Legendary Tajai of Souls Of Mischief and member of the Hieroglyphics crew has a rap career that spans over two decades. Most non-hip hop heads will know him for the classic “’93 Til Infinity” track. But for those of us who are hip hop enthusiasts, we know the deal.
We recently sat down with the Oakland native and discussed his two latest projects — Rap Noir and Trap Noir. Each album were produced entirely by MR. Know It All and Unjust. And we also discussed which emcees he is feeling as well as his new venture — his own Hibiscus Hotel.
Scroll down to get to know more about Tajai…
Tajai you’ve been a busy man this year dropping two projects ‘Rap Noir’ and ‘Trap Noir’. What was the inspiration behind the two projects?
I wanted to create something different from the norm that folks are used to listening to.
I like them both. I like the fact that it’s the exact same, but they sound totally different.
How did you link up with Unjust and Mr. Know It All?
Unjust had already worked with us and I like how his beats are real cinematic. Mr. Know It All was part of a group I put out. His music is great. I could probably put out the record we did ten years ago and it would still sound current.
Let’s talk about your hotel Hibiscus Garden. I’ve seen the photos; looks amazing. How did you get involved in this?
I’m into real estate and always looking for other ways to travel and not waste money. Plus looking for a place to retire. I’m 43 and my kids are grown. I’m thinking long-range. I stumbled across this place and the family decided to sell it to me. It’s been rolling ever since.
How did you get into architecture design?
I don’t know man. As a kid playing with logos, Tetris, and drawing things, it just progressed. Plus I went to school to get the certifications. Hip hop paid for all of that.
In the near future would you expand on your hotel brand to other locations?
Yes, I want to master this one first before I look into different locations. I’m looking at Kenya and Cape Verde in the near future.
The Souls of Mischief’s “’93 Til Infinity” cassette was blue. This was done two years before Raekwon’s Purple Tape released. Who’s idea was it or was it just something that happened?
It was between us and the label.
Take us back to the session for “’93 Til Infinity”. What was the vibe like that day?
It was towards the end of making the album and A-Plus made the beat. He was going to give it to Pep Love and Jay Dizzle. When we heard it, we said nah man. And we bogarted it. We knew it was gonna be a hit, but not like this. And sustained us the rest of our lives.
How does it feel knowing that record is solidified in hip hop forever?
It’s a good feeling, but I like the fact we’re still making current music. It’s awesome that we have that platform, but I’m not trying to rest on that because it’s not better than what we’re about to do.
As an MC, who inspired you?
Too short, Rakim, Big Daddy Kane, LL Cool J, Kool G Rap, Melle Mel, KRS-One, Lord Finesse.
Which MC or MCs have your attention right now?
Black Thought, Casual, Nipsey Hussle, Jay Rock and the whole TDE.
Off top of the head, who are your top five favorite MCs?
Rakim, Kool G Rap, KRS-One, Big Daddy Kane, LL Cool J.
What are some of your other interests outside of music?
Design. Art. I do a lot of drawing, traveling, and actually enjoying it instead of staying in the hotel getting ready for a show.
What do you want to be remembered for the most?
Ill rhyme patterns, ill rhyme schemes, pushing the envelope and the culture forward. As for Hieroglyphics, I want us to be remembered as pioneers.