Westside Connection’s Biggest Hit Was Almost Jacked By Dr. Dre
A dozen years before Slaughterhouse formed, Westside Connection was one of Hip-Hop’s super-groups. Following a run of acclaimed solo albums and hit movie success, Ice Cube merged with longtime associate WC and protege, Mack 10. The Connect-Gang formed, with The M.A.A.D. Circle’s DJ Crazy Toones (Dub’s brother) coming along behind the turntables. Following a statement posse cut on Mack’s eponymous debut, a second on WC & The M.A.A.D. Circle’s Curb Servin’, the crew and Priority Records assembled for an LP in late 1996.
Bow Down was perceived as a late entry in the growing coastal conflict. The album arrived six weeks after Tupac Shakur’s death. However, aside from taking umbrage with “the critics in New York,” the LP seemed to have its biggest gripes with a local act (and former collaborators), Cypress Hill. Still, the #2 album is angry and aggressive. Title track “Bow Down” shows it, as the record didn’t sugar-coat the feelings of Ice Cube, Mack 10, and WC, rather, it put them out in the open, ready for anyone pissed off and brave enough to retaliate.
“The world is mine ni**a get back,” Cube raps in opening the track. “Don’t f*ck with my stack / The gauge is racked / About to drop the bomb I’m the motherf*ckin’ don / Big fish in a small pond.” Released in 1996, it was one of the bombs thrown in the infamous East/West Coast beef that would consume the mid-to-late ’90s. Interestingly though, Westside Connection almost did not get the instrumentals to the groundbreaking beef track.
According to Bud’da, who produced “Bow Down,” he almost gave the beat for it to Dr. Dre, who at the time was transitioning from Death Row Records to what eventually would be Aftermath Entertainment. “I was still new in the game, and I was around Dre at that time, too, prior to Aftermath,” the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania native says in a new interview with ChadKiser.com. “We were up at [Dr.] Dre’s house for some function, and I was playing him some tracks. He heard the ‘Bow Down’ track in the group I played and he mentioned he wanted it. I figured Dre would pull the trigger and move on it because I had seen him do it before to [Sam] Sneed. If there was something Sneed did that he wanted, he’d speak on it and it would happen.”
“I mentioned that I had already given it to Cube because I felt torn in the middle. I hit Cube up and let him know that Dr. Dre was interested in it, too. He wasn’t too happy about that [laughs].” Continuing in his thoughts, Bud’da confirmed he was glad that the beat ended up in Ice Cube’s hands.
“At the time I didn’t know what I was doing, I didn’t know what the protocol was,” he says with a laugh. “I was just trying to make it happen. I’m glad it went the way it did, I think it worked good for Westside Connection. Mack , [Ice] Cube, and [WC] killed it! They did the perfect thing with it.” Although not “Bow Down,” Bud’dha would go on to co-produce Dre’s post-Death Row statement regardless, 1996’s “Been There, Done That.”
Also during the interview, Bud’da gave great details behind other tracks on Bow Down, including “The Gangsta, the Killa and the Dope Dealer,” “3 Time Felons,” and “Do You Like Criminals,” and reflected on the statement the LP made over 20 years ago.
In the interview, he also recalls hearing an early version of Cube and Dre’s 1994 hit “Natural Born Killaz” that was just Sam Sneed rapping. Sneed, who is also from Pittsburgh, was a Death Row hopeful, who ultimately leave the label and link up with D-R-E again at Aftermath.
#BonusBeat: A “Natural Born Killaz” version that includes a verse from co-producer Sam Sneed: