Butch Cassidy Talks Unreleased Nate Dogg Songs; Creating “Lay Low” With Snoop Dogg (The HipHopDX Interview)

Interview By Chad Kiser

Many Hip Hop fans heard Butch Cassidy, then known as Danny “Butch” Means, on Nate Dogg’s G-Funk Classics Vol. 1 & 2 on songs like “Scared of Love,” “Dirty Ho’s Draws”, and “I Don’t Wanna Hurt No More.” From there, Butch has experienced a career filled with collaborations with several of Hip Hop’s greatest artists and producers. A few of Butch Cassidy’s high-profile collaborative appearances include the Dr. Dre-produced “Lay Low”, Snoop Dogg and Tha Eastsidaz on “G’d Up,” Warren G’s “This Gangsta Shit Is Too Much,” Mack 10’s “Connected For Life,” featuring WSCG cohorts Ice Cube and WC, Xzibit’s “Loud & Clear,” Mystikal’s “Tarantula,” and G-G-G-Unit’s “Groupie Love.”

In this HipHopDX exclusive, we sit down with the West Coast crooner to discuss his newest single, the King Graint-produced “Get on Up,” who he’s working with on his upcoming full-length project, the aftermath of his cousin Nate Dogg’s passing and how it affected him, his work with Snoop Dogg, Dr. Dre, and others legends in the game.

He also revealed the origins of the making of Snoop Dogg’s 2000 single, “Lay Low.” All fans of the G’d up sound should gather ’round and take notes.

HipHopDX: You have this new single out now called “Get On Up”, so fill us in on how you put this record together and who you worked with on this joint.

Butch Cassidy You know, I’m always trying to do something for the women, that’s what my main focus has always been on, the women. We keep things going for the streets and everything, but I truly love the women. So when they hear my new record, it’s going to be guided towards them. But I’m still going to bring something for the streets; I have to keep a little bit of street in me. I’ve been working with a couple of new producers off and on, but King Graint produced the “Get on Up” record for me. It came our pretty hot, and we’re going to drop some more stuff soon. I think the public is going to be real happy when they hear this new music.

HipHopDX: Is the King Graint-produced “Get on Up” going to be a part of a bigger, upcoming project, or is this simply a one-off single you’re dropping?

Butch Cassidy It’s part of a project. I’m probably going to drop another single in the next month or so, and then I’m going to come with the album around October or November. If not, then I’ll probably wait until the top of the year, but I don’t want to wait that long. It’ll most likely be between October and the end of the year when the album will be dropping.

DX: Who are you working with on the overall project? In addition to the contributions from King Graint, will you be working with people like Battlecat, Daz, Dr. Dre, Fredwreck and the like? What can you tell us about the production side of the project?

Butch Cassidy It’s going to be mostly with the up-and-coming, new producers, but I got one or two with ‘Cat; I haven’t done anything with Fredwreck, but I do have a couple of songs with Nate Dogg that I know are going to be real crazy. It’s mostly with the new cats because we’re coming with new sounds, and I think that’s what we need because everybody is so accustomed to the West just dropping that hard stuff.

DX: You brought up your cousin Nate Dogg. In the years since his passing, how has his death affected you, both personally and professionally?

Butch Cassidy Personally, it was family so it affected me. We grew up writing songs way back when I was 10 and he was about 14. We truly miss him. On a professional level, he was always incredible with the hooks. He’s the King of Hooks. It gets me really upset when I think of all the stuff me and him did. We were eventually going to do an album together, but that never got to happen. But I do have a couple of songs with him for my album and I can’t wait to let everybody hear it. They’re super crazy.

Suited ‘N Booted: With more than two decades experience and reportedly 200 features, Cassidy has records with virtually every West Coast legend, namely Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Warren G and the late, great Nate Dogg.

DX: The Nate Dogg songs you’re talking about, what kinds of songs are those? I ask that because you two did a wide range of songs together from “Scared of Love” and “I Don’t Wanna Hurt No More,” to “Lay Low” and “Cool” with Tha Eastsidaz.

Butch Cassidy One of them is on that G-Funk thing and tuned to the streets, and the other one is for the women. People didn’t understand that me and Nate always wanted to be more towards the women on these records. It’s just the cats we was always working with, had to keep it gangsta all the time. But when we got on our own, we were trying to cater to the women because really, that’s where the money’s at. Everybody don’t want to hear about getting shot up and t-shirts turning red and all that. We’re trying to calm it down and get some peace around here.

DX: These records with Nate, who were you guys working with on these joints? Are they original recordings or have they been re-done?

Butch Cassidy One of them has Fredwreck’s touch on it, and the other one has a new producer on it that don’t nobody know, but he’s dope. I think that cat was from overseas. A lot of the West Coast producers like DJ Quik and Battlecat are real quiet right now, and I haven’t been really hearing nothing from them. Dr. Dre has been dropping stuff here and there, but other than that I haven’t really been hearing a lot of West Coast producers making it happen.

DX: Of all the records you and Nate Dogg collaborated on, is there a particular track that stands out as a favorite to you?

Butch Cassidy “Scared of Love.” We did that song in ’96 back in the Death Row Records days and that was the first song he and I recorded. I wish we would have done more with that record because at that time, Nate didn’t really have a push and he put that record out independently. If it was flipped and did right, right now, I think it could really be strong. Except for the real Nate Dogg fans, most people don’t really know about that record. You got to be a real fan to know about that one.

“I Don’t Wanna Hurt No More” brings back memories, too. I get sad when I listen to that one. And then there’s “Just Another Day”, “It’s Going Down Tonight,” the one we did on Tha Eastsidaz record — “Cool”, and then “Lay Low”. There’s a bunch of records, man. But “Scared of Love” is that number one record that brings back memories.

Butch Is Back!: Released in June 2016, Cassidy’s new single has been steadily gaining traction with his longtime fanbase.

DX: Lastly, in regards to Nate Dogg, it seems that the soulfulness and the way he added that special nuance to songs disappeared when he left us. There’s no more soul to the records like there was when Nate was here, like that entire era left with him, in the same way the Tupac’s absence is felt in the years since he passed as well.

Butch Cassidy Right, it kind of left with him, but it could still be brought back. Everybody’s still trying to do it, but it’s so hard to get it across right now on radio, and I don’t really know what sound radio is looking for right now. When I listen to the stuff on the radio right now there’s a few little things I like, but it’s so different. The rapper’s right now aren’t making lasting Hip Hop like we used to do back in the day, where it’s still lasting today. The stuff they’re doing is just for today, then next year it’ll be gone and you won’t even think about it no more. But on my record, I got that feeling, I’m bringing the G-funk and all that stuff so when they hear my record, they’re going to realize it really was a family thing and the sound is coming back.

DX: There’s a couple of joints I want to run down with you that you were featured on. The first being “Lay Low” with Snoop Dogg, Tha Eastsidaz, Nate Dogg, and Master P, which was produced by Dr. Dre and featured on Snoop’s The Last Meal project. “Lay Low” was such a fantastic record, can you detail the process in working with Dr. Dre and the rest of the ensemble on that record and your involvement in that track?

Butch Cassidy: I’m going to tell you the real story behind that record. I had already did a song on that record called, “Loosen Control” with me, Snoop, and Soopafly. I was originally only supposed to do one song on his album. I was sitting at home that day and Nate asked me to roll to the studio with him because he was working on a song for Snoop’s record. So we rolled up there, and when we got there, the beat for “Lay Low” was on. I’m thinking I’m just chilling and there for support that night, just kicking it, smoking, playing some video games; just doing what we do in there. Snoop walked up and was like, “Butch, why you in here acting like you ain’t gonna do know work? You need to grab a pencil and paper!” I’m like, “Oh, OK, I thought it was just going to be Nate on this one. Y’all got a single with me already.”

He was like, “Kill all that, dude. Get a pencil and paper and write something.” So, Nate went in there and did the hook, I heard what it was about and I wrote my verse and Snoop dropped his. Xzibit was there, too, and was supposed to be on the song because he was writing a verse. But the song just kind of turned into a masterpiece. I think when Master P came on, he did his part like months later for the record.

Master P didn’t seem to fit in on that record. It’s almost like he put himself on there so he could say he was on Dr. Dre record.

DX: I mean he said, “With Dre on the beat this ain’t nothing but loot” [on “Lay Low”] That lets you know right there he was like, ‘I got to get on this one.’ Is that the only record you’re on that was produced by Dr. Dre, or are there any other Dre-produced records floating around somewhere with Butch Cassidy on them?

Butch Cassidy There is another one I had with Dr. Dre and I was supposed to get with him because we didn’t end up using it, but he always told me I could have the track. It’s real dope, so I think I’m going to have to go grab that one. I forgot the name of it, but when I holla at Dre, I’m going to have to get that record because it would be nice to have him featured on my album.

DX: One of my favorite tracks with Butch Cassidy is “This Gangsta Shit Is Too Much” that you collaborated on with Warren G for the Return of the Regulator project. Tell me about that record and working with Warren G.

Butch Cassidy: I started working with Warren G right after Tha Eastsidaz record. He had gave me a call and wanted me to get down on a couple of songs. That was one of the records, and I wished he had dropped that as a single instead of the single he dropped at that time. I think he dropped “Looking at You” and that song was alright to me, but I think Warren had a couple other tracks that would have been better to release as a single. I think Dre produced it so he ended up going with that first. I’ve got another couple records with Warren that no one’s ever heard. He’s been doing some crazy beats lately, too. I know for a fact he’s going to be on my new record with the production side. You’re going to be hearing from me and Warren. We’re trying to get back together right now.

DX: There’s a record you did with Ant Banks and TWDY called “Let It Go” off the Ant Banks-produced Lead the Way project. How did you and Banks connect for that banger?

Butch Cassidy: You said Ant Banks! You took me back to 2000 with that one! That came up off of E-40 because I was out there working with E-40 and Too $hort for the Chase the Cat album. His brother D-Shot was telling me to come on out and I ended up staying a couple of days at E-40’s house. I was doing some work with him and then he said his boy Ant Banks wanted to work with me. So we shot over to his house and that’s how we got that song done. It’s always crazy when I go up to The Bay, they know how to have a good time.

DX: Having worked with so many heavyweight artists and producers throughout your career, who’s out there that you’d still like to collaborate with?

213: Nate Dogg was formally in a group with Snoop Dogg and Warren G. They released an album, The Hard Way, in 2004.

Butch Cassidy: There’s probably like five rappers I want to work with and then I’d be done with Hip Hop. I’d be satisfied with my career with Hip Hop after I work with these cats. On the East Coast, it would be Jay Z, I think it’d be crazy if me and him did something together. Then I would need one with Eminem. Then Andre 3000, Scarface from Texas, and then Luda and probably Nas. So about six, I’d be cool with that. I want to do a blast from the past record with Slick Rick, too.

DX: So what’s next for Butch Cassidy? You have your upcoming project with the lead single “Get on Up”, but is there anything you’re working on or is it strictly this forthcoming project?

Butch Cassidy: Right now, it’s about me. Most of my career has been all about other acts and just being on their records. I’ve been on so many records that I think I have about 200 or so features, some crazy number. As Butch Cassidy, I want to do like three albums, and then after that, I would go on and change my name and just start doing all songs for the ladies, but it still would have a gangsta feel. I’m going to retire Butch Cassidy once I do about three albums, but they’re going to be three dope albums. I got about seven or eight more years to do this Hip Hop, and then I want to go do some R&B like what we grew up on, but’s going to be like R&G with that gangsta feel to it. Chris Brown and them do good with their R&B, but this is going to be with a G-Funk feel to it.

And then I’m going to be the first Hip Hop artist to do a real gangsta gospel album. That’s dope.

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