R.A. the Rugged Man: The Music Industry is Made of “Crooked Fake Phonies”


R.A. The Rugged Man releases his Legends Never Die album this week. It’s a project the thuggish ruggish rap chap promises will showcase his ability to “annihilate any rapper on this Earth.” We don’t doubt the Rugged man. In other, chirpier news, here’s R.A. explaining away his Twitter timeline chatter about wearing open-toed leather sandals in Germany, wanting to make Kool Herc’s birthday a national holiday, and why LL Cool J still raps better than your favorite non-“Accidental Racist” rapper.

See also: Venues Can’t Serve Alcohol To Women With No Underwear on and Other Things You Learn Talking To R.A. the Rugged Man

I take it you’re not looking forward to any of this summer’s blockbuster movies?Oh, you know Hollywood’s a bunch of jerk offs with no originality. It’s like the entertainment industry, it’s all big marketing plans and doing what’s already been done. It’s not like the ’70s when they made original films like French Connection. It’s a different era. Now you get Spiderman, Superman, Lord Of The Rings, the same shit every year.

What’s worse, Hollywood or the music industry?
Oh, it’s the same devil, the same shit. It’s a bunch of clueless money people who have no idea how to create and they follow the next trend to make a quick dollar. It’s the same as Washington, there’s no difference between Hollywood and the White House. It’s crooked fake phonies marketing themselves to the world.

What did you think of the LL Cool J and Brad Paisley song, “Accidental Racist”?
I think LL Cool J is undeniably a legend, one of the greatest rappers that ever lived. He said a couple of stupid things on a country and western song, but it doesn’t take anything away from who he is and what he’s accomplished in the past. A lot of people are shitting on him and calling him an Uncle Tom. But he lives in Hollywood now, he’s a different creature. He’s been a superstar since he was 15-years-old, you know, and he doesn’t live in the real world with the real people and he might say some stupid shit so what he thinks is deep might be some corny shit that everyone else says, “Man, this dude’s lost.” But take all that away and he’s one of the greatest that ever lived and he’s one of my hip-hop idols and he changed the way music was forever. Okay, you made a bad musical and political move and it back-fired and didn’t work very well, but that’s just one piece of his long illustrious career.

When did you first hear LL Cool J rap?
I was a kid and he was a little kid, ha ha! He was older than me, though. I was probably 11-years-old and he was like 15-years-old. He was ferocious, like the best rapper on the planet. No one could rap like that. He blew away anything you ever heard and it’s a different era: Now, if you’re like 15, 16 or 17, that’s a young rapper and they’re allowed to be wack. Back then, the best rappers were teenagers. It was a young man’s sport. If you were 30-years-old it was unheard of back then; Chuck D started coming on the scene when he was like 27-years-old and it was like, “Damn, that dude is old!” Now that’s a young rapper today. You think that Jay-Z’s 45 and he’s making mediocre records about letters to the President!

Who’s the best child rapper of all time then?
Cool J, of course. There’s another great child rapper from Harlem who was murdered, his name’s Tony T. He came out with a record produced by the great Teddy Riley at the time, it was called “Expressing My Thoughts,” and this dude was like he had energy and he was hard! He came out with an album called Physical or something and his rhyme style was ill for a kid. I don’t know what happened I think his deal fell sour and I think he got murdered in the streets, like shot to death was the last I heard.

What did you think when LL came out with “I Need Love”?
Well, I tell you, there was MC Shan with “Left Me Lonely.” That was the love rap, with TJ Swann singing the hook. And Cool J had “I Need Love” and, you know, girls loved him and he was a good looking dude so he got over on that love rap shit. I remember I was a kid and at the time I was a virgin still and I was hanging out with the older kids and I remember saying I wasn’t really a fan of that “I Need Love” song and that Cool J had made better songs than that. My boy was like, “Yo, that’s ’cause you was never with a girl and you’re a virgin and once you’ve been in love you’ll understand what Cool J’s talking about!” I listened to it more to try and get into it.

See also: R.A. the Rugged Man Abides

What do you remember about going to Germany when you were six-years-old?

It was crazy because my grandfather fought in World War II on the American side, and my father married into a German-ass family, like my mother’s from Germany so her parents had to be part of that whole nazi thing. So my father went over there and my grandfather on my mother’s side was ex-German army and was an angry, angry guy and got injured in the head during the war so he was real slow. He was an angry old German man and he’d chase me round the farm with a pitchfork and he hated Americans. It was a lot of fun though.

And those sandals?
I tell you, when I went to Germany I wore clogs. In Germany clogs was the shit. I came back to the U.S. and I started school and in first-grade I walked in with fuckin’ clogs on and it was like, “Yo, R.A. got girls’ shoes on!” I thought clogs was the fly shit, but when I got to the U.S. they wasn’t fly at all!

You tweeted about making April 16th a national Hip-Hop Day.
Yeah, I said let’s do it, let’s start a worldwide holiday for Kool Herc’s birthday. Let’s make it a worldwide holiday to celebrate the culture and the music he created that changed the world hip-hop changed everything, even the way grown-ups act and the way music is made. It’s all from what this man Kool Herc started.

When did hip-hop first come into your life?
I was in Germany for the summer and it was [starts rapping] “New York, New York big city of dreams…” I was in Germany and it was like they were mentioning my home. Then there was another song that didn’t have rap in it but it was a hip-hop-style song like with break-dancing in it. It was about a soldier and he was only 19.

By Paul Hardcastle?
Yeah, and that was like my first taste of rap for like a song about Vietnam. It wasn’t hip-hop but it had rapping on it and the rhythm was there. Then it sampled all the stuff about the Vietnam War. Then when I came back to the U.S. it started getting real popular. You’d go to the roller-rink and there’d be the big records like “Roxanne, Roxanne” by U.T.F.O. and Kurtis Blow’s “The Breaks.” I didn’t skate or shit but I’d just be hanging out at the arcade watching the girls roller-skate.

What sort of arcade games did you play?
The old-school ones like Asteroids, Centipede, Robotron, stuff like that.

Were you any good at them?
I was good at Asteroids. That was it. But there were nerded-out kids that kept on the machines and would whup everybody and stay on the machine for days.

Hip-Hop’s 25 Best Weed Songs
The Top 20 NYC Rap Albums of All Time: The Complete List
These Odd Future Shirts Should Not Be Banned From School!