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5 to Know

5 To Know

by DJ Synical

If you pay any attention to rap you may have noticed the recent “Return Of The West Coast” to the mainstream music scene. Riding high on strong releases from Snoop Dogg and The Game, west coast artists are once again being looked to to provide quality music. One person who has constantly been on the scene since the early 90s is Butch Cassidy. If you don’t know his name, you definitely know a song or hook of his. He started out in the church choir and soon was sought after in the neighborhood for his singing skills. Growing up on the eastside of Long Beach with his cousin Nate Dogg and the rest of the Dogg Pound camp, Cassidy put in work on almost every Long Beach LP that was produced in the 90s. “G’d Up” by Snoop Dogg featured him on the hook prominently and he has been in high demand ever since, working on almost 80 songs with the likes of Daz Dillinger, Tray Deee, Baby Bash, Devin the Dude, Mack 10 and many more.

Damien Young aka Damizza is a producer that has been working in the west with artists for quite some time now. A name not familiar with the casual rap fan, many will be surprised to know that Damizza is one of the most powerful figures in the hip hop scene of California. After landing a gig with one of Los Angeles’ biggest radio stations, KPWR (Power 106), he quickly proved himself to be a man who knows everyone. As VP of Artist Relations for the station, he came in contact with all the heavy hitters of the industry and lent a helping hand whenever called upon. It’s even rumored that it was none other than Damizza who reunited Snoop Dogg and Dr. Dre after their brief hiatus from each other. This reunion provided the world with the classic 2001. Now he has turned his attention back to making music and combined with Butch Cassidy to drop a solid LP called Back B4 You’re Lonely. The single “Cruisin” has been receiving a lot of good attention.


When Tha Dogg Pound split up and went their separate ways, the west coast rap scene was dealt a serious blow. Kurupt and Daz Dillinger make up the core of Tha Pound but it also includes affiliates such as Snoop Dogg, Nate Dogg, Warren G, Bad Azz, Tray Deee & Goldie Loc (Tha Eastsidaz), Big C-Style, Lil C-Style, RBX, Soopafly, Roscoe, Tha Twinz, E-White and the Lady of Rage, just to name a few. They were first presented to the world on Dr. Dre’s masterpiece The Chronic in 1992 and were featured on every major Death Row Records release that followed including 2pac’s double disc, All Eyez On Me. Death Row ruled rap and Tha Dogg Pound released a critically acclaimed LP Dogg Food in 1998. After Death Row’s demise everyone went their separate ways but luckily they’ve all found their way back and are working on a lot of projects to make up for lost time. This is the second LP since the reunion after dropping Dillinger & Young Gotti II: Tha Saga Continues in 2005. With Snoop Dogg back on board they released the Cali Iz Active single and album which received a fair amount of airplay. Pick up the new album Dogg Chit if you miss that 1997 flow when Snoop and his brethren ran the charts. But now there is more good news: Tha Pound is back in the studio already working on the next heater.

Repping the sunny city by the border famous for palm trees and pretty girls, Fire represents the next in line as far as what is to be offered from California and San Diego in particular. The hardest thing to accomplish in a city trying to get a foothold in the industry as an independent artist is standing out from the crowd and making yourself seen in a positive light. Fire has shown that work ethic and endless energy definitely helps open doors. He was featured on a nationally televised talent show on WB back in 2005 and performed his single “Rain Dance” (years before the wildly popular rain dance single from Harlem that was everywhere a few months ago). He also was featured on projects from The Nappy Roots, DJ Fingaz, DC Mixtape Kingz, and San Diego’s The Agency. He has a hand in every market imaginable from launching a clothing line (Dirty Money Clothing with his partner DJ 5X), to managing and grooming other up and coming artists on the label he represents, Money Motivated Ent.. Always staying busy, Fire has acquired an impressive body of work in a short time which has brought the attention of some of the game’s heavy hitters. He represents the Man Up Squad with G-Unit’s rookie of the year Hot Rod and Ludacris’s Disturbin’ Tha Peace Camp emcee Willy Northpole. I mean, when you’re the only rapper out there that can say you’re managed by the one and only Ike Turner you’d have to bank on the unexpected.

Let’s not leave the south out of this. We’ve all witnessed the titanic shift in rap music to the south over the last few years and we all have our own opinion but one fact remains: the south has been doing what they’re doing now for a long time, it’s just now the entire nation is paying attention. One of those sleeper cells not many bothered to notice is Houston, TX. H-Town rappers have been independently making a lot of money for decades now and Paul Wall has been in the mix since the beginning. DJ Screw and his Screwed Up Click pioneered the slowed down, screwed and chopped, codeine syrup fueled mixtape scene that we all grew to love. They represented the south side of the city and Swisha House represented the north. With a stable of new and hungry emcees like Slim Thug, Mike Jones and Chamillionaire led by DJ Michael ‘5000’ Watts, Paul Wall soon emerged in the late 90s as a fan favorite, The People’s Champ, here to provide the scene a jolt in the arm it needed after DJ Screw passed away. He got his start being featured on most of the Swisha House projects released at the time which helped the label be seen as a legitimate source of Houston music even though it was from the north side of the city. Swisha House flooded the south with countless mixtapes with some even being DJ by Paul himself. He even started to dabble in the jewelry scene, hooking up fellow rappers with pristine grills that are everywhere these days. The success soon found the label roster balloon and triple it’s size so he left and teamed up with Chamillionaire as the Color Changing Click on an indie label Paid In Full Records. The Get Ya Mind Correct LP sold a ridiculous amount of units but he and Chamillionaire soon split up and Wall returned to Swisha House. After a feature on Mike Jones’ smash debut hit “Still Tippin” (a song Chamillion was originally on as well) the nation was introduced officially to Wall. The jewelry game is probably making this kid more cake than all the rap years combined and he recently teamed up with former Blink-182/+44 drummer Travis Barker and Rob Aston, formerly of The Transplants to form Expensive Taste. They were featured on the Famous Stars & Straps mixtape released a couple months back so check it out. Get Money Stay True is the new album in stores now and the hot single “I’m Throwed” featuring Jermaine Dupri is already in heavy rotation worldwide.

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