Since I’m on vacation I thought I’d reach into the vaults and re-release an interview with Candyman that I did for Raptalk back in 2007. We discuss the original NWA album cover that he’s featured on, his infamous “Knockin’ Boots” song, and some other West Coast rap history facts. Check it out!
Interview by Tim Sanchez
Let’s just take it back from the beginning. Way before the “Knockin Boots” song got national airplay. A lot of people don’t know that you were on the cover of the original NWA album, “NWA and The Posse.” That’s you right there on the front, right?
(laughs) Yeah! Back in those days we were the “Swap-meet Kings.” Everybody that had records out went straight to the swap-meets.
Was that The Roadium swap-meet?
Aw man, The Roadium, Slauson, and anywhere in Inglewood and Compton – all of the swap-meets. That was our avenue in California. Those were the avenues in L.A. where we had an independent movement going. I had put out an independent record at that time too and I was working with a guy named Fila Al that Dr. Dre had introduced me to. Dr. Dre and I were working on a 3 song demo at the time. I was one of the artists that he was going to be working with and that’s how I ended up on that cover.
So, did everybody just call each other up to just meet up and take photos for that cover?
Exactly. It was kind of top secret, the whole NWA project, they kept it under wraps really well. They knew that they were on to something big. They knew that they had a concept that we didn’t know anything about, even the people that was working with Dre and people around Eazy. He (Eazy) wasn’t letting everybody know what it was until the time that he was ready to go with it.
A lot of dudes in that cover were wearing those big ol’ Flavor Flav clocks (laughs). Where was your clock bro?
(laughs) That was them! They was on to Flav. I was the only cat drinking the brew. Everybody else was perpetrating (laughs). Nobody was drinking up there but me. Let me rephrase that. Me and Krazy D, the Mexican.
That’s who that is? A lot of people have been asking over the years who the light-skinned dude is. Some have even referred to him as the “white boy.”
Nah, he’s Mexican. Shouts out to the Latinos out there and my homeboy Krazy D. Wassup, baby boy?
It’s a landmark cover first of all. You don’t see the khaki’s or anything like that. You just kind of see everybody in jeans.
Let me tell you something about that cover man. Number 1, that was a “real” cover. That was an honest cover with no perpetrating. You saw how Cube looked. You saw how Dre looked. Everybody was being who they really were. It wasn’t fabricated. It wasn’t an image. I had the lines cut in my hair. Everybody was being themselves, being true to who they were. That cover means a lot to me. I was right in the middle. There were times in the swap-meets that people thought that “I” was Eazy E because I was right there in the middle of the picture.
My name is tagged up behind me on the wall. Everybody hit their names up. Everybody had their own personality and I think that it was the most honest cover ever. You saw later on where some people became something else, but right there, that was honest.
That’s crazy man. We’ll go back to those thoughts because I do want to ask you about that whole era since you came up through it. Back to you though. Did you always go by the name Candyman?
Yeah, my name was tagged up on that wall back then (the NWA cover). If you look closely on that wall, you will see my name tagged. But yeah, Candyman has been my name from day one. I had a record out independently at that time. As a matter of fact, “Knockin Boots” was made around that time in 1987.
No shit? You just never put it out there at that time or what?
It was out there like that! It was competing with their (NWA) record at the same time. That record lasted 3 years before I got a major deal. Like I said, I was the swap-meet king. The Koreans and everybody in there they knew me because I would come in there, play my song and sell off a box of cassettes and LP’s. They would push play on “Knockin’ Boots” and it would sell out. Yeah, Knockin Boots was made in 1987, contrary to what people think, but I got my major deal with Sony in 1990.
Wow! I didn’t know that. The first time I had heard it was straight on the radio. One would think that you had just made it and released it at that time.
I am celebrating the 20th anniversary of “Knockin Boots” right now and it hasn’t really left the airwaves or the streets.
So you had signed to Sony?
Yes, Epic Records/Sony. A gentleman by the name of Ken signed me. He’s doing big things I heard. Congratulations Ken! I heard that he’s over at Justin Timberlake’s label now. A lot of situations came out of people that I dealt with. Johnny J was a high school classmate of mine – I put him on. He later went on to produce 2Pac. I am proud of the people that are doing big things in the game that I had a little affiliation with. Everybody’s good! From Dre of course, Cube, all of the cats I know from those days. It’s real cool to see everybody doing their thing.
So let’s talk about that song! It’s got the catchy beat with the little tick-tock “knock” on it. I remember back when it came out you couldn’t find a car that wasn’t bumpin’ it. It was just one of those crazy-fun-addictive rap songs.
It’s crazy that you said that and you mention that part of the song. What’s so ill about it is in 1987 when I released that song, that’s called the clause by the way, that’s the drums, the sound that you are hearing. In that time when I released the record, it wasn’t on the radio like that, so my whole joy was hearing that beat from cars even with their windows rolled up! If a car rolls by you can hear the 808 and the clause (mimics the ticking beat). I knew my song, and that to me was the greatest joy knowing that’s “me” playing right there with no radio play (at that time).
Who made that beat?
That was myself and Johnny J. We produced that record together. That was definitely a landmark in both of our careers.
Which one of you guys came up with the idea to use the Rose Royce part, the “Ooh boy, I love you so, never ever ever gonna let you go.”
Honestly, I would have to say it was a mutual thing. I give props to Slick Rick and Doug E. Fresh when they came with the “Taste of Honey” thing in La-Di-Da-Di. What was that? Sukiyaki. That was one of my claims to fame in high school. You don’t understand the cats that I went to high school with. I could give you a role call real quick.
Could you please?
I was one of the guys in the forefront rapping at George Washington High School. Yo-Yo went there. W.C. went there. This was all at the same time. Sir Jinx, Johnny J, Paperboy, Deadly Threat a.k.a. Threat, it was crazy! Everybody that went there ended up getting their shine.
Damn, that’s a good cornerstone of the West Coast. A lot of you guys right there brought the West Coast to a good amount of rap fans worldwide.
That’s the cold thing about it right there. That we all knew that we were going. We all knew that this was our time. The stories from back then are legendary. From Ice T and Dr. Dre coming up there to do music on the school yard quad. It inspired us man, we knew that we were going to do it. Ice Cube came up there and me and him battled. We’ve got crazy stories!
Wait a second? You guys battled? Can you tell us about that?
(laughs) Awwww … I ain’t going to say nothing because me and Cube know. We know what it is. It’s love. I give him props because he just did a radio interview and brought that battle up and that made me feel good. The dude knows where he comes from and hasn’t forgotten his people. I am going to just put it to you this way, I was very nice on mine (laughs). I was a battle rapper so I am going to leave it at that, but Cube is the homie and business-wise you can’t fade him, he’s the business for the West Coast and he’s a legend. That was my thing back then, I was a battle-head.
You have always done fun and positive music. I’ve never heard you talk about murdering anybody or doing this or that. That went against the grain of everything that was growing real popular at that time.
I just hope that there are more people out there like you. Let’s be real! I am not saying this to stroke nobody’s ego but you know what? When you come out and you are a pioneer and you do something that is original, if you go back to 87 and trip off of the way I flipped that Betty Wright sample, cats weren’t doing that. Me going against the grain was intentional! So I give you props for even peeping that out, because I am on the cover with NWA! These are my peers. It was easy to go that lane. I was just like, “Dog, I battled you guys!” We all got our own different styles and flows and I wanted to have my own niche and carve my own lane. So for somebody like you to come back and appreciate it enough to point it out and pin-point what I did? Dog, that’s what you do this for. That right there is what you do this for.
The reason I bring that up is because at that time the West Coast enjoyed so much success. You had the gangster music. Then you had guys like yourself, Tone Loc, and even Young MC doing fun music. Then after a point it just seemed like it all stopped and everything became very hard. We lost that diversity at some point.
What happened is that it just got corny. The reality is that record labels got corny. Let’s call it what it is. These major record labels were real corny. They figured NWA did it and now everybody else is doing it and making some money now, so a lot of carbon copies came. Cats that didn’t have any street credibility, not all of them but a lot of them didn’t and they were just like blatantly biting. So the labels are like, “If Gangsta Rap is selling, that’s what we are going to put out.” They named it “Gangsta Rap.” It just got real corny and it over-shadowed. That’s why people are saying crazy things about the game right now is because it’s so one-dimensional. Everybody wants to be Pac or Biggie. I came out before Pac and Biggie. Biggie gave me props! I met him! Biggie came right up to me and gave me props when him and Craig Mack was out. I remember that like yesterday. When he did that song “One More Chance” that was a Candyman type of song. People were watching the blue-print. You can put that in writing! I heard cats say “Melt in your mouth, not in your hands” on Bad Boy. They were watching! Jermaine Dupri, everybody was watching because they were fans at that time I came out. I am with my own lane. I picked my own lane and that’s what I did with it.
Did the labels ever try to get you to change?
Naw… that’s what they “didn’t” do. They didn’t know what to “do” with me after we had our initial success because I don’t think that they understood the Lowrider movement and the massive audience that I gained from Lowrider Magazine, Bill Walker, Thump Records and all of that. I don’t think they knew how to capitalize because Sony Music was based on the East Coast at that point in time. They had some crazy cats come out of the East and that was their focus. You had Redman, MC Serch and all of these cats. Even MC Serch gave me props back then. He was like, “The dopest thing y’all got is Candyman and y’all don’t know what to do with him!” It’s just crazy man. The game got messed up because of some bad decisions by a lot of executives. It is what it is because it’s coming back to the artists now anyway thanks to the internet and Myspace (laughs). What goes around comes back around. The power is coming back to the artist.
What happened to you after your deal fell through and you stopped putting out records on a regular basis? Where did you go?
I pretty much got disoriented with the game. I was frustrated, young and probably said too much to these labels like, “What are y’all doing?!” I am nervous because my career was on the line. I am wondering what’s going on? They (the label execs) are asking me, “How do we market you?” in these meetings. I am like, “You’ve got to be kidding me?”
(laughs) They are asking you how to do their jobs?
I am like, “How do you ask me a question like that?” (laughs)…. You know? So I am literally going off. When you grow older and you offended someone in the past and you realize that maybe I shouldn’t have done that, but that was youth! You don’t know any better. You are just expressing what is on your heart. How do you ask me something like that? How do we market you? I ain’t no marketing dude at the label! You tell me! You came and got me. I didn’t come looking for you. So after that, I wanted off that label so badly I said all kinds of things to piss them off. I started to look for deals and nobody wanted to pick me up. I was a hot head. I did my thing man… I kind of stayed in the loop a little bit but people didn’t know because there wasn’t a machine behind me. A lot of cats don’t realize that I’ve dropped 4 albums since then. I stayed under the radar not because I wanted to but because I didn’t really know how to be an independent dude and take charge do things that I know how to do now. But it taught me a lot homie. Truthfully, I know more than cats that have been under the machine the whole time. I’ve learned a lot doing all of this, about the power that I have to market myself and to touch my fans. I go out and do shows and do what I do.
I had kids, my family, and just life. I enjoy raising my boys and being a part of their lives. You know? Life! Life happens after all that, after the limelight. People don’t understand, life happens. You’ve got to deal with “real” issues, whatever issues they may be. I am going to try and save some of that for the book and movie man because I think I did a lot more than the average cat, more than some ever do in the course of a lifetime. Hey… I am still standing today.