posted: 07-31-04
interview : tadah
Okay, please introduce yourself.
Hasbeen nomad, rapper Sankofa.

Sankofa at the wheel of steel
Aka Gay Godless something, something? Right?
How right you are. The Gay Homeless God - a name given to me by JON?DOEzeemious during the White Collar Criminal Sessions and duly shouted on out our "Theme Song" - found on the CDs that are out of print or the files cats find on whatever replaced Napster - along with various other inside jokes.
I'd explain the reasoning behind the name, but there really isn't much of one beyond my having a huge beard combined with a tendency to rock low budget/free clothes. Hell, most of my wardrobe was free. I miss my Young Bleed "My Balls And My Word" tee shirt.
Any crew affiliations we should know about?
Introduction to NIMH please.
A group of cats who, with the exception of yours truly, were rapping before finding the internet a useful place to convene with other like-minded individuals. Corporate baller aka the rapper formerly known as Spon - of Double Helix, whoo ha, JON?DOE, Kashal-Tee and that homeless dude. Friends from Toledo, San Luis Obispo, Sweden and - at that time -Minnesota who decided to get beyond the realm of posting rimes as a crew and making some tracks. The crew has since been whittled down to Kash, JON? and myself.
So where are you from? You gotta rep your hood.
I live in Fort Wayne, Indiana. It's been about 2 1/2 years, making it the longest I've stayed in one place for the past 7 years.
What brought you to Fort Wayne?
I'd been travelling a lot, spent a year and a half doing that music stuff in California, hiked 660 miles of the Appalachian Trail and was then crashing on the couches of friends and family out in California. Greyhound gets the lugnuts. Long story short, my Uncle thought I was using and dealing coke and that seemed as good a time as any to return to the midwest where I had some sane family.
How is life there?
What do we need to know about you?
That I really enjoy making songs with my friends and that if I got as many accolades for rapping as I did substitute teaching I'd actually be earning some money from this rap thing. Public libraries are bonsai. Free fud is the bonsai gonzaga and I probably need to quit shooting hoops cause my left achilles keeps bugging me. I watch too many flicks - borrowed from the library - and have inhaled my unfair share of mystery novels between scanning the globe for the red and gold Diamond Turfs that I'd never buy because they'd be too expensive.
You're a teacher? What grade?
preK-5th grade. I accidentally got some middle school and high school special ed classes earlier on in my subbery days, but I prefer working with younger kids.
What would you like to tell us about you, that we probably don't care to know? (smile)
My original trail name during hiking was Sock in the Hole. Use your imagination, I'll say nothing more than "no toilet paper for the orange trowel alert".
Any other fun facts about you?
Shoes are evil. Discovering that I could buy shoes on ebay for cheaper is even more evil, you might say it's the evillest even.
Some cats might rap better than me, but I'm ill with the toothpicks.
Come on, ever rapper thinks of himself that he's the best, you can't say that you're not the best.
I used to be all full of fire with a big chip on my shoulder wondering why the hell my friends and I weren't getting recognized when we were obviously just as talented, but it got old fast. There are so many different measures of success and talent that can be weighed and the process of measure was wearing me down. I still hone my craft and try to work the words more efficiently, but it's more for the sake of seeing what I can do than proving myself to anyone else. I'm at the point where I'm satisfied to know that my friends and I are dope. Now it's just a matter of getting the music of my friends and I out there.
I hear you don't curse in your songs. Heavy D is proud of you. But why?
I wanted to flip it. All the parental advisory stickers - dopest being Ice-T's from "The Iceberg" - were for the usage of certain words. I took it as a challenge to see how demented I could get my verses without cursing. A lot of times, the words serve as nothing more than syllabic filler and I didn't want to be lazy with my words. After Kash gave me some grief about not cursing in songs but doing so in day to day life, I cut out the day to day dosage.
So, what are you plugging right now?
Follicles, this getting older thing brings forth white beard hairs which helps counterbalance the effect.
Uhm, I'm talking about records.
Which record? Oh, I have an album called "The Rosetta Stone, it took a LONG time to get out because my budget is zero and collecting beats took that long.
What's on there? Tell us a little more about the thing.
It's got nothing but that swizz-diesel heat. Straight up heat rocks ready to blaze your joint wicked. Okay, it's got a bunch of tracks from a certified gang of producers: Kno of famed Jay-Z remixery and CunninLynguists exploits, ognihs and Manic Depressive from WCC/SA-2, el-Keter of "porno like your mom is in it" fame and many others. I worked on trying to make some of my music sneakily catchy, where someone would find a piece of a song stuck in their head and motivated to play the CD. I was going to end my album with the song about my Dad (RDB), but it was too depressing, so I ended on an upbeat note with the DJ Cast One-produced "Cause I Said So".
Tell us what you hope we'll get out of this record.
What do I hope you'll get out of it? Enjoyment and a desire to tell your friends about it.
You've done more stuff. Tell us about that too.
- Jonah's Saucony-4 song EP on tape.
- Billy Bossij Presents...The Igloo Mix/again - CD-R of mostly freestyles over many a beatjack.
- SA-2-EP with production team Suspended Animators (Manic Depressive and ognihs)
- White Collar Criminals' "Invest-Mentality" - album recorded with SA on the beats and JON?DOE joining in for a week of whatnot that made an album
- "Obese America" - CD-R with bonsai artwork that came with either magnets or basketball cards
- "S" - CD-R with tracks that didn't make the "Rosetta Stone" cut interspersed with some other odds and ends, came with toothpick and Sankofa sticker.
Now, you wrote an article for urbansmarts.com which was very political. Are you a political person?
I'm a principled person and if that which goes on in the world goes against my principles, I care about it.
Why should people vote?
I would hope that people care enough about their situation to vote. It seems to me that a large part of the world is a big creature comfort chair flooded with apathy. I'm not naive enough to believe that voting changes everything, the status quo will remain, but something need be done.
How can we get people - and often they are young people - that are not into politics to go and vote?
I'm not sure, perhaps by hiring the Phillip Morris campaign cats to surreptitiously hypnotize the youth to think it's cool to the point of necessity.
How did you get into this lil' culture we call hip hop?
I saw a video for a spoof group called Morris Minor and the Majors back in '86 or so. I walked to K-Mart with my Mom and bought the 45 for 3 bucks. "No sleep 'Till Bedtime!" The video showed them rubbing a record against a curb when the scratches came in and my buddy Stephen Wood and I were trying to figure out how the hell to make those cool noises.
(laughs) That's a great story. How much of it true?
To quote the great Annie Lennox: "would I lie to you?"
When did you realize that Morris Minor was not someone you should keep as an idol?
Morris was never an idol, but he was my original connection to a music that utterly fascinated me. My Mom had always played hella records in the house when I was a kid - dancing around in the living room and embarrassing me whenever my friends visited. But I'd never heard any music like rap and I was hooked. The DOC was my idol.
What is it about this culture that influences and inspires you?
The music that inspired me was made long ago. Basically anyone I shouted out on "Dues" - or, as my sloppy handwriting on the Rosetta Stone layout would have people read "Ones" - inspired me: Lord Finesse, Son Doobie, DOC, Ice-T, Big L, Vakill, Ras Kass, Rakim, Redman, MC Ren, Nas, Chino XL, AG.
What is it about these 'old' artists that you don't get in new artists?
I'm older and am less prone to be impressed. Maybe if I was just coming up and didn't have a history to compare the current cats to, I'd be woofing along to the cracked out exploits of DMX. Instead, I was wondering why that guy with the big clock danced like a stripper while the serious guy in the Pirates cap didn't seem to notice.
What had you start participating, rather than just watching and listening?
I'd been writing rhymes for a while, started posting them online, was on the smallest plane that still has turbines en route to my uncle's place in Colorado and realized "I can write all the ill rhymes I want and post them online, but the words won't have staying power".
Being one of those 'internet rappers' that actually made the transformation to recording artists. What's your take on 'internet rappers'?
Got to start somewhere. Look at the crop of cats who got their start through the net. CunninLynguists is making serious moves, MacLethal's got his following. I don't so much have a take on internet rappers as I do rap in general. If someone's not taking it seriously, all the clothes and ice grills in the catalog aren't going to make them dope. Even some cats who are serious about their music don't even bother following through enough to the point of completion. Too many potential ain't beens.
If you weren't an artists, what other job would you like to have?
What I do doesn't pay. I think I've made 250 bucks in my 5 odd years rapping. My job is preK-5 substitute teacher and I enjoy the hell out of it. If the idea of going back to school didn't bore me to death, I'd take the advice of numerous principals and teachers and get my teaching license. Then I'd get a full time job, buy a Red Volvo station wagon from '93 with factory rims, have enough money to live above the poverty line and visit my friends in the summer.
Who would you like to work with the most? Dead or living? Why?
Salvador Dali-he had some ill ideas.
File sharing on the internet: I do it too, or I'll do you if you do it?

My net access is based on my budget-free for two months AOL running on a 56k diesel. In short: I can't fileshare unless it's a real audio file.
It seems cats have gotten a sense of entitlement when it comes to releases. Some folk are quick to download an album they like and end up spending the money on a couple extra value meals or something equally disposable and toxic.

What was the last album/showcase/experience that had you go: man, I better step up my skills before I step out with something again?
Jehst's and unAuthordox's latest efforts made me realize I needed to sharpen my pen.
What do you really enjoy listening to right now?
ESPNradio and the Mitch Hedberg CD my fraternity brother sent me. ESPN never should have fired Tony Kornheiser, his replacement is a charisma free ranter with almost interesting hollow to speak.
Any music?
Not to speak of. I buy some CDs from cats I think are dope and need be heard each Scribble though
When you hang up your superhero artist cape, what else do you do for fun?
Patch the holes in the cape, watch some movies, look for more shoes I don't need on ebay, walk around happily aimless, shoot some footage, volunteer at the local public access TV station, chill at the Pizza Hut lunch buffet with a Cherry Pepsi cause they don't have the dope Dr. Pepper, do what I can to avoid buying Backwoods Aromatics, wish that I hadn't discovered eating toothpicks can put microscopic holes in one's digestive tract and try to avoid reading the news cause fearless leaders' idiocy infuriates me.
State of hip hop: good or bad?
No idea. It's everywhere, more like a global pact of hip hop.
What do you want to achieve before you retire?
I would like my music to have inspired some cat the same way the cats I shouted out in "Ones" did me.
You must have a website, right? What is it?
http://www.selftaughtmusic.com (should be up soon)
Comments or shout outs?
Thanks for the interview. If you've taken the time to check out my music, thanks. If not, swing on by the website and noodle about. My buddy Fangface is starting a label called Self-Taught Music, my next album will be strictly him behind the boards and will be out via his label. Rhymefest seems like a cool down to earth cat...there's hip hop in Fort Wayne trying to get organized. JON?DOE is dope but unheard namely because he never stops recording songs long enough to put them out. If you see me at Scribble - holding down the Self-Taught Music table - swing on by. I might even be in a talkative mood and hook you up with a dope poseable knight. AIM is slingvolt
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