Yes yes y’all today we bring you an awesome interview with Riddlore of the groundbreaking Westside hip hop collective C.V.E aka Chillin Villain Empire. I want to say thank you to Nyege Nyege Tapes for releasing the group’s anthology Chillin Villains: We Represent Billions. I also want to say Respect DUE to the whole C.V.E crew for creating music that truly has stood the test of time!
Take us back to your childhood—what music did you hear around your home, booming out of the cars in your hood, or your headphones?
The music I listened to around the house as a youth. From the age of four years old till I was seven years old, I lived with my grandparents. They didn’t play a lot of music in the house. But we went to church very often and there was a lot of music in the church. My grandfather loved watching the show The Hall on TV. So I did like country music as a kid. We lived in the projects in Watts. So there was always music at my friends’ houses and around. Mostly soul music and R&B, but there was also Funk, Funkadelic and Parliament. And I loved it all. I was a big lover of music as a kid.
Around that same age probably around six years old my father put me onto The Last Poets and Gil Scott Heron. When I will go over to my Uncle Johnny’s house and visit him, he played the bass. And his main thing he would listen to was Al Green and The Supremes. I really loved Al Green’s sound as a kid, the music is just so warm, and that organ that was in there, it just put me in a trance as a kid, I loved it.
Right around the time I turned eight years old, I moved to Venice, California, with my mother; me and my sisters. My mother had a really nice music collection. Her favorite singer was Smokey Robinson, and number two, Peabo Bryson. We mostly played R&B, and disco was really big at the time so she had a nice collection of disco — the Bee Gees, Evelyn Champagne King, all of that. But she also had the Beatles, and the soundtrack from the movie Hair.
In the neighborhood, the gangsters listened to a lot of Parliament and the Funkadelic, heavily into the P Funk cameo. It was a big low rider culture in Venice, and from the cars, you would hear the real vintage oldies from the 60s and early 70s. I remember getting my first boom box for Christmas when I was in the seventh grade. Then I was hanging with the gangsters, so I was mainly listening to Motown and a lot of oldies. When I was in the eighth grade, I was heavily into new wave music and Prince. Around that same time, I got into hip-hop very heavily and DJing but around the house, I’d listen to more new wave than hip-hop, even though I was the up-and-coming hip-hop DJ in the neighborhood.
What kind of impact did the Uncle Jamm’s Army parties at Oak Wood Park impact your love for Hip hop and the sound of C.V.E?
Late 1983 or early 84 the Egyptian Lover from Uncle Jamm’s Army started DJing in the neighborhood parties at the park in my community called Oakwood Park. During this time Uncle Jamm’s Army was the biggest DJ crew in Southern California. They threw the biggest parties. The first time I saw Run-DMC, Whodini was at an Uncle Jamm’s party. Watching the Egyptian Lover DJing at the park was inspiring. Back then we were too young to go to the clubs and shows that they played at. It made me work harder on my DJ skills. I was not a big fan of the music they made. I thought it was always too much like other songs that were out. But it let me know what was possible.
What role do the ancestors (and Black creators that came before you) play in the way you see the world, and how do they impact the way you create?
I am nothing without my ancestors. They play a major role in my music and life. Hip Hop is an extension of all the African music that came before it. Hip-hop could not exist without the contributions that the ancestors made to pave the way for it. So the music that I make is in honor of them.
Give us the science behind the title of your new album, WE REPRESENT BILLIONS ?
We have a song titled “All Over the Globe,” and the chorus to the song goes “villainz we represent millions, all over the globe! Chillin ain’t done nothing, but they want us under control…” Now we flipped it to billions because we are the global majority. And the real minorities label everyone else as one.
What four albums have had a major impact on your creative spirit?
It takes a nation of millions to hold us back. PE. Licensed to Ill from the Beastie Boys. Earth Crisis from Steel Pulse. What’s Going On by Marvin Gaye.
Y’all have a strong sense of self when it comes to your creative vision. What life experiences helped shape the way you see the world?
My grandmother had a big influence on how I see the world. She loved her people and did whatever she could to help people in need. She and my grandfather had 21 kids of their own. And she raised grand kids. And took in people who didn’t have a place to live. She made most of my clothes when I was a kid. She made all the robes for the choir at the church.
Another thing that has a big impact on how I see the world was my father’s outlook on being Black in America. He did not allow us to say the Pledge of Allegiance. He did not let my sisters have white dolls.
Something else that formed my views was in 3rd grade seeing a film about the Egyptians and Moses being Black. And that Black people started civilization. It framed my consciousness in Blackness.
If you could put three of your songs from the new album in a time capsule to be opened by your sons ten years from now, what songs would you put in there, and why?
The first song I would put in a time capsule would be “State of the Union.” Because I’m sure it will be just as relevant as it is now. Maybe even more so. It’s about the world becoming a police state.
The second song would be “Else’s Vision.” Which is about being true to yourself and not being caught up in how others see you.
The third song would be, “All Over the Globe.” About the vilification of Black people.
Outside of the state-run “education” system, what books did you read to help shape your mental state?
Three books that had a big impact on me were Revolutionary Suicide by Huey P Newton. The autobiography of Malcolm X and Miles Davis’ autobiography.
Talk to us about the concept for “Calistylics” and what was the creative process for this song?
I made the beat for “Calistylics” but fsh wrote the song. I was on tour with Aceyalone when he made the song.
Police Brutality is a theme that I hear in some of your tunes, so I wanted to get your take on defunding or abolishing the police. How do you think it could benefit your community?
The suburban middle-class and upper-class areas are perfect examples of what it looks like to defund the police. Their communities are not over-policed. The people are not randomly stopped and searched. They come when called to a situation. The police don’t go hunting for their kids and fathers. So we all know what defunding looks like. And that is what we need in our communities. It’s that simple.
Describe your RETROSPECT LP as a weapon of mass change—what impact do you want to see it have on the culture?
I’m not really looking for this album to impact the culture as a whole. I just want those heads who love the art to have a chance to catch something they missed out on at the time. And to give those who already know a nice vinyl album of what was only on CDs back in the day.
Tell us about the creative brotherhood that you Tray Loc and NgaFsh share?
Me, Fsh, Tray loc, and Wreccless are like brothers and the creativity between us just flows. I could start a beat, walk away from the equipment, and Fsh would add to it and or vice versa. We been working together since the late 80s. Tray loc and Fsh were best friends. He started rapping at the GoodLife in ’91. His style was known as pimp hop. Me and Fsh created the sound behind the rhymes. He was a solo artist for the most part. But still a member of CVE. Wreccless joined the group in the late 90s. He was a member of Hip Hop Kclan before this. We did a lot of collaborations with them at the GoodLife and Project Blowed.
C.V.E. Chillin Villains: We Represent Billions Pre-Order via Nyege Nyege Tapes
A song like “Let’s Get It On” sounds like it was created in 2022…When y’all were creating this song did y’all know it would be relevant later and what does that say about our society?
We had no idea that “Let’s Get It On” would sound like the music of today when we made it. But we try not to follow trends or sound like what the masses are doing. We focus on making timeless music.
What are some Good Life Memories that will be with y’all forever, Can y’all share some history with us?
There are so many great memories from the Good Life and The Blowed. Seeing groups like the Freestyle Fellowship and J5 form from regulars collaborating on stage together. The Apollo-style crowd reaction to wack rappers. The “please pass the mic” chant from the crowd to show disapproval. I would suggest that everyone reading this watch the documentary This is the Life by Ava DuVernay. It takes right into the GoodLife on a Thursday night.
How did y’all’s relationship with NYEGE NYEGE come about?
My relationship with Nyege Nyege started in 2015 with an email from Arlen inviting me to come to Uganda to play at their first festival. One of his friends name Stav who is big supporter of our music met me when I was living in Paris in 2009. About a year later, he brought me to Greece, where he lives. I made the “State of the Union” song there. So I agreed to go to Uganda. While I was in Uganda, Arlen gave me a bunch of field recordings from all over the continent. I made a lot tracks with samples from the recording and we decided to make an instrumental album with them. Titled Afro-Mutation.
What does a beautiful day full of Black joy look like to you?
A beautiful day of Black joy is just being with friends and family. Cooking out in the backyard, enjoying life.
What impact do you think that the Good life & Project Blowed had on Hip Hop Locally plus Globally?
The impact of the Good Life and Project Blowed is bigger the any of the artists that came from them. We influenced artists more than the masses of people. We were so focused on being the best that a lot of people couldn’t relate. We were rappers’ rappers. A lot of rappers took what we did and watered it down for the mainstream audience. But from Blackstar to Bone Thugs, we’re inspired by our movement. Rhymesayers & Anticon on the indi side and many more.
What are some Black-Owned Business in Socal we should know about?
Some Black businesses to know about are Eso Won book store, LA. World Beat Center, SD. Laos Network, LA. Harun Coffee, LA. Ali’s Chicken and Waffles, SD. Coops west Tex BBQ, SD.