HHP Interview with R.A. the Rugged Man (20 mins)
hear snippets from the album, and BUY IT here: R.A. the Rugged Man
alright… we’re good now…
So what’s good R.A.? Let me know first of all, how’s Nature Sounds doing with the album?
- Everything’s goin good, you know, we’re a small operation, but we’re not tryin to do, ya know, interscope numbers. We’re just trying to do enough (to) where we can make a profit and get back in the studio and pay bills… and you know, keep music coming. We’re doing really good.. the music game is hurting right now, and we’ve actually knocked out a lot of copies and cats are buying the records, and we’re doin i. We’re doing what we want to do.
Ya, that’s for sure.. “Lessons” is actually bangin on the college radio right now, its probably one of the hottest ones on radio. I also heard there’s a lessons video out.. so what’s Nature Sounds doing with this.. are there any updates?
- well the lessons video is banging… and it’s got a cameo from Vito Antuofermo, the ex middleweight champion that fought marvin Hagler twice. He’s from the Godfather part 3, and Goodfellas, he had a little part in it.. we had Mitch Blood Green in the video, Sadat X in the video, and we wrapped that up a week ago.. we had a rough version out there, but the real version just got wrapped up, .. its a dope ass video with alot of visuals in it, and it’s not rated X for god damn sake, you know?
Alright… speaking of X-rated videos, you gotta explain this to me.. I’m just hearing rumours float around
- Well, I don’t have a pornographic video where my cock is inside women, but i have you know, softcore, lots of titties, lots of pussy, you know.. no cumshots.
Is this in collaboration with your music career? (unanswered… haha)
- I got X-rated movies i did with girlfriends and shit, but those aren’t released… but the shit we got we’re about to put it out right now on the internet. a 3 minute piece from the video was supposed to be on my DVD inside the album, but it fucken.. it never came out
What, they weren’t trying to put it out?
- It was supposed to be on the album, yeah, but it didnt come out.
Let me get some background information on you, for anyone that hasn’t heard too much. You started rappin about ‘86… close to 20 years later, your album drops. Creating tracks like “Every Record Label Sucks Dick” and other various steps you made probably attributed to that, but why so long to drop your solo?
- Well, probably because of the song you just named, you know, thats a fact, that every record label does suck dick, so, I wasnt playing games with them… I didn’t care about them. I didnt care about putting out an album. 15 songs or 1 song, I’m still putting out music. I put a song out here, a song out there, I’ve been makin music for alot of years, and people have been getting my music for alot of years. Somebody wants to give me the right situation, I’ll put a record out, but until then I won’t put them out unless you know.. I own all of my songs on Nature Sounds, its a 50/50 split
I just want to make sure it’s clear that’s a really rare deal, and most people dont ever get that kind of opportunity.
- ya, so thats basically it.. its like “we can’t throw you 300,000 up front, but what we could do is give you.. to where you own your own god damn everything, and we just liscence it” so i said, “yo man, lets do it.”
let me get into some other shit here… you performed with some of hip hop’s legends including the notorious BIG. Since then, there have been quotes saying everything from “I thought I was the illest,” talking about you, to he (BIG) only did it for the money.. so I just want to know how the studio session went itself, and basically any kind of background you can give on that
- well who said something that ignorant, that he only did it for the money, because I recorded with biggie for NO money. I did songs with biggie, there was no money in the studio, and the second time when we recorded that dude (biggie) came to the studio did it for free without a payment – nothing.. and then what happened is we threw him a couple bucks on some “hey, no doubt, here ya go” on some “I had a budget shit, pay my man a couple bucks,” but this was at the time when Juicy was on the radio, and Unbelievable was on the radio and dude was gettin anywhere from 5-20 grand a verse, you know what I’m saying? Like “Yo, wassup”, “Yo, whatever you wanna do.” We would drive around listening to tracks together, listening to joints. We were two up and coming emcees. Biggie wasn’t big yet. Biggie wasn’t the big-time yet, I wasn’t the big-time yet, we were both dope rappers… so anybody ignorant enough to say that don’t know what the fuck they was talking about, and wasn’t on the scene, and should shut they’re fuckin mouth, cause you get punched in the face for that shit.
Alright, I’m glad we got to clear that up, and thats a big Fuck You going to cocaineblunts.com (and whoever their source is).
- It’s an ignorant ass site then, if that’s who the fuck said it. It’s an ignorant fuckin kid, and they can come try and see me.. you know? Where they fuck were they 11 years ago, when I was in the studio with Big? Where were they 12 years ago when I did the first record with Big? Where were they? They were nowhere in the scene they don’t know the fuckin industry, they don’t know the behind the scenes shit, they just know they are fuckin faggot little nerds, and they wanna give an opinion (on something) they know nothing about. Mad people, especially internet-wise, want to give uneducated opinions about shit, when they have no basis behind shit; they just wanna talk. It’s like “ohhhh I believe…” It’s like motherfucker, what you believe means nothing, because you are an ignorant mot herfucker with no knowledge. So don’t fuckin open your mouth, you know? Too many ignorant internet dudes… too many motherfuckers have opinons, and have not studied the artform, and know nothing about the roots and the history, and they just talk and talk and think they have the right to have opinions when they dont know the music
Thank you for that, thank you. Alright, let me get onto something that’s actually kind of related to all of this, producers and emcees alike, its kinda common to get rubbed the wrong way by artists when you’re in the lab with them all day… so I know you’ve probably had some friction with people; how do you deal with this, cause I mean cause it’s like a paid session, so what do you usually do when theres a conflict coming up between artists?
- Me vs. (other) artists?
Ya, I’m saying you personally: what do you usually do when theres a little friction going on in the lab?
- Well I really… rap artists never really approach me. I never had beef with rap artists, I’ve said foul shit about rap artists, i’ve dissed rap artists, but no one ever came up to me personally and confronted me and said “Oh, you said this about me, you said that, you dissed me in that magazine… (etc)” If I don’t like somebody’s music, I’m gonna say it. YOu know, if they wanna take it personal, they take it personal, but I’ve had conflicts with ignorant heads in parking lots, or you know like a dude at a show and you know… “my boy has beef with his boy, blah blah blah” but industry wise, not too many rap cats ever had beef with me, and part of that is because I don’t sell a crazy amount of records. You know, muthafuckas wanna have beef with 50 cause its publicity. Muthafuckas wanna have beef with Ja-rule because its publicity. Havin beef with me… that ain’t even gonna make page 6 in the daily news, you know?
Ya I got you, its all politics
- So why the fuck beef with a crazy muthafucka like R.A. when all it gets me is beef.. it won’t get me nothin else.. haha
Let me comment on this beef. I’m not gonna mention any names or anything, but theres basically some pretty big names biting your beat right now… how often does beatjacking really happen? How often does it happen to you?
- well alot of times in my career because.. see here’s the thing: when you’re an underground artist and the mainstream cats know that they’re mainstream, and that you’re not going there, they know that they can take little lyrics from you here.. a little beat from you there… little hook samples here, shit you did there, they can take from you, and no one ever really finds out on the mainstream, so you know… they like to do that. They like to listen to underground records and go “ohh.. whoa.. this is kinda cool for MY record.” It’s the same thing with filmmaking. Underground filmmakers make movies, and the big hollywood muthafuckas look at the little underground joints and go “Oh, thats kinda cool, I can do that in my film,” you know? Same shit, you know? So I’ve been jacked over and over by mad people that I’ve never met in my life and don’t even know personally, but you meet them sometimes 3-4 years later , and they know everyone of your lyrics and they are like “Oh, I’m a huge fan, I love you”
Let me ask you this: do you think these cats are running out of ideas, just getting lazy, or what, that they gotta be jacking other people’s shit when they’re already mainstream?
- Well, most of them didn’t start off with ideas. Most of them are just listening to the radio like “ohh, I wanna make some shit like this…” That’s why so much hip-hop shit becomes dated so quick, because once one style becomes popular, fuckin 900 dudes jump on that shit, and then that whole style becomes dated. You know, it’s like if mad cats came original, all kinda doing their own thing, there would be a lot more longevity for alot of the hip-hop you know? It’s not the originator’s fault, and I’m not talking about myself either, I’m talking about a lot of rappers. It’s not Rakim’s fault that when Rakim came out, you know, 1,500 rappers wanted to be Rakim, and stole his style and rapped like Rakim. It just happens in hip-hop, and it’s a sad thing. It’s like there’s not alot of originality, there’s one or two original cats per year, and that’s it. And those dudes are original, or at least original TALENTED cats. There’s alot of original untalented dudes that are just original and crazy, because they’re not talented anyways, they just do crazy shit to get attention. Cat’s that are original and talented are hard to come by; there’s (only) a few of them out there. You gotta kind of, you know.. cherish the moment, that then you got a real emcee that’s doing his own shit, you know, you gotta respect that shit cause there’s not alot of them.
yeah, much respect. Hey, let me ask you this too: Talking about starting from scratch and on the underground, you probably started off on some grimey equipment… so what’s the first equipment you actually started working on?
- Well the thing is, I went to a studio when I was 15, that it was some dude’s studio, that I didn’t ever know what the fuckin.. the studio equipment ever was, you know? Like, I never knew the technical side. I showed up, then they turned on the mic, do this for me, do that for me. I guess in about 91-92 I started paying a little bit more attention to the equipment and the Long Island Machine that everybody had, you know.. Eric Sermon, my producer Martis Isles, was called the W-30, and Long Island was totally into that funk production type shit… they had these really funk-bass sounds. A lot of the dudes out in LI would rock the W-30.. a Roland W-30. I know it’s an ancient ass machine right now, but I know when we were younger kids, and we had a studio session, the producer would put the W-30 under his arm and plug that shit in, it was a board that they made beats on. Actually my man Martin Isle taught Eric Sermon how to use his, and Eric used his for mad years… not many are using it anymore, but a lot of people were rocking that shit in LI for years.
Alright, so you started at least on some humble equipment, but you’ve also been in some of the hottest studios, so do you really think there is a huge difference, talent aside, from recording in a bathroom that’s been trea- ted a little bit with a nice mic as opposed to going to a multi-million dollar studio?
- Umm.. yeah. Yes. I know underground cats don’t wanna hear that, but it’s not just the equipment, it’s the fuckin educated engineer, you know that just has the fuckin magic touch. He’s got the mic sounding crystal clear, and the beat sounding like you’ve never heard it before, you get behind that god damn mic, behind the beautiful board, and WOW… you’re like holy shit, you know, the shit feels.. you know. It’s the feel.. and it’s just coming out of you and it feels warm and nice. You know it’s like sometimes you will be rocking up in some dusty ass crib studios, and like the reverb is crazy, and the headphone ain’t feeling good, and the mic is… you know, you can still spit, but sometimes a comfortable, nice sounding studio does let you spit your shit a lot better. The average cat won’t know the difference because they don’t really give a shit you know, they’re like “Hey, he’s a rapper,” but you know, when you are an artist doing it for a lot of years, and you’re used to working in shitholes like I am, and you get one of those big rooms with the warm mic, and the nice, dope engineer making your shit sound ridiculous… you appreciate it, and go “wow, I wish I could really work like this 60 hours a week in this god damn room, and I might be doing better stuff.” Even more important than that in the recording aspect is the mixing.. you know if you get one of those bangin ass rooms with a fuckin no-nonsense engineer to mix your record, you will see a 1,000,000 times difference. You get one of those cats that really really knows how to fuckin mix down a record, you they’ll take one of your beats.. you won’t even recognize the beat no more… like you’ll recognize the beat, but it’ll sound like something you never could have imagined it sounding this big. You know, that’s what some of their jobs are. Those engineers are hard to come by too… most engineers are CLOWNS.
So, sorry to break the news to any of the do-it-yourself producers out there, but I guess having a quality engineer on set with some education in the background is kind of an essential part to the process.
- Well not just the education, but a tight ass ear too. Where a dude has not just the education, but has the fuckin ear where he knows “well, this is a little funny..” and he just gets everything sounding perfect.. so there can be some ghetto ass producer that has a great ear, and he’s in a shitty room, he can still get a better sound than someone that has no ear and no talent in a big room, you know? There’s both sides of it. ya,
I guess talent plays the biggest factor in all of it, for everyone concerned.
- The best studio in the fuckin world, and you give him a year in that studio, he’ll be the king.
Let me ask you a couple questions about the album coming out… first of all you didn’t have too many guests on it. You chose to pick Wu-Fam. Masta Killa, Timbo King, Killah Priest… is there a reason you chose these cats above anyone else?
- Cause you know, wu-tang cats is you know… that’s, you know…. (I think we all know what R.A. means). Masta Killa is a good street brother; when he spits he means what he says, delivers that shit. Timbo King’s a good brother from Brooklyn, he means what the fuck he says. You know, it’s just like these dudes came from it, they lived it, and a guy like Killah Priest, he says some off-beat street poetry shit.. they are all just good brothers, and I got a good relationship with all of them cats. It was more of a “Let’s just make some good music” shit. “Yo, you think I could get a 16 bar from so-and-so?” and they were like “yo, let’s go make some music.” So it was a nice vibe, and I think music has alot to do witha vibe, you know?
I’m glad to hear you are making it for the music. The album’s out, you’re happy with how it’s doing so far, what’s next on your plate?
- Well, for this year I’m moving this record. “Die Rugged Man, Die” is right now on the plate, so there’s nothing next. I stay writing rhymes, I stay doing my thing, but for right now it’s “Die Rugged Man, Die.” I got a whole bunch of projects in the works, a little book deal i got, a little movie deal i got, like little low-budget shit… of course I got cats wanting to make new songs with me, and I’ll be playing some beats and writing rhymes, but right now the important thing is this “Die Rugged Man, Die” album, I gotta get it exposed. There’s alot of dudes that don’t even know the record is out there. I’m not looking to get
Nelly exposure, but I want to get it in the hood a little more. I want all the kids in junior high schools, all the black kids in junior high schools and the hoods to know this record is out. I don’t want it to be just some internet shit.. I want to let everyone to know that this shit exists.
Let me ask you one more question to wrap things up on a producer related thing… if cats were trying to send tracks to you, or any emcee basically, what’s the kind of shit you try to look for?
- It’s funny man… alot of beats that I pick are (… technical problems …) bangin drums, nice little bassline, nice little loop or whatever the fuck they wanna put on it, just some fun, nice sounding shit.. so then when I put my hardcore shit on top of that, I’m making a hardcore record out of a nice track.. a cool track. I don’t like the hard tracks, I like to make a nice cool track hard by spitting on it, you know?
Well shit man, I gotta thank you for doing this interview, so I’m gonna let you know.. and keep us posted on anything new in the works for R.A. but until then, I’m gonna make sure all these cats start buying this album.
- Yeah, everybody go buy that muthafucka, and DON’T DOWNLOAD IT. You know what a funny thing is, I seen on a fuckin site, somebody was like “Yo, it’s the best album you’ll ever hear, Die Rugged Man, Die, you have to download it, it’s great!”
So what’s the main outlet you are moving these records out of?
- Best Buy, Amazon, all of that shit.. distribution’s nice, but we could up the units a little bit more. I hear a lot of people call me back like “Yo, I went to the store and couldn’t find it,” like alot of the records are being sold out, and not being replaced.
Is there anything the fans of your music can do about that? Can they request that from anywhere?
- Well, here’s the deal.. when you’re a big company, you throw about 10-20 copies out to each store, but when you’re a small company the stores only take 2-3. So when the 2-3 sell out, the record ain’t there no more. You gotta be like “Yo, can you get me the R.A. album?” It’s also the distributor’s job to call all the stores and say “yo, do you have this in stock?” You know, DON’T GO DOWNLOAD IT!.
Nah, fuck anyone thats trying to download this R.A. album instead of buying it for $10-12 for the hottest shit that’s probably gonna drop in 2005. Good lookin’ out R.A. I appreciate the interview, I’ll get back with you for more updates, peace.
- Cool brother, peace.