DIPSET’S HELL RELL TO RELEASE DEBUT LP “FOR THE HELL OF IT”
By Khalid Strickland a.k.a. Dirty Angel
Hard as “Hell”…
Rap music’s current infatuation with radio-friendly jingles and ring tone sales has me, a fan of what you’d call “that hardcore s**t”, wondering this: Could an album like N.W.A.’s classic “Straight Outta Compton”, one of the greatest and most important albums in rap’s history, be a commercial success today? With virtually no video spins or airplay, the R-Rated “Compton” went triple-platinum after it was released in 1988. Fast-forward to 2007 and ask yourself: in this buttery-soft industry, would N.W.A.’s record label even allow the “Compton” LP to be a commercial success, or would the group languish in major-label limbo like M.O.P., Saigon, The Clipse, Raekwon and Styles P (other talented-but-untamed artists)?
In Frank Miller’s graphic novel/film “ Sin City”, Dwight says of his fellow anti-hero, the brutish and barbaric Marv: “He just had the rotten luck of being born in the wrong century. (Marv) would be right at home on some ancient battlefield swinging his axe into somebody’s face.”
Actually, the same could be said of The Diplomat’s unabashedly, street-to-the-bone-gristle rapper Hell Rell. Except the time period Rell would fit into would be the one N.W.A. conquered. A time when the streets, rather than flaky radio and video shows, dictated what rap songs would get some burn. And instead of swinging a battleaxe, Hell Rell would dispatch his enemy with jagged lyrics and a straightforward flow that hits like a blackjack to the temple. With popular rappers Jim Jones, Juelz Santana and Cam’ron running The Diplomat’s triangle offense, Hell Rell has thus far made solid contributions to the team as a reliable supporting player. After lacing Teflon-tipped verses on both of Dipset’s “Diplomatic Immunity” albums and several well-received mix tapes, Hell Rell will release his first solo album, “For The Hell Of It”, on September 25th, 2007. Distributed by Koch Records, “For The Hell Of It” is a slab of gutter material for fans that prefer their gangsta rap straight, no chaser. Of course, Jimmy, Juelz and Cam make requisite appearances on their teammate’s debut LP, but Styles P of The LOX and T.I.’s homey Young Dro bless “For The Hell Of It” with cameo appearances as well. I recently chopped it up with Hell Rell about his new album, his thoughts on hip-hop’s critics and how the rumored beef between Jim Jones and Cam’Ron affects his solo debut.
Dirty Angel: What can listeners expect to hear when they pick up this new joint, man?
Hell Rell: A breath of fresh air; like breathing. You know what I’m sayin’? I mean, we all like “walkin’ it out”. We all like the “ay bay bay” records, na’mean? We all two-steppin’ and all that, but it’s time to come back to what we really came here to do, and that’s hip-hop. Not saying (the other stuff) is not hip-hop… I really consider it club music, but… I just want to bring it back to the essence when you jump in your car, light up a blunt, throw that up in your CD (player) like, “Oh, this n***a is goin’ in!” Na’mean? So I just want to bring it back to that.
Angel: No doubt. What do you hope to accomplish with this album when it drops?
Rell: Pretty much… what, you mean numbers-wise?
Angel: Just in general.
Rell: I mean, I pretty much just want to get it out there because I’ve been featured on a lot of projects over the last 3 or 4 years. So I just basically want a solo look, na’mean? I just want fans to get a glimpse of who Hell Rell is. That’s why I kept the features to a minimum.
Angel: So outside of your clique, who do you have on there?
Rell: I got Young Dro for the down south appeal. A lot of people was telling me that Dro reminds them of a down south (version of) me. So I kind of reached out to Dro and did a strip club-slash-gangsta record. And I reached out to Styles P because there was little rumor in the streets about this little “who’s the hardest (rapper) out” beef, na’mean?
Angel: Yeah, I heard about that.
Rell: Cause I pretty much threw a freestyle out there that declared the hardest out, whether Styles P liked it or not. It wasn’t intended as a dis, just basically letting P know that I’m here, putting my flag in, and this is my territory along with yours… whatever, whatever. So, you know, he was man enough not to respond, ‘cause it wasn’t intended as a dis. And I was in the studio working on a record called “Hardest Out”. And I did one verse and the s**t was sounding crazy so I’m like, “Damn, who not better but Styles P to get it on.” So I reached out to his people in his camp and did the s**t.
Angel: Everybody’s always talking about, “New York got to come back; I’m bringing New York back”… this and that. Do you feel that New York ever really fell off and that there’s a need to bring it back?
Rell: Nah, it’s just that New York deejays just started d**k-ridin’ south records. Like, we always been trend-setters. I don’t give a f**k if n****s was motherf****n’ making songs out of chainsaws and everybody’s going crazy to that s**t in the club. We always stuck to a program of our music. You understand what I’m sayin’? That’s why we never knew who these artists were until we left out of New York. Now it’s just like New York is just becoming susceptible to what’s poppin’ out of town. And you know, it has it’s waves. Like everybody was mad at Puff when he came with the shiny-suit era, but then you know… it went back to the gangsta s**t. You had the DMX’s… the 50 Cents… or whoever else came out on some gangsta s**t. So pretty much, you know, that’s what’s up.
Angel: So when you put this together did you have the radio in mind or is it gonna be strictly street s**t?
Rell: Nah, nah; I didn’t have the radio in mind. I didn’t have nobody in mind, that’s why the name of the album is “For The Hell Of It”. I actually went in there and recorded songs for the hell of it. It’s not like I went in these and said, “Cool, give me a club beat, we’re gonna do a club record. Give a song for the chicks, we’re gonna do a chick record”. I just basically went in there and recorded whatever came to Hell Rell’s mind at the time, and just basically just put it in song form and structured it after it was done.
Angel: Are you from Harlem?
Rell: Nah, I’m from the Bronx; from the BX.
Angel: From the BX. Let me ask you something. Is the BX changing like Harlem’s been changing? You know Harlem is changing a lot, I know you be down there a lot, your brethren is from there.
Rell: Yeah, I be down there every day damn near. So you know, I pretty much (know). The Bronx has pretty much changed too… like, it ain’t no Bronx pride like… it’s just people running around dressing any type of way, na’mean? Just doing anything, so I just feel like I’m the poster child from the Bronx, man. I got that swag, I got the look, I got everything that needs to be… that you need to have to represent what I’m trying to do. So I’m basically the poster child for everything that’s going on, man.
Angel: Indeed. Right now, hip-hop is under attack from all different directions for many reasons, and some of the heaviest critics want to have a ban on certain words; particularly n***a, b***h and h*e. You got any thoughts on that?
Rell: Basically, that’s pretty much f****n’ ludicrous, man. Na’mean? ‘Cause you know, there’s always been… whether it was a product, whatever it was, if it was detrimental or harmful to other people, it was secluded. That’s why you always knew where to get pornography back in the days on 42nd street. You understand what I’m saying? It wasn’t on every corner like a liquor store or a grocery store, na’mean? It had its specific place where you could go get that content. So why take out the core… not saying that’s the main thing, but why take out the core content of the music because you disapprove of it? You might disapprove of porno, but it’s not in your neighborhood, you have to go where it’s at, you know what I’m sayin’? And albums come with a parental advisory sticker on it, so it’s not like you don’t have control of what your kids hear. We’re not shaping society, you guys are.
Angel: Was music some s**t that you always wanted to do, or was it something that, when you came home (from jail), n****s had something set up already. Was it more of a means to an end?
Rell: I always wanted to do music, but I lost my motivation for it around 2000, 2001, because… I used to run up in labels and I used to spit and they used to say, “Oh, this n***a hot” but they ain’t want to sign me, so that s**t really kind of threw me off because… I’m like, “Damn, I got the money. I got the look. I got the jewelry. I got the cars; all I need is the deal.” Know what I’m sayin’? Keep your advance money, just sign me and put me out. Know what I’m sayin’? I don’t want the money, I’m good. So it didn’t kind of like work out, so I lost all motivation for it. And then when Cam came along and he heard a freestyle I had, he’s like, “Yeah, n***a, that s**t is hot, my n***a. Let’s go, you got that s**t!” So basically he got me out of a slump, I didn’t believe it myself. So once Cam’ron stamped me, it kind of shot my self-esteem out the roof; made me feel like I was wanted in hip-hop. And that’s what it was, know what I’m sayin’?
Angel: One more thing. With all the s**t that’s surrounding the (Diplomats) crew or whatever, whether it’s true or not; n****s saying Jim (Jones) and Cam’ron are going at each other, or this n***a got beef with this n***a, do you feel any extra pressure to perform now? Do you feel any pressure on your album that’s coming out?
Rell: Yeah, I feel a lot of pressure because the media has drawn it out to where they make it seem like, you got one side over here and you got one side over there. So it kinda like, puts me in a limbo because everybody’s expecting a lot out of me. You understand what I’m sayin’? (They say) “Cam is beefin’ with Jim”, whatever, whatever. So every time there’s a beef amongst the camp, the music gets more scrutinized. Na’mean? So pretty much everybody’s gonna be looking at me to see what I do. I’mma do what I usually do; that’s get money and provide gangsta music for my hardcore audience.
Angel: Any final words or thoughts, man?
Rell: Get the album. Eat with me or eat bullets. In stores, right now. Go get it… Mister Ruger Rell.
For more information on Hell Rell and “To Hell With It”, visit www.myspace.com/hellrell.
For more stories and work by Dirty Angel visit www.supremearsenal.com and www.myspace.com/blackpacino.