"He's a Caveman, It's Another Time!" R.A. the Rugged Man Puts the Id in Long Island.

Photo by Enkrypt Los Angeles
I didn't plan to bring up the Jive showcase riot. I promise I didn't. I wanted to talk to R.A. the Rugged Man about b-sides like "Smithhaven Mall" and "Even Dwarfs Started Small" and longtime collaborators like Anthony "Capital T" Marotta and Marc Niles. We covered them too, but some stories just have a way of slipping themselves into conversation.

Several times in this interview, R.A. channels the voices of his critics. When I try to ask about his favorite '90s records from rappers who never dropped albums, he becomes his old label. Talking his latest album, All My Heroes Are Dead, I try to ask about the dichotomy between "First Born" (about R.A.'s daughter) and "The Big Snatch" (about a giant vagina). He becomes those who've been telling him to "grow up" since he was a teenager. When I ask if his album titles are in conversation with each other (i.e., is All My Heroes Are Dead a response to Legends Never Die as that was to Die, Rugged Man, Die), he is less certain. Ditto when I commend him for helping fans through tough times.

Few names are more synonymous with Long Island hip-hop than R.A. the Rugged Man, and it occurs to me now that may be partly because he somehow represents the id in this island, its instinct to need, want, react and create. If this drives R.A., it's done well for him, as he's continually recognized by his peers as one of the most gifted lyricists in all of underground hip-hop, and for mutliple decades at that. If not, he also has two lovely kids and legions of adoring fans. And if all else fails, Niles, Cap and Big Earth the Midget Face are still making beats.

Below: Long Island Rap Records humbly presents an extensive discussion with R.A. the Rugged Man, which took place Saturday, June 20, 2020.

What was it like growing up in the Port Jefferson Station-Stony Brook area when you did?

It was great. I was in Hauppauge, Comsewogue, Melville — three different high schools all around Suffolk — so I was always close to things. When I was in Hauppauge, I was able to meet up with Cap. Cap went to that school, was from Brentwood originally, and brought me around Charlie Marotta’s studio, so I was 13/14 already meeting up with Diamond Shell, EPMD, JVC Force… It was so much hip-hop going on, you just had to know the right people, be in the right parties. You’d go to house parties in Bellport, there’d be a million MCs trying to spit. There was all these towns around, but we’d also hop on trains to the city and try to battle kids. Long Island seems like it’s far away from the Bronx where it all started, but when I was growing up all the best records were coming from near us, so that helps you be like, “Wait, maybe this is some real shit that could happen all over the world.”

You brought up Capital T. How’d you guys link up?

I was just a fan. Cap was a couple years older than me, but he was already in the cut. He knew Biz, Erick and Parrish, Craig [Mack] and all those guys. I showed up to my first day of school in a new school, Cap was walking the hallways, and I had an EPMD hat on, an iron-on. I’d ironed the letters on myself, and he didn’t even know EPMD was large like that. He was like, “How the fuck does this kid know who the fuck EPMD is? Why do you have an EPMD hat on?” I said, “I made it myself.” He said, “What? You’re making EPMD hats?!” I had books of rhymes, tons of rhymes. Cap was Puerto Rican and white, but everybody said he was a white rapper. He was the best white boy in the whole Island, probably in all of the world at the time. Everybody wanted to sign him in Long Island — Biz was trying to get him to Warner Bros. He was 16, so he was already driving with a permit. I’d go in his car, and he’d say, “Yo, spit those rhymes.” He’d put on a beat and was like, “Yo, the rhymes are dope, but you gotta flow like this.” Cap had a ill flow. A lot of people claim “R.A.’s flow is notorious” and this and that, but when I was 14 Cap was telling me step that up, so I might not be known to be this flow-master-type dude if it wasn’t for this kid telling me, “Your lyrics are dope, step the flow up.”

When you were coming up, aside from studios, were there other venues in your neighborhood where you could participate in the culture?

In our neighborhoods, it wasn’t venues, but you’d go to house parties. Your boy in Gordon Heights over in Coram would have house parties, a DJ and a little stage. Like I said, I was a regular in Bellport because there was a family of DJs over there and a couple MCs, and they would drive me around to certain neighborhoods, like, “Yo, this kid supposedly is nice, you should go see him.” When I walked in the house party, most of the kids were way older than me, grown-ups a lot of them, and I didn’t even hit puberty yet, so I’d be going [high-pitched], “Yo, yo, who wanna battle?” As far as venues, there’d be firehouse dances and you’d try to grab the mic. It didn’t matter where the fuck you was. That’s the closest to a venue I could think of.

Roller-skating rinks maybe?

Hip-hop was in the roller rinks early, but it wasn’t predominantly hip-hop. It was mostly pop, and the songs that blew up would play, like “Roxanne, Roxanne” and “Jam On It.” In ‘83/‘84 on Long Island and worldwide, there was an outburst of breakdancing so before I was rapping, every kid was trying to do a breakdance, even the kids that didn’t like rap or know what it was. Breakdancing became a worldwide phenomenon, but I started listening to hip-hop where I got obsessed with it closer to ‘86.

Were there any other local MCs or DJs who you were looking up to or following at the time, who were bringing you around?

Well, not bringing me around, but I knew Chuck and Flav was not far away. Grand Daddy I.U. I didn’t know personally, but it’d be like, “Yo, I.U. was two towns over with the homeboy,” or “T.J. Swan was at this party last night.” The thing is, I was a little younger. I found out that there was a flyer for some show. I was too young to go to it, but the older kids could go. I didn’t have no car or nothing.

Bringing me around, Erick Sermon wanted to sign me to his company. After Cap started letting me flow, Niles the producer was working with these MCs I knew called Stimulation and Proficient. They were a Latino and a Black group, one rhymed bilingual, and the other one had a high flat-top fade, danced and tried to battle. He hung out a lot and would take me to Long Beach. There was a barber shop where the kid with the flat-top would go to get his hair cut. The Five Percenters would be there dropping God knowledge, and I’d be the white boy there. Stimulation and Proficient never got to put out records. They was just locals.

How’d you link up with Niles?
R.A., Niles and Cap

Niles was producing Stimulation and Proficient, he did a demo for them, and I don’t think they gelled very well. They made a house record. Niles could do house, and he was doing hip-hop—

Oh, Too Nice was another group I rolled with out on Long Island. That was Glen Gibbs [aka] G Double and DJ Quick. They were signed to Arista and were on Club MTV. Glen was big and strong. The chick on MTV, Julie Brown, was like, “Put your elbow in my face, why don’t you,” with this valley girl voice. I was like, “Yo, what a fucking bitch, man,” like he’s out here from Long Island on your platform, and you’re acting like he’s too big and scary, or you’re above him. It was fucked up. Too Nice was dope. They had a record with Marley Marl and a dope song, “Two Can Play the Game” on the I’m Gonna Git You Sucka soundtrack. Craig G shouted them out on his first LP. Glen and DJ Quick went to Melville or Patchogue? I don’t remember where, but Craig G. in the Juice Crew said, “Just like Too Nice said, ‘two can play the game.’” I was like, “Oh shit, the Juice Crew rocking with Too Nice!” It was a cool time.

Niles was working with Too Nice. They was in between deals. Their album didn’t do well because [it] was totally hip-hop except for one house song and the label gave them money to do a video for the hip-house record, “I Get Mines.” They should’ve did the video for “Two Can Play the Game” because everybody loved that record, but they did the house record, so anybody that liked house music that bought the record would be like, “What the fuck is the rest of this? I can’t even dance to it,” and anybody that liked hip-hop would see this house record and be like, “I don’t like house music.” So, Arista fucked up their whole campaign. I think they [later] had a deal with MCA, but something happened. Niles was working with them, and Stimulation and Proficient brought me to some of the studios Niles was working at, and they said, “Yo, you should rap for Niles, he’s a dope producer.” I’m like, “I need a producer,” so I rhymed, everybody in the studio went crazy, and Niles was like, “Yo, come to my house, let’s work.” I made my first real official demo with Niles.

We started working together, and it was competition between his artists that he already had. Some already had deals — he had another record with Corey Pee, a record with MC Destruction — a lot of them dropped singles. They had a record label called Black Wax, and it was super independent. They pressed the stuff up themselves, so there was some records that Niles and his crew was doing, but my first demo tape I made with them was just as good if not better than the shit that all the rappers in the stable was making, so then his rappers started getting better to beat my demo, and then I’d go back to beat their demo, and they’d go back to beat my demo. We all started getting better by trying to make songs better than everybody in the camp.

How did you and Niles form Crustified Dibbs?

Well, we had broken up over some beef before all of that shit, and I kept making songs anyway. We found this guy named Joe Magic, who we were all making demos [with], and he started doing it digitally. We was recording on ADATs, which was the first time we ever heard of that. Before that, we all had to record on big, expensive two-inch reels, so we all started going to this demo spot and recording more songs. Niles heard, “Ah shit, this kid’s getting better.” Then I went to North Carolina to figure out how I’m going to have a career, and that’s when I met up with Yaggfu Front. They had a Mercury Records deal and said, “You could get a deal easy. Everybody would sign you.” Then Niles called me when I was in North Carolina and said, “Yo, we just made these two bangers that you need to be on,” so me and Niles got back together, made two demos, shopped a tape, and every label wanted it.

Discogs lists your earliest credits as the Bloodshed Hua Hoo single on Jive and a C*nt Renaissance/Every Record Label Sux Dikkk white label, both from 1994. Were those your first appearances on wax or is there anything earlier people don’t know about yet?

No, I was on wax since forever. I was on a dance record when I was 15, and it went into all the record pools. I haven’t heard it since, but I remember it was like a freestyle group. I just happened to be in the studio, and they was like, “Hey, would you mind putting a rap on here? You’re incredible!” The group, I think, was called Chemis3 or something. It was a Latino group with this boy, Emilio, so I rocked on their thing. There was a few, but those was definitely the first ones I remember. I said something like, “No, no, never, never box with me baby / The way you played me out in the past, it was crazy / The best that you ever—” [laughs]. I almost had a Heavy D type of bounce on them. It was like a disco-freestyle-type joint, but I spit a total rap on it. It was definitely some other vinyls I was on before that, but I’m not sure.

One of my favorite songs in your catalog is “Smithhaven Mall,” a b-side from 96. I think it was supposed to be on the American Lowlife album?

Nah, that wasn’t supposed to be on American Lowlife. That was just a song I did. I was angry, I wrote it and just put out on a white label.

What can you tell us about the inspiration for that song?

I was homicidal, I was suicidal, I was depressed, I was in a dark place. I wrote it, it wasn’t me, because it’s a storytelling joint, but a lot of the anger and self-hatred in that song was coming from a real place. A lot of that stuff — “Smithhaven Mall,” “Flipside” — was all me. I didn’t want to live.

There was a song called “Hated By Everyone” from around then.

I don’t think that’s a real song, though.

It’s on this Sandman Exclusive All-Star Freestyles wax.

That’s a freestyle I did, so they named it that to make it sound like it’s a song. I didn’t know they called it “Hated By Everyone.”

You’re one of a number of MCs who never released an album in the ‘90s but continued popping up on singles and on the Stretch & Bobbito show.

Yeah, I recorded two full-length albums, but I was caught in the machine. The first one I demanded not to release my shit. I didn’t want to deal with them, so fuck them. I had to fight, I had to get lawyers, and it was a big battle. I didn’t get dropped or shelved. I demanded to leave because I was banned from the building. I’m like, “How the fuck are we gonna put out an album if the machine hates my guts and I can’t even meet with the people who are working on my record because you’re scared I’m gonna go crazy or something?” So, I was like let me go, and they was like, “No, no, we invested money, and it’s still gonna blow up. We’ll let things cool down, that’s why you’re not allowed in the building.” I was dealing with that, I was young, and I said fuck it. Every label wanted to sign me. Why wouldn’t I just go to a label that likes me? Then, while I was trying to get off the label, they had a Jive showcase, and that’s when I started the 700/900-man riot. We had prostitutes from the streets handcuffed and duct-taped, you know, willingly obviously. My crew was throwing speakers on people. It was a crazy, crazy night, and that’s when the label was like, “You’re on freeze, you destroyed our showcase!”

You signed with Priority later, right?

That was years later. After I left Jive, Def Jam still wanted me, Warner Bros. still wanted me, but then everyone got involved. Jive had to sit down with everyone and went, “Look, the guy’s an asshole, we spent this much money on him, he hates himself, he hates women, he’s a horrible person, and if you sign him you have to buy back this from us because he’s still technically with us, and after that you have to give a new budget so he can make a record, and also he’s gonna want money for his pockets, so what are you gonna do, spend a million dollars on a kid that never sold a record, that’s a complete self-destructing asshole? And hey, plus we got R. Kelly, Aaliyah, A Tribe Called Quest — just fuck with us on this.”

It was a small industry. Once they say, “Don’t fuck with this boy,” they don’t. After the Jive showcase, that was all over the radio, everyone was talking about it, so all my shows I had lined up were canceled. Not only could I not record for labels or with their artists — I also wasn’t allowed to perform at venues or get shows in America. It was crazy, so finally I started doing a few shows overseas, and four or five years later Rawkus Records let me perform at the Bowery Ballroom. That was my first show in America in years. The Village Voice put my picture as the main picture, and everybody was like, “Yo, he’s a maniac,” and it kind of worked in my favor because a lot of the young kids at labels didn’t know about the old folks from five years ago.

Priority [VP of Urban Music] Garnett March was like “Yo, you always been the best rapper. We can make this happen. We can make you a star.” I was like, “Well, I don’t want to fuck with labels, I’m doing fine on my own.” I was selling independent vinyls in Japan. There was all these ways of making money I figured out, but they said, “Look, just come to Priority and what’s the worst that could happen, you end up back in the basement selling your vinyls?” They chased me around literally for about two years, a year and a half maybe, and finally I said fuck it, let’s see.

R.A. writing in his basement at age 17.
That didn’t work out, though.

Priority got bought out by Capitol, and at that time Eminem was blowing up, and they were all like, “Yo, you could body this dude,” so I was telling Capitol, “Well, OK, give me some real money. If I could body this guy that is selling all these records, give me some money and show me you mean it, don’t just talk it.” They wanted to throw 50 grand extra into the project, and I declined it.

In 2001, you dropped a song called “Even Dwarfs Started Small,” probably making you the first rapper to name a song after a Werner Herzog film. Could you talk a little about that film’s appeal to you? Also, is that you taking a balloon whippit at the start of the song?

Yeah, that was no special effects. That was just us sucking in the helium and talking. That particular song we was goofy enough to put out but wasn’t good enough to be on an album. It’s lyrical in a funny way, but it’s not a hit or nothing. Just throw it on something to get attention that, “Hey, we’re still alive.” The record has nothing to do with the Herzog film, just that there’s little people in the Herzog film and I’m sucking balloons. “Leave Me Alone,” which is part of the chorus, is not a good title. That’s been done. I think Michael Jackson got a song like that even. We were trying to find a way to name something a little offbeat.

But you must’ve been a film buff at that time to be referencing 1970 Herzog movies.

You gotta remember, I was one of the first on the planet doing horrorcore. Before Gravediggaz and Flatlinerz and all of that, there was R.A. the Rugged Man. I think there was a movement in Texas with Gangsta N-I-P, but there was no New York horrorcore before R.A. the Rugged Man.

I want to ask about a few other people in your circle who pop up in your album credits and liner notes. Tell me about Big Earth the Midget Face.

Earth was in the studio with me. He produces on Long Island now, too. He was a younger kid in the neighborhood, and we had like a frat house in the ‘90s.

The Port Jeff house.

Yeah, it was boys throwing each other through the walls, steroids, pit bulls, hookers — one of those kinds of houses — and he was one of the people living there. So, I started letting him rock shows with me and taking him around, and then he got into beatmaking. He’s still got equipment, still making beats today.

What about the Corporate Appeal Cleaning Company?

That’s my boy, Alonzo. He’s a crazy person, but I love him. He was a kid I went to first grade with. He’s a Black guy, so he didn’t put his picture on the business card, and he gave himself the whitest cleaning company name possible, Corporate Appeal Cleaning Company. We’d clean planes. He got a lot of work. I thought it was the funniest name of a company. A lot of times when I’m doing a freestyle rap, I just shout out whatever the fuck is in the room.

I’ve noticed that you’ve worked with a lot of the same people for a long time: Human Beatbox Bub, Marc Niles—

Bub is before anybody. He was one of the reasons I got into hip-hop. We were playing up at the shopping center in Port Jefferson, JJ Jeffrey’s Shopping Center, across the street from the funeral parlor and not far from the Taco Bell over there now. He took a blockbuster and blew up a shopping center window. I didn’t even know who he was. He was an older kid, and we rolled away on our bicycles and became friends. He beatboxed on a lot of my stuff.

Moving ahead years, you put out a lot of your records out with the same company, Nature Sounds. Why do you think you keep the same circle while other artists jump around more?

Well, Nature Sounds just doesn’t bother me. They let me do whatever, so it’s just like, “All right, fine, let’s do another one.”

Is everybody else just friends, so you keep in touch and hip-hop facilitates that?

I’m not sure. I’m not that good of a guy. There’s a lot of my friends that I don’t work with anymore [since] we had falling outs, too. You know what it is? I don’t have a big budget. It’s me going on tour, paying for my own projects, and whoever wants to rock with me and knows how to do something, go ahead. A lot of the times, it’ll even be someone I don’t know, like on the new album. On “Dragon Fire,” there was a kid in the studio they said does reggae. I said, “Oh word, let me hear something.” He chatted, and I was like, “Ah, that shit’s great, go in the booth.” He killed it. It’s one of my favorite parts on the album. XX3eme was just a random kid who was chilling in the studio.

Lord Jamar, A-F-R-O, John A., R.A. and Ella Thorburn and Inspectah Deck. 
Your first album was called Die, Rugged Man, Die, your second Legends Never Die and your third All My Heroes Are Dead. It’s almost as if each title is a response to the last, like you’re having an ongoing conversation with yourself. Is that intentional?

Nah, it’s just different phases of life. Obviously, Legends Never Die was a play on the first one. On the first one, I was getting over it all. Die, Rugged Man, Die was basically me telling the world, “Hey, I’m healing up, I’m doing better, I’m putting it together now, I’m OK. I know the world hates me, but I’m doing all right.” Legends Never Die was like, “Look, I’m solidified. You can’t kill me even though you wanted me dead.” And then the next one, the whole world just changed on us. It’s a different climate and a different universe. Everything I grew to love is gone. Maybe the folks on Die, Rugged won the battle. All My Heroes Are Dead. You’s killed me. Nah, but probably all those people from Die, Rugged are dead.

At the same time, All My Heroes Are Dead has some of your brightest, lightest songs in a sense, some of your most blatantly uplifting messages.

Yeah, I started that on Legends and then I took it to another level when I’d seen what those messages can do for some fans.

That’s a beautiful thing.

Yeah … is it?

[Both laugh]

I would hope so, man.

Yeah, I don’t know … but yeah, I guess so.

Over your career, you’ve had a number of “underground hits” including “Every Record Label Sucks Dick” and “Uncommon Valor” with Jedi Mind Tricks.

I got classics that people sing 30 years later.

Are there any songs in your catalog that you’re surprised more people haven’t gravitated toward?

My whole catalog! I’m not surprised either. The world is a spoon-fed machine. You’ve gotta feed the world what to think, what to buy, how to respond. Mainly America, though, is so superficial and corny with shit sometimes. They’re really so fucking trendy here, they’re not about a culture. Obviously, some people are — you can’t say the whole country — but when you go in other countries, they judge the product [itself] over what they’re supposed to like or what’s trendy or hot. The stuff that is really art, like the great films, they discover faster in other countries. Amy Winehouse, she didn’t blow up in America until she blew up over there. Gnarles Barkley [too]. For the American machine to move, the Europeans and other people had to come and hop on it first. Here it’s about what have you done lately, not what your greatest work is.

On several songs on the new album, you’re writing from a much different place than you were in the past. On “First Born,” you say, “I didn’t exist before you, this is my first song / I was first born when I had my first born.” At the same time, you have other songs like “The Big Snatch,” which are almost as explicit as anything you’ve ever written.

Yeah because I’m not going to turn into a fucking pussy because I had kids, like, “Oh, let me stop cursing.” My kids are going to be tough enough to know that daddy says curse words. I’m not like, “Let me not make a song about pussy because I have kids [and] I’m too old to do that.” They’ve been telling me that forever. When I was a teenager, even, “Oh, you need to get a job, grow up.” When I was 25, “Oh, you need to stop acting like that, grow up.” Mid-30s: “Oh, stop acting like that, grow up!” Forties: “Oh, stop!” I’m not gonna grow up. I’m not. I might get a little bit more enlightened, but what society looks at as grown up is not what I’m ever gonna be — it’s not. I’m not gonna sit down, follow authority, listen to what they tell me and bite my tongue to make sure that I’m not offending. That’s never going to happen.

“He’s a caveman, it’s another time!” Yeah, they’re right. It’s true. I come from guys like Blowfly, Rudy Ray Moore and Just Ice. Those guys were saying the most foul, disgusting shit, and it was amazing. The thing is, honestly, people don’t know the history of censorship. They don’t read up on it so they are so quick to be down with censorship now, and all you have to do is look at history. All the people that ever were on that side were always wrong. So, when you’re down with internet censorship of people you don’t like, you’re wrong. Even if the person you don’t like is wrong in every way as a person, if you’re into censoring him or them, you’re wrong. It’s the same thing with music. If somebody is saying the worst shit of all time, if you’re trying to ban or stop it because you don’t like it, you’re wrong. It doesn’t matter what the fuck it is.

One of my favorite songs on All My Heroes Are Dead is “Contra-Dictionary.” How did you come up with the concept for that song?

You’re on the internet, you see everybody on Twittter: one day they say this, three weeks later the exact opposite. “Fuck the paparazzi.” Motherfucker, you called the paparazzi. “Give Obama a peace prize.” Now we’re gonna drone strike seven countries. That’s the world we live in, so I just thought it was a cool play on words. For some bizarre reason, they get a lot of people going, “That reminds me of ‘Ebonics’ by Big L.” It’s totally not even close to the same concept at all.

It’s language-driven though.

I think [it’s] because people aren’t used to conceptual records anymore. I’m not insulted by it. “Ebonics” is a great, great conceptual record. If it remind them of a top-notch Big L song, I’m not complaining. I just don’t see it.

I also love how that leads into “Life of the Party,” a collaboration with Prince Paul. How’d that come about? I know he did some music for Bad Biology.

Me and Prince Paul had a group with Freddie Fox, and we never came out.

Really?! Did you guys do songs?

We did quite a few.

When was that?

Maybe 2011?

Was there a name for the group?

I don’t remember what the name was. I think it was something crazy controversial. We didn’t shop it, because we never finished it. Prince Paul had eight or nine beats. I had five verses on it. Foxx had some verses on it. We just never finished them.

The way I got down with Prince Paul was when I was collecting VHS tapes back in the early ‘90s, I’d seen him in a video store in Times Square or 35th, and I had a whole bag of VHS tapes. He was coming in there, and I was like, “Yo, Paul,” and he was like, “Yo, Rugged Man, Crustified, what’s up?” That’s the first time we met, but I had already known Poetic from Gravediggaz, and he was like, “Yo, Poetic used to always talk about you, man.” So, that’s how Paul knew of me. We didn’t connect after that right away, but then we did Scribble Jam together – me, Paul and Masta Ace. Me and Paul was on the plane together, and Paul was just feeding me all this hip-hop history, man, because Paul’s older than us. He was a Long Island boy, but he was rocking with Stetsasonic, one of the most respected hip-hop crews in Brooklyn. He was probably 16, a young teenage kid from Long Island, so he had tons of stories. When we took that plan ride together, we said let’s stay in touch and finally we figured something out.

You brought up Poetic, one of my favorite Long Island MCs and one of the most underappreciated. Tell me about how you knew him.

Jimmy Mac was a friend and was trying to manage me. And Diamond J, the legendary DJ from Long Island, was down with them. There was some convention we were all rhyming at. You’re talking, what, ‘95/‘94? They had an independent management company called Hush, and that’s how I linked up with Poetic. Diamond J was a great DJ, but he was trying to rap at that time, so he was freestyling and rhyming with us.

I read you were supposed to pen a book on boxing for Testify Books. What became of that?

That’s my fault of not finishing— sorry, I just walked in the store so I’m putting the shirt over my face. We didn’t finish it, but they paid me. Dana [Albarella James] — I love her — and Todd James, her husband, the great graffiti artist, REAS, gave me a deal to do the boxing book, and I tried. I rented an office, I stayed in the office, but I never wrote a book before. I was writing on all these different papers, and I just didn’t know how to make it gel together and work as a book. I was trying to do it with a weird sense of humor and ask boxers more leftfield shit to make it something special, and I couldn’t figure out how to not make it too silly but make it more informative than other books on boxing. I was interviewing a lot of great fighters. I had a lot of legends in it, but I just wasn’t confident in the book like I was confident in rhyming.

You were working with Dough Fischer, right? He’s editor of The Ring now.

That was me trying to figure it out. I was in panic mode reading all of Doug’s posts and said, “Yo, I got a book deal. You want to do it with me?” We sat down, had meetings, and I gave him a couple bucks, and I just got overwhelmed and never finished. But a couple of things I did in the book, I later on kind of seen happening on Ring.com. I’m not saying it was quite that, but things always spark other ideas.

I’m reading the latest edition of The Ring right now, which includes a feature on a fantasy fight between Tyson Fury and Mike Tyson. As a boxing historian yourself, which two fighters from any era would you most like to see square off against one another?

Joe Louis and Larry Holmes would be a great fight. Larry was flashy with that jab, he was a straight boxer, and had the best recuperation skills. Joe Louis just knew how to plant the punch in the right place at the right second — bow! — and you were gone. It would’ve been an interesting fight because Joe just knew where to lay his fists and Larry was such a master at boxing. I don’t know if that’s the be-all, end-all in my head, but that’s definitely a great one. Maybe Carlos Monzon vs. Marvelous Marvin Haggler.

I know you also have a huge film collection. Is there a particular VHS, DVD, Blu Ray or other item in your collection that you treasure most?

The Blu-Ray for Mario Bava’s Blood and Black Lace looks so fucking amazingly stunningly beautiful. It’s not rare. It’s not my prized possession, because I can get another one any second, but it looks so ridiculously beautiful, especially for the budget that Bava had, the way he could make magic like that.

Selected Discography
Crustified Dibbs - Night of the Bloody Apes, Jive Records/Unreleased, 1994
C*nt Reniassance / Every Record Record Label Sux Dikk 12", Jive Records, JSAM-5, 1994
50,000 Heads / Smithhaven Mall 12", Self-Released, DIRTY-1, 1996
Don't Wanna Fuck Wit 12", Eastern Conference, EC 009, 2001
Die, Rugged Man, Die, Nature Sounds, NSD-111, 2004
Legends Never Die, Nature Sounds, NSD-159, 2013
All My Heroes Are Dead, Nature Sounds, NSD-184, 2020

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