Crooked of Darkroom Familia
10 April 2008
[ Bay Undaground.com ] : In 2001 you released (among many) the "Men Of Honor" cd. 2002 brought only A.L.G.'s second solo and Young D's debut. Then in 2003 I think there was only Dyno's solo. Comparing to previous market floodings why were you guys so silent in 2002 - 2004?
[ Crooked ] : I wouldn't say that we were silent. The majority of artists out there release one album a year and some of them release only 1 album every few years. We simply released only a few CDs, but we never stopped doing this Darkroom thing. Also, we've been very busy with the movies. We're always working on movies all year long. We're not always filming, but we're always doing something with the movies. We're always writing new scripts and working on pre-production for the latest films or actual production on the latest films. And that takes up a lot of our time. Also, me, Duke, D-Roll, Oso, K.I.D., we're all married and most of us in the group have kids. So family life also takes over. Especially for me, Duke and D-Roll. We're not youngsters in our 20s with no responsibilities anymore. We're in our 30s with wives and kids. Plus the movies that me and Duke make are much bigger than the music, and we love to write, direct and produce films, so that's our main thing. But we still do rap and we hit the studio real hard in 2007 because it became fun again and it still makes money.
[ Bay Undaground.com ] : In 2004 the situation slowly changed as "Return Of The Living Vets" came out. Then "Family Reunion" in 2005 and "Northern Cali's Finest" in 2006. Finally 2007 was one of the best years for Darkroom Familia fans (7 cds dropped). Why did the game change so rapidly?
[ Crooked ] : We were thinking really hard about retiring from rap. We've been doing it for so long. Since we were kids in 1988. And basically rap didn't excite us anymore, the cops and feds were out to get us, we had Darkroom members catching cases and fighting federal racketeering charges and we really didn't need to rap. So it kind of became not worth it anymore. I didn't need the money. We busted our asses hustling like crazy for so many years and we were able to buy houses and get the fuck out of the ghetto a long time ago, and we've got a great career making movies so we didn't really need to keep making music.
[ Bay Undaground.com ] : Can you say a little something about the 2007 DRF flood? I mean basically what fans can expect, is it still the same Darkroom or did you guys experiment with some new sounds?
[ Crooked ] : If you've been following us for years, then you know that I've been producing beats for us for a LONG time now and Duke has always produced for us. So we absolutely have that same sound. We also use different producers too, like Unknown and our homie Blokkmonsta from Hirntot Records in Germany, and our homie Raul Martinez and we also have Dub when we need him. The music sound is gonna change of course because it's not 1988 anymore. Just like it changed from 1988 to 1994 and from 1994 to 1999. You feel me? It's 2008 now. The music sound is gonna change, but it's heart and core stays the same because we've always kept it true. We've always repped Northern California and we've always put it down for the streets 'cause that's where we're from. We're not gonna rap about platinum chains and rims. 'Cause we don't give a fuck about that shit. I don't own a platinum chain, but I own a house. Feel me? That's the difference. Instead of buying bullshit, like chains and cars and rims and champaign and cute clothes like a fuckin' fashion model, I bought a house. You can't live in a chain. A car ain't gonna last you long. But the house I bought with my hard-earned money, that's for life. I was able to leave the fucked up ghetto and buy a house in a good neighborhood so I can raise my son in a good environment. So as far as our sound, some of the music might have changed/upgraded for the times, but as far as the DARKROOM sound, no it's still the same. We still spit the realest shit out there. We still make that raw, dark, underground, street shit that we're known for.
[ Bay Undaground.com ] : Who is in the DRF as for now?
[ Crooked ] : The same as it's been for the last few years now: me, Duke, Oso, D-Roll, K.I.D., Young D, Unknown, Venomous, Young Crayze, Emaculate and Big Dru.
[ Bay Undaground.com ] : You have new members on the team. Unknown and Venomous even released their solos on your label. What about Emaculate and Young Crayze? Do you have equally serious plans with these artists or were they with you only for a while?
[ Crooked ] : We've been slowly and steadily working on Young Crayze's solo. He's taking his time with it so it comes out real nice. Also, he knows he has to build his name up more so that fans know who he is and know his style and sound. Emaculate hasn't approached us about doing a solo. I think he'll do one when he feels he's ready for one. But he also knows he needs to build his name up more. But everyone out there needs to go buy that Unknown "Addicted To The Hustle" and that Venomous "I See Dead People" 'cause those albums are both dope as fuck. And on that note, you should all go buy that K.I.D. "East Bay Raider" and that D-Roll "The Game Don't Love You." Matter of fact, buy yourself two copies and give some game to one of your friends.
[ Bay Undaground.com ] : Yeah, we've got D-Roll back in the rap game. What happened to him? Only the eldest fans can remember him from the early recordings. How did you guys hook up again?
[ Crooked ] : D-Roll, started a family and moved away a few hours from us in the Valley. He went to a technical school. At the time he had to take care of his kids and his family so he had to do what was best for him. He ended up finishing school and moved back to the Bay. Then he contacted me and it's been on ever since. He's an original Darkroom member. He was there when we started Darkroom too. Him and Oso. And as you can see, he's still a beast on the mic. His album "The Game Don't Love You" is tight as fuck too.
[ Bay Undaground.com ] : What is the situation with Sir Dyno? When can the fans expect him to come back. Is there any chance he'd rap again?
[ Crooked ] : He's been in prison since 2004. He's scheduled to be released in 2010. And sorry to say to the fans, but he's retired from rap. By the time he gets out, he'll be close to 40 years old. And he has 5 kids to take care of. He just wants to get out and take care of his family. That's it. But he is no longer in Darkroom. He hasn't been in Darkroom since he got locked up back in 2004.
[ Bay Undaground.com ] : I know that people being the foundation of DRF (ex. you and Duke) are not the same people as in the 90's era as you grew older and learnt many things since then. Are you still interested in rapping, producing etc? Or would you rather look after the label and see how the new generation is growing and also focus on movies?
[ Crooked ] : Me, Duke & Dyno started Darkroom. Oso and D-Roll were there since the beginning. That's the foundation of Darkroom. We've always been here. People who we helped in the mid-'90s, they came and went for a reason. But the foundation is here and has always been here. We helped a lot of people along the way, and we got burned because of it, so we shut the doors on Darkroom except for a few close homies who we've known for years like K.I.D. (he's been homies with Oso since they were kids) and Young D, Unknown and the other homies. But as far as us keeping the label going, honestly, we do it for fun now and as long as it still makes money, we'll keep going. But once we're done, that's it. There will be no more Darkroom. 'Cause once me and Duke don't wanna do it anymore, Oso, D-Roll and K.I.D. and everyone else aren't gonna wanna do it either. But at the same time, we all have our own things going on in our own lives, ya know? Everyone has their own passions in life and mine and Duke's happen to be filmmaking. We'll always do movies no matter what. The movie business has been good to us and we love doing it. But who knows? One week I'll be sick of doing rap and the next week I wanna record 10 albums and film 8 movies.
[ Bay Undaground.com ] : So can we expect some more solos from you or Duke or are you planning to stay in the background right now?
[ Crooked ] : We've always liked staying in the background. We've always liked being behind the scenes. We never wanted any part of the spotlight at all. We don't give a shit about being known or being famous in any way, shape or form. We've always been about making money. Fuck fame, just give me money. Feel me? As far as any solos from me or Duke, well, I don't really know. It all depends on how I feel on a particular day. Like I said, one day I'll feel like writing some lyrics and shitting on fools and the next day, I can't stand rap and I don't wanna do shit except be with my family. Lately, every time I see some shitty music video or read some dumb ass rapper say stupid ignorant shit in interviews, it actually fuels us to keep making music and just shitting on all these weak muthafuckers. So who knows? We've talked about making some solos or possibly a duet album-Duke & Crooked together on one CD. A lot of fans want us to do a duet album and solos, so we'll see. The demand is there and keeps getting bigger, so we just might.
[ Bay Undaground.com ] : Darkroom Familia has been self-sufficient and self-dependent for years. You wrote and recorded your own verses, did your own production, designed the covers and sold units independently. Guest appearances were something uncommon on your projects. Do you have any plans to collaborate with known people (vocals and production wise) from the Bay or would you rather stick to your formula?
[ Crooked ] : We'll collaborate with any dope artists out there that are real and wanna fuck with us. But one thing we won't do and have never done, is pay a fellow artist to collab with us. That's some egomaniac shit to do. So we don't really ask anyone to collab 'cause if some artist told me that I have to pay them, I'd probably tell them to eat my shit. That's just me speaking personally. And unfortunately, that's the problem with rap. No one wants to help anyone. That's why you see the same artists collaborating with each other. There's no unity. No muthafuckers that are at the top wanna do shit with anyone else. That goes for all rap regions. Especially in the Bay. A lot of people talk about "the Bay is back" and "the Bay is united" but it's all bullshit 'cause like I said, there is no unity. We're as divided as ever. Look at when Death Row was running shit, did they reach out to help anyone? No. When they were hollerin' "WEST COAST" and "WEST SIDE" where was the Bay? We've ALWAYS been here. We've ALWAYS made noise, but did any of those artists reach out to the Bay? No. Do you know how fucking HARD that shit would've been if the BAY was alongside those fools? Shit, it would've been some crazy historic unstoppable shit. At least 2Pac tried ya know? He came and put E-40 and C-Bo on his album. The West Coast could've locked the game up and continued to run it to this day, but when fools blow up and say "West Coast" they don't wanna help anyone but themselves and their region. They'll easily steal our slang words and our game and our sound and won't give credit, but they won't even act like Northern California and The Bay Area exist. And that shit pisses me off. No one helped us get to where we've gotten. We did it all ourselves. We've always driven the train so either ride with us or get off the track. Either way, we don't care. We're still doing what we do.
[ Bay Undaground.com ] : What happened to Dub? I think I last saw him on Return Of The Living Vets cd.
[ Crooked ] : Dub is still around. He's one of our best homies. We'll be homeboys for life. He was at my wedding. He's one of the few homies I know that truly has had our back. Darkroom is all about loyalty. We don't like disloyal muthafuckers ya know? As far as rap, Dub doesn't really care about rapping. He never really did. He was always a producer and a homie. He still makes music-production wise, 'cause he's a talented and musical individual. He's a musician and he can play a few instruments. But he does it 'cause he loves it. He's also heavily into bikes (motorcycles) and he's built some custom-Harleys. He rides a lot with his Biker homies. But like I said, we always talk. He's heard all the latest albums and he's always there for us for production. So, hopefully, on some newer albums we'll get some dope Dub-Psychodelik Production. It's just a matter of finding the time since we're both pretty busy.
[ Bay Undaground.com ] : Crooked, do you keep track of how many albums you released? Any approximate number?
[ Crooked ] : We have done easily 100+ albums. We sat down and made a list a while back when it was around 78 albums, but it's been a while. I'll have to sit down and make a list. We've been doing this since 1988 homie. 20 years in this game and still selling.
[ Bay Undaground.com ] : 2008 started with Darkroom Familia re-releasing their hard-to-find and sought after albums. Could you tell us something more about it? What is there more to come apart from Homicide Kings?
[ Crooked ] : We JUST released the classic "Darkroom Familia-Homicide Kings" with 2 NEW tracks. That's something for the fans. A LOT of fans were asking us to release that CD again 'cause it was out-of-print, so we did and it's doing good. And yeah there's more coming. Next up is "Darkroom Familia-Smile Now, Cry Later" CD & DVD combo. We put them together in ONE package. That's also something that has been out-of-print and fans have been asking us for as well. We also have the out-of-print classics "Duke-Kill Them Slowly & Crooked-Violence Solves Everything" together on ONE CD. And a few other things we're gonna re-release and then a bunch of new projects and movies.
[ Bay Undaground.com ] : How do you plan to do put Kill Them Slowly and Violence Solves everything on one cd when those 2 albums combined last more than 80 minutes?
[ Crooked ] : Some of those tracks had really long fade-outs and some of them we let the beat ride-out for a while too. That's one of the reasons they are so long. So we went into the mastering studio and trimmed them a bit. We faded tracks out earlier and made both albums fit onto one CD. But the entire songs are all there. Both albums have been out-of-print for years now and they are considered classics. The fans wanted it, so we're giving it to them.
[ Bay Undaground.com ] : Except for re-releases what are the plans for 2008 and upcoming years?
[ Crooked ] : We've got "DARKROOM FAMILIA-20 YEARS UP IN THIS GAME" 2CD set coming out to celebrate our 20th anniversary, 1988-2008. It's gonna be a 40-track DOUBLE-CD package with 4 Brand New tracks made exclusively for that double-CD release and the cover folds-out into a full-color Darkroom Familia poster. We've got "Darkroom Familia-Collaboz" CD coming out which is some BRAND NEW unreleased tracks and all the very rare and hard-to-find collaborations we've done with other artists on both coasts and also over seas. The majority of the tracks, most people have not heard and some have never been released and some have only been released in Europe. We've done tracks with German artists, like our homeboy Blokkmonsta and his crew from Hirntot Records. We also made tracks for some other German homies. So those tracks were only released in Germany and throughout Europe. The album has all these tracks on ONE CD, so the fans will love it. Trust me. Also, the brand new "Darkroom Familia-20 Years Up In This Game" CD. We also got the NEW "Darkroom Familia Traficantes-Conecta Del Norte" CD coming up as well as a few other projects like the movie and soundtrack for "I GOT FIVE ON IT TOO."
[ Bay Undaground.com ] : How do you find the situation on East Bay rap scene?
[ Crooked ] : As far as the East Bay Latin scene, it's really a Northern Cali scene. It's something that we helped create. Feel me? It feels great to know that we directly and indirectly influenced so many artists to make music and do their thing. So many homies have told us how much we've inspired and influenced them. Like I've said before, we didn't just open the doors for this scene, we kicked the fuckin' door down and laid the foundation, paved the way for Northern Cali Latin rap. Before us there was no one. There was no scene. We made the scene. We came in and forced stores to carry our shit. We created the demand for it. We showed the stores that we could sell and that there's an audience for our shit. And it's great. At the same time, artists like Too $hort helped pave the way for the whole Bay Area and Northern Cali. 'Cause of $hort, he proved that local independent rap can sell. So he made it possible for us, and we made it possible for all the Northern Cali Latin rappers who came after us. When I was talking earlier about rappers not helping each other, I was talking about the super-star rapper muthafuckers. Feel me? But as far as Bay Area/Northern Cali homeboys, we all collaborate. We haven't ALL collaborated together yet, but a lot of us have. That's the difference between Bay Area/Northern Cali homeboys, we all collaborate with each other and make tight music. We haven't experienced any kind of ego shit up here. Feel me? It's all Northern love.
[ Bay Undaground.com ] : And the situation in rap overall?
[ Crooked ] : As far as the current situation in the rap game and my view on the trends, well to me the current situation is pure shit. The music is horrible right now and it's been that way for a while. There's very few artists that are doing anything dope or real. Muthafuckers rappin' about the stupidest shit like their gold or platinum chains and their fuckin' clothes and champaign and going to clubs and their cars and what size their rims were. It's a fuckin' joke. All that wack ass shit is saying nothing. We're truly from the 'hood so we can't relate to all that bullshit. All those pussy ass rappers would get robbed in the 'hood. Seriously. Those muthafuckers would get robbed and stabbed or shot for being in the 'hood wearing their pussy jewelry and fur coats. They would get car-jacked. They would get their champaign bottles broken over their heads. No one in the ghetto walks around wearing platinum jewelry and shit. Muthafuckers in the ghetto are poor. But you got all these bitch ass rappers rappin' like the 'hood is a cool place to be in. Like it's a fuckin' party or some shit. Well I don't know what 'hood these muthafuckers are from, but in Northern Cali 'hoods, there ain't no fuckin' party goin' on. There ain't no Crystal Champaign bottles goin' around. There ain't no fuckin' platinum jewelry anywhere and no one gives a fuck about your rim size. There's just poor people suffering and trying to make enough money to pay the bills while they watch out for the next muthafucker trying to rob their shit. In the 'hood there's robberies, there's rapes, there's murders, there's knife fights, there's gangbangers doing drive-bys, there's drugs being sold and used, there's prostitution and there's cops fuckin' with people. Just suffering. That's it. That's the life we all grew up experiencing and seeing up close. So, when I hear or see pussy ass fake rappers portraying the ghetto like it's fucking fun and good times, it pisses me off. They're glamorizing the 'hood like it's Disneyland. When they should be telling muthafuckers to get out of the ghetto before it's too late. That fuckin' ignorant mentality is why so many muthafuckers STAY in the 'hood for their whole lives instead of working your ass off to get the fuck out.
The other reason why the current state of rap is fucked up is because of all the muthafuckers that are downloading underground/indepdendent artists for free, they are killing music. It's gotten really hard to make new music for everyone especially underground/independent artists like us. Go download some fucking millionaire rap stars, don't download underground/independent rappers like us 'cause you're basically stealing from us. You're taking food out of our kids' mouths. and I tell everyone that downloads for free: You're KILLING underground/independent rap. And I'm being serious. If there's no one to buy and support the rap that underground/independent rappers make, then what's the point in making it? People need to understand that this shit is a job. It's like you going to a regular job working 40-50 hours a week and then coming home with nothing. How do you live? How do you eat? How do you feed your family. Feel me? That's the honest truth. Don't fucking download shit for free. You are truly killing the music that you love to hear. Go to LEGAL download sites for Darkroom Familia music like: iTunes.com, Napster.com, Rhapsody.com, Amazon.com/mp3, emusic.com, ruckusnetwork.com. The albums are high-quality mp3s and you can get single tracks for .99 cents or whole albums for $9.99 and that's cheaper than you can get the CD for at the stores.
[ Bay Undaground.com ] : Quiroz Brothers are also deep in the filming industry. What are you preparing this time?
[ Crooked ] : We JUST finished up "I GOT FIVE ON IT TOO" a sequel to the cult classic "I GOT FIVE ON IT." It's another funny ass weed comedy like the last one, but even better. This one stars television star Todd Bridges (like the first one too) from "Diff'rent Strokes" and "Everybody Hates Chris" and we brought the whole cast back and added some new characters. We're releasing it this year on DVD and we're releasing the soundtrack. We're also working on some scripts that we'll be shooting next, but they're a secret for now. We'll keep people updated on our websites:
[ Bay Undaground.com ] : Why are midgets scary?
[ Crooked ] : I love horror movies and when I was a kid I saw this movie called "Phantasm" in the '70s and it scared the shit out of me. They had these creepy little midgets in that movie and they were scary as fuck. So that shit made me scared of little people. But I kicked it with Wee-Man from "Jackass" and he was cool so I'm not afraid of midgets anymore. Plus I just thought the title was funny, so I used it.
[ Bay Undaground.com ] : If there's anything more you'd like to say, please go ahead. Having so many questions in mind I might have forgot something.
[ Crooked ] : My only last words are that I wish fools would quit making bullshit songs and albums about meaningless bullshit. I don't give a fuck about your fucking gay jewelry, I don't give a fuck about your pussy fur coat, I don't give a fuck if you have rims bigger than an elephant's balls. Save that bullshit for some bitch you're trying to impress. 'Cause NO ONE in the 'hood can relate to that fake shit. If you ain't spittin' real shit that people can relate to or feel, then you shouldn't be making music at all. And to that bitch-made rapper who continues to bite our BAY AREA slang and style and claiming he invented it, get off our nuts muthafucker! Get on your own shit bitch. Your whole gimmick is nothing but a BITE. You fizzle me muthafizzle? And once again, only download Darkroom Familia music LEGALLY please. Support the music that you love. If not, you're only helping to kill it. And MUCH MUCH LOVE to ALL the DARKROOM FAMILIA fans WORLDWIDE for showing us so much love and support for the last 20 years! THANK YOU ALL. And also, much love to the homies at BayUndaground.com for the love and support and for this interview. And to our Polish fans, much love to you all. Thank you for being TRUE fans! Come visit us online at:
And again, you can get DARKROOM FAMILIA music online for LEGAL download PLEASE at:
itunes.COM, www.napster.com, www.rhapsody.com www.amazon.com/mp3, emusic.com, ruckusnetwork.com
The albums are high-quality mp3s and you can get single tracks for .99 cents or whole albums for $9.99 and that's cheaper than you can get the CD for at the stores.