In 2005, Snoop Dogg organized the Western Conference. The event assembled the West Coast’s biggest artists in order to promote unity and settle disputes. Three of the artists at the event — MC Eiht, Kam and Goldie Loc — took heed to Snoop’s message and allied as a new group called Warzone.
MC Eiht began his career in 1990 as a member of Compton's Most Wanted. After three albums with the group, Eiht pursued a solo career, dropping an astonishing 12 albums in a 13-year span. Goldie Loc is a longtime Snoop protégé and one-half of Tha Eastsidaz with the incarcerated Tray Dee. The duo's self-titled debut album sold over a million copies and their follow up, Duces n' Trays: The Old Fashion Way, is certified gold. Kam released two albums in the early 90’s and was a member of Ice Cube's Lench Mob crew. But in 1997, after a money dispute, Kam dropped the scathing Cube diss track, "Whoop Whoop." After the feud died down, the Watts native remained low-key, only releasing one more album, Kamnesia, in 2001.
Now the three veterans are looking to reintroduce themselves to a younger generation of listeners. Warzone is featured throughout Snoop's upcoming compilation album, The Big Squeeze, and is currently working on their self-titled debut album. XXLMag.com talks with the group about West Coast unity, the state of hip-hop and The Big Squeeze.
How did Warzone form?
Kam: We were all solo artists with our own following and fan base. So Snoop came up with the idea to put us together to show West Coast unity. The gang culture first started [here], so Warzone is a combination of the three major gang cities — Compton, Long Beach and Watts. It’s a good idea to show street and hip-hop unity by putting together a group like this. That’s what I’m about, unity. I love it. I say better late than never, because it’s kind of late in our careers, but it can be the beginning of a new type of career
What’s your role on Snoop’s new compilation album, The Big Squeeze?
MC Eiht: We were doing a lot of work in the studio, fucking around with Snoop. From the overflow of songs we did, Snoop decided to put out a compilation to showcase all the groups before we start working on individual records.
Goldie Loc: Timing is everything. There are so many artists [out there], so if you don’t have something currently in rotation, then muthafuckers are gonna forget about you. This is a way for everybody to get noticed and promoted before we [release] our album.
Have you seen a change in the West Coast hip-hop scene since Snoop started promoting unity?
Kam: There are about three or four big names in the West Coast and none of them stepped up to the plate to try and do anything like this but Snoop. I’ll let you figure out who the names are. They just weren’t the ones to do it, I guess. You can judge a man by their work and actions and [Snoop’s] the one who acted on it. So apparently, that means he’s closer to the street. Everybody claims they are so ‘hood and turf, but [they] ain’t did anything like this. So it’s definitely a change that somebody in a high position in the hip-hop game had to initiate.
Do you feel you have to be reintroduced to a younger generation of listeners?
Goldie Loc: I don’t think we were in a position where cats didn’t know about us. We’ve continued to put music out. But the music the younger generation has been introduced to nowadays is way [different] from what we are originally known for doing. So by doing this, Snoop felt we could get introduced to another audience that wasn’t trying to pay attention to us.
What do you want new fans to take away from a Warzone album?
MC Eiht: I want people to know that the West still has good music on the table. I want the younger generation to learn it’s not all about glamour and glitz. It’s not about how much money or diamonds [you have]. We’ve been speaking the truth on records. I can understand why people say hip-hop is dead because there’s nothing to inform the kids. It’s all about learning a new dance trick. That’s basically what hip-hop is teaching kids nowadays. I came from a generation where hip-hop taught me something. It would give you a lesson. I’m known for telling lessons and stories, not just glorifying the streets or gang life ‘cause there are always consequences. I just want people to know we’re still in this game and we got something to bring forth — something that informs the kids but it’s still good music you can ride to in your car.
Kam: There are more people struggling in bombed out war zone conditions than there are people flossin’ and drinkin’ Cristal. I ain’t never tasted Cristal in my life. That’s not my reality. It’s cool to fantasize, but the Warzone is reality. And you have to ask yourself why there is a war zone. There are social issues, Black on Black crime, Black on brown [crime] — all of that. A lot of people get in entertainment to escape from reality, but our entertainment dives deeper into reality.
Goldie Loc: We still have to live it. That’s our reality. Our reality isn't a fur coat or a Rolls Royce. I don’t like to do stuff nobody around me can relate to. ‘Cause when I go back to Compton, Long Beach or Watts and there’s 15 niggas on the corner struggling, it’s wrong to put yourself in that limelight and glorify that side of life just because you’re a rapper.
Is the corporate mentality to blame for the so-called death of hip-hop then?
MC Eiht: You rarely have record companies step up and do what they wanna do. Ever since I’ve been in the game, record companies have followed trends. 10 years ago, you could never get me to listen to some of these records. So are the record companies to blame for some of these weak artists? Nah, ‘cause if you’re weak, you’re weak. And if the kids are blinded by that, then record companies ain’t gonna do nothing but feed into that. That’s how it goes. It’s up to artists to look at themselves and ask, What am I about at the end of the day? Do all I have to bring to the table is showing a nigga how to drink or do a dance move? Record companies are gonna follow whatever makes money. It’s the youth that’s blinded today. When you get on a video and you got 100 bitches dancing to some stupid shit, these 13-year-old kids, they don’t know what’s real. They are gonna follow that shit. On certain songs, I’ll rap about a female with a big butt. But if I do that throughout [my album], I’m not informing you on anything. You can’t tell me niggas talking about dance moves and soda pop is interesting.