It can be nigh-impossible to distinguish who is who in a world convoluted with filters, massive pr machines, algorithms and just-add-lies to social media propaganda. Then there are the others, that take the longer route, backed by talent or the streets or sheer will. SKG , also know as Helecia Choyce, lies in the in many iterations of space, time and the physical. Once signed to Death Row Records, she has worked on 2Pac’s posthumous album Until The End of Time and shared the stage with Crooked I, Kurupt and the late Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes.
Now, SKG is back – with a ton of history with Suge Knight, Nipsey Hustle and others – as well is a current push that combines all of her sensibilities. Her next album “Unfinished Business” drops this summer with producer Caviar.
AllHipHop: Your upcoming album “Unfinished Business” has features with Anthony Hamilton, Lil Boosie, Juvenile, Beanie Man, Suga Free, Dave East and West Coast royals like Suga Free, Mista F.A.B., G Perico, Compton AV and more. What went in to the decision-making process of who you choose for this project?
SKG: I wanted to have a diverse selection for the album, because I’m a very diverse artist. So I wanted to work with artists that brung out each emotion that I wanted to implement in each song and that’s how the decision making came about for who I wanted to work it.
AllHipHop: Your new song “Tired” is a moving, powerful testimony. What moved you to do it now, when most rap seems to be Tik Tok challenges?
SKG: I wanted Change. I was literally tired of seeing the same thing. I have been a victim of police brutality as well as racial assault and it’s very stressful to deal with. My friend and I was attacked before by seven skinheads just for being Black. And we literally had to fight for our lives, we had to fight to stay alive because we were definitely out numbered. That was one of many reasons behind my song. Because I know how it feel to fight when people have knives on you, calling you n###ers and telling you you’re going to die because you look different.
Another reason is because my thought pattern. See growing up and seeing so many of my family members and friends die from Black-on-Black crime made me angry. I was really angry at my own for a long time, because my family and I have took so many losses at the hands of our own. I watched my grandmother bury her sons because someone that look liked them killed them and caused so much trauma and hurt in my family. So for a long time I would say let’s not talk about police brutality, let’s talk about Black-on-Black crime. I let my anger from my personal experience blind me to the big picture.
Then wanting to protect my kids from the way I grew up I sent them to school in Burbank, California which is a predominantly white school and what happened was kids there was calling them ni##ers, monkeys and more… the principal and the kids were very racist and I seen Black kids at the schools in Burbank cry over racist treatment. The principal would pacify the racist kids and treat our kids like the aggressor. And what that taught me is instead of saying “No, my kids can’t go to schools in my community, I should have volunteered at the school and help create the change I wanted to see.” Because putting my kids in a predominately white school created not only a disconnect, but also a complexion that I had to work years to reverse and show them that we are beautiful no matter who says other wise.
Also, what I realized is there is crime in every race. And you cannot compare police killings to Black-on-Black crime. Because police officers took an oath to protect and serve the community that pays the tax dollars to keep them employed. We shouldn’t justify a police beating or killing by saying first we have to stop killing each other. No, the police needs to stop killing us, we need to have more police officers in our areas that look like us, communicate with us, and want to work with the community to help rebuild And instill trust. Also, we have to work together as a race to protect our future generations as well as cease fire and create the change we want to see.
AllHipHop: How are you faring in these revolutionary and pandemic times?
SKG: I’m staying motivated and I understand we are on borrowed time so everyday we get to open our eyes is a new day and blessing.
AllHipHop: You used to be signed to Death Row Records (Tha Row) after Tupac died, but Death Row nonetheless. What was your experience like with legends like Crooked I, Kurupt and Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes and what do you think of how it all ended.
SKG: If I can be completely honest, none of my label mates liked me. The love be so fake and the hate be so real and I’m ok with that especially at this point in my life. But I was a young teenager and I was dealing with adults who hated on me more than helped me. But at the end of the day I understand the politics and I will just say I’m still working. I wish everyone the best.
AllHipHop: You did appear on Until the End of Time, Pac’s third posthumous album. Did you feel any affinity to him or kinship? Tyrese claims Pac “visited” him.
SKG: No I didn’t. I was always around them as a kid. I just signed later in my teenage years.
AllHipHop: Did you have a relationship with Left Eye? If so, what was she like?
SKG: (Laughs) Me and Left Eye didn’t get along at all. I was always a fan of hers, but she didn’t like me because she thought I was sleeping with Suge. I was a fan of the artist Left Eye. But once I seen her character as Lisa I didn’t like her, which caused us to have a fight in the parking lot of Death Row Records office. She was very disrespectful to Suge and tried to fight him often, but I was young and wild so when she thought she was going to disrespect me I had to turn up on her. You know she’s no longer with us and my personal feelings or interactions have nothing to do with her greatness as a artist. It just taught me at a young age that you can’t idolize people you see on tv because your perception of who you think they are will be totally different from who they actually are.
AllHipHop: How was your experiences with Suge Knight? He once said you were the female version of him!
SKG: I will always have love for Suge, because he took a chance on me when no one else would. Suge gave me the game, the platform and taught me a lot about this industry especially the business side. We had our ups and downs, but at the end of the day, I’m grateful I was able to have the experience of being signed to one of the greatest labels of all times.
AllHipHop: You know Death Row is now owned by Hasbro the toy giant? Maybe we can get you made into a doll or action figure.
SKG: Yes I heard they do own Death Row now. And that would be dope!
AllHipHop: What do you think of the state of the rap game now? Also, the influx of woman dominating Hip-Hop – thoughts?
SKG: I think we have to remember that the world is always changing. Music is always changing and music influences the world. And we have to adjust to change and learn how to embrace it. That’s what we see in Hip-Hop. Also, I think it’s great to see so many talented ladies dominating the rap game right now. It’s inspiring on so many levels.
AllHipHop: And, of course we gotta talk about the West Coast. How do you feel about the coast? It seems like people are getting their flowers.
SKG: You know being from the West I always loved our cultural especially our Hip-Hop Culture. I think we are evolving as more rappers are coming out. For so long we had a dark cloud over us and I just feel like now we are starting to see new barriers being broken and I’m excited to work with the new artist that’s coming out the west as well as our legends.
AllHipHop: We are seeing rappers die a lot now, unlike when Pac and Biggie were murdered. One of the biggest was Nipsey Hussle. I feel that to this day. Can you talk about your experience with him?
SKG: So many people ask me about Nipsey and sometimes it’s hard to talk about because it’s so much deeper than rap. Nip and I we are from the same neighborhood. Growing up you see a lot of your friends / family / peers go through the trials and tribulations of either being a product of our environment or being a person that is there to better our environment and Nip was actually both.
See, I was with Nip from the beginning when he first did Slauson Boys and Bullets Ain’t Got No Name. I was working at 93.5 Kday under the managing partner Roy Laughlin. This was 2007-2008 And I brought Nip and most of the people from my neighborhood that rapped up to Kday. At first everyone was saying Nip was too hard core, they were very intimidated by him. They wasn’t use to really seeing a new rapper so determined but so authentically unapologetically hood. I worked and made my bosses play his music on the radio. I did that because I believed in him from the beginning. It’s easy for people to jump on the band wagon once you made it but to believe in someone when everyone is saying it or they will never work shows you the ones that seen the greatness in you when few wanted to believe or see it for themselves.
While I was working his project Nip and I got into it over a personal matter that I just chose not to discuss, but I was very upset at him. I mean extremely upset and angry which caused us to have a argument in person and on Twitter and I didn’t speak with him for almost 8 years. But we have a generational family from our neighborhood so him and my older brother remained friends throughout the years. B\ut I still admired his work from afar because from the beginning I knew he was one of the dopest artist and I was still happy to see him reach his potential of who he was destined to be even if I wasn’t apart of his journey.
After 8 years I was in our neighborhood and pulled up on him at his tshirt store. When I jumped out the car he turned around and we both start smiling and hugged and he said “ cuz yo crazy a## hold a long a## grudge” and as long as the grudge was held in that moment it was gone. We embraced and talked our situation out. I was happy We made up a few years before he passed away. But I’m still sad behind his situation because he was a person that loved and I mean loved his neighborhood, his friends, his community and sometimes people can hate you just by the way other people love you. We have lost so many people over in our area. I lost 3 uncles and My Older Brother and anytime someone you grew up with lose their life it’s a shared feeling of sadness. The whole situation is heartbreaking but I’m happy that GOD gave nip the right team to carry his legacy for generations to come.
AllHipHop: With “I’m Tired,” you take a responsible and conscious approach, but on “Break Em,” you have a sexy, raw approach. How important is it to show these different sides?
SKG: It’s very important to show different sides because that’s part of who I am. Those are my feelings. That’s how I feel At times. I have different emotions, different thoughts and some days I might feel one way and want to express myself in a certain manner and other days I might feel another way. That’s apart of expressing who I am artistically.
AllHipHop: What director did you work with on this ” I’m Tired “video? How was it working with them?
SKG: I worked with Rasheeda Wallace on this video. It was such an honor working with Rasheeda. She wears many, many hats. She had a vision for this video and she delivered tremendously. I can’t wait to work with her ok my other videos. Her vision and creative work is unmatched.
AllHipHop: What keeps you motivated to push forward after such a lengthy tenure in the game?
SKG: Honestly, it’s the people that send me messages. You know I been in the game for a long time and sometimes no matter what you did, or how much work you put in people especially your peers will discredit you. But I have supporters that I don’t even know sending me messages telling me to keep going and I don’t think they understand how motivating that is. Also, my kids. They help me keep up with the new trends and rappers as well. (Laughs)
AllHipHop: What’s next for you?
SKG: To continue dropping music and producing movies. I’m working with (comedian / actor) Miguel Nunez right now to produce the film “Juwanna Mann Two.” I’m also working on the Raz B documentary and I have a few other projects on the film side I’m working on. Later this year, I’ll be back in the studio working on my second album so I’m just focused and staying humble and determined.
AllHipHop: Anything else you want to get across to people?
SKG: I just want to Thank Everyone for supporting me. All the artist that I have features with. The fans, blogs, anyone I ever worked with and anyone that share my music and videos I just want to say Thank You so much and I truly appreciate everyone.