As a member of Tha Alkaholiks, Tash dominated the party scene for the better part of the 1990s; making a name for him self by rapping about drinking beer, having fun, sex, and making fun of grandmothers. On the verge of releasing his second solo album, tentatively-titled Expensive Habits, Tash is trading in old party raps for a more personal record. The new album aims to go deeper into his music, and to give fans a little insight on a side of Tash that has never been seen before.See Also:
Focusing on telling his life story, the new album features collaborations from Raekwon, Pharrell, and Redman. Tash promises that this coming record will be an experience that takes fans deep into his mind revealing what this West Coast MC is really about.
AllHipHop.com: It's been a while since the Liks have been together. Now you're releasing a new solo album on Take Over Records.
Tash: Me, E-Swift, and J. Ro, were doing the 'Liks for eons. The albums sold, the tours were great, but when you're in a position to put other people on, it's wise to take advantage of that. I found some artists that I felt were in the caliber of being the next big thing: Savion, my R&B singer [Fameus], Styliztik Jones, and my cat Defari, who I've done a lot of albums with. I just want people to appreciate all of the effort that we've out into this. Let the music speak for itself. It's not about the size of the budget and this or that. The music really transpires what we're trying to get across.
AllHipHop.com: How is each coast different? For a while now, the South has been hot, but the West has always had its own flavor.
Tash: It's different because I recently went down South to record with a friend of mine, J. Wells. He's another super producer. I went an experienced the whole Atlanta, Down South, and everything that is going on there. In the South, they stick together.
The only thing different about the West Coast is that we don't stick together like we should. It's hard to get in contact with other artists. Everybody and they mama thinks that they can rap. Really, it's about...we're divided because of the gang culture and the size of L.A. People from the Westside [of Los Angeles] don't kick it with people from the Eastside, or people from the North. Down South they're different. We're just really divided right now. There should be more unity like back in the 1980s or early ‘90s. Everyone used to work together and make beats.
AllHipHop.com: When it comes to people from the outside that disrespect L.A. or the West Coast, does everyone stick together or is it every man for him or herself?
Tash: We have dudes from the West Coast dissing each other, so it doesn't really matter. The West Coast is like this: it's all about the paper; making the money, which is cool. Everyone wants to be able to buy a house or cars, etc. but at the end of the day, can you really rap? Are you talented, or do you have a big budget behind you that make you look like you're talented? Are you really about s**t?
Like I said, it's really competitive out here. I think that I need to do a song with Ice Cube,
Mack 10, or some of the people that really laid the ground work for West Coast music, so we can show that everyone is together. When they did Westside Connection, Cube comes from a Crip background; Mack 10 comes from a Blood background in Inglewood.
AllHipHop.com: Did a lot of people reach out to help on the new album?
Tash: Yeah, the East Coast cats. I did "Rock the Bells" with Raekwon, [Ghostface], Redman, and cats that are from the same school of Hip-Hop that I am. It seems like the younger cats coming out are more focused on getting the dopest producer in the world and haven't even sold a record yet. They'll hit you with, "Man, I'm the dopest!" I kind of disconnect myself from all of that. You have to prove yourself first.
AllHipHop.com: They have to show and prove.
Tash: The same cats that are on my album are the same ones that I originally came out with. They're the same ones that are in the corner getting it done.
AllHipHop.com: The new album is called Expensive Habits.
Tash: I don't like calling it that because I thought of that name a year and a half ago. I had a concept for the album, but it didn't come out in time. Since then, I've gone through several name changes.
AllHipHop.com: What's the concept? As far as Hip-Hop, you don't really hear about those anymore.
Tash: It describes my life story. From when I was born, until how I got here today. I'm thinking about calling the whole thing, Book 2, or something because want to go deeper. It's like Tupac; I toured with Biggie, [but] I didn't really know Tupac like that. But I got to know Biggie, Pun, and a bunch of different people. One thing that I noticed about when I rapped on albums with different labels and distribution companies, that artists that really succeed are the ones that you know who they really are.
A lot of my raps have been freestyles or party raps. You don't know that dude. What I'm trying to do on this album is let people know...everyone knows that Afeni Shakur is Pac's mom, or that Mrs. Wallace is Biggie's mom, what beats he grew up on, and the moguls that they became before they passed. I never let anyone into my life. I just rapped about beer, having fun, and chicks. I never got too deep.
AllHipHop.com: How was it for you transitioning?
Tash: That's what I'm saying. That's what separates my album from other people's albums. All the concerts and the tours, etc, that was me back then. There were times when I didn't even want to rap. I might have had a 24-hour head cold and didn't want to rap, but I had to make it seem like I was having a good time. I'm more emotional on this album. I'm letting people know who the person behind the microphone is.
AllHipHop.com: How do you think that people will respond to the change?
Tash: I think that it's either going to be A or B. I'm giving them a lot of party records also, but at the same time I'm giving them an experience. I'm taking them deep into my mind. I want them to know what Tash is really about and not just the person that they may see in the videos, in the magazines, in the street, or the person that you see at the college dorm parties.
There's a different side of me. There's a difference between Tash and Rico Smith. I'm still going to party. I'm not two totally different people. I'm not going to change my whole format for this. I just want you to feel like if I fell in love with somebody, I want you to hear what my love song would sound like, opposed to what the radio says that a love song is supposed to sound like. I'm expressing myself and my creativity. That's all that matters.
AllHipHop.com: Who is the real Rico Smith?
Tash: I'm both. I take pride in different things. I'm a passionate person when it comes to things that I care about. I don't care about cars, jewelry, or things of that nature. It doesn't really impress me anymore because I've had all of that. I care about happiness. The real Rico Smith is a person that loves Hip-Hop music. I'm a person that puts his right foot forward. I'm not worried about making it or the guy behind me. I'm the best of both worlds; a caring father and a very understanding person about the business. With how the business [Hip-Hop industry] is going right now...I can't figure it out. I don't understand why records don't sell like they used to.
I think that a lot of people are greedy. I'm not. I spread love. People look at TV and think that if you don't have this or that, then you're not s**t. I could buy a Benz right now and say that if you don't have it, then you ain't s**t. People are brainwashed into think that money makes the person. I want people to see on this album that even if you have all of that, it doesn't matter.
AllHipHop.com: Did you always feel this way, or did you learn it over time?
Tash: I think that over time, people grow up. I'm not grown yet. I'm 37 years-old, but I love having fun. I love hanging out with people by the pool and the sunshine - the good things in life. At the same time, I've experienced a lot of negativity that I have never talked about. My only way of releasing myself and letting people know that I'm a good dude is through my music. I want to give people a little insight to what I've really been through.
I've always liked writing about other things, but people always wanted the party raps. Now it's different; kind of like writing a novel. I can't express it by talking or writing a novel, but I can rap it.
MTS Centre, Winnipeg - May 26, 2008
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