By Dana Bell
Hassani Kwess won’t tell me the punchline for his George Bush joke, which is okay because we talk about a lot of other interesting things like the Business in LA, whether or not rhyming is good, and his new experimental album. We both agreed that this was a great interview.
Do you have any bits you would do for stand up?
Yeah I have this bit about George Bush and beef jerky.
Can you tell it to me?
No, I’m still working on it.
It sounds like a good premise. I don’t know what it is, but I like the sound of it.
It has something to do with a prostitute and apple juice.
That sounds amazing.
Yup, I’m getting there.
If you ever give up on comedy but you still want to have that bit out in the world, you should email it to me.
Oh I definitely want it out–I’ll write it for you.
Do you ever write comedy songs?
Um, yeah, I had this one called “I think I could beat Roy Jones.”
Who’s Roy Jones?
Roy Jones is a boxer (to the mic) she didn’t just say that. She did not just say who Roy Jones is.
Oh yeah, really big surprise that I don’t follow boxing.
He’s just a really brawly black guy.
And you could beat him up?
Nah I didn’t beat him up in the song. I was doing something first but then he knocked me out cold and everybody was talking about me and I was really sad.
It sounds like–I had a dream the other night that I was friends with Drake and we were really good friends and we were joking and he was making fun of me because I hadn’t shaved my legs and I was wearing shorts and I was like “Hey, it’s my body I’ll do what I want,” and Drake was like “Alright, that’s fine,” and then we just laughed a bunch and I woke up and felt really good inside.
Those usually do that; those usually make you warm inside.
Yeah, I thought, oh, that was a nice world that I lived in where I was friends with Drake.
Being friends with Drake is probably fun, besides the times he wants to talk to you about his female problems.
Which, let’s be honest, would probably be 90% of the time.
90%…I’m going to say this about this recording, please, do not Drake and drive; you will end up at your ex-girlfriend’s house.
Do not Drake and drive! Yes! Oh I have a pun question for you
Big pun or–
No, wordplay pun. Have you ever considered changing your stage name to a Tribe Called Kwess?
No. (Pause). It’s a good line in the song, though.
Do you ever get tired of rhyming?
This is the interview, these are the interview questions right?
Oh nice. Do I ever get tired of rhyming? Oh yes, yeah, I do, I do. That’s because I have this qualm about Dr. Seuss about how he always rhymes. Although I think the world would be a better place if everybody rhymed when they spoke.
Because it would make things more fun, like puzzles. I mean like, when you hear a rhyme, it’s like, oooh. You don’t expect it; you think “that’s nice.” It must be true because it rhymes.
Right, it must be true and it feels good and whole and satisfying
An apple a day keeps the doctor away, must be true.
Yeah. It has to be.
You know what, I do like rhyming because I do this thing, where I’ll think of the last word I’m going to say in the rhyme and then think of a whole bunch of words that rhyme with it like how, judicial official nuticial.
What does nuticial mean?
Oh that’s even better–
Right it’s two words, it’s a compound rhyme.
Whenever I try and rhyme I get just the one syllable words rhyming with other one syllable words. That’s why you’re professional and I just have to tell jokes.
If you weren’t here at this photo-shoot interview, what do you normally do on Sundays?
Sundays I like to say that I go to church, but I don’t. Sorry. I’d probably be making a beat, and that’s not just to be saying it for the interview, I’m just really on mine, duh, probably trying to–well not trying to but having sex, maybe. I like that part. Good head on a Sunday afternoon. Nice head a day keeps the doctor away–there, it’s true.
Well you can put anything there and it’s true because it’s the “a day” part that rhymes … well that sounds like a great Sunday.
It is a great Sunday, you get an apple and some head.
Never see the doctor.
What! You will never see the doctor.
Are you based in DC still or are you just here?
I’m roaming, I’m from the city of course, from the city through and through, NE bred, and that’s me.
You still out here?
Right now it’s like–you gotta venture out. I just came back from LA.
How was LA? That’s exciting.
LA is LA. It’s — you gotta be careful out there.
Cause if you ain’t got it, man they will throw you down. They will chew you up and spit you out, that city is no joke.
Yeah. That’s what I’ve heard
Why you think I’m back here? I couldn’t take it. I was like yo–I’m from the city, but damn. Oh my gosh, they give you hopes and dreams and just crush them. They’ll give them to you just to crush them if you ain’t ready.
How long were you out there?
I was out there, I would say altogether about a year and a half.
That’s a lot of time to be putting into it.
Yeah it was a lot, I’m going to take my fuckin jacket off I’m hot as a bitch.
I want to get back to this LA thing–but also I want to ask about your swim trunks.
My swim trunks, that’s my thing, I wear my shorts over my pants, it’s not one of those things where it’s like man I want to be so different, I just want to be different so I want to do something so completely idiotic, no I like the way it –I thought it was fucking interesting, I like the way it looks–I think it’s cute. Fuck. Shit. Ass.
No it is, I mean it’s like a canvas that you’re wearing over your jeans. Do you wear just regular swim trunks in the summer?
I wear swim trunks any time. I don’t really want to live by those guidelines of what I should wear, it’s bad enough that I gotta live guidelines about whether or not I should flash innocent bystanders or something, so I can’t do that, I might get in trouble.
Now that we know that the alternative is that you would be arrested for indecent exposure, you’re actually helping everybody. Okay so you’re in LA for a year and a half and it didn’t pan out
It’s just like LA right now is a little too fast for me. I took what I took from it, like the creativity and stuff that I made out there, but I’m more comfortable right now at home, doing what I do, making beats. Like I just think I took the creative aspect from it. LA gave me some juice. I love LA but, the people.
It’s business, but it’s not just business, like business is different from greed. Greed will say anything to get you out the room, and that’s the stuff that I couldn’t take. And I was one of the people like, you’re not going to talk to me like that, you’re not going to treat me like that. So, they didn’t like it, they didn’t see that they could make money off of me, or do whatever you know what I’m sayin so it’s like whatever. I just hope to get to a place where I can help my future loved ones, take care of myself, my future kids,
What do you have on deck?
What do I have on deck? You know what’s funny is Segway between swim shorts and on deck-
That’s true! That’s unintentional.
Very unintentional, but we clicking’ right now.
Let me see I gotta project. So amazing. It’s like the best shit that I’ve done, very experimental project. Kind of like when Common came out with Electric Circus; I don’t know if you know it… the people out there will know what I’m talking about.
But I got this project, it’s gonna be so crazy. I did everything myself besides two tracks where I decided to go out outside with production but everything is all me, no rap appearances, no outside production besides those two tracks, and I really just this time around I just aired out everything from the beginning of the project to the end, everything, where I’ve been at, cause I’ve been gone. I’ve been gone.
Like, people that was feeling me back then, they’re not gonna be checking for me now, so they’re not going to read this right away anyway, but I got that project, I was addressing a lot of being gone, it was a lot of bullshit, for everything, for where I was mentally and emotionally to not having a place to record at first because of falling out with a couple people. I got that, I got some production on some other projects, with some other artists I can’t really speak on that right now, because it’s not really set in stone, I got a feature on a project by an artist that’s relatively big, especially to the underground following, but I’ll just let that be a surprise, too—I can tell you after.
OK, it’ll be off the record.
Off the record, I’ll tell you after if you want to know.
I do! Because I want to feel like I know private information that the public doesn’t have access to.
Sorry, it’s gonna be amazing.
I got that coming and then when it drops hopefully because it’ll bring me back to when I was, when I did that feature with Asher Rosh, Pabst and Jazz, the first track, the title track, shout out to Ash by the way, Chuck English, Blended Babies, I got that going on, I’m working on production. Really on this project I’m going to focus on production.
So then the new album is like, when you say experimental do you mean musically, compositionally, or–
All of it, different subject matter. I got a song where I talk about a story, but I talk about it in a very Quentin Tarantino fashion. So I say the end of the story—not necessarily the end of the story, but I say the middle of the story first, the end of the story in the middle, and then the beginning of the story at the end.
But it’s like, it’s three different characters in it, and they co-relate, and by the end of the verse I’m rounding everything out and you find out how they relate, so you find out that it’s so-and-so’s parent, or this whatchamacallits sister, or why this happens. So I say the first verse, but then in the second verse I say rewind back to a different perspective of somebody else in the story, so I say rewind back.., so it all rounds out.
The subject matter is crazy; I touch on a lot of personal things, a lot of personal subject matter. Talk about it first, because as a human we all go through personal things. That’s different, the composition is different because at this point I just wanted to do whatever the hell I wanted to, I just wanted to, if I wanted to stop rapping at one point, bring in a bridge, but then half way through the bridge I’ll start rapping another verse, or I’ll completely change the beat and then purposefully make the snares off-beat and then rap when the snares are hitting, if I wanted to do that.
Or if I wanted to take a jazz record, completely drop everything and then reconstruct the sample of the jazz rap sample and completely make it dubstep, like instead of the horn you’ll hear the synth going, so I really just wanted to show that my mind was all over the place on the project. The project is not all over the place, but it’s experimental in that and it’s experimental in the beats of course, the beats really course into with the verses.
Well that sounds awesome. How long have you been rapping?
Since I was, since I was ten, because I was ten years old.
If you’ve been doing it for so long, you’ve been following the rules for fourteen years and now you’re starting to fuck around…
Yeah I’m really fucking around with it.
Just go fucking crazy.
Cool! Well I think that that was a great interview
I think that was a wonderful interview. I was entertained.