by The People’s Minister of Information JR
West Coast Hip Hop is going through a renaissance of new voices with people like Trill Youngins, Anderson Paak, Vince Staples, Nef the Pharoh, Cousin Fik and Oakland’s DB Tha General.
I became aware of DB Tha General because the streets was talking, but I heard his music for the first time when my cousin Smock pulled up “Mac Blast” on YouTube and told me that this was one of the coldest battle/diss records ever produced from out of the Bay, right up there with Ice Cube’s “No Vaseline,” Pac’s “Hit ’Em Up” and Nas’ “The Ether.” When I watched the video, I heard what he was talking about.
I didn’t get a chance to meet the brotha until I came through to Yam’s studio in Oakland to record some video interviews with Askari X and Big Stone. DB and I had a few minutes to talk, and what interested and inspired me to want to interview DB Tha General was the fact that although he was famous for his diss record “Mac Blast.” when he got with me, he was talking about Black unity, his grandmother being a Black Panther, Black self-hate and his upcoming political project, “The Moors’ Army.”
Judging from a few brief conversations, DB Tha General is somebody on the Bay Area music scene who has something relevant and articulate to say, that we should look out for. Read him in his own words.
M.O.I. JR: Can you tell the people when you fell in love with rap music? What artists and what albums inspired you?
DB Tha General: Like around 8 or 9, it was Bone Thugs n Harmony first, E40’s “In a Major Way,” 3X Crazy’s “Stacking Chips” and a Richmond group called Mob C.I.N. and Tupac that inspired me first.
M.O.I. JR: When did you start taking rhyming seriously?
DB: After I got out of jail and met Chris Tha 5th. I was serious after that.
M.O.I. JR: What was the name of your first album and when did you complete it? How did it do?
DB: My first album was called “Welcome to the Navy,” recorded at Youth Uprising, and it basically did great. It’s still taking care of me seven years later. It’s still making money. It was special in Oakland history, “Welcome to the Navy.”
M.O.I. JR: Can you talk a little bit about the motivation behind one of your more famous songs “Mac Blast”?
DB: It came from a diss song called “Swear to God” about me, Khalfani and Messy Marv and that was my reply, the truth.
M.O.I. JR: Can you talk about the role Stone played in making sure that nothing violent happened?
DB: Stone, my big brother from when I first start rapping, had been by my side before we actually met. He basically discovered DB before anyone knew who DB was, over the phone from jail. We’re family, period. It’s deeper than rap.
M.O.I. JR: In a recent conversation, we were talking about self-hate in the Black community. What is your opinion on this and what are you trying to do to remedy this?
DB: It’s sad that the letter of Willie Lynch and the slave mentality still live in our people. Take the mind, destroy the body, light skin against Black man, Drake vs. Meek Millz. Shaking my head, look close at the picture. It’s still Black man against Black man – and that’s what they want.
So with my “Moors’ Army,” I’m trying to teach young Black kids don’t hate what is great. They just didn’t tell you the whole story. Black is beautiful. Say it loud, I’m Black and I’m proud. That’s my real goal.
M.O.I. JR: I know that you are beginning to work on your “Moors’ Army” album. What made you create a project that is more political than your past work?
DB: I can only reach so many people with gangster rap. So it’s time to go at the real gangsters: the politicians, the cops, the law. I will always remain street. I’m just dealing with a different monster.
M.O.I. JR: As a young rapper, how do you see the state of Oakland’s independent rap music?
DB: It’s in a bad place because teams, cliques and crews are acting like record labels. There is no establishment a kid can go to if he needs help with music in the Bay Area – not an office or a record label. Pioneers sold their rights to their music so there really is no help. It’s too independent; it needs real exposure, worldwide exposure.
M.O.I. JR: Where would you like to be in five years as a musician and businessman?
DB: In five years, I would like to be getting an award or really signed to a major record label.
M.O.I. JR: How could people hear your music? How could they buy it?
DB: I’m on iTunes, DatPiff, YouTube, everywhere.
The People’s Minister of Information JR Valrey is associate editor of the Bay View, author of “Block Reportin’” and “Unfinished Business: Block Reportin’ 2” and filmmaker of “Operation Small Axe” and “Block Reportin’ 101,” available, along with many more interviews, at www.blockreportradio.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.