How did you end up collaborating with The Black Lips and King Khan?
Originally, it came about through my manager Heathcliff [Berru]. The bands were fans of Wu-Tang and I and we decided to perform together. It worked out well; they’re good musicians and we have a mutual admiration and love. The thing is, they were already connecting with me in some way first. I’d never heard their music before, but I was feeling it and when I saw both of those groups perform live, I knew I could work with them. The vibe was there.
Much of current hip-hop — particularly the more mainstream iteration — is characterized by glossy shiny-sounding production. Did some of your desire to work with the Black Lips and King Khan stem from the similarity of their lo-fi aesthetic to the beats you came up rhyming on?
That’s my problem with the stuff today — it doesn’t sound raw and uncut. When the Black Lips sent a track over to me, I thought it sounded like a Beastie Boys track, the way the singer was singing and flowing on it. He was right in the pocket. You don’t get hip-hop that sounds that gritty anymore, you get some Auto-tune, ping-pong computer-made and Casio stuff.
A lot of rappers have tried to chase whatever trend was hot, whether it’s Auto-tune or getting the hottest R&B hookman on a track, but you’ve carved out a different path.
I think it’s about being original and creative. You’ve got to be comfortable with yourself. There’s no set way to do anything. Sometimes you have to go outside the box, sometimes you can do things the standard way. Like you don’t have to have a beat to write a song, sometimes you can write lyrics without the music. A lot of artists think that to be current, you have to follow what’s out there and do something that’s so unlike what you normally do. It can work but it doesn’t if you chase it.