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But that was what was going on. Refused bail, Dre was forced to sit in county jail for a year awaiting trial. To many, including Davey D, this was an injustice. Despite these assertions, Mac Dre was sent to Lompoc Federal Penitentiary on March 12, , right when he was on the verge of blowing up big time. When he got stole from us by the police, there was hurting, but he had laid down such a strong foundation [for other Crest Side artists]. Mac Dre managed to record Back N Da Hood from inside prison via the telephone, but after his release in , he was hungry to get back in the game he left behind.
I think Dre for five years was very hungry and had a lot to think about. When he finally got a chance, he was able to do his own thing that he really wanted to. Rarely the drug of choice among rappers, Dre built a counterculture around the pill in the same way weed rappers mixed blunts and beats.
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To me, he really is somebody who had a footprint in two different, in many ways, very distinct eras, and two distinct generations of people who really had gravitated towards him in those respected areas. During this time, Dre uprooted from Vallejo, moving to Sacramento where he started his label, Thizz Entertainment, and began a run of productivity. As far as the studio, the last record he did was with me, Da U.
Open—that record, we did that effortlessly. It was just, like, nothing, man.
Dre put on the beat, and when cats from the Crest Side get in the studio, this is what we do, you know what we mean, we push each other and it was just, like, easy. But then Dre had that gangster side too. Dre was no pushover.
Dre kept a smile on his face, but the minute that smile was gone, you know he would be on your ear. Dre was a character. At the peak of his powers, Mac Dre and several members of his crew traveled to Kansas to perform a show. It would prove to be his last. The van swerved across a grass median and four southbound lanes, then crashed into a ditch. The driver escaped relatively uninjured, running down the highway to a store to call Shortly before his death, Dre had been relaxing back at his hotel room with Mac Mall.
I go back to my room and get a call, the cuddy gone. Immediately, the news sent a shudder through the whole Bay. It was kind of surreal.
Eight years on and the Bay is still coming to terms with the loss of Mac Dre. Officially, his murder remains an open case, but his legacy grows stronger all the time. All over Vallejo, there are murals to the man, and, under the stewardship of Kilo Curt and Jamal Diggs as well as Mac Mall, Thizz Entertainment has continued to put out records though not without new run-ins with the law. All the while, Mac Dre the artist continues to influence new generations of artists across America.
The group's initial mission, Doonie explains, was a simple one: to instill a higher degree of regional pride in Bay Area music. That's what page we were on. Although the group's first release, "Federation: The Album," was hailed as a local rap classic and inspired a plethora of similar-sounding songs many of which also became radio and club anthems , Virgin failed to live up to its half of the bargain.
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As Goldie notes, "They dropped the ball. Despite its apparent commercial appeal, the Federation was unable to attract widespread national recognition. Add disappointing sales and murky music industry politics, and the Feds soon found themselves without a record deal. Ironically, as they languished in label limbo, the sound the Federation had helped to create took off, building up tremendous regional momentum in Northern California before exploding into the collective pop culture consciousness this year with the release of E's radio and video hit, "Tell Me When to Go.
In recent months, Stressmatic has been featured on three songs on 40's gold-selling album "My Ghetto Report Card" for which Rock produced four tracks, including the chest-pounding ode to bay centricity, "Yay Area" , while the group rebounded from the Virgin debacle with the singles "18 Dummy" and "Only Wear My White Tees Once" -- both favorites among hyphy mix-tape DJs. In the Federation's absence, a host of newer artists and producers, including rappers Turf Talk and Mistah F.
But while the Feds may have been down, they were certainly not out of the game. Early this year, a new Federation song, "Stunna Glasses at Night" -- a remake of one-hit wonder Corey Hart's "Sunglasses at Night" -- appeared on Rock's MySpace page and soon found its way onto commercial radio airwaves as well. The group teamed up with the Animaniax the Oakland dance crew featured in the "Tell Me When to Go" video for "Turf Dancing," a song on "The Outsider," the new album by trip-hop master-turned-hyphy-enthusiast DJ Shadow, which brought the Federation to international attention.
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According to Goldie, the album's title is a catchall phrase applicable to life in general. I mean, we could be friendly, or we could be unfriendly," he says with a laugh. It's a bay term that's been used for eons and eons. Having just driven 50 miles from Fairfield, the Federation is a bit weary, but still quite energetic, when they arrive at Everett and Jones in Oakland. Unfortunately, Rock was unable to attend due to a last-minute studio session with Turf Talk and 40 , but the three rappers make for more than adequate mouthpieces by themselves.
Their ghetto celebrity status is apparent from the minute they step on the scene. Surrounded by a small entourage of friends, they draw immediate attention with their oversize personalities. Passers-by stop and greet them like old friends, and Goldie wastes no time making new ones, chatting up an attractive young woman he'd met outside the restaurant. Unlike the aggressive personas they present on their records, Stressmatic and Doonie are somewhat laid-back, reserved characters: Stressmatic quietly sits at an outside table, while Doonie who, like Rock, hails from Alabama orders a plate of barbecue lathered with sauce.
However, the hyperactive, loquacious Goldie could probably have a side career in comedy if he so chose. Introducing himself as Go-Go, wearing three-quarter-length denim shorts with a marijuana leaf logo, a white T and stunna shades, and sporting a long, braided goatee, he continually cracks one-liners, the life of the party even while standing on a street corner near Jack London Square in the middle of the day. Asked if the Federation members are trendsetters, Goldie responds unequivocally, 'Damn mother -- right!
The Federation's origins, Doonie says, come from his and Rock's common ground as Alabama-born exports to the Bay Area. That's basically what it started from.
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Together, the Federation's members had a chemistry that bubbled over into their music that made them stand out among all the turf-oriented rap groups in the area. If everyone else's s -- was that car right there," he points to a nondescript vehicle parked outside the restaurant, "our s -- would be a spaceship. Although Goldie proudly talks of being a "70Savage" -- regional slang for someone from the area code -- he feels that Oakland represents "the beating heart of this hyphy movement.
I virtually live out here.
Bay Area, Northern California, can we step it up please? On "It's Whateva," the Federation has clearly chosen to lead by example. In plain terms, he says, "You grow every day. What I said yesterday, I ain't finna say today. Every day that passes by is gonna be more defined. The Federation has indeed upped the ante since its first album: raps are tighter, hooks are stronger, skits are funnier, concepts are more thematic -- and there's a more diverse range of expression overall.
Rock's production stretches the envelope of the group's sound without moving too far away from what made them appealing in the first place. As Goldie says, "We modified ourselves. A large portion of "It's Whateva" revels in the joys of hyphy, from muscle-car anthems such as "My Rims" and "Scraper" to the cyber-gangsta tune "Transformer" which replays the '80s cartoon theme song with a ghetto twist to the unapologetically sleazy and sweaty club jams "Git Naked" and "Move It" an update of 2 Unlimited's techno-pop classic "I Like 2 Move It" to the unrelenting eardrum assaults of "18 Dummies" and "Whitee" a remix of "Only Wear My White Tees Once" , which are as brilliantly stupid in a rap context as, say, the Stooges' "I Wanna Be Your Dog" or the Ramones' "Blitzkrieg Bop" are in a rock context.