MVRemix: Where were you on Sept. 11th, 2002? How did you deal with it? How do you think it has affected or will affect hip-hop?
C-Rayz Walz: I actually smoked 2 El’s and watched the buildings burn and crumble. Ravi’s mom, my girl, was at school. She called me and was like ‘Turn the news on! Some crazy sh*t is going on! I can’t get out of school. Tell me what’s happening!’ I turned the news on and the Trade Center was on fire. I told her not to go anywhere. I stayed home, rolled up an El. Said ‘F*ck it, make it 2 of those.’ I smoked them. I don’t smoke weed anymore. It’s been like 6 months. When I finished smoking the first El, the other building got hit. I smoked the other El. It was like watching a movie. I guess the two El’s represented the towers which is a f*cked up thing. You want to hear some f*cked up sh*t? I was about to get signed to Sony and Def Jam. They were both hollering at me. The game was real good. Economy was up in hip-hop. Hip-hop was on top of the world. Hip-hop cats were getting million dollar contracts and all that sh*t. Sony was looking at me. We had lunch with Tommy Matolla. Def Jam was looking at me. Lyor was listening to the music and picked out songs to be the singles. It was a matter of getting up there, getting the paperwork done, and meeting them along with having a couple of other joints ready for the next singles. Then, the towers fell. They were like ‘Mariah’s sh*t is pushed back. We’re not signing anybody. Def Jam is chilling. We ain’t doing nothing right now.’ It was f*cked up because I took a 6 months hiatus from doing singles and I was just going to pop up on Def Jam and surprise everybody. The Towers destroyed that possibility. It was actually good because now, I will never sign to a major label. My uncle lost his whole crew in the Towers. I lost friends in there. One of my people saw people jumping out the windows while he was at work. It was real traumatizing sh*t. America’s f*cked up. This sh*t is way bigger than oil. Listen to the Immortal Technique album. I need to get my plan going before I start talking and speaking out about that.
MVRemix: What do you think hip-hop needs these days?
C-Rayz Walz: I think that it is a self-evolving culture and way of life. Since we can always improve, I would say hip-hop needs more love. Word, man! More respect for the culture and more love for the people who are doing it. Especially, in New York. In NY, everybody in the crowd is hating because everybody is an emcee or a producer or whatever. So, they just critique it. When I’m in the crowd, I’m not a critic, I’m a fan! I’m not thinking to myself, ‘Is that song better than mine? Is his stage show better than mine?’ I’m not comparing myself like that. I’m a fan! I came to see what this man or this group is about and what this DJ is spinning. Sure, I check for mic control, personal references, sharing, passion, openness, stage mobility, and different mobility. I even grade it. Even if I’m not feeling it, I still give love because I know it takes courage to be up on stage. I just won’t clap as hard as I would if I was really feeling it. I will clap though.
MVRemix: What is your favorite part of your live show?
C-Rayz Walz: The same part that I hate. The freestyle. It’s a love hate relationship because my sh*t is so unconscious and ridiculous. Like I said in the track ‘Floe’, I said, ‘Off the head, I’m fed / My freestyle eats my written.’ That’s two things. The first part ‘Off the head, I’m fed’ means that I am fed up and angry. Or I am fed. My brain is having a delicious meal like my stomach. ‘My freestyle eats my written’ Cats love that sh*t. I don’t blame them. That sh*t is raw and one of a kind. When I’m in a zone, I blackout and black-in like dark skinned brothers who are repeat offenders.
MVRemix: How has your live show evolved? How has it changed?
C-Rayz Walz: I think I talk to the crowd a little more now. I probably make less jokes. That’s really it. I kept the same formula. I got sick of cats getting up on stage and keep talking to the crowd, asking the crowd to say ‘Hoe!’ and feedback. When I first started out, I didn’t ask the crowd for sh*t. If you feel something, you’re gonna clap at the end. Then, I would pause until you finished clapping and then, go to the next song. Now, I have more dialogue with the crowd. I am definitely focusing on having dialogue with the crowd on this Raekwon tour. They will be connected with me more.
MVRemix: Tell us about your upcoming tour with Raekwon.
C-Rayz Walz: Yeah, I’m leaving and will be out until November. His new album is out on Universal. It was supposed to drop in August. You know how the game is. It’s hot. It’s real dope.
MVRemix: What LP or CD has been on your turntable or in your CD player recently?
C-Rayz Walz: I have been listening to a lot of instrumentals. Icon. Prince. Erykah Badu’s new sh*t is hot. Dead Prez’s ‘RBG’. I’m a stay bumping that. Tracy Chapmen. Sade. That’s my trilogy right there. I’ve been bumping some blues. El-P’s ‘Fantastic Damage’. Aesop Rock’s ‘Bazooka Tooth’ too. With El-P’s ‘Fantastic Damage’, it took me like a month and a half to really get it. It’s real crazy. It’s hard. That’s why I think that it’s such a dope album because songs that you get and understand in 5 minutes is fast food but you have to acquire the taste for Mediterranean flavors. ‘Labor Days’ was instant bang with every track but ‘Bazooka Tooth’ is much more difficult listening. I’m still digesting it and that’s dope.
MVRemix: If you could remake any classic hip-hop song, what would it be?
C-Rayz Walz: I just now did it. I just remade ‘Young, Gifted, And Black’ by Big Daddy Kane. Another song that I think is the greatest song of all time and I would never dare do a remake of is the Melle Mel’s verse on the ‘Beat Street’ movie. I could only hope to reach a level with a verse like that, which had so much immortality to it. It was the scene at Ramon’s party, after he died. He kicked the illest verse in the history of hip-hop ever! Hands down.
MVRemix: As a lyricist, who are some of your major influences?
C-Rayz Walz: Krs-One for the intelligence. Big Daddy Kane for the raw delivery. Biz Markie for the humor. I’m influenced by everybody. I’m dope. I would have to say Rakim for sh*t that you don’t even catch in his rhymes until like 5 years later. There are things in Rakim’s albums that you still catch now. I’m like the biggest Rakim fan. When people say that C Rayz Walz is a punch-line emcee, they have it twisted. I don’t punch-lines. I kick circles and stomp ciphers to death.
MVRemix: What is your opinion on Ras Kass?
C-Rayz Walz: I haven’t really heard too much of Ras Kass music but the sh*t I did hear was impressive. It reminds me of myself in the way that Ras Kass says a lot of quick witted sh*t that flies right over your f*cking head.
MVRemix: You collaborated with MF Doom on ‘The Line Up’. How did you hook up with him and what was that collaboration like?
C-Rayz Walz: That’s family. We are in the same crew. Doom is an emcee straight up. He don’t give a f*ck. He has his own style. He has like 8 diagrams to every verse. Sh*t is mad esoteric, subtle. He is a master of his craft.
MVRemix: The incredible song ‘The Line Up’ has many outstanding emcees like MF Doom, Breezely Brewin, Wordsworth, Thirstin Howl III, Vast Aire and more. How did this happen and what was it like?
C-Rayz Walz: I actually wanted to do this with everybody that was on there. These are all emcees that I respect as far as coming up as I been coming up. They haven’t been recognized for their full potential. Everybody on that track I think is legendary and I don’t think they are getting recognized. I wanted them to get recognized for that track. Breezely Brewin is one of the greatest emcees ever, man. He’s one of my biggest influences as a human being, not even on some f*cking music.
MVRemix: How was it recorded? Was it recorded in different days and with different takes? Were the emcees ever in the same room at the same time?
C-Rayz Walz: No doubt, nah. Everybody’s schedule was hectic so everybody came on different occasions. It was always a special moment when everybody did their verse. I did it in order. Wordsworth heard my verse. Then, Thirstin Howl heard my verse and Wordsworth’s verse. Then J-Treds heard my verse, Wordsworth’s verse and Howl’s verse. Then it went all the way to Breezely Brewin heard everybody’s verses except for Doom’s. Finally, Doom heard everybody’s verse and then wrote his.