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interview Ras Kass (January 2010) | Interview By: Jose Ho-Guanipa

  Ras Kass is one of the dopests and lyrical MCs many younger people may have never heard. Putting two solid albums out early on his career, a dispute with a major record and legal troubles kept him away from the mic. He's back in 2010, however, and he shows no signs of slowing down. We got to chop it up with him and speak about his views on the game and his upcoming projects.


As ever, you can read this exclusive interview below and we urge you to leave feedback on our forums or email them to jose@dubcnn.com.

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Interview was conducted in January 2010
 
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Related Media & Links
The Endagered Lyricist Vol. 1 (Download)
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Ras Kass // Video Interview // Dubcnn
Download The Video Interview Part 1 Windows Media
Download The Video Interview Part 2 Windows Media
Download The Video Drop Windows Media

Press Play to stream footage (Fast Connections Recommended)

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Dubcnn: Whatís Up Dubcnn this is Jose and Iím here with Ras Kass and weíre in the studio, whatís up? So youíre working, workiní on music, and makiní new music. So tell us about what youíve been doing lately.

Ras: Well the first thing we did was The Quarterly were really happy with the results of it, we kind of did something novel, I got the idea from, Iím trying to think of the rock group that did it, like a couple of years ago, a very well established group, they took a different approach and they put out a project, and let the people decide what they want to pay for it.

Dubcnn: Oh, Radiohead did that.

Ras: Radiohead, exactly. So just from an urban standpoint, you know hip hop standpoint, I was like, nobody had done that and I thought it was just a dope idea. We live in a culture now, where you can pretty much get what you want for free anyway, at least come get it from me first, you know what Iím sayin'? Pick your price, so we did that. 17 songs, we been, itís called The Quarterly, itís a series, not an album, although everythingís original records, what we did was, we did 10 songs for 10 weeks, so technically we dropped like a single a week for 10 weeks, it was in the 3rd quarter, then we fell back and kind of gave content around those 10 songs, and you know what Iím sayiní, we still giving content, so we dropped like 3 videos and we dropped the link from Ras Kass Central where you can get all 10 plus 7 new songs plus, you know the videos and all the content related to it, and we still giving content to it, so its kind of like a parallel situation. So The Quarterly which was the 3rd quarter bled even now to the top of the first quarter. We may do a little Quarterly, you know maybe start in the second quarter, maybe start in the 3rd quarter, it just depends.

Dubcnn: Yeah definitely wanna touch on the kind of stuff youíre doing, very unique, but first off yesterday was martin Luther king day, tell us, what did that mean to you as an artist and what did you do?

Ras: Actually I wrote a blog yesterday, and for me it was a little bit more, and I think it takes everybody, you know what Iím saying? It takes a Martin Luther King, it takes a Malcolm X it takes a Che Guevara, it takes a Ghandi to try to work towards equality you know what I'm sayiní? In whatever case it may be. With me, what I alluded to in the blog was just how ironic, I was just thinking about it, I looked on the news and John McCain was going somewhere and I was just like, Wasnít he the senator who voted against it and wasnít AZ like the last place? So it kind of put it in perspective that weíve grown as a country and as people but we still nowhere close to little white girls and little black boys holding hands, I donít necessarily ascribe to peace, I understand the power of peaceful protest, but the only thing that peaceful protest does is get a lot of peopleís ass whipped and then they feel guilted because other people are looking, which is a cool concept, but America didnít peaceful protest the Native Americans out of here, you know what Iím saying, they put boot to ass.

Dubcnn: Yeah or the British.

Ras: Yeah, so Iím kind of like, the world respects power. Just think about what we like, as men we wanna see football, we like to see gladiators, you know what Iím sayiní, we wanna see battles, we wanna see beef, we like that shit, we programmed for that shit as men, you know what Iím saying? Men run the world unfortunately, maybe if we had women, maybe itíd be nicer, probably be more irrational, but you know it may be a better world, you know what Iím sayiní? Men run it, and men respect boot to ass. So as I respect Martin Luther King, for what he stood for and everything, you know what Iím sayiní, and the movement that he created it was just kind of, to me it was kind of bittersweet. Just thinking that he was gonna run for president, that was the last nigga that was all about peace, that all you could do was disrespect. (Zed walks into the studio)

Ras: ZED! This my man Zed, half of The Riffs.

Zed: Whatís up man, howís it going?

Ras: Dubcnn in the building, you know what Iím sayiní, we just gettin' a little interview on. Zed, tell them about what youíre doin'.

Zed: Iím over here next door with The Electrolytes makin' some electro funk rock hip-hop, whatever I make.

Ras: We have an eclectic extreme, so anyways it was bittersweet for me, and I went to the studio.

Dubcnn: Gotta love the studio. Tell us about your music, and how you evolved as an artist. When I listen to your music, you keep a very authentic hip hop sound, whatís your approach when your makiní music?

Ras: I like a lot of different stuff, to be perfectly honest, like sonically, I like what you would call traditional west coast shit. I like traditional east coast or hip hop shit, I like south sounds, I like everything you know what Iím sayiní, and what attracted me to hip hop, because I was never a person that listened to music growing up, so the first thing I heard and it had already existed, and I just didnít pay attention was rap, but was what cool about it was, I kind of understood what a country song was, or what a rock song was, or a pop song, and there was nothing that was in it for me, although I could appreciate it I understood what it was so I never had a natural attraction to music because there was nothing inaptly in it for me but then when I heard rap for more than one reason because it actually sampled that country western and that rock song, you know what Iím sayiní, it fused all that and somebody said something that I can relate to, and so I was a late bloomer in rap period because I just wasnít a music person, I try to make that a reflection of what I do on my music, because I will do what I like, and I like a lot of different shit., and I think thatís the strength of hip hop when you start makiní boxes ďoh this isnít realĒ you know what Iím sayiní, like you make your own box, I refuse to let people put me in that box even though they try to trust me I get ďyou should do thisĒ my gangsta homeboys is like nigga, youís this kind of nigga and you supposed to do these kind of songs, and then my underground niggas is like, well no you this cause you made that song and you supposed to do that, and Iím like dude, I make it all, you canít pick half of an album, when my first presentation is sold on ice, you canít pick half of it and like half of it, you know what Iím saying and tell me thatís all of me. Well you can like half of it, you just canít tell me thatís my total sum, when on the same song Iím doing Nature to Threat Iím doing a song with Coolio talkin' bout fuckin' some bitches and Iíve got a song with Battlecat talkin' bout come to the house, we gonna drink some Hennessey and fuck bitches, you know what Iím sayin' kick it with the homies, and donít steal, and talking about a burner, whatever like, you canít split me in half, you can like what you like ascetically, but you have to accept the total package so the total package for me and the music that I try to make, covers my spectrum, the shit that I like period, and I like a lot of different shit, and its gonna keep evolving.

Dubcnn: Not trying to put you in the box, but you did the whole major label thing and then you decided not to do that because you wanted to do your own thing and not compromise. Youíve been doing independent stuff, you been putting out mixtapes like The Quarterly. How did you guys think of all these different ways to push the music, like you said you put out songs every quarter and then youíre doing content and you have the website and all that?

Ras: Well for me, thereís some things I canít talk about but in general, I kind of had a really big battle with a really big company, and it dragged out, it literally dragged out for about 6 years, and thatís a long time in rap, thatís just a long time in life. So during that time, I have a passion and I enjoy creating music, to be perfectly honest maybe not so much everything else, I have a passion just for the creative process, I donít really like the business, but I had to readjust and understand the business, and so what occurred to me was, Iíve known Ludacris for 10 years, Iíve known Lilí Jon for 10 years, Iíve known Outkast for 10 years, Iíve known Xzibit for 10 years, Iíve known Eminem for 10 years, Iíve known Jay-Z for 10 years; all these people, and 50 Cent, and so my thing was we recognize each other and we see these people and you actually see like this niggaís dope, and that nigga says, ďYo this niggaís dope.Ē So what changes Ras Kass from Eminem? Or what changes Eminem that was just as dope when he was just Marshall Mathers, Eminem the white boy to, ďOh my god itís Eminem?Ē Itís the business part unfortunately, because the talent was already there and it was recognized by the people who recognize the talent, but then you get to a bigger thing, and so I had to approach my career, If I want to have a career here from a different angle, which is I know what Iím good at, I can make music, I can rap good, I can write a rhyme, I can write a better rhyme faster than most niggas, just to be perfectly honest, so thatís not my problem, my problem is marketing and advertising and business, and so I had to take that approach and I was in a major situation where that maybe label was unwilling or unable to market me, and advertise me correctly, and that happens at labels, trust me, Ne-yo was signed before, and got dropped, that happens, now that label that dropped him is kicking themselves in the ass you know what Iím saying? Alicia Keys, same thing. So you have to define yourself, before you let people start defining you, obviously if you define yourself, youíll have your highs and your lows, eventually, youíll get your breakthrough and your opportunity cause I believe success is opportunity plus preparation. So as long as you prepared it only takes one and all of a sudden you hot, but it took a long time and a lot of blood sweat and tears, but you were prepared when that opportunity came, so for me, thatís where Iím at, I wanted to start from scratch, Iím a person who had 2 albums out at an early age. I had 2 albums that didnít come out, then I had a fight, so technically Iím a new artist you know what Iím sayiní? A 20 year old nigga ain't heard me, I ain't had an album out for 10 years, so he ain't never heard of me, I donít exist, and thatís cool, itís kind of refreshing after Iíve gotten anything I felt was like negative energy or anything that was a in durance behind me, and now I just approach my life like, hey Iím a new nigga, Iím a new nigga that gets to redefine myself to my own era and to a newer era, because I never had the opportunity to define myself previously, so itís exciting for me, you know, and Iím like a new nigga that know a lot of people, lucky enough to know a lot of niggas, and thatís cool.

 

Part 2:

Dubcnn: Speaking on some of the people you work with, you said youíre in the studio for Fashawn, Alchemis, Khalil, a lot of people, who you been collaborating with recently, you know for their stuff for your stuff, for your upcoming stuff?

Ras: Man, Iíve done a lot of stuff man, I did uh, for Evís album God Save America, I shouldnít blow it up, anyway for Evís album, for Xzibits new album, he has a group with Young D and B Real from Bad Project, for Eternia, shit for Khalil, I just did a Khalil track 2 days ago, Mastercraft, I stepped in the Dubstep shit, my homeboy 12 Planet, and then for this project that Iím doing, itís like a lot of people, I canít even remember everybody, Fashawn, Blue, Strong Arm Steady, Xzibit, itís probably gonna be a Golden State song, when itís all said and done, Canabisís solo album, Royce 5í9, Iím kinda blessed. Babu did something for the newer project that weíre coming up with, David Banner, possibly M.I.A. on it, so, I mean a lot of stuff, oh I did Faith, Faithís album, of course 40 Glocc you know all our affiliates, Doctor ollywood, a lot, just a lot of shit man, Iím forgettiní some shit, itíll come to me later, but, we stay pretty busy.

Dubcnn: Yeah definitely, so I know you did that 4 Horsemen group back in the day, you ever think about doing another project like that? Does it cross your mind?

Ras: you know I let things happen as they happen. Certain things, I just think they should be organic, I consider Killah Priest a friend, same way I consider Xzibit a friend, same way I consider my nigga Hex a friend, you know what Iím sayiní get well. Itís certain people, that, weíre gonna fuck with each other whether you see it or not, you know what Iím sayiní, weíre gonna fuck with each other and not necessarily have to do a song, you know what Iím sayiní, weíre gonna kick it cause thatís my niggas. If those things happen thatís fine, but, you know, thereís no but to it, I got a pretty heavy plate because I got a lot of work to do, thatís the way I approach it, I got a lot of work to do if I want to command the same ďquote unquoteĒ respect as Eminem and 50 Cent, and what I mean by respect is cut the goddamn check you know, donít play games when we walk in here you understand this is 20, 30,000 dollars for this verse, which is not a lot, I know niggas is getting 100. I sat down with Dreí one day and I remember the nigga said ďhow come I get 100,000 dollars for a verse and you donít, and youíre one of the greatest rappers everĒ, and he was trying to explain to me business, he was like ďyou know politics and thatĒ, heís like ďno, decisions, making your path and makin' the right decisionsĒ, and I respect him for that it kinda was some reality shit, and he was kindaí schooliní me and he wasnít trying to shit on me, he was trying to build me up to understand on how to make moves and make the right decisions in business. Because my talent is my talent and canít nobody take that from me but they can try to denigrate me and say well youíre not like so and so, and that part is based on my decisions. I have to make the right actions to put myself in that same perceptive caliber; you know what Iím sayiní? Ludacris doesnít treat me disrespectful, (stands up and walks across the studio) but maybe Ludacrisís fans is like, ďWho the fuck is this dude? Get the fuck outta the way Iím trying to get to Ludacris!Ē So my job is to put myself in the position where they say ďOh shit thereís Ludacris,Ē and ďOh shit thereís him.Ē and thatís business. It has nothing to do with the talent. So thatís where Iím at.

Dubcnn: Definitely. You recently came back from jail, (Ras asks P Killa for a lighter) how does that affect how you approach rap? Did you think it as a time to to focus?

Ras: It was a pretty unfortunate situation. Like I said I try not to live in the past, I learn from it but, itís just a waste of time period. For whatever reason you go to prison, you know, itís just a waste of time, and I really approached it from a disgusted point of view.(pauses lights a joint) I was disgusted with myself, because my whole thing is, everything is my fault, period. I donít care if it rains and shit, itís my fault, it makes me feel better because I donít gotta put shit off to god, whyíd you do this, or this nigga, cause if somebody stabbed me in the back, itís my fault because I fucked with you. So with prison period, whether certain circumstances werenít quite as perceived whatever, itís all my fault. I put myself in the position to be able to go back to prison you know what Iím sayiní itís all my fault, and I just approach everything from that attitude and it helps me not be reactive. It helps me to be in control at all times, because itís all my fault. So if I do things right, things will be right, you know what Iím sayiní and if I get on some bullshit and allow certain people in my space and my area, and something goes wrong, I should learn then I gotta get rid of some people, thatís kind how I move. I just took the time to be perfectly honest; I didnít write a rhyme period. Wasnít interested, cause like I said I figured out my problem is not writin' a rap. The same people, that people hang on every word that they say if you ever took the time and just go back to a mixtape of mine, Iíve said better, and itís just the truth and Iím not tryiní to be a dick Iím just tryiní to be honest. Niggas would ignore him because so and so was hotter, but the niggas nasty, itís like, ďDid you just hear what this niggas sayiní?Ē and then all of a sudden this nigga pop and, ďOh shit the nigga.Ē Címon my nigga youís a groupie, and we do it even in our industry as fans, well as connoisseurs cause weíre not fans, itís not that I root for the underdog but sometimes the underdog is really the better nigga, and then watch people do that dickriding shit, and who gets the magazine cover, and its kinda sad because not the cream of the crop is always rising to the top, I love to see the cream of the crop rise, I love to see a nigga shine, and Iím not hatin' on the nigga that is not of the caliber of what people put him to be because heís getting his money, and I canít get mad at somebody getting they money. Iím not a hater but I mean thereís a certain fundamental. Thereís innate bullshit in hip hop, thatís the best way I can explain it. Itís just a corny as it says itís not and thatís the sad part about it, of rap. They start stereotyping and so, West Coast is this and if you donít do it like that, because so and so sold a million records and if you donít do it like him then your shit ainít tight, and thatís some cornball shit. Thatís some weak shit, and that ainít no grown man shit, thatís not being an individual and sayin hip hop is very individualistic and it should remain that way, and when I feel like when Iím getting pulled into the bullshit I just try to fall back, cause trust me my goal. I do want all that, I want the big show, I want the ring. But I want it on my terms thatís not me selling my ass or me selling my soul or me being a clown ass nigga I just wanna be a real human being and be what Iím about and Iím not gonna get taken one extreme angle or another extreme angle, and hopefully cause I say these things then hopefully I can get to a point where I have an audience thatís big enough that it makes an impact and they say ďWow this nigga really meant what he said when he said thatĒ, and try to help people grow and help this industry. You know what Iím sayiní, and thatís kinda where Iím at with it.

Dubcnn: For sure. So you just put The Quarterly out, what do you have in the works? You were telling me about something you were working on.

Ras: Oh yeah, well first of all weíll probably do another series and as of now we kind of decided, I was just thinking like yo man I would like to kinda, you know do something where itís not me, per say itís like me and somebody else, and I had a few opportunities with MCís that do certain things, but I wanted to do some Rapper DJ shit, so I did it with the Beat Junkies I did it with Rhettmatic who I felt like we have a long history, long friendship and it just seemed like the genuine right thing to do, was to fuck with Rhett whoís been a friend for (pauses for a second), damn 15 years now something like that, itís coming together. Itís called ADIDAS cause I just remember being little and they used to always say that stuff all day I dream about sex so then I was like ok well weíll flip it and weíll call it all day I dream about spittiní and its gonna be pretty cool. So itís a Beat Junkie re up project as opposed to, itís not really a Ras Kass project itís a Beat Junkie/Ras Kass project, and I think itís gonna be dope, when itís all said and done. Itís kinda retro classic hip-hop but then trust me itís some futuristic shit, we already dropped a song off it, itís called 3008. So, thereís gonna be contrast and my whole thing is that I like music, period. So Iím gonna do, maybe a Dubstep song on there, I like doing what I like doing if you canít get with that one particular song then thatís cool but I may like this kinda music and Iím gonna do that and you canít tell me thatís not hip-hop cause the fact that Iím doin' it makes it hip-hop, unless its contrived in bullshit, and I try my best not to make it, I know how to make a hit record. In whatever era I know exactly the types of sounds I need to do and who needs to auto tune on it and the whole shit. If a song calls for that then I wanna do that but I donít wanna make contrived music. I actually wanna make music that I think is cool and the people around as weíre making it is like ďThat shit is cool,Ē and hopefully because we make good business decisions some of those things can be on the radio but not everythingís for the radio and not everythingís gonna be the most lyrical ďNature Of The ThreatĒ; itís not that. It shouldnít be that. It should be me being honest about who I am as a person. Thatís what an album or a project is supposed to be is creative and honest. So thatís kinda like the whole zone we in and I wanna make that lame, honest motherfucka instead of a nigga with an angle like, ďOh heís the bad boy. Oh heís the player. Oh heís the drug dealer. Oh heís like the rocker dude. Oh heís the one, heís emo, he wears the skinny jeans.Ē Fuck that, whatís wrong with just beiní yourself?

Dubcnn: Alright man well thanks for the interview. Good times, speaking on business tell us where we can find your stuff online, the website all that stuff, Ras Kass Central?

Ras: Yes Sir, you can go to raskass-central.com. We got the blogs, we got the videos, we got The Quarterly, we havenít even really started, so you got the scoop on the whole adidas thing, we just stay having content. We got the green room, we got my man P Killa, we got his expertise, we got the Electrolytes, we got Doctor Hollywood,we got Zoo Hang, 40 Glocc, we got Xzibit, we got a great team and a great family, and we got shit to do.

P Killa: Donít forget to tell them about the joint we gonna do, fuck it Iím putting out this compilation album Ras gonna be the first one we gonna set it off. The shit is called The Best Shit Ever, presented by P Killa tracks from Ruff Rydaz.

Ras: All day.

P Killa: Look out for that shit.

Ras: Real talk.

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Related Media & Links
The Endagered Lyricist Vol. 1 (Download)
..........................................................................................
Ras Kass // Video Interview // Dubcnn

Download The Video Interview Part 1 Windows Media
Download The Video Interview Part 2 Windows Media
Download The Video Drop Windows Media

Press Play to stream footage (Fast Connections Recommended)

..........................................................................................


 
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