It's been almost five years since Rappin' 4-Tay last released an album, but that drought is over as the San Francisco veteran independently released Still Standing Vol. 1 just this past September. 4-Tay is best known for bringing that smooth Bay Area pimp vibe to his early 90s hits “Playaz Club” and the remake of The Spinners classic, “I'll Be Around.”
Even though he fell out of the national spotlight after those two hits, 4-Tay went independent and continued to release albums and sell units locally in the true fashion of a Bay Area artist. AllHipHop.com connected with the Frisco legend to remind the world that 4-Tay is “still standing” after all these years - even if the days of nearly guaranteed, national radio play may be long over. Who says one can't have a long career after a major label contract is gone? Not 4-Tay:
AllHipHop.com: Mr. Rappin' 4-Tay, how are you?
Rappin' 4-Tay: I'm good. Rub a dub dub, I'm chillin' here at the Playaz Club.
AllHipHop.com: Yes, I remember that song. It still gets played on the old school stations out here in Los Angeles.
Rappin' 4-Tay: KDAY. We need a station like that out here in the Bay Area. I like how they stay dedicated to the old school.
AllHipHop.com: I love that skit at the beginning of Master P's “Make Em Say Ugh” where you answer the studio phone.
Rappin' 4-Tay: That was comedy. Master P flew me out there to New Orleans to collaborate and record the song “Playa For Life.” Afterwards, we were thinking of skits to do for the Ghetto Dope album, and he came up with the idea of me answering the phone at his studio [imitates the caller in the skit saying “Uuuuuggggghhh”].
AllHipHop.com: [laughter] Your last album was in 2007. What have you been up to since?
Rappin' 4-Tay: Fatherhood has kicked in like a slot machine. I got married and it’s been a slower pace, although I've still been bouncing around on the road like a frog on a lillypad doing these shows. I've been out with Suga Free, Snoop Dogg, Warren G, Baby Bash, Montell Jordan, Dru Down, Too $hort, San Quinn, and the list goes on.
AllHipHop.com: So the touring business has still been good for you?
Rappin' 4-Tay: For any artist – the road is the best thing. You can get out there and expand. There are a lot of new styles, but some people still love that old school Hip-Hop – there ain't nothing like it.
AllHipHop.com: Aside from the new family life, is there any other reason why it’s been so long between your last album to this new one?
Rappin' 4-Tay: I had a few run-ins with the law. When you're on probation, you really can't travel and you're prohibited from spreading your wings. But now I want the world and my loyal fans to know that 4-Tay is still standing. And that's why I gave my new album that title.
AllHipHop.com: I heard that you recently remade your classic song, “The Playaz Club.”
Rappin' 4-Tay: Yeah, I remade “The Playaz Club.” I had the pleasure of working with a good friend of mine, Wyclef. Me and Wyclef Jean, we re-did the song, and we want everybody to go get a box of Q-Tip squabs and keep your ears opened for that. It has an East Coast and West Coast type of feel to it – like a gangsta gumbo.
AllHipHop.com: Did you keep the original sample for the remake?
Rappin' 4-Tay: I kept the original sample, but the homeboy DJ King Assassin added a few things to it. It's basically the original sample, but the message alone is a different one. We are speaking about how the youngsters are moving at a fast pace. These youngsters are going so fast right now, and I'm trying to educate them to let them know that its not about jacking and so forth. Wyclef says, “Who would've thought it would happen at The Playaz Club. Youngsters coming in trying to jack the OGs.” Instead of getting back on them with some jacking, the OGs are trying to school 'em.
AllHipHop.com: The rap world is so different from when you first came out. It must be a crazy observation as a rap veteran.
Rappin' 4-Tay: I just think that it’s so crowded now. I'm thankful that I have a recognizable name – without that I wouldn't be able to pop like Orville Redenbacher. I know that we can never go back to the old system. I would just like all of the youngsters in the world to give homage and to realize who kicked the doors wide open. Sometimes they forget about the OGs. I wish there were more messages in the music. Nowadays, I guess the industry doesn't care just as long as it sells.
AllHipHop.com: Should veterans put new artists on their songs?
Rappin' 4-Tay: I think they should, but a lot of young artists feel like we owe them a career. I guess that comes from watching too much television or videos. They feel like just because someone's on TV that they can get a career from them. Having a new artist is like having a child sometimes. You've got to make sure they are learning the business and hanging around the right people – and not being involved in too much negativity. The Bay Area is hot right now.
AllHipHop.com: Oh yes, we know that. We've spoken to several [Bay Area] artists that have issues with each other, including Too $hort.
Rappin' 4-Tay: Me myself, my name's Bennett, and I ain't in it. But being a pioneer from ‘Frisco, I'd be wrong to say I ain't in it. So if I were to speak on that, I would just say to show some respect and show some love for those that kicked the doors wide open.