For a place called the Silent Movie Theatre it sure is loud in here tonight. The historic West Hollywood spot may seem a little old-fashioned, but it’s poppin’ on a Tuesday thanks to the premiere of the new Jooba Loc and Snoop Dogg film, Only Way Out.
For those unfamiliar with Jooba (pronounced “Jah-Ba” like the Hutt), he was part of The LBC Movement, a collaboration of Long Beach rappers who put out a project called Beach City last year. Impressed by his rapping and his grind, Snoop signed the 19-year-old to Doggystyle Records and rode alongside him on his impressive Only Way Out album, which dropped in May.
Now comes the movie directed by D. Baker, a sometimes funny, sometimes serious—but always hard-hitting—depiction of Jooba’s life coming up in the hood, from his days as a streetwise kid dreaming of making it big, to pulling off dangerous home invasions as a young adult. Various artists closely related to the Dogg House family are featured in key roles, including The Lady of Rage and Lil 1/2 Dead.
The film is a raw look at the life of a gangbanger who realizes that making music could turn his life around for the better—if only he stays focused.
MERRY JANE: How you would describe the movie?
Jooba Loc: It ain’t just no regular movie. It’s real life shit goin’ on [in the movie] that went on in my life. The movie is based on people who came up in the struggle. People who grew up around gang members. People that you grew up with who you see in jail. People that are dead at a young age, before they’re 21. I show where we come from and how to try and be better. Right now, I’m doing way better in my life. I learned a lot. I used to just blow my money, but now I save it. I’m tryin’ to open up a business right now.
Snoop Dogg: If you notice, there was a few scenes where he was a young, active gangbanger. And just watching that [scene later in the movie when he’s] talking to the youth [trying to] educate them and give them knowledge is crazy because, like he said [before], when he was at that age he wasn’t listening to nothing positive.
How old were you when you first heard Snoop Dogg’s music?
JL: I was probably, like, 9 or 10 years old, that “Sno-o-o-o-o-p Do-o-o-gg.” I heard that and I always used to watch his videos as a kid. Then I started to watch that movie Baby Boy, you feel me? I knew that he was from the same city as me because I grew up in Long Beach my whole life—but on the North Side. [But] that’s when I really knew who Snoop was.
Snoop, you’ve been helping young artists from Long Beach for two decades now. What inspires that commitment?
SD: I feel like some of us just have that unique ability to see talent in others. Dr. Dre is one. He’s great at identifying talent. When I was around him, I acquired some of the abilities to do the same thing. It’s never me finding somebody that I got to program or put together. It’s usually me finding somebody that’s already a star in their own mind. They know what they want and just don’t know how to achieve it. And I come in and sprinkle my abilities and my talents on the artist, such as Jooba, and teach him how to be the best he can be in the studio, on-screen, and in life.
How did it feel being in your very first film?
JL: I was nervous, but then it all fell into place in the end. That’s why my acting got better, [because I realized] this is just a movie. None of the scenes were hard [to do]. Everything was easy to do because it was real.
What was it like having The Lady of Rage play your mother in the movie?
JL: I felt that was a blessing. I used to watch Next Friday and she played Baby D, so when I got her in my movie I was [happy].
There’s a scene where Snoop tells you how you have to separate the assets from the liabilities. Did that happen in real life?
JL: That happened. That’s a real conversation.
SD: When we’re young and we active and we come from the inner city, [there’s] things that we are faced with, and if we don’t have the right person to talk to, we’re gonna take the only way out. If you see [that] scene [when] he was in the car, ready to go [retaliate on an enemy], I make the phone call: [Ringgg] “Hey, nigga, get to the studio.” A lot of times people are faced with that [situation] but they don’t get that phone call and just react off emotions. But that’s what I am. I’m the phone call. I’m the answer. I’m the reason.
Did Snoop give you any acting advice?
JL: He always told me, “Go hard.” He ain’t finna just sit here and give me, like, ballerina lessons. He’s just got to let me know [what to do] and I’m gonna go for it.
SD: Jooba Loc is raw, man. We didn’t go get him no acting coach or none of that shit. But as he gets more into it and wants to become a better actor, he’s gonna have to do those things that actors do to get their careers more in-depth. [But] right now in his career it’s about him finding out who he is. I done a great job setting him up, putting out a great album on him, putting out a great movie on him, and [we’re] going on tour again in December. So it’s on [him] to stand on his own. Now he finna go to work.