Saturday, September 26, 2015

Hardcore Righteousness: An Interview with Born Allah

Lord of All Worlds

    In a time when answering "hip-hop" to questions about your musical preference has to be followed up with an explanation on what you mean by that, Born Allah's quest to resurrect the B-Boy is something we should all be supporting. Rather than following trends, Born and the Tabernacle MCz choose to build on the foundation, taking their deep understanding of what hip-hop is, and adding their own twist. By doing this, Born's music maintains the spirit of rap in the 80s and 90s while still sounding unique and fresh. From his first album, with Movement Ex, to his legendary appearances on Sway & Tech and his singles on Ill Boogie Records, up to his present (and, in my opinion, best) work, Born has shown a dedication to the true school, the Supreme Era. With a solo album on the horizon, Born took some time to speak to me about the history leading up to his upcoming project.

Can you talk about your earliest experiences with hip-hop and what inspired you to start rapping?

   Run-D.M.C. were probably the people who really motivated me to rhyme, ultimately. I actually got started rhyming because I used to go to New York a lot and always got mixtapes. And the summer of me going to the 8th grade my friend came back with a Crash Crew tape and a lot of times, back then, before social media, certain hip-hop you wasn't privy to in California. So we were the Crash Crew because people in California weren't privy to the Crash Crew. We used to say Crash Crew rhymes and that's how I started rapping. Once I ran out of Crash Crew rhymes I was forced, pretty much, to write my own [laughs]. But I would say Run-D.M.C. really made me a fan of hip-hop. Before that, the song that really had the biggest influence on me, in hip-hop, was Gradmaster Flash, "The Message". My grandmother bought me that record. It really gave me a clue as to what, lyrically, you could do with it because prior to that, everything was all party stuff - at least the stuff I was hip to - party and braggadicious type stuff. That was my first take on conscious content in lyrics. I know "The Message" like everybody else knows "Rapper's Delight" [laughs]. I probably couldn't get through "Rapper's Delight" but I could get through "The Message" word for word.

    Conscious lyrics was probably always my greatest attraction to hip-hop, to be able to say those kind of things. My parents were Muslims, in the Nation of Islam, so that stuff was something that was always around and I always claimed a certain type of consciousness, knowledge of self, your heritage. So those type of lyrics were always the things that attracted me the most. But as far as my history is concerned, "The Message" had the greatest effect on me and Run-D.M.C. had the greatest effect on me as far as being a performer. I used to have a partner I used to rhyme with, the same guy who put me up on the Crash Crew, and our whole persona was based on what Run-D.M.C. did. Those would be my biggest influences, at least my earliest influences. Later on, Rakim came in and changed the game for me, but that's another conversation [laughs].

You've talked about battling Myka 9 and Aceyalone in the late 80s. Can you tell that story?

    Well, that was actually the early 80s 'cause I was in junior high. I must've been like 13 when I battled them. They used to have this event that was very popular in our day called the UCLA Mardi Gras, in Westwood. Basically it was a festival they used to have on the campus of UCLA in Westwood Village. So I was there with a couple of my friends from junior high. It was me and my man Styles, his real name is Lamont, and we were out there. We had our B-Boy thing goin', and we were out there givin' it to people 'cause in L.A. that was the thing, running up on rappers and battling and stuff. That battle, I think it was actually the MC Aces. It was Aceyalone, Myka 9 and Spoon. Me and Styles had just finished serving one dude and then Acey and them come along. It was just a crazy battle. It was amazing because to me, they took battling up to another level because a lot of their off-the-head stuff, most of the time you battled until you exhausted all the rhymes you had. But they had an element of being able to come off the head, which I could do, but they were already next level. Acey and them were a few years older than me. So if I'm in the 8th grade, they're probably in the 10th grade, in high school. I had never seen nobody as innovative, at least not no street people, no people in my circle. They used to predict what you were saying. That was a real thing that they would kill you with, when you were rapping, they would finish your rhymes for you [laughs].

    That was really where you saw the early stages of what the Good Life was known for, the chop. You could see that developing. And something that really impressed me about them was their vocabulary. It was compound words, super syllables. So to hear the early stages of the chop, it's amazing because it's a glimpse of harmonics and vocabulary that, I think, people are still not capturing now. Myka and Acey are the fathers of that. To me, people should just stop and let them do it [laughs]. I was always impressed with Myka's harmonics, the inflections in his voice. Even prior to him playing the trumpet, you could hear that before because he had a squeaky voice and he could play off it crazy. So that battle, not only did they give me and my man Lamont the business, I brought some reinforcements and they slaughtered them [laughs]. After that, it became a friendship. At the time, I was pissed. But later on, being in the hip-hop scene, they ended up being my comrades. Aceyalone ended up moving to my neighbourhood. He would come kick it with me at the early stages of when they were developing Freestyle Fellowship. It turned into a great friendship. At the time, I had never lost a battle [laughs]. It was a real crazy blow to the ego, at the time, but it spawned a great relationship.

You've mentioned a second Movement Ex album, some demos from 1995 and a 1996 EP entitled Born Allah, What's Up with Your Shit? and the possibility of releasing some of this rare and unreleased material in a compilation called The Lost Scrolls. Is that something you're still planning to do, when the time is right?

    Yeah, absolutely. It's just that I have so much music, it's hard to put in perspective what I want to do with it. Especially with the rekindling of the Movement Ex thing, where a lot of people are pulling that record out and wanting to do interviews and everything. It's so funny 'cause just recently, I lost a good friend mine - I was at the funeral - and King Born was there as well so we got to sit down and really speak about releasing the stuff, where the files are and everything. So that second Movement Ex album is probably the closest it is to actually getting released, as much as I've talked about it over the years. Same with Born Allah, What's Up with Your Shit? I spoke to Punish, who produced that, - he's produced for Aceyalone and a lot of the homies throughout the years - and I spoke to him about reaching into the files and trying to recover where those files are. We actually recorded that project at Fat Jack's house when he was staying in Inglewood. He's a guy who keeps all the archives that the homies have done over the years. He probably actually has the files, so that's kind of in fruition. I mean, I have the DATs but I'd like to mix and master it the right way. But a lot of this stuff is starting to pop back up.

    Not to mention, I have old demos that I did in the mid-90s until the 2000s that I never released, where I'm doing a lot of experimentation. A lot of my reluctance to release that stuff, it's not traditional Born Allah stuff. At the time, everybody was looking for record deals so I was making music that I thought would get me a deal. It's very outside of the norm for me. It's stuff I'm still proud of but I'm just reluctant to release that stuff, more than the other unreleased stuff. Shit, it's all creative shit. Sometimes you just gotta say, "Fuck it." Especially when people keep asking for it. I'm still blown away that people are still nostalgic about that material. I'm the type of dude that I give it a couple listens then I move on to the next, so to hear that people are even privy that this material exists is a shock to me. I'm starting to get the fire under my ass to motivate me to put it out 'cause people still asking about it.

You were a regular at the Good Life. What do you feel you took away from that experience, as an emcee, that you didn't have or know before?

    I think being creative and being original and the performance aspect of it. It was the first time I got to perform on a regular basis, meaning every week. With the Good Life, you had to be ready every week. Everybody had their classic songs they could do, but for the most part, you were expected to have something new. So the work ethic of, "Ok, I have to have something prepared." So later on, doing albums, I always want to be prepared before I go to the studio. Then the performance aspect of it, I know I really honed my skills, understanding my voice, projecting on the microphone, that's where I learned that, at the Good Life. As far as being original, you had so many characters at the Good Life. You had so many various personalities and everybody vibes according to their personality. Me, I was the 5%er bully guy. I rapped about beatin' you up. I was probably the guy who had the most fights at the Good Life, so I rapped about beatin' you up and I rapped about being a 5%er. So taking those aspects of your personality and magnifying them. You look at someone like a Volume 10. He's loud like that all the time. That's his personality. So his style, he's taking that aspect of his personality and turning it and magnifying it way up. That's really what the Good Life taught you. "Well, who are you? Ok, now represent that." And they gave you a platform to represent it, which was beautiful. And we were all young guys in there. It takes a lot of years to find your personal voice and personal space as an artist. So a lot of the time, you don't do that until later on. That whole aspect of hip-hop, the artist development aspect, is gone in music altogether. At the Good Life, we were able to learn that, to hone yourself into a character, a personality, a style and, you know, create your package.

It's funny, I had a conversation with a friend recently and we were trying to figure out what it was that brought about all this creativity at the Good Life and what you just said, I think, answers that, that you were encouraged to bring your own personality to your style.

   Right, and that's what it was. You couldn't come in there and mimic. We didn't tolerate that. You couldn't mimic someone 'cause people would call you out! There's plenty of people, without saying no names, who'd come in there and somebody'd be like "Oh, you bit so-and-so's style!" [laughs] To own your own was very important in that Good Life movement. It was really a Super Friends conglomerate. Everybody had their own powers, you know what I'm sayin'?

One of the first tracks I heard from you was your collaboration with Tray Loc on the classic Jean in the Front Row tape, "Da Trick iz Mine". Do you have some memories of recording that you could share?

    Absolutely! I remember doing it at the CVE Shack off of Western which is the place where we recorded. I think I recorded the vocals in the bathroom. I dunno if I was in the shower, or something like that [laughs]. I remember doing it and I believe FSH did the beat, or maybe a collaboration of FSH and Ridd, man. The whole concept was, there were a few player players inside the Good Life [laughs]. As quiet as kept as it was, before it got big, we actually had groupies, Good Life groupies! So that was just a highlight of what that was 'cause wasn't nobody a bigger pussy hound than Tray Loc, but I was a cool little pup myself though [laughs]. It was just funny to do because I didn't usually do any sexually provocative songs, that was Tray's thing. And he did it well, considering he couldn't cuss at the Good Life, so he was very creative with that and still got that concept over. It was funny to have me on the song because lyrically that wasn't my lane. I was more known for bully bars and 5%er raps. I think that caught some people off guard and that ended up being my most popular song at the Good Life. "Da Trick iz Mine" is probably, to me, what "Scud Missile" is for Ganjah K!

You've worked with Erule a lot over your career, most recently on the Dub Fritterz EP. How did you hook up with him? Was that a King Born connection?

    No, actually Erule has been down and associated with me since Movement Ex. I've known him probably since the mid to late 80s, when he got knowledge and started coming around our click. A lot of people associate him through King Born, but I actually know him through Myking, who was another one of the Gods out here. They came up together and went to high school together. So Myking brought Erule into the circle and introduced Erule to King Born. He was always around, always an emcee. It wasn't until later on, when we lost our deal with Movement Ex, that King Born went on to work with Erule. King Born is really one of those type of producers who just works with one artists. He might do a song here or there, but he usually works with one person, like how we did Movement Ex. So his next project was the Erule project. So from there, that's the where the relationship started building up, from those days. I've recorded so many songs with Erule! It just made sense to finally put some shit out. Me and him had mad demos that people have never heard where we're rhyming together, or rhyming with another dude, or rhyming as features on somebody else's shit. So I was like, "You know what? Let's put something out. We've worked for all these years." 'Cause those songs were originally supposed to be part of my solo album but I was like, "You know what? You haven't put out anything in a minute. Let's put this out and do it." But Erule's been associated with our click since the late 80s. He goes back to Movement Ex.

Did you guys ever record stuff as the Infinite Gods, with Capital AK and whatnot?

   No, 'cause there was a lot of different crews together, so there was really no joint ventures with all of us together. There's one song with the Nile Kings, who were on Rhyme Syndicate, they were part of the Infinite Gods. They had a single called "Listen to the Light" and Shafiq Husayn, who was one of the main producers and DJs in the Nile Kings, he's the same dude who went on to do Sa-Ra, he produced for King Tee, early Ice-T stuff. He's real popular in the game right now. He actually just did a new album on Stones Throw with Krondon. He produced that project. I have a lot of songs with Shafiq as well. He did the song "Silly" for the Tabernacle MCz. He's a longtime collaborator. The Infnite Gods posse, when a lot of those crews were together, brothers didn't have their own means of recording. We had to go to a real studio in those days. So besides rhyming and being down with each other there's maybe only a few songs were you got us together. The Nile Kings had a song called "Skulls & Bones" that had me, and someone else I'm missing, that was a classic demo that was floating around in our circle. But there were no concrete, real Infinite Gods songs, with all of us together. Just songs here and there, featuring various people.

How did you come to be a regular on Sway & Tech?

    Actually that relationship was built 'cause I ended up winning a battle for Rap Sheet magazine. And after that first time, they dug me, and I had an open door to come up there all the time. I forget what year that was. I wanna say maybe early 90s, '94, '95, but I'm guessing. Rap Sheet was a magazine that used to circulate, kind of a competitor to Rap Pages, based in Los Angeles so a lot of local rap acts got a chance to shine. I think Key Kool was in that battle, Xzibit, Ras Kass was one of the judges, the Almighty Arrogant. So it was a good look for me, at the time. It was a prominent battle. 'Cause at the time, the real rap battles were like the Battle for World Supremacy. The battle scene was different then what it is right now. And those certain publications would do battles. So it was the battle for Rap Sheet that got me down with the Wake Up Show.

I have to say, I've always considered Kool G Rap one of the best, so for you to go off the head before he rapped was a pretty bold move, but you came off dope! I was impressed with that.

    It's actually funny, I always tell everybody I bombed, like I choked! It's funny people say that and people were so proud that I came off the head, but the truth is I just had a complete brain fart and I couldn't remember none of my shit and just starting going! You have the think, I was way intimidated because at the same time I'm sitting across from Kool G Rap, I'm sitting across from KRS-One [laughs], you know what I'm saying? I'm sitting directly across from KRS-One, to the right of me is Kool G Rap. Who else was in the room? Chino XL, Ras Kass, I believe Xzibit. It was really a big situation. 'Cause I had been killin' it on the Wake Up show a few weeks runnin' and then they had this big thing were all these guys would come up there and I went up there and I choked, and I choked so bad I just left after that. I didn't say goodbye to no one, I just left. I felt so humiliated. Later on, they went to King Tech's house and did some drops and really hung out. I forget what the event was. It was just like this ultimate battle with all these guys who had been killin' it on the Wake Up Show, plus these O.G.s. And I was so humiliated by what I did there, I just got up like I was going to the bathroom and just left.

You had some singles on Ill Boogie Records and I know you were supposed to do an album on that label. Were those songs sort of the seeds for the TMCz and what you're doing now, because that's the first time I saw you calling yourself Daddy Grace and there's a lyric in one of your Ill Boogie songs were you even say "fuck your favourite rapper"?

    Exactly! What it was, 9/11 happened in 2001, right? So during that time, I started associating myself with the Daddy Grace persona and using it as a character because just prior to 9/11 and especially after 9/11, a lot of people started pressuring me to not use Allah in my name. Ever since I started going by Born Allah, I've always had people recommend I don't use Allah in my name and just go by Born. So I was very on the fence about that. I would never change my name name, but I thought about using the Daddy Grace persona so that I could go back and forth, kinda like how Ghostface does with Tony Starks and Ironman, that type of thing. That's the lane I wanted to do.

    So the Ill Boogie years are when I started considering using Daddy Grace, but it wasn't until I got incarcerated in 2007 when I came up with the whole concept for the Church of Hip-Hop and Financial Prosperity and then, later on, the Tabernacle MCz. But yes, you are correct, Ill Boogie was the actual first time. And a lot of people don't know about this, but there was a single released on vinyl, just under the name Daddy Grace. There's no Born Allah at all. Actually the song "Gangsta Boogie" is produced by Lifelong Entertainment. Originally I was gonna sign to Ill Boogie. I wanted to test the waters and see what he was capable of doin'. I got hip to Ill Boogie through Mykill Miers.

    When I did "Cut Throat" for Mykill Miers on Ill Boogie, Matt had heard my stuff and we decided we were gonna do some business together. And he wanted to do a battle record, which was the "Patience" thing, where I was on one side and Grand Agent from Philly was on the other side. It's funny, that's one of my popular songs - I hated that song! First off, I was mad because Grand Agent chose the subject we were gonna battle over. So when he told me the subject was patience, I was lookin' at him like, "How the fuck we gonna battle over fuckin' patience? Who is this fuckin' guy?" I was pissed. Then he sent me the beat, the whole Big Daddy Kane shit and I was really pissed [laughs]. I think the only reason that song came off so good was 'cause there was spite in me for every step. I thought the subject was terrible. How you gonna battle rap about patience? Then I thought, "Why are we rappin' over this old ass Big Daddy Kane sample?" So I was pissed. I think the reason it came off is because I wanted to show them. I hated the concept. I hated the beat. But it ended up being one of my more popular songs, which is amazing how things work out. The Ill Boogie situation was very bugged out. I never ended up doing an album with Ill Boogie because I was getting older, more mature, and I really wanted to get out of the backpacker shit, and that's what Ill Boogie was on. I wanted to do something a little more polished, a little more mature. If you listen to all the stuff we did, even if you hear "Laid in Full", it was cool, I'm gonna do it, but it wasn't what I wanted to do as an emcee. But it did work out as an outlet because now when people reference me, some of that is the first stuff that they hear from me, and some of my more popular stuff.

On the first Tabernacle MCz album, The Aquarian Gospel Volume One, Shaheed from Cypha 7 was part of the group. After that, it was just you and Panama. What made him decide to not be as involved after that first album?

    That's my brother, Big Shaheed. He's a monster. I always love what he does. He moved to Vegas and it was just hard to keep up after a while. One of the things that makes Tabernacle MCz so ill is the work ethic. A lot of that stuff we did real fast and have a large volume of work. I still have an album and some change left that we haven't released. The work ethic was crazy, so after a while - it wasn't like he got kicked out or nothin' - it was just hard for him to keep up. It was hard for him to keep up with the recording process. We were in the studio every Friday and Saturday from 10 to 2, straight, for maybe six months, and we were able to produce so much material. Outside of that first album, we had Moses&Aaron, B-Boy Prophecy: The Book of Him-othy, we did Tabernacle Mcz presents the Get Dat Money Boyz Choir, 'cause initially, the whole idea was never to just be Tabernacle at first. My initial idea was Daddy Grace and the Get Dat Money Boyz Choir, and it was five of us. It was me, Panama Redd, Akim, Zagu Brown and Soul King. That was the initial idea. Now, out of that, the first songs that the church actually did, if you check the catalog, would be "The Love", "Welcome 2 tha Church" and "Pulpit Spit". Now, me and P. Redd would always get together to have writin' sessions outside of that. Our chemistry and our drive to write and keep writing concepts just outworked everything else. So we decided, "Ok, we'll be a sub group. We'll still be inside the church. We'll be the Tabernacle." Then the idea was for everybody else to piece up together and do little Ghostface and Raekwon type situations, you know what I'm sayin'? But it ended up just being me and P. Redd because nobody wrote as much as me and him did.

Obviously Shaheed was from Cypha 7 and you had Movement Ex, Sway & Tech and the Ill Boogie singles, but I wasn't familiar with Panama Redd before TMCz and still don't know much about him. Was he a Good Lifer?

    No, actually, Panama Redd came more from the Project Blowed scene. He was in a group prior to us called Hornz and Halos with Mr. Perkins. And they had two albums, one of 'em was called Purgatory. That's what put me onto P. Redd. Everyone else I was privy to prior to the Tabernacle and the Church of Hip-Hop. P. Redd was the only person who's introduction to me came later. I used to record with Punish and he had an office and studio in Project Blowed Studios in Leimert Park. You know, Badru, his office was in there and him and Panama were best friends. So I would always see Panama in Project Blowed Studios in 2006, 2007, around there. And it wasn't until I came home from being incarcerated in 2008 that I decided to approach him and stuff. But my introduction to Panama Redd came from his work with Hornz and Halos and their projects. Them albums is dope.

Can you talk about your inspiration to do "Fuck Your Favorite Rapper", what fueled that?

    There's a part one and a part two. It was more out of frustration and anger. When the concept of the mad rapper was first introduced through Biggie and Puffy and all them, I never considered myself to be one, but then it got to a certain point in music where I was like, "You know what? I am the mad rapper. I am pissed. I'm fuckin' furious. This shit is wack. It's corny." As a real emcee or a real music lover, at some point you just put your hands up in the air, like, "What the fuck? Really?" [laughs] You put your hands on your head and walk around in a circle and shake your head, like, "What the fuck?" [laughs] And that's what the "Fuck Your Favorite Rapper" thing is. Especially with part two because that's the most popular one and I did a video for that. It's like saying, "Fuck all this shit. Can you rhyme?"

    A lot of the frustration came because as I started to do the Church of Hip-Hop and the Tabernacle thing, this is during the period where I had to familiarize myself with social media. And I was so frustrated by it. I was like, "Dude, this don't got nothin' to do with my music! Why do I have to do this?" Badru, at the time, when he was managing Tabernacle, he was showing me how to use it. But the shit frustrated me so much. I was like, "I'm fresh! I shouldn't have to use this fuckin' shit. Rakim never tweeted where the fuck he's at!" [laughs]. That was just my attitude. So "Fuck Your Favorite Rapper" was embracing that attitude, that I really was a mad rapper. I've been doing this for so many years and you've got these guys who are fuckin' garbage. You guys are cheatin'. You're not fresh. You're cheatin' and makin' it look fresh, but it's not! I did the first part on Moses&Aaron and it caught on, then [part two] started off as a feature verse and then I was like, "Wow, I wonder why I didn't do a "Fuck Your Favorite Rapper" like this before. Then I was like, "Fuck it! Do part two." And I got to 16 and was like, "Ok, I need a hook." Then I was like, "Fuck that! I don't need no hook. I'm just gonna rap" and I ended up saying it on the song. "Fuck doing a hook, this is on some rap shit." It just turned into everything I was frustrated about, I was like, "Fuck that! And fuck your favorite rapper." 

That's one thing I really like about what you're doing. If you recognize that a lot of this stuff is garbage, you get called a hater or bitter. But you're not only saying it's garbage, you're providing a better alternative. One of my favourite TMCz tracks and one of the best examples, I think, that you guys can do it better than the big names in rap right now, is "Amen da Remix" where you took the beat from a Drake/Meek Mill collab and elevated into something better. Can you talk about the inspiration to do that?

    Let me tell you the reason why I decided to do that. It was a time that I got super frustrated 'cause I saw people biting the church concept and what it was and how we were using church methods or church terms and flipping it on some hip-hop stuff and I started seeing a lot of that. My first glance of it was Rhymefest, his song "Prosperity." And it was an early point when we first started doing Tabernacle and you could just tell it was a fuckin' bite! We went in on him on Twitter, talkin' shit, calling him a biter and all kinda shit [laughs]. We really started taking it personal. Even with Big Sean, "I'm waaay up, I feel blessed." Those are our concepts, how we push our brand. So when they came out with that "Amen" song, it was just the final straw. It was like, "We have to do this and let people know they're bitin' our shit. Let's rep our shit and let 'em know they can't rep our shit better than us!" So I took it and flipped the hook to a real gospel song. That hook, "The question is, will I ever fall off?", was taken from a real gospel group, The Winans. I just pulled out all the stops. You are not gonna do our shit better than us. I think Badru told us not to be disrespectful, just do your shit, then P. Redd comes in at the end like, "Fuck all that. Fuck y'all and stop bitin' our shit" [laughs]. The illest bars in that song are what P. Redd did at the end and then Akim goes, "I put my gat up to a Meek's grill" or some shit [laughs]. People started takin' it personal but it's all for the love of music and my thing is, "Fuck it. We rap fresher than you."

You guys have a record coming up called Love, Lust & Hip-Hop. Is that record complete but just on pause for now?

   Yeah, the thing is, we put our foot in that album and I just want to find the proper home for it, give it a proper push. A lot of the stuff we've done so far has been out of our own pocket, on our own and I think we'd love to find the right means to release it. 'Cause it's done. It's sittin' up and I wanna find a proper home for it. It's gonna be a classic album as far as I'm concerned. And I don't mind sitting on it because I think it isn't one of them things where if I sit on it it's gonna age, it's so innovative that whenever I put it out, it'll still compete.

You had a single recently you released on vinyl, Westside, and you had a collab with RBX on there. I've always been a big fan of his work. Do you have any memories of him performing at the Good Life you could talk about?

    Not that I ever remember. I was always privy to RBX later on. I know he had a relationship with Myka. I remember Kurupt being up there more than RBX. Kurupt would be up there a lot with P.E.A.C.E. from Freestyle Fellowship. They were real cool. I never remember seeing RBX.

I asked Omid about it and he said at the beginning of "5 O' Clock Follies" Myka even shouts him out at the beginning, "Reality Born" which I never caught.

    Yeah, he do. He's been around a long time, as far as an emcee. But he does shout him, Reality Born. I just don't remember him being in the circles, in my memory. I recall seeing Kurupt way more than I saw RBX.

You've got a solo project coming up, Grown Man Barz, and you posted pics of some CDs last year. Is that album already done then?

    Actually the CDs I put out are, like, promo CDs with a couple songs that are featured on the album, that I usually sell at my merch table and stuff like that. Those CDs are just featuring songs from my Soundcloud. "Grown Man Barz" is on there, "All In", "Fuck Your Favorite Rapper", songs that'll be featured on the album. Grown Man Barz, I just solidified distribution and I'm just in the process of finalizing it so it can be mixed and mastered. It's pretty dope. I'm pretty excited about it. I recently added some songs to it that I think takes it over the top. I got some new stuff with Erule that nobody's heard that's produced by Longevity from Darkleaf that's incredible, you know? So I definitely got some work in there.

Can you talk about the concept behind the record and how it will differ from the Tabernacle MCz stuff?

    Grown Man Barz is gonna differ in that conceptually it's gonna be truly adult contemporary hip-hop. Tabernacle hints at that, because it's also grown man bars, but this right here is gonna take it to the next level, man. The song structure as far as what I do vocally, I have a song called "Moonlight" where you'll think I'm damn near an R&B dude. I got some incredible singers on there, man. My concept with Grown Man Barz is that hip-hop has never been old enough to have this market that exists now, which is grown men, real B-Boys, fans of real hip-hop, that don't have anything to embrace in today's market with the young people and stuff. This is some dope contemporary hip-hop for cats who are into real bars. And our motto is, "We're young enough to know what's poppin', but old enough to know when you're spittin' that bullshit."

So do you have any other plans for the future you'd like to close off with?

    Yeah, besides my solo project I'm also working on an EP with Soul King. That's in the early stages. I'm also doing a joint venture with Kasim, which is a brother out of New York, associated with Brand Nubian. I also have a new single and video called "Hardcore Righteousness" and I'm about to drop the video. This is probably the first time I went to grassroots Born Allah shit. This is strictly for the Nation. If you don't have the knowledge or privy to 5% science, you probably won't enjoy it. I go all the way in on this new single [laughs]. I push the teaching so hard, I don't wanna just put it in a song. I'm gonna do a Q&A that's gonna accompany the video where I speak about the teachings of the 5% and the climate, so this single that's coming out is gonna really take me back to my Movement Ex days.