Ras Kass has been out of prison for ten months. Rumors have swirled that hes on the verge of signing to G-Unit, that hes swinging vocal jabs at The Game, and that hes tucked away recording a classic. Last month, Ras released a mixtape-album, Institutionalized that has critics smiling, and the industry ducking for cover. One thing is painfully clear Ras Kass is out to make up lost time.
C-Arson, Californias proudest MC clears up the mill, and discusses some of the more ambiguous lyrics from his mixtape, as well as his deep friendship with another rapper that may stun you. Welcome back, Ras!
AllHipHop.com: Institutionalized just got an XL rating in XXL. With this acclaim, why is this a mixtape and not an album? Is it because of the Priority Records situation?
Ras Kass: To be honest, its a little bit of both. Its definitely part of the legal situation. The other part is, Ive had two albums that came out, commercially and two that basically, that didnt. I didnt want this to be what people would officially consider to be my album. The album that I got prepared, when things are right, Im trying to change the game, Im trying to make a classic.
AllHipHop.com: Its just remarkable to see a meaningful artist mixtape that has all original work, and get great reviews like this
Ras Kass: Im real blessed. Not to take from it, because I gave it 110%, but I got so much more. I called it mixtape cause I wanted to feed the streets. Im not trying to be on 106 & Park and Direct Effect with it, this is my street album Ill call it that. Its a precursor.
AllHipHop.com: You seem so angry on this thing, like cocky mad. My favorite record you ever did was Skills with Evil Dee, and this really comes back to that, what set you off besides prison?
Ras Kass: I really just came out with a battery in my back. It was all inside of me, but I definitely credit David Banner. He came out and put a battery in my back, Caution was the result of that. Ive been knowing David for a long time. We actually used to live together back in New York like six or seven years ago. He was one of the first to reach out like, Yo n***a, you been the s**t, you gotta let these b*tches know. You right David, let me let these b*tches know. Thats why I came hungry.
AllHipHop.com: You interpolate lyrics from everybody from Jay-Z to the X-Clan on there. Its a Hip-Hop savvy record. But you do say, This mixtape is better than any album this year. Is this the answer to the records youre not feeling?
Ras Kass: Not really. My thing was, hot is not necessarily dope. Somebody can get hot in this music industry and sell a lot of records, but it doesnt mean the music was good. I just was bringing back the focus of hot spitting flaming s**t with nice production, giving em something to think about. It wasnt directed at any artist, just the industry.
AllHipHop.com: Okay, so whats your favorite album this year?
Ras Kass: Thats a good question. To be honest with you, I never can name one. I enjoy a lot of everybodys music, so I really can say.
AllHipHop.com: Your boy David Banner is supposed to have a beast of an album
Ras Kass: Its definitely a hot album. Its a dope ass album. He has a f**kin song dedicated to the West Coast. You know, Hip-Hop started in New York. The West Coast took an interpretation of it and expanded on Hip-Hop. Now you see the South, and theyre expanding on it too. After a certain point, when there was East and West only on MTV and BET, the South could relate more to the West Coast, culturally. Most of us, our grandparents are directly from the South. What he did is, hes got a song where hes spittin to everybody on the West who he respected. I think thats dope cause right now, the South got it. Its like 2Pacs Old School with the Grand Puba sample.
AllHipHop.com: What were you doing living together?
Ras Kass: We were living with Wendy Day around 99, when he was ending the deal with Crooked Lettaz.
AllHipHop.com: When we caught you after you were released, we asked how much writing you did in the pen. You said a lot. Shine certainly feels like that. That songs interesting. How much of this material is from inside?
Ras Kass: Shine was written in prison as a three-verse record, and Write Where I Left Off.
AllHipHop.com: Youre a historically cocky dude. Shine touches on having to masturbate in jail. Was that a difficult wall to break as an MC?
Ras Kass: Its funny, because you tend to forget certain things you have happy moments or sad moments, but you can never remember the specifics of it. Sometimes, when you talk to people who can relate, itll come out. With that record, its me sitting there, doing a case study. I never cried in prison. [laughs] But Id get frustrated as f**k some days, and Id just observe people being real honest.
AllHipHop.com: On Air Em Out, you said I dont do dis records as a claim to fame, if I got problems with a n***a, Im just saying your name. Was that directed towards the Game situation? I know our Rumors section mightve fueled a lot of that fire
Ras Kass: Pretty much. Ive never had a problem with AllHipHop though, period. People can infer what they want. But yeah, its like when somebody gets hot I did this song a while back called Catch Me if You Can, and I said, Buck 50, f**k Whitney, At the time, 50 was just getting hot. This was like two and a half years ago, and everybody couldve swore I said, F**k 50, cause 50 was becoming more relevant. People always refer to the Rap game as the game. All of a sudden, because this particular dude pops up and you gotta be careful what you say cause you might be perceived as talkin bout him. Im a firm believer of f**k that. Im not gonna change my lyrics because you put yourself in a certain position. If people want to try to relate certain things to certain things, thats fine too. Im not gonna hold my tongue. I like to say what the f**k I feel. Some things definitely aint for me to explain. My bottom is always what it was, which is, if I got a certain problem with a n***a, Ill say it to him. Aside from that, Im not gonna tuck my tail. If a n***a got a problem with me, he can see me in the streets. If he wanna see me on the mic, Im always here he probably cant win that one. Its better to shoot me.
AllHipHop.com: Theres rumor that Game is running around with your former artist, Scipio whos absent from this album. So the thing does look shaky from an outsiders viewpoint
Ras Kass: To be honest with you, while I was in prison, Scipio and The Game were hangin. They might be, thats everything happens for a reason, man. I gotta let people go they path. It dont change mine. Like I said, I dont have no love lost. I done been through grown man s**t, pretty much my whole life so that kid s**t or that industry s**t, its an incredible machine. Im not fearin it. Ive faced every demon Ive had to. Im not concerned with what the next mans doing. If you aint on my team, fine do what you gotta do. Ill meet ya at the top, thats my logic.
AllHipHop.com: You have the Clayton Bixby interludes, then say On The Bizness Quit calling me racist, I know plenty of wiggers, Was racism ever in question?
Ras Kass: Certain lines in my songs I can recall, real accurately, going to Germany, and I love going to different countries. They dont take English for granted. They learn all the words through this Rap s**t. I respect that, of course. They dont say, He rappin over a cool beat, they wanna know what the f**k you sayin, too. In a slew of interviews in Germany after Rasassination, on I Aint F**kin With You I said, White people burn ya church / See ya in the mall, then clutch they purse / Treat a n***a like dirt / When the Black man was here first / Thats why I be on one officially / F**k White people in general, and f**k police, specifically. So they was like, Why do you say this about White people? Well for one, were churches not burnt and bombed? Do some people still not wanna live in a neighborhood around Blacks? I didnt say nothin that wasnt true. Why does this bother you so much? This is one reference in one verse with an album with 17 songs. On these other songs, Im talkin bout f**k bitches, on other songs Im sayin how I aint s**t I should be in another career. Just cause you White, dont get mad when I talk about White people, cause when I talk about n***as and Black bitches, its entertainment. Same goes for calling me a gay basher. Be fair about it. Dont call me a racist, or a misogynist, you can call me a misanthropist. A misanthropist is somebody who hates humanity. [laughs] Thatd be taking it far [too].
AllHipHop.com: Plus, youve worked with Wendy Day, David Axelrod, Stoupe, etc. These are White people
Ras Kass: Yupp. Dude, Im not no colored person. At the end of the day, some of my favorite people in this world are Wendy Days a White chick. She carry a big f**kin gun and she will shoot you too, she a gangsta! Im not a colored person, Im an individual. People who have contributed to me having a harder life are Black people sometimes. Whatever. B*tches aint s**t. N***as aint s**t. Some of you White people aint s**t too. F**k, Im an all-opportunity f**k all yall.
AllHipHop.com: In online Hip-Hop, your career has been interesting. One of the biggest actions I ever witnessed was the petition to get you released from the Priority contract. People, worldwide, held you down in the pen. That said, fans expressed to me that youve ignored them through the site since youve been out. Its a weird thing to bring up, but your fans
Ras Kass: You know what? Im not the most computer-literate person. Ill profess to say that. I just bought a laptop last week, my twins broke [my other one]. [laughs] I usually get help from people who assist me in my day-to-day life. I know I had intended to do a forum and speak to people every other month, but my s**t crashed. Thats how we lost the whole petition. My server crashed. To this day, the site is not operational. Im not proud of that, but I gotta worry about parole and this, that, and the third. I just kinda stuck to my guns and do the things that would benefit in the long-term. I am totally appreciative to everybody who took the time to sign that petition. Thanks for giving me the motivation. You cant please everybody, I wish I could, I probably wont. I focused on the things that are most important: me getting some quality material was more important than anything else. Im used to a certain lifestyle: new shoes, crispy watch, money for studio time. This is five or six years of me not having a job. Theoretically, how was I supposed to feed my kids, let alone have a haircut? Im sorry I cant please everybody, but I think Ive done an incredible job. My Eight Mile is a mothaf**ka! My s**t is the Oscar winner.
AllHipHop.com: Sha Money XL was a part of Institutionalized and 40 Glocc is rolling with them. Everyone is speculating that when the paperwork clears, youre G-Unit. What kind of comment can you give me to that?
Ras Kass: Uh, I can say this much: Whoo-Kid, my n***ga Storm, who manages Mobb Deep, P and Havoc, Shine from Shade 45, Paul Rosenberg, Doc [Dre], Busta Rhymes, them n***as have been nothing but supportive to me. I appreciate them n***as. Its all extended family one way or another. Im blessed to have n***as in power believe in me. Well see what the future holds. Im not exactly sure. Im f**kin Erin Brockavich and n***as in the industry is about to pull off and murk out.