R.A. the Rugged Man recently revealed how his collaboration with Talib Kweli came to fruition. The rapper/filmmaker/writer also revealed why he felt the two would never collaborate before making “Learn Truth.”
“Me and Talib was boys for a lot of years,” he told The Examiner. “We knew each other for about fifteen years. When I was up at Rawkus [Records], I had the reputation of being the crazy, crusty, maniac that’ll break shit, destroy people, bring hookers up to the label, and getting arrested, and Talib was always the conscious cat. It didn’t make full sense in my head to do a record with Talib Kweli in that era.”
Rugged Man later explained how he changed his mind for “Learn Truth.”
“I’m a lyricist, man. I can spit with any artist and make a great record out of it,” he said. “By the year 2001, I decided not to pigeonholed myself and say, ‘You don’t have to only do records with thug rappers or rappers who get a little gritty.’ Not every rapper has to be an Akinyele or a Biggie Smalls rapping about pussy. I’m a lyricist and I can write a song on any subject. I’ve been directing some of Talib Kweli’s videos and then I said, ‘Yo, we need to do a record,’ and he said, ‘I’m sayin’. When we doin’ it?’ I said, ‘Alright, let me think of a concept and let’s get on it.’ I was sitting by myself in IHOP at ten in the morning and I was thinking, ‘What the fuck kind of song would I make with Talib Kweli?’ I just started writing bars. Each bar was about the fucked up history of the world. I wrote the rhyme and sent it to him and he wrote his rhyme and that’s how the record got made.”
The video for “Learn Truth” can be viewed below.
In the interview, R.A. also shares his respect for Biz Markie on “Definition of a Rap Flow.”
“What happened was Dev-1 had a loop of the same sample that they used from the classic hippie record in the 60’s. It was way faster so I could flow really crazy on it. It wasn’t going to be an ‘Albee Square’ remake but when I started rapping on the same sample I decided to put a little homage in there to Biz. That’s why I had the girl singing ‘Albee Square Mall.’ The hook was using the melody from the original record. It’s funny because I’m touring all over the world and there are teenage girls coming up to me singing, ‘Go shopping, go shopping.’ These people have no fuckin’ clue what a Cold Chillin’ record is. In some random European country I got them singing Cold Chillin’ hooks and I’m proud of it because that’s my era. I grew up on those legends.”
As mentioned, R.A. has directed several videos. One of those was for Talib Kweli on Idle Warship’s “Driving Me Insane,” which can be viewed below.
“Learn Truth” appears on R.A.’s latest effort, Legends Never Die. The critically praised album was released earlier this year with guest spots from Hopsin, Tech N9ne, Masta Ace, Vinnie Paz, Sadat X and Brother Ali.