Rosco P. Coldchain: This Cold World

Four years ago, I spoke to Rosco P. Coldchain on a rushed Arista Records press day. Advance copies of the album were mailed, The Clipse/N.E.R.D. buzz was still white-hot, and the North Philadelphia MC appeared that he was a walk-on starter with Star Trak, having only a few short months barring him from stardom. Those […]

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years ago, I spoke to Rosco P. Coldchain on a rushed Arista Records

press day. Advance copies of the album were mailed, The Clipse/N.E.R.D.

buzz was still white-hot, and the North Philadelphia MC appeared that

he was a walk-on starter with Star Trak, having only a few short months

barring him from stardom. Those months proved devastatingly

crucial. Arista folded, while Rosco caught two gun charges after

reportedly laying somebody out on a Las Vegas casino floor. With the

resulting conviction, it’s only now that Rosco can catch his breath,

again a free man, with a re-spelled name and an album ready.

On a muggy West Philadelphia afternoon, Rosco, covered in non-descript

Ice Cream apparel, welcomes to a pre-production studio

overlooking a busy block. There, the rapper plays over a dozen records,

deeming most of them “cute” or “okay.” Sarcastically humble,

Coldchain’s makings of his Hazardous Life

debut are much deeper, textured, and soulful than what was presented in

2003. With over 135 such songs, perhaps jail can chisel an artist in

the way it caught 2Pac with All Eyez on Me. This might be the

very thing a label wants. On the other hand, with a limited dialogue

with Interscope Records, despite potentially brilliant records, is

Rosco even acknowledged – or worse, exploited? Amin Porter is

a funny, likable man to spend an afternoon with. He’s personable,

spirited and curious. However, when the record button is pushed down,

Porter swivels his chair, leans forward, and transforms into Rosco P.

Coldchain. He’s cold, he’s isolated, and he’s hard to read. Admittedly,

this MC writes what he sees. After all he’s seen in recent years,

Hip-Hop ought to revisit Rosco P., as his music and his attitude might

very well mirror the times. We can’t look at the future without looking at the past.

My first question is what did the prison experience due to your spirit

as an artist?

Rosco P. Coldchain: Wow… It didn’t damper it, I’ll say that much. It

gave me a more realistic vision on life. I’m the type of realistic

rapper that writes everything I see, so it enhanced everything. It gave

me more drive. It was four years ago that you and I last spoke; you

were talking to a lot of people. Arista had mailed out promo CDs.

Looking at Hip-Hop history, there are so many albums that have been so

close to coming out, yet didn’t. What explanation did you get?

Rosco P. Coldchain: We were with Arista. At that time, it was all new

money; it was a whole new relationship with me and Star Trak as

[Arista] artists. Once money gets involved, you’re being looked at as

an artist. It switched up. Nothing changed. Arista [folded], and that’s

what f**ked everything up. For The Clipse and for you…

Rosco P. Coldchain: For everybody. Just me catchin’ a case was a

double-whammy. [The labels] stuffed some of that paper. A lot of my

paper was comin’ from…that whole situation was crazy, man. I just feel

blessed to have another deal, man. I knew I’d be signed to Star Trak,

but I didn’t know if I’d get another deal or not – especially with what

The Clipse was going through, since they opened a lot of doors for me. We had to interview them in 2005 to find out what was

good with you. Nowadays, a rapper going to jail is a publicity machine.

Your entire incarceration was hardly covered. Why? What really happened?

Rosco P. Coldchain: Cases: when you catch one, you catch a bunch of

them. I went on the road. I caught an attempted murder [charge] out in

Las Vegas, and I caught two gun cases after that in Philadelphia. I’m

not gonna really get into it, ‘cause my thing about it is don’t let the

public know. You don’t want to tarnish your reputation. You can know me

as being this real street dude, but I’m not gonna be the

run-of-the-mill that’s gonna sit there and brag about X, Y, and Z. It’s

bad enough that [Black people] are already being looked at as we are by

certain individuals; I don’t want to promote that whole situation with

me. Yeah, s**t happens, we went through it. We live in the Tony Yayo era, where unheard rappers

leave jail famous. When you came out and were shopping, was it hard?

Rosco P. Coldchain: I already had the deal before I went in. Arista folded.

Rosco P. Coldchain: Okay, I was at Interscope. Me and a few other

artists went over to Interscope. Star Trak has a situation there. To

make a long story short, Kelis and The Clipse went to Jive; we went to

Interscope. They’re f**ked, I’m f**ked, we f**ked. [Jive] promoted [The

Clipse and Kelis]. What’s your situation now?

Rosco P. Coldchain: I’m with Star Trak. The realization is business is business. We’re workin’. The music you just played me was bananas. Are you still tied into Interscope?

Rosco P. Coldchain: I’m still with Interscope. It’s comin’. S**t. The album’s comin’. Really, that’s it. Do you have a lot of dialogue with Interscope?

Rosco P. Coldchain: Nah. We got our inside tracks with ‘em. Interscope,

they got a large roster; you’ve got to make your imprint. Do we have an

imprint? Yeah, we definitely made our noise to where there’s certain

individuals of importance that know us. But…it’s 50 [Cent] mania now. When you were locked up, how did your writing – quantity and quality differ from now that you’re out?

Rosco P. Coldchain: When you go to jail, you think deep. Your thought process is so deep, ‘cause that’s all you have

to do. They sit your ass to think about what you’ve done. As a result,

you think about a lot of s**t. It enhances your thinking process. A lot

of the times, it’s kinda crazy… all the material from ’03, was written

in jail from before. So it’s like… it’s crazy… but every time I go to

jail for a nice amount of time, I get a good amount of the album of the

done. Listening to your recent tracks, the verses are dense with similes, images, metaphors… do you read a lot?

Rosco P. Coldchain: Yeah. When I’m reading now at this particular moment is Robert Greene’s 33 Strategies of War. I read James Patterson, all that crazy s**t. I read a lot of s**t – anything I can get my hands on, I read it. Looking back at 2003, your album got me excited. You had

Kanye, Premier, Alchemist, so on. Can you listen to that material

today? How does it feel?

Rosco P. Coldchain: Yeah. A lot of that s**t, I’m gonna put on this

album. It’s the same situation [DMX] had, Lupe Fiasco. It’s still

fresh; people haven’t heard it. Would I lead with a single from ’03?

No. But a lot of that s**t I still feel good about. How has the prison situation affected your day-to-day

life and your relationships? You played me some songs touching on that…

Rosco P. Coldchain: I’m just cold, man. I’m cold. In what way?

Rosco P. Coldchain: You grow numb to a lot of s**t that’s done to you.

A lot of times, when you’re younger, you do things repetitiously, even

though you know it’s wrong. I was stuck in that situation – being nice,

kind-hearted, doing things well, spending well. Hustlin’, guns, getting

locked up over and over again, I’m trying to slow down. Habits.

The older you get, the number you get. When you’re young, you’re

oblivious. You say a lot of dumb s**t. I’m a grown ass f**kin’ man now,

there’s no time to be laughin’ anymore. Yeah, a joke here, a joke

there, but s**t is really serious out there. The world is serious out

there. Really, there’s no more games. There’s a lot of people that would say a cold heart is

better, so you’re not setting yourself up for hurt or disappointment.

Still, is there a part of you that yearns for that naivety or whatever

again and wants to go back?

Rosco P. Coldchain: There’s parts of me that goes back. F**k “want it,”

I went. I’m still learnin’. That’s my goal: to be a cold motherf**ker.

I’m good. [Laughs] I’m trying to learn how to not let certain s**t get

to me. Only emotional n***as… that’s the only motherf**kas that’s in

jail or in bad situations, not thinking. When you think with your heart

instead of your mind, a lot of times, you think wrong. You do dumb

s**t, impulsive s**t. I’m gonna play devil’s advocate. I like what you’re

saying, but in terms of the music, emotion propels Hip-Hop. 2Pac was

emotional; he sold. A lot of this stuff on the radio lacks emotion,

it’s lifeless. What you played me had emotion…

Rosco P. Coldchain: My music is totally different! You’ve got to be a

character. The music is a reflection of you, but my rap name isn’t Amin

Porter; my name is Rosco P. Coldchain, ‘cause that’s what I want to

give you – I want to give you some

of Amin Porter. You can’t have all of Amin Porter, ‘cause some of Amin

Porter only belongs to Amin Porter. That’s what paparazzi and certain

people don’t understand – fanatics. I want some of me to be me.

Motherf**kers, the label – they’ve been tryin’ to get a whole heap of

s**t out of me. “Yo, you need to talk! You’ve got to tell ‘em your

life!” I’m not tellin’ you every f**kin’ thing in my life! There’s

certain s**t I don’t want out there. Who’s my [psychologist]? Who’s gonna help me? Do you know feel that the rap industry is designed to keep you cold or numb?

Rosco P. Coldchain: They don’t want a person…that’s a great question!

Damn. That’s a good one…You know what? Yeah. Yeah, because if you’re

the type of individual that writes everything you see – you’re gonna

have to go through certain s**t to say s**t. That’s the s**t that they

want, and that’s the s**t you’ve got to give ‘em. Damn right! Yeah.

They want you to stay there. It’s all about business. It’s not on no

White man/Black man thing, but they want you to stay down ‘cause that’s

what they promote to the masses; that’s what the masses like. You’ve

got to stay oppressed, f**ked up, so you can talk about what you see.

That’s what you do, ‘cause that’s what they like. If you don’t do that,

you’re a tax write-off. What can your fans do to expedite your process?

Rosco P. Coldchain: [Chuckles] S**t. Really, fans…hit my MySpace, get my s**t poppin’! That’s really that. I respect the fact that I don’t see a million Rosco P.

mixtapes out. As a matter of fact, I haven’t seen one. Why? Especially

given your situation.

Rosco P. Coldchain: [Laughs] It’s corny! You’ll drain yourself out.

You’ve got to value and respect scarcity. I really play it low-key, so

when I come out, it’s a branded thing. Like, “Wow. Where you been? I

been waiting for this s**t” type thing. I’ve been recently talking to

see what’s going on… With a few exceptions, the only mixtapes worth having in

2005 and 2006 were the Re-Up Gang mixtapes. As a fellow Philly dude,

how did it feel to watch Ab Liva and Sandman get everybody talking in a

spot, that in 2003, was yours with a bullet?

Rosco P. Coldchain: I was cool. Of course, initially, you sit there and

you wonder…what are they thinking? Everybody is definitely on a cool,

family-oriented vibe. Those are two people that I genuinely love. They

got down with the crew. Their situation isn’t my situation; we’re all

in different situations. Go for it; I’m happy for you. What’s your relationship like with Pharrell, now?

Rosco P. Coldchain: Great question. Pharrell’s on his own planet. He’s

rich; he’s in his own zone. Is there long-distance love? Yeah. [Laughs]

The rich hang with the rich; the poor hang with the poor. Sometimes the

rich can hang with the poor, if that’s what they decide to do. In his

particular case, he’s workin’. At this particular moment, it’s boss and

employee; I’m the employee and he’s definitely the boss. To keep it funky, do you feel that your people at Star

Trak are working to push your project through at Interscope?

Rosco P. Coldchain: Certain people, yeah; certain people, no. It’s a 50/50 thing. Did it affect your buzz to appear on “Chinese New Year” on The Clipse album last year?

Rosco P. Coldchain: It was cool. They

were keeping my name alive. Is Star Trak keeping my name alive? Certain

people. Certain important people. Really, how I see it, it all boils

down to the boss, really. If he didn’t have love for me then I wouldn’t

be there, thinking, “Okay, we still need him as the marquis figurehead

for this whole thing.” Yeah. Certain people don’t f**k with me, certain

people do.