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Friday, April 23, 2010

Richie Rich's Top 5 Collabs: Rick James, Snoop Dogg, 2Pac, E-40, Too $hort

Posted By on Fri, Apr 23, 2010 at 8:00 AM


Richie Rich's credentials as a Bay Area rap pioneer are surpassed by perhaps only Too $hort. When Rich hit the scene back in the late-'80s as a member of the Oakland-based quintet 415, they scored big with the regional classic "41Fivin." Since then, he's journeyed a career arc that's taken in a spell on the legendary Def Jam record label, a period incarcerated for cocaine possession, a friendship and close working relationship with rap rebel 2Pac, a guest turn on the remix of the Luniz's worldwide anthem "I Got Five On It," and connections with effectively every Bay Area emcee of note.

Now as he gears up to follow the recent release of his Town Bidness mixtape with volumes two and three in the series, we got Rich to list off his top five memorable musical collaborations. True to his status, he was soon reminiscing over buying rap tapes from out of Too $hort's backpack, watching old funk musicians record bare-footed, and lamenting on 2Pac's terrible driving skills...

1. Snoop Dogg (Richie Rich feat. Snoop Dogg "I Fux Wit U")


"After 2Pac got signed to Death Row Records, I was always down in L.A. hanging with 'Pac and I met Snoop with 'Pac on a photo shoot. My first impression of Snoop was that he was real cool, a real laid back dude, and a real old soul for such a young guy. He said that he was influenced by my group 415, and Warren G and Nate Dogg also attested to that: They said that 415 was the reason they started 213 [the group the trio formed before they pursued careers as solo artists].

"I go to a lot of Snoop's shows and whenever he performs in the Bay Area I come out and hang with him. It's been numerous occasions that I've gone into the dressing room and they don't know I'm coming, but he'll be listening to 415. It happened most recently just six months ago, so I definitely believe they're serious about being influenced by me."

2Pac (2Pac feat. Richie Rich "Ratha Be Ya Nigga")

"I met 2Pac through a girl named Theresa that I knew in Berkeley. She wanted me to meet him because he rapped too. She said, 'I know you know everything and everyone around here so I think it would be good for you two to meet.' Theresa hooked us up and, shit, we were homies ever since.

"To me, 2Pac was my little homie who turned into the big homie. He'd ask me advice on different things. He wrote me a letter from prison saying he was thinking about signing to Death Row Records and was asking me what I thought about that. That's actually how I got to know guys like Suge Knight - a lot of stories have been told about Death Row but I ain't have nothing but good times with those guys; it was top notch big ballin'.

"As I said, 'Pac would ask me a lot of questions, but he wasn't good at taking a lot of advice! I think the best piece of advice I gave him was to learn how to drive before attempting to drive! That boy got a brand new Jeep Cherokee and took me for a ride. We didn't make it that far; we went to the store to get some blunts. But his car was parked in an apartment building out in the back and it had a thin driveway and he wasn't a good driver at the time. We drove down that driveway and my side of the car just dragged all the way down the driveway along the fence - the window broke, the mirror broke... So my best advice to 2Pac at that time was maybe he should let me drive!"

E-40 (Richie Rich feat. E-40 "It's On")

"What's my favorite piece of slang from E-40? Damn, 40 got so much good shit! Wow... I actually just Twittered a quote off his new album that I liked. But let me see... It's probably when he refers to being a hustler with money and he calls that 'tycooning'. I like his perspective on that. For a person to be a tycoon you have to be wealthy wealthy wealthy. For him to switch that up and translate the ghetto terminology from a hustler having money into a tycoon, it might be my favorite slang from 40. And yes, he speaks like that in real life when he's not rapping - his speech is full of slang and he talks fast but he speaks real clear and firm, so I definitely know where he's coming from."

Too $hort (Richie Rich feat. Too $hort "Say Bitch")

"Everyone knows the stories about $hort selling his tapes from the trunk of his car. While I never bought tapes that way personally, we did do some hand-to-hand sales like out of his backpack. Back then, $hort was like a god cause he was the only guy from the Bay doing it. The Bay Area isn't like it is now, with two or three hundred people rapping. Back then, $hort was the only guy rapping and putting it on to a tape.

"I remember it was hard to get around $hort in those days. Even though he was performing in a lot of small local places and doing a lot of house parties, it was hard to get around him and get in the studio with him. But now we're real good friends. He's very spontaneous in the studio and always comes up with his ideas for songs real quick. He's a vivid writer. It's always top notch when we hang out."

Rick James (Rick James & Richie Rich "Hard To Get")

"I got to work with Rick James on the How To Be A Player soundtrack album. I was in a studio somewhere down south, at one of DJ Quik's studios. It was me, Quik, Rick James and this guy Danny LeMelle who played the horn on a lot of Slick Rick's records. Rick James was a good dude. I was in awe most of the time I was there because, first, it was Quik, and second, Rick James was a total blow away!

"I noticed that a lot of the old school guys recorded with their shoes off. Rick did that, Danny the horn player did that, and George Clinton did that. I asked George about that once but he was high at the time so I thought he might have been bullshitting me with his answer, so I asked Rick: 'What's with the barefoot thing?' He said, 'What are you talking about?' I said, 'I watched a lot of the O.G's record and they're always barefoot in the studio.' He said the same thing George told me: 'The funk is in the floor. If you got them shoes on and the funk attempts to come up, it ain't gon' get in you cause it's gonna bump into the soul of your shoe and go back down.'

"And you know what? While making new songs in my home studio I took my shoes off a lot! I wasn't barefoot cause I had on socks, but I can just feel a different vibe on a lot of my new songs. The funk might really be in the floor!"

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Phillip Mlynar


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