“Everybody knows me to be that truthful, down to Earth, spit that real shit. Never lying,” Black Rob says of his latest body of work. “‘Genuine’ is being truthful and ‘article’ is just me.” Smoke and hard time have laminated the Harlem rap legend’s vocal chords giving his words even more weight than usual. For almost two decades the former Bad Boy Records artist has been like that lowkey man on your block sitting on a milk crate peeling shit with a rusty blade. Instead in Rob’s case it wasn’t fruit or a potato, he was slicing off chunks of asphalt and serving them up over beats to make classics like “Woah,” “I Dare You” and “I Love You Baby.” Unfortunately, rhyme bars have only come second to prison bars in his 46 years and he’s still got plenty of stories to tell about that life. His latest album Genuine Article finds him again like Marv in Sin City, the battle worn gladiator that is just too real for these times, but you can’t ignore him if you tried.
For our next installment of “Verse Behavior” BR talks about some of the stand-out tracks from Genuine Article and offers some insight into the arrest record in between the rap records.
“In My Circle” (f/ Ron Browz and Murda Mook)
“First of all I ain’t even know duke I should’ve slapped ya…but n*ggas be fronting up in the after… ”
It’s always a pleasure working with Mook. This was my second time working with him. The first time he wanted me to come down and lay some joints in Atlanta. I spit the record for him and left. He got the record back and say it was crazy. On this one he came through and spit that raw shit out. That’s why I picked him. Ron Browz, I don’t know how he got on it, but he got on it and the shit came out fly.
[On that line] We up in the after hours [spot] chillin and everything is cool. But you got people in the after hour that wanna act up.
“Real Shit” f/ Sean Price, Tek prod by Easy Mo Bee
You see the people on the record is real. Soon as I threw that beat at Sean there was no questions asked. No arguments. ME and Tek got a comradery. Mo Bee sent that beat out on a CD and I was listening to it and I was like “wtf, this is nice!” and I said I gotta keep it. I don’t know when it was made. That record is mean. People gonna look at my album and say damn. Especially fuckin haters. Listen to it and you’ll see everything coincides with everything. Everything is real.
“Ain’t trying to be Godfish, ain’t trying to be Nick, ain’t trying to be Alpo, ain’t trying to be Rich…I can tell you want tradition in this harlem shit..man this is East Side this is real as it gets”
All them n*ggas I named was trying to be somebody in Harlem. They all failed. I keep it real with this Harlem shit. I’m tellin’ em. You know these people. I’m getting this out because I dunno when I’ll get to again. I don’t want to be a drug dealer. I don’t want to be that guy that you wanna be like.
“Went to jail and did hard time you went to wash dishes…”
When I went to jail I had to do hard time in there, trust me. Whatever I say you gotta ask that n*gga. People that know me out there listening. Jail is fucked up man. I try to say that in every rhyme. Don’t try to go. Little kids, you don’t wanna go to jail. That’s my word. Cat’s been trying to get kids to love jail. I been in jail 25 years. Put that in your pipe and smoke it. 25 my man. I’m 46. That’s because I was “trying to gangsta, trying to be this,” trying to be all these other n*ggas. Til I could be myself and realize how good that was. Nobody can tell me going to jail is the move.
“Open up the book to the first chapter, how I ran five years to avoid capture…”
I ran for five years. When I turned myself in I was a rapper already. From 92- 97 I was on parole and I got away from them that time. I said I ain’t going back. The first time I ever beat the system. They always get me.
“Rock Star” F/ Quas Amill
“I bit the hook, for the oldest trick in the book/ circumstances of hours shake to get shook…I could die wealthy or live healthy”
This song is basically when a female is trying to be greedy. By the second verse I’m catching who she trying to be. She was being grimy, stuck-up or whatever. It could be a real life situation but I don’t wanna put no crazy sh*t on me [laughs]. There’s some truth. That’s how [some] females go out out here. I fell victim to it. She looked good.
“Pulsating, dominating up above…”
That’ from an old RUN DMC record. No doubt. When you catch it, I’m cold looking down at suckers…because when I’m up on stage I’m looking down at y’all. I treat y’all with kid gloves. All you wanna do is stand there and mean mug.
“I don’t need the 5th tho, I gotta couple SW1s, but I ain’t Chuck, Flav or Griff.”
I got my own security, man. I just deal with it like that.[laughs]
“Now that I’ve traveled in the darkness, I’m seeing the light/ y’all don’t want B.R. to bow down/you want him to fight.”
People out there I can honestly say they don’t want me to see me fall down. They wanna hear me all the time every time.
“I was there when mother dear got thrown off the top tier/ There when Latin Kings try to move on the god…’Cere”
That was from years of being in jail. I’ve encountered all types of n*ggas. One of the illest I found was Mother Dear. That was the kid that’ll knock you out and take your ass. But I was there when he got killed. I was in 2 Block. All in all, that’s what happens. I was there when they moved on the god Sincere, good friend of mine. He’s back in the streets doing his thing. But all in all that shows you everywhere you can get it. You gotta play your cards right.
“I had a couple grand on me when I snatched that purse”
[laughs] oh you going through the whole thing. If you know me you know what I’ve been through, man. The last time I went to jail was because I snatched a purse. But I had thousands on me. It all was bullshit. I was just doing that shit to get money. But I got caught and it was another bid I did. Add that to the 25.
“Welcome To My Life”
“I’m a witness, you can’t put a real rap n*gga out of business”
No matter how hard you go if a n*gga rappin and doing it because he belong here ain’t nothing you can do. We can stomp him out, put things on him he ain’t going nowhere. I’m still here. I’m still here in this game. You can’t do nothing to me man. Everything you want a kid to go through…I’m still standing tall.
Black Rob’s Genuine Article is in stores now.