Just as in the world of sports, Rap superstars need protection. For the top tier artists in the genre, it is not fear but strategy to flank yourself with talented-but-tough dudes that can watch your blindside, while simply allowing you to be great. Wayne Gretzky had Marty McSorley, Patrick Ewing had Charles Oakley, just as Jay-Z had Beanie Sigel.
Dr. Dre is preparing himself for a rare tour of duty when - and more importantly - if he releases Detox. The Compton veteran went from a bit of a loose cannon in the late '80s and early '90s to one of the most respected, corporate-friendly pop culture icons that Hip Hop has ever produced. With the game-clock ticking, Dre seeks brawny street protection for what may be his fourth quarter heroics.
Enter Slim da Mobster, the newest face to Aftermath. This South Central, Los Angeles emcee says that he went from practically prank-calling Dre in his early teens to soliciting a demo - and it worked. With "Mutha Fuckin Streets" , the Dre-produced, Glasses Malone-assisted reference track hitting the Internet in October, Slim became a newer name that the masses were curious about.
An inmate as recently as when the aforementioned single leaked, Slim gives HipHopDX one of his first interviews. Both fiery and jovial, Slim da Mobster is a character from his entrance. A neighborhood pillar of respect, the South Central rapper brandishes his speckled past with pride, but wants to positively affect ghetto youth. Freeway Ricky Ross' nephew bellows a hearty laugh after speaking about his seven-figure residence, but says he's used to money, as well as a product of "nothin'." Perhaps it's contradiction, perhaps it's the same qualities that have made 2Pac and KRS-One amazing characters of Rap.
Read Slim's accounts of meeting Dre (who visited Slim in jail), his views on his west coast Rap peers, and why the Carol City rapper who borrowed his uncle's name is not respected as a man or a rapper by the real Ross family.
HipHopDX: Is your press bio reads, you were just driving by Dr. Dre's studio one day, and knew that's obviously where he worked, and you pulled over and decided to drop off a CD... can you tell me where your head was at that particular day that made you do that right then.
Slim da Mobster: Actually, that was my whole reason for coming outside that day. I knew [Dr. Dre] kind of through relatives and friends, but I never really knew him. I knew him, he knew who I was, but we never had a grown-man [conversation]. I had been trying to get at him for the longest. The craziest shit is that when Death Row [Records] was at they height and was the shit, I had stolen [Dr. Dre's] number out of my uncle's phone and called him. This is when niggas had Sky pagers and shit. [Laughs] The nigga called me back, [when he did], I was like, "Hey man, you gotta sign me!" [Laughs] He was like, "Call me when you turn 18." That whole day [I gave Dr. Dre my CD], all the things I had ever did became relevant. I always knew it was either him or nobody else.
DX: I'm curious to know... is your uncle somebody that is known in the music business?
Slim da Mobster: Yeah, you could say that. [Pauses, then laughs]
DX: Okay. Did you want to say who that is, or prefer not to?
Slim da Mobster: Um, everybody already knows my uncle is ["Freeway" Ricky Ross]. [But] I never told [Dr. Dre] that [Ricky Ross] was my uncle till I was damn-near signed. That never played no part in my shit. Everything that I got right now, I went and got it. Nothing was given to me; I had to take the shit.
DX: Flowing along with that, when you went to the studio that day... Dre is like George Lucas or the wizard of Oz. He's not somebody that you see on the street regularly. He's not somebody that's easy to get to, for artists, media, anybody. All that said, were you expecting the response you got off of a cold call? I mean, you wrote your info down on a lottery ticket. Was that a plan, or the only piece of paper you had?
Slim da Mobster: None of that was scripted. All that was mere coincidence. We ain't have nothin' else to write on; that was the only piece of paper we had, so that's where we was at. It was surreal to say the least. I didn't give him the [phone] number, I gave it to his security, because he only said something. He put his window down, he said somethin', I said somethin', and I gave my CD to his security. That was that. It's been on since that very day.
DX: The first record you ever bought was reportedly "Dope Man" by N.W.A., coincidence in of itself as well. Where would you say your influence comes from? All these years of dreamin', what's been in your CD collection?
Slim da Mobster: You know the craziest thing about me? My favorite rapper is [Notorious B.I.G.], and I'm from L.A., so that's kind of weird. But, you know how they say some killers listen to Classical music while they chop up bodies and shit like that? [Laughs] I like more soft, cool, mellow music. I hear Rap when I'm in the studio so much. I've got Usher's [Raymond v. Raymond] in my CD player right now and I don't think I took it out since I bought it. I like that CD a lot. Me, I find my motivation in the strangest things.
DX: I was looking at the DX archives. In February of 2008, we posted a Hussein Fatal, of The Outlawz fame, mixtape. It was wild to me to look back and see you there. Can you speak about your career prior to meeting Dre?
Slim da Mobster: I was knee-deep in the street, man. [Laughs] For real, I'm a factor in my neighborhood. The little kids know me, the old people know me, it's crazy. I feel like I've always been a star. Before the music I was hustlin'. I've been on my own since I was 14 years old, not because I didn't have a family, but just because when your mom tells you it's either her way or the highway, I took the highway. [Laughs] I'm a Sagittarius, so I'm somewhat stubborn in a way.
I never expected what I got now. I know I live better than 85% of the niggas that got records out. [Laughs] For real! I really came from nothin'.
DX: Along those lines, I spoke to Glasses Malone about this too, but how did your life change when "Mothafuckin' Streets" leaked late last year and the national and global fans heard you for the first time over Dr. Dre production?
Slim da Mobster: Huh. To be honest, I was in jail when that shit came out. [Laughs]
Slim da Mobster: Yeah. [Laughs] I missed the whole buzz, everything. It was crazy, 'cause a lot of people in jail was comin' to jail like, "Yo, is your name Slim?" But I had the disadvantage of not being able to take advantage of it, feel me? Me and Glasses [Malone] 'bout to do a video to that, just a street video, just so you can see the visual. It sounds good, 'cause of the record, but you've got to see what we're talkin' about.
DX: You were in jail as your record rolled out. As a writer for Aftermath, can you speak about the authenticity you feel you bring?
Slim da Mobster: I ain't sayin' that Glasses ain't on what he say he on, but a lot of these dudes - and they know exactly who I'm talkin' about, these niggas ain't what they say they are. Nigga, you used to be a break-dancer. I ain't never been with all that. I've been from my block since I was 14. I got straight A's on my report card, and I ain't even been to school since I was 14. Ain't [mud] on my name, ain't no niggas ever gonna say, "he ran," "he's a bitch." Nah, niggas gonna be like, "I hate that nigga. He did this or that." There's no bullshit with me. The shit I talk about is really, really real, and that's what makes it so authentic. A lot of niggas know, and that's one of the things I think made Dre really like me. It's been a while since we had somebody's who really who they say they are. My tattoos ain't for fashion. This shit came with some shit. I done been stabbed, shot, all that. I done been robbed, kidnapped, everything you can imagine. For me, my story is serious. My mama was 14 when she had me. Even right now, I'm on my way to my block where I'm from. On Mother's Day, I bought buckets of roses. I gave them to every woman I [saw], even the little girls. That's just how it is where I'm from. That's the type of shit I've always been known for. Look, I ain't got no CDs out, don't got no mixtapes [for sale]...everything that I did, I gave up to do this. These other dudes, they ain't never been nobody.
There's two, maybe three people that's really eatin' out here right now. To me, that's selfish shit, 'cause when you go to New York, there's a lot of niggas out there, they all eatin'. Out here, one nigga get on, he don't want to see nobody else on. California's big, a selfish nigga will try to keep things to himself. When I look at these dudes and how they carry they self, it automatically lets me know that they ain't what they say they are, 'cause signs of a real nigga is not evident. Your background, where you come from, that's got a lot to say about who you are. Freeway Rick is my uncle. The reason these niggas is talkin' about money is they sold five, ten million ringtones. You wasn't talkin' money shit before! I been talkin' money shit since I was a youngster. Any nigga from my hood, my cut, my corner will tell you, since I was young, I've been out here havin' money, playin' around. Even the niggas that don't like me, the reason they don't like me is 'cause they know I've got heart. I don't need 10 million niggas to get an [enemy]. Fuck that, I'ma get you and mash, myself! And that's what it is. I got big-ass cribs. I got whips. With me, I've been everything that I say I am, and nothin' less. It's easy for a person with money to assume a position of power. But I was powerful when I ain't have nothin'.
DX: You haven't broadcast about your family ties, and plenty of rappers of recent have...
Slim da Mobster: I've been to jail for murder twice! [Laughs] So I've got an extensive criminal history. The police, they know me. They know me by name, by face. I ain't got no records out, I ain't got nothin' out. They know me from mothafuckas sayin', "It was him." [Laughs] I never want to portray somethin' that I'm not. That's why, when you listen to my music, you'll hear me talkin' about Crippin' and gangbangin' 'cause that's part of my past. I really did that shit. Ain't nobody got they hand in my pocket in the town. Ain't no "Suge Knight and Slim." [Laughs] Everybody that came from L.A. had a nigga in they pocket, that's why niggas don't like me. I'm my boss.
DX: You remember like I do, when kids in remote places were wearing L.A. Kings caps and Locs, and emulating the N.W.A. era, Chronic-era Los Angeles. I feel like South Central went ignored for close to a decade. With what you're doing, what Nipsey Hussle's doing, others, will we see a resurgence of South Central influence on the mainstream?
Slim da Mobster: Yeah. I'ma give 'em some whole other shit to look at. 'Cause ain't nobody being positive. I feel like I owe my community somethin' for all the shit that I done. A lot of these niggas, they don't give a fuck about that, because they've never done nothin' to affect their community in the first place - being good or bad. [Laughs] I'm workin' on some shit now called Safe Zone. I'ma put one in every [ghetto]. Where it's hard at, that's where I want to go - not just in California. Wherever it's hard, I'ma put a Safe Zone, where you ain't gotta worry about nothin'. Everything is there for you. That'll give kids the [assurance] that somebody gives a fuck. There were times where I felt like people didn't give a fuck. If I had somebody to talk to the day I ran away, I probably would have gone home. But being that I just had the niggas on the block to talk to, the reason that I'm out here, it feels a little strange.
DX: What do the last six months of 2010 hold for you? What are you plannin' right now?
Slim da Mobster: Man, well you know I just got this $2.5 million house, right? [Laughs hysterically] I'm out! I'm just tryin' to get Dre's [Detox] situated, that's been my main focus from day one. I don't really give a fuck about my record, I ain't started. When I get him right, then I'm right. I can think for myself, right now I got to think for us.
DX: Last question, since you brought up family... Ricky Ross was none too pleased with Rick Ross the rapper using his name without permission. He asked to have a meeting. As a relative in that same line of Rap work, how do you feel about him and Freeway using their names, and how does the family feel today, about the issue?
Slim da Mobster: Totally disrespectful. And it's become more disrespectful... like I said, a lot of these niggas ain't what they say they are. If you ain't a stand-up cat then don't use a stand-up guy's name. With me, strangely, I got my name from [notorious pimp and Blues vocalist] Fillmore Slim. That's another part of when I was out here in the street. A lot of these dudes, they confuse fact with fiction. They're so fictional, that they're willing to do anything for money. Me, myself, I'm not an anything-for-money type of nigga. I never had a job a day in my life! I never worked once. This the only job I ever had. Aftermath is my first and final job. So for me, it just be funny when I hear a nigga use somebody that I actually know's name and it comes to [known] for one, [Rick Ross] was a cop or a C.O., police, worker, whatever. Now you're confusing people with this picture you painted. That's like you painting a picture and me takin' credit for it. That's like your picture with my signature at the bottom of it. That ain't cool. When you've sat in prison for over 20 years for this shit, I don't want anybody using my name unless you're along those lines or you're of that caliber.
You know how they said Tupac [Shakur] became "Bishop" when he played the role [in Juice]? My mom told me this [about myself]: some of my friends call me "Slick," some of my friends call me "Slim," my mom calls me ["Anthony"], my son calls me "Dad." Through the course of being called all these names, I might tend to forget who the fuck I am. All these people make me who I am, but if I let one outweigh the other then I'ma be whichever one that is. So a mothafucka changes his name, and one or two million people know you as "Rick Ross," now you're really feelin' like, "Shit, mothafucka, my name [is] Rick Ross!" [Laughs] Really, you have no ties to this. That's how I look at these dudes: they're confused, they're searchin' for theyselves.
That's why I'm Slim da Mobster. I'm the coolest dude you'll ever meet, but like I said, I'm different things to different people. Some people, I can be the light of their day. Some people, I can be the biggest thing they didn't want to see. I'm here to be a positive influence, and I don't condone no acts of violence against anyone.