Exclusive interview: RA the Rugged Man

In Interviews by Nick Russell

Exclusive interview: RA the Rugged Man

New York emcee, film maker (as a producer, director and writer) and journalist (for Vibe, Source, King, Complex) RA the Rugged Man is one of the most revered names in hip hop history, with a colourful history that has seen him collab with Notorious BIG among many others.

He returns with this latest album Legends Never Die which sees him link up with Tech N9ne, Talib Kweli, Brother Ali, Vinnie Paz, Masta Ace and more!

Our writer El Cynico URM spoke to him in an exclusive interview where he discusses being a film maker, working with Tech N9ne and his ambitions for a UK tour. Peep the interview right here!

Why did you chose ‘Legends Never Die’ as your album title, and is it any form of continuation from your previous release ‘Die, Rugged Man, Die’?

Yeah, I think it’s pretty obvious the title is a continuation. It took a year to finally get the right title as I had a million other potential titles and when that one hit me it was perfect.

Naming the title track after my dad also adds another layer to the title so it’s not just me being an arrogant, braggadocious type, there’s a lot more to it than just that.

Would you say that being a film director, producer and writer has many similar disciplines to being a MC?

Yeah, you have to be disciplined and learn your craft to do it right. Anybody could pick up a camera and film some shit and call themselves a filmmaker just like anyone could pick up the mic and claim they’re an MC. It’s the ones who know how to elevate their craft and shine above the others that really matter.

What were your intentions when selecting guests and producers to feature on the project?

I just wanted to make the dopest, most versatile album I possibly could. And I think picking MCs from all different angles of hip hop helped me get that.

The behind the scenes footage of your upcoming video with Tech N9ne and Krizz Kaliko looks DOPE. When can we expect the video out, and how was it to work with them?

Tech is my man, a real good brother. The video will be out as soon as we get the CGI back.

Word is that this album was written in composition books. In what ways do you feel taking the time to construct a song this way is more beneficial that sitting in the studio with the instrumental on loop?

Actually I write my rhyme in a notebook and record it into my tape-recorder and then spit it in the booth. I’m just old fashioned. A lot of cats write their rhymes in their phones, even some of the greats.

I was with Kool G Rap and he was writing his rhyme in his Blackberry, he said it was easier. He opened my composition book and laughed at how fucking horrible my handwriting was. He said I should probably type the shit in my phone too. (laughs)

What might your fans not be aware of about the real RA the Rugged Man?

I have no clue. If you listen to my music I basically expose most myself and my life in those bars. I don’t know what else to tell you about me. Listen to the records I make and pay attention to my words and you’ll probably learn anything you wanna learn about me.

Having already worked with UK rapper Stig of the Dump, have you had a chance to keep up with the UK scene at all? Β 

I’m behind not just on the UK scene but the U.S. scene as well, and the scene all over the world. I travel and check out a lot of MCs on the road and listen to whats on when I’m in certain countries but I’m not in the UK all that often.

Maybe 4 shows a year the most. I have to knock out a whole big-ass tour out there one day. Maybe 20 dates and hit everywhere, that is what I’d like to do.


Rugged Man’s new album ‘Legends Never Die’ is out now on Nature Sounds, available to buy on CD, vinyl and MP3!