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Andre Nickatina has been a mainstay of the Bay Area rap microcosm dating back to the early 1990s, when he went by the name Dre Dog. He regularly sells out shows around the country and he even has New York elitists chanting “Crack Raider Razor… Sharp!” like it’s 1997 when he visits.
Like now! Nickatina is currently in NYC for a show tonight at Santos Party House, so we caught up with him for some good conversation. It may not have been as exciting as his “Conversation With A Devil,” but nonetheless there’s plenty of good stuff here.
Welcome to the Big Apple big homey! How do you like NYC?
I like NYC. I dig it a whole lot. I like how y’all parties go down. I like how y’all party 24 hours a day. The parties go ’till really late out here man and I love that.
I heard through the grapevine that you detest doing interviews. Is this true?
Well yeah. A lot of the time they’re boring to me. Not always though. Like if it’s a good convo that’s cool, I’ll enjoy the interview. But honestly I usually get corny cliché questions. So that’s why I don’t always [grant] interviews.
Well I’m glad you let me live. One thing I’ve always wanted to ask you though: What the fuck is a “Crack Raider Razor?”
[Chuckles] You know in the hood that dude who is a crackhead that can fix almost anything? The one you get to work on your car for a few bucks and he fixes it and it runs perfectly for a two weeks and then breaks down again? That’s a crack raider. I just heard the beat and that situation is what popped into my head.
So I was just watching the video for “Break Bread” Why you got shorty rapping your verse instead of you?
Glad you asked that. I’m not getting in front of the camera no more. I ain’t gonna be in anymore videos. I been in front of that motherfucking camera for 23 years. I’m trying to spend more time behind the camera. It’s been getting that way with since the “Jelly” video. I’ve been more of a producer and director just to better my skills so I can make films.
Is that a difficult transition so far?
No not really. Most rappers get asked what they want from the directors anyway. The director will ask them what they want to do. So, I was already [directing and producing] in a sense. It’s like any job or being a journalist,for example. You gotta just roll with it till you get better. Some dudes like being in the studio but hate being on stage and vice versa. The more shit you can do and you’re good a, though, the better artist you’ll be.
Very sound advice. So here’s something I don’t want to really ask you: How did Mac Dre’s murder affect you?
What I can say? Speaking as a rap cat we lost a really creative cat. At the time we was doing stuff together so losing such a close rap friend was big. I’m part of the Bay like everyone else so it affected me as a fan too. I still roll a blunt for him and keep it moving. My respect for him was [immense]. I was in the same lane as him and to see him get cut off when his creativity and name were really starting to pop was tragic.
Word up. You mentioned being in the same lane as Mac Dre. Can you define that Bay Area lane and sound?
It’s hard. I can give an example. Sound wise I don’t think there’s a sound really. If I had to pick I would say [the Bay sound] comes from Too $hort. You hear that “Blow The Whistle” bass line you hearing the Bay Area. That song came out at the height of the Hyphy movement, but it still gets play today. I think more than a sound the Bay is known for a certain attitude. The attitude of owning — they own shit and being more independent about how they move is the Bay.
Who are some of the Bay Area artists that you think can get on national scope?
The Jacka for sure. Husalah, I like his energy. Husalah got that Joakim Noah energy and you need that. There are also a couple other young cats that I like.
What about Hammer? Did he have an affect on you growing up?
We was just talking about him yesterday. Hammer affected not just the Bay but rap. Back then dudes were like “We ain’t selling out.” Then Hammer came along and made millions so that changed dudes’ attitudes. He was getting real awards and getting on that stage and doing commercials. He crushed a lot of stereotypes about what rappers viewed themselves as. Takes a strong personality to do that. Those dudes got up there… Hammer, Will Smith and introduced a lot of people to rap. Will is still crushing rapper stereotypes because he came from behind the mic.
Pity you don’t do more interviews, bruh. You have some great fucking answers. So what’s new as far as upcoming material?
I don’t talk too much about upcoming stuff, but yeah, I have a new album due out in September. I’m just rapping, man. I don’t have no super answer for what I’m doing. I just throw out raps and hopefully motherfuckers buy them. I just put them out and see what they do.
Andre Nickatina performs at Santos Party House tonight at 7pm. $20