by Alex Shtaerman
From making history at Death Row to blazing the underground, Daz Dillinger has seen his share of ups and downs in a career that’s spanned a decade and a half, frequently bringing the West Coast stalwart in and out of the public’s eye. Recently reuniting with Kurupt for the Dogg Pound reunion LP, Cali Iz Active, Daz is once again ready to disrupt the mainstream, teaming with Virgin’s President of Urban Music Jermaine Dupri for his So So Def / Virgin debut, So So Gangsta. Featuring guest appearances from Rick Ross, Snoop Dogg and Kurupt, So So Gangsta brings Daz full circle as the MC aims to fully reassert himself with a multitude of new projects. Stay on the lookout. DPGC.
RIOTSOUND.COM: Your new album will be dropping on So So Def / Virgin, how did you originally hook up with Jermaine Dupri for this project?
DAZ: I’ve been knowing JD for like fifteen years, my whole career. When Kris Kross started, the dark skinned one named Chris; me, him and Snoop, we was smoking partners. The little nigga had a bunch of weed and we was like – damn! lets smoke. So we became good friends with him and then he introduced us to Jermaine Dupri and then we became friends with Jermaine Dupri and they been loving our music. I was doing a lot of independent stuff when we did the Welcome To Tha Chuuch album. That one verse on there got me hooked up. JD was like – I like Daz, let’s put him down. We already knew each other so it was just like a done deal thing. I signed with [JD] at Jive but Jive wasn’t trying to make nothing happen, so fuck Jive. [After that] we went to Virgin and everything now is about making it happen.
RIOTSOUND.COM: You got the new video with Rick Ross for “On Some Real Shit”, who else can we expect to see you collaborating with on So So Gangsta?
DAZ: I got the whole DPGC on there; me, Snoop Dogg, Kurupt and Soopafly is on there. I got a song with Johnta Austin, my next single, which is called “Weekend”. Then I got Jagged Edge on there, I got the homie Ice Cube on there, we’re just making it happen.
RIOTSOUND.COM: You got a very interesting cross promotion going on where a copy of your new LP will be given away with the purchase of any Donald Goines book; are you a big fan of Goines?
DAZ: Yea, I’m a real big fan of his. A lot of movies was made out of his books. That’s what it’s about, giving kids the knowledge and understanding what life’s going to be on and what’s going down. Besides being nice and all that other shit, there’s going to be somebody else in the world who’s going to be really fucking you up or being really mean to you. You gotta learn how to handle that. Like if a motherfucka go to jail, a motherfucka gotta tell him when to get up, take a shower, eat and go to bed. So don’t get in that position. Those books right there gonna let you know that that’s the wrong route to go to.
RIOTSOUND.COM: The new Dogg Pound record has been out for a little while now, how would you describe the fan reaction to Cali Iz Active?
DAZ: The fans been lovin’ it. They been coming up to me like – it remind me of ’92, I love it. I love [the record] too; I put my all into it. All the beats was on there that I picked out. I really didn’t produce nothing but I like a lot of the beats on there and they’re the ones I picked out. So I wasn’t rapping on nothing I didn’t like.
RIOTSOUND.COM: Right now, yourself, Kurupt and Snoop are shooting a Dogg Pound DVD. What’s the DVD going to be about, what are we going to see on that?
DAZ: It’s about the whole Dogg Pound and how we come together, there’s a lot of interviews. I had shot a DVD a long time ago when we wasn’t friends with Kurupt called DPG Eulogy and that comes on Starz in September and on Pay Per View. So [the fans] get to see how it was without [Kurupt] and now with him. So it’s going to be a real interesting DVD. We might have Suge Knight on there.
RIOTSOUND.COM: Is it going to be new footage of Suge Knight or just old clips?
DAZ: New footage of him; us wooping the shit outta him. I’ma have him on there though.
RIOTSOUND.COM: There’s a song on Snoop’s second album called “The Vapors” where he talks about how you were somewhat wild as an adolescent, what were you doing?
DAZ: I was robbin’, stealing, beating motherfucka’s asses, gangbanging, selling dope, all that shit. Really just surviving out there in the streets. I was also DJing and doing all that other type of stuff. All young kids love Hip-Hop, especially that old school. I grew up on that old school. The Eric B’s and Rakims, shit like that, know what I mean.
RIOTSOUND.COM: At this point in your career, over a decade after Dogg Food dropped, you are back in the mix again and you have the opportunity to once again make a major impact, what does that mean to you? Is it something you’ve always anticipated?
DAZ: It’s something that I’ve been waiting for as far as, lemme get into the position of having something new for the kids and to build some other entity other than the ones we was already using. As far as, how can we get our records out there; how can people who distribute records get paid off the records instead of a company fucking you and saying – oh, you owe us this and this and this and all that other type of stuff. As opposed to just getting into the position of power. Not just taking over the game but taking over the game with sense.
RIOTSOUND.COM: Do you feel that with the whole independent movement taking off and a lot of artists owning their own labels it’s a better situation from a creative standpoint?
DAZ: When you make a song and put it out and it hits, the record company don’t wanna change nothing, they wanna keep it like it is ‘cause that’s what people looking for. Like that “Chicken Noodle Soup” song. Put that out and now a motherfucka is knocking at your door and now you got all these companies trying to beat somebody to the punch. But when you independent it’s like – this is what we want, if you don’t give it to us, fuck you, we keep on moving; the song is blowing up with or without you. And that’s how it is. I could make a song today and take it in the strip club and bam bam. I own that song; it just depends whether or not I wanna give that song to the company.
RIOTSOUND.COM: What’s the biggest difference between your outlook today as opposed to the way things were when you were on Death Row?
DAZ: Just the perspective of all that bullshit and hatin’ on a motherfucka and beatin’ up on a motherfucka and not really letting somebody get out there and do [the things that they wanna do]. Like parents and shit. Until you grow up and then you leave home. So that’s what it was.
RIOTSOUND.COM: You got the Dogg Pound LP, Cali Iz Active, in stores now; you got your solo LP, So So Gangsta, dropping. You also got the Dogg Pound DVD that’s going to be coming out. What else should fans be looking out for as far as Daz goes?
DAZ: The movie My Summer Vacation. Also a video game we coming out with called Dogg Pound Dogg Fight, it’s a fighting game. You know how you let your dog out in the neighborhood with my dog and let the two pit bulls get down. It’s like street fighting. You got different dogs in the neighborhood fucking each other, like a chiwawa mixed with a pit bull, little body, big ass head, tearing motherfuckas up.
RIOTSOUND.COM: So it’s a fighting game but with dogs instead of people?
DAZ: Yea, but there’s people who own the dogs and they let them go, that type of shit, real street dog fighting.