Saturday, 21 May 2011

Knoc-Turn'Al discusses ghostwriting for Dre, and Detox

Please note that this isnt the ful interview.  The interview here highlights Knoc's relation with Dre.The full interview, where he talks about his album, can be accessed with the link at the bottom of this post.

Exclusive: The west coast veteran explains how Dr. Dre-related royalties allowed his five-year hiatus, and why he did not appreciate Jay-Z using his song for the "Super Ugly" Nas diss.

Now back with his first official release in half a decade, HipHopDX spoke with Knoc-Turn’Al about Knocs’ville, the advice he received from the late Nate Dogg, what he said to Nas and Jay-Z after Hov tossed the “Bad Intentions” beat into this century’s first great rap battle, his disappointment in today’s California Emcees and why his relationship with Dr. Dre is different from the rest.             

HipHopDX: Let’s start this off with a quote from your track, “Sorry I Left You”: “Okay, I’ll admit I got lazy / 'Cause I ain’t like those other suckas / Dre paid me...” In some ways, Knoc-Turn’Al is synonymous with unfilled promise. Whether that’s because of label politics and all the things that happened with Elektra [Records]...

Knoc-Turn’Al: With Lyor [Cohen] and Elektra [Records] and all that stuff. I said that for a reason because I did get lazy because I had to pull back. I have two children now. I had to pull back and focus on them for a little while. I was missing their first steps and birthdays. I was working too much. I was probably only home for two months out of the year. I had to pull back for a minute and value what’s really important. I know my career is important as well, but I had to pull back for a minute. I felt like I could pull back for a second because [Dr.] Dre did pay me. He made sure I had my publishing and everything so I said, “Okay, let me step back and do what’s really important.” If you can’t keep your family together, then you’re just like a preacher preaching bullshit.

DX: Who’s doing the production?

Knoc-Turn’Al: This guy named Komplex. I’ve got a couple from Warren [G], couple from Doc. Big Hollis and MG. It’s a conglomerate of people that are precisely putting themselves in the music business that knows what they’re doing. When you’re trying to elevate yourself, you’ve got to make sure you get the people that are elevating at the same time. And of course it’s always good to give back. I’ve got the Mathmadix on there. I’ve got my little brother Jaguar on there. I wouldn’t be me if Dr. Dre didn’t give me a chance. I’ve got to give people a chance too, and that’s what I learned from Dr. Dre.

DX: You did an interview with a couple years back where you were talking specifically about that. You were saying how it’s more important to build a team of people that you can help lift up than it is to always try to be around the people that are already at the top.

Knoc-Turn’Al: Exactly. First of all, they’ll never forget it. Second of all, where would you be is someone didn’t give you a chance? I always hate cats that make it and then turn their nose up. I was a block baby. I was born on the block, raised on the block between the streets of Long Beach and Wilmington, [California]. I went to the [penitentiary]. Got out the pen, got shot. I ain’t proud of that. I did some stupid shit when I was growing up. But the whole point is: where would I be if Dr. Dre didn’t give me a chance? So why would I not try to give back, know what I mean?

DX: It’s interesting that Nate Dogg said that to you because I always felt that you had the ability to connect through hooks and melodies in a way similar to Nate Dogg. “Bad Intentions” is the perfect example, I think.

Knoc-Turn’Al: Exactly. He always told me to make sure that I focus on that because I be having melodies and different stuff stuck in my head. And the funny thing is, I was having sinus and allergy problems that day. That’s why my voice sounded like that when I was like “All I really know is...” [sings “Bad Intentions” hook] And Dr. Dre said, “Keep it!” [Laughs] I was having allergy and sinus problems that day. That shit is hilarious. And Dr. Dre kept it. He was like, “Fuck that. Keep that shit!” [Laughs] Then he told me to do another track of that right there. [Laughs] Dr. Dre ass is crazy. You never knew what he was gonna hear. You never knew what was on his mind. When he heard that he was like, “Fuck that, keep that shit right there. Give me another track like that, Knoc Knoc.” The shit came out right, though.

DX: How much fun was it shooting that video? When I look at that video, I’m like, “Man, those cats are having fun.”

Knoc-Turn’Al: Oh yeah, Me, Dr. Dre, the film crew and 50 bitches -- that was fun. [Laughs] It wasn’t nobody else. Just me, Dr. Dre, the film crew and 50 bitches. That shit was hilarious.

DX: You know, style-wise -- away from the hooks and your melodies -- but style-wise, the way you approached “Bang Bang” [on 2001], to me, was just amazing. That off-kilter kind of conversational flow.        

Knoc-Turn’Al: Yeah, Dre says it’s like an off-beat on-beat flow -- like I’m a street narrator, like I’m talking but I’m rapping. He says, “As soon as I think you’re not going to rhyme right or land on the beat, you land there.”

DX: How did you land on that style? Is that you naturally or do you actually have to work on that?

Knoc-Turn’Al: Nah, that’s just the way that I like to rap. Everybody got their own style. Busta Rhymes, can’t nobody do that. Ludacris, can’t nobody do that. You can try. Bone Thugs-N-Harmony, can’t nobody do that. You can try to imitate somebody but that’s just the way I felt like the raps should go. When I start writing raps and saying them in my brain, that’s the way I felt they needed to go. I don’t what it is, but it’s my style. Dre got his style when people write for him and when he writes for himself he knows what he wants. I ghost wrote for Dre before, but I didn’t write my style for him. I wrote who I thought he should sound like as the pioneer to the west coast. Remembering him from N.W.A. and everything else, I thought this is the way he should sound. My style in particular was totally different. 

DX: Did you ghost write “Bad Intentions?”

Knoc-Turn’Al: Yeah.

DX: “Super Ugly!”

Knoc-Turn’Al: “Super Ugly!” You know what “Super Ugly” means, right?

DX: Correct me if I’m wrong, but that’s you talking about smoking weed and drinking and it’s not pretty. It’s “Super Ugly.”

Knoc-Turn’Al: Nah, nah, nah, nah, nah. “Super Ugly” means -- you know that face that you get when you see a bad ass bitch and you get that “Super Ugly” face like, “Damn!” [Laughs] That’s why when we walk by bad bitches, we be like, “Super Ugly!” That’s the face you make when you see a bad ass bitch, like “Got damn! That bitch bad!” Me and Dre laughed about that for a long time. Women would be wondering why we’re walking around just saying, “Super Ugly.”

DX: That’s classic now. Jay-Z got that from you.

Knoc-Turn’Al: Yeah I know. Yeah, Jay-Z cool, too. Jay-Z’s a cool dude. I ain’t like how he put me in that Nas beef. [Laughs] I ain’t appreciate that, but he’s still cool.

DX: Did you ever talk to him about that?

Knoc-Turn’Al: I just told him, “I don’t know why you did that, but it’s all good.” [Laughs] It was at a Grammy Awards after-party and I was like, “Why you have to put me in that Nas beef? Did you not realize that one week after you did that I had to do a couple of shows with Nas?” [Laughs] Why he just bust out laughing though?  

DX: That’s what he did? [Laughs]

Knoc-Turn’Al: Yeah, he started laughing like, “My bad, Knoc.” He was funny though because right after “Bad Intentions” came out he was talking about “Busting a nut on his baby seat,” and I was like, “Oh, that’s disrespectful.” A week or two later, I think I was in Boston or something, and had to do a show and Nas was the headliner and I had to tell Nas, “Hey, you know I ain’t have shit to do with that song, you know that right?” He was like, “It’s all good, fam. You wanna hit this blunt?” [Laughs] He said, “I’ma get that muthafucker back.” [Laughs] They crazy. Them New York muthafuckers, they be beefing for real. 

DX: Are you working on Detox? Are you going to be on there?

Knoc-Turn’Al: I did a couple songs for it. It just depends on what Dre picks. You never know the direction he’s going to go with it. He’s a perfectionist so if something’s just a little bit out of line, he’s not going to release it, he’s going to do something different with it. He’s scientific with the shit, that’s why he calls himself the Doctor. I remember I was in the studio with him one time and he had bought some new machine or whatever and he was messing with it for two days over a drum beat. I was like, “What is he doing?” And once he finally got that one sound right, it was on from there because he just kept doing it over the drum beat that he had. He just kept messing with the sounds and shit, but he was doing it for like two days. Then he was like, “I found it!” and put it inside the drum beat. But when his shit comes out, it’s always dope. 

DX: I want to take this back to that original quote that I started with: “Okay, I’ll admit I got lazy. / Cause I ain’t like those other suckas, / Dre paid me. / The reason why you know my name is cause Dre made me.” D.O.C. recently did an interview with HipHopDX and he was talking about how he’s not working with Dre or ghostwriting for Dre anymore and he’s basically saying the exact opposite of what you say in that line -- that he never got his royalties the way he felt like he should have for ghostwriting so much. 

Knoc-Turn’Al: I don’t know why. I ain’t never have no problems.

DX: Right. Well, that’s the question: what made your relationship or your situation with Dre so different? I know you were introduced to him through a mutual friend and he was just on board the whole time. And throughout your career, you’ve never had a problem getting Dre beats, whereas you hear that story quite often. A lot of people had difficulty at least getting Dre in the studio because he was working on Detox. That never seemed to be the case with you.   
Knoc-Turn’Al: Well maybe it’s because a lot of times when we were in the studio I wasn’t necessarily looking for a handout. I had money in my pocket. When he was ordering food, I wasn’t ordering food just because he was ordering food. I ordered food because I wanted to eat and I paid for it. If you’re sitting there ordering something every time he’s ordering something and he’s got to pay for everything...When we go out, I’ll go to the bar and get me a drink. He’ll go and get a bottle or whatever, but I’ll still go get me a drink at the bar. I guess it’s kind of like, when you have a lot of people around you that ain’t trying to pay their way and he sees somebody that’s trying to pay their way even though they ain’t got it like that, I guess he leaned a little bit towards me more. I don’t know. I can’t explain it but I know that I tried as least as possible to make him have to pay for anything. I wanted to show him I wasn’t there just because he’s got some money. I was there because I respected him and I respected him for the pioneer that he is for the west coast and I was glad to be there.

One time he got aggravated with me because I was working on my birthday in the studio with him for like 12 hours and somebody told him the next day, “You know it was Knoc’s birthday yesterday.” He was like, “What?! Nigga, why ain’t you tell me it was your birthday, Knoc Knoc?” I was like, “Nigga, what else could I be doing except writing songs with Dr. Dre on my birthday? What the fuck you talking about?” I think it was simple shit like that that made him say, “Okay, this nigga can roll.” Fuck my birthday. Shit, I’m writing songs with Dr. Dre! [Laughs] Shit. You know what I’m saying? This nigga crazy, talking about why I ain’t tell him it was my birthday. Nigga, I’m working! Fuck my birthday.

DX: I have one last question for you. Honestly, Knoc, I really appreciate this. I was looking forward to this interview just off the strength of how talented you are and how curious I’ve been about where you went. I think more than anything else, in order to really compete right now in a flooded music environment, you’ve got to be a talented person. Talent is always going to rise. You’ve never had that problem. You never had any gimmicks. You never had any stray little I’ma-pimp-this-one-thing-too-far. You were always a well rounded artist. But after nine years, almost ten years with exposure and being in music and all of this stuff -- what still surprises you about Hip Hop?

Knoc-Turn’Al: [Laughs] What always surprises me about Hip Hop is the songs that people listen to because you never expect that song to be a hit. But this is how it is in Hip Hop. You never know what’s going to be a hit until you put it out there. That’s what always surprises me. Like, who would think [DJ Webstar & Young B's] “Chicken noodle soup with a soda on a side” [song] would’ve been at the top of the charts? If you’re eating chicken noodle soup you ain’t eating it with a soda. You’re drinking water. If times are that bad, you ain’t got no damn soda. You’re drinking water. Might be tap water, not even bottled water, you never know. Or tap water with some ice, nigga, with your chicken noodle soup. [Laughs] It never ceases to amaze me how you never know what’s going to end up being a hit. So for all those people that think that they can’t do it and people tell you that you’re song ain’t [hot], just think about how that song was a hit.

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  1. Now this was relevant....thanx Uzee...great interview

  2. Knoc turnal needs to be P.A.I.D because he is one of the most unique ARTIST in the WEST COAST!