One of the best interviews HipHop DX has done. It’s such a shame that Danny Boy got lose in the shuffle thanks to Suge Knight’s bullshit. They really treated this guy foul.
HipHopDX: Your latest Gospel single, “Words Can’t Explain,” and your long-in-the-vault Death Row Records debut, It’s About Time, were released six days apart in April. How surreal was that to have your past and present colliding at the same time?
Danny Boy: I was very excited about the old project…because that’s music that I recorded back when I was 17-years-old, back on Death Row [Records], when Death Row was in its heyday. And over the years people have always contacted me wanting to know about the project…so I was very excited for them to hear that. At the same time, on my label, Artist 1st, I’m working on my own project independently, and I just wanted to make sure that I put out something to give the people [so they can] have an opportunity to…hear where I am today vocally and musically.
DX: How did the guy who used to sing lyrics like, “Now I may be very young / But I’ll get you sprung / If you let me play with your pearl tongue…”
Danny Boy: [Laughs] You wrong, man.
DX: [Laughs] How did that guy wind up going Gospel?
Danny Boy: It’s really funny when people say, “Danny Boy gone Gospel” and just…putting a title on the type of music that I sing. And my people really get mad at me for saying that [but] I’m a Ray Charles type artist. Ray Charles would sing any music that touched people. He was always singing different music, whether it was Country, Rock & Roll… Gospel is my roots. That’s where I come from. I’m a church boy that’s just had an opportunity to be in the streets, and be around a lot of different things and experience the outside rim of church. But I also over the years [have] matured so much spiritually [that] certain songs I used to do I’m just not interested in doing ‘em no more. Because I do have kids that listen to me, [and] as far as my own kids, so I’m very cautious…
Music is missing so much, the elements of something that’s gonna touch people’s spirit. And even the “Words Can’t Explain” [record], it said nothing about Jesus but my music still is ministry for me. I wanna make sure that my music touch people, that it invokes love, that people will get something out of it…so we can help ‘em along they day.
DX: I know it’s your past, but I just gotta mention how well that song that the lyrics above came from, “Come When I Call” off the Murder Was The Case soundtrack, has held up 15 years later. You and DJ Quik cooked up a quiet storm classic with that one.
Danny Boy: Hey man, I’m excited about it too. I won’t take it back neither. That was one of the first songs I had an opportunity to record on Death Row Records. And working with DJ Quik, he’s an awesome producer, writer…and that’s just one of the songs that we came up with. And it represents where I’m from. I’m from Chicago, and I was telling the truth in it, “Chi-Town winds blow so cold, I can’t imagine not having somebody to hold.” [Laughs.]
DX: I love [that] joint that Quik did on It’s About Time, “Steppin’.”
Danny Boy: Thank you, man. That’s crazy too, because…even when some of my people heard it they was like, “Man, you got that from R. Kelly.” And I said, “How dumb do you sound, because these were songs that I recorded close to 15 years ago…” And [so] I think that was recorded a little bit before “Step In The Name Of Love” was. But Chicago was known for steppin’, and at that time…I was excited to get an opportunity to get off [on] the Westside but still have a piece of [home] with me, and steppin’ was a piece of it that I was able to take and try to introduce to the world…
DX: It’s just hard to believe they didn’t release that. If that woulda dropped in ’96 that woulda been like a smash hit.
Danny Boy: Oh man, it hurts so bad to hear everybody say that like, “Man this was the album for ’96!” [But still] I’m like, “Jesus, Thank You!”
DX: So just to clarify, was Quik like your main producer? Was he the guy [in-house at Death Row] that was on the Danny Boy assignment?
Danny Boy: I would say Quik was like my main fan there at Death Row. And I don’t say that being egotistic at all when I say fan, ‘cause he really supported my music from the time I met him. I met him one day, the next day we were in the studio recording “Come When I Call.” It wasn’t even supposed to make it on the Murder Was The Case record and he rallied like, “Man, this a hit!” And everyday we were always doing something new. And he was always introducing me to the best of musicians, and the best of vocalists. And I took [that] and I learned so much from DJ Quik. Like I said, he rallied behind me more than anybody on the label.
DX: Have you guys stayed in contact; you think there’s any future collaboration…?
Danny Boy: I hope it’s some future collaboration, man. [Having been] on that Death Row label [though], so many people have turned they back on me, scared to talk to me. I don’t know why he don’t talk to me – why he and I don’t talk anymore. I’ve reached out to him a couple of times and just no response. But like I said, I come from Death Row Records, [and] that’s [caused] so many doors [to] have been closed in my face, just because of that name, and because I was adopted by Suge [Knight] at a young age and he was my legal guardian. So there was so many things that was held against me [in the industry] because of that. Even with being with the label [and] going to another label, I was trying to get away from [Death Row] so long and get my own project put out and people would be like, “Man, we really like you but…what Mr. Knight gonna think?” And I suffered from that awhile, and that turned me into a mortician, and a carpenter, and a waiter, and a security guard. So there’s so many other things that I had to go do because people were scared to deal with me.
DX: I wanna go back to your transition from secular to Gospel real quick…how much of your decision to move away from singing gangstafied R&B had to do with your life during those Death Row days?
Danny Boy: Aw man, it had a lot to do with it. To be in an airplane [on the way to my video shoot for “Slip ‘N Slide”]…and it’s falling a thousand feet a minute on fire, and I’m able to stand and give my testimony on that [plane]. And [I also] just missed the ride with [Tupac Shakur] and Suge that day when ‘Pac got shot. Me and ‘Pac would play the same game that a lot of little brothers and big brothers played, which was [calling] shotgun… They called me and told me that it was time to go to the fight, and on my way out of the hotel, the Luxor hotel, I had ketchup that got on the back of my pants and the valet guy told me like, “Dude, you got something on your pants.” [So] I called back to Suge and told him…[and] I went to the mall to try and get new clothes… And [so] I didn’t get a chance to make it to the fight, ‘cause you know [Mike] Tyson at that time was a knockout-er real quick. And by that time Suge called me [and] told me they on their way [to Club 662]. By the time I got to the club it had been an hour [since Suge’s call], and [then] guys came in and said that Suge and ‘Pac had been killed. So, I always give God thanks for ketchup [Laughs.] I thank him for Heinz ketchup, ‘cause that what was on my pants and that’s what stopped me from getting in that car that day.
…And through those things, spiritually it definitely grounds you and bring you back to where you need to be, ‘cause I knew God had a purpose for me. That he had a purpose for me, that he had a purpose for my life. And so many other gifts that I [now] have, as I just told you I’ve embalmed at least 250 people, and never been to school for it. I was a carpenter; I can…tear a house down and build it right back up… God has gifted me with so many other things. But throughout all of those things that I was doing I was gifted as a singer still – I was a singing mortician; I was a singing dude as I was embalming people. So that took me back to my gifts. And it just made me grow stronger in my spirituality, because if it was left up to anybody I’d be dead. If it was left up to the people that was back in ’96 – some of them counted me off. I been called a dopehead. [People have said], “Oh, we thought Danny Boy died once ‘Pac died.” Or, “We thought Danny Boy died of an overdose.” So spiritually that pulls you back to let people know that I have been through these things, I have experienced these things. I’ve been shot at, and I’m telling you [the truth] when I tell you I seen the bullet coming past me. So I know that there’s a mission for me to do. For God to give me the opportunity to see all of these things, and to see all of these things fall out of place, and to keep me here, that’s what’ll bring your spirit back right.
DX: Now, being old enough to remember that early-to-mid ‘90s era when Death Row was at their peak, you know all I wanna ask you about is Suge and ‘Pac. [Laughs]
Danny Boy: Okay, that’s [cool], I ain’t mad at that. That’s what got me where I am today. I don’t mind no questions. Ain’t nothing [I’m] scared to answer.
DX: Well let’s take a little walk down memory lane here… You recently told HipHopRuckus.com that in the days following Tupac’s murder, “Suge lost his mind around that time…The devil took over.” How did the devil take over Suge Knight?
Danny Boy: I don’t know if they [quoted] me right, but in that time of ‘Pac dying…Suge damn-near lost his mind because one of his best friends, one of his good friends, somebody that he treated as a little brother, somebody that he treated as a son, was gone. It was a surprise to all of us, and it affected all of us, because this was somebody that we was with on a daily basis. This wasn’t just…like some of these record companies – we see you when we doing something. We slept in the same hotels. If it was one woman coming she knew she couldn’t come [alone and] she had to come with about four or five [girlfriends] because we were crewed up like that. So, it affected [Suge after ‘Pac was murdered]. When I spoke of Suge losing his mind and the devil taking over, [that] was after his going to jail. Sometimes when people go to jail they lose they mind. I noticed that ‘cause I got a brother that did 14 years, and throughout all of those years that he did he always wrote me letters every year – he wrote me at least one letter [every year] that [said] when I get out I’ma do something to you. When I get out I’ma break your legs, when I get out I’ma do this… And [so] I thought that when I picked my brother up from jail – I was prepared to kill my brother. Because I didn’t know what he was gonna do. But I also know that this was just somebody that had been locked up, and was holding a lot of things from being locked up against everybody else. And that’s just what happen with people that’s locked up. So, after Suge went to jail I do think the devil took over his mind, because it was so many people that had turned against him…
DX: Now you know…that there are folks who believe the devil took over Suge Knight long before the fall of 1996. How much of the horror stories that we’ve heard over the years involving Suge are true?
Danny Boy: When you say horror stories – everybody whoop ass in the industry. Everybody. It’s nothing fresh; it’s nothing new about somebody getting an ass-whoopin’. [I’m sure] Babyface done had some ass beat up. I’m not gonna put it past nobody. They just put Suge out there ‘cause he was a gangsta and he was willing to go stand and show everybody. And I’m not taking up for him, ‘cause the nigga owe me at least two, three million dollars. I’m not taking up for him at all, but I speak what’s right. None of these dudes – if we go into everybody horror story, if we go into everybody closet, even for myself, and maybe for people that be interviewing people, if you go into the things that you used to do people [will] call all us horrific. As far as some of the other things…having to ride on people, man, its fights everyday. Lil Wayne getting into it with somebody, Cash Money [Records] getting into it with somebody, [but] that don’t mean that somebody let the devil take over. That just means that the devil is kinda just getting in a situation where he see he can get in at. And what other [better] way to get in is [there than] with an entertainer?
DX: Going back to that HipHopRuckus interview, you said that Suge was, “…grooming me to run the company, so I sat in all the meetings.” Were there genuine plans in place for you to take over Death Row at some point?
Danny Boy: Oh, I thought that I was gonna be the Chief [Executive] of Death Row for a long time, because like I said, I was being groomed for it. I was in [real] meetings. A lot of people can say they were in meetings, but they were probably meeting with the janitors and the painters and stuff like that. I did have an opportunity to meet with Jimmy Iovine. Suge kept me real close. And for a long time I was reading a lot of papers for Suge… He was helping me understand the business. I can’t let it get by that people don’t understand that Suge Knight knew the business when he was doing it. That’s what made Death Row what it was – not just the beats, not just the songs, and not just the artists. So, I do believe that he was grooming me. I was having an opportunity to sit down with Jimmy Iovine. It’s a lot of artists, I don’t think [that] can say they sat in on board meetings at [17-years-old] where a lot of decisions were being made, and they had an opportunity to see the blueprint.
DX: So the obvious question is then, why didn’t you take the reigns of the company when Suge got locked up a month after ‘Pac’s passing?
Danny Boy: It’s like anything else: haters. There was one fool that took over the record company by the name of Reggie Wright, [who] was Suge old security guard. And…they kept me away from Suge. I hadn’t talked to Suge in about a year-and-a-half [after] he first got locked up. And this was somebody that I [previously] talked to on a daily basis. This was somebody that made sure that I was cool on a daily basis. And they kinda took that away from me because they knew that I was gonna be the man. They couldn’t accept the fact that a [18-year-old] was fin to be running [the company] – And I was gonna be pushing some records, not just running a business, but I was gonna push some records and I was gonna make sure that the artists that we did have left, and the artists that was [still] there, that they woulda gotten they just due. I woulda wrote a check – without Suge knowing it – to make sure that people were getting treated right… But, the other people that had an opportunity to run that label, they didn’t know shit about the music business. They weren’t talented. They was just an ex-police officer that couldn’t even – His knee was out, [so] he couldn’t even get back on the force. So the best thing for him to do was to keep me out of the way. And he done a great job [at that]. Thank You, Reggie Wright.
DX: So…just the obvious, why was Suge so convinced of your ability you think? Like, why was he doing so much for you specifically?
Danny Boy: You know I was young, man, and I really can’t explain that. I just must say that it [wasn’t] nothing new [for] Suge. Suge ain’t the only gangsta I know [either]. He’s not the first gangsta I [knew], and wasn’t the first gangsta that raised me. You know, I’m just a church boy and some of the gangsta dudes I guess they liked my prayer.
DX: [Laughs] Are you still legally Suge Knight’s son?
Danny Boy: I’m a grown man, so I don’t know if I should say [I’m] legally his son anymore. But, he treated me as a son, and I still love him as a father – if that answer the question for you. As far as talking to him [at this point], I’m probably more of a disgruntled child now.
DX: Well I mean, when he first did the deal for you [when you were 15-years-old] he had to legally adopt you in the state of California, right?
Danny Boy: Well, it was about a year later. Because in order to have a [work contract] in the state of California and you’re a minor, in order to enter into a minor agreement you must have a guardian around and my mother passed at 15. My daddy is 84-years-old today, so you talking about he was [almost 60-years-old back then] and his plans wasn’t moving to California…
DX: I just wanted to clear up some of that, ‘cause you know – I’m sure you do know – that the rumor mill went into high gear with that son stuff…
Danny Boy: Oh yeah. Yeah, you can go ahead and ask me that if you want to. I know what you getting at, c’mon ask it.
DX: …The rumor was Suge was jailin’ you down.
Danny Boy: Jailin’ me down, what that mean, fucking me?
Danny Boy: If he was fucking me I’d be out with a book and a movie right now. I wouldn’t be broke, I guarantee you that. I feel like making up a he-was-fucking-me story just so I can get some money, since all these other punks got stories coming out and they making up shit. But fortunately that wasn’t the case. A lot of people [also] thought I was 29 and 25-years-old at the time when I was [a teenager]. I can’t help it if they manhood was short.
DX: I appreciate you being direct about that, that’s not a question I personally wanna ask just to let you know…
Danny Boy: And I usually don’t talk like this, ‘cause I know my pastor gonna read it, but fuck Ronin Ro for bringing that up [in his book, Have Gun Will Travel]. You can put this on paper, when I catch him I’ma beat his ass.
Stay tuned to HipHopDX for the eye-popping conclusion to our conversation with Danny Boy, in which he reveals what life with Tupac was like, (and surprisingly which Danny-featured classic from All Eyez On Me ‘Pac didn’t care for), why he has yet to be compensated for his work on ‘Pac’s monumental double-disc, (and why he believes ‘Pac’s mother is more responsible for that lack of payment than Suge), how the very real divide that existed at Death Row between blue and red led to Danny’s absence from Dogg Food and Tha Dogg Father, and much, much more.
In part one of Danny Boy’s bombshell conversation with HipHopDX, the former Death Row Records singer spoke about the now strained relationship with his onetime biggest supporter at Death Row, DJ Quik, (who crafted the majority of the tracks heard on WIDEawake Entertainment’s recently released collection of un-vaulted Danny songs from his mid-‘90s tenure on Death Row, the remarkably well-preserved It’s About Time). The Chi-Town born vocalist also shed some light on the good and bad sides of his “father,” former Death Row CEO Suge Knight. And most noteworthy during the first half of his Q&A with DX, Danny Boy addressed the longstanding rumors regarding the fondness “father” had for “son,” speculation of which was fueled by onetime scribe for The Source Ronin Ro in his expose of Death Row, Have Gun Will Travel. Danny’s commentary in response to those claims has since spawned a rhyming reply from Mr. Ro to DB’s declaration to DX that if he ever lays eyes on the journalist he plans to “beat his ass,” (a bizarre verbal retaliation that can be heard via track #5 on Mr. Ro’s MySpace).
Now, in the conclusion to DX’s discussion with Danny Boy, the Atlanta-based vocalist talks about his time as Tupac’s go-to hookman, (and which Danny-assisted classic the late legend wasn’t too fond of), how he was allegedly cheated out of payment for those hooks by ‘Pac’s mother, Afeni Shakur. And maybe most interestingly, DB explains how he found himself on the red side of Death Row’s divided operation and why “Snoop and them didn’t really like me.”
HipHopDX: Let’s go back here a little bit, the ’95 Source Awards with you standing next to Suge is obviously a moment locked into time now… Did you realize in that moment that [the] speech that Suge was giving was basically a declaration of war on the east coast?
Danny Boy: It wasn’t a declaration of war on the east coast, that was specifically what it said, it said if you didn’t want your CEO dancing in your videos [come to Death Row Records] – we know what CEO danced in videos at that time, and he’s still dancing, that was Puffy. It wasn’t nothing about no east coast and west coast thing, ‘cause at the time we were saying that, we were going back and forth, chillin’ in New York. And I’d like to give shouts-out to the girl that I had an opportunity to chill with out there, what’s up.
DX: …So…just so I understand what happened, you’re basically out of contact with [Suge Knight] for a year-and-a-half after he goes to jail. Is that when you left Death Row and went back to Chicago?
Danny Boy: I left Death Row when a lot of [Federal agents] started parking on my front grass, and I was living in a neighborhood where they shouldn’t have been there. That’s when I left Death Row… I was there to sing, and there was nothing to be searching me for ‘cause I was there to sing. I was in California to sing. And, you know out of all the bad moments that everybody had a chance to read about, there were good moments [too]. [But], I had lost a father to the jail system [in Suge], and a brother that had passed on, which was [Tupac Shakur]. So, a lot of things were going on in my mind, [and] so I had to get back to where I was from, where I felt comfortable. And you could find me at that time under my grandmother, on 19th & Trumbull, sitting at her foot, getting her to pray for me, because some of the things that I made it through I thought I wouldn’t make it through… I went from living a fabulous life [at Death Row], [and] I can’t complain about the life that I lived. If I never get a chance to stand on a big stage [again], and never get a chance to stay in a big house – been there, done that, drove whatever car I wanted, spent the kind of money that I wanted to spend… I wouldn’t trade it in for the world, [and] the experiences that I got from it [were] awesome.
DX: Was there a moment…from that era that you remember distinctly were you were genuinely happy, were you were just like, “This is the life”?
Danny Boy: Everyday on Death Row was that feeling… And any dude that was on Death Row that say that they wasn’t happy when they woke up in the morning during the heydays – and the heydays is when Suge was cutting checks. [There] wasn’t a check you couldn’t call up there and ask for. Even though in the end I found out he was a thief, and he was just giving us [a small portion] of what was owed to us. But [before that], we were happy. Everybody was happy then. So I think everybody [that was on the label] can share that moment, [that] at least [at] one point in time we all were happy.
DX: And hangin’ out with Tupac at the height of his fame must’ve been memorable for an 18-year-old young man. [Laughs]
Danny Boy: No doubt, man. I wasn’t really into Rap, to tell you the truth. But, I had went [to Dannemora, New York] to see ‘Pac a couple of times [while he was in Clinton Correctional Facility in 1995] – well I went with Suge. While Suge was in there visiting, I was sitting across the street in the restaurant waiting for him to come out. And I did that several times until the day [in October 1995] that we went down there to pick him up [and take him] back to California… And we vibed from that time, from that time of him walking out the gates [and] getting into the car, and Suge telling him, “Oh, Danny Boy know any oldies.” And I think before we got to our plane, I probably had sang at least 20 old school cuts. ‘Pac was like, “You don’t know this [one]!,” and I sang this, and this went on and on. And that’s how the relationship began.
DX: “Picture Me Rollin’,” “Heaven Ain’t Hard 2 Find,” What’z Ya Phone #,” and of course the classic, “I Ain’t Mad At Cha,” ‘Pac was really showing love to put you on so much of All Eyez On Me.
Danny Boy: I mean, it was more [songs] than that. But you know, his mammy – I mean his mama, she changed a lot of the songs [for] some of the latest-released [versions and removed my vocals]. [Regardless], it was a privilege to be able to record with him. But whenever there was a singing part [on a 2Pac song], if it’s a man singing on it, you better believe ‘Pac was calling me in there to do it.
DX: And did he ever express to you directly why he was such a – I mean, was it just the DJ Quik thing where he was just a huge fan?
Danny Boy: Aw man, we was family, man. That was everyday, dude. It coulda been [during] the ride from a party and [2Pac would be like], “I want you to get on this, DB.” ‘Pac kinda felt like he could run me, as a little brother… I could be in a room recording my record, [the songs that became] the It’s About Time record, and ‘Pac would be in the back room recording and he’ll walk in [my recording room] while I’m on the mic [like], “C’mon, I need you right now [to sing on this]…” And that’s how we came up with some of those songs – through drunk moments, through us just chillin’, through us partying in the studio. And some of [those] songs he didn’t even like. He wasn’t too fond of “I Ain’t Mad At Cha.” Even shooting the video – he never had an opportunity to see that video.
DX: And I think you sort’ve alluded to it a little bit there earlier, I understand you never got paid for all those classic vocals you sung for that album?
Danny Boy: Nah, [and] if I could give a shout-out to his mother, Afeni Shakur, I would like for her to consider the contract that she and I signed. She probably owe me about $1.4 million. And I know she got it. I’d appreciate it if she could give me about 10% of it…
DX: I saw the AllHipHop interview from late 2008 where you said, “She’s a fake, she’s a phony.” My question is, wasn’t this Suge Knight’s responsibility though? Because Afeni doesn’t assume the rights to these songs and stuff until sometime later, [so] wasn’t it Suge Knight’s responsibility to make sure you got paid?
Danny Boy: At the beginning, it was his responsibility, because I was in a publishing deal with Suge Knight. But, if you can recall…there was so much stuff going [on] around Tupac’s music [after his passing] – ‘Pac’s mama was accusing Suge of stealing, and this and that. And she assumed [Tupac’s] estate. So what happened was, when I was old enough to realize that these people owed me money, [and] when I got an attorney, it put everybody’s money on hold and nobody could get paid [for those Tupac songs I was featured on]. So everybody was calling me saying, “Hey look dude, you got…over $50 million being held up. [So] let’s make a deal, and let’s make this thing happen. We’re gonna get you paid.” And [came across as a] lady that was after her son’s money, I was after my mother’s son’s money, which was mine. And [so] she and I signed an agreement that 30 days after this agreement is signed…30 days after it was signed she was supposed to cut me a check. I called her [after] 30 days, she didn’t talk to me. I called [after] 30 more days, she didn’t talk to me. By the time I got back in contact with her people they said they cut the check and gave it to Suge.
DX: And Suge I presume wasn’t eager to give it to you or…?
Danny Boy: Suge told me first off for the percentage that I agreed with he wouldn’t have accepted no money for that, because I should’ve gotten more. That’s the first thing. The second thing is, is if [she] wasn’t for sure [about Suge’s] business, especially [since] she’s fighting for Tupac money and not sure if Suge is doing ‘Pac right, why would you turn around and give my money to that man?
DX: But he owned 100% of the publishing though, correct?
Danny Boy: Nobody owns a 100% of the publishing. He owned 50% of the publishing.
DX: Okay…I’m just confused [as to] what kinda publishing deals you guys were signing.
Danny Boy: He did a 50/50 publishing deal, it’s just nobody got none of it [besides him], [so] he eventually owned 100%.
DX: Yeah, that’s the way I understood it, [and that he was] cutting you guys allowances – like Snoop Dogg and all them, they got like 40, 50 thousand dollar-a-month allowances or something like that.
Danny Boy: No doubt.
DX: But that was in lieu of the monies they were supposed to be receiving.
Danny Boy: That’s all that was. But when you a person that ain’t got that kind of money, and never had that kind of money, you appreciate it.
DX: [Laughs] I’m sure you do. And I’m presuming you never got paid for “Toss It Up,” ‘cause there’s like 14 different singers on that joint [Laughs.]
Danny Boy: Never got paid for none of them songs, man. I did over eight songs [that were formally released back then], and never received a check from it. [I] never received a check [for] “Come When I Call” [from the Murder Was The Case soundtrack]. Just nothing. All I did get was a monthly salary.
DX: No disrespect to you, but that “Toss It Up” remix that ended up on the Makaveli album was a hot mess. [Laughs]
Danny Boy: Yeah, it’s a hot mess because of people that ain’t had nothing to do with the projects started doing projects. So I agree witchu, a 100%.
DX: The way I understood it…I guess ‘Pac either was given that beat originally by Dr. Dre – the beat that became Blackstreet’s “No Diggity”…
Danny Boy: Nah, that was really a diss song [aimed at Dr. Dre]. They heard [“No Diggity” featuring Dre], and the next thing you know we was in the studio cutting it. We took the [Blackstreet] track. They wasn’t given nothing [by Dr. Dre]… We sang “Toss It Up” [over] the same “No Diggity” track, and [Blackstreet] did a cease and desist letter to us and stated that we couldn’t [release] it. So, that’s how the remix – the [version] that everybody had an opportunity to hear, that’s [why] the beat changed.
DX: You alluded to this earlier too, you weren’t on any of ‘Pac’s posthumous albums – I think I know the reason why now [Laughs] Have all the songs you recorded with him though been formally released in some fashion or is there stuff in the vault still?
Danny Boy: I’m sure they got plenty of music with me and ‘Pac on it [in the vault].
DX: And I noticed you did a lot with ‘Pac, but you’re not on Dogg Food, you’re not on Tha Doggfather. Did you record much at all with Snoop and Tha Dogg Pound?
Danny Boy: Snoop [Dogg] and [Tha Dogg Pound] didn’t really like me. There was two sides [at Death Row]…and I’d like to tell everybody it was the Smith’s and the Jones’. Suge, ‘Pac and myself, we were the Smith’s. And Snoop Dogg and the rest of them dudes were the Jones’. We got together and we did music together, and we celebrated together, but I don’t remember none of us at each other’s birthday party.
DX: …If I understand correctly, total, just all the stuff that you did do [during your time at Death Row], you’ve guesstimated that you have literally hundreds of songs in the Death Row vault?
Danny Boy: Fo’ sho. I got more songs in there than anybody…
DX: …You were recording like a madman then.
Danny Boy: Just like ‘Pac… He recording hard in the back [room], [so] I’m fin to go harder. I’m fin to do two more songs. And I’m not saying all of ‘em was as good as ‘Pac’s. ‘Cause, at that time there was so many things I needed to learn [about] recording.
DX: And…there are allegedly Dr. Dre produced Danny Boy joints in those hundreds of songs?
Danny Boy: Yeah, Dr. Dre produced one or two songs on me. He didn’t like me neither, but I got a song or two out of him. Thank you, Dre.
DX: [Laughs] And, are we gonna get more of those previously unreleased Danny Boy songs via more Danny Boy albums from this new Death Row/WIDEawake arrangement?
Danny Boy: …I’m working with WIDEawake, [and] we’re gonna see the kinda business that they’re gonna do on this It’s About Time album. And I’m sure that they have other plans of releasing some of the other material. I’m working on a Death Row book, Danny Boy: Life on Death Row. I’m working on that book, and what I plan to do is put a CD in the back of that [to] kind of give people some of the music that I was doing at that time, as well as some of the features that I [had on other Death Row artist’s songs]… So, I’m looking forward to [WIDEawake] participating in that…
DX: [Your 1996 single], “Slip N’ Slide,” I noticed that wasn’t on this It’s About Time album. Was that [song part of] your original album [recorded in ‘95/’96]? Like, I’m trying to figure out where [the songs included on] this It’s About Time album came in the chronology of…
Danny Boy: I think a couple of people up at WIDEawake – I don’t know who up there is feeling like they’re producers and they were able to put together a record, ‘cause whoever put this record together obviously wasn’t around [back in ‘96]. So, they just took some songs – they seen my name on some lists and probably listened to the things that they liked and put [those songs] on there. I think they [dropped] the ball when they didn’t put “Slip N’ Slide” [on the album] and “It’s Over Now,” [which originally appeared on the Gridlock’d soundtrack in 1997]…
DX: I understand…[the label’s CEO], Lara Lavi, she’s gone from that situation now?
Danny Boy: Yeah, they having a couple of internal things going on over there [at WIDEawake].
DX: Just out of curiosity, are there any Danny Boy, Nate Dogg and Jewell collabos in the vault somewhere?
Danny Boy: Hell naw. [Laughs] I’m sorry to answer it like that, but yeah, I’m sure I got some in there with Jewell. But Nate Dogg and them didn’t like me. Snoop and them didn’t like me because Nate Dogg was they singer, [and] they thought Nate could sing better than me. So they wouldn’t let me get on anything [of theirs].
DX: I guess I was just curious ‘cause people forget that Death Row had a really impressive lineup of R&B artists at one time too.
Danny Boy: Oh yeah, no doubt. Nate Dogg’s incredible. Jewell was incredible. And K-Ci & JoJo and all those dudes were on the way over there [to Death Row].
DX: …After all the work you, Nate and Jewell put in during y’alls Death Row years, how did it feel when Michel’le’s Hung Jury album was released in ’98 when y’alls albums still hadn’t been formally released?
Danny Boy: She only got her album out because her and Suge was – I don’t know what the hell they was doing, they were married or whatever it was. I think he just [green-lit] her album because of that, because that project was thrown together. She didn’t put as much time into her project as we had [into ours]. And to be quite frank, it was wack. Hung Jury was the right name for it.
DX: The jury’s out. [Laughs] With all the delays and drama you were dealing with during that era, why’d you go back to Death Row/Tha Row after Suge got out from prison in 2001?
Danny Boy: Dude called me, man, and I went off of this thing called loyalty, being loyal. And he called me back out to try to make some things happen. And at that time I was [in Chicago working as] a mortician, [and] I was a waiter. And so many other people were turning my music away, and [so] I really just thought that would be another opportunity for me to get my music where I needed it.
DX: And so that’s how you ended up on so much of the Dysfunktional Family soundtrack [released in 2003]?
Danny Boy: Yes.
DX: Just out of curiosity, did you ever have a chance to work with the lovely Left-Eye?
Danny Boy: Yes! Left-Eye, yes I did [get to work with her].
DX: …That documentary that her family put out through Vh1 about those last days of her life I just thought that was really insightful and showed her in a much different light from that N.I.N.A. character Suge Knight had created [for her].
Danny Boy: No, N.I.N.A. was her for real, man… Left-Eye was hell on wheels.
DX: [Laughs] So just one last question about that sort of in-between period from [your time with] the old Death Row to Tha Row, I noticed in some of your credits you were doing songs with like Do Or Die, and Twista… Were you like still trying to do some of the local music scene while you were back in Chicago [in the late ‘90s]?
Danny Boy: I was definitely doing it. I’m always doing…hooks, I enjoy doing hooks. And that was my opportunity really of eating [off music after Death Row], so I did have an opportunity to do some hit records with Twista on his first album [with The Speedknot Mobstaz in 1998]. I think [the song] was called “Front Porch.” And on…the Kamikaze album [I was] on a song called “Snoopin’.” But Do Or Die, all of us had been doing talent shows, and we were raised up in the same neighborhoods…
DX: Would you still do hooks? ‘Cause it sounds like you’re still sort of on the line between Gospel and secular. Would you do hooks for rappers at this point?
Danny Boy: Yeah, I’ll do hooks. I don’t mind about [doing them] as long as it’s something that’s not gonna be against my [faith]. I don’t want people to feel that, “Oh, dude go to church on Sunday and he talking like this on Monday.” As long as it’s not gonna interfere with my spirituality…I definitely love doing hooks. Let me give that phone number that people can reach me for, that’s 404-474-0434. And I charge $2,000 a hook, so…put it out there for me.
DX: Okay. I don’t know what other kind of calls you’re gonna get, but I’ll put it [out] there if you want… So now you’ve started your own label. What are the immediate plans for – is it called Gospel 1st…?
Danny Boy: We have a division which is called Gospel 1st, and more of a secular R&B division, which is Artists 1st. And I’m looking to put my [new] project out on Artists 1st. It will not be a Gospel project, but – I’m not putting a title to it whether it’s Gospel or secular. It’s gonna be love songs on it; it’ll be something that can touch your spirit. With this label we have…a staff of producers, and writers. And I have other artists around me. My protégé, my nephew, he’s working on his project… And it’s so many things that we wanna do, but I think the immediate thing [that] we’re trying to do is just get distribution, and get the correct funding to support us as a label so that we can get an opportunity to do what we need to do… [For now] I’m actually working on – I guess I should call it a mixtape… I’m working on that right now. And, I have a YouTube [channel], which is DannyBoyUnpluggedTV. I’m always doing some live performances [for that]…just to kinda get my name back out there, and to introduce myself to people that don’t know me, and reintroduce myself to people that forgot about me.
DX: I was really feeling that “Words Can’t Explain.” Your vocals on that are amazing.
Danny Boy: Thank you, man. I love singing. God gifted me… I found a lot of other things that I can do, but singing is the one of ‘em that I can live with.
DX: …One of my immediate thoughts [when I heard the song] was now he can finally dead those comparisons to Stokley of Mint Condition. [Laughs]
Danny Boy: That’s my daddy for real. Now you wanna know who my real daddy is, Stokley of Mint Condition, that’s my daddy. [Laughs]
DX: Did you guys ever cross paths…?
Danny Boy: Yeah, I met him one time and he hurt my feelings, could you believe that? I met him one time, and I thought it was gonna be like a cool meeting because artists know when other artists are kinda feeling ‘em, and know that they picking some stuff off of ‘em and grew up under ‘em. And when I met him I was like, “Aww Stokley, I’m such a fan…” And he was like, “Alright, nice to meet you” and walked away. So, I was messed up for [a minute like], “I’m not going to no more Stokley concerts! I’m not watching Stokley.” But, a couple hours after I said it I was watching him [perform] again.