Nearly two and a half decades removed since they unleashed their Continuum Records’ debut Lune Tunz, Bronx-based Hip Hop collective Raw Breed, then comprised of Marc Rippin, Alexander The Great, Nick Swift, DJ Solo Flxx and Sam Swing, are finally back with a brand new EP, Street Instinct…
First things first, please introduce for me the current members of Raw Breed…
Smoke Rob, Marc Live, Raaddrr Van, Nick Swift and Chem Brown Bomber…production by Ariel Caban For The Cartel.
Let’s hop right into this forthcoming EP, Street Instinct — Although pretty self-explanatory, still tell me, conceptually, what that title represents both to and for you all?:
To me Marc Live, it represents a return to the ’90’s Hip Hop sensibilities of the art form; straight boom bap street jeep bangers, no non-sense rated R raw shit!
How does Street Instinct either differ and/or compare to previous Raw Breed efforts?
This is our best record since Killa Instinct; musically, lyrically, topic-wise and sonically.
What then can you all reveal and/or divulge about upcoming said collection at this particular time?
This will hurt the industry. We are like ‘Kong: Skull Island,’ throwing helicopters at buildings. It’s not nice. Ice T and Evil E said after listening to it, “SHIT IS HARD, RAW BREED IS BACK!” We got arena music!
Now initially you all were preparing for a comeback back in 2015, even having released a new single, “Assemble,” — What exactly happened with that situation? Why has it taken till now for you all to finally return to form?
We had a false start. I don’t think we really knew what we wanted to do. It was like a test, and when you’re a group with this much history connected to this much lineage you don’t experiment. You go all in, or you don’t put nothing in the marketplace. So lesson learned. What it did do is form the nucleus for the new members; Raaddrr Van and Chem, and the chemistry is sick on the EP!
With that being said, how has not only the industry itself, but even more-so you all, either changed and/or evolved since your whole inception into music?
We got better, the industry got wacker. There’s no more emcees. We are the last Jedi’s! Groups are extinct. It’s all solo artists. Everybody wants to be Jay-Z, but don’t want to put the work in. They just want to copy what’s popular.
…It’s like Drake. When I found out he doesn’t write his records, it sealed the deal for me. The industry has given up on itself. The man should give back every dollar, Grammy, AMA Award, house, car, chick, iTunes deal, everything. Go back to Degrassi High and put the mic down. He like…the industry is a fraud and it’s time for the gatekeepers of the culture to protect this game by any means necessary.
Marc, you definitely still remained active, largely due to your ongoing works, as well as on again/off again touring, alongside both Kool Keith and Ice-T as the Analog Brothers — Was your involvement within these outside endeavors somewhat standing in the way of you all continuing to advance as a unit?
We knew all along that he was going to embark on those ventures outside of the group. It wasn’t an issue.
In having said that, what all had/have you all been up to, both personally and professionally speaking, during your lengthy musical hiatus?
As you see, we have new members and we have all ventured off to do solo efforts and production also. Marc did production work on some music with the Analog Brothers album, Ice-T, Kool Keith’s Black Elvis, Project X with Tim Dog and Kool Keith and a couple of solo albums. Alex did some solo work under the name Gutterfame with DJ Ace, Krazy Race and Pyscho Realm out in L.A., and created a dope following. So we were always doing music regardless.
Reflecting, how did you all first discover your musical talent?
Well me Marc Live, it was in the 10th grade in English class I started writing raps in class and high tech lyrics and spitting them after school. Kids liked my flow and my style. I got beat in a battle once in recess by this senior on the basketball team. We were in the locker room and he was like, “Yo, are you an MC? Okay, let’s battle, let’s see what you got!” He had like a hundred raps in his head, I had like 3. I got toasted, but it was just me an him there no audience. I learned my lesson from that day; always be on point. I came back with 5 long ass raps and got him in front of everybody after school. Then I knew I was ready!
Who have been your greatest inspirations musically and why?
My cousin Kool Keith…I’ll leave it there. He put me on and guided me on how to play this game, and he took me around this whole planet and my best classic work was with him. Ice-T is the truth. He took me under his wing, and I never looked back. He taught me life lessons, how to perform the right way in front of 20,000 people, believe in my skill and gave me my name, Marc Live. Basically the hardest name you can have. To be “live” is to be everything that is dope in Hip Hop across the board. I’ve been lucky to be his second on stage for 16 years. A true blessing that we still share present day!
How then would you all describe and/or define the style of music that you all create and perform?
Arena music. Cinematic soundtrack. Midnight music; dark and angry. Makes you want to do something, see colors, invokes emotion in every song!
Longevity, what do you all attribute yours to?
We were always ahead of the curve, always different. We never conformed. We just get better, and we are now in 2017 at our apex. We are deadly!
What do you all feel you offer the music industry that we don’t already have in other performers?
We are the last of the real hardcore rap groups left. We don’t give a shit about radio streaming aggregates, any of that shit. We just give a shit about our 2 fans in Anchorage, Alaska, as long as they get that Raw Breed ultra cartel nuclear bombs!
Have you all encountered any problems in getting to this point in your career?
It’s been a long journey; ups and downs, lost opportunities, money, friendships, jealousy, everything…but we bounced back, and we are here and better than ever!
What do you all want people to get from your music?
Fucking angry, and the message you don’t have to follow lead!
On a more serious note, are you happy with the current state of Hip Hop? And, where exactly do you all “fit in” when it comes to today’s current/trending sound-scape?
The state is at red alert. It’s falling fast, it’s losing. We are The Avengers! We don’t fit in; we here to fix shit that’s broken, and right the wrong. This shit ain’t about syrup and pills, strippers turned rappers, dress wearing gangsters…this is about the Bronx, where this shit all began!
Do you all have any other outside/additional aspirations, maybe even completely away from music?
I want my label, Rap Legends Recordings to be the Eden for all heads in the game left. If you got bars, beats, concepts, ambitions and ain’t dancing in your videos, come sign with Rap Legends Recordings!
What has been your greatest achievement(s) so far? And, if you all could collaborate with any one artist, living or dead, who would it be and why?
To go to L.A. with $50 dollars in 1995, and return to the Bronx with a $500,000 dollar deal. I got to say, I would love to do a Raw Breed album with PAUL C 2.0, with all the new tech and samplers and Pro Tools of today. He would have changed the face of Hip Hop as we know it; R.I.P. what a loss.
If you all could play any venue in the world, which one would you choose and why?
(The) O2 Arena in the UK. That’s like some ole U2 shit. 3 shows sold out in row, 25,000 people, full band, LED light show, lasers and pyro — Shit let’s dream! *Laughs*
One track of yours that you all think defines you all and why?
“Danger Zone,” “Blood, Sweat & Tears.” Listen to that spooky shit, nuff said!
Is there anything I left out, or just plain forgot to mention? And, lastly, any “closing” thought(s) for our readers?
Get Ready for a bevy of music from the RAW BREED camp; 2 EPs, 1 full length! 4 solo EPs and 2 documentaries and 1 feature film…in 2 words peoples, work ethic!