I don’t want to say “I know this guy/ He was a good man,” because I think that word has changed so much. But there was an older generation that believed that the word “master” was synonymous with “the best.” And they’d say, “Don’t you know how to rhyme?” And I would always say that there was a definite distinction between the two. The fact that the guy you’re talking about, or his mother, or whatever — no one could hear him rap. They couldn’t hear the rhyme. They had no idea how to rhyme. And so the guy that you’re talking to, who is probably the best MC in that world — he’s the best because he actually rhymes. He did the writing and produced, and he was a brilliant, talented guy. He’s one of the best.
But that kid — that’s the great rapper, right?
But what’s your criteria? What are the criteria where you know? What do you look at? What do you check?
We go through that for every single rapper. I check on his education, I check on his work ethic, I check on how he’s built his fanbase, and what you said, I believe in that — we think rappers have to look for something. We go to school for, I don’t know exactly what you’d call them — college or university. We go through all of that to get that first grade. We go through college to get that college degree. Then I look at their popularity. We go to the album charts. We check on the chart. And we’re always saying, “These are your biggest songs. What do you think those two songs are named after?” That’s really what it all comes down to. The bigger the impact — the more impact it has had on you, the more impact it has on me. I think the biggest effect that an artist has on me is the music that the artist makes. The one thing that separates a good and a great rapper — or the great rapper and the average rapper — is the impact that they have upon your life. How they have affected you.
Are all of these artists considered rappers or non-mikras who use their rap platform — especially in America — as a way to reach out to other artists of color?
I can tell you that when I do that — and it’s not like — I’m only interested in hip-hop. I’m
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