The Godfathers Interviewby Rob Cockcroft / 16.11.2011
In my younger days I liked to think I’d attack dudes with spiked bats and pistol whip motherfuckers who looked at me skew. This was thanks to a quagmire of ghetto fantasies formed by my rap tastes. Now I got to talk to two rappers who helped shape me into the unashamed identity-crisis suffering, hood-life glorifying rap fan that I am today. Necro, the king of Death Rap and Kool G Rap, the granddaddy of gangsta rap; the most renowned underground rappers to ever give severe lyrical eardrum pummellings are teaming up on an album called The Godfathers set to be released in the early part of 2012. We chat to them to find out more about the project, how they formed their distinctive styles and their feelings towards the current hip hop scene.
Mahala: When I first heard about this collaboration I wondered why it hadn’t happened sooner. When did the idea come about and what kind of intensity can we expect from the combination?
Necro: Yeah everything happens when it’s supposed to happen, like fine wine. It wasn’t meant to be until now. I actually met G like 10 years ago in the streets but I didn’t wanna push up on him, I felt back then it was corny to bother established rappers, better to just praise them so he knows the streets got love, so I just gave daps and kept it moving. The idea for this came when I was asked why I didn’t work with G already by Domingo, who is friends with this super fan of mine named Tina, and long story short, we spoke on Twitter, then met up and handled biz. G is the coolest dude I ever met in hip hop, considering who he is, and the stature he holds in this game. He was mad down to earth and we kicked it about hip hop like homies.
KGR: As far as what y’all can expect, anybody who knows Kool G Rap, anybody who knows Necro, knows what it is. You know what I do, I don’t take the lyric game too lightly. Neither does Necro. This is straight lyricism right here. Hardcore, underground, hard beats and just lyrics man. The true essence of what this thing is really about. You know what I’m saying. It’s really about being a lyricist. It’s really about being an emcee and that’s what you can expect from this project. You’re not going to find dudes chasing to find that perfect radio single. Or anything like that. You going to find, on this project, two dudes known for blazing their guns and that’s what we’re going to be doing on the whole project, all the way through. Non-stop, from top to bottom. We coming with our guns blazing. That’s what it is.
Necro, how does it feel to be working with one of your earliest influences?
Necro: It’s a great honour, the biggest honour a rapper could ask for, greater than any Source Award, because I don’t respect those journalists, but I respect G cos he taught us all how to rap, he is like my uncle, he is a father to all of us in hip hop.
G Rap, you have an impressive repertoire of doing features on many rappers’ tracks. What drew you to collaborating on a full-length album with Necro?
KGR: Necro got the voice, he got the flow, he got the lyrical capability without a doubt and people already know what it is, that’s what I do, that’s my claim to fame. You get me on a track I’m a gun something down. I’m a blow holes through the track. That’s what I do. That’s what I’m known to do. G Rap blows holes through tracks. Anybody that’s conscious of what hip hop is knows that, so you know, perfect combination.
What’s the writing process like for this project? Is it a combination of each’s individual verses or entirely new content? Can we expect The Godfathers to be conceptualised mafia-flick style, like Nas, Foxy Brown and Az did on The Firm?
Necro: The process was really hard at first for me cos I was nervous to be on the same tracks with G, as I take this very serious and wanted to be just as dope as the G.O.A.T. (Greatest of All Time). The name Godfathers is not meant to be some mafia shit technically. It’s a description of what we are in our styles. G Rap being the godfather of hip hop and thug rap in general. He is the Godfather of street shit, and I have earned the title as Godfather of death rap in my world because that’s what I been doing for 15 years, and I stand by that genre. I am the leader of that style in the underground hip hop world. No one can compete with me, same way no one fucks with G Rap on overall gangsta shit, everyone knows he is the king of that shit, which makes a good combo. Death and street shit. Both styles mesh well, and technically G Rap to me has always been death shit, whether executioner style or two to the head. That shit all inspired me to take my shit to a next level, I just went further with it on my end than most would even care to go. Some find me too gruesome to even stomach.
KGR: This is just really like that really underground and hardcore. It’s just straight lyrical right now. Right now everything is pretty much geared at just being on a lyrical assault kind of approach and that’s what we’re doing right now. But as far as like mafia tales, I mean there’s times where somebody might touch on that in a verse but nothing’s really geared in the direction of like a mafia type thing and nothing like that. Just straight up MCing and wordplay which is entertaining enough all by its self. Sometimes you got two dudes that’s straight up lyricists and the wordplay is right in pocket, it don’t take a whole lot of decorations to get the interest. Sometimes just straight lyrics can keep your attention. Keep your ear. You know like you do with me. When I hear dudes, I call them gunners, or spitters, some dudes are spitters, you know what I’m saying, they keep your attention just doing that. Just spittin’. It’s really entertaining when somebody masters that art and that’s pretty much where it’s been at so far on the project.
Necro, you’re producing the entire album. Tell us about the beat-making process. Has there been a certain sound you and G Rap have talked about going for?
Necro: I just sat down and decided to cook up all the beats from scratch so they are new and fresh and each beat has a vibe I can see me and G rapping on. Some Necro beats are just for Necro, some death rap shit might not fit G Rap, so all the beats I made whether gangsta, street, death rap style, they all fit having G Rap spit on them.
What made you choose to spit unrestrained thuggery consistently in your careers?
Necro: I grew up in the Glenwood projects in Brooklyn, so shit was rough everyday for me as a white kid living in the projects with a lot of rugged black crews that were out for blood and it forced me to become rugged really fast. It wasn’t in my nature to be pussy so I was getting into beef as young as 7 years old, believe it or not, carrying weapons by 9, trying to kill someone by 10, and getting arrested by 11, and I’m not even claiming this to be tough. This is just the real, a lot of kids in Brooklyn had it worse, but I was smart, I always had that spider sense in the streets.
KGR: What made me spit about the things I spit about is life experiences, where I grew up at, my environment, close people around me, something were influences by like, if it wasn’t real life things going on around me or if it wasn’t life events that take place, from the city I’m from or from the country I’m from, if it wasn’t that then some things got influenced by movies and stuff like that because I always loved movies and especially the mob movies. There was a time in like the 80s where all the mob movies were just like on fire and that whole topic was on fire so everybody was coming out with mob movies like Untouchables, The Mobsters, Godfather, Scarface, if it wasn’t mob or mafioso, it was gangster like Scarface and Once Upon A Time In America, which is one of my favourites, Goodfellas and then you would get some of the other movies later the Gotti and all that. Some of the other flicks. Every man has an attraction to those kind of movies. Every man has an attraction to action, violence and things of that nature. Men like the rough stuff, you know what I mean? That’s how we start out as a little boy so we grow up that way as men. We like playing rough. So we’re attracted to whatever sport is rough. Whether it’s boxing sport, football sport, hockey sport or straight up blood sport in the streets. It’s an ugly life but everyone still has that attraction to it. Everyone still has that attraction to violence. Not to condone it or nothing like that, but it’s been that way. Look what they used to do in the Roman Empire, they would bring the gladiators in there to fight to the death and everybody’s entertained and amused by it. So this has always been an attraction. Not only with just men but women too. Violence always played a part in society as a form of entertainment. It’s just a good thing now they do it in movies for the most part as far as entertainment is concerned, and less people actually die like how they would die in the colosseum in the Roman Empire days.
How gully do you have to be if you rap about hardcore street shit? How do you feel about dudes who aren’t, who jump on it as a trend?
Necro: I rep my shit, so if I say it, I will do it. There is a chance under certain circumstances that it will go down, the way I carry myself, most people know already when they look in my eyes, but there is always some drunk that wants to test you, and that’s where my boxing skills come in, and why I train, so I can knock someone the fuck out. Besides that I try to avoid problems and live a peaceful life, but as you know the world loves drama so I have to be a wolf when the time calls for it and my pride stops me from backing down, that street code is embedded in my brain. I believe you should rep the shit you speak if tested. But this is hip hop so you don’t have to be John Gotti killing everyone in sight. Just be a real motherfucker or don’t talk hard shit, that’s my view.
KGR: I mean as far as being gully, if you rap hard on the street, I mean dudes rap gully or whatever and talk about that gangster lifestyle and it ain’t even about what you do and say in your rhymes to me, it’s about how you carry yourself in the streets and how you relate to other people because that’s what matters the most, that I believe. If you’re down to earth, if you ain’t up there acting like you’re better than people and arrogant, you know, you’re just keeping it real. You’re just being real, be yourself. You don’t be somebody else or try to be somebody else, you just stay being yourself and I think dudes respect that. I think dudes really respect that when somebody’s just being their self. I wouldn’t expect somebody that raps about violence or whatever to go out and live out every line of their rhymes. That’s stupid to me. Just like if I see a actor that I like that plays in gangster movies, when I meet the dude, he ain’t got to pull out a gun and start killing dudes and jump through windows or jump on top of cars and all that. He ain’t got to jump from one roof to the other, like come on man! That’s crazy. It’s just music. If you want to be the toughest guy in the world then keep it in the street, don’t do music. Be tough. Go outside and be tough then. One career is just shorter than the other. You can do music or you can be the toughest dude in the world. Bottom line.
Being fully-fledged rappers that have been involved in the industry from the early stages right through the 90s Golden Era til now. How do you keep it relevant yet stay true to your respective styles you’ve pioneered? What do you feel about the current hip hop scene?
Necro: I don’t try to keep shit relevant, I just am. I never blew up to the levels I wanna be at, so for me I am working on Necro the same way I did when I started. I live this and I am dedicated, which is why I am where I am, and trust me I have not even gotten started, I am a good 10 years in the game dropping albums, that’s a great foundation for my next 20 years. I think new rap sucks and I am not one of those cornballs that will say it’s dope and I like it and appreciate what’s going on. Fuck that. It’s horrible, and what I do is the total opposite and I am proud of it.
KGR: I mean as far as me staying current and staying true to myself and true to my identity as me being Kool G Rap, I think it just falls in place naturally because by me being myself I’ll always have a common feel because a lot of dudes say I was ahead of my time anyway and a lot of people felt like G Rap was always ahead of his time. So what I do naturally just falls right in pocket with everything that’s going on now. Like, what dudes talk about now is what I was spitting about 20 years ago. You feel me? And as far as what I feel about the current hip hop scene, I mean, I haven’t really been following it to a T like that because I’m not a radio-listening type of person. I’m a person, I wanna hear what I wanna hear when I wanna hear it. So I’m a dude that’s gonna put in a CD or the iPod, iPhone, iTouch, whatever it is, and play the artists I like to hear or play the music I want to hear. So as far as the music scene right now, I’m not that sharp up on it and there might be a lot of cats out there right now that I’m really not familiar with because I keep my ears tuned to where they want to be tuned to but some of the names like your boy Rick Ross, I love what he do, that’s why we even banged out a track together. The boy got the pen game so definitely my ears be tuned to him on a lot of the things he do but as far as the whole scene in general, my ears ain’t really tuned into that right now. I have no interest in chasing the radio and listening to what’s playing because they’re really not playing too much of what I want to hear. It ain’t like it’s all lyricism, dudes that you know spittin’ crazy, being real creative with the lyrics and all that so it’s not really attracting me to follow up on it and that’s just the bottom line.
There’s been a lot of hype on social networks and hip hop sites about the upcoming release of The Godfathers in 2012. Has there been a date set for it yet?
Necro: No date set, but it will definitely drop next year. We don’t wanna rush something like this, better to do it comfortably and make it what the fans want. Plus we got personal lives, we ain’t little kids, so every week we work on this we got shit to do like paying bills, dealing with fam, etc. But we got half done I would say and by year’s end it should be close to completed for us to pick a date.
KGR: Right now it’s not a definitive date right now. And we’re still wrapping up the last songs and everything. But me and Necro going to talk and get a definitive date together. One we both feel is a real good time. Definitely somewhere in the top of 2012. I pretty much doubt a January release because people just coming back from Christmas and New Years vacations and celebrations and the holiday things so you want people pretty much getting past that and then settling in for the new year but it’ll still be at the top of 2012. Maybe in the February/March timeframe but it’s coming baby. I can definitely tell you that. It’s coming. And we’ve got enough time from now to then to make sure that everything is just straight fire. Straight up fire. It’s all ready now but we’ve still got time to play with and make sure we hit the nail on the head with this one.
How come you’re pushing the album so early? Is it a new viral marketing campaign strategy you’re using or are you slating The Godfathers to be one of your best yet?
Necro: It’s exciting news to fans of both of us, so why wait to tell the kids? They can be part of the process from announcement, to interviews, to press pics to the first songs dropped until final release and aftermath of all this. Give kids some hope that real rugged hardcore hip hop is still poppin’ and two dope artists are linking to bring them something fresh.
Are there any plans to tour to promote the album?
Necro: I would love to, but we will see what’s up, and in the end G Rap will let me know if it can happen. So I await his approval on that, don’t expect it until it’s officially announced. I guess you could say it’s a maybe right now.
KGR: As far as touring, touring to promote the album, me and Necro, you know we spoke about it, not touring just to promote the album but touring in general for the album because there’s going to be tracks out there. Just for the names coming together, Kool G Rap – Necro, Necro – Kool G Rap. It’s going to get interest. There’s cheques out there waiting for that. So I don’t think just to promote the album like a tour that just has to be geared towards that but it’s going to be an actual tour that we can put together where we could just get cheques from. But yeah, if we could put together the combination of both, that’s definitely something that’s possible to happen. Definitely a possibility.
Have you cats been to South Africa? What are your perceptions of SA and/or it’s hip hop culture?
Necro: I never have, but find it amazing that I have fans there. That’s a great honour to me. I don’t know much about the scene but I am sure you got dudes that put it down, every country does.
KGR: I’ve never been to South Africa but I get a lot of love from people from South Africa. People hit me from Facebook and recent times I did drops for DJs and stuff that’s on radio out there and I think I really started to find out about the Kool G Rap awareness in South Africa, like maybe a few years ago, so I don’t know how long it’s actually been that the name has been known out there or whatever but I know I’ve just recently started getting wind of it, like wow, you know, South Africa, they checking, they got their ears tuned in and knowing about a dude like Kool G Rap, so that’s like crazy overwhelming to me and it’s good to be loved from South Africa, from a place I know I’m from genetically. I have an attachment to Africa in general by nature so it’s good to get that love from my brothers over there in South Africa and big shout out to everybody over there, big shout out to all the dudes doing their hip hop thing. Whether it’s DJing or rapping or doing your thing on the radio, producing, and one of my boys is from out there too. Shout to my boy Crisis that be out there doing his thing. He’s a rapper out there, people know him, people get familiar with the name because he’s doing it crazy over there so shout to the boy Crisis, you hear?