by Minister of Information JR
T-Kash, the former local television star from KRON’s First Cut turned internationally known rap star on Paris’ political label Guerrilla Funk Recordings, is a very under-rated voice and mind in Bay Area and international hip hop. His international debut, “Turf War Syndrome,” is a classic that not many people in the hood are up on. He has been a longstanding radio disc jockey on Cali’s biggest radio station geographically, KPFA, for the last decade with his hip hop show, The Friday Night Vibe, which he inherited from veteran disc jockey turned hip hop journalist Davey D.
I don’t just know T-Kash professionally; we have been friends for part of our teenage and all of our adult lives, and I have admired how he always moved and thought independently, no matter the trend. Bruh went from making Mobb Music to Islamic inspired music without missing a beat and losing his creative edge. Right now, he is on the Hard Truth Soldier Tour with Paris, Kam, the Conscious Daughters and others, including dead prez and Talib Kweli. So read on and get a inner view into the life and thinking of Oakland rapper T-Kash.
M.O.I. JR: Can you tell us a little bit about the concept behind your new album, “Brains All Over the Streets”? What makes it different from your debut album on Guerrilla Funk, “Turf War Syndrome”?
T-Kash: Well now, I wanted to do to a few things with the title. First, I needed it to be allegorical, or have multiple meanings. Of course, if you play around in these streets, it’s a really good chance you might end up with your brain tissue scattered all over it. But more importantly, I wanted to address the intelligence inside the brains of the young people who have to survive all over the streets.
So the title “Brains All Over the Streets” captured that perfectly. I was just having fun with the aspect of street smarts. As for how it’s different from “Turf War”? I see this project as a more detailed account of what I was speaking on in general on my last record. For example, on “Turf War” I said on the track “American Nightmare” that we should be doing more on the level of “free food days” in the park and festivities that enable the community to help themselves financially and what not, a “Hoodnic.”
On the new album, that event was made into a whole Hoodnic track called “Better Days.” I took you through that same scenario in detail. The reason I chose so much subject detail in my lyrics for this record is because I need the hood to visualize what I’m sayin’. These other wack rap cats take us through a night of doing the wrong things, clubbin’ and violence and sexual irresponsibility, hoping the hood will emulate it. So I figured I need do the same but for the right thangs, mane. The new record is an elaboration of my last one.
M.O.I. JR: I know that you have toured all over the country and all over the world. How is hip hop looked at differently overseas? Do the people in these other countries support independent artists more?
T-Kash: Well, some places are more in touch with the original elements of hip hop and some places are mixed with half “true hip hop ” and half ring-tone rap. I was at a club in Sydney, Australia, and the Dj went back and forth from Lil Wayne to The Roots; it was deep. That’s not a bad thing either. You have groups down there like Hilltop Hoodz that are a great mesh of the two styles. Then you have other groups like the Crossbred Mongrels, who are strictly on the grimy boom-bap rap; they got heat too.
In some places they just like to party and they don’t truly care for the history behind hip hop. Then you have other places like Finland, France and Germany, where they can identify with the struggle they hear in the United States and they become inspired to make the same type of socially conscious music. Their take on our hip hop varies from place to place based on the state of the country that you’re in.
M.O.I. JR: What is your opinion to what has been happening in Oakland since the beginning of the year – Oscar Grant, Lovelle Mixon, the Oakland Rebellions?
T-Kash: Bout’ time you asked the boss what’s wrong with the sauce! Naw, I’m just clowin’, mane. It’s simple. From the beginning of America’s inception, people of color under oppression have resisted what is known as “government” and fought for what we know as “democracy,” or the right to self rule. Although Rome and Greece get the mainstream credit for these concepts, along with Europe and Marxist Communism, all of it was being practiced by original people in Africa and elsewhere thousands of years prior to that. It’s ingrained in our souls because it’s our original state.
Anyway, our form of government is a democratic republic, meaning that the system allows us the right to “choose” a person from our community to represent us in the process of so-called “democracy.” The “gangsta-gangsta” is that this is how it’s supposed to happen on paper, but did you vote for any of these BART police officers that “serve” our community? Not my Black ass. How many people in the hood truly knew who Mehserle was before we heard about him? So that shows you how far removed we are from self rule. The government appoints whoever they want, and can afford, to micro-manage our reality in the hood.
Since we don’t rule over ourselves, we are not being governed in our best interest. And the decision to murder Oscar Grant and Lovelle Mixon were both in the best interest of the government and the ruling class, not us. Had we been able to practice democracy, true democracy, Oscar Grant would have been able to diffuse the conflict on the platform that night and that would have been that.
If the police were truly there on behalf of the community, Lovelle would have received the proper guidance he needed way before he began to live a life that would lead to his tragic demise. Prevention of crime starts with the prevention of the mind state that makes a person a criminal.
As far as the rebellion goes, I’m actually torn about it, man. It’s one thing when the community sets it off; this goes back to our historical struggle for the right to direct democracy, practiced by ourselves and no intercessors. But eyewitness accounts have all led back to a bunch of mostly non-Black suburbanites who have a totally different agenda, setting our neighborhood on fire.
My Aunt Betty stays right there in the area, and she said she saw a few of “us” out there, but the majority of it was a bunch of “others” dumbin’ out while Black and Brown folks got all the heat. They don’t do that to their neighborhood and I know this for a fact because I stay there. I think if we would have went directly to City Hall and set if off, to the police headquarters and set it off , it would have made more of an impact.
I don’t know, I just saw that “progressive paradox” so many people back East and down South bring up when they speak on the Bay. These other people basically made a name for their own cause at the expense of our community.
Think about it, man: If we really came down there to riot and loot, then why would we organize and have a peaceful demonstration hours before? We would just get down to business. These “others” did most of the work and we got all the credit, feel me? I think the real rebellion was not the riots but the mobilization of the community in regards to media and meetings with city officials.
See J, unlike some of these other clowns, I really am from Oakland. So all that random physical violence and aggressiveness really doesn’t impress me like other people. You can’t just stomp a hood out and get my nod. I am ashamed of my past and all the “tough guy” roles I tried to portray and live out. I have good friends and family members who are dead and in prison that can prove it.
If you want to get my nod, do the things that will help us move away from physical violence and aggression. There are so many smart, peaceful and civilized people in the hood, and we are edged on all the time by “hipsters” and “culture vultures” who have the same negative stereotypical views about us as the conservatives do. They think our strong point is still with our bodies and not our minds. Don’t let these people tell you what type of struggle you need to execute.
We need economic aggression, and political violence. We need to stop spending our money on BART and just carpool for a month. We carpool at night on the weekend looking for chicks, right? Do it during the work schedule, the weekday and make a real difference. We have to think our way out of this whole thing. The new rebellion starts in our minds, man.
M.O.I. JR: I heard you singing the hook on Paris’ single “Don’t Stop the Movement” off of his new album “Acid Reflex.” Can we expect you to become a political Nate Dogg in the future?
T-Kash: I already am, for the right price of course. Vibeline@hotmail.com: Get at me, mane!
M.O.I. JR: How long are you signed to Paris’ Guerrilla Funk Recordings? And how has the ride been so far?
T-Kash: I have a four album deal, and I’m halfway through it. I haven’t really thought about what I want to do when it’s over. So far, I’ve learned that no matter how friendly people in this business are, there are no friends in this business. If it wasn’t for Paris, I would still be prostituting my culture to the enemy for free.
I learned that you have select “liberal” factions that are deathly afraid of an educated Black man with his own money, and it’s best to just stay away from that crowd. I have seen so much in the past six years on that topic alone I could write a book.
I have also figured out who I am, and that led me back to Islam. I have lost 80 pounds through practicing good diet and exercise. I’ve taken up Jujitsu and train regularly. I plan to take up boxing next. I have been able to travel the world and work with so many oppressed communities of all races and backgrounds.
Paris cuts the check, and he helps me make good, sound fiscal choices. Oh, and I’ve been back in college for two years now. P paid for some of my first schoolbooks and all that.
M.O.I. JR: How did your last album do? Do you expect this album to do better although we are steeped in a recession?
T-Kash: “Turf War Syndrome” sold close to 90,000 CDs, but a majority of those were “merch” sales at live events. It still sells at all of our events. It went like wildfire in Europe during our last tour. I think as long as we maintain our live event schedule and keep the demanders supplied, we should turn a profit on this new project too. Recession or not.
M.O.I. JR: What are the dates and locations for the Hard Truth Soldier Tour?
T-Kash: Due to the current expansion of the tour, that’s being revised still. When it’s done it will be available on www.hardtruthsoldiers.com. Since we’re on the topic, there have been several journalists here in the Bay and beyond that have tried to make a mockery of Guerrilla Funk’s ability to engage the corporate world and have the respect of the Black community for that. I’d just like to say that contrary to what you may believe, we refuse to be intimidated or insulted by anyone while we’re in the process of providing a platform for our own to enable themselves financially and artistically. Fuck you and your grudge.
M.O.I. JR: How can people keep up with you?