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Jurassic 5 took the world by storm with their funky, uplifting, and political signature style from their albums released. From the self-titled Jurassic 5 to Quality Contol to Power In Numbers to Feedback, they put together a string of must have albums for the true Hip Hop Heads. His solo album Sound Check, is also dope in its own right.
I dubbed him the West Coast Professor, because he is always spreading knowledge to people online and around his community about religion, politics, life, and philosophy. As a Muslim, he spreads knowledge that contradicts that of those that only feel Islam is backed by terrorist groups. He shows you the truth of their teachings. I was super excited when he accepted this interview because I wanted to pick his brain about the treatment of OGs and see what he felt. Well anyway, without any further ado, I bring you the interview of Akil The MC so please enjoy.
Do you really feel that legends of Hip Hop get the respect that they deserve? You have big artists that pay homage to the OGs which is nice, but why not get them to feature in your (in general) songs more atleast after you aren't held by your record contract right? Why isn't this a thing? Why don't they include them in their tours and shows? I don't get it...
I definitely feel that some OGs get their respect and props and stuff. From a lot of artists, but then a lot of times, you know, a lot of artists are not aware of some of these old school artists. So a lot of times you don't have access to them to even know and the thing about it is that when people have already done everything and you feel like they have done it and stuff. What can I offer them? Naturally you feel you don't offer things that they have already got. Most artists aren't going to tell you that they are struggling or in a position that's not good. It's a pride thing too, sometimes you just don't even know. A lot of times when people do a song with people they are fans of like us as Jurassic 5, we sought out Percy P and Big Daddy Kane for a particular reason or a particular song and stuff. Yea, that's what happens and stuff.
Do you feel it has anything to do with the competitive nature of Hip Hop? Like they are almost conditioned to not give someone shine so that they shine harder? I guess, is it an ego thing? Do they feel they are better than them? I'm not trying to cause any beef or nothing like that, I just want to ask these questions because I don't understand it.
Nah, I don't think it is an ego thing. I think that you know, people have their time and like I said they have already done big things, so a lot of times a younger artist that aren't of the age that looked up to them like what can we offer them. It'd be hard to offer them things. It would have to be some kind of a specialty type thing like how I mentioned that we did the song with Percy P and Big Daddy Kane. It was for a particular reason. We were seeking out that skillset, so sometimes as time goes on and styles change and you liked someone for a particular reason and the song has that type of aesthetic then you go look for those people and that is when that happens. It's not a competition thing like someone is better because if somebody is dope, you want them to be a part of your thing and stuff. Like Jay-Z is older than a lot of these artists right now and what not, but those artists would love to have Jay-Z on a song and stuff but Jay-Z ain't that accessible. It just depends, so sometimes it will be like that, so people will be like it would be nice to have them and if it happens, it happens and what not. I don't think it is a competitive thing at all.
Who are artists that you feel get a pass on this and do you feel you deserve a pass on this sort of topic because you yourself do a lot of the culture? You spread knowledge and it isn't inclusive and you aren't afraid to discuss it on social media which I love about you personally. Why do you yourself feel the need to be this "light", if you will? I put quotation marks because it's my opinion; you are a light to me but it isn't an absolute to where everyone has to perceive you as such.
I feel to the need to do this because those are the people that made me who I am. I grew up in that age and that era where paying homage is a part of the culture, you know? A lot of times, like I said, people aren't aware of who came before them so they don't feel a need to reach back and you know, they may reach back to people that they know. It's just a knowing thing. For me, I've been listening to Hip Hop and stuff, you know, since Sugar Hill and what not. Since the first rapper occurred. So for me, I pay homage to all of them because I know that there was a time that it didn't exist. Whereas a lot of kids today, they grow up that's all they knew existed (reader note like started at Jay-Z for instance). For me, Hip Hop wasn't on the radio, you know and at one point it was, you know what I'm saying I listened to a whole another sound, funk and soul, and RnB, you know and jazz and different forms of music and then Hip Hop came. Whereas the kids today, people today, everything is Hip Hop. Rock is Hip Hop and everything has been influenced by Hip Hop. So it's a different time and what not so, if you don't know who these artists are and stuff like some people don't feel the need and stuff because they are not aware, you know? So that is why I try to spread awareness. That's why I shed the light so that people can know what's up.
How can we put OGs and legends in a better place? What does Hip Hop have to do as a culture to make this a better space for everybody?
Have one common goal from a financial ownership position as well as benefits like you have on jobs and stuff., you know what I'm saying? Like you have pensions, they pay for your dental and you know, housing and all these different stuff, you know Hip Hop needs a committee of people that need to fight for this. I know don't know the particular name for it and what not. Everybody needs to feel be able to see themselves benefiting for fighting for this and the record companies need to pay into a pension for artists whether you are 20 minutes into the game or 20, 30 years into the game. You know, eventually you are going to get to that point where you are not popular anymore so, there needs to be some sort of pension because you contributed to the culture. Everybody needs to be able to receive certain things and benefits like I am saying; dental, medical, housing, food because there are a lot of homeless artists out there. A lot of things that are happening to artists but in order for the culture to like you said the legends to be in a better place and stuff, you know what I'm saying? It has to not only be for the legends cause a lot of people think, why didn't they do that for themselves? Everybody needs to be involved because those younger people that are talking shit about the older people, they are going to be that older people. So, we need to have some sort of common goal where we are all fighting for the same thing so therefore everybody can be in a better place and stuff. When they are not doing this no more (reader note meaning the powers that be not thinking about the well-being of the artists they profit off of).
Outside of Boom Bap, do you feel that the newer subgenres such as Trap and drill are under the umbrella of Hip Hop or should there be something separate for that realm? What makes you come up with your train of thought, can you break it down maybe?
It's all Hip Hop, I look at Hip Hop as a tree and on a tree you got different branches on the tree and so, you got your rap branch, graffiti branch, dance branch and what not. So on the rap branch, you got other branches coming off of that branch, you got love branch, you know what I'm saying? You got duo rap, you got so called gangsta rap, and like you are saying, trap and all these other things and stuff. All of these are just branches off of the tree. Now with a tree, a tree can produce fruit so, some of the fruit on the tree can be sweet, some can be sour, bitter; some of the fruit is easy to grab, you know what I'm saying? Some of the fruit is way up high and behind some leaves and stuff, you know? And then some stuff fell off the tree and you know, on the ground and stuff, you know what I'm saying? It becomes subjective, right? Depending on what you like from this tree of Hip Hop. Some people like sour shit, some people like the rotten shit, and some people aren't really trying so they are going to grab the fruit that is closest to them, that's easiest for them to grab. Then you got those that want to look a little harder and climb up the tree and look behind that leaf and grab that sweet fruit, you know and what not and stuff, that's me. For me, I like to climb the tree to, you know to get the fruit of my labor. But it's all subjective and stuff because different people like different stuff. But's still a part of the tree called Hip Hop. I don't like to say this is not Hip Hop and should we call it this and stuff, you know what I'm saying? Because it is a part of a branch; it's the rap branch, you know what I'm saying? Now maybe they might not be incoporating all the elements of Hip Hop, you know, it what they do an stuff, but it is still a branch of the tree. And the tree can't be separated; the tree is what it is. Like I said, you got different peices of fruit. Just depends on the different type of fruit that you like.
Growing up, in California, we had mostly gangsta rap coming out and then there were kats like Souls of Mischief, Digital Underground, Jurassic 5, Del the Funky Homosapien, and Hieroglyphics...you guys all brought that funk. You guys brought like that block party vibe where the culture started out. Looking back how does that make you feel? Did you feel you enriched people's lives and helped bring urban culture into a safer place like Zulu Nation? What was your guys goals there and what end result did it bring? Did it cause events and shifts in mindsets that you guys were like wow, I can't believe that happened? You know what I mean? One day we gotta have a video interview haha
First of all, we just was doing what we like, you know, and what we seen from a lot of the old school artists and the particular style we were doing in Hip Hop you gotta do your own style. No one was doing that style, it was dinosaurish. You heard it existed and stuff, but nobody ever seen it in real time, so for us to bring it back to life in this day and age; it's like some Jurassic Park type shit, you know? We put the DNA of that into today's time and wahlah, you got Jurassic Park. You got a whole, you know people that heard of these dinosaurs but now you can actually see it. For us, we manifested that flavor and that aesthetic and brought it out to the world so that people can see what existed. And it definitely had an impact, you know, just for us, you know, doing something that is in their DNA to like, but they didn't know they would like it because it is older than them. But as soon as they heard it, it felt familiar to them, you know what I'm saying? Because it had already existed before. We wasn't doing nothing new, we just brought to people's attention and what not- reviving somthing. That's what our mission was to revive this particular style and sound and you know, even though there wasn't a whole lotta groups and people never really picked up to start doing what we were doing. But doing what we were doing, we were doing us. We weren't up-to-date, you know but we were so far from that style that it seemed like it was new to people, you know what I'm saying? Just spark to people to doing their own thing, yea, I think we did have an impact of people and stuff.
I learned about Jurassic 5 when "Quality Control" came out and "Power In Numbers" I listened to heavily. I listened to them both heavily...I bought both cds twice cause they got scratched up. But anyway, what did your first three albums do for you? How has it impacted your life today?
It impacted my life because we are a staple in Hip Hop history, you know? And people are constantly saying, "I love your album, Quality Control, I love Power In Numbers," you know what I'm saying? Or the EP, and stuff, you know, "Feedback" you know? Anything we have put out has had positive feedback for those things that we have done. As far as what it has done for my life, it has helped me to take care of my family. We toured extensively, so um we was able to make a little chump change, you know? Take care of my family was the most rewarding for me.
If there is anything in Hip Hop back then that is lacking right now, what is it? What essence is needed most in the world today? How can Hip Hop be released from the record companies so that the culture can stand on its own? Do you even think the Afrocentric part of the music industry like Def Jam, and Roc-A-Fella have damaged the culture or have they empowered it more?
I think we have more people that understood where this came from so it was easy for them to digest the cultural as a whole. Now today, I don't see as many people educated as they once were. You could just see people and the way they dressed that, he knows something about Hip Hop. Whereas today you can't tell even though they may look like they know something but then you get to talking to some people and you realize like damn man, we doing a bad job at keeping people educated about people in this culture.
(As for How can Hip Hop be released from the record companies so that the culture can stand on its own?) That's not going to happen right there.It's not going to happen because you always have people that want to be validated. People want to be famous; the fight for people that want to be famous exceeds someone's experience in this stuff like, you don't need this man. They have to experience it in order for them to know that they don't need that and stuff. And there is always going to be somebody that's new in this that needs to get they head bumped and stuff. I don't think that is going to go away. Unless record companies are illegally banned and it is not an option no more. I don't think that is going to happen and what not.
(As for Do you even think the Afrocentric part of the music industry like Def Jam, and Roc-A-Fella have damaged the culture or have they empowered it more?) In ways they have empowered it, you know? In some ways they have handicapped it and stuff but that's just part of the game, you know? You live and you learn, know what I mean? We can blame a lot of different people for a lot of different stuff, you know what I'm saying? But at the end of the day, it's what you learn from the process and how you are going to react. People can do things to you but it's how you react. So, you know, that's what needs to happen, we need to react and do stuff better. This happened, okay it's not going to happen no more, I'm going to insure that this isn't going to happen because this is going to happen. You have to provide people with options because you can't be just like that's just bad over there. That's just it, like man like it gotta be in the way of transforming or you know, you gotta be able to teach people to learn from it. This happened over there, when we come over here we are not going to do that same thing and stuff, you know what I'm saying? So we'll do this instead.
Is there any artists in the underground right now that you appreciate? What is it about them that attracts your attention? Is there any artists in the mainstream that you really respect as well?
So, on the underground level, I don't even know what the underground is anymore. People that maybe not known and stuff, I just take it back to what the original definition of underground was- it's just somebody that isn't as known as someone in the so called mainstream and stuff, you know what I'm saying? I like Coast Contra, I like them, I like them because they remind me of the 90s in their style of rap in their group and stuff, you know? Where you don't have a lot of groups these days. You know, their rhyme style and their attitudes and how they love the predessessors. You know, how we talked about before. They show love and stuff. You got Villain Park, they are from LA, I really like them. I wanna say that one of them is the little brother or family of People Under The Stairs. They got that DNA in them and they from LA so they got that mixture of Pharcyde like harder Pharcyde type, you know? Just some dope Hip Hop and what not. I'm really digging them. I don't know if you can consider Sa-Rock underground, but I like Sa-Rock. She's a female out of Washington DC, by way of Atlanta. There is a lot of different artists, I'm just drawing a blank.
As far as mainstream, I definitely like Kendrick Lamar and stuff, I like J. Cole, I like Currency, I like Rhapsody, and I don't know I'm just drawing a blank right now and stuff. Every time I get asked that question, I'm like, "Oh yeah, I forgot about these people and stuff." But if you are doing your thing, it's a big up to you and stuff.
Lastly, why isn't there a Hip Hop Hall of fame? Why do you think that is? There is a ton of money in the Hip Hop community, why hasn't that been established? It would really cement that this culture is here to stay, and it isn't going anywhere, don't you think? Don't you think that is needed?
I think a lot of that is being worked on right now, especially with these 50 years of Hip Hop. A lot of things have come into play where it's on a platform right now, you know, so these things can be addressed and stuff. But prior to that, it wasn't really like talked about but I am sure these things were talked about and stuff but this 50-year thing makes it more cemented and it's like "bam!" we made it 50 years. You see people's confidence and plays play in it and then you see people that are doing things like the mayor in New York he is helping a lot of things and facilitate a lot of things. You know? A lot of these things are being talked about behind the scenes to people getting their props and stuff, but it is going to take a lot of time to cement things, you know? Atleast these things are on the table; I feel really good about these 50 years of Hip Hop to where these things can be discussed and not necessarily go away or seem irrelevant prior to this point. This really cemented it, like yo this is 50 years and we have to really acknowledge our predecessors and stuff. A hall of fame would be very good. I think there are a lot of museums but yeah, to have a Hip Hop Hall of Fame would be really instrumental. Just doing all the things that exist and stuff basically the Grammy of Hip Hop, and you know? Not necessarily emulating these people but then having those types of platforms to where these are things, like if you got this, it means something to us. Like the Grammy's and stuff for that world, it wasn't created for us. To get a Grammy, it's a great accolade for whatever that world is and if you consider that. But I have never really considered those people, you know. If a person got a Grammy or not, that never really meant nothing. For me, a lot of artists in Hip Hop got a Grammy for me. That's like the thing so, thanks a lot for this interview and yeah man, I approve this interview, alright peace!