Maintaining your fan base is a lesson that some artists in today’s musical environment may need a crash course in. Some artists aren’t around long enough for their supporters to get to know them. They fade into insignificance after maybe two albums and those left behind will most likely feel that they never knew them in the first place.
William L. Calhoun, Jr. does it all for the fans. Guilty By Affiliation, his third studio album, is WC giving those that have supported him and his career as one of the West Coast staples something to feast on.
Maintaining his relationship with Ice Cube even though Westside Connection is no more, this album is being pushed to the masses on Cubes Lench Mob label. Giving it up on respect, masters and what really happened at Def Jam, WC keeps it as real with Ballerstatus.com as only he can.
Ballerstatus.com: You are taking the independent route and even though Westside Connection is a done deal obviously things are good with you and Cube as you are going out on his label?
WC: Yeah we are business partners on this project. I am on his label, but I own my masters on this project right here.
Ballerstatus.com: You have been in the game for a minute, was that something you were looking for in a situation, rights to your masters?
WC: Hell yeah, that was something I had to do. It was a blessing after what happened at Def Jam.
Ballerstatus.com: Yeah I was hoping we could touch on the Def Jam situation and hear your side of the story.
WC: Well I had a lot of records that were pressed up with scratches all through them, which got returned. So they had to push the release date back and it f***ed up momentum and sh** like that. Me, Lyor, Kevin Liles and Tina Davis at the time, when they were still over at Def Jam, we sat down and had a meeting. We figured out the best thing for me would be for them to write me a check as they f***ed up and it wasn’t like they intentionally did it. But someone didn’t listen to the record over there. They granted me my request to leave and I left the label with no override and I didn’t owe money. The relationship to this day is still good.
Ballerstatus.com: Obviously maintaining relationships is important?
WC: Yeah. I mean I been through it, but it is like a relationship with this music. You have to realize there are always going to be ups and downs and you just have to keep it moving. We are going to go through battles, but it was unfortunate there as we had a real big record with “The Streets” single that was produced by Scott Storch. There was a video shot at the Coliseum by Chris Robinson; the track had Snoop on it.
Ballerstatus.com: That was when 2002?
WC: Yeah I mean we came back the next year and dropped the Westside Connection album. I am always in the mix of things, it was just f***ed up with them as it was a big set up and I finally had a chance to get a good look at a machine that was able to make it happen. We had a big record and a big single that was getting played everywhere. It was just a good look and then it turned up into a f***ed up look when that went down.
Ballerstatus.com: Isn’t that the way of the industry?
WC: Yeah and by me being an artist that has always catered and stayed true to the streets, I have a devoted fanbase out there that will always be there for me to cater to. We hit them with Gangsta Nation, which was a good thing, but then we all went our own ways after that.
Ballerstatus.com: Is there any bad feeling there with Mack 10 since y’all parted ways?
WC: I don’t have no bad feeling towards Mack. I mean I am still working with Cube. Mack just went on and did his own thing. It was just unfortunate that we weren’t seeing eye to eye. That is family business and if it was ever going to get worked out, it would get worked out amongst family. I have nothing bad to say.
Ballerstatus.com: So talk to me about the new album?
WC: Man it is the sh**. I swear I put my nuts on the table with this album right here. For one, we are not a major label, so we don’t have to sit up and do what the f*** they tell us to do. Even when we were on a major label, we did what we wanted to do. You would have to go in front of a million people to get budgets approved, but we got our chance to go in and put down what we wanted to put down. We didn’t have to worry about what was “in” at the time, or what was being played in the club. F*** that, we outside the club telling n****s when you come outside, we gonna beat your ass. Sh**, we were having fun with it. We were cracking Hennessey bottles and in the club doing what we wanted to be doing. We were having fun with it, not sitting up and doing what everyone else is trying to do. We do us and Goddamn it feels good to be independent.
Ballerstatus.com: Taking the independent route has to be seen as a big risk and this is the second project off Cube’s label.
WC: Right and we are not tripping about going gold and platinum, as we have a certain amount of records to sell and everything after that is gravy. We have a built in fanbase, so I can do those numbers with my eyes closed, so we straight. Some artists don’t want to put their money where their mouth is, but f*** all that. A good day is when you get that check and you go and drop that money in the bank and still have your fans out there happy at what you are giving them. You know, not taking a check because it is an advance.
Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with that, as like I tell everybody, the majors are going to spend a lot of money for you. You are in a good position where you can make a lot of things happen and benefit off that. But I learned another side of the business by putting a record out on a major label. But we all know that record labels are not spending money like that anymore. If they [major labels] were talking a lot of money, things may have been different. But I have been in this business a long time. I am one of the fortunate ones to not come out and drop two albums and then disappear. I have stayed relevant and when people see me, they still shouting “C Walk, C Walk,” all of that sh** when they see me. But the best thing for me right now as a business man, as an artist and as someone who owes their fans this, is to go independent and give them that uncut raw gangster sh**, 100% with no politics as long as at the end of the day I can walk away with a nice amount of money in my pocket.
Ballerstatus.com: You have a joint called “80s Babies” on the album. What is the basis for that track?
WC: Well right now you got a lot of new artists out who are getting down and doing what they are doing. These cats are calling us old school and we are all back against the wall, looking and we smiling. You know their sh** might sound good, but don’t get too cocky as I could be your daddy and on the real, keeping it real, this is where you got it from. When you wear that white t-shirt and you get out there and you are talking that gangster sh**, this is where you got it from. You got it from us. This was just a fun way to play with it and let cats know. If you were born in a certain year, I could be your Daddy, so watch your mouth. (laughs)
Ballerstatus.com: Do you think there is a lack of respect?
WC: Hell yes, there always is in every way of life. You have to remind motherf***ers, if you got kids, you have to remind them. Don’t get it twisted, I am not telling people not to let people know you are the sh**, but just don’t get beside yourself and pretend we don’t exist. You know we laid a lot of foundations down for a lot of these artists — East Coast, West Coast, down South, wherever. I am all about the dollar. If it is a good check, a lot of the guys who are out there and getting their shine, running their mouths and sh**, they are 80s babies. I don’t have no problem with eighties babies, I don’t, I love them. I love a lot of them out there getting money. I love Game, that’s my n****. He is of that 10% that are not in that category. But you got a lot of cocky motherf***ers out there and we let people know.
Ballerstatus.com: With the advancements in technology, have you ever been concerned with the internet leak affecting you?
WC: Of course you are always concerned, but Melanie, you can’t stop that. I can’t go into a fight wondering what if my arm gives out. You know, I have to go in and swing for the fence, so I am not tripping off it. We are going independent with it and some people might f*** around and get some songs they shouldn’t have before it comes out; but we ain’t really tripping off that. You know people know where to go get that real sh**. It’s out as of August 14th.
Ballerstatus.com: You are going out on the road I believe?
WC: Yeah man I stay on the road. It’s good because you get to slap hands with your fans. You get out there and grab a hold and create new fans as well. There is a new generation out there and a lot of cats who might not be up on WC. They may have heard of me, but here they get a chance to see. Then they might start remembering my tracks. It’s about being active and staying active. Not being the n**** that been here for a while and think he can ease away. F*** that, I am still out there, on the block, still checking up on everyone.
Ballerstatus.com: Was it easy to keep the track listing down?
WC: Yeah 14 tracks, no fat. We are just giving you 14 bangers. We didn’t go in there and record over a hundred records. When I sat down with Cube, I sat down with 25-30 records. Cube sat there and listened to the records and he asked me if I could make better records that the ones he had. I was like “I always think I can make a better record than my last record.” So he said “Come on, we going back in there and we are going to come up with the sh**.” He said “some of these records we can use for concepts, you know we could take a verse, but I feel we can make better records than what we have got.” So we went in and we knocked out 14 bangers and it didn’t take that long either.
Ballerstatus.com: How important has Ice Cube been in molding this album?
WC: He is the heartbeat of this album. Not just because I am going through his label and he allowed me to own my masters. We have always been affiliated with each other, me and Cube, but we have never worked entirely from beginning to end on a whole WC album. He always came in at the end and exec produced. You know, he came in at the end with his opinion and helped arrange and mix the record. But he has never really been involved from the beginning like picking the beats. When we work in the studio after we pick a beat, a song is typically three verses. Some might be two verses, but I would come in and spit like five verses and he would choose which bit was best and we would roll with that. He would ask what I had for a hook and I would come up with something and he might like the first half and then we might come up with something that is going to take it over the edge. We just sat down and we worked every day and every chance that we got; in between going on the road and making it happen. I am really loving the outcome.
Ballerstatus.com: Must have been good having him back in the studio as he was missing for a minute when he was doing the movie thing heavy.
WC: Yeah, but you know what, when you know somebody, like if you a killer and you been with him on missions before, you know when you seen someone do some crazy sh** to people. I don’t care how much they might calm down. They might become a reverend or a Pastor, but you are always going to remember the times that you been out and seen the f***ed up sh** that he been and done to people. You are always going to remember how deadly he was. You will say “I am not going to sleep on this motherf***er as I know what he can do.” So even with Cube being away from the game and venturing over into the movie side of thing, I never tripped off of him thinking he ain’t got it no more or that he wouldn’t come back. He learned from the best, he learned from Dr. Dre.
Ballerstatus.com: You don’t forget that.
WC: No that you don’t forget. When he got in the studio and he started working on Laugh Now, Cry Later, I was smiling because that was the Ice Cube that I knew, the one that a lot of people hear and a lot of people wanted to see come back. You had a lot of motherf***ers not want to see it as they just wanted him to disappear. Well they wanted all of us to disappear, but he went in and gave it to them. When he came in Yung Joc was the new n****. We were on the road and we came across Yung Joc and we were chopping it up as everywhere we were at, Yung Joc was at. It was a trip seeing his video being played every five minutes and Cube’s being played every five days or some sh** like that. He was the n**** right then, but then when the album sales came back, Yung Joc had only done 2,000 more than Ice Cube. A lot of money was spent then. But what it is what it is.
Ballerstatus.com: You have a reputation to maintain don’t you being from the era you are from?
WC: Well yeah as a lot of artists put out two albums and they are selling cars now. There ain’t anything wrong with that because they had their run. I mean everything I put out, everyone is not going to like and you might get some people that are anti and will never f*** with us. They want to hear from the young dudes. You have a choice and it is freedom of speech and you can go in the store and pick up what you want to pick up. I am going straight for my fans. That is who I am catering to, keeping it 100% gutter. You know that gutter, grime sh** that n****s want. As well as giving them some sh** that they can play that is not so hard. We have variations of sh** on the album, which is good, but this is a street record and I am loving it.
Ballerstatus.com: Was it easy to find the tracks you wanted on this album?
WC: Well this time around we worked with cats that were eager to work with WC. That was what we wanted to do and that is no disrespect to a lot of the cats that are already established as there is a lot of talent out there. But we were looking at those who were eager to work with me. You know, they weren’t sitting up thinking where they could fit me in the schedule. I wanted to work with the people who were calling me up. We grabbed these young cats called Hallway Productions, they have worked with Cube and they are stupid with it. They have got four or five on my album. The other ten tracks I got something from Nottz, who is a fan of WC and what’s funny is I am a big fan of Nottz. He gave me the track for “Jack And the Beanstalk” and this track should be the handbook on how to stand firm and be a lyricist. Mark my words, this is ridiculous. I got the track from Jelly Roll, which is all over the internet, “This Is Los Angeles,” which is getting a lot of buzz on the streets right here as it is a street record. Mr. Porter gave me a rock too and Rick Rock came in and gave me some good old West Coast sounding tracks. He has “Look At Me.” I got a joint from a dude called Trackster who has worked with Twista a lot. He did the joint “Side Dick,” you know like “Side Kick.”
Ballerstatus.com: (laughing) Yeah I can just imagine what that is about.
WC: (laughing) Exactly. We kept it hood. I mean, I know what I am chasing and when you go independent, you can’t rely on MTV, BET; you can’t rely on these radio stations to jump on it, but being an artist I have always come through with quality and I have been blessed enough to have a lot of the DJs who work the radio this side of town, not all of them, support WC. It is good to turn on the radio and hear your track being banged when you are not on a major label.