Kxng Crooked Discusses The Times Hip-Hop Tried To Cancel Eminem & Defends Him
Kxng Crooked is having a very busy year. He has brought back his Hip Hop Weekly series and has vowed to feed his fans with at least one song per week for 2019. Additionally, the MC also known as Crooked I has rebranded a group including his younger brother. Involving some of the same personnel as the Horseshoe G.A.N.G., quartet Family Bvsiness is Demetrius, Dice, Kenny, and Julius. Last month they dropped their first EP, Fresh Ink. The collective recently recorded a full-length album produced by Crook’s former Slaughterhouse band-mate, Royce 5’9, who is a burgeoning producer.
Appearing on Adam22’s No Jumper Podcast, Crook’ gives one of the most comprehensive interviews in his 20-plus-year career. The relaxed and introspective conversation covers it all, from the MC’s formative teenage year spent in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania to the tragedies that affected his family while growing up in Long Beach, California. He recounts signing six-figure deals in his teens, and how that taught him lessons about love and loyalty.
At 36:00 in the conversation, Kxng Crooked speaks about how cancel culture in the Hip-Hop space is nothing new. “I was right there, dog, when Benzino played the Eminem tape. He really played that tape, bro. He did a press conference; he played that tape. My whole thing is, at that time, I didn’t know Eminem. I was always taught [to] sit down with the person. Talk to the person. Communicate. And then, see what’s up,” explains Crooked I. In late 2003, The Source magazine’s co-founder Dave Mays and partner Ray Benzino held a press conference and played a cassette tape, reportedly from 1993. According to an MTV News report from the time, Mays and Benzino alleged it was a 21-year-old Em’, and charged one excerpt’s lyrics to be, “All the girls I like to bone have big butts / No they don’t, ’cause I don’t like that ni**a sh*t / I’m just here to make a bigger hit.” A second recording, said to be from 1988, was alleged to be a teenage Marshall Mathers rapping “Blacks and whites, they sometimes mix / But Black girls only want your money, ’cause they dumb chicks,” a few bars before, “Never date a Black girl, because they only want your money / And that sh*t ain’t funny.” Benzino, who was actively a Rap nemesis of Eminem at the time, charged media to hold the Shady mogul to the same standard as defamed Black celebrities such as R. Kelly, Mike Tyson, O.J. Simpson, and Kobe Bryant.
At that time, Crooked I was signed to Death Row Records, which was actively releasing disses aimed at Eminem and his producer, Dr. Dre (who co-founded the label more than a decade earlier). “That sh*t right there, that shook the culture up for me. It didn’t work.” Eminem’s next album, 2004’s Encore, debuted at #1 and eventually went quadruple platinum.“Like Toy Soldiers,” an album single dissing Benzino, The Source, Ja Rule, Irv Gotti, and others, climbed into the Top 40. Crook’ admits that he does not condone what was said on those tapes, but says that he seeks to understand the context of anything anybody says that is controversial. Moments later, the MC declares that knowing Eminem personally has shown him his true character. “He’s a great dude, and he cares about sh*t. That’s why I was not f*ckin’ with the whole culture when they started to talk about him and Revival, [and the 2017 BET Awards freestyle condemning Donald Trump]. ‘Is it real? Does he feel like that, or is he trying to ride a wave?’ Nah, motherf*cka, I know this guy. That’s how he feels! He don’t want to turn on the TV and keep seeing little Black kids keep getting gunned down by the police! How hard is it for you to believe that that bothers him?”
Nine weeks after the 2017 BET Hip Hop Awards acapella performance, Eminem released his ninth album. It included an American flag on its cover and multiple songs aimed at the new President. Adam22 says he can understand some of the criticism from that time. “I feel like people did have a decent point though: ‘Eminem hasn’t had sh*t to say about this, but then all of a sudden he’s doing an album rollout, and he’s got something to say.’ I’m not necessarily saying that that’s a true thing about him, but there’s a lot of rappers [and] people who don’t have sh*t to say politically until it’s advantageous for them, and they need some headlines.” Kxng Crooked responds, “Well, you know what, bro? And he even touched on this when he did his interview with Sway—I had this song called ‘I Can’t Breathe’ dedicated to Eric Garner, rest in peace. I had a line where I said ‘White rappers shouldn’t stay quiet,’ about this sh*t that’s goin’ on. [Eminem] told me; he said, ‘Man, I felt the f*ck outta that line.’ So I even think I planted a small seed for him to say, ‘You know what? Crook’ might be right.’ So I just think it was genuine.”
The veteran continues, “I think if he comes with that type of content, people protest him and sh*t. His protests used to come from outside of the culture. He was saying wild sh*t! A lot of people [responded by banning Eminem]. With the Revival sh*t, his protests [came from] inside the culture—Rap media people and muthaf*ckas [attacking his motivation]. To me, it was really the first time I’d seen him be attacked from the inside of the culture. ‘Cause everybody respects Em’—his pen is incredible. This dude gets on stage with 80,000 people in the crowd and he wears a Lakim Shabazz or a King Sun t-shirt—some dudes that none of his fans know [about], but they go look ’em up and might even purchase something off iTunes just ’cause they seen Em’ wearing the shirt. And he does it on purpose, for the culture. So it was an odd time for me, man, to just watch that—watch the game turn on him. But it’s good they did, ’cause then he came back with Kamikaze.”
At 1:04:00, Adam asks Crooked about the status of his relationship with Joe Budden. “We don’t really talk. We don’t talk. I tried to reach out a few times. [The] last time we talked was when we did a Pull Up episode for his [series]. That was the last time, but I’m happy for him. He doing his thing. People online really try to stir the pot, and the pot is empty, man. I got love for him.” Kxng Crooked also reveals that during the ongoing beef between Joe Budden and Drake, he recorded a verse aimed at the OVO founder in defense of his then-Slaughterhouse band-mate. “I contemplated coming at Drake because of Joe. Like, I played a clip of the Drake diss to Joe on my [Instagram]. I was like, hmmm, and I contemplated that sh*t. Because that’s how much I love this lyricism, this competition, and my guys. I didn’t [release it], because at the end of the day, why? That don’t have nothin’ to do with me no more.” Crook’ believes Joe should respond with raps to a list of disses since the New Jersey MC retired. That includes Eminem, Quavo, Lil Yachty, and CyHi The Prynce. Earlier this month, an episode of Drink Champs aired featured some awkward exchanges between Kxng Crooked and Joe Budden Podcast co-host Rory Farrell. The conversation largely focused on the disbanding of Slaughterhouse as well as Joe’s choice of words in late 2017 surrounding Eminem’s Revival singles.
At 1:13:00, Kxng Crooked discusses Straight Outta Compton, which he considers to be the greatest biopic ever made. However, the MC makes an interesting point about the N.W.A. film. “I really felt like [MC] Ren didn’t get his just due though, and I really feel like Eazy-E is resting in peace. I could be wrong. But it felt like Ren was Eazy‘s man. So it would’ve took an Eric Wright to make sure Ren’s parts were more [pronounced]. But overall, I really loved [Straight Outta Compton].” Shortly after the 2015 trailers released for the blockbuster film, MC Ren publicly vented that he felt excluded.
In the closing moments, Crook’ details Family Bvsiness, who recorded their Royce-produced album in Detroit. He reportedly played the results to an impressed Eminem during the visit. Today (April 5), Kxng Crooked released “More Love” in his weekly series: