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Name: Adam Bernard
Home: Fairfield, Connecticut, United States
About Me: Entertainment journalist with 20 years of experience. Supporter of indie music. Lover of day baseball, and B-movies. Part time ninja. Kicked cancer’s ass. My memoir, ChemBro, is out now!
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Artist Of The Week – Rugged N Raw
Monday, November 12, 2007

When an MC hits the stage wearing a button down shirt, tie and suspenders it tends to grab one’s attention. That’s exactly what first made me take notice of Rugged N Raw last month when I saw him perform at a local club in NYC. I’d quickly find that the man also has some seriously nice skills on the mic. A native New Yorker, Rugged N Raw has been working extensively with DJ Static, a man most known for laying down beats for the likes of Talib Kweli and Rakim, and last year released Another Level, an album that’s been described as simultaneously witty and lyrically tight. This week I caught up with Rugged N Raw to find out more about his music, his unique style, and what it means to “let the ugly out.”

Adam Bernard: You know I have to start off by asking about the dress code you have while on stage. Talk to me about your style and what inspired it.
Rugged N Raw: The suspender image actually started off as a joke. I was doing a beat battle in Newark and I wanted to do something different for that day. I’m not really sure why, I just felt I had to do it. I originally was gonna have a full suit, but that is a little common, so I used the suspenders and the image was well received, especially with the ladies. I had my Axe spray and everything. I won that battle too! From there I wanted to try it again at a show. It went over well, so I modified the look a little and the rest is history.

Adam Bernard: Other than your personal style, what do you feel makes you unique as an artist and someone that people will point to and say “man, he’s good?”
Rugged N Raw: I got a strange sense of humor, and a strange way of thinking, and I try to put that into the music. When you put yourself into what you do no one can sound like you. I like to take chances with my music. So many people are talented, but you can get similar topics from a lot of artists out there. They are too safe. On top of that I wanna make each line as dope as possible. I try to be entertaining while maintaining top notch lyricism, especially in a field where people pick one or the other.

Adam Bernard: When you listen to a rap album what do you feel makes one good and how do you feel you address all those concerns with your own work?
Rugged N Raw: Originality in the lyrics is number one. There is no doubt everyone has their influences, but you have to translate it in a way that still lets your individuality shine through. Number two is the beats. They have to help the artist paint the picture of what he or she is trying to say. I try to listen to music whenever I can. I compare Hip-Hop to something totally different, like oldies music. I think oldies music was very topical. You can do a song about anything and it can be a hit. Hip-hop is very scared to try something new.

Adam Bernard: There are a couple of songs on your most recent release, Another Level, that can certainly be classified as trying something new. Let’s start with “Let The Ugly Out.” What does it mean to let the ugly out? How does one do it, what does it accomplish and when was the last time you let your ugly out?
Rugged N Raw: To "Let The Ugly Out" means to let go of your worries. That is open to interpretation, but for the most part, people worry too much about what others think. There is a difference between self-respect and being overly cautious. I was a very quiet kid, and in some ways I still am, but since I started performing regularly I have been able to shake some of it off and march to the beat of my own drum. So whatever it is that you wanna do but don't because you're worried about other people that you probably ain't gonna see ever again, let it go. Make yourself happy. You only have one life.

Adam Bernard: You also have a really creative song titled “RNR’s Advice Column.” Tell me about the concept behind it, how you chose which questions to address, and if you plan on continuing this theme throughout future albums.
Rugged N Raw: That was a fun song to write. I actually came up with that idea sitting on the train reading a paper. I saw a Dear Abby and thought that would be brilliant. The beat I used for it wasn't even originally planned to be used for that, but it actually was perfect. The questions were meant to go from conventional to weird on purpose. I felt the more wacky the situation the more interesting the answer can be. If there is one thing I can't stand it's other cats talking about how they bring something different and sound just like everyone else. I took the whole trying something new one step further. I would like to continue that, but it may not be on the next CD. I don't wanna pigeonhole myself into that. On a CD I sold before Another Level I did a song called "6 O'Clock News," which follows a similar guideline. If I do too many of those, people will assume I can't try anything new. It'll be ready when it's ready.

Adam Bernard: Finally, did you choose Another Level as the title of your album because you’re such a huge Blackstreet fan?
Rugged N Raw: HA HA HA. Very funny! No. I called it that because it fit where I felt I was taking music. I want to show you can mix being creative and being lyrical with being catchy. Hip-Hop is now broken down into many different sub-genres. You can't throw my project into any. I'd like to see you try!

Related Links

Website: ruggednraw.com
MySpace: myspace.com/ruggednrawrnr


posted by Adam Bernard @ 7:42 AM  
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