do you feel about how "Smash Rockwell" came out?
excited. I look at albums like portraits. I'm an artist and I was just
painting another portrait.
is Smash Rockwell?
Rockwell is Casual of the Hieroglyphics Crew, only at his finest!
you get tired of being Casual?
necessarily, it was just for the project. What really happened is, my
family members and friends call me "Smash," not too many people
call me "Casual." I'm not all the same all the time, so I wanted
to introduce a different personality. At the office, everyone calls me
Smash. The real deal is why I named the album "Casual Presents Smash
Rockwell" is because Casual is Smash Rockwell at his finest. Anything
you ever liked about him is captured on this album.
do you want fans to have with this album?
complete, honest perspective of Hip Hop. I'm also breaking down different
styles, and staying a lyrical trend-setter, because there's a lot of fans
that don't know my history. You have to always stay up to date with your
music as well. And I'm bringing that real Hip Hop shit from back in the
day, quality lyrics, and good production.
bet the Hiero fans weren't expecting to see Too Short on your album
know they won't. That song was for me. I've been wanting to do a song
with him forever. I'm from Oakland, he's Too Short, do the math. And at
the same time, I don't give a fuck. If a motherfucker is looking for some
backpack shit, then catch me on a Hiero record, but if you want to hear
how I get down, then fuck with Casual's shit.
you get looked at as a backpacker?
never really been classified as that, to tell the truth. If I ever fell
into that category, I would champion it, because it's better to swim upstream
than just be down with all that bullshit. I had long-ass dreadlocks when
I graduated from high school. I was rocking the De La style
think you can ever judge a person. A nigga might have a backpack and have
a Mack Milli in that backpack. My crew might have been considered backpack,
but I never have. I've been excluded from that bullshit.
was it working with E-40?
another person that I really wanted to work with. You have to understand
that in the process of recording this album, I recorded over 100 songs,
so I had a lot of songs with different artists but I wanted the ones that
sounded the most natural. And in my region, he's on top of the whole West
Coast. I'm trying to step to the front, and I want y'all to hear how it
sounds where I'm at. Music coming out of East Oakland, California will
sound exactly like my album sounds.
Young Zee track was a dope surprise
I'm bi-coastal. I get more love out there than on the West. Zee is my
dog. We wanted to get some egotistical shit on that.
at the song about single mothers, "Love It," that had the same
sample as Jay's "Dear Summer," did you ever think not about
putting that song out?
no! Hip Hop don't go down like that. Some weak dude might take it off,
but I know when Jigga hears that, he'll say "that's a cool song too."
I don't get down like that. I look at it like a bonus, because you get
to rock the same track that somebody else just rocked, and if you make
it sound good, then somebody might be like "damn, I like this one
better." I mean, it's hard to top a song about single mothers, because
the women already know what's happening.
have you changed since "Fear Itself?"
changed just as much as any artist has in 11 years. If you look at any
artist's album from 11 years ago and look at them today, you'll probably
notice the same amount of change because life changes. I've only released
three albums in 11 years. The most I can say is that I'm more mature,
and more focused.
at three albums in 11 years, you definitely take your time. How do you
know when you have a complete album?
I start feeling like I've been recording too long. A lot of times songs
I don't use will make another album. I feel like I got enough songs to
release an album next year if I wanted to. With Hieroglyphics, we might
release six solo albums, and then a Hiero album, and that could take us
awhile. It could take us a year to record a Hiero album because it takes
us so long to get everyone together.
Hiero been up to?
chilling, we're on the road now. We're starting to record a new Hiero
record. We just bought us a phat facility in Oakland. We got our warehouse,
our studio, and our offices all in the same location. We're trying to
get it where we don't need nobody. We'll work our own records and take
them to our own pressing plant. We strive to be completely independent,
and we're moving towards that.
important is it in today's industry to be a businessman as well as a rapper?
more important than you think. I've been in this industry for a long time,
contacting these people directly and handling your own business is so
much more respectable than having the next person doing it that you might
gain ground that you couldn't gain with that other person. Me calling
MTV or BET and telling them to "play our shit" is a little more
respectable than hiring somebody to do it. I'm sitting at the office and
I want to know why things are happening and I want feedback. And at 5:00,
I go back to being an artist, and then I start rocking. It's a little
bit better for me, and I think that's how it should be.
were signed in '93 to Jive, would you ever want to go back to a major?
would go back to a major for the right amount of money, because I'm at
that age where I'm thinking of my kid's tuition. That doesn't mean that
I don't still own my own label. I still own Hieroglyphics. It would just
have to be an ideal situation. It couldn't be no bullshit.
important has touring been to your career?
has been a big part of my career for the simple fact that I stay out on
the road for six months out of the year and I don't even have an album
out yet, just rocking with Hiero. We have a cult following that artists
are intentionally trying to develop by borrowing our blueprint. It's a
given in Hip Hop that you can also do it the way Hiero did it too, and
they know the way we did it is by touring, being on the internet, and
being personal artists, not the "I'm not going to chill with you
artists." We've gained ground by that, and we developed a following,
and now we can do it six months out of the year.
important is that Hiero logo?
logo has been around! It's been in all kinds of movies. You don't have
to know it's a rap group, you still know it's third eye vision when you
see that logo. That logo is bigger than Hiero. We're going to spin it.
We're trying to get a clothing line thing together, but we have limited
resources and we don't want to involve any random investors, but we're
going to bring the clothing line up too.
other businesses do you want to get into?
now, I'm Director of New Media at Hiero, so I'm just trying to get us
new media, new genres, get these videos planned. But I've also been focusing
on my own thing. Once I feel Hiero is a completely established, working
entity, then I want to bring my artistry elsewhere.
you guys looking to break any new artists?
all the time. We got a great distribution deal with motherfuckers willing
to put shit out. I also play the role of A&R sometimes. We're always
looking for new stuff, plus we got a gang of stuff coming next year.
we going to get another Del album?
you will get another Del album. He was looking to get it out at the end
of the year but he told me he's behind schedule, but it's coming. It's
called "The Eleventh Hour."
you feel like people are sleeping on the Bay right now?
really sleeping. I just don't think that the Bay is making the noise that
it should. I'm a different type of people where I make people look at
me. I used to go to these conventions and start rapping hella loud with
two people, and at the end of that there would be 400 people listening.
That's just my attitude.
important has originality helped Hiero?
the backbone. You can't even come busting no shit not sounding original.
We have the style thing broken down to its finest, so we know what artists
are doing. And it helps us stay cutting edge, on top of things.
you see yourself making any Hyphy music?
are my youngsters! I'm definitely down with it, but I'm a grown-man, I'm
making grown-man music. But I love my Hyphy youngsters because that's
the new generation. That's how the new shit is going to sound. They're
bringing some energy that Hip Hop ain't even heard yet, straight up.
the Bay be the next Atlanta or Houston?
definitely can. We just have to capture that focus. There's a lot of new
material, all it's going to take is for people to release a few albums.
You can't just release one album. Everybody that calls themselves an artist
has to step their shit up, get your bars up, put your cards up, get on
the mic, and spit that shit.
your priority today?
child's welfare. That's what I think about, especially when I'm on the
the normal day like for you?
up, kick it 'til about 5, get left by the bus if you ain't ready. Crazy
shit. It's fun though, this rap life.
do you want to say to your fans out there?
sure y'all check out that "Casual Presents Smash Rockwell" shit.
You're going to champion my shit, you're going to take it to your boys
and make them listen! And if you're an artist out there trying, don't
get discouraged by no bullshit motherfuckers, keep doing the shit.