The story becomes more amazing when you realize Knoc ultimately appeared on four songs on Dr. Dre's multiplatinum disc Chronic 2001. He went on to co-write three songs on Dre's and Snoop Dogg's soundtrack to the movie The Wash, and was featured on the soundtrack's first single, "Bad Intentions." Knoc also teamed up with Dre and DJ Quik to churn out "Put It On Me," the hit single from the Training Day soundtrack.
Knoc-Turn'al's laconic style is best displayed, however, on Knoc-turn'al's much anticipated LA Confidential/Elektra debut, Knoc's Landin'. Surrounded by some of hip hop's most astute players, including Dre, Missy Elliot, and Timbaland, Knoc serves up precocious gems such as "Str8 West Coast," featuring Dre, and "Knoc" featuring Dre and Missy Elliott, as well as the rambunctious "Night & Day," which is sure to become another West Coast anthem. "On that one I'm just pointing out how a lot of cats come to L.A., buy a home here, enjoy the sunshine and the beaches, do their business here, and then they go back and dis Cali," Knoc explains. "All I'm saying is we got nine months of sunshine, three weeks of rain, and all the beautiful girls you could ever handle."
Big D emphasizes, however, that Knoc-Turn'al has made what he calls a "universal" record. "One of the reasons we wanted to do business with Elektra was to broaden our scope," he says. "Knoc is the perfect artist to kick things off. We love L.A. but Knoc's brand of hip hop will be accepted everywhere. We want our music to appeal to people from every region. It doesn't matter from what side of town you're from, or what part of the country. LA Confidential's doors are open to everybody."
Knoc-Turn'al's side of town happened to be Wilmington, California, a stone's throw away from Long Beach. After Knoc's parents separated when he was 12, the rapper admits to "getting into a lot of trouble." He moved to Texas for a time, but found himself getting into scraps with the local kids there. "They'd always call me Cali, because where I'm from. After a while that shit gets on your nerves."
He eventually moved back to the Long Beach area, still restless, but also schooling himself with knowledge imparted by his musician father. "He was in a group when he was young, into Rick James and Parliament type shit, so I absorbed a lot from what he knew." Knoc has one particularly unforgettable musical lesson from when he was only a child. "My dad took me to a Rick James concert when I was nine. Rick had a naked bitch up on stage doing cocaine with her in a motherfucking bathtub. He was fucking her and singing to her at the same time. I was like damn you can do all that shit at once I want to be in the music business."
It wasn't until his early teens that Knoc began rhyming for real. "I was into Eric B and Rakim, but I liked my DeBarge and Cameo too. I'd watch hip hop on TV and think to myself, 'I'm better than that.'" But any dreams of turning professional would be thwarted when Knoc-Turn'al was arrested for what he calls "robbing and stupid shit like that," and sentenced to a four year prison term. "Prison's no joke," he says. "They tell you what to do 24/7 when to eat when to shit when to lay down in your bunk when to get up. There's nothing glamorous about it. You're not human when you're in there."
Despite his bleak situation, Knoc-Turn'al met up with an older prisoner from Long Beach named Crybaby who encouraged him to practice his writing and rhyming, which made Knoc believe that he could indeed turn his life around. "He was always cool to anybody that he thought had a head on his shoulders," says Knoc. "He gave me my name, Knoc-Turn'al because I worked at night unloading food off the docks. And because I was always working on my rhymes at night. Most people in jail would get together and rap. We'd beat on tables and shit and do our thing. But when I took my turn everyone would say I was the dopest on the yard I started think there just might be something here."
Soon after his release, Knoc-Turn'al hooked up with aspiring record mogul Big D, who facilitated the LA Confidential-Elektra connection that now finds the rapper about to drop one of the most talked about debut releases of the year. "I have to give all the respect to Big D for getting down with me," Knoc says. "If you'd have told me that I'd be doing what I'm doing right now back when I was in prison, I'd have said you're crazy. I've been blessed. I'm just going to accept that it's happening and appreciate it."