AD (right) with his producer/collaborator, Sorry JaynariEXPAND
AD (right) with his producer/collaborator, Sorry Jaynari
Courtesy Audible Treats

Compton Rapper AD Defies Gangbanger Stereotypes, Proclaims "#CripLivesMatter"

Don’t get the wrong impression of AD, even if the wrong impression is partially right.

AD, a rising star from Compton, has produced some of the most thundering L.A. gangsta-rap hits over the last several years. He’s built like an offensive lineman, tatted like Kat Von D and goes harder than Halo. So if fans don’t interrupt him to cheerily ask him how his day is going, it’s no surprise.

“People listen to the music and perceive me like I’m some deranged, crazy gang member,” AD says when we meet at a cafe not far from Hollywood, where he currently resides. “I’ll see people at the mall and they’ll recognize me, but won’t say nothing because they’re afraid that I’ll bang on them.”

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This comes with the territory when your video for the YG-aided “Thug” (8 million–plus views) starts with a news account about an on-set shooting incident involving 30 spent shell cases from an AK-47. Or the clip for the G Perico collaboration, “#CripLivesMatter,” where AD wears enough blue to get drafted by the Dodgers and gracefully C-walks across the screen.

“I’m with the business but I don’t like confrontation,” AD explains, wearing a black tank top, matching Reeboks and Dickies shorts. His tattoos are a road map of his past two decades: favorite video games (first-person shooters), music (Kanye’s Graduation bear) and type of shoe (Jordans). There’s a memorial to his grandmother on his neck, the “310” area code on his torso and “Trust God” on his fingers.

“I’ll handle what I have to handle, but I’m an easygoing guy that shows everybody love,” AD says. “Finally, people are starting to see the lighter tone.”

It’s readily apparent when you meet Armand Douglas in person. He’s as quick to talk about growing up in the CPT with a father who constantly bumped DJ Quik as he is to wax philosophic about loving Game of Thrones, Naruto and Scrubs.

If one-dimensional stereotypes portray gangbangers as cold-blooded killers, AD exemplifies the nuanced portrayal much closer to the truth. He certainly doesn’t shy from his roots in a Crip set on the west side of Compton but is also a devoted father and aspiring film critic.

“I grew up in a mostly Piru part of Compton, and they go hard representing,” he explains. “So I felt like I had to go that hard, too, because I’m one of the few from that side holding it down.”

His ascent traces to 2013, when he spent his last $600 from working at Target on the video for “Compton.” Sampling and paying tribute to Eazy-E, it elicited co-signs from Kendrick Lamar, Waka Flocka and E-40.

In 2015, AD released “Juice,” which detonated into one of the biggest street-rap hits on the West Coast that year. Without a major label, it wound up in heavy rotation on Xzbit’s Open Bar Radio and The Real (92.3 FM). You heard it at Floyd Mayweather fights and Rams games. A specially made Clippers version even became the squad’s theme song. AD followed up its success with his best full-length, April’s Last of the ’80s, a collaboration with producer Sorry Jaynari.

In the future, AD intends to evolve into an all-around entertainer, appearing in superhero movies and on TV, and attempting to be a positive force for Compton. But in the interim, his latest focuses on the values that made him.

“I’m the last of the era that bought CDs,” AD says. “Where you had to go to the store, learned every word and read the liner notes. In this instant accessible world, I want to make something that kids could listen to for longer than two weeks. Something with longevity and heart.”

An L.A. native, Jeff Weiss edits Passion of the Weiss and hosts the Bizarre Ride show on RBMA Radio. Follow him on Twitter @passionweiss.

More from Jeff Weiss:
King Lil G, Descendant of Zapata, Is Leading His Own Hip-Hop Revolution
How Logic Scored a No. 1 Rap Album Without Any Hits
What If 2Pac Had Lived?


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