Trae Tha Truth continues to put out quality music, but perhaps his biggest gift is uplifting his hometown.

Recently celebrating the 10-year anniversary of his infamous local holiday Trae Day, the Houston native is finding that his purpose in life isn’t just behind the microphone. Last month, Trae partnered with the Houston Public Library to provide scholarships to assist 75 high school students on their collegiate journey. It also brought out some of the community’s best and further solidified Trae Tha Truth’s footing as a legend of the city.

More recently, Trae’s helped in the Hurricane Harvey relief effort and rescued numerous people by boat. He told a local news station that his own feeling of helplessness is what drove him to save others. He also posted about the pain of seeing Houston drown and called for unity. “We Will Get Thru This And Come Out Stronger…” he wrote, in part. “Yo Pain My Pain…”

Trae Tha Truth

Musically, Trae’s recently released Tha Truth Pt. III is a force to be reckoned with. His self-proclaimed “best album yet” certainly isn’t just the product of a statement for promo purposes. Feature-laden, the project showcases everyone from Texas newcomers Maxo Kream and Post Malone to rap OGs like T.I. and Wyclef Jean. It’s also a lot more personal overall than Trae’s been in his previous work.

Speaking with UGHH recently, Trae Tha Truth broke down his latest album, charitable endeavors and even his mind state. He’s accepted his roll as an OG in this rap game, yet still believes he’s a vital part of the Houston hip-hop scene. We certainly agree.

Do You…. You Won't Do Mine…. 3…..K I N G T R U T H

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What’s been going on besides music in your life?

I just did a partnership with McDonald’s. I’m the first rapper to do that. I’m the part owner of a company called Bumpboxx, [I’m] the VP of Grand Hustle [Records]; I’m in a little bit of everything.

Musically, you recently put out Tha Truth Pt. III. What were your goals in making that and how did that all come together?

I don’t think I really too much thought about it. I do so much music. I’ve got over 2,000 records so it’s like I just do it, man. I think for the album, those are just the records that fit. It’s just a couple weeks’ process. The thing to get the album done was a couple weeks’ process, but it’s another few weeks of me critiquing it and make sure it sounds right, the mixing is right, all the breakdowns. I’m a real professional when it comes to my albums.

Do you record specifically for an album though, or do you record a bunch of records then put them together at the end?

I just record whatever mind state I’m in at the time, and when it’s time to start recording the album I go in. I don’t really piece together. All my albums are whatever mentality I’m in at that time.

You’ve been quoted as saying this is your best work to date. Why do you believe that this project is your top effort?

Yeah definitely, and I stand by it and it is my best to date. I only think I’m getting better from here. It’s just where I’m at mentally, being in the zone or just creative-wise, the passion, and this is the first time I really opened up a lot about my life in general. So this is more personal and more dope.

You have a lot of features on this project…

People be saying that, but I actually didn’t. It became that way when I put “I’m On” on it. I have 16 features on it, so before then it wasn’t that many features.

Well, I’m not saying it’s a bad thing. They fit in pretty well within the album. I guess why did you choose who you did on this?

I didn’t really start the project saying, “I’ve got to get this person.” It’s just as is. I’m close with a lot of people who weren’t on the album, so it wasn’t personal. I just recorded it as time goes by.

One of the tracks is “Too Late,” which features Post Malone. Texas connect on this one, I guess you could say. He also fits in interestingly with his vocals, which I wasn’t expecting when I saw that you’d be collaborating with him. How did that come together?

Well, my original style is on that, it was only right—and him coming from Texas, being big bro, it’s like I’m embracing it now and it’s what we do best. It turned out dope.

You also have the joint “Pull Up” with Maxo Kream. Being that you’re both from Houston, I’m sure he gets a lot of his inspiration from you. Talk about putting him on that track and the role you play as an OG.

He came to the studio when we were actually in the process of working. It was like perfect timing. He actually watched me and my engineer make the beat and we started vibing, man. He went in there; I let him throw a verse on it. I’m that type of person that I’m all for trying to help people from Houston on my projects, so it was dope.

I’m real picky with everybody who’s going to be on my album. I knew it would be a good look and I’m sure he’s seeing it as a good look because a lot of people like the song.

In The City Of Houston… @playboicarti @maxokream

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Do you think Houston’s in good hands via the newer generation with people like him and others?

I think it’s all going to work out man. If all goes well the way it’s supposed to go with Tha Truth III, the attention’s always going to be with everything I’ve got going on. If all goes well it’ll be enough of the certain ones who make the dope music to come behind and create a wave because it’s always a wave in different regions. So if it’s not that, we can’t have another wave in Houston. It’s all about timing, and this may be the time.

On the track “Can’t Get Close” you talk about the death of Money Clip D, one of your best friends who passed away a few years ago. How does his passing affect how you create music now and moving forward?

It definitely [did affect it]. At first, it took the wind out of me, man. For about a year, I was just out of it. I ended up picking myself one day and saying, “I’ve got to get to it.” And knowing I’ve got to get to it, it was like I’ve got to make him proud as well as others who are still here believing in me.

I’ve got to go out here and make the best of it, man. Musically, that’s where I’m at. And plus you know, [there’s] a lot of struggles and trials and tribulations I’ve overcame over and over, so it’s like I’m becoming numb at this point. The best years are to come.

Trae Day 2016 Recap by Trae Tha Truth on VEVO.

You just recently gave out scholarships to 75 kids in coordination with the Houston Public Library, which is crazy. Talk about that initiative and why you’ve decided to be a part of this kind of philanthropy.

We did an event last year and last year was more small, but we tried it. This year, it grew and I feel like it enhanced our message and intensity, and it was also the 10-year anniversary [of Trae Day] and everything we did was way, way bigger.

Of course me being a rapper with my own holiday, it spirals into me having a key to the city, then spirals into Congress ending up giving me awards and my name is in the books for stuff I do. All of it is turning out for the best—and not just for me—for the people of the city I’m able to help.

What’s it mean to be able to provide kids an opportunity you might not have had growing up?

It’s not even necessarily all that. It’s also providing a memory that they’ll remember—whether it be school, whether it be just having friends that they know are supporting them and all kinds of different stuff—so definitely it’s a blessing. I’m a firm believer in you receive blessings from standing with others, and I’ll always do that.

You end Tha Truth Pt. II with the track “I Will Survive,” which kind of is a perfect lead into Pt. III. How are you surviving these days and where are you at during this portion of your life?

I’m a lot more comfortable than I was before. It’s a process, but I’m a fighter so I believe I’ll make it happen. That’s just where I’m at with it now. I feel like I’m in a good space. “I Will Survive” is probably my favorite song. I’ve evolved, I’ve done a lot of business entities and other things so it’s all turning out cool.

What’s next for Trae Tha Truth?

I really plan on getting everything going for this album. I don’t want to take anything away from this album, but I plan on jumping on tour real soon. I’m doing a little bit of everything with it and it’s turning out to be real amazing.

Listen to Trae Tha Truth’s Tha Truth Pt. III album below.

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David Banner’s journey in music is like a boomerang; first thrown in the mid-‘90s. Forming the down home Mississippi duo Crooked Lettaz (with Kamikaze) at around that time, he gave footing to the argument that The ‘Sip had something to say. When Grey Skies came out, it changed everything.

Hits like “Get Crunk” and “Firewater” were underground classics and propelled a young David Banner to temporary fame. It was a window of time pushing him to make a decision about where his career was heading; and from there he chose to ink a deal with Universal Records after perhaps the biggest song of his career, “Like A Pimp” (with Lil’ Flip), blew up.

Years later (and after more mainstream success), Banner continued to find himself through life and his music. He was underground, went mainstream, and then began easing himself back into what he had started. It’s not that he ever lost his message, but it never seemed like he was in the right space. During a recent interview with UGHH, the Jackson (or Jack-Town as they call it in the South), Mississippi native explained why now everything is coming full circle for him.

Recently releasing his latest seventh solo studio album The God Box, David Banner ended his seven-year hiatus from music with some really “Jammin’” tunes. The LP incorporates the easy-listening, 808-based splendor he’s commercially known for and the conscious lyrical messaging his more contemporary image holds. It’s like preaching the gospel over a live band with the boomerang returning right on time.

It’s been a while since you’ve put out an LP. What’s it like just putting out music again and getting that feeling that you’re going to be presenting something to the public that they’re going to consume?

Psychologically it’s crazy because there’s good and bad aspects of it. When you put out an album, there’s this fever for people to want to be around you or your phone to start ringing again. You can’t walk through the grocery story without being stopped a million times—which I’ve been homeless before, so that’s a good problem to have—but [there’s] so much information and so many people calling and texting.

I’m a more zen-like, peaceful person now, and I’m finding that true success is about centering yourself and centering your spirit. When you have an album out it’s not an easy thing to do. Like I said, I came out to the wilderness to do this interview. What rappers do that?

I’ve talked about this before; I so wanted to tell Dave Chappelle he wasn’t the only one that wanted to go to Africa. I just couldn’t afford it at the time [laughs].

[Laughs].

I just ran to Baltimore. That’s all my frequent flyer miles could take me to [laughs]. What I’m saying though is that it’s awesome. This is the first time in my career that I’m starting to hear the talk I want to hear. I’m finally starting to hear “classic album” talk. I’m starting to hear people respect me for my lyrical depth. As many hit records I’ve produced—from Lil Wayne to Chris Brown to Maroon 5 to Quincy Jones—I’m finally getting respect for my production even from all the stuff that I’ve done.

You mentioned being able to do more of what you want on this album. How did you decide what you wanted to present fans on this LP?

Ummm. It’s funny, man, and I don’t really have a deep answer for it. I just write about how I am mentally. I’m a different person now. I’m sober now, I’m not high, so I think my thought process is more clear. I’m a little bit more focused. I’m able to reach places through meditation that I could only get to by smoking weed or being drunk or some shit. I just talk about where I am. I have a deep vested interest in the salvation of melanated people of this world, the safety of melanated people of this world. The treatment of African people is similar all over this fucking Earth, and why is that? Nobody seems to care. The fact that I can make jammin’ music that people can dance to, study to.

I think one of the underrated elements of the album is that it’s very Mississippi, and it gets that way heavy on “My Uzi.” You feature Big K.R.I.T. and he’s someone—at least in interviews I’ve done—who’s point to you as someone that’s been a big influence on him. Explain that bond and where that came from.

Well the thing is, I learn from K.R.I.T., also. K.R.I.T. is a special being. He’s a special person—and to be honest with you, if I could’ve created in a lab the next person to come after me, I don’t think I could’ve created a Big K.R.I.T. I couldn’t have hoped for a better person. Just his spirit and how much he loves the culture. I haven’t met too many people who real life love the culture as much as he does. When K.R.I.T. hears wack shit he gets mad. I be like dawg, calm down. It’s a song, bruh. He real life gets mad. He be like, “Big bruh, you see what they doing to the music?” [I’m like] “It’s alright man, chill out bro.”

The thing I like about K.R.I.T. is there’s an underlining competition between me and him, but it’s not an emasculating competition. It’s not I want to embarrass him or I want to see him harm or hurt his feelings. It’s like it’s two alpha males who really care and are really emotional about this form of music. He makes me better and I hope I make him better.

I was supposed to be the only person on “My Uzi.” I told K.R.I.T. I wanted him to jump on the album and see what he liked and as soon as he heard Pimp C’s voice he was like, “That one.”

Of course [laughs].

When I wrote the first verse, I didn’t write it from a competition standpoint or nothing like that because I don’t compete against other Black people anymore. It was more like a story-type of thing, and then when K.R.I.T. jumped on there and did what he did I was like, “Hell nah. I’m not going to get nobody else get me on this track.” I got on the third verse and stepped it up. I didn’t write it from the perspective of somebody else being there, so the song had another feel. If you end up listening to the record, the music rise, the track rise and keeps going and then just when you think the song is over, we took you to Never Never Land.

I also want to tell people that at the end of “My Uzi,” that’s not a sample. John Dempsey, who scored Passion of the Christ [and all of the Ironman movies], that’s an actual, original composition he made and composed for me. That’s not a sample. I paid for that.

Also in the Mississippi realm you have Tito Lopez on “Black Fist.” He’s always been another guy who does conscious-based hip-hop and is super appropriate for this track. How does he fit in and also, how does this track and even album fit into today’s political climate, or at least how you see it?

One of the things I truly believe is that Tito Lopez is one of the greatest lyricists in hip-hop. Period. I will put Tito line-for-line against any rapper on this earth. For me to be able to help him bring his perspective to the world is something that I’m honored to do. Tito’s outlook on the world in so many cases matches how I see it.

I think when you have two people on the track who are coming from different perspectives, but believe in the same thing, it helps to bring a certain level of synergy. He’s able to bring one perspective and bring people to the table; I bring people to the table and we talk about the matter at hand.

Actually, I think Tito had the dopest line I ever heard and definitely one of my favorite lines on the album. He said—and I’ve never really thought about it—he said, “We have to play where they lynched us.” If you think about when Black people would get killed or the [Ku Klux Klan] would come for their family—white people never did it in their neighborhoods. They would always go to the Black community.

Imagine if your uncle got hung from a tree and his kids got to go play in they yard the next day or there was a burning cross outside. Think about the psychological ramification of having to play in the same places, in the same woods, the same yard that your people were killed or raped or murdered. That is a constant reminder of how America feels about you. Tito Lopez was able to say that and encapsulate that in one line. I think it was epic.

Yeah, he’s one of those guys. Do you feel though that emcees are more pressured to rap consciously today due to the increasing amount of stories coming out about police brutality, our president and racism in general?

I don’t really know because the three artists you’re talking about now, that’s all they know and all they have been. It’s a way of life for us. We don’t know the pressures that rappers who don’t historically speak about those types of issues [face] because we’ve always talked about it.

If you go back to my first album, I talked about [George] Bush. Actually, with the exception of my second album, most of my albums have always been spiritual, more than anything. So I don’t know the pressures than they have, but I do think our people are waking up.

I think America’s waking up in general and that’s what I was telling people. I thought [that was] the positive aspect of [Donald] Trump. [It’s] that Trump is ripping the veil off of America’s face and showing America what everybody’s already known—maybe besides a whole section of white people—where America stands as it pertains to race relations and the value of life outside of white people. You’re better able to deal with social issues and speak the truth when you really put it on the table. I think with Trump’s presidency, it was thrown in everybody’s face. Black people were basically like, “This is what we’ve been telling y’all since we came over here.”

You literally just went into my next question, bringing up Trump and the comments you made right after he was elected. I was going to ask if you regret that, but it sounds like you’re still behind that, and I understand why. It reveals what certain white people think…

That’s historically what [white] people have been thinking the whole time is the thing I think we don’t put together. Then you’ve got to understand that they were taught that behavior from somewhere. For them to feel bold enough to say it means in a lot of cases those parents also echo those same emotions.

Not to make a lot of this about K.R.I.T. but he said something like that to me once. He said, in Mississippi, you know when white people don’t like you by making it clearly known. Is that true in your experiences growing up there as well?

I do see a difference. I always tell people that white people in Mississippi are the greatest white people on the earth and people ask me why and I tell them, “If a white person likes you in Mississippi, they will die for you. If they don’t like you, they’ll try to kill you; but at least you’ll know where you are.”

Do you think things are playing out like you thought they would since making that statement in November?

Of course. And now people are seeing what I’m saying. A lot of people thought I was crazy and now people are saying, “You were right, Banner.” No matter what somebody does, it is still our responsibility to react in the proper way. We can get all the signs in the world, but if we don’t stand for ourselves it’s going to historically stay the same way.

I wanna take you back for a moment because I’m a big Crooked Lettaz fan and I love Grey Skies. “Get Crunk” is a classic, and I’d love to know about how you and Kamikaze came together with Pimp C for it and your opinion of his legacy.

The thing is, at the time we did “Get Crunk,” Pimp was and will always remain a folk hero to our people. Pimp C is bigger than rap to me. When I first did “Get Crunk,” it was amazing even being around someone we looked up to—that talked like we talk and went through the same experiences and were interested in the same things.

After “Like A Pimp” came out, I started writing him in jail and we became friends, all the way up until his death. Just to have that man in my life… I am proud of myself, but no matter how big I get, I’m still a fan. Snoop is my friend, but I’m still a fan. Scarface is a mentor; I’m still a fan. Pimp C was a close friend, still a fan. I’m just honored to be able to know them. I’m so happy that I was able to find a way to get him or get his voice on this album.

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There are fewer things more West Coast than when you put the needle to the wax on MC Eiht’s “All For The Money.” As soon as the sped-up sample of Tyrone Davis’ “In The Mood” kicks off the classic Compton cut, it’s nothing but smile-inducing for any fan of early ‘90s Gangsta rap and ‘70s Funk.

“Jeah,” Eiht utters in one of the smoothest renditions of his infamous ad-lib. “Now that’s some of that real gangsta shit / Comin’ from an original n***a from the Compton streets,” he subsequently raps.

Nearly 25 years and a myriad of albums later, not much has changed for the emcee also known as Tony Smallz. He’s still got that rugged CPT street hustler’s voice, the smooth stuttering flow, and rhymes that’ll make you think you’re the victim of a stick-up in ‘91, yet don’t sound a day dated.

MC Eiht Which Way Iz West Album Cover

MC Eiht released his latest album Which Way Iz West in early June and on it, fans get a taste of that classic West Coast vibe with a little bit of a twist. The legendary emcee enlisted the production services of DJ Premier, which at first glance may make some scratch their heads. Has Eiht gone New York on us?

 

Nah, B. Premo went full G-Funk. You can hear it on the project’s first two singles, handled by the Brooklyn deejay and SP1200 master. It’s particularly poignant on “Represent Like This,” where at around the 50-second mark you can hear that classic synthesizer begin to peek its head out. There’s also a video for it, where one can match the refreshing tough guy beat with scenes of Eiht and Westside Connection’s WC C-walking in some fresh Chuck Taylors (of course).

It all fits perfectly into what MC Eiht is trying to do. UGHH recently spoke with the Compton rap pioneer and conversed about his latest work, his beginnings in hip-hop, and even his friendships with other West Coast legends like Spice 1, Tupac, and The Outlawz.

Which Way Iz West will be your 13th solo-ish studio album release. How did this one all come together, and what were you trying to accomplish on it?

Basically, I was just doing tracks trying to get back into the state of hip-hop at the time. The state of hip-hop, in my opinion, wasn’t doing so well as far as the West Coast was concerned. I know we had people like The Game and Kendrick [Lamar] who was representing Compton and all, but I just felt like we weren’t being represented like we usually were as far as the music is concerned or people wasn’t interested or the fans or whatever.

I just basically went back to the drawing table and started listening to raps from my days and what sustained us and created the foundation of West Coast music. That kind of gave me the title too.

MC Eiht & Premo

DJ Premier handled some of the production on this. Ironically, I saw the both of you perform together at SXSW back in 2013, which was a really ill show. What’s your working and personal relationships like with him, and why did you enlist him on this LP?

I’ve been knowing Premier since my career started, so we’ve always kept in touch and been good friends. He worked on a few of my things when I worked at Sony. I did a couple of remixes with a couple of his artists. He had called me to do the Blaq Poet remix, and from there we just reconnected. He asked me what I had been doing lately. I told him I was just in the studio messing around and wasn’t really geared up for anything, so he told me to just start sending him music so he could hear what I was doing. I started sending him tracks and he liked it so he was like, “Let’s just do a project.”

I saw the video for “Represent Like This,” and it definitely took me back to some older gangsta shit. Do you hope younger fans and emcees listen to this and do you feel it’s a good representation of that ‘90s gangsta shit?

With trying to create that sound and meeting with my producer Brenk Sinatra, he came to me with music geared toward what we used to do in the yesterdays. My focus was to try to bring his sound, mix it with Premier—and then since the younger generation were just figuring out MC Eiht because of the Kendrick Lamar success with “M.A.A.D. City” and Menace II Society being broadcast every other day on cable channels, I felt that was a good way to reconnect with the younger audience.

This is your first project since Keep It Hood, which was released four years ago. How have you and your music changed since then?

I just think being able to construct a project on my own time and on my own pace I would need to dive into the project and make it as good as possible without just dropping material just to be relevant. I think that I really sat down and concentrated on what the subject matter was, what I wanted to speak on, and I had time to choose particular music I wanted to fit the project. I think just having the time to grow over the years wrapped in hip-hop…it enabled me to concentrate on making a better project and discipline myself on subjects I wanted to talk about and just not be too simple.

You mentioned Kendrick. Do you feel that guys like him, YG and Nipsey Hussle are bringing back more pride to the Compton/L.A. hip-hop scene in coordination with guys like yourself?

It gives us a better look to try to keep hip-hop and music going as far as Compton is concerned. The stable of artists we’ve had have always been able to be relevant. I think guys like Kendrick coming along, The Game, YG—they’re able to keep the foundation of what we started back in the days and then [to be] able to reach out to cats like myself to get on projects…it just shows the respect of them wanting to keep the Compton foundation of hip-hop going.

I feel great about young cats that represent Compton—who can represent Compton—in the sense of what we were doing.

The first track “Shut Em Down” on this album features The Outlawz. I know you did a lot of touring with Tupac and them back in the days. What has your relationship been like since meeting them back then and have you remained close over the years?

I try to stay close and sustain lifelong friendships with cats in the music business because it was something [that] people didn’t think it would last this long. Anybody I got down with or toured with or whatever back in the days, I just tried to keep all relationships cemented. It’s just a respect I have for them as artists and vice verse. You never know when you might need a favor or a beat or a verse whatever. Just having that relationship with cats like that over the years while on the road with them enables you to have that connection with dudes.

MC Eiht

Did you meet them before meeting Tupac or was it the other way around?

I met Tupac first ‘cause I was doing the Menace II Society movie and also I had done a couple of shows with Pac. I knew Pac before I knew them but we had grew close, too.

With Pac, what was one of the most profound things he ever told you?

He used to tell me back when he was in jail that he used to listen to my records and that I was always one cat that never tried to switch up to conform to what was going on. It was just a thing for him to tell me to just stay true to who you are as far as MC Eiht and where you come from. You represent music. If you can do that, you’ll always have longevity and be able to sustain that. One of my main goals was just to try to stay humble and do what I do and not try to get out of pocket into nobody else’s lane just to
be relevant.

Taking you back even further than that—from the beginning—how did Compton’s Most Wanted come together and how did you all meet?

Well basically, me and [Tha Chill] knew each other since junior high school, so with that, Chill used to beatbox and I used to rap. We kind of created Compton’s Most Wanted with each other because we also used to bang from the same neighborhood. We was already connected like that, so we just started off like that and so Chill used to live across the street from [MC] Ren.

Ren’s people were dating this dude who was trying to be a singer, so from there [he] had us meeting with Lonzo [Williams] and DJ Slip. That’s how we ran across DJ Slip. That’s how we basically founded Compton’s Most Wanted. [We knew] each other from childhood. Then in the early days working in the studio day and night, not knowing what hit records was. We was just making tapes: me, Chill and Slip and [DJ Mike T] and Boom [Bam]. That’s how we formed.

This might be a weird question, but when you all started to rap, was it always going to have that gangsta element? You guys were from before the N.W.A.-era, where it was more electronic-based so you could really go any way musically at the time.

Yeah [L.A.’s] music was, like you said, technotronic, electric—Uncle Jamm’s Army, Egyptian Lover—that type of stuff. That’s what we were on and [Eazy-E] basically opened that door. We were banging and we were seeing the crack sales and shootouts and all that was going on in the neighborhood everyday, but we never even envisioned doing records and talking about it.

We used to have a homie that would make TDK tapes and sell them throughout the neighborhood. They would be rapping over Whodini beats or whoever beat and they would be talking about the neighborhood—“Lil Loc got jacked last night when a battering ram came through and pushed down the dope house” or “The homies got shot at.” From there, that’s where the street music started forming for Compton. Dudes like Toddy Tee, Mixmaster Ken, Mixmaster Spade—those type of dudes were selling tapes out they trunk like Too $hort did. That’s basically how Compton rap started forming.

How big was it for you to see Eazy go from being a semi-big time drug dealer to someone who turned those experiences into music and eventually getting paid for it?

Yeah, just to be able to see him get on and see all the success he had basically made us go, “Maybe this can work for us, too. Maybe our music and what we’re talking about, too can get out there.” Eazy had opened the door for cats like us to be able to put our music out there. We never envisioned being as big or trying to outdo. We just kind of figured that if Eazy and N.W.A. could do it then we should be able to do it too, especially since we were coming to it from a different side, different angle as far as Compton’s Most Wanted is concerned. Just because of the success of Eazy and N.W.A., it just opened up a lot of channels for other rappers to be able to succeed also.

“The Murda Show” is one of my favorite collaboration tracks you’ve ever done. How did you and Spice 1 come together, because in that era a lot of people considered your content and sonic lane pretty inseparable?

[We met] from doing Menace II Society. Jive had the soundtrack rights, so when it was time to do the song—they were putting together the soundtrack—I did [“Streiht Up Menace”], he did [“N***a Gots No Heart”]. From there—and producing the song and being in the movie—Jive just came to me and asked me to produce a song. I said “Okay,” and from there I flew to Oakland, and that’s where we created “The Murda Show.” That was the first time I met Spice when I flew out up to Oakland. Everything was cool and copacetic, so from there we’ve been cool for all this time and we’ve had a relationship in the music business.

I’m an Ohio native and usually when I interview West Coast legends I ask about G-Funk influence. A lot of what Dre and DJ Quik, etc. sampled was a lot of Ohio Funk and Soul—whether that be the Isley Brothers, Bootsy Collins, Roger Troutman, The Ohio Players… Samples from those artists appear on your first couple of albums, and I just want to know if they were personally big influences for you even before getting into rap.

Basically it was the music [that] cats played. My parents played Isaac Hayes, The O’Jays, and all the stuff like that, so I was just growing up in the household listening to that music. I was able to go outside and see the cats on the block with their low-riders and cars. That was the music they played—stuff like The Dramatics, The Isley Brothers, The Meters, that type of stuff.

That’s where the direction of music came for us, and when it was time for me to start doing records. I would always suggest those type of records because those were the records I grew up on.

You’ve always had this flow that was way different than what has come out and it’s one of the reasons I’ve been a fan of your catalog. What made you want to do that kind of smooth and beat-following flow, especially early on in your career?

I just wanted people to be able to understand my delivery. That was one of my points when I starting in music: I wanted people to understand every point and where my raps were directed or designed to be slow, stutter-stepped so people could be able to focus on the lyrics instead of the music. That was my main thing because I wanted people to know what I was talking about for those who didn’t know where we was coming from as far as Compton, and didn’t know what the slang was. It was so they could figure out what we was talking about. Everything had to be slow and slow-grooved and melodic.

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Roc Marciano’s rap career has been longstanding, but solo-wise, it seems like the veteran emcee has a lot more gas in the tank. He made his landmark debut with Marcberg LP in 2010 and since then, his music’s been one of the preeminent hubs for really grimy New York street rap and/or delicately crafted word-schemes that reveal obscure, yet appropriate metaphorical references.

Citations of everyone from Anna Kournikova to Gloria Estefan litter the verses of the Hempstead, Long Island native’s recently released Rosebudd’s Revenge album. The wordplay is perhaps its most notable element and fits in perfectly with Marci’s eerie and heavily sample-driven instrumentals, some of which are provided by the emcee himself.

It’s been four years since the release of Marci Beaucoup, his generally well-received last LP. Since then, Marciano’s been experiencing life and sharpening his wordplay all while recording.

During a recent interview with UGHH, Roc Marci detailed putting together his latest work, among other topics. He says his recording process is natural with how he lives his life. His everyday experiences simply inspire what later ends up on wax. “Push the pen with a vengeance” is how he’d describe it.

What’s been up recently besides strictly music-based stuff?

Outside of music, I got a couple of business-side things. I’ve got a couple things coming in the tech world. [I’m] living life, you know, family and stuff like that, so yeah. I’ve got a couple of things coming outside of music.

You put out Rosebudd’s Revenge in February. It’s been bumping in my headphones and the whip for the last two weeks or so. How has the reaction to it been so far from what you’ve seen?

It’s been very positive, man. I’ve got no complaints.

This is your first project since 2013 with Marci Beaucoup. How has this almost four-year gap provided you the experiences necessary to put out a project like this?

I feel like I get better every day. It all depends if I’m in the recording mode. I’m not always in recording mode. I recorded a lot of music while I wasn’t putting out music. I was completing other projects and things I’ve been working on. I started on Rosebudd’s Revenge and then I stopped, and then jumped back in it and finished it in probably like a couple weeks or something.

You’re also a producer as well, so how much does that affect your mindset when another producer is working with you. Is it more bouncing off ideas and then you both come together with it?

I let everybody do they thing, man. We just compare notes. Pass tracks back-and-forth like, “This is what I’m on.” Then they say, “This is what I’m on.” Then we kind of start to figure it out like, “Ok, this is where you’re going, aiight.” I kind of give them a vibe and they send me something, and I’m like, “Right around here is where I’m trying to bake.” We just communicate through it and put beats away and join styles and just compare notes. It’s kind of simple.

On “Marksmen” you feature Ka—someone you’ve worked with a lot over the years—and I think you two on a track together is perfect because you have similar styles but different content and different flows. You also challenge each other to do something a little different when you’re on a song together. Talk about that relationship and how you work creatively when you’re in the booth together.

Working with Ka. Hmm. I mean you know, Ka’s incredible, man. I’ve felt like that since the first time I heard him. It’s just always a pleasure working with somebody that you know is going to deliver, so I really can’t say much more about it ‘cause it’s like working with family. It’s actually just fun. We push each other. It’s not like who’s going to get off on who or nothing like that. It’s just like, “Yo, let’s just do a fly joint.”

He does always bring the bars, so how much does that affect—not even in a competition way—how you prepare when doing a song together?

I think with my history of my bars, I don’t have to be pushed by anybody. Bar for bar, I don’t really have nothing to prove. My discography speaks for itself. I don’t really feel I need to compete. I just do what I do and that’s that, you know what I’m saying?

Where do you see yourself at this point in your career and how have you grown from Flipmode Squad in the late ‘90s to your earlier solo material like Marcberg to now in 2017 with Rosebudd’s Revenge?

I feel great. I definitely have made history. I brought a lot of game to the game, made a nice amount of money doing what I love to do. It’s a success story coming from where I come from. I feel great. What more can I say? I’m blessed.

The first time I heard you as a solo artist was on GZA’s “Short Race” from Pro Tools. You, in your own production, use a lot of very obscure samples within some of your best songs, which is almost RZA-esque. Obviously Wu-Tang means a lot being an emcee from New York, but how specifically did they inspire you when you were beginning to rap?

[They were a] tremendous influence. Wu-Tang Clan, them the older gods. That’s part of the foundation. That’s how I feel about the Clan, man. I got a lot of love for them.

When you put out music what do you want people to take away from it even if they spin your new project just once?

I just want them to enjoy it. Enjoy it. Take it for what it is. I’m not trying to school n***as all day. I’m trying to enjoy myself. I love what I do. If brothas digging it, if they can ride to it, good. It’s really that simple to me. I don’t really put more thought into it than that.

I like the instrumental switch-ups you offer on this project within songs. You did it with your “Rosebudd’s Revenge Part. 1” video, but it’s really prevalent in “Herringbone” and “Pray 4 Me.” What was the inspiration behind that because you don’t see that that much these days?

I do that because that’s fun. It keeps things interesting. That’s pretty much why I do it. It’s pretty much like hip-hop meets progressive rock, right? “You never know what might happen” kind of shit in a song so, I do it ‘cause that’s fun.

When you hear a sample that provides something different, how do you determine its value for a song? Like what makes you go, “Oooh, that’s gotta be in something”?

It’s really about if it matches what I’m trying to say, what I’m feeling at the time. I make a lot of beats when I’m making beats. I’ll get a bunch of records and make a lot of beats because I don’t make beats all the time. I’m kind of going through the records, and I’m taking visual photos so to speak. Anything that stands out to me, I’ll fuck with it. I put all those notes to the side and I’ll go through them and depending on how I’m feeling that day, I put the beats on like clothes. That’s how I’m feeling today, so I’m going to jump on this.

You were on De La Soul’s album last year via “Property of Spitkicker.com.” What did it mean to be a part of not just a legendary group’s LP, but also being on one that got high praise?

I’ve always been a De La Soul fan, man. I feel like they’re part of the foundation to me also. I look at those dudes like those guys are big brothers in the game. I get a lot of inspiration from De La Soul. They make some of my favorite music in life so for those brothers to reach out for me to spit on something, do a record, what can I say? I’m honored, man. Calls like that, that’s what it’s all about.

What’s your relationship like with Busta Rhymes currently? Do you guys still keep up with one another?

Busta, that’s my brother. I was just with Busta not long ago. Probably like two weeks ago I was on set of his video. We was shooting a video out in Cali. He got some new shit ready to drop. It’s crazy. That’s my brother, man. I fucks with Bus real heavy.

I know you’re a big NBA fan, Knicks fan. The big story now is Phil Jackson’s missteps this season. I love asking New Yorkers about the direction of the Knicks since it’s been a while since they’ve had success?

Ah man, you had to go there [laughs].

[laughs]

It starts in the front office, man. That’s all I can say. It’s time to clean house. We need a clean slate. Shit is worse than it’s damn near ever been. What more can you do? You got to scrap it and start over. That’s all I can say about it. Shit is a bust right now, unfortunately. I love my Knicks, but it ain’t nothing to talk about. It ain’t even a story right now.

Does Carmelo Anthony have to go as a part of starting over?

Honestly, I feel like if Melo wants to leave and wants to win of course he’s got to go ‘cause he ain’t gonna win here. I think Melo should go. I want Melo to win. When they was trying to do that trade with the Cavs, I wanted it to go down to see him get a chance to win. We need to just scrap everything. Keep Kristaps [Porzingis]. I like [Willy] Hernangómez, I like [Mindaugas] Kuzminskas. We got some good young players but we need to do something with the rest of the organization. The front office needs to get some of those people out and put Melo on a championship team. That would be good for him. We in a rebuilding process right now.

I live in Ohio and am a Cavaliers fan. We weren’t too sure about getting Melo, especially if it meant giving up Kevin Love…

Melo’s firepower. No matter how you slice it. Melo is firepower, and it look like with [Kevin] Durant on the floor, you could use an extra gun.

Right. I can see that. Lastly though, what’s next for you now that the album’s out and the people have it?

There’s a lot more music to come. I’ve got more visuals, things like that, staying busy. As for touring, when it warms up, I’m going to go out on the road, touch a few spots. That’s pretty much it.

Listen to Roc Marciano’s Rosebudd’s Revenge album below and purchase it here.

Speak your piece in the comments below or start the conversation over at the UGHH Forums.