Recently an eight-man crew of nostalgic rhymers materialized out of Los Angeles, calling themselves Reagan Era Records. With a declarative statement of intent, they dropped the single “88 Kane” (Produced by King Dios) where over a classic break, crew members Dios Negasi, Skrillz Dior and Halo busted lyrical heat, while also slipping in classic phrases from emcees like LL Cool J and Special Ed through their verses.
Rounded out by Sneek Rothstein, Dyverse, Lefty Barnes, Rello and Ike Burners it was divulged that the members have actually been active in the rap game since the 90’s (though they have had to fall back to take care of families, careers, etc). It is pure speculation of who these men are, as they like to play it mysterious (see promo pic below with scratched out likenesses for example).
Well, whoever they are, we have an exclusive interview with Dios Negasi and Halo from the group below and are proud to premiere new single (from their forthcoming S/T album dropping digitally on 12/15) “The Pledge.”
INTERVIEW WITH DIOS NEGASI & HALO
Obviously we are big hip-hop fans from back in the day, being that you were around during the 80’s I wanted to ask if any of ya’ll used to cop tapes from the Roadium Swap-Meet, V.I.P Records or any of the legendary spots? If y’all went to school with any notable artists or interactions with any of the legends from back in the day?
DIOS: I was a legit baby in the 80s lol… We say Reagan Era because that’s what we “grew up” in. We wasn’t teenagers til the mid 90s so as far as buying tapes and CDs it would be cats outside the store (I hate to say it but it’s true) with bootleg tapes so most of the earliest tapes I had was from there. We would go to the Compton Swap-Meet too, I remember buying My 1st CD from a smoker in front of a burger stand. It was Redman’s “Whut? Thee Album.”
My big bro had a collection and I would listen to his tapes mostly. I didn’t get to V.I.P records til I was in my teens. I ran into DAZ from Tha Dogg Pound there, once. As far as close interactions with rappers from back in the day, Myka 9 from the Freestyle Fellowship lived on our block. Tone Loc lived a few blocks away and as a kid my brother introduced me to him. My biggest eye-opener to the industry though is when I was 12 or 13 and I was in the only video Tupac ever directed for Mac Mall called “Young Players Gotta Get It Together!” That was a lot of fun!
HALO: I used to cop my music from the King Swap-Meet before it got burned down during the L.A. Riots (1992) I also use to cop music from University Village at USC. My fascination with music started very early. I was one of the youngest L.A. Breakers back in the 5th grade and I was always performing and battling at local neighborhood events.
I know everyone in the crew has been doing music for a long time, what year/age would you say that you guys started doing it serious and were y’all doing shows, battles, hitting the Good life?
DIOS: I caught the tail-end of The Good Life. However I was def at Project Blowed damn near every Thursday! I was probably 15 years old when we would go. Dudes was crazy with the raps so at first it was intimidating to spit. You had the 2000 Crows Crew yelling “please pass the mic!” if you was wack. But after awhile I got in the mix. (and never got booed, lol). During high school, me and Skrillz hooked up with the 7 Chemist Cru and we would battle everybody, any time! That’s what got me sharp with the bars! Shout out to GRIP “GRAND OFFICIAL”.
We would get in the studio when we could, so I would say were serious at this from the age of 16-17, but cru’s split up etc… Niggas started getting locked up and mom’s shot me to the army.
When I got back I had a deal presented to me but the contract wasn’t right… Long story short I signed with a independent label, made some cash and did shows all over L.A. and out of town.
Cut an album that never got released (due to sample clearance issues) so being frustrated I put it the music on the back-burner after that and did it as a pastime from that point.
There were more contracts sent my way etc… But I never accepted them because after signing and giving control to the label ended with a shelved album, I knew I wanted full control of everything I did from then on. Long-story short, I started making beats about 2 years ago, had the homies come thru and told them let’s put something new together.
HALO: I would say I started taking music more serious when I started going on tours with Funky Town Prod back in 1990. I also used to do a lot of shows with my man K-Borne, I really got my first shot on the radio, hanging around Krondon, Defari and Truly Off from the Heavyweights in L.A. and I also used to be in a group with Joe Moses back in the day. I have many chapters in my life that I have evolved from but pretty much Hip Hop has been in my soul throughout my entire life.
For this S/T/ record did you have the concepts for the joints before you started recording (like “88 Kane”) or did you come up with that in the studio?
DIOS: For the most part we was just creating in the studio, banging beats and hard bars and Dyverse came with the concept of the 80s type theme for a few songs. Our mind set was basically, “we lived thru the Reagan Era so everything that went on, good or bad it’s embedded in us, we are the theme, the concept etc.” It comes out of us naturally but Dyverse added the extra twist so when you hear something super-set from that era, in our music you know he had some input into it lol..
HALO: I would say that we pretty much always bounce ideas off one another and go off each other’s energy.
How did everyone in the group meet? Have certain members stayed active in the game throughout or did everyone fall back at certain points? What was the spark that made y’all wanna do this new group?
DIOS: Me and Halo are 1st cousin’s, I knew Skrillz since the 9th grade, Sneeks since 2004 and Dyverse since 2011 or something. Everybody had different responsibilities as far as life going on, kids, cars, homes etc. So providing food clothing and shelter comes 1st. Some of us is still getting it together but for the most part we all was at a stable point in our lives to get back at it and go full-steam this time.
We always wanted to do this! Regardless of whatever we was doing the music never left us! We are hip hop! God bless me to see 95 years old somday lol! Im still rocking the fly shit, spitting bars to my great great grand kids! Not on no ego shit but I feel like my beats sparked niggas to jump in the booth again! That’s really the only difference from now til then. I wasn’t making the beats lol…
Besides the joints on this album, what are y’all working on?
DIOS: At this moment we have 3 and a half Reagan albums complete. Two albums entitled Electoral College and and every member in the crew got at least two albums done and we still cookin’ everyday, so it’s gonna be a long run!
Order album here: https://reaganerarecords.bandcamp.com/album/reagan-era-records