“Axe me a question, muthafucka!” Get it?!
Brotha Lynch Hung (Kevin Mann) is arguably Sacramento’s most famous rapper but, to be honest, it’s pointless to argue.
Well, first, his name is Brotha Lynch. Second, he grew up in South Sacramento’s “Garden Blocc” neighborhood where he joined a Crip gang, got shot, went to jail and started making fantastically violent rap music about killing people, babies, even. That got him in a lot of trouble with people who love babies.
His first full-length album, 1995’s Season of Da Siccness, oozed with murky synth and wicked, murderous lyrics with tricky internal rhymes. The album solidified Lynch’s place in the hip-hop canon. After a fallout with Ced Singleton of Black Market Records, Lynch started his own Siccmade Music where he released the soundtrack to the straight-to-VHS horror/comedy movie Now Eat (which he also starred in). Last year, Lynch signed with Strange Music (Midwest rapper TechN9ne’s label) and released Dinner & A Movie, the first in a trilogy of albums that details the life of a ghetto serial killer.
How’s it going?
Just chillin’, man. Excited about the new album. I think it might be the best one I’ve ever made. I’m writing a lyrical screenplay … with the next albums. Plus, I was more in my right mind.
What do you mean when you say “in my right mind”? Were you fucked up before?
It’s funny, every time I would do an album, something dramatic would go on in my life. My mom died during Lynch By Inch; my cousin died during Season of Da Siccness, and during 24 Deep, X-Raided got locked up for life—so I was kind of like I don’t give a f-u-c-k. And this time, I finally got to just concentrate and have a real subject matter and reason for doing this album instead of anger and hurt.
Is your life going better now?
Not yet. But being with Strange Music, I think that’ll change real quick.
Sacramento’s Father of the Year
Your flow is a little slower on this album.
I do have three songs where I speed it up, and that was TechN9ne’s idea. He’s like, “Man, you know people love when you do the flipping stuff.” And I said, “Alright, I’ll give you three songs, cool?” So I kind of put three songs together and spread them out on the album. Because I really look at myself like a hip-hopper. I mean, I can do any type of style. I don’t like to be categorized. I do open my ear to the fans want to hear [certain styles], so I gave them three cuts like that.
I was watching Ghetto Celebrities Vol. 1, and that was filmed several years ago, and you said you were about to quit smoking cigarettes. Did you ever quit?
I’m smoking one as we speak.
Why don’t you do a lot of press?
I’m the type of person—well, every rapper is—that wants to be heard every time they come out, but if I don’t have a good deal I won’t release. I feel like I already have longevity. I’ve already been in the business 20 years and only have four albums that I claim. And I’m ready to do another 10 more now that I’m in the right situation.
What’s your relationship to Black Market Records now?
We’re kind of off and on. I actually sent (Ced Singleton) a text and was like “Can you find it in your heart to pay me the rest of the $300,000 that you owe me?”
And he’s in Haiti now, housing homeless. He actually hit me back the other day and said, “When I get back from Haiti we’ll have a talk and I’ll do that for you.” We’ll see how that goes.
Are you out in the Garden Blocc neighborhood at all?
To be honest, there’s nothing out there for me right now. I’ve ran into a lot of people that’s basically given up, so I stay at home, work on my screenplays and I plot on my next dream. And usually when I do a dream I get semi-out-there with it. And my next dream is to write a screenplay and produce movies and stuff. I have that Now Eat, which I didn’t write but it kind of gave me a little bit of experience, especially recording it in L.A. It gave me the experience to want to dip into that situation.
Not in a gang
Are you still into serial killers?
Oh yes. Court TV, YouTube—I watch everything related to them. It’s been helping me with this trilogy of three albums that I’m doing. You’ll see references and metaphors about some of the stuff. I have the papers from court and I’m going to write a screenplay about [Gary Ridgway] the Green River Killer, from Washington.
What got you into that? How did serial murder become your thing?
I was always interested in why they do it. I always try to examine the reason and where did it come from. I imagine horror stuff all the time, but I’m not going out there and doing it. So I try to get inside of their head. And the more I watch it, the more I kind of understand. It’s basically the same thing: They wasn’t raised right. And they’ve had things done to them. Some are just weak-minded. Some are horny.
Are you still in a gang?
It was a young thing back then. Once I was able to let a lot of the gang-banging stuff go, the creative stuff came into play. And I like that better. I still give it up for my neighborhood because I love those guys. But I don’t advertise as much anymore.
So you can give it up and not be affiliated? How does that work?
This is what my O.G. told me: “This is the best thing for you to do, Lynch,” he said. “You’re keeping the name of the neighborhood out there with your records—and that’s where you fit in.” So I kind of ran with that. Plus, it’s safer for me (laughs).
Will people be mad about that?
I went through a long stretch of time where people were mad because I didn’t really go kick it too much in the neighborhood. [As for] the people that I actually grew up with when I was banging, I am in touch with them daily. I’m up there in age; I ain’t going to run around with no 22-year-olds. Those guys might be mad, but ain’t nothing I can do about that.
One time, I got lost and walked through Garden Blocc by accident. I was scared as shit.
I’d be scared as shit out there, too.
I felt like I was going to die.
You’re probably safer than I am. To me, the Garden Blocc is it’s own state. When you go in there you see so many different things. I’ve walked those neighborhoods for, I don’t know how long, and now when I go there it’s just like, “Wow, I can’t believe I used to live here.”
There are a lot of rappers coming out of there.
Yes sir, T-Nutty, Luni Coleone and even Cway—they’re coming up. And they’re starting just the way I did: Put it out for hood and it spreads to the Bay Area and spreads throughout northern California, Seattle, Portland. So they’re on the right track. It’s just they have to remain serious about it and believe that it could happen because nobody made it from Sac doing what I did in ‘92, ‘91. I had to straight-up believe that I could do this and it happened for me. I got lucky.
So your success came from a little bit of belief, a little bit of luck and hard work?
Enjoying the craft. I enjoyed the craft more than anything. I went 10 years before I even had a record out, just doing it for fun. Even though it’s less fun these days, I still enjoy what I’m doing.
It’s weird, a lot of people don’t think of you as a true emcee, but that’s you, isn’t it?
Yeah, that’s definitely me. I’m so serious about it it’s ridiculous. And, you know, I ain’t going to go around saying that [I’m a true emcee]—unless it’s in an interview. Because nobody’s going to believe you anyway.
Didn’t you go to school with the fat dude from Blackalicious?
He actually went to Kennedy. He used to come up to Burbank every day. Yeah! What’s his name?
Gift of Gab?
Yeah, but that’s before he was Blackalicious. You know, I heard about Blackalicious for years and then when I finally ran into him I’m like, “Wait a minute, you’re Blackalicious?” And he’s like, “Yeah!” Because he was named Tiny back in the day. And I was Ice Cold back in the day. It was crazy to find out that that’s who Blackalicious was. And he’s doing better than me! I think they’ve got a platinum album from years ago. That’s crazy.
You talk about how your dad brought you up listening to different stuff, like rock, thrash, jazz. What are you listening to now?
I listen to Avril Lavigne. I tried to get her on this album but I’ll wait until I get back out there a little and then approach her. But I love Avril Lavigne. I love Rihanna. These days, a lot of people ain’t listening to too much rap, and that’s the reason why I’m doing these albums: to bring it back. The last rap album I really bumped was the Eminem’s Relapse. I try to give everybody a chance, but a lot of people are just doing it for the money. And when you do that, you’re not creative enough for me to give you a listen even for a month. I like the creative stuff, but I’m open though. I went back into listening to rock. My mom was a hippie, so I grew up listening to rock. I even have a rock song called “Mr. Policeman” that I put out in ‘89 and it’s on blue vinyl. So I’m very much into rock but I don’t let it leak too much onto my music … I may dip into it. Maybe next time.
Did you see the PBS show about white people rapping?
I seen pieces of it.
They present two sides. One side is it’s cool because rappers like Eminem are skilled. The other is that white people shouldn’t rap because they’re doing blackface.
I don’t think so. I like Eminem, of course. And I also like Everlast. He was one of my favorite rappers back in the day. I don’t really look at it like that. Anybody who grew up with me, whether they’re white, black, Mexican or whatever, I don’t really see color like that. Like Loki. He was signed to my label. He says “nigga” more than I do.
I can’t tell if he’s white or Mexican.
He’s white. It doesn’t bother me. It doesn’t bother us because it’s like [saying] “homie.”
This is so racist
Can a white fan walk up to you and say, “Sup nigga?”
I would look at it the same way. If it’s set in your mind like that, you obviously grew up o the same kind of stuff as me. So it’s accepted. As long as you accept me, I accept you.
Are your kids doing rap too?
My 14-year-old son does beats. But he’s limited because if he’s not doing good in school I don’t give him too much access to that. He already thinks he’s going to be a star because in his eyes I’m sort of a star because so many people know about me. I don’t want him to grow up thinking that it’s automatically going to be right, so I kind of limit him. I’m working with him a little bit.
So you don’t want to start his big-ass ego.
No. Definitely not. I’ve been humble my whole career so he has to understand that. I appreciate everything that happened for me. And until he can do that, he’s in the wrong place.
What do you tell him about the gritty lifestyle?
I don’t really have to tell him too much because he knows me, but when he asks about it I tell him I’m writing movies. And you can get away with whatever you want when you write a movie just like watching a horror flick at night. But he knows what I mean in my songs and what I don’t. My 10 year-old daughter is a little harder to explain to.
You’re like a black Dexter.
Actually, Dave Weiner [Strange Music VP] was like “You’re not watching Dexter?” And I said no. Ever since he told me that I’ve been YouTubing some of it and seeing little sections. I can’t believe it myself that I was missing that. I think they had a couple seasons.Are there any new seasons?
Yeah, I just finished the third season.
What do you mean “I”? Oh, you mean watching it?
Ha! Yeah, I’m not in it.
Oh, I was going to be like, “You’re in it?! Fucking rad!”
I think it’s cool how you started out gang-banging on 24th Street, but then you built up this huge life. And now you have a huge world around you.
If the things in my life didn’t happen, it probably wouldn’t have shifted that way. And so I do appreciate that. And even though sometimes [it was] bad, it all shifted me to this—I could have kept banging and went a whole different route. But I ended up doing this route, which is better because I’m safe.
Do you still live in Sac?
I live in the outskirts. I stay in Folsom. And I don’t mind saying that because people know I stay out there already. Folsom shows me love, even the police. They already know my situation so they kind of watch my back.
You got shot, right?
Only a true gangster can pull off the daring blue and yellow combination
What does getting shot feel like? I mea, it hurts, obviously. But can you describe it?
It was on some old gang-banging stuff, and I really had nothing to do with the situation. I was actually going to break it up between a Blood and a Crip. As soon as I was leaving a party, they saw me. And they shot and hit me in my side. It actually knotted up. It didn’t really hurt. I was more shocked that it happened. [After,] I went and bought a beer and my step-mom, who used to work in a hospital said, “You got to go to the hospital.” She I wasn’t even going to go. And the bullet is still inside of me.
Oh it is? A souvenir.
Yeah, it dislodged two of my ribs, opened them up a little and went inside there. They didn’t want to mess around with any of that so they just left it inside.
Oh my God.
And nobody from the neighborhood did nothing. So that was my first sign that I got to get out of this shit.
Well, shit, I’m glad you’re okay.
Thank you. I appreciate that. Me too.
I live in the suburbs.
Oh yeah. I do now!
It’s nice, huh?
Yes sir. Very quiet. I love it.