Ever since he came out of the gate with the lyrically acclaimed debut, Soul On Ice, Ras Kass has been a tour de force from dropping solid projects to working with acts, such as Dr. Dre, Canibus, DJ Premier, being a part of the Jamo Gang supergroup to also appearing in films like Rhyme & Reason and I Got the Hook Up. The Waterproof Emcee recently released the sequel to his debut and is back with the first entry in what he calls Vinyl Playlist with the release of ‘I’m Not Clearing Shxt.’ The exclusive vinyl only 11 track project is being bolstered by the visuals of the focus song, “5 Mikes,” which pays homage to the coveted album rating from The Source Magazine.
First of all, congratulations on this new venture of yours. It’s obvious you were never one to play by the industry rules. But what are your thoughts on the way the industry is shifting in this digital era where the focus is on instant gratification and is highly numbers driven?
The music industry, like all businesses, was always numbers driven. The only differences are that before the digital age, rap and R&B was skill-driven. Now things are Vibe/Swag or Lifestyle driven. It’s more hype than talent.
That and also the ability to promote a record was limited. It was more regional. Promoting a song took more time to than just immediately going viral 1 day on the Internet. Early on there was no unilateral consensus of what was a “Hit Record” or “Hot.” And that left the playing field open for lots of variety in the genre. Now that commercial rap/trap is established worldwide, as the most successful, it’s made it harder to be creative or individual sounding and still garner mainstream attention.
The project has some production Gods like, Hi-Tek, Havoc, Khrysis, PA Dre, and even your longtime collaborator Omid G. What was the rationale behind working with these producers? Was it a case of you directing them in terms of sound or the other way around?
It’s like making a meal. Different projects require different ingredients and sometimes different chefs. These were the chefs who helped me make the dinner I had envisioned.
In some many cases, we built the music around the song concept, which is technically backwards. It’s like reverse engineering a record. But all these Kings were down to help me do that. Super grateful.
As a huge Masta Ace fan, I found it amazing with you two working together. If you could describe Masta Ace in a few sentences, how would you go about it?
As a Legend who set the bar as a Lyricist, and to this day to actively do that with dope ass current albums, he’s the rare MC who just always has it. Skills sharper than ever. And He’s a good dude with good energy. Positive vibes. Ace is an Ace of Spades. ♠️
Let’s go to the past for a bit. We all know the story of the shelved Hrsmn project with Canibus, Killah Preist, and Kurupt. But what is the possibility of the original lineup working together again? Are you guys still in touch?
Supposed to be top secret, but I’ll give you the scoop. In 2021, we (Kurupt, Killah Priest, and Ras Kass) will release Black Steel in the Hour of Chaos narrated by Chuck D. with production by a who’s-who of A-list producers and a few select special cameos.
Another venture of yours, I wished took off, was the supergroup Golden State Warriors project with Saafir and Xzibit. Looking back. What do you think could have been done differently to make that work?
The working relationship with my record company had disintegrated too far. It had become a bad marriage to the point where they seemed to be intentionally sabotaging opportunities. Maybe if I hadn’t dug in and let them think I was grateful with their stupidity, they’d have stopped ruining me. Idk lol
You have always been trying out new things to push your music from the Quarterly freestyle series to A.D.I.D.A.S. and Barmageddon. What has been the driving force behind this, since you operate from an indie standpoint away from all the record label red-tape and restraints?
There’s not 1 strict recipe for success. I study, learn, and add new platforms to this ever-changing business. Plus I’m always open to learn from other people’s entrepreneurial spirit and integrate those things into my business model.
“5 Mikes” sees you taking it back to the pure essence of rap, while paying tribute to The Source’s legendary rating system amongst other things. Tell us about the “5 Mikes” title. Which Mikes are you are referring to and what album of yours did you think deserved the coveted 5 Mics rating?
The initial 5 “Mikes” are Tyson, Jordan, Jackson (s/o Biggie!) Mike Vick & Mick (Mickey) Mouse – they own Marvel and Star Wars so I had to give them a shout. But the song outro also names another 3 sets of 5 “Michaels.”
Soul On Ice was originally supposed to get 6 Mics after Illmatic received the first 5. My album wasn’t actually released until over 1 year later. That’s what destroyed my Mic rating. I think Apollo Brown and I deserve 5 Mics for the Blasphemy LP and Soul On Ice 2 is worthy. Modern Classic. Best Rap album of 2019 and 2020!
“5 Mikes” is also available to stream on your favorite DSP (Click Here)
Who would you pick for a Verzuz – pre Thriller Mike or post Thriller Mike? And who would you put him up against?
Easy! Post Thriller Mike Versuz same era Prince.
Give us your top 5 NBA greats?
Wilt Chamberlain, Lebron, Shaq, Jordan, and R.I.P. the good brother Kobe Bryant. 🙏🏾
Who would be your ideal dinner guest, living or dead, and what would you serve them and talk about?
God, Jesus, and Satan. We would eat a NY plain slice (Margarita Pizza) with some Fiji waters, and we’ll obviously get that Jesus IG photo to prove he’s of African decent and therefore racially a Black man. By extension his dad, God, is Black with us (huemans), biblically being made in his image and likeness. We’d discuss the crucifixion, resurrection, and Judgement Day. Also need to know what’s up with Bigfoot, Alien Life, and why you can’t put a pair of socks in the dryer without one always mysteriously disappearing?! 🤷🏾♂️
Looking back, what have been the most important moments in your life so far?
Everyday is the most important day of my life. And then, one day, I won’t be here anymore. R.I.P. Chadwick Boseman. Fuck 2020 and fuck cancer for killing the Black Panther.
If there is one thing you want listeners to take from INCS (I’m Not Clearing Shxt), what would it be?
Pre-orders for INCS begin September 24th (Click Here)
Listen to Ras Kass’ entire catalogue on Apple Music
And the list goes on and on and on…