He’s the man that Dr. Dre, Warren G
and others turn to when they need help writing hit songs. He’s been featured on
landmark albums, hit soundtracks and released his own critically acclaimed EP.
Now, with his long-awaited debut album on LA Confidential/Elektra Entertainment,
“The Way I Am,” Knoc-Turn’al is poised to become a bonafied Hip Hop superstar in
his own right.
Chock full of catchy singles, strong concept songs and irresistible beats from
Dr. Dre, Scott Storch, Timbaland, DJ Quik and others, “The Way I Am” gives fans
an intimate look into the man that made his mark on Dr. Dre’s “2001” album, the
soundtrack for “The Wash” and his own “Knoc’s Landin’” EP.
With the spotlight squarely on him with his new album, Knoc-Turn’al wants to
make sure that fans get a glimpse into his world, hence the album’s title. “I
want people to get to know me”, Knoc explains. “Within the album, I’m trying to
explain to you the texture of where I’ve come from, where I’m trying to go,
where I’ve been, what I need to see in my lifetime, what I hope I accomplish. I
have set a lot of goals for myself and I’m trying to raise the bar on my own
self so when 10 years come down the line I’m still here”.
The album’s title track (and its equally explosive remix featuring Snoop Dogg)
goes a long way to making that goal a reality. Produced by Storch, the cut’s
thumping drums, dramatic keyboards, choice string section and Knoc’s trademark
conversational flow makes it the type of undeniable cut whose shelf life never
expires. Knoc sets the song off by explaining how the bond he has with Dr. Dre,
DJ Quik, Xzibit, Eminem, 50 Cent and others extends beyond business.
“It explains what I’ve been through and the respect level that people in the
industry have for me”, he says. “They love me. It’s not like I’m somebody where
they’re like, ‘Oh, here he come’, and they turn away. When I come, they’re like,
‘Look at Knoc. Here he comes’. They smile about it. They don’t frown up. I’m not
an egotistical person. I’ve got moral standards and a lot of loyalty. People
like that. It’s hard to find people like that, people like me”.
Knoc-Turn’al’s loyalty extends to Los Angeles. He dedicates two of the album’s
hottest cuts, “Love L.A.” and “Peepin’ Tom,” to the splendour of his city’s
culture. The former focuses on the joys of living the LA lifestyle, while the
latter is like a history class of sorts for LA Hip Hop fans. On “Peepin’ Tom”, Knoc weaves
the titles and famous phrases from of a number of classic California
rap hits from Eazy-E to AMG to 2Pac to Compton’s Most Wanted into a cohesive
story about his own life.
“It’s the people that I listened to as I was growing up, before this game
actually came to accept me”, Knoc says. “It’s like a compliment back to them and
it makes sense. That’s the crazy part. I just didn’t throw a bunch of names at
you and didn’t make sense of the verse. Unless you know these songs and listen
to rap and have been a fan for the last 10 years, you wouldn’t know I’m
referencing those songs”.
Even though he loves his city, Knoc’s view stretches beyond his own
On the eerie “War”, for example, he and guest rapper Slip Capone chastise
President Bush for his foreign policy, while on the reflective “Until The Day” Knoc hopes for peace and a better tomorrow.
This type of artistic and creative reach comes naturally for Knoc, one of
Hip Hop’s most well-rounded artists. “I’m trying to make a complete album”, he
says. “I pay attention to everything. I lost a lot of people to violence, so
until the day that I can really do everything that I want to do, I’m going to
represent where I’m from. I’m going to make sure that I don’t forget about
everybody that ever did anything for me. I’m talking about whether it’s familywise or hoodwise. I don’t forget people. I ain’t never burned a bridge.
Everything was always straight to me when it came to business.”
Knowing that his creative range is one of his strengths, Knoc takes his focus to
a lighter place on the catchy yet hard-core club track “Never Stop Thuggin’” and
the second single, the Dr. Dre-produced “I Like”. These cuts show another
wrinkle of Knoc’s character, highlighting his party and braggadocio side,
“I Like” is just the latest chapter in the winning relationship with Dr. Dre and
Knoc. In 1998, LA Confidential honcho Big D took some of Knoc’s music to Dr. Dre.
Impressed by the upstart’s output, Dre invited Knoc to the studio and had him
rap for him on the spot. After Knoc rapped a few lines for the rap legend, Dre
was convinced that Knoc had the skills to enter his fold.
Soon thereafter, Knoc was writing and rapping on Dr. Dre’s landmark “2001” album
and then “The Wash” soundtrack. At the same time, Knoc was working on his own
album and trying to distance himself from his criminal past. With the huge
demand for his music in the streets, it should come as no surprise that Elektra
signed Knoc-Turn’al to a contract and that his music quickly became a hot
commodity on the bootleg circuit throughout the country.
After recording scores of songs, the explosive “Knoc’s Landing” EP arrived in
stores in mid-2002. Anchored by lead single “The Knoc,” with Dr. Dre and Missy
Elloit and a groundbreaking video in which Knoc played 17 characters, and the Kanye West-produced hit “Muzik”, one of
the few songs which former Beatle Paul
McCartney cleared a sample for, Knoc established himself as a top-tier talent
who was respected by and regularly working with rap’s biggest acts. Knoc went on
to write for Warren G and others and to sing the chorus for the Westside
Connection’s recent “Light’s Out” single.
“It’s a blessing to be a part of such a big circle so early in my career”, he
says. “I definitely do recognise that everything I do from this point on will
dictate whether or not I’m still going to be here in ten years. The remix that’s
going on now with Snoop Dogg solidifies for people on the West Coast that I’ve
done a song with everybody. Snoop was the missing piece of the puzzle and here
In fact, “The Way I Am” is the missing piece of a career that has already seen Knoc-Turn’al deliver a string of hits as a rapper, writer and singer. With his
experience and his respect within the music industry, he is ready to take
advantage of his prized standing.
“It’s been a very long road, but it’s been a very good learning experience”, Knoc-Turn’al says. “I have officially been through Hip Hop college. Things in my
career couldn’t be better. I’ve worked with every West Coast superstar there is
early in my career, from DJ Quik to Dre to Ice Cube to Mack 10 to Too $hort to
Snoop Dogg on down. That’s a blessing”.
And that’s the way he is.