12 January 2009
[ Bay Undaground.com ] : What's up Unknown, tell the people a little about yourself so they know what you're about.
[ Unknown ] : I'm 26 now, from Modesto, Ca. Started rappin and flowin around 98-99. I entered a few rap battles around here locallly and did well. I started producing around 2000 and have been making most of my beats since. I learned how to do graphics after meeting Dyno and watchin him work. I also learned how to record and when Dyno was locked up in 2003 I started building my own studio here in Modesto and founded my label Platinum Dope. I also do tattoo's and acting. I have been in several movies over the years including "The Damned", "I Got 5 On It Too", "Dope Game", "Inside The Darkroom" and "San Franpsycho".
[ Bay Undaground.com ] : How was it growing up in Modesto which is known for its serious gang activity?
[ Unknown ] : It's been pretty crazy living here in Modesto. I have been through a lot of crazy shit but eventually you kind of get used to it tho. I have been beat up, jumped, stabbed and had some dudes do a home invasion and rob me a few years back when my daugter and my mom were there with me. I try to lay low nowadays and focus on my music and tattooing and stay away from trouble. I'm a hustler, I always have been and always will be. I have realised that when you're sucessful in what you do that there is always gonna be people that hate on you, sometimes even your friends. I have lost a lot of them over the years.
[ Bay Undaground.com ] : Where did your name - "Unknown" - come from?
[ Unknown ] : Everybody and their mom always asks me this one! Hopefully this will clear it up. I didn't choose to be called Unknown. If you a real street cat then your name is given to you whether you like it or not! My homies that I first started rappin with back in the days started callin me that and I fuckin hated it at first, but it stuck. Their reasoning behind it was that I kept my rap shit on the dl and not too many people knew that I was spittin. They would hear me on a track and wouldn't beleive that it was me. I'm not the type of dude that goes around braggin about bein a rapper to try and get females and shit. I'd rather people not know who I am! So there you have it.
[ Bay Undaground.com ] : Tell us something about your first project - NCP - any history behind it? How did you hook up with guys from Stack Your Grip Records?
[ Unknown ] : I'm not gonna go into detail about that first project. It did get me recognised by Darkroom and eventually signed but it's something I just wanna forget about! I did a lot of work on that album for nearly 2 years and help build that record label that I was a part of. All I'm gonna say is that I was stabbed in the back and robbed of my share of profits from that album. In a crazy industry like this music shit it happens so it was a learning experience for me.
[ Bay Undaground.com ] : From what I know your ways with Young G split. Can you tell us any details on it? Is it possible for you 2 to come together again?
[ Unknown ] : Another question that I'm not gonna get too much into. I could write a book about Young G but it's not worth my time. We were close friends at one time and he stabbed me in the back in more ways than one! I have no respect for that dude or his label and would never be caught dead on a track or an album with him! Beleive me I'm not the only one that has a problem with this guy. W was once told by somebody that I have much love and respect for that "the best revenge is sucess". Wise words from a wise man, in that sense I have got my revenge and some.
[ Bay Undaground.com ] : You're an owner of Platinum Dope record label. Which projects have you dropped? Who's on the label?
[ Unknown ] : I started Platinum Dope in 2003. We dropped the Unknown & Venomous: "209-illation", the "Nor Cal Factorz" compilation, Venomous: "Machete Mouth Massacre" and the "Brown Area 5" mixtape. I started my label as Darkroom was retiring from doing music. When Duke and Crooked decided to bring Darkroom back and drop the "Family Reunion" album a few years back I decided to put my label to the side and roll with them. I am still a part of Darkoom and always will be, we are like a family. I have a couple of projects I have been workin on and I feel it's time to bring my label back and push these albums. Really as of right now, Platinum Dope consists of me and Venomous mainly and we have been working with Crayze quite a bit also. I'm not trying to involve a bunch of people in this thing, just my fam.
[ Bay Undaground.com ] : Ever since your early days you collaborated with DRF members. How did you hook up?
[ Unknown ] : In 2000 we were working on the NCP album recording tracks in BSRS studios in Stockton, Ca. We had about 4 or 5 tracks completed and we were looking for somebody to do our graphics for the album. We ended up going to Darkroom to have them do our layout. While there, we played our songs that we had been working on at the time. About 2 days later we got a phone call from the Darkroom homies asking us to come back to the studio to talk with them. They offered to sign us and the rest is history!
[ Bay Undaground.com ] : I know that your situation with Darkroom has changed recently. Tell us what happened.
[ Unknown ] : Well it's a looooong story but to keep it short: basically we were never paid for the last 3 albums we did or our solo albums which reached #15 an #13 on the top selling 25. They tried to tell us that we just weren't selling, but at the same time they both bought new cars and were supporting thier lifestyle off music only. I even seen the paperwork on my solo and seen that it was making money with my own eyes! Still didnt get nothing. They kept dropping albums every month too! Now if you're losing money and not selling then why would you keep droppin albums? How did they pay their bills and survive when they have no other income? I know that they made most their money off of movies but when thier movie deal went soulth that's when we just stoped getting paid. I asked for my copies of my solo then since I wasn't getting anything and they wouldn't let me get those either. Why? Because they were selling and couldn't account for them all. We also never got paid for any of our downloads from iTunes or any of the other sites. They also never paid me all the money owed for my acting in "The Damned". On top of that, once it was clear that I was smart to the situation and gonna leave, Crooked attempted to turn everybody against me by starting rumors and putting words in other's mouths that way nobody else would leave with me. I actually made an agreement with Duke not to talk about this whole thing as long as they would stop the rumors and shit talking about me. It didn't stop. Crooked continues to tell fans that he kicked me out of Darkroom because I have no street cred? LOL what a joke. I was a part of Darkroom for over 8 years! Me, Crayze and Venomous all seen the big picture and decided to leave WILLINGLY. It's been 2 years since I didn't get a check for anything and to this day I never received a dime for my solo or Venomous's solo; both in the top selling 15 rap/hip hop albums released at the time! (by City Hall - reminds BayUndaground staff). We never got paid for "Last Vets Standing" or "North Pole" which reached #4 on the top selling list either! Darkroom is already notorious for ripping off their artists.
[ Bay Undaground.com ] : You were collaborating with DRF since 2000 - 2001. Weren't there any problems throughout these years?
[ Unknown ] : Everything seemed to run pretty smooth up until their movie deal went soulth. That's how they feed their families, so I think they didn't know what to do to survive and decided to just start spendin our money to live off of. Honestly I think we were never really gettin all of the money we were supposed to get, even a while back. We always just trusted them to do us right.
[ Bay Undaground.com ] : Do you think that the whole situation wouln be different if Dyno wasn't locked up?
[ Unknown ] : The situation would definitely be different. I was always told that Duke and Crooked were shady from the gate, so I always kept my eyes open. Dyno was a different kind of person and he wasn't shady like that. When he got locked up, Dyno was actually doing his own thing and starting to take a different route. I think he was planning on leaving too. Darkroom is partially Dyno's but he does not receive anything from Duke and Crooked! They actually told all of us no to talk to him anymore or associate with him. That's when I realised how shady these guys really are. Let me just make it clear to everyone right now that I got nothing but love for all the Darkroom members and wish them the best. I only got problems with Crooked and Duke taking food out my kids' mouths!
[ Bay Undaground.com ] : Did Emaculate, Venomous and Young Crayze also leave?
[ Unknown ] : All but Emac. He was my best friend for years until he stabbed me in the back on some personal shit that doesn't relate to music. Since he got no other hookups he continues to network with Darkroom and raps with the guys that are robbing him instead of being his true fam. That's his loss.
[ Bay Undaground.com ] : So what is your plan as far as music is concerned? Are you going to focus on Platinum Dope?
[ Unknown ] : Yep I'm 100% focused om my own label at the moment. I'm proud to say that after a year of negotiating we have signed a new nationwide distribution deal, so you will again be able to find our music in all stores everywhere. We got a couple of albums ready to go and a few more in the works right now. I look at the whole Darkroom ordeal as a learning experience. It was almoast like going to school for the shit. I have learned a lot of shit the hard way and even though I'm out a lot of money that I should have been paid now, I'm ready to do my own thing. All the hard work I did and the name I made for myself and my label is what's taking me to the next level right now. I still remeber Dyno's quote "The best revenge is success". That's one to live by!
[ Bay Undaground.com ] : In 2007 you dropped "Addicted To The Hustle" and another Modesto representative - Venomous - dropped "I See Dead People". I know for sure that fans are still sleeping on these projects. Tell us how these are different from your debut solos? Where can they be bought and what people can basically expect from these releases.
[ Unknown ] : A solo project is difficult for the first time. It's much different from doing group albums with other people and working together. Both of our first solos were good albums, but they were not perfected as much as our second ones. On top of that we have both steped it up a lot in all aspects of the game since then. I spent about 3 years on mine and waited for the right time to drop it. You can find our albums at most stores and order online at www.cdconnection. com or www.rapbay.com. As for what you can expect, nothing but the best! Every song on both albums is slappin from start to finish. Both albums placed high on city halls top 25 rap/hip hop releases for a reason. If you're still sleepin then wake the fuck up! [Laughing]
[ Bay Undaground.com ] : You're working on the second collaboration with Venomous. Tell your fans something more about it. When will it drop, which label, subjects, record label?
[ Unknown ] : The "Thug Money" album is gonna do real well. The first album we did together ("209-illation") sold out quick in 2004 and we never re-pressed it. Still to this day I get hit up by people all the time looking for that cd! Our recording quality and production are 10 times better now than they were then plus we have both really taken our skills to the next level. When me and Venomous get together we feed off each other and come up with some sicc shit every time. We have recorded about 30 or so tracks for this one and will only use about half of them. No radio jams or love songs this album is strictly gangsta shit from 2 people that are livin it! This one is definitely a must have though. I have song samples from the album on my myspace page... www.myspace.com/unknowndrf.
[ Bay Undaground.com ] : What are your future music plans?
[ Unknown ] : We have a lot in the works right now. The "Thug Money" album will be dropping shortly followed by the long awaited "Firebreathers" group album. We have collabs with everybody from Akon, Too Short, R. Kelly to a future collab with Bone, so who knows where we will be at a year from now! I am focusing on radio singles right now and tryin to blow us up on a major level; similar to what Dyno was doing before getting locked up with his "Daddy's Home" single. I also have an RnB artist Big Dru, who is Dyno's cousin and has worked with us in the past coming with some new music as well.
[ Bay Undaground.com ] : Apart from rap you also have a clothing line coming up.
[ Unknown ] : Yes, some of you may know I am also a tattoo artist. I am using my designs to put together a new clothing line called Hustlin Habits clothing. It will be coming soon in 09 so be on the lookout. Check on my myspace page to look at some of the designs and also to check out our new music.
[ Bay Undaground.com ] : Yeah, you've just mentioned you're a tattooist, what's up with your studio?
[ Unknown ] : It's in the works right now. We bout to start construction so check on my myspace page for updates.