DNA Project: Straight Outta OC

How the sons of Eazy-E and Dr. Dre plan to write the next chapter of NWA's legacy in . . . Lake Forest?!

DNA Project: Straight Outta OC
Timothy Norris

Click. Click. Click.

But for that sharp rasp, it's completely silent in the inner sanctum of Serious Pimp Studios in Lake Forest. The teal couches are sprinkled with entourage and hip-hop types, mouths hemmed from the tension and tedium of recording except to expel the occasional sigh or pungent gust of chalk-white blunt smoke that waltzes up to the all-black ceiling. At the center recording console, producer/Serious Pimp co-head Bigg A—a 6-foot-4 Maytag of a man sporting a Compton hat, a gold chain and a Raiders jersey—guides a computer mouse with a right hand the size of a catcher's mitt. Looking at colored lines, wave forms and knobs on a glowing bay of twin flat-screens, he clicks, clacks and space bars his way to finessing a new track alongside a very important new signee to his label, which he runs with Damian Kutzner.

As he presses playback for the millionth time, Bigg A turns to the artist, Curtis Young—the son of legendary hip-hop producer Dr. Dre—gives a nod and takes a drag from a nearby joint, the striated fumes escaping through the ridges of his platinum-and-diamond-encrusted grill. "Ready to hear it again, my man?" he asks in a low, dry tone.

Young turns his head to nod back. The resemblance—from the ridge of his eyebrows to his nose and broad shoulders—is uncanny. Fidgeting with a giant gold wristwatch, he glances at the time and casually gives the go-ahead. "Drop it."

Bigg A releases a Krakatoa of woofer-rattling bass that struts over melting keyboard lines paved into an amped-up fusion of G-funk, serrated synth and dramatic strings. It's West Coast rap 101 with a defiantly modern twist. The beat echoes past the couches and the entourage to the back halls of the recording studio, built and owned by Snoop Dogg, who co-presides with Kutzner over the Serious Pimp clothing company.

As the beat knocks and heads bob, Young traces the air with his hand, visualizing the rhymes he's set to lay down with Eric Wright Jr., eldest son of late N.W.A co-founder/iconic gangsta rapper Eazy-E. With the little time he has in the studio, Young is trying to make every second count. This can't just be a respectable track among his respectable releases over the years; the compilation he's embarking on with Wright (a.k.a. Lil Eazy-E, a.k.a. Lil E), dubbed the DNA Project, has to be more than that. It's gotta be good enough to make his pops "raise his eyebrow," he says.

Of course, the project they're creating and where they're creating it is an eyebrow-raiser in itself. The sons of two gangsta-rap pioneers who formed N.W.A as friends only to be pulled apart by a feud that plagued them until Eazy-E's death in 1995 are coming together to work on an album that pays tribute to their roots. Along the way, they're getting help from some major players in the West Coast rap game, including Daz Dillinger, Kurupt and DJ Battlecat. Glancing at a soda machine emblazoned with a mural of Snoop's face, in a place whose walls are lined with platinum and gold records and a flotsam of shrines to the Doggfather, Young says both he and Wright know that having their "uncle" in their midst makes this the proper place to push the music cultivated by their fathers in a new generation.

"It feels like a big hug when I walk in here," says Young. "Like [Snoop's] always watching me."

There have been plenty of eyes and expectations (both positive and negative) on Young and Wright throughout their hip-hop careers. The DNA Project, inching toward completion this year, is catching most people by surprise. Probably because this studio flush with murderous beats and the blood of gangsta-rap royalty isn't predictably located in LA, but in the devastatingly quiet, boring OC suburbs of South County. Lake Forest, to be exact, is where the Doggfather decided to build his studio to get some peace and quiet, two of South County's most prized commodities.

But right now, it's time for these sons of N.W.A to step out of their fathers' respective shadows and cause a ruckus all their own, spitting rhymes that tell their story, while giving an inside look at the struggles they've faced while growing up in the same neighborhood in Compton. They had hardly spoken to each other as adolescents, remnants of their fathers' rivalry. This collaboration also aligns with Rock the Bells, at which Eazy-E and Wu Tang Clan's Ol' Dirty Bastard will be featured via virtual avatars, performing à la Tupac at Coachella 2012, during its stop at the San Manuel Amphitheatre on Sept. 7 and 8. Though Young and Wright said the DNA Project is not an effort to rehash their fathers' legacies, it certainly appears as if the next-generation N.W.A project is coming straight outta . . . well, OC.

Leaning forward in his chair, resting his forearms on his knees, Young, dressed in a thick peacoat, a crucifix dangling from a chain around his neck, explains why finding the success he's always wanted in music isn't just business—it's personal. "By it being in our blood and our birthright, we're able to continue what our fathers imprinted the game with, as far as gangster rap," he says.

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43 comments
bimborc
bimborc

rich posers...no thank you!...maybe if they were from Santa Ana

KevyKev
KevyKev

OCW getting a  little footnote in west coast rap history? Whodda thunk it? Congrats on the article. Nice job, Nate :)

KevyKev
KevyKev

OCW getting a  little footnote in west coast rap history? Whodda thunk it? Congrats on the article. 

Ro Ar
Ro Ar

Well if Snoop wanted a quiet studio LF is the place. Holy crap though, this article is 5 LONG pages long.

Lucimar Brocatto Acevedo
Lucimar Brocatto Acevedo

This was actually a great piece. No disrespect to other writers, but this was an above average article. Can u imagine being 12 and finding out the dude who's beats inspired you, is actually your dad? Then not meeting him for another 9 years? Anywho, great piece, great writing.

pumpkinteets28
pumpkinteets28

Haha, dope cover. Real in depth piece on these guyss too. We gonna see if the music is as good as the story...

Kj From'Oc
Kj From'Oc

if they need a tour guide...holler at Kj From'Oc...he knows his way around lake forest aka el toro

David Clay
David Clay

whats the phrase? oh studio gangstas

LadyD
LadyD

Great writing...loved the story

Angel Sanchez
Angel Sanchez

2 gangsters with a silverspoon ha ha staright out of the hills

Nicole Enjoli
Nicole Enjoli

Vanessa Young Look whats on my wall :) Hope you all are doing great!!

IE_ChargersFan
IE_ChargersFan

I don't know who edited this article.  There is one factual error:  Eazy E didn't dine with President Reagan.  He dined with President Bush 41.  I remember that incident well.

Harrison Kho
Harrison Kho

Are they gonna write songs about the 405 and suburban "hoes" driving their kids to soccer practice?

Jennifer Kuo
Jennifer Kuo

Didn't Snoop Dogg use to live in Diamond Bar? And in a gated community too.

OC Weekly
OC Weekly

If you read the story, you'll actually see otherwise!

Simon Baty
Simon Baty

I think this is old. And I'm still waiting for an opportunity buy their album when it comes out.

Brennan King
Brennan King

No hint as to where in Lake Forest? Up with the skateboarding companies in Foothill Ranch or down here in incredibly cool Lower Lake Forest?

Erick Sanchez
Erick Sanchez

Watch me take Eazy E & Dr. Dre's sons out the music game..

Mason Ibarra
Mason Ibarra

what they going to rap about life in the suburbs?

EA Prieto
EA Prieto

Well where is the music? They've been in South OC forever and I haven't heard anything.

Jacob S. Lowry
Jacob S. Lowry

looks like these guys are desperately trying to ride the coat tails of their fathers

whateveryousay
whateveryousay topcommenter

Straight outta Lake Forest

Where the lawns are all green

Yards are trimmed and the pools kept clean...

Gary Cooper
Gary Cooper

There goes the neighbor " Hood " ... :-(

Oscar Ybarra
Oscar Ybarra

Eric Wright Jr is the son of Eazy-E not the name above...

calijs13
calijs13

Where did it say that they where gangstas?

calijs13
calijs13

Where did it say that they

where gangstas?

calijs13
calijs13

Yeah , i think he still does.

calijs13
calijs13

Your right it was Bush. But i belive they made the video like it was Regan.

 
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