Berner: This week we got Ben Baller. So much goddamn game in his episode we had to turn it into two. So go ahead. Roll up and get your mind right. Get ready for some knowledge and tune in to the motherfucking roundtable burner featuring Ben Baller. The name says it all. Ben baller, you stepped in a bit and say we’re just chopping it up. He walked in right in the middle of me dealing with some weed beef, some weed war. It’s real, it’s real in the street, it’s crazy man. Yeah you know it’s like the dope game in the rap game all makes him one the weed game has some cutthroat motherfuckers.
Ben: It’s going crazy right now. Everyone and their mama got a cannabis brand now, and they’re trying to get in. You know when the suits, when the Silicon Valley suits come and hit you up and like “Yo man, so we were interested in buying you know purchasing a license or a piece of your company.” And I was like, “Man if you don’t get your monkey ass out of here.”
Berner: Nobody trying to help you build your shit we’re building our own shit. So you got Viva Aspen. (vape pen) And I’m glad we able to link today cause some some clowns try to previously just get in the middle of good vibes and good relationship building. So now that’s out the way you know got the direct line with you, now we’re chopping game.
Ben: One hundred percent. Yeah.
BAY AREA RELATIONSHIPS
Ben: Because it just the people I move with, in the bay- and I lived there (in the bay) for five years I played ball in the bay I went to college there. But the people I move with, you know I got a lot of roots in the Bay. There’s a lot of people in the streets that fucked with me and I’m not talking about just Filthy and Cookie. But the real cats you know beyond that and like I got some real legends out behind my back. You know from all the way from AP you know East Palo Alto. All the way through fucking North and South Richmond and all over you name it. You know I’m saying Oakland, East side, West Side, and North Side and everything.
BEN BALLER’S EARLY INVOLVEMENT IN MUSIC
Berner: I’m glad to hook up with you man. You know you’re legendary status. Bro you’ve seen it all. The name Ben Baller is just so mafia alone. I mean the name says it all but you live up to the name. And I’m here for the story. The thing about the Berner Round Table is I like to get high, and hear stories from legendary people who have experienced some crazy shit. Because a lot of people look at people like yourself and be like I wonder what happens behind the scenes, or what’s the craziest experiences and the craziest stories. So while we’re here I just try to get the good vibes and those good stories. You’ve done so much it’s kinda hard to keep up.
GANGS IN RAP MUSIC
Ben: For sure, for sure, for sure. Yeah man you tell me. Ask away man, tell me what you wanna know.
Berner: You know I want to know what it was like in the early days.The early music like when it was real street shit, in the music business, where you knew not to snitch and was it not condoned, or motherfuckers was getting beat up at the sessions. I know you was working with Dre. I don’t know if this is a fact but I heard you might have worked with death row. I know you had something to do with J. And before we dive into any of the stuff that’s going on right now, I want to hear about your early crazy ass experiences because I know you’ve seen some shit.
Ben: Yeah you know. Okay first of all man we talking about West Coast shit. You know I mean like so even on the on the Jay-Z, I was later and that was like 96. So, in the early 90s you know especially if you from L.A, man if you want to get to some music shit it was like two areas. There was that G rapper shit, and like the G funk, but at the same time you know people got it fucked up.
I’m going to keep it 1000. If you go listen a doggy style- (By Snoop Dog) and I could listen from one track to track 20 and not skip one record. Listen to what he’s saying rap wise and lyric wise, now going on if you listen to track one at 20 especially if you listen to the “shiznit” that’s all a freestyle. He is spitting bars. Like fire bars right. So you think about some people like all these people are gangsters. No hell no. You know Corrupt?. They’re putting Corrupt up there rapping with Rakim and other rappers. But then these dudes are really Crips. So you know it wasn’t like some fake shit and like growing up if you’d go into any kind of rap concert it’s gonna be 85 percent gang bangers in the audience. You know saying people I like have gangsters affiliated with them and everything else. So, it’s like you know being in the music business and being at a death row it really was like “Straight Outta Compton.” I mean at a studio sessions pulling up and you’re like oh shit like it really is almost like like how “Straight Outta Compton” was. You pull up you gonna see a 63 lowered Impala, you gonna see like a Cutlass, you gonna see a Monte Carlo. And you gonna see all gangster cars but then you also see some Mercedes and other dope shit (higher end cars) and as time went on you’d see the elevation. You’d see crazy shit in the studio depending on who ran the studio, Dre’s studio was quiet, but some others had bitches in there, crazy parties. (Actual dogs) Rottweilers and pit bulls. And some real bad bitches. Crazy girls who’d do crazy shit. I have so many crazy stories from that time (with Death Row and Suge) and anyone who knows music knows (Dre’s) SSL boards. I can’t imagine how expensive this motherfucker was And this dude had a big ass iced tea on the board which was already a no no. Like no drinks on the board you know. And motherfucking ice tea spilled all in there and I can’t tell you too much about the graphic shit. But just know that Suge’s reputation was definitely real. He wasn’t playing no fucking games it wasn’t rated R but rated X. It got rated X to the point where I was like “Why don’t we just keep playing?” We just played the music like because I don’t want to hear what was going on. But people were like “Man we don’t wanna do shit.” So it was like quiet and you’d hear someone getting their ass beat and you’d put on the music to ignore it.
BACK TO THE 80s
Ben: Now we’re going gonna go to the 80s. There was an artist named Tone-Loc. People think of him as an actor but I think he was one of the first rappers to go diamond. His song “wild thing” was fucking a huge song. But Tone-Loc was affiliated like a huge gangsta you know. I think when people saw him they got him messed up but he’s a really nice guy. And there was a very very scary gang that ended up being a rap group called Boo Yaa Tribe, you don’t want to fuck with these dudes. And we were at the Palladium on Sunset Boulevard, it still exists now it’s like right there just east of Wilcox, and a motherfucking fight broke out and these motherfuckers, I shit you not, was bustin caps across the street from each other and that’s just how shit used to be. You woulda thought it was the movies. And that’s just how shit used to be.
Ben: My office for propriety records was right there, I’m actually on Wilcox and in sunset in the CNN building and fuck it I’ll tell you once one quick story. Like for instance….
QUICK STORY ABOUT ICE CUBE AND GONZO
Ben: You know I’m signing groups and at the time Ice Cube had this group and they had a couple of hit singles and they were dope. Cube was on the end of his career but he’s definitely always there. He’s like past the middle. (But) he’s still doing his thing. So, there’s still some East Coast/West Coast tension and one of the artists on his label got a solo deal. His name was Gonzo Gonzales. So I signed Gonzo to a solo deal. And one of the dudes from his group was upset about it. So, dude came up and this is crazy man. I was in the lobby and I was with my dad and my dad is old Korean dude who just don’t know shit about it. He’s like not even clip to anything. This is like 96 and I see the dude in the lobby. And I was like, “What’s good man?” And he was with a real real real grimy looking dude and I was like in my head, “Fuuuckk, you already know.” So check this out, he was not necessarily trying to punk me but was saying a lot of things and I was just like, “Well that’s between y’all, him, and the label man.” You know I’m saying it like a side thing and not through me. And so, homeboy pulled out a MAC 10 and he had the clip in his pocket and pulls it out. And half me was scared and the other half kinda got like “Ok Doug if this is my destiny and you go blast me with this with a fully automatic MAC 10 with in the fucking office and office then that’s my legacy.” In the end, we talked it out Boom. But this type of shit happened so much that when you had beef, it isn’t like today, the chit chat only went so far. I can’t even talk about some of it to this day.
CYPRESS HILL AND BEN BALLER BEEF
Ben: I know Carmen Electra and she was cool with another dude and I hit my boy up because he had burners on the low because I was in the middle, accidentally, of the beef between Cypress and Ice Cube’s people. I just represent the label, I wasn’t really on Cube’s side and it wasn’t anything deep but then all of a sudden Cypress turns against me because they thought I was trying to start some shit because I was trying to get a gun. So they thought some shit was gonna pop. So they’re playing at the House of Blues on Sunset toward down now right across Mondrian and my boy goes over and I never exaggerate. I hate when you exaggerate you really trippin. So my boy says he goes up there he sees Be Real outside and Cypress Hill and every gangbanger from fuckin South Side. So my boy goes over and says, “What’s going on? Who y’all waiting on?”
And they say, “We’re waiting on some bitch ass motherfucker Ben Baller. Waiting for this bitch at the fucker right now. Talkin about peeling caps boom and all that.” And I’m like wow thank God I never showed up that night because it was a misunderstanding. Be real like my bro you know. So like that shit got ugly to where I had to like watch what clubs I was going to cause it was getting weird and then I forgot what the fuck happened but I ran up on pulled up on B real somewhere and we talked. I said listen this is what the deal was. This was some straight up music shit nothing had to do with anything. I wasn’t claiming egos and basically me being affiliated with the label that Ice Cube was on was enough for me to get fucked up. You feel me and people were already getting fucked up. It was getting ugly, but eventually they squashed the beef and I won’t get into it because they’re both my homies. So I’m glad it worked out alright.
Ben: I’m gonna tell you something really funny man, one of my boys used to run with Game he was Game’s number one security guard. Then he left and went over with Kendrick Lamar. And he is just fresh out of a bid, maybe five or six, but somewhere around that. He did a legit bid. My boy was a real dog man, a real gangster. I don’t need to say too much but you would no Kendrick ain’t have no real real real gangbangers around him. And, he told me he was out, fresh out, and this little Japanese station wagon pulled up and it was Asian, real pyro, and they pulled up on us like “You know where some Asian slobs is at?” And you know, he’s fresh out so if it was a Black or Mexican dude that said that, slob is the most disrespectful term you could call a blood, my boy might of caught a case right there. But it was an asian dude, and as he said it, my boy looked in the back of the car and saw multiple (maybe ten or fifteen) fully autos. They all had bandanas and they was definitely gonna kill people. And he goes, “I don’t know some asians but I know where the real ones are at. And he tells it as “That was my first light of seeing how crazy Asian gangs are.”
Berner: So you’re coming out LA you’re tempting gang bangers, you’re you’re trying to fucking beef with slim 400, you’re trying to beef what you’re trying to beef with the people in Chicago and you’re going to the projects with a police escort filming….that’s you asking for trouble.
Ben: I can’t fuck would dude it in any which way and I would never bang as music or nothing. I’m saying you know and it’s just sad because I have people who I work with who were younger in their 20s and stuff like “Nah it’s cool” and they don’t get it because like listen man everyone has to grow up, I get that, but no dog that’s not growing up homie. It’s not okay to look the other cheek and be like “Oh it’s funny it’s entertaining” but it’s not dog.
WEST COAST (BAY AREA) AND FOOTBALL
Ben: You know let’s get back to the West Coast Bay Area shit, you know like D.J Quik. He’s such a legend dog. I mean I fuck with him so hard because I was a D.J and he was such a dope D.J. Plus he had such a legendary first album: Quik is the name. But you know there’s beef, the Dodgers got beef with the Giants, now personally I don’t fuck with the Giants. I can’t stand the Niners but I’ll rock with the Raiders and I rock with with the Warriors whenever boom I just those two teams I really fuck would right and like people take these rivalries a certain way but I got a love for the bay. The thing is when I transferred from Berkeley to S.F. State that’s when I started seeing a lot of different things like I played football there too. A lot of people see at Berkeley you got people come up from New York, Alaska, California, Florida and from all over the D1 schools but S.F. State is mostly like junior college guys and stuff like that. So, I met and connected with a lot of local cats from the Bay area. And at that time, the label “In a Minute” was popping with Abril Posse and they were killing it. And this was before I got into the music business and these dudes are legitimately pressing up CDS and putting them out at the downtown mall and all that. And they chased D.J Quik out of the mall, like things are gentrified now, people don’t know but before you could really see people beefing, people getting ran down on, kids carrying guns, everything is different now. And the people who used to live in these areas, their whole lives there, can’t afford it anymore. They’re even gentrifying Oakland to where Oakland is almost unaffordable for these people and like I mean I just remember like going to a Raiders game and you’d go see the craziest shit you’ve seen in your life. You can go to Green Bay. I know their fans are crazy. But like you can go to a rowdy stadium and I can’t think of one time in my head that compares. The Raiders games back then was most gangsta shit I’ve seen does get whipped up and I’ve seen people get stabbed, whooped up, and I’ve been a Raiders fans for 30 years. But you can YouTube it. YouTube the 49ers Candlestick Park versus the Raider games. I’m talking, I would see 17 on 17 fights. Big ass paddy wagons going by, that can hold 30 or 40 people, and people were just zip typing motherfuckers and throwing more and more bodies in. Mexican gangsters out of nowhere, women fighting, it was just crazy. It’s like a fucking war zone in there. It was mania bro.
BEEF IN THE JEWELRY COMMUNITY
Berner: We talked about street shit, we talked about L.A and your Bay history, which is dope, but as you walked in today I was curious because of all the beef we’ve been talking about in terms of gang shit and rap shit: Is there any beef in the jewelry community?
Ben: Let’s say we went and we had the all the jewelers, and let’s just say there’s 10 relevant jewelers. I don’t think there’s that many now because there’s three million jewelers in the world right. So let’s say there was a Grammy (for Jewelry) and there kind of already is. They had the J.C.K which is like the biggest thing in the industry and these people don’t even recognize hip hop jewelers or custom people like that. They’re recognizing the real innovators, who have done all these crazy things, and there’s 300,000 people that try to get bids and then boom they choose one person out of all that. In 2017, I made jeweler of the year and you know this is an enormous accomplishment. And the host says to me, beforehand, “What are you wearing?” And I’m wearing a six thousand dollar suit and she’s like “No go back upstairs and put on some supreme shit. You broke the mold of what jeweler looks like.” So, I was like “Fuck it.” I went upstairs got my street wear, street clothes back on, and I rocked it. So, when it comes to the jewelry shit I do talk a lot of shit but I have the numbers, the fanbase, the relevancy to back it up. So, me personally if there was beef in the industry I can back myself up but I have better things to do then beef on the internet with other people in my business.