interview DAMIZZA (PART 2) (September 2007)| Interview By: Eddie Gurrola

We’re back with the second part of our in-depth interview with Damizza.  In this feature, Damizza discusses an exciting new project development involving Kurupt, B-Real, and the Tangled Thoughts.  He also recalls his experience assisting on DJ Quik’s “Trauma” album, and tells us about his excitement over the Baby Ree record company that he has developed from the ground up.  Mizza also shares more of his priceless stores - this time he speaks about his encounters with Al Gore, Terry Reid, Jim Brown, Master P, and many others.  By the end of the feature, Damizza will give you the key to succeeding in the rap game.

As always we have both the transcript and the audio for you to check and please feel free to send any feedback regarding the interview to: eddie@dubcnn.com



Interview was done in September 2007.

Questions Asked By:
Eddie Gurrola

Damizza Gave Dubcnn.com A Shoutout! Check That Here

Full Interview In Audio: Here (Part 2)

Part One; Damizza Interview Part 1 (September 2007)


I’ve got to let you in on some classified information by the way.  Kurupt, B-Real, Tek, Cas, and Young De from Tangled Thoughts – all of us have been having high-level joint chief meetings about the new Tangled Thoughts album.  We’re also all working on Young De’s solo mixtape [with] DJ Skee.  It’s gonna be hosted by Kurupt and B-Real, [and] executive produced by B-Real and myself.  If you haven’t heard Tangled Thoughts yet, those guys are incredible!  Los and Jared [Moore] are actually working with De right now.  We’re all working together actually.  We’ve knocked out about 12 songs, and all of us are going to get together and do something really ugly!

Dubcnn:  That sounds exciting!  Is there possibly going to be a group with you, Kurupt, Tangled Thoughts, and B-Real?

Well no, I think the way we’re going to do it is [like this.]  Los, Jared, me, and De from Tangled Thoughts, we’re all just working on some bangers right now.  De went back and played the stuff for B-Real.  The mixtape is called “Audio Hustlers Volume 1,” [and] Audio Hustlers is B-Real’s thing.  Kurupt presented “Philly 2 Cali” and all that kind of stuff, and Kurupt being an old friend of mine and B-Real’s, we all love Tangled Thoughts.  So it’s like, “What can we all do together to make this shit big?”  B-Real and I are going to executive produce the mixtape, and Kurupt is going to host the mixtape with B-Real.  I’m just going to oversee the beat side of it, and the production side of it with B-Real, and just do something really ugly. 

Now the [new] Tangled Thoughts album, it looks like I’m gonna be a co-executive producer on that as well.  [I’ll] do some of the beats, work with De, work with Cas, and work with Tek.  Tek is fucking incredible!  He does stuff with Kurupt and all of those guys.  I mean, it’s a fresh sound!

I’m finding a lot of the fun [in working with] a lot of the new producers.  Not just that, but going back to the “Unreleased,” hopefully in Volume 2 and 3 you’ll see some of the other production side of it.  I’ve done tracks with Battlecat, I’ve done a track with Quik, I did a couple tracks with Tek, a couple tracks with Mike City and Tuff, and all those kinds of things.  I enjoy working with people – not just rappers [and] singers.  I [especially] enjoy working with up-and-coming producers.  That’s why you have Los and Jedi Jared Moore producing first singles on a Butch Cassidy and Damizza album, a Tangled Thoughts record, or whatever it is.  That’s what’s dope to me - the new shit!

That’s why I go to Dubcnn and surf the web.  At the end of the day, I’m a fan of the music.  I like to see all that crazy shit.  I like to hear it.  When Taje was on the radio last night, I sat in my room and listened to it, because it’s crazy!  It’s new talent!  I’m just blessed dude.  Baby Ree, if you look close enough, has always been in the middle of what’s poppin’.  From ‘97 to now, it’s just been crazy.  And you’ve got to thank people like Dr. Dre for teaching us that kind of shit [and] at least giving people shots.  That’s the key.  That’s how you make your shit legendary: it’s your legacy.  If you’re always putting people on and you’re always working with people…I mean, look how many people Dr. Dre has put on, that Quik has put on, that Kurupt [has.]  Even B-Real with Sick Jacken, Psycho Realm, Kartoon, and all that kind of stuff.  You just kind of do that stuff.  You’ve got to give musicians shots. 

Dubcnn:  That must be how everything expands…

And even with all of the Quik stuff, with “Trauma,” and bringing all that together: we had a crazy success with that.  Forget all the side stuff that happened with people that had nothing to do with it.  All [of the negative] stuff that happened with Quik was [done by] side people.  RBC, which is the former infrastructure of Priority, which had huge success with Master P and the independent game, and really are the godfathers of that genre.  Shout out to Master P, because when we went down the independent route, when I signed my deal with Fontana, he’s the first person that I called.  “Yo P, I’m getting ready to be in the independent game.  Tell me about this.”  He really taught me a lot about the pitfalls of independents, and the pluses.  With RBC, we went to Fontana and did an independent deal with a major artist: Quik.  [We] gave them their first independent number one, which is how we got our deal.  On top of that, it was the first time that DJ Quik owned his own material.  In the interview he did with you guys, he said it was the most money he’s ever made in his career.  You know what I’m sayin’?

Dubcnn:  Yeah, and it’s a great record too…

Yeah!  It was great that we got to work with Quik.  It was fun as a fan to help mold one of your idol’s images.  Triple from Baby Ree got in touch with Estivan for the artwork for the project too.  We [acted as] the infrastructure of the entire “Trauma” project.  That was freakin’ incredible!  Management and people that work on other side things [messed up,] but at the end of the day, Quik and I did our job.  We set a record with airplay.  He had 1,700 spins on “Fandango.”  When the record dropped, we shipped 130,000 for an independent record.  Outside of TVT and what they’ve done, no other independent record has gotten 1,700 radio spins and shipped 130,000 records on their first release on an independent.

Dubcnn:  So that’s how you guys got the Baby Ree label signed, after the success of “Trauma”?

Well actually, we were in place to sign the deal with Fontana before that, and it was going to be an all-encompassing deal.  When Quik came forward and said, “Look, I need some help with this thing,” I was like, “Hmm…Let’s do that first, because that will be bigger ammunition, and it can help us with leverage in negotiating.”  So with that, we were right.  It was Fontana’s very first number one independent record. 

So when that happened, they gave us a ridiculous deal!  [Props to] Steve Prichert (R.I.P.), Jim Uri, Jon Anh, Chris, David Z, and everybody at Fontana.  I mean, you’ve got to look at Fontana like this.  They [are] one of the only labels in the world that’s giving West Coast artists a chance.  Whether it be the J. Wells situation, whether it be the Quik situation, whether it be our situation - it’s providing an avenue for West Coast talent, which is hard to find on the West Coast, or anywhere period.  That’s what I love about Baby Ree.  We are consistently one of the only West Coast entities that continues to put out West Coast music, and not just West Coast music, all types of music. 

We’re doing the L.A. Blues Alliance.  Getting people like Mike Post, who wrote the “A-Team” theme, the “Hill Street Blues,” all of those kinds of things.  He put together an album, the L.A. Blues Alliance [link], [with] the best blues musicians in the world.  You have Snuffy Walden, Keb’ Mo’, Mike Finnigan, Bob Glaub, J.R. Robinson, Amy Keys, Stan Behrens – all Grammy and Emmy winners, on that level of Mike Post.  We did a show at the House of Blues and Joe Pesci introduced them!

Dubcnn:  Yeah, I read something about that, and that’s crazy.  So they’re signed to Baby Ree?

Well, what happened was that Mike Post puts this group together.  By the way, Mike Post is the coolest motherfucker in the world.  You’ve seen the Area 51 place, Studio 9?

Dubcnn:  Yeah.

That’s Mike Post’s spot.  It’s a 3.5 million dollar complex.  It’s his clubhouse, but he loves young people making music, and he empowers that.  So what does he do?  His son is my manager.  Aaron, [his son,] is incredible: he’s worked with Guns & Roses, Xzibit, all of that kind of stuff.  So [Mike Post] meets me and goes, “Look, I don’t understand what you’re doing with this rap stuff.  I don’t get it because I don’t come from that generation, but we see eye-to-eye on one thing.  You’re about the music, and I’m about the music.  So here’s the keys to my studio.  Have fun!”  I’m like, “What?”  So if you look at it like this, Mike Post is responsible for a lot of the music that all of y’all are hearing.  Butch Cassidy, Bishop Lamont, Glasses Malone, and Mariah Carey have all dropped [records recorded] in that place.

Dubcnn:  That’s amazing to see how it trickles down like that…

And for someone who’s an O.G. like that, who does not have to do that shit, that’s some crazy shit!  So anyways, he goes, “Yo, I’m gonna need the studio next week.”  I’m like, “Dogg, please, I’ll leave!”  He’s like, “No, come by, I want you to hear something.”  I’m like, “What?”  He goes, “I’m doing this new album called ‘The L.A. Blues Alliance.’”  I walk in and I see Keb’ Mo’, Mike Finnigan, Snuffy Walden, and I’m sitting like, “These are guys that Eddie Van Halen listens to and goes, ‘How did he do that?’”  J.R. Robinson played drums on “Off The Wall” by Michael Jackson!  And he’s in there playing drums like, “Hey man, how you doing?”  And I’m sitting there like, “Uhh…what’s up dogg!”

Keb’ Mo’, the biggest blues musician of this generation, is in there.  They’re sitting there doing it, but they took [the project] to the majors and the majors were like, “This will be too expensive.  We don’t understand it.”  So I walk up to Mike and I go, “Look dogg.  The least I can do – let me put it out.  You can keep all the profits, I only want 10% to cover the costs of the shipping and all that other stuff.  You keep the rest of it.  Do an independent deal [and] take this shit!”  This week we’re up 96% in sales.  We’re getting airplay on a blues project! 

But to have an independent boutique label in California that only puts that kind of shit out, just real people that are really fucking with music - that’s the biggest dream come true out of all of it!  We can put out a blues project, we can put out Butch Cassidy, we can put out all this other stuff.  It’s a trip because I don’t talk that much.  I don’t do that many interviews.  I’m real quiet about my shit.  But now I’m really excited about the shit to [the point where] I can’t shut up!

Dubcnn:  It’s great that you have the outlet to put these projects out.  You can put out whatever you want and you know it’s going to be good…

It’s a trip because for so long I worked so fast and so hard that I wasn’t paying attention to the fact that I had 500 songs in the vault.  It’s like a banker who works with money all day, and then someday they realize, “Oh shit, I’ve got 300 million dollars in the bank account.  Let me go on vacation, because I’ve been working like a dog!”  Since I was 12 years old, I’ve been working non-stop, day and night, no vacations.  A couple years ago, I just retired.  I said, “Forget it all.  I’m just gonna go kick it in Santa Barbara with my family.  I realized there was nothing else to do.  What am I gonna do, put Westside Connection back together?  Did that: produced “Lights Out.”  What am I gonna do, put Dre and Snoop back together?  Did that: helped them put the “Chronic” tour together.  What am I gonna do, make Power 106 number one?  We were number one for ten straight books.  What am I gonna do now?  [Am I] gonna produce a record?  Great.  I had a number one rap record with “Where I Wanna Be,” a number one R&B record, and a number one pop record.  What am I gonna do?  Well, let’s go kick back, then let’s get back to work and start putting some new motherfuckers on.

Dubcnn:  That’s a good goal to have…

Well, I mean the goal has always just been music.  I’m working with Terry Reid right now!  This is a guy that Jimmy Page went to and said, “I want you to be the lead singer of Led Zeppelin.”  He’s like, “Nah, I don’t want to be in a group, but here’s Robert Plant.”  He was telling us a story about Jimi Hendrix and Miles Davis last night.  Jared and I [were listening to it.]  And that’s what I love.  Jared being a new producer, six months ago, he wasn’t really in the game.  I put him with Mel-Man, put him with Warren G, put him with all these people to teach him. 

Then we go to Terry Reid’s house, and Terry’s like, “Yeah, then one night I answered the door, and Miles Davis was at the door.”  I go, What?”  Then he goes, “Yeah I was in Jimi Hendrix’s house…”  I go, “What?  [A] first-hand account of Jimi Hendrix and Miles Davis?”  Then he goes, “Yeah, well what was really crazy was that I opened up the door, and Miles don’t like people.  So he was like, ‘Where’s Jimi Hendrix?’”  [Reid said to Davis,] “Yeah, he’s in the shower, come on in.”  [Davis said,] “Nah, I’ll wait here.”  And then Miles Davis just shuts the door and waits in the hallway.  So then Terry says to Jimi Hendrix, “Yo, Jimi!  Miles Davis is at the door.”  Jimi Hendrix starts laughing, then goes and opens the door, grabs Miles Davis, and Miles Davis and Jimi Hendrix go in the room and start jamming!  But Terry Reid was the only person to ever hear [that jam session.]  Stories like that, as a music fan, are the most valuable things in the world. 

Dubcnn:  It’s good to get younger producers like Jared in to hear stories like that too…

Yeah, he’s the next generation!  I’m working on this group Guilty, who is Los, who produced “Cruzin’,” Silas, Sly, and Nate.  These are four [young men] who went to Dos Pueblos High School with my little brother.  They said they wanted to rap.  I’m like, “Really?”  Los said, “I want to be a producer!”  I said, “Really? All right.”  Two years later, three out of the four members in the group have had a song on the radio.  They were performing and signing autographs at their old high school last week.  Silas has won two days in a row on Q104.7’s “4 O’Clock Drop,” beating Wyclef, Lil Wayne, Akon, and Nina Sky! 

That’s the shit I love.  Los didn’t believe any of the shit I was telling him.  He thought I was nuts.  I’m like, “Hey, they’re gonna play your track on the radio.  You’ve got the first single from Butch Cassidy and Damizza.”  [Los said,] “Yeah right fool, you’re full of shit!”  [I said,] “Listen to the radio at four o’clock tomorrow.”  [Los said,] “Yeah, OK, I’ll be listening.”  The phone rings…“What the fuck, I’m on the radio!”

Dubcnn:  That must be a great feeling to know that you helped these guys out too…

It’s the best feeling.  The reason why is [because] you get to see the future of music.  That’s what’s also really cool about my life.  I get to see the future of music before anyone else!  Dre called me up and said, “Yo dude.  Come to [the studio!]”  I said, “Why dude, what’s up?”  [He said,] “I’ve got something for you.”  I show up and he hands me a CD straight off the freakin’ burner.  “Yo, here’s ‘2001.’  Call me and give me your opinion.”  I’m sitting there going, “I have what’s going to be a future West Coast classic in my hand three months [in advance!]”  I get a call from Jimmy Iovine – “Yo, what the fuck?  What’s this Hawaii, Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg reunion thing – Chronic Island with Kurupt and all these people?  I can’t even get Dr. Dre to turn in a record.  What the hell are you doing?  How did you get his number?  I don’t even have his number.  He won’t turn in a fuckin’ record.  What are you doing, and why am I paying $250,000 for promotion for an album that I don’t even have yet?”  *Laughs* You know what I’m saying?

Dubcnn:  Yeah, you get to watch everything unfold…

And to get to be a part of it on top of that?  Oh please.  I’ve already died and gone to heaven.  I could die tomorrow…

Dubcnn:  It must be a beautiful feeling…

It’s great.  I love watching a lot of the young artists today.  I love watching Crooked I, I love watching Sly Boogy, I love watching everybody dude.  I just did a song for Jim Brown, for the Amer-I-Can foundation.  Bo Taylor, Stan Shepard, everybody at the Amer-I-Can Foundation/Unity One, God bless them.  They work for social change.  They’re putting together an album that’s basically a fundraiser for the Amer-I-Can/Unity One situation.  Akon and Snoop [have] the first single, and TQ, Lil Wayne, and I did a song for it called “Ghetto.”  It’s freakin’ crazy.  That’s coming out October 23rd, so make sure you look out for that.

If you want to know about some crazy shit, sitting with Jim Brown, Harry Belafonte, James Ingram, all of those kind of guys.  I look over at Harry Belafonte and said, “Yo man, let me ask you a question.”  He said, “Yes young fella?”  I said, “Yo, what was it like sitting in the oval office with JFK and Martin Luther King, working out the civil rights movement?”  [He said,] “JFK was a real cool dude, but Martin?  He was just cool!”  Then he starts telling me about what they were talking about – a first-hand account of what was happening in the oval office, working out the civil rights [movement.]  I mean, this is the shit that I get to do in a day dogg!

Dubcnn:  I envy you Damizza!  That’s crazy!

You know, even with “Glitter” with Mariah - the first thing she did was the Super Bowl.  So I mean, you can imagine how nervous she was.  We [were] joking around [earlier] about how Al Gore should have won, [how] he’s the underdog and all this shit.  I see Al Gore walking around, [and] I said, “Yo Al, what’s up?”  He’s like, “Hey, how’s it going?”  I’m like, “Oh shit!  You know, Mariah’s in there, she’s had a tough year.”  He goes, “Yeah.  You know, the movie wasn’t that bad.”  I’m like, “What?  How do you know about ‘Glitter?’”  He goes, “I saw it with Tipper.  The album wasn’t that bad, it came out on September 11th, right?”  I’m like, “Wait a minute.  How do you know that it came out on September 11th?”  He goes, “Look bro, I have to read the newspaper every morning cover to cover.  If I don’t, someone walks up to me and asks me some dumb question like, ‘Yo, didn’t you just say that you started the internet?’  If I don’t know where it came from…” 

I’m sitting there going, “Wait a minute!  How is the Vice President of the United States the coolest motherfucker in the world?”  I’m like, “Why don’t you come over here and meet Mariah real quick and break the ice.”  He goes, “Yeah, hold on a second.”  Secret Service starts talking in their sleeves, I’m like, “Oh fuck, I’m dead!”  The next thing you know, Al Gore looks over and says, “I’m cleared, let’s go!”

Dubcnn:  That’s just crazy…

But it’s music man!  If you do it for the music, and you don’t pay attention to the bullshit, and you don’t listen to peoples’ egos, because that’s all it is…haters [are] people that have self-esteem issues.  That’s what it is, period.  I look at the forums.  I look at all that stuff, and it’s so funny to watch people like, “Yo, I don’t like that track because of this and this, and what this dude did with this and this.”  Man, fuck all that!  Listen to the song, homie.  They don’t even look at…dude, do you know how hard these rappers work?  Do you know how hard these producers work, and what it takes to do a record?  It’s a fucking bitch, especially in this industry, [and] especially for West Coast talent.  So when we get a shot, we need to embrace that.  I mean dude, if you don’t like the record, that’s fine.  Go ahead and say what you want – it’s all good.  But the haterade shit?  That shit is bullshit, [and] it’s got to stop.  All you’re doing [as a hater] is limiting chances for your favorite artist.  You’ve got to support all of it, whether you like the dude’s music [or not.]  As a producer, it’s kind of hard for me to work with people that I don’t get.  It’s hard for me to bounce off of them and make a crazy song.  But when it came to radio, I didn’t necessarily like a lot of the shit that I played.  But I knew it was right for the radio station, [and] I took myself out of it.

Dubcnn:  Yeah, all the West Coast fans need to put everything together and keep going with it…

And they have to do that!  If people don’t do that, then how is the format going to grow and flourish?  That’s how the West Coast got so fucked up in the first place.  “Oh, I ain’t fuckin’ with that dude, I’m harder!”  Come on bro, there’s always someone better.  I’m not the best producer on the West Coast, but I’m the most consistent.  Since ‘97, I’ve put new acts out, period.  On the record, if you read the credits, for instance if you look at the DJ Quik record with Shade Sheist from “Informal Introduction,” do you know who played keys on that record?  Devante Swing from Jodeci!

Dubcnn:  Really?  I didn’t know that…

Yes, on a new kid’s record.  The video with Timbaland, Dr. Dre, and Jaime Pressly, all of those kinds of things.  Syphe and D-Lux from Power 106, do you know how they got their job?   They were working in the promotion department at Power 106.  The motherfuckers made me laugh so hard one day that I put them on the radio.

Dubcnn:  They were just sitting around talking and you thought it was funny?

Dude, it was hilarious!  You can always tell that something is dope when people are afraid of it.  Like Pocos Peros Locos.  When they first came on, and Khool Aid was shopping that deal with Power, everyone was like, “Nah man, the Latin movement, dah dah dah.”  I started laughing my ass off.  I said, “You know what?  E-Dub and Khool Aid are some smart people, and not only that, but the music is good.”  But everyone said, “Look at the pattern.  Dr. Dre is over, Mariah Carey is over, Pocos Peros Locos will never make it.”  Come on, dogg!

All artists, listen closely.  The key to the game is consistency and repetition.  Consistency and repetition breed familiarity, and familiarity breeds passion.  Passion breeds consummation (sex.)  Consummation breeds a baby, [and eventually] a gang of kids!  You want a key to the game?  There it is.  There is your key.  If you cut out all the bullshit, cut out all the egos, and you consistently make good music, there’s no way you can go wrong..
We’re not finished yet!  Check back next week for the third and final part of this feature!



Damizza Gave Dubcnn.com A Shoutout! Check That Here

Full Interview In Audio: Here (Part 2)



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