Rakaa Iriscience - Wearing The Crown
BEFORE THEIR SIXTH ALBUM DROPS, MC RAKAA TAYLOR (RAKAA IRISCIENCE) HAS FRAGMENTED THE DISCOGRAPHY OF DILATED PEOPLES TO INCLUDE HIS FIRST SOLO LP, CROWN OF THORNS, IT’S ALL LOVE, HE TELLS RIP NICHOLSON AND INSISTS THAT HIS RECORD IS “LESS OF A DEPARTURE AND MORE OF A CONTINUATION” OF THE GROUP’S LEGACY.
RAKAA interviewed for Rip2Shredz // Street Press Australia // Hiphop.sh @ 14.15 AEST Monday 17th October, 2011
Dilated Peoples has always played a pivotal role in Southern Cali’s left-sided movement, advancing their hip hop to a more consciously-aware state. Before they set to drop their 2012 LP, MC Rakaa Iriscience enjoys his moment in the sun with his solo work, 2011’s Crown Of Thorns. But, despite holding down his own royal affair, it’s fellow Los Angeleno and Dilated Peoples MC Evidence’s Cats & Dogs (just released) that’s held the main focus of Taylor and the Peoples’ as of late. Rakaa takes time out while campaigning for Ev’s album, to discuss the legacy of Dilated Peoples and his own first solo outing.
You said in a recent interview that Crown Of Thorns is the most honest work you’ve done and the most worldly out of L.A.’s illustrious reality rap scene - what did you do to make it more worldly?
I worked with producers and vocalists from different parts of the world, featured multiple languages and cultures, and allowed my worldview to shine through.
The solo experience - did you find freedom or isolation?
Actually both. It was pure freedom, which can be a bit scary and intimidating after years of support that comes from creative compromise. I did feel isolated sometimes, but I also know that I never walk alone – even though I always stand on my own two feet as a man.
A lot of artists go away, retreat to somewhere or just change their routine during the writing/recording periods - you and Ev hung out in Venice - how do you find your creative
I work wherever the inspiration hits me. It could be the beach, an airplane, a restaurant, in bed in the middle of the night… Wherever. I see this ability as a blessing, and I am not so egotistical and narcissistic that I think that I can turn it on at will. It is a skill, but it is a skill born out of a gift.
You worked extensively with Evidence and Babu, but also hit up quite a range of different beatmakers to build the album - was their a concern to differentiate from the sounds of Dilated Peoples by adding outside elements to the records?
No… No concern, only a desire to travel and bring new textiles and spices home. I just wanted to explore some new flavors and build some new bridges.
On this LP you worked alongside guys from Aloe Blacc to KRS One - did you sometimes feel like both the student and teacher during the collaborations?
Definitely… in these collaborations as in life. I learned a lot and shared a lot.
What is the goal at the back end of working with someone as auspicious as KRS One? I imagine meeting with him would be like a reverent sit-down with The Pope for hip hop culture.
He (BDP) is the reason that I do what I do the way that I do it. It was actually the 3rd time we have worked together because we did a record called “Throwin Up Letters“ for Longevity’s project as well as doing the remake of “Self Destruction” called “Self Construction”, but it was more powerful to actually live the childhood dream of working with KRS One on my album.
For an open-hearted track, ‘Delilah’ came with such a cold hard beat from Ev. Without the lyrics it’s a real gangsta rap beat - was that planned as a contrast?
Nothing was done by accident. Contrast is an important device. I find balance in contrast. Yes.
‘Ambassador Slang’ goes heavily international - how did you reach out and pull so many different cultures into one track?
I travel the world and have friends from all over the planet. When I travel and tour, I am respected as an ambassador and treated as such. I just feel that the hospitality should work both ways, so I reached out to a few people that I felt could use the light in the US and world markets. My mother is from Seoul, S. Korea and I grew up for part of my life in Hawaii, so the Asian-Pacific Island Hip Hop scene is very important to me. There will be many more international collaborations coming soon under the “Ambassador Slang” banner– Europe, Asia, Africa, Oceania, South and Central America, Caribbean… Stay tuned.
Six years since 20/20, with your LP wrapped, Duck Season under way and Cats & Dogs about to roll out - has it been therapeutic for the group’s longevity to spread out on solo ventures as you’ve each done before coming together to bang out the next Dilated Peoples’ campaign?
It has definitely been therapeutic. It has made us want to get back in the studio together, it has made us truly appreciate our individual growth, and it has allowed us to go find new things to bring back to the family. We are charged up and looking forward to Directors Of Photography.
So, Directors Of Photography is at the forefront of yours, Evidence and Babu’s workload at the moment?
Actually, Cats & Dogs is at the front of my mind right now. Any project that the family does is a family project, and that is where we want everyone focused right now. Go get Crown Of Thorns and study that, then get Cats & Dogs and study that. You will need to get up to speed and prepare yourself for Directors Of Photography.
Touring Crown Of Thorns on the solo trip, is this also either a freedom or isolation to not have the guys support on stage?
Again… Both. We are all very comfortable being up there solo and together – there are no weak links in the crew, but there is a deeper magic that can be felt when we are all up there together. The solo magic is sparking though. Everything is growing. I love rocking my Crown Of Thorns set though. I love to see peoples face light up and see the different people react to different songs.
So finally, what’s on the agenda for your trip down under, i hear King Kapisi from NZ and a Hawaiian MC is rolling with you?
Yes. I’ll be with my Uso King Kapisi, DJ Rhettmatic from the World Famous Beat Junkies and Visionaries, and Honolulu legend Tassho Pearce from Flip The Bird. Dialect and Despair from Adelaide are going to be with us too. It’s going to be serious. We’re coming to have fun, but we don’t play. You better be ready!
Thank you for your time to do this Rakaa Iriscience. Most appreciated and all the best for your upcoming tour and next Dilated Peoples LP!
Thank you. Oh… Support Australian Hip Hop! Support your local Hip Hop scene! Shout out to Aaron and the UKNOWHO Records crew, Dilated Peoples, Rock Steady Crew, and Universal Zulu Nation. I’m on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram as @therealrakaa. Cheers!
New album: Crown Of Thorns (Decon Records)
By Rip Nicholson // [email protected]