Gawtti from the Boo Yaa Tribe talks about Gangster Rap
I had the pleasure of talking with Gawtti from the Boo Yaa T.R.I.B.E., for an article I wrote on the formation of the Bloods in Los Angeles for the December 2006 issue of The Source Magazine. Gawtti and the Boo Yaa Tribe hit the scene in 1989/90 and were signed with Island Records, and have collaborated with Ice Cube, George Clinton, Layzie Bone, Eminen, WC, Mack 10 and many others. They have their own label, Samoan Mafia Records and a clothing line, Ganxsta Gear. You may remember Gawtti in the film, The Italian Job starring Mark Wahlberg and Edward Norton where he played Skinny Pete. Because the Source article only includes a few quotes from the various persons I spoke to, I transcribed the entire interview and posted it below for your viewing pleasure.
Correction: The name of the neighborhood that Gawttii mentions below, Mangro Mob was misspelled and should be spelled Mongrel Mob. – June 23, 2009.
Alex Alonso: : DJ Quik, Suge Knight, you guys [Boo Yaa T.R.I.B.E.] and now the Game that have represented Blood in some sort of way? With the popularity of West Coast Gangster rap do you think the rap music has had an impact on Bloods starting in other cities?
Gawtti: There is a saying in LA, “that it is hard to be a Be Dogg (Blood)” because there are a few Bloods, and more Crips, so we got it harder, it like one Blood in one city out of five Crip gangs around them, I think people recognize that and see how hard it is to be a Blood. Everyone wants to be a Crip because they see how big it is but being a Blood is all heart.
Alex Alonso: Do you know Bloods from other cities?
Gawtti: I got homies in New York, in Colorado, Las Vegas and they are all Bloods, we got homies in Hawaii, and in New Zealand, and in New Zealand they have one of the biggest gangs, Mango Mob, about 2000 of them, a Blood gang, we were surprised when we went there. A lot of different Blood neighborhoods show respect, even in New York, like Jim Jone’s neighborhood, Trech from Naughty by Nature, RedMan, big cities, its all love.
Speaking of New York, Tru Life came out criticizing Jim Jones for emulating Los Angeles gang culture. How do you respond to that type of criticism?
Gawtti: Yeah, some people want to keep it original, but at the same time you can’t kill the movement. Everyone knows that Bloods & Crips started in LA, and that’s actually one of our songs coming out called, “Bloods & Crips started in LA” but if they want to do it in New York, Colorado, Vegas, all over the United States, I looked at it as more power, I don’t look at it as a bad thing.
|Big Gawtti of Boo Yaa TRIBE|
Alex Alonso: What inspired you guys [Boo Ya TRIBE] to get involved in hip hop in the late 80s.
Gawtti: We had a brother that passed away, and we decided to go into another direction, even though we was gang bangin’ and slangin’, we still had music in us. With Ice-T, Toddy T, Mix Master Spade, Rodney O and Joe Cooley, Eazy E, they used to come to our hood in Carson, we were like the first Samoans to touch rap at the same time they were doing it.
Alex Alonso: When you guys first came out I remember Boo Yaa T.R.I.B.E. being referred to as a group of Samoan Bloods. Were you guys cool with representing so straight up about it?
Gawtti: Yeah, I was comfortable with that, my brother was comfortable, we just wanted to show the struggle from the how it was done in the streets of Carson. A lot of groups used to come out to Carson and they remember our Hall, and they used to perform there and there were a lot of fights there.
Alex Alonso: Are there any Crips in Carson?
Gawtti: Yeah, they have the 190 East Coast Crips.
Alex Alonso: What are the Blood neighborhoods in Carson.
Gawtti: You got Calas, E/S Cabbage Patch, Scottsdale, East Side Scott Parks, and us West Pirus on the Westside. Also Center View Piru but our, West Side Piru was on Avalon & 223.
Alex Alonso:Being in the rap game for years it is inevitable that you are going to come across Crips who rap and being a Blood how to you avoid beefs with other rappers.
Gawtti: We grew up to another level, people don’t know that Boo Yaa T.R.I.B.E. has Crips in our group too from Compton, and we are Pirus from Carson, but we look at it as respect, people always say, how do you do it, but we are tying to make a future for our music. We keep it on another level so we can do our music and help the little homies that need to be helped.
|Gawtti in the film The Italian Job|
Alex Alonso: tell me about this song, “Bloods & Crips started in LA.”
Gawtti: my brother Ganxsta Ridd wrote a song called “Bloods & Crips started in LA” and we are working on getting Snoop on there, because everything started in LA from white Ts, from chucks to cackies, and now white Ts it is a fashion now, east coast the south, and it was a uniform in LA from the 70s, models and actors are wearing white Ts, that was a uniform for gangstas. The thing that always gets me hot, is that when the executives get involved, they change the game, and now it is cool to wear Ts now, corporate gets involved, there the ones that fuck the game up.
Alex Alonso: what’s your main criticism of corporate involvement in Hip Hop.
Gawtti: with us, we always kept it real from day one, we kept it street, the streets make the music, we been underground, but we are still doing in Europe, New Zealand, Australia, Japan because they see the real, and America keeps us on the side because they are trying to stop the movement, but they are not going to stop the gangsta movement.
Alex Alonso: You seem comfortable with the gangsta rap label.
Gawtti: To tell you the truth, we are comfortable with it, because that’s what we are, that’s what we came out of. I didn’t come up out of trying to be cool and all that, we came out of the streets, the struggle, there is a lot of pain, struggle, death, tears and blood in our music, and real people recognize real, we get respect from all the big rappers in the mainstream from Emimen, Jim Jones, they all show us love. But we are still doing it, touring and going over seas.
Alex Alonso: The Game, there has been alot of criticism, good and bad about how Game is representing his neighborhood. Have you had to endure any criticism from representing gangsta but also working in the studio on music?
Gawtti: No, I don’t think mutha fuckas got the balls to criticize us.
Alex Alonso: Did you ever have any beef with different rappers.
Gawtti: Alex, we had one of the first beef between us and Tone Loc, but we squashed that, we grew up. Everyone is trying to gang bang in the music, and I am not here to gang bang in the music, I am trying to tell people how we used to live through our music, I have kids, I have a family to feed, this is not a hobby, this is what we live to do. I notice a lot of rappers try to be hard, we aren’t trying to be hard, we are our own people, I am a Piru, but I am not active anymore. I want to show people that they can pursue things also and change their life. These rappers with all these beefs, if they want to beef they should just take it to the streets, it you want to get down, do it. It’s like this Alex, lets all fuck-up and lets get locked up for life, then what? Jail ain’t the place to be, you got rappers tying to be hard and live that life, just be yourself, that’s what Boo Yaa is all about. But we are not trying to gang bang in music, we just need to keep this west coast together and try to make this paper, that how we look at it.
Alex Alonso: Do you have a name of the next album yet that got coming out?
Gawtti: Not yet, we are still thinking on that, but we are doing it our self on Samoa Mafia Records, we don’t need corporate helping us, because they try to keep us down. We got some young talent to and bring them up. We are like 18 years in the game, ups and downs and we learned a lot. Like [Ice] Cube said, “If you have a name you can do it yourself,” and it is true. Our group is so big in Australia, New Zealand, and Europe, Japan so we know we can do it ourselves, instead of going back to a major (label) we are doing it ourselves.
Alex Alonso: There are a lot of Samoans in New Zealand and Aukland…
Gawtti: Oh man, Alex, it is so Crazy that they got a gang called Boo Yaa Tribe 62.
Alex Alonso: When you find out and hear about that, what’s your first reaction to something like that?
Gawtti: Our reaction is so shocking, to us it is like, look at what we started, look at all these young Samoans, creased down to the Chucks, I was like wow, it moves me and my brothers because we didn’t know it was like that.
Alex Alonso: Do you think that you might receive some negative backlash because you have a gang neighborhood in New Zealand, in Aukland or somewhere down there, and it turns out that they start bangin’ hard and someone gets hurt? Because they were somewhat influenced by Boo Yaa T.R.I.B.E. Do you ever feel it can go negative.
|Gangxst Gear by Boo Yaa|
Gawtti: It can go either way Alex, that’s how I look at it. You got to take it or not. You got to ride with it or you ain’t going to ride with it. I can’t say it is going to be positive because it is gangsta. It is hard to stay positive so if someone says I wanna be a gangster, but it can go both ways, I can’t say if it is going to be positive or negative, you are either going to ride with it or not.
Alex Alonso: Thanks for talking with me Gawtti, and do you have a name of the next album yet?
Gawtti: We are still working on the album, we are still in production and aiming for the beginning of summer. We are also doing a clothing line, Ganxsta Gear is our clothing line and our web site should be up at the beginning of next year. Holla at me anytime.
Tags: bloods, Boo Ya Tribe, Carson, Crips, las vegas, New Zealand