Hello Underground Dwellers…..Back in the day, I worked with this incredibly talented musician as Director/Choreographer for his stage show & music video produced by Dr. Dre & Eazy E. JimmyZ will be coming to The Underground Experience Very Soon :O))
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CONFESSIONS OF A GLORIFIED SIDEMAN!
“I swear I’ll write more tomorrowâ€¦” Jimmy Z
Sep 17 2011
NWA â€” Straight Outta Comptonâ€¦ then Torrance & Westlake
Posted by Jimmy Z and the ZTribe in Legends, Recording
Tags: China Club, Compton, Death Row Records, DJ Yella, Donovan the Dirt Biker, Dr Dre., Eazy E, Eddie Baytos, EFIL4ZAGGIN, Fuck Tha Police, Fuck Tha Police World Tour, Funky Flute, Gary Ballen, Ice Cube, Jerry Heller, Jimmy Z, Jimmy Z and the Soul Lips, MC Ren, Muzical Madness, NIGGAZ4LIFE, NigÂgas With AttiÂtude, NWA, Ruthless Records, Ruthless: A Memoir, Suge Knight, The Chronic
In 1989 I was playÂing with my band Jimmy Z and the Soul Lips at the China Club in HolÂlyÂwood to a packed house when my manÂager Gary Ballen came up to the stage and told me Dr.Dre and Eazy E were in the house. NWA had just exploded not only just on the burÂgeonÂing Gansta Rap scene but nationÂwide with Fuck Tha Police.
Gary had been their tour manÂager on their record setÂting Fuck Tha Police World Tour (just imagÂine what that gig was like â€” LOL). Gary was also a VP of Easy Eâ€™s record comÂpany RuthÂless Recordsâ€¦ and whiteâ€¦ and JewÂish. I used to say, â€œhey you fuck!! and â€œmuthaÂfuckÂaaaaa!!!!!â€ in my act back thenâ€¦ a lot (still do). So they come back stage and the first thing Dr Dre says to me is â€œman, itâ€™s not mothÂerÂfucker! Its muthaÂfucka!!!â€ So I say â€œI know that mutha fucka!!!! Thatâ€™s what Iâ€™m sayÂing muthaÂfucka!!!!â€ We had a good laugh and a lot drinks and hit it off pretty wellâ€¦
Late Night RenÂdezvous with Dre and Eazy E
A week or so after weâ€™d met Iâ€™d given Gary a demo tape of a couÂple of songs I thought were rap. Livinâ€™ Life A to Z and The ComÂpany You Keep. I had totally immersed myself in NWA records and any other rap shit I could get my hands on. I was tryinâ€™ to be dopeâ€¦ not a dopeâ€¦ or on dopeâ€¦ but dope. Which now every white kid in AmerÂica or the world for that matÂter knows means, â€œitâ€™s cool.â€ Well, now you know the reaÂson reaÂson Dre raps on my album and I donâ€™t.
I was only ten years older than Dre and Eazy and from early on in my career I had hung with a lot of brothÂers playÂing in dives not far from the shit everyÂbody thought was so funny in the movie The Blues BrothÂers but for REALZ with some BadÂdaassss muthaÂfuckas with all the slang and jive that comes with the terÂriÂtory. But with these guys it was a â€œwhole â€˜nother uniÂverseâ€ of shit Iâ€™d never heard.
So Gary calls and says Dre and Eazy liked the demo and they want to meet that night out in WestÂlake VilÂlage. Now if youâ€™re not familÂiar with the Los AngeÂles city proper, WestÂlake VilÂlage is way out west on the 101 FreeÂway past the San FerÂnando ValÂley, past ThouÂsand Oaks and just about as far outta CompÂton on so many scales, as it gets. Weâ€™re talkinâ€™ one of the last basÂtions of upper midÂdle class CauÂcasian World. I rememÂber Dreâ€™s white neighÂbors sent their litÂtle daughÂters over once, they couldnâ€™t have been over nine years old, to ask us if we could turn the music down. What a chicken shit mutha fuckaâ€¦ sendÂing his litÂtle girls over.
Gary and I first went to his cousinâ€™s house in WestÂlake VilÂlage. Garyâ€™s cousin is the infaÂmous Jerry Heller, manÂager at the time of NWA and PresÂiÂdent of RuthÂless Records and the first thing he does is show me his gun. Keep in mind Jerry and Gary are both white and JewÂish. I often comÂmented to Jerry Heller how amusÂing I thought the teamÂing up of one the most notoÂriÂous â€œGansta Rap Bandsâ€ in hisÂtory and one of the most notoÂriÂously ruthÂless JewÂish bookÂing agents in showÂbiz and Jerry would shrug and say, â€œItâ€™s not so far fetched. We are two of the most abused and trod upon peoÂples in hisÂtory.â€ Hard to argue with that, espeÂcially when heâ€™s holdÂing a gun on meâ€¦ You can read all about what Jerry thinks of things in his autoÂbiÂogÂraÂphy â€“ RuthÂless: A MemÂoir.
WritÂing songs with Dr. Dre
We set a day to meet at Dreâ€™s house in WestÂlake VilÂlage. I show up and no one is home. I sit in my car an hour and finally he rolls up in a brand new Corvette with a shit eatinâ€™ grin.
He jumps out of the car and sprintÂing to his front door he waves me to come in. ApparÂently, he was under some kind of court ordered house arrest with some kind of elecÂtric bracelet around his ankle. Dre was tryÂing to beat the clock and if he didnâ€™tâ€¦ well LA County here we comeâ€¦
We go up to his stuÂdio and I set up all my shit, saxes, flutes, harps and amps and heâ€¦looks them over and says, â€œHow â€˜bout the flute?â€ Iâ€™m like, â€œokâ€ but really itâ€™s the one wind instruÂment Iâ€™m really not that proÂfiÂcient on. That day we wrote The Funky Flute. Dre raps on it and I sing andâ€¦ drum rollâ€¦ play flute!! Pure genius.
I think Dre says my name 50 times in the song. ApoloÂgies for the video qualÂity, but itâ€™s all weâ€™ve gotâ€¦ It was a fun shoot â€” LOL.
The next song we wrote came about from my answerÂing machine at home. Iâ€™d just sepÂaÂrated from my first wife and was wastÂing no time getÂting back on the scene with the women. Every time Iâ€™d get some crazy mesÂsage from a girl Iâ€™d call Dre and say â€œHey, I got another oneâ€¦check it out.â€ Weâ€™d laugh and then finally after the 20th one he says â€œbring those mesÂsages to the stuÂdio and weâ€™ll make a song with â€˜em.â€ Hence the next song Phone Sexxx. When you lisÂten to that song please keep in mind every one of those mesÂsages is real from my old style mini tape answerÂing machine. You canÂnot make that shit up. LOL What I dig about the song is the rhythm and melody of the verses Dre wrote for the black girls to sing. It really is a very sophisÂtiÂcated piece of writÂing. Now the lyrics were another story. The girls sing this:
Call me when you need someÂone for satÂisÂfacÂtion
When youâ€™re all alone just reach for your phone
You got the numÂber, off the bathÂroom wall
Do yourÂself a favor, give Jimmy Z a call
And then I come in with a deep, Barry White type voice saying
For Phone Sexx, babyâ€¦ Yeah, just reach out and touch.
Let your finÂgers do the walkinâ€™.
Pure cheese. But it was sooooo damn funny at the time.
We were falling down laughÂing with tears in our eyes, crackÂing up too. But after a while Iâ€™m really getÂting sick of hearÂing my name in these songs. I swear my name was litÂerÂally said close to 50 times in two songs. I brought it to Dreâ€™s attenÂtion one day as diploÂmatÂiÂcally as I could and he just barely gave me a sideÂways look from the recordÂing conÂsule and as he went back to mixÂing a track said, â€œShut the fuck up, youâ€™re gonna be famous & richâ€¦ and you gonna be fuckÂing ApolÂloÂnia!â€
I sighed and just stared at the wall. I really just wanted to make a funk, R&B, Blues type record. Who was I to argue? He wasnâ€™t the houseÂhold name yet at the time that weâ€™ve come to know now doing Dr. PepÂper comÂmerÂcials and stuff like that, but he was a very sucÂcessÂful proÂducer with NumÂber One records on the charts as we were workÂing on my album. And we still hadnâ€™t got signed to a record deal yetâ€¦ sooooooâ€¦ I shut the fuck up and had fun and worked daily for over two years with one of the most talÂented catâ€™s Iâ€™ve ever worked with.
Eazy E was one crazy muthaÂfuckaâ€¦ and funny too. One day I had just pulled into the RuthÂless Records parkÂing lot and saw Eazy standÂing next to a brand new beamer, a 750i with all the trimÂmings. It was just one of his 20 or so cars.
He calls me over and asks me if I could get down to the recordÂing stuÂdio Audio AchieveÂments in TorÂrance to record some flute and sax on an NWA album they were workÂing on that evenÂtuÂally became EFIL4ZAGGIN or backÂwards NIGGAZ4LIFE. Of course I said sure and he pops open the trunk and the smell just about knocked me over. He must have had at least a kilo of chronic in a big bag in the trunk and he grabs a big handÂful and says â€˜ya want someâ€¦?â€ I was wonÂderÂing if this was supÂposed to be the payÂment but I just took it and said â€œThanks, broâ€ and figÂured Iâ€™d work it out with Gary and Jerry later.
When I get to the stuÂdio the first thing I see is this big white biker lookÂing dude behind the desk who turns out to be the stuÂdio owner DonoÂvan the Dirt Biker. I introÂduce myself and he says that I would have to check in my piece (gun) at the desk before I can come in. I say all Iâ€™m packinâ€™ today is a tenor sax, flute and some harpsâ€¦ I thought he was going to frisk me. You would have been amazed at the arseÂnal behind that desk some days and nights. After becomÂing part of the crew and seeÂing what went on in that stuÂdio in the ensuÂing months I underÂstood the wisÂdom of this rule
Soon to be an interÂnaÂtionÂally known thug and bad boy record exec, Suge Knight started hangÂing around durÂing the makÂing of my record. One night he comes bargÂing in our sesÂsion laughÂing about a drive by shootÂing heâ€™d â€œjust doneâ€ on the 405 FreeÂway on the way to the stuÂdio. As I came walkÂing out of the main recordÂing room into the conÂtrol room he shot me one of those looks that can kill and said, â€œSup, Jimmy Z??â€ My stanÂdard reply was â€œIâ€™m cool.â€ Thatâ€™s about all we ever said to each other. I really didnâ€™t want to hear too much of what Suge had to say or else I might find myself in courtâ€¦ or worse!
I had a funny run in with Suge one night right after Dreâ€™s The Chronic had hit big, sellÂing milÂlions. I supÂpose it was around 1992 or â€˜93. I had just got done doing a gig with Gary Ballen, where I got paid in tips. A lot of tips. One of the funÂniÂest, fun gigs Iâ€™ve ever had. Garyâ€™s Fuck That Song schtick is priceÂless. AnyÂway, Iâ€™m at Jerryâ€™s Deli in the ValÂley and my pockÂets are bulging with small bills so I have the bright idea to count the money near the pubÂlic phones (rememÂber those? LOL) and bathÂrooms. I had seen this tricked out, styling, pickup truck pull in the parkÂing lot when I walked in with a brother driÂving but didnâ€™t pay it no mind. As Iâ€™m countÂing all these one dolÂlar bills I see these big brutha walkÂing towards me and I got money falling out my hands and pockÂets. I try to stuff all the shit away when I hear Sugeâ€™s high voice, â€œ Is that you, Jimmy Z? I thought it was you outÂside. How ya do doinâ€™ bro? You was always cool Jimmy Z. You take care, man.â€ I said everyÂthing was cool and then he walks in the restroom. I was stunned. I had never seen Suge so corÂdial. I guess I caught him in a good mood. I couldnâ€™t help but think here I am countÂing small change and there goes Suge driÂving a new car and livÂing large off Dr. Dreâ€™s talÂent. Oh well. Thatâ€™s showbiz.
A typÂiÂcal proÂducÂtion meetÂing at RuthÂless Records
All in all things were going fairly smoothly on my record MuzÂiÂcal MadÂness, if you can imagÂine livÂing in the world of the â€œWorlds Biggest Gansta Rap Groupâ€ could be. There was some defÂiÂnite tenÂsion in the air though. Ice Cube had just left the group accusÂing Eazy E of takÂing too much of a cut and other comÂplaints. The harassÂment of the group by the FBI and other LA police agenÂcies was no joke either.
I rememÂber being with Gary Ballen numerÂous times when Eazy would call and say â€œâ€¦theyâ€™re pulling me over right now and I ainâ€™t done nothÂing, man!!!â€ The cops were always pulling him over and I am still amazed how he never got busted with a stash in the trunk.
Dre was getÂting a litÂtle bit annoyed at Eazy E for the deal he was getÂting for proÂducÂing RuthÂless acts and with Suge talkÂing in his ear every night to start Death Row Records. And MC Ren and DJ Yella were tryÂing to get their licks in with solo projects, so the pot was simÂmerÂing. Not to menÂtion the racial cliÂmate was heatÂing up in Los AngeÂles just a bit with the RodÂney King beatÂing and video.
So one would think with all this shit going on, that the last thing that would be on the minds of the two most powÂerÂful NigÂgas With AttiÂtude would be the song list for the album of their new honky senÂsaÂtion. But it was.â€¦
One day in the stuÂdio, after sufÂfiÂcient quanÂtiÂties of Gin and Juice, they started arguÂing about a Prince song Crazy You Iâ€™d recorded and whether or not it should be on my album. Soon it was a wrestling match and then escaÂlated to an all out brawl with furÂniÂture flyÂing. InfaÂmous Zydeco piano man Eddie BayÂtos was in the stuÂdio that day and had the misÂforÂtune of walkÂing in when a piece of furÂniÂture whizzed by his head. He gave me a WTF look and I shrugged and said, â€œItâ€™s okâ€¦just an ExecÂuÂtive ProÂducÂtion MeetÂing.â€
Iâ€™ve never really talked too much about it pubÂlicly, but I caught a lot of shit from my peers for fallinâ€™ in with NWA back in the late 80â€™s. Iâ€™d been playÂing the blues from the first time I ever played music and was lucky enough to fall in with blues disÂciÂples like Rod StewÂart and tour the world. It was Rod who first unleashed me on the world and let me blow my brains out in front of them and I will be eterÂnally grateÂful. PlayÂing black music to millions.
PeoÂple forÂget how much rap was hated back then and still is in some cirÂcles. And now these same rock nâ€™ roll musiÂcians in my genÂerÂaÂtion who came from black blues music back in the 60â€™s were punkinâ€™ me off for hookinâ€™ up with what could be thought of as the next natÂural proÂgresÂsion. It felt like I was floatÂing away from them.
I came from the world of blues playinâ€™ and openÂing shows for the likes of Muddy Waters, Albert King, James CotÂton, and Willie Dixon. And all the blues cats influÂenced a genÂerÂaÂtion of white kids includÂing the likes of Eric ClapÂton, Mick JagÂger, Keith and all the rest and me included on how we played, dressed, picked up women and everyÂthing else.
I believe Rap is like the modÂern day blues and the influÂence on white kids, black kids, hell all kids in the world is undeÂniÂable. I was lucky to be in the trenches with the likes of Eazy E, Dr.Dre, Ice Cube, MC Ren and DJ Yella and witÂness their dedÂiÂcaÂtion and genius and watched them litÂerÂally change the world. Look at how kids dress to this day in baggy low hanginâ€™ clothes. That was NWA. LisÂten to the beats. Thatâ€™s Dre.
And when Iâ€™d tell my bros I was playÂing with NWA and signed a record deal with them they thought I was a sellÂout, an assÂhole and much worse. It was so strange, because it all sounded so familÂiar to what we used to hear from our parÂents and older peoÂple when we were kids lisÂtenÂing to the Stones, Elvis, Bob Dylan and BeaÂtÂles and so on in the 50â€™s and 60â€™s.
Rap is so huge today. Itâ€™s influÂence is everyÂwhere from comÂmerÂcials sellinâ€™ soap to tamÂpons and the newest cars from the largest car makÂers, to the clothes all the kids weâ€¦ And sells the most CDâ€™s.
And white kids are still eatinâ€™ it up along with the rest of them, like we ate up the blues a couÂple of genÂerÂaÂtions before and there ainâ€™t nothinâ€™ the parÂents can do about it.
There is another long story about why MuzÂiÂcal MadÂness never got the release and expoÂsure it deserved that, but you can buy it today used on AmaÂzon and see for yourÂself what the world missed……
And Iâ€™m out.â€¦ as Eazy E used to say.