Singled Out: "We Had To Go & Get A James Brown Impersonator To Go, 'People, People!'"
Tuesday, Mar 19, 2013 12:10AM
[SOHH highlights a hot record each Tuesday and offers a unique look at the track in Singled Out. After Finatik N Zac's Finatik broke down A$AP Rocky's hard-hitting "Long. Live. A$AP" track, New York rap veteran R.A. the Rugged Man explains his new "The People's Champ" anthem.]
There's a lot of vocal production on "People's Champ." You're hearing a lot of chants, hooks and choruses and what happened was, when I was handing off my album, I had three or four records that I wanted to add on to the album before I handed it in.
I said, "I need a couple, hood rip, boom bap, homestyle-type records," records that had some high-energy stuff so when you do it live at a show, you can go crazy and people can kick and punch. I needed an energetic hip-hop joint.
So I was reaching out to people like, "Yo, I need one of those uptempo joints for the shows so everyone can be kicking and punching." A couple different producers sent me beats that had that kind of feel. And then Apathy sent me that beat and said, "What do you think about this?" and I played it and said, "That sounds like it has that singing-type sample. thing" A lot of stuff I do have vocal-inspired tracks in the background.
It was kind of like an updated, new school version of stuff I might even spit on but way more newer and ill. So I started writing rhymes to it and then after that, I said, "Nah, I don't want to keep the record, scratch that. I want to make it a record-record."
I had Rampage and I said, "Try out a hook." He's got that 1995 Tunnel, when Funkmaster Flex was deejaying at the Tunnel [nightclub] type of voice. So I knew he'd be fun like that. But then I was like, "Nah, we can rock that with as an intro," so as soon as the drums come on, I threw that "Put your hands in the air!" sh*t in there. That way everybody will start rocking with it and start going crazy at the shows when it comes on.
So we had the Rampage part on there and then I had that James Brown record in my head, that "People, people!" But the thing is, they wanted to clear it with James Brown's estates and he used to clear everything. He loved hip-hop, but since James is dead, the estate doesn't want curse words and this and that so we had to go and get an impersonator to go, 'People, people!' but it's not James Brown.
And then the chorus sounded like it needed more aggression in it, so I had Ruste Juxx come in on it and they were like, 'Yeah! What?! Yeah!' Then I was f*cking with this chick and I had her throw some vocals down that I had wrote for her but then me and her stopped f*cking with each other and I said, 'Ah man, I don't want her to come at me about being on the record.'
So then it was this female chick that's nice, named Alyssa Marie. I had a lyricist contest on my website and I remember this chick that was nasty on it and I said, 'Yo, let's hit up homegirl. She's nice with it.' I asked her if she could do this chorus on there for me and Alyssa came in, rocked it and then after that, the record still didn't feel done to me.
I was like, 'That sounds dope, but it needs another thing.' So then I was in LA and everyone is like, 'Are you f*cking dumb and retarded? The record's done. It's dope.' But then I went to my man Benja's crib because he has all these records out in Cali and he was like, 'Why don't you try some military sh*t like 'Uh, uh, uh!'' and so I asked him what he had in mind and so he did the chant you hear on the song that comes in after Rampage.
He told me he was going to play it like a military chant and we had to do it like it was a military drill. So he kind of directed us with this and that at his crib with the mic and it was a bunch of us at his crib acting like military dudes saying, 'Uh! Uh! Uh!' and so as soon as we knocked that out, we were like, 'We got it! This is it!'
A lot of extra things went into the record to just make it a lunatic record.
Film producer, writer, magazine journalist and legendary rapper in the hip-hop underground, R.A. Thorburn better known to the world as R.A. the Rugged Man, was the target of a nine-label bidding war when just a teenager, and signed to Jive Records in 1992 and Priority/Capital Records in 1998 before going independent in 2004 in which he released his indie hit album "Die, Rugged Man, Die!" which became a worldwide success. R.A.'s musical resume not only speaks for itself, but has resulted in his teaming with some of the greatest artists in rap history - from Wu-Tang Clan, Mobb Deep, and the late great Notorious B.I.G. to multi-platinum producers Erick Sermon, Trackmasters, DJ Quick, Alchemist, Havoc, Buckwild, and Ayatolah.
Check out R.A. the Rugged Man's "People's Champ":