On the cover of
his first LP, 1996's Soul On Ice, super emcee Ras Kass ominously appears
reclining in the belly of the beast - behind jail bars.
Even back then,
Ras' artistic efforts were pushed back a number of times despite the million
dollar price tag, pre-album acclaim and hype.
all of the red tape, die hard fans have continued to support Ras as one of the
best, albeit under recognized, that hip-hop ever offered.
In January 2003,
his continued woes with Priority boiled over and the matter was exacerbated
when Ras collected a third DUI conviction.
A 9-month sentence
turned into a flight from the State of California when he failed to turn himself
in an effort to protest his "slave" deal with Priority.
Amid the conviction,
his anticipated Goldyn Chyld CD was pushed back again - never too see
a release. Previously, his masterwork Van Gogh suffered a similar fate
at the hands of rampant internet bootlegging.
Now, Ras has settled
into a Cali prison and took time to reflect his life and the 23-hour lockdown
he experiences daily.
When can we expect you out of jail?
Ras Kass: Mid
to Late 2004/early 2005.
are you being treated in jail?
Ras Kass: I'm
good, getting' a lot of support inside and outside of these prison walls.
AllHipHop: Is anybody
supporting you within the music industry and have any or your associates visited
you while you are in jail?
Ras Kass: From
what I've heard I've gotten enormous support. I've spoken to Xzibit often, Canibus
wrote me. KRS-1 and Kurupt gave me words of encouragement. Eminem said, "Free
Ras Kass" in a new song. The visiting process is more complicated. You
nee pre-approval that takes 1-2 months. Mos Def & Howie McDuffy said they
wanna visit, Tyson Beckford too.
your children maintaining and what do you tell them?
Ras Kass: I don't
think children should be traumatized; they should enjoy their childhood. I'm
"on tour" as far as they're concerned.
AllHipHop: Do you
regret any of your career decisions?
Ras Kass: Of course,
but obviously this was God's plan so I'ma ride it out. There must be a purpose.
I think God is preparing me for my turn to apply all this sh*t I've learned.
I won't make the same mistakes again. I am fortunate too. These things happen
to a lot of artists and nobody cares, industry wise, and they never recover.
out of jail you will sign with Open Bar (Xzibit's imprint)?
Ras Kass: No.
you off Priority, who would you like to sign with?
Ras Kass: Ask my
lawyer (if I am off)! I'd like to be anywhere where my talent is recognized,
appreciated and cultivated. I'd like to go to Shady/Aftermath, or Def Jam through
Roc-A-Fella would be cool.
the deal with Priority ever have worked?
Ras Kass: No, the
problem with Priority isn't the street team, or art department. I mean to say
that there were a lot of great people at Priority who gave 110% to me and every
other project. Like Tom Reid, Robert Redd, Julio Trejo, Dawn ect...sorry if
I didn't mention all y'all. The problem with Priority is its management.
AllHipHop: Is the
reason for your silencing at Priority due to your lyrical content about white
Ras Kass: I don't
projects are on the way from you and what is the new label situation?
Ras Kass: The
album (which was recorded while he was a fugitive) formerly catchmeifucan
is in negotiations. Re-Up Entertainment is my fledgling label. We just startin'
from the underground! What up 6 and Scipio!
artists and producers do you want to work with?
Ras Kass: My dream
song is- well, actually 2 songs, produced by Dr. Dre and D.J. Premiere. Ras
Kass, featuring Jay-Z, Nas, Eminem, and Rakim. A concept song and I straight
spit off. I'm such a fan of so many rappers, singers and producers I could go
on forever about who I'd like to work with. Outkast, Bilal, Scarface, Redman,
GZA, The Clipse, Neptunes, Kanye West etc.......
Van Gogh or Goldyn Child or ever get released?
Ras Kass: Maybe
not officially but I'm sure bootlegs will hit streets soon.
you give advice to anybody about what to look for on a contract?
Ras Kass: Only
that you should always be looking for guaranteed release dates, specific sums
of money to be used as the artist sees fit for outside promotions (creative
marketing), and a guarantee of 2 videos per album. Also, stipulations that say
you're free to leave the contract if any of the terms are breached. Very clear
and concise stipulations. Have a great lawyer. Your entire career depends on
whether you have a lawyer who truly cares about you or if you have a lawyer
who on the low, is working with (and for) the record company. It's illegal but
it happens all the time.
AllHipHop: Do you
still got beef with Alchemist and Jadakiss?
Ras Kass: I never
had beef with Jadakiss. I'm not mad at Alchemist anymore either. I just don't
respect him so therefore whenever I feel like it, I'ma diss him. Because I can.
It's not Jada's fault. He just bought a hot beat. The shoe could have been on
the other foot and Alchemist could have sold it to me after he sold it to Jada,
feel me. Either way, Alchemist broke the code of producers in hip-hop: "Don't
play a beat anymore if it's sold."
you rather have timeless material or a platinum record?
Ras Kass: I want
the topic, what do you think about Canibus joining the U.S. Military? And what's
the status of the Horsemen (the unreleased project with Ras, Canibus, Killah
Priest and Kurupt)?
Ras Kass: I don't
have an opinion about Canibus joining the military. The status of the HRSMN
(Horsemen)..... (doesn't finish)
other words would you like to add or tell your fans awaiting your return?
Ras Kass: Thank
you for every positive word, letter and thought I've received through my entire
career. Hope I can finally get knee deep into what I love doing - recording
hip-hop records, and I hope I can positively affect others with those records.
Oh one last thing,
fans, homies etc... can write me at firstname.lastname@example.org
my team will get it to me. Peace!