Pancho Rucker has been here before. His new album, Kurt Cobain Music, follows a long string of releases: From The Dirt To The Throne, FUQ, I'm Better Than You On Ur Sh*t Volumes 1 and 2, The Kim Jong Il Mixtape, F*ck The Radio, and No Bullsh*t Allowed. The St. Louis native has learned the ins and outs of hip-hop in this city in his time, and he credits his hometown for exposing him to all kinds of music and instilling in him a relentless work ethic. But he knows there's work to be done here, too. "We are not working together or supporting our scene as entertainers or consumers," he says.
Kurt Cobain Music has Rucker tired of apathy, of passing the blame, of accepting frivilous music. He delivers his passionate verses over beats (many of which he produced himself) that draw from a huge range of influence, from rock to soul to classical. Listen below and read the rest of our interview with him.
Kiernan Maletsky: In what way did Kurt Cobain inspire this project.
Pancho Rucker: Actually Nirvana inspired the entire project with the deep rooted subject matter that they always talked about. From love to pain, even to politics. And the more dark undertones of the songs were more tied to Kurt's genius and ultimately his demise.
Where and how did you find the producers for this project? I saw they're from all over the place.
Well I am the main producer on this project. I did ten of the sixteen tracks (not counting the two skits). I just don't like putting Pancho Rucker beats on everything. I'd rather put a company stamp on it. However, Trifeckta turned me on to 14KT in Detroit. I reached out to his people and I got his blessing. And I came across Ola Beats from Italy through YouTube. I contacted him and he immediately wanted in.
What do you think is the role of emotion in writing music?
The role of emotion is huge in music. Emotion is what makes you want to party, laugh, cry, fight, make love, etc. If there is no emotion in your song why do you make music?
How do you think being in St. Louis has helped your music career and development as an artist?
Being from St. Louis has helped me because it taught me about the independent grind of it all. We, as St. Louis artist, really have to bust our butts to make $1 literally. Also being from the middle of the map you can get a taste of all genres from all areas unlike the coast or down south.
How do you think being in St. Louis has hurt your music career and development as an artist?
This is a touchy question so I'll answer as honest as possible without stepping on any toes. Yes St. Louis as a hip-hop scene has been a hindrance to my and a lot of artist's careers. We have a station that does not support its homegrown talent -- that has been proven by the cancellation of STL Home Jamz -- and plays nothing but the trash of the industry for the most part. The separation of the backpacker crowd and the commercial crowd is ever-present, when it is nothing but music with metaphors or music with a good beat. We are not working together or supporting our scene as entertainers or consumers, venues don't give hip-hop a chance when the metal shows are just as rowdy, and the crabs in a barrel mentality is too much. In other cities that I have been to the indie talent are the superstars there, and the radio and local scene recognizes them as such. We claim that we want join St. Louis together but no one is stepping to the plate and that is the reason all the artists that made it from here actually left St. Louis to get it, as far a development that comes with experience and practicing your craft.
Who are some of your favorite artists, local or national (or international)?
Jay-Z, Nirvana, System Of A Down, Biggie, Pac, TIP, Tyler The Creator, Skrillex, TechN9ne, The 808 n Heartbreaks Kanye, Lauryn Hill, Beriut, Amy Winehouse, Issac Hayes, Eminem, Project Pat, J. Sloan, Lil Smurf, Trajik and Drake to name a few.