Interview conducted by: Alyssa Menard
Starting out in the game writing for huge artists such as Dr. Dre and Eminem, it wasn't long before Knoc'turnal quickly found his niche within the rap industry. Determined to become a living legend himself, the rapper soon shifted focus onto his own career and was immediately landing features on classic albums and movie soundtracks. However, even in the midst of him becoming a well-known name in the game, he suffered blows from a failed album release, a record label breakdown and heavily bootlegged EP's, all of which threatened to jeopardize his budding career. However, Knoc'turnal never deterred from his original promise to give the West Coast another timeless legend to be remembered for decades to come. After a four year break from the industry, Knoc is back and ready to talk to RapIndustry.com about what lies ahead in his career.
Its been a few years since weve last heard from you Knoc. When your last single The Way I Am dropped in 2004, it seemed to be a sure thing that you were going to jump back on top because everyone was feeling the title track. However, it ended up being the only track released off of that album. What was the reason behind that?
Knoc: Lyor Cohen (former head of Island Def Jam) bought Elektra from Time Warner at around the same time that my album was supposed to be released. He ended up firing 400 people from the rap department, so I couldnt really move forward with my project. I ended up being released, debt and obligation free.
Elektra actually offered you your own label, LA Confidential, at one point. What ever happened with that?
Knoc: A couple of things just werent right with the owners. So I just felt that it was best to just back away. Sometimes you just gotta move on, Im sure Im not the first person to move on from a shady label and I probably wont be the last.
So what have you been working on since you left the label?
Knoc:I got my solo album project coming out called The Book of Knoc on a label deal we got with Equity Records. Im just trying to make sure we get everything done , but its basically almost done. I did about fifteen songs, plus a couple of skits and interludes. Its a great album; just keep looking for it because it should be coming sometime this summer.
This is going to be your third studio album. How would you describe the sound of this one?
Knoc: The sounds crazy, theres been a lot of love. There are some features on there thatll basically build up my camp. I got a couple of West Coast artists like Mr. Big. Theres also a group that we formed for the West Coast called Mathmadix.
What is going to be the focus of the new album?
Knoc: Im just going to be real about the streets and what really goes on, you know? I want to focus on life and on me, since I havent been out in 3-4 years. Its basically the stuff that the fans want to hear. Being that they have been supporting me this whole time throughout my entire career, I got to give them what they want to hear.
What do you plan on dropping as the first single?
Knoc: The first singles gonna be a track called Ya Boy is Back, and its produced by Scott Storch. Its just me on there and Scotts producing so its definitely a hot track hes a good dude. Scott also produced The Way I Am, so we just work well together.
Last album Missy Elliot, Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg were just a few of the big names you featured on some of your tracks. Who do you link up with this time around?
Knoc: Of course I got Dre. Im working with D.Q. on one of my last songs so that I can finish up my album. I got Nate Dogg, DJ Quik and a couple of other local artists I was telling you about, like Mathmatix. Im just trying to round the album out to where I can give the West Coast artists and fans what they deserve and what they need. A lot of times West Coast artists will come out and instead of trying to help out the West, they rely on the East Coast cats and dont try and get the West Coast cats paid. Thats why with all of the things I come out with, I just try and stick to what I know and do mainly West Coast things. The only East Coast thing I did was the Transporter soundtrack a few years back, where I recorded a song called Muzik that Kanye West produced.
Tell me a little bit more about some of the projects you have worked on.
Knoc: I did a couple of other things, like Double is Trouble with Quik. Ive written a couple of songs for The Chronic and a few songs for The Wash. I wrote a couple of songs for Warren G on the Return of the Regulator as well. I linked up with a couple of different dudes like Crooked I, and Big Tyme just to see what I could do to try and help out their careers. Sometimes West Coast artists dont get a lot of the props that they deserve, so whatever I can do to help I will.
You started out your career writing for some of the hottest rappers on the West Coast, and you have been featured on some of the classic albums. Do you ever feel that youre not given enough credit as a solo artist, as compared to some of the hits that you helped to create?
Knoc: No, not at all. I feel like the job was done, I just have to keep pushing to become a legend. Its really about leaving your legacy, getting as many awards as you can and just trying to make timeless music so that people will listen to you even when youre gone.
The industry has changed a lot since you were last out. How do you feel about the state of hip hop now?
Knoc: I feel like its going good, like were moving in the right direction. We need a little bit of censoring of course, because we are trying to raise our youth.
True. True. Who exactly is Knoc feeling right now? What artists are you listening to?
Knoc: Mainly Mathmadix (laugh). Actually, right now I like a couple of different people. A cat I did a song with is actually a pretty good r&b singer. I listen to a lot of stuff; I just mainly want to know what the basis of it is. I kind of felt Akon a bit, but things just started to get a little repetitious. Thats not something I want to have in my career, because when you start to get too repetitious you burn out too fast and people get tired of hearing you. I just tried to get back in it with this album and this camp that Im trying to build and just come back with a whole foundation of people. That way, it could be more of a movement, and not like me just trying to ride for myself and by myself like I had to do last time.
You sound like a good businessman, like you have a plan set together for what you would like to do differently this time.
Knoc: Yeah. I just grew up a little bit, thats all. Less drinking, less smoking, you know?
Is there anything that you would like to let the fans know about you before I let you go?
Knoc: I just really appreciate them supporting me throughout my whole career. When this next album comes out, The Book of Knoc, they will not be disappointed. I took my time on it.