Knowledge Me

the facts by Meshack Blaq
evidence by Pauly-Wog & Uno My Steez

Lyrical dexterity & thought-transference: you can count the number of MC's on one hand that are able to transcend time and space with the utterance of a verse. Ras Kass is one of those less-than-a-handful Universe-movers. His are rhymes consisting of substance, style, street, and sophistication all wrapped in eloquent deliveries and incisive, yet meticulous flows. By the way, this Nigga is a lyricist as opposed to a Rapper; there is a difference. In addition, anything Ras puts his breath on is an automatic brain-burner. To compare and contrast a Modern MC with the Activist of a generation gone by, Ras Kass' all-encompassing subject-matter is on par with a Malcolm X: articulate enough to debate Harvard's most educated Philosopher-Theologian while base enough to feed the most rudimentary Ghetto Nigga with Game. Straight up, talking with Ras Kass is like having a conversation with God and the Devil, asking both to KNOWLEDGE ME.

KRONICK: I understand you just got off the road. Where have you been?

KASS: Everywhere from New York, Jersey, Atlanta, the Carolinas. I just got back this morning from San Diego.

KRONICK: If you were to put your two albums side by side, in your own words how would you describe the former vs. the latter?

KASS: Same shit, just a mirror image. Probably a growth in my perceptions and a slight growth in my thinking. But it's relatively the same foundation. Everything is the same shit: sex, violence, vocabulary, science.

KRONICK: What was the emphasis behind having a lot of guest appearances this time around?

KASS: I don't think I had a lot.

KRONICK: Unlike last time?

KASS: The emphasis would probably be that I was a nobody nigga so nobody wanted to do nothin' with me. Or nobody knew about me. You know, it's your first album and you wanna prove that... For me, I wanted to prove that as a solo MC I could do a whole album and keep it consistent lyrically. On the second album it was a billion people I wanted to work with. So the people that I could work into this equation, I used `em and definitley I'ma do more! I wanna keep workin' with people because there's so many people that I'm a fan of, I wanna keep doin' it. Whether it's on my album, their album, a Soundtrack, it's things I've wanted to do. I got an opportunity on the Lyricist Lounge album, doin' a song on the Rhyme & Reason Soundtrack with Heltah Skeltah and Canibus. Just doin' shit.

KRONICK: Was there a particular reason for coming out with the single Ghetto Fabulous featuring Dre & Mack 10? As opposed to having you on your own debut single?

KASS: It's a good song. At the end of the day I could've put out or would've been comfortable puttin' out whatever. Of course, a label has it's intelligent moves they do. You don't go out in the snow asshole naked. So the song with Dre; that definitley opens up some people that may not be aware of me. Just like me and Heltah Skeltah doin' a song with Canibus when Canibus wasn't what he is now. That made a couple of people aware of him. The whole thing is helping each other out. Xzibit got fans I ain't got: Saafir got fans that Xzibit don't. So the whole thing is when you collaborate with people, it's gonna open people up to each other.

KRONICK: Speaking of Xzibit, the last cover we did on him he's quoted as sayin' you helped him to see the light that really, maybe Niggaz don't wanna know shit as far as messages in rhymes. Can you build on that notion?

KASS: Yea I can expand on that. I mean people wanna know what they already know. Most people don't wanna learn anything new. I definitley feel like people don't, in general- this has nothing to do with the Hip Hop audience specifically, people in general already know what they are. So Catholic is not trying to learn how to be a Buddhist. And it's unfortunate that people at times are extremely closed minded. But that's just how it is. So yea, I wrote the shit out my album. A line of mine from my first album popped into my head yesterday and I just said it out loud to my cousin, and it was real Dope. And I was just thinkin' that the thought process involved in what I said was so ill and nobody will never remember that line or that rhyme, and never appreciate... I always wonder, I could write a paragraph for every two bars that I write because the thought process of triple-entendre creates that type of shit. Xzibit did get, I guess what he picked up was the fact that if you say I'm the shit and got I got a Rolie- then people can identify with that. But if you say somethin', and you can almost say the same thing but if you use a whole bunch of words then it's almost like you talkin' at people as opposed to talking to people. So I think he realized that- cut to the chase, get to the point, say what you gotta say. Wheras I'm more a poet- I like to say shit and If I had to describe that shirt, I wouldn't just say it's a green Black Eye Peas shirt... (just then he's interrupted by a Record Company Suit) What's up?

SUIT: What's happening Ras? Are you Fabulous?

KASS: I'm Ghetto right now.

SUIT: Take it out of the Ghetto, at least for today? (of course Mr. Suit runs along after that)

KASS: (kinda not really laughs as if to say, take this... then back to us) Yea, it's one of them unfortunate situations that people like to hear. I think they did a study and the average songs was like a fourth grade level vocabulary. So it just goes to show that people are pretty stupid. When you start doin' some college curriculum music, people are like , "What the fuck are you talkin' about?" and they easily shy away from it.

KRONICK: One of the things that was kind of interesting to me is the response you've gotten from some of the music that you've done. One of the Rap magazines tried to psychoanalyze the Nature Of The Threat.

KASS: OK, yea.

KRONICK: That song stood out to me on the last album as well as another song where you talk about the Bible. On this album you have a track called Interview With The Vampire where you have a conversation between God & the Devil. What inspires and what goes into putting together tracks that are practically like multi-novels in one song?

KASS: I do those for me. Like when I did Nature Of The Threat I wanted to do it for me. I like to freak me out; some shit that I could at the end of the day say, "You took yourself to another level". And I never intend to like...

KRONICK: And the listenters too, you know? It's like a fucking bibliography or a footnote reference guide to where people can go and seek information if they really want it.

KASS: It's definitley to be an artist at the end of the day. See the formula when you listen to people's albums you can kinda tell who just sticks with the curriculum. The curriculum would be 8 bar intro, 16 bar verse, 4 bar hook, then 16 bars, then hook, then 16 bars, end of the song. Some of my songs do go like that, and then some of my songs like Waterproof, the first verse is 20 bars. The second verse is probably 30, and then the last verse is like16. I just be tryin' to get shit off my chest; I got things that I wanna say, that at the end of the day I wanna be happy with. Like, "Yo, you spit. That was Hot". So I spit and I end when I feel like I finish the complete thought. I don't be tryin' to make like an epic, like everybody guessed. When I wrote Interview With The Vampire I really tried to shorten it cause I didn't want people really comparin' it to Nature Of The Threat because I don't wanna be known for the six-minute man; that I always do a six-minute song. I just tend to spit and whatever length it is, it is. And it becomes kinda like a little novel. But I think every song for me is a novel. Some of `em are like a comedy and some of `em is like a fuckin' porno, and some of `em is like a Hip Hop in a circle- a cipher of Niggaz rhymin: they all little novels for me. I think people need to hear Nature Of The Threat. It's a shame that Priority Records didn't even release my record in Europe, but it was the #1 song in London; it was the record of the year in London. Muh' Fuckas in certain magazines showed that they was thirsty for information in other places. They was burnin' it like it was Puffy. That muh'fuckas wanna learn some shit somewhere else, and then here we are in the United States, the most so-called civilized nation in the world, and they don't wanna hear shit.

KRONICK: What was your reception like in Europe when you actually went there being that the album wasn't released?

KASS: That when people hear somethin' that's intelligent, sometimes they... It made me believe in humankind actually, for me. Cause I'm a misanthopist at this point. I used to believe that people were inherently good. Now I think that people are inherently a piece of shit. So that gave me some faith in mankind like people do wanna learn something. And goin' to Atlanta and having a Preacher buy 30 copies of my album and give it to his church for Nature Of The Threat. It ain't nothin' wrong with dancin', nothin' wrong with gettin' high, nothin' wrong with smoking beedies. You know, nothin' wrong with fucking, just wear a condom, whatever... But it's other things in life and I think that variety is the spice of life, so have the whole spectrum. And that's the whole thing that's important to me: that yea, I do wanna party. See, everything is just as important as the other thing. But I think we always focus on the party and bullshit all the time. So for me when I wanna be taken seriously, then it kinda hurts my feelings that people just still wanna fuckin' dance. It's like the whole Marie Antoinette- feed `em cake. The peasants are starving, but fuck it. Give `em some circus clowns and feed `em cake. That's what she did and then they didn't complain for a long time. [Ed. note-but they later chopped her head off]

KRONICK: How do you feel about the dissemination of information for people as a whole? And how there are advantages for other people with certain knowledge?

KASS: I think it was George Orwell who said he who controls the past controls the present. He who controls the present dictates the future. Something to that affect. Knowledge is power: If I know and you don't, I can tell you anything. And we all should know who controls our media. All our medias- movies, television, music. There's some people that control that. They're called Jewish people. If you don't control your own destiny, then you're at the mercy of whoever the fuck is in control of it. If you don't control the information, then you're at the mercy of whoever... For all we know, everything could be wrong. Everything that we believe- that day is night and up is down could be completely the reverse. Cause we don't have the resources and control of the information. At the end of the day I'm an artist and at this point it's about communication and being understood. I want the masses to hear what I have to say. At this particular point Dog, I talk about everybody. I got a song called I Ain't Fuckin' Wit' You. It's interesting to me that when I went to London, the first thing everybody jumped on was the fact that I said, "Fuck white people in general and fuck the police specifically". Now throughout that whole song I'm talkin' about bitches, I'm talkin' about Niggaz, I'm talkin' about whatever. I done said shit about Jews, I did Record Industry rule # 1,2, & 3- Jews run it, Niggaz run around in it, believe me. I'll tell the truth and it's a shame that people don't hear no... Fuck it, I'll spit it. I'll tell the truth!! I'm just one of them Niggaz. And if I sold a million records I'll still tell the truth. I don't have no choice cause I'm perturbed if I don't say what the fuck I feel anyway. I preferrably get it off my chest. Other Niggaz hold they tongue, I'm not politically correct: there is no such thing.

KRONICK: Could you speak upon the overlooked element of Brothas that are in lockdown and that maybe are forgotten by people on the outside? And how your experience behind bars (listen to the first album) affected you as far as your life today goes?

KASS: Jayo Felony got a song called It's Easy To Get In But It's Hard As Hell To Get Out. I'm tryin' to think of somebody I know who ain't been to jail for one reason or another. We the target. If you go over to the top of the totem pole of life: which is white man/ white woman, Asian man/ Asian woman, Mexican man/ Mexican woman. Then the fuckin' funny shit is then it's Black woman/ Black Nigga.The Nigga'z at the bottom. They give everybody a job except a Nigga. We are the most threatening because we genetically can create everybody. What Western Civilization has done is went throughout the whole world and taught everybody else how to look down upon Us. Perfect example is Filipinos- you go to the Philippines and the indigenous people are the Negritos. Filipinos speak Spanish because the Spaniards went there, raped them and then taught them how to disrespect Us. Everywhere you go, that dynamic will be seen. India: that's why it's fuckin' light Indians lookin' down at the darker Indians. And India is a Majority Black people. So that dynamic is everywhere and my whole point is that we are the target and we gonna get fucked over. And until you get enough muh'fuckas that really want it... Cause this system wasn't made for the Nigga. It wasn't made for the Filipinos and Mexicans either. Everybody really needs to be Hoo-Ridin', but everybody gets their comfortable space. Then they say, "Well at least I ain't a Nigga"! Especially bein' a Nigga in AmeriKKKa cause we the only Niggaz with no Kulture. A Filipino can say, "Well this is my Kulture", even though it's highly influenced by Spaniards. Mexicans have a Kulture even though it's highly influenced by Spaniards who went over there and raped everybody. But you speak Spanish and you're proud of that? I never understood that logic. I'm Creole: my grandmother speaks French. I happen to be dark. If I came out light maybe I'd feel different because I would somehow fit in. I just happen to have the hair and a pointy noise and some chinky eyes. But I'm Black as fuck so I gotta live with this everyday, and maybe that makes me more aware. But my family, they don't like Niggaz in general cause they not Niggaz. They Creole- they speak French. Well that's the muthafuckin' French Niggaz that raped you. Everybody identifies with the murderer. And that's the pathology of the world- that everybody's tricked into identfying and wants to marry the rapist. And so Niggaz- what we do is we vent it every other way we can. Cause we ain't gonna shot the police when he jack you, make you get out the car and sit on the curb for nothing. But you'll take it out on the Nigga up in the club that was a little bit too drunk and stepped on your feet. Or slap the bitch that said something to you. Or fight with the Mexican! Why are you fighting with the Mexican? Both of y'all Niggaz is oppressed. Why a Mexican think he better than a Nigga? Why do a Nigga think he better than a Mexican? When we all oppressed in the first place? Is it pathology or logic? My whole point at the end of the day is AmeriKKKa was made by white men for white men. Until Mexicans get that thru they skull, `til Asians get that thru they skull, `til Niggaz get that thru they skull- we will always fight each other and wanna marry the rapist. Until we realize that if you want a real fucking... this ain't even a Democracy. Why you have democrats? We live in a Republic. This shit is made for rich, elite; for the rich elite by the rich elite. So they can exploit the fuck outta y'all and me. So until we get man enough and educated enough to say, "Let's just break this shit off", we ain't shit! The AmeriKKKan Revolution: fuckin' George Washington was breaking the law. Nigga said he wasn't payin' taxes. Now you go right now as a Black man or a Hispanic and say you ain't payin' no taxes. No taxation without representation and see how quick you go to jail! Sometimes you do something illegal but it's the right thing to do. So in the case of the AmeriKKKan Revolution, them Niggaz was breakin' the law according to England. Under AmeriKKKa's rules now, they should be executed, hung, whatever. If they convict you right now of treason, you die. Right now today. So them Niggas was traitors but they won. So if everybody here realizes that you can break the law for the right reason, then we all got together and said this shit ain't right. And said, "Let's stop it! Let's get it over with!". And we won, then everything would be good. But muh'fuckas are scared- everybody gets comfortable with what they've got. And I'm one. I'm not sayin' I'm above or different than anybody else. But the other thing is you gotta pick your battles. I'm not gonna run out here and shoot the first police officer I see. For what? What really did I accomplish? I'm puttin' a band-aid over a fuckin' bazooka wound. So it's strength in numbers. Until you get enough muh'fuckas that's dissatisfied to a point where they really ready to react: and I'm not talkin' about an L.A. riot. I'm talkin' about education first. Revolution starts up here (pointing to the brain). Educatin' so we know we brothers- until we get to a point where we love each other and know that fuckin' a Belizian and a fuckin' Dominican, and us here- we all got little differences but we the same people; we the same exploited muh'fuckas. Until we reach that conclusion, Mexicans are gonna have Cinco De Mayo and say fuck Niggaz. Niggaz gon' have Black History week and say fuck the Mexicans. Asians gonna be like, "Yo, we don't fuck with none of y'all". Or we gonna fuck with the Mexicans a little bit because we like House music too, then we gonna have a fucked up world.

KRONICK: Is the toothpick a trademark of yours?

KASS: Nah, the toothpick was intentionally used to stop me from smoking beedies. I knew when I started smoking these that I had to stop. As you can see I really just like lighting `em. I chain smoke- light `em, put `em out, re-light it. I think I really like the whole action of lightin' it, hittin' it, then puttin' it out. It ain't really like I need the beedie. I just like the action. But I use the toothpick so it would curb my appetite for smoking.

KRONICK: Any words on the hometown of C-Arson

KASS: Well I made C-Arson because it's only certain Niggaz from C-Arson but it's a lotta Niggaz from Carson. I represent for the thorough; I call Niggaz sophisticated thugs. That's what C-Arson Niggaz iz. Niggaz is like upper-middle class gangbangers. For real. Plus everywhere got put on the map but us: Inglewood, South Central, Compton, hopped right over us and went to Long Beach. So I gotta mash for my city!

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