interview RAS KASS (January 2005) | Interview By: Nima

Dubcnn.com had the amazing opportunity to be the very first media outlet to conduct an interview with Ras Kass after he touched down from jail. In this in-depth interview, Rassy talks about his time in jail, his current mindstate, his new recordings, the Priority situation, his upcoming mixtape & solo album, the Hip Hop game in general, the West Coast, his relationship with Xzibit, the 4 Horsemen project, and much much much much much more. We have the audio and the transcript available. Feel free to leave feedback: nima@dubcnn.com

Huge thanks to Ras Kass for taking time out to answer the questions fans wanted to know, and huge thanks to Naomi Watts (launch.media.group) for coordinating the interview.! (Interview was done by phone in January of 2005)

Questions Asked By : Nima

Ras Kass Gave Dubcnn.com A Shoutout! Check That Here

Full Interview In Audio : Here



dubcnn.com: What's happening Ras, I really appreciate you taking the time to sit down and talk to us. Let's start with the most obvious question... How are you feeling? How is it to be home?

Oh it's good man! It's definitely good, really happy to be home, happy to touch down, you know? That shit ain't no place for no human. I'm appreciative, cause there's some cats that ain't never coming out!

dubcnn.com: I don't really want to talk about your bid that much, but can you tell us if you, as a person, have changed while doing time?

Fundamentally no. It's still me. But it just gives you a different perception of using the opportunity you got. Because you know, it's people in there that ain't never coming out. Literally. Some dudes is going in and leaving in body bags. Some dudes is going in, and technically, they just gotta die and come back again before they can fulfill they obligation to the state. So you know, if nothin else man, you got a fighting chance when you on the street. And in there, you're just pretty much stuck. You can't do nothing. And that, that changed. My perception about what oppportunity I have, or what I have to do with it. And it just gave me time to really reflect, and sometimes shit is moving so fast on the streets you don't take the time to smell the roses. So I feel like sitting up in there, I got to look at and analyze the shit that I needed to do. And what I really realized is that I had all the resources I needed between the people, between my friends and my family. I got everything I need. I needed to take a time out to analyze it. And from there on, make the right decisions to get what I want out of it.

dubcnn.com: I was asking that, cause you know, alot of people become very religious after a prison term...

You know, I don't knock nobody, but that was one of my things. I didn't wanna go in there and turn into something I wasn't, because of fear or some other shit, you know? I didn't want to get scared into being a muslim, or... you know? And really, it's what cats in there always say, that all of a sudden, now you a muslim, all of a sudden you religious... You wasn't doing that shit on the streets! So, you know, I'm spiritual and I have my relationship with God, but, I don't think that that situation impacted it or changed it, but I'm definitely thankful to the Creator for pulling me through that situation, but nah, I'm just me, dogg.

dubcnn.com: So... drunk driving... Is it gonna happen again?

Uhhh.. that's not even a question to ask.. *laughs* I can't afford it, dogg!

dubcnn.com: You said you wrote tons and tons of songs in jail, have you started recording yet?

Nah, I haven't. I'm just glad to have alot of known and unknown sending me beats, and believing in me, so the process right now is just... getting the beats. I got alot of songs, and the next step is matching the production to the lyrics. And if not, writing new lyrics!

dubcnn.com: Did you recieve alot of fan mail? There was so much talk about you on the internet.

Oh yeah, yeah, it was a blessing, it was real cool, dogg.

dubcnn.com: Alot of rappers showed you support while you were in jail, how did you feel about that?

Well you know, I'm a good dude. You can ask me, or ask my momma, I'm a good dude. So it was good. You know with the fans, it was defintely positive. And then to compound it by the industry cats, and rappers, or people that I've come across, wether they were A&R's, or whatever, street team dudes that took the time out to write me. Because alot of times, that love ain't real. It's only when you doing something that alot of people fuck wit you. But it was alot of good people that really really showed me some love, and support. And it really showed me that they really did care about me or the person besides me as a rap dude.

dubcnn.com: Alot of industry people AND fans consider you the best MC out there... However you never had that mainstream breakthrough. Are you still trying to get there?

Yeah, of course. I think that's part of the natural evolution. From everybody, from 2Pac, to Mos Def, or Kweli, or whoever, you got new cats that's coming into the game... Everybody wants, you know, you wanna be rewarded from the support of the HipHop heads, but you also, you know, at the end of the day you gotta pay your bills. You wanna get that, you wanna get that recognition for what you've been doing.

dubcnn.com: So let's jump right into the big question.... What's the Priority situation?

I still can't really speak on it, cause it's still in legitations, but everything is looking too. So I'm just optimistic. I'll see, maybe, me doing a new deal, and coming out with something in the summer. That's my prediction.

dubcnn.com: Yeah that's what I was gonna ask, how long you think it will take for us to see a real Ras Kass solo in stores?

Yeah, it'll be like 6 months, I'll give it 6 months. I done waited damn near 2 years, so it's alright to wait another 6 months!

dubcnn.com: In the meantime you're getting ready to drop mixtapes... Tell us about them.

Oh yeah, I haven't even titled it, I don't know what I'ma call it. I just wanna touch the streets, you know, let out some of the shit I wrote. I just got alot of shit to get off my chest, and personally, no disrespect to anybody else, but it don't seem like alot of muthafuckas got anything to say. I've just been listening to shit, and I figured I want to put my 2 cents in it like I always did so far. I got alot to say, I'm trying to heat the streets up, give these cats a bar of what I'm dealing with.

dubcnn.com: What's your mindstate right now? What is Ras Kass gonna be rapping about?

Shit, life! I always did... Writing about my shit, shit I observe... You know, how shit isn't fair... *laughs* That pretty much sums it up... How shit isn't fair.

dubcnn.com: What beats are you going to be rapping over on your mixtapes?

You know, it's gonna be a mix, basically. I've always tried to reflect... I've got critisized for it but I don't give a fuck. But now I think that people can understand that you can do a real underground HipHop record, and you can do a club record, you can do a Down South record.. whatever! The plan is to always rap to beats that I like. I'm just trying to push the envelope and do something, especially from a West Coast artist, people wouldn't think I'd do. Cause West Coast aritsts are pretty much put in a box as far as what we can do. I wanna step outside that box. It's all evolution... You can strip any of my music down, from any time zone, and it's all the same shit. It's a growth, but the foundation of me is the same. So it's Sex & Violence, Vocabulary & Science, and an Uneasy Alliance, that's it!

dubcnn.com: In a song you said your goal is to put Scipio and 40 [Glocc] on. Is that still on?

Yes sir! Definitely. That's my family, I'm definitely pushing Re-Up Entertainment!

dubcnn.com: Yeah I just got off the phone with 40 Glocc and finished his interview before I called you!

Yup, fo sho, I'm about to link up with him in a little bit!

dubcnn.com: Scipio has been making a bit of a buzz lately, are you happy with the way his stuff has been going?

Yeah man! I mean I always want more, because I see there is a potential for more. But you know, just trying to set the foundation is important, and one thing I told him was that, if you got a foundation, and people respect your talent, then you know, you gonna have your hard times, but it's gonna all pay off, because you're not just a one hit wonder. I've always motivated him to get a foundation, people respect him as a lyricist, and from there it's gonna happen, it's inevitable.

dubcnn.com: 40 Glocc is with the Riflemen. Are you working with them too?

It's all family, everything is family. I hate to use this example but.. it's like Wu-Tang. It's true!

dubcnn.com: Which producers are you going to hook up with for your new stuff?

It's really up in the air. Shit from Rick Rock, to fuckin' Heatmakers, to unknown cats, I got this cat Embrio, he's hot. Lotta different dudes. And alot of peopel that reached out to me and wanna be a part of what I do, and support me. So whatever catches my attention, whatever I hear that's dope, I'm trying to use it! I'm trying to do some retro shit, rhyme some classic shit. For the mixtapes I'ma re-do some classics, and take some new joints too that's in the streets and that people are feeling! Get the Ras Kass version of it!

dubcnn.com: Are you going to be working with Dr. Dre again?

Yeah! Yeah! All that's taking place, that's all good. I don't if it's gonna be for a mixtape, but...

dubcnn.com: Yeah I'm just saying in future!

Yeah, definitely.

dubcnn.com: Has Alchemist reached out to you lately?

Yeah! He actually, when I was locked down... I don't even think he knew! I know he didn't know. I happened to be in Folsum and he was on the radio station in Sacramento, and he shouted me out! It was positive, you know. I don't have nothing against Alchemist, at all. It was cool that through this strange coincidence, my name came up in that conversation and I happened to be listening to the radio.

dubcnn.com: You've had alot of bad luck with labels... Are you gonna stay independent or give another major a chance?

Well I haven't necessarily had alot of bad luck with record labels..

dubcnn.com: Yeah it was just one of them..

I really only had one label. So I think I'm alright. I just didn't know. And at the time, I didn't have anybody to tell me. And I don't think nobody could've called it! But we didn't know that this wasn't the right label. They didn't know how to work me! I just wasn't fitting to the image of Gangster Rapper as a West Coast artist, so they didn't know how to market me, they didn't understand my music. And only reason why they fucked with me is cause I had a buzz! And I was trying to make the best decision at the time, and to this day, I can't regret it! It wasn't like I didn't think about it... I really thought it through, and I tried to pick the best situation. And obviously, or apparently, I didn't. But it's all relative man. It's funny cause Twista was pretty much stranded on Atlantic for... 8-10 years! And that's my friend and I watched him go through his struggles. And at the end, it took a long time, but they resolved it, and now he got succesful career! I guess they revamped the whole Atlantic thing, and it's just circumstances and what you do with them. I'm a firm believer that now, it's gonna work out. We don't really have problems, we just gotta figure out what to do. And this situation with me, I think it's best that I move on. I don't think this label is still competent enough to get me. But I'm sure there's other labels that get what I'm about and can do something with it!

dubcnn.com: What's up with the Horsemen project? have you been speaking to Canibus or Killah Priest?

I haven't talked to Priest yet, I talked to 'Bis on a regular basis when I was down. So I gotta reach out to him actually. And I just talked to Kurupt like a couple days ago. It's dope that Priest put that lil rough shit that we was doin', I'm glad that he kinda put it out there and kinda let the universe get a bar of it. But it's definitely gonna happen.

dubcnn.com: So it's still on.

Oh yeah, I mean... I think when we get together it's a sight to see... it's a sight to hear...

dubcnn.com: Yeah I heard the songs that leaked, and ya'll definitely gotta do something big with that... It's just too hot...

*laughs* Good lookin'. We definitely crazy, when we get in there, it's really a lot of pressure. But it's good pressure. It's like I know I'm around top notch lyricists. And we don't play that you can fix your verse shit. You just write it on the spot, and you lay it. And if you get 8, you get 8. So you gotta be on your P's & Q's when you get in that booth. And that's what I love about it. It's like being in a circle! *laughs* It's really like hoppin' up in a cypher and battlin'. Like one shot, and you fucking with some ruthless MC's! So I love that man, I'm looking forward to doing that!

dubcnn.com: What about the Golden State project?

Well the Golden State is always gonna exist, because first and foremost, Xzibit is one of my best friends. So I don't know, if it's gonna be the Golden State, or it may evolve into something.. some other title.. from my understanding I don't think Saafir is gonna be on it, so... I respect him though and I wish him the best.

dubcnn.com: Saafir is not gonna be a part of it?

Well he doesn't rhyme, period.

dubcnn.com: Oh yeah, I heard about that... Ya'll should get him back, just for this project!

Well you know, it's always a potential. We just gotta check with him. I'm definitely not saying that he can't be convinced to come back and do it. But you know, if you hear Xzibit, you gonna hear Ras Kass, and if you hear Ras Kass, you gonna hear Xzibit.

dubcnn.com: Have you hooked up with Xzibit since you've been out?

Yeah, that's family man. That's a given.

dubcnn.com: Although X has been in the spotlight, his record sales were very low... What do you think caused that?

Well I think once again man, if a label doesn't know what to do with you, or how to market you, those things happen! And they don't necessarily reflect if you're a good or bad rapper or whatever!

dubcnn.com: I know, but he was everywhere... A nr.1 TV show, he hosted the MTV awards.. all that!

Yeah, me, like I said, I was down. I wasn't around to really look at it, but from what I see to be perfectly honest, it's the machine. Because I didn't hear the record playing, neither one of the singles I didn't hear them playing where I was at. So that goes to back to your company. And it really has nothing to do with average joe, it has nothing to do with wether you got a hot record or not. This is a business. I hate to take the magic away from the average person, but, it's not about who got the best movie, or who got the best fuckin' song. It's about who got the best relationship to make sure this song or this record is being played. Or, who's gonna spend the money to promote this record, or this movie. It's all about basically fuckin' hypnotizing and making them say "hey I wanna see this movie or buy this record". And if you don't have the promotion, it's not gonna take off.

dubcnn.com: It's sad, but it's true...

Yeah, so I don't even look at it like that... And the best thing about it, talking to him, he's not really trippin' off that! He did the best job that he could, and maybe his company is not capable or competent to promote or work his project. And he's gonna go from there, focus on his shit.

dubcnn.com: He's probably paid off of Pimp My Ride anyway...

Oh yeah he's fine man, defintely. I mean the man is gonna be in fuckin' xXx 3, and all kinds of other movies, and I wish him the best. We gonna get the music shit together, it's just a process.

dubcnn.com: Are you going to be working with Strong Arm Steady?

You know, strong Arm Steady is all my homeboys, so of course. I'm not a part of the group... but I'm a part of the group! *laughs* That's my homies! It's all family, like I always say. It's all family. It's all relative doggy. It's really about you and the people you struggled with, and if you get the opportuniy, you try to put in that position, and vice versa. So the fact that he put together Strong Arm Steady, cause that's different homeboys, not necessarily that they knew and kick it with each other initially. He had a opportunity and he kinda pulled it all together. Like with Mitchy, being from San Diego. Phil & Krondon now they homies. They was homies before me and Xzibit met them! And that's like 8-10 years ago! It's a beautiful thing, all around!

dubcnn.com: In a interview, Daz said he wanted to put out a record on you independently... What happened to that?

Uhh I don't know! I mean I hear so many different things from Daz... I done heard some other shit where supposely he was talking shit about me. I don't know. My whole thing is, if it's business, if you wanna make something happen, holla at me, and it can possibly happen! But I never heard anything where somebody was trying to sit down and negociate anything.

dubcnn.com: You have a large following on the internet, do you check up on that yourself?

Yeah! Yeah! When I'm out! *laughs* I try to check in every now and again and shit. So I definitely plan on doign that now that I'm out, I wanna sit down and do a little... a little pow wow or something.. you know! I just wanna thank all of the homies! I don't really feel like they fans, they just homies! They took the time to write a cat, and it was a blessing!

dubcnn.com: What's your current mindstate? How is Ras feeling about the world right now?

In what sense?

dubcnn.com: Shit, outside the music world... Politics...

I.. I don't know! Litterally. I feel like some strange shit been happening to me, cause as soon as I touched down, it started raining in Califonia! Now I didn't know if that's a fucking sign or something.. *laughs* I don't know! I'm just feeling like the world is a oister man, and I got some obligations and shit I gotta deal with, being on parole. But it's gonna be good! I lived with killers for the past 2 years! And I did that! This ain't no ego shit, but that shit, no pussy, no nothing, shackles on your ankle, *laughs*, fucking no cigarettes! I did that! Hang with the killers, riot, the whole 9. I made it through that shit, and I'm alright. By the grace of god, and he gave me a character to be able to deal with whatever the fuck is in front of me. So this shit, I feel like it's nothing. I'm not impressed, I'm really not impressed! *laughs* I'm focused, dogg, and I don't really think nothing else could surprise me, I done pretty much seen it all at this point! *laughs*

dubcnn.com: A few words about the elections if you can... George Bush re-elected!

Ah... well one thing I still don't understand is... I don't understand the voting process. The whole electoral shit and all that. I don't understand how it works. Because I know we turned up in record numbers, and yet and still, this man got re-elected! So I don't really understand how it works. But, atleast, he didn't steal it like last time... Atleast!

dubcnn.com: But I think this is even scarier! Cause he got elected legitimately. I think this is even scarier man... Over half of the population of the states voted for this man! That shit is scary to me!

Yeah, that's what I was gonna say! What's weird to me is what the average person is thinking. Like they really have faith in him! And I can't really blame him, I gotta blame us! That these muthafuckas... this is really how they think! And that's a scary thought. That's really the scariest part. First time it was like "okay he stole it". All this information comes out, you don't have just the inner city complaining about it, you have people in corporate America, and alot of these people think it's wrong. You had the conspiracy theoris, you had that Fahrenheit 911 and all this other shit, and all these people exposing all this shit. And yet and still, the average American really felt like he's good for this country! So, they will suffer the consequences of their decisions! But I guess this is democracy... for better or for worse! *laughs*

dubcnn.com: How were the reactions to the re-election in prison?

Muthafuckas was sick! Of course! Even with Schwarzenegger, he's defintely right winged too. There was alot of things... There was this proposition to reform the 3 Strikes thing. It was about to pass, because alot of middle class people, well middle California, wanted the shit revamped! It's just unfair! People going to jail for the rest of they life for stealing a pizza! Literally! That happened! So, you know, it was about to pass! And then at the last minute, Schwarzenegger makes these commercials, everybody looked at him, and all of a sudden, they voted against it! And it was really disheartening! It's disheartening for one that people won't do the right thing, even when they see that this is the right thing to do! *laughs* Because they'd rather identify with whoever is in power or some shit!

dubcnn.com: It's crazy... Anyway let's get back to music. Alot of people would love for you to hook with Crooked I (again) or Sly Boogy... Is that gonna happen?

Oh Crooked I is the homie man. I think Crooked I is one of the dopest MC's on the West. We actually did songs before.

dubcnn.com: Yeah, that Wake Up Show shit..

Yeah but I mean outside of that, we did some songs. So you know, everything is in the process, and I'm sure we gonna work again! Cause like I said, he's the homie! I haven't met Sly Boogy, but he's signed to Sway & Tech, and aside from them being my homies, I think he's dope. So I'm sure it'll defintely happen.

dubcnn.com: When are we gonna hear some new Ras Kass & Bad Azz shit?

Nah I don't like that dude. I hate Bad Azz. *laughs* Nah I'm just kidding! Nah, Bad is the homie, it's all good, he only a phone call away! If he need me all he gotta do is throw up the signal and I'm there!

dubcnn.com: That should be sick. He's currently working on his new record.

Well if he needs me, I'm call him, I'ma have to remind him, I'm out!! Have me hop on something!

dubcnn.com: You and Michelob... You fuck wit him?

Yup! Yeah, it's the homie! Fo Sho!

dubcnn.com: Who are feeling right now in the game?

It's alot of cats that I've heard about, that's supposed to be good and I wanna definitely hear them. I don't know... I'm still stuck on 2Pac, fuckin' Mos Def and shit like that. Redman, Ludacris... *laughs* I'm stuck on everybody that's already out now, established stars and shit... Out of new dudes, I feel Young Buck! Out of all the newer cats, I just like his whole getdown.

dubcnn.com: Looks like he's gonna be gone for a while though..

With that case? I doubt it...

dubcnn.com: We'll see I guess.

At the end of the day I think dude is gonna make it out of that with fucking probation. He'll be alright.

dubcnn.com: What do you think about Game?

I think Game is great for the West. He really in the position to be the Golden Boy for the West man. He has, like I said, the machine behind him with the promotion and marketing and the whole 9. And of course, being directly signed to Dr. Dre, that can't hurt. So I'm looking for big things from his really, looking to see what the album sounds like. I'm sure it's gone do well, it's good to see some talent coming out the West. Cause for a while, we hadn't been able to get nobody out. It's just been Westside Connection, or Snoop Dogg, and every blue moon maybe Xzibit drop something, maybe Ras Kass drop something, maybe Bad Azz. Very few artists, you can pretty much count them on your hands! It's time for us. It's not like we don't have shit to offer, it's just that we haven't had to opportuity to be heard.

dubcnn.com: What about Guerilla Black?

Oh, I don't have nothing against him. I haven't heard him, but shit, I mean it's crazy how much he sounds like Biggie. But I just want to hear what he's saying, I can't really make a judgement on nobody until I hear them. Whatever they got to offer, I'm trying to hear it, and then I'm support it from that point, on that level. And I'm sure I'ma like some of it, and some of it I ain't gone like.

dubcnn.com: Did you hear Eminem's new record?

Nah I didn't hear the whole thing. I always felt like Eminem... he's Eminem! He's a lyricist... Fuck it, I'll be honest! I didn't really love the single, but I'm sure on Eminems album I'm bout to hear a whole bunch of shit I like, because I know he's gonna say some things that strike a chord with my perception, and then aside from that he's probably gonna say ridicolously funny shit that's lyrical as fuck, so I'm really lookin' forward to hearing his album.

dubcnn.com: Where would you like see yourself next year at this time?

Off parole! *laughs* And, doing my thing man, working, promoting, dropping a album, recording an album, shooting videos... And live happily ever after!

dubcnn.com: Did you connect with any artists while you were in jail? Like Tray Deee, C-Bo, E-White, X-Raided...

X-Raided was in the same jail as me, but he's doing life, so I wasn't even housed where he was housed at. I didn't even know E-White was in jail. The homie saw Tray Deee but he was in the county, at the time. The county is the state shit, like County of Los Angeles, more like city jail type shit, and I was in the pen already, I had already left the county, and went to the state penitentiary. So niggaz said they saw Tray Deee, I just wanna tell him to hold his head, I got love for him, we definitely waiting on him to come home. E-White too man, hold your head. But nah, I didn't really run into nobody. I just ran into a lot of people like "yeah I did time with so and so" and shit, but I didn't get to run into nobody.

dubcnn.com: As a last question... how long did it take you to write Nature Of The Threat?

To do the research and just gather all the stuff? It was a process... I had been planning on writing the song for like... forever. So I read all the books in like college and shit like that. Ever after High School, I was starting. I realized I wanted to write this song. So I would say it took me about 3-4 years just getting everything, I would just outline whatever book I had, put them to the side, but once I had decided, like the day I was like "I'm gonna write the song now", it was quick, dogg. It litterally took me about... it felt like 20 mins!

dubcnn.com: Damn! How many takes?

To lay it? Uhh... let's see. I knew most of it! It didn't take long, I probably did it in like 5 takes.

dubcnn.com: Okay, well that's a legendary song.

Good lookin' man, that shit just kinda wrote itself really! It's crazy when I look back at it, but it was kinda easy! That wasn't one of the hardest records that I've written.

dubcnn.com: Looking back right now, at how you were in '95, how do you feel?

I mean I learned some shit, so I woulda tried to call Pete Rock at the time, and Large P, and got some better beats! But it probably wasn't even the beats. All we had was a SP at the time. So writing wise, I don't think that would changed. Maybe delivery wise, when I look back at myself I'm always like "damn, I said shit like that!". But not really, same thing... I probably woulda used the same samples, but had better production of them. A billion people could have the same sample, but for some reason one persons is gonna sound better. They put better drums on it, or whatever. Whatever the fuck makes it hot. So my execution would be just been better because I know alot more now. But other than that, the direction, I think dark. I can't help it. So my shit tends to come out kinda dark. It's like watch Seven! My albums alotta times is like watchin' that movie Seven!

dubcnn.com: Well that's pretty much it for the questions, is there anything else you'd like to let everybody know? Any shoutouts?

I just wanna shout everybody out man, all my family and friends that took the time to write me and shit. I definitely wanna touch back down in Germany!

dubcnn.com: Yeah hopefully we can get that cracking in 2005!

Yeah fo sho I'm with that, keep me posted, keep me in mind. Good looking man I appreciate it!

dubcnn.com: Yeah me too, stay up!

Alright man, peace.



Ras Kass Gave Dubcnn.com A Shoutout! Check That Here

Full Interview In Audio : Here


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