things happen when Sa-Ra Creative Partners start to trip. In 1996
co-founder OmMas Keith visited California to meet up with his
soon-to-be group members Taz Arnold and Shafiq Husayn. As the story
goes, Shafiqs Crown Victoria ran out of gas and the group had to walk
to a local gas station and later to Tazs house, where they made their
Despite the temporary lack of transportation, it wouldnt be a stretch
to say that the collective is still in the midst of one musical and
figurative trip that has brought them full circle. On April 24, after
building up a buzz that had everyone from Dr. Dre to Kanye West singing
their praises, the group released their official debut The Hollywood Recordings.
The numbers show that the LP is being embraced by both die hard fans
and casual listeners who may be nodding and scratching their heads at
the same time. Dont trip. Whether youve been down since the days of
Butterscotch or youre a newbie whos still trying to figure out what
it means to have your G and F trophies aligned, Sa-Ra was gracious
enough to provide a road map for all who decide to join in on their
AllHipHop.com: I heard rumors that you were about to break up?
Taz: [Laughing] Yeah, since this is AllHipHop.com, we want to go ahead
and reiterate that. Hey, check this out, OmMas. The other day someone
ran up on me and said, Man you guys are f**kin ingenious! The whole
break up thing and then you come back with the whole album? Oh, you
guys never cease to amaze me! Then he goes, You guys didnt explain
it or anything. That was perfect.
Shafiq: [Laughing] Wow, thats funny.
Taz: I love that, man. I just had to tell you guys that.
AllHipHop.com: Aside from the rumors, there are a whole bunch of
unreleased songs with their own little urban legends. Whats up with
Fantastic Vampire and the joint with Killer Mike?
Taz: Thats supposed to be a single. That might come out on something
different. The Killer Mike jointwere gonna put that on an album. The
original one is called Butterscotch.
He heard the song when I was down in Atlanta while we were trying to
sell him some beats. I played him about 30 tracks and he was like,
Thats cool. I said, Youve gotta understand this. When you hear
these beats, youre supposed to approach this music a certain way. Let
me play you an example of how youre supposed to approach this music.
Heres one of our songs. So I played him that, and before it even got
to the second verse he was like, Man, thats what Im talking about. I
gotta get that! I asked him if he wanted to buy the song featuring us,
and he said, Nah, I want to buy the song with your hook on it and Ill
get on it. We gave him the track, and I headed back to L.A. I had a
stop in Denver and he called me on my cell phone like, Im in the
studio right now. I want you to talk right now on the intercom so I can
put it on the track.
The track never came out, so we might have to put this on an album.
Thats actually the first song we ever recorded as a group, in the
bedroom at my moms crib. We was all chillin and OmMas had just
hopped off the plane. We had been begging him like, Cmon man, come
back so we can do this. We finally got him back, and the first day he
came back was when we recorded. So that song is sentimental with us.
AllHipHop.com: Whats going to happen to the music that was going to be on Black Fuzz?
Taz: Thats coming. Were going to take a quick minute to fine tune
whats already there, but that albums done though. This is a set up
for that album. This is not going to be over for some time. I could see
this going into the winter. This is going to be one of those albums
that gets around, and word of mouth plays a part too. For instance,
Glorious came out on vinyl over three years ago, but the world is
just hearing it for the first time. Its not like youre hearing it and
going, This sounds like some s**t that was made three years ago. You
hear it and think, Ive never heard anything like this before; this is
some future s**t.
AllHipHop.com: Your image lends itself to that perception too, right?
Taz: As people catch on through the music, or the fashion tip, or some
of our perspectives in regards to how we move socially, I feel like all
those different components help to bring them in. We dont only make
music and perform, but were grown, mature people. People may choose to
be fans on several different levels. Just like how youre a writer, but
you might draw too, or you might be famous for dancing in your
neighborhood. You catch people however you can. But, the most important
thing is, once you catch them, where are you gonna take them?
AllHipHop.com: Along with the name Sa-Ra there are a lot of Egyptian
references in your music. Are there any specific aspects of Ancient
Egyptian culture that appeal to you guys?
Taz: Hell yeah. The Kemetic culture is one of the most grand, ancient
cultures of civilization that we know about in modern history. Since it
was one of the main ones and one of the greatest we get a lot of
inspiration from that. We feel thats what we attract ourselves to
because thats what we arereflective of some of that great energy.
Were an extension and a reflection of those ways. Things then were a
bit more dignified and magical and masterful.
AllHipHop.com: They based a lot of their culture off of a scientific
grid system. Since all of you have a strong background in music theory,
do you subscribe to the notion of a science of sound? How much of what
you do is predetermined to get a certain response?
[Due to technical difficulties OmMas is disconnected from our
Taz: Theres a lot of music theory involved. Your training comes from
your application and learning your instrument. As a student we all
listened to Jazz records and whatnot. Being raised in a Jazz
environment, a jazzy type household, I was exposed to what you might
call some magical hippie jazz type s**t. Our approach is to recreate
what were fans of and take it to the next level. Theory is also
looking at a Parliament [Funkadelic] or a Stevie Wonder record and then
looking at what type of instruments they use, getting those instruments
and trying to duplicate those harmonics and frequencies.
Its nothing like a Fender Rhodes or an Arp [String Ensemble], as far
as the circuitry. Thats a big part of the theory as well, not only
being a player, but also being a producer. You have to recreate a
certain type of atmosphere. The other day we were sitting up in the lab
talking about getting this certain type of keyboard, or Shafiq might
have some instrument on his personal list. OmMas or I might have
something on our personal lists.
AllHipHop.com: Youre just in time. In a previous interview you stated,
People have come to expect and associate Sa-Ra with that which is
overtly male, sexual, free That combination of activism, social
commentary and overt sexuality all in one reminded me of Marvin Gaye.
OmMas: Its funny that you mention that because I spent all day yesterday marveling over the deluxe edition of Whats Going On.
The liner notes allude to that whole stage of Marvin no longer being
the intentional little sex toy of Barry Gordy and more a man
developing a man, no less sexual and overt, and still able to impart
the sexuality into the music. This is our music. Sexuality can be
involved in creating music and making music, but we definitely have
something to teach people. There are songs about love, songs about
circumstance, how s**t goes down, street tales and just about how life
is. Youve got to touch on all the superficial and the spiritual
aspects one goes through in urban life. Were products of the urban
experiment. The s**t weve all seen and the s**t weve all been through
cumulatively, is what creates those stories.
People say things like grandiose when talking about how we dictate
ourselves and our imagery. To that effect, I say that if you leave it
up to someone else to paint your picture, you wont necessarily be
happy. Our purpose is to make sure that we communicate and express our
ideas by speaking to the future of what our ultimate goal is. You have
to do that through manifest destiny.
Taz: Youve got to teach your seedlings, you know what Im saying?
OmMas: Word, so they have something for they self.
AllHipHop.com: From Marvins era all the way back to the Blues and
Jazz, Black music always seems to dramatically change when the
mainstream gets too involved. When you look at both the critical and
commercial success of people like Gnarls Barkley, Andre 3000 and
yourselves, will this be how we define a shift in Hip-Hop for this
Taz: That would be ill. All the people who were around to see Hip-Hop
in its early stages are waiting for something else exciting to happen.
I know all of us are. You mentioned Gnarls Barkley; Danger Mouse and
them are part of our same generation. Its no surprise that people are
reaching out to do different and new things. When the music starts
going into an uncreative realm theres just monotony and people do the
same thing over and over again. That naturally gives you a creative
backlash from the community who wants to grow and take it somewhere
else. All of us have been quietly suffering all throughout the
A couple things would pop up here and there, but that was it. Its been
us as well as a whole lot of other people waiting to hear some new
s**t. We started making music just so we could hear cool s**t. Our
music wasnt being heard by anyone but us at first. We were thinking,
How could we make some s**t for us that will make a statement. Lets
make something for the dope people who know what time it is and take it
to the next level. You hear people I think Timbaland and Pharrell were
big at the time. Those were just a few faces on the scene. Before you
had Large Professor, Pete Rock, everybody. Towards the late 90s you
only had a few people trying to push the envelope. Dilla was a big
influence on cats because he was super-creative. He was one of the more
creative people in terms of producers.
So, hell yeah, I think this is the next era. Were part of that next
wave who might be influencing young cats who are seeking out that next
A Tribe Called Quest. Just thinking about how that affected us when
that dropped. It was like, Damn! Just like Slum Village, I heard the
CDR before they came out. That applies to any movement you heard the
first timeRakim, Marley Marl and his whole movementjust all that
stuff. I think it would be great if we could inspire some people in the
same way that those records inspired us. That would be f**kin amazing.
AllHipHop.com: Part of that new direction is lyricism. If you could,
Id like you to break down some of your bars from Thrilla. You say, Louie Vuitton mixed with Benetton/My G, G and F, F trophies align.
Taz: Oh yeah, ooooh. Okay, it starts off saying, Im so serious/Steady B five series, thats [referring to] Steady Bs Im Serious. The five series is because I drove a [BMW] 5 Series at the time. Frontin with the M in the front/doubles the price somethin serious,
means you could drive the M5. I drive the M5 now, but at the time I was
just dreaming about one. When you throw that M in front of the 5 the
price jumps up. My F, F and G, G trophies align, thats Fendi and Gucci mixed with [United Colors of] Benetton. Its just some braggadocius s**t.
Foldin stacks with invisible gats/white collar black power/new twin tower stance,
thats my mentality. Im white collar with my crimes now. Im not doing
the savage type of things that will put me in jail for a long time. If
I get caught up its going to be on some lightweight s**t that couldve
made me $20 million. In regards to that particular rhyme, its just
that type of hood s**t but its flipped. It goes on and on and on.