Though Kokane had been involved with the West Coast rap scene since the dawn of gangsta rap, he was never able to secure any substantial success for himself until 2000 when he played a major role in the success of Snoop Dogg's Tha Last Meal. His eccentric vocal approach is half fluid rapping and half weird P-funk-influenced singing. This balance made Kokane a perfect choice to lay down the vocal hooks for Snoop's album, as he appeared on eight of the album's 19 tracks.
The son of Motown staff composer Jerry Long ("Ball of Confusion," "Just My Imagination," "Still Waters Run Deep"), Kokane's life has always included music, though it is the old school funk of the '70s that most influences his style. He began his career as a vocalist in the mid-'80s as rap was first appearing in his native Los Angeles before eventually signing to Eazy-E's Ruthless Records label in 1991. In addition to co-writing "Appetite for Destruction" for NWA's Niggaz4life, Kokane also contributed to other West Coast gangsta rap albums such as Above the Law's Black Mafia Life. His first solo single, "Nickel Slick Nigga," appeared on the Deep Cover soundtrack as well as his debut album for Ruthless, Who Am I. His second album for Ruthless, Funk Upon a Rhyme, appeared in 1994 but didn't sell many copies, dooming Kokane to a frustrating sabbatical period where he made the occasional cameo. He reappeared in late 1999 with a solo album on Eureka Records, They Call Me Mr. Kane, yet this album never escaped the underground. Ironically, it was on the L.A. posse track found on Dr. Dre's 2001 album, "Some L.A. Niggaz," that Kokane scored big; this encounter with Dre's camp led to his relationship with Snoop, who signed him to Dogghouse Records, bringing a renewed sense of promise to Kokane's long-running career. ~ Jason Birchmeier
- Los Angeles, CA