R.I.P. General French Fry, the Boot Camp Clik's Beloved Terrier
The hip-hop world lost one of its most beloved canine soldiers earlier this week when General French Fry passed away.
An intrepid Terrier mix, French Fry was a valued part of the New York City-based Boot Camp Clik collective for 15 years before suffering from a congestive heart failure back in June. While he recovered from that ailment, French Fry's time traveling the Earth ended on Monday, March 10.
Over the years, French Fry became something of an unofficial mascot for the Boot Camp Clik and its associated Duck Down Music record label. Along with being present in copious recording sessions over the years, the plucky pup was often spotted by fans in videos and was fond of hopping into group photoshoots.
In the wake of French Fry's passing, I called up his owner, Dru-Ha, and got the scoop on how the diminutive dog wrangled his way into one of hip-hop's most rugged troupes. Salute!
Dogster: When did French Fry come into your life?
Dru-Ha: I got French Fry in 1998. I literally got him at a How Can I Be Down? music convention in Miami, Florida. I was with Buckshot and Tek from Smiff-N-Wessun and a group of the guys went into a drugstore, and while I was waiting outside for them to come out a little girl comes up with a bunch of dogs. She couldn't have been older than nine years old, and she said her father was making her sell some. I started playing with him. We were down there for work and I don't know what got into me, but I ended up taking him.
Did you have any reservations about taking him?
Actually, Buckshot's brother's wife owned a pet store back in the Bronx and he said to get the dog and if the worst happens he'll put him up for sale in the pet shop. The girl only wanted $50 for him, so I paid and we had us a little puppy that we were walking around South Beach with.
The funniest part of the story though is that after four days of the convention I went to take him home on the airplane. I'd never had a dog before so they stopped me at the check-in and asked, "Hey, what are you doing? You can't get on the plane with the dog, you have to call ahead and we need to see that he's had his shots." I didn't know any of this! The woman behind the counter was like, "I'll take him if you want and give him a good home. He's so adorable."
But I made some calls and I spoke to some friends from Loud Records who had a street-team promotional van down in Florida for the Wu-Tang Clan. I knew they were driving the van back so I called and the kid said he'd give him a ride back home -- but he had to go to Texas and some other places for this Wu-Tang Clan promotional run. I couldn't miss my plane and my attachment to the dog was only so much at that moment, so he came and met me at the airport and I put French Fry into this Wu-Tang Clan van.
When did you get French Fry back?
Four weeks later the guy calls me and says, "Yo, do you want your dog back?" I met him in the Bronx in a McDonald's parking lot. That got me French Fry back.
Does French Fry's name have anything to do with the McDonald's parking lot?
No, that was what the little girl told me his name was. That was a connection because when I was in first and second grade at school the girls used to call me French Fry. That was the connection so I kept it.
What was French Fry's personality like?
He was feisty but curious. I wouldn't say he was the friendliest dog -- it wasn't that he was mean but he had an edge to him. He hung out in lots of different places -- people would take him to shows and studios -- and he was a little dog so he had an edge to him, like the Terrier in him would definitely let you know. He would never come up and bite you, but if you didn't know him and went to pick him up he could definitely give you a little snap. But he was friendly and definitely loved everyone close to him.
Were there any rappers that he really liked or disliked?
He loved Buckshot -- he used to pee when he saw Buckshot! Later we would learn that was submission. I had to literally call a dog psychiatrist because I'd never owned a dog and he'd get so excited when I came home and he would just flip on his back and pee. It was endearment but also a form of submitting to someone. If you came in, you couldn't acknowledge him until he had calmed down.
As for who he didn't like, Sean Price would scare him. Not scare him in a bad way, but French Fry would bark a lot and Sean wouldn't hesitate to yell at him and French Fry would kinda cower back. I want to be clear -- Sean was never mean or cruel to him in any way, he just let him know who was the boss and French Fry knew it.
Did you ever sample French Fry's bark for a song or a skit?
No, we never did that, but I always had a thought in my mind about a TV show on him because I thought his life was so unusual: One minute Shucky [from Duck Down] used to take him into Brownsville and bring him into parties; he'd come back the next day saying, "Oh, we were in the party last night and ran into Sadat X." I always wondered how he'd get him in but Shucky would always sneak him in the clubs. Then the next weekend I'd take him to White Plains to my mom's house and he'd be running around like on the back golf course. French Fry's environment was always changing.
What's the wildest thing French Fry saw?
Well, I can't tell you the wildest thing he saw ... but let's just say he's been in some strip clubs and he saw a whole lot of what we would call "jump-offs" back in the day, so like hotel after-parties.
Did French Fry behave himself at the strip clubs?
Yeah, you know French Fry was a licker so he'd always try and lick the ladies!
French Fry is dressed up in combat gear in a picture you put on Facebook. Did he enjoy being dressed up?
We used to do that for the ladies. Chuckie gets the credit for that. He was out every day and he would take French Fry with him and it would cause a lot of attention if he had him dressed up in some Boot Camp gear.
You'd also think for Boot Camp Clik the dog would be a big Pit Bull, not this little Terrier! Tek called him Killa; everyone had their own little nickname for him and he'd always come on the tour bus. His best attribute was that he could walk the streets of New York without a leash: We never had him on a leash in 15 years and he would stop at the sidewalk and we'd call him and off he'd go. French Fry was a very special dog.
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