One of the fiercest MC’s
to ever grip the microphone is the Soul Father Rasco. The beautiful mind who
is often quoted for his line, “My mind shines harder than your chain”
has been grinding away for a decade, and been making records for over half.
One of the leaders
in the Bay Area movement, Rasco’s debut Time Waits For No Man
is largely considered one of the major independent releases of the “Underground
But while the times have
changed, Rasco truly hasn’t. His focus is still making ground-breaking,
defiant, and revealing records - and running a budding label. Fresh from a show
with KRS-One, AllHipHop.com caught up with Rasco to discuss the re-release of
his classic, the continuous comparisons to Rakim, and even a few more off-topic
jewels that may surprise you more than you ever imagined.
Some cats are doing it with
help, but regardless – Rasco will always be the unassisted.
AllHipHop.com: I see you
re-released your classic on your label this time. How’d you pull that
Rasco: We came
to an agreement on that, and I was already puttin’ stuff out – you
know, reissued stuff on my label. I just got a deal with Caroline [Distribution],
and was making everything available, and wanted to be sure Time Waits For
No Man was available.
AllHipHop.com: You had some
label troubles after that album. I was always curious as to why you never stayed
with Stones Throw, considering your album was a key player in their foundation.
Rasco: It was just, I felt
like I wanted to start building something myself at that point. I learned a
lot of stuff from [Peanut Butter Wolf], so he was going one direction, and I
was going one direction, not really on no beef. It was just, I wanted to have
a label after I was doing this.
AllHipHop.com: Are there
any bonus treats on the re-release?
Rasco: Yeah, it’s
got two remixes on there that we did back then. It has a Lord Finesse remix
on there, and a 45 King remix that we did back then, that wasn’t available.
AllHipHop.com: For an “underground”
MC, to be able to release an album says a lot. Non-Phixion and Jedi Mind Tricks,
that’s like Platinum status. How do you feel to be able to put out an
album less than five years old, back out. That’s gotta be great.
Rasco: It feels good because
I had a lot of people asking if it was available anymore and different stuff
like that, so that makes you feel good. But the way I look at it man, is, it’s
kinda a double-edge for me because I’d like to be able to add something
else to that. I want everything to be that way. I look at it as, “How
can I get that status back?”
Now that time has passed, what made that your most successful album in your
opinion, as opposed to an Escape from Alcatraz or Cali Agents?
Rasco: I think the reason
it is, it was just a different time then. You didn’t have as many people
out with records. You didn’t have a lot of cats out. You had Company Flow,
myself, Defari, Dilated. We was at the beginning of the whole thing. Now, it’s
a little bit different. And then, if you try something a little bit different,
people may not accept it, or it just may not come out the way that you expected.
If somebody now can tell me that I was better then than I am now, I don’t
believe that. I didn’t know what I was doing on that record. Maybe that’s
a perfect lead in to your fan base. How does your following differ on the coasts?
Because frankly, you have mass appeal in the East.
weird because with the Cali Agents, the top market for us was New York, then
L.A., [then] San Francisco. But on my stuff, it always flips around. It’s
like, L.A., then New York. So I don’t know if it’s the addition
of [Planet] Asia that helps it with Cali Agents on the East, but’s always
those three cities.
AllHipHop.com: We talked
about your recent work as overlooked. One recent track that I really liked was,
“My Life.” It has a timeless hook. You rarely hear the hook get
love in the underground, but for such an intimate track, what made you write
Rasco: One day I was watching
Donahue, and it’s funny because it was [also] on the Dave Chapelle Show,
but dude was talking ‘bout angry White men. It was dudes talking about
Black people taking their jobs. I was like, “Wait a minute. Where the
Hell these dudes yappin’ from?” So let me just write as, it’s
my life. But it’s also my life as a Black man and the way that I see things.
Just how I see Black men in America.
AllHipHop.com: One thing
about Bay area cats is…in the liner notes, you’ll see a group like
Latyrx shout out gangsta dudes like San Quinn or Brotha Lynch Hung. I always
marveled at that beautiful Hip-Hop unity. How does that come into play with
Rasco: Back when I came
out and a little bit further, you had Hobo Junction and the Living Legends and
Blackalicious and Hieroglyphics, and everybody had their own thing, and we’d
support each other. I always liked the Bay area for that. Then you have people
like San Quinn and Messy Marv who are dudes who know that they don’t do
what you do, but they like what you do. It’s never been like, “Aw,
these n*ggas are backpackers.” It’s always just been, “I’m
really feelin’ what you doin’.” For that reason, it’s
been good. A little bit of that [Bay Area unity] has been lost with people goin’
away and movin’ to L.A.
AllHipHop.com: The Rakim
vocal tone comparison is something you must get a lot. How do you take it? I
would take it as a compliment.
Rasco: Yeah, man.
I mean, if you talkin’ ‘bout tone? Yeah. But that other, non-lyrical
stuff? But I appreciate just to be mentioned like that. I don’t mind,
voice-wise. Lyrically, he’s in a class by himself. If somebody was ever
sayin’ that s**t. To me, that’s coppin’ a line.
AllHipHop.com: A lot of
writers have called you an “Angry MC.” I think it’s in your
delivery. But how you do deal with that claim?
Rasco: I’m not angry,
man. Maybe when I started, I was a little bit more, MC kinda [braggadocious].
I feel like it works against me, kinda. I feel like the crowd now is more White,
suburban kids than it’s ever been. So I think that they want a little
bit of edge, but if you give too much edge, it’s something kinda abrasive.
Whereas dudes in the hood wanna hear something that’s a little more aggressive.
Their situation is more aggressive. That’s why somebody like DMX can do
well in the hood, because he’s spittin’ with that anger that a lot
of brothers is feelin’. That’s why if I was to go over and play
Atmosphere in the hood, they wouldn’t be feelin’ him, not even Atmosphere,
if I go play somebody that’s Black. If I went over and play Kweli, some
areas, n*ggas ain’t gonna be feelin’ it just because. I’m
not sayin’ it, ‘cause I love him. I’m just sayin’ that’s
just how it goes. Me rhyming the way I do has hurt me more with the fan base
that I’m subject to, that comes out and sees me. It hurts me in that area,
always been pretty loyal to West Coast production. Is that you making a statement,
or simply taste?
Rasco: You know what it
is, man? All these dudes that I’m workin’ with, I feel are talented.
I’ve worked with people on the East or Midwest. From Molemen in Chicago,
to Beatminerz in New York, to Jake One out here. I feel like those people are
bringing something out of me. Jake is doing my whole next album. I’m gonna
go that route for once. We both just sit there and him as the producer, and
me as the MC, and put together a complete work. He’s gonna be able to
sit down, hear my vocals, freak the beat around my vocals, and make it a complete
song. Those dudes are bringing things out of me.
So that, The Cali Agents EP just dropped, you’ve got the re-release, what
else is on your plate?
Rasco: What I
just finished was The Minority Report. It’s a compilation [on Pockets Linted], like 20,000 Leagues Under the Street. It’s got
me and Asia on there, Jean Grae, Phil Da Agony, a lot of cats on there. That’ll
be out August, 10th.
AllHipHop.com: Last question
for the boys of summer, is your boy Barry Bonds using steroids?
Rasco: Know what? A good
friend of mine grew up with him and is good friends with him; business partners.
He seems to think, he seems to know that he is.
AllHipHop.com: Oh, wow.
Rasco: Yeah, it’s
crazy. Yeah, ‘cause these dudes are tight, tight. I went to school with
Bobby Bonds, Jr. So we all grew up in the same area, outside of San Francisco.
He seems to think that he is. For him to say that, is crazy. If anybody would
know, he would know. But [who knows] with this new stuff.
for No Man
is in stores now.