Scoe has always operated behind the scenes. The Philly-born, West Coast-groomed rapper was first introduced to the hip-hop world through his older brother Kurupt, who was busy making classics with his Death Row brethren when Scoe (formerly Roscoe) showed up on the left coast as a kid. Sitting in on some of the early Snoop sessions for the Murder Was The Case soundtrack, Scoe soaked in some of the techniques and experiences that surrounded much of the G-Funk, West Coast sound. "You see these reality shows that make it easy for people to just walk up and down the street and turn their life into something as long as they got a camera on them," he says. "The cameras [used to be] in the bushes trying to get sneak peeks of what our life was like."

Scoe was one of the main contributors to Dr. Dre's long-rumored Detox album, going through beats and writing rhymes for the project, while also ghostwriting for Dre and Diddy, among others. Now he's stepping out into the spotlight with a new mixtape, Tha Influence, which will precede an album with the same name. And while he's stepping out mostly alone—Kendrick Lamar and Xzibit are the only two features on the project—he's doing it on a lush platform provided from some of the hottest producers in the game, a veritable laundry list that includes Just Blaze, Mike WiLL Made It, Jahlil Beats, Statik Selektah, Hi-Tek, Nottz, Jake One and more. Last week, Scoe hopped on the phone with XXL to discuss his mixtape, his upcoming album, and who exactly is leading the charge for the West Coast right now. —Dan Rys (@danrys)

XXL: How did the tape come together?
Scoe: It was dope, because I'm not usually stoked on doing albums, I don't do them for the same reasons others do them. They do it for the fame, fortune and females, and it got to the point where everything was falling together musically—the music was tying together, I was feeling good about it, and I decided to come back out and do something. I was in a good place to record with a lot of good people, and I was in a good creative space mentally. So it was just timing.

How did you link up with guys like Just Blaze and Mike WiLL Made It and Jahlil Beats and Statik Selektah? The list keeps going.
I was over at Aftermath working on Detox with Dre, and I got to sit down and work with a lot of different producers, and on that project I got to hear a lot of things, pick and choose, and a few things that fell off Dr. Dre's plate, too. If as an artist he didn't mesh well or fall in love with the beats, I would just pick 'em up and I would just sit down, write some things for him, he wouldn't like it, and I would keep it for my project.

" Xzibit, Kurupt, myself, Kendrick, Game, we're a different type of West Coast MC. We are the real West Coast MCs.”

What's it like working on Detox? It's mythical at this point.
It's like working with a long, assembly line of artists and you're trying to create this masterpiece on this never-ending canvas, and you never run out of paint, you never run out of canvas and you never run out of resources. Being in the studio with Dre is cool, man, it's like working with my teacher's teacher, so I feel like I graduated to a certain extent.

On the influence you only have two features—Kendrick and Xzibit. What made you keep that to a minimum?
Man, at first I was takin' bids, I was gonna put everybody on there. But I realized times change, people change, everybody's doing something else, and I just wanted to keep it West Coast. I feel like Kendrick is doing something new for the West, and I feel like Xzibit just represents that lyrical assassin from the West Coast that could go to New York. Xzibit, Kurupt, myself, Kendrick, Game, we're a different type of West Coast MC. We are the real West Coast MCs. There's rappers out here, but we are the MCs. We got Crooked I, he's an MC. We got ScHoolboy Q, he's an MC. And don't get me wrong, there was a few MCs who was gangsta rappers too along the way for the West Coast. I just wanted to put people who I felt like I always wanted to work with that I didn't get to work with too much along the way. I just didn't want to do something typical.

You grew up your early life in Philly. What was the California influence on you?
It's been more of a life influence than a music influence. California taught me how to be who I wanted to be, and whatever I wanted to be. I feel like Philadelphia is where I originated and created my creative side—I started writing poetry, and my talents were born in Philly—but they were groomed and raised and transformed into something different, like a cocoon, when I came to California. It turned it into something better.

And you were working with Snoop and Dre back then?
When I came in they were working on the Murder Was The Case Soundtrack. It was a big, Death Row conglomerate back then. I would just sit in the sessions, ten years old, my mind soaking it all up. There was other kids in the studio that was actually more advanced than me—Bow Wow was in the studio then, he was like 7, and he was actually working on the album; I was just getting off the plane. My biggest influence came from Organized Noize. I went to Atlanta when we were working on the Streets Was A Mother album, and I spent a lot of time with Rico Wade, Sleepy Brown, Ray. The whole reason I chose the word influence [for the album title] is because we are influenced by something and we influence something. It's basically a full circle. It keeps on planting the seed—influence is nothing more than a seed. And I felt like this was the perfect way for me to express myself without saying that I'm trying to be Kurupt, that I'm trying to be Snoop. I'm just being me. That's just what I came up around, that's not my fault.

Before the reality shows, my lifestyle was everybody else's lifestyle, because it was what they looked up to and that was what I was living, what they dreamed about. And then you see these reality shows make it easy for people to just walk up and down the street and turn their life into something as long as they got a camera on them. The cameras [used to be] in the bushes trying to get sneak peeks of what our life was like.


You've done a lot of ghostwriting with Dre, Snoop, Puff, those guys, right?
Those stories always go the same way—I write it, they like it, and they lay it down, they got no complaints about it. Every now and then someone will call me and ask me to help them out, how to say something. Most of the time it's easy to write. If you write good shit, it makes you easier to work with; people don't really have too many complaints, people just pick their spots.

Have you been working with your brother [Kurupt] lately?
We don't get to work too much, he does his thing, I do my thing. I wanted to have him on the mixtape, but we'll see how it works out for The Influence album. The album is coming very soon. It's The Influence, but it's more...remember the Power Rangers, how it was a television show? And then you had the movie? This is the movie. This is the big thing. You would think that because there's all these big producers on the mixtape that this would be it, but nah, this ain't it. I ain't Michael Jackson. There's more to come. [Laughs]

"Everybody wants the crown, everybody wants to be No. 1. I don't really focus on being No. 1, I just try to be No. 1 at being Scoe. I ain't even trying to be better than anybody else, I'm just trying to be the best me every day.”

Have you been stashing away a lot more beats from these guys?
Everybody always has these fantasy features and these fantasy tracks that they would want me to rap on or whatever. "I would love to see you on a song with Miguel and J. Cole! I would love to see you on a song with Cassidy, or with Lil Wayne!" All these fantasy songs. Me, personally, I'm not a rapper rapper. With this project in particular, I just wanted to give everybody an accurate visual of what it would be like if I was to go to New York and do records on Def Jam, or if I was to go to Cash Money or Maybach Music. So I just pulled from those producers. So it's just like a, "What if?" It gives people a chance to see me in a way that they want to see me.

But I want to keep it West Coast. The difference between my album and my mixtape is my album is a lot more West Coast. And I don't mean dated kicks and beats and snares and all of that type of shit. When I say my shit is West Coast, I mean it's musical. There's all live instruments on my album, the mixers are done by professionals, it doesn't sound like it came out of a basement—no disrespect to any other sounds or areas—but West Coast and Hollywood, L.A., we got the best mixers and masterers. That's why Death Row always had the best catalog, because they always had great people to mix and master these projects, people you've probably never heard of but who have worked with the Isley Brothers, and the Gap Band, Frank Sinatra. That's how I deal with my album—I like to work with people who are esteemed, hard-working and who know what they're doing. I'm a professional. I like the stuff I hear on radio nowadays, but I like my shit to be crispy.

Who is leading the way for the West Coast right now?
I don't think anyone is leading the way, I think it's just leading by example. For the hip-hop culture in general. There's people out there who like to stay in the tabloids or the press or the media because it helps them to sell records and stay relevant, but there's other people who put out good music. I feel like if you ask me who is putting out good music right now, I would definitely say Kendrick is, Nipsey is, I would say ScHoolboy Q, Joe Moses, Ty$ign, T-Fly, all these cats coming up out of the West. YG, definitely putting out some good shit. Everybody wants the crown, everybody wants to be No. 1. I don't really focus on being No. 1, I just try to be No. 1 at being Scoe. I ain't even trying to be better than anybody else, I'm just trying to be the best me every day. If I could sit down at the end of my shit and be like, damn I got better in any way, shape or form—lyrically, talent-wise or just as a person—that's what my goal is.

I got a little daughter and shit, so I don't really focus on who's leading. I don't think there's really any leaders unless you gain some followers first. If somebody out here pulls a Wiz Khalifa move and starts employing everybody around here, then maybe. But ain't nobody employing anybody else out here, so ain't no bosses no more. Only bosses are the same bosses, Snoop and Dre. [Laughs] Maybe in the future we'll be sitting down and you'll be asking me, man, how does it feel to be leading after we just had this conversation? I'm just playing. [Laughs]

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