“It all started at this club called Sensations, which was one of the biggest hip-hop clubs in New Jersey. Everybody went to it on Friday and Saturday…even out-of-towners went there. I was Djing for DoItAll of Lords Of The Underground at the time and this was in 1990. I was cutting everybody’s record from Rakim to Big Daddy Kane and I rapped on the side. So, MC Lyte was supposed to perform one night and I was going to stay home [because I had something to do.] But they told me, ‘Nah, man. Come out.’ We went down there and Lyte ended up canceling and EPMD performed. Now when I first heard EPMD’s first joint ‘You Gots to Chill‘ and later ‘So Whatcha Sayin’?’ I said, ‘I can do this!’ Right before they performed we went to the back room and talked to them. And one of the Dj’s told EPMD, ‘Yo, he’s a DJ, but he spits too.’ So they asked me to spit and ten minutes later I’m onstage with EPMD rapping!’
My boys are looking at me like what the fuck is this nigga doing? [laughs]. What is going on with this kid right here?’ Erick Sermon says, ‘Yeah, this is my new artist coming out.’ And I stopped and looked at him onstage like, ‘ Are you serious, nigga? I actually walked into this shit?!!!’ The ill part about this is I was letting my boy handle the business. At the end of the show, we went to the back of the dressing room where E was giving me his number. My hand goes to meet his hand but my boy’s hand comes in between and gets the number. But I’m like, ‘Cool.’ Because he was handling my business. But let me tell you something. Within that moment that the number was being passed I saw the paper and memorized the last seven digits. I figured the area code was Long Island.
So because my boy tells me he has the number I stepped back because I’m that kind of nigga. I know how to play my position…he’s handles the business, I handle the music. So the first week I didn’t even ask him if he called EPMD. But after a couple of weeks, I’m like, ‘Did you call them?’ And he’s like, ‘No.’ A couple of days pass by and he tells me he called EPMD but he didn’t get an answer yet. This goes on for months. And then he tells me he lost the number! So I ended up calling Erick myself and I didn’t get an answer. I finally reached Erick’s mom, but he was on tour. I’m like, ‘This is Doc from Jersey. Could you tell Erick to call me back?’ I finally reach E and he’s like, ‘Yo…what the fuck! We were waiting for you to call.’ He told me to come to Long Island and I ended up staying with the nigga for three years [laughs]. When I appeared in EPMD’s ‘Hardcore’ song and video that was just crazy. Def Jam had these little virals back then on VHS tape. Q-Tip was another very important person to my career. He had me in A Tribe Called Quest’s ‘Scenario’ video when I was first coming out. Niggas in the ‘hood couldn’t believe it. It was amazing to me.”
I had that knowledge of the West Coast feel and the East Coast feel. And I brought that lyricism. But I was also bringing a new era of [weed hip-hop] to the table. It was just what I did. Even though me and Method Man are stars we don’t promote weed; we just let people know that we smoke it. But the fans have to know that we probably lost out on a lot of endorsements because we smoke weed. But even if I knew that back then, I still would have been smoking. As far as creating that whole Dr. Trevis character for the album, that was an alter ego. It was something different that I thought was funny to me. And I’m not going to lie…I was doing a lot of motherfucking drugs back then [laughs]. I was a young cat and I was wilding. I didn’t have any kids until I was 27. I remember shooting the video for ‘Time For Sum Akshen.’ It was incredible. Back then we had real guns in our videos heavy [laughs]. And it was cool to show them.
The idea back then was more on a mental level, not just a show-and-tell level like it is now where I have to show you my jewels or I have to show you my car. Back then, it was about who is the wildest? Who got the wild rap style? Who has the wild hair? Who got the bangers in the video? That’s how you knew you were straight up hood about your whole outlook. Big up to DJ Twinz. Them boys were riding with me from day one and they definitely put me on hard shit as far as New York is concerned. Because them boys were banging out [in Brooklyn]. I’m not a thug [laughs]. I let everybody know that. I ain’t no killer. I love my mama and your mama.
But I definitely ran with some wild boys. So you had to be wild back then to be going from set to set and city to city like we did. I loved it. ‘Tonight’s da Night’ featured a great sample, but I never looked at the record as a real lyrical song like some of those other tracks. I looked at it like something I was having fun on and that was different. I got some records on there that I really like and that are really lyrical. ‘Watch Yo Nuggets’…on that one me and E were going at it. He had that George Clinton ‘Atomic Dog’ in there and we really went at it. And I liked ‘I’m a Bad,’ which was also lyrical. Those are some of my favorites from that album.”
As far as E goes, he kind of let me go in and do what I wanted to do for the album. A lot of women hit me about that goddamn album. They tell me Dare is one of their favorite albums which is the weirdest shit to me. I don’t even do ‘Can’t Wait’ at my shows today. I know that’s horrible, right? I suck. I need to be doing that shit. In fact, I hardly do anything off of Dare Iz A Darkside. I think the reason why is because it reminds me of a darker time in my life. It was a weird time. When that record went gold I was like, ‘Damn…are you serious?’
“‘Let’s Get Dirty,’ which was produced by Rocwilder, caused me to jump on a Christina Aguilera song. I didn’t think I was taking a chance by appearing [on a pop record]. I heard a couple of rappers say something about it, but now you see every rapper on a pop record. Why box yourself in? I look at this hip-hop shit as a movement. This is my way of life. I eat, live it and shit it.
So when I’m on a record with a pop star like Christina, I’m not just up there saying, ‘Okay, I’m trying to be pop.’ Nah…I’m bringing my feel and my people to her side. This is what we do over here and I wanted her audience to recognize that hip-hop feel that I’m bringing. I had a point to make to her fans. Christina loved it. Everybody knows I don’t play when I come into a studio. I come in and work. Christina was very nice and cool to work with. She’s very talented and she can sing her ass off. She took me on tour and I experienced things I have never experienced in my career as far as the glamour, the cameras and the paparazzi. That shit was crazy. Plus, she paid like she weighed [laughs]. I think I got over $130 grand just for spitting a hot 16. I’ll be ready to do a song with Christina Aguilera anytime.”
The Internet got involved and there was a lot of downsizing in the recording studios in terms of equipment and staff. I was so stuck as a ‘90s boy. I was learning to cope with the new shit. Def Squad wasn’t banging like we should have been…E. Sermon wasn’t doing what he was supposed to be doing; Murray wasn’t doing what he had to do and I wasn’t doing what I had to do. A lot of shit was going down. I’m still in the ‘hood right now pulling my way back to the top gradually with a smarter sense.
But I was happy with the Red Gone Wild album. It introduced my crew more. It was hard. It was Muddy Water-ish. A lot of fans hit me and tell me that they loved that album. Even Wendy Williams was screaming at Def Jam like, ‘Yo, this is a hot album! Ya’ll promoting this and that, but y’all should be promoting Reggie Noble over that bitch.’ But hey, I took that one with no promotion. And I’m on to the next one.”
When they first came in the game they said I was one of their favorite artists. And they are two of my favorite artists out now. They are still winning. They are winning with my [lyrical] tactics that they probably learned from me. And I’m learning from them on how to stay fresh in the game. A lot of women come up to me and say, ‘I’ve been listening to you since I was 13-years-old’ and I’m like, ‘Goddamn!’ But it’s all good. That shows me that I did my job. I can travel from ‘hood to ‘hood and people are like, ‘Hey…it’s Red!’ I’m a breath of fresh air. I appreciate the new generation of hip-hop still appreciating me and looking at me like, ‘Look, rap don’t have an age.’ I’m currently on a European tour with Method Man. I can pack a good 2500 in a club by myself, which is enough to pay my bills.
But the most important thing is the movement, which is Gilla House: Ready Roc, Runt Dawg, Melanie, who is an R&B vocalist from Detroit. She’s fabulous. Also there’s Ellis Hall III and Saukrates, who is from Canada. We are coming. We are a crew that wants to push out good music. We are not in it to destroy hip-hop or fight amongst each other and kill it. We want to do it big. No settling for less.”
The only thing people can say about Murray is his attitude was [very strong]…but you just got to get to know him. Honestly, recording El Nino was one of the most fun times I’ve ever had doing an album, besides Muddy Waters. I don’t like to toot my own horn, but the original El Nino didn’t sound like it does today. There was maybe one skit on it. E did his job, turned it in to the label, but me and Murray listened to it and thought while we had some good songs on there, the sequence was off. We took that album the day it was supposed to get mastered and did all the skits in one day, edited them, and sequenced the album. We turned that album back around to be a hot seller.”
That was one of the greatest promotional tours ever on Def Jam. It was a very smart tour. So me and Meth were in-tuned before the Hard Knock Life tour. Being on that tour, there was a connection with everybody. Everybody was one even though we went onstage at different times. We got the chance to let Jay-Z and a DMX, who was huge back then as well, to see how Meth and I got down. We were coming onstage way early with motherfuckers were placing the chairs up. Yet we still got heavy reviews like, ‘Red and Meth has one of the best shows on that tour.’ It was a good connection. We got to sit in each other’s dressing room and see where each other’s head was it from Ja Rule to Jay-Z to DMX…just going state to state and being a unit. That just brought my crew and Meth’s crew more closer. That’s what led to the Blackout album.”
We started working on some songs and on one of them I said, ‘Let’s name this one ‘Da Rockwilder.’ This was very big to him and to me. He was a dude I was helping to get on and I finally had something to say, ‘Hey, this is your pocket, man…go!’ I named the record after him and it turned out to be huge. When you are able to go solo and make money and come back as a unit and make money like Meth and me, why would you want to fuck that up? People saw that in Hollywood and they liked our personality. The thing about Hollywood is they are not going to come looking for you. They been having that shit going since the beginning of time. So for us to be coming into Hollywood like we did it had to be because of our personalities. They really dug us. We wasn’t afraid to smile and we wasn’t doing all that thuggish, stupid shit. And that led to us doing the How High movie. When we did that we got a whole new fan base from that film. They saw the love that we had for the music. We have always been for the people.”
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