Crooked I
So Amazing

crooked-i1.jpgWhen Bun B says you’re “one of the best MCs” in hip-hop, and Just Blaze gushes over your skills in his MySpace blog, you must be doing something right. For Crooked I, though, all this praise has unfortunately been overshadowed by never-ending album setbacks and industry politics. It’s hard to believe it has been 12 years since the Long Beach native signed his first deal with Virgin Records in 1995. Although he was touted as the next great West Coast lyricist, the pop label was unsure of how to market Crooked and put him on the shelf until his contract expired four years later. The Young Boss wouldn’t be a free agent for long, though, as Death Row Records founder, Marion “Suge” Knight, signed him in 2000 after hearing a freestyle on Sway and King Tech’s L.A. radio program, The Wake Up Show. Due to Suge’s various legal issues and perpetual incarceration, Crooked’s debut, Say Hi To The Bad Guy, was never released. After another four years in limbo and a sparse few guest appearances (DPG’s “Gangsta Rap” and Ja Rule’s “Connected”), the frustrated MC started his own imprint, Dynasty Entertainment, in 2004. Since then, he’s been on a mission to get heard. Last year, after building his buzz on a grassroots level through his Young Boss mixtape series, Crooked landed a Senior Vice President title at Treacherous Records, where he will release his long awaited debut, B.O.S.S. (Beginning of Something Serious). In preparation for the fall release, the business savvy lyricist concocted an ingenious marketing plan that included dropping a new freestyle every week on his MySpace page as part of his Hip-Hop Weekly series. Grabbing the attention of industry insiders with his lyrical skills, Crooked I is set to take his spot alongside the best in the West. XXLMag.com talks with Cali kingpin about his resurgent career, debut album and earning respect from hip-hop legends.

You’ve been rapping for over a decade without ever releasing an album. How have you been able to maintain a fan base?
I don’t know, man. Sometimes people like to root for the underdog. But I’ve been pretty consistent over the years. That’s hard to do because you’ve got a lot of dudes who put out records and after the first two they start falling off. Also, I’m everywhere, man. I’m very visible. I don’t hide from the people. A lot of artists come to town, stay in a Beverly Hills hotel, go to a little restaurant on the strip and sneak back in their hotel room. I don’t do that. I see what’s going on. I think fans appreciate it when you fuck with them like that. Why should a fan really support you if they don’t even see you and you never extend your hand?

There are rumors your Death Row album, Say Hi To The Bad Guy, is going to be leaked soon. Is that true?
Somebody called me yesterday and gave me the number of the guy who’s supposedly leaking it. I’m gonna call him and hopefully have a good conversation. If not, there’s gonna be a problem. I just think it’s real disrespectful if you put out a record when somebody’s put in a lot of hard work and you don’t include them on the profit. I worked hard on Say Hi To The Bad Guy. There were nights when I did four or five songs in a row. I had just gone to sleep and Suge would call me at three in the morning saying, “Yo, can you come back up here? There’s a hot beat.” So I got to go from Long Beach to Hollywood to record. There was a lot of passion going into that record. I would love to see some profit off it.

How beneficial has the Hip-Hop Weekly freestyle series been for your career?
Ah, man! It’s been very beneficial. I get people from all over the world telling me they’re loving it [and] it helps them get through the week. We’ve got fans that are disappointed with the state of hip-hop right now and the quality of the music. This is a reason to listen to lyrics again. It’s been a big thing for the buzz. I’m out here doing shows, writing for other artists and finishing up my own album. But I’ve been consistent with them Weekly’s. I haven’t put a pen to a piece of paper for none of those Weekly’s. This is Jigga [style] every time.

Are you doing a lot of ghostwriting?
I get a lot of offers, but I don’t do a whole lot of it. Keeping my buzz is a full time job. Right now, I’m too busy. There is a dude I would like to ghostwrite for and that’s Snoop. I could give him that ’07 Long Beach shit. ’Cause it’s a whole new day [in Long Beach]. It’s not 64 Impalas on Dayton’s. That shit is on the rack collecting dust right now. My niggas got Harley’s now. It’s not all khaki suits and Chuck Taylor’s. We wear Dickies shorts. We don’t always walk around looking mean all the time. We’re out here having fun instead of being stuck on that same shit that came out in ’94.

It’s funny you mention Snoop, because last year in an interview with Dubcnn.com, he downplayed your talent, suggesting you weren’t on the level of Kurupt or Bad Azz. Did you ever talk to Snoop personally about that?
When he was saying that kinda stuff he didn’t know [that] I wrote for Kurupt before. I reached out to [Snoop] through a couple of mutual people, though. I don’t know what happened, man. Sometimes when you got a person of his caliber, you got people around him that may not want to see Crooked I and Snoop Dogg do anything together. They may feel threatened by that. That whole controversial interview—that was cold. I still feel like he should have called me if he had any of those types of thoughts about me. Now, at the same time, I’ma pure businessman. I don’t have to like you to do business with you. He’s in the limelight. He’s a big celebrity. I’ve got lyrics and that’s something he needs right now. If he reached out on that tip it would be beneficial for the both of us. I do want to sit down with him regarding that interview because I never forgot that.

You’ve caught the ear of a lot of people with the Hip-Hop Weekly freestyles, including Bun B who recently praised you in an interview as “one of the best MCs out there, period.” How’d it feel to hear that?
Oh, man! I’ve got nothing but love and respect for Bun B. He’s a Southern legend. When someone like that gives you a compliment, it gives me direction and motivation for me to keep doing what I’m doing. Even the comment from Just Blaze in the [MySpace] blog he put together—that’s incredible, man. Just Blaze is one of the top producers in hip-hop right now. For him to say, “Yo, this dude is dope”—I never thought it would be like that. I never thought it would get that big. I just wanted to show the online community that I’ve got rhymes and [show] people that the West Coast isn’t all about low-riders, khakis and Chuck Taylor’s. We on some other shit and I think people need to know about it.

Have you spoken to Just Blaze?
We’re communicating through emails. I need to get with him because it’s over if I get on one of his beats. I don’t know what the fuck I’ll do with it. It would be… wow! You’ve got Just Blaze, now what are you gonna do? You have to make sure that it’s hot. I would love to collaborate with Just. I heard he’s got a situation on Atlantic [Records] right now. It might be big to see Treacherous/Atlantic, man.

When can we expect your debut, B.O.S.S., to finally drop?
We coming, man. I’ll be out there in late September, early October. I have a deal that I could put my signature on right now to get it started. I also have channels to put the record out without even finding a deal. I have other channels since Treacherous already has a relationship with Universal. The channels are there, dawg. Early October that shit will be on the streets. That’s my word.

  • Pingback: Nah Right » Blog Archive » Crooked I Interview @ XXL

  • Holla

    Crooked is the best lyricist from cali – hands down. props to xxl for this. just blaze should sign him right now – him and saigon would be a beast on a just blaze beat.

  • brebre

    NO JOKE. HE LOOKS VERY HOMOSEXUAL ON THAT PHOTO. FUCKIN’ CREEPY FOR REAL.

    • keven

      fuck you fagget

    • jay money

      yeah he do look real sweet bre thats why i aint listen to him till yestday and i was trippin when i heard his flow.i didnt know he went hard like that.lol

    • http://xxl james.b

      here’s to bre bre you dumb stupid bitch hes a boos and you obviously dont understand that.

  • I8ishop

    actually Rass Kass and tash are up with him lyrically..

  • http://www.myspace.com/FuckLarryBrite Larry Brite

    “I’m at the Benz dealership – cell phone & a glock – straight outta the ghetto looking like i don’t belong on the lot!” – “flying past the 1 time – Money Lookin’ Like A Vampire in Sunshine – BURN!”
    -
    GooD LuCk Big hoMie!!! I got cha!

  • Ryan

    I thought Crooked was dope since I heard his verse he did on a song from a Kurupt album back in the day, the track with him and Xzibit on it. That album had the DMX and Ja Rule diss on it.

  • that guy

    crooked is the truth

  • http://www.amoretheking.com jamestown

    Hands down best MC from the west (and I’m a Game, snoop, kurupt fan)

    Crooked I is a beast, he consistent with ill rhymes, and very versaitile as a mc. His hardwork will pay off. If u lookin for lyrics he got that, u lookin for hooks, he got that, u lookin a new breath of fresh air for the west. He is…

    In the rap game right now. I can’t see that many people fuckin wit him on the mic. Real talk.

    Be lookin out for his album. Real hip hop. I’m on that.

  • JasonKeith734

    Crooked I, Game, Hot Dollar, GMalone, Bishop Lamont, Topic, Mistah F.A.B = New West

  • RLW

    Anyone remember that supposed leak from Detox that Crooked I ghostwrote, “This is Compton”? Hot shit.

  • Dimos

    “Early October that shit will be on the streets. That’s my word.”

    OK

  • triplesixninja

    i remember this knicca from back in the day like the year 2g. he was with death row and talking shit about snoop and dre and all that. i cant recall any of his verses though. never heard dude rap

  • http://www.joebudden.org eddieLucky

    crooked is crack

  • Jhon da Analyst

    Let’s not forget Ras Kassiano……….

  • Freddy(Vega$)

    This nigga is striaght raw crack, hard and good as fuck!!! man if Sai and Crooked can get in Just B label, its over Real Rap is coming back!!! they night sell a ton of records but they will have fans for the rest of there life supporting them! this nigga is the truth, he just needs to be heard!!!…..CURTIS…..

  • starchild

    if i wheere dr dre i sighn crooked i and make him bigger than game!!

  • Your God

    Crooked I’s the best rapper right now. He’s like the westcoast Jay-Z, tons of flows, wordplay, and he can freestyle for days.

  • DMX

    dope interview

  • ri067953

    Yo, Crooked and Glasses Malone must be chopping it up together. Just a few months ago GM was talking to DubCNN about how lowriders and shit are played out. Muthafuckers by out here wearing $200 jeans, not Dickies that you cop at the surplus for like $20. New school West Coast MC’s need to stand up and put it to Snoop and The Game. L.A. has changed since 10 years ago! Word!

  • http://www.myspace.com/booeybooeyblahblah BFC

    Props to XXL for this interview. Crook’s a real humble dude. I’ve met with him @ his show and he’s a stand-up cat. He takes time out for his fans, fo’ real. Don’t sleep on this dude. He’s too nice wit’ it.

  • M@

    crooked i is nice! EXTREMLY underrated.

  • http://www.myspace.com/booeybooeyblahblah BFC

    Props to XXL for this interview. Looking forward to hearing B.O.S.S.

  • http://www.princeofgundo.blogspot.com SiLK83out

    xxl givin crooked i shine? that’s whats up

  • therealmayor

    Crooked I is the Truth!

  • MidEast

    No disrespect but he talks about being amongst the people in the streets all the time and not going from the restaurant then back to the telly.Duke you don’t have that superstar aura YET.Once you start ringing some real bells out here you’re going to have to switch it up a little.Change is inevitable Crook! Good luck playa!

  • CT Killah

    crooked I can lyrically savage most muthafuckas out there dude is sick an I hope the best for him anyone sayin otherwise is fuckin deaf

  • 8-TRACC

    dont sleep on this brotha. He is one of the hardest cats in the rap game period. Crooked I is to the West Coast what Papoose is for the East Coast. No Bullshit these cats have the potential to be the next Pac and Biggie!! Long Beach,Ca Foe Life!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • 8-TRACC

    dont sleep on this brotha. He is one of the hardest cats in the rap game period. Crooked I is to the West Coast what Papoose is for the East Coast. No Bullshit these cats have the potential to be the next Pac and Biggie!! Long Beach,Ca Foe Life!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Davizz

    Mmm… he gave is word also in 2005, I don’t believe until I see the album.

  • jgonzalez07

    Damn, cant belive he’s finally gonna drop his debut. Ras Kass, Murs, Crooked, San Quinn, Mistah F.A.B. are some of the tightest lyricist out west. Get E-A-Ski, 9th Wonder and Dr. Dre and some hot guest features and I’ll lable his shit classic!

  • raK0nTuRR

    .JUST BLAZE……..

  • biggt

    CROOKED IS THE DOPEST MC PERIOD ON ANY COAST NO1 IS FUCKIN WITH HIM , SNOOPY SHOULD BE A MAN AND SIT DOWN AND WORK SUM SHIT OUT WITH CROOK

  • Nate

    Just cop his Hip Hop weekly on dubcnn for a free taste of what he can do. He also has “street album” style mixtapes from about 2005-2006 in stores. Check Amoeba or Rasputin in Cali. For those out of Cali dubcnn.com archives are your best bet.
    Crook IS Top 3 artist out there who is lyrically a veteran and paid his own dues. IN the streets, industry and on the mic. He isn’t a 1 hit wonder and he has BEEN DOPE since before Papoose, Saigon, and other artists who still have that buzz but not the major label albums out yet.
    No disrepect to NY tight artists. But Crooked is a boss who just needs that fair shot so he can prove to those outside of Cali that he is nice.

    Most big timers know better than to say anything against him on wax. DMX tried, and Crooked spit him out.

    Who’s next?

  • Q! tha Great!

    Crooked I is the future of hip-hop period. he got the lyrics, the swag, the flow and everything! the dude can out rap any of your favorite MC’s and I’m talkin’ writing or freestylin’! he killing the mixtapes and the hip-hop weekly!It’s time for the homie to rise to stardome! hip-hop is at a lall time low right now, even worse than after Pac & Biggie’s deaths. the Game blew new breath into the West Coast and Crooked I is gonna get the heart pumping again! so support the homie if you support real hip-hop not that bullshit on the radio nowadays!

  • RI standupp

    CROOKED I IS A BEASTTTT!!!!!!! whos better than him right now??? no one comes close….and dont say The Game cuz Crooked 3827498 better

  • Pingback: Mad Maestro News » Blog Archive » Is Ghostwriting for Emcees/Rappers Acceptable?

  • P -A-T

    Crooked I is the best nigga ever the only nigga better is eminem and chamillion and Obie Trice is right behind him.But Jay Z dont “freestlye” he just remeber what he gotta say n go say it this nigga crooked I can freestyle AND write I just wish he would get off my nigga snoop dick and quit lickin Jay Z nuts on some real shit cause if it wasnt for snoop nigga you would NOT have a deal and Jay Z is and overated mothafucka anyway but I hope Crooked Blow cause if you not Marshall Mathers you might aswell let this nigga write you shit

  • KrAzIe LeGz

    Mayne Crooked I is tha best lyricist out here in California mayne i first heard of him from his Mixtapes shit was crack cocaine mayne. Ima be coppin his cd cuz cuz yadadimean

  • http://www.xxlmag.com RApId tOnGuE

    MY RHYMES ARE AUTOMATIC/I’LL STICK TO YOU LIKE STATIC/RUMBLE LIKE AN EARTHQUAKE/GIVE YO GIRL THIS MEAT STEAK!!FOR PETES SAKE!!

  • http://murderincworld.com irv g inc/mpire

    well this is my opinion on crooked !
    crooked i is the hottest rapper by far on the west coast hands down shots out to to the c.o.b camp
    inc/mpire gotti

  • Real Talk

    I have to say I’m from the eastcoast and I love music overall. All my life I try and still try to not lean to any coast in particular. I believe each coast will have it’s turn and due shine.

    That being said I heard Crooked I back in the day and I thought he was nice but I knew he needed some grooming musically. Not lyrically because he’s a monster with the words. I can’t front I thought that he was ok and wouldn’t be around much. When I heard him on on the “Can’t Tell Me Nothing” freestyle for his weekly freestyles I was blown away. I immediately listened to everyone after that and got the ones before. Those freestyles got me looking into his music all over again. No bs this dude is one of the BEST… I mean BEST lyricist in THE GAME NOW! He has the power to make almost any non-believer change their mind. If he doesn’t get his just due to the masses of America and internationally that would be an EXTREME CRIME! This dude has that “IT” that music needs right now. If there are major labels that heard him and didn’t want to sign him then there has to be someone “blackballing” his name in the game. Whatever major label that hears him and doesn’t want to sign him should shut down their operation. He is hands down one of the hottest in the game and one of the greats. He might just be a legend without releasing a album. He is possibly one of the top 20 greats of all time. Not to mention he never released a album. Keep in mind I was never really a big follower of him but I can’t hate. This dude is THE Truth no question!

  • V MAN BLU

    DUDE IS ALRIGHT, 6UT TO ME HE SOUNDS LIKE SPIDER LOC FROM G-UNIT…EVEN HIS LAUGH…HE A 6ITTER

  • V MAN BLU

    DUDE IS ALRIGHT, 6UT TO ME HE SOUNDS LIKE SPIDER LOC FROM G-UNIT…EVEN HIS LAUGH…HE A 6ITTER. ANY6ODY AGREE??

  • dc

    not at all
    spider loc is wacked and he dont sound like crooked

    crooked got the whole package
    he can do any beat and murder it

  • mose

    V MAN BLU ….nah bro, you’re so confused!
    crooked > spider

  • West Coast Killuminati

    yo……howTF do you compare spider joke to Crooked?

    if it had to be anyone after Pac for the West, it’ll be Crooked I….

    only thing is…at the end of this interview, dude says his album will be out in 07 and was his word…..crooked u liar haha

  • crooked i da best rapper alive

    yooooo.. crooked I!!!! is sick out of his mind best rapper alive

  • http://xxl james.b

    boss**