[Editor's note: Weekly scribe Jeff Weiss's column, “Bizarre Ride,” appears on West Coast Sound every Wednesday. His archives are available here.]
Sir Jinx is the missing link. He is a vital nerve. Remove the South Central-raised producer from history, and the space-time continuum of West Coast hip-hop is warped for the worse. Check the resume: Jinx produced much of Ice Cube's canonized first three solo records, WC & The Maad Circle's Ain't A Damn Thang Changed, Yo-Yo's debut, Xzibit's 40 Dayz & 40 Nightz and Kool G Rap & DJ Polo's Live & Let Die.
Even if 50 Cent is your metric for old school and this list means nothing to you, Jinx's impact expands beyond pure sonics. Jinx introduced his cousin, Dr. Dre, to his future rapping partner Ice Cube well before Eric “Eazy E” Wright entered the fray. Jinx produced Snoop Dogg's first demo. He even spray painted the graffiti on the walls seen on the album cover of N.W.A & The Posse (the group's pre-Straight Outta Compton debut.)
It's a fitting metaphor for the man born Anthony Wheaton, who was content to supply the bright colors in the background. Always altering his signature, a Jinx beat could be blistering gangsta funk or soul. (He did tracks with CeCe Peniston and Isaac Hayes).
“I developed the artist in their world. It was my paint on their wall. I was the person who made their environment sellable,” says Jinx by phone from his home in Newport Beach. “Some people want the credit. I don't care about that. Being a producer is a magic trick that continues to happen. Once you eliminate me from the equation, it changes. The magic comes when someone can tell that I'm not there.”
Jinx also compares producers to playmaking basketball point guards. The analogy is often used, but it seems particularly fitting for his career; his collaborators posted their highest scoring averages with him as a teammate.
Several years ago, Jinx, moved to Orange County. Now in his early 40s, he prefers phone interviews. Such interviews are often brief and vague, but Jinx brims with personality and historical anecdotes. With gentle prodding, he'll explain how he ended up rolling through the hood with Kool G Rap and 2Pac on the day the L.A. riots broke out.
“Kool G Rap, 2Pac [and I] were supposed to do a song that day, but we turned on the TV on and L.A. was on fire,” Jinx remembers. “My homies showed up to the studio with beer and gear they couldn't afford and we were like, 'let's go.'” Flash forward: 2Pac is hanging out Jinx's sunroof and pointing his pistol at security guards. Next, they hit the swap meet, where 2Pac signs autographs amidst the chaos.
Jinx re-tells the story of bringing the SP-1200 drum machine and sampler into the Bomb Squad's New York studio for Ice Cube's AmeriKKKa's Most Wanted. Jinx talks about wearing fur coats and gold ropes at Washington High–when his older cousin Dre slept on his mom's coach during his transition from the World Class Wrecking Cru to N.W.A.
But Jinx's voice gets most animated when discussing his latest venture: running the online music distribution company Coastal Contra. Specializing in compilations from 90s greats such as King Tee, 2nd II None and X-Clan, Jinx's firm partners with online stores in Taiwan, Germany, Canada and other international locales. Even in his business life, he remains a connector.
“There's a void in hand to hand interaction between veteran artists and people in the record business. We help them get their music to the Internet,” Jinx says. “In the West Coast, gangsta rap has been here forever, but there are still people all over the world just discovering it. It's always brand new to someone.”