Q & A: Ex-Death Row Artists O.F.T.B.
By Dialogue Magazine
Dialogue Magazine: When did the group form and how did it form?
Low MB: We all been childhood friends since elementary on up. But in 1990 everyone was getting released from jail and everyone was rapping, vibing and all that. And everyone got together and said we need to get together as a group, since we were all rapping, trying to go for the same goal. So back in 90, 91, 92, that’s when we started the group. Everyone was released to the streets and we was ready to operate from the bottom (O.F.T.B.) and do a good movement.
DM: How did the group get discovered?
Flipside: We discovered ourselves to be honest with you. Because in this rap industry, you have to put money behind yourself first of all to get exposed. But we got the opportunity to get the album released…we got hooked up with Big Beat/Atlantic Records and we dropped our first single. And our first album was called “Straight up Watts” and the first single was called “Slangin’ Dope”
DM: Growing Up in Nickerson Gardens?
Flipside: For me, growing up in Nickerson Gardens started when I was a baby and it really let you know at a early age what type of streets you was gonna be in, you had to survive in. There was a lot of things going on where I grew up, gangbanging was just getting kicked off at its height…it’s always been poverty stricken, low-income families starving, on welfare…it was broken down where we grew up, you know, it was right after the Watts riots, so we was coming out of a situation already with a lot of anger in our blood.
Low MB: Back then, you know, when Hip Hop first started you kinda had a few people to look up to. But nowadays you really don’t have anyone to look up to. So we had to take it upon ourselves to be the man that we was and do the things that we had to do to really get our families out of the situation we was livin’ in. The only options…either your gonna gangbang, sell dope or get a job…and none of those are gonna get you where you wanna go unless you get up out of the ghetto. So our only option was how can we figure out a way out of the ghetto. And since our passion was music, that’s what we chose to go for.
DM: The first rapper I heard from Watts was Kam and the latest is Jay Rock…
Low MB: We got a great relationship with Kam. Kam’s been in Nickerson Gardens performing with us, so you know we always got love and support from him. He always been a real big fan of OFTB and we always been a real big fan of his; so our connection was good then and its good now.
Jay Rock. Man that’s our protégé. He grew up off of OFTB, he just shot his video in the hood, at the park called “The Hood Gon’ Love it,” you know. And we represented for him…and did a cameo in it. Yeah, Jay Rock grew up off of OFTB man; we trained that dude.
DM: Now that the album is finally being released, what can we expect from the album “Damn Near Dead?”
Flipside: You can expect something that should’ve been put out a long time ago, but it was still 10-15 years ahead of its time. And you will see that this album was even too gansta for Death Row to even drop. You will see the hard work, the concepts, and you will see that the West Coast is always in the foundation for any music before everyone else caught on to it and tried to run through it all different kind of ways.
DM: What tracks should we lookout for?
Flipside: Really, the whole album is a classic, but you know “Thinking about the Murder,” “Damn Near Dead,” “So Long” ft. MC Hammer,” “Gun a Nigga Down,” “Niggas Going Down”, etc…”
We got a lil bit of everything on there. Nowadays music’s changed…it’s a variety of something for everybody on that album.
DM: Collabos on “Damn Near Dead”
Low MB: Working with MC Hammer, Pac, Snoop, Kurupt, the Outlaws, the Dogg Pound and everybody else, those were all fun times. We all came in the studio and just started collaborating, drinking, smoking and chillin,’ and just creating and having a good time. Those were some of the best times of our life.
DM: Best and worst memories from the Death Row days of the 90‘s?
Flipside: I think everyday I was on Death Row was a best memory because everyday we was dealing with different cats that was on different levels of life. But we were close to Tupac for the simple fact that he saw our struggles. He saw where we came from.
One of my favorite memories was one day we was in Las Vegas and Tupac had just got his Rolls Royce. I was walking outside, and I looked and I didn’t know it was Tupac at first. He kinda looked like (Marvin) Hagler, the boxer, you know, because I just saw him wiping off the rims. and I looked at him and I saw it was Pac. First thing that come to my mind being a Death Row artist, soon as my album come out or as soon as my stuff get out I’m gonna be in a Rolls. So I roll up on him all excited and he’s like what’s up Flip…I jump in the Rolls with him and I’m feeling myself and he’s feeling his self…
As we’re driving down the street, I’m asking him some questions -like yeah we about to be balling. And he cut me short and said, “Let me tell you something man, this shit ain’t even mine, I don’t own this shit. These niggas just making it look like that.” I’m like what you mean this ain’t yours–you don’t own this shit, you just sold all of these millions of records. He was like, “Man, you don’t even know I’m trying to do my own label, Makaveli Records. And when I do the label, I’m gonna have you and the Outlaws and Imma put ya’ll on.”
I’m like we bout to drop our album on Death Row right? He said, “Let me tell you, all you niggaz bout to go through some shit, bout 10-11 years from now.” The whole time I thought the nigga was just feeling his self. But all the time the nigga was a prophet and he was telling us stuff a long time ago.
Low MB: The worst memory was the night Tupac got shot. That was the worst memory of our life ‘cause we was at the top of our game and we was thinking everything was gravy and peaches and cream, and it was gonna go on forever. And all of a sudden that shit just came to a stop from a couple of muthafucking gun shots. That was the worst night of my muthafucking life.
DM: Tell us about The Payroll Records
Low MB: Yeah we got our own label called The Payroll Records and we dropping our first debut record off of that called “Hostile Environment.” We dropping it on 9/11.
DM: Why did you choose 9/11?
Low MB: Because of all of the hostile situations going on around the world and all of the hype that went into 9/11. With Bin Laden being dead and everything else, it just all makes sense, you know, the whole world is hostile. You know they throwing shoes at the president, everywhere is hostile, every country is fighting…it’s hostile. You can get it at anytime–anywhere.
DM: How have you changed since your Death Row days?
Flipside: We changed with time. We grew up, we got kids. We learned how to be more responsible with our lives. We’re better business men making better decisions. We’re also doing intervention and prevention through music, so you know a lot changed. I’m not as angry as I was back in those days.
Low MB: My perspective is, like you say, for the future of music we try to set a foundation to where if you’re really passionate and serious about this music; then who do you go to put your record out, where can I go to get my stuff done, who do I talk to to get my business game right, where do I go to get my stuff right, or do I just keep getting fucked. My vision is they gonna be able to come to The Payroll because not only are we artists and have passion for the music, but we’re teachers and legends in the game…
Me and Flip ain’t never gave up. We been loyal to this. We been juggling our music and our family and our community all at the same time. We got all that on our back and we ain’t buckle one time.