Although the identity of Long Island emcee R.A. The Rugged Man is obviously quite well known to fans, during an interview with Unkut.com the rapper revealed that he once faced several issues concerning his race and identity. According to the Legends Never Die rapper, those at Def Jam and Jive Records suggested that he keep his identity hidden until he was able to gain an established fan base.
R.A. even spoke on Jive Records wanting to avoid using his image on any single or album art.
“So when I first signed to Jive, and when Def Jam wanted to sign me, they all wanted to do it where nobody knew I was a white boy,” the rapper explained. “They wanted me to keep the hood on my corner, because they knew I was respected amongst black folks. There was just radio, there was no YouTube clips, so everybody knew R.A. The Rugged Man, the name. but they didn’t know the face. So they said let’s not show your face on the single or the album cover. We did a promo where they reversed the picture so when they showed my face it was shown in negative.”
Among those who wanted to keep R.A.’s identity secret was music industry veteran Lyor Cohen. The rapper shared the details of Cohen’s elaborate idea for a music video, which would have consisted of the rapper being dressed as a mummy and ultimately revealing his identity.
“Lyor Cohen had this idea for me: ‘We’ll get a couple of your songs poppin’. We won’t have you do any filmed interviews, no one will know what you look like. In the first video, we’re gonna have you running through this crazy hospital with bandages on you, and they’re gonna whirl you around and slowly the bandages are removed. Nobody knows who you are and you’re running through the fuckin’ crazy house and you’re rapping and everybody’s like, ‘Oh my god! He’s the best rapper!’ And then finally, the last shot of the video, the bandages [come off] and it’s a white face and shock the world!’ I told him I didn’t really like that idea, but that’s really wanted they wanted to do,” R.A. revealed.
R.A. The Rugged Man’s interview with Unkut.com comes on the day of his Legends Never Die album release.