We lived in west New York, New Jersey; I was about 13-14 when we moved to Houston. My mom just wanted a change. Around that time I was already fully affirmed with hip hop. I was djing at 15 and had my own dj set. I was fully hip hopped out with the name belt, name plates and b-boy belcher.
I am actually one of the people who took hip hop culture to Houston! It was definitely a culture shock (laughs). You know what was funny? When I first got there they treated me funny, because they didn't understand me having Adidas shell toes, suits with the creases sewn in and my hair in waves. They didn't understand any of that. Then when Beat Street came out, they looked back at me and said, “Oh! Ok, this guy was doing this the whole time!”
At that time hip hop hadn't hit nationwide yet, so once it did people began to know what it was.
Your first album, ‘You have the right to remain violent’ had that classic Pen and Pixel artwork, how did you come up with the concept for the front cover?
I was really good friends with Aaron and Shawn Brock who owned Pen and Pixel. My brother Ricky Royal also known as Gangsta Rick from Royal Flush came up with the title of the album, ‘You have the right to remain violent’. I just took my artistic mind to develop the aspects that the, cops and everyone is against me. I came up with the concept of ‘Poverty breeds criminals’ and got Pen and Pixel to use the words like they were carved into stone.
Bun B and I are still tight to this day and god rest Pimp C’s soul. Pimp C and I did a lot of work together and at that time I was like the famous guy in the city. UGK hadn't really emerged yet, so we started a big group of top rappers in Houston called, The Org. There wasn't that much home grown stuff coming out of Houston at that time, except for Geto Boys and people like that.
We worked together because we were all that we had. UGK used to come to my house; I had a mini mansion with a swimming pool and all of that. They would come by my house and shoot pool and hang out in my Jacuzzi. I had a little studio on the side of the house, so I would make beats. I was just getting real strong into the music, they came by and we worked together and some good songs came out of it.
Your second album was ‘Portrait of a serial player’ where you worked with East Coast and West Coast rappers Tim Dog, Kool Keith and Ice T.
I moved out to California and Ice T and I became business partners. Ice T and Coco were just here at my mansion in Atlanta, so we are still cool to this day. Let me say r.i.p to Tim Dog because he died recently. I still talk to Kool Keith we spoke, maybe a month ago.
At the moment you’re working on a new album called ‘American Black Mafia’, can you tell us about that?
It’s the last album I’m going to do, so it’s different and more eclectic. Basically it’s an amalgamation of all of my life experiences coming together on this last release. There’s rock and roll, gangster music and even acoustic guitar on there. Lyrically I think it’s superior to anything that’s going to come out. It will definitely be a collector’s item; I’m not concerned about how many it’s going to sell. My thing is that I am still a hip hop head, so I am more concerned about the quality and the work.
Will it be available on iTunes as well as cd? On both, I own all the rights and publishing on all the music I have ever put out, so this record is no different. I've got songs with Devin the Dude, Pimp C, Bun B and Z-Ro – I have paid these people to be on my album so I own the rights to the songs.
You say it’s your last album but will you still be working within the industry?
I own Bigga Entertainment so we are ready to start signing up some of the younger guys and give them an opportunity to shine. As well as putting out their music I’ll be doing movies too, at the moment I’m working with a brilliant new director called Cliff Mack. We’ll be working on some documentaries on Houston to keep the ball rolling. After that we are looking to shoot more feature films.
Are you based in Houston or Atlanta?
Right now I’m in Atlanta but I’m based in Houston and I got a place in Los Angeles too.
Will you be doing shows with this album?
If the money’s right, I’m and excellent performer but the money has got to be right. If you need me to do a show you need to be coming with at least $25,000 - $30,000 that’s for a good friend. I charge around $50,000 for somebody I don’t know.
What’s the scene like in Houston at the moment?
It’s cool; you got artist like Z-Ro who is huge and doing his thing. There’s a new group that Jas Prince has just signed called the Sauce Boys who are killing it right now. Boston George is really making a lot of noise, I love his stuff. Kirko Bangz is still doing a great job. You've got a lot of young artists like Slim Thug, Paul Wall and those guys still doing their thing. So, yeah you got a Houston movement that is still bubbling.
We took a big hit losing, Hawk, Big Moe and Pimp C all within a 2 year span, when all of that happened it kind of killed the momentum that Houston was having. It kind of shifted back to Atlanta after that and we weren't able to get it back, but I think with these new guys that are bubbling in Houston – we will get it right back.
Anything else you would like to add?
Basically I am honoured to do this interview. I would love to come and see you guys in the UK before the end of the year. When I come there I can’t promise they will let me in there as far as my previous criminal records. But, unlike most guys who have made these records I have lived that lifestyle and fortunately I come from that background. By the grace of God I have been able to survive it.
Salute to you guys for interviewing me.
Interview by JAI BOO