Stan “The Guitar Man” Jones has credits on just about every notable west coast classic record you could think of. You’ve heard him on Ruthless Records albums from JJ Fad, D.O.C., N.W.A, Above The Law, Eazy-E and MC Ren; Ice Cube’s multiple classics from Death Certificate through Laugh Now, Cry Later to Coolio’s Gangsta’s Paradise, Montell Jordan’s This Is How We Do It, and DJ Quik’s Quik Is The Name among others.
The Guitar Man hasn’t relegated himself to only the west coast, as his credits stretch to the east coast and the dirty south as well. Stan put in work with LL Cool J on 14 Shots to the Dome, T.I.’s King, Mystikal’s Unpredictable and Ludacris’ Red Light District to name a few. Not one to rest on his laurels and get pigeon-holed, you can find his work covering R&B acts like K-Ci & JoJo, Destiny’s Child, Monica, Brian McKnight and so many others.
Chad Kiser recently had the opportunity to sit down with Stanley A. Jones and talk to him about his latest release, Concrete Soul, his experiences working on a few of those classic west coast albums, who he’d like to work with in the future and many other various topics.
Dubcnn Exclusive – Stan “The Guitar Man” Jones
By: Chad Kiser
Stan, what’s up? Let everybody know what you’ve been up to most recently.
I just completed my album Concrete Soul. I have it out on iTunes, Amazon, pretty much all the digital sites that sell music. This first edition is instrumental only, the next edition I’ll have some features, but on this one it’s just instrumental; just some music I had and wanted to get off my chest. It’s a mix of some R&B, some Rock, a little Hip-Hop and a little Pop. It’s a mixture of different types of music.
With Concrete Soul you said it was an instrumental album and it was supposed to have some features on it?
Yeah, I was reaching out to some features, but it was taking a little while so I decided to just release the instrumental and do a revision of the edition with the features on it. I already got Devin the Dude, he’s looking to do one of his songs. Compton Rock and I’m in contact with a few more people for features.
What features besides Devin The Dude are you looking at and hoping to get on there?
I’m looking to get a mixture of some of west coast artists and some stuff from the south. Maybe DJ Quik or Ice Cube.
Let me take you back a little bit being that you are one of the pioneers of this west coast music. You go all the way back to Ruthless Records with Eazy-E and JJ Fad and all of that. How did you first get involved with the JJ Fad Supersonic album?
I knew Alonzo who was the leader of the World Class Wrecking Crew; he started the club down there when he had Dr. Dre and DJ Yella as his DJ’s. Alonzo used to come over every Saturday and talk about how he was going to start this club, and have some parties and dances. He had the club running pretty good, so they started their group, the World Class Wrecking Crew and he introduced me to Dr. Dre and Yella. At that time Dr. Dre was just DJ’ing, then they formed their little rap group. Eazy would come around. I just kind of met all of them at Alonzo’s house. Eazy, Dr. Dre, Ice Cube, the whole crew was there so it kind of started from there and when they were doing their Wrecking Crew stuff they didn’t have bass guitar on none of their music. NWA kind of evolved out of that. They didn’t really have any need for bass guitar so I just kind of kicked back and it turned out to be pretty good. Eazy wasn’t a rapper, he was just a hustler. Dr. Dre put him in the group when they were in the need of a rapper and nobody was there. So that’s kind of how the whole thing started.
What were some of those early N.W.A sessions you were a part of like?
It was fun. It was a response to the east coast pretty much because at the time everybody was listening to Public Enemy, KRS-1 and all the east coast artists. It was kind of a response of having a west coast style music that wasn’t just all dance. I started out by just using samples so how I got involved was, as they were using the sample records they couldn’t control the samples. If you wanted to turn the bass up or the guitar up, you couldn’t handle the controls because it was all in samples. That’s when Dr. Dre asked me to replay some of those parts and that’s how I got involved with NWA, JJ Fad and that type of stuff. They weren’t looking to sell millions of records, they were looking at putting out some street records. That’s how it started, saying things that people wanted to say, but were too scared to say, for example, about the police and things like that. The first NWA record was more political than gangster, but the media put the gangster on it, but it was really political.
On the First N.W.A record, what songs were you specifically a part of?
I played on all of them. I played on pretty much everything they had going on because I was the only bass guitar player at the time.
Off the D.O.C. album, most people really began to take note of who you were with the “Beautiful But Deadly” track. Tell us about that particular song.
That was a track that was just a song I was playing in the studio one day and Dr. Dre decided to put it on the DOC on album. That was one of my favorite songs, and still is. It was sort of off the cuff, nothing really planned, it’s just going by instinct. If the song sounded or felt good that’s what they went with. I’m just glad to have been a part of it. It was a great experience. I never thought it would be as big as it is today, but it was really a lot of fun.
So while your doing the whole N.W.A, Eazy E, D.O.C. things at that time, for what you all were putting together, you had no idea it would become as big as it eventually became? That wasn’t even a thought to you guys like, ‘man, we’re really doing something’?
We were just having fun. It was a lot of fun. That’s the way you’re supposed to put out records and have them released. That’s what is wrong with the records today. I would say from the west coast because they really don’t know the beginning of how it all started. Wasn’t nobody gang-banging; there was no Bloods and Crips, I mean they had their own labels, yeah. If you listen to the earlier music it had a sense of humor to it. Now the west coast music doesn’t have any sense of humor. People like humor in music. They got too serious and after Tupac and Biggie got shot that’s when people started feeling the so-called “gangster rap”. It’s not fun anymore, now it’s life or death. They took all the fun out of the music and the only way the west coast is going to really go to another high is to put humor back in music and have fun with it and not be so serious because you’re not really a gangster if you’re rapping. Real gangsters are on the streets, you don’t see them rapping. It’s two different worlds that you try to put together on CD, in music period, it really doesn’t mix. But for each it’s own, but that’s not really how the west coast started. That’s why people aren’t really listening to it as much. People want to have fun especially during a depression and be entertained in music. That’s really why the south has been winning because people want to party and have a good time without getting shot in the song. There is only one legacy with gangster rap, and that’s Snoop, but that’s just the way it is, not everybody can do that; they have to be themselves and quit copying each other.
You have a vast catalog of songs and albums you’ve worked on and artists you’ve worked with. One thing that I noticed is that after Ice Cube left N.W.A and he went on and did “Amerikkka’s Most Wanted”, “Death Certificate” and all those stand-out albums and Dr. Dre was doing “Chronic” and Snoop’s “DoggyStyle”, you were working with Cube, but you didn’t do anything with Dr. Dre. Why was that?
I had kind of left NWA before Ice Cube and ran into Cube leaving the studio one day, he flagged me down and asked me if I wanted to be apart of it and I said sure. It was just by chance that I ran into Cube. I knew him and his style of music so it was a perfect fit. On the “Predator” album I produced the first single “Wicked” on there, that’s the biggest selling album to date actually. I worked on “Laugh Now, Cry Later”. It’s always fun with Cube. I work when its fun, it’s not worth doing if you’re not having fun.
So what was your relationship like with Dr. Dre at the time?
Really, it was cool. It was just that I was on one side doing Cube’s album and Dre was doing his stuff.
I see you caught back up with Dr. Dre on his Aftermath compilation and obviously you got back into working with Dr. Dre on that. Did you do any work on the 2001 album?
No, I just did the compilation. I was working with one of his producers at the time of the compilation.
When was the last time you spoke with Dr. Dre? Has there been any talk about you getting down with him for the mythical Detox record?
I talked to him probably a few years ago, but we have mutual friends that are over there with Dr. Dre, so we still inquire about each other. At one time I went over there and we talked about doing something for “Detox”, but it never happened, not so far it hasn’t.
Coolio’s Gangster’s Paradise, did you do that actual single?
I did all of Coolio’s albums. I think another producer did that one. For some reason I don’t remember if I did or not.
You go from working with artists like N.W.A, DJ Quik and Ice Cube then go over and do stuff with K-Ci and JoJo, Chico DeBarge, and Christina Aguilera. When you go into sessions with such a vast array of people, what’s your mentality going in with someone like DJ Quik or N.W.A to a session with a Boyz II Men or Christina Aguilera?
I started out doing R&B because that’s where my roots are, so it’s kind of natural. The rap sessions are a lot easier because we are replaying the loops and stuff like that, so it really doesn’t take a lot of technique, but you have to have a feel. There are some R& B players that have a really hard time playing rap sessions. But actually it’s a technique. I had to learn on the spot, especially working with Dr. Dre because a lot of when you first start trying to play rap music, as a musician you always want to over-play. You’ve got all these techniques and skills; it’s a discipline you have to have to do rap records. The next part is knowing what the producer wants to hear. There is a skill for that because if somebody plays a noise out of their mouth and you aren’t in touch with that before then you would be there all day trying to play that. You have to have the feel.
Working with so many icons over the years, is there anybody left on your radar for you to work with?
That’s a good question. I kind of got thrilled with it. I think I have always wanted to work with someone like Outkast or someone from the south. I worked with a couple of people from the east; I did LL Cool J’s “14 Sots to the Dome”. I worked with Kool G Rap. Off the top of my head I’m thinking of the South. I’ve always wanted to work with Outkast. I’d look forward to collaborating with Prince on something. I always wanted to do something with Michael Jackson before he died, that was definitely one. I look forward to working with some of the big legends that I haven’t had the opportunity to work with.
I’m sure your walls are painted in Gold and Platinum plaques. Is there one particular record, whether it be an album or a song, that you are particularly fond of or that you consider a favorite?
I had the most fun working on the DOC album, “No One Can Do It Better”. “Whirlwind Pyramid” is classic to me. Ice Cube’s “Death Certificate”, too. But all-time favorite is DOC.
When was the last time you talked to DOC?
It was last year some time. A buddy of mine ran into him and put him on the phone. I don’t know if he is recording anymore, but he is definitely a favorite.
In addition to the Concrete Soul album that’s currently available, what kind of upcoming projects do you have lined up coming into 2010?
I have another album lined up called “Musical Revolution”. I have an R&B artist, Brandon, who is incredible. I’ve got a lot more music to put out. I got to a point where I was tired of looking forward to working on someone else’s stuff. I wanted to put out some of my own music at this point. I have my label Guitar Man Enterprises and I’m definitely looking for more artists.