Guerilla Black Interview (by A to the L)
Already getting some major press because of both his physical and vocal resemblance to the late Christopher Wallace, Guerilla Black plans to use this to his advantage to blast of the launch of his debut album “Guerilla City” this September…
Lets get the boring shit out of the way first – who is Guerilla Black and how did he come into the rap game?
GB: Well… I was born in Jolliet just outside Chicago, but wound up coming to Los Angeles. When I first made the move to LA I was living in a shelter… and then I ended up in Compton, where I was definitely wilding out out there… a lot of ups and downs, you know? And throughout that I was pursuing my career, and trying to get my name out there and get heard.
The other thing that you’re gonna get sick of hearing is people comparing you to Biggie. Whats your own take on it – do you think you sound like the man?
GB: At the end of the day, people are always gonna compare because of the physical resemblance… vocally, I guess people are gonna be saying the same thing. But, all I can do is be me…. be B-L-A-C-K… of course I can big up people like Pac and Biggie, but I can never stand in their shoes. Them two dudes was two of the most influential cats in their genre of music, so for people to be comparing me to someone like Big, when I’m only on my first album… I don’t feel like I’m worthy of that title, or that comparison. All I can do is be me, and try to make hot records.
Have you had any contact from anyone in Biggie’s camp since you came out?
GB: I spoke to Deric “D-Dot” Angelettie, Carlos Broady… sat down and spoke with Mark Curry, sat down and spoke with Stevie J… I had lunch with a few of those cats over at Bad Boy, and they was real cool people. I mean, I don’t know how much they accepted the fact of me sound like Big in their minds, but they seemed real cool with me.
You got this new album coming out, and in preparation and promotion for it, you put out this mixtape. On there, you rhyme over several of Biggie’s beats… what was the reasoning behind that – surely you’d be trying to step away from B.I.G.’s shadow (so to speak) and be your own person, instead of giving people more ammo for their Biggie comparisons?
GB: Well you know, so many people say that I sound like Big… and me being a person who’s never run away from anything, I just wanted to go at people and spit on his tracks and let them hear what I have to say. I guess I wanted to confront that issue and say “OK, you say I sound like Big, well let me rhyme over this Big track and give you what you want.” At the end of the day though, I think I get across that no matter what I’m still B-L-A-C-K – Big was Big, I’m Black.
Lets focus on Black then. This “Guerilla City” album you’re dropping in September – what’s the deal?
GB: On “Guerilla City” I definitely have an array of producers on there… Fred Wreck is on there… Carlos Broady, Roy Hamilton, Ski… you know, a lot of different producers and artists are on there – Nate Dogg, Beenie Man, Marios Winans, Jazze Pha… and it was an honour to be working with cats with the prestige and skills of those dudes. And for them to be turning around to work with a newcomer to game, and each of them showed me something different in the studio with regard to laying songs and lacing tracks, that I essentially used throughout the whole album. So, it was a beautiful thing…
How did you get the hookup with all of them cats? Cos its strange to have a relatively unknowner newcomer dropping a debut album with so many big names and big artists on it…
GB: Well you know… that lays in the hands of my management (Jimmy Henchman / Czar Entertainment.) They manage Mario Winans also, so they reached out to him, to Nate Dogg and Jazze Pha’s people… and made it happen.
You’ve had a lot of really tough times in your life including the passing of your wife – how has that affected what you write, and how you write?
GB: After my wife passed, I really just started focusing my raps on more reality, and more life-driven lyrics… definitely concepting songs on that, and writing and structuring more reality into my lyrics. So many other people had passed before her, but after she passed, that was like the spark to the brain…
In terms of promoting your music, how has the respond been from crowds when you’re doing tours?
GB: Its been crazy man. Phenomenal. Going to all the different regions… Houston, Dallas, St Louis… all of these different places, and all showing me so much love as a new artist. It was an unbelievable blessing, man. You know, for them to accept me, and enjoy my music… that’s just a beautiful thing, especially when you’re going to places that kinda have their own style and way of doing Hiphop and don’t give up a lotta love to outsiders that easily.
How do you see your career in Hiphop moving on? Do you have a plan that you’re working to, or are you just living for the moment?
GB: Well, I’m just really taking everything as it comes… living one day at a time. I am the type though, who does plan things out though, and I’d like to maybe use this as a stepping stone to other projects – acting, real estate, building up my label, and collaborating with other artists. I’m a student of the game, and every day I learn something new about it – all the different ways of being successful. And I just want to stay in the game as long as possible, and pick up as much knowledge as possible on all the different aspects, and use that to better myself and my career for the next 5 or 10 years.
At the start of your career, you got a lot of help from Ice T. Do you have any plans to go back and work with him, or have you worked with him yet?
GB: Most definitely. Ice T is a mentor not just to me but to a whole generation of fans of street rap, reality rap, gangsta rap… call it what you wanna call it. He’s one of the godfathers of that, and I’m always looking to work with him if I can.
A host of rappers have come out before sounding like other emcees, with varying levels of success. While you have Shyne held up as a success, a lot of them have been dismissed as gimmick emcees – Angelous, Blac Haze etc. How do you plan to avoid getting written off by people who maybe won’t even have heard your music, but will trash you as a Biggie clone?
GB: Well its about work ethic. Whenever you have that clone ‘shadow’ over you in that situation, you have to work twice as hard as a regular artist to be extra humble and extra sensitive to what’s going on around you. At the same time though, you have cats that swear Fabolous sound like Mase, that Ja-Rule or DMX or 50 sound like 2pac… but at the end of the day those people worked real hard and had success. They did their shows, did their hot records,
and succeeded at the end. So its definitely about working hard and preparing yourself for the bumps in the road… and I feel that it helps if you have a label that’s willing to share the vision you have as an artist, and that helps to structure that artist.
So sum it up – why should people check for Guerilla Black and “Guerilla City”?
GB: Well there’s a few reasons. One – its universal – we made this for every city, and every region. Two – the West coast is back. Three – along with me, there’s a bunch of phenomenal people on that album flexing a lot of different talent.
Thanks to Guerilla Black for taking part and to Cara at Room Service for setting this up.