks, threatened Short; I mean, I was doing a lot of shit that was serious to me, but it shouldn’t have never been like that. I’m old enough to say this shit now, but back then it was serious to me. I don’t think it was ever serious to Short and them, I really don’t. I think they was like, ‘okay, this nigga talking shit so we’re going to say something about him’. When they said something about me I took that shit like they smacked my momma. I ain’t used to the battle rapping shit. God knows if it would’ve ever came down to somebody doing something to me, we would’ve been doing something to each other. It was serious to me, but I don’t ever think it was that serious to them. I never really think they meant me any harm. I was just fucked up, bruh.
Honestly, Chad, I’m being as candid as possible with you. Since I been home that nigga Short, Banks, Richie Rich, Fab, Jay Stallings, Stevie Joe ain’t been showing nothing but love. At the Legends to Underground tour I went into the Short suite, and grabbed the nigga and I hugged him and I apologized to him for my attitude back then, and for the shit that I did because I had been wanting to do it for the longest. Once you grow up and you look at the shit that you go through and I paid attention to what I did wrong. Short said he never really knew I was mad at him, and it just seemed like I was just pissed off. I was pissed off at the world at that time. I had just lost my cousin, and me and Jive was going through it. It was all kinds of shit going on and I was just mad at the world at that time. It was never on Short and them. Me and Short today it’s like, I just got off the phone with him earlier, and it’s like when shit come up he call me and be like come on, come through. It’s just I was a stubborn brat back then and I was getting into too much shit. I can’t knock them niggas for wanting to separate themselves from me, because I was either going to kill somebody or somebody was going to kill me.
DubCNN: During all of that, did you have a personal relationship with either Rappin’ Ron, or Ant Diddley Dog from Bad N-Fluenz because they came at you a couple of times. What was that all about?
I didn’t give a shit about Ron. God forbid me talking about the dead, but I mean they jumped on the bandwagon with Short and them. I caught Rappin’ Ron once and commenced to beating his ass. I’m not talking ill of the dead, but the truth is what it is. He didn’t know me and because me and Short was into it he felt he could get in it, him and Diddley Dog. I’m him, not the baddest nigga in the world, but even he didn’t want to fuck with me when it comes to shit like that. I’m not no punk, not no coward and this little boy should have minded his own business, so I caught up with him in east Oakland and I beat his ass. I mean that wasn’t a game to me at that appointed time. I was kind of fucked up and he should’ve stayed out of it. I knew him, I had met him once before, in fact when I heard about this dude that supposed to be as hard as Richie Rich I sent somebody to get him and bring him to the picnic we was having. He freestyled and he kicked it, blew and drunk with me and that was the only time I had ever met him. Then the next time I hear about him, he on a song talking about me. So, when I caught him I beat his ass simple as that.
DubCNN: The last thing about that time, because everything was kind of going back and forth, did you ever hear anything amongst these diss wars that were going on that made you laugh? Not that they were true, but you were just kind of like that was pretty witty?
Short’s “now your hardcore like cb4”, that shit right there. I was like these niggas right there. That’s why I said it was never really serious to these dudes, they was poking fun, but I was serious. I had to laugh at “Get In Where You Fit In”, but you got to think when somebody gets on the mic and says your momma’s pussy smells like the gutter…..that pushed me, that was Goldy and that’s why I beat Goldy’s ass. I don’t mind saying this now because the only people from Dangerous that I’m worried about that I hold any regards for is Short and Banks. Keeping it one hundred, I don’t give a damn about Randy Austin, he’s just somebody to me. I don’t feel either way, I don’t like him or I don’t dislike him. I laughed at it, but when you get on the phone and say my momma’s pussy smell like the gutter, that’s why I got Goldy. Now I laugh at the shit when I listen to it now; I laugh at Short’s shit, I always have. I laugh at it now, but back then I kind of was not laughing at that part of the song. I laugh at it now.
DubCNN: Moving on, you reconciled with Ant Banks later on and featured on his TWDY Derty Werk project for the song “Ride With Me”, as well your own Fuckin’ Wit’ Dank 2000 with the song “Fire”. Tell me about squashing the beef with Banks and coming back in to work together after all that stuff that had went down?
It wasn’t really hard because when I came home from prison in ‘98, I was fucking with Ted Bohannon and he had just started Super Slide Records. He used to own Banks’ music, so Ted comes in the studio and says Banks is outside for me. I’m like what! He said Banks outside, so when I went outside Banks was sitting in his Benz and he was like, ‘bruh, here I got some music for you. I got a song for you and a song I want you to do with me’. Like I said, me and Banks had issues, but it was never like that. I felt Banks should’ve did things differently, but you can’t tell a motherfucker to walk away from his money. But when I came home that nigga was right there in ‘98 and he looked out and that did it. Me and him talked until I fucked around and I caught another case, but it was good being back in the studio with Banks, man. He came over to Super Slide because we had the studio there. We did the track there and ran through them. I told you at the beginning, anytime me and Banks get in the studio it’s a good thing. He knows me better than most motherfuckers. He knows what I want to do, and I know what he wants me to do. Sometimes he get to pushing…’nigga do this, do it this way, I don’t want this, and I want it this way’. He probably the only person that can get me like that. When me and Banks together he brings the best out of me, so it’s fun working with B.
DubCNN: As far as the other crew members like Goldy, Spice 1 and them is that stuff squashed? What does the beef stand with those guys?
Well, I’m going to say this: me and Spice, that’s my nigga and we talk all the time. I just got off the phone with him and I’m getting ready to do some shows and shit with him. When I came home in ‘98 I went to Spice’s house and me and Spice sat down and talked. We squashed our shit before me and Banks did. Me and Spice was close before. It just got into, because when I was hearing about shit that he was saying, it was ‘he say, she say’ that got me and Spice into to it. Chico, that’s my boy, that’s another one who looked out since I came home. Everybody thought I was going to get out and play with guns again, and I get phone calls from these motherfuckers saying, ‘bruh, you good, what you doing? Slide through the studio. Where you at? Get away from over there, come over here’. I’m 43 years old, and these niggas calling me like I’m 16 or 17 years old. I respect them for that, I love these dudes, they been fucking with me for the longest. Me and Spice, yea that’s my nigga. Goldy? Now, that’s something else. I really don’t talk to Goldy, and I haven’t seen him since I’ve been home. I’m not looking for him, really don’t have a reason to, but his dad was my boy, and may he rest in peace. It killed me when I found out something happened to his dad. His dad was one of the promoters back in the day that really put me on. Me and Goldy have that in common, but I haven’t talked to him since I’ve been home.
DubCNN: With your most recent release, Kaos Theory, you’ve said that Ant Banks was producing like 12 of the 14 tracks, which is the majority of the album. In listening to Kaos Theory, I can hear in “Mesmerized”, “All My Life”, “Get Me Started”, “Player’s Life” that without a shadow of a doubt those where produced by Ant Banks. But there’s some tracks I can’t tell.
Ant Banks has a whole different gear, and he sort of opened up on some of the songs. Some of the songs he had he was like, ‘you got to do this one!’ I was like, ‘man, who did that?’ He said, ‘who else did it?’ None of tracks on there that me and Banks did came from scratch, he already had the songs. He created these songs like a couple of years ago because he wasn’t really fucking with nobody. People say that all the time, they be like, ‘who did that beat because we know Banks did that one, but who did that one?’ and I say Banks did the whole damn album except for two songs, man. He didn’t do “Macaroni”, and he didn’t do “Free”.
DubCNN: I listened to “Let A Beast On” and “Bang” and I’m like that isn’t Banks.
It’s Banks, bruh! It’s crazy that you mentioned “Let A Beast On” because I just got a call about it from a lady at MCA. She called me about that one and “Rap Song”. She’s talking about using “Rap Song” on some rap documentary that they’re doing, but she asked who did it, and I told her Banks! She was like, “Ant Banks?” I was like, ‘yep, he did that one and “Let A Beast On”.
DubCNN: That’s crazy because some of that I wouldn’t have even been able to tell! If I was a betting man, I wouldn’t have said Banks did some of those other songs. You have new record you’re working on now that Kaos Theory is has been released. What’s the new album called, and what can we expect?
It’s called The Return of Underground Street Poetry. I got Ant Banks, Elijah baker, Freejack, Sqweeze Beat, and Doc Holiday doing beats. I’m picking beats as we speak.
DubCNN: You’ve got the production handled, is anybody going to be featured on it?
Several people! I got Keak the Sneak, E-40, Dru Down, B-Legit, Spice-1 and some others.
Well here’s my last question: Are we going to hear another song, or another track, with Ant Banks, Pooh-Man and Too Short all getting down on it together?
I’m really, really, really pushing for it, man, and nine times out of ten it will happen! Everybody wants that! I want to sit down with Short and Banks, and even Goldy, and try to work on that! I really want to see it happen, but as far as my album of course I’m going to work at getting a song with me, Short and Banks on there.