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SKEE-LO, September 1995

In this era of g-funk and everybody tryin' to show how real they are, it is a bit refreshing to hear from someone who is real and original. What Skee-Lo brings to the table is a new sound and a lyrical delivery that does not contain your typical West Coast topics. Skee-Lo began writing poetry about ten years ago, which transformed over the years into what is now his style of music.

When did you really get into writing poetry?

"I was doin' poetry back in elementary, that's when I first got attached to poetry In junior high, it became a full-time hobby and in high school, that's all I did."

How did your years of poetry help with the transition to hip-hop?

"'I Wish' was written back in high school as a poem, along with a few other cuts off of the album. It was what I felt at the time that made me feel comfortable, at least felt good rather."

Your music stood out to me because you don't curse and disrespect women like so many other West Coast MCs. What's up with that?

"Everything on the album is based on real incidents or true stories that happened to me or someone close to me. It was a very personal thing, kind of like my personality on wax. It's not in my personality to do those things. I don't go around cursing out people and I definitely don't try to disrespect women. I think I'd be selling out if I did that on my album."

Where are you from?

"I was born in Chicago, I was raised in Riverside and I live in Los Angeles."

What kind of music influenced the sound on I Wish?

"Growing up, all I really listened to was old, old stuff. All the Parliament was bumpin' and Michael was definitely gettin' props 'cuz I had my little "Thriller" jacket. I also listened to a lot of old jazz. I'm not really much into sampling."

Who handled your production?

"I am good at workin' in the studio. I bought my own studio equipment and taught myself how to produce. I produced my album before I was signed."

Did you know that the single made it to number 33 on the Billboard R&B charts? How do you feel about that?

"It's an honor. All I can say is praise be to God. I had no idea it was going to take off. I wasn't even plannin' on giving my record company "I Wish." They just happened to hear me singin'."

Did you really drive a hatchback?

"I used to drive a little hatchback, but now I drive a Mazda."

What music did you listen to growing up and what are you listening to now?

"Jazz, old jazz. Miles Davis, Thelonius Monk and other artists. In the '70s, I listened to The Temptations, Parliament and a lot of old stuff. Then when the rap era came in, it was Kool Moe Dee, Kurtis Blow, The Furious Five and all the old gang. Now I'm still listenin' to a gang of old jazz. I like A Tribe Called Quest, I listen to a lot of Wu-Tang and 0l' Dirty Bastard. And I like that new Coolio joint, 'Gangsta's Paradise'."

Why the comedy in the video?

"We were on the set, like, do your thing you know, rap, do whatever. We put in some comical scenes, some just came out in the process of makin' the video."

If you could work with any producer out there, who would it be?

"I'd love workin' with Puffy Combs, Teddy Riley, maybe A Tribe Called Quest."

If you could be on anybody's album, who would it be?

"I would have loved to have been on that Ol' Dirty Bastard album. He's funny, man ... out here, we love him."

Was it hard to not let the g-funk sound influence you?

"I listen to some of the g-funk now, some of the major stuff like Dre & Snoop and Warren G. You know, I listen to their albums. I just never let it influence me. All my influence, I take from old music, old jazz and stuff ... I'm more influenced by that."

I read somewhere that you give back to the community. Want to talk about that?

"Before I was signed, and even now, I worked with a drug prevention organization for Riverside County. We go around to all the high schools and junior highs and play games with the kids and let them know that there are other things in life that you can do. We let them know that drugs aren't the way to go. My job was to come and do my regular songs like "I Wish" and "Top of the Stairs" and all that. In between the songs, I put in a little message and we found it to be effective."

Is there anything you would like to let the people know about Skee-Lo?

"A lot of times people get the impression that I'm just a middle class guy from out in the suburbs that just started rappin' three weeks ago, but I've been doin' this for a long time. I wasn't born in middle class suburbia, I was born in the ghettos of Chicago. I've seen both sides of life. My father was in the military so we did a lot of traveling and I've seen both sides ... middle class to the ghetto."

-- The W, The 411


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