Rugged Intellect: Rugged, Never Smooth

Hailing from Montreal, Canada, Rugged Intellect is pushing his way to the industry by any means necessary. Growing up as an outcast for not being the “right” color in a neighborhood dominated by African Americans and Latinos, Rugged Intellect has broke the color barrier to be recognized as a Hip-Hop MC. The first deal for […]

Hailing from Montreal, Canada, Rugged Intellect is pushing his way to the industry by any means necessary. Growing up as an outcast for not being the “right” color in a neighborhood dominated by African Americans and Latinos, Rugged Intellect has broke the color barrier to be recognized as a Hip-Hop MC. The first deal for this MC on Artistic Parole in 2004 fell through stemming from professional differences. After hooking up with producer Adam Sampler he eventually caught the eye of East Coast producer Domingo. With Domingo by his side, Rugged Intellect has developed his craft and now waiting his turn to be announced in the Hip-Hop ring.

Lines like “I’m not the best alive/but when I grab the mic and spit you could have sworn it was holy the way I testify and I make example of rappers/that build my rights of passage,” have grabbed the attention of the industry and shown his lyricism at the same time. He has records with Kool G Rap and Ras Kass along with the numerous mix tapes he has been featured on. His album, The Renaissance LP, is complete and getting ready to be released. From so called beef with Sean Price to street videos with Ras Kass, we get the scoop from the man that is making Montreal a household name. You are from Montreal, Canada. What’s the Hip-Hop scene like there?

Rugged Intellect: The scene in Montreal in not as developed as other places across the world. Obviously not as much as New York, so an artist like myself trying to get a buzz going on has to go to New York and L.A., to make those connections outside and bring it back home in order to build that scene because like I said, the scene here is underdeveloped. We don’t have any Hip-Hop radio stations, very little shows go down and very little opportunity for industry exposure. You got your small open mics and things of that nature, but if you’re really trying to make moves in the industry then you have to out source and bring it back home to show people it’s possible to do it. What actually pushed you into becoming an MC and who influenced you?

Rugged Intellect: It’s crazy, like being outcasted for being a certain ethnicity it was a reverse because the neiborhood I grew up in, the majority of people were African American and Latino and myself, I’m Moroccan and German. So I’m of a fair complexion and was considered an outcast most of my life. Once I heard Hip-Hop, I was like “Damn!” I don’t feel like an outcast no more because me hearing a record about, my moms is on welfare, my dad is gone, I don’t got a job, and I don’t got no money. I was like hold up, that’s something that related to me before I new what Hip-Hop was. I was Hip-Hop before I knew what Hip-Hop music was. It was all around me as a child, so now I’m like I was a part of Hip-Hop. When I was seven years old I had the lines on the side of my head like MC Hammer and things of that nature. I recall my siblings have Public Enemy tapes, Run-DMC and stuff like that. As far as MCs that influenced me, first and for most the god Rakim. Rakim plays a major part in my music and the approach that I take. Kool G Rap, Big Daddy Kane, Big Pun, Nas of course, and Ras Kass out West, who is the best lyricist of all time in my opinion. So the experiences around me have shaped me to be the person I am and they just happen to coincide with Hip-Hop. So that supplied a medium for me to speak my story to the world. One thing I let people know off the bat is this s**t wasn’t a cake walk for me and I’m not a rich kid with a million dollar budget. Everything I do is from the bottom up and it is a blessing to be here today doing what I do. You have the mixtape circuit and the Internet buzzing right now, so how do you feel this has helped along your career to this point?

Rugged Intellect: Definitely the mixtapes and the Internet have helped me to get my buzz growing because as I said earlier, where I’m at, there are not a lot of opportunities. So I can be on the Internet and people hear my music and their instantly drawn to it. The way that I feel, as humble as I can be, to me the problem is not the material or the music. It’s just a matter of getting people to listen to it. I feel that when people listen to my music, they will feel it. That is why the Internet is a big vehicle for independent artist to get their s**t out there. If you’re from Alaska for example, there is no other way to get your music out there. I’ m from a place just like Alaska, Canada. So the Internet is a weapon in my arsenal for me to publicize what I do and let people know who I am. The Renaissance LP should be rapping up, what’s the status on the project?

Rugged Intellect: The Renaissance LP is wrapped up and we are in the mixing stages right now. Once we finish mixing we will begin mastering in New York. The LP is going to drop whether we have distribution or not on April 24, 2007. We are in discussions with distribution companies as we speak, but nothing is firm. The LP will be coming out on my label Renaissance Music, in conjunction with Expertism Music Group which is owned by Adam Sampler and of course my mentor Domingo with Deranged music. It is all three of use putting our minds together and putting out a project that we feel is hot. For those who don’t know who’s on the album as far as collaborations, I got records with Kool G Rap, Ras Kass, Heltah Skeltah, Rustee Juxx of Boot Camp, A.G. and Party Arty of D.I.T.C., AL skillz, R.A. the Rugged Man and Solomon Childs of Theodore Unit. As far as production goes, we got Domingo of course, he is co executive producing the project with me and Adam Sampler. Buckwild, Memo along with local producers apocalyptic, Fat Sack. If you like classic beats, classic lyrics, and classic colabos this is the perfect project. Cool, How do you feel about the commercial rap the radio is pushing these days?

Rugged Intellect: To me it’s like you got to have commercial radio to have “underground” radio. One can not exist without the other. I just wish that “underground” material would get as much exposure as commercial material. All we see is a one sided thing were all that is being pushed out is more and more commercial material. Then again that is the responsibility of the corporations that own these artist and them getting money that way. They are not trying to push that real Hip-Hop s**t. I don’t have anything against commercial music, but I’m not going to say I listen to Young Jeezy all day. I just wish real Hip-Hop could get as much exposure. I think Nas’s “Hip Hop is Dead” is instrumental in bring back that type of Hip Hop. Who better to do it than the god Nasir? I got a question everyone is dying to ask, Sean Price, what is your relationship with him and what’s up with the YouTube beef? Was that put out to create a buzz in the street?

Rugged Intellect: [Laughs] I’m glad you caught that, because Sean Price is a real stand up dude. Me and him are real cool and I was introduced to him through Domingo. We have worked together on a couple of tracks together. That YouTube video was all a joke. That video was recorded at a studio session in which we were just finished working on a record. I told Sean Price there were a lot of people who wanted to speak about me in a negative light. I told him to get on video saying “F**k Rugged Intellect!” and get people talking. You noticed I walked in when he was talking toward the end of the video. I’m like “Is that what you want to hear?” At times, you are focused on your s**t but you got naysayers trying to knock you down from what you are doing. So that was an instrument to get people talking. The fans and the people that know me loved it because they knew it was a joke. The haters got mad and that was my intension. Ras Kass, You, and “Next Dose,” what’s up with the video?

Rugged Intellect: Yeah, well we are shooting the video in a few days in New York because we both happen to be there at the same time. It’s not going to be a crazy budget type video; it’s more of a street video that will be posted on YouTube and other websites. Basically we are doing this because the budget to do something that would be posted on television is not feasible at this time. The track is on Domingo’s album dropping March 13, 2007 called The Most Underrated. Make sure to cop Domingo’s album and Rass Kass’s album. What else do you have for our readers that you would like to get across?

Rugged Intellect: Basically everything I do is from the ground up. I am inspired by the best and fortunate to be surrounded by the best. All I am trying to do is represent Hip-Hop in a positive light. I’m not here to perpetrate, propagate images that don’t represent me. I am just trying to represent good Hip-Hop forever. That is my ultimate goal. There are so many people that rap out there and want to put out CDs, but to me, it is more important to cement yourself a little legacy. I think coming out of Canada is going to help me achieve that because I’ve got my own lane. Coming from Canada you don’t know what to expect. People have misconceptions that we live in igloos and all we do is play hockey. That is fine with me, but I know my life is not like that. A lot of this stuff would not be possible without the help of my mentor, Domingo, one of the most underrated producers in Hip-Hop history. He needs to get his due.