Mixing business with pleasure is often a tightrope act. But music engineer Shaleef Perkins has found a way to incorporate his musical talents with his vocal support of the Las Vegas Raiders. The Californian says his favorite NFL team’s move to Sin City was an adjustment for him.
As an avid Raider Nation member, the move did not deter him from supporting the team he has backed since the early ‘70s.
Known for creating music that motivates Raiders fans by promoting their legends and making fun of their rivals, Perkins has solidified his status in the Raider Nation.
The Raiders currently are 3-0 in their division ahead of facing 2-1 Los Angeles Chargers on Monday night, giving fans a boost during this early part of the season.
Zenger News caught up with Perkins and found out why he still loves the Raiders, despite their move east.
Percy Crawford interviewed Shaleef Perkins for Zenger.
Zenger: Your Raiders are 3-0, so I’m sure you are a happy man.
Perkins: You know I am.
Zenger: How do you feel about the team?
Perkins: I kind of expected it. [Head coach John] Gruden has been there for… I think this is his fifth year. Some of those young talents that you watched in preseason are starting to show up. We had offense already; it was all about getting our defense right. That secondary is really young, besides [Casey] Hayward from San Diego. I knew if we got that speed together in the secondary, we would be alright.
Zenger: How long have you been a Raiders fan?
Perkins: Since 1972.
Zenger: You are from Long Beach, California. How did it change your feelings toward the team when they moved to Las Vegas?
Perkins: It’s always an adjustment, it’s always a little sadness, but if you’re Raider, you’re just going to go where they go. They left Oakland [in 1982] to go to LA. I’m from out here. I was sad when they left, but they went back to Oakland [in 1995], and Oakland is so unique. I was really sad when they left Oakland again. Oakland is just really fun. The people are great. It’s like a melting pot. Everybody gets along. I have been around some stars, [former linebacker] Rod Martin — flew on a plane with him. I know for a fact that, before [former owner] Al Davis died, he wanted a nice stadium for his players. He tried it in LA, it didn’t work. And that’s what his son, Mark Davis, did in moving the team to Allegiant Stadium in Vegas.
Zenger: How were you able to incorporate your music with your love for the Raiders?
Perkins: It starts with a cat named Smiley. He is from “Raider Nation IV Life Car Club,” which is where I’m really from based out in LA. He asked me and my partner to do Raider music, and we got down. We did one song called “Raider Nation,” and it was good. He gave us the idea. He said, “Do a song for Gorilla. Do a song for The Violator. Do a song for Jim Otto.” That’s where it went to. Now, as we go out through these Raider chapters all over the United States, we see things, and we make songs. Some of our songs are from ideas people give us. If you’re there, you’re going to get ideas. And there are some people who have been reppin so hard and for so long, you want to make sure that they get credit.
Zenger: I am a “Who Dat” New Orleans Saints fan, and we have a special fan base. That Raider Nation is serious as well. What makes you guys so special?
Perkins: I respect New Orleans. I love that place. That said, the special and unique part about the Raider Nation is, no matter how awful the team is, we’re not going nowhere. Our rudeness is going to be at the top level of screaming and yelling, and the supporters are going to be there. No matter who comes or who goes, once a Raider always a Raider. It’s just “Win Baby!”
Zenger: On the music side of things, how did you get involved in the rap game?
Perkins: I went to engineering school, but the person that really came around when I was growing up was my uncle. And my uncle’s name is “Mooseman.” His real name is Lloyd Roberts. He went to Crenshaw with Ice T. That was his buddy. He always wrote music with Ice T. Later on, when Ice T made Body Count, which is a black rock group, my uncle was the original bass player in that band. They sold a million copies. I have a gold plaque on my wall right now. My uncle was killed some years back while he was playing with Iggy Pop. That was his second journey. That guy really inspired me. He told me to stay in school and said, when I graduated from engineering school, I was going to go with him. He was going to fly me around. That didn’t work out, but the Raiders did.
I have Greenleaf Productions. I record music, I mix music, I rap, I mix tracks, I do computer graphics, I edit videos. I’m super independent. And having quality stuff to put out. Some of the stuff when I was growing up, the artwork wasn’t good, but the mixing was good. And then the mastering wasn’t good, but the videos were good. I’ve reached a peak now where I’m pretty good at it all.
Zenger: The American dream is to get paid to do what you love. You seem to be living that dream.
Perkins: This has been the ultimate experience. When you first start, it’s a little frustrating. You’re trying to get your craft right. Just to see it all come together and get the respect from everybody. People will come up and say, “I love your music.” And then they may say a line in front of you, and it’s like, “Whoa!” You may be rapping on stage; you look in the crowd, and they are saying it with you word for word.
That stuff is just unbelievable. That didn’t happen in the beginning. The more you see it, you understand that you are really doing something. We have to stay positive, and we have to always try to touch people with positive messages. Never mislead because you know that’s a sin anyway. The more people we meet the better we have to be.
Zenger: You guys have the LA Chargers and the Denver Broncos coming up in the next couple of weeks. What are those rivalries like?
Perkins: Let’s go! Man… you know how it goes, before they [the Chargers] left San Diego, that was our stadium. It was 85 percent Raiders when we went up there. They never had a shot. Although, the Chargers with their defense and this quarterback [Justin Herbert], it’s going to be hard. That team is really good. As far as the Broncos, it’s the team I despise the most… matter of fact, they just booked us to do a show there. We have a song called “Denver Broncos Suck,” that’s been out nearly 10 years now, and it still reigns. That’s what it was made for. Those are the worst fans I have ever met. I have been to that stadium, horrible. October 16-17, we’re back up there, at their tailgates. We’re going to do our 4Dub stuff, rep the Raiders, and then fly home.
Zenger: Who is your all-time favorite Raider player?
Perkins: My all-time favorite Raider is Kenny Stabler. In 1972, I was only 4 years old. My grandad lived right next door. I would come up on the porch and ask him, “What are you watching?” He would always go, “the Raiders” in a real aggressive voice. I just started sitting on his lap watching it. I remember one time I asked him, “Who is that old man?” I saw gray hair hanging out of his helmet. My grandad said, “He’s not old, that’s ‘The Snake.’” I just started watching them and I never stopped watching them. If you watched Ken Stabler, that dude was super tough. He’s from New Orleans, buddy.
Zenger: Yes sir! We got him late in his career for a few years. To meet the players, and they know who you are, what is that like for you?
Perkins: That’s probably the ultimate honor. We made a song for, Jim Otto, and then we met Jim Otto. Jim Otto comes in with Mark Van Eeghen. We called him “White Chocolate,” he was a running back for the LA Raiders. They are real tight. They hang out together. When you get around these guys, you just wanna kick back and hear all these stories. You just listen with a big smile.
Phil Villapiano is incredibly funny. They’re all characters and good people. The crazy thing about Oakland Coliseum, and I’m pretty sure Vegas is like this too, when you come out of Oakland Coliseum, you were liable to see Fred Biletnikoff just leaning on his car, and pro baseball player Rickey Henderson just chilling. They were so reachable. “Can I take a picture?” “Yeah, come on!” I don’t think any fan base had it like that with the players.
Zenger: What type of season are you expecting?
Perkins: Of course, my hope is the Super Bowl. What do I expect? I expect to go deep in the playoffs and upset somebody. I feel like the KC Chiefs is about to be out of here early if they run into the Raiders. The Pittsburgh Steelers don’t want none. And the Cleveland Browns better watch out. It’s going down!
Edited by Matthew B. Hall and Judith Isacoff
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