Conversations With Chad: Fredwreck On Scoring Classics For Snoop & Nate Dogg, Kurupt, MC Ren & More (The HipHopDX Interview)

Interview By Chad Kiser

Multi-platinum producer Fredwreck has been creating classic compositions for the likes of Dr. Dre, Xzibit, Snoop Dogg, Kurupt, Ice Cube and numerous others throughout his long-standing and highly successful career. On par with his West Coast producing brethren DJ Battlecat, DJ Quik, Dr. Dre, the Palestinian-American producer — most notably known for his work with Dr. Dre & Aftermath, Snoop Dogg, Westside Connection, and the late Nate Dogg – has been hard at work on numerous projects in 2017 and beyond.

Fredwreck recently sat down with HipHopDX for an in-depth interview to discuss a number of topics including Martha & Snoop’s Potluck Dinner Party, working in the studio with Dr. Dre on Compton, producing on a follow-up record to Kurupt’s Space Boogie: Smoke Odyssey, working with producer/director DJ Pooh on the Grow House soundtrack, and much, much more!

HipHopDX: Let’s talk about the Martha & Snoop’s Potluck Dinner Party with Snoop Dogg and Martha Stewart that airs on VH1. How did you and Snoop connect with Martha Stewart to do a cooking show in the first place?

Fredwreck: [Laughs] I’m still asking myself the same question! But you know what it is, it’s just people with good personalities getting together. The way I got approached about it was from Snoop and his manager Ted Chung. They approached me and asked me if I would do it, and I didn’t really want to do it at first because I was just busy in the studio, but when they told me what it was I was like, “what, you got a show with Martha Stewart?” Snoop said, “yeah, cuzz, we need you to come DJ on the show.’ I was like fuck it, I got to do that! All three of us have a blast together, we have so much fun, and now Martha Stewart is my best friend! I’m giving her a return shout out because in the New York Times she said I was her best friend!

HipHopDX: What’s it been like seeing gangsta rap icon Snoop Dogg and Ms. Martha Stewart interact with each other because it would seem like a weird dynamic?

Fredwreck: It is a weird dynamic, but that’s what makes it work and makes it cool because you don’t expect them to be doing something together. At the same time, yeah Snoop is a gangsta rap icon and he’s always going to be that, but that was twenty-some years ago and he’s so much more now. He’s a father, a grandfather — he’s a world icon now, you know what I’m saying? He likes to cook, too! Snoop cooks for me every Christmas because for some reason, the last four or five Christmases we’ve found ourselves by ourselves for Christmas [Laughs]. But he’s always cooking something up, and his uncles are really good cooks, so he learned from them. And then him and Martha met each other, he was on her show and they had a good chemistry; so they hit it off, and she like him so it’s just a good chemistry. He has fun in the kitchen and he’s into that, he’s not just up there so he can be next to Martha Stewart, no, they like doing that show together. And she likes Hip Hop, rap, and the younger crowd of people who are huge fans of hers.

With the show being on VH1 it’s a good way for her to give back to her younger fans. She’s really fun to work with and is the sweetest, nicest lady, and of course, Dogg is one of my best friends — so how could I say no? We also just got picked up for our 2nd season!

HipHopDX:You hear about Dre and some of these producers with these massive vaults of music, and in preparing for this interview with you, I got to wondering what a Fredwreck vault looks like. Recording with the Xzibit’s, MC Ren’s, Snoop Dogg’s and others, your vault of music has got to have some gems in there from over the years.

Fredwreck: Yes, it does. That’s the thing with the vault, some stuff is not meant to be heard [Laughs]. Some stuff is, but it’s all in the right timing. I think because I started out my career in Dr. Dre as my mentor, and I kind of learned from him that not everything has to come out. It has to be good, it has to be complete things. Some stuff that we record, I mean I probably have 20 or 30 Nate Dogg songs, but will you hear them all? No, not really because some of them were just ideas of things that me and him were doing. It’s like a laboratory where you’re doing all the tests to see what’s working and what’s not, and then you’re only going to see the creation we make at the end. You’re not going to see all of the scraps that are on the floor. Even though I know a lot of people would want to hear it, I mean I’m a fan of music, too, and I’m like, ‘Yo, I wonder what the vault sounds like in Roger [Troutman] and Zapp’s studio.’ I get it, but if I never heard it I wouldn’t trip because what they left was amazing.

I do my Greatest Hits compilations that I put out, which is songs that I produced that came out, but then I’ll go in the vault and find one or two things that didn’t come out that I think might sound good right now. I do slowly put stuff out, but I’m just a little bit old school and not into that, oh, I’ll just drop it on a mixtape and give it away for free. I think that’s bullshit. Some people are into that and thinking you just got to let it breathe and go out there. I’m more like it’s got to have a concept. I mean, me and [Ice] Cube have songs, I have songs with Game, I have songs with Nate Dogg, with Snoop Dogg, with [Dr.] Dre, and with a bunch of people, but what is the meaning, just to drop it for my own vanity sakes? Just to put it out there and just say here’s a song I did with Dre, or whoever? For me, it has to be more a part of a concept. I want to make the whole movie, I don’t want to show you just one scene. What’s the point if I show you a scene, if you won’t know what the whole movie’s about?

HipHopDX: What’s typical day in the studio like for Fredwreck?

Fredwreck: It depends on who I’m working with. One of the fun things about being able to work with Dre is that there’s so many other musicians and producers around. I like that environment like that, we got Dem Jointz, my boy Brizz, and we got Focus…, and then we got all these different musicians like Curt Chambers and a bunch of musicians – all of us play two or three different things, so if I’m not on the keyboard I’m going to pick up a guitar or whatever, it’s just like a jam session. It’s really fun to be in a music studio with different musicians and everybody can contribute. Those sessions are really fun. When we do those sessions at Aftermath, I’ll stay up until five o’clock in the morning and I won’t want to go to sleep because it’s just so much fun to be recording and coming up with ideas.

For myself, when I go in by myself, I’m still like a beat-head. I still like going record collecting, me and Alchemist just went on a record collecting spree the other day. I don’t really sample too much, but I still like collecting records, I like breaks, and listening to and getting ideas. So I’ll sit and listen to some records, watch a movie, I’ll just try to find something that inspires me. I’ll set some keyboards up, or maybe one day I’ll just sit and make a bunch of drum kits on my drum machine and then start with the drums. It’s something different every time, I try to not do the same process so I’m always inspired.

HipHopDX: I wanted to run down just a couple of joints with you that I personally like and just wanted to get your thoughts and history on them. The first being “The Hardest Muthafuckaz” from Kurupt’s Space Boogie project. Tell me about putting that record together and working with Kurupt, Xzibit, MC Ren and Nate Dogg, and how you pieced that record together.

Fredwreck: We recorded that record at Larrabee Studios — it doesn’t exist anymore — but were recording Kurupt’s record and Dre’s record at the same time. Kurupt had originally did the whole song. It’s like I said before, it’s like a laboratory so I made the beat and he rapped on the whole song and afterward when we went back and listened to it we said, “this part of the rap is cool, and this part of the rap is cool,” and we pieced together whatever he rapped and made the verses.

And then Nate Dogg came by and said, “Hey, man, leave that beat up. I got something for that.” And so he laid his part down. Xzibit then came by, and we played him what songs we recorded and when he heard that one he was like, “Ah, I want to get on that!” So we put him on there. And then the last one was MC Ren. I had always wanted to do a song with Ren. Ren and Cube were my favorites in N.W.A – I mean all of N.W.A were my favorites, but Ren, I had always wanted to work with him.

Ren came down to the studio and got on the song. We were talking and I told him one of my favorite songs he ever did was “Ruthless Villain” on Eazy-E’s record. He was like, ‘Oh, really? I like that, too’. And that’s how he started out the best – “Yo, Fredwreck! Turn this motherfucker up man so it can fuck with my eardrums a little bit,” like he told Dre. We mixed it, and the rest is history.

HipHopDX: There’s another record you did on the Space Boogie: Smoke Odyssey project — “Space Boogie” — with Kurupt and Nate Dogg. What was that collaborative process like working with them on that track?

Fredwreck: That’s like I said earlier, I would make a beat and Kurupt would come in and rap on it. We never really structure stuff when he records, but later on, if I feel like some parts are weak and some parts are strong I’ll go in and try to structure it. And if he liked it, he’d come in and rap the whole thing over again, in the structure I did. With Space Boogie, his whole rap was so dope that I couldn’t cut it anywhere. And then Nate came in at the end and was like, ‘Yo, I was singing something at the end.’ So he did that whole piece at the end. And what happened later was that record label came in and got on my ass, but luckily I had the “Executive Producer” override on that album, because they were like, ‘ you got to cut Nate Dogg, you got to make it a chorus, and you got to bring it in again..’. I didn’t want to do that because then I thought to myself if you look at the “Next Episode,” Nate only sings at the end, and that’s what I wanted. I wanted to leave it where he put it which he sang it at the end. I’m so happy they didn’t cut it at the end. You anticipate Nate at the end, and Kurupt’s verse, I mean Kurupt is a microphone inferno, so that was just one of them unorthodox records that you just want to hear a guy rap and it doesn’t have to be structured for the radio or no shit like that.

I didn’t try to make that record for the radio, I tried to make that record like some shit I’d want to bump in my car. I love that record. Even the more pop stuff that was on there, we had Jon B do a song on there, and then Kurupt did some other pop stuff that the label wanted to put on there like “It’s Over Now,” that I didn’t want to be on there, but they were like, ‘it’s with his girlfriend’ [the late Natina Reed].

HipHopDX: I always thought “It’s Over Now” seemed out of place on that album.

Fredwreck: The label added that shit at the end after the mastering, I was so hot when they did that. And also what they did was they changed the album cover. The original album cover was a Joe Cool mural that he drew of Space Boogie. You’ve seen the Doggystyle album cover? He drew us one like that, but it was an outer-space cartoon thing, it was kind of like Parliament-ish a little bit. It was dope a fuck! I have a copy of it but it’s in like a really low-res format. I don’t know if they didn’t want to pay for the color separation of it or what, but they went ahead and used that stupid picture of him on the cover with the chandelier behind him. They ruined my whole concept with that fucking cover. They were so dumb up at that label, man.

HipHopDX: That’s crazy, man. That original album cover sounds dope.

Fredwreck: The music stood for itself. But I think we’re going to re-release the album, before Kurupt’s new record comes out, and we’ll add like two more songs to it and I’ll put the original artwork back on there.

HipHopDX: The last record I wanted to ask you about is “Crazy” with Snoop Dogg and Nate Dogg for Tha Blue Carpet Treatment. Can you tell me about putting that record together?

Fredwreck: I originally made that beat for Bootsy [Collins]. Bootsy wanted me to make him a beat for a Christmas album he was doing. Bootsy’s my Unc, we’ve been friends forever and he’s been such an inspiration to me. The first time I met him, Snoop’s manager, Ted Chung, brought Bootsy to my house, man. He walked in the door with Bootsy Collins, bro. But, he had asked me to make a beat for his album, so I made that one and another for him and he picked the other one.

Nate Dogg heard the beat, and then he wrote “Crazy” to it, as a scratch vocal, and then I put it on a CD for Snoop. Snoop was doing a celebrity Xbox challenge or something, and this was birthday day, and he wanted me to come up and compete in it. I went out there and played in it, lost or whatever, but he was one of the ones that won so he gave me the Xbox he won as a birthday gift to me. And then he was like, “Fredwreck, I got a better present for you!” So we went and sat in his car and he’s like, “I want you to hear this song I just did,” and he played “Crazy.” Mind you, I had given him that CD like six months ago, but that’s how it is with Snoop. I’ll give him something and he’ll just marinate with it for a while. Sometimes he’ll record it the same day, or sometime you won’t hear from him again until like a year later, he’s just got to be in his mode. But I was like, “Oh My God! You used that?” and he was like, “Yeah cuzz, we gotta put this on my album.” So I went and got his vocals, went and got Nate’s vocals after he re-cut them, and added that part where he goes “I really love my dog, grew up together and all…” — then me and Segal mixed it and the rest is history. That’s one of my favorite records.

HipHopDX: It’s crazy how many records you’ve produced that have Nate on there. What was your relationship like working with him?

Fredwreck: Nate was like one of my best friends, man. I was with Nate every week from at least Thursday to Sunday or Monday, every week he’d be at my house. Thursday nights we’d watch Sopranos and we’d record, Fridays we’d record, and Saturday and Sunday his kids would come over, Nate and Nigel, and they’d be at the house all weekend in the pool, and me and Nate would be recording. We were just always in the studio, we both liked being in the studio. He always inspired me because as a producer sometimes you’re sitting in the lab making a beat and you get stuck. I get stuck because I don’t rap and I don’t sing, so I take the beat so far and be kind of unsure of it and put it to the side.

But with him there, he would inspire me because he could take the simplest beat that I made and write something so incredible to it that I’d be like, ok, not everything has to be so thoroughly produced and some stuff can just be simple. I really respected him and his writing. He could make any beat a hit, man. I have so many songs that we never completed, but he’d do just one little thing to a song and I could listen to that over and over again. He was a one of a kind and there will never be another one like him. I’m blessed to have been able to have him in my life and call him a friend, as well as someone I worked with.

HipHopDX: You do a lot of things behind the scenes on several projects that we don’t really know about, like when Dr. Dre’s Compton record came out, I recall seeing you talking working on it or being involved with it. What type of involvement do you have in projects like that behind the scenes, where it’s not necessarily a “produced by Fredwreck” situation?

Fredwreck: Most of the stuff I’ve worked on I’ve been credited for, nobody would rob me of a credit. For instance, on Compton I only played keyboards on some songs, and I’m credited for it. On something like that, Dre is one of my best friends, so I’m going to be there for him through the whole thing. There’s going to be so many things I’m going to do to assist him that he’s not going to be able to write down everything. I just like to be a good right-hand man and just try contribute whatever I can. And I don’t do it for my own vanity sakes, I do it to help him.

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Xzibit’s 40 Dayz & 40 Nightz; I don’t remember what I did on that, but I know I did something; I didn’t make any beats for it, but Xzibit is one of my best friends, so when he was working on that record I wanted to be there for him in the capacity of playing keyboards, or playing guitars on some songs, or layering stuff up. When you’re in the process and going through shit, you’re just trying to help out and contribute as much as you can. I’m not going to go back at the end and be like, “Hey, I played keyboards on this, and I did this and did that.” It’s like Game of Thrones, I like to be the hand of the King, basically.
HipHopDX: You worked on the soundtrack to the Grow House movie too, no?

Fredwreck: I just kind of oversaw the soundtrack being put together. When Pooh first showed me the movie he didn’t have any music to it, so I just started sending him beats and sending him ideas. He kind of like found a beat that he liked that looked good on film, so then he was like, ‘O.K., we need to do a song to it.’ After watching the movie, I already knew on one hand who I’m going to call to have be on the song. One is going to be B-Real, two is going to be Xzibit, and we got this new kid out here Garrick Grout, so they’re all on “The Bong Song.” And then Pooh was wanting something reminiscent of some N.W.A-sounding music, so me and Kurupt went in the studio and we did a song that we were actually going to put on his album Scuba Dust because me and him have an album coming out called Scuba Dust, so that’s going to be a new song with me and Kurupt on the soundtrack. And that record is the first record we’ve released since Space Boogie.

HipHopDX: That’s dope. Several years ago there was talk of you and Kurupt doing collaboration record which never materialized. So that project has turned into the Scuba Dustproject?

Fredwreck: Well we did record throughout the years, we’d record for like a couple of weeks and then he’d go on tour, I’d get busy doing something else, and then we’d record again. We probably recorded a good 20 songs, and we just keep recording and keep recording until we find something that can make some sense. Instead of just dropping whatever, we’d rather have quality over quantity. I think that now that this record is coming out, he’s calling me like every day to get in the lab, so hopefully with this record coming out people will like it and it will inspire us to pick some of the great songs we’ve done already and put them together for Scuba Dust.

HipHopDX: What’s the significance behind the title Scuba Dust?

Fredwreck: We want to call this Scuba Dust because we want to take you to underwater funk. The other record we did was Space Boogie and we were in outer space with that one. We’re going down under with this one!

HipHopDX: DJ Pooh has done some incredible movies like Friday3 StrikesThe Wash, and now Grow House, but I miss him behind the boards. In your work with DJ Pooh has it ever come up about him getting down on some music production again?

Fredwreck: I’m sure he is! He has a song on the Grow House soundtrack that he produced. But Pooh is an icon man, he’s made it films, music, and everything. I think once you get into to making films and being able to put visuals to sound you just get so obsessed with that. He’s really into writing, the camera stuff, the technical side of making a movie and things like that. But you never lose your passion for your first love, which is music, so he’s still doing it.

HipHopDX: In closing, what are some of the upcoming or current projects you’re working on?

Fredwreck: I got the Grow House soundtrack that’s out. I produced a song on Biggie’s album, The King & I, with Faith Evans and Lil Cease with one of my producers that I signed and his name is Beatnick Dee, and I’m working on Kurupt’s Scuba Dust project. And I got this kid October London whose album I’m working on also and he’s really dope, so be on the lookout for hi

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