By Sunez Allah
There are two aspects of Original life for those Original people that got merged in the Bronx. To help those Black and Brown put Art and the Realness together like those were the X and Y to the DNA of the nigga question. If those could be born on wax we’d get the best part and the people could be of a triumphant pedigree, often grieving but always enlivening.
KA’s Grief Pedigree is one of these borned masterpieces and deserves even more constant study and the enjoyment of continuous reflection. The fluidity of his pacing, the mastery of his word choices, that raspiness of his percussive timbre, his environmental detail and the incredibly clever articulation of his mentality are all brought forth by the sincerity of his entire approach. As a writer, I ask the artist to expound on their greatest trait. So, then after the Cold Facts is our building on that trait for KA, the Real.
They stand the test, got Father time rhymes
I know I’m blessed, Father, pardon my crimes
Just wanted to stack and ride beamers
Don’t laugh, on the ave with a pack of hyenas
Come through with the pride, get attacked with five ninas
Got trapped, now fly, now I’m back with my venus
The dream is live clean and good living
As free as it seem
But the shit is a hood prison
So we sold that poison like Bivens
Made noise and quietly gave sister nice ribbons
Fuck them cops and swats with night vision
Give me three days and we celebrate like Christ risen
Grew up with good spirited goons
Now I only see them in tombs or in visiting rooms
Hold the chrome tight, the beast on the creep
I own the night, the heat’s my receipt
I need peace, all that beef shit is weak
When niggas that talk trash get sweeped in the street
Washed down the gutter
Whatever remains get tossed round ya mother
Jump them squares, make them crown another
I see your traps and your plots to dead us
Y’all roll with Kojaks, nigga, I got Berettas
[I fuck with Berettas]
I heat it up with Cold Facts”
SUNEZ: I saw an interview and you had mentioned yourself in the vein of Sade.
KA: That’s what I want to be musically, man. I mean I really love her music and her longevity in the game. Her music don’t bump in clubs. It’s mostly in your house. You throw Sade on in your house. There’s other places you could play her shit but that’s where it’s perfect at. That’s what I wanted with me. You ain’t gon listen to Grief Pedigree in the club unless you’re trying to get people out. I want you if you going through something. I’ve gone through so much and I put it in my music. So if you going through something I probably went through that. I could speak to you with music together and uplift your thoughts. I survived it and I kind of want to have my lane.
SUNEZ: What makes something Real? This Hip Hop shit is different. The Real means something.
KA: That’s the hard part about Hip Hop, the culture of Hip Hop, you can’t just sound good. You have to be good. A lot of these R&B singers, I don’t know who, but a lot of them are gay. I don’t know if it’s all rumors but they sing the most beautiful songs for women. I don’t give a fuck if they’re gay!! You know what I’m sayin’! In Hip Hop, you could be the softest nigga in the world and if you’re singing the best Hip Hop songs it don’t count cuz we say, ‘he’s a fuckin sucker. Fuck listening to him.’ The first one to ever transcend that to me personally was Rick Ross. I thought he was dead in the water when that C.O. shit came out. But people didn’t care. And I thought it was a breakthrough where like Hip Hop is an Art now. It’s not just some thing where only the gangsters can rhyme cuz that’s not really what it is. This is really an Art. And that’s what it’s supposed to be.
SUNEZ: Let’s say we let those lesser ones in just so it could be seen as an Art.
KA: Sunez, we already let them in! It don’t matter. They already in and you know what the fuck I’m talking about.
SUNEZ: (laughing) I know. I know. That’s the whole thing Ka. I’m writing this thing as a purist. To me the shit, it counts.
KA: To me too! That’s why we do this shit. Ain’t nobody else doing shit from the heart. I worked overtime to make my album. I ain’t signed to nobody. I ain’t got no distribution. I ain’t got nobody making my videos. I ain’t had nobody make no beats. You know I ain’t doing no songs for the ladies. I ain’t doing nothing that’s supposed to get on the radio. Never could. I ain’t trying to be a knucklehead but this is what I love. This is the shit that I do. It’s the shit that I do the best. If they want to hear it, they hear it. If they don’t then they don’t. What made my first album [Iron Works]–I gave it away cuz I loved the shit cuz I knew what I had to do. I kept it in the purist form. So you speaking to an A-alike. Trust me.
SUNEZ: That’s why I gotta ask. Just to hear you say that.. And I think it’s at least two genres, maybe three immediately if we say Salsa from the 1970’s, not today’s stuff. You have Hip Hop and you have Roots Reggae. That Rasta brother has to be real with what he’s saying or it’s not right to me. He can’t talk the Ital foods and not be eating them.
KA: (laughs) Exactly.
SUNEZ: As a writer, I try to make those judgments on the quality of the music. And the judgments for others are all out of place. I read somewhere saying your image has to be more Mafioso Don type.
KA: That’s what they wanted? That’s what the kid said? (laughing)
SUNEZ: It made me laugh too. What the fuck is he talking about?!
KA: You listen to what kids say you’ll go crazy. I’ll tell you something. After I did “Firehouse” [off GZA’s 2008 Pro Tools LP]and I said I would never read this [internet message board] shit ever again. After I did “Firehouse” I went to see what people were saying. This is my first joint I’m ever doing for public consumption in…forever. Are people fucking with me? Do they think I’m dope? I don’t really know. I go online and these niggas are eating me up. They’re saying ‘avoid that song at all costs, it’s trash.’ There was like 70 pages of people blasting me. Then one kid goes and says, ‘y’all niggas is buggin. He murdered this track.’ He started quoting some of the lines, was like “being fatherless bothered us, so everybody we called them son,” –‘How you people don’t like that shit?!! We called niggas son cuz we ain’t had no fuckin’ fathers in the hood! Like how you not gon like that.’ When he started saying that I was like somebody got it.
So for my image, I did what I did already. I’m a man. I regret the shit that I had to do. Niggas is hustling. That shit ain’t fly. All my close friends are dead. I’m trying to be a nigga that’s peace now because I know what it does. I know the stupid moves of a teenager and a twenty year old man do. I’m gonna be forty. And I gotta live for all my people that ain’t here no more. I gotta live for the people that are still around and love me.
“Me and KA set a higher standard…”
– Roc Marciano – “Iron Age”
[Editor Notes: Sunez’ review for Grief Pedigree can be found at: https://premierehiphop.com/2012/03/24/ka-grief-pedigree/
The following excerpts are additional exclusives from a conversation that can be found at: