Sir Jinx Talks Ice Cube
Exclusive: In part one of DX's epic convo with the O.G. track-master, Jinx reveals another Jay-Z/Dre track, and nearly signing Souls of Mischief to Ruthless.
If you think nepotism is always a bad thing, you obviously don’t know Dr. Dre’s family history in the music industry. It’s relatively common knowledge that Warren G is Andre Young’s half-brother, but lesser known is that Dre also has a classics creating cousin he helped usher into the game, Sir Jinx.
After the then teenager paid his dues by working on demos for potential Ruthless Records signees, (including a then high school student who would go on to become one of the biggest names in the history of Hip Hop), Jinx branched out on his own and as a grown man music maker crafted tracks for a litany of legendary names including Kool G. Rap, Xzibit, Too Short, Public Enemy, Kurupt, Rage Against The Machine, Sadat X, Yo-Yo, Tone-Loc, Toni Braxton, and as one-fourth of WC And The Maad Circle.
But best known for his early-‘90s contributions to Ice Cube’s first four solo albums, Sir Jinx became a household name in the Rap game as Cube’s right-hand man. Growing up in the same South Central, Los Angeles neighborhood as Cube, the then high schoolers joined forces (along with K-Dee) to form the short-lived mid-‘80s trio, C.I.A. (Cru In Action). Dr. Dre’s befriending of Cube during the C.I.A. days subsequently led to Cube’s inclusion in N.W.A. Once Cube’s well-documented monetary disputes with Ruthless Records reached a boiling point, Jinx decided to step away from his own cousin and bounce from Ruthless with Cube to form The Lench Mob crew. Jinx then worked alongside Cube and Public Enemy’s Bomb Squad beatmakers for Cube’s solo debut, Amerikkka’s Most Wanted, before taking the reigns for 10 tracks on Cube’s controversial classic Death Certificate. But following that astounding album, (which featured Cube’s new Nation Of Islam-driven direction), scant contributions soon followed from Jinx for Cube’s third and fourth solos, The Predator and Lethal Injection, and nearly two decades followed those albums before the onetime musical partners reunited, (sort of), for Cube’s recently-released ninth full-length, I Am The West.
Speaking to HipHopDX last Wednesday, (October 6th), Sir Jinx candidly revealed where his relationship with Cube currently stands, as well as what has come of his newfound working relationship with Dr. Dre, (and if a particular Jinx production featuring Jay-Z will make its way to Detox). And finally, the 20-year vet recalled his dog days at Ruthless Records and how the Hieroglyphics crew nearly became Ruthless’ first Alt-Rap signing.
HipHopDX: So it was 17 years between “Lil’ Ass Gee” on Lethal Injection and “Life In California” on I Am The West. Why did it take so long for you and Cube to reconnect?
Sir Jinx: Well…the era had changed. And when [Ice] Cube went to the Lench Mob-type of music, [like] the “Horny [Lil’] Devil” [song on Death Certificate] and stuff like that, I didn’t really wanna do music like that. So, we kinda went our separate ways… It was a lot of things he was getting into that I really wasn’t agreeing with at the time when I was growing as a producer. So, I did other things. I went and [produced for] CeCe Peniston…Gerald Levert and stuff like that, rather than staying locked into that kind of music [Cube was doing at the time]… I assumed that The Lench Mob was gonna be more like the Ruff Ryders, not like the message kinda rhymes. I didn’t think The Lench Mob was gon’ be like that. I thought The Lench Mob was gon’ be like the N.W.A. [stuff]… I didn’t believe that Hip Hop and religion mixed together. So, I [eventually] left that environment.
DX: And so how did y’all reconnect to get that placement on I Am The West?
Sir Jinx: He’s a multi-millionaire, [and] I’m sure you hear [about] the relationships that Jay-Z has with his people and Dr. Dre has with his people and all the people that are really high up in the Rap food chain [have with their people], [so] it’s kinda hard to talk to ‘em like you would talk to any other rapper. So, how we hooked [back] up, it was me just being pursuant at wanting the world to hear more of Ice Cube and Sir Jinx. Because if it wasn’t for that, then he probably wouldn’t care.
DX: Did you consider giving Cube some retro flava and revisit that “No Vaseline” funkiness?
Sir Jinx: Well, like I said, when you get with artists that reach that high food chain it’s kinda hard to implement what you want, when they’ll base it on what have you done [to earn that right to advise]. So if you like say, “Hey, Jay-Z, I think you should let your hair grow out.” And he’ll be like, “Who told you that?” …Then it becomes, I don’t want him to come around ‘cause he has ideas that I don’t like.
DX: I was just curious if you know – Hearing that you were gonna be involved in this project I just thought maybe you guys might try to take it back to ’91…
Sir Jinx: He didn’t use any of my influence on his record…whatsoever. I kinda dealt with him through Brother Ron, [Cube’s] guy that he deals with… And Brother Ron wants that [reunion] to happen. He wanted it to happen [for I Am The West]. And actually, me and Brother Ron had our differences back in the day, and who would of thought the person you had your differences with would instantly give your conversation to the person that you used to talk to? So he ended up being the person that talked in between me and Cube. I never talked to Cube, ever.
DX: You don’t wanna go into why you guys don’t speak…?
Sir Jinx: I mean, like I said, when you see how the moguls of today, how they treat everybody, you just gotta get in line. It’s a million people that wanna give him beats. And when I wanna give him a beat maybe my beat might cost a little more… But I don’t know how he makes his music anymore. So I just sit and do what I’m supposed to do as a producer and send him beats - for the love of Hip Hop… And I just wanted to continue that, but I guess the formula that he has around him doesn’t – it’s no room for Sir Jinx… He must have something inside of him that wants to work with Jinx, but it’s just not his faith, body and mind. [Laughs]
DX: Since I asked about you and Cube working together again, it’s mandatory I ask about you and your cousin Dr. Dre working together for the first time, ever. So…how’s that going? [Laughs]
Sir Jinx: Well…I think I already [indirectly] touched on that. [Laughs] Ditto, basically [the same thing as] the Cube environment. These guys are millionaires and they do what they do, and you would have to be a psychic to understand what they go through everyday. That’s why I think inside [of me] I don’t have hate [for them] because I kinda don’t want their position… But, I talked to him, and all the songs that I heard [from Dr. Dre's Detox] was real dope. And the thing that’s funny is, the songs that got leaked were never the songs he was playing [me].
DX: Just out of curiosity…was the stuff you heard the "Ghetto Techno" that we been sort of led to believe the sound is gonna be for the album?
Sir Jinx: Nah… I remember [in] one interview I said it kinda sound like a sinister Kanye West. Some of the songs sounded like that. They don’t sound like Above The Law – [Dre] did Above The Law, and that album, [Livin’ Like Hustlers], was amazing! He also did The Firm’s album, but it don’t sound like that.
DX: I thought after “Under Pressure” that he was going in the sorta Kraftwerk direction?
Sir Jinx: That was none of the stuff that I heard. Technically, if you wanna feel what the Detox record was – the direction I feel it was going in – was that song that was [in] the Dr. Pepper commercial. Now I heard that one a bunch of times…with the rap on it, with Slim Da Mobster on it, with it being produced better, without T.I. on it – I think that’s the [leak, “Topless” ] that T.I. is on… So I never even heard the “Under Pressure” song. [I would have remembered if I had] because I have a song with [Dr. Dre for Detox] and it involves Jay-Z as well. So when I heard [about a Dr. Dre song featuring Jay-Z] I said, “Oh shit, my song got leaked.” It was not my song. [But], the song that I did with Dre, Jay-Z had something to do with [that one] as well… The song that I got with Dre, it’s amazing. It’s a dope, dope, dope song.
DX: Are you confident [that song is] gonna make it to the finish line [for Detox]?
Sir Jinx: Um…I’m…I mean, it’s just like what Dre want. He wants something that’s original, he wants something that’s brand new, and that’s definitely our relationship in this time and day.
DX: Can you reveal…any more about the sound of the song?
Sir Jinx: I would hate for me to kill myself.
Sir Jinx: I’ll just say that I’m glad that [my song] had a little bit to do with Jay-Z, but it wasn’t the [“Under Pressure” record]. It wasn’t that song.
DX: …You guys just did this one song together last year and that was it? Have you guys recorded at all together since?
Sir Jinx: Well, Dre has a process [with] the way he does his music. If you submit a song, it’s not like you gonna give him a track and it’s gonna end up that way. He’s gonna turn it into a Dr. Dre track. So that [process] took some time… Through last year, [for] maybe four or five months - he [wound] up getting different people to help out with the songs. Then he [came] to me and [was] like, “Guess who might be on it? …R. Kelly might be on it. Beyonce might…” – all these different people… [So] I dunno [what he does after I submit a track]. He just takes it. And…I don’t even want a copy of it. I don’t even wanna be the leak - somebody steal my computer and instantly gets a full Dr. Dre album. [So] I don’t want it. I just sit and enjoy it from [a] bird’s eye view.
DX: But you guys haven’t been like in [contact] with each other recently doing any more music…?
Sir Jinx: Well actually, we did like four [tracks]. We did a few songs… I can do as much [music] as I can, but it’s also [other producers already] there in line that’s trying to get on the Eminem thing, trying to get on all the projects that Dr. Dre has. And excluding our relationship as cousins, I still have to produce hot tracks. So it’s no favoritism whatsoever when it comes to getting songs placed over there.
DX: …I’m still a little unclear as to why it took 20 years for you and Dr. Dre to make music together?
Sir Jinx: Well, I’m my own Saddam, man… I got a chip on my shoulder too. I’m racing the game [too]. Just like he racing after Quincy Jones, I’m chasing after Dr. Dre. So sometimes when you don’t want that crutch, you won’t go there. I don’t need that… And now when I go over there, you gotta get in line. There’s no personal nothing about it. It’s all business, not personal. So I can’t go over there and assume that I’m gonna throw my favorite tracks [into] an Aftermath [Entertainment] environment – get ‘em sewed up, I can’t slang ‘em to nobody ‘cause then I’m going behind Aftermath back…it’s hard. If you make a track for Aftermath, it’s designated for Aftermath. You can’t go shop that. That becomes very expensive. So to try to deal with the Dr. Dre environment and make a whole bunch of tracks - I can’t go take them tracks and give ‘em to somebody else, ‘cause then what if Dre call me from Detroit like, “Yo, where that track at?” [And] I’m like, “Oh, I gave it to Snippy D that gave me $1,500 for it.” So, you gotta [deal with that], and I been doing my own thing [all these years]. I had really no reason to go to the Dre environment because I was working with Xzibit [before he worked with Dre]. We did [seven tracks together for] the 40 Dayz & 40 Nightz [album]. We did a lot of stuff. I work with artists that need to prepare themselves for Dr. Dre. Everybody that I worked with always ended up working with Dr. Dre. I even worked with Snoop Dogg before Dre did.
DX: Yeah, I was shocked to learn that from reading your Producer’s Corner feature that you did Snoop Dogg’s demo when he was 15, 16-years-old. How did y’all link up?
Sir Jinx: Warren G is Dre’s stepbrother, [and] me and Warren G is the same age. So [when we were teenagers] we were kinda both getting shunned on in the Audio Achievements [Studios] – [during] the [recordings for] Dr. Dre, Michel’le, N.W.A., Eazy-E, J.J. Fad, all that stuff that was going on then. Me and Warren G were kinda like the scrubs. And it was a place that was uncomfortable. It wasn’t even cool to be a [Ruthless Records] entourage [member] then. [Laughs] They would dump [on you] and do tricks [to you] and do all kinda stuff to you if you [didn’t] have no work over there... I got shunned so much [it motivated] me to [bounce from Ruthless with Ice Cube and] do Amerikkka’s Most [Wanted]... That came from the intensity of what pressure you had [on you] to be accepted over there.
DX: Going back to that demo that you did for Snoop when he was still in high school, did you do that with Warren G?
Sir Jinx: Yeah. I lived in South Central, and of course they lived in Long Beach, and they would catch the bus to my house – ditch [school] and come catch the bus and get to my house [at] maybe three [o'clock in the afternoon], and then we would work on my little four-track… [And] me and Warren [would] go back and forth [talking about our problems with Ruthless], because being in the scrub role over there, that’s like the union at a job, [so] me and him complained to only each other. [Laughs] So, [at] that point we kinda had a connection. And he wanted to see it happen. I wanted to see it happen. Obviously, Snoop Dogg was supposed to happen. And then it was funny, ‘cause back then [Snoop] was shorter than all of us. So it was like a summer or two [and] like he went to jail, [or] he went to camp or some shit, and this nigga come out [and] he’s six [feet] and some change. He was [called] Snoop because of being short. The name Snoop in the gangster world usually comes from short dogs. [Snoopy from Peanuts] is not a tall dog. [Laughs] Now he like Marmaduke.
DX: Did you and Warren try to take Snoop’s demo at that point, like in the late ‘80s, to Dre?
Sir Jinx: Nah, it wasn’t even that [kind of thing]. It was just striking matches, just gettin’ it in, thinking that, “Okay, we can do a good song” – So maybe it was to be presented to Ruthless. Maybe it was, because back then I was even doing demos with Tajai and Adam [A-Plus]. I was trying to get them signed over at Ruthless. And [they’re now known as part of] Souls Of Mischief. They were my group [originally].
DX: Oh wow, you were fuckin’ with them before Del [The Funky Homosapien]?
Sir Jinx: Actually, Del [The Funky Homosapien] and them [came] together. They came as a crew. And Del’s [emcee] name was [his initials], T.D.K., back then… And they [group] name was Rhythm. And they used to come out [to Los Angeles]. Dre used to give me money for them to catch the train from Oakland out here to do demos to get signed to Ruthless. That’s how hot Del was… [But] nobody [else at Ruthless] would fuck with that shit. I was trying my hardest to make ‘em fuck with that shit.
Stay tuned to HipHopDX for the even more revealing conclusion to our conversation with Sir Jinx, in which he takes a further stroll down memory lane and shares more of his Hip Hop stories, including the tale of 2Pac, Kool G. Rap and Jinx driving around during the 1992 L.A. Riots (while ‘Pac busted his gun in between stops to sign autographs for fans). Jinx also explains why you’ve never had a friend like “Uncle Suge,” reveals the historic film project The D.O.C. is currently working on, and much, much more.