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Tragedy Khadafi - conducted by Bill "Low Key" Heinzelman  

Tragedy Khadafi


Tragedy has always been one of the industries most underrated and overlooked emcees ever since his humble beginnings with the Juice Crew. Tragedy has never been your average thug rapper to come out of Queens Bridge. Instead he has been a leader for the people and the streets. With his newest release “Still Reportin” Tragedy finally looks to gain the credit and accolades that have eluded him all these years. In the interview below Tragedy speaks on a variety of issues ranging from his struggles growing up to his relationship with CNN as well as the new album. Tragedy also reveals some of his future plans such as a Roc-A-Fella produced movie based on Tragedy & CNN’s rise to fame. It is very apparent that Tragedy is indeed back and ready to stamp his mark on the game as one of Q.B.’s best emcees.

MVRemix: OK, lets start off by talking about the horrible situation with the NYC police that you encountered on September 3rd. From what I have heard you were riding in the car with Nore, amongst others, and you were pulled over by the cops. What happened from there on out?

Tragedy: Basically yeah they pulled us over. First it’s one car behind us and shit, so I’m thinking they seeing some black, ya know people of color driving a nice car and they wanna fuck with us on that level. One car behind us and the next thing you know another car is coming up front and maybe like 6 or 7 officers on both sides on feet are running up to us. So now its like oh shit, what the fuck is going on? So then weapons are drawn on both sides; the cops are yelling back and forth “watch the crossfire” like they about to start shooting and shit. So they tell Nore who was actually driving at the time “take one arm, keep one arm on the steering wheel”. I believe it was his right arm, take his left arm put it over and open the door, step out with his hands up while we keep our hands up, passenger side and the three of us in the back seat keep our hands up in the air to the roof of the car. So Nore gets out, they rush him. They take us out one by one, told us to get out one by one, rush us. As they rushing us, they throwing us on the floor in the water and shit, stepping on my back and all that shit. Guns on my head, guns in my face, asking us where the guns at?

MVRemix: And I read that they had like 30 to 35 guns pointing at everybody’s head.

Tragedy: Yeah, 30 to 35 guns were pointed at our head. Meanwhile, we are like “what the fuck”. I’m saying to myself “what the fuck did Nore do before he came and got me”. And Nore was like “what the fuck did Trag do before I came and picked him up”. Ya know what I’m saying? Obviously there were no fucking guns in there. They kept me on some other shit, because of my record and all of that, but they let them go and shit. It was just crazy man; the profiling on rappers is getting out of hand. Apparently the next day, Alchemist, P and somebody else got pulled over and harassed by the police. So they gonna be in some shit fucking with me.

MVRemix: So what did they say they pulled you over for, what was “reason” they gave you.

Tragedy: Machine guns! Allegedly some called and said we had machine guns. Sub machines guns in the car and I don’t believe that shit.

MVRemix: So you were the only one they took in?

Tragedy: Yep, well, they took all of us in but I was the only one who stayed.

MVRemix: And what did they charge you with?

Tragedy: Nothing, they had to dismiss it.

MVRemix: Damn, that’s crazy.

Tragedy: Yeah, very.

MVRemix: Are you going to file a complaint with the police?

Tragedy: Well, I am considering it. I am talking to my attorneys and we are considering filing a compliant against the New York City Police Department, that specific precinct.

MVRemix: So let’s move on and talk about your new album “Still Reportin”.

Tragedy: Let’s definitely talk about my new fucking album!

MVRemix: What was your mindset going into the album and what do you want to accomplish with it?

Tragedy: My mindset going into this album was basically, at first, let me just make some hot shit. Then I started to going through different stages where shit was going on around me and I was just like I gotta make some crazy shit. I felt I like wasn’t getting my just due and the credit for really molding CNN from the ground up. So I was like I’m gonna make my own version, the next level of “The War Report”, to me in my opinion. The goal for this album was basically to just let cats, let my audience, as well as to try and gain new fans and let them see my diversity, my craftsmanship, and to just feel me on all those levels in terms of not being a one dimensional artist. I made a song “911 (Walk Wit Me)” about the issues of the world, mainly on the World Trade Center, and my theory’s on that and where we stand, especially in the urban community. I went from “Walk Wit Me” to “Fall Back” with is a more street oriented/gutter feel. Then I have songs like “Crying On The Inside”, which is more of an emotional song. In my opinion I made a complete album! I didn’t just try to rip my fans off; I wanted to give them a buffet. I ain’t wanna hit them with a crazy appetizer and the rest of the meal they get, the entrée, is fucked up. I wanted to feed them the right food, so they stay with me. So the goal for this album is just to make a banging album and stay true to the roots of Hip-Hop.

MVRemix: I definitely feel what you are saying, because for me personally, I feel like this album is one of the best Q.B. albums to come out in awhile.

Tragedy: That’s real, I appreciate that! I hope you let them know that in the interview. I hope you definitely put the stamp on it and let people know what you just told me.

MVRemix: Our course, no doubt! OK, you were just talking about “Crying On The Inside”, and one of my favorite Tragedy joints the past couple years is “The Wait” which is similar in they both deal the same message. They both deal with your relationship with your mother, so how would you describe that relationship with her?

Tragedy: First of all, when I was younger I ain’t really overstand my moms. My moms had me when she was 17. I look young, I am in my thirties, but if you see me you wouldn’t think I was thirty, especially when I shave. I got a young look, so my moms looked mad young. So my mom was just a queen in my eyes. She went through her changes in terms of the streets, the struggle, drugs, things of that nature. But my moms was always a strong woman, she always held it down. But when I was younger I aint really overstand my moms. We moved from South Jamaica to Queens Bridge when I was five years old. So I was the new kid on the block, I was getting in fights everyday. When we lived in south Jamaica, it was still kind of hood, but wasn’t as hood as Queens Bridge. It has gotten iller as I gott older, but Q.B. was always ill, it was always war. So I’m getting in fights everyday, the new kid on the block, so I come in crying and shit sometimes, black eye, going to my moms thinking my moms is going to hug me up, give me some sympathy. My moms would be like “yo get back out there and fight them again until you win”. You feel where I’m coming from? So its like, I looked at that like “damn you don’t love me”? Ya know what I’m saying? But I realized my moms was making me strong. Cause my moms realized the tribulations and the trials that her son had ahead of him. So therefor she was preparing me to be a general instead of a solider. She was preparing me to be a king instead of a peasant. So my relationship with my moms grew and I would hate to say as I got older, but as I got wiser and more mature. And I realized for a woman it’s hard to raise children on your own, let alone raise a boy and try and raise him into a man. I didn’t overstand that, cause we didn’t have a lot of material things. We had very few material things, matter of fact we had a lot of things we needed but we couldn’t get. But she did her best based on our conditions. I love my moms!

MVRemix: You can definitely see that through your work, especially on “Crying On The Inside” and “The Wait” which was on “Thug Matrix 2”.

Tragedy: No doubt, which was a mixtape, because I just wanted to give the streets a taste of what I was coming with before I dropped it. And not to take anything away from mixtapes, but I didn’t necessarily want to depend on getting love or not getting love from mixtape DJ’s. So I wanted to do it myself. Don’t get me wrong, mixtape DJ’s wanna show love I welcome all of that. But I wanted to do it myself and make sure it got out there. I just wanted to give fans and get new fans by giving them a sample of what I’m cooking up.

MVRemix: Speaking of DJ’s, do you find it, especially in NYC, so political in terms of getting your tracks on mixtapes or even on the radio? Especially on stations such as Hot 97, it is nearly impossible for a lot of artists to get their joints played on there if your not one of the “big” industry players in this game. Do you feel it’s so political that you can’t even break through?

Tragedy: I feel like this man, if you give me enough time I can break through anything. Unfortunately, I had a thirty-day stint up in the beast, so that took away from my grind time. The time I would have to run up on DJ’s and let them know the god is still breathing, I’m still doing it and I’m “Still Reportin”. And I need them to show me love, love is love. But I don’t look at it like “it cant’ be done”. I just look at it like, there is a lot of time that passed, thirty days is a long time when you got an album dropping the next month. So that takes away from your grind game. Did it hurt me somewhat? Yes, but I gotta make the best out of the situation. To answer your question more thoroughly, yeah its hard, but its based on who you are to and what you’re willing to do to get it done.

MVRemix: XXL gave you a really good review; they gave you a XL. What did you think of that?

Tragedy: Honestly man, I have been getting jerked by so many publications and magazines, I really didn’t expect that at all. So that was a like total surprise to me.

MVRemix: So does it finally feel good to finally get the credit and recognition you deserve?

Tragedy: Yeah, it really does man. And the lineup they had me up against wasn’t slouches. I like Sheek, I think Sheek is hot. And I definitely like the god Raekwon; I ain’t ashamed to admit I’m a fan. And I respect Raekwon as a man and an artist. That’s a compliment to me, and I don’t take that as I’m better than any of them also. Cause I know them brothers work hard to do their thing and I respect that. But I definitely appreciate the praise that was given to me. I wish sometimes it would have came a lot soon, but hey, it’s coming.

MVRemix: So do you feel that you are looked upon as an underrated emcee, do you feel that inside?

Tragedy: Oh definitely! If you listen to the song on my album called “Hood”, I say “one of the most underrated what I do with this pen is like crime in motion”. I definitely feel underrated but not to tout my own horn, but most of the great cats was initially underrated. Even Pac, now that Pac is gone. People to me always loved Biggie, but a lot of people didn’t respect 2pac for what he really was until he was gone. My moms always used to tell me something real deep, she always used to tell me “give me my flowers while I can smell them. Don’t give me my flowers while I’m in the grave, appreciate me now”. But that’s hard for people to do, when they don’t look at things for themselves. When they don’t read things for themselves. When they rely on, no disrespect, bullshit journalist to tell them or to define to them what true art is, or to define to them what real music is.

MVRemix: Switching gears a little bit, what struck me about the album is the production, which is handled by people like Booth, Scram Jones & Dart La. And while a lot of these cats in the industry need big named producers, you don’t really need that cause you have that ear for production. I mean most people would expect Alchemist & Havoc all over your album, but after listening to it you’ll be like “who needs them the production is crazy”.

Tragedy: Thanks, thanks a lot man. Yo for real I take that to the heart I don’t take that to the head. I went through so much making this album, not to get off the subject; I will get to your question. But I’ve been through so much making this album! I was arrested for attempted murder when I first started working on the album. I was going back and forth to trail facing 20 years, so I had that on my mind when I was writing the album, which was a main factor. I was also going through problems with my relationship with my children’s mother, whom I’m not with anymore. That was in my mind, I had a lot of stuff on my mind that I had to fight and pull through against. I believe that everyone feels fear, everyone goes through challenges, but I also believe it’s what you do when you are faced with those challenges, when your faced with those fears that separates you from the weak. They separate the strong from the weak; ya know what I’m saying? It’s like for me, when I was making this album so many things were going on that at times I had to put it down. Just to grab my head and say to myself “what the fuck is going on”, “what am I going to do”? I was having a lot of financial problems as well because I had to keep going back and forth to court, pay lawyers, and it’s like everything I made was going to pay for my freedom and to pay for my legal defense. And a lot of people didn’t realize that. Man, (haha) shit; you done got me so lost up in that zone I forgot the motherfucking question (haha). When I talk about my life and get into these interviews sometimes, its like I go into a zone. I feel exactly what I was feeling at that time.

MVRemix: At least you’re speaking about something real unlike most people these days. And before that I was just speaking about the production. How it’s not big names but you really couldn’t tell.

Tragedy: Yeah, yeah, just to give you a little gist of the producers and the type of people they are. The producers that work with me on this album, aside from them not being full blown, quote, unquote, mainstream popular producers, a lot of them I didn’t even have to bless with a whole bunch of money up front. They just felt what I was trying to get across, and that’s real important. A lot of artists, and not to knock them, they track chase whoever is hot. And don’t get me wrong, if I could work with a Dre I would. But Dre is a prolific producer, he is not just a beat maker, he’s a visionary. A lot of the producers on my album I work with them. Not necessarily programming and the technical aspect, but the overall arrangement of it. Like the “Still Reportin” track produced by Booth for Gemstar recordings. He produced the track but I actually went back to him and told him to “take this part of the track, the signing part, and put that in the beginning. And then take this part and put it in the end to give the song a build up and a climax”. There is a difference between a producer and a beat maker. Dre is a producer, like Primo, even though he uses a more unorthodox styles to make his tracks and not necessarily musical or instrument arrangement, he uses technical arrangement. Primo, Havoc to me is a producer, they build songs up. Scram Jones is growing into a prolific producer. So it’s like when I got up with these brothers and these cats to produce this album, virtually they were unknown. I felt their hunger, they felt mine hunger, we shared a vision, we made a marriage and we made it work. And after all is said and done, win, lose, or draw, I am very happy with this album. I am very satisfied with the efforts on my part as well as the producer’s parts on this album.

MVRemix: How do you feel you have progressed over the years from your days with the Juice Crew to CNN to now?

Tragedy: I have definitely progressed as in terms of experience but I know I needed to be more mature in terms of my craftsmanship. I knew I needed to be more focused on my work ethic and concentrate more. And just overstanding and really really overstanding, cause comprehension after the fact is not worthy of being called overstanding. So just going through that whole process, the experienced I gained from being 12 and 13 years old down with the Juice Crew. Ya know, coming up under the greats of Kane, of course Marley Marl who was like my mentor for so many years, Shan, Biz. Even Craig G, Roxanne, even Dimples D, even Poet. The experienced I gained from all these artists you can’t put a value on. Because I took those experiences encompassed them within myself and then applied them to CNN. And just guided that through CNN and you see what the “War Report” turned out to be, and you see what Nore turned out to be as a solo artist. And I’m pretty sure Capone’s album will do very well because he fed off that same knowledge and he fed off that same tutelage.

MVRemix: So you basically feel like you were the starting point for CNN and you basically had the mold and formula for them?

Tragedy: Basically and that’s just the fact of it! That’s the fact of the matter and that’s not glorifying myself or praising myself that’s just what it is.

MVRemix: So now that you and CNN are back together what can we expect in the future?

Tragedy: You can expect a lot of collaborations with Capone; he’s on the new album. And not to get off the question again, but there has been mention of Dame Dash doing a movie, I actually ran into Dame myself and he told me, “I’m gonna do y’all movie”. I am going to put out the movie “Love Is Love” and that’s basically our story of how CNN got started and my input with it. I am also working on my individual story called “Tragedy”, which will be an actual film. I spoke with Dame and he just wants to rewrite the script, have the script rewritten a little, but he definitely wants to do it. That’s in the wind for the future of Tragedy with Capone N Noreaga. Even just in terms of building with them, its good not to have bad blood no matter what you do or who you are in life. So that alone to me is a success that we can grow and mature as men and come back together and work out our differences.

MVRemix: That’s pretty crazy having the Roc do a movie based on your guy’s career. Now is that going to be a major motion picture release, do you have any details yet?

Tragedy: Initially it was Nore’s idea and he brought it to the forefront to Dame through his relationship with him. To my overstanding Dame told him “Na, this is big, we are going to put this in theaters”. Nore initially, along with me and Capone agreed that we would do a DVD, go straight to that. Apparently Damon Dash wants to take it straight to theaters and make it bigger. And I think that is one of the main reasons he wants to have the script rewritten first.

MVRemix: That’s a real big move right there, that could be huge for y’all.

Tragedy: And it’s a real good story; even in terms of how CNN got started. And not to incriminate myself, and you can print this, but I had to take to the streets and do a lot of shit to get money just to get them in the studio. Sometimes that meant risking my freedom just to put us in the studio because I believed in the project so much. I had to get out there and grind and hustle and do all types of shit to put us in the studio cause I believed in what we were trying to accomplish and I believed in my vision. We came and renamed the globe on this side of life. Queens Bridge became Kuwait, Lefrak became Iraq. That came all from my mind, I initiated that Middle Eastern field because we were reporting from the streets. That’s why my album is called “Still Reportin” and in my opinion, in all respect to “The War Report”, it is the next chapter to “The War Report”.

MVRemix: Not to keep talking about CNN, but do you feel that once you guys parted ways they were really never the same without you?

Tragedy: Yeah, I do feel that way and I feel that way for a lot of reasons. Not just for my experience in terms of music but just in terms of my personality. I was more like a bridge between Capone and Nore, in terms of personalities. Capone and Nore are two totally different extremes, but my personality was like a mid between both of their personalities. Yeah, their chemistry has changed. Nore has had great success on a pop level, with his formula for making records. But Nore isn’t CNN, and Capone has yet to break with his solo release. So a lot of people don’t really overstand his craftsmanship. Capone is a banging artist, he is very charismatic. But with me involved it was a bridge and a portal for both worlds, along with my world.

MVRemix: So when in the future do you think we will see the three of you back together on a whole album? I don’t wanna say “The War Report 2”, but something on that level.

Tragedy: For the love I would definitely want to do it, but the numbers definitely gotta be right as well. With respect to the craft the numbers gotta be right because not just for fattening everybody pockets but we need to be compensated for our work. It’s a big project and if the numbers ain't right that means the company we choose to go through doesn’t feel that vision. If they don’t feel that vision then they can't bless it and enhance it the way it needs to be enhanced, because that will be a prolific project. Especially if Nore falls back and says “yo, I’m just gonna be an artist”. Because Nore is so used to being the artist/business man. In order for us to make a successful album he has to fall back to a certain degree and just be the artist. Because on “The War Report”, I didn’t really function as an artist. And to be honest, believe it or not, the rhymes that I put on “The War Report” I only put just to fill up spaces, and that’s what makes it crazy. So it was successful because Noreaga was only being an artists, once he became Nore he became an artists and a businessman, which I am proud of him for being because you have to become that. But if we do a full fledged CNN album, if we do “The Next Chapter”, because we cant do another “War Report”, we gotta build from “War Report” and “Still Reportin” and Nore’s solo and Capone’s solo. If we take it to that level Nore has to be Noreaga! He can’t be Nore he gotta be Noreaga! Capone, just has to be Capone. But Nore has to be Noreaga, and Tragedy Khadafi has to be Tragedy Khadafi the Pharaoh Mhati. And when we form that, its motherfucking thug nationalism that cant be touch, for real!

MVRemix: Aight, let’s just talk about the Q.B. Hip Hop scene real quick. On Nas’s “Destroy & Rebuild” he basically stated that Q.B. has no unity as a group. Do you think that is true and if so then why?

Tragedy: We gotta look at the reasons why Q.B. has no unity. I feel Q.B. has no unity because of ego’s and certain individuals and their insecurities. Its funny how artists from the same area who claim there is no unity will click up with another artist from another area that they don’t even necessarily have a great benefit from. The world would love to see the whole Q.B. really unite. I mean you can’t be a fan of Nas without being a fan of Q.B. yourself. You can’t be a fan of Tragedy Khadafi without being a fan of Q.B. yourself. So we gotta look at that and really analyze it for what it is, put differences aside, if there are any, and really just come together and be men about things. But everybody is not a man, and I feel it’s unfair to the fans that they don’t get that. Because as time goes on people will change and taste will change. As of right now Q.B. still holds a lot of weight in this Hip-Hop game and community.

MVRemix: So was there any artist you were specifically talking about, I don’t wanna throw names or words into your mouth.

Tragedy: Yeah, I’m talking about Nas. If you look at the whole scenario most of the artists in Queens Bridge will come together. I’ll do a song with Mega, he’ll do a song with Havoc, he’ll do a song with me, P will do a song with Mega, ya know what I’m saying? Do a song with Nore, do a song with Screwball, do a song with Poet. All of us will come together and don’t get me wrong I’m not taking shots as Nas because it ain’t even about that because I don’t even ponder or dwell on this question until its posed to me. My life doesn’t focus on what Nas does or doesn’t do. But if you have any common sense you gotta look at that. How come it is all the other artists can come together but the only ones Nas will do a song with is the Mobb, but he hasn’t even done that of lately. But everybody else will come together and that makes you wonder, doesn’t it? So that’s who I am talking about. When the Queens Bridge album was being done, I heard it was being done a year before I was even called upon to do the album. I believe it’s something in the air between me and him but I don’t even know exactly what it is. And if it is something, nine times out of ten it’s because of hearsay. And I don’t deal with hearsay cause that’s for bitches. It’s all good though, I don’t have no hatred towards him, I just gotta do my thing. And I will continue to do my thing as evident, no matter what I am faced with. Like I said, I was going to trail for attempted murder. I been dealing with trials all my life, I have been dealing with trials from my mothers womb. I am made and built for struggle, so if it happens don’t get me wrong I would love it. And I ain't gonna lie, when Jay was going as Nas and it was in the air with P, I was willing to stand with everyone. Even though Roc-A-Fella did nothing to me and I respect them. But I was gonna ride with my hood on the strength and out the love for my hood. But every rapper out of my hood doesn’t necessarily represent my hood, ya feel me? And I’m glad we didn’t go at the Roc collectively because I would have made enemies out of brothers I really can respect. They take care of their own and they stand together. And don’t get me wrong I know they have their internal differences but their internal differences have yet to be put in the air. They don’t air their dirty laundry and I respect them for that. That’s men and that’s what men are supposed to do.

MVRemix: OK, so besides the album what can we expect out from you in the future?

Tragedy: Man, I am writing a book right now, an autobiography. Hopefully we will be doing this movie with Damon Dash. If everything goes according to plan I’ll be working with CNN and my artist Christ Castro. I am also working on a marketing company and basically just trying to take 25 To Life to another level. I mean if you look at the game right now there are no real strong artist owned independent labels. That’s my goal, to make 25 to Life a artist driven label with strong financial backing and just keep it that way and just put out hot shit. That’s what you can look for in future because as long as Tragedy Khadafi has a future I will make it happen. It may take me awhile to do it, I may do it tomorrow but it will happen, as long as I am breathing. And I would just like to thank the most high for creating me, for creating this life and for giving me chances time and time again. I love the most high, he is most gracious! And I wanna say to anybody living in the street, to anybody in prison, to the woman who support their men while they are in prison, to the children who have fathers and mothers in prison, to the families that are affected by the people in prison, please stay strong! We are built for struggle, if you cant hold on, hang on.

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