by Minister of Information JR
TKash and I came up in radio together as teenagers, both interning with West Coast Hip Hop radio legend Davey D at KMEL, then at KPFA in the mid-‘90s. Since those days TKash has solidified himself as a bona fide Hip Hop artist from the Bay – first solo, then as a member of the politically charged rap group The Coup. Later he signed to Guerrilla Funk, owned by Paris, another legendary political artist from the Bay.
While he is on the last leg of fulfilling his contract, he decided to do an EP with another up and coming artist by the name of Five Eighty, which is also the name of one of two major freeways that cut through Oakland. The EP is being given away free online. Make sure you read this article so that you can get your copy. Here is an exclusive interview I did with TKash and Five Eighty …
M.O.I. JR: Can you tell us about this new EP and the collaboration between two solo artists to make it?
TKash: This latest EP is called “Peace of the Puzzle,” and it’s a group project, consisting of me and the homie Five Eighty. About a year ago, we were working on music as solo artists and I jumped on a few feature spots for Five Eighty’s projects, which, I always told him, were excellent tracks.
M.O.I. JR: What made you two work together?
TKash: I was high out of my mind one night, buck naked doin’ yoga poses in the middle of Third and Market Street during rush hour traffic, and Five Eighty almost ran me over (laughing)! No, I’m just kiddin’, man; forgive me. Originally, we met by way of our faith, which is Islam. We would just vibe about the oneness of Allah back when we first met, not about music or nuthin’. It was only natural that the chemistry we had, just as two African American brothers building about Islam, that it would sooner or later encompass us as artists.
Five Eighty: Me and TKash have been brothers in faith for a while now and we both had talked about doing a project together in the past. But the timing was off until he called me one day and told me about the idea behind the “Peace of the Puzzle” project, and I immediately jumped on board because I knew we had done some songs that was in line with the overall theme of the EP, which is peace promotion, positivity and social justice.
M.O.I. JR: TKash, how is this body of music different from the music you have created with Paris’ label Guerrilla Funk?
TKash: Well, the Guerrilla Funk stuff is known for being more aggressive, relentless and very uncompromising about the issues at hand, you know? It really is Hard Truth. This music on this new EP is more relaxed and reflective about the elements of peace and humility. The music I make with Paris touches on peace and humility from time to time, but this project actually is peace and humility, so to speak, the raw materials that make up what you may hear on a guerrilla funk release – or maybe not depending on the theme for the particular project me and Paris conceive.
M.O.I. JR: Five Eighty, can you tell us a little bit about your history?
Five Eighty: Well, I was born in San Francisco and raised in East Oakland to a strong hard-working single mother who was unfortunately addicted to drugs and passed away in 1997 as a result. I’ve been rhyming since the age of 10 and I’m just now appearing on the scene as a up and coming Bay Area artist. I did the rap battle circuit briefly a few years ago before deciding to step away to work solely on my craft. I released a mixtape in ‘07 called “Stakes is STILL High,” which was street conscience and positive, and I’m also a part of a faith-based group called Medina with Brooklyn R&B singer HAZali.
M.O.I. JR: Do you two plan to do more projects together?
TKash: Of course, of course, we’re just getting started. This is just an EP.
Five Eighty: There’s much more in store, me and TKash lyrically feed off each other really well, so creating new material isn’t difficult at all. Stay tuned.
M.O.I. JR: What do y’all think about the sound of this project? How is it innovative?
TKash: First off, the production is in the tradition of actual harmony and structure that’s only derived from live instrumentation. In short, it’s real music, not just in figurative sense. The problem with the “digital” sound is that if you rely on it too much, you lose one of the greatest properties of making music, which is human error.
Humans can’t keep a beat for too long without lagging, and that lag creates that “twang” or swing-type cadence you hear on some of the classics from all genres. On this project you’ll hear that “swing” and warm melodic sound along with the digital, so it’s balanced. Sadly enough, in today’s artistic climate, this is innovation.
Five Eighty: I think the overall sound differs from what is presently heard on radio. It’s smooth and hard hitting, and the message doesn’t compromise to the today’s music standards. I’m very proud to be able to present this EP with TKash to the public for mental consumption, and I hope the message will resonate with the people.
M.O.I. JR: Will you guys be performing? When and where?
TKash: We’re planning a regional tour for later this year, and I’m performing a benefit concert in New Orleans with Brother Sakura Kone’ in to order help raise awareness for post-Katrina corruption in a few weeks. Locally, at the present time, I completed the Half Marathon Course at the Oakland Running Festival on March 27 to raise awareness for non-violent life solutions and strategies by way of my brother Adisa Banjoko’s organization the Hip Hop Chess Federation.
We’re both also helping to organize the next “Taking Back Our Rightful Place” community men’s meeting over in Richmond. That’ll take place over at the Richmond Public Library, 325 Civic Center Plaza, on the 19th of this month.
M.O.I. JR: How can people cop the EP?
TKash: Just go online and download it for free. I’m at www.facebook.com/tkashforever. Click on the link and there you go: easy.
M.O.I. JR: How can people keep up with you two online?
Five Eighty: People can find me at www.fiveeighty.com or through Google by typing in the keyword “Five Eighty.”