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The Chill (Compton's Most Wanted): Veteran'z Day
Tha Chill
Veteranz Day
Words: Todd Davis
Published: March 3, 2010

Tha Chill, nee' Vernon Johnson, is a pioneering West Coast rapper and producer who is also responsible for co-finding, alongside another veteran emcee, MC Eiht, Southern, California, Hip-Hop quintet, Compton's Most Wanted. 

Baycentrik recently reached out to Tha Chill on the eve of the April 27th release of his forthcoming, stellar sophomore set, "Chillafornia", the follow-up to his highly slept on '09 debut, The Wind Chill Factor, which primarily consisted of material he recorded in the early 2000's.

Baycentrik: Let's jump right into this brand new solo album -- You titled the record Chillafornia, and although that's pretty self-explanatory, still tell me what the name of your forthcoming CD represents both to and for you? 

Tha Chill: For me, it represents that it’s a California album. Cali plays a major part in hip-hop, so for those that miss my swag of music, here it is! and since I’m so California, why not call it Chillafornia? 

Baycentrik: Good point! So, did you solely handle all of the new project's production? 

Tha Chill:  I oversaw all of it and produced most of it, but I reached out to some of Cali’s finest. My homie Sir Jinx, Battlecat, Josef Leimberg, Dae One and Rhythm D, got it in with me. I wanted it to be so Cali, so i got it in with Cali’s best. that’s what makes it Chillafornia. 

Baycentrik: Chillafornia also features a who's who; MC Ren, King T, Above The Law,  Kokane, MC Eiht, Kurupt, Jayo Felony, of top shelf West Coast talent-- How did you determine who you wanted on the LP? What made you actually pick these specific guys? 

Tha Chill: Well, once again, I really wanted to do a classic west coast album ‘cause there’s still folks that love us and our swag of music.  I could have got it in with the new homies out here; like, Glasses Malone) and Nipsey Hussle, but I had to stay in my lane with my piece. My fan-base would expect me to get it in with my homie MC Ren, MC Eiht or King T. That’s totally in my lane. If I was to try to put it down with the young homies, then it would look like i'm trying to use them to make my shit the shit. No diss to my young homies, but for my album I had to do me and how my fan-base know me from doing it -- vet style. 

Baycentrik: So, do you have any personal favorite track(s) on Chillafornia? If so, why that/those particular one(s)? 

Tha Chill: I love it all! This is something I’ve been working on for a while, so I took my time and made it an album to be loved from top to bottom. 

Baycentrik: You also recently recorded, as a precursor of sorts to Chillafornia, your very first mix-tape, Big Homie Music -- What can be expected from this upcoming release? 

Tha Chill: Yeah, we’re about to drop that. I did it like a real mix-tape from back in the days, with scratching, drops, and clowning with the skits. It’s got my artist that I’m working with Kill Att Will, for those who remember the Do It Att Will album back in the days. I’m producing his album, my little cousin, Jaboe’s on it, my boy Booda, Aboe and Smooth O.N.E. Some new west coast cats that I get it in with. Yeah, we acting real bad on big homie music. 

Baycentrik: Are you putting out Chillafornia independently? If so, is this coming on a label of yours?  

Tha Chill: Yes, my indie label is called B.J.I [Bump Johnson Inc.], and we get it in with my man Chad Kiser over at Hoopla Media Group. They put it down with me, and we’re trying to start a fire with this Chillafornia album. coming soon... 

Baycentrik: Take it back to the beginning...When did you first become interested in music? And, how did it all begin for Vernon Johnson? 

Tha Chill: My man MC Ren was always in my neighborhood when they dropped the first NWA album, and we used to holla all the time. Me and my partner,MC Eiht used to bust raps and try to do demos, till we met my man, DJ Slip, and he was doing a compilation.  We was young with so much fire, and Slip loved it. So, he asked if we wanted to get on his compilation.  Me and Eiht was like “ell yeah! and “Rhymes Too Funky” was born in 1988. We got so much love from it, a cat by the name of DJ Unknown got at us about a deal, and the rest is history. It’s A Compton Thang was born in 1989. 

Baycentrik: Growing up in Compton, CA, who all influenced both your sound and style? 

Tha Chill: Me and Eiht was street dudes, so we only was on that street shit. Ice T, King T, Toddy Tee and Mixmaster Spade, NWA or for the east coast, it was EPMD, Run DMC, Raising Hell, KRS One,  Criminal Minded, shit like that. But the influence of our sound was based on how we was living; young street dudes living in Compton. We did all those albums based on our street vibes, and how we was living at the time. 

Baycentrik: With that being said, describe for me your overall musical vibe? 

Tha Chill: Gangsta! 

Baycentrik: Initially, what particular string of events led to you hooking up with MC Eiht, Boom Bam, DJ Ant Capone, who was later replaced by DJ Mike T, and DJ Slip, and later forming Compton's Most Wanted [C.M.W.]? 

Tha Chill: Well, me, Eiht and Boom Bam are from the same hood out here, childhood buddies. Ant C went to school with me and Eiht for a minute. We hooked up with Slip rapping, and him digging the fact that he had some cats to accommodate his beats at the time. Mike T used to be at the studio with Slip, and me and Eiht used to love how he got it in on the tables. We had to put it down with Mike T, and even though he was from Inglewood, he fit with CMW like that’s where he was supposed to be. We all are like brothers from another mother, and that’s how close we are till this day. 

Baycentrik: Ultimately, what prompted C.M.W. to disband, with lead rapper MC Eiht going solo? 

Tha Chill: The only reason Eiht went solo is because I kept getting into trouble, and the company kept asking why Chill ain’t on this song or that song. or, why he on “Growin’ Up in Tha Hood,” but he ain’t in the video. Eiht had to put CMW on his back, and keep it moving. but, it was smart because when i came home, I still did my thing with him and we’re still CMW. I just felt like, "okay, CMW fans been riding with eiht for years, and always ask why I didn’t do a record, so here it is; Chillafornia!" Snd we’re still CMW! 

Baycentrik: You later went on to produce for other acts -- Can you give me a quick run-down, from past to present, of those that you've worked with? 

Tha Chill: I’ve worked with a lot of folks! Of course, my man MC Ren, Above the Law, Big Snoop Dogg, Warren G and Nate Dogg on the 213 (The Hard Way) album, Welcome to tha Chuuch with Snoop, my man Redman on Red Gone Wild, to Eiht’s solo projects, my homie Kurupt, RBX, man it’s so much I can’t remember, but off the top of the brain those projects, and a whole bunch of shit. 

Baycentrik: To date, what has been the key to your success so far? 

Tha Chill: First and foremost God, for blessing me with this talent to play these instruments. I just love music, and it’s a blessing to be able to go in my studio and work magic from a hi-hat or a piano chord I'm playing, and just moving off whatever the vibe is at the time. It could be my kids or my woman said something, or anything. I’m just happy I came up in the best years of hip-hop. 

Baycentrik: Do you have any other aspirations, maybe even completely away from this music? 

Tha Chill: It would have to have something to do with music -- that’s my life. 

Baycentrik: How do you view the current climate of today's Hip-Hop artists -- Are you content with it? And, specifically, West Coast rap? 

Tha Chill: I’m happy, but upset at the same time. I feel west coast cats ain’t in our lane. instead of doing a hot album, folks are trying to do what everybody else is doing. on the west, we’re trendsetters, and nobody is setting no trends on this end. But I understand music has changed, and folks are just trying to stay in the loop. But fuck that! When cats like us, CMW, DJ Quik, King T, and so on was cracking, folks was like, “damn, them west coast cats is on some other shit!” and it was hard to try to mimic it or copy it, because it came from our souls and culture out here. To me, the west coast got lost when Pac died. And dudes is waiting on Dr. Dre to show us how to do it again. 

Baycentrik: I definitely agree! Well, everyone either knows your music already, or will become familiar with it soon, but who exactly is Tha Chill? 

Tha Chill: I’m just a dude from Compton that made some noise in the '90’s, re-introducing myself to the world on some grown man music. It's for folks that love that street shit, as well as a business man handling business. 

Baycentrik: And, what do you like to do in your spare time, completely away from this music? 

Tha Chill: I chill with my son and my little baby girl. I try to be a hero to them. We be on some explore the world shit. me and my woman like watching movies and eating a lot of unhealthy food. [laughs]  I’m a regular person. I don’t hit clubs unless I gotta do something at one. I be on some grown man shit with my fam, chillin’. 

Baycentrik: Okay! So to date, what has been your greatest career achievement? 

Tha Chill: I’ve had a lot of good moments with it, but if I had to chose one I would say touring out of the country. Me, Eiht and Boom Bam had a blast in Copenhagen! 

Baycentrik: I bet! For now, what is your 5 to 10 year plan in entertainment?

Tha Chill: To make BJI a brand name. not just with music, but with film, clothing, computer sites for different things. And just staying busy, enjoying life. I want to be able to leave my woman and kids a lot, instead of bills and debt. I want to build the next Beyonce' with my baby girl, and be like her daddy, right on her side. [laughs]

Baycentrik: Your anticipated new solo album, Chillafornia, drops when exactly? Are there any current plans to tour behind it? 

Tha Chill: We haven’t set an exact date yet, but Chillafornia will be out soon. And yes, I plan on hitting every stage that has been put together. 

Baycentrik: What's that "live" show element (gonna be) like? 

Tha Chill: Gangsta! 

Baycentrik: Finally, what's up with your, former, friends and group-mates; MC Eiht, Boom Bam, DJ Mike T, and DJ Slip? When's the last time any of you all spoke? And, what are the odds of a C.M.W. reunion, either on stage and/or on wax? Matter of fact, rumor has it that Game was talking about reviving the crew... 

Tha Chill: Me and the group is all family, and my boys Eiht and Boom Bam are in the lab working hard too. They are about to drop this year. My homie Game was talking with Eiht on trying to do something with the group, but nothing has been inked or no hands have been shook. So we will have to wait and see if it goes down. It might be bigger than that. Like imagine if Tha Chill, MC Eiht, Boom Bam, The Game, MC Ren, King T, DJ Quik, Boss Hogg CPO, and Gangsta Dre’sta did an album, and called it Compton's Most Wanted -- uuuuhhhh! That would be like, "wow! " but I tell you this, Chillafornia’s coming, MC Eiht coming, Boom Bam coming, Wanted Gang coming -- it can’t be nothing but surprises on all that CMW shit! Stay tuned... 

Baycentrik: That would be so frickin' dope! And finally, is there anything else that I may have left out or have forgotten to ask about? 

Tha Chill: Nah, you got it all, partna. 

Baycentrik: Sadly, Thursday June 25th 2009, the world lost the greatest entertainer who ever lived -- What was your first reaction upon hearing the tragic news? How does Michael Jackson’s untimely passing affect, not only you, but, music in general? And, in the wake of his demise, what does this mean for the future of recorded music? 

Tha Chill: MJ R.I.P.! We on some gangsta shit, but I don't care if you gangsta, playa, pimpin’, gay or whatever, we all felt that. So all I have to say is MJ R.I.P. to that. 

Baycentrik: Do you have any parting words? 

Tha Chill: God bless, keep god first and stay sucka free. West coast is still doing it big! We got it poppin’ still. And for those who love it, thanks for your love and respect -- peace and 100!

Baycentrik: Thanks for taking your time out with me today, good luck with the album, and continued success to you. 

Tha Chill: Thanks!
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Posted on Mar 08 2010 by baycentrik
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