RBX: The Return
Though he's always been underground and always taken lengthy hiatuses, few expected RBX to reappear working alongside DJ Rhettmatic and LMNO as well as other veteran artists of the nouveau Los Angeles underground Hip Hop community. With an album Broken Silence commemorating the new side of The Narrator, RBX breaks the silence with HipHopDX about the past and future.
HipHopDX: My favorite song on your album Broken Silence, beside the fact that its produced by Snoop, is Overdue. What inspired it?
RBX: As an artist, I came into this Rap thing as just a kid with a dream. I never was trying to be a star. I just wanted to do what I do, and it blew up. Everything is large now. My whole world has changed. I was in the Death Row situation. Everybody thinks, Okay, its beautiful and lovely, the success. Youre gonna get the nice car and the nice house. Yeah, I have the nice car and I had the big house, but imagine the mafia being after you, ya dig? It was a blessing and a curse at the same time. Then I went underground.
Overdue is to let all my cats out there thats doing things or just doing their music, and for whatever reason they didnt blow upOverdue is all my perseverance over the negative. Its to stand up on my own two. In this rap industry. Its not written, but this rap industry is like sororities, ya dig? I wouldnt say fraternities, cause that would be men. These people dont act like men. They come off so hard with their personas, but on the interior, they act like women and girls. Im not a part of any fraternity or sorority. Im just one on an island. Overdue is my testimonial that if you stick to what you firmly believe in, and stay true to yourself, you can do it. I should have said this a while ago, but I was unable to cause Suge [Knight] wouldnt let me, and then there were other individuals that was blockin, and now its overdue.
DX: You waited for turn, in 92 with Death Row and again in 96 with Aftermath. When you see all these artists in bigger artists entourages today, waiting for their turn, would you discourage them?
RBX: It worries me for them. They have probably been sprinkled with pixie dust and cinnamon spice, and thats just not what it is. I think if somebody would have told me when I first started The Chronic what I would have gone through, I probably would not have gone down that road. But Im so far down the road now, its too late to turn back. I feel sorry for them.
DX: This album really impressed me because youre working with people like LMNO and DJ Rhettmatic underground veterans. When you were placed in this ideal situation in 91, 92, albeit pixie dust, what kind of awareness did you have of the Los Angeles underground?
RBX: Thats all I know. I didnt have any idea of the mainstream. Thats what threw me for a loop. I came up with The Good Life Caf. That is Medusa, Myka 9, Aceyalone, Ganja K, P.E.A.C.E. All of those cats I just mentioned, any emcee thats rapping today, they would split them. These are my peers at the time. Thats I knew was underground. So for me to work [LMNO], its only a throwback to where I started my roots.
DX: Youre four or five albums deep. Why now are we seeing this?
RBX: I just think Ive grown as a person and evolving as an artist. I grew up in the streets. Im not a gang-banger. A gangster, maybe. Thuggish, yeah. But a gang-banger is something Im not, and Im not gonna put that face on like Im out there smackin fools upside they head for havin on the wrong color. Im not gonna perpetrate that fraud. Thats not me. But if youre gonna run up on me and disrespect me in any kind of way, thats when youve lost. Thats the hard edge of it. The main thing is, I wanted to come with a whole new sound and a whole new dynamic, if you will. These guys helped get me back in the studio and helped me get my mojo back. To help my out, I said Im gonna have [these guys] on my record to give them a boost.
DX: These guys have carved their niches, which might differ from yours, outside of L.A. or The Good Life. Have you already felt new ears hearing your music as a result of this?
RBX: Yes. I am. I was at The Magic Show. This cat was a booth selling leather coats for a company called Iron Lions. I gave him a CD, just doing my thing. The brother called me back a week later, saying, Brother, I had no idea. I knew you had a powerful voice, but I had no idea you had lyrics. I was boxed in as a monster who comes in to clean up everything after everybody on the track. Im the finisher. Thats still my role, but we have to go past that.
DX: Speaking of lyrics, you say, Im cousin of a Steeler, brother of a Raider. Cool line on the surface, whats it mean?
RBX: In Long Beach, theres two gangs. Theres the Rolling 20 Crips, which wear Pittsburgh Steelers [merchandise] and theres the Insane Crips, which wear Raiders [merchandise]. My brother is from Rolling 20s, but all my cousins are from the rival gang [The Insane Crips]. Its a contradiction for me. Im staying down with my brother cause I am my brothers keeper, but it puts me at odds with my cousins. Its a daily struggle. I dont get shot at. I dont get tripped on, cause Im well-respected in my neighborhood, but theres a tension there. These are rival gangs. Thats what I mean.
DX: What you just told me is something I didnt know. But on top of it, those NFL teams are both homonyms. Steelers steal and Raiders raid, as in street action. Even Camron, on his first album said, I know a bunch of stealers, and they not from Pittsburgh.
RBX: Yeah! Its a way crazy twist. Sometimes I do things and God be in control. We think we in control, but God is still in control. Sometimes I do things, sit back and listen and say, Wow. Whoa! Its one of things. A Steeler and a Raider are the same thing.
DX: Looking at a record like Sunshine or Mamas Crying, your music has always been tinged with West Indian influence. Where does that come from?
RBX: I have bunch of cousins, and my sister as well, who have married cats from The West Indies. My nephews pops is from the Bahamas; Im always around him. Trinidad & Tobago, Jamaica, this is my family. They all have accents. They got a lot of respect for me and vice-versa. Its just been a natural progression, because thats what I listen to. One of my aces back in the days, Bigga B, rest in peace he was responsible for starting Loud Records and signing Xzibit and The Alkaholiks thats all he played: Dancehall, Ragamuffin, Roots. Thats become part of me. Im not fakin nothin.
DX: I remember buying No Mercy, No Remorse back in 1999 or 2000. It was two EPs. What was the thinking behind that?
RBX: I dont even really remember. At that time, to be quite honest with you, I was in jail. One of my partners called me and said, Listen man, youve got a bunch of music out here. You dont need to sit. I was being stubborn in jail too. I was fighting. Sometimes I just need to calm down. I be fighting too damn much, whether fisticuffs or demons. The guy said, Ill pay your fines off, well get you out of there and get you to your classes. I fought that for two weeks and then I said, Go head man, make it happen. Im tired of eating sandwiches and cookies. He made something happen; that was something he did. After that record came out, I went into real deep hiatus, just tryin to get it together. Then I started slowly emerging out of the darkness, and becoming myself again. It was a depressing time. I didnt wanna keep bumping heads with Suge. Im just one man. I dont have the resources or the money to keep fighting these people, but for some strange reason, I just keep fighting.
DX: You were one of the first artists Dr. Dre signed to Aftermath. How do you think the label would have been different had he released you or King Tee before Eminem? How close was it?
RBX: It was a curse and it was a blessing. I dont know why I get in situations like that. It was good cause Dr. Dre was my partner, and I never had a problem with Dre at Death Row. As a matter of fact, Suge used to come in trippin, and I used to look at Dre and hed look at me like, Here this motherfucker go. When we got to Aftermath, I knew it was good cause there was no more of that B.S. But new stress came in cause now Dre had to prove himself and reinvent himself as Dr. Dre the entity [outside of] Death Row. He didnt want to go down the same road he just came down; thats why he came out with Been There, Done That.
I got into the twist cause I was still getting up to do the music we did at Death Row. Thats where my mindstate was. Dre didnt really want that. He wanted to step away for a minute, if not forever. At the time, I wasnt able to go anywhere else but bang bang. Im just telling you the truth. Thats when me and Dre became at odds. I was still going out in Compton or wherever, and I would see Suge. And we would bang. I was in the paint with him. We used to bang, bang. I didnt know it at the time, but every time Id get into it with Suge, he would make trouble for Dre. He couldnt get at me, so hed go and mess with Dre. Hed be calling Dre, or just making things miserable. Dre wasnt telling me this. I needed to go calm down on deep hiatus and get my things together and stop fighting so much.
DX: Youre famous for spitting the same verse twice on two different songs. A.G. has been called out on this two. Whats your reasoning behind it?
RBX: A lot of people do weird shit on their records that you dont know about. A lot of guys have 666 in a design that you cant tell. One of my weird things isif the verse is hot, I wanna rewind it selektah and bring it back! [in Jamaican accent]. Its a remixed, re-edited version. On this albumIm gonna be quite honest with you, the same lyrics are just an oversight. We just said, Fuck it. We gotta give the critics something to talk about. Were just feeding the haters. Im gonna do it again just to let you know that you aint said shit.
DX: I feel like Stranded on Death Row was the west coast answer to Marley Marls The Symphony. Tell me about that record, and was it really a battle of scrapping it out for top spot on Death Row?
RBX: To be quite honest with you, at that time, it was the terror dome. We was all pitbulls. [The Lady of Rage], Im not gonna call her no bitch, but she was the lady pitbull. She wouldve chopped your ass the fuck up! She was so tight. You had to have a certain level of skill to even get Rage took at you. The first time she met me, she was looking at me like, Dre done signed you? Can you spit? I was looking like a dweeb, man. I was broke, I had just got off work, my glasses was broken with tape on them. When she heard me get down, all that respect came. Then she talked to me. Before then, I couldnt even get Rage to say hi to me. It was the terror dome. You had to be writing, or cats was on your head instantly.
DX: Do you perform much?
RBX: Man, I would love to. When I fell out of the loop, I feel out of the loop with everything. I really dont know no promoters. I dont know too many cats. Im hard to get to meet now not that Im scarred or wounded. Just most times, people are on that bullshit or got a certain angle they workin. I dont really be talkin to people. to answer your question, yes, I would love to.
To learn more visit: Myspace.com/RBXBrokenSilence