Dreddy Kruger - conducted by Bill "Low Key" Heinzelman
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Dreddy Kruger: Thinking Outside The Box
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Some people dream of being an emcee, while others are content with playing the sidelines. Former Royal Fam member Dreddy Kruger is one of those individuals who never was concerned with being a superstar in this Hip-Hop game. Instead, he would rather play his position as an A&R and help construct classic albums for other artists. Dreddy was the A&R behind Masta Killa's album and the Black Market Militia project. With his own company - Think Differently Music - Dreddy has now conjured up his greatest idea of all time - Wu-Tang Meets The Indie Culture. By pairing various underground emcees with Wu-Tang artists and producers, the album finds collaborations fans have dreamed about for years. Before the album dropped, Dreddy chopped it up with MVRemix about his come up in the industry, as well as his new project.
MVRemix: I just want to start off by letting the readers get to know you, then we'll move into your Think Differently project. So can you tell us where you were born and raised?
Dreddy Kruger: Born and raised in Bushwick, Brooklyn. That is where I first met Gza and how I got into the whole Wu-Tang Clan.
MVRemix: What was it like growing up there?
Dreddy Kruger: It was the same as everybody else. I have the same story. I don't really want to get into all of that. I went to school, sold drugs - all of that. But I always like to mention this in all the interviews I do - I never wanted to be a rapper. That wasn't even part of my plan. You know how niggas come with their stories saying I always knew I wanted to do this and I've been rhyming forever, etc. But for me, it was none of that. I just always had love for Hip-Hop, as I was a break dancer back in the days.
Actually, that is how I met Gza, because me and ODB were dancing for him when he was on Cold Chillin'. I don't know if everybody is familiar with that whole history. So I was a dancer and the Wu started to pop off around '92 and I was going to LIU at the time. That same time the Wu recorded "Protect Ya Neck" and I was there. It was recorded in Brooklyn and niggas don't ever mention that in any interviews. It was recorded in Brooklyn, at Fire House Studio. And that day they recorded "Protect Ya Neck," GZA and Dirty stopped at my school to pick me up, and we had to stop at Beat Street to pick up some records. RZA told us to pick up an LL Cool J's "I'm Bad" record because he needed that to take out the curses in "Protect Ya Neck." If you listen to it, you'll hear that sound from "I'm Bad." So I was in the room when them niggas did "Protect Ya Neck," but I still wasn't rhyming. I used to fool around and spit Wu-Tang lyrics when I was at LIU. I would spit their rhymes off the album, because I knew what was coming out, and niggas used to think it was my shit. (Laughter) They had never heard shit like that before, but I would tell them, "Na, I'm just spitting my niggas darts from Satan Island." And at that time, Satan Island was like a different fucking state. So niggas didn't even know what I was talking about.
But it was eventually my friend Ali and Adrian who told me I should start rhyming because I had a nice voice and I had the looks. At the time, I had the dreads and all of that. So we came up with the name Dreddy Kruger and that was the birth of it. It all started in LUI on the Brooklyn campus. And the first time the Wu ever heard me rhyme was out on the video set of "Can It Be All So Simple?" Hype Williams was directing it in Satan Island and mad niggas was outside. Meth was out there freestyling in a circle and I spit a joint right there for the first time against some Satan Island nigga. And it was crazy because RZA and everybody was buggin'. RZA was like, "Yo, you getting on some other shit that I'm doing." And he was talking about the Gravediggaz, but at the time, I didn't even know about it. He was like, "I'm doing this Gravediggaz project." Basically - that was the first shit I ever got on, Gravediggaz' "Graveyard Chamber," which was me, Killah Priest, RZA, Shabaaz The Disciple, Frukwan and Poetic - god bless the dead. So the first song I ever recorded in the music business is legendary. That was what opened me up and made me say, 'Damn, I wanna do this.'
MVRemix: How did your career progress from then, which eventually lead you to be apart of Royal Fam?
Dreddy Kruger: Basically, I was always a solo artist, but like I told you, I was never on the tip that I wanted to be an emcee. So I was never running around telling cats, 'Yo, I'm working on my solo album.' So it was RZA and Timbo's idea for me to join up with Royal Fam. RZA was like, "Yo, you and Timbo would be the perfect combination. Just let Timbo be the real lyrical one and you just spit how you spit." So I was like, 'Aight, cool.' Then RZA gave us a deal on Wu-Tang Records and bong, bong, bong. Me and him went out to Miami, recorded the album, and it came out bangin'. By the time we finished the album and it was supposed to come out, RZA was going through label problems with Priority Records. So our album didn't get to come out in the USA, but we still released it overseas with different distribution. And we went on to sell almost a hundred thousand records in Europe. We had a big song….I don't know if you are familiar with the song we had with IM. Have you heard of the French group IM?
MVRemix: Na, I haven't.
Dreddy Kruger: Well, I won a French Grammy for my song with them. It was me, Timbo and Prodigal on a song with IM called, "The Saga." IM was like the Wu-Tang of France. They were the first group to sell over a million copies and their album went Gold in one day. But Gold over there is a hundred thousand - but it was still a big deal, because this was around '96. We went over there to shoot the video and by the time we got over there, the song was out already. By the time we left, they surprised us with some party and presented us with these plaques saying the album went Gold in one day. So I went over there to shoot a video and I came home with a Gold plaque. So we were buggin'. I told RZA about it and he was buggin', because at that time nobody even knew how big Hip-Hop was over in Europe. That was probably the biggest Hip-Hop collaboration between an American and French rap group. After we did that, then everything started happening. Then a lot of cats started collaborating with artists from overseas. But when we did that - we were like the biggest shit - no joke. You can look up the numbers and do the history - its already set in stone. That is what really solidified my name into the Hip-Hop game overseas. Because people over here still don't know about IM. But when I got over there to perform that song, its crazy. We didn't even know how big IM in the beginning. They sell out stadiums and there is about seven of them dudes. They branched off and did solo records, movies, and all of that - just like the Wu.
MVRemix: Yeah, some people over here still don't know how big international Hip-Hop is. The are ignorant and don't even think about it.
Dreddy Kruger: Yeah, people have no idea and they have a different respect level for the culture over there. They don't like commercial shit at all over there. A lot of them are still even stuck on the older Hip-Hop groups because they don't like the new music coming out of America. That is why you have all these old Hip-Hop niggas selling out shows over there. Those niggas over there love to see them and they don't take it for granted.
MVRemix: How did you form Think Differently Music?
Dreddy Kruger: Think Differently Music Group used to be a promotional company called Think Differently, which was run by my girl and her friend. I created the name, logo and all of that - but they were running it. It was a promotional company and they used to run parties in the city and things like that. They stopped doing that eventually, so I picked it up and added the music group to the end of the name. First thing I started doing was releasing….because Wu-Tang has a lot of unreleased music that we are sitting on. I'm talking about albums worth of shit. So the first thing I started doing was putting out street releases of unreleased Wu-Tang shit to websites like HipHopSite.com, SandboxAutomatic.com and other places in Europe. It picked up a following, because with the mixtapes, I wasn't using no DJ and it sounded like a real album. The first shit I ever put out was this CD called GZA:Live. It was a show that me and him did on tour around '99. I put it out around 2001, but the quality was good. And at that time, no one was putting out live mix CD's to the streets. So it created a big buzz and we were selling them on the road and in Europe. And that is when I realized that the mix CD is different for us than the average nigga. We already have a loyal following. So that is how I started Think Differently Music. Then the first big project I did under the label was, I was the A&R for Masta Killa's album on Nature Sounds Records. I did that and then the Black Market Militia album. I was one of the co-executive producers on the album, as well as the A&R. I also arranged and sequenced the album - same as I did with Masta Killa. That is what really gave me a buzz in the independent industry, because people started respecting my work. Even though the albums didn't have the big numbers, niggas respected the work I was doing. Other independent label owners recognized my talent.
So I always had the idea that I wanted to match up Wu-Tang niggas with other independent niggas. Because Wu-Tang has really never worked with outside artists - everything was in house, from the producers to the features. Only Busta, Nas and Redman really jumped on a Wu album. But I lived in Brooklyn and hung out in Manhattan all the time, so I would see emcees all the time. Niggas always had a lot of respect for us and I used to link up with artists like Sean Price and the Boot Camp - I've known them niggas forever. I used to see C-Rayz Walz, Cannibal Ox - all these independent cats. And I love there music as well. All of those cats could recite Wu-Tang albums to me. And I always told them, 'Wu niggas don't really know a lot of independent niggas. They really don't dwell in that whole world.' So that is how I got the idea, because I really wanted to match all these niggas up. I wanted to have the independent cats on a Wu-Tang vibe as well. Because anybody can get Cannibal Ox and someone from the Wu to do any old song. But I wanted the entire album to be a Wu-Tang concept. All the Wu-Tang members, the same Wu-Tang sound, but you are hearing MF Doom, Aesop Rock and all these cats mixed in to give it a certain type of feel.
So RZA and MF Doom have never met. RZA didn't even know who MF Doom was. GZA and Ras Kass - they knew who each other were, but they have never met. So right from that, I knew this album was going to be crazy. These are legends on different sides of the game. Everybody knows MF Doom has a cult following.
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"RZA and MF Doom have never met. RZA didn't even know who MF Doom was. GZA and Ras Kass - they knew who each other were, but they have never met. So right from that, I knew this album was going to be crazy."