Napolean Bonaparte once said, "There is only one step from the sublime to the ridiculous." Almost 200 years later, C-Rayz Walz may be living evidence of such within Hip-Hop. The Uptown anthem-maker was ripping apart battles and releasing twelve-inches long before he garnered a major spotlight through MTV's Made. Street-lore suggests that long before the C-Rayz choked the mic, he was choking vics on sidewalks. So if you think he's weird for being different, don't be so quick to judge.
AllHipHop.com traveled to C-Rayz' Bronx residence to watch the MC do something his friends Raekwon and Ghostface would surely approve of - cook fish. But as Walz fries flounder, he drops severe science on the recent surge of fame and criticism, a poorly received album in Year of the Beast, as well as teaching at a highly-accredited university this year. C-Rayz shares on his bond with unlikely comrade, Juelz Santana. The MC also touches upon pornography while watching an Evil Angel release in another room. Within his reflections, C-Rayz makes some interesting, some hilarious, and some downright strange claims. Amidst it all though, his passion is quite clear. The one-time stick-up kid is back to show a legion of fans another route, and continuously bring the character back into Hip-Hop.
AllHipHop.com: What have you been up to since Year of the Beast came out?
C-Rayz Walz: I?m about to do a winter tour. A whole bunch of ski lodges. I want to let everyone know what?s coming. Wherever there?s snow, that?s where I?m going to be at. I?m letting motherf**kers know that I?ve been staying in the lab. For real, I?m changing my name to C-Rayz Lab this year. My next solo album is called Crazy. It?s got Flava Flav and KRS-One on it.
AllHipHop.com: Listening to your discography, we can hear your style continuously evolving into the lyricist you are today. What would you say is the motivation behind your changing attitude?
C-Rayz Walz: My music is a straight, direct reflection of who I am. It?s more enlightened, more comedic. It?s everything that I am and there ain?t no negativity to it. A lot of people can?t say that, you know what I?m sayin? Later on this year, you?ll see when I come up on a more commercial scene and start rubbin? elbows with known people, I won?t compromise my craft. My s**t is next level, but it?s still street on a personal level. I had to take it to the hood.
AllHipHop.com How can you become commercial by taking it to the hood? The hood doesn?t buy records...
C-Rayz Walz: The hood never buys records, but the hood becomes the records. The records become the hood. Meaning, these kids who buy 50 Cent records [become] hard, in Iowa! They?re hard in Little Rock! They?re banging hard out there and they ain?t been around nothing [that I?ve been]. So I gotta report what?s really going on. There ain?t been a $10,000 chain in my hood in years. You know how the game go. Too much hustlers, not enough customers - so now everybody?s selling drugs through music.
AllHipHop.com: So it seems things are bigger than Hip-Hop?
C-Rayz Walz: I?m supposed to teach a Hip-Hop course at Berkeley. I?m preparing for that s**t. The job is offered for the end of this year. Hopefully, I?ll develop my skills as a professor so I can be prepared for [it].
AllHipHop.com: What will you teach your students?
C-Rayz Walz: [How to be] conscious of your thoughts. As soon as you get that thought, it?s born and it?s up to you to harvest it or cancel it out. When I get negative thoughts, I?m always like, "Cancel, cancel, cancel." For instance, I always think about grabbing my son by the ankles and slamming him on the concrete. Now, I think about people who do things like that. [They] probably had an ill thought. Once they had that thought, they began the process of making [it real]. That may be an extreme example, but the energy of doubting yourself may be just as strong as that. When you think about your own failures, it?s like, wow, your brain remembers that. Humans are definitely part elephant, man.
AllHipHop.com: How are things going with your label, Definitive Jux. It?s been said that you aren?t happy with your current situation with them.
C-Rayz Walz: I really appreciate them for everything that they?ve done. They?ve really made me rekindle my creative spirit that made [founder El-P] want to sign me. I?ve said thousands of things about him in past interviews, personal s**t doesn?t bother [me]. But Jux as a whole, is not as Definitive as it was when I came on board.
AllHipHop.com: What happened?
C-Rayz Walz: I?ve been on tour [by myself] for the last two years just to survive. If we were to tour as a whole label, we would be much bigger. I?m tired of going on tour and having people ask me, ?Yo, when is Jux going on tour? When we gonna see Aesop? When we gonna see El?? I?m tired of saying, ?I don?t know.? I planned on coming to them for marketing ideas but it?s kinda late for it now. My label ain?t helping me to do that.
AllHipHop.com: Let me first say that your fans are very passionate about your work and a lot of them have questions for you. Many of them want to know why, in their opinion, your latest album, Year of the Beast, is not on the same level as your earlier work. They say that there has been a definite change to your music--and it has been negative. How would you respond to that?
C-Rayz Walz: All right, imagine this: There would be a whole different view of my work if I called my album Nerd Rap. I don?t need a fan. If you relate to my music and you wanna buy it, that?s on you. I made [Year of the Beast] for me. [My discography] is a different aspect of truth?it?s a big book with gold embroidery around it.
AllHipHop.com: It?s been a while since it happened, but do you care to talk about the MTV Made episode?
C-Rayz Walz: Ayo, if my man Nile [the Minnesota teen he mentored known as "The Blizzard"] was here right now, and you had any inkling of rhyming in you?he would blaze you. You would wanna stop rhyming. That s**t was real, and there was nothing fake about it. People come up to me every day and tell me, ?That was the best Made I ever saw." They really captured a lot of good elements.
AllHipHop.com: How would you respond to someone saying that the episode exploited the culture by exposing it to white suburbia?
C-Rayz Walz: [My philosophy is] ?be comfortable.? Whether we?re in the ?burbs or the hood all we have to do is have a conversation to make a connection. Hip-Hop runs the f**kin' world. People still don?t realize that. My phone rings all the time [with suburban kids saying] ?C-Rayz, my friends is faking the funk. Can you spit a hot eight bars to let ?em know [that we?re connected?] "Eight bars for those that don?t think I?m horrid/ So you called the vampire/ He hit you back with garlic/Crossed your middle fingers for you/ Then left you in the back like LaToya while the Jack son?s upon you/ Clap son they royal/ Battle wasn?t royal/ Even Verizon said he?s online/ He?ll employ you/For futuristic flows you know what you know/For C-Rayz Walz 718 is the code, peace." And then I hang up. That energy keeps me alive.
AllHipHop.com: Your skills at MC Battling are well known. Off the top of my head, I can say that you?ve defeated Supernatural on multiple occasions. But I want to discuss a time when you lost a battle to Immortal Technique. What do you think about him?
C-Rayz Walz: Immortal Technique is rich. He went platinum in Ecuador [Laughs]. I think I bust his ass that day, but I think it was the crowd?s [fault that I lost]. He is the only MC that can give it to me in a battle at this point. Technique is a motherf**ker on the mic, and I love him. He doesn?t give a f**k about humanity and he?s giving a positive message [at the same time]. He?s balanced it out.
AllHipHop.com: I want to talk about your run-in with another MC, Juelz Santana. I heard you and him got locked up together?
C-Rayz Walz: Locked up? Juelz? Me and him got sent to central bookings mad times together in Manhattan Tombs. Juelz left me and my man from 197st & St. Nick. He was released earlier, and instead of keepin' it like a selfish cat, he spread love and left it with me and my man. We smoked it,
and gave the small clip to the cell-scavengers after we were high as hell. That s**t was crazy.
[ At this point in the interview, C-Rayz excused himself to go to the room where the porno video was playing ?to make a phone call.? He exclaimed, ?I gotta beat off to this!? Immediately knowing he was detected, he flipped his words around and said ?I got a beat off of this?to freestyle to!?]
AllHipHop.com: You must get a lot of groupie love on the road, right?
C Rayz Walz: I got h**d from a porn star before?
C-Rayz Walz: [Smiles] Wait for her album to drop.
AllHipHop.com: Oh, I know who you?re talking about?
C-Rayz Walz: Ayo! All y'all fake ass players, take a page out my book, man. Go to shortie?s house, play some music, take a shower, smoke a L and then bounce in like ten minutes. I can?t believe I?m sharing this with the world. [Then] pretend you?re on the phone with your man and be like ?Aight son, I ain?t forget about you?pick me up at 81st and 5th. One.? Don?t pay her any attention. That will drive your girl crazy. You?re playing love tag. The next time you see her, you?re ?it.? [Smiles] All of that was in my old life. I?m celibate this year, you know what I?m sayin'?
AllHipHop.com: But the year just started...
C-Rayz Walz: [Laughs] This year I?m a ?sell-a-bit? of records! I?m tired of this p***y s**t, for real.