Fredwreck is categorically one of the west coast’s unsung heroes. For over 20 years the multi-platinum producer has been behind the boards composing numerous classics for Dr. Dre, Ice Cube, Snoop Dogg, Eminem, Kurupt and others.
His most recent work was producing the ominous and incredible “Framed” on Eminem’s Revival album, which convincingly sees the rapper portray a schizophrenic serial killer. Fredwreck also produced “I Don’t Want It” for Faith Evans on last year’s The King & I, and “Sail Away” for October London’s Color Blind: Hate & Happiness which was released on Snoop Dogg’s Cadilacc Music imprint. Never one to rest on his laurels, Fredwreck has numerous upcoming projects in the works with Cypress Hill, DJ Quik, Battlecat, and long-time collaborator Kurupt among others. Currently, the producer can be seen holding it down as the DJ for Martha & Snoop’s Potluck Dinner Partyon VH-1 as it enters its third season on the network.
In this exclusive interview with Chad Kiser for DubCNN, the incomparable Fredwreck discusses everything from his opinion on the recent Eminem vs. Machine Gun Kelly battle and their respective diss songs “Rap Devil” and “Killshot”, working with Eminem to construct “Framed”, crafting the classic Westside Connection song “Gangsta Nation” with Ice Cube, Mack 10, WC, and Nate Dogg to being inspired to get into producing by LL Cool J, hanging on set with Martha Stewart and Snoop Dogg, and so much more.
“Consider this an invitation…”
Fredwreck: A DubCNN Exclusive Interview
Questions Asked By: Chad Kiser
DubCNN.com: Eminem just dropped Kamikaze, what did you think of his latest release and which tracks stand out to you the most?
To be honest with you, I was completely surprised because I didn’t know it was coming out. I was happy it came out because who doesn’t want more Eminem music? I was excited to hear what he did. I liked a lot of shit on there like “Fall”, “The Ringer” was hot, “Greatest” was hot, it was all hot. The whole album was dope. People are so used to the simple stuff, so if it doesn’t click right away they’re switching off to the next thing without sitting there and actually listening to his words. I come from the time of when you actually listened to the raps. Everything is what they were talking about, where you go back and listen to the songs over and over again just so you could catch each line. Eminem’s songs make you listen to them over and over again because he always has those double entendres that makes his shit so cool to listen to. It’s like looking at a Picasso and every time you look at it you see something you didn’t see before. That’s what Eminem is, he’s the goat; he’s a lyrical genius. Em is not just going to throw out some dumb stuff and not say nothing and it be about nothing, his shit has content to it.
DubCNN.com: What are your thoughts on the Machine Gun Kelly “Rap Devil” vs Eminem “Killshot” disses towards each other?
Machine Gun Kelly better leave him alone! He better leave the boy alone because Eminem is a career killer, he will destroy your career in just one song. Kelly is barely gasping for air right now, he destroyed you. Em is an emcee and if you say something about him he’s going to flame-throw you. I know Machine Gun Kelly probably has his friends around him saying, ‘oooh, you ain’t gonna respond or say something?’, but the best thing he can do is just leave him alone. It’s done. What’s he going do, come out with another diss, and then Em come out with another diss? It’s not going to happen like that. Kelly came with a diss, Em dissed him back, and that’s it. I don’t even know a Machine Gun Kelly song, what song does he have? Go to the studio and make some songs about something else, don’t fuck with the goat. Eminem is a worldwide, global icon. These dudes are just weenie internet rappers.
DubCNN.com: One of the more surprising lines in there was the one about Diddy where he says, “But this idiot’s boss pops pills and tells him he’s got skills / But, Kells, the day you put out a hit’s the day Diddy admits / That he put the hit out that got Pac killed..”.
Listen to the words, though. Everybody’s just taking one part of what he said, and they aren’t listening to the whole line. Diddy never put a hit out on 2Pac, so Kelly will never have a hit. That’s what he’s saying. And at the end, Eminem gives it up to Diddy. Just leave the boy alone, he’s not to be fucked with. He knows what he wrote. Let’s not make something out of nothing.
DubCNN.com: Sticking with Eminem for a second, you produced “Framed” for Eminem on his Revival project last year. What was it like building that record with Eminem and putting the concept together?
That was a complete collaboration. That particular collaboration is thanks to his manager Paul Rosenberg. Paul asked if I had any beats for Em, and he said he’d rather me just go out there and work with him. Em flew me into Detroit and we sat in the studio and put that together. Those are some of the best sessions that I have. I don’t like to send out beats, even though I do, but that wasn’t one of those. That was a time where me and him actually cooked that up in the studio together. We put our equipment side by side, I put some drums and sounds in his, and he put some things on mine and we just matched it up together. He did the drums, I did some keyboards, he did some more drums, and then I did some guitar. He goes and writes to it, and while he’s doing that I’m arranging it a little bit. He’d come in and ask me what I thought about this or that. It was one of the most fun records to put together. He’s great to work with, man, he’s a producer’s dream because he’s an emcee. He needs no direction, he just needs you to be there and make sure everything is running. He knows what he’s doing. We both come from the school of Dr. Dre, so it’s just an easy work flow, you just let him go. He’s like a lion, you just open up the gate and he goes and tears up the whole jungle.
DubCNN.com: Another recent Fredwreck sighting was your appearance in Cypress Hill’s newest video for “Band of Gypsies”. Are you working on their upcoming Elephants On Acid project?
“Band of Gypsies” is produced by DJ Muggs, I mixed the whole album. Muggs wanted to do a collaboration with an Egyptian artist, so we all flew out to Cairo, Egypt and did the whole experience with Sadat and Fifty. They’re on the record rapping in Arabic. They’re huge out there. The song is basically about bringing the California with the Cairo, and they call it “Cairofornia”. But the album is all Muggs, B-Real, and Sen Dog being the first record they’ve all had together in a while. I helped Muggs by playing some keyboards and guitars on some songs, and helped him with whatever he needed. Then he had me mix the whole thing. I was honored to work with them, those dudes are legends. It was also cool for me because I used to be their tour DJ for three years. They’re my brothers, so to be able to work with them and help them with their record was an honor.
DubCNN.com: In 2002 you produced the “Til Death Do Us Part” record with Cypress Hill. Can you detail producing that record?
That was during the time Muggs didn’t want to tour anymore and just be in the studio. So I was touring with them and then they did that record. I was the first producer outside of Muggs to produce a Cypress Hill record, which was that song. They ended up naming their album Till Death Do Us Part. They needed one more record for the album, so they asked me to come in and produce something, and that’s what it was.
DubCNN.com: You’ve done remixes to numerous songs like E-40 and Too Short’s “Rapper’s Ball”, Warren G and Nate Dogg’s “I Need A Light” among others. When you do remix projects, what’s your approach to doing those in terms of putting it all together?
The way I started out producing is from doing remixes. I used to DJ on the radio and my music director would get all of us DJ’s together like me, Alexander Mejia, Theo Mizuhara, Cameron Paul, Billy Vidal, and wanted one remix from one of us every week. He wanted to take a record that was on the playlist and remix it so it would give it a little bit more life on the station. He also wanted the station to be fresh and have a different sound than the other stations, so we had our own versions of these songs. At first it was just getting the song and mixing it with another beat, but then it made me want to get a drum machine and add my own stuff to it. Once they started to become a little bit popular, the music director would send them out to the other sister stations, and they’d start playing them over there, too. Pretty soon, the record labels wanted to start adding them to the other stations, so they would connect us to them and they’d pay us for the remix. That’s how I really got in to doing the remixes, and it helped me to learn production. I started to be known for my remixes, and they were getting played on the radio so much that labels started hitting me up asking me to remix this or that. Nowadays, people don’t really do remixes like they did, back then every record they put out would have a remix on it, just to give it a little bit more life and longevity. Sometimes, the remix would get played more than the original, or they would re-press the whole album and add the remix to it.
The “I Need A Light” remix was something Nate Dogg had asked me to do because he wasn’t really feeling the original version of it. He wanted it to be a little bit more up-tempo and different. On that one, I had the acapella and what I did was I had to speed it up. At that time the technology of Pro Tools was getting better to where you could pitch up vocals without changing them. So with “I Need A Light”, I was able to speed it up some and give it a little bit more bounce. When it was finished, something happened at the label and they didn’t want to use it, so I kept it for myself and put it on my greatest hits record. I gave it to Julio G and he started playing it on 92.3 KDAY, and that’s the one that everybody started playing. With “Rapper’s Ball”, the A&R guy asked me to do a remix to that, so they sent me the acapellas for that and I remixed it. I did some for Cypress Hill, but I wanted to have the guys come in and rap it over, and just make a fresh new version of the songs.
DubCNN.com: Talk to me about how one your biggest hits, “Gangsta Nation”, and how it came together with Westside Connection and Nate Dogg.
It’s a funny story. I was doing a lot of work with Priority Records back then, and the Vice-President of Priority was a guy named Andrew Shack. Shack is a really good friend of mine. He called me up one day and said he needed some beats for the Westside Connection album because they were looking for one more record. I had this record that me and Nate Dogg had recorded for Tha Eastsidaz, but Goldie Loc and Tray Deee didn’t like it. So I took that record with me up to Shack’s office, along with ten other beats on a CD. I put the one with Nate Dogg’s hook on the CD as the first one to play. I sat in his office and played it for him and he said, “Nah, this is too west coast, man. We need something that can get played on the New York radio.” I told him to just send it to them, and he wouldn’t do it. I walked out of his office frustrated, but in the office next to his was Craig Marshall, a lawyer who worked for Priority. He’s my lawyer to this day because of this. He had heard it through the walls, and asked me what that record was that I was playing in Shack’s office. I told him, “It was a record I wanted to give Shack for Westside Connection.” Craig was like, “Man, that sounded great! Who was that singing on it, Nate Dogg?” I said, “Yeah, but he didn’t like it. He didn’t want to send it to them because he was looking for some New York shit.” Craig couldn’t believe it and said I needed to get it to them. He asked me if I had Mack 10’s number, but I told him I didn’t know how to get in touch with them. Mack 10 was in charge of the whole project, he was the point person and the one who put everything together for them. I knew everybody from being on the Up In Smoke tour together and doing some other records, but I didn’t know how to get in touch with them.
So, Craig pulled me into his office and called Mack 10 to tell him about it. Mack was leaving that night to go to Chicago to meet up with Ice Cube, who was in Chicago filming The Barbershop movie. Mack told Craig that if I wanted to play it for him, then to meet him at Jerry’s Deli on Ventura Boulevard because he was leaving town soon. I drove over there, and Mack was sitting in his car waiting for me. I played it for him, and he listened to about thirty seconds of it before he turned it off. At that point, I didn’t think he liked it. All he said to me was, “What are you doing at 7 o’clock, Blood?” I said, “I don’t know.” He tells me to get my bags because I’m going on a plane to Chicago with him. He said, “This shit is a hit!” I went home and got all my shit. I got the drum machine, the files and everything I did to make the beat. I meet back up with him at the Van Nuys airport, and the whole time we’re on our way he’s calling ahead trying to book a studio. I get up in the morning and he calls me and tells me to go over to the studio he booked and put the beat on the tape and get it going. By the time I got there, Mack, Dub, and Ice Cube all came into the room. They all had the beat already and had been writing to it. Ice Cube, I’ll never forget this, came right up to me while I was sitting at the board and sat right next to me and said, “Listen to my verse real quick.” He sat there and rapped his verse to me and I was like, ‘what? That’s hot as fuck!” From there, we recorded the song. The intro part where Cube says, “Consider this an invitation to my gangsta nation” we didn’t have it clicked in the beginning, so we had to do that maybe five or six times until he got it right on point to where he said it and the beat kicks in. That was a little bit tricky.
After everybody had laid their verses down, I was sitting at the Moog with the headphones on. I didn’t know the engineer had the Moog playing out of the speakers, so the end part where Mack 10 is talking my keyboard line comes in. But I had had my headphones on just trying to find the line, and while I was doing the Moog part Ice Cube turned around and pointed right at me. Everybody started kind of jumping up in the air all excited and shit. I took the headphones off and asked what was going on. Ice Cube looked over at the engineer and asked if he had recorded it. I was like, “You guys could hear me?” I was apologizing and telling them I was just fucking around, but Cube was like, “nah, that was dope!” He played it back, and I had been playing through the whole track, but we took that one piece and left it in there where Mack was talking. Mack said that if I was going to do that, he wanted to go in and say his line over. It was kind of like Mack’s homage to me and Nate Dogg. After we got back from Chicago, I let Nate Dogg hear it and Nate was like, “I thought you gave that to Tha Eastsidaz, man.” Sometimes, Nate would do a record and I’m going to try to get it to whoever I’m trying to get it to, but sometimes he’d be like, “I don’t want them to have that.” I said, “Well, Tha Eastsidaz didn’t like it.” He was like, “Good, these motherfuckers made a hit. That shit bangs!” [Laughs] After that he wanted to layer it up a little bit more, so we cleaned it up and the rest is history.
DubCNN.com: That’s crazy that Tha Eastsidaz rejected that beat?
We were working on their third album at the time and I think there’s a version of it that they did, and Tray Deee liked it, but Goldie Loc didn’t like it; or Tray Deee might have laid a verse or something, I don’t remember exactly. But, you know, everybody has a different vibe is all.
DubCNN.com: That’s interesting about the part of the story where the head of Priority wanted a more “New York” sound, and this record became such a strong hit.
The funny thing about it, is that song was their biggest radio-played record and it went to number one on New York radio. I had told Mack 10 the story about how Shack didn’t like the record. We went into Shack’s office one day after the record had come out and was number one on New York radio, and Mack started bagging on Shack saying, “Man, if it weren’t for Craig Marshall it wouldn’t have been on our album.” That was the record that saved their album, basically. Shack said I didn’t play him that record, and I reminded him I did. Shack said he had the CD I brought to him in his desk drawer, so Mack and I told him to pull it out and play it. The first thing that came on was that song because I had put it as the first beat on the CD that day I brought it to him [laughs]. We’re all friends, and to this day I kind of bag on him when I see him. Not everybody can hear every hit. He was just looking to get that New York market, and I don’t know anything about that. To me, it’s just a dope record.
DubCNN.com: That’s a great story on the making of “Gangsta Nation”. The video was cool, too, with Cube rocking the jheri curl.
We went back out to Chicago and shot the video, even though it looks like we’re in L.A., because Ice Cube was still filming his movie. Dave Meyers shot the video. It was cool and fun making that record. We were probably in the studio for three days, but Ice Cube had us out there for like 2 weeks just chilling, smoking cigars and listening to Frank Sinatra. We had a good time. But if it weren’t for Craig Marshall and Mack 10 that record would have never came out.
DubCNN.com: Is that the only record you’ve done with Ice Cube?
I did another song with him after that that we put out because he was going to put out the Everythang’s Corrupt album. Ice Cube and I have a few records together, actually. But I did the “Everythang’s Corrupt” single that he dropped a while back, with a video, too. I had done some other songs for that record, too. But that was it, he never finished that album. That song did well for me. It was featured in the The Grandmaster movie, about the guy who trained Bruce Lee; Allen Hughes used it in his TV show, Gang Related, and it was used in NCIS: Los Angeles. So it got licensed in a lot of things, so that was cool.
DubCNN.com: You’ve laced up Mack 10 with outstanding records like “Living Just To Ball” and “Mirror, Mirror”, which are a couple of my favorites from your collaborations with him. Can you detail how those records were put together?
Right, I did “Living Just To Ball” from the Mack’s Hustla’s Handbook and I also executive produced and mixed that entire album, too. But with “Living Just To Ball”, he had another record to that that had the beginning piano sample in it of Natalie Cole’s “This Will Be”, but he didn’t want to clear it. I told him let’s just make a new song, but let’s just make a feel good song and he could use the same words. So, we erased the beat that he had and I sat and did that beat instead. Nikisha Grier had come in, and she’s a very talented singer, a dope artist, and she came in and sang the hook.
“Mirror, Mirror” with Traci Nelson on the hook. I was re-playing one of Frederic Chopin’s songs, and then I just put some drums to it. So the music to the song is Chopin, that classical music. I put a beat to it, and Traci laid the hook. I sent it over to Mack in a beat CD and the next thing I know Mack called me and said, “Yo, that’s my single, blood.” I was just fucking around, I didn’t think anyone was going to want to use Chopin.
DubCNN.com: You and Mack 10 have some great chemistry together.
Mack is a great friend of mine, and really fun to work with. I’d do anything for him, man. My dream is for those dudes to all 3 get back together and give us another Westside Connection record. Let’s go. Only thing that really matters is what comes out of those speakers. All the personal stuff, man that don’t matter. Let’s make some music together. It can happen again, it’s just that everybody’s busy doing their thing. They’ll figure it out, and whenever they figure it out I’ll be right there waiting for them.
DubCNN.com: Obviously you have a strong working relationship with Dr. Dre. What do you admire most about the legendary icon?
Me and Dr. Dre’s relationship is real personal and I’d just like to keep it like that. There’s some things in my life that I like to keep private and that’s one of them. Musically, you know, he’s been a great influence to me throughout my whole life and continues to be. I love collaborating with him.
DubCNN.com: In your opinion, is Compton the last album we’ll hear from Dr. Dre?
Under the guidance of the 5th Amendment I’d like to say that I can’t comment on that. Dr. Dre is always working on music. He has a lot of talented artists like Anderson Paak coming out, still has Kendrick, and still has Eminem. As long as Dr. Dre is alive you’re going to be hearing some dope music.
DubCNN.com: From Snoop Dogg, Dr. Dre, and Nate Dogg to Ice Cube, Eminem, and MC Ren you’ve worked with several of the music industry’s biggest artists. Is there anyone left that you’d like to collaborate with who you haven’t yet?
Yes! First of all, Nas should have never did a record with Kanye West. He should have come over here and got some of this. I’d love to work with Jay-Z and Lana Del Rey. There’s a lot of them. I’d do a record with Scarface any day. Mary J. Blige would be dope. Paul McCartney would be great. Elton John, man, let me get Elton John in the studio. Stevie Wonder, come on. I’d like to get 50 Cent back in the studio if he doesn’t want to be a TV star anymore.
DubCNN.com: Speaking of 50, what’s going on with him and Busta Rhymes in this Instagram squabble?
[laughs] Man, Busta can’t take a joke! I’d like to work with Busta Rhymes, too, he’d be fun to work with. We’ve been on the same records, but I haven’t personally done a beat for him. But, man, 50’s kidding around, but once he sees you taking it seriously he’s going to keep going with it. It’s comedy to me, but it’s senseless comedy. What, are they going to start doing diss records over it? He’s just having fun. I don’t know what their relationship is like, but 50 likes to clown, bro. He’s funny. If you know 50, he’s a hilarious dude in person. Busta’s a pretty serious guy, I don’t know him, but I’ve been around him a lot. 50’s just clowning, but the more you get butt hurt about it he’s going to keep going with it. What are they going to do, fight each other? Actually, that would be a great Pay-Per-View, 50 vs. Busta. Celebrity Death Match [laughs]. As long as they hug afterwards, it’s all good.
DubCNN.com: Who are you working with currently and what are some of the upcoming projects you’re involved in?
I have this band coming out called The Ungrateful Crimson which is kind of like an alternative band that I’m producing. It’s something different that you usually wouldn’t hear me doing. Next year I hope me, Battlecat and DJ Quik can do an EP together for a band I want to put together, with the three of us doing talk boxes together like a 3-piece harmony.
DubCNN.com: Whoa, that sounds amazing. How did this come about and what’s the story behind it?
I want to call it Atomic Dogs just out of homage of where we come from musically, the funk. It’s not a cover band, but it’ll be like a five song EP, and us go on the road and perform it with a little show to it. All original songs, but we might do an old Zapp song or something just for fun because when the three of us get together it’s going to be dope. I’d rather it all be original because I don’t want us to be a cover band. I always liked Stevie Wonder playing the talk box on David Frost’s show in England and he does a small piece of The Carpenter’s “Close To You”. So I could see us a remake like that to pay homage. I just want it to be up-tempo and fun, just some new shit. I think it’s time all three of us collab on something that’s ours, that we can go out and perform together.
DubCNN.com: You, Snoop Dogg, and Martha Stewart just wrapped up Season 2 of Martha & Snoop’s Potluck Dinner Party for VH-1. As you head into Season 3, what’s been some of the more memorable episodes or guests you’ve had on the show so far?
We’ve had so many! The one that stands out to me right now is the one where we had Patti LaBelle, Jamie Foxx, and Charlie Wilson on there. That one was really fun, and it was Snoop’s birthday. All the episodes are cool, though. The one with Sharon Osbourne and Kelly Osbourne, that one was really fun, too. They were hilarious! The whole show is fun to do. Being with Martha and Snoop every day is just a blast, man.
DubCNN.com: Snoop Dogg and Martha Stewart really have a great chemistry with each other on the show, which on the surface it’s like how is this gangster rapper and this home decor/chef lady going to work?
They have a good relationship and they have fun. It’s like you having a good relationship with your auntie or big sister, that’s who she is. She’s our friend. I never thought I’d be on a show with Martha Stewart. Back when I was a kid I used to watch Julia Child or The Galloping Gourmet, and now I’m on a show the Julia Child of our time in Martha Stewart. She’s the best to work with, in fact, Snoop has a hard time keeping up with her because she’s so much fun.
DubCNN.com: YouWatching Snoop cook up alongside what Martha Stewart is cooking is a trip. Snoop adds his “special ingredients” to his food, too. Does Martha ever sample Snoop’s seasonings?
No, she does not. As a matter of fact they keep her trailer as far away from Snoop’s trailer as they can because there’s so much smoke that’s coming out of it [laughs]. But she be having us drunk after every episode though, that’s for sure! She makes the best drinks you’ve ever had. She can make a Jack & Coke gourmet, like anything that’s simple she can make it absolutely delicious.
DubCNN.com: The season two episode with LL Cool J was cool, especially when the camera panned over and you were wearing the Kangol and rope chain paying homage to LL.
It was cool because he shouted me out, too! LL is my idol, and he’s my friend so that cool to do. LL is the shit, man. Ladies Love Cool James. “Rock The Bells” was probably one of the first songs that made me want to do hip-hop. Not as a rapper, but I wanted to be a DJ and producer because of him shouting out his DJ. “What’s my DJ’s name, Cut Creator!” That was hard to me because he was shouting out the DJ’s name. That was one of the first records that made me like hip-hop like that.
DubCNN.com: Before we let you go, we spoke before about Kurupt’s Space Boogie follow-up, Scuba Dust or Konundrum. What’s the status update on that project?
[laughs] And that’s the conundrum. He’s wants to call it that because we’re at a conundrum trying to figure out what the name of it is, but it’ll come to us. But we have recorded a bunch of songs, we have songs ready to go. I’m just more of a perfectionist where I’m like I want to do ten more songs, or at least five or six more songs. He’s ready to put it out right now. We have time, we’re not on any deadline to do it. We haven’t done an album together in 17 years, so I just want to make sure that it’s worth the wait. It’s just a matter of time, I don’t want to just put out stuff because we have stuff. We have some great records though! I love working with him, and he’s one of my favorite emcees ever to work with it. Me and Kurupt is like Dre and Snoop.
Fredwreck was speaking to Chad Kiser, exclusively for DubCNN.com. Copyright 2018.