R.A. THE RUGGED MAN with JEDI MIND TRICKS and REEF THE LOST CAUZE at Reverb (651 Queen West), tonight (Thursday, October 27). $22.50. 416-870-8000.
In his 14 years on the scene, R.A. the Rugged Man's been one of Biggie's contemporaries, a No Limit soldier, rocked every studio in his hometown of New York and could probably write an autobiography that'd make 50 Cent's life story seem more boring than Sunday afternoon TV.
But R.A. doesn't think his memoirs would be a Clinton-level event -- he's not famous enough. Since building a really nasty reputation in the music industry during his time at Jive records in the 90s, he's been kinda blacklisted by everyone.
Furthermore, says a yawning Rugged Man on the phone from his bed, "People would rather read about Jessica Simpson and Chris Lacey or- what's her fucking husband's name?"
It doesn't help that the legitimate craziness of the Rugged Man story is diminished by how much fictionalizing goes on in hiphop.
"That's the one thing that takes away from my music, that most of these fucking rappers is full of shit, and they just say shit that's 'entertainment,'" R.A. complains.
"So when you hear me, you might be like, 'Yo, he's just rappin' like everybody else.' But if you know the deal, you'll see that every rhyme on my album is 100 per cent accurate."
While the Cronenberg fan says bragadocious rhymes don't count, that last statement, and the bold one that comes next -- "I challenge somebody to find a lyric that ain't the truth" -- are serious when you hear the single Lessons, off his wonderfully demented, fairly hard to find 05 debut, Die, Rugged Man, Die (Nature Sounds).
On it, the harried-sounding R.A. outlines his various experiences in the rap sport, including connecting with the Neptunes before they went Stefani on us. According to Rugged, they were going to make beats for him for free, but some label rep fucked it up.
"I had a session at D&D studios, and the Neptunes came in. They was like, 'Yo, we fuck with your shit hard.' I said, 'Pharrell, I can't afford no Neptunes shit,' and he was like, 'We got money. Let's just rock.' But I had this record executive there, and he got all gassed up and took Pharrell and the Chinese guy's (Chad Hugo) number and started getting on some negotiation shit.
"He was like, 'Do two songs for R.A. and we'll give you 60 grand.' I was like, '60 grand!? I could make fucking 15 songs with that!'"
That was still during those crazy days when Trackmasters wouldn't let him in the studio with TLC and Jive wouldn't let him near a teenaged Aaliyah.
"I was 19, 20, had a wild mouth," he says. "A couple of female employees had written letters to Jive saying they were scared to be in the elevator with me, keep me out the building, you know? So I'd be in the building and Aaliyah would be walking in with her little entourage, and it'd be like, 'R.A., go in that room!' I said, 'I ain't going in the room!' 'Okay, put Aaliyah in that room! Quick!'"