Friday, November 27, 2015

Demons & Angels: A History of the Beat Cave

The Roach Hoetel

    The Beat Cave was a crew, as well as a studio, created by Roger Lovett (aka Roge One) in Whittier, California that became a retreat for the emcees who would hang out there. It originated as a project co-produced by Roge and DJ Roach in 2001-2, The Roach Hoetel, notably featuring raps from EX2's Origin, but later evolved into something different once Roge set up a studio in his garage and honed his ability to make beats. A project featuring Roge, Roach and AWOL, entitled Demons & Angels was released years later, in 2012, and features a slew of emcees, all of whom would drop by to hang out at the Beat Cave. I was able to piece together a history of the Beat Cave, gathering comments from Roger, Roach, Massive, Syndrome and Regret, all of whom described the Beat Caves' laid back atmosphere and fond memories of what they considered a place to relax, lay back, smoke some good green and make music.

Roge One: It really started back at East Ridge Terrace Apartments on La Mirada and Leffingwell. It started with Save One from LSD. It was rough times for me then, but I was trying to get out of the rough times and I ended up selling some drug money to get an MPC. We started hanging out and making beats, and Save introduced me to Roach. It's funny, the first night Roach came over, we went to get some beer and as we walked out, we see cops walking in each direction. It looked like they were headed to my apartment. I was growing some plants at that time. So I called my roommate and he said the cops came and busted them all, so I ended up going to Roach's house that night and we just listened to records for about four hours. It was crazy. My roommates ended up going to jail. We sorted it out a couple days later because they didn't have a search warrant, stuff like that. So no one got in trouble, but that's how the Beat Cave began in Whittier, California.

Roach the DJ: I met Roger after finding out that a couple of my friends were making beats on an MPC, and I found out it wasn't their MPC. It was Roger's. They were all roommates. So I had to get down to it and say, "Well, I wanna record beats on this MPC so I need to meet this guy, Roger, you know?" So my friends Save and Calm - we all have connections to the same city and we ended up being part of the graffiti crew LSD - introduced me to Roger. That's how I started talking to Roger. I told him, "I've been making tapes, but my tape deck is broken and I've been starting to record on my 4-track, but it records on zips and pretty soon it's gonna be outdated, you know? It's already giving me problems now." So we had a friendship through my experiences trying to record.

Roge One: I straightened up my act, stopped messing with the hard drugs, just stuck with the weed. I moved to another apartment and started getting with Meno. He's another cat who EX2 used to always go to. Meno's done a lot of great stuff in the studio. So I hung out with him a lot, learning how to create music and bring it to the computer, how to do MIDI stuff on the computer and all that. From there, I met my wife, then we moved into that house that became the Beat Cave. By that time, I had started getting more knowledge of everything so I built that studio then. Through Roach, I met AWOL, Massive, Gel Roc, Ab Rude used to go there. All those types of people would come to the Beat Cave.

Massive: It was like a camp where some of the members hung out with Roge at his spot, but they were kinda into other things. Like, AWOL was always into art and graffiti. They had this skateboard company - I think the company was called Soundclash - where they were putting hip-hop artists on these skateboards that AWOL and some of the guys were promoting. So in the Beat Cave they had this studio with a wall of skateboard decks. Everybody kind of met at that spot. It kind of had been around for a while. If you have a studio and I just came over there to hang out with you all the time, then other producers and beat artists, they start hanging out over there. Then you're making beats and sooner or later we're putting together a project.

Roach the DJ: We recorded a couple beats for my project, which was Roach Hoetel and I figured, "Well, he's giving me original beats so what I'm gonna do is bring in my samples as a background to his beats and give it a hip-hop feel." So that's what I did. We had a project by me recording it, then later on, he evolved and said, "Well, I wanna have control of recording my own beats." So he got savy with computers and he was using Cubase, I think it was. We just started to say, "Ok, let's just bring people in and have them record. We already know AWOL and we know Massive. Let's bring in the rest of our homies." And that's how our project (Demons & Angels) got created. And in between The Roach Hoetel and Demons & Angels, Roger was refining and learning how to record, which is why there's a gap between those two projects. I only made like 20 of [The Roach Hoetel] for a small tour. That's Pugsly on bass! Pugs (R.I.P.) was Tobesko's cousin. Origin was the first MC the Beat Cave recorded. He is an OG EX2 head.

Roge One: The Roach Hoetel was actually recorded pretty much at the original apartment, and also at Roach's house. We did that before we got into the computer stuff. It was basically just a little 4-track and an MPC. Just a mic in a closet, man. Real raw stuff [laughs].

Massive: I don't know how long they had that concept for the Beat Cave. The reason we called it the Beat Cave was beacuse it was Roger's garage, and it had this big ol' neon flourescent light. It was a big ol' garage converted into a mini studio, but it was always dark like a cave in there, so that's where it came from.

Roge One: When I built the studio, it just had a cave feeling. There was one night where everyone was over and I just thought it was like the Bat Cave. So I said, "It's the Beat Cave" and everybody liked that. It was a place for everyone to just come and relax, not worry about nothin', just kick back, you know what I mean? At the time, I had hurt my back so I was just on worker's comp, so anyone could come over at any time. We had a fridge with beers in there. We were smokin' a lot of weed, of course. Massive used to come over a lot and hang out. He's a very humble guy. We'd just vibe out, write lyrics. We'd make beats together. Everyone could just come, smoke some weed, drink some beer, close the garage, not a care in the world, man. It was a good time, brother.

Massive: The Beat Cave was kind of like a retreat for me. At the time, when I moved from L.A., I moved to Orange County to just get away from everything, you know what I'm sayin'? And between L.A. and Orange County lies Whittier. So instead of going all the way back to L.A., most of the kids from that camp lived in the Whittier area. See, there's two types of emcees. There's the Good Life emcees, then there's the kind of weirded out emcees, like AWOL and those guys, that do that different kind of hip-hop. It's hard to even put a name on it. They all hung out in that section of Orange County, Whittier, Azusa, Santa Anna, I almost want to say the Inland Empire, but it's going back east where most of 'em hung out at. Roge's place was the central spot to hang out at, and to be quite honest with you, you'll find a lot of these hip-hop studios were centralized around who had the weed [laughs]. If you had to grab something real quick, you'd go see Roge.

Syndrome228: Roger is a good dude who I met through Roach when EX2 was in our prime. A few times I went to his place when he would have parties and saw Massive, AWOL, Roach, and some others, which was a dope group to chill amongst. I never recorded with him, but we worked on some beats a couple times. He is good fam, for sure!

Roach the DJ: I was always able to jam with Roger. We'd record ourselves and have fun. He'd freestyle and me and my friends would freestyle. That's when I knew we needed to make something happen. We were having too much fun, so I felt, "Let's get something going on." After he moved out of his apartment, he got a pretty good job and a home, so he had the space to create a studio. We had all our friends who were willing to hang out and record. We'd all get together and have fun, smoke. He also had a lot of good smoke so people were willing to come to him, you know?

Regret of EX2: I don't think I ever tracked there. I only went there to get bomb green! [Roger] had a huge flat screen on the wall in the living room, had fuckin' MMA on PS3 with wireless controllers. Dudes would have tournies. First time I'd seen that. Roger had sick beats. Element tuff underground grimey!

Massive: Roge got a couple of drum machines from me. Once he started running those drum machines, he started making some really cool beats. He had a nice little set up in his garage. The nice thing was, you could go over there, hang out with him, watch a game, have a beer, listen to a beat, throw down a verse, and that's kinda where it was at. It's kinda like if you had a garage and we came over every day after work, complain about our jobs, our wives and shit [laughs], you made a beat, you had a vocal booth in there, we threw a verse down. Everybody you knew that was in the industry came through to get a sack but they also came and chilled. It was different then regular dealers where you get it and got the fuck on outta there. It was different with him. You'd sit down and chill. There'd be three or four of the homies that you know that rap. They in there, kickin' back. Roge would play a beat. You'd lay back, get blowed, relax. It was a really drama free type area, you know what I'm sayin'?

Roach the DJ: After realizing that Demons & Angels was taking too long to be released, I searched to see if anybody had posted any works by Beat Cave, linking my Roach Hoetel project. I found a few videos with another project by someone else called Beat Cave. So I pushed the project after talking to AWOL. I asked why he didn't want to push the LP. He said the track with Ab and another contained touchy samples. So I put those on Soundcloud as outtakes. After a year or so I knew AWOL didn't mind if I put it out on the strength that I wouldn't use his production company or name. So Handshake Tony was the code name to the Demons & Angels LP. We also started calling ourselves the Beatcavers to give us a personalized identity. AWOL was Handshake Tony, I was Fist Pump Bobby and Roger was Firm Grip Roge. The world slept on the Beat Cave. Real underground shit.

Roge One: We started off with a little Tascam 4-track, then I transitioned more into computers. Meno really helped me with that, as well as this guy Jazzymattnasty, Matt Mendoza. He was Meno's apprentice at the time. He started coming to my house and help me get everything straightened out. Then we brought in the MPC and a MIDI keyboard. One time, a guy, he was a drummer, he brought me a raw CD of John Bonham, Led Zeppelin, in the studio - no one had heard this CD - a whole session of him drumming! Just raw, in the studio, Jon Bonham drumming. And that's how Demons & Angels was created. Next time you listen to it, just listen to those drums, dude! [laughs] Everyone was lovin' it, man! "Pocket Full of Dreams" and "Change" were two, off the top of my head, where those drums were used.

Massive: I think the Beat Cave is one of those quiet secrets that is allowed to continue when the opportunity presents itself. Like Roach, Roach is like a secret bank of amazing talent. He even grew up in the industry so he knows untold artists. He's probably one of the closest cats to me. In fact, he really kept me in touch with everybody else, man. There was a point where I really fell off the grid, getting away from all the negativity in the scene and the only person that kept my ties with everybody was Roach. The dude is really talented. He's got hella skills on the turntables. He's traveled around with AWOL. He's met a lot of emcees and producers, and he's a generally good guy! He's the one who connected me with Roge and everybody. When AWOL would come around, Roach would come with him. The crazy thing is Roach was so young, I never really noticed him until he got older. Then once everybody started releasing records, it was a different vibe. AWOL and Roach used to invite me to their parties and I would perform, which really helped keep me in the scene.

Roge One: People would come through at different times. Sometimes AWOL would bring people. Roach would bring' em. Massive would bring 'em. It was different situations but it was pretty much open doors. It's funny, at the end there, it was getting close. The wife was getting a little upset. We had a one year old daughter and we were in there pretty much five days a week [laughs]. So it got a little rough and that's kinda what ended it. I had to go back to work to support the family because, of course, family comes first, and I had to work on my marriage a bit. I was kind of neglecting that at the time. Everything worked out. But people would bring their girlfriends there. We'd have parties there. It's funny, on my daughter's first birthday, it started off as a birthday party with kegs and a taco truck, and everyone rolled through, the whole LSD crew, everybody. It ended up being an all-night beat session, you know? We'd always end up in the studio, vibing out. It's a lot of good memories.

Massive: You got a dude that hangs out with enough rappers and started learning how to make beats, and a basic place where you used to go to meditate and get away from shit that turned into a real cool spot. The Beat Cave was one of those spots where artists hung out, got a little smoke, made some music and just chilled. The thing that shut that down was life. Roge ended up having to move, get a real job [laughs], you know? The songs we recorded that they released was a nice little project. In fact, I was speaking to him recently about maybe doing another Beat Cave record.

Roge One: I rapped on "Let's Go" (Jazzymattnasty rapped on that one too) and "Hello" with Massive. I did a little cut on "Freedumb." Most of my stuff was sticking to the beats, but I like to do some rhymes every now and then. We have a new project coming out. I'm gonna do a new studio in my new house, now that we're all settled. It's gonna be Bro Bro Records aka Beat Cave and I'll be doing some more lyrics on that one as well. Look out for it, bro!

Roach the DJ: A new Beat Cave project will definitely end up happening. Roger is deep enough into his marriage that it's solid and he can do this. He kind of stepped away, thinking it would cause problems, but now he's gonna build a shack in the backyard and we're gonna go full on.