Ras Kass released his first album, Soul On Ice, in 1996 to much critical acclaim. Since then the West Coast rapper has been in a
battle with his record company, a fight that has left the rapper with a 14-year
career catalog of two released albums, two highly-praised unreleased albums,
and a string of mixtapes. Ras, in short,
has never gotten a fair deal career-wise when it comes to record
companies. Thats not to say that his
career problems have been all the record companys fault. Shortly before the release of his third
album, Goldyn Child, Ras Kass was
arrested for his third DUI, sentenced to jail time, and Priority Records
refused to release the album. Ras, in
response, took the recordings, became a fugitive, finished the album, and later
turned himself in. After 19 months in
jail he was released but had to return to jail because of a parole violation involving
his attendance at the 2007 B.E.T awards.
Released in May of last year, Ras Kass is free from the system and his
recording contract. The MC is now making
the music that he wants to make and receiving praise for it. His new double-mixtape A.D.I.D.A.S
(All Day I Dream About Spittin) is getting good reviews and Ras seems, for
the first time in awhile, comfortable.
AllHipHop.com: First up,
what made you decide to do the Mel Gibson song?
Ras Kass: We were
just in the studio writing some songs for another artist. An A&R at interscope played it for me and
I just bust out laughing. It wasnt the
ni**er part. It was the pack part. He thinks we come out in litters like cats
and dogs. Its so offensive its
funny. Hes crazy. I have to sample this dude. I know people thought Id come with the heavy
Im gonna f**k you up Mel beat but lets be real Im never going to see
this dude. So we just made it fun. It took 30 minutes. It was strictly for our entertainment but we
figured the A.D.I.D.A.S project is coming out so why not put it out. It went viral for a bit. Howard Stern spoke on it and TMZ called
me. All the s**t I do and I get
some recognition for something silly.
Honestly though, if he hadnt have said pack it would have never
happened. The pack offended me so much I
just had to respond [laughs].
AllHipHop.com: A few
years ago you described yourself as a music connoisseur and not just a
consumer. Can you explain that? As a connoisseur, who are you listening to?
Ras Kass: Man, it
varies. Ill be honest I dont actively
go out and seek music. There is just so
much out there. Right now there are too
many rappers and not enough fans. Too
many producers and not enough fans. Too
many music critics and not enough fans.
Everybody blogs and .it almost defeats the purpose. I love the internet for what it does do but
it is like a double edge sword. I just
have what I call the mixtape from hell which has about 700 songs. It can have De La Soul. It can have rock records. Just whatever Im feeling at the moment. Ive been real heavy on Special Ed right
now. The third album. The one that didnt sell. Im listening to it like This dude is nasty how do people not get it? I just try to listen to everybody. Just stuff I think is dope. I even got a record from The Game on there.
You make a dope song and Ill listen whether I believe you or not. I can separate myself from my likes and
dislikes as a person.
AllHipHop.com: On the new
album you have a song Where Did She Go where you describe not knowing Hip Hop
anymore. Do you really feel that out of
Ras Kass: Sometime.
Ive quit a couple of times. I
quit for some years. I was going back to
college and I wasnt going to be a rapper anyway. People just run with trends and
stereotypes. Im not going to turn into
nigga from the bay when its popular, then be from the south when its popular,
and then be the gangsta when its popular.
Im not playing that game. It gets
niggas money I get that but its not me.
AllHipHop.com: You were
wondering how do people not get it in terms of Special Ed but a lot of fans
say the same about you. What is your
take on having critically acclaimed albums but that not translating into sales?
Ras Kass: From
Russell Simmons to Dr. Dre to my mom whatever .people have always said Ras is a
star. Ive never had the marketing and
promotion that my peers have had because, unfortunately, I signed with a
company that didnt know what to do with me.
I picked the wrong company in retrospect but there is no use crying over
that. I dont equate my music with my
record sales. Sales dont validate me as
a person. It doesnt let me know how
dope my music is or how wack it is. If I
sold a million copies of a wack ass record the record is still wack. Its not good music. You know, Hip Hop has gotten corny. Everything it said it wasnt going to be is
what it became.
AllHipHop.com: For lack
of better words, you havent had the best experience with record
companies. With the changes going on in
the industry do you see yourself signing with another record company?
Ras Kass: Oh no. Not at all.
I can speak on this now because there was literally a settlement and
there where terms to that settlement that had me quiet for three years. Im done.
Im kinda cool. [laughs]. Its funny because I see all these people out
here trying to get a deal like its going to save their life and ever since
2002 I have been trying to get fired.
Just let me out the deal. It got
ugly with me and this particular company.
To the point where they are sending cease and desist letters to actively
stop me from putting out music. They
were trying to kill me by stopping me from making a living. So, now Im out. Done.
AllHipHop.com: So not
having a deal frees you up to do the A.D.I.D.A.S
project. What was your mindset going
into this project?
Ras Kass: Well A.D.I.D.A.S
is the first .you know I did a bid basically for a parole violation. I was pretty disgusted. Let me just throw some facts out there. California has the higher rate of recidivism,
which is returning to prison, than the rest of the world. So of course they create unrealistic
situations that can ensure the most amount of people go back. I went back.
I was disgusted with myself. I
got out. Now this is the first time
since You know what this is the first time Ive gotten to make music without
being under duress. This was something
for me. I had peace of mind on this
one. I wanted to make something I
thought was missing in 2010. Not just to make music people wanted me to make. Not just for names. I got Jean Grae on the album. I heard the beat and pictured me and her on
the track. Not for namesake but for the
sake of music. This is just a dope Hip
Hop record. I feel blessed when people
just say its dope.
AllHipHop.com: Youve had
problems with record labels but youve also had your own personal problems with
the law. How much do you believe your
career has suffered do to your own doing?
Ras Kass: They are
interrelated. When I get frustrated I
can become self destructive. Before I
had a record deal I was already doing s&#^ that would send me to jail. My dads a retired police officer and he
would tell me I was creating a hole for myself.
He was right. Anytime you remove
yourself from freedom life goes on, things evolve, and you dont grow. Ive removed myself out the real world for
about six years of my life. Its not
cool. Im not proud of it. I dont make songs that glorify it. Yet, you
have all these rappers that have never been glorifying it. Hip Hop use to hold people accountable. Now we brown nose because someone sold a
record. I didnt listen to the music as
a kid so I came late to Hip Hop. But
when I heard it I believed it. Now its
contrived and corny. We use to say if it
aint dope I dont I dont care how much it sells. Then I started seeing my favorite rappers say
How you not gonna say Im the best? I
sold this many records. Weve let it get
out of hand.
mentioned earlier about people wanting you to be a certain way. I think the song that epitomizes that is
Nature of the Threat. A lot of fans
want to hear a song like that again.
What do you say to that?
Ras Kass: This is
what I say now. Jay-Z said it. Want my old shit buy my old album. And niggas didnt buy that [laughs].
You talked all that s&$* like you wanted it and you didnt even buy
AllHipHop.com: Yeah, your
first album, Soul On Ice, is going
for $119, new, on Amazon.
Ras Kass: Yeah, Im
one of the first artists out of print
from that company. There are artists
that sold more than me and artists that sold less than me but they just pulled
it out of print. Rasassination [Ras Kass second album] they pulled it out of
print. Im not trying to say anything Im
just stating facts. Take what you want
from those facts. So to those people
that want another Nature of the Threat you should have supported it. Furthermore, it was just a thesis paper. The question is Should we consider white people
a threat because of the nature of racism?
Im different now. Now I might
want to ask a different question. Just
trying to recreate that wouldnt be genuine and it would sound contrived. Ive put out other lyrical records but since
I didnt have an ad in a magazine or on a website you didnt listen. I wrote Behind the Music which is one of
the most in-depth songs I ever heard about the music industry coming from a
rapper. Ive done my part and if you
want me to keep doing the same thing then youre not really my fan. Youre not my supporter. You just want me to be a monkey and do the
same thing over and over again. I keep
my music honest. You just want the same
thing and thats what I mean when I talk about the corniness of Hip Hop. I get the messages on Twitter and facebook
all time telling me what I should do. If
fans had their way there would be no Outkast.
Theyd still be doing Southernplayalisticcaddilacfunkymuzik. Lil Wayne would never be Weezy. Hed still be one of the Hot Boys. Jay-Z would still be Jigga. Common would never wear a coofie. But you still want me to be 17 year old Ras
AllHipHop.com: So why do you
think fans try to box you in?
Ras Kass: Its
weird. People are multi-dimensional but
they want you to be one dimensional. You
would think they would embrace the person that is trying to be honest. They want you to just be one way. For instance, I love Young Jeezys
music. This dude makes songs that make
me want to go sell crack. Like put on an
Atlanta Braves hat and go out to the Trap.
Im not going to sell crack but I still love the music. People will get mad because I like Young
Jeezy. I cant like Young Jeezy? When Im on my nigga s**t I want to hear
Jeezy. When Im in the club and girls
are dancing I want to hear Im Bringing Sexy Back. When Im chilling I want to hear Electric
AllHipHop.com: Back to A.D.I.D.A.S. We heard them on the album. Are we going to get a HRSMN album with you,
Canibus, Killa Priest, and Kurrupt?
Ras Kass: We just had
a meeting with a potential company.
There will definitely be an album.
Were going to start hopping in the studio. I think we have an ill concept. Its not just going be us hopping on
beats. Theres going to be a good
concept .like its a movie.
AllHipHop.com: Your twin
sons are on the album. Both of them grow
up and want to be rappers. What do you
Ras Kass: Dont do
it! [laughs]. I want some lawyers,
doctors, and crooked cops. I want one to
be a banker so we can wash money and the other to be a crooked cop
[laughs]. Nah, I support them in
whatever. Their uncle is Xzibit. They are kind of acclimated to it. I mean no one else in my family was into
music. My sister is in law school. She
wants to be an entertainment attorney just because she saw what happened with
her brother. At least if they decide to
go into it we can be prepared.
talked about growing and being a multidimensional artist. Given your time in the industry if you could
go back in time and tell a younger version of yourself one thing what would it
Ras Kass: I wrote a
song about it and it was on my mixtape, The
Quarterly. I would tell myself you
cant trust everybody. Money brings the
monkey out of everyone. People act
up. Oh, and honestly I dont think I
could write Nature of the Threat today because there have been incredible
white people who have helped me and dudes Ive grown up with that straight took
the skin off me. Actually, I wouldnt
tell the young me anything. He needs to
go through the good, the bad, and the ugly.
If he knew everything then I wouldnt be the person I am today.