Kev Dickson, also known as the original “Captain Save-A-Hoe” and Captain Save’M, is a worldwide icon in large part due to the landmark 1993 song and video “Captain Save A Hoe” from E-40 and The Click off The Mail Man EP released on Sick Wid It Records.
Captain Save’M is credited with launching and branding projects for E-40, Master P, The Click, B-Legit, and T.W.D.Y. to name a few. He has collaborated with several of the music industry’s top artists and producers on songs and records including “Player’s Holiday” alongside Ant Banks and Rappin’ 4-Tay, “Where They At” with Too Short, the “I Got 5 On It” remix featuring the Luniz, Dru Down, Spice 1, and Shock G among others.
Chad Kiser sat down with Captain Save’M to discuss a wide range of topics including the origins of “Captain Save-A-Hoe”, creating T.W.D.Y. with Ant Banks, being one the first to hear “California Love” as a Dr. Dre solo record, the night he saved the Notorious B.I.G. in Sacramento, California and much more.
Exclusive Interview By: Chad Kiser
E-40 recently sued Erika Kane over her use of the “Captain Save-A-Hoe” character in her book Captain Save-A-Hoe. Being the physical embodiment of the character, can you recount the Captain Save-A-Hoe origins for us?
I got a page from E-40 to come to the studio, so I hit the freeway to go from Oakland to Vallejo. I get to the studio, knock on the door, and Studio Tone opens it. Him and 40 snatch me and take me straight to the vocal booth. Everybody is there from the whole Click, D-Shot, B-Legit, Suga T, Mugzi, and Kaveo because they were trying to get somebody else to do the Captain thing, but no nobody else wanted to do it. So I get in the booth and Studio Tone says he’s going to count me in and tells me to say that I’d do anything for this girl and all kinds of other stuff. He counts me in and the first thing that comes to my mind was, “Fuck what they talking about, I’ll save a hoe.” I go on to say they whole little spiel, step out of the vocal booth when I’m done and everybody’s dying laughing. Tone rewinds the whole song and plays it from the beginning, and that was the first time I heard “Captain Save-A-Hoe” with everybody’s verses. Once I heard it I was like, ‘Oh, I know what I can say now!’, but everybody liked it the way I did it the first time.
How did the character concept play out in putting the video together and being the ghetto superhero?
Once we recorded it, we had to put some visuals to it. Dewayne Carey, the video director, E-40, and myself were trying to figure out a concept to bring the character to life. We talked about creating a black Superman because in the hood that’s what Captain Save-A-Hoe was all about. So the video was about this guy “saving” hoes like a Superman, and the video was hilarious and became huge and a classic.
Do you remember the first time bringing “Captain Save-A-Hoe” out on stage?
The first show we performed live with “Captain Save-A-Hoe” was in Dallas at a club called Lexus, and I was nervous to put this cape on and come out. This is back when they had VHS tapes, so we had given the club owner copies of the video and they played the video on the TV’s in the club while the song was being performed. When E-40 hits the part where he says, “Look up in the sky it`s a bird it`s a plane / What`s that niggas name? / Captain save a hoe mayne…” that’s when I came out. The crowd was kind of stuck at first because they’re seeing me on the screen and then seeing me on the stage, and they’re doing double-takes [laughs]. Once they realize it was really me, “Captain Save-A-Hoe”, they start pulling at my cape, my pants, shirt and everything. I look over at 40 and he’s laughing. It was crazy! [laughs]
You rounded out the “I Got 5 On It” remix from the Luniz that also featured E-40, Richie Rich, Dru Down, Shock G and Spice 1. How did you go from there and turn Captain Save-A-Hoe into a full-fledged rapper?
After the “Captain Save-A-Hoe” song and video, everybody was calling me and wanting me to be in their videos, and then E-40 did the remix to “I Got 5 On It” with the Luniz, and with me being on that song when it blew up, I started giving it some thought. I had called Ant Banks one day and I told him I wanted to do something, a record or single, or something. He told me to just come to the house. And with Banks it’s a whole process where you kick it, watch the game, he cooks some food, we eat, and then we go up to the studio. He was asking me what I wanted to do, and I told him I just wanted to prove a point. He started making some tracks, and one of them was the song we did called “Out To Get Mo” that was supposed to be on the first TWDY album, but ended up on my album, My Cape Is In the Cleaners. We knocked that song out and it was cool. The next day he calls me and says I should do a whole album. In my head, I start adding up what it’s going to cost to have Banks produce my album [laughs]. I told him it would be cool. He told me not to trip, that he got me, he just wanted to do an album with me. I went back to his house and we started working on another song. In the middle of working on the song, he says we should do a group. I’m like, ‘Hell yeah, this is Ant Banks!’ So that’s how it turned in to Captain is going to be a rapper and how we came up with the TWDY group.
Tell me about the formation of T.W.D.Y.
Ant Banks was representing Oakland, I was representing Vallejo, and then we added Rappin’ 4-Tay who was representing San Francisco; which is why it’s called The Whole Damn Yey. So, the “Out To Get Mo” single turned into being the beginning of the TWDY album Derty Werk.
The biggest song from the Derty Werk album was obviously “Player’s Holiday” with you, Ant Banks, Rappin’ 4-Tay, Too Short and Mac Mall. Tell me about the creation of that song.
Banks called me one day and said, “I got it.” This was before 4-Tay was in the group. I went to his house and he played me what became “Player’s Holiday”. All it had on it at the time was the music, with Otis & Shug singing the chorus, and I thought it was dope! I asked him who it was for, and he started laughing saying it was for us! I asked him who he was going to get to rap on it because that’s a hit, and he started laughing again. We did probably about 10 different versions of the song because it was just me and him. We do verses, he would rap on them and I would rap them, but it just wasn’t it. He’d give me a cassette tape to take home and practice to and listen to, and then come back and do another verse, or change some words.
About a week goes by and he says, “I know what we need, pack your bags.” We flew to Atlanta, and Too Short and Tony Draper picked us up from the airport. We went to the studio and played the record for him. Too Short thought it was dope and immediately jumped on it and it just went from there. We also pull up “Pervin”, and he jumps on that one, too. Banks pulls up another six or seven tracks and Short’s loving them all and recording to them. We kicked it out there for about a week, and that’s where I also recorded “Where They At” for Too Short’s You Nasty album.
Aside from “Pervin” and “Player’s Holiday”, Too Short recorded another six or seven songs for the TWDY Derty Werk album?
Yes. Initially, Too Short was supposed to be the third member of TWDY, but then Jive Records started tripping and didn’t want to clear him for nothing. Short made sure we had the “Player’s Holiday” and “Pervin” records though. But it was supposed to be me, Banks, and Short as the original TWDY, but Jive wouldn’t clear it. He’s only on two songs from the Derty Werk album, but he really did about 7 more songs. Ant Banks has them in the vault somewhere, he kept them.
With the second TWDY album, Lead The Way, it kind of flew under the radar a little bit, but was as good, if not better, than the first. What happened with that situation?
We did the second album, but as soon as we did the deal with Thump Records the owner, Al Lopez, sold it to Lowrider Magazine for 70 million. So when he left, the label was left to Bill Walker, but there was a whole bunch of internal stuff; they wasn’t using the money right. Universal Records wanted to come in on the strength of “Player’s Holiday”, to get a little bit bigger piece of the pie so they could blow that song out of the water. We were supposed to do a video to our second single off of Derty Werk, “Drinks On Me”, but that’s when we started finding out that they didn’t have the money. We basically didn’t have a budget for the second album because the spent all the money up doing other dumb stuff. The money they made off of “Player’s Holiday” was used to put the powder in Bill Walker’s nose, and he started giving the money to everybody else except for the project that made it. That’s why Lead The Way failed to get promoted properly and catch on.
With the success of TWDY, was there ever a discussion to follow-up your solo My Cape Is In The Cleaners with a second album from Captain Save’em?
I had recorded a couple of songs with Banks, and one song we started on had that Rick James “Hard To Get” that Banks had flipped with Harm singing on it. Then the other song we had was one Banks had with an E-40 verse on it already to the Fatback Band’s “Backstrokin”. It was knockin’! It never came out because I never did my verse for it. It was originally a song for E-40 and Too Short’s album that they were supposed to do with Ant Banks. They ended up not doing that album with him, and then a year or two later they ended up doing that History album together. But the 40 and Short album that Banks did? It was ridiculous.
There’s an entire album by E-40 and Too Short produced by Ant Banks?
Yep. And the songs he did, they were ridiculous. You already know, Banks and Short back together, E-40 and Banks; all three of them together.
You and Ant Banks had a record called “Super Pimpin”. Was that record for any particular project?
We did that for Priority Records because I had a deal with them at the time. The album never came out because Priority ended going through that deal where they sold half of it. So they ended up doing different compilations and soundtracks, so that song ended up on one of those.
There’s a long-standing story about the night Notorious B.I.G. came to California and E-40 had to call off a hit on him. Do you recall that situation?
Yes, because I’m the one that put E-40 and Biggie on the phone. The whole thing came from an article or interview that Biggie did where he was talking about 40 and how he didn’t fool with him. It got so bad, that in the bay area the radio station wouldn’t let us perform in the Summer Jam out here because Biggie was there performing, too. This is when “Sprinkle Me” was hot, and a lot of E-40 and The Click records were huge. We never got to perform in the Summer Jam that year and it came out that it was because Biggie was there and they thought it was going to be this whole big thing. Fast-forward to when Biggie came and performed in Sacramento, which was documented in the movie Notorious, where he was performing and these guys confronted him and was about to do harm to him and lay him down.
I was there that night visiting with some other people and on the way back to Oakland we decided to stop by the Cal Expo to check the concert out. When we park and walk up to the venue we saw a group of guys circling the building. As we got closer we realize it was the Funk Mob of Mac Shawn, Lil’ Bruce, K-One and everybody, and they’re talking about getting at somebody. I go inside and see Biggie finishing up on the stage. The whole building was glass so you could see outside, and see his limo parked backstage. I walk through the concert, through backstage because I knew the security and go out the back door. The Funk Mob had caught him at his limo and I’m seeing them with their pistols in hand and everything, talking to him and a couple of members from Junior Mafia, who basically left Biggie outside while they jumped in the car because they was scared [laughs]. When I walked up, Mac Shawn saw me and was saying, “Yeah, this is Kev Dickson, our manager.” Biggie looked at me and was basically like, “I don’t know what’s going on. I ain’t got no beef, I ain’t did nothing.” I called E-40 on the phone and told him I was in Sacramento at this concert and the Funk Mob caught Big and they about to do something to him. 40 asked to talk to Big, so I handed Biggie the phone and they chopped it up for a minute. Big handed me the phone back and 40 told me to make sure Big got back to his hotel safely. In the documentary some dude in NY said he called E-40, or called and squashed it, but that’s a lie. I was the one who called 40.
That’s crazy. Did you have any other encounters with Biggie before he died, or was that the only time meeting him?
I was actually one of the last people to speak to him before he was killed at that party in L.A. outside the Petersen Automotive Museum. The way the building is set up, there’s a parking structure you drive into and then there’s steps leading into the building where the party was at. Right at the bottom of the steps was where Biggie’s truck was parked. When me and my cousin come up, I see Big sitting on the back bumper of the track with Lil’ Cease next to him. Puffy was standing over to the corner by the steps talking to some girls with hella bodyguards around him. I remember thinking that was strange and asking my cousin why Puffy got all the bodyguards and Big doesn’t have any bodyguards because this is after 2Pac had been killed. And they’re out here doing stuff with Andre Harrell, and it’s all over the radio where they’re at. Long story short, I go over and holler at Big to see if he remembers me. I remind him who I was from the incident in Sacramento, and we chopped it up for a few minutes. Shortly into our convo I remember I had just recorded a song with Death Row for Michel’le and I’m thinking to myself, ‘let me finish this up real quick before somebody from Death Row sees me talking to Biggie’ [laughs]. I said my goodbyes, and me and my cousin walk off, and we get about 20-30 feet away walking out of the parking structure, and everybody starts running past us. The next you thing you know the whole thing unfolds where he gets shot. If they ever show the surveillance tapes of up under the carport, you’ll see me walk up and talk to him.
Speaking of Death Row, I remember E-40 being in the video for Dr. Dre & 2Pac’s “California Love” video. Were you a part of that as well?
What’s funny about that is that I was in L.A. with Laylaw right before ‘Pac got out of jail and recorded his verse for “California Love”. Laylaw was the producer of “California Love”. When I was with the Luniz doing the “I Got 5 On It” remix video, we shot it in LA and that’s when I had hooked up with him. We kicked it that whole day at the video shoot. He told me the next time I come to LA to hit him up and I could stay with him instead of at a hotel. A few weeks later I fly down, Laylaw picks me up and we go from the airport running around town before getting to his house. He lived in LA up in Baldwin Hills at this cul-de-sac, and I would have sworn I been to the house or seen his house before. The house ended up being the same house that was featured in Ice Cube’s “It Was A Good Day” video. But we were chopping it up talking about Eazy-E, the N.W.A movie, but not the movie that just came out, just talking about an NWA movie because they had a script for one way back then, too.
The next morning, he takes me with him on this errand he’s making and he plays me a song. He tells me it’s his boy Barney Rubble on the track he produced, which was actually the reference track to the remix version to “California Love”. We get out to Malibu and pull up this huge house, we walk in, go out back to the pool, and Dr. Dre walks out. Laylaw asks Dre if he knows who I am and Dre just kind of looks at me for a few seconds, and then him and Laylaw both say, “I wanna be saved” [laughs]. Dre says he has something he wants me to hear, so we go into this room that had a big million-dollar SSL board, and says, “this my new single I’m thinking about dropping”, he pushes play and “California Love” comes on. Mind you, his is before anybody heard it, before ‘Pac was out of jail to record to it, and it was knocking like it was. The whole song was initially just Dr. Dre and Roger Troutman. There was a video playing of Roger Troutman doing his part in the song. Dr. Dre asked me what I thought and I told him I thought it was a hit record, but not like I needed to tell him that [laughs].