Bruce Williams: The REAL Doctor's Advocate Pt 1
Spanning a time period of nearly two decades, Bruce Williams was the proverbial fly on the wall during one of the most heinous, accomplished, controversial, successful and infamous situations that one could ever be a part of. He was the man who did all the grunt work for Dr. Dre. He answered the phones, dealt with the artists and was the buffer between Dr. Dre and the world. Theres only one man who knows everything about Dr. Dre aside from Dr. Dre. And that man is Bruce Williams.
HipHopDX engaged in an extensive dialog with Bruce Williams dealing with his recently released book titled Rollin With Dre: The Unauthorized Account. In the book, Williams sheds light on various situations that have never been previously discussed regarding his time by Dres side. Whether it be the unfinished Snoop album that made it to the public, the truth about the Death Row/Bad Boy beef, Al Sharptons involvement with the 50 Cent/Game beef or what really happened with the Rakim situation, Williams has all the answers the doctor has yet to provide.
In part 1 of this exclusive interview, Williams talks about the his beginnings with Dre and his time at Death Row right up until the infamous 1995 Source Awards debacle that shook up the Hip Hop industry for many years to come.
HipHopDX: Give a little background on yourself for those who dont know you.
Bruce Williams: I worked with Dre for over 16 years. I started off with the Death Row era. I came out to Cali to be an actor and I met Dre through a chick named Robin. Robin was a girl that was interior designing Dres house. I went with her just to kick it for a minute. Me and Dre started talking and the next thing I know he was like, Yo, what are you fittin to do now? and then just said, Why dont you just roll with me? Weve been rolling ever since then.
He wanted me to roll with him to learn the business. And since I was already going to be trying to do movies, it just worked out like that. I was his right hand man from there. There was a time where you couldnt speak to Dre unless you spoke to me first. It was that deep. I learned the music business from working with him.
DX: So why a book at this point in your life?
BW: My inspiration behind writing this book was because I wanted to do this TV show but they decided that I should do a book first to get some interest.
DX: In the book you mention a paltry salary of $300 a week while working at Death Row. What was that all about?
BW: I didnt get a raise until we started Aftermath. I dont put that on Dre at all because, at the time, I didnt really need money. Everywhere I went, everything was taken care of. I stayed in a high rise building. Dre couldnt give me as much money as he could help me make.
As time went by, we got deeper and deeper into the music and then Dre started Aftermath as well as got a new accountant, and I remember the accountant called me in and was like, Uhhhh Dre wants to give you a raise," Dre was astounded and didnt know that I was making $300 a week and never opened my mouth. But to me, at that time I didnt have no dependents or a wife or kids so it didnt really mean much to me because everything was taken care of. "
"Spacey as he could be in those early days, Dre made one smart business decision that would make forgivable his countless bad ones to come: One day we jumped into my mans ride and he took me to his accountant. There we completed paperwork that made me an employee only of Andre Rommel Young. I didnt work for the label, Death Row, or for its distribution crony, Interscope. pgs 19-20
DX: How did you meet Suge Knight?
BW: Me and Dre has been rolling for a month or so before I even met Suge. We was in this nightclub and all of sudden Im standing next to Suge, and this guy walks up with a gun and pointed it at him. My instincts had me talking to the dude trying to calm him down - and next thing I know the gun is on me. We made a couple movements and dude dropped the gun. I picked the gun up and passed it off to Sam Sneed.
DX: And that situation led to you earning Suges respect?
BW: That wasnt me trying to earn his respect. That was just natural instincts from me just being in the military.
DX: How was it having Hip Hops most feared figure in your entourage?
BW: It was chaotic to the point where the people made it bad. Everywhere Suge went, people would say, Oh man, theres Suge! and everybody was scared of him. The more people that say that, the more Suge was going to stick his chest out.
DX: What about the horror stories saying people got beat down during that era? Isnt that part of the reason why people were scared of him too?
BW: Yeah, people got their ass whooped. But the ones that got their ass whooped was because they were doing some bullshit. I couldnt understand why certain people would come to a crew that they knew wasnt going to take their bullshit and after trying to do some work with us would try to beat us in the end. How can you not expect no repercussions?
Dont get me wrong, it wasnt just running around jumping on people. It wasnt that type of thing. Going to clubs, Suge didnt really give a damn. When we came to the door it was Fuck security, fuck the bouncers, everyone move! He just wasnt out there fucking with people for no reason. A lot of shit that went down were because people were on his turf. Why were you on his turf?
I walked to the suite down the hall. Inside was Suge, Party Man, and a couple of Death Row thugs. As soon as he saw me, Party Man had this look on his face like, Please, whatever you can do, help me.' And Im lookin back at him like, Aint a damn thing I can do for you, man. You just fucked with the wrong niggas.
Bruce, how much money in that thang? Suge asked.
Man, I dont even wanna say it, but I have to: We short.
How much? Suge asks
They took Party Man to the bathroom and fucked him up so bad he didnt even press charges. pgs 62 - 63
DX: Aside from the obvious, what were the differences between Suge and Dre?
BW: Dre was that laid back dude, but Suge was that go-getter. With Suge, if he got respect for you and you show him respect, its a whole different ballgame. You dont have to deal with him on a bullshit level. When it came to business, when Dre said he wanted to do something, Suge was already hooking it up. But when it came to Aftermath, those things changed.
DX: Ive heard that there was actually a different version of The Chronic. Is there any truth to that at all?
BW: A different version of The Chronic album? Nah. Dre will make a song like this: you have a beat then some lyrics on top of it and everyone will think thats the record. Then Dre will switch the whole beat up. People kinda got mixed up around the time when we left Death Row, and we had a beef with Suge when he wanted the masters. People got it misconstrued then but there wasnt ever two different Chronics.
DX: What was it like being in the studio with everyone on Death Row back in the day?
BW: The first day I stepped in the studio and saw everyone work was phenomenal man. Just imagine this: Dres going to be the first one in the studio and the last one to leave. Hell start messing with a beat. As the beat starts pumping, the guys start filtering in. Everybody will get their little drink and smoke in. Soon enough the beat starts to make a presence. Youll look around the room and every cat that was a rapper from Kurupt to Daz to Snoop will grab a pen. They would start writing while Dre is making a beat so by the time hes finished with the beat, they are ready to hit the booth and start spittin'. To see those young cats they were all hungry and wanted to make something dope. The atmosphere that was there, you couldnt be wack.
DX: Anything that nobody knows about that you can bring up?
BW: Snoops first album [Doggystyle]. A lot of people dont understand that the album was never finished. They were demanding that album so much that it came to a point where the distributors said, "Were going to cancel our orders if you dont get this to us." In 48 hours, Dre mixed the album and did all of the skits. So they had to record all of that and it was done in 48 hours straight. For me, that was the most phenomenal shit in the world. You could just see a line of Hennessy bottles in the studio. You saw lobster and stuff everywhere. But nobody touched it. Everything for that 48 hours was all about music. I remember that Dre laid on the sofa for about 15 minutes and Snoop looked up and saw him laying down. All I remember is Snoop with a pool cue hitting the sofa saying, "Come on Dr. Dre! Get your ass up! You gotta mix my album! So in a 48 hour period we went from mixing the album from top to bottom, putting the skits in and getting it out there.
DX: What exactly is Dres mentality when making an album?
BW: If you really listen to a Dre album, Dre doesnt make an album to bump in the club. His songs crossover to the club. All of his songs are riding albums. Its something you can throw in your tape or CD player and roll with. Never have to take it out. What a lot of producers dont understand about this game is the flow of your songs. You can have dope songs but if you dont have that one to lead off, then you dont have anything. Your songs cant jump from one place to another. With Dre, each songs levels out to the next song. They all blend in good. A lot of people didnt understand that. He made the game different and nobody could stop him or top him because he had those ears. Even when an album wasnt finished, it was dope. Everyone always asks why does it take him so long. He will - still to this day, in the studio - go over a song word for word to make sure it is pronounced exactly right. Youll be listening to it and say that you dont hear any difference but he does.
DX: Ive heard Dre uses his car to test a record's sound. Is that true?
BW: It has to bump in the whip. When he mixes a song, he always rolls with it in his car. For Dre, thats his peace of mind. Its just him and the song. Then we used to hit a spot called the Red Rock on Sunset Boulevard. Like an old dingy white people spot, you wouldnt think wed ever be there. Wed go to the upstairs area that had its own bar. And we would always play music up there. People would come up from all different nationalities. Wed test music that way also to see what they would be jamming to.
DX: Explain the atmosphere of the now infamous Source Awards incident.
BW: Ive been to hundreds of award shows. But [The Source Awards] was by far the number one. It had a stigma where some shit was going to go down. But it also had some excitement to it. You know how they have an intermission in between filming? Usually it would be quiet at other award shows. But here? You heard fuck Queensbridge, Brooklyn! You would hear all of this conversation Wu-Tang! and youd hear people saying, Fuck them west coast niggas, and wed be like, Aw shit. Its going to be some shit up in here! We started the show off with everybody locked in cells like they were stranded on death row.
When Suge walked up on that damn stage and said what he had to say about Puffy; The whole crowd erupted. It was about to be some shit. I looked around and said Man, how the fuck are we going to get out of this spot. You know how theres chaotic tension? Where you feel like something may jump off but it doesnt? It had that feeling. It took us to the point where we thought the whole arena was ready to throw down but it never got past that point.
DX: How did you get out of there that night with all that hostility?
BW: We stuck out like a sore thumb. We are looking like L.A. niggas. I came out of the arena looking for that limo and all I could see was a sea of east coast brothers hollering, Fuck Death Row! We gonna catch them niggas! Im hoping one of them doesnt find out Im from Cali. I find the limo and I go back to get Dre. So we walk outside and things changed. They were now like, Fuck Deathoh thats Dr. Dre, man! Hes cool. Yall go ahead on then. Thats Dre. Fuck them other niggas though!
Part 2 discusses if Suge would have signed Biggie, the truth about Tupac, the false perception of the Pac/Suge/Dre beef triangle, the departure from Death Row to launch Aftermath, Dr. Dres ghost producing and two artists youd never believe Dr. Dre would say No to [click to read].