It’s been almost two years since Carson, CA native Bishop Lamont was hand-picked by Dr. Dre to be a part of one of rap’s most celebrated label, Aftermath Records. Since joining the label, Bishop Lamont has stirred up the hip-hop scene with the release of his street mixtape N*gger Noize, and more recently Caltroit� with Detroit Producer Black Milk, all while preparing for his Aftermath debut The Reformation. However, being the protegé of Dr. Dre means having to live up to high standards. Fans worldwide have their eyes on Lamont, waiting to see the outcome of his work on both his own album and on the album that already has reached mythical status, Dre’s Detox. In the beginning of a two part interview, XXLMAG.COM caught up with Bishop Lamont to get some insight into an artist that many are counting on to be the future of West Coast hip-hop.
A lot of people out there don’t know that you had close ties to Snoop Dogg while growing up, due to your friendship with his younger brother Bada Bing.
Me and Bada Bing, along with a few other friends, used to be in Snoop’s garage all of the time making records. Snoop had put a studio in his garage at his Claremont, CA house. I used to watch them all get down. Battlecat, Kurupt, Daz, RBX, The Lady Of Rage would come by all of the time and it was a blessing to be a part of that. I was a kid watching my favorite rappers do their thing. I learned so many different techniques from watching all of them in the studio. It was an amazing time.
Do you still keep in touch with Snoop Dogg?
I haven’t seen Snoop in a few months. Me and Warren G went over to the studio to see him sometime back but it’s been a minute. It’s always the same though, I love the dude. He’s a great person and the dude goes through a lot of stuff. It always remains the same regardless of what you hear or what’s been said. I support him. Without Warren G and without Snoop, we wouldn’t have what we have now. At one time there was a little old school versus new school going on here in the West. Me and Glasses Malone were thrown in the center of that and a lot of statements that were being spread around wasn’t true. We pretty much put all of that to rest though. That situation is where a lot of turbulence came but I love the dude and I am always going to support him.
Out of all of the rappers in the nation trying to get Dr. Dre’s attention, he chose to single you out over the airwaves of Los Angeles hip-hop station Power 106 a few years back. Tell us about having the greatest producer in the history of hip-hop big you up like that?
It didn’t seem real at the time and it still doesn’t seem real. It was surreal like a Disney movie . But it took a lot of hard work to even get an opportunity like that and it was even harder to solidify that. I never ever want people to get misconstrued and to think that he said my name on the radio and then magically we just went in to the studio after that. It was a lot of hard work and he made sure that his decision was correct and I made sure that my decision was correct. It was the same way when I got to meet Dame Dash, Jay Z, Jermaine Dupri, and DJ Quik. You know, DJ Quik and Daz were some of the first people to ever want to sign me. I have to go on record to say that because they saw it first. I look up to them this day because they pretty much set me up to be ready for when Dre hit me over the head with that magic.
If you didn’t sign to Dre & Aftermath, what label do you think you would have ended up at?
I went out to New York and there was a huge bidding war. Everybody was putting out large amounts of money at the table. That’s how I really got close to Dame Dash. At the end of the day, I wanted to go to Roc-A-Fella. I believed in Dame’s business savvy and of course I loved Jay-Z. If you are a real MC, you love how Jay busts rhymes. I felt that they could understand where I was coming from as an MC because at the time labels weren’t trying to hear no *****s bustin’ from the West Coast. You had to be gangbangin’ and that ain’t me so I can’t even pretend. I really had my mind focused on Roc-A-Fella or Jermaine Dupri.
All of those dudes were after you?
I love Jermaine Dupri to this day. He’s a real ass *****. He told me, “I can’t compete with Dr. Dre but I still wanted to meet with you just to meet you.”� He didn’t have to do that. We sat down for about an hour that day. There was also Clive Davis, who was falling asleep in the meeting . My boy Larry Jackson over there hooked that up. It was a blessing just to be sitting across the table from a music legend like that. I also met with Sylvia Roane at Motown. There’s so many beautiful people that have blessed my life and we are going to have relationships forever outside of music just because they wanted to take a chance on a broke little ***** from Carson, CA. Dame Dash is like my uncle, man. The dude went out of his way to compete with what Dre was trying to put on the table. He was like, “Shit. I’ll pull my checkbook out right now! What does it take?”
So aside from Dre being who he is, what was the deciding factor that brought you over to Aftermath?
It wasn’t just about Dre. I was already over at Aftermath doing ghost-writing and I already knew a lot of people there. I already had a family-type relationship with the staff. It made perfect sense for me. Why not go to Aftermath and have the *****s that work the records, really be your *****s? It worked out on all levels. Me and Dre had a meeting and he told me that he would make an offer that I couldn’t refuse. And he did just that. He kept his word and I believe that what’s about to take place will be even greater than what he envisioned at the time. The music that we’ve created and what we are putting the finishing touches on to, is an amazing thing. Dre is going to pull the best out of you. I can look at my records with Dre and my records without him and see an amazing difference. The confidence he gives me, the discipline he gives me and the drive me gives me. I am already a perfectionist on my own but stick that with a seasoned perfectionist and you’re going to get some amazing shit. I’ve learned from him to take an idea, nurture it and try to make it bigger. Or scrap that idea and try a different one. He always says, “Anything that we make, fresh or wack, nobody has got to hear it.” So with that you get that freedom in your mind, punch in the clock and do your fuckin’ job.
How tired are you of the Detox questions?
I am not tired of them. I understand and respect how much people are in to it. It’s dope to see how long it’s been and how people are still waiting to see it. They love and respect Dre. This dude is going all out for it. I’ve always called it “The Return of The Jedi” because he’ll have done 3 solo projects. He’s going out with a bang.
So what’s the standard answer that you give to a question about a project that you’ve probably been asked a million times ?
The more it gets closer to next year, the more is being done on Detox. There’s more that I am privy to say about it, whereas beforehand when cats would ask me I would say, “I can’t tell you.”
Okay. In that case, what are you “privy”� to say about it now?
I can say this: Dr. Dre is super buff . You think I am buff, Dr. Dre is super buff. Since he became super buff, his beats became super buff and this dude’s vision for records became super buff . The shit he is doing right now, it don’t make no fuckin’ sense! Where he is going sonically and where the music is progressing for him? The dude is the mad scientist. Understand me, the dude is something else! To see this ***** play the piano and start playing that classical shit like Bach & Beethoven, this ***** is on some other shit. He’s really putting down some amazing shit and it’s going to be worth the wait.
It seems like he’s been holding back in a sense on recent songs that he’s produced on other people’s albums. Kind of like saving the best for his own stuff.
Well, I am just happy that when it came to my own project that he poured it on real thick. So I am not even mad. I am happy to be on the same team to receive the magic .
What do you have to say about people accusing him of taking credit for other people’s work?
I’ve sat in the studio and watched him make beats. You can put all of that shit to rest. I can’t speak on things that I wasn’t around for but I know that people will always have something to say. Like some dude once got on the internet one time and said that I stole N*gger Noize.� Be fuckin’ for real! That dude had some audacity. What he really wanted is for me to make him famous and give him some attention but what he really was going to get was ass-whoopins from all of my *****s out in Detroit! He’s just a young cat that don’t know better and I forgive him. My point though is that people will accuse you of all kinds of things like stealing their style, a title for a song, a beat, the way you wear your hat, your video concept, you name it.