Hip-Hop Junkie: Black Jesus’ Gerald “Slink” Johnson Says N.W.A Opened Doors for West Coast Rap
One of the best shows out right now is Adult's Swim's Black Jesus. The show portrays "Jesus Christ" living in modern day Compton, on a mission to spread love and kindness. It's hilarious and always spreads a positive message. The star of the show is Gerald "Slink" Johnson, a rapper turned comedian who was born and raised on the West Coast. With the finale of the second season coming up, Slink chops it up with XXL about the show, growing up while N.W.A was bubbling and meeting Notorious B.I.G.—Emmanuel C.M
Are you surprised about how well Black Jesus has been received?
I wouldn’t want to say surprised as much as I would want to say humbled by it. Dealing with people like Aaron McGruder and Adult Swim you can only expect the best coming from that. Before the show came out, there was a little concern with how people would perceive it. But again once you can get over that hump and let people actually see what’s going on, when you come with a guy like Aaron McGruder, c’mon man. It’s going to be great.
So what music do you listen to?
Right now I’m listening to Bad Lucc and everybody out of Diamond Lane Music Group. I was listening to Sorry For The Wait 2 by Lil Wayne. All my West Coast, Snoop that Bush album is goin’. I’m feeling that Boosie BadAzz’ Touch Down 2 Cause Hell. But mostly my Diamond Lane guys man. Oh, my boy Freddie Gibbs. Those are my guys right now. Those are the people who controlling the stereo in my car.
What did you grow up listening to in hip-hop?
Being the age I am, I came up in the golden era of West Coast hip-hop. I was listening to N.W.A and Eazy E. I don’t want to sound cliché because they have a movie out, but I came up in that era and very much enjoyed their music, all the stuff coming out the West Coast. I [also] enjoyed the Geto Boys. Scarface is one of my all-time favorites. I’m kinda eclectic when it comes to hip-hop. I kinda give everybody a chance. I don’t get into the whole this person is better than that person because I respect everybody for their own craft. But I wouldn’t compare OutKast to Jeezy. Even though they from Atlanta, they’re different types.
How was growing up in the West when N.W.A blew up?
It was exhilarating, it was scary it was exciting it was revolutionary, it was new, to hear these guys saying the type of things that they said and to hear them talk about what they were talking about and see it at the same time. I saw when crack was ushered into the neighborhood. I saw how at an early age crack destroyed the neighborhood, just to hear these guys express their rage, it was like an amazing thing. It was dope.
What’s your favorite N.W.A track? Did you see the movie?
My favorite track by N.W.A will always be “Fuck The Police.” I saw the movie; it was a great movie, well acted. It was too short if you ask me again. Being a student of that era and watching these things happen... They only had two and a half hours to capture the whole era, so they left out a lot of stuff. But I enjoyed the movie.
What was the West Coast music scene before N.W.A?
You had a lot of cats that were still putting it down before N.W.A. But N.W.A are the guys that blew the door down. There was Ice-T. He was on some gangsta shit from day one, but he did it different from the way N.W.A did it. N.W.A did it like whole unfashionably West Coast: this is us accept us how it is. Ice-T talked a lot of hustler stories, a lot of street stories that could translate in any ghetto in the United States. Although he was from L.A., it could have translated into any ghetto. N.W.A made stuff for us and made you like our lifestyle.
What other group would you like to see a biopic of?
I would definitely go see the Pimp C or the UGK biopic or the Geto Boys biopic. I would definitely see that Geto Boys biopic.
What do you think the Geto Boys did for the south? What’s your favorite Scarface record?
The Geto Boys legitimized the south to me. As far as lyricism and content, the Geto Boys legitimized the south. Don’t get me wrong, they’re plenty of southern lyrist that came before the Geto Boys however the Geto Boys was the one that did it for me. My favorite Scarface song, wow I got so many of them. I’ll got back to The World is Yours, that whole album go. The Untouchable, “Southside” that’s one of my favorite songs ever. I can put “Southside” in and bump that on repeat on a road trip, that’s my shit.
Can you remember the first hip-hop album you bought?
The first hip-hop CD I remember buying is Run-DMC’s Raising Hell.
Did you ever think about being rapper?
I actually rap. Hip-hop was my first foray into the entertainment industry. Acting has always been something that I guess I was a natural at. However, hip-hop was something I always wanted to do. I always clowned and always been type that would be able to deliver a line and act like something but I never gave it much thought because again I wanted to be successful as a rapper. I did my thing; I got around a little bit. I was signed to Too $hort as a rapper back in 1997 and I was with him from 1997 to 2001 under his Short Records imprint. But I got a chance to experience the scene a little deeper than most rappers world.
Too $hort is a West Coast OG. How was that experience?
Man it was a dream. I rhymed with Short, a legend. I did a lot of music with him to 1997 to 2001. Chase The Cat album, You Nasty, Nationwide: Independence Day, Ghetto Pass, I was on Lil' Jon & The East Side Boyz first album. I got a chance to get around and just really soak up game. One thing I got from Too $hort that I would never trade for the world is Game. Short taught me how to get out here and hustle. That dude is a constant hustler.
What hip-hop stories do you have from back in the day?
Essential memory was kicking it with Pimp C. If you really want to go into the whole story, I got to really do some player shit with my man Pimp C one time that was really dope. Just chillin’ with Pimp C and getting the opportunity to meet cats like Biggie. I remember 2Pac walked past me one time. You remember the legends and just remember like damn I was right there. I shook a legend’s hand.
I met Biggie right before “Juicy” came out at this restaurant in L.A., him and Puff. I walked up to Puff and shook his hand and Big walked up to me and said “I’m Big,” and I looked at him and said, “I can tell muthafucka.” [Laughs] He was a cool dude.
What younger rappers do you like in the West right now?
Vince Staples, Casey Veggies... Nipsey Hu$$le is the truth. The boy is the truth. He is next man on the West Coast. Nip go hard.
What else you have going on?
I’m working closely with All Def Digital and a lot of sketches for the web, a lot of web content for ADD. I got a couple of independent films coming out soon. I got my stand up comedy tour going and I’m hosting a lot of cannabis events. I’m making myself a figure in the cannabis world. I’m for cannabis and medicinal marijuana and cannabis reform. I’m just trying to educate the masses on the benefits of medical marijuana.