Lil Rob's Summer Nights
8/7/05 - LatinRapper.com exclusive interview (click
here for 1st interview)
Chicano Rap on MTV? Some said it would never happen, but one
artist is on the verge of changing all that.
San Diego rapper Lil Rob has been a part of the game since
'92, pushing as many as 90,000 CDs per album while continuing
to stay underground. His new album, Twelve Eighteen Pt. 1, has
pushed the mainstream limits of Chicano Rap and has gotten the
subgenre a new level of attention nationwide.
interview Lil Rob discussed what it meant to be
Chicano, how being shot changed his life, and what it would
take for Chicano rap to get respect. Back on the grind, Rob
took a break from his hectic schedule to speak with LatinRapper on his new album and brown pride.
LatinRapper.com: Big news first, new album out. Tell us a bit
about Twelve Eighteen.
Its Lil Rob, some good music out there, different music.
Neighborhood music with the oldies samples, club music,
stripper music (laughs). Just a big variety, bro, hip hop, a
big variety of everything. Everyone likes a bit of something
different, I didn't wanna put just one style on the whole
album, hit a wider audience. It can be played in the clubs
now, in the neighborhood too, just a well rounded album.
What exactly is the significance of the number twelve
Just a neighborhood thing, homie. Like we tagged up the
neighborhood, we used the numbers instead of the letters. 12
for L, 18 for R, it had a ring to it, I ended up tattooing it
on my arms. Determined to make something happen out of it.
It's working homie, its my biggest album so far. So now that's
my thing, it will be attached to everything. When I do get my
clothing line up homie, that will be 1218, anything that has
to do with Lil Rob will be 1218.
You spoke about finding your niche with Neighborhood Music,
did you stick to that formula for this album?
I mean I did, its not really that I found a niche bro, I just
found out that if you put raza first, you can't lose. I did
the whole gang thing, I grew up, now raza is raza to me. I
drop it for everyone, homie, not just my click or
neighborhood. People said I changed my flow or whatever, but
its still me on there. Still brown and proud and raza related.
I haven't changed, I don't think it sounds any different. Just
gotta give it a listen, be open to new things so I can open
up, so people can listen. I got added to all these stations
because I opened up and experimented, now we're being seen and
being listened to, before we were just getting put down.
How is Twelve Eighteen Part 1 different from your last album?
Like I said bro, I don't feel that it is different, the
production is different. I still use Moox out of Austin,
Texas. We recorded 26 songs, we took the best 13 for this
album. I recorded enough to do a part 2, we had a hard time
choosing for this album. So we just compromised and put out
certain things, but in my eyes it's the same.
But it's old
school sounding, people said I changed my flow up, I been doin'
different flows throughout my whole career, its always been
something different. Trying to do the radio thing, trying to
blow it up, believe me it was hard for the label to work me, I
just looked like trouble to people. There are a lot of good
people that represent brown, a lot of us trying to do good, we
shouldn't change the way we dress, just conduct ourselves with
I heard Summer Nights on the radio, which is the first time
I've heard Chicano rap outside of the Southwest or West Coast.
What does it feel like when Chicanos to get mainstream
acceptance like that?
It's cool. Especially if you don't change who you are, I'm
that same person that came out 15 years ago, bro. A lot of
work, a lot more work than I thought, it feels good to stay on
the front line and finally get respected from people. Radio,
rappers, everyone else. The hating comes with the territory,
but you just put that aside. Definitely feels good to be doing
these big shows, real cool, especially to go all the way to
the East coast.
What motivated or inspired you to do Summer Nights in the
That's my thing too, bro, not just like I did a song to hit
radio. A singer played a beat, asked if I would rap to it at
the studio. Sounded like a feel good song, he played a good
beat and that was it. If I hear a good beat, I'mma write to
it. Whether its hip hop or anything, the blues, I'll rap to it
if I like it, that's why there's a bunch of different types of
music on the album, we all grew up with different types of
What artists appeared on your album?
Actually there's no other artists, again I just don't try to
trust people in the business, I've been through it where
they're friends one day and backstab you the next. I got a lot
of people I know in the business that last I know I was cool
with them, now they talking sh*t about me. I don't even waste
time putting people on my album anymore. I've never had a
feature on my album just because I don't trust people, they're
out to get theirs.
I wish people weren't like that, wish I
could help them, but I do my thing homie. Just the producers
and label that helped me out, otherwise people taking credit
for stuff they didn't even do, but that's expected. You don't
see me hanging out with other rappers just because of that
fact, some are real caught up in the rap world and forget to
be humble. Without the fans, you can't do nothing. Respect
those people that made you.
It looks like you had an additional producer involved this
time around, right?
Fingaz, he's bad, bro. He did like 8 of the tracks on this new
album. Sounds good man, good mixture, different sounds.
I noticed you're all over the place right now, are you touring
or just promoting the album?
Just promoting, did a retail tour right now, different city
every day. 42 cities, we just did Phoenix, there was 1500
people in the store. Albuquerque, 3500 people in the parking
lot, I did a free show out there, hang out. Every spot that I
hit so far been a good turnout, good to see people come out,
be proud to be who they are, proud to be Mexican. They got
someone representing now on a high level, I don't mind staying
‘til I'm done. It just feels so good, some girls are crying,
it feels good.
How important is it for artists on the grind to do the music
store and radio station appearances?
Ah bro, it's real important man. If I don't do those things,
the radio doesn't see the people that dig me. Like today, 1500
people at the store at the mall. They have to respond to that,
like ‘damn, this guy has listeners.' I'm pulling a big crowd,
some places it's a bigger crowd than anyone else brought.
took a long time to get respect homie, I just waited for it,
now people see we aint goin' away, Rob aint goin' away. Long
as the fans are there, I gotta keep dropping music. They gotta
know that you're out there, that you actually care. Its real
cool, its very important. To get your face out there, do your
What would your advice be to someone who enjoys rapping and
wants to make a career out of it?
Just not to quit, don't burn no bridges, respect people. Don't
step on nobody's toes, that comes around and kicks you in the
ass, bro. I got people wish they never did what they did, I'm
a good dude, would have been helping them all the way through.
But they learn the hard way. Keep practicing, don't get caught
up in any rappers drama. You don't need theirs, they don't
Like you said, every rapper picks up some haters, so what
makes you wake up every day and decide that you still want to
be a high profile artist in your subgenre instead of a more
All the fans, bro. All the fans that are out there, they don't
want me to quit, homie. I'm on a different level now, I get
outside dude, see people all over the place.. Certain people
rap about a certain place where they're from, but I don't. I
got checked a long time ago, nothing wrong with getting
checked. If they call me sellout, call me whatever they want,
but I'm proud to be brown. I know I aint no punk. We can get
down, I'd rather not, I'd rather live without having to watch
my back. You gonna rap then rap, you gonna be gangster, then
Last time we spoke, we discussed what it would take for
Chicano Rap to get national attention, have you seen any
changes that tell you this is happening?
Ah yeah, the first week I sold 35,000, know what I mean,
that's the most I ever done [the first week]. It's crazy, all
the work we're putting into it. Its happening now, bro,
getting the respect, going out and the crowds are bigger.
Lotta people think we don't need radio, that's fine, but
there's a way to do it to where we don't change who we are.
Long as I'm making hits. You should know, I‘m proud to be
brown every time I spit. Gotta make something for everyone to
What's the story with 1218 clothing?
It's still there bro, but now that everything's happening, its
to a bigger level, we gotta make it happen. Before it probably
would have worked, but it's a way bigger difference now.
Something for the homies, it creases up real clean. It's a
process, one thing at a time, I don't wanna overwhelm the
Any other side projects or activities we should know about?
Right now dude, Part 2 is ready to go. So when this one starts
dying down or whatever, we got Part 2 ready. That's about it.
Doing the movie thing with Suspect Entertainment out of Los
Angeles. Two movies, one is coming out in November with MTV
films, little cameo where I do Summer Nights on stage. And the
other one with Cuba Gooding JR, called "Dirty", coming out in
December. That's another thing, doing a little bit behind the
camera. We just did the video for Summer Nights, someone told
me its on BET right now but I haven't been around a TV. But
gonna be on MTV any day now, MTV accepted the video.
Everything good is happening, long as it stays on that route,
we aint gonna stop.
Tell me one thing that people don't know about Lil Rob.
I'm really down to earth. People mistake me for being gang
related like crazy, but like I said, it's a raza thing. It's a
matter of where you're at, and what you're claiming, but to me
its about good music people can listen to, no matter what
Is there anything else you want to add for the LatinRapper
Just be open-minded, I'm doing my thing trying to blow it up.
Some people don't understand, think I'm trying to sell out for
mainstream. I'm just trying to make music. I'm not trying to
say I'm the downest gangster around, or the baddest rapper.
I'll just do my thing, if you cant respect that, step back
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