Ras Kass: Revolutions and Resolutions of A Legend

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.  That’s not to say that his

career problems have been all the record company’s 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 wasn’t the

ni**er part.  It was the pack part.  He thinks we come out in litters like cats

and dogs.  It’s so offensive it’s

funny.  He’s crazy.  I have to sample this dude.  I know people thought I’d come with the heavy

“I’m gonna f**k you up Mel” beat but let’s be real…I’m 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 hadn’t 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.  I’ll be honest…I don’t 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 I’m feeling at the moment.  I’ve been real heavy on Special Ed right

now.  The third album.  The one that didn’t sell.  I’m 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 I’ll 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

touch?

Ras Kass: Sometime. 

I’ve quit a couple of times.  I

quit for some years.  I was going back to

college and I wasn’t going to be a rapper anyway.  People just run with trends and

stereotypes.  I’m not going to turn into

nigga from the bay when it’s popular, then be from the south when it’s popular,

and then be the gangsta when it’s popular. 

I’m not playing that game.  It gets

nigga’s money…I get that…but it’s 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.  I’ve never had the marketing and

promotion that my peers have had because, unfortunately, I signed with a

company that didn’t know what to do with me. 

I picked the wrong company in retrospect but there is no use crying over

that.  I don’t equate my music with my

record sales.  Sales don’t validate me as

a person.  It doesn’t 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.  It’s not good music.  You know, Hip Hop has gotten corny.  Everything it said it wasn’t going to be is

what it became.

AllHipHop.com:  For lack

of better words, you haven’t 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.  I’m done. 

I’m kinda cool.  [laughs].  It’s funny because I see all these people out

here trying to get a deal like it’s 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 I’m 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 I’ve 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 it’s dope.

AllHipHop.com: You’ve had

problems with record labels but you’ve 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 dad’s 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 don’t grow.  I’ve removed myself out the real world for

about six years of my life.  It’s not

cool.  I’m not proud of it.  I don’t 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 didn’t listen to the music as

a kid so I came late to Hip Hop.  But

when I heard it I believed it.  Now it’s

contrived and corny.  We use to say if it

ain’t dope I don’t I don’t care how much it sells.  Then I started seeing my favorite rappers say

“How you not gonna say I’m the best?  I

sold this many records.”  We’ve let it get

out of hand.

AllHipHop.com: You

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 didn’t buy that  [laughs]. 

You talked all that s&$* like you wanted it and you didn’t even buy

it.

AllHipHop.com:  Yeah, your

first album, Soul On Ice, is going

for $119, new, on Amazon.

Ras Kass:  Yeah, I’m

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.  I’m not trying to say anything…I’m

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?” 

I’m different now.  Now I might

want to ask a different question.  Just

trying to recreate that wouldn’t be genuine and it would sound contrived.  I’ve put out other lyrical records but since

I didn’t have an ad in a magazine or on a website you didn’t 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.  I’ve done my part and if you

want me to keep doing the same thing then you’re not really my fan.  You’re 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 that’s 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. 

They’d still be doing Southernplayalisticcaddilacfunkymuzik.  Lil Wayne would never be Weezy.  He’d 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

Kass.

AllHipHop.com: So why do you

think fans try to box you in?

Ras Kass:  It’s

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 Jeezy’s

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. 

I’m not going to sell crack but I still love the music.  People will get mad because I like Young

Jeezy.  I can’t like Young Jeezy?  When I’m on my nigga s**t I want to hear

Jeezy.  When I’m in the club and girls

are dancing I want to hear “I’m Bringing Sexy Back”.  When I’m chilling I want to hear “Electric

Relaxation”.

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. 

We’re going to start hopping in the studio.  I think we have an ill concept.  It’s not just going be us hopping on

beats.  There’s going to be a good

concept….like it’s a movie.

AllHipHop.com:   Your twin

sons are on the album.  Both of them grow

up and want to be rappers.  What do you

tell them?

Ras Kass:  Don’t 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.

AllHipHop.com: You’ve

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

be?

Ras Kass:  I wrote a

song about it and it was on my mixtape, The

Quarterly.  I would tell myself you

can’t trust everybody.  Money brings the

monkey out of everyone.  People act

up.  Oh, and honestly I don’t think I

could write “Nature of the Threat” today because there have been incredible

white people who have helped me and dudes I’ve grown up with that straight took

the skin off me.  Actually, I wouldn’t

tell the young me anything.  He needs to

go through the good, the bad, and the ugly. 

If he knew everything then I wouldn’t be the person I am today.

Related Stories