The name will sound familiar to you if you remember the whole story of Death Row. Mista Choc was one of the Death Row’s rappers & producers at the height of the label. He’s now signed to Dr. Dre’s label Aftermath Entertainment & Gang Module as producer.
DDOTOMEN: Can you introduce yourself ? Who is Mista Choc ?
Mista Choc: Mario Johnson is my birth name and Chocolate was a nick name givin to me by a singer who was on Ruthless records by the name of Miche’lle and I hated it because I was the producer and writer for Vanilla Ice and I didn’t want peeps to think I was putting a flavor on my name because of him, so I ran with it because everyone caught on and started calling me Chocolate.”
DDOTOMEN: Now let’s talk about your first album “Life-N-A-Day” as rapper.
Mista Choc: I had a group that was on Blackground records we were label mates with Ahliyah and the guys in my group started callin me Mista Choc and that stuck… When I recorded life n a day I was on top of the world I had a record that was selling like Michael Jackson Thriller which was “Ice Ice Baby” and a few labels had got at me about doing a record and I ran with the best deal which was me overseeing my own project I recorded that album in 3 weeks with a lil help from my homies Snoop Dogg, Boss Hogg CPO, Lord 32 from Houston, Booya tribe and my boy B.O.X who contributed enormous amount of his time for Life n a day.
DDOTOMEN: Why this tittle “Life-N-A-Day” ?
Mista Choc: I titled my album that because I went from The D.O.C taking care of me literally ( laughing) he’s like a brother to me so when he blew up I moved in with D.O.C he fed a nigga, and bought me clothes the whole nine treated me like family but before I had moved back to cali with D.O.C I had produced this white rapper Vanilla Ice and didn’t know that I was about to blow and when I did I bought my own house and cars took care of D.O.C for his blessings so when I started recording my record I needed a title and “Life N A Day” was so much me I thought wow I went from nothing to something my life changed in a day…
DDOTOMEN: When did you became a producer ?
Mista Choc: I have been playing instruments since I was 7 the piano was and still my 1st love. I started producing when I was 22 and I’m not talking beat making which I hear all day now, i moved out of the state to get my money on and back then being in the south there was no producers and barely had studios so my oldest brother Slim The Mobster’s dad and myself took our proceeds we made hustling and started buying equipment keyboards, drum machines etc. I had my other brother Don Johnson who’s son is the rapper XV on warner bros buy turntables, mixers etc. My older brothers had so much faith in me they would pawn shit to get bread so I can get what I needed. I knew I had it in me as a producer when I wrote and produced my very 1st record and got radio spins back in the day and as time went on I began to love producing then rapping and to me when huge artist come for your service you doing something right..
DDOTOMEN: How it’s like to be able to work with a legend like Dr. Dre ?
Mista Choc: Working with Dr. Dre is something I can’t explain cause he’s so precise and a perfectionist which I thought I was till working along side of him Dre can take 1 bar from a piano a bar from a bass guitar etc and create magic, its crazy because I been knowing Dre over 23 years and up till when he got involved with Slim The Mobster I had never worked with him or Warren G who also I been knowing 20 plus years. Back when NWA was together I was around for a lot of the recordings for “Niggaz4life” album and got a chance early before my career to see him and Dj Yella work from production to doing vocals. I learned a lot back then and used some of his techniques and still apply them today. We didn’t get a chance with Dre until one night..
DDOTOMEN: Ha! What happened that night ?
Mista Choc: Me and my production partner DJ Silk was in the studio with Slim The Mobster and Dre had a production room at the studio that wasn’t being occupied so Dre’s A&R.. A guy named Brandon figured since we were there for Slim and wasn’t working, we should bring our gear and use the room and we did (laughing) well we was working one night and Brandon happened to be passing the room when he heard a track we were working on and was like “yo Slim need to write to that” Slim wrote to it that night and Brandon delivered it to Dre and from there it was history that joint is the track Dre used for his very 1st HP Commercial. Since then, DJ silk & me, did the Dre and Too $hort joint. It’s a crazy record, a collaboration to die for.
DDOTOMEN: Have you ever worked with another artist from Aftermath ?
Mista Choc: Yeah man.. We also got a joint with Eminem that never surfaced to me it’s a record that is so different then any that Eminem ever did. I’ve also worked with Compton’s rapper Game. It was an honor to work with a legend like Em.
DDOTOMEN: What are some other new projects you can tell us about ?
Mista Choc: Me and Dj Silk try to stay current as much as possible we get a lot of work but its not us who control when joints are gonna be released nor the artist its the label but recently we have a new joint titled “What You Smoking On” on E-40 Block Brochure CD feat Snoop Dogg and the Dogg Pound with Kokane providing the hook, Slim The Mobster “War Music” we did the “Fallin Star” joint, a new female group out of Chicago called “The Hoez”, Paul Wall, Hirukuti, and my family project “JFK” which is gonna be a big record, so many different artist I can’t name them all.
DDOTOMEN: You & DJ Silk got some productions on Slim The Mobster debut album ? Can you tell us more about that tittle “The Movie” it looks interesting…
Mista Choc: Actually the title “The Movie” came from a joint Silk and I did for Slim turned out to be a hot joint so from there he ran with that title but were trying to brand our sound with Slim The Mobster who is a great all around artist from his song writing to recording he plays a big part in creating when working with him you just can’t play a track and expect him to jump unless its pure butter he finds additives or he will find parts that need adjusting or taken out. Were trying to have at lest 4 joints on “The Movie”.
DDOTOMEN: What kind of music do you listen to on a daily basis ?
Mista Choc: Now a lot of my fans think i’m a die hard rap fan which I’am but it’s crazy now not having many skillfull rappers out there to listen to which is sad to say but i’m listening to actually my real family my nephews Slim the mobster signed to Aftermath, XV who is on Warner Bros, Sez batter and Mic Phennom the older brothers to XV, Nas new shit but plainly said i’m my whips is Ice Cube, NWA, Biggie, EPMD, Rakim, Warren G, Dr. Dre, Spice 1, Snoop and The Dogg Pound, Eazy E, Kool G Rap, Common, Outkast and my soul oldies..
DDOTOMEN: What do you think about actual rappers & producers ?
Mista Choc: You know, it’s bad when there is nothing dope on the radio from new artists.. It’s sad but it is what it is.. A lot of sh*t. What about the producers ? Well let’s not call them producers, it’s much easier to call them “beat makers” because, all they need is a computer and a software.. When i started my career, i & all the producers had to know the essence of making music from 2 each tape aligning tones & all that stuff.. Now they don’t know anything about playing instruments… These cats play out of key, their drums sound synthetic and electronic with no direction or depth. So to me when you do that, you’re not a real producer. We end up having to hear a lot of ass records on the radio.. It’s more that, in fact, A&R’s at labels don’t know sh*t about music, so we all suffer from their mistakes, they just want another record from an artist that sound like the newest hit that is already out, originality has been so far gone either your a gimmick or a sell out pick one cause there’s no in between rappers and beat makers.. “STEP YA GAME UP”…
DDOTOMEN: Alright, we’re done. I had a great time chatting with you Choc. Thanks again and good luck on all your future projects! You’re the man!
Mista Choc: Definitely man. Thank you bro’. It was my pleasure.