The Reavers: Hard Times

The Hip-Hop supergroup is formed as needed. Diggin’ in The Crates arrived to attack stagnant production. The Wu-Tang Clan swarmed to return the ruggedness into raps. While individually, The Reavers may be unknown to many, this group of established underground artists united with social and musical cause. Vordul Megallah, Akir, Kong, Spiega, Dom Pacino, Billy Woods, Hasan Salaam, Karniege, Keith Masters, Priviledge and Goldenchild are The Reavers: Revolutionary Emcees Advocating their Voices on Everyday Reality’s Struggle.

At the tail-end of a historically baffling and equally tragic year, the group claims to be a reflection of the times. Their debut, Terror Firma, the Killarmy, Cannibal Ox, and Monsta Island Czar alums connect with to present their argument, and celebrate their diversity. Considering that you guys come from different backgrounds, was it hard creating a cohesive unit?

Kong: No, actually it was fun.

Akir: Not only did it build unity within the group, but we were feeling each other’s verse. I could be on a song and be like, “Who’s that?” and they’ll be like, “That’s Hasan Salaam,” and I’m like, “That dude is crazy.” Listening to the album, it’s obvious that you guys also come from different spiritual teachings. How did that play out once you hit the studio?

Billy Woods: Everybody just spit their life and their experience and what they know about, so instead of trying to make people conform to one another everybody just did their thing.

Spiega: I think what drew us together is everybody on this team, we’re all pointing in the same direction - tired of the ice, the rims…you know the garbage, whereas we’re more aware of everything that’s going on around us so it’s like one man is an island, every man has his own thing but to get anywhere, any smart person knows to get a team. We’re rappers coming from different backgrounds or whatever, but we’re all looking and feeling and desiring the same thing.

Karniege: Everybody’s just hungry, and just wants to get similar points across even though we all come from different backgrounds. I feel it’s all the same difference like everybody got a different struggle like one dude might do the 9-5 and another dude’s hustle is 9-5 on the block. It’s all the same difference.

Hasan Salaam: The problem with Hip-Hop nowadays is everybody from somewhere else is acting like there’s only one plate for everybody to eat on. It’s like I’m trying to run and snatch this man’s food and steal a fan or something, like somebody can’t cop more than one disc a year but on the level of spirituality, that’s my personal business. I’m Muslim, this man might be something else but we’re all relating by a sense. We’re all oppressed people, we’re all Black men, we’re all relating on that level. We’re all struggling, we’re all rhyming and we all love Hip-Hop. Okay, so you love Hip-Hop but what do you dislike about it?

Akir: The bulls**t that bothers me is it seems like in this overwhelming marketing culture, if you don’t talk about somebody committing a violent act or selling drugs, or pimping some shorties out, you’re not going to make this money.

Spiega: Now it’s all about who has the most drama. Gore, drama and murder, all that s**t sells. The album artwork seems to be saying a lot, but it’s a little intimidating. It’s a group of Black dudes in fitteds, hoodies, and strapped with ammunition and arsenals. What’s up with all the intimidation?

Billy Woods: That’s the world we’re living in right now. With the artwork, it’s supposed to be a group of child soldiers, which is supposed to represent a lot of different things and also what’s going on in the world. It wasn’t even supposed to look like it was in the Middle East, it just morphed into that by the artist doing that.

Karniege: You got cats in timbs, Adidas with bent laces…that’s Hip-Hop right there don’t get it twisted. That’s what makes this whole thing dope. It says a lot without having to say much because when you look at it, it says, The Reavers with a bunch of people here and somebody writing Terror Firma [on the ground]. So there’s a lot being said by just physically catching a visual of it, but actually listening to the project takes it to a whole ‘nother plain or plateau. Apparently, you were brought together by Backwoodz Studios. How did that work, and why were you chosen?

Billy Woods: The project didn’t become what it was until later on. Kong and Spiega were some of the first people who started recording, then Akir, and then Hasan came through. Karniege was always down with Vast [Aire] and I had known Vast for a while so I was like let’s get at Karniege. Also, Vordal had been with Backwoodz since the inception doing all sorts of stuff so he was naturally in the mix as well as Privilege and Keith Masters. So, a lot of people have sort of been floating around that just kind of coalesced. Everybody was real hungry and the people made it real easy. The only hard part was deciding what [songs] to cut. The album is called Terror Firma Vs. Terra Firma [the Latin phrase], which is an interesting concept. Who came up with that?

Billy Woods: I came up with that title a long time ago. It was just a matter of finding something worthy enough to use that title on because it has to be like that. What makes the project “like that?”

Billy Woods: It’s interesting to know there was no real sense of you have to write this or do this and that. Everybody came with their own thing, from their own perspectives, and brought that to life naturally.

Goldenchild: That’s the beauty of the project…it’s just here. You would think we were all in the studio doing it together and it didn’t happen that way. People came and dropped their verses and before you know it the track was together and it was like damn it just works. What can people expect from such a unique project?

Billy Woods: I think that you can expect to hear is basically the future of East Coast, underground Hip-Hop.

Akir: The thing that really made this project very special is that people will reflect on this and be like wow all these people from different backgrounds and different camps came together to do that. That’s a powerful thing. Nobody’s really seeing that many talented emcees come together and collaborate since Wu-Tang Clan or something like that.

Kong: Listen to the album. You’re definitely gonna say there are no two rappers on the album that sound the same. Everybody has their own flow, and that’s real. We’ll let listeners hear the album to get your own jewels. But as social-minded men, does George Bush hate Black people?

Karniege: Black people hate Black people [there ’s no unity].

Spiega: I say no, as long as he’s making the money. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Bush sitting next to Spike Lee at a basketball game because Bush may have his own line of sneakers and Michael Jordan decided to endorse him. But other than that, if [a Black man] ain’t got on camouflage and in the Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force fighting for him, then no, Bush doesn’t like a Black person.