Guerilla Black is one of 2004's most talked about and controversially successful artists. His voice, flow and style are heavily compared to the late Notorious B.I.G. and quite rightly so. Their differences are hard to detect on first listen. Even over the phone, the sound of Black's voice felt eerie, too similar to that of B.I.G.'s.
MVRemix: George Bush is back in the office. Did you vote? And what are your feelings now that he's back?
Guerilla Black: Wow, that's crazy dog. Definitely it's real ill. There's gonna be a lot of war. That's all I can think of. A lot of war. I'm just hoping that they don't re-instate the draft. Hopefully they'll call a meeting and get stable.
MVRemix: Did you, yourself, vote?
Guerilla Black: Yes, through absentee ballot.
MVRemix: Your name is an interesting one. There are sort of sketchy racial connotations with it. How did you come up with your name?
Guerilla Black: For one, I was already calling myself Black; B-L-A-C-K. Then what happened was, on my first mixtape, they used to call me Guerilla B-L-A-C-K. From that moment on, I started living my life under Guerilla B-L-A-C-K. It was real cool.
MVRemix: How did you get into rapping on a "professional" basis?
Guerilla Black: Well, wow, that goes way back. I feel the first time on a professional level was with Ice-T. I had linked up with him... my mom, she didn't have a job but then she seen Ice-T. I remember she was doing telemarketing or whatever and she had heart. I remember the first day I met with Glorious a.k.a. Big Rich and Ice T. From that moment on they were my long-term mentors. They still continue to be to this day.
MVRemix: Do you have any group or crew affiliations?
Guerilla Black: Dollar Figgas. That's my label.
MVRemix: Will you be putting out an album with the Dollar Figgas?
Guerilla Black: Hopefully, I pray so. I pray for all them artists. Cush, Young Vernable, Bricks and co-founder of the label, Hot Dollar.
MVRemix: What's your response to those who dismiss your music because they feel you sound too similar to Biggie?
Guerilla Black: At the end of the day, I guess I loved the Notorious B.I.G. as well as everyone else did and Tupac Shakur. I felt like B.I.G. represented the big dudes. He was a lyricist and I study all lyricists. Chubb Rock, Heavy D, I felt that he was a representation... of course Scarface, and a lot of other people. But at the end of the day I want people to know that I'm not the re-incarnation or duplication or trying to be something that I'm not. I'm Guerilla Black and I'm from Compton. I want people to know... big up to the Notorious B.I.G. Big up to Tupac Shakur. If you were to put those artists of today; Jay-Z, Nas, Eminem, all of these great artists in the studio. I don't think they would be able to compromise the embodiment of music that they left behind. Delivery wise, conceptually wise, presence wise and imagery. They were so far ahead of their time. But at the end of the day, I want people to know that I'm Guerilla Black. I don't think that I'll be the first compared, or the last compared artist who's out there in the industry.
MVRemix: Ludacris is also from Chicago, and you yourself were born there. But it seems that a lot of Chicago emcees that move and grow up in another area don't represent the windy city at all. Is there any reason, or...?
Guerilla Black: Well the reason is that when I left Chicago, I was a child so I was raised in Compton. I was raised in Los Angeles. So all the life that I've known, I've lived in Los Angeles. I grew up as an adult there from a child. I don't remember my childhood being in Chicago, so I wouldn't go ahead and just claim that. That's not my city, I was born there though. I always tell people that I was born there. I love Chicago and Joliet, but I'm from Compton.
MVRemix: Now seeing the industry from both sides, the independent and major levels - what are your feelings on the differences and would you go back to the independent level?
Guerilla Black: Definitely. I think the independent game is about to be the next big explosion in music. By all of the downfalls of the big conglomerates, I think that a lot of conglomerates are trying to learn how to really work their projects and maintain overheads. Independent works because a lot of indies are gonna be strong in the next few years. The independents came from No Limit to Cash Money to a lot of other indies and they became really big. That point is about to come back even bigger, so yeah. One day I pray to have the money and the ties - the connections, to where I can definitely make something happen on the independent level.
MVRemix: Tell me about the situation with regards to Big Cizzle? And the fact that that's surfaced now due to your success?
Guerilla Black: A long time ago, my brother came back home from being sent from out here in Compton. Me and him got into some problems, and at that time my long time mentor Donald Miles... I'll never forget my own blood telling me "Wow, you sound so much like B.I.G., that can't be. You can't do that. I remember running vocals through vocalizers; doing everything we could to change up from me sounding so much that way. They knew that there would be the problems that I face today, then. So that's where a lot of that came from. In-between that time, I figured out one thing, after losing my wife... There's two things you've got to do in this world alone; one is to come from the womb, the other is to go to your maker. In-between that time man, you don't have to justify your thug to no one. Everyday that I wake up, I look in the mirror with the realization that I'm Guerilla Black. All I've gotta do is keep it real to myself, that's what I'm gonna continuously do. There's no time for bullshit other that. I'm just gonna keep smashing.
Lâ€™Orange and Stik Figa â€“ The City Under The City album review
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