Friday, March 12, 2010

Lost Liner Notes: Concrete Criminalz (RBX & Bigg Rocc)

In the account books of dues paid, few have more than
The Concrete Criminalz.
RBX, known for his booming vocal appearances on
classic albums such as
The Chronic,
Doggystyle and
The Marshall Mathers LP
joined forced with Bigg Rocc,
a longtime friend and protege of MC Ren,
who appeared in the "Straight Outta Compton" video
and remains an under-noted pillar in the N.W.A. bloodline.
After years of alluding to an album,
Concrete Criminal Gang,
is fianlly here, a proper addition in west coast history.

The Compton and Long Beach emcees made the album in the last three years.
Boasting appearances and production from
MC Ren, Chris Gunnz, Tha Chill and Tha Doggfather himself,
this album maintains the order both of these emcees laid down in the last three decades. HipHopDX wanted to pay tribute to the CCGs,
so we returned our "Lost Liner Notes"
feature with both men looking at appearances through the years.
As a bonus, Bigg Rocc has offered his 2009 album,
Shack Tight Volume 1 for free.

"The link with RBX [and Concrete Criminalz]
came through my boy Danny D.
He was doing a mixtape, and he had me and X doing a song together.
After we did the song, [we realized the chemistry].
Two big guys, X got his name with Snoop [while]
I got my foot in the door with MC Ren.
It still took a while after that though.
We did another two or three songs.
I was just like, 'X, let's do this. He said, 'I'm with it.'
This project was real easy.
Saw I called Goldie for some tracks,
got a couple from Ren,
got a couple from Snoop." - Bigg Rocc

"The Concrete Criminalz [union] was just brothers stayin' active,
and more than anything,
refusing to let their dreams die because of some industry politics.
As we worked, we started to build a portfolio.
One day the bright idea came across to just go in
and solidify the name and go forward from there.
Thus, the [Concrete Criminalz Gang album].
[The album] is like a chronicle
of things were going through in the industry,
yada yada yada, things get a lil' better,
then the whole roller-coaster ride the industry takes you on" - RBX

^"Batman & Robin" by Snoop Dogg featuring Lady of Rage & RBX (Produced by DJ Premier)^

"[We recorded that with DJ] Premier, at [D&D Studios].
It was in some building.
From the outside, it wasn't the most pleasing-looking building,
but when you stepped inside, it was, 'Oh snap!'
They did their thing in there, bro.
It was real grimy, New York style.
It was uncut. That's pretty much how we move.

I'm a humble dude.
I don't get caught up in the hype and the yada-yada;
I respect those that respect me.
We build from there.
To do a joint with Premier,
to do a joint with KRS-One,
to do a joint with Brother J,
but anyway is always a good look with me.
[Guru] was not in the studio at the time.
But I actually met Guru at Rock The Bells.
We was choppin' it up and having a conversation.
I got [pictures] with him.
We was posted up in hardcore B-boy stances,
old school-style
, for real, for real.
There was some things that was supposed to happen
[with us, musically].
Sometimes, in life, things take us on different courses
and you don't get to cross paths with those
that you might have or would have liked to.
Nevertheless, it's not done. He's still around here.
We're gonna pray for brother and wish him the best and eventually,
things'll play out the way they're supposed to play out." - RBX

^"Shot Caller" by MC Ren featuring Bigg Rocc & Tha Chill
(Produced by Tha Chill)^

"Oh, that was a cold one, right there!
That was Ruthless For Life, the third album I did with [MC] Ren.
My boy Chill did that beat.
I just did the hook; I didn't even have a verse on there.
I can't say much, but that was a cold-ass record." - Bigg Rocc

^"Blunt Time" by RBX (Produced by Dr. Dre)^

"Hmmm...that record, right there,
was Dre standing up after the Death Row days.
The bomb [on the song] was representing
the build-and-destroy [mentality], if you will.
That was to destroy the past and rebuild the new stuff.
He had a few artists that he was working with,
and he was trying to see how the world would receive some things.
We was just gettin' geared up to do the Aftermath [Records] thing.
That's when that record came about.

We was just working on [stuff];
nobody actually had an album per-se, finished.
Everybody had a lil' somethin'-somethin' done that was hot.
That's when everything started getting serious.

The [vocal] echo [in the beginning of the song]
is the trademark X echo.
I'm not a regular, you-can-push-a-button type dude.
Them cats that was [recording it]
knew the in's and out's of manipulating the track like that - the reels.
That was done old school style,
like they used to do back in the Jimi Hendrix days.
That's why it sounds like that.
The approach was definitely from the '70s.

[I don't perform that record much].
My youngsters got that on their mixtapes and whatnot
- especially with the resurgence of the Auto-Tune.
They hear that, and I can always say to my credit, say,
'See, that's how it's done, son.'
[Laughs] That's what y'all trying to do,
but that was Roger [Troutman] himself and that was Dr. Dre.
That's the what.
That always gives me a good feeling to be able to say that.
And it is a jewel, definitely." - RBX

^"Mr. Fuck-Up" by MC Ren featuring The Whole Click
(Produced by Tootie)^

"We had a group called The Click
- me, Ren's brother, Juvy,
and a couple of the homies in the neighborhood.
Before I went solo, we all was in the group.
Ren [decided for us to go solo].
He said,
'Well, everybody's not focused like you,
so just go on and go solo,
and we'll continue from there.
I [agreed]. That [record] was fun!
We all went in there, ready to do it.
We all had already wrote our parts once we got [to the studio].
Everybody was havin' fun.
I can't remember the name of that studio; it's not even open no more.
I took my son with me too, after that,
when I went to to pick up the mix.
As a matter of fact, he was playing basketball
with Yukmouth [that day].
I can't think of the name of that studio for nothin'!

That was my proudest verse.
I knew that was my coming-out to the world,
the first time they was gonna hear me.
I knew I was ready, and I had my confidence.
I was straight." - Bigg Rocc

^"Murder The Game" by Concrete Criminalz
featuring Big Sloan & Goldie Loc (Produced by Chris Gunnz)^

"My approach to the music thing is, I approach it like a job.
I don't think just 'cause you rappin'
that we gotta be friends and make all this chummy music.
I believe that Hip Hop started with battles and a lil' roughness.
I got fed up with everybody scared to say something.
When you come to Hip Hop, it's a contact sport.
Me, as an advocate, I'm not just gonna let you water my shit down.
If I gotta bang-bang on niggas, then I bang-bang on 'em.
If they want to take it personal, that's on them.
I don't mean for it that way,
but niggas is sensitive, so that's how they take it.
I started out tryin' to be a good dude,
but niggas take the good dude image and crush that into the ground.
It's whatever now.
I came up from the storm, like the phoenix that rose from the ashes."

"Street Sweepin'" by Tray Deee featuring Bigg Rocc & Bam (Produced by Battlecat)

"Tray Dee just wanted some shit that was gonna sweep the streets,
so...I came up with the hook and wrote the song.
It was on from there.
He's incarcerated now, but I keep sendin' him kites.
He says what's up to everybody too.
I haven't heard [when he's getting out].
He got 12 years, so it might be another five, six years." - RBX

^"Stranded On Death Row" by Dr. Dre
featuring Bushwick Bill, Kurupt, RBX, Lady Of Rage & Snoop Doggy Dogg
(Produced by Dr. Dre and Colin Wolfe)^

"I think it was made [in one take].
Niggas was so really ready - hungry, really emceeing.
It's a credit to Dre.
We was out there battlin' and really, really gettin' it in.
It wasn't like no studio type shit.
Niggas was in the projects, rollin' the yada-yada.
Niggas was tryin' to see if each other's razors were really sharp.
When it came to [record], everybody was the truth.
You pretty much got what you got.
There might've been another take, 'cause Dre's really a perfectionist.
He might not like the exact way your pitch is,
but for the most part,
you only get a few takes with that guy
before you get snatched out the booth anyway.
So you better not get in there with your shit not-right.

[The first time I ever heard that record], it was kinda strange.
I went to Venice Beach one day.
I was with a sister of mine, we was hangin' out, drivin'.
Every car we pull up on,
I'm hearin' my voice,
I'm hearing Snoop's voice, Dre, Warren G.
I'm like, 'Oh man, how is this album in everybody's car?'
It just dawned on me: everybody ran and got it.
I know he's not givin' 'em away.
It really dawned on me when I was watchin' MTV,
and Kurt Loder [of MTV News] was talking and he said,
'The new smash album of the year is The Chronic
album was an all-star cast.'
He said my name.
I said, 'Did Kurt Loder just say RBX?
Hell nah!' That's pretty much how it was."

^"Overdue" by RBX (Produced by Snoop Dogg a/k/a Niggaracci)^

"I think [Broken Silence]
was a good thing and I think it was a bad thing.
I strive to focus on the positive things.
The bad thing is the Hollywood niggas [said],
'Aw man, that reduced you.
You shouldn't have done that?
Why'd you mess with that?'
That's one side of the picture.

The positive side is,
I went and reconnected with the love of the artform, as I knew it.
I was not concerned about anything that anyone had to say.
I was focusing on me and myself and my craft.
I didn't give a fuck about how much money I was making,
nor did I give a fuck about anybody else's concern about an image.
I was workin' on me and mines.
From that, I got my mojo back.
And I started growing again.
Now, I'm onto my new joint.
When it's said and done, it was a benefit to me.
That's when I had to start lookin' out for as number one. Me.

I was at the crossroads.
Either I was gonna retire and leave this shit alone,
or I was gonna make this shit fun again.
That was me making things fun again."


Related links;
Free Download; Bigg Rocc; Shack Tight Volume 1 (album)
Preview and purchase Concrete Criminal Gang by Concrete Criminalz
Concrete Criminalz MySpace
Bigg Rocc MySpace
RBX MySpace

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