Hey R.A.! Thanks for making time to chat... So, you've been in the hip hop game for a long time.. Since you were about twelve years old, right? Back then, Hip Hop was only just starting to emerge. So what was it about rap music that made you want to get into it at such an early age?
I was just a little white kid growing up in Long Island; I liked the realness of hip hop... I started hanging out with other kids who were rapping and they took me from neighbourhood to neighbourhood out in the islands then I started seeing all the other rappers in Long Island blowing up. You know the guys that were older than me, the EPMD's, the Dey La Souls', the Public Enemies'.. And I was a little kid and I thought, wow this could be something that could be a reality out here, you know.
You've worked with some of hip hops most legendary artists like my fave Notorious BIG... What does it feel like to have worked with people like that? I mean he is considered rap royalty!
Well, they are just regular human beings to me. You know I work with a lot of incredible artists, so some rappers have iconic status in history and some rappers don't but it's always, ah.. it's more about who's the biggest threat to me when we get on a track together.
Sometimes ah, a guy like Biggie was all about voice and flow, it just sounded ill, and we made a little sex record, you know, we made a couple of songs. They was ra-ra wile out type grunge, you know, dirty whore type shit, you know?
We wasn't trying to be massacring rappers on it, so it wasn't a real threat. Sometimes I might work with a rapper that's lesser known, and it leaves an even bigger impact; like holy shit, this rapper scares the shit out of me! And I have to go even harder!
I heard your track with Dizzy Wright - produced by DJ Hoppa when it came out a couple of weeks ago. Everyone's really liking the Funk Volume stuff over here.. Was it good to work with them?
Yeah. A few years back, 2011 maybe, Dame (who owns Funk Volume with Hop), hit up my website. And he said, "Hey I'm trying to get all the big indie artists together. To kind of work with each other."
And he's a great guy. You know, I've worked with several of the Funk Volume people, Jarren Benton, Hopsin, Dizzy Wright and...I like working with people who have their own sound and their own vibe. And I like to hop on that vibe and kind of show you that I can do any style. I just don't want to be a ra-ra punch you in your face rapper. Or I don't want to be just a fast speed rapper or the lyrical, you know ah, historical, you know, knowledge rapper. I want to do every genre of emceeing that I can, to show the world.
So, Hopsin is more the playful, you know he's got the little bouncy flow.
Dizzy Wright has a little bit more, you know, kinda life of how you live, you know, say what is kinda going on and how he lives.
Look this is just my interpretation.
And Jarren Benton is more the ah, ferocious one.. You know, if you're not on your game, Jarren will come with the threat, he's a little bit of a mind threat. I like all three of them, you know.
They have become very popular over here that's for sure.
Doesn't Hopsin keep threatening to move to Australia?
Yes, I'm not up on any recent goss, but I do know he was talking about moving over here to live closer to his beautiful girlfriend... She's from Sydney.
She's an Aussie? Cause there is a lot of temptation over there in that country. The girls are wild out there! A lot of beautiful wild women out there, so if he's going to go to Australia, to settle down with the one broad, I'm not sure how long he could last!
Ha ha ha! Too many gorgeous women huh! So, out of the dozens of artists you have recorded with....
Hold up, hold up! You girls... Australian girls, don't even have that reputation just in the music world. You know, my father... When he was in Vietnam, he had said that even as soldiers if you wanted ah... Slanty eyed girls was the Asians, you know, so if you wanted slanty eyed girls you'd go to like Thailand because they had they fly-est girls that you could 'get down' with. And he said that all the soldiers that were unmarried would either go to Thailand for the slanty eyed girls or to Australia for the round-eyed girls. If you liked white girls, all the soldiers would go to Australia to bang the pretty girls. And if you liked the Asians you'd head to Thailand to bang the pretty girls!
Hahaha sounds like your Dad knew were the ladies were at!
Yeah, that goes all the way back to Vietnam in my family.
Well we are just about to have ANZAC Day this weekend actually. That's our day to remember the people who fought in the World Wars. Must you have a lot of stories from your Dad from back at that time?
Yeah, he was a fun guy. He was rock n roll and drugs, drinking, gambling and women. He loved women.
I was reading somewhere that your Dad came into contact with Agent Orange during the war that had a big effect on your life, or I should say, your family's life?
That's the part of the war that he didn't love so much. Well ah, they didn't know until years later. But my father, he was flying over a lot of secret missions. A lot. Tonnes of them. He was a highly, highly, highly decorated war hero; he saved a lot of American lives; he saved a lot of soldiers. They'd fly over whenever the troops got caught out on enemy territory. They would have to fly my father in and rescue them, and get them out and back home, and all this stuff.
So ah, he flew into a lot of territories where the government was spraying the chemical called Agent Orange on the crops. And what it does is it kills the foliage and kills the fish in the water, so you can't hide in the woods and you can't eat the food. So that was the way they figured they'd beat the ground game. But they were spraying it, you know, and sending the soldiers into that, and yeah, it gets into your genes.
You know, for my father, not only did his two kids die from Agent Orange, but also one of his Grandchildren died from Agent Orange. So it didn't even just get into the genes where it affected his son and daughter; it also infected his grandchild. So we still don't know how long the effects of Agent Orange are going to last on the people that were hit with it. It's even worse in Vietnam. My father had it bad, but there are some people that it was sprayed directly over, they lived in it for years, so umm they're even in way worse shape than my father. And my father lost three of his immediate family, so who the hell knows how bad it is over there.
That's really scary. Really, really scary. Respect for your Dad.
Back to your music. Which of your collaborations would be your favourite do you think?
I always like to work with the super lyrical guys; I like ah when I did stuff with hell raiser from Sonja Man and Killer Preist and Tragedy, Kadafi, those guys always.. You know the younger kids are coming up with all these flows, you know, ba, da, ba, da, they got flows, but they ain't saying so much. You know when you get in the booth with guys like Tragedy or Kadafi, or Killer Priest or these lyrical guys, they saying some deep content. Hellraiser is one of the underrated guys lyrically, and his rhymes have a lot of history and substance. And I think that's why he's not as appreciated as he should be. Because his rhymes are a little bit smarter and deeper than what the average you know, the average brain dead person wants to try to listen to or understand, you know. So I like working with artists like that a lot. Oh and I love collaborating with Mr Green on the production side, I always love working with Green, he;s my new favourite producer for the last three or four years.
I'm sure he'd be happy to hear you say that!
He's heard me say it every time someone asks me that question. I'm always Green, Green! I'm a Green fan; I love working with the guy!
You seem to be well respected in the Hip Hop industry. But some white rappers seem to cop a bit of flack for busting in on a black movement. How do you feel about that? Has that happened to you?
Well, there are so many white rappers coming up right now. In the era that I came up, I was young in the game. I was real young. And ah, you had to respect the culture. You just couldn't come into the culture and feel like you didn't have to know the history. You had to know the history. You had to know who the icons and the teachers and the leaders were of the culture.
Today I feel like when they try to re-write history and act like it came out in '86 or '87 and there was no other history before that. And they try and eliminate Larry Smith, and try to eliminate Grandmaster Caz, try to eliminate Kold Krush and Kumo D and pretend like that didn't even exist. You know where all the greatest lyricists came from and everybody that rhymes great, and they rewrite history, you know? Just the most marketed are considered the G.O.A.T's (Greatest Of All Time), and all the greats that originated the craft and created it, a lot of them are struggling financially, and nobody shows them any type of appreciation. And the history books of hip hop are rewritten. So that's why black folks come in and say, yo they step on our craft. And we did cause the appreciation for the founders isn't um, you know, it's not there. So I understand that they feel that. You have some white emcees that didn't learn the craft so good and they just rhyming and because they have a white face, they selling a lot more. Or even the ones that learn the craft they selling more than everybody in history because they have a white face. And meanwhile the G.O.A.T's are struggling financially. They not given their due financially, so yeah the white corporation step in. So I am on the side of the 'yes this is a black culture.' Respect that and don't take the white privilege for granted, you know?
Yes for sure. I noticed you ran a competition for Definition of a Rap Flow... I had a listen to a few artists on there... You might have discovered a few stars, I reckon.... Were you impressed with the amount of talented entries you received?
Oh man! I was so happy man! Because when you do a rhyming contest, the worst thing you want to happen is not to find nobody that's great. You know, if I got a bunch of guys doing mediocre rhyme man, mediocre demos and ah, which is just what you don't want to find. I found so many dope emcees! And I had a lot of them just come to my crib and spit bars live. A lot of great emcees. And I found a future star! His name is All Flows Reach Out - AFRO!
Yes!! I saw him on there; he is amazing!
He's an unbelievable great emcee, very talented. I signed him to Thornburn records and we trying to work out the right situation right now. He's working with Mr Green. He's working with Marco Polo. He just did, basically a whole album with DJ Premiere. He definitely has a bright, bright future. If he's willing to work, he's going to make a lot of good things out of his life. So you know, as long as he stays on the right path. I think he's a good kid. I think he has a bright future. All Flows Reach Out!
And then, there was this group called Epidemic, who was ferocious with the bars.
And then this kid called Jarv, he just send me a video of him rhyming in the living room with his boys. And you know, some really technical flows..
I'm like wow, so much good competition in the world. And just the fact that I have a way to let these kids that have no shot of getting heard, I give them a little kick start or a little boost and I can do that for people. I like having that kind of power to be able to showcase the talent. Because a lot of people don't have the way to get heard, you know.
Well, you must be busy in the lead up to this new tour. When do you head over?
Well, the thing is I got to do a run in Europe first. I'm doing four dates in the US; just east coast dates really quick. Then I got a whole bunch of festivals I got to do. Then I leave from Europe to Australia on June 1st; then I do eight dates, six in Australia, two in New Zealand. And then they fly me back, twenty-four-hour travel time, to a festival in Germany. I get off the plane at 7.45 in the morning and they want me on stage that afternoon.
Wow. You're going to be one tired man!
R.A. The Rugged Man 'Shoot Me In The Head' Australian Tour 2015 Tour Dates
3 June Transit Bar - Canberra - ACT
4 June Woolly Mammoth Mane Stage - Brisbane - QLD
5 June The Game - Perth - WA
6 June Manning Bar -Sydney -NSW
7 June Laundry Bar - Melbourne -VIC
8 June The Gov - Adelaide -SA
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