Smoking Wax With Rapper Demrick
[Editor's note: Soon-to-be-award-winning gonzo music journalist Danielle Bacher prowls the late late night scene for West Coast Sound. For this installment, she hit the town with Demrick, aka Young De, a rapper and songwriter who has collaborated with Snoop Dogg, Cypress Hill, Kurupt and Xzibit. Also along for some of the ride was rapper B-Real, producer Scoop DeVille and others.]
4:02 p.m.: Demrick lies on a couch in B-Real's studio downtown. B-Real's 4:20 internet TV show is on every night, and De appears Fridays. Right now he's waiting to freestyle.
Demrick at The Spitting Chicken Cantina
4:10 p.m.: De starts texting on his cell. On his left forearm is a tattoo of himself playing the guitar. He doesn't actually know how to play guitar, but he wants to learn. He's 31, but looks like he's 21. He's biracial, with large brown eyes, brown stubble under his chin and coal-black hair to match his black attire.
4:12 p.m.: De gets up and disappears for a moment.
De and Branden Tighe
4:14 p.m.: I'm sitting on a couch in the lobby next to De's friend, producer Branden Tighe. Branden is quiet. He opens his mouth to say something, but just giggles a few times. It's kind of awkward, but we make small talk.
4:16 p.m.: De returns with a glass bong.
4:17 p.m.: He puts his mouth down to the mouthpiece, lights the weed and inhales. He sucks in the fumes and coughs, blows out a large cloud of white smoke.
4:18 p.m.: We walk into the green room. De introduces me to B-Real, metal/punk guru Doug E. Douche and DJ Shiva. B-Real quickly asks me to write content on the blog he updates in conjunction with the show.
Doug. E Douche (Left) De (Middle) and B-Real (Right)
4:26 p.m.: I watch the show from the waiting area. I can't hear it that well, but they are discussing Dwight Howard, something about B-Real being stoned and vaginas. I may be hearing this wrong.
4:28 p.m.: The chrome cylinder walls in this room look three-dimensional. I really want to touch the walls. They look so cool.
4:30 p.m.: De explains how he met B-Real. Cypress Hill rapper Sen Dog's brother Mellow Ace Man used to bring De around to their studio in Chatsworth. It was Fleetwood Mac's old studio, which they renamed "the Temple." De hung out there for a month straight without the group knowing that he rapped.
4:31 p.m.: One day, De started freestyling for B-Real, for about four minutes straight. B-Real sent him to the booth, and they recorded a song, although it was never released. They kept in touch, and soon after, he was featured on B-Real's mixtape The Gunslinger Part III: For a Few Dollars More. In 2008, B-Real produced and rapped on De's mixtape Hustlaz Vol. 1. A year later, De was featured on B-Real's Smoke N Mirrors solo album and Cypress Hill's eighth studio album Rise Up. He's also toured with B-Real and Cypress Hill numerous times over the years.
4:33 p.m.: De met rapper Xzibit when the single "Don't You Dare Laugh" came out. He got a call to meet at Aftermath Studios to work on some potential Dr. Dre material. The engineer introduced the two of them and Xzibit asked, "Aren't you B-Real's protégé? You have my favorite song on XM Radio right now, and we have to do a song together."
4:35 p.m.: It's very cold in the studio. People keep walking in and out. De sprawls out on the couch. His eyes look glassy. He continues to tell me that Xzibit and how he worked on the song "Figure It Out" on DJ Muggs's album Souls Assassins Intermissions. De wrote and rapped on the verses and the hook. The two worked on numerous projects together, toured several times and even created a new group called Serial Killaz, consisting of the two of them and B-Real.
4:36 p.m.: "It's funny because going along with this rap shit, you always think that it's going to come down to the record or the songs that you make, but sometimes it comes down to that face-to-face interaction with somebody," De says. "You believe in yourself a whole bunch, but once more people believe in you, your confidence starts to build up. That's what happened when I was first discovered by Kurupt."
4:38 p.m.: De looks at me, coughs and laughs. "This world is crazy, right?"
4:40 p.m.: De met Kurupt through the latter's brother, rapper Roscoe, in late 2006. The two were working on music in Philly at the time. De rented out a fiberglass building that was converted into a studio in nearby suburb Collingdale. Roscoe came to listen to some beats.
4:41 p.m.: A year later, Roscoe came back to Philly with Kurupt, and they insisted that De and his group Tangled Thoughts move to Los Angeles. Kurupt told De, "Yo, I want to come through. I'm getting back with Snoop. It's time to go kill it. Let me produce you. We gonna put this shit together." De moved to Cali later that year.
4:42 p.m.: De worked with Kurupt on Kurupt Presents Tangled Thoughts: Philly 2 Cali, but the group split up and went their separate ways.
4:45 p.m.: De shows me a YouTube video of him and Xzibit performing to 4,000 fans in Belek, Turkey. "I love crowd surfing," he says. "B-Real told me the first time I started crowd surfing, 'If you go out there, you better not fuck your verse up.'" He starts laughing. "I never have, though."
4:50 p.m.: I can't stop coughing. I can't figure out if it's from all the weed smoke around me, or if I'm about to get sick. I think it's the latter.
5:14 p.m.: It's still freezing in here. We reminisce about Philly, where I'm from.
5:16 p.m.: De hollers at DJ/producer Salem Wreck. He has been a touring DJ for Eminem, DJ Quik, Obie Trice and Tha Dogg Pound, as well as a regular on B-Real's show.
De shouts, "You suck!"
DJ Wreck blows his nose loudly and screams back, "I may suck, but I don't swallow!"
"I have no reply to that," De says, laughing.
5:19 p.m.: "Want to get liquored up?" De asks me. He calls out to Wreck again, "What you doing tonight?"
"Drugs," he responds.
"You doin' them already. You don't need it to be the nighttime to do that."
"I'm going to the Lakers game. I want to watch Kobe get stomped the fuck out. World Peace will fuck Westbrook up."
He and DJ Wreck start planning what De is going to freestyle to on the show. They settle on Jay-Z's "Lucifer" from 2003's The Black Album.
5:22 p.m.: I hear screaming in the green room. Something about sucking the AIDS out of Magic Johnson. De shakes his head with disapproval.
De (Left) B-Real (Middle) and Aspect One (Right)
5:50 p.m.: I'm inside the green room. There are cameras positioned in front of B-Real, De and MC/producer Aspect One. They are sitting in front of a table with a bluish pill bottle filled with weed and a glass Roor bong. B-Real takes a large hit.
5:51 p.m.: B-Real says off-camera, "DJ Muggs told me this a long time ago, and it always stayed with me. He said, 'You gotta be with other dope MC's to really compete. If you around some wack motherfuckers, you always got to keep your ear out for who is spitting what. You got to keep up.'"
6:00 p.m.: DJ Wreck spins Jay-Z's song, and Aspect One starts freestyling. His flow is solid, and his rhymes are quick-witted, boastful, and intelligent.
6:02 p.m.: De starts freestyling and he's much louder. He raps about "bitches and niggas" being dead. He slips up a few times, but he's good. He stops and everyone in the room says, "Damn." De turns to B-Real and says, "Yeah, brother, I'm feeling it today. Let's do some more rapping, man!"
6:07 p.m.: B-Real has his hands folded together. He's bobbing his head with his gray LRS cap covering his eyes. De finishes his freestyle, and B-Real explains why he's nervous to freestyle himself. It's funny that he's so concerned, since he's the veteran.
6:09 p.m.: B-Real gets some encouragement and begins rapping about weed. He picks up the weed case and shakes it. His flow is tight and slower than those of the other two. He's deliberate and a little hesitant.
6:14 p.m.: De and he start freestyling together. De mentions in his verse that it's a special event for B-Real to freestyle (apparently he never does this).
6:15 p.m.: B-Real shakes his head and laughs. De continues: "I'm on this mic like I got to pay my rent tonight. I got to make it so I'm here to take it break it."
6:30 p.m.: B-Real steps behind the DJ booth and starts fucking around with some beats. I start chatting with him about the Internet TV show that he's done for three and a half years now. He got the idea from Maseo of De La Soul and their own broadcast "De La Soul's Dugout." He wanted to expand the idea of a live stream and get a bunch of different shows on one site. He's planning on working with De on some more material: a solo album, a mixtape and a new Cypress Hill album.
6:45 p.m.: We head out to an underground hip-hop studio called Truth Studios on N. Stanley Ave.
7:20 p.m.: I find a spot on the street and reverse my car. CRASH. Fuck, I just hit a white Toyota.
7:21 p.m.: De starts laughing his ass off outside my car. It's pretty dark out, but he assesses the damage. He thinks I didn't leave a trace. He tells me that I'm a really bad driver. I agree.
7:24 p.m.: "My niggas came with the Christmas bags!" shouts De as we walk into the studio. Samples of his Bloodbath clothing line are on a plastic table in the foyer.
Nick Breton (Left) De, Polyester and Patrick Molina(Right)
7:25 p.m.: Owner, manager and recording engineer Nick Breton welcomes me to the studio. He's been in this space for about a year and a half. He was working out of his apartment across the street for a few years before the move. "There was just too much traffic in my bedroom, with sometimes eight people sleeping there," says Nick, laughing. "Everyone was just trying to turn shit up really loud six days a week."
7:26 p.m.: "But it was really community-based. I just wanted to support musicians in Los Angeles and open my doors to talented people. Everyone was trying to make great music, and, at the end of the day, it's what we are all pursuing in hopes that there's some money that helps pay the bills." Mixing and mastering engineer Glenn Gonda nods from behind the clothing table.
7:29 p.m.: We head upstairs. There's a wall covered with Polaroid photos of hip-hop artists who have recorded in the studio, including Kendrick Lamar, Rick Ross, Too $hort and Earl Sweatshirt. I'm joined by rapper/producer Polyester the Saint. Patrick Molina, the sales and marketing rep for Bloodbath (along with Tighe), is here, too.
7:30 p.m.: Nick plays "Follow My Lead" from De's new album Wings Up, due out March 26. De starts rapping to his own track. It has a hot beat and a great hook. He's got a distinctive, stop-start rhythm to his flow. You'll probably be hearing it on the radio before long.
7:42 p.m.: Nick started recording with former Inglewood hip-hop duo U-N-I in his well-equipped bedroom four years ago. They spread the word around, and more underground artists started hitting him up. De was one of the first artists he met while U-N-I was collaborating with Xzibit. They showed up with a large bag of weed, and Nick kept fucking up left and right. "His apartment was where everyone was going to record their first album. He was always on the cusp of what was coming out next," explains De.
7:48 p.m.: Polyester met Nick at one of the studio sessions two years ago. Polyester was working with U-N-I in North Hollywood with his production team L.A.U.S.D. [Los Angeles Unified Sound District]. "I became a huge fan of his work before I even met him," says Nick. "I heard these beats and songs, and they were great." The three of them started recording music together this past year after De met Polyester. They are in the final stages of mixing the album.
7:55 p.m.: Nick tells me that he used to rap and produce. De bursts out, "Whoa, whoa whoa! You used to rap? We are putting you on a verse on this album!"
7:57 p.m.: Polyester is sitting on the black leather couch with his arms crossed. He's wearing a green beanie, a white Bloodbath longsleeve shirt and a tan and brown vest. He also has scruff and a stoned look on his face. He went on his first tour this past year with Dom Kennedy.
8:10 p.m.: Polyester says, "The best way to work with De is with some wine or alcoholic beverages, turnin' the speakers up loud and gettin' it crackin'."
8:28 p.m.: We head out of the studio, and I climb back into my car. It's really cold outside, and I'm starting to feel sick. I drive to Mulberry Studios in Sherman Oaks to listen to some new beats from rapper/hip-hop producer Scoop DeVille. The Fugees' "Ready or Not" is blasting loudly in my car.
9:00 p.m.: I arrive at the studio and park on the street. I walk up to the driveway and meet Tighe. This is his crib and studio, which he shares with a bunch of other dudes.
9:02 p.m.: I hear music. The guys who live in the house have built the studio in the back. It's a cool little pad with wooden walls, a hangout space with couches and a studio to record. Scoop is playing some jazzy instrumental beats. He calls it "some Tina Turner shit."
9:03 p.m.: De pours himself some Ciroc and limeade. He can't believe I've never tried Diddy's drink and pours me a glass.
Michael Sterling Eaton (Left) and Scoop DeVille (Right)
9:05 p.m.: Scoop, Kid Cudi's engineer/producer Current, producer/artist Michael Sterling Eaton and manager John Edgar are all jamming out to Scoop's new shit. Scoop is on the keys rocking the fuck out. He created a new duo called Watercolor Werewolf with Eaton. The music is from a new three-song EP entitled Transmissions From the 5th Dimension.
9:10 p.m.: These beats are really out there. I feel like this entire studio should be on acid right about now.
Michael Sterling Eaton (Left), Scoop DeVille (Right) and Current (Front)
9:22 p.m.: We're all mesmerized by these beats. They're sick. De is sitting on the couch, bobbing his head in silence to the rhythm.
10:05 p.m.: De's hungry, so we're about to roll to his favorite Japanese BBQ place, Gyu-Kaku on Ventura Blvd. with some of the guys who live in the house. De jumps in my car, and we're blasting T.I.'s "What You Know." He's rapping along to the lyrics. He pauses, turns to me and says, "Man, you getting sick. I can hear it. Are you going to be able to keep going? The night is young! I'm gonna try and get you faded. Chug that NyQuil!"
10:07 p.m.: De tells me his girlfriend Bianca is going to meet us there. He also says she's a "dope-ass amazing singer." They met through her best friend, who was featured in the video for the song "What It Is" with Xzibit. Her best friend wanted more girls for the video and told De that Bianca thought he was cute. He knew Bianca wasn't right for the video, but thought she would make a good girlfriend instead. They've been dating for a little over a year.
10:10 p.m.: "By the way, you smoked DMT, how the hell was that?" asks De. "It lasted hours, didn't it? How the hell did you do this wild night on DMT? Damn, girl." He explained I got major street cred after that. We are looking for a parking spot. We find one and hop out of the car. Three other producers/artists, Ian, Benjamin and Alon, tell me that they picked up three girls at a stoplight and that they will be joining us for dinner. I'm weirded out.
10:13 p.m.: The girls don't actually dine with us. There are 14 of us altogether. B-Real's long-time friend Tony is here with his brother Bert. Tony is investing in one of De's new albums that he's making at Mulberry with Current. De lives with Tony in a house in Benedict Canyon. De also has a new song on the project with Polyester that Scoop co-produced. De's been working with Scoop for years, so they always have something new going on.
Alon (Left) De (Middle) and Tony (Right)
10:40 p.m.: De orders tons of sake and Sapporo for the table. De's shouting "Bring the beer, bring the beer!" Some of the women at the table want to go to a strip club. We talk about why strip clubs in Los Angeles don't show enough tits and ass. They think Secret Sundayz at the Key Club are dope. Everyone cheers with their drinks. De makes a toast to "Good family, good food, good times. We get it poppin'!" I salute with my green tea and sake.
11:15 p.m.: Tony dares me to eat raw beef that Bert is cooking on the hibachi grill. I eat it.
11:17 p.m.: De orders another round of Sapporo pints and sake. People are getting sloshed.
11:18 p.m.: Current shows up after his session with Scoop. He said it was a crazy time, but they got some good shit. The girls at the table go to the bathroom. They announce that they are virgins for the evening.
11:22 p.m.: One of the dudes at the table named Dan opines that Quentin Taratino makes shitty movies. Most of us disagree.
12:06 a.m.: We head to The Spitting Chicken Cantina to meet up with rapper Roderic from Tacoma, WA and his friend, videographer/editor Nic Delikat. Delikat works with Matthew McConaughey's production company.
12:20 a.m.: "I'm a shot away from going fucking crazy," says De.
Bianca (Left) and De (Right)
12:23 a.m.: De starts making out with Bianca. He stops and puts his arm around Current and says that he's the shit and a real-deal producer.
1:55 a.m.: We leave the bar and head back to Mulberry Studios. I'm driving De. Tony calls in the middle of our conversation on our way back to the pad. Bert passed out in the car somewhere, and Tony is stranded.
1:57 a.m.: Cell phone rings. Tony is on the line: "Where the hell did your brother go with the car?" De asks Tony. "Your brother did not leave you. Or at least I don't think he did. Where's your brother? Where's your car?" He hangs up.
1:58 a.m.: De turns to me and says,"Okay, we have to go pick up Tony."
1:59 a.m.: Bianca calls and yells at him for taking too long.
2:00 a.m.: We pick Tony up a few miles away.
2:01 a.m.: Bianca calls again. De tells me to turn around and leave Tony.
2:10 a.m.: We're sitting outside the house, and De looks at me. He lifts up his pant leg and shows me a letter "C" engraved in his skin. He tells me that it's from his days as a young kid in a gang in Washington State, where he was born. He was selling crack at 13, hustling on the streets.
2:14 a.m.: De's pretty drunk. Actually, it's more like he's wasted. He informs me that he was friends with Will Smith's "ghetto sister" in Philly because she worked at T.G.I. Friday's and dated his friend.
2:15 a.m.: At 14 years old, two of De's dealer friends beat up a crackhead, who died a week later. The two were charged with involuntary manslaughter and sentenced to four years in prison. "If I wasn't out of town, I would have been there. I would have killed a man. I didn't really grow up with a positive male role model, so that's what I thought was cool to do."
2:17 a.m.: De's real father was in jail (and still is), and his stepfather at the time was in and out of jail for dealing and using drugs. His mother was in the military and had two younger kids to tend to. She thought De was wild and didn't want her kids being corrupted by his bad behavior. De moved out of the house when he was 15 and in with an older woman, but managed to graduate high school.
2:20 a.m.: De moved all around the country, with stops in North Carolina, Maryland and Alaska before moving to Philly at 18. De linked up with a family friend there whom he would visit during the summers and ended up living with him and pursuing his music. "He was really the one that stepped into my life. I basically had the mentality that, hopefully, I don't fuck up. And if I fuck up bad enough, hopefully I won't go to jail or into the military."
2:21 a.m.: De has only met his father once. He was 11 and visiting California with his mother.
2:22 a.m.: "All I remember him asking me is 'Why you wearing a Chicago Bulls jersey? You going to be just like me,'" he says. "He was mad when he saw me. Maybe not mad, but it was not a cool feeling. At the time, I was super-standoffish. I didn't give a fuck. I made a promise that day that I would do everything in my power to never go to jail."
2:25 a.m.: De has come far from the thug life and feels like he's changed a lot since those days. His stepfather has been a preacher for the past two years. "I'm on a whole different chapter of my life now. Way different. I've worked with some of the best artists and producers like Jim Jonsin, who I have catalogues and catalogues of crap with. I'm like two books ahead of that shit now."
2:27 a.m.: De stumbles out of my car. He pulls down his pants to take a piss.
2:30 a.m.: We walk back inside the studio. Bianca is pissed we took so long. She starts a mini-fight with him near the entrance of the studio.
2:32 a.m.: I have no idea what happened to Tony. We never hear from him again.
2:34 a.m.: De announces that it's time to smoke wax weed. I've never seen it before, but I have heard about it. It's a concentrate that makes the cannabinoid chemicals about 90 percent pure. The THC level in the shit apparently fucks you up severely.
2:35 a.m.: De takes the wax from a small container on the table and packs the slide of a bong. He takes a torch and lights it up. He inhales and quickly sits back in his chair, his head between his legs. He then jumps up onto the table and starts dancing to some very loud music in the background.
2:37 a.m.: Everyone in the studio starts dancing wildly.
2:48 a.m.: Rapper Roderic gets in the booth and starts recording tracks.
3:05 a.m.: De is passed out with his head between his arms.
3:41 a.m.: Branden just hit the wax and is breathing really heavily.
3:49 a.m.: Alon is recording Roderic. He gets up and takes a hit of wax. He states, "I can't function right now."
3:55 a.m.: De gets up and falls against a trashcan. He stumbles for a second and smashes his head on the door. We laugh. He opens the studio door, trips and closes it shut.
4:45 a.m.: I'm definitely getting sick now. I can't stop coughing, and there is weed smoke all around me. i'm high as shit. I'm starting to fall asleep. It's dark in the studio, and I can hear Roderic yell "Fuck!" into the mic.
5:10 a.m.: I leave the studio and walk to my car. I see some white paint on the side of my bumper. I realize I probably hit that car a lot harder than I thought. I guzzle some cough medicine and drive away, the heater on full blast.
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