When it comes to West Coast hip-hop, look no further than Glasses Malone.
Hailing from Watts, the West Coast spitter prides himself in creating real deal hip-hop, injecting storytelling in his lyrics with bars inspired directly by real-life experiences of being a Crip in the streets of Los Angeles.
From his mom getting a 20-year prison sentence to his own encounters with drugs and violence, Glasses is here to speak his truth — in turn inspiring others to speak theirs as well.
Feeding off the momentum of his viral music video for “2Pac Must Die,” where Malone is seen telling the story of Tupac’s death from the POV of Compton Crip gang member Orlando “Baby Lane” Anderson (whom many believe to have killed Tupac), Glasses has been studying the art of creating records and the behind-the-scenes process of marketing these songs once they release.
His most recent release, “6 ’N the Mornin’ (GMX),” reworks the original record from Ice-T, even getting the West Coast Legend to cut a verse alongside Snoop Dogg and Ty Dolla $ign.
Beyond that, Glasses is working on a reimagined version of his classic 2012 “Glasshouse mixtape,” which includes the song “Gangsta Boogie” with The Game.
AllHipHop: How you been holding up with everything in the pandemic?
Glasses Malone: It was good for me, I really can’t complain. I was able to reset, get a lot of things done, focus, really able to bring together all my efforts and aim them in one direction. That ended up working out really well. Except people have been dying, that’s been really f##### up.
AllHipHop: What direction were you trying to put everything in?
Glasses Malone: I’ve been making a ton of music. Over the last 8 years, I’ve been studying records, hip-hop, and marketing. It took me so much time. I couldn’t release music and content at the same time consistently because I was learning so much. To be making so much music and not be able to release it was tough. Sacrificing years and years of releasing music was tough, but it was all worth it. I gave it all up for the right cause.
Now I’m in a situation where I know exactly what I’m doing, I just don’t know the ceiling of it. I don’t know how big it could be, but I know the point’s going to come across. That’s really been my focus, really organizing my brand. My brand’s been fragmented for years. There’s been a lot of confusion on my brand, not on my marketing. If you know who I am, you know what I’m about. But if you saw my name or heard of my name in crossing, there was too much confusion so I really want to clear that up. That’s my goal with the next 3 or 4 album releases.
AllHipHop: Your new single “6 N’ The Mornin’” is doing great. Talk about paying homage to Ice-T, then getting the West Coast legends Snoop and Ty Dolla $ign on the record.
Glasses Malone: We worked on that song when I first put out “Glasshouse,” This was right before I was going through this phase of learning. I was right at the beginning of it all. I was starting to figure out records, starting to understand what it was, the science of it not just the art of it. I still didn’t really get it so I was trying to do it at the same time, that’s exactly one of the reasons I slowed down.
Initially, it had Kurupt, Joe Moses, and Ty$. I always knew that song specifically, I thought it’d be dope to have Ice-T on it because that’s the origin of all West Coast hip-hop. That’s his signature song. That’s the first West Coast recognizable song globally, so it made a lot of sense. To get him on it took me a lot of time, took me some years. I really didn’t realize how close we were because certain people around me really messed with dude. At that time, I was so much of a loner about it. I felt there wasn’t enough camaraderie on the West to reach out to people, so I didn’t try to.
Glasses Malone: Yeah because our whole journey into this business ain’t that real great. It’s tough. A lot of people didn’t help, so it took me a lot longer when I realized there’s somebody right next to me that knew him. Tracking him down was a journey in itself. Shout out to AD, used to run KDAY because he got us some backstage passes to a concert he’s doing. Ice-T was performing, I asked him for backstage passes for the concert and I saw him finally. I’d reached out to some of his managers and they were running me around, it was wack. I said “I’ma get in cuz face myself.” I called him backstage and me with his whole entourage, I said “Ice, what’s up? I’m Glasses.” He said “I know who you is Loc.”
Damn, I was trippin’. He’s a Crip, for him to have that feel was dope. I said “I’ve been trying to get with you. I want you to get on this song.” He said “you want me to feature on a song?” I said “yeah, I want you to rap on this song, I’ve got the perfect song for you.” He said “alright, come with me to my dressing room.” I’m following him and his entourage to the dressing room, I get there and it’s a room full of legendary older Crip nggas. Some from the hood in Compton, some from 60’s in LA, some were PJ Crip nggas from Watts, just different OG n*ggas. He walks in, they like “Ice, what up?” Ice knew them all, I thought that was crazy.
When I walk in, they see me “Glasses, what up ngga? What’s up?” They talking to me, I seen Ice look over. I really thought it was a test. He looked over and he seen all these street nggas who had nothing to do with the industry, knew me. For a minute he saw some of himself in what I was doing. He said “man, I gotchu”. It was that simple. He gave me his number, came to the studio 2 weeks later. Drove himself, wrote his own s###. Knocked that s### out, easy. Damn, that’s crazy. Somebody can be rapping for 30, 40 years and still that good and fluent with the pen.
AllHipHop: What was the highlight from that session?
Glasses Malone: Him cuzin me, I thought that was dope. “What up cuz?” That was really special to me. Ice T never forgot who he was. All this success in film since the 80’s, success in music and Grammys from Rock n Roll band, TV shows on Channel 4, but this ngga still Tracy from the streets. Ice T from the streets. It gave me courage that a street ngga can make it first. You’ve seen Snoop Dogg from the first part, but Snoop’s success has been different. He’s been the biggest rapper. Ice is this successful actor. He’s been in a rock band, f###### doing shows with white folks talking about crime.
He’s talking and I can tell that’s his normal jargon, so that was really special to me. That meant a lot to me. It really made me believe because when you come from our background, it’s a tough road. To watch somebody go that far and still be true to himself, that s### meant everything to be honest. I never really tripped off of that as much as I do when I think about it now.
AllHipHop: You’re also doing a revamped version of Glasshouse. What can we expect?
Glasses Malone: Well me and Tommy were working on Glass House, I didn’t know nothing about records. I knew how to rap and I knew what I was saying was real, and I knew how to be clever. Tommy knew more about records than me, but I didn’t know. He’d let me do my project and we’d come out with some stuff. That particular project, I started to understand. That’s the project that “That Good” was on. I knew a little bit and we’re able to get my most famous record from it.
The project itself was decent, it wasn’t great. Now that I’m so invested in the science of records, yo let me fix this project and deliver it to DSPs, because it never was on DSPs. I fixed it, I added songs, I remixed songs. Kept some cool songs and made this dope body of work that’s a great representation of gangsta rap, of West Coast hip hop. Instead of going with all the dudes that are my generation and younger like I normally do, I went to all the legends: Ice T, Snoop Dogg, Kurupt, the Eastsidaz, Goldie, 40, $hort, Coolio, Cypress Hill. Obviously there’s Ty Dolla $ign, Kid Ink, Schoolboy Q, there’s certain homies that are permanent I’m never going to get away from, but I did more legends this project. That was really important to me. I wanted to get into the essence, the beginning of it all. It worked out, it came out really good. I’m really proud. Raphael Saadiq, Game. Like with “6 ‘N the Mornin’,” we took it back to the beginning of West Coast hip hop. The next song, I want to take it back to the beginning of my career and that’s with Game. That’s how I started.
AllHipHop: Talk about calling out Mase on his comments on gangbanging.
Glasses Malone: Mase disappointed me. I’ve been supportive of that brother’s career my whole life, from the first time I heard him on the 112 song. I was buying dude’s records, I was all in. Fast forward 25 years later, I’m not no kid. Damn, to hear him talking about gangbanging in a way… I get it. I get the negative stigma that comes with the culture itself, but if you’re ignorant to it and you don’t know, you probably shouldn’t be speaking on it because then you look stupid. In my mind, I know I spoke with respect when I talked about it, but I let him know that I was really discontent with his statements because it was vested in ignorance. It didn’t make sense, there’s no oath you take when you become a gang member. Really you’re sticking up for your friends, that’s the whole oath. There’s no oath you take. You like your friends, you stand up with them till it’s all said and done.
It’s confusion that it’s about a street sign or bandana when it’s not. It’s really about your friends, the guys y’all grew up starving with, ate the worst meals with, ate the best meals with. All you’ve got is each other, so y’all fight and protect each other at all costs. It’s not bad to me. I wouldn’t tell some kid to join. I disagree with a lot of people joining gangs now. If you didn’t grow up with the people that you claiming to bang with, what’s the bond that makes you die over? Or makes me want to kill or die? I know my homeboy Ron Ron’s moms. I know his father, I know his brothers, I know his grandmother. That’s what’s propelling such passion in you, any type of action over something that happens to him is that type of bond. I don’t know what n*ggas is fighting for if it’s a street sign, it’s a bunch of strangers.
AllHipHop: What does West Coast gangsta rap mean to you? How can you continue to push it in the most positive light?
Glasses Malone: It’s only positive because it represents a few people. In ‘87 when N.W.A. dropped “F### Tha Police,” 98% of the world didn’t look at that song as a positive song. That song was the representation of a very small select group, so people didn’t look at it in a positive light. The few people it represented, that meant everything to us and our culture. To keep pushing gangsta rap forward, it requires me to keep being transparent and honest for what I witness everyday. What I’ve seen in the past or what I’ma see tomorrow, not really care how the 99% of the other people feel about me telling the truth.
That’s what makes West Coast hip-hop great, this unwavering sense of honesty and not give a f###-ness. “I don’t care how y’all feel about the truth, I’ma tell it.” As long as I still have my thorns and a willingness to deal with whatever consequence comes, I’ma keep telling the truth. It’s gonna work out for me and that’s how you prepare gangsta rap. You keep speaking that real truth and be okay with offending the other 99% of the population.
AllHipHop: What are your thoughts on everything happening in the news right now? You’ve got a song called “2Pac Must Die.”
Glasses Malone: I always thought that’s how it happened. That’s a tough situation man, that dude took Pac under his wing. A bad situation and it got worse. This gang s###, there’s different levels of loyalty. Vengeance and justice is a lot different. There’s no trials, nobody else to convict you. One person can be the court, judge, jury, and executioner. I pray he gets out of prison. He’s in there right now and I pray he’s figuring it out, finding peace. I always felt like pops was never at peace.
Suge was never at peace. Even when I’d talk to him, he never seemed at peace. I hope he makes it through the stretch and he finds peace, find a way to celebrate what he’s accomplished and where he’s going next. Not so much try and attach himself to what had happened before. I told him, I always felt he spent too much time trying to connect to what he did versus going to his next journey. Him trying to keep connecting to what he did ended up costing him his freedom.
AllHipHop: What do you think needs to happen for him to find peace? I recently interviewed Freeway Rick Ross who said he enjoyed his 20 years in jail.
Glasses Malone: You know what’s funny, jail ain’t as bad as people think. I never wanted to be a gangbanger. It is not my thing because as I got older, I got away from liking people. I don’t really f### with people because they be disappointing you. So I didn’t think I’d be a good gang member. I didn’t smoke, I didn’t drink, I read books. I didn’t think I’d be a good criminal or a good gang member, to say the least. I didn’t really realize I was going to be good at it, to be able to survive or even thrive in it until I went to jail.
AllHipHop: How long did you go for?
Glasses Malone: It was only a week. I was fighting a case and it was a DA reject, but it doesn’t take much for you to figure it out. It’s not a long stretch thing, it’s going to break you the first day or the second day. It doesn’t take you 10 years to break you, it breaks you instantly because the adjustment is so fast and swift. Somebody tells you what to do, you’re running into nggas, you might have to fight these nggas. Just a whole different mindstate. I didn’t really realize I was going to be okay at it until I went to jail. The first time I went and I got into a fight, I won the fight. I was running into homies and I wasn’t even worried, I didn’t even worry about going to jail anymore. It was nothing.
AllHipHop: Talk about the record you have with Game coming up, called “Gangsta Boogie.”
Glasses Malone: It’s everything you should get when you get 2 people from that third or fourth generation of West Coast hip hop. As soon as you hear it, you know it’s that situation going down. It’s straight-forward. It’s exactly what it’s supposed to be if you like West Coast culture. You f### with what’s happening or you’re a part of it, this is perfect for you. It represents you. I’m proud of it. Game helped me start my career. His older brother Fase was really instrumental in me having an opportunity to change my life. He picked the first song I ever got real props for outside of the project. Fase picked the first song. He wanted me to rap to that beat, I didn’t even like the beat.
G-Ride did all my marketing. Game gave me his platform. He jumped on songs at the time he for sure was super hot in the game. He didn’t have to. I owe Game a lot. I don’t give a f### what other people feel about him, I owe dude a lot period. I go to him to this day. It’s always gratitude I have with him and he knows, so he shows me a ton of love. I wanted to bring it back to him full circle. I wanted to take everybody back like they were there. From what I’m saying, I want to bring you back to how I started. That dude did a lot for me, he didn’t have to do none of the s### he did. I wanted to present that again to everybody, I wanted to bring that energy.
AllHipHop: Three decades later, what inspires you to keep making music?
Glasses Malone: I don’t feel that boxed in still. I mean, I’m starting to feel more boxed in everyday. My story’s still spitting music, but they’re outgrowing. “2 Pac Must Die” is a perfect example where my ideas and my stories are outgrowing music. Now, they’re starting to be so visually-driven that I need to start writing films or TV shows because what I’m doing is too big. There’s so much that needs to be presented to the world, I’ve still got a mission and I’ve still got my thorns. I don’t give a f### still. The day I start giving a f###, it’s over. Because I still don’t give a f###, I’m still putting out music.