By LA Weekly
By Henry Rollins
By Weekly Photographers
By Shea Serrano
By Nate "Igor" Smith
By Dan Weiss
By Erica E. Phillips
By Kai Flanders
Will that involve you getting back to rapping?
DRE: Well, as long as the beat jamming and I can write something to it, you know, I’ll rap. It’s just that, when I went through the period of Speakerboxxx/The Love Below, I was writing a whole bunch of songs, and melodies were just coming out of me. And I still have that. Really, it’s the time, man. At the time, rap was kinda at a low point, you know? So it was natural for me to kinda just scoot over here and do this [other] style of songs.
Who still has the power to put you in that fan-boy zone?
DRE: I’m in a state of limbo right now. All the stuff I used to listen to, I still love it, and I’m amazed that it happened, but I don’t even feel it the same way like I used to. It’s almost like you gotta make something new to be excited about something ’cause all your old records, they don’t sound the same.
BIG BOI: I was about to say the same thing. Nirvana? I was really on them heavy, but it don’t even sound the same no more.
DRE: You can still jam it but . . .
BIG BOI: It don’t affect you the same. You done wore it out.
DRE: I find myself being excited by new artists, their whole plight. I’m looking at them like, aw man, and I can feel the excitement. When I’m at a [Atlanta rapper] T.I. show, and I see the crowd going crazy, I’m happy ’cause I remember when we were starting out. Or you look at a Lil’ Wayne, and right now he killin’ it . . .
BIG BOI: That boy be spittin’ too. That boy can spit.
DRE: And he got a mean pen. I really appreciate that, man. As far as the craft of rhyming and actually being creative and clever with ya wordplay, some of these boys killing it. Even just some of the flamboyant attitude. You look at a song like [Young Dro & T.I.’s] “Shoulder Lean.” I was just up in New York, and the DJs was on the radio dissin’ it. They was like, “What is he talkin’ ’bout?” [Dre paraphrases the song.] ‘Don’t nobody live ’round my grandmama but some junkies.’ . . . I was like, he telling you what’s going on.
BIG BOI: He telling you what the fuck is going on where he live and he talkin’ ’bout it from the heart. You can tell.
DRE: I hate when people break down rap songs — and they do this to Southern music a lot — and they say it’s simple and elementary. But it’s just telling you where it’s at. The problem ain’t the music, it’s what’s going on in the world. If you don’t like it, you gotta change what’s happening in the hood. But that’s what’s going on. It’s a whole buncha “Shoulder Lean.” They gon’ let you know we partyin’, we jammin’ . . .
BIG BOI: Bouncin’ . . .
DRE: Basically, what they saying, man, is, “I been in the hood for so long, I finally got a chance and I’m happy as hell.” That’s why they hollerin’, “I’m rich!” [Big Boi laughs loudly and claps his hands together.] They happy, man!
After 25 years, critics still dissect rap like it’s poetry lying on a page, and we don’t —
DRE: Listen to the voice.
BIG BOI: Listen to the man tone, listen to the feeling of what he sayin’.
DRE: Blues songs may not be the best songs in the world lyrically, but man, you know in they throat they serious about what they talkin’ about. That’s what it is about Southern music. It’s almost like what’s going on now is what the blues was back then. It’s real simple, repetitious, but you feel it.
DRE: [They’re] gonna go down in history as some of the best performers in the world. You gotta bow down to Fishbone. You got to.
How do you feel about illegal downloading? A lot of the soundtrack is already up online.
BIG BOI: For real? Like how many songs?
DRE: Yeaaaahhhh, that Limewizzy!
BIG BOI: I don’t care. I mean, it’s a promotional tool. The record company doing that shit anyway. That’s who doing it. But the whole record is up there, the whole 19 tracks?
I think it’s 17 or 18.
DRE: There it is!
BIG BOI: Oh, shit!
Do each of you have a favorite verse by the other?
BIG BOI: I could tell you one in particular that was gangsta as hell when I heard it – “A Day in the Life of André Benjamin” off [the last album]. I was like, he ain’t gotta rap shit else after that! That shit was so fly to me and was so real. [He folds his arms and shakes his head.] Killed it!