Hailing from the Southside of the Windy City, Really Doe burst on the scene back in 2005 as the hook-man on Kanye West’s “We Major” featuring the legendary Nasir Jones. Fast forward to 2008 and Really Doe is on the verge of unleashing his debut album, First Impression, on the world. Really Doe sat down with us to discuss his GOOD Music debut, life in the music industry and his plans for a worldwide takeover. He’s major.
What up Really Doe? What’s going on with you?
Right now I’m finishing up my first album, First Impression, its dropping late ’08, my first single is “Plastic” and Kanye is featured on that.
Did he produce the track as well?
No, he didn’t produce it. Actually, my man Donte Winslow produced it – he played the horns on “We Major”. Kanye came in with a crazy 24 bars though.
When is this track going to be leaked to the public?
It’ll be out in a few weeks, it’s in the process of being mastered right now.
Do you have plans to shoot a video for “Plastic”
Most definitely. I want to shoot it in the Chi, but I’m willing to do whatever it takes to make this video crazy. I’m willing to go to any location I have to, to get this the look that I need.
You debuted on the standout track, and my personal favorite from Late Registration, “We Major”. You came in the industry on a track with Nas, and according to most, you stole the show. How did that feel?
Man, I was so honored for that. I’m honored that the world got to hear that record and respect me off a hook. The people and the fans are what keeps me going, and it’s great to hear people say that is there favorite hook in all of hip hop. In fact, I was just talking with Beyonce and she told me that was her favorite hip hop hook of all time – that’s crazy.
It was more than just your average hook, in my opinion.
Yeah exactly, I mean my label, GOOD Music, we strive to be different than everybody else and you can hear that in my style. You really can’t compare me to any artist that’s out there right now. So as far as my album, I’m bringing a lot of energy into it. I wanted to make First Impression a classic album and something you can listen to three years from now, but still sounds like it came out yesterday.
The praise you received must have been crazy, going from a relatively unknown to appearing on a track with Nas & Kanye. That must have changed your life immensely…
Well, before I was on “We Major”, I was on the College Dropout tour as the opening act. I also worked on the Truth tour with Usher, Kanye and Christina Milian, I had a two song opening set every night. So people knew me to some extent before the track with Nas. You know, I actually wrote Nas’ verse for that track if you actually paid attention to what he’s rapping about: “I asked my man to the right, what his verse this sound like, should I freestyle or write, he said Nas what the fans want is Illmatic still.” I like to bring the best out of everybody regardless of who they are, and this was my first major look to the world. At first Nas came with a really dope political verse, and I was like “you really don’t need that, you need that Illmatic, you need that gutter, so let me get that.”
So you inspired that?
Inspired it and wrote it. Then we went line for line – and that was most definitely an honor – someone of Nas’ caliber to ask “What should I do, how do you think I should come.” Basically, me and GLC were in the studio with Nas and we were just throwing lines back and forth – I mean don’t get me wrong, I was pacing around the studio (laughs), I’m thinking “How do I tell Nas he has to go harder on this shit” (laughs)
Yeah, that probably would have immediately induced a heart attack (laughs)
Nas is a humble dude. He still takes time out to talk to me when I call, I mean I don’t have a strong relationship with him like I do ‘Ye, so I don’t want to use all my favors up. So I save the favors for: “Nas, let me get that 16” (laughs)
Tell me about the mixtape you’re working on with Clinton Sparks.
We’re still trying to put everything together as far as the name, the titles, and what not. More than likely I’m gonna be out in LA working on it. It should be done in about two months – it will be everywhere worldwide.
Let’s go back to your debut album, First Impression, what can we expect?
You can expect groundbreaking tracks. Of course I’m gonna have a few tracks from Kanye on there – as well as some upcoming producers that I believe in, such as Donte Winslow. We kind of have that old Gangstarr feel together. The sounds I’m looking for are kind of an untouched sound that’s not out there right now, so me and Donte Winslow have some crazy stuff, strictly takeover music.
The album will have about 18 songs and three skits, and it’s just my job to do this and I’m honored to do so. I feel like your First Impression means everything, regardless of what you’re on – be it a date, a job interview – wherever you put your stamp down you just want to leave a great first impression on the world.
The album is going to be crazy though. When people mention this rap shit, I want my name to be mentioned…I’m not a ringtone rapper. I want the respect, I want the longevity – not to mention the money (laughs). “I love respect, but I love strip clubs too” (laughs)
So as far as your comparison to Gangstarr, does Donte’s production have a revamped Primo sound to it?
Well, I can’t really say the sound because we’re really not going for that. Our sound is more of a takeover sound and the comparison is more about the chemistry between us. I have a feeling that this album is most definitely going to be in the Life After Death mold, the Reasonable Doubt mold, the Makaveli mold. It’s all of those mixed in a pot. It’s gonna most definitely be a universal sound.
What about features? Will you be trading verses with anyone?
The album will most definitely have GLC on there. Consequence, obviously Kanye, Jennifer Hudson. I have a track that I would love to put Andre 3000 on. I’ll also have Nas on the album. That’s one of my problems right now – I can get the features I want, but since this is my first project, I don’t want to water it down with too many outside appearances.
Will this be a GOOD Music independent or major label release?
It’s going to be through GOOD Music/ another major label. We’re going to have to do it major. My first single “Plastic”, in order for it to work the way it needs to, it has to have that Hype Williams video look. “Plastic” is basically talking about credit cards and while I’m talking about credit cards, I’m trying to uplift the hood. Actually my performance on “Plastic” is a response I used to get from the block: “Damn Doe, you made me go get a credit card yesterday, and you made me get my credit established”, and things like that. I wanted to do something that the corporate world – as well as the block – can relate to, you know? I feel like I’m most definitely the best of both worlds.
You are still based out of Chicago, right?
Yeah, still in the Chi. I had the opportunity to move out to LA with all my guys, but I chose to stay here for my music. While working on my first album, I didn’t want to make it from an LA point of view. I need this album to be strictly from a Chicago point of view – for us. I need to be around people’s lives that I have to change, you know? Being in family members houses and looking at the carpet and saying: “I’m gonna change that shit.” That’s what your first album should be made off – that hunger, that pain – instead of Kanye’s mansion in the Hills. I’m a workaholic and I write every single day even if I do party because this is my job. I’m blessed to wake up every morning and only have to do music to survive. I don’t take this for granted, but I do want more, and right now I’m about to take it.
Who were your biggest hip-hop influences growing up?
Ice Cube, NWA, Spice 1, but I also dug stuff like Souls of Mischief. Growing up, a DJ lived across the street from me, so I was pretty much in touch with everything. I kind of think that’s what got me out of gangbanging and doing dumb shit because I was so into what he was doing. I could see all the girls and beautiful women running over to his house and I’d be like “Man, I need to be doing this” (laughs). I would take my allowance money and buy all the singles, but I wasn’t allowed to play them in my house, so I would run across the street and give the DJ $5 to $10 to make me mixtapes. As far as favorites, I’ve always been inspired by Jay, Nas, Geto Boys, Luke – even Sir Mix-A-Lot. I just love good music. I’m also a kid that grew up on Bell Biv Devoe, Boyz II Men, Michael Jackson – I just love entertainment.
But right now since I’m working on this album, I’m not really listening to rap music at all. So a lot of times when I’m in my car I have on the rock station, or I’m listening to old school music and things like that.
It’s probably a good way to clear your head and focus on appealing to a larger audience.
Exactly. I want people who don’t even listen to rap to be like: “Man, I don’t fuck with rap, but I like that song, right there.”
The “Magnetic Power” track you did with Jennifer Hudson (from Kanye West’s Can’t Tell Me Nothin mixtape) had some serious crossover appeal
That song was so crazy, man. In fact, a few film directors already wrote treatments for the video out in LA. They’re just waiting for me to come out there and sit down with them, and they want to do it on the love.
So this will make First Impression, correct?
Most definitely, that’s why Kanye only leaked one verse from the song on the mixtape. Also, Jennifer Hudson wants to come back and do a solo at the end of the song. I kind of like it how it is, but she wants to come in and do her thing. I wish Kanye would have put the whole song on the mixtape though – I would have liked to have a full song on there! (laughs)
What about “Disperse” from Consequences album? I feel like that could have been a big song. I loved the nod to the Cru’s “Just Another Case”
No doubt. We’re actually supposed to shoot a video for that – we were going to do it in January, but I’ll let you know what’s going on with that situation when I know more.
How were you discovered by Kanye? Did you grow up wit him?
Well, me and GL (GLC) basically met Kanye at the same time, through one of our guys, we used to call him Birdman (Desert Eez), He (Birdman) went to grammar school with ‘Ye, and we connected with ‘Ye that way. Those guys all kind of looked out for me. I grew up on the South Side, 87th street, right around the corner from GLC – that’s my man and he’s always been like an older brother to me.
Any final words for the Fake Shore readers?
Keep supporting my music – I’m one of the artists that’s going to be around for a long time. My name will go down in history with this rap shit. I’m honored, I just want to keep making this GOOD Music and I kind of want to clean up all the garbage music that’s out there right now because the game is so watered down. Back in the day people didn’t use to play music unless it was that shit, unless it was something you felt….
Also, there is so much talent in Chicago, there is so much soul here, and I’m trying to take Chicago to the forefront. We have all the talent in the world here: Kanye West, R. Kelly, Lupe Fiasco. Why are we so behind from other cities? Lets step up and takeover, Chicago – it’s our time. If you can make it in Chicago, you can make it anywhere – believe me.