Crooked I is best recognized these days as one quarter of the lyrical assassins known as Slaughterhouse, but the Cali MC has been putting in work for years. It’s been a decade since Crooked appeared on the cover of XXL as part of the reincarnated Death Row Records roster, and close to five years since being part of their Freshmen class alongside Joell Ortiz, also part of Slaughterhouse.
It's a fact that alcohol is a great way to get to know someone, and in lieu of shots, talking about the stuff will have to do. Thus, when Slaughterhouse came through the offices to promote their upcoming release, Welcome to: Our House, we sat down with Crooked to talk about first-time drinking experiences, wine tastings, and life on the road. Bet you wouldn’t peg Crooked as an avid wine enthusiast, would you? Don't judge.
Complex: Do you remember the first time you got drunk?
Crooked I: I was young, I wasn’t supposed to be drinking. They had some shit that I don’t think people drink anymore, though I know it’s still available because I had a moment not long ago where I wanted to do some retro drinking—anyway, I drank Cisco. I got drunk out of my mind, to the point where I was scared. My heart was beating fast, and I had to lie down in the bed, thinking, “Oh, God, just please let me wake up from this.” Sometimes, when you’re drunk, you can be moving around and you’ll feel fine, but the moment you sit down, it turns: “Aw, shit.”
Who were you with?
I was with my older brother. He says, “Oh, you want some? Go ahead, big man.” Thanks, bro.
So, you’re still heavily into Cisco?
I do the vodka a lot. I have some Armenian and Russian business partners, meaning lots of shots. A lot of people don’t know that a lot of cognac comes from Armenia now. Supposedly you’re not allowed to call it cognac if it doesn’t come from that specific area of France. But a lot of good aged cognac comes from Armenia. Some of my buddies have bottles as tall as me. They have little spouts at the bottom. We’re boring here in the States with our bottles. Meanwhile, this Armenian stuff is in a lion’s head, and the shit comes out the lion’s mouth.
I’ll also drink some Johnny Walker Blue, some Platinum Patron. I tried Ace of Spades because of Jay-Z.
What’d you think?
It was all right. What can I say though—I was totally influenced. You know, I only drink Ciroc ‘cause of Puffy. Puffy says it’s cool? Fuck it, I’ll drink it. I’m just a consumer. But what I really like to do is go on wine tours.
Wine tours. Napa Valley. Temecula. Santa Barbara. I’ve had some $7.99 champagne on these tours that taste better than Cristal. Shout out Almond Creek Champagne—cut me a check!
Outside of champagne, wine isn't very popular in rap. You rarely hear people talking about wine on record.
I think it’s too mellow. Or too mature. I know lots of rappers that drink wine, they just don’t talk about it. They’re on their grown’n’sexy shit when they’re drinking wine. But we should start talking about it. Get some endorsements. Fuck around with some Merlot.
How’d you get into wine?
I like to do things when I’m not rapping, and somebody told me to go on a wine tour. So I went, wound up getting drunk with total strangers. We had a blast. The shuttle was going from winery to winery, and by the end of the day, we were all drinking out of the same bottle. “Yo, taste this shit.” “No, taste this shit.” It was a great human experience.
Do you like touring?
Behind the scenes, it’s tiring. You wake up out the bunk, and go to the radio station, now go over here, now go over there, now go rap. But it’s dope to see the people who make you who you are. Shaking hands with the people who pay my rent.
What city has surprised you the most?
Eugene, Oregon. It wasn’t the biggest crowd, but—I’ve been all over the world, and been in plenty of places that seem like just another hick town. But I walked on stage in Eugene and they went crazy, knew every lyric, line for line for line.
What was the town like?
Well, we did our show on 4/20. Afterward, I hopped in a cab and the driver rolled up a joint, and yes, I trusted him to drive under the influence of Mary Jane. He passed the joint to me and I smoked some fucking weed with the taxi driver. On 4/20 no less. I had to tweet about that.