Bishop Lamont: Sunday Morning
After years of patiently waiting behind 50 Cent, Eminem, Busta Rhymes and Eve on the Aftermath roster, it seemed like it would take a miracle in order for Bishop's debut to see the light of day. But the last year has seen the Carson, California native use a series of album-quality mixtapes to create renewed anticipation for both his own debut album and Dr. Dre's long-awaited swan song, Detox. While taking a rare break from recording what was presumably material for one of or both of the aforementioned albums, Bishop showcased the kind of humor and blunt honesty which allows him to blur the line between the recording booth and the confessional booth. Do you believe?
HipHopDX: Alright, we wont start off with a million Detox questions. How about explaining whats behind youre crew WARDOGGZ. That stands for We Are Ready to Die in Order to Glorify God to Zion, right?
Bishop Lamont: Yeah, its just for the gospel man. Its a lot of different cats from different walks of life that believe in doing something right for their people and for the most high. Its like the good Illuminati.
DX: As a listener its kind of crazy to hear you say that and then throw in that Pope Mobile mixtape [click to listen] and hear you say I spit that good book and still get my dick sucked on Street Theology.
BL: [Laughs.] Cant go wrong that way.
DX: Is it just a shock value thing?
BL: What, that line?
DX: Not just that line but the whole tape. You started it off with that joke from Paul Mooney
BL: Yeah, man. Bless Paul Mooney for that. I saw that shit and I was like, Thats perfect for the Pope Mobile. Its crazy how synergy works, but it is what it is. I dont even try for the shock value though. What people seem to be shocked by is what people do everyday behind closed doors. Its just that its said in front of people. You only get one life to live. What else would you want to be besides real?
DX: Is it hard trying to do that and introduce people who have been listening to disposable music to an album that may potentially include Fiona Apple and Dave Matthews?
BL: Uhno. Its just about setting it sonically right as far as production. When somethings fresh, its fresh. You cant fight that. As far as the knowledge or whatever message Im trying to get across, some will get it and some wont. Thats just the way the world is. Its not a difficult task at all. Its just people wanting to listen and the music always moves people. Even deaf motherfuckers will move once they feel the vibrations.
DX: Do you feel the industry makes you have to trick people into getting your message?
BL: I think either approach works. People always talk about being in the right place at the right time. Sometimes it has to be dead serious. Other times, its kind of tense, so lets break the ice with a joke about it. You have to parallel both of those lines. Thats just how I like to do it.
At the end of the day, life is a journey, and youre gonna have ups and downs along with good and bad. Embrace it all because its there for a reason. There are things for you to learn and experience. Without those you wouldnt appreciate the great times like this. Ive been poor all my life, so to now have these blessings and be able to do these things, you know I appreciate it like a motherfucker. Ive run my mouth all my life, as you can see right now. The fact that people actually want to hear me run my mouth now is priceless. I want to really say something that matters and inspires so I can put that good energy out. Thats what its all about.
God is a comedian. I was doing construction work like, Fuck school. Imaginepeople are listening to me. [Laughs] I just try to give people what you feel they need. When we were coming up, we had dope emcees and it felt like they were talking to us. And they were, they just didnt know it. They gave us shit to make us move if we didnt get that from our parents, friends or just life period. You just have to pay it forward.
DX: Its interesting to hear you say that, because people always associate Dre with so-called Gangsta Rap. But there have always been songs like Express Yourself, The Day The Niggaz Took Over and The Message in his catalogue.
BL: Yeah, and with me, I can do it across the board. Im not the N.W.A. nigga, Im not 50 Cent [click to read] and Im not Game [click to read]. Im me. Dre told me, I always wanted to sign somebody like you. I just never could leverage it in a way where it could work for this label and the rest of the world. Im just me, and I give you everything.
DX: One thing that stands out about your projects is the unity. It seems like everyone on the west coast is on there
BL: Thats how its supposed to be.
DX: How important was bringing everyone together in terms of establishing this new west?
BL: Its already being done, but its important period just for the streets and for real people to get together worldwide. Bitch niggas are such a large majority of the world. Then you deal with the music business and bitch niggas are the majority there too. So its just about seeing the real and the real linking up, taking that stand and drawing that line in the sand. For me, Im in such a blessed position, I wanted to spread those blessings to the people who inspire you to push your pen, rap and perform like you do.
Its important that other like-minded people get together, share that vision and make it bigger. Its so many armies and so many teams, that if we get together, we can converge on so many things and take it to a stellar level. Especially when the education is there and were being calculating about what we do and how we implement things. Thats whats missing out here, but not anymore. Its getting everywhere. Im very content with whats going on, not only here, but everywhere else.
DX: Theres this pro wrestling mentality, where everyone wants you guys to face off or something.
BL: People always ask me about Game, like hes my arch nemesis. What the fuck? Were good. I knew dude before I was signed, and when the Guerilla Black and Game shit was jumping off, I was mediating between that shit. When Game had the peace talks with 50, I was there in his hotel room like, Yo, dont block your blessings. So, when dude did the corny shit he did with that, he was trying to lash out and get attention. All that did was make me famous. I was like, Damn. I gotta send him a box of wine or some shit.
I genuinely have love for dude. His brother is my brother; Big Fase 100 is my brother. His sister, B-Fly is my sister. Me and his mom talk all the time. We were at a Fathers Day thing together just this Sunday. It was Dres mom, his mom and my mom, so Ive got love for him. Niggas blow that wrestling shit out of proportion. At the time he did that record I wanted to beat him up, but that aint shit. Its all love.
All of us came up together. All of us know somebody that they know. I get tired of people asking me about Bishop versus Game. There is no versus. I got love for dude. He does his thing and I do my thing. There will be one day where you see us do a record together. Its so sensitive with what went on with that situation as far as Aftermath, the shit between him and 50 Cent and him being moved to Geffen. People ask me that shit as if I just have pictures of Game on my wall with darts and a bulls-eye on them. Its like Im Hulk Hogan and hes Macho Man Randy Savage and shit.
DX: Another misconception is that youre a new artist. How much of a calculated build up was it to get to this point?
BL: You can calculate all you want, but at the end of the day, that shit took 29going on 30 years of just living to get to this point. Then theres the twists and turns of the road, cause you dont know what youre supposed to do, going from being a teenager to where I am now. That shit was not overnight.
They think, Yeah, he got in The Source in Unsigned Hype, and then Dr. Dre saw it. No motherfucker. I was in Unsigned Hype and I was still doing construction work, and I kept doing more construction work after a year and a million other issues went by. But, that was big for my spirit, the cats I was down with and all the people who were like, Okay, who is this monkey ass, skinny nigga in this picture? It put the energy in the world that I existed, and helped me to perpetuate this dream. So that was a blessing, but it was still so much groundwork. Its still groundwork now. But, it all comes back to the Most High and how he makes things move.
DX: At any point did coming so close, only to have to go back to your nine-to-five make you want to quit?
BL: The nine-to-five was always there. The construction work was always there. The struggles through poverty were always there. But, when you just know that this is what youre supposed to doyou dont know how youre gonna do itbut you know this is what youre supposed to do, it just happens. You dont want to give up. You just feel that next step, or that walk around the corner, or going to this club or show, or the next meeting could be the one. I was always in that mind state that it would happen. Even when it didnt look like it would happen; in my eyes, it just hadnt happened yet.
DX: Once it happened, you sparked off quite a bidding war, right?
BL: Well, I was a smart motherfucker. Once Dre said that shit on the radio, I took my ass to New York and went to every label out there. I didnt know nothing about fucking New York, and I didnt know anybody out there. I hopped out of the taxi and I ended up staying in Red Spydas vocal booth and sleeping in there, because of Beef and Red Spydablessings to them. I was out there trying to take meetings and shit, homeless. But, youve got to take those risks if you really want it.
People dont know what it encompasses to go after your dream. Theyll be whining, I got a MySpace page. I got my songs up, and Ive got a lot of friends on here. Its like, Shut the fuck up! Its a lot more involved in that quest. If you think that all you need is a few pictures and to press up a little cheesy ass CD and youll be a rap star...its so much sacrifice that comes with it. It was crazy.
I met with everybody. I was with Puffy drinking wine, listening to my records watching Making the Band. Im like, You aint gonna Making the Band me, nigga. You wont have me running for no cheesecake! Hes listening to my records like, Oh yeah, playboy. I like that one. Looking back, that shit was like a movie. I met so many people. Dame Dash is the big homiemuch love to Dame Dash and Clark Kent. We were in a meeting with Clive Davis and this nigga was falling asleep. Hed nod off and then pop back up like, Oh yeah, thats hot, then hed fall right back to sleep again. But, even that was a blessing. I met a lot of great people like Jermaine Dupri [click to read] and Sylvia Rhone. I made a lot of great relationships with people who I still consider friends to this day.
DX: I heard Dre told you he would make you an offer you couldnt refuse.
BL: Yeah. They had the homeboy [Aftermath A&R] Angelo [Sanders] out there watching my every move and shit. Its a small world and they knew what was going on. It was like, Yo, this niggas gonna try and get a meal ticket out of us. After that they told me to come on home. He made me an offer I couldnt refuse and it was a done deal.
DX: And that offer is what helped fund so many of these high-quality mixtapes?
BL: Thank you, man. Thats what its about. Its a blessing to be in this position, and for people to feel it and dig what Im doing. Ive got to give them my all.
DX: Youve been signed for a while now, and people like Rakim, Eve and Joell Ortiz are no longer on Aftermath. How much patience does it take to be on this label?
BL: You know what I told Dre when we first had the meeting? He told me I might have to wait awhile because of 50 and Em. I said, Nigga, I can watch paint dry in the rain. Thats how patient you have to be. It takes unimaginable patience and faith. You have to have people that are dedicated and believe in you. That only comes from family, people who are like your family and friends.
Thankfully, for me, Ive always had my mother and my brother in my life. My father was in my life, even if at a distance, when he left. I had that family unit and true friends who believed in this shit. The believed even when they were saying, I dont know, but if this what my baby say he wanna do, then this is what we gonna do. You gotta have those elements, a serious work ethic, and youve got to be fearless. You just have to know it in your heart.
DX: Knowing that you had to wait, was it part of your original strategy to drop a mixtape every so often and keep your name buzzing?
BL: Nah, it just happened. Thats from having access to $5 and $10 million studios, a huge-ass budget and working like a motherfucker. Why just stack records for this album and have shit in the archives? Aftermath is known for just having shit in the vaults. To this day, there are shelves of shit in Dres vault that are just ridiculous. Theres so much stuff from 2001 and different stuff that didnt make Ems album. Theres crazy records for new artists who Dre did beats for that are just sitting there. I was like, Fuck that. Im putting shit out.
DX: Its been crazy with the mixtapes. Seeing you on the cover of Nigger Noize wearing a KKK robe with an iced-out watch, you cant help but laugh.
BL: That was the goal. We just wanted to take what people have feared for hundreds of years, something with negative feelings and show how bullshit racism and the [Klu Klux] Klan is. These niggas is clowns. I rocked that shit and made it funny and fresh. That shit dont faze us. That shit is over with. Youre still cutting up bed sheets that you should be fuckin on, and using gas thats $5 a gallon to burn crosses, and you call yourself a Christian? Youre burning churches and running around fucking with people? Nigga please!
Thats what its all about. Fuck that shit. Laugh at that shit. Take all that negative shit and make it something positive and fresh. All theyre gonna call our music is nigger noise anyway, so I said, Fuck yall. Thats what it is.
DX: I think there are still a lot of people who will look at that and think because the west isnt overtly racist, like the south, that theres no reason for that message.
BL: I know. How do they think that when its one of the most racist places? The difference between racism here and racism in the south, or in Boston, is that they hide it. People are conservative with their racism here. A fox is the worst thing to fuck with, because at least a wolf will say, Im gonna eat you, motherfucker. But, a fox will be clever with the way that they do shit. People out here will hate your fucking guts, and act like its cool. Theyll gladly take your money, but if you try to date their daughter, theyll have a fucking heart attack. If they saw you hurt in the street and in need of medical attention, theyd keep walking like, Fuck you. The flip side of that is there are a lot of beautiful people out here who just look at others as either good or bad people.
DX: I remember reading something about you spending some time in Buena Park back in the days?
BL: That was early '80s when I lived in Buena Park. You had gangs out there called The Lads, and there were different Aryan Nation gangs too. I remember dealing with that racism everyday going to school. Id get into fights everyday. There was only like 20 blacks in the whole school. Out of those 20, only 10 actually said they were black. The rest didnt wanna be black, and said they were everything else.
DX: Like Tiger Woods with the whole Cablanasian thing?
BL: Yeah, all that made up bullshit like, Im this or that. Im not black. Nigga, youre about the same shade as this speaker! Shut the fuck up. So there were fights everyday at school, and all you heard was, A fight, a fight, a nigger and a white.
Thats why its so serious to me to attack racism, because I remember being in those fights. Who would have my back? Other white kids. Wed be fighting together, because we were all poor together. We were all living in low-income housing and fucked up apartments, sharing the same experiencesfood stamps, sugar water, powdered milk, fried bologna. No matter what, we all deal with the same bullshit. Call it whatever you want, but its the same thing. So youd have those fights everyday.
Then, trying to get home, youre running from these motherfuckers after school. What does the bus driver do? She kicked us off the bus to let more white kids on. So wed have to wait another hour for another bus to come, and here we go again. Theyd go get some more motherfuckers from their neighborhood to fight us.
DX: I dont want to sound like an after school special, but obviously something from that stuck with you after all these years for you to make that the theme of one of your mixtapes.
BL: God is good, man. All that gave me the knowledge and the spirit I have now to deal with shit like that now. My team is colorful, and I fuck with everybody. I reach all people because I know that we are all one. There are only good and evil people. People talk about white people being the devil, but I know a lot of black devils. I know a lot of Chinese devils and Mexican devils. The devil can come in any form; its just about good and bad people.
That experience gave me that understanding and that fire to fight against shit like that. Im outspoken about shit like that. We didnt have anybody say, Thats fucked up. You shouldnt be doing that to those kidskicking them off the bus so they get their asses beat more and have to keep fighting. Thats fucked up.
I wanted to knock the shit out of that bus driver. God says forgive, but Id fuck that bitch up right now, or have somebody else do it. That bitch is probably older than dirt now, and she probably looks like Large Marge from Pee Wees Big Adventure. [Laughs]
DX: Thats the side of California that a lot of people dont see.
BL: Yeah, man. That was Buena Park in the 80s. It was crazy because we lived right across the street from Knotts Berry Farm. During the summer wed break into that motherfucker and ride every ride.
DX: Logjammer all day.
BL: Exactly, and churros and shit too. We did that.
DX: Not to beat this Nigger Noize thing into the ground, but I heard you had people break-dancing with KKK robes on during your performances.
BL: Yeah to Planet Rock. That shits gonna be so stupid. We got some shows and its gonna be a surprisewell, the cat is out the bag now. Thank you, O. [Laughs] But, nah the scene is gonna be stupid. I just believe in entertaining the people and doing stupid shit. Its not just the music; its the connection to the people and making them have a good time.
When people come in theyre supposed to have a good time. Dont be ice-grilling niggas in the club. Get bitches, nigga. Be happy that youre all there together, because you like the same things. You have shit in commonyou like dope music and you want to have a good time. Everybody should be able to laugh, zone and take away some good feelings for their mind and spirit. You want to leave rockin and drunk, because if you fuck with me, you gonna be drunk. Fuckin with Taje, you might get high, but youre gonna have a great time and you might get some pussy that night too.
DX: Alright, the next mixtape was Caltroit [click to listen]. How did you, Black Milk and Hex Murda hook that up?
BL: Motherfuckin Hex Murda, manI dont even know how that happened. I was always a fan of the Detroit movementSlum Village, D12, Kareem Riggins, Royce [Da 5 9] and everybody else. They were really doing it up there, and I had been a fan. I forget who hooked me up with them. I think it mightve been Dave New York. I went to the video shoot and we just hit it off. Hex is a idiot. I had just started lifting weights and getting buff, and I had some shorts on. You know when buff niggas first start working out we have that prison build, where the legs are all small and the upper body is like Bluto? Hex was like, Look at you, nigga. Youre an old prison nigga. He was comedy, and we just hit it off. T3, Elzhi and all of us just really hit it off.
At the time, Black Milk [click to read] was in BR Gunna with the homeboy [Young] RJ, and he gave me Sound of the City Vol. 1. Once I heard that, it was on. It made sense because Detroit is a second home to me. Its sad that the first time I got to go to Detroit was for Proofs funeral. But, thats when we first started working on shit for Caltroit without knowing it. Me and Black got in there and RJ made a crazy track. That was Go Ape from way back when.
It was just a celebration of life. Its ill emcees and stupid beats. Its that Wu-Tang shit, that Canibus [click to read] shit, where niggas kick a million bars, and there aint no A&Rs over your fuckin shoulder. There were no corny ass producers trying to give you the same beat like, Yo, remember that Cool & Dre [click to read] shit? Let me give you that same beat again. It was just being able to pick whatever beat you wanted, grab which ever emcees you want, and go. It was a blessing man.
DX: Any fan of the Detroit scene has to love how you called out all the Dilla dickriders right off the bat.
BL: Thats why I said it. Them niggas wasnt fuckin with dude when he was alive! When niggas used to say Jay Dee, half of yall thought we were talking about Jermaine Dupri. Straight up, it was sickening to hear, Dilla this, Dilla that, because yall were not fucking with Dilla until he died. Then, all of a sudden, they wanted to hop on. How many Dilla records did you have? How many records can you name from Dilla? How far back can you take his body of work?
I wanted to make sure we honored that. We wanted to give people something that they havent heard in a long time, or they could only get if they went to Mack Life or some underground clubs. I got shoeboxes full of cassettes, man. Ive been pulling them out and making myself happy and shit listening to old, dope shit.
DX: Its been interesting to see an artist with the Interscope machine behind him embrace the Internet with these free mixtapes. Part of that Internet exposure also seemed like you and Joell Ortiz were being pitted against each other.
BL: Yeah, that bitch Miss Info. But, its all good when youre right. I could see if I was a fucked up person, and I was doing the shit that was being perpetuatedits like ahh, Miss Info, you cute. I took up for dude when I did the other interview, but of course, they want to change the words around. Joell [click to read] knows me well enough to know how I get down. He came out here and saw how I embraced him and stayed in the studio to fuck with him. I aint gotta do that shit. Im on. Im good. Focus called me, so I fucked with dude. And, when I heard people with the shit they were trying to say, Im like, Yo, what the fuck? Jimmy [Iovine] tried to drop me [too]. That aint shit.
During the interview I say that it doesnt matter if he is or isnt dropped. Hes family and Im fuckin with him. That shit is verbatim, but here comes that bitch Miss Info.
DX: And then once that popped off there was this whole thing with DJ Strong. Is that still going on?
BL: DJ Who? DJ Who? Whats his name?
DX: Ill take that as a yes. [Laughs].
BL: Cmon you fuckin with me, man. [Laughs] Whats his name?
DX: So you still wont refer to him as anything except for DJ Thong?
BL: Okay. There you go, incredible journalist guy. [Laughs] His name is DJ Thong. That shit aint over. Fuck that nigga! This dudethats some amazing shit to me when people that you dont even fuck with, people who youve had the smallest amount of conversation withI can count on three fingers the amount of times we talked before this situation happened. Now, all of a sudden, he wants to jump on and piggyback my shit and fuck my shit up. The nerve of this dude. This dude went to UC Santa Barbara, so he should have some type of mental capacity to go, Hmm, hes signed to Dr. Dre. The niggas been in these streets for fuckin years and he knows everybody. Will I be safe doing this shit? Will I be safe leaking Dr. Dre, Nottz, L.T. Mo and Dready Beats tracks, and putting his head on Mack 10s body? Will I be safe doing this shit?
For what? Dude sold my masters to a couple different dudes here and in France for like $300 to $400 a pop. Thats some petty, small-minded shit. But it gave The Confessional [click to listen] and my presence such a phenomenal lift from where it was already going. What the devil does wrong God makes right, so we have to thank DJ Thong for that one. So, I thank you, you bitch ass nigga.
Then he had the audacity, when I came to holler at himI tried to explain it on the YouTube [clip] that I really did reach out to dude. I was respectful and tasteful about it, because I talked to him the day before he leaked the shit on purpose and did that fucked up shit. I said, Yo, chill out. Im only doing this with my man [DJ] Whoo Kid, and thats what it is. And he was like, Alright, okay. But, I can make it so big. I told him if he wanted to support, just spread the word for me and that would be enough. I get off the phone, and my boy Edgar comes to the studio the next night like, Listen to this bullshit.
Thats fucking up my relationships. He had my niggas looking at me like I was letting records get leaked on purpose.
DX: With the rap game the way it is, Jimmy is probably quick to pull papers on anyone in the Interscope building.
BL: You know what? That aint even on his radar though. Jimmy is rockstar status, hanging out with Bono and shit. Jimmy wouldnt even know anythingitd be Dre. Thats who was calling. I saw the number on the Caller ID thinking, I aint answering this shit until I find out whats going on. I had to get things under control to where I could explain shit, because Dre thought possible records for Detox got leaked. I was writing a lot of records for that as well, and one of them mightve got leaked. Once I explained the situation to Dre, he was like, Man, you shouldve stuck a gun in that bitch ass niggas mouth. Im going, Wow, thats a really good thing to do Dre. That makes sense, Dre [Laughs]. He was hot about it.
Its a wrap for DJ Thong. Hes blackballed and hell have to move back to Australia. All my Australian niggas know hes a bitch, so theyll beat him up out there too. Hell probably have to move to another planet. Fuck Thong. Until he comes out of the closet, moves to where ever all the life partners hang, takes some pills and throws on some little footsie socks like Martin Lawrence said, its never gonna be over. It aint over until he comes with some stacks for all those beats he leaked. Shouts out to Sarah, because his wife is a rider. If she wasnt fat and ugly, wed have fucked that bitch. But, anyway
DX: So do you have a date for The Reformation?
BL: Brother, its looking like October or November. [Dre] really wanted to keep me for Detox and have me come after that. He told me, Youre ready and the buzz is ridiculous. But, I really wanted to give you that world stage to step off of. But weve really got to rethink this. So, here we are.
DX: You dont sound too broken up about it [laughs.].
BL: I was like, Nigga, Im good either way. Im putting out my tapes, Im seeing it and Im getting that love back. Im doing shows and youve got my pockets right. Im writing this shit for Detox, so its like having two albums out and Im on both of them a whole bunch. God willing, man. Its a blessing if Im able to pop off that first shot. Plus I can start working on the second album, since I have like 800 million songs.
DX: I know. Every time I see one of your interviews, youre talking about five different albums.
BL: I know. I run my mouth a lot because Im either drunk or happy at the time. But, the second album is The Impossible Possible. Ive already got a couple records for that.
DX: You seem pretty approachable, but like anything, theres a proper way to go about trying to get on.
BL: You cant really go to clubs because motherfuckers will bother you like, Yo, how does it feel to work with Dr. Dre? Can you introduce me to Dre? Can you take him this demo. You need to do a song with me. Why the fuck do I need to do anything? I dont know who the fuck you are. Its the weirdest shit.
About two years ago, this shit really happened to me in the club. A nigga came up to me, like any boo-boo rapper. Im in the club trying to talk to bitches, and this nigga taps me saying, Yo, can you tell the deejay to put this shit on? Im just looking at him going, This nigga is playing songs. Even you are dancing on the floor, nigga! You need to go over there and do that shit yourself. He keeps going on and on about how his CD is going to make the people in the club dance more, and he says, But youre Bishop, hell listen to you. Im like, Nah, nigga. Im just Phillip tonight. You aint getting shit out of me.