Glen E. Friedman at the D.C. Public Library

As part of the D.C. Punk Archive’s one-year anniversary celebrations, on October 25, 2015, renowned photographer Glen E. Friedman appeared at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Library. Alec MacKaye interviewed Friedman. The photographer also took questions from the audience.



The Coits are an Interesting Band that Almost Nobody Knows About – Interview by Nick Tape

The Coits are a very weird and interesting band from Washington, D.C., that almost nobody outside the region knows about. I am hoping to raise some awareness of their existence. I could spend a paragraph describing their well-trod sound, but suffice it to say, “punk.” Their live shows are always entertaining, as Seth Feinberg (interviewed below) is quite a frontman.

The first time I saw the Coits, they started their set with Seth nonchalantly dropping stacks of china plates onto the floor; a computer followed; then a keyboard. Fellow-rager Teresa took it upon herself to try skateboarding in the small basement.

I looked up and saw a cast of freaks: a guy in sunglasses, a few random punkers I had never seen, a norm-looking drummer, and my friend Simon wearing a hockey jersey and literally solo’ing over the entire set.

I was bewildered, but ended up getting really pumped. The tunes were decent, but the live show was incredible. The destruction was contagious.

Teresa tried to smash the keyboard with no luck, so I told her to hold it up for me and I tried to punch through it. I ended up getting a really big gash on my hand (stupid), but I was pumped and it didn’t hurt, so who cares?

1. How and when did the Coits come together?  What were the goals of the band upon its inception?

First of all, thank you, Nick, for your enthusiasm and support for the band. I’m a fan of yours and of Coke Bust, so it is more meaningful to me than you probably think.

Also, thanks for giving me a chance to talk about my favorite subject: myself.

The Coits started in 2003 at the Notasquat and Georgetown University. The band was started by John Albaneaze and me.

John was just learning how to play guitar, but he is a savant when it comes to songwriting. He wrote most of the songs. He also contributed to the lyrics. We are good friends who are on the same wavelength to an extent that is highly unusual for me.

The members of the band we cultivated were like-minded feminists who thought our music was cool; because we were in college, people were always studying abroad, dropping out, or quitting the band because we didn’t sound like Fugazi, but we didn’t let that deter us and we stuck with my vision: self-aggrandizement and smashing computers.

Roughly in this order, the goals of the band were: compose and perform catchy and creative hard punk with overt grunge, folk, hardcore punk and garage rock influences, complemented by funny and political lyrics; not be a boring live band (unlike nearly every band I watched perform around the time); use our shows to support causes we believed in (we played a lot of shows to benefit campus workers; we were lucky that there was a lot of activism around labor issues on campus at that time and we were able to participate and do some fundraising for the cause); use our shows as a vehicle to have fun and give our friends opportunities to have fun; win back the Liz of my life; play as many cool shows with cool bands as possible; and overtly reiterate and propagate the most intelligent, interesting and humorous aspects of the entire rock ’n’ roll genre (it’s a great genre). We have accomplished some of our goals.

John is currently attending law school at Columbia, but played one show with the band in 2011 when Psi-Dog quit. John is also set to play our eight-year-anniversary celebration in October. It’s hard to believe it’s been that long, but we took 2005-2008 off. Our first show was at the Notasquat, on Oct. 12, 2003.

2. Can you run down each of the members of the band and tell us a little bit about them?  What do you perceive their meanings of life to be (including yours)?

Zomawia “Chino” Sailo, guitar: A talented artist, musician, and artist of the information superhighway, Chino is a quintessential antisocial badass with a heart of gold.
The child of a hardworking and well-educated single mother, Chino grew up in the ghetto of Gaithersburg, Maryland, with a tight and exceedingly racially diverse group of friends who were also generally into alternative rock and punk music.
A big fan of At the Drive In, the Black Powder Fuzzbox, Fugazi, and Gang of Four, Chino is a member of a relatively obscure Indian ethnic group, the Mizos. He looks Asian (hence his nickname) and has visited his family in India. He once told me that Mizos are “stupid and cheap.”
He was the soundman at the notorious D.C. punk-rock venue the U-Turn.
We met when his old band, Pattern Against User, played the “Punk Rock Picnic,” at Georgetown University back in 2004. I solicited bands for that show on the Pheerboard, so the Internet brought us together. Chino is smart, generous, a true friend and a very useful person to be friends with. We played in a hard-folk band called Usuario2 in 2007 and 2008. That band sounded like a mix of the Coits, At the Drive In, Sunny Day Real Estate, Pattern Against User, and Refused – with folk lyrics – and we played some really good shows and were well received by our friends. Usuario2 ended when our guitarist and primary songwriter, Adam Piece, moved back to Boston to pursue his true love: music that sounds more like Sunny Day Real Estate.
A skilled and unique guitarist, Chino is also quite responsible, unlike most good guitarists. He is arguably the most unconventional, liberated member of the Coits, which is really saying something. He is the third coolest-looking member of the Coits.

Shintario “Shin for the Win” Doi, bass: Shin grew up in Japan on a steady diet of alternative rock. He is extremely bright. We met at Georgetown University in like 2004 (we became friends in like 2005). He was considered the best bassist at Georgetown and he went to his fair share of Coits shows back then. We played in a band called Coitus Detritus that played one exceedingly destructive show in 2005. Shin is very artistic, articulate, and well versed on international affairs, economic theories, technology, and many other matters. He works at the Black Cat, a Washington, D.C. rock club. An experienced political activist, he has held a very wide range of jobs, from anti-mountaintop removal organizer to trade union spy in a Starbucks to deep house party doorman to Thai chef. His parents have high-status jobs. He has also lived in Korea and Thailand. He is very knowledgeable about a large number of genres of music, and can also hold it down on guitar and drums. He is a good songwriter, but doesn’t really write songs for the Coits. He and I interviewed Ian MacKaye in 2005. He has also interviewed Joe Lally. He is a great friend and a generous guy. He joined the band in 2008, when Prescott got the band back together in order to really freak out the squares and teach the indie rock lames what rock ’n’ roll is (did we ever). Shin fit right in. He is the second coolest-looking member of the Coits, which is really saying something.

Simon “Psi” Cohen, guitar: A virtuoso-type axist and a prominent metal promoter in the D.C. underground, Psi has a good sense of humor and is intelligent. He is the leader of the band Midnight Eye. The son of a diplomat, he went to the same boarding school in Switzerland as a son of Kim Jong Il. Psi joined the band in like 2008, after John went to law school, so we went from having a beginning-level guitarist to a Marty Friedman-type. A talented writer, Midnight Psi has already quit the band three times and is considering quitting again. Who knows how many times he will quit? Personally, I think it’s safe to say that only God knows.
Psi-Dog has long hair and is the Coits’ primary songwriter at this point. He lives in Bethesda, Maryland, is a graduate of the University of Maryland at College Park, and teaches guitar for a living.

Prescoit, drums: The son of a working drummer, Pres is half-Greek, which is important to him. While in college, he studied in Greece and worked for the Greek embassy in D.C. We have been friends nearly since I moved to D.C. in 2002. A graduate of a prestigious D.C. college, ’Scotty is a lifelong friend of a close pal o’ mine from G-Town.
Prescott joined the band a few months after our first show, and he fit right in. It was really nice to have a drummer who played drums; it changed our sound in a major way. We were roommates at the Hardcore Hilton when he was in college (I graduated in 2004; he graduated in 2006).
I have never been able to keep up with him when it comes to partying, and I stopped trying to keep that killing pace a long time ago.
He grew up in Louisville, Kentucky, but considers D.C. home. He is a talented lyricist. Operation Ivy was his favorite band in high school.

Garrett Underwood, guitar: The most recent addition to the band, Garrett joined in early 2011. He was a Coits enthusiast before becoming a Coit.
The youngest member of the Coits by several years (he is 21), G has been in a number of notable D.C. bands, including Wyld Stallyns 3000, Body Cop, and Ilsa (he is currently in Ilsa). We met at a Wyld Stallyns show in 2007.
An overt badass, G memorably said, “I thought I was weird until I joined the Coits; the Coits are fucking freaks.”
He fits right in.
He is arguably the most unconventional and liberated person in the band, which is really saying something.
He is one of only two people hardcore enough to live at the Corpse Fortress on two distinct occasions. He parties like a drug addict and walks dogs for a living. A native of Rockville, Maryland, G is highly intelligent and is very popular within “the scene.” He is not considering quitting the band (as far as I know!), but Ilsa is his primary focus. I am encouraging him to compose more music and lyrics for the Coits. He is the coolest-looking member of the Coits, which is really saying something.

Seth Feinberg, mouth: Thank you for affording me the opportunity to talk about my favorite subject: myself. I am a negative creep. If asked to expound upon the subject, I would reply that I am the son of a pair of freethinkers with unusual integrity. I feel that, at my best, I am a cross between my parents (with whom I am close): My mother is a librarian, journalist, and nature enthusiast; my father is a politically aware tough guy, union man, sports fan, and nature enthusiast. I have lived a charmed life and am politically engaged. I follow world affairs more closely than the average person, and am an environmentalist, trade unionist, and Democrat (in that order). I have a younger sister who is a badass, and we grew up in the middle of the woods in a very small town in upstate New York. I was the only person into punk in my town; there were maybe a dozen kids in other grades into punk and hardcore throughout the course of my middle/high school years (the towns up there are so small that kids from a few towns attend schools in a central location; it was the ’90s, so I had a pal who had blue hair and was into Christian punk, etc.). We lifted weights to Sick of It All.
In a “notable twist of fate,” I first heard Nirvana on an elementary school field-trip to D.C. There was a boom-box on the bus and the kids were playing Ace of Bass. My friend commandeered the ’box and played “Teen Spirit” dozens of times in a row. It took hours for the other kids to start complaining.
I got into Minor Threat in eighth grade, courtesy of an older guy who grew up in D.C. They quickly became one of my favorite bands. Growing up, I never knew anyone who was straight-edge.
In addition to Christianity and socialism, I believe in evolutionary psychology.
I think the meaning of life is to enjoy oneself, help others, and, in the modern world at least, forestall the demise of every species on earth (including our own) at the hands of humanity. I know that’s a boring definition.

3. It is evident that you are all a very eclectic group of individuals with very different lifestyles. How does the band mesh? How do you all get along?
Our lives might not be as different as they seem (with the possible exception of Chino’s; he is the most aggressively antisocial member of the band; who knows what that guy is up to?).

Brendan Griffiths once described us as “an extremely diverse group of extremely liberated people,” which is high praise.

Big Al Acosta described us as “the bad boys of D.C. punk” – high praise.

We get along well; sometimes we get annoyed with each other, but we are close friends in general (although there are inevitable “relationship dynamics” in a six-person band with a wide range of musical tastes and non-musical interests). For example, it might seem that Pres and G have nothing in common, but they get along really well. I consider everyone else in the band a close friend (except Simon).

4. I am specifically intrigued by your drummer, Prescott, who works as a lobbyist for a trade association. Apparently he is quite a hit with the ladies. How does he do this and what is his style? Feel free to speak for him.
Prescott is extremely gregarious, socially adept, and easygoing, and he’s fun to be around. Additionally, he’s handsome, funny, and a secret genius. He has a good job and parties like he’s in Ilsa. That combination is a well-trod formula for sexual success (depending upon one’s definition of success, of course!).

According to Prescott, he learned everything he knows (about getting girls, not about drumming) from Pip (the Lone Rangers’ drummer in the 1994 comedy “Airheads”), who was portrayed by Adam Sandler. Pip gets “his hands on more bumper than a body shop,” as explained by frontman Chazz Darvey (Brendan Fraser).

“While some may mistake his style for the I’m-so-stupid-I-must-be-cute routine, in actuality, that’s the quiet cool – chicks, man, they just flock to it,” Prescott comments in response to this query.

5. What are the songs about? What is the lyrical MO?
In general they have always been political statements, love songs, diss tracks, and diss tracks about myself – with a twist of lemon. I’ve been writing more diss tracks about myself lately than anything else, by far.

6. Your band has achieved cult notoriety within the D.C. scene for breaking large quantities of electronics during your sets. Some people have criticized this as a tactical gimmick (Ed: If it is a gimmick, it has surely won me over, regardless).
How would you respond to this criticism? Why do you break shit during your sets?

I’d never heard anyone call it a gimmick before receiving this question. Since then, James Doubek made the same type of statement, so I reckon that’s what people think. I’d never thought about it that way.

According to, a gimmick is “an ingenious or novel device, scheme, or stratagem, especially one designed to attract attention or increase appeal.”

While it may be ingenious and somewhat novel, I know that our enthusiastic embrace of destruction always alienated and turned off more people than it appealed to.
I also know that the demolition really appeals to like-minded people, which is all a punk band should hope for, anyway: to appeal to those who get it, while alienating those who don’t.

I’ve really enjoyed destroying stuff for as long as I can remember; my old friends can tell you numerous stories about me smashing and burning things for no reason other than the joy it brings. Thinking back on it all, I have a lot of happy memories. I remember sneaking off as a child to smash bottles. The best date I ever went on was when I asked my friend if she was into breaking stuff and she replied “Yes,” and we went into an abandoned ski shed and demolished everything in it. There was a lot of stuff in there; it took a while and was a lot of fun.

We started smashing stuff at our shows because I enjoy doing so.
My beloved Hoyas had a plethora of “outdated” computer monitors laying around all over the place – like 50 of ‘em piled up behind the library at a time and numerous others in corridors all over campus – and I would stockpile them in an on-campus apartment. It was just a way to enjoy myself, although it immediately became apparent that our friends also really liked smashing computers, computer monitors, outdated A.V. equipment that we found in dusty corners of rarely used rooms, etc. G-Town had all kinds of derelict technology all over the place, forgotten or waiting to be disposed of. I disposed of it the right way – by smashing it with the hammer of God!

It’s just a way to enjoy myself and provide some fun for my friends and the people who enjoy the band.

I have an inordinate amount of rage for some reason, always have, and it is one way to let the rage out. One always feels better, for a little while.

In addition, this stratagem is one way the Coits adhere to our mission statement of not being a staid live band.

Finally, smashing stuff at our shows also offers an obvious statement about the value and lifecycle of technology, as well as our nation’s rabid consumption and the nearly immediate obsolescence of our purchases.

Things worth hundreds, thousands of dollars just a few years ago are now worthless. It’s kind of interesting, if you think about it – what we buy and what it buys us.

At one show I tried to auction off a few computer monitors and even a desktop computer or two. No one bid on them. Trenchant commentary, to be sure.

Let’s talk about you, if you don’t mind.  You’re a very bright, well spoken, successful guy. Why do you continually live in sub-par living situations (Corpse Fortress, Chris Moore’s room in 2008, the smallest room in the Newton Street house, etc.)? You can surely afford a real room. Do you have an affinity for such living spaces?
1) I dispute the premise of your question. For a person like me, those living situations are well above par. Putting me at the Corpse Fortress was like putting a pig in slop. I fit right in. I really like Loren Martin and Jessie “Corpse Fortress Princess” Brennan. Living at the CF also gave me the chance to become friends with Dylan and Brendan Griffiths, who are awesome. It also gave me the chance to get to know Psi-Dog and other people who used to hang out there.

Also, it allowed the Coits to have a practice space and a place to book shows whenever we wanted, and it allowed me to see a lot of great shows for free, and even occasionally make some money (for the house!) by facilitating awesome shows.

There aren’t a lot of things more fun than seeing your favorite bands performing in your basement while every few hours people hand you hundreds of dollars.

Also, my rent was $90-a-month for an entire year, allowing me to exist as a freelance writer. The second time I lived there, I had a much bigger room and my rent was $250 a month.

1a) Chris Moore pimps out a bedroom like he pimps out his life. Living in his room at the Chill Factory was one of my best living situations ever, and it gave me the chance to get to know Justin Malone, Nick Tape, Pat Vogel, Drew E., Big Al, etc.

It also gave the Coits a great place to practice and record, and it allowed me to go on a weekend tour with Sick Fix and borrow money from Pat Vogel. There were a lot of cool basement shows happening within a few blocks of the Chill Factory at the time, too. It was great. That place was kinda expensive, though – like $500 a month.

1aa) The Newton Street house is a similar situation: Living there gave me the opportunity to get to know Zizzack, John of Today, Ahron of Judah, etc. – I’m on the same wavelength, more or less, as all of ’em, but didn’t really know them well (or at all) before. Now they love the Coits! My bedroom is small, but that’s just fine with me; it’s comfortable, and I don’t have many possessions compared to the average 30-year-old American. $350 rent.

2) Thank you sincerely for the compliments. They are meaningful to me. I don’t necessarily see myself that way. I often see myself as a depressive, narcissistic, boring, useless sellout full of soul doubt, an idiot savant offered a charmed life on a silver platter who has done a great job of throwing it all away.

3) I have accomplished a lot as journalist, and have enjoyed far more success as a writer than I expected to, but I spent years eking out a living as a freelance reporter, and journalism is not very remunerative for the vast majority of its practitioners. If you view it as an art, you might end up living like an artist!

4) My father recently informed me that I will probably live and die deep in debt. He said that’s just normal for our social class and I should just accept it. I hope that, if that’s the case, I can live high on the hog and enjoy an extremely rich array of experiences and material goods and leave Wells Fargo with the tab.

What are your dreams for the Coits?
We’re on a good trajectory now, where it seems like more and more people are into the band and our old friends still come out to our shows. If we can stay on this trajectory, keep writing cool songs and playing cool shows, I’ll be happy.

However, I hope to move out of town ASAP. I work downtown and terrorism and world affairs provide me with near-constant dread, despite my anti-anxiety medication. I hope to return to my hometown and coach high school basketball, which is my calling.

What’s your take on that FAGGOT show you guys played? What did you think of them?
Oh man, Faggot was awesome! I really liked both the songs and the shtick. They were the only band we’ve ever gigged with that put the Coits to shame insofar as presenting a great stage show and taking punk to a psychotic extreme. It was great, but I don’t want to compete on that level, because we all know where that ends, and who wants that? Well, not me, for my band, anyway.

The Coits seem so different from the other punk bands in DC …  not even in a good or bad way. I don’t even know where to start. Can you shed some light on this?
It is interesting to me that the vast majority of the people who are the prime drivers of the local scene – such as NickTape, ’Bec Levy, Spoonboy, James Doubek, Chris Moore, Orion, etc. – grew up in the area and have known each other since they were in high school or for even longer.
People who grow up around here have a lot of shared points of reference and influences, which influences their bands. It is relatively easy for them to become conversant in the sprawling universe of punk / HC / underground / extreme music.
John Albaneaze, Prescott, Hunt-Nat and I didn’t grow up in D.C., so our conception of punk wasn’t Crispus Attucks, the Suspects, Spitfires United, Enemy Soil, Q and not U, Nation of Ulysses, Page 99, Black Eyes, Lungfish, Fugazi, Autoclave, Scream, or Aggressive Behavior.
My conception of punk rock was Minor Threat, Bad Religion 1980-1985, Operation Ivy, the Sex Pistols, Devo, Rancid, the Ramones, etc. – stuff that would be accessible to a kid in the ’90s in the middle of nowhere.
I also tried some more avant bands (Fugazi, Flipper, etc.), but didn’t like them at the time. I liked punk, but was also into grunge and alternative rock and Megadeth, Ani DiFranco, Bob Dylan, etc.
We’re coming at punk from a really different place than someone like Chris Moore is, because I spent the first 21 years of my life in a small towns in upstate New York, and it wasn’t easy to get down with the local scene even after I transferred to Georgetown (I always had a ton of homework, plus I am a lame square, etc.).
I didn’t really “converge with the D.C. scene” until I started booking the U-Turn (when I was 24 or so) and moved into Chris Moore’s pimped-out bedroom a few years after that.
Also, I sing, and not too many D.C. bands that play hard punk have vocalists who vocalize in that fashion.

Can you speak on your current and previous relationship with Garybird?
Special thanks to Clementine O’Connor, Libby Ellsworth-Kasch, Ayush Amatya, Alex Owings, Luke Bailey, Rachel Horst, Kurt Steigel, Parker and Lianne Bollinger, Abby Lavin, Jamie Gahlon, Jamie Bowman, James Viano, Greg Mortenson, Chris Rufo, E-Roc, James Doubek, Zack Pesavento, Pat Jagla, Ilsa, the Screws, John Scharbach, Justin Malone, Loren Martin, Nick Popovici, Sasha Rex, Mike Bazzone, Chris Barnett, Heather Green, Johnny Bones, Hussain M., Kalim M., Ben Crabb, Stephanie Sailo, Stephanie E. Sears, Matt Parsons, Drew Bashaw, Jay Nye, Sven Curth, Ricky Fitts, Donovan DeMacy, Josh Chase, Joel White, Elisabeth Schulte, Emily Reynolds-Stringer, Fil, Toast, Margarete Schulte, Michael Battaglia, ’Bec Levy, Ian MacKaye, Head-Roc, Jarobi White, Brian Baker, Brain Damaged, Flora, Mookie, Dave Stone, Rachel Klein, Maurice Alvarado, Rachel Horst, Big Al, Adam Piece, Mark Andersen, Chad Clark, John Langford IV, Ron Bercume, NickTape, Zachary Wuerthner, Simeon, Miguel, Alexandra, Blake, Roger Scully, David “Bones” McCullough, James Willett, Dave Homeowner, Daniel Jubert, Surgery Dot Com, At the Graves, Revolta, P. Spencer, Jamie Sherman, Ian Svenonius, Justin Moyer, H.R., Krist Novoselic, Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb, Rachel Atcheson, Triff Store Magic, Usuario2, and, of course, Rachel Horst.

What does punk rock need, and what does punk rock need less of?
I can’t even say. I’m in my own world nowadays and don’t have a particularly valid perspective on that. However, I sure would be glad if the world had fewer bandwagon riders, avid consumers, crypto-fascists, fascists, lazy people, thieves, frightened rabbits, herd-stampeders, and people who always take everything so seriously all the time. Life is too depressing to take it seriously.
I remember Greg Graffin saying something like, the definition of punk is being different by being yourself. I embrace that definition.
Punk rock, like the world, needs more joy and less shame.

Kurt Cobain: Satan Worshipper, By Pastor Joe Schimmel

“Get stoned and worship Satan”—Kurt Cobain  

Nirvana is considered the most influential band of the 1990s. With their multi-platinum success, they rocked their generation in more ways than one: First with their music and then with the suicide of their leader, Kurt Cobain.

In 1994, Rolling Stone magazine named Nirvana “artist of the year.”   Rolling Stone would also classify Nirvana’s Teen Spirit as the “grunge national anthem” (Kurt Cobain: The Rolling Stone Interview, By David Fricke, January 27, 1994).  Spin magazine classified Nirvana at the very top of the “ten that mattered most” bands in the decade of 1985-1995.  Chuck Crisafulli declares that, “It was Teen Spirit that rescued rock ‘n’ roll” (Chuck Chrisfulli, Teen Spirit, Simon & Schuster, p. 6, 1966).

The author of a biography written about the life of Kurt Cobain, the notorious leader and singer/guitarist for the group, declares regarding Nirvana’s album Nevermind: “Nevermind will be a contender for the album of the decade…Nevermind dragged alternative rock into the mainstream virtually overnight, one man stood aloof from the outpouring of praise compared by to Beatlemania” (Christopher Sandford, Kurt Cobain, Carroll & Graff Publishers, Inc., New York, 1997, pp. 206-207).
Like Beatlemania in the 60’s, Nirvana-mania had struck like an atom bomb upon the music scene of the 90’s in both Europe and the United States, mostly owing to the creative spirit of Kurt Cobain.  Cobain is described as the “prince of grunge and unwitting mouthpiece for a generation,” and the one responsible for “inventing what became the grunge lifestyle” (Ibid. p16, 54).  We believe there is evidence that demonstrates that it was more than Kurt Cobain that influenced the masses of youth in the 90’s to adopt the grunge/alternative lifestyle.  One does not have to look very deeply into the life of Kurt Cobain to see that the spirit that inspired him was not the Sprit of God.  Let the reader be forewarned, examining the life of Kurt Cobain is like lifting the lid off of a cesspool.  Amidst all of the glamour and fame that is associated with being a rock “star,” Cobain’s life was filled with utter hopelessness and despair.

Cobain the Devil Worshipper

As a true member of the lonely-hearts club band, Cobain’s powerful sense of rejection from his childhood would feed his insatiable desire to be accepted.  Cobain has been described as “rather a sickly, underdeveloped figure of a young man who got picked on a lot” (Nick Kent, The Dark Stuff, Ca Capo Press, New York, 1994, p. 341).  So strong was Cobain’s desire to be respected and accepted, that Cobain would sell his soul to the Devil for the price of fame.  For starters, Kurt Cobain made no qualms about who he was serving when he made it known publicly that his stated goal was to “get stoned and worship Satan” (op. cit. Sandford, p. 42).

Cobain’s worship of Satan manifested itself in a multiplicity of ways.  Cobain, like other Satanists, also had a penchant for the desecration of churches.  Cobain, with his bass player Chris Novoselic, spray-painted “GOD IS GAY” on a church building (Ibid. pp. 57, 165).   Cobain, according to Rolling Stone, would also spray-paint “HOMO SEXUAL SEX RULES” on a bank.  Rolling Stone further reported that Other favorite graffiti included “GOD IS GAY” and “ABORT CHRIST” (Rolling Stone, Inside the Heart & Mind of Nirvana, by Michael Azerrad, April 16, 1992).  Beyond spray-painting blasphemous statements about God on a church, Cobain would take song lyrics he was dissatisfied with and set them on “fire and leave [them] burning on the porch of the Open Bible Church” (op. cit. Cobain, Sandford, p.68).  Beyond this, Sandford writes:

“It was after the destruction of not only a wooden notice-board but an expensive crucifix and other artifacts that the police called at East 2nd with the suggestion that Cobain’s presence in Aberdeen would be more sparingly required in the future.“ (Ibid.)

Cobain “decorated” his apartment as he explained, “with baby dolls hanging by their necks with blood all over them” (Ibid. p. 54).   Rolling Stone would further report that “Cobain made a satanic-looking doll and hung it from a noose in his window” (Rolling Stone, Inside the Heart & Mind of Nirvana, by Michael Azzerad, April 16, 1992).  The fact that Cobain was considered some kind of national or even international hero well illustrates the wicked depths of depravity to which the human heart has sunk.  While Cobain may have influenced some for evil through graffiti on churches, it was through his music that millions of people would be influenced by the satanic beings that used him like a pawn in a much bigger game.  Cobain’s involvement in black magic and witchcraft would escalate to the point that Cobain would begin casting spells in an effort to see his will done (op. cit. Sandford,  p. 172).  Cobain’s interest in the occult would eventually lead him into a relationship with occultist William Burroughs.  Stephen Davis, the biographer of the Led Zeppelin saga “Hammer of the Gods”, compares Burroughs to Satanist Aleister Crowley, stating:

“Like Crowley, Burroughs was an urbane and genial human Lucifer, a modern magus, a legendary addict, and an artist whose influence extended far beyond literature to music, painting and film.” (Stephen Davis, Hammer of the Gods, Ballantine Books, New York, 1985, p. 237).

Burroughs also associated with Zeppelin’s Jimmy Page and, ironically, it was Burroughs who first christened hard rock with the label “Heavy Metal” (Ibid.  p. 104).  Burroughs claimed that he first became demon possessed after killing his wife. Cobain

“Cobain was “obsessed with Anton LaVey” (Mojo Magazine, Sept. 1999, p. 86). Anton LaVey was the founder of the Church of Satan and the author of the Satanic Bible.  So obsessed was Cobain with Satanist Anton LaVey that he sought to enlist LaVey by having him play cello on Nirvana’s Nevermind album!” –SOURCE

Cobain’s involvement in witchcraft and Satanism is a fitting explanation as to the source of his inspiration and the uncanny ability he had for coming up with alluring and seductive hooks that so frantically enticed Nirvana’s fans.  Cobain is described as “stumbling on melodies by means he himself didn’t fully understand.” (op. cit. Sanders, p. 70).  In the occult, this is referred to as automatic writing is a process wherein a demonic being channels poetry or lyrics through a human being in an effort to negatively affect society.

This is surely what took place through Cobain, the willing and twisted medium for satanic forces.  Even the legendary guitarist Chuck Berry would exclaim, “he had a touch most guitarists would kill for” (Ibid., p. 71).  While “kill for” might be a stretch, sell one’s soul for is far more fitting. d seek out Burroughs’ services seeking his collaboration on a music project (Op. Cit. Sandford, p. 255).

In a Rolling Stone interview, Cobain would later underscore as one of the highlights of his life that of “Meeting William Burroughs and doing a record with him” (Kurt Cobain: The Rolling Stone Interview, By David Fricke, January 27, 1994).  Such was Burroughs’ influence on  Cobain that, “William S. Burroughs received ‘special thanks’ on In Utero for being a cherished inspiration to Cobain (op. cit. Teen Spirit, Chuck Crisafulli, p. 84).

Cobain the Drug Addict

Cobain’s infatuation with Burroughs probably transcended that of his occult involvement and was in part due to Burroughs notoriety as an addict.  Cobain had a special love for drugs.  Heroin was one of his drugs of choice.  BAM magazine noted that not only would Cobain nod off in “mid-sentence,” but also “the pinned pupils, sunken cheeks, and scabbed, sallow skin suggest something more serious than fatigue” (op. cit. Azzerad, Rolling Stone, p. 34 ).  Sadly, if Cobain hadn’t ended his life with a shotgun blast to the head, it would have most likely still ended with a heroin overdose.  After his death, the toxicology report confirmed that:

“along with traces of Valium, there were 1.52 milligrams of the drug [heroin] in his blood, three times the normal fatal dose” (op. cit. Sandford  p. 10).

Nick Kent claimed that those “strangely undiagnosable” stomach “Problems” that Cobain claimed to experience were “almost certainly” a result of Cobain’s years of drug abuse:

“… the years he spent punishing his intestines with all manner of cheesy pain pills washed down with most disgusting codeine—infected cough medicines available almost certainly provided the direct reason why his poor old guts ached so viscously” (Nick Kent, The Dark Stuff, DA Capo Press, New York, 1994, p. 341).

To support his drug habits, it has been alleged that Cobain “sold to the deadbeats on Heron Street, or at least engaged in a drugs-for sex traffic in order to support his habits” (op. cit. Sandford, p. 51).

Cobain the Homosexual

Cobain himself admitted, “I’m definitely gay in spirit”, as well as “I probably could be bisexual,” and admitted to a close friend that “he’d had sex with three or four men’ (Ibid. pp.268-269).  His widow, Courtney Love, indicated that his homosexual escapades went well beyond that of three or four men when she claimed that he’d “made out with half the guys in Seattle” (Ibid. p. 359).

Cobain would utilize his fame as a platform to showcase his perversity and influence others thereby.

Not only would he publicly French kiss his bass player on Saturday Night Live, but he would also publicly display his perverted penchant for cross-dressing.  Cobain carried with him perverted pornographic pictures of women in various poses with animals and displayed behavior that is too deviant and grotesque for this writer to further describe.

Cobain’s Murderous Heart and the Occult

Cobain had an enormous ego, even for a rock star. While Cobain expressed discomfort with all the fame he had achieved, Nick Kent stated: “I mean, this guy was planning on being a rock star from age two…He always professed to hate all the attention with which fame presented him, yet the first thing he did upon going platinum was to marry Courtney Love, a young women who wantonly draws attention to herself like a magnet sucks up tiny ball bearings.” (op. cit. Kent, p. 341).

Such was the enormity of Cobain’s ego that he would lash out at those sources that would question him. Cobain wanted to murder a female journalist named Lynn Hirschberg who wrote of his wife unfavorably in Vanity Fair. Cobain breathed murderous threats:

“I’m going to kill this woman with my bare hands. I’m going to stab her to death. First I’m going to take her dog and slit its guts out in front of her and then [expletive deleted] all over her and stab her to death.” (op. cit. Sandford, p. 172)

Cobain would not end up killing Hirschberg with his “bare hands”, but would continue to nurse his murderous hatred toward her until the end of his life.

In fact, rather than killing her with his “bare hands,” Cobain sought to do her in by enlisting the forces of Satan to do his bidding by utilizing his black magic. Sandford explains: “At the very end of his life, Cobain was engaged in elaborate calculations, with the aid of a book on magic numbers, to determine a formula to ‘hex the [expletive deleted]’ (Ibid. p. 172).

Cobain the Hater

Cobain’s murderous thoughts went far beyond that of murdering Lynn Hirschberg, but extended to his wife. At one point he had to be persuaded not to kill Courtney Love (Ibid. p. 249).

Cobain also had a fierce hatred for humanity in general.  The Word of God tells us that Satan is a murderer and was such from the beginning. Cobain, like his father the devil, held such a deep-seated hatred for humanity that he declared “ninety-nine per cent of humanity could be shot if it was up to me,” he maintained that only “one or two people” were worth saving (Ibid. p. 257).

In his suicide note found after his own self-murder, he wrote, “I’ve become hateful toward all humans in general.”
Cobain would demonstrate this hatred toward even many of his fans with both spitting upon them at concerts, as well as derogatory comments. Cobain, though, did little harm to his fans through spitting and occasional comments. The real harm came as he led so many of them down the same path of self-destruction that he had chosen and exhibited in himself.  Whether it was his utter perversity onstage or the hopelessness and despair he communicated through his music, the damage he did is incalculable and will only be understood in its totality on Judgment Day, when he stands before the Almighty God and gives an account for his life.

Cobain’s philosophy was: “Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law.”

One of his biographers states that “Cobain lacked anything resembling an ethical centre. In the spirit of Crowley, Cobain rejected biblical moral absolutes and rejected the authority of God over his life and established Satan as his ultimate authority.

It was through Satan that Cobain experienced the “success” he craved.

Cobain’s alliance with wicked spiritual forces directed at the people he hated may have paid great dividends in his mind.

He was able to experience the acceptance he craved for so long, albeit artificially, and on the other, Cobain was able to unleash powerful destructive forces through his music upon the human race that he hated.

Cobain was pivotal in undermining any residue of moral foundation in many of those who were initiated into his style of music.

Nirvana used their music as a tool of “subversion of traditional values.”

“Nirvana and the new fauna of Seattle rock shared a number of attitudes and taste, including a form of exoticism centered on punk, a public display of apathy, a disinterest in work, the cult of feminism, and the subversion of traditional values via music” (Ibid. pp. 104-105).

Cobain would often torment his band.

Many of those who knew Cobain claimed that there was something incredibly evil about him that would sometimes manifest itself physically.

One of his peers who attended school with Cobain explained that there was, “A kind of menace about him. When he gave you that look, it was straight out of “The Exorcist” or one of those Satanic-worship films.’’ (Ibid. p. 23).

Press Association reporter Graham Wright has stated that “Kurt went from Dr. Jekyl to Mr. Hyde in the space of a minute.” (Ibid. p. 246).

This kind of manifestation should have not been shocking, but expected from Cobain, who admitted that he had set out to “worship Satan.”

One of his band members described him as one who could be transformed from a ball of indifference to a “little Hitler” in an instant. Yet another described entertaining him as “like living with the devil” (Ibid. p. 53).

That all of Cobain’s antics were not simply a charade, but truly part of a sad tragedy that was his life is evident from the fact that sometimes these demonic manifestations would end in tears and even suicide attempts.

Bruce Pavitt, co-owner of Sub Pop Records (Nirvana’s early label), stated that in Rome during a concert Cobain nearly committed suicide onstage:

“After four or five songs, he quit playing and climbed up the speaker column and was going to jump off.  The bouncers were freaking out, and everybody was just begging him to come down.  And he was saying, ‘No, no, I’m just going to dive.’ He had really reached his limit. People literally saw a guy wig out in front of them who could break his neck if he didn’t get it together” (op. cit. Rolling Stone, Azzerad, April 16th 1992).

Sandford further describes this rather bizarre incident wherein Cobain became like an animal on stage:

“For a quarter of an hour Cobain clambered through the rafters, clawed the curtains, swung from a chandelier and prattled at the crowd.

According to Azerrad, ‘He wound up backstage, where someone from the venue was arguing with their tour manager over whether Kurt had broken some microphones.  Kurt grabbed both mics, flung them to the ground, and began stomping on them.

“Now they’re broken,” he said.

Then Cobain announced he was leaving the group, “shrieked like a beast,” and burst into tears. (op. cit. Sandford, p. 134).

His widow, after his suicide, would state that “Kurt had a lot of personal inner [expletive deleted] demons, a lot of frailties and physical ailments.”

Sandford writes, “He was a diffident, yet aggressive personality who struggled with demons that drove and tormented him” (Ibid. p. 97).

The sad irony is that the demonic forces he had opened his life up to more and more in his pursuit for fame and success were the very demonic forces that would later inspire him to take his own life.

Goldberg claims that “Kurt saw innumerable doctors and therapists” (Cobain, A Rolling Stone Press Book, 1994, p. 87).

No amount of secular psychology could exorcise the demonic forces. Had Cobain not been a star he probably would have been committed to a mental institution. Being the commodity that he was for his record label, he was used by them, as he was by the devil himself. This, though, was a two way street as Cobain profited from both the devil and his record company – or so he thought.

Perhaps Cobain was deceived into believing that the only way he could escape the demonic world that so tormented him was by blowing his brains out.

Sadly, perhaps the only One he hated more than humanity was God, and he was not about to turn to the Lord.

Cobain had a supreme hatred for all authority, especially that of God.

The Destiny of the Damned

Many would view it as a sad irony that the leader of a band called Nirvana would end his life with a horrific suicide.  But as Gina Arnold, author of “Route 666: The Road to Nirvana,” admitted, “People talk about Kurt Cobain’s wonderful sense of irony. There isn’t any irony.”

I would take it a step further and say there never was any Nirvana. Nirvana was never really heaven in the first place.

Nirvana is the Hindu name for heaven. It is a counterfeit heaven designed to bind people to the millions of Hindu demon gods which are worshipped in India to this very day.

Cobain and his music had Eastern influences, from beguiling Eastern melodies to Cobain’s frequent references in interviews to karma, reincarnation, etc.

Even as these illusionary concepts have cursed India and zapped the life out of hundreds of millions of Hindus through the centuries, Cobain, like so many stars before him, continued to introduce these concepts to the Western world.

Truly, there is no irony.

Cobain’s concept of Nirvana from the get-go was actually hell.

Crisafulli comments on Cobain’s concept of Nirvana in his song “Paper Cuts,”

“The subject seems to sing that he has found his “nirvana” and is in a contented state in a place where all needs are met and there are no outside worries. But to any outside observer, the subject has simply gone insane in a filthy, one room prison” (op. Cit., Crisfulli, Teen Spirit, p. 23).

Although the subject of Cobain’s song had no choice as to his or her condition (the song was partly based on children who were tormented and confined to a closet), Cobain chose to live a hellish Christ-rejecting existence filled with drugs, hatred, vandalism, blasphemy and devil worship.

Cobain was aware that his life was a Hindu Nirvana – an illusion. This contributed to his utter emptiness and the faraway look of hopelessness and despair that was evident in the eyes he effaced with a shotgun blast.

The concept of “Nirvana” includes the termination of existence.

Webster’s New Twentieth Century Dictionary includes this definition of Nirvana:

“1. In Hinduism, a blowing out, or extinction, of the flame of life; reunion with Brama.” (Webster’s New Twentieth Century Dictionary, p. 1214)

Cobain wanted to “cease to exist,” to use the title of a Charles Manson tune the Beach Boys decided to put on an album. This was part of the New Age teaching which has been imported to the West by so many rock bands since the ’60s.  While many of them have promised enlightenment and a New Age, such teaching only results in destruction and damnation.

Cobain saw his life as hell on earth, and he understood that the spiritual concept of “Nirvana” results in the termination of existence. Cobain’s Nirvana was not a path to eternal bliss or the absolute cessation of existence, but rather a dark road that leads through the gates of hell.

For as Christ taught, man is only able to destroy the body, but God is able to destroy the soul in Hell. (Matthew 10).

Cobain only wanted to be a performer. He declared, “I would prefer to be in a coma and just be woken up and wheeled out onstage and play and then put back in my own little world” (Azzerad, “Come As You Are”).

Cobain claimed that he had no interest in “simple pleasures” and “inane things” that people discuss and would “rather just be asleep” (op. cit. Kent, 342).

Cobain, the leader of the grunge movement, would sit down to write his suicide note in his home. Unlike previous times nobody was around to coax him out of it.

He addressed the suicide note to “Boddah,” his childhood invisible friend (op. cit. Sanders, p. 328).

It seems that one of the reasons he committed suicide was that the devil was no longer delivering musical inspiration.

In his suicide note he wrote, “I haven’t felt the excitement of listening to as well as creating music, along with really writing, for too many years now.”

This has been Satan’s modus operandi from the beginning and certainly through the history of rock music.

Satan seeks out those lonely hearts who are seeking fame, recognition, acceptance, affluence, power, or all of the above and uses them for his own perverse glory, then discards them for eternity.

God has demonstrated to that demonic beings are often associated with the instigation of suicide.

After Satan had possessed Judas and used him to betray Christ, Judas was left with despair and his newfound fortune became a reminder as to the magnitude of his betrayal.

Judas ended up hanging himself.

King Saul was also possessed by an “evil spirit” and was incredibly tormented. Saul ended up committing suicide.

We see in the gospels that Satan not only sought unsuccessfully to get Jesus to commit suicide, but Jesus delivered a young man with an evil spirit that was inspiring the young man to throw himself in the fire to destroy himself.

Satan not only inspires suicides, but self-mutilation.  The false prophets of Baal were inspired by their demon gods on Mount Carmel to repeatedly cut themselves until the evil spirits would respond to their spells, but as in the case with Cobain, there came a time when they no longer did and the false prophets were left powerless in performing their evil deeds. The Lord responded by consuming them with fire.

Jesus also delivered a demoniac at the tombs of the Gaderenes.  This man was also inspired by the demons that possessed him to repeatedly cut himself.

After Jesus delivered the demoniac of the Gaderenes at the tombs, the legion of demonic spirits drove a herd of pigs to their death by drowning them in the sea after plunging them off a cliff.

Satan hates all of humanity, including those who foolishly become his slaves.

Jesus Christ delivered this man by casting the evil spirits out of him and restoring him to a sound mind.

Cobain would not accept Christ’s deliverance from his deep-seated satanic bondage.

Satan has inspired self-mutilation and suicide long before Cobain, Iggy Pop, the Sex Pistols or Marilyn Manson.

Through mass media and rock music, Satan has been able to inspire millions of impressionable young people to the same destructive ends.

Satan often gets more mileage out of a dead star than a living one.

Jimi Hendrix, who admitted demon possession, also was deceived by the satanic lie that it is better to burn out than to fade away. Hendrix said, “Most people love the dead…Once you’re dead you are made for life.”

Cobain’s decision to “Abort Christ” and “worship Satan” resulted in temporary success, but now rings eternally hollow. Cobain’s life was a blip of time relative to eternity.

Now Cobain has to pay his piper.

Cobain must face the eternal wrath of a God who will not be mocked (Gal 6:8).

Cobain was aware of how dramatically his life paralleled that of another left-handed guitarist from Seattle, Jimi Hendrix.

Hendrix, like Cobain, died at the age of 27. Cobain must have felt his death was unstoppable, that there was no way out, and his time was up.

While the demonic forces Cobain had aligned himself with were no longer giving him the powerful musical hooks which became his trade and brought the masses to worship him, those forces were only too happy to finish him off.

Cobain’s suicide is not only explicable by factors of his own admission, like a sense of desperation due to lack of musical inspiration, but other sinister factors as well.

Cobain’s suicide was a result of dying by the very sword he wielded so irresponsibly in his lyrics. Cobain often glamorized and exposed young impressionable minds to the idea of suicide through his music. Cobain wrote a song called “I Hate Myself and I Want to Die.”

On his album “In Utero,” Cobain sang, “Look on the bright side: Suicide.”

Cobain would also sing, “Monkey see monkey do/I don’t know why I’d rather be dead than cool” (“Stay Away”).

The same demonic forces that inspired Cobain to take his life channeled lyrics through him to encourage impressionable and depressed youth to take their lives as well.

In Cobain’s suicide note, Cobain echoed the sentiments of another star, Neil Young, stating, “So remember — it’s better to burn out than to fade away.”

Are we so blind as to claim that lyrics do not influence fans?

In this case, a rock star died after quoting lyrics that glorify early death by another rock star.

The first song Cobain learned on guitar was Back in Black by the overtly satanic AC/DC.  Cobain ended his career with the words of “Into the Black,” by Neil Young. Sadly, after Cobain’s suicide, many remembered Cobain’s words.

He wrote, “Monkey see monkey do/ I don’t know why I’d rather be dead than cool,” a rash of copycat suicides followed as the youth he deceived followed in his footsteps.

Nirvana fan Daniel Casper, upon returning from Cobain’s vigil, ended his life with a bullet to the head. Another 16-year-old fan locked herself in her room, and, while she listened to Nirvana’s music, put a bullet into her head.

Andy Rooney, formerly of “60 Minutes,” said succinctly, “When the spokesman for his generation blows his head off, what is the generation supposed to think?”

Donna Gaines writes in “Cobain,” a book produced by the editors of Rolling Stone:

“Teenage suicide was virtually nonexistent before 1960, but between 1950 and 1980 it nearly tripled. While America as a whole became less suicidal during the 1980s, people under 30 became dramatically more suicidal. While adolescents have the more frequent attempts of suicide – an estimated 400,000 a year – the actual rates of suicide are higher once people enter their 20s” (“Cobain,” A Rolling Stone Press Book, 1994, page 128).

Rolling Stone should get a clue and admit the obvious: Suicide rates began to soar with the advent of rock music in the ’50s and ’60s.

It is no coincidence that while suicide among older people dropped slightly in the ’80s, it soared astronomically in the ’80s among the young people who immersed themselves in heavy metal and / or punk rock bands that extolled the virtues of self-murder.

The evidence is glaring Rolling Stone in the face.

In fact, a section of their book “Cobain,” is titled “Suicidal Tendencies,” the name of a once-popular punk rock band.

Rolling Stone has built its fortune on its promotion of groups that have inspired many thousands of suicides. Cobain allowed the demonic spirits that were tormenting him to influence the masses through him as a medium. One commentator wrote,

“This is just a sad little tale about a guy who never felt good about being alive, who channeled that screaming unease into a remarkable body of rock ’n’ roll performances, and who ended it by shooting his face off.”

In his suicide note, Cobain lamented that he was turning into a “miserable, self-destructive death rocker.”

Cobain also “expressed his terror that Frances Bean’s [his daughter’s] life would turn out like his own” (“Cobain,” page 86).

One hopes it will not, but Cobain’s suicide was not the best example to provide her with if this was his fear. Certainly, the words “So remember – it’s better to burn out than to fade away,” were unconscionable if he was at all concerned about how his legacy would impact his daughter.

What about all the millions of sons and daughters of other parents who, because of him and other rock stars have to endure watching their children grow up into Cobain’s evil image?

Cobain, if he had any conscience left, must have despaired of the damage and satanic influences he inflicted on his fans. While drugs and sleep can allow one to escape the pangs of conscience for a time, death brings the conscience into full focus, because every mouth will stopped before God gives His account of our lives.

Like so many stars before him, Cobain ended the culmination of a life hell-bent on destruction.

One fan trying to make sense of what seems so senseless to those in the dark regarding spiritual reality stated, “It makes you wonder if our icons are genetically-programmed to self-destruct in their late 20.”

Cobain’s mother, Wendy O’Connor, was closer to the truth when she lamented, “Now he’s gone and joined that stupid club. I told him not to join that stupid club.” (Newsweek magazine, April 18, 1994).

The “stupid club,” Cobain’s mother refers to includes Brian Jones, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison and other dead stars who died at the early age of 27.

Even William Burroughs declared that Cobain “let down his family” and “demoralized the fans.”

Burroughs stated: “The thing I remember about him is the deathly gray complexion of his cheeks. It wasn’t an act of the will for Kurt to kill himself. As far as I was concerned, he was already dead.”

Sadly, his fans were deceived from the get-go. They were worshipping the living dead and, to the degree that they were influenced by Kurt Cobain, they hastened their own deaths.

Christ’s words concerning Judas Iscariot, who committed suicide after betraying him, are a fitting epitaph for Kurt Cobain: “It would have been better that he was never born.”

That declaration is suitable for everyone who rejects the sovereign of the universe and therefore spends eternity in a lake of fire.

If you have been influenced by the depressing music of Kurt Cobain or other so-called stars of his ilk, I encourage you to realize that the same satanic forces that caused his damnation are using the music they channeled through him to get you to give up on life. Jesus warned: “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” (John 10:10)

Jesus came to give you eternal life. He died for your sins so that you would not have to go to Hell. He rose on the third day and through His gospel defeated Satan.

Kurt Cobain sang about a “lake of fire,” which God’s word describes as unending torment where the wrath of God is justly poured out on the wicked who died in rebellion against Him.

The lake of fire is the eternal residence of all those who refuse to turn to Jesus. If you are not following Jesus Christ, you are against Christ and are on your way to the lake of fire. Jesus said: “He who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather with me scatters.” (Matthew 12:30)

The scriptures declare that those who go to the lake of fire have no rest forever.

Friend, Kurt Cobain also sang that “Jesus don’t want me for a sunbeam.”

The truth is that Jesus does want you for a sunbeam upon this earth. He wants to save you, but will not save you against your own will.

And so it was for Kurt D. Cobain. He will not rest in peace.

Old Interview with Jarobi White

I met Jarobi White of A Tribe Called Quest when I went to see Head-Roc (a D.C. rapper Jarobi managed for a few years) perform and then booked Heady on a few bills at Georgetown University. In my experience, Jarobi has always been friendly and astonishingly down-to-earth.  It was kind of him to do the following interview, which formed the basis of brief articles in Express, the Hoya and On Tap Magazine. Jarobi, his wife Mimi and his newborn son graciously “kicked it” with me for about three hours in the spring of ’05.
A Tribe Called Quest had a few massive hit songs in the ’90s, including “Can I Kick It?,” “I Left My Wallet in El Segundo,” “Scenario,” and “Award Tour.” Like their friends in De La Soul, the members of Tribe are considered hip-hop innovators for being among the first rap groups to use jazz effectively and for their impressive array of lyrical topics. Both groups were known as part of the Afrocentric “Native Tongues” hip-hop movement.
My college friend Chad Bilyeu “kicks it” off in this interview. His questions are in bold. Mine are in italics.

Chad B.: I love them first three albums. How did ya’ll meet?
Jarobi: Well, how many words does your article have?
Tim: 200, so not that many.

Some of this is to satisfy my own curiosity, if that’s cool with you.
It’s all good. Well, Q-Tip and Phife, their families went to the same church, so they’ve actually been in contact with each other since like 2 or 3 years old – it was a family thing.
I moved into the neighborhood when I was about 12.

Where’d you move from?
The Bronx. I was born in the South Bronx, then I moved to Co-Op City, then to Cross Street, then to Queens. Phife lived around the corner from me. We started hanging out, through our interests in video games, basketball, stuff like that.
So then he was like, “Yo, you gotta meet my homeboy,” and that was Tip. We started playing basketball with him or whatever.
Around the age of 13 it was like, “Yo man, let’s make a rap group up together,” because Phife always used to rhyme. His mom was a poet, so he was always good with words.
I used to do the beat-box. We had our little group and we’d do talent shows and stuff like that. When I started going to high school, me and Tip used to take the train, so we became a little closer doing that.
Met Ali in high school and we started recording. That was the joint. When I was about 13 years old, that’s when we made our first demo.

So from your first demo to when ya’ll put out “People’s Instinctive,” what was the time-frame between those two?
About 4 years.

So when ya’ll came out, ya’ll was like 18 years old.
I was 17.

In the “El Segundo” video, you were 17?
I was freshly 18. We did that in Vegas and I couldn’t go to no casinos or nothing ’cause I was too young.

One thing I always wondered – I’m sure you get asked this so many times and I’m sorry –who was making beats, what equipment did you use, how did that dynamic happen?
I’ve never been asked that before. Tip was schooled by Large Professor – I don’t know if you know anything about early ’90s hip-hop – there was like 3 people who were the masters of SP12: Him, Pete Rock and Premier.
Being that we lived in Queens, we were close to Large Professor – he taught everybody how to use that joint.

He taught everybody. Didn’t he learn from Paul C?
OK, I didn’t want to take it back that far, ’cause a lot of people don’t know who Paul C is.

Yeah, I kinda know.
Paul C is the architect. He doesn’t even get enough credit in hip-hop circles, because he didn’t directly teach a lot of people, but he taught all the people who taught all the people. He did stuff with Ultramagnetic way back in the day…
Tip had more knowledge of the machines. Me and him had the different musical tastes. He was always on the machines when we would be in Malik’s basement, picking out records and stuff.
We used the SP12, the S950 Akai joints, the Roland keyboard joints, and that’s basically what we were using.

Ya’ll used the SP12, so you was working with 5 seconds a sample?
5 seconds? Try 1.5 seconds.

Oh, ya’ll didn’t even have the turbo?
Oh no! When you wanted to play a loop, you had to chop the loops up.

So ya’ll was chopping all that up? On the first album, y’all made that on SP12s?
Well, we used that mostly for the drumbeats. We used Akai S950 – you remember those?

Yeah, I remember that – that’s cool.
Yeah, you can get 10 seconds on that joint, maybe, if you know what you’re doing. That was mostly what we were using.

I always respected Native Tongues ’cause it was a positive vibe. What were your feelings on the whole gangsta, N.W.A., West Coast thing, and what made ya’ll not fall into that?
Because we wasn’t living that lifestyle, but we used to listen to that. I thought that was the shit.
Ali’s uncle used to work at CBS. He brought us Eazy-E’s album in 1988 and we was like, “Oh my God!”
Ya know, “Dope Man” and “We Want Eazy” and all that stuff on there.
We was like “Oh my goodness. This is bananas.”
We thought that was the shit, but that’s not how we was living.

So you had to be yourselves.

That’s what I always liked. I come from the ‘burbs – Cleveland Heights in Cleveland, Ohio – and I listened to everything. We was kinda well-rounded, being from Cleveland. We listened to New York – we also listened to West Coast. It seems like a lot of times people be like, “I can only listen to West Coast.”
It doesn’t make any sense.

Ya’ll was listening to whatever, respecting whatever.
Everything. I can’t say all of New York was like that, ’cause it wasn’t.

No, it wasn’t. I got family up there and they wasn’t trying to hear it.
We were different in that respect, because we just loved music, we grew up on music. My parents listened to everything from Chicago to the Beatles to jazz. Everything.

Since hip-hop is such sample-based music, you should listen to everything else.
Well, the people that are good at it, you can tell.

Right. Everybody knew your presence on the first album, cause ya’ll was in the videos and whatnot. The second, which I thought was the dopest album – no disrespect – what was your influence on that one?
The first three albums I was in the studio, doing production and stuff like that. The fourth album, my influence kinda slacked off a little bit. The fifth, I came in at the tale end, during the mixing process, but I didn’t have too much to do with the recording of it.

Now why were you never up in the front? That just ain’t how you were?

You just laid back?
Tim will tell you that. Even now. I’m chillin’. I wanna be regular, I wanna be able to do stuff.

So you do get royalties from them old albums and everything?
Um, there’s not really much to be had anymore.

Really? Ya’ll had your day?
We kinda did, we kinda did (laughs).

Ya’ll did it very well though. Did ya’ll go gold? Did ya’ll get platinum ever?
Every album.

Really? Ya’ll was platinum every album?
The fourth one didn’t go platinum, but it was like 800 [thousand] or something. The first one went platinum after the fact.

Later on?
Yeah. The second and third went platinum.

So how was the other Native Tongues? Were De La and them cool too?
Hell yeah. They was our peoples – to this day. Dave live in Maryland. I spoke to him the other day to tell him I had the kid. I saw Pos Wednesday when I was in New York.

They new album is good.
Their album is banging.

Yeah, cause I wasn’t really feeling the A.O.I. as much. Their new album is off the chain.
They hit their stride.

What about the homie Chi-Ali, man? (to Tim): What did I tell you? I knew he’d make a face or something.
Not to be disrespectful, but during those days it was cool to be a Native Tongue, you know what I’m saying? I don’t consider that dude a Native Tongue.
He was Baby Chris’ little homeboy from the Bronx. He tried to put him down with us, ‘cause Baby Chris was our road manager in those days, so, he got on like that, but he wasn’t really down with us.

When he was doing albums, I never would have predicted that this dude was gonna be [killing someone over $300].
He was a little boy when I met him. He was like 13 or 14 when he was making those records.

Do you know KRS-One?
Very well. We were label-mates. Our first show outside of New York was with him: Compton, California in ’88, ’89, and it was banging, crazy. They was gang-bangin’ crazy dude.
’89 in Compton? Dude: It was crazy.
Coming from New York, I had never seen no shit like that before in my life. It was crazy.

They gang-banging in New York now.
I don’t wanna talk about it.

Jim Jones and all them.
They Bloods. It doesn’t make no sense to me.

I got family in Brooklyn. I’d come out as a kid, get tapes and whatnot, get the flavor and take ‘em back to Cleveland. I’d be a little ahead of the times, but I never heard about that.
Let’s talk about KRS-One.
I love KRS-One. Kris was the Teacher. Between him and Public Enemy, they showed you the model, if you wanted to be a conscious MC, of how to do it.
The first thing you have to do is go to the streets.
KRS-One’s first album, “Criminal Minded,” was way before a lot of people started talking about guns and stuff like that.
Public Enemy’s first album, “Yo! Bum Rush the Show,” was similar, but not as hardcore as KRS-One.
Shit, KRS-One had “Listen to My 9 Millimeter Go Bang” on the first album.
I love Kris because he showed that as an artist you grow – as a person you grow.
He showed people that it’s OK to grow and change and be different. I’ll always love him and I’ll always have a lot of respect for him.

Did you go to his lecture at UDC last year?
Yeah, we went to that.

How was that?
Dope. If you’re a common-sense type of person, if you’re a forward-thinking person, it made a lot of sense, but to a lot of people a lot of his ideas are new. He’s still doing it.

I read his book.
Which one?

The new one, “Ruminations.”
I haven’t read that. How was it?

It’s good. Smart.
Totally eloquent guy.

And he can rock concerts sick.
He is one of the best. It’s like, “Damn, KRS on? I don’t wanna go on after him.”
Especially in the early ’90s, he had hits upon hits. He could go up there and bang out 10 singles that everybody knew the words to. It’s like, “I can’t do nothing after him.”

You said that the show in Compton in ’88 was crazy, but can you elaborate on that?
Oh, it was gang-banging. I had no understanding of it. I’d heard a little about Bloods and Crips and all that, but I didn’t know it was to that extent.
The cops were making a concerted effort to keep these dudes from hurting each other. They had the whole ball-field split in the middle: Dudes in red and brown on this side and dudes in blue and grey on this side. Dudes was in the audience doing their gangs signs, and cops would be like, “Stop it! You! Stop it!”
I don’t know what the hell they doing, you know? That was crazy.
We played all the hard places when we went to L.A. The second place we played at was this club called “Water the Bush.” And it was Ice-T’s club. So you can imagine another real hard-ass place.
You remember what we used to look like back in ’89, dude?

Ya’ll had the little baby dreads and [Afrocentric garb and etc.]
Yeah, so we going with gangsters, dude. Straight gangsters.

They was cool to ya’ll, though? They showed ya’ll love?
Look at us, dude. They were like, “This is crazy. You gotta give them respect.”
Plus we was in Zulu Nation and Ice-T’s a high-ranking person in Zulu Nation.

Yeah, what’s up with Zulu Nation, exactly? Afrika Bambaataa the head, right?
He’s responsible for hip-hop as a culture, as a movement.
We had gangs and stuff back in the ’70s in New York, and he was like, “Yo, we need to stop killing each other, and let’s do something useful with all this energy and creativity we have.”
So he took the biggest gangs back in the day and formed the Zulu Nation and made it as an organization for black people to learn about themselves and to teach other people about themselves.
Rapping, break-dancing, graffiti – he knew that all these people who were doing that stuff were coming together anyway, so he was just trying to add a little substance instead of killing each other.

Zulu Nation still in effect nowadays? Cause I don’t be hearing about it as much.
It’s world-wide, baby – world-wide.

Absolutely. Look on the internet. I guarantee you’ll be blown away.

On the world-wide aspect, I’m sure ya’ll perform everywhere…I went to Amsterdam not too long ago and I’m over there – I went over there with my girl at the time, and she wanted to dance. I be like, “They don’t be playing stuff that moves me.”
The new stuff’s OK: I’m not gonna say it’s bad, but it’s one-faceted. Musically, I think you got people pushing the envelope, but MCs is very one-faceted, there ain’t too many who bring it.
And when I’m over in Amsterdam, they still be playing ya’ll on the radio.
I was in high school back in ’92, ’93, so at the prom they played your stuff. So that’s the music of my childhood – that’s what gets me hyped.
They don’t play it over here anymore, but they play it over there – why do you think they’ve got such a respect for hip-hop like that?

I think in Europe they like the more authentic of every music genre – they don’t really go for the pop shit too much. They listening to Miles and Thelonious over there. Those are the people who are big over there. They like the real shit: people who are true to their art. That’s been my experience.

Ya’ll in DC now, home of go-go. You like go-go?
Absolutely. If you listen to it and give it a chance you can’t deny it.

It’s straight African drums.
Plain and simple. It’s almost animalistic.

When I first heard it, I was just like, “What is it? This is too weird.”
It sort of takes you a minute. But you see, think about this: They played go-go in New York before they played rap music.

For real?
Listen to Doug E. Fresh. That’s all go-go music. Salt ‘n Peppa, Kid ‘n Play, that’s all go-go. Kurtis Blow, first couple joints, that’s go-go.

You’re right! So out here, it’s really no hip-hop scene.
I beg to differ.

He won’t listen to Head-Roc.
I didn’t say I wouldn’t listen to him.
Well, you haven’t. I gave you the CD.
Did you give me the CD? I didn’t crack it open. I’m sorry, man – don’t take offense to that.
I won’t, because if you don’t hear it you’ll never know. I’ve yet to give that album to somebody who hasn’t called me back and been like, “dude is bananas.”

No doubt. He doing it, but I’m saying, there’s just no synonymous D.C. name yet.
Because D.C. eats its babies.
The only real MC that was from D.C. that made some noise was Nonchalant back in the day.

Oh yeah, I like her. You’re a native New Yorker. D.C.’s a little slower, ain’t it?
That’s why I like it.

It seem like everybody be moving out of New York.
There could be a reason for that.

You guys get tired of it?
New York is a police-state, dude. If you have any kind of political mind, you ain’t gonna be in New York. It’s very oppressive, very racist: systematically racist.
You would think New York is like the freest place in the world, right?

I would think that.
It’s not like overt shit, like “Nigger, get the fuck out of here,” but it’s systematic shit, dude.

Hell yeah. The neighborhoods is broke down like that, you know what I mean?
They have little enclaves of everybody. You have Bensonhurst, Bay Ridge, which is the white neighborhood. You’ve got Fort Greene, which is being re-gentrified like all of D.C. is.
Sheepshead Bay is Jews and Italians.
Funny enough, Africa grew up in Bay Ridge – from the Jungle Brothers.

What’s up with those dudes nowadays? They still do stuff? They old, ain’t they? Ain’t they about 52 years old?
Then I’m 51.

(laughs hard) No you ain’t, man. Be quiet, man. You’re not 51 years old.
Well, Tip went to high school with Africa. That’s how we got on.
Africa, The Jungle Brothers – the first time Tip was on a record was on a song they did called “Black is Black.”
Mike Gee, from the Jungle Brothers, his uncle was Red Alert, and that’s how they got their deal and that’s how we got our deal.
We didn’t go through that demo process.

So ya’ll was really in the right place at the right time, too. But it didn’t hurt that ya’ll was actually good, too.
No, it didn’t.

That’s tight.
Dude, no, that’s not even true. I’m gonna stop lying. We put out a demo that had “Pubic Enemy,” “Bonita Applebum,” and a couple of other songs. And the record companies heard them songs and they was like “That shit is wack!”

They didn’t like “Bonita Applebum”?
No. I was 16 when we did that and they were like, “That shit is garbage!”

I put that on when I first, you know, romanced, man. I was on the anti-R&B, so I’m like, “Imma put on some smooth rap.” That’s real, man. I wasn’t about to put on no Guy.
I like Guy.

I was just – Teddy Riley, he tight – you know, when you young, you’re anti.
Teddy Riley is responsible for some of the biggest rap songs you ever heard in your life, dog. He did all of Kool Moe Dee’s shit back in the day, “Go See the Doctor,” and “Rap’s New Generation.” He did a lot of stuff that was on Jive, too. He like was a big hip-hop dude.

Oh, I wasn’t down with all this linkage. That’s real tight. Now these new dudes – other than your man Head-Roc, how do you feel about the state of hip-hop? I know that’s such a generic question.
Well, it is a generic question, but when people ask, I understand: It’s fucked up.

Do you think the money just ruined it?
Well, the way that the record companies work, there’s a formula for everything. A, B and C equals D – and that’s what happened to hip-hop.

Just cookie-cutter formula, right?
Right. And the way it’s being marketed to 14-year-old girls.

I’ve said that to people before! They be like “why don’t you buy this?” And I say, “’cause I feel that it’s marketed to middle school girls, what they be talking about,” because they’re the most apt to actually go out and buy a CD.
Yeah, cause they have disposable income. You get an allowance. If you live in the suburbs you get a pretty nice allowance. Buy an album with that.

How do you feel about the homies Dead Prez?
They’re hot. Heady’s in that same vein, but Heady’s a little more accessible. He’s more inclusive.

Yeah, cause they definitely on some smack the white boy, kill your landlord.
Kill my landlord. C. I. L. L. my landlord. (laughs). Yeah, they on some kill my landlord shit, but they tight. They tight, but you gotta be more accessible.

Saying that: White people buy more hip-hop than black people, so is that part of the formula? Maybe not the music that you make or produce, but do you think it’s more of a minstrel show now and it’s all for white people?
No, what’s happened is there’s no more rock ‘n roll. Rock ‘n roll’s going through the same shit.
There’s no other form of music that has the angst that hip-hop has, and that’s why all the white kids like hip-hop.
Hip-hop is angry, violent: “I’m gonna kill a motherfucker.”
Rock music used to have that same energy without necessarily having to say it.
Hip-hop’s the only thing that has that energy. What’s good rock music now?

I listen to some dudes like Interpole, Mars Volta, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs.
I like the Yeah Yeah Yeahs.
Yeah Yeah Yeahs are alright, but it doesn’t have the same energy, and hip-hop’s the only thing that does.
If you want to rebel, sag your pants and wear your hat backwards. That’ll fuck your parents up if you’re you’re a white kid in middle America.

Do you think rock ‘n’ roll’s too cookie-cutter as well?
Yeah, rock ‘n roll’s the same way, dude, and when they started trying to style people – I think that’s the same problem with both rap and rock, when they start trying to fucking style people – that’s when everything’s lost.
You gotta come with your own shit.

So how do you feel about white rappers?
I don’t give a fuck as long as you’re good. MC Serch was a beast. The Beastie Boys.

Do you know them pretty well?
Yeah, we’re big fans of theirs and they’re big fans of ours. It’s mutual respect.

You did the Tibetan Freedom shows, right?
Yeah, we did them twice and went on their “Hello Nasty” tour.

Did ya’ll do Lollapalooza?
Yeah in ’94, ’96, I think there’s another one, I think we did it three times – no it’s twice, I’m thinking about Smokin’ Grooves.

What’s your favorite audience to perform for – where do you expect to get the most love?
9:30 Club or the House of Blues. The 9:30 Club is one of the top three most supportive venues on the planet.

Absofuckinglutely. 1500 people, mixed crowd, 20-30 years old. I like to have a mix between people who know every word to every song and young kids who don’t really know, but they big brother or they cousin told them about the shit and they want to hear it for themselves. That’s the crowd I like: In-between, a nice little cross-section.

How you feel about the rappers with tennis shoes and whatnot?
It’s dope. Get your money. I personally would not do it, but I’m not knocking nobody’s hustle: Get it.  As long as you doing the right thing with it and employing people and providing opportunities for other people and stuff like that, I think it’s dope.

You can’t knock ‘em for being entrepreneurial.
No, he’s providing a model, which I think is dope.

I guess it’s good that people finally getting paid properly off it. I was watching this thing about rapper’s contracts on MTV and I think Q-Tip was on it.
Oh, yeah he had to be.

He was explaining how ya’ll made the money.
Nobody got jerked more than us and TLC.

When he broke it down, I was just like “Oh, shit.”
Off the first one, at the end of the day – not to be all over your pocket – ya’ll had $80,000 to split between 4 people after all of that?
I went to cooking school.

For real? So you a chef right now?
Yeah. After that bullshit I knew I had to do something where I had something to fall back on.

So you made most of your money off of your shows?
All of it, all the money we made was off shows.

So these young bucks coming up – what would you tell them?
Go to school and leave that rap shit alone. Become a lawyer, because imma need a lawyer. My little boy gonna need a doctor. Firemen – I’m being dead fucking serious.

Why are you gonna need a lawyer?
Because somebody’s gonna say the wrong thing at some point and imma slap ‘em.

Where do you work?
Me and Phife do shows.

You’re not working as a chef right now?
No, no.

That’s cool.
No, it’s not cool. It’s just what it is right now. I’m in transition.

I would think it’d be cool not to have a day job and just do shows.
Well, I don’t think of being a chef as a day job. I love doing that shit – it wouldn’t be no thing to me. I worked in a restaurant from like ’95-’98, and that shit was lovely to me.

What’s your cuisines that you cook?
I can cook anything, but if I had my own restaurant it would be like a fusion thing, like an Asian-American fusion thing.

That’s real tight. That’s wild. So the record company really was taking initiative to dick you?
I think that’s just the nature of the beast and we just got caught up in it.
We didn’t have good enough representation. Red Alert was our initial manager. That’s who we signed our first record company contract with. He didn’t know shit. And we didn’t know shit.

So who got paid back in the day, properly? Ice T?
No. He was doing other things to get his money. Nobody got paid back in our day.
Run DMC, maybe, cause his brother was looking out for them. LL maybe.

So you sold a million records and made $80,000?
On the first album, at that point, we had probably sold about 800,000 records.

What’s that, 10 cents a record?
Yeah, absolutely.

That’s how much they paid you though, right?
A quarter.

You made like a quarter a record?
Mmmhmm. If you’re a superstar you might get a dollar. Or if you’re like a producer, writer, you know what I’m saying? Which we were, but we weren’t set up properly.

The money’s in the live shows.
Even back then it was like that too?
We wasn’t getting shit for live shows either, not compared to what we get now to do these damn shows.

It seems like the independent scene nowadays has come up a lot. I’m sure you like that.
Yeah, cause you can control a majority of your money.

They get paid more per unit too, right?

Chad Bilyeu: They cut out a lot of middle-men. You like any of these new underground dudes that’s out?
Jarobi White: I’m not really familiar, dude, I can’t even lie. If you told me a couple people I’d probably be like “Yeah, yeah.”

Do you listen to any contemporary hip-hop?
Jarobi: No, I don’t really seek it out. If I’m tooting the radio station and I hear something that’s hot, I’m like, “Oh, yeah!”
You know I’m gonna check Common Sense; I’m gonna check the new De La album. I might check for Kayne. You know I’m gonna check for Outkast.

Chad B: You remember the East Coast, West Coast thang? Ya’ll had nothing to do with that.
J: Yeah, we did.

For real? What was going on?
We wasn’t about it, but we had serious beef with Ice Cub. What’s his little crew’s name?

Westside Connection?
Yeah we had beef with them dudes. [Jarobi turns tape off, tells story]
…There’s nothing left to sample, dude. You gotta manipulate the shit. You can’t just straight up sample something – that’s corny anyway.

You don’t really get down with all the synth-produced rap that’s going on?
Dude, if it’s good it’s good.

Yeah, Neptunes is pretty good I’d say. Dre’s good.
Yeah, Dre’s the shit. The rumor is – the RUMOR is – that he hasn’t really touched a beat in years.

I heard that too. I heard the mailman is making all the beats.
I don’t know how true that is.

So do you think you’re going to put out another Tribe record?

Dude, I’m trying my damnedest, and if it happens: Thank me. Thank Jarobi. Let everybody know that I did it. Trust me. That’s all I’m gonna say about that (laughs). But yeah, it’s gonna happen.

That’s what need to happen, man. When was the last show you guys did?


Where was that?

Huntington Beach

How’d that go?

It was a Tribe show, dude, you know what I’m saying? It was tight.
Funny thing was, though, was it was a private show. It was for a company called Argent. The CEO of the company threw a party for all his workers and was like, “I’m gonna have Tribe Called Quest perform. I’m gonna pay Tribe Called Quest to perform at this party.”
I’m just like, “Dude, what even made you think of us?” You know what I’m saying?
He had a private party for all his workers in the middle of some presentation, and we did a show for an hour.
It was the most bizarre thing I’ve ever done.

That’s the first time you’ve ever done something like that?

Yes. That was really bizarre.

That happens, though.

You figure, like 33-35 year-olds: That’s our audience.

It is – people that were in high school and college when ya’ll came out.

These motherfuckers are executives now.

Did you know of Head-Roc before you met him? How’d you guys meet?

Yeah, I’d heard of his group 3LG. I’d heard 3LG, but I didn’t know that Head-Roc was in the group or nothing like that, but I thought that shit was hot. One day, I was coming from the supermarket with a bunch of bags in my hands, and I guess he knew who I was.
He was like, “Yo, man – you need a ride home?”
I got in the car – he never said anything about being into rap music for the longest time.
I just happened to go to his basement one time and I saw the drum that said “3LG,” and I was like, “Oh, shit – you in 3LG?” He’s like, “Yeah.”
I was like, “Dude, your shit is hot.”
On from there, he had a group called the Infinite Loop, and he was like, “Yeah, you should come check out my group.”
I saw them and I was blown away, because it was 12 dudes that MC and all 12 of them were vicious. So I managed them for a little while, but it was just too many dudes. It was impossible to get anything going.
Me and him was always tight, so when he started to do his solo-thing, I said, “Whatever you need me to do for you, I’m going to do it.”
And that was it.

Are there any other good District MCs that you’d recommend?

Noyeek the Grizzly Bear, of course.

He was in Infinite Loop, right?

Asheru: monster. Poemcees; Team Demolition; Shambhala. Poemcees have one of the best stage shows I’ve seen.
There’s a lot of other MCs, but I don’t like them.

There’s gangsta dudes here. I don’t never be hearin ‘em.

I be hearin ‘em.

Do you pay close attention to D.C. hip-hop?

No. I have good business acumen, but I don’t really carry it like that. If I like you I listen to your shit.
I don’t give a fuck if your shit is good – if I don’t like you, fuck you.
There’s some other guys that might be good, but they acted like assholes or whatever – or tried to treat Heady shitty, bein’ on some jealous shit or whatever. Fuck ‘em.

Heady’s the biggest MC in D.C. right now, right?

We’ve done the most – I mean, yeah. These other cats, except for Asheru – Asheru’s been overseas and stuff like that.
As far as doing all the shows that we do? Nobody’s doing all the shows and getting the write-ups in the papers, and stuff like that, that we do, no.

You think Heady’s sold the most records?

I don’t know. I don’t have a good grasp of how many records he’s sold.
I know we sell to, at least, half the people we perform to.

Ya’ll be out the trunk with it?

Yeah, figuratively. And through the website, CD Baby, stuff like that.

They sell ‘em at the Brian Mackenzie Infoshop. I wanted to ask you: when did Heady start playing with punk bands? Was that your doing?

No, it was just – from doing a lot of social-justice things, the only other people who were doing it were punk bands.
And you know at his show he have a lot of fucking energy. And the punk guys really gravitate towards that.
It just kinda happened, you know what I’m saying? I think President Bush is responsible for that, so he was good for something.

He wanted to know what you thought about OJ.
All: (uproarious laughter)
The OJ Trial? OJ Simpson? You really want to know? Is that really one of the questions?
No. I just thought it would be funny to ask. It’s not on the list.
If the glove doesn’t fit you must acquit. … He probably killed her. But, he wasn’t convicted of it, so leave him alone, ‘cause if it was anybody else, of any other shade: “Not guilty is not guilty.”

We get it rough, boy, when we get it: Kobe, Tyson, Tupac

Tell me about somebody who’s not guilty, first. I think all of them – across the board – are guilty of whatever they were convicted of. Except for Mike Tyson: I don’t think Mike Tyson actually pulled somebody’s pants down and tried to rape ’em. I don’t think that he did that, ‘cause he didn’t have to do that.
Kobe, he was just a little strong with her. I don’t think it was like a violent rape type of thing, it was just a thing of him getting his way. They started to have sex in a consensual manner – he just took it further than she wanted to go. That’s what happened with him.
So, he’s guilty. At any point, when she’s like “Nah, nah, nah, nah, nah,” – nah, nah, nah, nah, nah. You know what I’m saying?
He didn’t do that, and he said a lot of nasty shit to her.

I know he’s a hubristic dude.

He really disrespected her. That’s why she’s trying to get him.
Mike Tyson disrespected a girl, like, “No, I’m not walking you downstairs,” but that’s something totally different from Kobe.
Kobe tried to go in the wrong hole and stuff. He tried to take it to the hole too rough. It’s like, “Hold up. You need grease for that. Relax, son.”

That’s going in the paper.

(laughs) Fuck yeah. Put it dude, put it. I don’t care. That’s the wrong hole for that, man. Exit only, baby.

Are there things that you wish you’d done differently, looking back at your career?

(long pause) No, because if I had done things differently, I may not have learned, or be in a position to teach somebody the things that I’ve learned.
You can’t just know shit by osmosis – you gotta have those rough patches to be able to withstand those things.
If you don’t have bad, what are you gonna compare good shit to?

Would you say you have a teacher relationship with Heady?

He would probably say yeah, but I don’t know. I’m sure he learns a lot of stuff from me, but he teaches me a lot of things too.
As far as the music business and stuff like that: Of course.
We’re equals; we’re business partners. It’s not like I’m the boss or he’s the boss.
Anybody who’s been in the music business can teach you a lot of shit, you know?

What do you do as the manager?
I don’t know if this is what a manager is supposed to do, or whatever, but I know my relationship with Heady: Booking shows, picking songs to go on the album, giving him ideas as far as how to actually produce the album, being in the studio recording it, guiding his career – which entails totally different things, from which shirt to put on to which shows to play – you know what I’m saying? For real.

You plot and plan all that?
Yeah, to a degree.

I’m sure ya’ll won’t go to a show in a white T.

If that’s how we feel that day, hell yeah. Definitely. There’s no boundaries. There’s no “We can’t do this, because we’re this.” That would be fake.
If I feel like going onstage wearing a gorilla suit or a clown costume if that’s what I feel like, that’s what I’m gonna do.

Does he turn down a lot of show offers?

We turn down shows if it’s something that we don’t believe in. I’m not gonna get on a stage with Joe Neck Bone and the 15th Street Killers. I’ve turned down some shows with Trick Daddy and shit like that – I can’t really do that with a good conscience.

With Tribe or with Heady?

With Heady. Back in the days Tribe used to do shows with the Geto Boys and shit, dude.

Ya’ll did shows with the Geto Boys!?

I know Face from ’89. We got kicked out of a hotel in Harvey, Illinois, fucking with those dudes.

You serious?
Yeah, before Willie D was even in the group – when it was Ready Red.

I remember that [uproarious laughter from Chad and Jarobi]. That’s wild.
What does hip-hop mean to you?
[long pause] If you had asked me that question when I was 20-years-old, I would have said, “Hip-hop is everything to me. I’ll die for that shit. I live and breathe hip-hop.”
But that’s not really the case anymore. I love hip-hop, don’t get me wrong – it’s partly responsible for the person that I am now.
It’s a tool to my growth, but am I gonna fucking die for some hip-hop beef? Absolutely not.
I love it and I honor it and I respect it, but there’s a lot of other things to life.
It’s a tool that should be used properly.
I can have a hammer and make a table and that’s beautiful, but I can take that same hammer and go out and knock motherfuckers in the head, and that shit is the most violent, ugly thing in the world. That’s how I feel about hip hop – does that make sense?

Yup. I think that was pretty well put.
Have you heard of Ani Difranco?
She has a t-shirt that says, “Every tool is a weapon if you hold it right.”
There you go.
It’s important, though. Hip-hop is the most unifying force in the world. Nothing unifies people more than hip-hop — in the world — nothing. Even sports can be divisive, but you go to a hip-hop show, you’ll see a whole cross-section of humanity.
So, it’s very important – but I’m not dying for shit except my family.

That’s real.

I felt differently about that, though, but we grow and evolve.

When your son gets of age, hip-hop’s still gonna be going, and there’s still gonna be gangstas — ‘cause that’s what they promote. So, he’s 13: He want the new Ruckus Raw Killers. You gonna let him get it?

Yes, but the difference is, I’m gonna sit with him and listen to it and break it down, and let him know what what is…
…I’m the first generation to be raised on hip hop…I remember the first rap records. I remember when there wasn’t no rap records. I remember when there wasn’t no rap on the radio. I remember when, shit, they used to have songs with rap in them, and they’d take the rapper part out in order to play it on the radio – that’s when I grew up.
And, along with that, I know every rapper – from my era and a lot of these kids now. I know everybody, and everybody’s cool with me.

So when ya’ll was coming up, everyone was pretty cool, for the most part?

With us? Yeah. Everybody was cool with Tribe Called Quest. We had the boom-bap. You can’t deny the drums, everybody like that. Not to be cocky. We didn’t run into too many haters.

People ask me, “I don’t know nothing about rap; What should I listen to?” I tell ‘em “Low End Theory.”
Thank you.

What’s the best tour you’ve been on?
With Public Enemy. That Beastie Boys tour was hot, though, our last tour – a lot of memories.
It’s more spot dates, rather than tours. Tours, you know, it’s just city to city.
Oh no, I’m sorry – the dope tour was Tribe Called Quest, Digital Underground, Queen Latifah, and

So was Tupac in that?

Yeah, he was a dancer, dude.
And who else? I think it was Third Bass. That was a hot tour. We had mad fun, cause everybody was cool with each other. We used to have water fights and shit every day, playing pranks and stuff like that. That was cool.

Did hang out with Tupac at all?

Hell yeah. A lot.

What was he like?

When I met him, he was young. He didn’t curse a lot, never said “nigger.” He was a poet, a revolutionary cat. When I saw him change was during that movie “Juice.” They did that up in Harlem, and I was living on 89th St. at the time. I was one of the only people [in the city] that he knew. He used to call me at like 8 in the morning “Yo, bring me a blunt, yo.”
He was a cool guy.
I don’t really know the Makaveli dude, the guns and thug life – I don’t really know that guy.
From what I know of him, he’s a real square dude – meaning good.

What do you do during a Tribe show?

Ab-lib some bullshit, like hype-man.

Why’d you move to D.C.?

I love it here. I tried Atlanta, but it was too slow, and this is close enough to my family in New York where I can get there, but it’s not New York in the middle of the city. It’s a step down, but not all the way down. D.C.’s a good place.

Where do you see hip-hop going?

Everything runs in cycles. The Bush-era is really in effect now. I think it’s going to go back to like it was when it first came out – I think it’s going to go back to conscious hip-hop. It has no choice.
Hip-hop always gives the public what it needs. Now it needs some more positive stuff.
You can already feel the backlashes against the 50 Cents and stuff like that.
People are like, “That’s some bullshit.”
That’s the rumblings on the street, but where it’s different now is that the suburban kids aren’t out on the street – they just see what’s on TV and cling to that.

Who do you think are the most powerful voices in hip-hop today?

Eminem could change the world if he wanted to.
Let’s see….The most powerful voices in hip-hop…Are there any?

I thought Eminem was going to decide the [2004 presidential] election.

I thought he was too.
Puffy has proved to be a much more influential person than I thought he would be.
If Wu-Tang ever got their shit together, they could have a very powerful voice.
That’s all I can really think of now. I mean, no one really believes 50.
Dr. Dre’s a pretty powerful person.
You mean powerful in terms of industry, or you mean powerful, like if he says some shit people are gonna listen to him?


That’s two different questions.
Jay Z’s the most powerful person in hip-hop on both sides. He’s part of so many trends and he’s done so much in the industry and business-wise: He’s the most powerful person.
I always forget about him, but yeah, he’s the most powerful person.
If he ever decided, “Today I’m gonna say something socially relevant,” he would change the whole scope of shit. One record, he would change the whole scope of shit.
He has a quote, and I wish that I was more versed in Jay Z’s shit, but he said something like “I wish I could come out and make every record like Common Sense, but I wasn’t making no dollars, so that’s not common sense,”

Yeah, “I wasn’t making no dollars, so I ain’t sound like Common Sense. Lyrically I be like Talib Kweli.’”
Yeah. And again, that’s, “I can do more with me making a whole bunch of money than with me saying something relative, ‘cause I can help more people than a broke motherfucker yelling from the rooftops – it’s not really the same thing as being rich and being able to give people jobs and stuff like that.”
And I totally understand what he’s saying, but damn, you could mix it up a little bit.

Anything else you want to say to our readers?
Think for yourself, make your own decisions. That’s the biggest advice I can ever give anybody. Don’t be sheep or lemmings.