Makin’ Good: C-Infamous Goes to Cali (Part 2 of 3) [Article/Video]
Vancouver, B.C. – You may recall HipHopCanada’s intro to hype producer C-Infamous a while back…he went to California to make good and he’s back home, ready to regale us with stories from the south. Check out his article and video footage from the trip after the jump:
It was a tumultuous twenty-two days, but somehow the Chronico team made it out alive. On August 4, my humble partner, Paolo Valdes, and I took off to the city of angels to make something pop; as of late, it felt like the team needed a jolt of energy to get things going in Vancouver. Based on a couple calls, a couple connections, and armed with some of the hottest heat rocks on the Left, we delved into the hip-hop arena in California to work with two acts we proudly call our Cali brethren: Skeme & G-Hoodfellas. What happened during our three week engagement in the West was wild, and we did our best to capture all the chaos that happened through photos and videos; we encountered some technical difficulty, so some extraordinary footage was lost, but P put together some of the best footage in hopes that what we have left will suffice.
We touched down in LAX at 5:30pm. As Paolo and I waited for our baggage, I received a text from Phat Rat:
“Where u at???”
He was waiting for us outside while we grabbed our baggage. I brought one of my keyboards and MPC down as well, as I anticipated catching a new groove in Cali. It ultimately proved to be one of my best decisions, as all 15 songs that I brought back from the trip were all-new material, cooked to order.
We dipped through the freeways, chopping it up with Phat Rat and his associate Shane, until we reached the Valley, where we stayed at ‘The Kompound’ in Sherman Oaks, a rancher that doubled as the hangout for Baron Davis’ boys, as well as the recording facility for a stable of artists affiliated with BD. Oh right, forgot to mention, through Paolo’s master networking, for the past year, BD has become a great friend and mentor to the team at CCMG. When we arrived at the spot, we dropped our belongings off then dipped out to grab something to eat. Took it easy, then crashed for the night.
We woke up the next day to Phat Rat going about his errands at the Kompound. Phat let me know that I would be working alongside the homey Nu Jerzey Devil before his trip back to New Jersey later on in the day. Jerz was in the house smoking, so I went in to say whatup. We observed that organization and order were real important within the place. It spoke metaphorically to us; everybody on a team had to contribute their fair share to make the operation work. I went back into the studio, dubbed ‘the Merlot Lounge,’ to start constructing the first beat, and NJD came in shortly after. By now, there was a crowd gathering in the studio spot vibing to the track. NJD and I brainstormed while I manned the keys and MPC. In less than half an hour, we had a d-boy anthem, complete with 808 kicks and snares, cellos, bells, and synths. I dumped the beat into ProTools, while Jerz took the time to re-eq certain instruments. Before we finished, Nu Jerzey Devil came up with an idea for the hook. “Let’s sample that Gorilla Zoe shit,” he said to me, then proceeded to rap it, “And I don’t need a scale for the work…” I was with it, but before we could load the acapella, Phat let us know it was time for Jerz to get to LAX.
Phat Rat, NJD and I hopped into the whip while Paolo and Shane stayed back at the Kompound. Phat let me know that we had to go to Santa Monica, where Baron’s company, Verso Entertainment, was based. It took us a while to get there; I still had to get accustomed to Cali traffic. We pulled up to a building, where it seemed like a fleet of Priuses were parked outside. Phat waited outside while NJD and I went inside. We went upstairs to the second floor, and walked into the office. The walls of the office were lined with countless souvenirs and accolades alike: a collage of sorts documenting BD’s trip to China, a certificate of recognition from the mayor for Baron’s non-profit organization Rising Stars of America, movie posters and memorabilia from Verso’s films, and Baron paraphernalia. We were greeted by Chad, Baron’s business associate and close friend. We discussed what Paolo and I intended to do out here, and what we could do together; before I knew it, it was time to bounce out, since Phat and I still had to drop NJD at the airport. When I got into the car, somebody walked up from down the street, then leaned into the passenger window. “Whatup bro? Oh, whatup, baby boy?!” It was Baron. I was surprised to see him, since his Li-Ning shoe launch was happening the proceeding week, Verso was taking off after Crips & Bloods: Made In America, and, obviously, he had the next season approaching. We made tentative plans to link up; by then, we definitely had to smash out to LAX to drop NJD off.
Afterwards, speaking to Phat Rat gave me the insight into the game that I had been looking for. While we dipped through the traffic between LAX and the Valley, Phat put me on to his background starting with Rodney “Darkchild” Jerkins, then through his hustle and evolution in the Bay, which eventually led to his involvement in the careers of The Game and Ya Boy. Phat was considered a paternal figure by the younger homies, who would aptly call him “Uncle Phat.” He broke down some of the politics of the industry, and I got his opinion regarding the direction of hip-hop in the music industry, as well as where the sound of hip-hop was going. He even put me onto one of the heralded, unreleased Game/Dr. Dre collaborations ‘for consideration’ on the R.E.D. album; on it, Chuck proudly declares his realignment with Aftermath on the hook over signature Dre keys and drums. We were in traffic for a while, but by the time we got back to the Kompound, I was ready to get going on the beats. I spent the next couple days crafting what would ultimately become the soundtrack of our trip.
The next day, it was time for us to meet Skeme. Baron had been telling me about him for a while, lauding Skeme as the next big thing out of Cali. Around 9pm, Skeme came through with Wayne, who he introduced to us like his brother. Paolo and I definitely gelled with them; Skeme could spit fire, and he was mature beyond his 20 years. Skeme was humble, and showed an incredible work ethic. We vibed out and knocked out two joints, one from a beat I made the night before, and another we made on the spot: “I’m Up” and “Vibe With Me.” “I’m Up” was over the first beat I made after getting back to the Kompound with Phat, while “Vibe With Me” was inspired by a mix of Skeme’s 16s, Paolo’s suggestion and the Malcolm X poster hanging in the corner of the Merlot Lounge. We all were blown away at what we had done in several hours; before Skeme and Wayne dipped out, Skeme let us know he was having a show at the Roxy in Hollywood the next day, and Paolo and I had to be there.
The show at the Roxy was and wasn’t what I expected. I mean, this was the Roxy in Hollywood. Skeme rocked the crowd that was there for him, Kendrick Lamar, and Pac Div. This was the first time Paolo and I watched him perform; we could feel the confidence and demeanor onstage that, again, was beyond his years. Paolo and I have footage of the show that will be up on Skeme’s viral channel soon. Although we were so far away from home, we felt in our element, and Hollywood had a feeling that wasn’t too far off from home, Hollywood North. I think that feeling was what took me aback throughout the trip; The Roxy has the feeling of what Richard’s on Richards used to be for Vancouver.
The next day was a slow day, spent mainly at the Kompound. I made beats while Paolo experimented with his camera work. In the afternoon, Phat dipped by the spot with an unexpected visitor: Paul Pierce. Paul was there briefly to say whatup and to see what we had going on in the studio, but had to take off shortly after. Completely random.
The next couple days had me going; the energy of the music we made was through the roof. We worked on 5 joints with Skeme, and vibed out to more. Several days after linking up with Skeme, we laid down a track with the homey Term aka ‘El Jefe’ over the joint NJD and I did.
The homey Shade Sheist also came through to show some Cali love a couple days later. He had been in Vancouver a couple years ago, and I ended up making several songs for his ‘Movin’ Units’ album. I came up with a funky groove while Shade laid down a verse. It was good to catch up with him. That night, we got picked up around 11pm to go up to Arcadia where Paolo’s friend lived. He had moved down to California to take a job at Disney, where he worked as an animator. As well, he’s responsible for the character design of the Vancouver-based children’s TV show Atomic Betty. We crashed at his crib for the night and brainstormed a typhoon. Be on the lookout for possibly some incredible visuals for Chronico in the future!
I think Term was down with the sound; a couple days later, Term dipped through with a couple of the homies: N.O. Capo, Five, and his lil bro. N.O. Capo has been doing his thing with his rapping for the past few years, and his cosigns in the game are from some of the best, including Young Money, OG producer Mike Dean, Dipset, and BD’s camp. We spent the majority of the session vibing, while everyone took turns getting fades by another homey who was the barber. Five was a close homey of Capo’s who wanted to make good, so he had been there since day one. Although their visibility on the Internet is being revamped, their presence within their hoods spread as effectively as viral campaigns. It goes to show that even with the constant evolution of the Internet, grassroots groundwork can still work some wonderss.
It was easy to transition into the Cali work ethic. When it’s time to go, it’s time to go. Verses get knocked out in 15-20 minutes, and it’s several clean takes of the main, sometimes with doubles, always with backups and ads. Beats gotta come quick, and if it isn’t hot in 5 minutes, it’s on to the next one. When it’s downtime though, things are as chill as you would have Cali to be.
The days leading up to Saturday the 14th had us involved with Verso’s background affairs, as they worked towards the shoe launch. From speaking to Chad, I could see they could see the other side of the metaphorical hill a burgeoning company trying to make good had already climbed. Paolo and I aided in the final touches of Baron’s shoe promo video for all in-store broadcasts in Champs Sports stores. All the homies would come through every other day to put some work in at the Merlot Lounge and hang.
August 14: Launch Day
Things were bustling around the camp more than usual. Everybody was preparing for Baron’s shoe launch with Champs Sports at the South Bay Galleria. Chad, Phat, and the rest of the team were up by 6am prepping the day’s promo activities, making sure everything was straight at the store, promoting the meet-and-greet, and taking the Doom Mobile promo truck around town. We were to meet up with Team BD at the mall. I’ve always respected big bro’s humble hustle, and today marked an important day in his work’s evolution. His full line of Li-Ning BD Dooms were ready to be launched in the States.
We left the Kompound around 1pm for Glendale to Game’s crib with Paolo, Shane, and Rio. When we got there, one of the homies was getting tatted up by the BWS in-house tattoo artist in the aptly named Game Room. He would come over every weekend to ink up any of the BWS boys who needed work done by the bar. Rio wanted to touch up the star on his BWS logo on his hand, to make the red pop out more, but had to wait for the other homey to finish getting a rose of Benjamin petals.
We got to the Galleria around 5pm. BD was to have a whole presentation in the parking lot, but by the time we got there, everything had moved into the mall where he was having an autograph session. Phat Rat met us outside then took us inside. Walking through the mall, we saw numerous shoppers with Champs plastic bags walking out all excited. Going up the escalator, we could already see a line of people, leading to Champs. Paolo, Phat, Shane, Rio, and I walked directly into the store, where a mini-mob was by the store display windows where Baron was campaigning with his shoes and Champs employee jersey on. Skeme was in the corner getting interviewed while Wayne and Skeme’s DJ Goofy were posted up. On the TVs in the store, sure enough, was the video with Baron’s trip to China, synced by Paolo, with my edit of Skeme’s “Never Change” playing along. Two tables of Li-Ning merchandise accompanied the row of Li-Ning shoes on display. We hung around until everything started dying down; Baron came by to say whatup to us, and although he’d been doing this since the morning, he still embraced everything that was happening. When we headed back down to the parking lot, we convened at the parking lot in front of the Doom Mobile truck. There, all his merchandise including his cartoon action figure were on prominent display. You could tell people in Cali loved Baron. Although the Lakers had won the championship, passersby would unanimously give it up for BD.
The last couple days, we were road dogs with Skeme and Wayne. First, we took an exodus to ‘chill’ in the Palm Desert, where we endured 40 degree raw heat to mesh out. It was decided that after his upcoming opus Pistols & Palm Trees, the next project would be done in Vancouver, with the tracks we had completed. To show solidarity in the Canadian connection, he also entrusted me with two joints he did with Boi 1da to be completed, mixed and mastered. Before we left for the Inland Empire, Skeme and Wayne brought us into their world, down Crenshaw in Inglewood to Normandie in South Central. It was a glimpse into another world, one that the majority of Canada has only heard and seen through the media.
It was amazing to be down there in the thick of things. As Phat Rat put it, we were fortunate to be ‘integrated into the system’. For 2 weeks, they took P and I into the fam, making sure we were good while we were out there. To me, Baron exemplified things that made good: the pursuit of ambitions, success, a sense of camaraderie and family with a tight circle of peoples, and consistent contributions back into his community. This wasn’t it though. As we took off from the Kompound in a rental, we had no idea what was in store with us the following week. Stay tuned for part 2 as I finally get situated with my boys the G-Hoodfellas. I finally spoke to Gotti about the group’s affairs, mobbed through backstage at Rock The Bells, partied in Hollywood at Killah Priest’s birthday, made some more good music, and ultimately wrapped up our affairs to bring some opportunities back home.