I’m doing lovely right now. We’re shooting a video for “Renaissance” right now with Timbo King, Tragedy Khadafi and R.A. the Rugged Man. I’m feeling baby powder-fresh right now.
It must feel good to finally have a solo album out.
Yeah, definitely. This is my first time and I feel a whole different experience about it. It’s more work doing a solo album and I carried a heavier load doing it by myself, but it’s still real and I’m still sticking to the same pattern of what we’ve been doing from the beginning. It’s to the tenth power now.
Was it a challenge writing full songs?
You know what’s so ill? The hardest part was doing the first song because the whole album I already had. I was thinking of a movie. The intro was the hardest part. I was on some Spielberg shit when I did this album. “Nativity” was the last song that I did. Khrome, the producer of it, came with the beat and that was it. I needed horns. This is the birth. When I got the beat from Khrome, I knew that had to be the intro. From there on, that was it. Everything was just beautiful because all the shit was already done. But the first song was the last song done. That was the hardest part. I squeezed all that deep shit out of my head and then I had to get the last drop.
Other than that, I loved it. I got tons of more work coming. This is just the beginning.
What do you want to give the listeners with Renaissance Child?
I just want to give people real music. I’m from Brooklyn, Red Hook Projects. That’s one of the craziest projects in Brooklyn. I wanted to give them something original. Not too many people have made an impact on this hip-hop shit coming from my angle. I’ve done the groups, Sunz of Man, Black Market Militia and the Maccabeez, but I have to make my solo mark on the world. I’m about giving good music. When you hear this album, you’ll know I make good music. It’s something you can learn from and you can play it for the babies. I’m making music that your moms and son can listen to.
What makes you the Renaissance Child?
Wow. The whole thing is a rebirth. I rebirthed myself and came out fresh all over again. “Renaissance” means “rebirth” and the “Child” is because it’s my first time. This is a new beginning for me. I’m starting all over from scratch. That’s how you get the title “Renaissance Child.” The birth is pure. The baby is brand-new. The only thing that changes is what you put in the baby’s mind after it’s born. I’m a new hard drive right now.
You still stick to the same style that made you successful though.
I turned the levels up a little higher so it could be a little bit better. In order to do that, I had to start from scratch. Fans aren’t used to hearing me rhyme with cats that aren’t Wu-Tang. That’s what I had to introduce on this album, like “Project Jazz” with MF Doom and Talib. They’re not used to that. That’s the new shit that everyone is about to start seeing. Right now, for me, what I’m doing now, this shit is needed in hip-hop.
You talk about the influence of jazz in your life on “Project Jazz.” How important is jazz in your life?
That’s original. You can’t copy what I’m saying because I’m talking about my real life. You can’t bite that shit. I’m talking about real shit and real people. That’s what music used to be. You can’t copy that. You can’t bite that unless you’re going to talk about some shit you’ve been in.
I thought of the summertime when I did that song and everybody was out in the park at the jams with your whole family and the whole ‘hood has love for each other. That’s the type of vibe that I caught. That was a dedication to the projects and to jazz music. Jazz doesn’t really use hooks, so jazz is the hook on this song. All you need is the rhymes. That was some straight-up beats and rhymes shit. It’s about making good music. Fuck all the beefing shit and talking about shit that you’re never going to do to each other. It’s about saving lives.
What was it like working with artists like MF Doom and Talib Kweli, who aren’t in the Wu circle?
They already have the same similarities as us. It was really nothing. It was already like a magnetic attraction already. We already vibed to each other. That was something new for the people to hear me. Working with different producers and shit like that, you do get to see how everybody does their shit differently and how some producers are more into the music than the others. Some send beats and don’t care what you do and others want to be there. Others want to be there. I had to have everybody there. MF Doom was there with the mask.
I have a certain ear for hip-hop and I like certain cats out there who I want to do songs with and I’d like to hear them do some different shit. Everybody might want to do some different music, but these A&R’s are telling them they have to make music to appeal to a certain audience. Then these cats with straight-up talent are trying to make hip-hop shit but the labels are trying to squeeze the juice out of them and add mad water. Everybody is on the grind and you can’t knock the next nigga’s hustle, but when we run into each other, that’s what we build about.
The hook in “Buried Alive” talks about how the rap game wants you buried alive.
The rap game is burying me alive. Look how long it’s taken me to get an album out. Sunz of Man has been through the shit. We’ve been through enough scars and stripes. We kept each other out there. We came out with Saviorz Day and I put out Freedom of Speech with 4th Disciple. We did the Black Market Militia and we had to renew ourselves from that. The labels went bankrupt and we had to do what we had to do to keep ourselves in the game and keep ourselves alive. It gets even deeper. Wait until you hear the Heaven Razah album where I’m talking about this shit. It’s going to get crazy.
You also talk about how one label’s studio burned down after they fronted on you on “Buried Alive.”
We were in this studio and we had recorded some shit. Our masters were in the studio. We had some songs that we had recorded that were crazy. These are the first Sunz of Man songs. The studio burned down. It was some shit that we went through. We’re not going to get into everything, but they tried to fuck with us the wrong way and ended up with a burnt-down studio. That’s what I mean. We’re not playing around with things. Word.
How was it recording “Smoking Gunz” with Killah Priest?
That’s going to be the third single. We’re actually going to be doing a video to that too. We had to show niggas some real hip-hop, real lyrical shit to the tenth power. That’s just us going in as deep as we can go. That song is so crazy. You’re going to be rewinding that shit a million times trying to figure out what we’re saying. That’s nothing compared to the other shit we’ve done. We have more good food to keep giving you when you’re done with that because we stay working. When you get a hold of “Smoking Gunz,” you’re really going to see where we’re coming from, spiritually and politically. We’re trying to bring spiritual upliftment and open up niggas’ minds.
You and Killah Priest have always had great chemistry on tracks dating back to the Sunz of Man days. Why is that?
We’re like steel sharpening steel. That’s my brother right there. A lot of shit we do, even from me working on The Offering, everything that we do is just going to keep adding a spark to hip-hop. We did a freestyle over “Young, Gifted and Black” and after that, I heard three other cats trying to freestyle over it. The way we did it is incredible. That was just some freestyle shit. The songs that we do, like “Smoking Gunz,” it’s like planting a seed and adding water. When we’re making music, we’ve built tons of shit from the Maccabeez to the Black Market Militia. We just give that type of spark to each other that allows us to make good music.
How was it recording “Glow” with 4th Disciple?
“Glow” was a verse that I had written while ago. I wanted to do a song where I never stopped rhyming and I kept going. There was more to that song but I had to cut it. “Glow” is what I wanted to show niggas how I can spit nonstop and each bar means something. It’s time for us to glow and niggas wanted to hold us back from trying to do what we had to do. This whole glow shit is what you’re going to see us doing from now on. When you see us, we glow.
Working with 4th Disciple is great. Our chemistry is so beautiful. We don’t sit down and come up with no gimmicks. There’s no gimmicks. It’s all from the heart and it’s natural. We’ll vibe to some natural music and what’s on my mind is what we put down and record. The chemistry marries each other. For those that have The Freedom of Speech, you know what I mean. Article 2 is going to take the Freedom of Speech to perfection. We didn’t get to do everything on Freedom of Speech. We have more control on Article 2. We have a lot of surprises that are going to be on this project. It’s going to be really, really sick. A lot of niggas are going to love it. They know 4th Disciple has a sound and they love it and miss it. A lot of producers are biting his sound and the shit that we’re about to do is going to be on some Eric B and Rakim, Pete Rock and CL Smooth type of shit. That’s where we’re taking it right now.
4th Disciple: When me and Razah did this, it was like when we did The Freedom of Speech. Razah came to my crib in the Poconos and we knocked out an album in a weekend. “Glow” was one of the leftover songs from The Freedom of Speech. It’s a hot song and it couldn’t be wasted. We’re just going to keep it coming to promote the movement.
4th, how is it working with Razah?
4th Disciple: It’s excellent working with Razah. It’s like it’s magic when me and Razah get together. That’s my brother. I’ve been working with him for years and I know what he sounds good on. He’s so ill that he can adapt to anything, but I know what he likes. It’s excellent working with Razah. I can throw a beat on and he has something that’s going to fit it. It’s excellent working with an MC like who has experience like that. I don’t like a lot of people on a lyrical level because they mimic. Not Razah.
What are your expectations for Renaissance Child?
4th Disciple: My expectations are the best for my brother. I always hope for the best for my brother.
Razah, what were you looking for in the production for Renaissance Child?
I needed authenticity. I needed each producer to not worry about what the other producers did for the album. I didn’t want anybody to worry about what the other one did. I wanted them to each bring their own vibe.
We did “Renaissance” in the crib, burning some L’s. Me and Timbo were basically talking the hook before we actually got in the booth and said it. Then I dropped a verse and that was it. Then I played it for Trag and he was with it. Then he wanted to get on it and then once we played it for R.A., that was it after that. Some of the shit just came. The production is the whole key to the album. I wanted to make each song connected to each other, but the intro is not going to sound like “Renaissance.” There are different vibes going on the whole time. Music is real important and that’s why I picked out the beats myself. That’s really important when you’re making an album.
Niggas don’t know how to make albums. They know how to make mixtapes. I know how to make classic albums.
How do you balance your spiritual rhymes with your more hardcore lyrics?
That’s what makes me the projects’ prophet. It’s hard because I don’t want to speak over the people’s heads where they can’t understand me and I have to speak to the children. It’s really hard, but my spirituality was in me before I was born. That’s just how I am. My mother used to always pray around me and everything and made sure she kept the wicked spirits away from me. She enlightened me as I got older. I’ve always been out there in the streets, but in my age and coming from my era, I’m lucky to be a survivor. I’m like the last of the Mohicans. My spirituality feeds me. I’ve been through it already and I speak from a grown man standpoint and at the same time, I can understand as a young man. My spirituality is in my life and it comes out in my music. That’s an important factor in life that we should all bring out and start to open up more.
You quote Deuteronomy 28 on “Chain Gang.” What does Deuteronomy 28 mean to you?
That explains how we came over here in ships. If you look back, they’ll tell you that slaves came here in yokes of iron. The ancient black Hebrews were slaves and it shows how they relate to the people we are. If you take Moses for example, Moses was a Hebrew but he was mistaken for an Egyptian. How can a Hebrew be mistaken for an Egyptian unless they were dark? That’s the whole point in the scripture. Our people came over here in slavery and Deuteronomy 28 speaks about how we relate today. I’m just trying to spread the knowledge that we have to go back and do some research to learn who we are.
Songs like “Chain Gang,” “Runaway Sambo” and “Buried Alive” have references to slavery. Why are there so many references to slavery on Renaissance Child?
Our people are technically still in slavery. If you have a Social Security number, you’re enslaved. You’re the state’s property. The state feeds you and tells you what to learn. You have to file for a marriage certificate and they give you a death certificate. The state owns you. That’s why you have all these prisons being built. That’s nothing but modern-day slavery. “Runaway Sambo” and “Chain Gang” relates to how we went as runaway slaves in Egypt to Sing Sing and Rikers Island. I’m trying to open up our people’s eyes to the fact that there is more to life than what’s going on around us.
Our people are always noted for tap-dancing for the man, but not too many people are talking about Nat Turner and the ones who were standing up for their rights. Not too many people would die for the war that they’re speaking about. I’m trying to take it back to where I’m putting my life on the line for what I’m saying on this album.
What will take to see a positive change in the future?
It’s going to take the children not wanting to hear the bullshit no more. That’s when it’s going to change. They control the future. If you keep giving the children music that won’t do nothing for them, they’re going to carry on the same cycle. What we feed them now determines how our future is going to be. It’s very important in the music that we’re putting out nowadays because the children are the listeners and they’re the ones who try to do what we’re doing. They’re the ones fascinated with this.
Can the spirituality and complexity of Renaissance Child scare away some kids?
You know what it is? It’s more like KRS one said back in the day. It’s “edutainment.” It’s educational, but it’s entertainment at the same time. I want the kids to not dance to this album, but come ready to be taught and trained and come looking for a change and originality. I don’t want them to come listen to this album with the same biases they have when they listen to other albums. That’s what the Renaissance Child is about. This is what I’m going to bring to them.
2Pac touched on it with Makaveli and Thug Life. That was the whole spirituality/street life shit that was hitting the people, but then the government tried to take him away from us. But they didn’t know about the Maccabeez. We’re speaking on spirituality and street shit. That’s the same shit that Jesus Christ spoke about. They’re going to eventually have to fall for it because it’s on TV and it’s not a secret no more. It’s not hidden no more. It’s on CNN. You can turn on CNN and there are no more secrets to what we’re talking about. It’s happening right now. This is the score music for the Armageddon. I bring the Armageddon theme songs.
You also talk about conspiracies on “Musical Murdah” when you say, “There’s something much more to the death of Johnnie Cochran.”
The death of Johnnie Cochran was really mysterious, because at one point he was really, really healthy. Then he dies from a brain aneurysm? That’s kind of strange. He was the one that got OJ off the murder cases and he had a lot of important cases. It’s kind of strange. There is a lot of conspiracy shit going on in the government that we don’t speak about. Hip-hop used to speak about it. I’m taking it back to the days of speaking about that. Hip-hop is a musical telegram.
A lot of people look at conspiracy theories with a degree of skepticism.
You can go online and check it out. You can go to my site. Truth and conspiracies are two different things. When you do the research and you find the truth, that’s different. You have to break down what you’re dealing with. This is shit that you sit down and have conversations with scholars about. You have to talk to real honorable people who understand the conversation. Our problem is bigger than a rapper. A rapper is just a puppet. The machine that’s controlling him is what we have beef with. We have beef with the machine. You can go research to see that I’m speaking the true word. My music is like having a nice conversation with beautiful music playing.
You’re saying what a lot of others aren’t saying. Do you worry about negative feedback?
If it’s controversial because I speak the truth, then so be it. We’re going to make the people love us because they respect us. Not because it’s fake. I want people to love me and respect me because my music is real. I don’t want people to love me because my music is heavily advertised and promoted. I want to touch the hearts of people across the world. I want to touch those when I speak in my music, regardless of whether or not I get radio play. Every record that’s come out from me hasn’t had the proper radio play, but somebody still bought it and somebody still had it. The programmers program you to make you like their music. It’s called “commercial radio” for a reason. The people who have the ambition to hear the good, righteous music to give them spiritual upliftment, that’s who I’m saying this for.
Does it ever frustrate you that major media outlets won’t play your music?
It only frustrates those who want the fame. You don’t want to get caught up in Hollywood and not be able to go back home. You’ve made these party records and pop records for people who don’t really love you and shitted on the people who really love you. I’d rather be with the people who love me and stay with them. The other love is temporary. I don’t want temporary love. The whole Ghetto Government shit that we have is proof.
What are your ultimate goals for Renaissance Child?
I want to bring back hip-hop music in its purest form with brand-new lyrics that mean something. I also have some other projects. Right now I’m in the studio with 4th Disciple for The Right To Bear Arms: Article 2 album. I’m in the studio right now after just shooting a video. That’s how serious it is right now. I’m doing this for my fans that really love me and support me and want real hip-hop music that means something. This is for everyone going against the system that needs some theme music and inspiration.
The Heaven Razah project is also coming. You’re going to get hit with the Renaissance Child now and I’m trying to drop On Earth As It Is In Heaven in the summertime. I have some shit for y’all niggas. If you want to be a part of the movement, get at me, Priest, Timbo or Trag. We’re serious about this. This is really going on.
How will the Heaven Razah project be different from your past projects?
The Heaven Razah project is going to be like a sonogram before the Renaissance Child. I’m going to take you into the different chambers before the Renaissance Child. It’s a real spiritual album that’s filled with a lot of wisdom. It’s going to be hip-hop on another level. Hell Razah is the Renaissance Child, more street. The Heaven Razah project is me as Rahziel, that means God’s messenger in Hebrew. That’s what I mean when I say we’re on the Maccabeez shit. We’re talking about how angels are around us and they’re recording. This is real shit that’s been going on since the beginning of time all the way up to now. Once everyone digests Renaissance Child, they have to be hit with the tenth power.
Will you be dropping albums at a more consistent rate from now on?
This is it. That’s why the Renaissance Child was born. You’re going to see Hell Razah all around from now on. I have the downloadable mixtape and the Sonogram to the Renaissance Child is coming out with DJ Rated R and DJ Diggz. Everybody should just get ready to hear some real good hip-hop shit. You can really get into some real hip-hop shit and feel good about it. All those beefs are petty. We’re acting like peasants. Fuck what the next man has. That shit doesn’t matter. Just make good music. That’s all that matters.
You also released a mixtape for free download last week. How do you approach rhyming over tracks like “Wanted Dead or Alive” and “Ain’t No Half-Stepping”?
It was inspiration. I knew my impact on these tracks had to be crazy. When I rhymed over “Welcome to the Terrordome,” I had to come with some crazy rhymes. I had to talk about Sean Bell and how situations like that just go by. The brother never had a gun on him. Why did they shoot up to 50 shots? These are real situations. I know cats that got shot and killed by the police. These are situations that are not being spoken on enough but they keep happening and they keep happening and it got out of control.
I had to take it back to that era because I love that era. I always wanted to pay homage to those tracks. That’s what made me want to do this shit when I was younger. I had to pay homage to all the elders that made a pathway for me. That music gave me a spark. That’s the real core of this art.
Will there ever be another Sunz of Man album?
I think so. Prodigal just got back in New York. We were together. We hung out and talked about some shit. Right now, we’re letting the Renaissance Child album digest. We’re going to let the Hell Razah shit bang niggas in the head because that’s what’s happening right now. This Hell Razah shit is on fire right now. We’re going to let this one come up and then bang them in the head with the Sunz of Man album. There’s also The Offering coming out and tons more shit that’s coming out that we’re doing. We got Black Market Part 2 and the Maccabeez. It’s been ten years since Sunz of Man first came out and a lot of people are missing Sunz of Man. We’re going to kill them with some original shit with all the original members.
How’s the Black Market Militia album coming?
We’re six or seven songs deep. There’s a couple other cats we want involved on there. We have some songs that we have to finish up and we have some songs that were already done. We just have to figure out who we’re going to combine with. From there on, we’re just going to stomp it out like that and take over the whole underground, independent shit. We’re looking for niggas like Saigon, Immortal Technique and Papoose. We want to get those types of niggas that are spitting some revolutionary, street shit that can relate to the people. We want to reach out to those cats to get Black Market Militia Part 2 popping.
How’s the Maccabeez album coming?
We have five songs done for that but we had stopped recording for the Maccabeez because of Renaissance Child and The Offering. After that, we had like five, six, seven songs done. Then Timbo started recording his solo project. From there, we got halfway through it. So we just have to finish up that shit. The shit that we have for it now is crazy. We’re working with Fabrizio Sotti, Godz Wrath, 7th Ambassador and some new Maccabeez like Lazarus from the Tribes of Judah. We have some samurai niggas coming. If we love it, you know it’s going to be on some crazy shit.
What’s your focus going to be for the next couple months?
Pushing this album. I got the most underrated album of the year. It’s going down in history. Listen to it for yourself. I’ll be back with more music. It’s not going to stop here. I’m about to lay this verse for The Right To Bear Arms: Article 2 project with 4th Disciple.
What do you want to say to everybody?
Stop supporting that fake-ass, watered-down, diluted hip-hop shit. Buy real music. Stop downloading shit and start buying shit. If you’re a real fan and you want to show some real love, buy niggas’ shit. Stop downloading it and getting copies. That’s why I made sure the album has classic artwork and a bonus DVD. If you’re going to be a nigga who wants to download the shit, you’re not going to have the artwork or a bonus DVD. Go buy the real, original copy.
And don’t get caught up in all the reviews either. Already the Source gave me 3 ½ mics. When you hear the album, ask yourself if it deserves 3 ½ mics. It’s all good though. There’s not a wack beat on that album and the lyrics are grade-A.
I want to thank everybody that helped Renaissance Child become a classic hip-hop record. This is a classic, straight-up. HipHopGame, you’ve supported me from day one. I’m just working hard. They can’t fuck with me right now. I’m in the zone and I’m in my best shape ever. I’m like Muhammad Ali when he was Cassius Clay.